Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Saturday, September 05, 2015

The European Migrant Crisis Is A Nightmare. The Climate Crisis Will Make It Worse.

The hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving in Europe or dying on the way to its shores could be a harbinger of things to come, researchers and policymakers warn, because a potentially greater driver of displacement looms on the horizon: climate change.

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned at a recent State Department-led conference on climate change in the Arctic, the scenes of chaos and heartbreak in Europe will be repeated globally unless the world acts to mitigate climate change.

Kim Davis' Attorney Compares Her To Jews Living In Nazi Germany, Invokes Images Of Gas Chambers

An attorney for Kim Davis, who was jailed Thursday after being found in contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Rowan County, Kentucky, compared the clerk's situation to the one Jews were faced with in Nazi Germany.

Mathew Staver, who is currently serving as head legal counsel for Davis, made the comparison on the "Crosstalk" radio show Wednesday, reported.

US Professors Protest Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Silicon Valley Visit

More than 100 academics from major US universities have issued a scathing critique of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his visit to Silicon Valley and warned US technology executives against supporting his Digital India initiative.

A letter sent last week to leaders of Silicon Valley tech companies said Modi's initiative — which seeks to expand Internet access and develop online tools to improve government performance — lacks adequate privacy protections and could impinge on Indians' rights.

But the letter goes further by accusing Modi's conservative government of authoritarian practices, including harassing critics, clamping down on advocacy groups, meddling with academic institutions and denying foreign scholars entry into India for conferences.

Court Ruling Builds a Barrier Against Challenges to NSA Spying on Americans

Back in December of 2013, critics of massive government surveillance appeared to have won a victory in challenging the system in a case called Klayman v. Obama. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of the District of Columbia stated that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of metadata from telephones, a clandestine program exposed by Edward Snowden, was probably a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The case was brought forward by Larry Klayman, founder of the political advocacy group Freedom Watch, and Charles and Mary Strange, the parents of a Navy SEAL and NSA cryptologist who died in Afghanistan.

To Vote or Not to Vote? Chief's Dilemma Shared by Many First Nations

In an address this week, the Assembly of First Nations chief encouraged First Nations people to vote in huge numbers on Oct. 19 -- but in the next breath admitted he didn't vote in the last federal election and hasn't decided if he will do so this time around.

Under the advice of his elders, National Chief Perry Bellegarde doesn't vote on the basis that it would be a breach of his nation's treaty relationship. His nation is distinct from the Canadian government. He still urges people to vote even though he may not himself. Interestingly, Bellegarde didn't tell youth to seek the advice of their elders on whether they should vote. He just told them to vote.

Rex Murphy, the oilsands and the cone of silence

CBC News is a secret service.

I used to be the Globe and Mail’s national security reporter and I wrote a book about Canada’s spy agency, CSIS. So I know something about secret services and how they treat pesky reporters who ask prickly questions about how they operate.

I had more success prying out information about CSIS’s dubious conduct than I have had recently delving into the questionable practices of CBC News and one of its high-profile and (usually) loquacious personalities, who has, in the face of some uncomfortable queries, suddenly and uncharacteristically taken refuge in the cone of silence.

Harper says root cause of Syrian boy's death is ISIS terror

Canadian federal leaders pivoted the election Thursday entirely to the death of a three-year-old Syrian toddler, whose lifeless face-down-into-a- beach body was shown in news photos worldwide Wednesday. The incident has sparked international alarm for the Middle East humanitarian crisis, and prompted critics to say Canada isn't taking in enough refugees from the conflict.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper had his light-rail rapid transit announcement in Surrey, B.C. canceled to comment exclusively on the drowning incident that also took the boy’s brother and mother. The family was attempting to flee Syria to Greece when their boat capsized. Only the father Abdullah Kurdi survived.

Fire At Washington State Planned Parenthood Ruled Arson

Sept 4 (Reuters) - A fire that badly damaged a Planned Parenthood building in Washington state early on Friday was caused by arson, local officials said.

The blaze was set around 3:30 a.m. local time and caused extensive damage to the front of the structure in Pullman, the Pullman Fire Department said in a news release. No one was injured in the fire.

Last month, thousands of protesters rallied outside Planned Parenthood locations across the country calling for the federal government to end funding for the health organization.

Demonstrators were mobilized to dozens of locations, including Pullman, after an anti-abortion group released videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating prices for aborted fetal tissue.

Fire officials in Pullman, a city of about 30,000 people close to Washington's border with Idaho, have not speculated on a motive for the arson and said the investigation was ongoing. (Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Ryan Woo)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality

Three of the world's richest and most powerful people (and Timothy Geithner) had a good laugh over income inequality earlier this year.

Former Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin, Henry Paulson and Geithner were asked about the issue by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg during a conference in Beverly Hills. When Paulson responded that he'd been working on income inequality since his days at Goldman Sachs, Geithner quipped, "In which direction?"

Laureen Harper Comment Sparks Confusion About Her Marijuana Stance

Once lauded as an election issue to watch, Canada’s marijuana laws are gaining a little more attention after the prime minister’s wife hinted she may support decriminalization.

Laureen Harper's comment at an Ontario campaign office appears to contrast with the stance underlined by her husband Conservative Leader Stephen Harper against loosening the country’s marijuana laws.

Conservative rule overhaul blamed for Syrian refugee backlog

The Conservative government imposed a new rule for potential refugees in 2012 — a change refugee groups say is squarely to blame for why so few Syrians have made it to Canadian soil.

The rule also appears to have played a key role in the government’s refusal to let a B.C. woman, Tima Kurdi, privately sponsor her brother Mohammed Kurdi and his family to come to Canada.

After Mohammed’s application was returned to Tima, their other brother, Abdullah, tried to flee with his family from Turkey to Greece. Their boat capsized and Abdullah’s two young sons and wife all drowned. Pictures of three-year-old Alan Kurdi’s lifeless body washed ashore in Turkey shocked the world this week.

NDP urges government to settle 10,000 refugees by end of 2015

The refugee crisis is dominating the weekend campaign trail, as the NDP urged the government to settle 10,000 refugees in Canada by the end of the year.

At a news conference Saturday, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar said it's time for all of the federal parties to put campaign politics aside and focus on helping those desperately fleeing Syria and Iraq.

Doctor featured in PM Harper's video now accused of child abduction and on the run from the RCMP

Five months ago, Dr. Saren Azer was lauding the Conservative government’s decision to extend Canada’s mission to battle Islamic extremists in Iraq. Featured prominently in one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s promotional videos, he warned that millions were in danger from such terrorists.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney also took to Twitter to laud Azer as a man “doing tremendous work” with Canada’s Kurdish community helping Iraqi refugees.

Climate concerns present growing obstacle to oilsands development

The Alberta oilsands and their mushrooming carbon emissions have become an easy target for climate change activists around the world.

And this summer, with all the wildfires and droughts stretching from Alaska through Western Canada to California, climate change is very much a hot topic.

So it is not surprising that as propaganda wars go, climate change activists seem to be winning this one — a victory that could have the greatest impact on the future of the oilsands.

Canadian Miner Nevsun Defends Operations In Eritrea As Locals Flee To Europe

CALGARY — Canadian mining company Nevsun Resources is defending its operations in Eritrea following a damning report by the United Nations that accused the miner of using forced labour in the North African country.

Nevsun released an updated independent human rights report this week that found no evidence of forced labour or human rights violations at its 60-per-cent-owned Bisha mine in Eritrea, where thousands of people are fleeing on perilous treks to Europe.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper is campaigning to "stay the course" on Canada's economy. There are a lot of reasons why the PM should think again - and the fact that we have been officially in a recession (as of September 1's latest numbers) ranks right up there.

Here are 10 more reasons based on the research of economists Jim Stanford and Jordan Brennan in Rhetoric Versus Reality: Evaluating Canada's Economic Record Under The Harper Government. Their report assesses the economic performance of nine prime ministers going back to 1946. Spoiler alert: it concludes that the Harper government's is the worst in postwar Canadian history (


Some of this city’s most uncomfortable and necessary conversations took place at the Toronto Reference Library on Tuesday night, September 1, at a public consultation meeting on the police practice of “street checks” (i.e., carding).

At the last of five sessions held across the province by the Ministry of Community Safety ahead of its forthcoming effort to regulate police stops, participants wasted no time blowing open the prescribed parameters for discussion. Survey questions that presupposed the continuation of carding were excoriated, and officials were told plainly and directly that the very idea of holding a consultation on people’s rights is appalling: is there another group whose right to go about their day without police harassment would be subject to public input?

Landlords in LA Push for Tenants to Bear Costs of Earthquake Retrofits

Martha Barrios has a gift: she can turn scraps of cloth into haute couture.

She sewed the dresses for all of the dolls that fringe the ceiling of her small one room apartment where she lives alone in the shadow of the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles. She worked as a seamstress when clothing manufacturers adorned the 110 corridor like sequins. When the clothing manufacturing industry unraveled in Los Angeles, Barrios turned to cleaning to pay her bills. She is now 60, and her work has slowed of late - her business has been squeezed by a slew of other younger cleaners willing to work for less. She only gets about two or three full days of work a week. Not one dollar of the money she earns is spent on anything other than basic necessities.

Fair Elections Act delays ex-Nova Scotia party leader from casting vote

A former leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party was prevented, for several days, from casting his ballot in the upcoming federal election because he didn't have the required identification under the new Fair Elections Act.

Vince MacLean lives in Northside East Bay, about a 20-minute drive from Sydney, and went to the local returning office last week to vote. People can vote at Elections Canada offices until Oct. 13.

Refugee crisis gives Conservatives a well-earned black eye

A few weeks ago rabble ran a story about how an economy-obsessed election campaign was ignoring other important issues, notably immigration and refugee policy.
This writer tweeted a quote from the story which said the Harper government had demonized refugees.
Current Immigration Minister Chris Alexander paid no heed to that comment; but his predecessor, Jason Kenney, tweeted in reply: "'Demonized' refugees by admitting 115,000 of them during my tenure as Minister of Immigration?"

Canada's Response To Syrian Refugees Contrasts With Historic Role: Expert

Immigration experts say Canada's practice of taking in refugees has ebbed over the past decade, with the country's response to the Vietnamese boat people contrasting with how it has reacted to Syrian asylum seekers.

Catherine Dauvergne, the dean of law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said Liberal and Tory regimes in the 1970s and early 1980s embraced the mission of assisting 60,000 Indo-Chinese refugees fleeing Communist regimes after Saigon's fall in 1975.

'Aylan Should Be Here': Protester Arrested At Harper Event In B.C.

The toddler and his brother Galib, 5, died in their father's arms after their boat capsized.

The family wanted to reunite with relatives who lived in British Columbia through a private refugee sponsorship.

(The Turkish government originally identified the boys' names as Aylan and Galip, but their aunt says they're actually spelled Alan and Galib.)

A dead child, a humanitarian disaster — and a minister running scared

At Christmas, someone played a practical joke on Chris Alexander — hiding a toy F-35 in the stocking of the boy-diplomat turned political sycophant.

The Conservatives had been caught lying so many times about the doomed project, it was thought by some that Alexander might at least stop his shameless cheerleading for it at family gatherings. He didn’t, so he got his miniature F-35 — a gentle rebuff from relatives tired of tall tales.

Canada 'does not bear responsibility' for helping stop refugee ships, Kenney said

The Canadian government earlier this year said it bore “no responsibility” to provide military help to European nations struggling to deal with the thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean as they fled fighting in Syria and crushing poverty in Africa.

Many were paying human smugglers based in Libya, but such voyages at times ended in tragedy. After 400 migrants drowned in April, Italy’s foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni appealed for international help in dealing with the crisis. He pointed out his country’s navy was bearing the brunt of rescuing migrants.

Harper's rosy financial outlook ignores facts

For years, Prime Minister Harper has taken pains to show that he calls the political shots. Remember in late 2010 when he decided to rename the Government of Canada as the "Harper Government" in official communications?

Since achieving a majority government in 2011, Harper has become notorious for exercising rigid control over what every government employee and elected official says, insisting at times on identical pronouncements from the entire bloc of MPs.

No, Protests Against Police Brutality Are Not Increasing Crime

Much has been made in recent months of a series of isolated crime increases in a handful of US cities. Breathless accounts of a new crime wavehave appeared in both liberal and conservative media. Right-wing pundits and some police leaders have claimed that there is a “Ferguson effect”—a significant crime increase due to the “Black Lives Matter” protests against police violence. This is both junk science and political opportunism.

Abuse and barriers increase under new caregiver program regulations

Despite Immigration Minister Chris Alexander's promises to the Filipino and migrant communities that theNovember 2014 changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program provided greater protections to caregivers and quickened processing times, the opposite has occurred.
According to the Caregiver Action Centre's Karina Francisco, the new changes have made caregivers more vulnerable to employer abuse, have increased processing times, and have resulted in a 90 per cent rejection rate for new caregiver applications.

Three Worrying Economic Trends Beyond Canada's GDP Drop

The much anticipated quarterly GDP numbers are out, and StatsCan confirmed what 79 per cent of Canadiansalready felt to be the case -- Canada's economy is in decline. A drop in economic activity of 0.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2015 officially tipped Canada in recession territory (after a drop of 0.2 per cent in the first quarter).

Less Focus on Vancouver's Foreign Buyers, and More on Income, Please

The prime minister's recent promise to collect data on foreign buyers of Canadian real estate has made housing affordability an election item. That would be good thing, if the parties did more than posture about widely acknowledged problems or make targets of overseas investors who may or may not be part of the problem.

More data sounds good. But we don't need more data to tell us that the Vancouver region is a very attractive place to live, and a magnet for migrants from everywhere outside the Lower Mainland. Our geographic limits are also well known: the Salish Sea on the west, mountains to the north, and the U.S. border on the south, are hard physical limits to urban growth.