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.]

Monday, October 26, 2015

TPP Could Change Canadian Copyright Regime, Internet Use 'Dramatically': Activists

TORONTO — Copyright activists say Canadians could face lawsuits, fines or worse for ripping the latest Justin Bieber CD or uploading an animated GIF of Jose Bautista's bat-flip under a new trade deal, and they're calling on the newly elected Justin Trudeau to act.

A major part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal finalized Oct. 5 involves harmonizing copyright laws in the 12 Pacific Rim countries — including Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan — that are signatories to the deal.

CSIS Capacity Under C-51 To Work With Foreign Partners Raises Accountability Concerns

OTTAWA-- Internal government notes say the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is likely to team up with "trusted allies,'' such as the American CIA and Britain's MI6, on overseas operations to derail threats-- plans that underscore concerns about CSIS accountability under new security legislation.

Internet Transformed Under TPP, Advocates Tell Trudeau

Copyright activists say Canadians could face lawsuits, fines or worse for ripping the latest Justin Bieber CD or uploading an animated GIF of José Bautista's bat-flip under a new trade deal, and they're calling on the newly elected Justin Trudeau to act.

A major part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal finalized Oct. 5 involves harmonizing copyright laws in the 12 Pacific Rim countries -- including Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan -- that are signatories to the deal.

Real Women Throw Stones

One wonders why Suffragette—a glossy feature film about how women gained the vote in Britain—did not place at its center a devoted, if perhaps divisive movement leader in the vein of Malcolm X or Milk or Gandhi. Emmeline Pankhurst, who founded the militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903, would have been an obvious choice: a woman whose impassioned, often monomaniacal zealotry would illuminate both the movement’s obvious righteousness and its glaring blind spots. But Pankhurst, played by Meryl Streep, is a supporting role; the heroine of this movie is a benign, loving—and fictional—activist named Maud Watts, played charmingly by Carey Mulligan. The movie opens in 1912, just as the cause is gaining traction, and the politically pure Maud is gradually pushed into action and sacrifice by her fundamentally ethical nature, which is wonderful news for the working-class British women she is friends with, but for us, it’s an ill omen—a sign that Suffragette is a flattened, lackluster portrayal of a movement at a critical tipping point.

Leaked Map Reveals Big Gas Is Setting Its Sights on the Most Biodiverse Place on Earth

A leaked map shows that a private energy corporation based in Argentina is eyeing Manú National Park in Peru’s Amazon, one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

In a detailed article in The Guardian, environment writer David Hill, who researches forest governance in Peru from his location in the Amazon, traces the back-and-forth of Pluspetrol’s apparent quest for the hydrocarbons beneath the protected land:
The map vaguely and ignorantly - or hopefully? Disdainfully? - calls Manu a “reserve”, where gas operations are permitted. Not so in national parks. Peru’s 1997 Law of Protected Natural Areas states “the extraction of natural resources is not permitted” in parks, while the 2001 regulations for “protected natural areas” states the “settlement of new human groups and the exploitation of natural resources is prohibited.” In addition, the 1993 Constitution “obliges” the government “to promote the conservation of biological diversity and protected natural areas.”

Why Canada is one of the most sued countries in the world

NAFTA, the free trade deal between Canada, the USA and Mexico that came into effect in 1994, was the first trade deal among developed countries to include an investor-state provision. It grants investors of the continent the right to sue one another’s governments without first pursuing legal action through the country’s legal system. Before NAFTA, ISDS provisions were only negotiated between developed and undeveloped countries.

As a result of NAFTA’s ISDS challenges, Canada is now the most sued developed country in the world. Canada has been sued more times than either the U.S. or Mexico. Of the 77 known NAFTA investor-state claims, 35 have been against Canada, 22 have targeted Mexico and 20 have targeted the US. The US government has won 11 of its cases and never lost a NAFTA investor-state case or paid any compensation to Canadian or Mexican companies.

Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by ACLU and Nation Magazine Against the NSA

A federal district judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and others against the National Security Agency on the ludicrous grounds that, because the NSA did not admit to its spying, the plaintiffs’ claim that they were threatened by unwarranted surveillance was based on “subjective fear.”

The Guardian reports:

The judge in the case, TS Ellis III, said the suit relied on “the subjective fear of surveillance”, because the NSA did not admit to having collected any of the information it was alleged to have collected by the ACLU. …

 US Engagement in the Middle East Is Riskier Than Ever

What if the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the “worst foreign policy blunder” in American history? Let’s take a big-picture tour of the Middle East and try to answer those questions. But first, a request: After each paragraph that follows, could you make sure to add the question “What could possibly go wrong?”

Kathleen Wynne defends paying $2.5M for union negotiating expenses

Premier Kathleen Wynne says giving teacher unions millions of taxpayer dollars for negotiating contracts with the province is just the cost of doing business.

Wynne told the Star Friday she doesn’t like the idea or the optics of turning over $2.5 million — no receipts required — to cover the unions’ expenses for things like hotel rooms and so on but says that’s the way it’s done, even in the private sector.

“I understand that in isolation that’s a big number . . . but there is a cost associated with getting those agreements,” said Wynne in a wide-ranging interview.

FBI Director Blames Crime On Police Misconduct Videos

CHICAGO (AP) — Police anxiety in the era of ever-present cellphone cameras and viral videos partly explains why violent crime has risen in several large U.S. cities this year, FBI Director James Comey said Friday.

Comey told several hundred students during a forum at the University of Chicago Law School that it's critical to do more to address a widening gulf between law enforcement and citizens in many communities, particularly African-Americans.

This Is What the Israelis Really Want

TEL AVIV -- It's Wednesday night. I've just left the memorial for Habtom Zarhum, the Eritrean asylum seeker who was mistaken for a Palestinian during the attack on the Beersheba bus station. Zarhum was shot by a security guard and was then "lynched" by an Israeli mob. They cursed the asylum seeker, spat on him and kicked his head as he lay on the ground bleeding.

Professor Claims Women 'Don't Understand' Fracking

A science professor and the chairwoman of the United Kingdom's leading shale gas lobby claims women don't support fracking because they "don't understand" the science behind the oil extraction procedure.

"Frequently the women haven’t had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact," Averil Macdonald, a professor of science engagement at the University of Reading and chairwoman of U.K. Onshore Oil and Gas, told British newspaper The Times.

After a decade in power, Stephen Harper remains an enigma

MONTREAL — Few people if any know at what exact point Stephen Harper felt in his bones that he would lose the election to Justin Trudeau but it was some time before Canada’s television networks declared the advent of a majority Liberal government on Monday.

Indeed, watching the Conservative leader coolly concede defeat later that evening, it seemed likely he had not bothered to prepare a victory speech.

FBI Doesn't Allow Huffington Post Reporter Into Director's Talk

NEW YORK -- The FBI on Friday did not permit a Huffington Post reporter to attend director James Comey’s speech to members of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), which was the subject of a critical article the journalist wrote in August.

Comey's talk wasn't off the record, as reporters from The Washington Post and USA Today attended and covered it. The FBI tweeted a photo of the director addressing the group.

GOP Lawmakers Want To Make Gun Silencers Cheaper, Easier To Buy

House Republicans on Thursday introduced a bill that would eliminate a federal tax on gun silencers and would weaken licensing requirements that currently make the devices more difficult to buy than most firearms.

The Hearing Protection Act of 2015, proposed by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) and co-sponsored by 10 of his colleagues, would do this by removing silencers, which are also called suppressors, from the purview of the National Firearms Act, instead putting them in the same regulatory category as long guns. As its title suggests, the bill's sponsors are framing it as an effort to keep shooters from damaging their ears.