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.]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The City and How to Pay For It

Richard Joy doesn’t care much about what a new Toronto transit system will look like. It can be light rail, underground subways or something completely different. He’s concerned with something, that in his view, is far more important than what type of vehicle should transport Torontonians from one end of the city to another: he wants to know how in the world the city will pay for it.

“The challenge is massive,” says the vice-president of policy and government relations for the Toronto Board of Trade. He says Metrolinx, a provincial agency that looks at ways to improve transportation in the GTA, wants to spend $50 billion over the next 25 years to develop transit, but the province says it will only kick in $10 billion.

“That leaves a $40 billion question,” says Joy. “That’s like building two English Channels or a Three Gorges Dam.”

How the city will account for the rest of the money is anyone’s guess at this point. Part of the problem is that it needs to fund numerous other capital projects, like fixing and building new infrastructure—such as roads and sewers—too. The city has money-raising tools like municipal bonds, property taxes and user fees in its arsenal, but with increasing demand for new infrastructure, not to mention a better TTC, Toronto will have to start looking for new ways to fund their growing list of capital projects.

Sodom and Gomorrah as E-Wasteland

Accra, Ghana — Iddrisssu Inusah sits on the scavenged husk of a PC monitor, his rangy legs rooted in the blackened soil of Agbogbloshie, the largest and most controversial slum in Ghana’s heady, seaside capital.

Just in front of him is a bundle of wires engulfed in flames, the fire a livid chaos of green, blue, orange and red. A thunderhead of black smoke rolls out over the tiny, toxic expanse of Korle Lagoon and across to the tin-roofed shacks that scrap-workers like Inusah call home.

“We are burning wires to get copper to sell and get money,” says the 19-year-old from northern Ghana. “We don’t have a specific amount we sell it for, but we take whatever the buyers give us. If it weighs more than 100 kilos, then we will get like GH $5 (about US$3.35).”

'Unwise' eviction of Dale Farm Traveller camp must be halted, says UN

The government must suspend the "immature and unwise" eviction of 400 Travellers from Essex green belt and seek a peaceful solution, the UN and a European human rights group said.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) used uncharacteristically robust language to express its "deep regret" at the £18m eviction at Dale Farm, the UK's biggest single eviction in modern times.

The UN was joined by Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, who warned there was a great risk of human rights violations if 86 families and 100 children were forcibly removed .

"If they go ahead with the eviction that would be very immature and unwise," Hammarberg said. "The only way to do this is for the government or the authority in Basildon to appoint people who have trust on both sides to find an agreed solution."

Dale Farm Travellers get eviction dat

The Travellers living at at Dale Farm in Essex have been given a fortnight to leave before Basildon council starts forcible evictions in the week beginning 19 September – when electricity supplies will also be cut.

Around 400 people living on the illegal part of the site, on land they own but have no planning permission for on a former scrapyard at Crays Hill in Essex, were notified by the council that the date has been set, and advised to make homelessness applications urgently.

The date has been set after the Travellers lost their last legal challenge in the decade-long row, despite a United Nations committee calling on the government to suspend the eviction. The Travellers' cause has been taken up by celebrities including the actor Vanessa Redgrave, and young activists have moved on to the site determined to help them resist eviction.

Congress Should Mark Anniversary of 9/11 by Deauthorizing the War on Terror

Brussels—Anniversaries offer an opportunity to assess, with the perspective afforded by the passage of time, who got things right and who did not.

Unfortunately, in an age when so much of our media bows more to power than accuracy, that does not mean that those who got things right will be turned to for advice and counsel.

In fact, quite the opposite.

So it is that, as the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon approached, the most prominently featured 9/11 figure was former Vice President Dick Cheney.”

The term employed most frequently by commentators—aside from “Darth Vader”—to describe Cheney’s recollections of 9/11 and its aftermath has been “no apologies.” That is because Cheney has so very much to apologize for.

But not everyone got 9/11 wrong.

Book Review: Patriot Acts

As the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks arrives, we will rightfully hear much from the families of the victims and others whose lives were directly affected by the events of that day. But it's also important to reflect on the stories of those whose lives were changed by the attacks in the days, months, and years that followed. Patriot Acts, compiled and edited by Alia Malek, a civil rights lawyer and advocate for American Muslims, contains a series of particularly moving reflections. Published by Voice of Witness, a non-profit human rights organization founded by author Dave Eggers, Patriot Acts translates a collection of oral histories into a cohesive and digestible book.

Malek, a former lawyer for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, writes in the introduction, "What I saw happen in this country after 9/11, initially from my perch as a lawyer, made quite clear for me that our ignorance of the American lives and experiences of certain groups had facilitated a backlash and a slide into xenophobic and nativist behavior that betrayed the very values I had joined the DOJ to protect."

9/11 Attacks A Constant Reminder Of Risk Of Terrorism Says Stephen Harper

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago is a constant reminder that no one is immune from terrorism.

Harper is in New York to commemorate the anniversary of the day when hijacked jetliners were flown into the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington.

Harper called them "senseless and cowardly attacks" that took nearly 3,000 lives, including 24 Canadians.

He said Canadians share in the grief of all those mourning loved ones lost today.

Harper paid tribute to the acts of courage, sacrifice and kindness by those who took part in rescue efforts.

And the prime minister said: “While we honour and remember those who fell, this day will serve as a constant reminder that we are not immune from terrorism."

"We will continue to stand firm with our allies to help ensure such a tragedy never happens again," he said.

“Terrorism will not undermine our way of life."

"We will continue supporting the brave Canadian Armed Forces members and intelligence and police officers who put their lives on the line every day in the fight against the many faces of terrorism."

"We will steadfastly defend, protect and promote our democratic values and principles; the very foundation of our free and prosperous society."

“It is what the victims would expect and what the families deserve.”

Source: Huffington  

Naomi Klein debunks ethical oil at tar sands action

Naomi Klein speaks out against so-called "ethical oil" in Washington D.C. on September 3, 2011  Special thanks to Dahlman Cook Productions.


Walkom: When will politicians act to save jobs?

Yes, the economy is deteriorating. For a while, it seemed that Canada had somehow avoided the fate of the U.S. and Europe. Now it’s clear we are not exempt.

And yes, there is a way to ease the stress through concerted government action. But it’s not clear that our politicians — either federal or provincial — are willing to take the risk.

Economy first. Friday’s bleak job numbers from Statistics Canada may have surprised some economists. I doubt they surprised Canadians on the street.

After months of gains, jobs are down. The country shed 5,500 jobs between July and August. The official jobless rate rose marginally to 7.3 per cent.

It would have been higher had thousands not given up looking for work.

500 gather to stop ‘across the board’ city cuts

Nigel Barriffe was a rare suburbanite among the downtowners at Dufferin Grove Park on Saturday at a gathering of about 500 people bent on organizing against planned austerity measures at City Hall.

“We’re part of Ford Nation but we feel we’ve been just thrown out,” said Barriffe, who lives and teaches near Kipling and Finch Aves.

It’s in the northwest part of the city represented by Mayor Rob Ford’s brother Doug Ford and Ford supporter Vincent Crisanti.

The prospect of cuts to libraries, the arts, parks, fire and police have rendered him “almost hopeless” on behalf of his students and their families at Greenholme Junior Middle School, said Barriffe.

In his diverse community only about half the kids have Internet access at home so the closure of a single library would be devastating, he said.