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, October 01, 2011

They'll call me freedom – just like a wavin' flag ban

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when the first man doing hard time for disallowing the flying of the Canadian flag at his retirement community tells the other prisoners what he's in for.

“You are one tough dude,” one of them might say, casually rolling down his sleeve to cover the Canadian flag tattoo on his tree-trunk bicep and slowly backing away.

“Whoa, I guess that puts my seven pot plants in perspective” another might say, “Oh, wait a second, everything puts my seven pot plants in perspective. How long did they give you … what did you say your name was again?”

“Mr. Reginald Guardhouse, former chairman of the Oak Bay Court Residents Association. They gave me two years, boy. But sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do and really it was no harder than telling Mrs. Fellner that she had to kill her cat.” All of the other prisoners glance at each other nervously. Someone by the door lowers the red and white dishtowel with which he had been wiping a plate.

This week, a private member's bill aiming to make it illegal to forbid anyone to fly a Canadian flag was introduced by Conservative backbencher John Carmichael.

The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup For September 30, 2011

After three weeks of watching Rick Perry flail around in confusion and exhaustion, this was the week that something that had to finally give.

It began in Florida, with Herman Cain winning the state's Presidential 5 Straw Poll. It may seem hard to believe that another straw poll, at this late date, smaller in scope than August's big throwdown in Ames, Iowa, was going to have any sort of game changing effect on the race. But Perry had put his marker down on the Florida contest, working hard for a win. It didn't work out as he planned. So it makes a kind of sense that by week's end, Romney had re-emerged as the front-runner, Cain had risen to third place, and Perry was in a very shaky second.

But GOP elites just haven't cottoned to Romney's candidacy -- the problem he's had since the race began. And with time ticking off the clock for a new contender to get into the mix, a clarion call -- led by Bill Kristol -- went out for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to enter the race. Now, Christie's made his lack of interest abundantly clear, but this week, he was set to deliver a speech at one of the GOP's holy sites -- the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. And in that space, Chris Christie stood before his fellow Republicans and boldly declared -- well, he basically directed them to watch a video of him saying "no" to running for President over and over again.

Hispanic Students Absent From Alabama Schools Following Controversial Immigration Law

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Hispanic students have started vanishing from Alabama public schools in the wake of a court ruling that upheld the state's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration.

Education officials say scores of immigrant families have withdrawn their children from classes or kept them home this week, afraid that sending the kids to school would draw attention from authorities.

There are no precise statewide numbers. But several districts with large immigrant enrollments – from small towns to large urban districts – reported a sudden exodus of children of Hispanic parents, some of whom told officials they planned to leave the state to avoid trouble with the law, which requires schools to check students' immigration status.

Insite: the Harper government’s sweeping, narrow defeat

This morning’s unanimous Supreme Court decision on Vancouver’s Insite safe injection site is categorical, urgent and beyond appeal: the Court ordered Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq to issue an exemption “forthwith” permitting the clinic to keep operating. It took the minister barely two hours to announce she’ll comply. The defeat, for a government that has fought Insite at every turn, is clear.

It’s also pretty narrow. While dealing Stephen Harper a personal and unequivocal defeat on a file his government clearly took seriously, it reaffirms federal powers in ways that will probably come in handy down the road; it seeks to contain this decision to the single, existing facility; and (probably inadvertently, but all the same) it offers a strong political argument in favour of the Conservatives among voters who share Harper’s aversion to Insite.

The Insite case contained (at least) two different disputes: one over the federal division of powers between Ottawa and the provinces, and one over the Charter of Rights. The Charter dispute is sexier: When he sought to close Insite in 2008, was the minister of health (Tony Clement, Aglukkaq’s predecessor) endangering the “life, liberty and security of the person” guaranteed to drug injectors at Insite (and to the rest of us) under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights?

Ruling reminds Tories no one above the law


The Insite ruling is the most brutal collision to date between the Supreme Court of Canada and Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

Despite the imminent appointment of two more Harper nominees to the top court’s bench, it will likely not be the last.

On Friday, the Court ordered the federal government to grant a special exemption to allow Vancouver’s supervised drug injection clinic to operate without fear of prosecution for possessing and trafficking in hard drugs.

The ruling is the latest volley in an ongoing battle of wills between the top court and the ruling Conservatives.

That conflict pits Conservative ideology against the primacy of the rule of law and it has been escalating.

Tensions between Canada’s judicial establishment and Harper’s Conservative party have been simmering for years, predating its election to office.

Unions slam NDP as dangerous to workers and Canada

Need proof that the federal NDP isn't ready to be official Opposition, let alone Canada's government-inwaiting? A spokesman for one of Canada's largest labour organizations says he has the proof.

On Thursday, Canada's building trades unions, along with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, held a forum in Ottawa focusing on the looming skilled worker shortage in Canada with the hope that policymakers would attend and then act to ramp up apprenticeships for skilled trades as well as increase immigration of accredited skilled workers.

"We invited every MP in Ottawa to attend," said Christopher Smillie, a senior adviser for the Building and Construction Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Canadian Office.

"Conservative MPs showed up, Liberal MPs were there, but not even one NDP MP showed up," said Smillie, who speaks for 450,000 construction union members all across Canada - 40 per cent of whom are actively engaged in the oil and gas industry.

We should be free to disagree

You have to hand it to the neocons. In a world where most of us prefer not to appear too ridiculous, they don't give a flying fig.

Exhibit A? Doubletalk.

The current poster boy for neocon doubletalk is Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who once again this week formally denounced anti-Semitism, a position about as applepie incontestable as you can get. If anti-Semitism isn't criminally deplorable, what is?

So the declaration must be put into context. And here it is, framed in the neocon colours Kenney gave it last week in New York, when he declared his Conservative government would never accept "the new anti-Semitism" - that is, negative attitudes toward Israel, as opposed to Jewish people.

True, his purported target this time was bad actors like Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other lunatics at the Durban hatefest. But Kenney has labelled (if not libelled) people before for attitudes not thoroughly in line with the Harper government's uncritical position toward Israel.

Marijuana growers to face more jail than child rapists under Harper's new omnibus bill

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is getting tougher on pot growers than he is on rapists of children.

Under the Tories' omnibus crime legislation tabled Tuesday, a person growing 201 pot plants in a rental unit would receive a longer mandatory sentence than someone who rapes a toddler or forces a five-year-old to have sex with an animal.

Producing six to 200 pot plants nets an automatic six-month sentence, with an extra three months if it's done in a rental or is deemed a public-safety hazard. Growing 201 to 500 plants brings a one-year sentence, or 1 1/2 years if it's in a rental or poses a safety risk.

The omnibus legislation imposes one-year mandatory minimums for sexually assaulting a child, luring a child via the Internet or involving a child in bestiality. All three of these offences carry lighter automatic sentences than those for people running medium-sized grow-ops in rental property or on someone else's land.

Americans shocked Harper crime bill gives more time to pot growers than pedophiles

Tough-on-crime Americans are shocked our new omnibus crime bill gives more jail time to pot growers than pedophiles.

Care2, a large online social action network with almost 17 million followers, posted a blog Thursday about one of the more peculiar elements of the legislation.

Writer Cathryn Wellner picked up on a story from the Vancouver Province that reported under the bill a person growing 201 pot plants in a rental unit would receive a longer mandatory sentence than someone who sexually assaults a toddler.

"If you're contemplating a life of crime in Canada, now is the time to switch from growing marijuana plants to preying on children," wrote Wellner.

"After years of having his crime bills defeated by the opposition, Stephen Harper is on the verge of getting his revenge. Never mind that the crime rate has been steadily dropping. Forget the failed experiment in tougher sentencing in the U.S., where the cost of incarceration is so great even conservatives are calling for reform.

"Harper promised to get tough on crime, and he plans to keep his word even if the social and economic costs far outweigh the benefits."

Readers of the article were just as unkind to our prime minister as Wellner.

"That's rediculously (sic) stupid. it proves how incompitent (sic) people can be. Raping someone is far worse than having a smoke," commented Averie K. from Sioux City, Iowa.  "I'm not for marijuana, but I'm far more against rapists!"

"Learn from Amerika's (sic) mistakes! Don't do this! You will run your country into the ground!!!!!!!!" wrote Britin J. from Anchorage, Alaska.

And finally, Victoria M. from Poulsbo Washington, kept her comment simple and to the point.

"Idiocy," she wrote.

Source: Yahoo! news 

Murder Under the Cover of Righteousness

Dr. Ya’akov Lazovik writes ("Academic Genocide", "Ha’Aretz", 4 March) that in the State of Israel it is impossible that the regime and the nation will plan and commit a genocide. It is difficult to determine if this is naivety or self-righteousness. As we know, there is no single fixed method for murder and not even for genocide. The author Y. L. Peretz wrote about "the righteous cat" who does not spill blood, but only suffocates.

The government of Israel, using the military and its instruments of destruction, is not only spilling blood, but it is also suffocating. What other name can be given to the dropping of a one-ton bomb over a dense urban area, when the justification uttered is that we wanted to murder a dangerous terrorist and his wife? The rest of the citizens who were killed and injured, among whom are children and women, do not count, of course.

How is it possible to explain the expulsion of citizens from their homes at three o’clock in the morning on a rainy night, then depositing bombs in the house and then departing without warning? When those expelled returned to their home, the bombs were exploded and a brutal murder and destruction of property was thus committed. And what is the justification for what happened in Jenin? We did not destroy the whole neighbourhood, just 85 houses; it was not slaughter, we killed only 50-some citizens. How many does one need to murder and destroy for it to be a crime?–A crime against humanity, as determined by the Laws of the State of Israel, not only the laws of Belgium.

Why Israel can't be a 'Jewish State'

The Israeli government's current mantra is that the Palestinians must recognise a "Jewish State". Of course, the Palestinians have clearly and repeatedly recognised the State of Israel as such in the 1993 Oslo Accords (which were based on an Israeli promise to establish a Palestinian state within five years - a promise now shattered) and many times since. Recently, however, Israeli leaders have dramatically and unilaterally moved the goal-posts and are now clamouring that Palestinians must recognise Israel as a "Jewish State".

In 1946, the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry concluded that the demand for a "Jewish State" was not part of the obligations of the Balfour Declaration or the British Mandate. Even in the First Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, when Zionists sought to "establish a home for the Jewish people", there was no reference of a "Jewish State". The Zionist Organisation preferred at first to use the description "Jewish homeland" or "Jewish Commonwealth". Many pioneering Zionist leaders, such as Judah Magnes and Martin Buber also avoided the clear and explicit term "Jewish State" for their project of a homeland for Jews, and preferred instead the concept of a democratic bi-national state.

Today, however, demands for a "Jewish State" from Israeli politicians are growing without giving thought to what this might mean, and its supporters claim that it would be as natural as calling France a French State. However, if we consider the subject dispassionately, the idea of a "Jewish State" is logically and morally problematic because of its legal, religious, historical and social implications. The implications of this term therefore need to be spelled out, and we are sure that once they are, most people - and most Israeli citizens, we trust - will not accept these implications.