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, May 20, 2012

Environment minister’s office urged bureaucrats to blame media for recycling controversy

OTTAWA — The office of Environment Minister Peter Kent responded to media coverage of his department’s decision to spurn recycling and buy new furniture for a building under renovations by asking bureaucrats to publicly call the reports “false,” newly released internal emails reveal.

The correspondence, released to Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation, shows that Kent, who has declined to publicly comment on the controversy since last July, was informed about the issue at Place Vincent Massey, a building in Gatineau, Que., near Ottawa, as bureaucrats from his department and Public Works and Government Services Canada worked to explain their decisions.

The government paid $141,000 to store furniture for a year, during renovations at the office building that would be increasing its number of workstations.

Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state

The Israeli prime minister has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that "illegal infiltrators flooding the country" were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.

"If we don't stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state," Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday's cabinet meeting. "This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity." Israel's population is 7.8 million.

His comments follow media reports of rising crime, including two gang rapes, in southern Tel Aviv, where many African migrants are concentrated. However, Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen. There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.

Under Asset Forfeiture Law, Wisconsin Cops Confiscate Families' Bail Money

When the Brown County, Wis., Drug Task Force arrested her son Joel last February, Beverly Greer started piecing together his bail.

She used part of her disability payment and her tax return. Joel Greer's wife also chipped in, as did his brother and two sisters. On Feb. 29, a judge set Greer's bail at $7,500, and his mother called the Brown County jail to see where and how she could get him out. "The police specifically told us to bring cash," Greer says. "Not a cashier's check or a credit card. They said cash."

So Greer and her family visited a series of ATMs, and on March 1, she brought the money to the jail, thinking she'd be taking Joel Greer home. But she left without her money, or her son.

Nancy Pelosi: Speaker John Boehner 'Wants To Go Over The Edge'

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused House Speaker John Boehner on Sunday of "want[ing] to go over the edge" when it comes to negotiations to keep the government from defaulting on its debts.

The federal government will hit its debt limit sometime around the November election, but extraordinary measures, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said, can keep the government paying its bill into the new year, when a new Congress is sworn in.

Boehner, however, began negotiations on the debt ceiling last week, saying that new tax revenues were off the table and that any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by an equal number of cuts.

Hey Parliament, Keep Your Laws Off my Body

Canadian women won equality rights 27 years ago when the gender equality clause in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms took effect in 1985. Our Supreme Court has since protected and advanced women's constitutional rights on numerous occasions. Yet, several times since the turn of the 21st century, Parliament has seen fit to debate whether women's rights should be restricted. How can this happen?

I'm speaking of course of the abortion debate, in which anti-choicers pretend that it's all about saving an unprotected class of "human beings" -- fetuses and embryos -- and not about completely subordinating pregnant women to their childbearing function, including forcing women by law to forfeit their own health and lives if necessary. Most anti-choicers, including Canada's national anti-choice group Campaign Life Coalition, want to ban abortion under all circumstances, including to save the woman's life.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s “no bad jobs” claim is sadistic

“I was brought up in a certain way,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last week. “There is no bad job, the only bad job is not having a job. I drove a taxi, I refereed hockey. You do what you have to do to make a living.”

What a vain man. He probably thinks this column is about him. (It is.)

For I was brought up in a certain way, Mr. Flaherty. There are plenty of bad jobs, although in truth the only bad job is the one you have at the moment because every other job in the world looks like heaven on a stick.

Mulcair prepares for the long battle on oilsands

OTTAWA -- NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is digging his heels in, gearing up for a battle on the Alberta oilsands that he's ready to take on the next campaign trial.

"This is a fight we've been looking for," Mulcair said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. "We see this as a defining element of the next election campaign in Canada."

But the fight is not with premiers of the Western provinces, as recent remarks from provincial leaders and the Conservative front bench would have some believe.

The fight is over the lack of enforcement of Canada's national environmental laws, especially in the context of oilsands development, Mulcair said.

NATO chief says 'no rush for the exits' in Afghanistan

NATO's secretary-general, speaking as leaders from 60 countries gather for the alliance's summit in Chicago, says the organization's commitment in Afghanistan remains strong.

"There will be no rush for the exits," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said shortly before the two-day summit opened Sunday. "We will stay committed to our operation in Afghanistan and see it through to a successful end. Our goal, our strategy, our timetable remain unchanged."

Military operations by the remaining Western partners are set to wrap up in 2014, and the question on the minds of many is what comes next. Although the ranks of the Afghan army have swelled to almost 350,000 it remains a struggling force that exerts no control over large swaths of the country.

NATO says the priority is making sure the transition takes place peacefully.

Quebec student protesters find creative ways around controversial new law

MONTREAL — Only a day after becoming law, protesters were finding creative ways around Quebec’s controversial legislation aimed at restoring order in the province.

In an attempt to avoid hefty fines, one prominent student group took down its web page Saturday that listed all upcoming protests. Another anonymous web page with listings quickly popped up in its place — with a note discouraging people from attending.

The disclaimer is meant to evade new rules applying to protest organizers, who must provide an itinerary for demonstrations and could be held responsible for any violence.

The website also accepts submissions for future protests and suggests using a software that blocks a sender’s digital trail.

Scott Walker Recall: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Says Removal Of Governor Is Not Justified

Wisconsin's biggest newspaper released an editorial on Saturday recommending that voters choose to keep Governor Scott Walker in office. (Read the whole thing here.)

"No governor in recent memory has been so controversial," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial begins. "No governor in America is so polarizing. Everyone has an opinion about Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Here's ours: We see no reason to remove Walker from office. We recommend him in the June 5 recall election."

Walker will face Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett at the polls.

The editorial opines that while Walker went too far in his drive to restrict unions' collective-bargaining rights — the issue that spurred intense Democratic backlash — "a disagreement over a single policy is simply not enough to justify a vote against the governor."

A series of recent polls show Walker building a lead over Barrett.

Original Article
Source: Huff

Mitt, The Incidental Candidate

WASHINGTON -- He barely speaks in his own first general-election ad. On the top floor of his Boston campaign headquarters, the most visible poster is one of his dad's. His party's leaders in Congress, the states and the lobbying world don't bow to him, or mention him much, even as they make moves that can't help but define his agenda for him. Arguably the key person in his campaign is Republican kingpin Karl Rove, but Rove doesn't work there.

And this is just the way Mitt Romney and his team like it. Romney is the incidental candidate in an incidental campaign. He's a bland, blunt instrument, but only an instrument, in a wider crusade dedicated to one goal: ousting President Barack Obama and reversing whatever policy victories he has won.

Goofy or creepy when off script, burdened by an ideologically muddled record and a penchant for privacy in his business and religious life, Romney has chosen to focus on everyone but himself and to surrender his campaign to a larger conservative effort.

Province ignored warnings months before Slave Lake disaster, ex-public safety boss says

Alberta’s former top public safety official says he warned the government months before the Slave Lake fire that it was ill-equipped to protect the public in the event of a major disaster.

And in the wake of a new report that finds there were poor communications and a delayed evacuation of the town, Dave Hodgins said Saturday he hopes the province will finally give the Alberta Emergency Management Agency he used to head the power to co-ordinate the response to major disasters.

“It makes my blood boil to think the lives of firefighters and residents were unnecessarily put at risk,” Hodgins said in an interview.

“Ministers and deputy ministers were told this could happen and they chose to ignore that advice.”

Add 'Dutch Disease' to climate change as real phenomena denied by Stephen Harper's neo-Conmen

If the Alberta and federal governments' mismanagement of oil sands development were not so clear and their defence of their policies not so divisive and intellectually dishonest, one could feel a little more sympathy with their foot-stomping and tears of outrage at Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair's diagnosis Canada suffers from "Dutch Disease."

You could argue that the dose of Dutch Disease Canada has caught isn't very serious, for example, or claim different economic factors are involved in other regions' problems. But it's pretty hard for anyone to make a serious case Canada’s currency has not been driven upward to some degree by the West's bitumen boom or that our muscular petro-Loonie isn’t having some economic side-effects in other parts of the country.

Indeed, the Globe and Mail revealed yesterday that researchers contracted by Industry Canada concluded "a third or more of job losses in Canada's manufacturing sector can be attributed to resource-driven currency appreciation."

Montreal police teargas protesters, arrest 69

Thousands of protesters outraged by two laws passed Friday to tamp down civil unrest marched through downtown Montreal on Saturday night, many of them wearing now-illegal masks or hoods.

Authorities declared the protest illegal about a half-hour after it began at 8:30 p.m. ET. Then, a little after 11 p.m., Montreal police ordered protesters to disperse and called in the provincial police force's riot squad.

The night ended with 69 arrests, police said.

Police fired tear gas at demonstrators in at least three areas of the city: near McGill University's campus, at the intersection of St. Laurent Boulevard and Ontario Street, and in a park near the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Flames, barricades, and Arcade Fire: Quebec protests make waves

A plan to restore order in Montreal appeared to erupt in smoke late Saturday, with fiery blockades blazing on a busy downtown street corner in a dispute gaining international attention.

Groups of protesters built pyres from plastic traffic cones and construction materials, setting them ablaze in the middle of an intersection in a popular nightclub district.

Meanwhile, the protest has spread beyond borders.

In New York, members of the Montreal-based rock band Arcade Fire wore the movement’s iconic red squares during an appearance with The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live. Mr. Jagger wore a red shirt, but no red square.

German Occupy rally draws 20,000 in Frankfurt

BERLIN—Some 20,000 activists took part in a major rally of the local Occupy movement in Frankfurt on Saturday, German police said.

Protesters peacefully filled the city centre of continental Europe’s biggest financial hub in their protest against the dominance of banks and what they perceive to be untamed capitalism, Frankfurt police spokesman Ruediger Regis said.

Police revised the initial turnout estimate of 10,000 quickly upward to 20,000 as protesters jammed Frankfurt’s downtown business district on what was a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.

A spokesman for the organizers, Roland Suess, said turnout has already reached 25,000. Organizers had told authorities that they expect between 10,000 and 40,000 participants.