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, June 09, 2012

HMCS Charlottetown stays busy on Red Sea

HMCS Charlottetown has steamed more than 40,000 kilometres since it and its 250-member crew left a frosty Halifax last January to patrol the Red Sea.

The Halifax-class frigate covers three critical “choke points” in the region: the Suez Canal, the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz, the artery through which about 20 per cent of the world’s oil supply flows.

More than 17 million barrels of crude passed through the Strait of Hormuz every day last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Good riddance to part of a bad law

According to the opposition parties, the Conservatives avoided much fuss and blowback, while removing Sections 13 and 54 from the Human Rights Act, by devious means. The repeal was quietly tabled as a private members’ bill, and the vote on third reading whipped while the prime minister was out of harm’s way, abroad.

This would seem to be substantially correct, and let me congratulate the Conservative government on getting away with it. I, along with everyone in Canada, with something to say on any controversial subject, can breathe a little easier, thanks to their success. I am also impressed that the government was able to remember the shameful cases brought against Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant, for five long years before finally seizing the day.

Omnibus budget bill is an affront to Parliament and the public

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives may have the power to abuse Parliament by ramming their outrageous “omnibus” budget bill into law in the coming days. But they don’t have a mandate from the people to do so. They discredit themselves by trying.

Canadians never got to vote on the sweeping changes the Tories have sprung on the country, affecting everything from Old Age Security to employment insurance, environmental protection, even the oversight charities receive. None of this was in the Tory platform. And it hasn’t undergone anything like the scrutiny it deserves. It is being rushed into law by an arrogant majority government that’s in a hurry to impose its agenda on the country.

G20 contributions to euro zone becomes a Canadian political issue

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Germany didn’t cut any cheques for the United States during its 2008 banking crisis, so it shouldn’t “pass the plate” now for outside help.

Speaking in Quebec City, the minister responded to comments from Germany’s ambassador in Ottawa, who told The Globe and Mail this week that his country is irritated by Canada’s refusal to pledge new money for a global bailout fund.

When G20 leaders meet in Los Cabos, Mexico, on June 18, they are expected to confirm individual new commitments to the International Monetary Fund that will total more than $430-billion and bring the amount available to more than $1-trillion. The pledges would allow the IMF to borrow the money from individual countries with interest to help financially troubled states.

Public servants wear grey squares to show solidarity with laid-off workers

OTTAWA — Taking a cue from the Quebec student protest and its ubiquitous red square, a federal union is trying to build solidarity for public servants losing their jobs by getting bureaucrats and politicians of all parties to wear grey squares.

The Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) is introducing the new symbol for the launch of Public Service Week with hopes that it will be worn over the next three years as the government downsizes and eliminates at least 19,200 jobs. Other unions are marking Public Service Week by snubbing government-sponsored events or urging their members to boycott them.

Cabinet shuffle expected to put new face on Stephen Harper government

OTTAWA—Take an ethics-challenged industry minister, a defence minister caught in a dogfight over fighter jet spending and a public safety minister whose loose lips torpedoed his own legislation.

Wash it all down with a $16 glass of orange juice — courtesy of the international cooperation minister — and you’ve got the makings of a Conservative cabinet that seems ripe for a shuffle.

More than a year after it was created, the cabinet that steered Stephen Harper’s government through the first year of its majority term looks due for a shakeup as it faces a renewed and popular NDP opposition.

Boomers, you folks had it easy

The Toronto Star ran a story recently about a 24-year-old “super intern” named Maeghan Smulders, who graduated from Mount Royal University with 29 job offers—all of which she rejected. Smulders figured if she was going to begin her career, she was going to do some research first. So ProjectONE12 was born, a postgraduate’s 112-day exploration into the world of unpaid internships. Smulders took stints in Toronto, Montreal and even San Jose, interning with 10 companies, all in the hopes of finding and landing her dream business job. She did. At the end of her seven-month journey (which she documented online) she took a job at Beyond the Rack, a Canadian online retail start-up. “Being in all the different places,” she said, reminiscing about the project, “you get a taste for culture and you get a taste for not just the work you’re doing, but the people there. I really wanted to find an environment I could really grow in.” Don’t we all.

Alberta residents angry after oil spills into nearby lake

Shock and frustration are two feelings hanging heavily over residents living near an oil spill in central Alberta.

Emergency crews are on the scene Friday cleaning up to 3,000 barrels of light sour crude oil released into Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer River near Sundre, Alta.

Cleanup crews are also working to contain the product that flowed into the nearby Gleniffer Lake and Reservoir, which feeds drinking water to several communities in the area.

Mayor Rob Ford votes against ‘free money’ for gang prevention

Mayor Rob Ford was the only member of council to vote against accepting $350,000 from the federal government for a year-long gang intervention project that will not cost the city anything.

Council voted 33-1 on Thursday to accept the funding from Ottawa’s National Crime Prevention Centre. Ford’s vote, which he did not explain, baffled even conservative allies like Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday.

“It’s free money,” Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, another conservative, said when asked why he voted in favour. “Why would you turn down $350,000?”

Tories attack Council of Canadians’ involvement in election fraud court cases

In the latest twist of the election fraud scandal, lawyers representing the Conservative MPs from the seven ridings involved in the citizen-led legal challenges to overturn election results have filed motions to throw out the cases. The initial legal skirmishes are now underway, and important developments are expected before the end of June.

The Council of Canadians is supporting court challenges to overturn election results by nine electors who allege that they received a fraudulent call advising them of a change in their polling location, that these calls were made to other electors, and that this lowered the voter turnout to a degree that affected the outcome of the election. Several affidavits have been filed in support of these applications, including one from Frank Graves of EKOS Research, whose firm surveyed voters and concluded that there were a large number of fraudulent calls in each of the seven ridings and that they were targeted at supporters of the NDP, Liberals and Greens. EKOS estimates that between 0.8% and 2.2% of the total eligible voters in the seven ridings were successfully dissuaded from voting as a direct result of these misleading calls.

Mitch McConnell Tax Cut Line Ignores Recent History

Slate's Dave Weigel noticed a paradox at the heart of a statement Senator Mitch McConnell released Friday afternoon.

McConnell was responding to President Obama's Friday-morning press conference, in which the president said that increased government spending was the only way out of the economic crisis, and that the private sector was "doing fine." McConnell's statement:

    "It’s baffling that in the face of all evidence to the contrary, this President still believes that spending money we don’t have to inflate the government is the answer to America’s economic problems. The economy would respond much more favorably to providing the tax certainty Americans deserve by extending all the tax rates and assuring employers they do not have to budget for the largest tax increase in American history next year. The Obama Economy is even slower now than when we extended the rates in 2010 -- raising taxes on job creators in this slow economy is simply not the elixir for his failed policies.”

White House Leaks: Eric Holder Appoints 2 Prosecutors To Lead Investigation

WASHINGTON -- Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama's re-election chances, a claim Obama calls "offensive" and "wrong."

Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran's nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief.

Terry Jones, Quran-Burning Pastor, Hangs Barack Obama Effigy Outside Florida Church

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has hanged an effigy of President Barack Obama from a gallows on its front lawn, a move DWOC pastor Terry Jones said was in response to Obama's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, as well as his stance on abortion and what Jones called his "appeasing of radical Islam."

According to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the U.S. Secret Service is currently investigating Jones in response to the display.

"The Secret Service is aware of this incident and will conduct appropriate follow-up," Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told the paper's "The Pulp" blog.

Right Wing Raises Mega-Cash for Hypocritical Attack Ads

Sixty million dollars sure sounds like a lot of money. That’s how much the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised in the month of May. Michele Bachmann figures it’s such a huge number that she can scare conservatives into giving her Congressional re-election campaign money by citing it. “Our victories this week have the Democrats on the run, but $60 million dollars in one month will help them fight back hard and I'm concerned they are preparing to dump their piles of cash on me and other Constitutional conservative candidates,” reads her latest fundraising e-mail.

There’s only one problem, for Bachmann and the Democrats alike. Republicans out-raised them by a comfortable margin. The Romney campaign and Republican National Committee together brought in $76.8 million in May.

This Week in Poverty: Justice for Janitors and Low-Wage Workers

Last week I reported that janitors in Houston reached an impasse in their month-long effort to renegotiate their expiring contract with cleaning contractors. The janitors are currently paid an hourly wage of $8.35 and earn an average of $8,684 annually. They seek a raise to $10 an hour over the next three years, but the contractors offered just a $0.50 pay raise phased in over five years.

In response, the janitors began asking building owners and tenants to intervene on their behalf—especially since the cleaning contractors claimed that those corporations were unwilling to cover higher wages, so their hands were tied.

How the NRA and Its Allies Helped Spread a Radical Gun Law Nationwide

The Florida law made infamous this spring by the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin was conceived during the epic hurricane season of 2004. That November, 77-year-old James Workman moved his family into an RV outside Pensacola after Hurricane Ivan peeled back the roof of their house. One night a stranger tried to force his way into the trailer, and Workman killed him with two shots from a .38 revolver. The stranger turned out to be a disoriented temporary worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency who was checking for looters and distressed homeowners. Workman was never arrested, but three months went by before authorities cleared him of wrongdoing.

The Fate of the Ocean

Our oceans are under attack, and approaching a point of no return. Can we survive if the seas go silent?

WE’RE IN FOR A WILD RIDE, say Oceanus’ 13-person crew, salts old and young, most of them Cape Codders with lifelong careers on the water. Consequently, many of the 12 members of the scientific team—oceanographers, science technicians, and graduate students, along with this observer—scatter across the ship’s three decks in the moments before we sail, seeking privacy for our last cell phone calls home, backs turned to the rain, shouting against the wind. At 177 feet and more than 1,000 tons, R/V (research vessel) Oceanus is the smallest ship in the long-range fleet of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and I suspect there’s not one of us aboard this morning who doesn’t wish we were sailing on one of the larger vessels.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline: First Nations Say Claim Of 60-Per-Cent Support A 'Sham'

VANCOUVER - An aboriginal group along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline says Enbridge's (TSX:ENB) claim of widespread support among First Nations is a "sham."

On Tuesday, Enbridge announced it had signed agreements with 60 per cent of the aboriginal communities on the route, saying it's proof there's more support for the pipeline than opponents would suggest.

But the executive director of the Coastal First Nations, an alliance of 10 First Nations who oppose the project and that live on the land the pipeline will traverse, accused Enbridge of manipulating the facts.

Commons, Senate Audit Expected Next Week From Auditor General Michael Ferguson

OTTAWA — The auditor general is expected to deliver his report card on the efficient administration of the House of Commons and Senate next week.

Auditor general Michael Ferguson’s office is still hashing out the details of the report’s release with both chambers but plans to release the potentially controversial audit before Parliament rises for the summer break.

MPs fought tooth and nail against the audit in 2010 when then-auditor general Sheila Fraser proposed it. MPs argued their internal mechanisms and independent audits by professional firms were sufficient and Fraser’s watchful eye was unnecessary.

Alberta Oil Spill: Up To 3,000 Barrels Spill Near Red Deer River Reports Plains Midstream Canada

SUNDRE, Alta. - Crews were scrambling Friday to contain and clean up a pipeline spill that is believed to have sent up to 475,000 litres of crude oil flowing into a rain-swollen Red Deer River system in west-central Alberta.

Plains Midstream Canada says when the spill was discovered Thursday night it closed off its network of pipelines in the area.

Tracey McCrimmon, executive director of a community group that works with the industry, said it was rural homeowners who first raised the alarm about an oil pipeline spill.

Canada Youth Employment Stuck At Recession-Era Lows: StatsCan

May marks the start of summer jobs season, making it an important time for young people looking for work. But according to the latest jobs report, last month brought more pain to the young and unemployed, who continue to face jobless rates that have barely budged since the depths of the recession.

As recent grads took their first steps into the job market, Statistics Canada data shows that the unemployment rate among those aged 15 to 25 hit 14.3 per cent in May, up 0.4 per cent over April. The number of people with jobs in this group, meanwhile, was down 1.8 per cent over the same time last year.

Nunavut Food Protest: Inuit Organize Widespread Protest Over Hunger And Food Costs

IQALUIT, Nunavut - A head of cabbage for $20. Fifteen bucks for a small bag of apples.

A case of ginger ale: $82.

Fed up and frustrated by sky-high food prices and concerned over widespread hunger in their communities, thousands of Inuit have spent weeks posting pictures and price tags from their local grocery stores to a Facebook site called Feed My Family.

That site is now the nucleus of an unprecedented protest across Nunavut organized for Saturday to draw attention to food prices that would shock southerners.

Lockheed F-35 scrap rate at 16 percent - Pentagon

WASHINGTON, June 8 (Reuters) - The rate of scrap, rework and repair on production of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet is currently around 16 percent, higher than on other military aircraft programs at similar stages of production, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Both the Pentagon's F-35 program office and Lockheed Martin Corp "recognize this is an area that needs improvement, and are working together to achieve world-class levels of quality," said Navy Commander Kyra Hawn, a spokeswoman for the program office.

Hawn said the other military programs had scrap, rework and repair rates in the mid to high single digits when they reached a production level of 100 aircraft. The F-35 is nearing production of its 100th jet.

DND can't fully explain spending increase

OTTAWA — The Department of National Defence can't explain exactly why defence expenditures jumped an estimated 14 per cent during the past fiscal year to $22.5 billion — including nearly $4 billion in the month of March alone — as the government tries to rein in the deficit.

While the department has struggled to identify where the money is going, Defence Minister Peter MacKay on Friday tried to summarize the spending hike, highlighting investments in military equipment, bases and treatment for the sick and injured.

Haters will love changes to human rights act


Don’t like that? Too bad.

Nigger. Faggot. Paki. Chink.

Don’t like those, either? Again, too bad.

As of last week, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made it a lot easier for you to be called any of those things — or any number of other racist, hateful epithets — when they killed a key part of the Canadian Human Rights Act. That part, Section 13, prohibited the communication of hate via the telephone or the Internet.

Design by Democracy: Casseroles for democracy

I directed this musical documentary of the Manif Casseroles on May 30 in Toronto, to support Quebec students, and prompt a discussion about the democratic rights of civil society to control access to our future as undermined by Bill C-38, currently being considered in Parliament. $24 billion in the budget is set aside for Canada's military, yet $15 billion would enable free university tuition nationwide. Beyond their initial conversation about rising tuition fees, Manif Casseroles rallies have enabled a discussion about the Harper government's lack of transparency about their proposed future control of our natural resources through Bill C-38, which repeals 70 laws hidden in this 420-page omnibus bill, of which 30 per cent is not about the budget. MP Elizabeth May has called this juggernaut of repeals "the Environmental Devastation Act."

'Devastating' cuts to Literary Press Group: Very bad news for employees and publishers

This week, the Department of Canadian Heritage cut funding to The Literary Press Group (LPG), an organization which represents 47 small Canadian publishers.

The money represented one-third of the group's revenue.

In a press release, released on June 6, the LPG called the cuts "a body blow to Canada's independent literary publishers."

One of the major services LPG provides to its member publishers is a sales team to represent their titles in the Canadian market. Currently LPG is responsible for about 225 books.

Living in a world without leaders

In his first speech in the House of Commons as leader of the Opposition, in 2002, Stephen Harper’s chosen topic was “perhaps the most important issue that ever faces Canada: our relationship with the United States.”

Harper was pretty sure the Liberals were making a mess of that relationship. Jean Chrétien didn’t really even like Americans, so he was frittering away time on trade trips to China in a doomed attempt “to revive the failed trade diversification of the 1970s, the Trudeau government’s so-called third-option strategy, which did not work then and is not working now.”

Matching EI recipients with jobs requires ... jobs

When Human Resources Minister Diane Finley announced the government's plans to reform employment insurance last month, she outlined new measures the government would take to help people find work.

"The changes that we are proposing for EI are not about forcing people to move across Canada or to take work that doesn’t match their skill set," Finley said at her May 24 announcement. "Our goal is to help Canadians find local work that matches their skills."

A $21 million expenditure was announced to "connect" unemployed Canadians with available jobs in their area, such as an improved system of emailed "alerts" to advertise local job vacancies to people who may be interested in filling them.

Mob attacks march against sexual harassment in Egypt

A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment Friday, with the attackers overwhelming the male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

From the ferocity of the assault, some of the victims said it appeared to have been an organized attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample on the pro-democracy protest movement.

The attack follows smaller scale assaults on women this week in Tahrir, the epicentre of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down last year. Thousands have been gathering in the square this week in protests over a variety of issues -- mainly over worries that presidential elections this month will secure the continued rule by elements of Mubarak's regime backed by the ruling military.

Montreal's Grand Prix party crashed by protesters

Hundreds of demonstrators besieged Montreal's Grand Prix street parties Friday night, as police used pepper-spray and reportedly rubber bullets, arrested a dozen people and forcefully pushed back crowds of protesters and bystanders alike.

Starting at around 9 p.m. ET, a group of about 200 demonstrators formed on downtown Crescent Street, right next to a street festival for Grand Prix revellers. A protest march of another several hundred people headed toward the same location.

Montreal police and officers from the Sûreté du Québec, the provincial force, spent two hours in a cat-and-mouse game trying to block the second group's approach to the area try to prevent a confrontation between demonstrators and Formula One fans.

China announces plan for manned space launch this month

China will launch astronauts this month to dock for the first time with an orbiting experimental module, the country’s space program announced Saturday.

A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to a launch pad in China’s desert northwest in preparation for the mid-June flight, according to an unidentified space program spokesman cited by the official Xinhua News Agency.

Xinhua said earlier the flight will carry three astronauts who will dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital module.

Enbridge president buys on dip

On May 31, Enbridge Inc. announced a $400-million bought deal financing priced at $40.71. The stock has since dipped below that level. As the price pulled back, president Al Monaco bought 12,600 shares in the public market at $39.35 on June 5. Despite some public market sales, insiders have actually boosted their holdings by 75,844 shares (not including performance units) over the last year primarily through share-based staff incentive plans. The net share accumulation has helped to position Enbridge with above-median beneficial ownership by officers and directors compared to its peers.

Ted Dixon is CEO of INK Research which provides insider news and knowledge to investors. For more background on insider reporting in Canada, visit the FAQ section at Securities referenced in this profile may have already appeared in recent reports distributed to INK subscribers. INK staff may also hold a position in profiled securities.

Original Article
Source: the globe and mail
Author: TED DIXON 

Toronto Disaster Relief Committee folds after 14 years of spotlighting homeless

It was the champion of the homeless.

Born in the late 1990s, when a combination of deep cuts to welfare and affordable housing were pushing hundreds of destitute Torontonians onto the streets, the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee firmly established itself as the voice of the most vulnerable.

The social activists, academics and business people who made up the TDRC — as it was also called — took up the cause with evangelistic fervour.

In the fall of 1998, a cluster of homeless deaths and dire warnings of a harsh winter ahead became the ominous backdrop to its concerted cry for help.

Oil spill threatens Alberta’s Red Deer River

Between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of oil have spilled into a tributary of the Red Deer River in central Alberta.

It is the second time in four years a ruptured pipeline has leaked crude oil into the river, considered one of the province’s most popular waterways.

“This is the responsibility of the oil company,” Bruce Beattie, Reeve of Mountain View County, told the Toronto StarFriday, referring to Plains Midstream Canada.

The spill is about 75 kilometres upstream, from Red Deer, the third largest city in the province.

Quebec student protests: Montreal’s Crescent Street becomes fault line in battle over Grand Prix

MONTREAL — On one side of the barrier they shouted about the injustices of global capitalism; on the other they sipped beer and snapped pictures of luxury sports cars.

A group of activists — protesting capitalism in general and Quebec's tuition hikes in particular — have been trying their hardest to crash the party on the Montreal street most closely associated with this weekend's Canadian Grand Prix festivities.

There have been some surreal scenes as these two ideological worlds collide.