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.]

Friday, June 22, 2012

Trailer Park Evicted to Make Room for Fracking

When the 32 families of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, found out that they were losing their homes to the state's latest fracking operation, the news didn't come from their landlord, or an eviction notice in the mail—they read about it in their morning paper.

The February 18 article, published in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, nonchalantly detailed the approval of three natural gas projects in Lycoming County, PA, including a water withdrawal station that would pipe millions of gallons of water from the Susquehanna River to fracking stations in the mountains further north. The article noted that an "added benefit" of the plans was "the removal of mobile homes," which were located in a potential flood plain.

Quebec Student Protests: Tuition Protests Planned For Montreal And Quebec City

MONTREAL - Student leaders are urging people to march en masse through the streets of Montreal and Quebec City.

The calls by the heads of the movement opposing tuition fee increases come as protesters shift gears for the summer months.

Crowds are expected to gather in downtown Montreal for a march today as well as outside the provincial legislature in Quebec City.

Are we heading towards a one man government, with no checks and balances?

The list of allegations of assault on Canadian parliamentary democracy by the Harper government is a long one. They include the two prorogations, the lack of information on the cost of the omnibus crime bill, the hiding of $10 billion of the full costs of the F-35 fighter jets and the inclusion of some 70 odd pieces of legislation under the omnibus budget bill without the benefit of full democratic exposure. And now we have a new one, this time being alleged not by the opposition parties, but by an independent officer of Parliament.

On April 12, 2013, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, requested from certain deputy ministers information regarding the savings measures in their departments relating to the stipulations in the omnibus budget bill that has just been passed in the House of Commons. The PBO relied on section 79.3(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act which was brought in under the much vaunted Harper Conservative Federal Accountability Act.

Page: Budget details or court case

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page is giving the government until the fall to hand over details of budget cuts or he is taking them to court.

On Monday, Page made public an 11-page legal opinion that said the government was breaking the law by not handing over the information.

The law says the parliamentary budget officer, Canada’s independent budget watchdog, is to have “free and timely access to financial or economic data.”

'It's time to take the uprising in Quebec from coast to coast to coast'

On Friday, June 22, join in the largest act of civil disobedience in North American history.

From the Harper government's attacks on workers and our environment, to Charest's attacks on students and Law 78's attack on the public's right to protest, now is the time to unite.

Tomorrow, June 22, there is a massive mobilization taking place in Quebec. Join with friends and family to take the uprising in Quebec from coast to coast to coast.

This is about more than tuition; this is about education for all, about ending austerity, and about creating the future we want to build. We refuse to be silenced!

This Friday, wherever you are, join with friends and family to bang on pots and pans in solidarity with the people of Quebec.

Most casseroles will begin at 8p.m. Check out this link to find out where events are being planned in your city. If your city isn't on the list, organize an event with the people in your community.

Casseroles will continue on a weekly basis. The next massive demonstration will be July 22.

On ne lâche pas!

Original Article
Author: Brigette DePape

At Rio+20, Canada furiously backpedals on environment

Twenty years ago, newspapers were filled with stories about an event called the Earth Summit.

Billed as a bold undertaking, the 1992 summit meeting on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro represented a monumental effort by the world’s nations to stave off environmental Armageddon.

It produced one treaty aimed at combating global warming and another devoted to preventing the extermination of entire species of plant and animal life.

Kent says Canada must counter misinformation on environment by ecologists

RIO DE JANEIRO - Environment Minister Peter Kent says Canada must stop the spread of "misinformation" on the environment by ecologists with an ideological agenda.

It's the latest example of strained relations between Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and the environmental movement.

Kent, who is attending a United Nations conference in Brazil on the environment, said Thursday that ideology has tinged criticism of the federal government's efforts.

Paul Krugman: Solving Europe's Crisis 'Is Not Going To Be About Punishing The Guilty'

Paul Krugman says that European leaders need to forget about exacting punishment and get around to actually addressing the crisis in Europe.

"This is not a morality play. You have to find answers," Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist, said in a recent interview with PBS. "The question is whether the Europeans in general, and the Germans in particular, can accept the fact that this is not going to be about punishing the guilty, especially because in many cases the people suffering the most had nothing to do with creating this crisis."

Walmart Petition: 130,000 Call On Company To Cease Business With CJ Seafood

Walmart is facing criticism for allegedly profiting from unfair labor practices.

More than 130,000 people have signed a petition on calling on Walmart to stop doing business with a seafood supplier accused of labor law violations.

U.S., South Korea War Games Called A Warning To North Korea

POCHEON, South Korea -- A huge North Korean flag disappeared behind a tower of flames and thick black smoke Friday as South Korean fighter jets and U.S. attack helicopters fired rockets in the allies' biggest joint live-fire drills since the Korean War.

The war games south of the heavily armed Korean border come amid rising animosity between the rival Koreas and are meant to mark Monday's 62nd anniversary of the start of the 1950-53 war, which ended in a truce, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically at war.

SNC-Lavalin Bribes: 6 Bangladeshi Officials Were On The Take, According To Report

MONTREAL - Embattled engineering giant SNC-Lavalin allegedly offered large bribes to at least six influential Bangladeshi officials, including two former government ministers, to obtain a lucrative bridge contract, the Dhaka Daily Star reported Thursday.

The newspaper said it obtained the information from unnamed sources within the anti-corruption commission who allegedly had access to evidence gathered by the RCMP during an investigation launched at the request of the World Bank.

Canada broke agreement with Omar Khadr, lawyers say

Omar Khadr's Canadian and American lawyers are calling on the Conservative government to live up to its agreement with the United States and approve his transfer to serve out the rest of his sentence for war crimes in Canada.

"The Canadian government has consistently failed to live up to its obligations to Omar Khadr. While Omar, a child, was trapped in a place that has been condemned around the world, the Canadian government stood idly by and said simply, 'We will let the process run its course,'" his Canadian lawyer, John Norris, told an Ottawa press conference Thursday.

Is self-censorship fueling Alice Walker's Hebrew halt?

A rather sad email arrived this week in the relentless slew of material political activists shower on me and every other reporter in the Washington press corps.

Titled "Letter from Alice Walker to publishers at Yediot Books," it was essentially a declaration of intent to suppress ideas in furtherance of a political battle.

That's hardly a new tactic in these belligerent times. The astonishing thing was the identity of the iconic woman so vigorously seeking to shut down the sustaining free flow of intellectual discourse.

Alice Walker is the author of The Color Purple, a powerful 1982 statement about sexism, racism and the pathologies of an underclass. It was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1985.

Harper's finger poised for the reset button this summer

As the Commons fades to black, and MPs head home for summer on the backyard barbecue circuit, the Harper government has already turned its attention from omnibus bills to ominous economic clouds.

The final day of the parliamentary sitting was marked with a muggy heat wave in the capital, and a final blast of hot air in the House of Commons.

But the one political message that may have resonated with ordinary Canadians was a word of foreboding from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Alberta Oil Spills: Doug Bloom, Pipeline Boss, Worries Opponents Will Latch Onto Spills

CALGARY - Canada's pipeline boss says he expects two recent leaks in Alberta will provide ammunition to opponents of the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway projects.

An Enbridge (TSX:ENB) pumping station spilled 230,000 litres of heavy crude near Elk Point northeast of Edmonton this week. And a pipeline owned by Plains Midstream Canada leaked up to 475,000 litres of light sour crude into the Red Deer River in central Alberta on June 7.

Random Drug And Alcohol Testing Coming For Oilsands Workers

Tens of thousands of workers in the Alberta oilsands could soon be subject to random alcohol and drug testing under a two-year pilot project.

Many oilsands companies have voluntary testing. Employees are also tested if there is a strong suspicion they are high or intoxicated on the job or if they are involved in a workplace accident.

Environment Canada confused by cuts, union letter says

OTTAWA — Senior management at Environment Canada offered “blank looks” and expressed confusion after being told that cuts to a team of pollution-monitoring scientists would compromise the department’s enforcement capabilities and the credibility of its international reports, says the president of the union that represents environment employees.

Environment Minister Peter Kent, who was in Rio de Janeiro Thursday for the United Nations conference on sustainable development, was not available for comment but indicated through a spokesman that his department is still taking a scientific approach to monitoring pollution.

Harper seeks to boost sagging image in Quebec

OTTAWA — As the House of Commons rises for the summer, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is heading to Quebec, where members of his Conservative party’s rank and file have been urging him to restore his image to boost the government’s sagging popularity and counter a potential threat to national unity.

Party supporters say Quebecers generally agree with the Conservative government’s economic policies, but the problem comes from personal attacks and criticism directed at Harper that rarely draw a response from the government.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page fights for his independence

OTTAWA—Kevin Page is first and foremost — and proudly — a bureaucrat.

He’s a guy from blue-collar Thunder Bay, hardly a household name outside Ottawa.

He is known here for his quiet resolve, a man who bikes to work from his suburban bungalow and is more comfortable chowing down at a downtown food court than the parliamentary dining room.

What Stonewall Got Right, and Occupy Got Wrong

This Sunday, as every fourth Sunday in June, the streets of New York will fill with prideful marchers celebrating Pride Month. There will be similar marches, too, in cities around the country. Sunday marks the forty-third year since the uprising in a Greenwich Village bar called Stonewall that supposedly started the modern gay revolution. The myth is that a few hundred angry people acted out in lower Manhattan, and the world changed. Maybe that’s where Occupy Wall Street got the idea that this is how it’s done.

Drone strikes threaten 50 years of international law, says UN rapporteur

The US policy of using aerial drones to carry out targeted killings presents a major challenge to the system of international law that has endured since the second world war, a United Nations investigator has said.

Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions, told a conference in Geneva that President Obama's attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, carried out by the CIA, would encourage other states to flout long-established human rights standards.

F-35 stealth fighter jets’ terms of independent review vindicate AG; winning firm must include all lifetime costs

PARLIAMENT HILL—The terms of an independent review to verify full lifecycle costs for the government’s proposed acquisition of 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets vindicate Auditor General Michael Ferguson in his three-month battle with the Department of National Defence over the project’s costs, requiring the firm that wins a competition to conduct the review to include all costs—everything down to jet fuel—for the entire expected lifetime of the aircraft.

Torture in U.S. Prisons? Historic Senate Hearing Takes Up Solitary Confinement’s Devastating Toll

In the first-ever hearing of its kind, a Senate panel heard testimony this week on the psychological and human rights implications of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. While defenders of solitary confinement claim it is needed to control the most violent prisoners, many of the people called to testify at the hearing described how it can cause intense suffering and mental illness. We’re joined by Anthony Graves, a former Texas prisoner who was fully exonerated of a murder conviction after spending 18 years behind bars, the bulk of that time on death row and in solitary confinement, and by James Ridgeway, a veteran journalist and co-editor of Solitary Watch, a website that tracks solitary confinement and torture in American prisons.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Provincial Liberals declare natural gas clean energy source

The B.C. Liberal government is deeming natural gas a “clean” source of energy to clear the way for the development of a liquefied natural gas extraction project in northern British Columbia, reversing a key environmental policy of the Gordon Campbell era.

In a speech to a business audience Thursday, Premier Christy Clark said natural gas will be classified as a clean fuel when used to power liquefied natural gas extraction plants in northern B.C.

For many, new mortgage rules put home ownership out of reach

While the country’s new mortgage rules are meant to cool the market, eventually making housing more affordable, they’ve put home ownership out of reach for many prospective buyers.

Those who don’t have a down payment of 20 per cent or more will be limited to a maximum amortization period of 25 years. Since 40 per cent of new mortgages last year were for 26 to 30 years, according to a survey from the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, real-estate neophytes might feel the change most dramatically.