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, July 13, 2012

B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix mobilizes to nix Northern Gateway

With a regulatory review for the contentious Northern Gateway project still under way – and a provincial election on the horizon – British Columbia’s New Democratic Party is already looking at ways to stop the $5.5-billion project should it be approved.

That includes a legal team considering strategies to prevent it from being built, NDP Leader Adrian Dix says.

“We’re looking at all of the options the province might use to deal with the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline,” Mr. Dix said Thursday from Kelowna.

New poll shows Conservatives sliding in key regions

A new poll by EKOS from the beginning of July shows the Conservatives are slipping in some key regions of the country since the last election.

The Conservatives are, however, still way ahead in Alberta. They would take almost 60 per cent of the vote were an election held right now, leaving the NDP 19.5 per cent and the Liberals a paltry 10. Fortress Alberta is, therefore, holding strong. But the same can’t necessarily be said for the other regions of our fair dominion.

Why Toronto West Detention Centre inmates can’t read library books

Inmates at Toronto West Detention Centre have been denied books for much of the last two years because a volunteer who ran the library retired.

At the Toronto East Detention Centre, library service has been sporadic for 16 years because of a lack of volunteers, said Brent Ross, a spokesman for the Correctional Services ministry. Student volunteers have filled in occasionally during the last two years, he said, adding that jails have relied on volunteers since 1996 when the province laid off all librarians in correctional institutions.

The locked-up library carts came to light when Alex Hundert, jailed for his role as an organizer of the G20 protest two years ago, wrote a blog this week about not being able to get a library book at Toronto West.

Libor scandal prompts regulators to look at Canada’s version, CDOR

OTTAWA—Canada’s financial industry regulator says it is reviewing whether a rate rigging scandal that has rocked global banks could happen in Canada.

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada says it is not aware of problems, but is launching a review of Canadian practices in light of the interest-rate fixing scandal engulfing European and American banks.

IIROC says it is reviewing what is known as CDOR, the Canadian dealer offered rate, set daily through a survey of rates provided by nine market makers, including Canada’s big banks.

The review is not related to a Competition Bureau investigation into whether Canadian affiliates of six international banks played a role in the fixing scandal with Libor.

Libor is short for the London interbank overnight rate that provides a benchmark for trillions of dollars in contracts around the world.

The scandal was sparked when venerable British bank Barclays admitted that it had submitted false information, resulting in a fine of $US$453 million and the resignation of its chief executive.

Original Article
Source: the star
Author: CP

Mayor Rob Ford silently votes against every community grants program, again

Mayor Rob Ford has continued his annual tradition of voting against every one of the city’s community development grants programs.

The six programs would have sailed through council unanimously on Friday, without a vote, had Ford not placed a “hold” on the items in order to vote against them. He lost the votes 34-1, 34-1, 33-1, 34-1, 35-1, and 35-1.

Ford did not offer an explanation. He was also silent when he voted in June against accepting federal money for a gang prevention project that would not have cost the city anything. He lost that vote 33-1.

When banks are too big to behave

As long as there have been banks, there have been banking scandals. The treasurers of Athena burned the Acropolis in an attempted cover-up after secretly lending money to speculative bankers. Wall Street’s first banking scandal—a familiar tale of banks lending too heavily to property speculators who lost it all when the real estate bubble burst—happened in 1837. Banking that breaks the rules “in consequence of some flattering speculation of extraordinary gain, is almost always extremely dangerous and frequently fatal to the banking company which attempts it,” economist Adam Smith warned in The Wealth of Nations nearly 250 years ago.

St. Andrews scientist speaks out over cuts

A retired scientist from St. Andrews is speaking out against recent federal science cuts, saying human health and local wisdom are at stake.

Hundreds of members of the academic community staged a protest Tuesday on Parliament Hill, accusing the government of stifling research that doesn't fit with the 'pro-business' agenda.

John Castell, a former marine biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the federal science cuts include cutting the entire toxicology contaminants team in St. Andrews.

Ann Darby, Wife Of New York Fed President, Gets $190,000 A Year From JPMorgan Chase

The relationship between JPMorgan Chase and its regulators is gaining a bit more attention these days.

Plenty of people have already registered their concern over the fact that Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan, sits on the board of directors at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, one of the bodies meant to act as a watchdog for the bank. But the ties don't end there.

Ann Darby, the wife of New York Fed president William Dudley, used to work at JPMorgan Chase, according to financial disclosure records for Dudley. And she's still getting deferred-income checks for the work she did there, to the tune of $190,000 a year.

5th & Spring Downtown LA Chalk Walk Protest Draws Riot Police

Riot police formed skirmish lines in the streets of downtown Los Angeles Thursday night in response to what appeared to be a demonstration over the right to draw with chalk.

The action, called Chalk Walk, was meant to protest a slew of arrests in the past month of people who were writing with chalk on the street. A Facebook page for the event, which showed 172 people planned to attend, decried the arrests and described them as "an attempt to stifle dissent." Event organizers also wrote: "We will chalk it out all over Art Walk letting people know about the dangers of chalking."

Geithner made recommendations on Libor in 2008, documents show

While president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Timothy F. Geithner pressed British regulators to reform the way a critical global benchmark called the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, is calculated, according to a June 1, 2008, e-mail obtained by The Washington Post.

Writing to the head of the Bank of England, among others, Geithner made six recommendations, which included eliminating incentives that could encourage banks to manipulate the rate and establishing a “credible reporting procedure.”

Cost Of Libor Scandal May Reach $14 Billion For Banks

July 12 (Reuters) - A group of 11 global banks linked to the Libor scandal may face $14 billion in regulatory and legal settlement costs through 2014, according to estimates by Morgan Stanley analysts.

Taking into account the damping effect that rate-rigging accusations may have on market share and activity, Morgan Stanley estimates that earnings and book value will be reduced even further.

Voter ID Laws Are the Last Gasp of a Fading GOP Strategy

Earlier this week I wrote about the long-standing hope of Democrats that demographic changes are working in their favor and will soon create a durable national Dem majority. There are several moving parts to this theory, but the two big ones are (a) young people are trending Democratic, and (b) the Dem-leaning nonwhite population is getting bigger and bigger. As far as I know, Republicans don't really deny that these things are happening. After all, the trend in the youth vote jumps out in every poll, and the growing nonwhite share of the population is regularly front-page news. George Bush and Karl Rove, who desperately wanted to pass a comprehensive immigration bill in 2006 in order to stanch the flow of Hispanic votes into the Democratic column, knew perfectly well how important this was.

Controversial Innu Company Had Political Connections

Federal Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet minister Peter Penashue has connections with a controverisal Innu development company.

Penashue took out a $25,000 loan from the Innu Development Limited Partnership to finance his federal election campaign in Labrador in 2011.

On Wednesday, CBC reported that Paul Rich, the former CEO of the IDLP, took home more than $1 million in salary over two years, and other Innu leaders were paid $30,000 each to sit on the board of the company.

Parks Canada Report: Canadian Parks And Wilderness Society Slams Ottawa's Cuts

WINNIPEG - A report by an environmental group says budget cuts and government policy choices are driving bad management practices of Canada’s national parks.

The Winnipeg Free Press says from Ottawa that the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's annual report raises alarm bells about the long-term viability of parks.

Among the report's concerns are planned $30 million cuts to the Parks Canada budget that will result in the elimination of 600 jobs nationwide.

Prison Privatization: Canada Mulls Contracting Services To Companies Lobbying For Correctional Work

Faced with lawsuits and bad publicity in their home country, U.S. private prison corporations are lobbying to enter Canada -- and the Canadian government is considering allowing them, news reports indicate.

According to federal government documents obtained by Bloomberg News, the Correctional Service of Canada “may consider” contracting out certain prison services, such as cleaning and food preparation.

CSC officials last May urged Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to discuss Canada’s “interest in considering the privatization of penitentiary services on a limited basis,” according to a memo Bloomberg obtained under a freedom of information request.

Harper deploys diplomats to counter U.S. climate change campaign

OTTAWA — The Harper government has deployed a network of Canadian diplomats to lobby Fortune 500 companies in the United States in order to counter a global warming campaign launched by an environmental advocacy group targeting the oilsands industry, says a newly-released internal memorandum from Natural Resources Canada.

"The (diplomatic) posts have offered briefings to targeted companies to counter misinformation, and in certain cases, to provide background to likely targets which have yet to be approached by ForestEthics," said the memo to Natural Resources Canada Deputy Minister Serge Dupont from Mark Corey, an assistant deputy minister. "The campaign has not produced many true converts, but the possibility looms out there, particularly if further pressure is applied."

Carleton U concedes problems with $15M donor deal for politics school

OTTAWA - Carleton University says the $15-million donor agreement for its showcase school of political management, fronted by Preston Manning, does not reflect the university's academic policies and will be renegotiated.

The concession comes as the Canadian Association of University Teachers, or CAUT, prepares a broadside at what it calls "unprecedented and unacceptable" provisions in Carleton's secret deal with Calgary businessman Clayton Riddell.

Canada could be drawn into Mali civil war

Canada faces the possibility of being dragged into a new war against Islamic extremists - in the West African nation of Mali, where al-Qaida insurgents have taken over the north of the country and declared independence.

The Conservative government says Canada is ready to pro-vide support as calls for military intervention grew Thurs-day over fears the takeover gives the jihadists a base of operations, plus airports and military equipment, from which they can launch attacks across the region and against Western targets.

CSIS chief supports online surveillance bill, offers to help tweak legislation

OTTAWA - Canada's spy chief backs the Conservative government's troubled bid to bolster Internet surveillance powers, and has offered to help tweak the legislation to make it more palatable to a wary public.

In a letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden says the spy agency was "extremely pleased" to see the bill come before Parliament, considering it "vital" to protecting national security.

MacKay advised to get a good deal on jets

Martin fires back after procurement criticism

Former prime minister Paul Martin is telling Defence Minister Peter MacKay to quit playing the blame game when it comes to botched procurements.

At a stop in Halifax Thursday to promote the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative at a Canadian Teachers’ Federation conference at the Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, Martin said MacKay should deal with his own problems instead of trying to unload them onto others.

One day earlier, MacKay called the contract for the CH-148 Cyclone helicopters “the worst procurement in the history of Canada.”

Officials unimpressed with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan’s Attawapiskat knowledge, documents show

OTTAWA—Federal bureaucrats responding to the housing emergency in Attawapiskat were unimpressed when Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan seemed in the dark about the extent of the crisis in the remote community last fall, documents reveal.

The Star obtained documents through Access to Information legislation regarding the housing shortage in the northern Ontario reserve, including an exchange of emails between two public servants in the Thunder Bay office of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada on Nov. 30.

Too little, too late: Regulating finance after the Barclays scandal

Adam Smith's "invisible hand" to organize the market and make it work smoothly isn't really that invisible after all! I can even go further by declaring that there are several "real" hands working frantically to keep a special key interest rate, the Libor, artificially low.

Isn't that clear evidence that our financial markets are less and less transparent and more and more involved in fraud cases? Where are all the studies about capital markets efficiency and how can they still be valid after these recent reports in the media? For the skeptical, no, this is not a conspiracy made by radical anti-capitalists determined to destroy the world. It is a sad story, not a story of few "rotten apples," but unfortunately a story revealing every day new symptoms of a chronic disease.

What kind of Canadian signs Jason Kenney's petition in support of Jason Kenney? (Answer below)

I recently received the following disturbing communication via email from someone named R.R. Climenhaga under the heading "Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP."

"Your friend has shared an important message with you," it said. "Click the link below to read it."

I clicked. I read. I sighed.

This is the Important Message I received about Hon. Jason Kenney, PC, MP: "We, the undersigned, thank Jason Kenney for his efforts to streamline benefits afforded to refugees claimants under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) and bring them in line with the benefits received by tax-paying Canadians…"

Senate reform bill still stuck in House, one expert warns once passed its consequences will be unknown

More than a year after it was introduced in the House of Commons, the Conservatives’ eighth Senate reform bill in six years has made little headway on the Hill, while one political scientist warns that if passed, its consequences on Canadian democracy are unknown.

“One of the big objections or concerns about the government’s ongoing agenda of the last six years and a lot of other Senate reform efforts, is that what exactly would a new, enhanced, Senate do?” said Jonathan Malloy, chair of Carleton University’s political science department. “The government doesn’t really have a good answer.”

Enbridge Execs Got Big Pay Raises After Continent's Costliest Pipeline Spill

Just months after Enbridge caused the costliest onshore pipeline spill in U.S. history, the board of directors for Calgary-based Enbridge rewarded senior executives with pay raises in 2010.

According to Enbridge's 2011 "management information circular" the company's 12 directors voted to raise their own annual retainers by $30,000 and increased compensation for CEO and president Patrick Daniel from $6 million to $8.1 million in 2010.

Stephen J. Wouri, president of liquid pipelines, also saw his income increase from $1.9 million to $2.7 million in 2010. In fact all executives received substantial raises.

Penn State probe: Paterno, school failed to protect children victimized by Sandusky

The most senior officials at Penn State University failed for more than a decade to take any steps to protect the children victimized by Jerry Sandusky, the longtime lieutenant to football coach Joe Paterno, according to an independent investigation of the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the university last fall.

“Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s child victims,” Louis J. Freeh, a former federal judge and FBI director who oversaw the investigation, said in a statement Thursday. “The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized.”

Forcing man, 65, to retire discriminatory, court says

After 34 years as a reporter for the St. John Telegraph Journal in New Brunswick,  Khalid Mallik was forced to retire in March 2008 when he turned 65.  The Journal's parent company Brunswick News Inc., took the position  that Mallik had reached normal retirement age and consistently failed to meet performance standards. 

So, the company fired him using a  clause in the collective agreement which appeared to authorize the dismissal. He received a special severance package of 52 weeks pay worth $48,009 as required by the agreement.

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday’s remark draws strong reaction from families raising kids downtown

Is Downtown Toronto a bad place to raise a family?

Sybil Wa doesn’t think so.

That’s what the mother of three, who lives near Yonge St. and The Esplanade, said following Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday’s comments that downtown isn’t a suitable place to live with children.

Holyday, a former Etobicoke mayor who lives doors down from his grandchildren on a “very quiet” suburban street, made the remarks as he argued against forcing a condo developer to include family-friendly three-bedroom units in a proposed 47-storey building at King St. W. and John St.