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.]

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dissident Mounties threaten to expose force’s ‘orchards of Bad Apples’

VANCOUVER — On the heels of a bitter public spat between Canada’s top Mountie and two B.C.-based officers who criticized him, a new group of disgruntled officers has emerged, sniping at RCMP brass and threatening to expose certain “investigative files” and compromising pictures of members whom it deems unworthy of the uniform.

The Re-Sergeance Alliance announced itself in an anonymously written email to media outlets this week. Claiming to speak for “slightly over 500 members” inside the RCMP’s E Division in B.C., the group apparently formed as two local officers were sending letters under separate cover to Commissioner Bob Paulson, chastising him and other senior RCMP managers for a host of controversies and alleged institutional failures.

Harper’s new savings machine -- SSC invokes national security to expedite IT procurement

If there was any doubt that Shared Services Canada is at the forefront of the Conservative government’s efforts to rationalize federal spending, it was dispelled earlier this month — when it accepted nearly 60 procurement employees from Public Works.

SSC’s newest workers are experts in contracting for computers, networking gear and email – and they’ve arrived just in time for an historic transformation of the government’s electronic backbone.

Mark Warawa Backs Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312 On Rights Of The Unborn

Tory MP Mark Warawa has released a video in support of a motion to study the rights of the unborn in Canada.

In the clip, the Member of Parliament for Langley, B.C., backs fellow Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312, which calls for the formation of a parliamentary committee to study questions related to the definition of a human being.

"The definition of human being, should that begin maybe before complete birth?" Warawa asks. "We need to take a new fresh look at this."

United Church offends Jews with bungled foray into Middle East politics

The United Church of Canada has squandered enormous goodwill this week with its bungled foray into Middle East politics.

In proposing a boycott of Israeli goods from East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a church working group either was naive and ill-informed or mischievously biased against Israel.

The church’s governing council gave preliminary endorsement to the proposal Wednesday in Ottawa, with a final vote expected Friday.

Conservative government likely under pressure from U.S. to purchase F-35s

PARLIAMENT HILL—If Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government caves in to opposition pressure and scraps its plan to buy a $25-billion fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets, the retreat would be a damaging blow to the U.S. program developing the costly and sophisticated new warplane, a leading U.S. defence analyst says.

“For Canada to start wobbling at this stage would be a very, very serious blow to the program,” Bill Sweetman, chief editor for the Washington-based Defense Technology at Aviation Week, told The Hill Times on Wednesday.

Toews’ office looks into the future, sees ‘misinformation’

Vic Toews’ office is warning the press gallery of the potential for “misinformation” ahead of a press conference Thursday.

Representatives of some of Canada’s public safety unions are due to hold a press conference this afternoon on Parliament Hill “to discuss impact of federal cuts.” There is a fear on behalf of the unions that cuts to things like border security will endanger Canadians.

Ahead of the press conference, the director of communications for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, Julie Charmichael, forwarded a letter to the press gallery. In it, Toews reminds the unions that as part of the 2012 budget, “agencies within the Public Safety Portfolio reviewed their activities” and found areas where savings could be garnered. He goes on to note that these decisions “were taken only after careful deliberation” and according to departmental recommendations.

But in her email to the press gallery, Carmichael warns against what the unions will say.

“Public Safety Unions will be holding a press conference today and I feel it is important for you to be aware of the Minister’s response to the Presidents prior to any misinformation being disseminated this afternoon,” she writes.

I’m sure we all appreciate the head’s up.

Original Article
Source: ipolitics
Author: Colin Horgan

Paul Ryan's radical plans for U.S. women

The floundering Romney campaign was thrown a life ring of sorts last week, from aboard the USS Wisconsin, a decommissioned U.S. Navy vessel based in Norfolk, Virginia. There, Mitt Romney introduced the man he said would be "the next president of the United States," until he corrected himself. "Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake," Romney confessed. "I did not make a mistake with this guy. But I can tell you this, he's going to be the next vice president of the United States." And with that, Paul Ryan became Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate, the man who, in the event of a Romney win in November, becomes a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Ontario government releases bill to freeze teacher wages Published 30 minutes ago Share on twitter Share on facebook

The Ontario government has taken its battle with teachers to a new level, laying out its threatened legislation to freeze their wages for two years and short-circuit any strikes or lockouts.

Education Minister Laurel Broten previewed the bill with just 15 days to go until her Sept. 1 deadline for teacher unions and school boards to negotiate deals with no pay increases as the province fights a $15 billion deficit.

“Time is running out,” Broten said Thursday. “As a government we cannot sit back.”

Norway vs. Canada: Where to Draw the Line with Big Oil

Instead of charging royalties as Canadian provinces do, Norway makes its money by taxing profits of both foreign and Norwegian owned oil companies.

The University of Stavanger boasts something that is absent from most other college campuses: a 30-story oil rig. Of course no one is expecting to find oil in the barren granite under the cafeteria. It was a gift from Shell Oil in 1985 and has been used for the last 28 years to train Norwegian petroleum engineers.

So why would an oil company do such a thing? The same reason that a teenager would bring a bouquet of flowers for his prom date's protective mother -- to buy some goodwill.

Politics threatens to scuttle Enbridge pipeline

Recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said a decision about the contentious Northern Gateway pipeline would be determined by science, not politics. It is difficult to say if the PM’s statement was a directive or a desire, but at this stage, the more politics becomes involved with the project, the less likely it will be built.

Today, the political arithmetic just doesn’t work; the present lay of the land simply does not lend itself to direct political support of Gateway by any sitting government.

Adam 'Ademo' Mueller, Founder, Sentenced To 3 Months For Wiretapping After Reporting School Police Brutality

Adam "Ademo" Mueller, co-host of radio show Free Talk Live and founder of, was found guilty Monday of illegal wiretapping and sentenced to three months in jail.

Although Mueller maintained no wrongdoing, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine said Mueller's intentions were "to disrupt, to be disobedient, to slow down the court system and clog it," the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

Degenerative Brain Disease Threatens Afghan War Vets

WASHINGTON -- Almost a quarter million American troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury are at risk of developing a degenerative disease that causes bursts of anger and depression and can lead to memory loss, difficulty walking and speaking, paranoia and suicide, according to military researchers.

At present, medical officials cannot diagnose or prevent the disease, called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and there is no known treatment for it, said Army Col. Dallas Hack, director of the Army's Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

Unicor Under Fire For Dominating Small Competitors With Cheap Prison Labor

Imagine competing with an American company that pays its workers less than $1 an hour.

That’s a reality Michael Mansh, president of a small apparel factory in Olive Hill, Ky., faces every day, according to CNNMoney. In February, Mansh reportedly learned that his 100-person factory, Ashland Sales and Service, risked losing a contract to make windbreakers for the U.S. Air Force. The main competitor was Unicor, a government-run enterprise that employs 13,000 inmates at wages as low as 23 cents an hour.

Mitt Romney: Slash Amtrak, PBS Funding, But Defense Cuts And Middle Class Tax Cuts Off The Table

WASHINGTON -- In an interview with Fortune Magazine that was published on Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney gave a bit more detail than normal about how he would fulfill his promise to get the nation on track towards fiscal balance.

But the proposals he laid out largely ducked the so-called "painful" choices that experts insist must be made, and seemed to be drawn from rosy assumptions about the immediate political and economic future. At one point, Romney was asked to respond to a Tax Policy Center analysis that concluded he would need to take away tax benefits that primarily help the middle class if he wanted his broader proposals to be deficit neutral.

Paul Ryan: Medicare Debate Is One We Want To Have

Paul Ryan is down to debate Medicare.

The presumptive vice presidential nominee addressed the popular health care system for seniors on Wednesday night, making his pitch directly to voters for the first time since being picked Mitt Romney's running mate.

"The president, I am told, is talking about Medicare today," Ryan said during an appearance at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. "We want this debate. We need this debate, and we will win this debate.

The GOP’s Will to Fantasy

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate is the latest episode in a story of conflict within the Republican Party that has many chapters. It has been said a thousand times that, in the long competition between the party’s radical base and its slightly less radical leadership (there are no moderates anywhere in sight in the GOP these days), the choice of the extreme budget-cutter Ryan represents a shift toward the extreme base, and that is certainly true. But it is also a development in another, related story.

The record of the last decade or so suggests that the party these days is animated by two main goals. First, it seeks unchallengeable, absolute power. Its modus operandi for achieving that goal has been to use institutional power—the power of corporations, courts and legislatures—to acquire more institutional power. A recent case is the drive in Republican-dominated states around the country to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as the poor and minorities, by legislating onerous requirements for voting.

26 Corporations That Paid Their CEOs More Than Uncle Sam

In recent months corporate America has been lobbying the heck out of Washington to lower tax rates on businesses. As it should, defenders say, because corporations have a duty to maximize their return to investors. But if boosting profits were the goal, then you'd think more big companies would stop complaining about taxes, and look instead at an even greater expense: the bloated salaries of their chief executives.

In a just-released report, the Institute for Policy Studies details 26 megacorporations that paid one guy (their CEO) more than they spent on their entire federal tax bills last year. (See our interactive graph below—whoa! Halliburton!) These same companies averaged $1.4 billion in profits—which were announced, in some cases, around the same time they were announcing massive layoffs.

Enbridge stirs up controversy with depiction of West Coast waterway as containing no islands

About 1,000 square kilometres of islands have disappeared from Douglas Channel in an animated depiction of Enbridge Inc.'s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker route.

The project would send bitumen by pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat, where it would be loaded onto tankers for export to Asia.

A video on the Enbridge website shows Douglas Channel as a wide open funnel leading from Kitimat to the Pacific, omitting the narrow channels, islands and rocky outcrops that make up the potential tanker access route.

The Canada Health Act Is a Cruel Deception, Not Best in the World

The Canadian health care system is under enormous stress. It has been studied, task forced, blue ribbon paneled, and royal commissioned to death. Despite substantial evidence that exposes the diminishing quality of care and access in Canada's health care system, our political leaders have appeared powerless to act. Yet, the responsibility rests squarely with them and Canadians are paying a colossal price for their unrelenting paralysis.

It will come as a surprise to many Canadians that as a percentage of GDP, we have the second most expensive health care system in the world. Meanwhile, in terms of the only real metric that matters -- health outcomes -- we rank far from the top. So you'd think that federal and provincial policy makers would be fixated on only one question: What do we need to do to have a system that delivers the highest quality health care in the most productive and cost effective fashion?

Feds' collection, transfer of online data cause for concern: privacy watchdog

Canada's privacy watchdog is raising red flags over the way the government handles data from people who visit their web sites.

Newly-released documents suggest Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart was caught off guard when she learned last year that departments and agencies were independently collecting and storing data from people who visited their sites and, in some cases, transferring that information across borders to third parties such as Google.

Voter supression case to be heard in December

The legal challenge seeking to overturn last year's federal election result in seven ridings won by Conservatives will be heard in court in mid-December, the Council of Canadians said Wednesday.

The group is backing nine voters who say there is evidence of voter suppression and that the election result should be overturned in ridings where the result was close. They say a pattern of misleading calls, both live and automated robocalls, shows a co-ordinated effort to keep Canadians away from the polls on May 2, 2011.

Tories counting on Merkel’s support to turn tide on free-trade deal

The Conservative government is expecting a strong endorsement on Thursday from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as Canada seeks to conclude a free-trade agreement with Europe, the most ambitious trade accord this country has attempted in a generation.

Ottawa hopes that Ms. Merkel will urge negotiators to conclude an agreement by the end of this year. Such emphatic support would be noticed in other European capitals.

Doctors call on Ottawa to reject ‘backdoor’ attempt to recriminalize abortion

Canada’s doctors have sternly rejected what they see as a stealth attempt to recriminalize abortion.

At the general council meeting of the Canadian Medical Association on Wednesday, delegates called on the federal government to reject attempts by a Conservative backbench MP to amend the Criminal Code so that a fetus is defined as a human being.

The strike is ending, but the movement will continue

Over the past few days students at eight of fourteen CEGEPs (junior colleges which provide both pre-university and professional degrees) have voted in general assemblies to end their strike and return to class. Students at the two CEGEPs who did vote to continue the strike, Vieux-Montreal and St. Laurent, will reconvene general assemblies on Friday morning to reconsider their decision.

It appears as if the strike is winding down, or at least going dormant, with many schools promising to revisit the issue after the election. It would, however, be a mistake to assume that the resumption of classes means an end to the broader social movement born out of the longest student strike in Quebec history.

Dude throws tantrum on account of 'sexism'; feminists laugh their faces off

The most stressful thing about taking the bus is all the strategizing that I have to do in order to avoid getting harassed, crowded, or ogled by some creep. My proposed solution? If you are a dude, give women some space. For men I assume that sitting on the bus doesn't require much planning or anxiety. For many women it does.

I once got into a fight with a boyfriend because he encouraged me to sit down next to some dude who I felt uncomfortable sitting next to. I was happily standing, not having to worry about having to make an awkward escape on account of getting creeped on, but didn't have the nerve to explain publicly why I didn't want to sit. I said "no, no, I'm fine" and he didn't get it and pressured me to sit. I'm sure he wasn't intentionally trying to make me uncomfortable, it's just that it wouldn't have occurred to him that it's more comfortable for me to stand on the bus than to sit next to a man. I explained to him afterwards that I didn't (intentionally) sit next to men on the bus and that if I am standing, there's probably a reason and to please just leave me be.

KI Nation to paddle to protect their watershed

From August 24 to September 7, a team of paddlers from the KI Indigenous Nation will venture 400 km beyond the nearest road to travel the ancient trading route from their remote fly-in community to Hudson's Bay.

They are calling on Ontario to respect their deep connection to the wild Fawn River watershed – a foundation of their culture, and the threatened heart of the world's largest intact forest.

Trapwire is watching you in Ottawa

Have you heard of Trapwire? It’s a formerly obscure counter-terrorist surveillance network, created by a company run by ex-CIA agents, that links together thousands of ordinary, privately owned security cameras, digitally analyzing the footage they generate and delivering it to various police departments and branches of the U.S. federal government. It’s been making headlines in the U.S.  since Wikileaks exposed its existence, and online chatter has been obsessively focused on it ever since. There’s been endless analysis, opinion, misinformation and clarification (here’s a credible run-down of the story so far). Everyone from NBC to Anonymous is talking about it, but the Canadian media has yet to take notice. Which is surprising, since Trapwire is apparently live in Ottawa.

Britain warns Ecuador over Assange asylum

Ecuador accused Britain on Wednesday of threatening to storm its London embassy to arrest Julian Assange after the U.K. issued a stern warning to the South American nation ahead of its decision on an asylum bid by the WikiLeaks founder.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said Britain had earlier in the day issued "a written threat that it could assault our embassy" if Assange is not handed over.

Patino also said he would announce on Thursday morning whether Ecuador would grant the request of the secret-spilling former Australian hacker, who took refuge in Ecuador's embassy on June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden. Assange faces questioning there for alleged sexual misconduct.

G20 summit report dismays police boards

The fiasco of Toronto’s G20 Summit could soon have implications for policing across the province.

The chair of the Ottawa police board is asking the Ontario government to clarify the role of all such boards, in light of a report by retired judge John Morden that sharply criticized the Toronto Police Services Board for not weighing in on police operations and tactics before the summit.

“All along, (police) keep telling you, ‘Oh, this is operational. You can’t tell us what to do. You can’t interfere with operations,’” said Ottawa deputy mayor Eli El-Chantiry, who has headed the Ottawa Police Services Board since 2005. He said police brass insist, “‘You can just set policy, hire the chief, and give us our budget.’

Pussy Riot Rallies: Supporters Of Punk Band Mobilize Before Russian Court Ruling

MOSCOW -- The global campaign to free Pussy Riot is gaining speed: Supporters of the punk provocateur band are mobilizing this week in at least two dozen cities worldwide to hold simultaneous demonstrations an hour before a Russian court rules on whether its members will be sent to prison.

Friday's rallies will ride a wave of support for the three women who have been in jail for more than five months because of an anti-Putin prank in Moscow's main cathedral. Calls for them to be freed have come from a long list of celebrities such as Madonna and Bjork. Protests have been held in a number of Western capitals, including Berlin, where last week about 400 people joined Canadian electro-pop performance artist Peaches to support the band.

Postcard from Burma: An Orwellian Flashback

When I was in Rangoon not long ago, reporting “The Burmese Spring” (available to subscribers), nobody I met seemed more energized by the signs of political change than Burmese reporters. For decades, until Burma’s military dictatorship began to unwind itself last year, local journalists labored under a censorship system that was diligent even by the standards of autocracy: the Ministry of Information Press Scrutiny and Registration Department applied its red pen not only to the news but also to fairy tales and winning lottery numbers and horoscopes. Last year, Burma extended a four-year reign in the world’s top five jailers of the press, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. A newspaper editor once showed me how the censorship system worked. He handed me a four-inch stack of paper, his latest batch of rejections from the censors, each page marked with red-ink circles around offending phrases. A typical cut: a sentence comparing the architecture of the capital, Naypitaw, to architecture in Pyongyang. Also censored: the word “censored.”

Paul Ryan’s Father, and Al Smith’s

One day in November, 1886, a man named Alfred Smith died in lower Manhattan, near the South Street Seaport. He had owned and driven his own horse-drawn truck—the start of a small business—until, as Robert Caro wrote in “The Power Broker,” “his health broke,” and the truck and horses and everything of value his family owned was sold, the money “eaten up by doctors’ bills and medicine.” His wife was left destitute, with a son, named after his father, and a daughter; at the time, “widows who were unable to support their children had the children taken away and placed in institutions,” Caro wrote. “She had heard about the institutions. Anything was better than that”:

    Walking back from the funeral to the small flat, alone except for Al and his ten-year-old sister, Mary, she muttered, half to herself, “I don’t know where to turn.” Mary heard her brother say, “I’m here. I can take care of you.”