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, August 24, 2012

Dead money and corporate cash hoarding

Kudos to Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney for raising the profile of the over $500 billion Canadian corporations are holding in excess cash surpluses and not investing in the economy, which garnered front-page coverage (and kudos to the CAW for inviting him to speak.)

It's not the first time he's raised this concern. Last year at the Empire Club he told assembled business leaders that their companies were in "rude health, have the means to act -- and the incentives," urging them to invest their surpluses. After cutting corporate tax rates, Finance Ministers Flaherty and Duncan have also demonstrated frustration with Canadian businesses for not investing enough in the economy and urged them to invest more.

Mitt Romney Uses Secretive Data Mining To Identify Wealthy Donors

WASHINGTON — Building upon its fundraising prowess, Mitt Romney's campaign began a secretive data-mining project this summer to trove through Americans' personal information – including their purchasing history and church attendance – to identify new and likely wealthy donors, The Associated Press has learned.

The project employs strategies similar to those the business world uses to influence the way Americans shop and think. Now they're being used to sway presidential elections. The same personal data consumers give away – often unwittingly when they swipe their credit cards or log into Facebook – is now being used by the people who might one day occupy the White House.

How Did Coal-Rich India End Up With Power Blackouts?

“If you work hard, and put your heart and soul into it, then you are allowed to steal some,” said Shivpal Singh Yadav, a minister for public works for India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP). “But don’t be a bandit.” Caught on camera, Yadav’s words were replayed in newscasts across India on August 9, 2012, nine days after a power failure left half of India’s population—one-tenth of the planet’s people—without power. Among the Indian states that suffered the blackout, twice, was Yadav’s home state of UP.

Paul Ryan: The Man Who Wasn't There

One reads of people obsessed with finding Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster or even Elvis. These folks may be silly, deluded and no doubt annoying, but for most of us, they are not really a problem. The same cannot be said of those pundits obsessed with a quest to locate that equally elusive creature, the intellectually honest, public-spirited conservative Republican politician. Combining their wishful delusion with an apparently congenital inability to admit error, these pundits are succeeding in the creation of an entirely fictional narrative about this year’s election.

Imagine You Were Raped. Got Pregnant. Then Your Rapist Sought Custody. It happens—and in many states there are no laws to keep rapists from terrorizing their victims all over again. Read on, Todd Akin

The debate over Rep. Todd Akin's widely condemned comments on "legitimate rape" has largely centered on abortion and Republican efforts to outlaw the procedure, even in cases of rape. But the controversy has also uncovered a little-discussed issue: When some rape victims do choose to give birth to a child conceived through sexual assault, they find that the legal door is left wide open for their victimization to continue. It sounds unfathomable, but in many states the law makes it possible for rapists to assert their parental rights and use custody proceedings as a weapon against their victims.

Enbridge Northern Gateway: Registry Shows Heavy Pipeline Presence

VANCOUVER - It has been said that there are no true friends in politics ... but there are plenty of them.

Few issues have made politicians so popular as the oil and gas potential in Western Canada and the big plans for its future, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through Alberta and British Columbia.

Enbridge has weight in halls of power

It has been said there are no true friends in politics . . . but there are plenty of them.

Few issues have made politicians as popular as the oil and gas potential in Western Canada and the big plans for its future, including the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through Alberta and B.C.

Harper’s enthusiasm hasn’t done much for northerners so far

Stephen Harper is not the first Canadian prime minister to look north and see the future, nor will he likely be the last. But northerners could be forgiven if they are skeptical about the latest love cry from the south. The political spotlight from southern Canada has seldom brought good things.

The history of Canada’s Far North is littered with the wreckage of hollow promises, neglect, bad ideas, political posturing and old-fashioned colonialism. Some of Harper’s northern forays, a growing list of unfulfilled promises suggests, have a familiar hollow ring.

Mulcair’s pipeline comments align with public opinion, suggests survey

People fight over things that are in short supply. These days energy is at the top of the list.

With Canada’s rise as an energy superpower, it’s only natural that energy and politics would collide.

We have seen major debates at the provincial level; the fight over green energy in Ontario, over new hydro power in Newfoundland and Labrador, and over royalty rates in Alberta. Add Canada’s federal structure, regionalized politics, and an intensely polarized electorate and it’s no surprise that energy has become one of the central issues for debate at the national level.

Paperwork overwhelming cops

MEMBERTOU — Police officers face “overwhelming” amounts of paperwork that curtail their time on the street, says the federal minister of public safety.

Vic Toews, speaking Wednesday at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said he will do all he can to help bring about change.

“When I started prosecuting, it took police an hour to process an impaired driver. Now it’s three to four hours and sometimes more for exactly the same offence,” Toews told reporters after his talk to more than 300 chiefs of police from across Canada.

Vic Toews and his quest for the bench

OTTAWA—How badly does Stephen Harper want to resurrect his Internet surveillance bill?

The answer to that might be found in the fate of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Toews is — again — said to be headed to the Manitoba Court of Appeal as a judge, a story that could have been consigned to the category of summer rumour but for its remarkable persistence.

Responding to the United Church position on Israeli settlements

Speaking as a Jew, it feels good to be able to offer to relieve Christian guilt. It went the other way and with reverse traction for millennia, as Christians burdened Jews with guilt for "killing Christ." Real satisfaction comes from not doing to others what they did to you, when you finally get a chance.

I'm referring to the decision by Canada's largest religious organization, the United Church, to take a very mild position on Israeli settlements in occupied territories, as the main cause of Mideast conflict. You can disagree with this but it's hardly absurd and it's solidly grounded in international law. They don't say they'll cancel any investments they have in those settlements, as others have, though they think they'll "study" that. They breathe no hint of a "boycott" of Israel, like the one directed at apartheid-era South Africa. They merely "encourage" their members to "avoid" goods from settlements if they're sure of the source. They condemn any violent opposition to the occupiers and endorse non-violence. Most pertinently, their motion "denounces all questions of Israel's right to exist or that seek to undermine its legitimacy as a state."

Student strike stalwart and citizen journalist arrested, held for nine hours

In the wee hours of this morning news broke on Twitter that a protester going by the Twitter handle of @frogsarelovely had been arrested. Her real name is Cécile Riel, a 55 year old Montreal resident.

Riel is a popular and well respected supporter of the student strike, who has attended virtually every demo since its beginning. She live tweets from every protest, providing invaluable first-hand updates and information for those unable to attend.

She is the very definition of an engaged citizen journalist, using new media to report on the demonstrations in real time for a global audience.

In Montreal's streets, the movement continues

If there was any confusion over whether the suspension of strikes at most schools signalled an end to the broader social movement the strike generated, it was put to bed with an emphatic bang Wednesday in the streets of Montreal. The largest demonstration since the spring sent a strong message that this movement is here to stay.

Place du Canada was packed by the time the speakers took to the roof of a truck to address the assembled crowd. CLASSE Financial Secretary Jérémie Bédard-Wien kicked things off with a characteristically strong speech, in which he made a noteworthy reference to this demonstration being the largest electoral mobilization in Quebec history. Coupled with the abundant placards reading "I'm voting for ____", which invited protesters to fill in the issue or party of their choice, there seemed to be a clear aknowledgement from CLASSE that while the election will not solve our problems, it would be folly for students to boycott it.

Creation of cheap labour a means to profits: Marikana mineworkers massacre in South Africa

A long history of private profits from South Africa’s abundant mineral deposits has marched arm in arm with generations of cheap labour. The August 16 massacre of 34 people at Marikana mine is no isolated incident: for a social and economic system that is geared to ever expanding profits as a fundament of its daily calculus for existence, 'community resistance' is a necessary cost for making money and concentrating profits.

The Marikana mine massacre took place during a strike by 3,000 miners employed by one of the world’s largest platinum producers, Lonmin Plc. Miners were surrounded by police, cut off from nearby homes and communities by armed men and razor wire, in order to force workers to end their strike and return to work.

The fact-free campaign for the U.S. presidency

So, um, about that "adult conversation." Never mind.

Last week I wrote that by choosing Paul Ryan to be his vice-presidential running mate, Mitt Romney might actually end up provoking Americans into discussing something important like the indebted state of their nation's finances.

Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who chairs the House budget committee, is the author of a fiscal plan that, whatever its other shortcomings, actually comes right out and says Americans cannot expect to keep collecting generous social benefits if they don't want to pay for them with higher taxes.

Ryan would, over time, effectively do away with Medicare, the burgeoning health-care program for seniors, as it now exists, and drastically reduce the rest of government.

Canada waives Cote d’Ivoire’s $130-million debt

Canada is cancelling $130-million in debt owed by the Cote d’Ivoire, erasing an old tab to help the African country dig itself out from a pile of debt.

The Canadian action is part of a international effort to forgive billions in Ivorian debt as international players judge that President Alassane Ouattara is making headway in turning the country’s finances and governance around.

Companies hit back at Bank of Canada Governor Carney

Some of the country’s largest corporations are striking back at Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, arguing he is wrong to assert that domestic companies are hindering economic growth by socking away cash.

Companies in a variety of industries, ranging from energy to technology, argue that they are doing just what Mr. Carney wants: Investing in major projects and handing money over to shareholders.