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.]

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Scientists fight to save library from federal cuts

Scientists are continuing to fight to save the library at the St. Andrews Biological Station from federal funding cuts.

The library is used by Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists, outside researchers and by university students for teaching and research in southwestern New Brunswick.

Those fighting to save the library argue the federal government's plans to close the library will make that work a lot more difficult.

Ethics Watch: Olivia Chow calls on commissioner to investigate appointments to Oshawa Port Authority

NDP MP Olivia Chow is calling on Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to look into what she alleges may be too-cosy-for-comfort partisan ties between Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and the current crop of federally appointed directors on the board of the newly created Oshawa Port Authority, as well as the subsequent approval by that same board of a proposal to build an ethanol refinery on the waterfront -- which, she notes, was given "despite the objection of Oshawa City Council and Mayor and the Durham Regional Council."

(Earlier this month, the city council approved a motion directing Oshawa Mayor John Henry to lodge a similar request with the commissioner, but under the current law, only MPs can do so.)

Government tries to block MP's questions at pipeline review

The NDP's natural resources critic claims the government is trying to shut him up when it comes to questioning federal bureaucrats at the joint review panel looking into Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal.

Nathan Cullen's request to cross-examine officials from the departments of the environment, natural resources, transport and fisheries and oceans was met by a letter from the Department of Justice asking the panel to deny his appeal.

"It's a bit of an intimidation tactic," says Cullen. "All along, if you've been opposed or raised concerns about this pipeline, Mr. Harper's government has called you a radical or an enemy of the state. These are all tactics to say 'you're just going to have to accept what we tell you to accept.'"

Ethics controversy deepens around PM's chief of staff over gold giant's lobbying

OTTAWA - The ethics controversy swirling around Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff deepened Wednesday with news that Nigel Wright was lobbied on three separate occasions by a company with which he had deep personal connections.

The belated disclosure by Barrick Gold Corp. (TSX:ABX) that it lobbied Wright a third time in May undermines the Harper government's official defence of the prime minister's right-hand man.

War Of 1812 Poll Finds That, Despite Ad, Canadians Have No Clue About Conflict

OTTAWA - There was a war in 1812? Really?

The Harper government has been highlighting a war with our American neighbours 200 years ago, but the relevance of commemorating the event seemed lost on almost all of those who participated in a comprehensive survey for National Defence.

The poll, conducted annually, measures impressions of the Canadian military, its missions, equipment and important events.

NDP: Tories complicit in rights abuses

The Conservatives are condoning immoral abuses — and flouting the law — by allowing RCMP and Canada Border Services officers to use information obtained through torture, say opposition MPs.

Newly disclosed records show Public Safety Minister Vic Toews quietly issued the instructions to the Mounties and the border agency last September after giving nearly identical orders to Canada’s spy service.

The government directives, released under the Access to Information Act, state that protection of life and property are the chief considerations when deciding on the use of information that may have been extracted through torture.

Tips for Protesters

Tampa Police will hand out a guide with tips for protesters during the Republican National Convention. The Tampa Bay Times reports the guide has maps of the official parade route, the designated protest areas, and places to use the restroom, cool off, get water and seek first aide.

    —Associated Press

Welcome, protester, and greetings from the Tampa Police! We’re extremely glad you’re here protesting, for reasons that have everything to do with our shared love of the Constitution and free speech and absolutely nothing to do with our eagerness to try out the new rubber bullets.

Citigroup Reaches $590 Million Settlement Over Financial Crisis Charges

NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc has reached a $590 million settlement of litigation accusing the bank of fraudulently concealing tens of billions of dollars of exposure to risky collateralized debt obligations heading into the global financial meltdown.

The settlement is one of the largest arising from the 2007-2008 crisis. It resolves claims that Citigroup failed to take timely writedowns on the CDOs, many of which were backed by subprime mortgages, and that shareholders suffered billions of dollars of losses once the risks were realized.

In Tampa Suburb, Extreme Poverty Arrives While Jobs Remain Distant

THONOTOSASSA, Fla. -- Having spent most of his life in a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Tampa, Raymond Smith has long recognized that being poor in the suburbs is quite a bit different from being poor downtown.

"It would be good if we had a bus that run out here," the 51-year-old Smith lamented as Hurricane Isaac blew past town on Monday, spitting rain on his neighbors who had to bike to the store or to work. "There's no transportation, and it’s a lot of people out here. Things are tight."

Debt Crisis: Europe Economy Now Functioning Like Developed World, Unilever Boss Says

If you want a good way to gauge how an economy is really doing, look at the retailers working in it, what they’re selling, and to whom.

If the experience of consumer goods giant Unilever is to be believed, Europe may be devolving back to a developing economy.

Paradis says review of CNOOC's $15.1-B takeover of Nexen has begun

CALGARY - Ottawa has kicked off its review of China National Offshore Oil Co.'s $15.1-billion deal to buy Calgary-based Nexen Inc.

Industry Minister Christian Paradis says CNOOC has filed its application and he's conducting a review of the proposed acquisition.

The review will take 45 days initially, but can be extended by 30 days or more.

In reviewing foreign takeovers, the minister must decide whether the deal would be of net benefit to Canada.

The Competition Bureau is also conducting its own review.

Nexen (TSX:NXY) and CNOOC announced their friendly deal on July 23 after two months of negotiations.

Original Article
Source: winnipeg free press
Author: The Canadian Press

Harper in the Arctic: The end of ice tour?

News that multi-year Arctic sea ice was melting towards a record low did not put a dent in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's annual northern road show last week.

So far in August, the Arctic has lost about 75,000 square kilometres of ice every day. To put this into perspective, the sea ice area being lost each 24 hours is more than the size of New Brunswick (73,000 km2).

The news about melting sea ice was everywhere last week, although it was barely reflected in the talking points the Prime Minister used on his territorial tour. Stephen Harper moved from location to location with a briefcase full of "announceables," including the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), which is to be completed in 2017.

Lawson's appointment to chief of defence staff will affect F-35 debate, says NDP

PARLIAMENT HILL—The appointment of a top air force officer who has publicly argued Canada requires a stealth warplane jet to match similar attack aircraft under development in China and Russia will have an “inevitable” effect on the growing debate over the government’s controversial plan to acquire a fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets, the NDP opposition says.

The new chief of defence staff, general Thomas J. Lawson, advocated for a stealth fighter jet for Canada in an essay about the North American Aerospace Defence Command he wrote for an edition of the Canadian Military Journal earlier this summer.

Mayor Rob Ford ponders losing his job in conflict of interest case

Famously combative Mayor Rob Ford sounds resigned to the possibility he might be kicked out of office over a conflict-of-interest allegation a lawyer says is consistent with past actions “as if the rules do not apply to him.”

Appearing on Newstalk 1010 on Tuesday, Ford noted he will be grilled on the witness stand next Wednesday by renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby.

A lawsuit accuses Ford of breaking provincial law in February by speaking and voting on whether he should have to pay back $3,150 in donations to his football foundation from lobbyists and a corporation.

Ontario worst province in terms of inequality, poverty and funding for public services

Ontario is dead last in Canada when it comes to growing poverty, increasing income inequality and financial support for public services, says a coalition of labour and community groups formed last spring to oppose the province’s austerity budget.

The report by the Ontario Common Front being released at Queen’s Park Wednesday, aims to inform Ontarians about the social and economic issues at stake as the province begins drafting next spring’s budget, the group says.

Republicans’ new uber-conservative platform would outlaw all abortions, fight ban on assault weapons

Three nights of chiselling, buffing and polishing of Mitt Romney began as the sun set here Tuesday.

But with the late-afternoon Florida sun still searing outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a full hour and more before Romney won the votes for the nomination he has chased for six years, Republican delegates stuck a wad of gum on their man’s tuxedo.

An election in which the entire country is at stake

Quebec elections are different than those in other provinces in one important respect: They are the only ones in which the future of the country is at stake.

Seldom in the modern era have the choices been more clearly presented by the parties and their leaders. Seldom has more been at stake, beginning with the social peace and economic prosperity of Quebec.

Pentagon's Testing Czar Questions F-35 Program's OTE Plan

WASHINGTON: The head of Operational Test and Evaluation tells the Joint Strike Fighter program in a memo that he will not approve a comprehensive testing plan for the aircraft, raising significant questions about the F-35's progress. The memo may invite close congressional scrutiny as well.

Michael Gilmore wrote an Aug. 21 memo to Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Vice Adm. David Venlet, head of the JSF program office, and several other senior military testing officials. Gilmore's office was created by Congress and professional staff pay close attention to anything coming from it.

Where is our jet procurement going? Things to watch

Looking ahead to Canada’s procurement of a new fleet of jet fighters is becoming increasingly difficult, but there are perhaps two things Canadians should keep an eye on in the coming months. The first is how long it takes for the government’s seven-step review plan for the fighter jet procurement takes to complete, and second, how much Canadian industry is still benefitting from the F-35 development program.

Last week, following a story in the Ottawa Citizen that stated government funding “and participation in the F-35 stealth fighter jet program continues unchanged” despite the government’s creation of a new seven-point plan to review the purchase, the new Associate Minister of Defence, Bernard Valcourt, put out a rebuttal by way of his communications man.

Baird says PMO chief who sat in on Barrick call had no conflict

The prime minister's chief of staff was on a call with Barrick Gold Corp. but he is not in a conflict of interest and did not use his position to further the financial interests of his friends, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

In an interview with CBC News, Baird said Nigel Wright, the prime minister's chief of staff, "has no personal or financial interest in Barrick Gold Corp."