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.]

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Billion Rising

ONE BILLION RISING is a short film by Eve Ensler and South African filmmaker Tony Stroebel.

1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. This powerful three minute film reminds us how violence against women appears worldwide in the every day lives of women, from Afghanistan to Australia, the United States to Peru, South Africa to Great Britain. One billion women violated is an atrocity. On 14 February 2014, V-Day's 15th anniversary, one billion women dancing will be a revolution. After viewing this film, we hope millions will be inspired to join the ONE BILLION RISING campaign.

"When we started V-Day 14 years ago, we had the outrageous idea that we could end violence against women," said Ensler. "One Billion Rising is an appreciation, amplification and an escalation. When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It's dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It's free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It's contagious and it spreads quickly. It's of the body. It's transcendent."

On 14 February 2013, V-Day's 15th anniversary, activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities and women and men across the world will STRIKE, DANCE, and RISE, coming together to express their outrage, and demand an end to violence against women and girls.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: --

PMO refuses to confirm, deny if Harper to seek Supreme Court reference on Senate reforms

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to confirm or deny if the government is seeking a Supreme Court reference on the constitutionality of its proposed Senate Reform bill, C-7, but said the Prime Minister is closely watching a Quebec court examination of the bill.

“Obviously we do have Senate reform legislation that we do want to see passed, but I’m not going to speculate about next steps,” said PMO director of communications Andrew MacDougall in an interview with The Hill Times outside the Commons foyer last week. “I don’t tend to comment on unsourced pieces, but I will say that I won’t confirm it, but I won’t deny it either.”

MacKay defends government’s handling of military mental health

Defence Minister Peter MacKay defended the government’s dedication to veteran’s health Monday, one week after Canada’s military ombudsman questioned the military’s ability to handle a growing number of mental health cases.

As Parliament returned last week, Canada’s military ombudsman, Pierre Daigle, released a report in which he expressed concern that the military had not hired enough psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to deal with a tide of post-traumatic stress cases that is hitting its peak. The report stood at odds with the Conservative government’s reassurances that the treatment veterans are receiving is adequate.

The Commons: Canada moves back in with its parents

The Scene. After two general questions about the economy, Thomas Mulcair narrowed in on one particular side effect of the global recession: the trend of adult children compelled by financial concerns to live with their parents.

“Mr. Speaker, this weekend, British government sources leaked the details of a new agreement to create shared British-Canadian embassies in countries around the world. In these countries, Canada would now be represented by a desk at the British embassy instead of an independent Canadian diplomatic mission,” Mr. Mulcair reported for the House’s benefit. “Why did Canadians have to learn about this through the British press? If the Conservatives will not stand up for Canada in the world, why do they expect that the British will do it for us?”

Surprise: federal job cuts happening mostly outside Ottawa

The federal government appears to have dropped a promise that cuts to the public service would mostly affect Ottawa, not other parts of the country.

The vast majority of federal job cuts appear in fact to be taking place elsewhere across Canada – which is the opposite of what the Tories suggested they would do.

The Flaherty budget tabled last March forecast 19,200 jobs eliminated and it promised that a heavy burden would be shouldered by the national capital region.

That’s not how it’s worked out.

Just over 18,000 federal public servants have received notices that they could lose their jobs.

According to statistics compiled by the federal public-sector union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, just 35 per cent of those notices have gone out in the national capital region. Sixty-five per cent have gone out elsewhere in the country.

Fourteen per cent of the notices have gone to employees in Ontario, 13 per cent were issued in Quebec, 12 per cent went to the Prairies and Atlantic Canada received 10 per cent.

Calls to the office of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty were referred to the Treasury Board, which did not respond to a request for comment from The Canadian Press.

Original Article
Source: the globe and mail
Author:  CP

Deporting Foreign Criminals Bill Moves Forward In House

An immigration bill that will give sweeping powers to the immigration minister is being debated in the House of Commons Monday.

Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, would also ease the way to deport refugees, permanent residents and visitors for "serious criminality," crimes where the punishment is six months or more in jail.

But there's far more to the bill, including a measure that would allow the immigration minister to decide who can enter the country. One measure would give the minister the power to deny someone entry or temporary resident status for up to three years on the basis of public policy considerations.

Kenney says the power would be used sparingly.

Another measure would allow the minister to override the rules and grant entry to someone. The example provided in a background document is for a head of state who satisfies the minister that the visit isn't contrary to the national interest but who would otherwise not be allowed in.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: cbc

Page won’t rule out legal action in fight with feds over details on $37-billion cuts

Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page says that while he’s still hopeful his office will eventually get the details of billions of dollars in federal budget program cuts, after months of  “radio silence” from the man in charge of the information, Privy Council Clerk Wayne Wouters, he’s not ruling out legal action.

Mr. Page talked to The Hill Times Sept. 19 about his push for the details of more than $37-billion in cuts over five years and what he hopes for the office he built after his term ends in spring 2013.

Harper will oppose carbon pricing, until he doesn’t

No one should be surprised if Prime Minister Stephen Harper endorses some form of carbon pricing before he leaves office, despite the histrionics of last week. Shocked, perhaps, but not surprised.

First, his career is marked by head-spinning reversals — followed by bland denials that he ever thought otherwise. Second, all his government’s big decisions are made behind closed doors with minimum public engagement and little advance warning: government by remote control.

And, finally, acknowledgment that climate change is a problem — politically and economically, as well as environmentally — is growing and spreading, even within conservative circles.

How routine MP speeches are becoming more and more partisan

If you think that the tone of debate on Parliament Hill has become more partisan in recent years, it’s not just you. An analysis of House of Commons’ transcripts shows how one portion of the daily routine in the House has been increasingly used for partisan ends since the Conservatives came to power in 2006.

Prior to Question Period each day, there is time set aside for Statements by Members. According to the Parliament of Canada’s Guide to the Canadian House of Commons, this is an opportunity for MPs to “make a statement on a subject of national, regional, or local importance.” The period generally lasts 15 minutes, with each MP making a statement being given one minute to speak.

Jason Kenney to vote in favour of abortion motion

OTTAWA — Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says he will vote in favour of a backbencher colleague’s controversial motion critics say will reopen the abortion debate in Canada.

The high-profile cabinet minister, who is considered a likely contender for leadership of the Conservative Party some time down the road, indicated Monday that he would vote in favour of the motion even though his boss Stephen Harper has promised to vote against it .

Jason Kenney’s office mined online petition to target message to gay Canadians

OTTAWA — For many who received an email from Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney about gay refugees on Friday, the message raised one important question: How did he know I’m gay?

The bulk email sent from Kenney’s MP’s office to thousands was titled “LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Refugees in Iran” and began with the salutation, “Friend.”

It proceeded to trumpet steps taken by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and the Conservative government to protect the rights of gay and lesbian refugees, especially those coming from Iran.

A word on democracy in the U.S. election

The American presidential election is playing itself out pretty well as the two parties' conventions indicated they would. Democracy-wise, it leaves something to be desired.

I was first fascinated by the obvious similarities between the two extravagant party spectacles. Both, for example, presented the spouses of their candidates as credible sources on their husbands' fitness to be president. To paraphrase America's greatest Marxist, I wouldn't vote for a party that treated me that stupidly.

Should we stop encouraging home ownership?

Home ownership is often connected to the notion of living the "American dream." But it is as much a part of Canadian identity as it is in the U.S.

Indeed, statistics show that the percentage of home ownership in Canada is edging close to 70 per cent, which is actually higher than the ratio south of the border at the moment – 65.4 per cent, a 15-year low, according to the most recent data. Many economists believe the Canadian government has played an active role in spurring home ownership, particularly by forming the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation back in 1946.

Africa next: The quest for Africa’s riches

Driving north in Africa’s copper belt, Mark Crandon marvels at the new factories and offices along the highway. “It’s crazy,” he says. “None of this was here three weeks ago.”

Supermarkets and shopping malls are opening too. They’re fresh fuel for his theory that anyone can make money in this corner of Africa. “You could almost blindly open any business here and it would be a success,” he says . There’s just no competition.”

CETA: Can Harper's Trojan horse be stopped?

Stephen Harper's no-longer-secret agenda to implement a revolution from the right and dismantle Canada has one major impediment that must really stick in his craw. He is constrained in what he can do by the constitutional division of powers which gives the provinces so much political authority.

The really big social items on the political agenda -- health, education, social services -- are matters of provincial jurisdiction. To be sure he can severely damage all of these by destroying the decades old principle of universality and slash federal funding. But he can't get rid of them. The provinces also have a mandate on protecting the environment and, regarding labour rights, most working Canadians are in sectors that come under provincial jurisdiction. Lastly, the third level of government is also a creature of the provinces. While municipalities depend on the federal government for financial help, Ottawa has no political authority over them.

One Billion Rising: Eve Ensler, Activists Worldwide Plan Global Strike to End Violence Against Women

Amidst a U.S. election campaign that has seen the issue of women’s rights at the forefront, the playwright and activist Eve Ensler is launching a global strike to end violence against women. "One Billion Rising" calls on women "and the men who love them" to join together on Feb. 14, 2013, and "dance until the violence stops." Ensler is the award-winning playwright and creator of "The Vagina Monologues," and her latest play, "Emotional Creature," opens in New York City in November.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Sheldon Adelson: Inside the mind of the mega-donor

LAS VEGAS — At the Republican National Convention in Tampa last month, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson got high-fives from strangers; entertained Karl Rove, Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki in his well-stocked luxury box; ate dinner with House Speaker John Boehner; and had a private meeting with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Last week, Adelson got a front-row seat — and a shout-out from Mitt Romney — at a $1 million campaign fundraiser at a Vegas casino. Paul Ryan held a private meeting with Adelson four days after being named Romney’s running mate.

Mitt Romney, On 60 Minutes, Cites Emergency Room As Health Care Option For Uninsured

WASHINGTON -- Downplaying the need for the government to ensure that every person has health insurance, Mitt Romney on Sunday suggested that emergency room care suffices as a substitute for the uninsured.

"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday night. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."

Mitt Romney Defends Tax Rate In '60 Minutes' Interview

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney defended paying an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent on Sunday, following the release of his 2011 tax returns and ensuing backlash from critics who pounced on his relatively low tax rate.

In the process, he argued that it would be fair for him to pay a lower effective rate than someone on the low end of the income ladder as his earnings derived primarily from capital gains. Low rates on those earnings, he said, help spur investment.

Georgia's Prison Rape Scandal—and What It Says About the Rose Revolution

TBILISI, Georgia -- Today, Georgia enters the final week of a parliamentary election campaign that will be decisive for its future. How decisive? A friend of mine here called it "an apocalyptic crisis that squeezes out of every human heart what is deepest in it."

This might sound like an exaggeration, but it's not. The emotional temperature of the contest broke the thermometer last Tuesday night when opposition television showed extensive video footage -- sourced from a Georgian state prison guard who'd fled to Belgium -- of other guards and their superiors torturing, taunting, and sexually assaulting prisoner after prisoner, sodomizing them with broom handles. (Partial footage from Georgian television can be found here, here, and here; discretion advised.)

Is Mitt Romney More Generous Than the Average American?

Last year, Mitt Romney earned $14 million and gave $4 million to charity. Does that tell us anything definite about his character?

John Podhoretz thinks so.

"The release of these tax records leaves no doubt about one thing: Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily, remarkably, astonishingly generous man. A good man. Maybe even a great man," he wrote in the New York Post. "That is all. There is no 'but.' Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant, stupid or a liar."

Fox News Misleads Audience on Climate Change

Brace yourself for some shocking news: a new study on Friday found that the two major publications of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation greatly mislead their audiences about climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists combed six months of Fox News broadcasting and a year's worth of Wall Street Journal editorial pages for mentions of the science of "climate change" and "global warming," then compared each claim to "mainstream scientific understanding" of the topic at hand. Here's what they found:

Data from Union of Concerned ScientistsData from Union of Concerned Scientists

Mitt Romney: Richer Than You Think

Is Mitt Romney richer than he's letting on? It's generally agreed that, if elected in November, Romney would be the wealthiest president in American history, but the extent of his wealth goes well beyond what is normally reported in the press.

Half of Canada gives Harper thumbs down

OTTAWA - As Parliament began its fall sitting last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's disapproval rating hit 50%, a new poll provided exclusively to Sun News Network shows.

It's the first time pollster Abacus Data of Ottawa has found the prime minister to be so unpopular with so many Canadians.

A leader's personal unpopularity is always an issue for the party he or she leads but the Conservatives in particular have taken great pains to identify their brand closely with Harper.

Challenging the blockade of Gaza: Message from a Canadian on board the Estelle

It is a great honour to be able to accompany the Swedish sailing ship Estelle for a few days, from Barcelona to Ajaccio (Corsica), on its way towards Gaza to challenge the illegal and inhuman blockade which has lasted now for more than five years.

The Estelle in a 90 year-old three-masted schooner purchased from a Finnish fair-trade organization by Ship to Gaza Sweden in April and renovated for this sea voyage. She began a Swedish coastal tour in June, with solidarity and information events in communities to raise awareness about the blockade in Gaza.

If Alberta's Tories loved Peter Lougheed so much, why do they have so little to say about him?

We have 28 federal electoral districts in Alberta of which 27 elected members of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Of those 27 Conservative MPs, one has since been kicked out of caucus for refusing to blow into a Breathalyzer and now sits as an independent Conservative. One has quit and not yet been replaced. The 28th is a New Democrat.

So how many Alberta Members of Parliament, do you think, paid tribute to former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed in the House of Commons when Parliament resumed sitting four days after Lougheed's death in Calgary at 84?

The answer would be "only one."

In the case of Innocence of Muslims, Canadian media managed to be sensational and uninformative

PARLIAMENT HILL—“Publish and be damned!” is the immortal newsroom cry, though it was uttered not by a reporter but a politician, the Duke of Wellington. In reality, media executives are much more officious.

So it was Canadians were told Innocence of Muslims inflamed the Arab world; that the film was so provocative it threatened our foreign policy; that these few minutes of fiction galvanized whole nations; and no, we dare not show it no matter how relevant to the story.

Global News to its credit broadcast a brief excerpt of the film; “Cheap-looking,” newsman Eric Sorensen called it.

Feds respond to Lobbying Act review, but don’t scrap controversial 20 per cent rule

Treasury Board President Tony Clement should go before the House Ethics Committee to explain why the federal government ignored the committee’s five-year review and overhaul of the Lobbying Act to expand Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd’s enforcement powers and to scrap the controversial 20 per cent rule, say opposition MPs.

During the House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee’s five-year legislative review in the spring on the Lobbying Act, Mr. Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka, Ont.) did not appear as a witness but last week responded to the committee’s recommendations by stating that the government would expand the designated public office holder’s list and will “consider” the committee’s other recommendations.

What the rise of Asia means for Canadians

When Canadian, Asian and American leaders and thinkers meet in Ottawa this week to discuss this country’s place in the new Pacific century, many in the room will not like what they hear.

Global leadership is pivoting from the West to the East faster than anyone could have imagined. Canada’s future – and your job – hinge on pivoting with it.

Raising red flags: Plan to share embassies with Britain stirs up critics

The Union Jack and the Maple Leaf may soon fly side by side at embassies and consulates around the world, as part of a new cost-saving foreign affairs agreement between Britain and Canada, prompting concern that a hybrid diplomatic channel could weaken Canada’s global standing.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and British Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce plans Monday in Ottawa to begin sharing embassy space and resources. The arrangement is being touted as a money-saving move to offset budget cuts to diplomatic missions against the desire to establish a larger presence in emerging markets such as China and India.

Canada and Britain to join diplomatic forces

OTTAWA—Canada and the United Kingdom will combine forces on the global diplomatic stage under a plan to open joint U.K.-Canadian missions abroad.

The two nations will announce the plan when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird meets with his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary William Hague here Monday.

The agreement is at the heart of a British strategy for a network of British Commonwealth embassies that could involve ties with Australia and New Zealand as well. On Monday, Britain will launch that strategy with Canada.