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.]

Saturday, October 06, 2012

First Nation Private Property Proposal Feeds Fears Of 'Land Rush'

Imagine a piece of land. For millennia, it gives you everything you need. Your family farms it, hunts on it, fishes and traps on it.

Then one day, a man comes along, plants a stake in the ground and calls it his. He tells you you can stay on the land, but you have to manage and develop it on his behalf, with his approval.

"WTF?" you might be thinking. "This is my land, why can't I do what I want with it?"

Paul Broun: Evolution, Big Bang 'Lies Straight From The Pit Of Hell'

Congressman Paul Broun (R-Ga.) said last week that evolution and the big bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of Hell."

"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell," said Broun, who is an MD. "It's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."

Military Sexual Assault Epidemic Continues To Claim Victims As Defense Department Fails Females

NEW YORK -- On an isolated hilltop outpost overlooking a town in Eastern Afghanistan in spring 2007, a cell phone rang.

If the phone -- a detonation device -- had been properly wired, Rebekah Havrilla and her team leader would have been blown up along with a hill packed full of five landmines and an improvised explosive device.

Jon Hubbard, Arkansas Legislator, Says Slavery May 'Have Been A Blessing' In New Book

Jon Hubbard, a Republican member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, has written a new book in which he says slavery was "a blessing" for African-Americans, among other questionable statements.

Hubbard, a first term Republican from Jonesboro, Ark., makes a series of racially charged statements in the self-published book, including saying that integration of schools is hurting white students, that African slaves had better lives under slavery than in Africa, that blacks are not contributing to society, and that a situation is developing the United States which is similar to that of Nazi Germany.

Antonin Scalia: Death Penalty, Abortion, 'Homosexual Sodomy' Are Easy Cases

WASHINGTON -- Justice Antonin Scalia says his method of interpreting the Constitution makes some of the most hotly disputed issues that come before the Supreme Court among the easiest to resolve.

Scalia calls himself a "textualist" and, as he related to a few hundred people who came to buy his new book and hear him speak in Washington the other day, that means he applies the words in the Constitution as they were understood by the people who wrote and adopted them.

Foxconn Workers Strike In China Over Poor Work Conditions: Reports

BEIJING — Foxconn Technology Group denied on Saturday that production was affected at a Chinese factory that makes Apple's iPhones, although both state media and an overseas labor watch group said some workers halted production lines on Friday, apparently over higher quality control standards.

New York-based China Labor Watch reported that 3,000 to 4,000 workers at the Foxconn plant in the central China's Zhengzhou city went on strike Friday over increased quality control demands and having to work during an extended national holiday.

The official Xinhua News Agency, quoting a spokesman for the management committee of the Xinzheng Comprehensive Bonded Area where the plant is located, said some production lines were halted Friday when workers persuaded quality inspectors to skip work to show their dissatisfaction over higher quality standards.

Arctic Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise May Pose Imminent Threat To Island Nations, Climate Scientist Says

Low-lying island nations threatened by rising sea levels this century could see the disastrous consequences of climate change far sooner than expected, according to one of the world's leading climate scientists.

In the wake of last month's discovery that the extent of Arctic sea ice coverage hit a record low this year, climate scientist Michael Mann told the Guardian that "Island nations that have considered the possibility of evacuation at some point, like Tuvalu, may have to be contending those sort of decisions within the matter of a decade or so."

Republicans, Here's How to Complain About the Jobs Report Without Conspiracy Theories

Today’s jobs report is good news for the economy, and of course by extension, the president’s re-election campaign. The unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 percent, bringing it under 8 percent for the first time since January 2009. That was fueled by the 114,000 jobs added to the economy in September, and an upward revision of August’s number from 96,000 to 142,000. (This wasn’t one of those drops in the unemployment rate because more people stopped looking for work—in fact, the rate went down despite 418,000 more Americans joining the labor force).

Paul Ryan's Version of "47 Percent"—the "Takers" vs. the "Makers"

Mitt Romney's "47 percent," meet Paul Ryan's "takers."

Romney is finally backing off his controversial comments, but the theme that the nation is divided into makers and government-dependent takers is one of long standing for both Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. The GOP vice presidential candidate has repeatedly made statements that suggest he sees America in Ayn Randian terms—that many citizens are just takers, parasites who leech off productive citizens, the makers. As this collection of rarely seen videos shows, this has been a recurrent talking point for Ryan in small gatherings for years.

China’s Nexen bid calls for a public debate

Just how much of Canada’s vast oil and gas wealth is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government prepared to put in the hands of China’s state-owned firms or other foreign actors? It’s a question that has been raised not only in Parliament, but also in the Alberta premier’s office and in corporate suites across the country, amid growing concern over China’s bid to buy Nexen Inc., a firm with interests in the western oilsands.

China’s ambassador, Zhang Junsai, makes a spirited case that “Chinese investments should be encouraged” to put Canada-China trade on a sounder footing and to help raise the $200 billion needed to develop the oilsands in the coming decades. Moreover, the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corp.’s proposed $15.1-billion buyout is a friendly one, laced with promises to make Calgary the head office for all of the firm’s operations, to list shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange and to keep the current management and workforce.

Giving thanks for religious freedom (except for Wiccans)

OTTAWA - Last month, Corrections Canada put out requests for proposals for chaplains to provide part-time spiritual guidance to Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Wiccan prisoners in British Columbia, part of the federal prison service's national chaplain program.

The Canadian Press did a light story on the Wiccan proposal, and interviewed Priestess Meredith Campbell, who said the Wiccan chaplain would conduct ceremonies that involve casting spells with a pentacle.

It took Public Safety Minister Vic Toews just an hour to respond, declaring that the government would review the decision to hire a witch to work in prisons.

In 2010 $1.3B ‘mega-hospital’ was lauded. Today, the mystery behind it is the subject of police raids

It was a day for superlatives. After a long contract bid process that was shrouded in mystery, construction of a $1.3-billion “mega-hospital” on Montreal’s west side could finally begin. A consortium led by hometown leviathan SNC-Lavalin Inc. had just won the contract to build and manage the largest public-private partnership project the city had ever seen.

“Today is a momentous milestone for the McGill University Health Centre,” Conservative senator David Angus declared at the April 2010 announcement. McGill University Health Centre [MUHC] is one of Canada’s largest health care providers, and Mr. Angus was chairman of the board.

Canada’s commandos test the small submarine market

Canada’s commandos have been window-shopping for small submarines as they continue to look for new equipment for their counter-terrorism and special forces missions.

Equipment specialists from the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command in Ottawa surveyed Vancouver-area specialty diving firms in their quest to look at who in the country could build a “dry submersible,” according to a May 2011 briefing note prepared for Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson. Thompson is the commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command or CANSOFCOM.

Calgary MP Anders’ latest inflammatory comments spark questions on political future

What’s next for Calgary MP Rob Anders, who once called former South African President Nelson Mandela a “terrorist,” showed up at a Parliament Hill function for a Chinese delegation wearing a “Free Tibet” T-shirt and more recently suggested NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair hastened the death of his predecessor, Jack Layton?

While only Anders knows what he’ll say next, others are asking what the veteran Calgary West MP’s latest controversial pronouncements will mean for his political future.

Can Canada's schools pass the next great intelligence test?

Her mom wanted her to go into science and become a pharmacist. But after test-driving a number of subjects at Brandon University, Carissa Taylor chose English, with minors in philosophy and theatre. “For me, it’s more important to be happy than financially secure,” the 21-year-old says. And university, she argues, should not be seen solely as a factory churning out workers. “I always thought of it as knowledge for the sake of knowledge.” But she concedes, “It’s a little scary that there is really no safe profession to go into.”

Turkey’s PM warns nation ‘not far from war’ with Syria

ISTANBUL—One day after winning blanket authority to send forces into Syria, Turkey’s prime minister warned Friday that his country is “not far from war” and said that it would be a “deadly mistake” for the Syrian government to test Turkey’s will.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments as the Turkish military fired shells into Syria for the third straight day — retaliation for a mortar shell that landed just inside Turkish territory in Hatay province, according to the provincial governor.

Unemployment rates rises despite big job gain: StatsCan

Strong September job market reports in Canada and the U.S. appear to offer sweet relief for those suffering from an acute case of pessimism over where the economy is headed.

Economists agree that the reports are good news — but they are also quick to serve up a big dose of caution.

“It’s certainly stronger than expected but I’m wary of this strength being sustained,” said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at the Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Economics.

Tories to fix Employment Insurance measure

OTTAWA—The Harper government acknowledged it had made mistake with its Employment Insurance reforms and moved to alter a measure that was penalizing low-income Canadians holding part-time jobs while collecting EI.

The three-year Working While on Claim pilot program implemented in August was meant to encourage out-of-work Canadians to seek employment, even part-time positions. But opposition MPs have hammered the government over the measure, saying it unfairly punishes those who work at low-paying, part-time jobs by clawing back their employment benefits.

Why democracy will be austerity’s undoing in Europe

Poor Mario Draghi. The European Central Bank boss is clearly exasperated. Basta already, he is saying. I have done my bit; now it’s up to you – governments – to save yourselves.

That much was apparent at the ECB’s regular monthly meeting on Thursday, when he left interest rates unchanged and pronounced the bank’s sovereign-bond-buying program, unveiled a month ago, ready to swing into action for any dud country that wants to tap into it.

Tab for two city managers’ one-week training courses was $21,000

OTTAWA — Two city managers spent a week each in a management boot camp course last year that cost the city almost $21,000, but the city won’t say who they were.

“We can’t give you that information,” said spokeswoman Jocelyne Turner, suggesting that a formal request under access-to-information law might produce it. The Citizen promptly filed that request, though responses cost money and typically take several weeks.

DND edited NIS report on Langridge suicide before releasing it to the public

OTTAWA — Dogged by increasingly negative media coverage over the handling of investigations into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge the Department of National Defence edited an internal police force report before releasing it publicly and to the soldier’s family, a federal inquiry heard Friday.

The revelation at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry was one of several indications that the independence of the National Investigation Service (NIS), the military’s detective agency, was compromised after Langridge’s parents went public with their grievances.