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, October 10, 2012

JPMorgan Chase To Pay $18 Million For Benefiting From Improper Recommendation To Trust

Oct 10 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co must pay more than $18 million to a trust in a suit stemming from its improper recommendation of a type of complex security that was unsuitable for the trust and benefited the bank, a U.S. state court judge has ruled.

The bank engaged in misconduct and breached its duties of care to the trust in recommending so-called "variable prepaid forward contracts," wrote Judge Linda Morrissey of the District Court for Tulsa County, Oklahoma, in an opinion late Tuesday. That caused financial harm to the trust beneficiaries.

Teck Battles U.S. Pollution Lawsuit For Trail Smelter

Mining giant Teck Resources Ltd. will be back in a U.S. court Wednesday to argue that U.S. environmental law does not apply to the company's zinc smelter in southeastern B.C.

Teck admitted last month to dumping millions of tonnes of toxic waste from its smelter in Trail into the Columbia River for more than 100 years.

Chinese nationals brought in to fill B.C. coal miner shortage

OTTAWA — The first of a group of 200 temporary Chinese workers approved by the federal government will start arriving in B.C. in coming weeks to work in the burgeoning northeast coal industry, a mine project spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.

In total, anywhere from 1,600 to just under 2,000 Chinese nationals could find full-time work in four projects being proposed in coming years for the region, due to the shortage of underground mining skills in Canada, according to industry officials.

Governing in the dark: Bargain basement citizenship

We ought to be outraged. Almost daily our media provide new accounts of the decline of our democracy: the inadequacies of our electoral system and allegations of electoral fraud; the high-handed treatment of our Parliament through inappropriate prorogations and overuse of omnibus legislation; a government ever more authoritarian and opaque, resistant to evidence and reason, and prepared to stifle dissent. These issues are being raised across the political spectrum, left, right and centre, and among critics with very different models of democracy. And yet, even given these significant stirrings of outrage, why do so many still seem not to care? Has democracy lost its lustre?

Evangelical Christians find a home in Conservative politics

We in what is called the “mainstream” media tend to be secularists who either consider religion to be a private matter or have no religious faith at all. We tend therefore to minimize or miss the importance of religion in politics, especially Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party.

A recent vote on a Conservative backbencher’s motion to let a Commons committee ponder when human life begins plunged the House of Commons briefly again into the question of abortion. More than half of the Conservative caucus, including eight cabinet ministers, voted for the motion, which presumably meant they wanted the country’s abortion laws and practices tightened.

Forget about milk and chickens, the TPP could choke the free Internet

hereYesterday, Heritage Minister James Moore announced that Canada has formally joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a group that is discussing a major trade agreement among us and Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. The deal is at the negotiation stage now, but all countries at the table are expected to sign in late 2013.

Much of the chatter around TPP has focused on the impact it may have on Canada’s protected dairy and poultry industries. Beyond milk and chickens, TPP has other big implications. Among them are potentially disastrous new rules for the enforcement of intellectual property on the Internet.

Teachers take Ontario government to court over bargaining rights

Ontario’s teachers unions are taking the province to court, challenging legislation that they say sets a dangerous precedent by taking away their bargaining rights.

Teachers have been cutting back on voluntary services – such as supervising clubs and sports teams – since early September in protest of Bill 115. That legislation took effect one month ago, imposing restrictions on teachers’ ability to strike, reducing their sick days and blocking experience-based pay raises from going through.

Middle Eastern activists being cyber-spied on: U of T report

When Ahmed Mansoor opened an e-mail from “Arabic Wikileaks” last July, the Dubai human-rights activist didn’t expect he would unwittingly be downloading a virus that could monitor his key strokes, open his e-mails, even record his Skype conversations.

He wasn’t the only victim. Ten days before Mr. Mansoor’s desktop was infected, the same spying program, developed by a security company in Milan, had targeted a citizen journalist’s website in Morocco.

You do the math: Almost $50,000 in earned dividends, $0 in tax

One of the nice things about dividends is that they’re taxed at a lower rate than interest or other income.

Most people know that. What they may not know is that, depending on the province, it’s possible for an individual with no other sources of income to earn nearly $50,000 in dividends without paying any tax at all.

How? Two words: tax credits. Specifically, the dividend tax credit and the basic personal amount available to all Canadians.

Privy Council sends PBO back to departments for budget cut details

The Parliamentary Budget Office is issuing a fresh plea for information and economic data from government departments Tuesday – something it initially requested back in April. Without these details from this year’s budget, parliamentarians and Canadians are still in the dark as to how the government can justify the cuts laid out in its austerity 2012 budget.

Bruce Hyer has a question

At Tuesday’s Economic Club of Canada luncheon, Canada’s chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, took questions following a speech he delivered on two crises facing our democracy: civic engagement and trust in the system. One of the questions from the small crowd was newly independent MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, Bruce Hyer.

Mitt Romney CNN Interview: The 47% Comment Is 'Not What I Meant'

WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney again distanced himself from his infamous 47 percent comments caught on video at a private fundraiser in May, telling CNN in an interview Tuesday night that, "the words that came out were not what I meant."

This is the second time in as many weeks that the Republican nominee abandoned his position that the sentiment he expressed when he called 47 percent of the country government-dependent, self-identified victims was correct but poorly worded. Last week, he told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the comment was "completely wrong" as opposed to ineloquently stated.

Stopped-and-Frisked: 'For Being a F**king Mutt'

On June 3, 2011, three plainclothes New York City Police officers stopped a Harlem teenager named Alvin and two of the officers questioned and frisked him while the third remained in their unmarked car. Alvin secretly captured the interaction on his cell phone, and the resulting audio is one of the only known recordings of stop-and-frisk in action.

In the course of the two-minute recording, the officers give no legally valid reason for the stop, use racially charged language and threaten Alvin with violence. Early in the stop, one of the officers asks, “You want me to smack you?” When Alvin asks why he is being threatened with arrest, the other officer responds, “For being a fucking mutt.” Later in the stop, while holding Alvin’s arm behind his back, the first officer says, “Dude, I’m gonna break your fuckin’ arm, then I’m gonna punch you in the fuckin’ face.”

Graffiti on the Wall: Ottawa's Racial Problem

This morning, three of Ottawa's four most-read dailies had cover stories about the latest racist graffiti sighting in the city. The narrative seems to suggest that this insidious act has shaken a community that has rarely experiences such hatred.

Perhaps short memories from those who are rarely on the receiving end of these not-so-isolated incidents need refreshing.

Kihew Energy Services Guilty Of Human Trafficking Offences In Northern Alberta

Kihew Energy Services Ltd. has been found guilty of human smuggling offences after authorities busted a million-dollar human trafficking operation in northern Alberta.

Kihew, headed by a Ukrainian Orthodox Church pastor, entered a guilty plea in Edmonton provincial court on Tuesday and received a $215,000 fine as a sentence, after 60 foreign workers were brought in to Canada by the Alberta company under the guise of being students at Lakeland College in a scheme that may have earned the firm more than a million dollars, Mounties said.

The Rise of the Collaborative Economy

Robin Chase, founder and CEO of Buzzcar, says the new economy puts individuals, rather than corporations, at the center.

On any given day, millions of people around the world log in to Waze, a free GPS application, to contribute and access traffic data and incident reports in a collaborative, peer-to-peer system that provides real-time reporting on road conditions and routes based on user input. This community-driven application is just one more sign that we’re shifting away from an industrial economy and towards a more collaborative model.

As Millions Buy iPhone 5, Chinese Workers at Apple Plant Foxconn Protest Workplace Conditions

As consumers worldwide flood Apple Stores to buy the new iPhone 5, we look at why thousands of Chinese workers at a key Apple manufacturing plant walked off the job last week. The group China Labor Watch says up to 4,000 Foxconn workers walked off the job in protest of new employee demands on hours and product quality. Foxconn initially denied that a strike was taking place, but later said a small number of workers had participated in a dispute that was quickly resolved. We’re joined by Li Qiang, the founder and executive director of China Labor Watch.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Bain Capital & Big Tobacco: Romney’s Firm Profited From U.S.-Russia Cigarette Deals & Privatizations

An explosive report sheds new light on Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s time at Bain & Company, describing how the firm made millions on big tobacco by helping Philip Morris increase its revenues in the United States, and aiding two other tobacco titans to dominate the Russian market. According to the Huffington Post, "Romney’s consultants helped foreign firms and aspiring oligarchs decide how to corral Russia’s riches — including writing a official manual that outlined how best to navigate the process. At the same time, Bain leveraged its contacts with senior Russian officials to arrange sweetheart deals for its tobacco clients." We’re joined by Zach Carter, senior political economy reporter at the Huffington Post.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Gerry Ritz is the least of our problems

Should Ariculture Minister Gerry Ritz resign? Sure, what the hell. If a politician’s main job during a crisis is to assuage fears and manage PR, then on that basis alone Ritz should have the good sense to realize he’s utterly pooched the job. And I’m not even talking about the current meat-related crisis, in which Ritz disappeared from the House for three days, made a series of baffling and demonstrably wrong statements about the size and scope of the recall at XL Foods, and generally mishandled a sensitive and potentially life-and-death file.

As Bain Ships Jobs to China, Bainport Protesters Arrested for Blocking Illinois Factory’s Closure

Police have arrested three people for blocking the removal of equipment from the Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport, Illinois, to protest a plan by Bain Capital to close the factory and ship their jobs to China. Workers at Sensata have set up an encampment called "Bainport" across the street from the facility to protest plans to close the plant and move operations to China, taking 170 jobs with it. Sensata is owned by Bain Capital, the private equity firm co-founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. We hear from two of the detained protesters: Karri Penniston, 16, whose mother works at Sensata; and Debi Kempel, a Bainport supporter from nearby Pearl City.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Mirvish-Gehry King St. ‘sculptures’ all gloss and greed

As a kid, when my parents tried transferring me from a public elementary school to a Catholic separate school, I embarked on a course of resistance by playing hooky for the entire first week of the fall semester. Those days were spent hiding in a series of giant concrete pipes that had been dropped into a sandlot at Christie Pits as both playground apparatus and cheap urban sculpture. Contentedly, I passed the hours reading comic books and eating candy, until a truant officer caught up with me.

UN calls Canada's tough-on-crime agenda 'excessively punitive'

OTTAWA -- The federal government's tough-on-crime agenda is "excessively punitive" for youth and is a step backwards for Canada's child rights record, says a United Nations group.

The UN committee on the rights of the child has finished a 10-year review of how Canada treats its children and how well governments are implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Tainted meat, free trade and the lies politicians tell

In launching his leadership campaign Justin Trudeau pledged that his policies would be based on evidence, saying: "It may seem revolutionary in today’s Ottawa, but instead of inventing the facts to justify the policies, we will create policy based on facts." For Trudeau the "ideology" we need to face todays challenges is: "Hard, scientific facts, and data."

This is not a bad start for someone who is routinely dismissed as a lightweight on policy. Honesty and integrity in policy making would make a refreshing difference to public life in Canada and elsewhere.

Why we need a Canada-Québec-Indigenous Social Forum

Anger and discontent against the ruling Conservative government is on the rise all across Canada. Human rights groups, women's organizations, cultural associations, environment groups, labour, indigenous peoples, students, generally civil society organizations feel threatened and angered by the government's policies and actions.

Protests for social and environmental justice are erupting all over the country. Casseroles have been organized on the streets of many cities in support of the student movement in Quebec. The youth across Canada are joining hands with those from Quebec in challenging neo-liberal austerity policies.

Israel and Iran: War now? Or war later?

Mutual hostility between Israel and Iran has burned hot ever since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. But rarely, if ever, has the prospect of outright war between the two countries been as real as it is now.

At issue is Iran’s nuclear program. Iran insists it is peaceful. Israel, along with most Western nations, believes it is geared toward obtaining a nuclear weapon. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told the United Nations last week that Iran is on track to build an atomic bomb by the summer of 2013, is determined to stop it. A firm ultimatum was needed, he said, calling on the United States and other global powers to set a “red line” that Iran would not be allowed to cross without triggering a military response. The U.S. has so far rejected such a tactic. President Barack Obama says the U.S. will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, but he is refusing to threaten Iran with an explicit deadline.

Canada joins Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks

The federal government has announced it has formally joined talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a vast trade deal that Ottawa hopes will open new markets to Canadian exports.

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership — or TPP — involve 11 countries with a combined population of 658 million people and combined GDP of $20.5 trillion:

    New Zealand.
    United States.

Wal-Mart Workers in 12 States Stage Historic Strikes, Protests Against Workplace Retaliation

Wal-Mart workers have launched historic labor protests and strikes across 28 stores in 12 states, the first retail worker strike in the company’s 50-year history. According to organizers, employees are protesting company attempts to "silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job." We go to Bentonville, Arkansas, to speak with Mike Compton, a Wal-Mart worker protesting outside the company headquarters today just days after taking part in a successful strike at a Wal-Mart supply warehouse in Elwood, Illinois. We’re also joined by Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for Salon and In These Times who broke the story of the Wal-Mart store strikes last week.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Todd Akin Opposed To Minimum Wage, Equal Pay Laws

Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) isn't philosophically opposed to businesses paying men and women the same wages -- he just doesn't want the government to make sure that happens.

In an interview with the Springfield News-Leader editorial board on Monday, the Republican Senate candidate reiterated his opposition to the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which provides women with more legal channels through which to pursue equal pay for equal work. The legislation's passage was heavily opposed by Republicans.

David Siegel Email To Workers Threatens Layoffs If Obama Is Reelected

The super-rich guy who claims he’s the one who got George W. Bush elected is doing everything he can to make sure Mitt Romney wins in November too.

David Siegel, the founder and CEO of giant timeshare company Westgate resorts, sent an opus-like email to his workers, railing against one-percent bashing and arguing that the president’s reelection would “threaten your job.” In the email, obtained by Gawker, Siegel goes on to write:

    If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.

Wells Fargo Lawsuit: U.S. Sues Bank Alleging Civil Mortgage Fraud

Wells Fargo lied about the quality of thousands of loans it certified for a federal insurance program, a decision that ultimately cost the government $190 million in claims when those loans failed, according to a civil lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors on Tuesday.

From Jan. 1, 2002 through Dec. 31, 2010, Wells Fargo intentionally concealed the problems with 6,320 loans it had determined were "seriously deficient" from the Federal Housing Administration, which insured the loans, according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal district court. The bank didn't report the problems with the loans even after its own risk department conducted reviews that according to one bank employee, unearthed "a dirty underbelly of bad loan officers," the lawsuit claims.

Paul Ryan Fundraiser Bans Recording

A Sunday fundraiser in Chicago with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) prominently featured a sign banning audio and video recording, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet.

That warning was given despite the fact that the event was being covered by the press. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ryan's remarks were routine. "The economy is growing slower this year than it grew last year and last year it grew slower than the year before. So since the president cannot run on his record, he has to tear down Mitt Romney," Ryan said.

Romney's campaign was hurt last month after the leak of a secretly recorded video of remarks he made at a May fundraiser that was closed to the press. The video showed him saying that 47 percent of Americans were "dependent on government," saw themselves as "victims" and would support President Barack Obama no matter what.

Tickets prices ranged between $2,500 and $75,800 for the Ryan fundraiser on Sunday, held at the Hyatt Regency at O'Hare Airport. He raised $2.5 million, according to the Sun-Times.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Luke Johnson