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 13, 2012

The Republican Garden of Eden

In the beginning the LORD created the Heavens and the Earth, featuring a handful of small but helpful lands offshore. On the sixth day He built Adam by Himself, requiring not any government assistance.

Adam, like the Etch A Sketch, was fashioned from dust and one American’s good idea.

On the Estate of Eden no taxes abounded, and in this environment Adam was fruitful. As those at the top prospered in Paradise, so prospered all in Paradise.

Harperites disband ozone monitoring group

Thousands of people have avoided getting skin cancer thanks to Canadian scientists who invented the UV index and the gold-standard tool for measuring the thickness of the Earth's ozone layer. But now Canada's ozone science group no longer exists, victim of government budget cuts.

"Everyone who was still left in the ozone group has been re-assigned," said Prof Thomas Duck of the department of Physics and Atmospheric Science at Canada's Dalhousie University.

Rick Berg, North Dakota GOP Senate Candidate: No Abortion Access For Rape Victims

WASHINGTON -- North Dakota Senate candidate Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) is a staunch opponent of abortion access, believing it should be banned except when the life of the mother is at risk. But when asked in an interview Wednesday whether a woman who sought an illegal abortion should be jailed or fined, Berg declined to get into specifics and said the punishment should be figured out through the "legislative process."

Berg sat down with KVRR in Fargo, N.D., Wednesday, where news director Jim Shaw asked the congressman whether there any circumstances under which he would allow an abortion.

Mitt Romney's Hospital Comment 'Frightening' To Uninsured Woman

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says that thanks to hospitals, Americans who lack health insurance don't have it so bad.

"We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack,'" Romney told The Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday, explaining why repealing President Obama's health care reform law would not result in catastrophe for sick people who can't buy insurance.

Jennifer Rogers, California Woman, Denied Job Because She Couldn't Fit Into Uniform

Jennifer Rogers, 20, looked great on paper for a job at the Tilted Kilt, a sports bar in Palm Desert, Calif. She made it through the application process and did well in her interviews, but when she went to try on the restaurant's uniform, she encountered a problem.

"Because the skirt was a size too small, they said that I could not work there," Rogers told KESQ News. "I couldn't wear the uniform."

JPMorgan Chase Reports Record Profits, But Homeowners Say They Are Left Out In The Cold

With a big assist from its mortgage division, JPMorgan Chase reported a record quarterly profit of $5.3 billion on Friday, another encouraging sign that the housing market is finally recovering from a collapse that has cost nearly 4 million families their home.

“We believe the housing market has turned the corner,” said Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, in a release.

What is less clear is whether JPMorgan Chase has turned the corner in its dealings with struggling homeowners. Under a $25 billion legal deal struck earlier this year with state and federal authorities, JPMorgan Chase and four other large banks promised to overhaul mortgage "servicing" practices, following widespread reports that the bank had botched the management of thousands of home loans, leading in many instances to unnecessary foreclosures. The deadline for compliance was Oct. 3.

Paul Ryan Stimulus Funds Requests Show VP Nominee Asked For More Than Previously Reported

WASHINGTON -- During Thursday night's vice presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden attacked Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for criticizing the president's stimulus act despite having sent two separate requests for stimulus funds for his district.

Biden was wrong. Ryan sent at least four requests.

A Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ryan's office and the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by The Huffington Post, unearthed two additional instances in which the Wisconsin Republican petitioned for American Recovery Act funds. In addition, there were many other occasions in which the GOP vice presidential nominee asked the EPA for grant money for projects in Wisconsin's 1st District, which encompasses Ryan's hometown of Janesville and has a slight Democratic lean. Combined, the letters muddy Ryan's claim that the stimulus wasn't helpful and that government spending, more broadly, doesn't assist small businesses.

The Final Word on Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan

Mitt Romney's campaign says I'm full of it. I said Romney's tax plan is mathematically impossible: he can't simultaneously keep his pledges to cut tax rates 20 percent and repeal the estate tax and alternative minimum tax; broaden the tax base enough to avoid growing the deficit; and not raise taxes on the middle class. They say they have six independent studies -- six! -- that "have confirmed the soundness of the Governor’s tax plan," and so I should stop whining.  Let's take a tour of those studies and see how they measure up.

Afghanistan: The Long and Winding Roads

In late 2008, Andrew Wilder set out on a hunt for answers in Afghanistan. For years, Wilder, a former development worker who had recently settled into a post at Tufts University, had watched with dismay as billions of American assistance dollars poured into programs in Afghanistan designed to help win “hearts and minds,” and bring stability to the troubled nation.

New highways stretched hundreds of miles across the country, gleaming hospitals and schools sprang up in remote villages and just about everyone seemed to have a cell phone.

The 6 Studies Paul Ryan Cited Prove Mitt Romney's Tax Plan Is Impossible

Paul Ryan finally had enough time to go through the math of the Romney tax plan during the vice-presidential debate. He didn't use it. Ryan filibustered instead. About the most specific he got was citing "six studies" he said vindicate the plan's mathematical plausibility.

Except they don't.

TransCanada, Keystone XL Pipeline Maker, Broke Rules, National Energy Board Says As It Launches Audit

CALGARY - The National Energy Board is auditing TransCanada Corp.'s natural gas pipeline inspection procedures after an employee raised concerns the company was breaking its own rules as well as those of regulators.

"The board is concerned by TransCanada's non-compliance with NEB regulations, as well as its own internal management systems and procedures," the watchdog wrote in a letter posted on its website.

Paul Ryan Praises Canada's Tax Rate For Business

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan praised Canada's corporate tax rate during his debate with Joe Biden on Thursday night.

But it was his apparent reference to Canada being "overseas" that set off a firestorm on Twitter.

"And where I come from, overseas, which is Lake Superior, the Canadians, they dropped their tax rates to 15 percent," Ryan said. "The average tax rate on businesses in the industrialized world is 25 per cent, and the president wants the top effective tax rate on successful small businesses to go above 40 per cent."

Premier Says Help On The Way For Alberta Beef Producers

Alberta Premier Alison Redford says a government program to help beef producers should be enough to get them through the temporary shutdown of the XL Foods plant in Brooks.

Plans to gradually reopen the meat-packing plant were announced Thursday after Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors linked beef contaminated with E. coli to the plant in September.

Redford says the government is now helping producers.

Obama Campaign Office Shooting: Shot Fired Into Denver Building, None Hurt

DENVER — Denver police say someone has fired a shot through the window of President Barack Obama's Denver campaign office.

Police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez says people were inside the office when the shooting happened Friday afternoon, but no one was injured. A large panel of glass was left shattered at the office on West Ninth Avenue near Acoma Street.

Lopez says investigators are looking at surveillance video but have not yet confirmed a description of a vehicle that might be linked to the shooting. Police didn't immediately release other details while detectives pursue leads.

Lopez says she isn't aware of any previous threats against the campaign office.

The Secret Service referred questions about the incident to Denver police.

An Obama campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: AP

One-size prison chaplains don’t fit all

When taxpayer money is used to promote religion, controversy is sure to follow. This brew has become a boiling cauldron following Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’s reaction to plans to add a Wiccan priest to federal jails in British Columbia. He promptly made part-time chaplaincy funding disappear and invoked new powers for the 80 full-time chaplains the government currently employs in the federal prison system. The Ottawa Citizen reported that all but one, an imam, are Christian chaplains.

Major departments still not responding to PBO request for budget cut details

The responses are now coming quickly, but there are still some important absences.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer had posted another 10 letters recognizing departments that have agreed to work on handing over budgetary information by Friday afternoon.

Included in the list of those departments that now have an extra week to provide the PBO with details “pertaining to the savings measures” undertaken as a result of the 2012 spring budget, are departments like the Canadian International Development Agency and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, among others.

B.C. Conservatives in disarray

VANCOUVER—B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins insists he’s not resigning despite calls from within his party to do so, but the situation is dire enough he may consider shaking up his image somewhat — skinny jeans, perhaps, and maybe a hipster beard.

“I’m the first to admit I have shortcomings. I’m not photogenic,” said Cummins. “I’m an old white guy and in a day when youth is more appealing, I know I don’t have the most dynamic or extroverted personality.”

Resource Minister Joe Oliver seeks to sell India on Canadian energy

Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, is on a mission to make India think of Canada as it hunts for solutions to its acute energy shortage.

Canada did $5.1-billion worth of trade with India last year, but only $4-million of it – “let’s call it zero” – was in energy, the minister said in an interview in the Indian capital earlier this week. The two nations have pledged to triple the amount of their trade in three years and “the way that will dramatically increase is natural resources,” Mr. Oliver said.

Hundreds march to protest sex assaults in Christie Pits area

It echoed through the crisp, Friday night air: Hey, hey, ho, ho the violence has got to go.

Residents in the area of Christie Pits park marched for a second time in as many months against the string of sexual assaults that have brought a culture of fear to the downtown neighbourhood.

Three assaults over the Thanksgiving weekend sparked the second rally.

Police should say if Christie Pits sexual attacks were groping or rape

The pattern of sexual assaults on women around Toronto looks like coffee spills on a map — the Christie Pits area, Ryerson University, the York University campus. I don’t know what this means. One man? Two or three? What does he — or they — do to women in this city?

The police say the Christie Pits cases refer to a man coming up behind women and sexually assaulting them. “Sexual assault” covers many acts, including various gropings in the shadowy evening and the dark night.

With Parliamentary Budget Office, Stephen Harper has given Canadians a powerful tool for keeping the government honest

In 2006, when the Conservatives were seeking to take power from the Liberals, they promised to ensure truth in budgeting with a Parliamentary Budget Authority.

The authority would “provide objective analysis directly to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances and trends in the national economy,” said the Tories’ election platform.

Agencies and departments would be required to “provide accurate, timely information to the Parliamentary Budget Authority.”

Cabinet document shows Canada Health Act open to private clinics

OTTAWA — A government “interpretation manual” prepared for the Canada Health Act suggests the legislation has been badly misunderstood for three decades.

The existence of the manual was revealed in a new book, Chronic Condition, by the Globe and Mail’s Ottawa-based national affairs columnist, Jeffrey Simpson.

The manual, a copy of which was shown to the Citizen by a former government official, makes it clear that the legislation does not preclude private, for-profit clinics from operating under the umbrella of the public health care system.

Deep talent pool in Quebec with Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau, Philippe Couillard

MONTRÉAL—They may not flock together but in many crucial ways Thomas Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Philippe Couillard — Quebec’s rising federalist stars — are birds of a feather and bright ones at that.

Together the NDP leader and the early frontrunners in the federal and Quebec Liberal leadership campaigns put the lie to the notion that the province’s federalist talent pool has dried up.

Canada’s $1.5B Afghanistan aid effort ‘divorced from reality,’ according to damning, previously unreleased documents

Hampered by an increasingly hostile work environment and a bureaucratic culture that discouraged innovation, Canada’s aid blitz in Afghanistan seemed at times “divorced from reality” in the war-ravaged country, concludes a previously secret review of the $1.5-billion program.

It and other audits of the Canadian International Development Agency’s huge involvement in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan depict a well-meaning drive for results the government could boast about — a push that faced “intractable” security problems, political pressures and the “vaguely envisaged” challenge of building a new nation.

Is Canada flexing its muscles in the spying world?

This fall, the iconic British spy movie character James Bond, inspired by author Ian Fleming's past as an officer in the Navy Intelligence, will celebrate his fiftieth anniversary.

Of course, James Bond's movies, beyond their obvious commercial intent and Hollywodian glamour, fitted extremely well in a political context of a cold war era where the "good guys" were represented by the Western/American cops and the "bad guys" were represented by the Eastern/Russian spies. Britain, as an ex-empire, developed a thorough expertise in the spying game. Regardless of the legitimacy of their acts, the agents of the Military Intelligence MI5 and MI6, who worked for "Her Majesty," built a strong reputation.

Commodity traders: the next Lehman Brothers?

Ever since the 2008 meltdown, financial market observers and regulators have been scouring the horizon for where the next bout of instability could come from. And increasingly, it seems, their watchful gaze is scrutinizing the commodities markets and commodities trading houses in particular, a group of players as opaque as they are colossal.

Now, there are a number of ways to sell, buy and bet on commodities. There are markets so-called spot markets, where buyers take immediate delivery of the goods purchased. Then there are futures and forward markets, where delivery can happen at a later date at set prices. Some markets operate through formal exchanges; others are “over the counter,” meaning that trading takes places between two parties.

Rob Ford supports $3B casino project, sort of

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he is willing to entertain a privately-built casino resort like the massive complex proposed by a developer on Front Street on Friday, but would prefer it built on city-owned land.

Oxford Properties Group on Friday announced plans for the $3-billion project, which would potentially include a hotel, an urban park, and retail space in addition to a casino on land it owns on the south side of Front Street between Simcoe Street and Blue Jays Way.

Seed capital: How immigrants are reshaping Saskatchewan's farmland

At first glance, Sheldon Zou looks like any other farmer sipping coffee in the dining room of The Little Amego Inn in Ogema, Sask. He wears a rumpled hat, drives a pickup truck and talks earnestly about canola prices.

While most of the other farmers in the café have been tilling soil in the area for decades, Mr. Zou is a newcomer – to farming, to Ogema and to Canada. He immigrated from China in 2008, an entrepreneur with a background in engineering and a brief history of running a broadband company in the U.S. Mr. Zou, 40, was at loose ends at first, shuttling between Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto looking for a business opportunity. But during a drive across Saskatchewan, he became enchanted with the Prairies, and the investment possibilities of farmland.