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, November 05, 2012

What if the minimum wage was a living wage?

Increasingly, leadership for policy change comes from outside of government, not from within.

It's why many Ontarians who are focused on reducing and eliminating poverty in this province have engaged in a broadening conversation about how to end working poverty through decent jobs, a better minimum wage, and a concept that's gathering force: a living wage.

Wireless Industry Resisted Calls To Back Up Cell Towers Before Sandy

One key factor helps explain why communities ravaged by Hurricane Sandy could not use cell phones to call for help and communicate with the outside world: mobile telephone companies have for years lobbied to kill rules that would have forced them to maintain backup power at their cell phone towers.

After Hurricane Katrina knocked out communications along the Gulf Coast, federal regulators proposed that wireless companies have backup power at all cell towers.

Paul Ryan To Social Conservatives: 'Religious Freedom' At Risk If Obama Is Reelected

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) used some of the precious remaining hours of the 2012 campaign to reach out to social conservative voters in a town hall-style call on Sunday night, warning that "Judeo-Christian" values were at risk if President Barack Obama is reelected.

"This is a huge election," said Ryan. "Please know that Mitt Romney and I understand the stakes. We understand the stakes of where this country is headed. We understand the stakes of our fundamental freedoms being on the line, like religious freedom -- such as how they're being compromised in Obamacare."

Eleventh-Hour GOP Voter Suppression Could Swing Ohio

Once again Husted is playing the voter suppression card, this time at the eleventh hour, in a controversial new directive concerning provisional ballots. In an order to election officials on Friday night, Husted shifted the burden of correctly filling out a provisional ballot from the poll worker to the voter, specifically pertaining to the recording of a voter’s form of ID, which was previously the poll worker’s responsibility. Any provisional ballot with incorrect information will not be counted, Husted maintains. This seemingly innocuous change has the potential to impact the counting of thousands of votes in Ohio and could swing the election in this closely contested battleground.

No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote

No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like "freedom" and "democracy." And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote.

Campaign 2012: The End of Political Truth?

The most significant public statement from a presidential campaign this year did not pass through the lips of a candidate. It came during the Republican convention in Tampa when Mitt Romney's pollster, Neil Newhouse, declared at a breakfast panel organized by ABC News, "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." With these words, Romney's chief numbers guy was issuing a manifesto: This campaign is about saying whatever needs to be said to win, reality and facts be damned. It was an appropriate slogan, for the 2012 campaign has been profoundly shaped by Romney's willingness to obfuscate and dissemble far beyond the admittedly low norm of modern American politics. This election was not only about a clash of political civilizations; it was about the end of political truth.

Nationalists, Sovereigntists Face Off At Montreal Rally

A dozen Montreal police officers formed a human wall to separate a group of anglophone rights activists and a group of Quebec sovereigntists, as they verbally attacked each other.

The confrontation erupted Sunday afternoon in downtown Montreal, after a group of Quebec sovereignists showed up to a rally for Canadian unity planned for 1 p.m. at Place du Canada.

Harper Vice Regal Appointments: PM Creates New Panel To Ensure 'Non-Partisan' Candidates For High Profile Positions

OTTAWA - The Conservative government is creating a new advisory committee to help it choose candidates for vice regal appointments such as the governor general.

A release from the Prime Minister's Office says the committee will make non-binding recommendations when openings occur either in the provinces and territories or at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

The committee will be headed by Kevin McLeod, Canada's long-standing secretary to the Queen.

Arctic Snow Melt 'Profound': Environment Canada Researcher Warns Spring Snow Pack Disappearing Fast

The spring snow pack in the Arctic is disappearing at a much faster rate than anticipated even by climate change models, says a new study by Environment Canada researchers.

That has implications for wildlife, vegetation and ground temperatures, say the scientists, who looked at four decades of snow data for the Canadian Arctic and beyond.

Combined with recent news that the Arctic sea ice retreated to an all-time low this summer, it suggests climate change may be happening much faster than expected, said Dr. Chris Derksen, a research scientist for Environment Canada and one of the study's authors.

Who cares about 1812 and all that?

Why would anyone go out of their way to commemorate the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain?

It was a minor, messy set of skirmishes, fought mostly by incompetents, which generated relatively few casualties and had inconclusive results. No one quite agrees on who won the war, and perhaps the best that can be said about it is that it began two hundred years of peace between the two greatest English-speaking powers. Perhaps we should be celebrating the long peace rather than the brief war.

Bill C-12, online snoops and the crisis in personal privacy

Just when you thought it was safe to venture out on the Internet, along come the government snoops and their shiny new toy, Bill C-12.

To be sure, we all know about the dark forces on the Internet: the spammers, fraudsters, predators and thieves, not to mention troglodyte commenters. And most of us realize we have to put up with a certain amount of intrusion as the cost of participation.

You shouldn’t have to worry about your government being one of the most persistent intruders, but that’s what it is.

After Sandy, Occupy Movement Re-Emerges as Relief Hub for Residents in Need

In addition to the National Guard and FEMA, one of the more active relief efforts in New York City has been a volunteer effort organized by alumnae of Occupy Wall Street called Occupy Sandy Relief. Along with groups like and, Occupy activists quickly mobilized hundreds, and then thousands, of people to help affected areas of New York City. Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke speaks with Occupy organizer Catherine Yeager in the Rockaways about Occupy Wall Street’s transformation into Occupy Sandy Relief.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Conservative MP insists he didn’t want reporter fired

Jill Winzoski is a name you probably don’t know. Time you met her; she is a canary in the mine of Canadian journalism.

Up until October 19, Jill was a reporter with the Selkirk Record in rural Manitoba. Now she is unemployed. No one ever tells you why these days. There is that sudden pain between the shoulder blades, and off your horse you go. But Jill knows how she lost her job. It was politics, in the person of her local MP, the Conservative member for Selkirk Interlake, James Bezan.

A message to tax cheaters: Give us back our money

There is a class of people and corporations in this country whose illicit financial practices have an enormous negative impact on the country and its citizens. Yet the law and order regime of Stephen Harper barely plays lip service to the issue of tax evasion through tax havens.

While Harper cuts billions from government programs in the name of deficit reduction, he refuses to go after billions of dollars in revenue lost to tax evasion and avoidance every year. The practice has been going on for at least forty years and has grown to breathtaking levels world-wide.

"We Need Help": Battered by Sandy, Desperate Residents of New York’s Far Rockaways Plead for Aid

Power has returned to most of Manhattan, but well over one million residents of New York City’s outer boroughs and New Jersey remain in the dark. We begin our coverage of Superstorm Sandy’s hardest hit areas with the Rockaways, a peninsula located in the southeast section of New York City. Democracy Now! senior producer Mike Burke and videographer Elizabeth Press traveled to the Rockaways on Friday and filed this report.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Harper Tories cry havoc and let slip the wars of dogs!

Doggone it! Readers concerned about the fondness of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for the dogs of war -- any old war at all, even if it involved burning down the White House 200 years ago -- may want to prepare themselves by sitting down for this news.

Or, let me put that another way: SIT!

It sort of sounds, people (and I use that term very broadly), as if on the military file this government has now gone ape, barking, bats, batty, bird-brained, cuckoo, mad as a March hare, squirrelly … Do I really need to include everything on this list to get the idea across?

Activists support former Quebec student leader found guilty on contempt of court charges

Armed with pots and pans, supporters turned up at Dufferin Grove Park in Toronto on Saturday to express their solidarity with former Quebec student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.

The former Quebec student leader was found guilty of contempt of court on Thursday, after a Quebec judge ruled that he encouraged student protesters to ignore court injunctions banning demonstrations from interfering with classes and urged them to continue with picket lines that prevented students from returning to class.

Privacy commissioner concerned about feds’ First Nations Accountability Bill

When the Aboriginal Affairs Committee goes into clause-by-clause study this week of Bill C-27, the First Nations Accountability and Transparency Bill, it should ask four questions to ensure that the bill is meeting its objectives without unduly invading privacy, says Canada’s Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart.

“The privacy issue before you is not one of lawfulness, but one of principle” Ms. Stoddart said during a committee appearance last Wednesday.

Commons Board of Internal Economy too secretive, but MPs like it that way

The Commons Board of Internal Economy, led by House Speaker Andrew Scheer, is the House’s powerful board of directors, which oversees the Commons’ $441-million annual budget, holds the exclusive power to rule on whether or not a Member of Parliament is misusing House resources, sets the rules for MPs’ office budgets, decides whether or not the legal fees of MPs are covered by the House, and is required to approve all financial matters in the Commons, but some say it’s too secretive and doesn’t need to be, however, none of the major parties see a problem with it.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) said the board is “an extremely opaque institution,” and doesn’t “see any reason for the secrecy.”

Big changes could be coming to how Parliament approves multi-billions in feds’ annual spending

The way Parliament vets more than $250-billion of government spending in the annual estimates is poised to change dramatically in the coming years as the government works to adopt recommendations from a unanimous report of the House Government Operations Committee.

The Treasury Board Secretariat is currently preparing a mock-up of how the federal government’s spending estimates—the thick blue books that outline every cent of spending for the year—would look under a new system intended to make it easier for MPs and Senators to track spending requests and hold government to account.

Alarm bells already ringing on polling numbers in U.S. election

TAMPA, FLORIDA—It’s been a lousy year for North American pollsters and all those who have been guilty of paying too much attention to the horse race.

North of the border, polling in Alberta last spring was flat-out wrong, and in Quebec this autumn underestimated the Liberal vote. Federal Liberals, we are expected to believe, are in majority territory based on Justin Trudeau’s name.

So what to make of the blizzard of numbers in the U.S. presidential race?

Alarm bells are already ringing.

Protest condemns Harper government immigration policies

Protesters took over an intersection in downtown Toronto late Sunday to decry the Harper government's immigration policies.

Banging drums and waving signs, the crowd chanted outside the Royal York Hotel where Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was receiving an honorary degree from Israel's University of Haifa.

TTC, police deny responsibility for decision to divert buses for Mayor Rob Ford’s football team

The TTC and Toronto police are both distancing themselves from the decision to kick passengers off two buses so they could be dispatched to pick up Mayor Rob Ford’s high school football team.

“At no time were TTC frontline personnel aware of why a shelter bus was required,” a TTC news release sent out Sunday evening said.

“Given the urgency of the police request, operations personnel at the TTC made the decision to utilize buses from nearby routes to meet the request as quickly as possible.”

Veteran Burial Fund Rejects Majority Of Applications

OTTAWA - A federal burial fund meant to give impoverished veterans a final, dignified salute has rejected over two-thirds of the applications it's received since 2006.

And of the requests that are accepted, Ottawa contributes just over $3,600 toward the funeral cost of destitute ex-soldiers, a figure that is substantially lower than what some social services departments pay towards the burial of the homeless and those on welfare.

Karl Rove-Backed Groups Are Largest Single Outside Force In 2012 Election

WASHINGTON -- The independent group American Crossroads, a super PAC, and Crossroads GPS, a social welfare non-profit, set a goal to raise and spend $300 million on the 2012 election. When all is said and done on Nov. 6, they will, in all likelihood, have reached or come incredibly close to that once unbelievable goal.

The two groups, founded by Republican political operative Karl Rove and others in 2010, have already spent $271 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission and press releases.

Romney Campaign, Allies Unleash Torrent Of Anti-Obama Robocalls

WASHINGTON -- The Mitt Romney campaign and allied groups have released a series of automated phone calls to close out the presidential election, accusing President Barack Obama of attacking religious groups and threatening the economic livelihood of U.S. armed forces.

The calls, passed along by Shaun Dakin of, aren't as explosive as the one The Huffington Post reported on earlier this week, which called the president a "threat to religious freedom." But they do reflect the type of try-anything approach that the Romney campaign and conservative groups have adopted in the closing days of the campaign.

Cleveland Early Voting Lines Run For Blocks In The Cold

CLEVELAND -- Early voters here are waiting in line for more than two hours in the cold to beat the rush on Election Day.

Surprisingly, the scene feels more like a party than an agonizing wait. The Jackson Five is blasting from speakers set up on a street corner. Volunteers with various groups are handing out food and warm drinks -- Obama campaign volunteers showed up with 50 pizzas while HuffPost was here -- to try to keep people content as they stand in the 41-degree weather. A rap group is also walking up and down the line, rapping, "no more drama, vote for Obama."

Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge

WASHINGTON -- Once again, Florida and its problems at the polls are at the center of an election.

Early voting is supposed to make it easier for people to carry out their constitutional right. Tuesdays are notoriously inconvenient to take off work, so many states have given voters the option of turning out on weekends or other weekdays in the run-up to Election Day.

But in Florida this year, it has been a nightmare for voters, who have faced record wait times, long lines in the sun and a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who has refused to budge and extend early voting hours.

Cameron's horseplay texts with Rebekah Brooks: Intimate messages from PM reveal he likes his 'fast, unpredictable ride'

New details of intimate texts exchanged between David Cameron and disgraced media boss Rebekah Brooks have been obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

In one message, the Prime Minister thanks the former News International chief for letting him ride one of her family's horses, saying it was 'fast, unpredictable and hard to control but fun'.

In another, a gushing Mrs Brooks tells Mr Cameron that she felt so emotional listening to his Tory conference speech she 'cried twice', adding: 'Will love "working together".'

Federal testing backs study that found contaminants in oilsands region snow

OTTAWA – Environment Canada scientists have confirmed results published by researchers from the University of Alberta showing contaminants accumulating in the snow near oilsands operations, an internal federal document has revealed.

They also discovered contaminants in precipitation from testing in the region.

Food inspection agency raises new safety concerns at XL Foods

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has raised new safety concerns about operations at an Alberta beef processing plant that recently resumed slaughter operations.

CFIA inspectors have been closely monitoring operations at XL Foods, which was shut down after E. coli was discovered by meat inspectors last month.