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, December 03, 2012

Forget Hamas and Iran. This may be Israel’s most pressing problem

TEL AVIV—The argument was over candles.

Students at the yeshiva religious seminary in a suburb of this cosmopolitan Israeli city bickered over whether it was permissible for observant Jews to light more candles than are needed during Shabbat.

From sundown on Friday to sundown Saturday, many Jewish families do not work, spend money, drive vehicles or use electric devices. Even flicking a light switch is considered inappropriate, making candles a necessity in most homes.

Susan Rice Keystone XL Attacks Put White House In A Bind

WASHINGTON -- When Susan Rice's potential nomination to the post of secretary of state hit another snag this past week, the White House found itself in a quandary.

On Wednesday, a publication affiliated with the Natural Resources Defense Council dug into the ambassador to the United Nations' financial disclosures, and discovered that she and her husband were heavily invested in several oil companies in western Canada including one, Transcanada, that currently has a project under review at the State Department.

Public Opinion Has Moved on Climate Change. Will Obama Follow—or Fiddle?

Climate change's single appearance in the presidential debates was, well, anticlimactic. At the end of the second bout, after the candidates sparred interminably over whose love for fossil fuels was greater, moderator Candy Crowley said she'd decided not to call on an audience member who wanted to ask about global warming. "I had that question, all you climate change people," she said. "We just, you know, we knew that the economy was still the main thing."

The Mystery of the Pro-Obama Dark-Money Group

In the world of political money, Democrats like to cast themselves as the defenders of transparency and crusaders against corruption. They've asked the IRS to investigate big-spending nonprofit groups such as Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and they've lead the effort in Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would've forced politically active nonprofits to reveal their major donors. Yet one of the most secretive dark-money groups of the 2012 campaign season was allied with the Democratic Party's standard-bearer, President Obama.

Sheldon Adelson Spent Far More On Campaign Than Previously Known

WASHINGTON -- Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson vowed to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama and help the GOP take control of Congress. According to two GOP fundraisers with close ties to the Las Vegas billionaire, he made good on that promise -- and then some. Adelson ultimately upped the ante, spending closer to a previously unreported $150 million, the fundraisers said.

Adelson, a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, has said that his humongous spending was spurred chiefly by his fear that a second Obama term would bring "vilification of people that were against him." As that second term begins, Adelson's international casino empire faces a rough road, with two federal criminal investigations into his business.

France, UK Summon Israel Envoys To Protest Settlement Announcement

PARIS - The French and British governments have summoned the Israeli ambassadors to protest the decision to approve 3,000 new homes on Israeli-occupied territory.

The Israeli envoy to Paris was called to a meeting late Monday morning, according to a statement from the French foreign ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot.

France, which was the first country to announce its support for the Palestinian effort to win U.N. recognition for their state, also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the decision "a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution."

Britain, which abstained in the U.N. vote, called on Israel to reverse the decision as it summoned Israel's ambassador Daniel Taub to the Foreign Office.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: AP

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page questions need for deep cuts

hereSome $5.2 billion in departmental spending cuts, 19,000 public service jobs slashed, a major diminution in environmental protections, the whittling away of our public broadcaster, government pensions and social services — these were just some of the measures contained in the nearly 500-page 2012 federal budget, the most austere since the mid-1990s.

The cuts were deep but necessary, we were told, if we were going to weather the aftershocks of the global recession without raising taxes.

Canadians less content with way democracy works, poll says

A new poll released by the charitable organization Samara suggests Canadians are less satisfied with their democracy compared to eight years ago.

Last spring, researchers conducted a poll using a question identical to one used in 2004, asking respondents about their level of satisfaction "with the way democracy works in Canada."

Seventy-five per cent of Canadians expressed at least some degree of satisfaction in 2004. But when asked again in 2012, the number expressing satisfaction dropped 20 points to 55 per cent.

Bourrie accuses Press Gallery of taking ‘easy out,’ allows Chinese news agency to keep Hill membership; Xinhua accuses Bourrie of ‘Cold War’ ideology

The Parliamentary Press Gallery executive has chosen “an easy out” by dropping an investigation into whether Chinese news agency Xinhua on the Hill is improperly using its gallery membership, says a veteran Hill freelance journalist who brought the issue to the gallery’s attention.

“They’ve chosen what they thought was an easy out and I think it’s going to come back to haunt them,” said journalist and press gallery member Mark Bourrie, who had a contract with Xinhua, but quit because he said he was concerned the agency was taking advantage of his Parliamentary press pass to gain access to events and spy on Chinese dissidents in Canada. He made his experience public in an article in a September edition of Ottawa Magazine.

The Palestinian UN bid: what happened and what changed

The Palestinian Authority's status at the United Nations has been upgraded to state recognition.

In a largely symbolic move, the UN General Assembly voted on Nov. 29 to change the Palestinians' status from a non-member observer entity to a non-member observer state, a move that puts them on par with the Holy See.

Time for Canada to get back to peacekeeping

For years now, the Canadian army has fretted about finding a new role for itself after Afghanistan. Well, that day has arrived and it can no longer dodge the stark post-war questions: What next, and where?

Spare us an eternity of training at home and aiding with floods and ice storms, is a common lament among soldiers who see little that's challenging or career-enhancing ahead.

Private clinics fail inspections, but names kept secret

Nine private medical clinics in Ontario have been found to be providing substandard care that places patients at risk, according to a report to be released Monday by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

But the same legislation that gave the college the authority to inspect the clinics also forbids it from publicly identifying the ones that got failing grades.

The report doesn’t say whether the substandard clinics are still open, identify the doctors who work in them, or reveal if any of those doctors face disciplinary action.

Conservatives seek transparency for all — except themselves

OTTAWA—At long last, Conservatives have passionately embraced the concept of transparency and accountability. But in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa that transparency is a one-way mirror.

In recent days, the government has passed legislation compelling aboriginal leaders to publicly disclose their salaries and expenses to ensure, as Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan says: “(They) are held to the same standard of accountability and transparency as other levels of government.”

Tories chose patent protection over children’s lives in defeating drug bill: Stephen Lewis

Proponents of an NDP bill crafted to fix Canada’s flawed regime for sending cheap copies of life-saving drugs to poor countries say the Conservative government defeated the initiative because it did not want to be perceived as supporting the generic pharmaceutical industry.

When confronted in the House of Commons on Thursday about the government’s decision to kill the proposed legislation, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said: “We know that that bill would not have improved the lot of the people that they (the New Democrats) claimed to help.”

Kashechewan State Of Emergency: Reserve Neighbouring Attawapiskat Receives Government Assistance After Emergency

OTTAWA - A year after the northern Ontario community of Attawapiskat jarred the country's conscience with its deplorable housing conditions, the reserve next door has only narrowly averted a similar crisis.

Kashechewan First Nation declared a state of emergency last week because it was running out of fuel and because 21 houses were not fit to face winter.

The federal government stepped in with help, just in the nick of time.

MP Tony Clement Disputes Think-Tank Findings

Conservative MP and Treasury Board president Tony Clement lashed out against a report recently released by a Halifax-based think-tank that claims 4,000 federal jobs will leave Atlantic Canada in the next few years.

Calling it a "misleading report," Clement said in a written statement to CBC that the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study "significantly overstates the impact of job losses in Atlantic Canada and is based on exaggerated numbers."

Climate Change Study Indicates Amount Of Heat-Trapping Pollution Rose By 3 Percent Worldwide Last Year

WASHINGTON -- The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.

The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet's top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.

Israel: Palestine Funds Withheld Due To UN Statehood Bid

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian president returned triumphantly to the West Bank on Sunday, receiving a boisterous welcome from thousands of cheering supporters at a rally celebrating his people's new acceptance to the United Nations.

An Israeli decision to cut off a cash transfer to the financially troubled Palestinian Authority, following an earlier decision to build thousands of new homes in Jewish settlements, failed to put a damper on the celebrations.

From oil boom to bust: Norway’s economic divide

OSLO—For the town of Glomfjord in Norway’s Arctic, the country’s oil boom has turned into a curse.

Unemployment has more than doubled, people are moving out and schools now risk being shut after solar-energy component maker Renewable Energy Corp. closed a 200-person plant in March before moving production abroad to cut costs.

“It’s an earthquake — a catastrophe,” said Per Swensen, the mayor of Meloey, a district of 6,600 people scattered across 755 islands that includes Glomfjord. “It has dramatic consequences.”

Egypt’s top court suspends work indefinitely

CAIRO—Egypt’s rebellion of the judges against President Mohammed Morsi became complete on Sunday with the country’s highest court declaring an open-ended strike on the day it was supposed to rule on the legitimacy of two key assemblies controlled by allies of the Islamist leader.

The strike by the Supreme Constitutional Court and opposition plans to march on the presidential palace on Tuesday take the country’s latest political crisis to a level not seen in the nearly two years of turmoil since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in a popular uprising.

Mongolia enjoys a new mining wealth but at what cost?

NALAIKH, MONGOLIA—Holding his youngest daughter in his arms, Baasanbayar looks over the bleak landscape that has been his home for 12 years.

In the foreground, slag heaps and dozens of rudimentary mine shafts are visible. In the distance, the long-abandoned buildings that once belonged to the state-owned mining company are crumbling, their windows smashed and many of their walls caved in.