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 10, 2012

Google Avoids $2 Billion In Taxes By Offshoring Profits In Bermuda

Google is the latest multinational to come under scrutiny for skirting U.S. taxes.

On Monday, Bloomberg's Jesse Drucker reported that the tech giant avoided paying $2 billion in global income taxes by moving $10 billion in revenue, or 80 percent of its pretax profit, to Bermuda, which does not have a corporate income tax. Google has nearly doubled the amount of money that it is sheltering in Bermuda since 2008.

1990 IPCC Report Successfully Predicted Warming, New Study Shows

Time has proven that even 22 years ago climate scientists understood the dynamics behind global warming well enough to accurately predict warming, says an analysis that compares predictions in 1990 with 20 years of temperature records.

After an adjustment to account for natural fluctuations, the predictions and the observed increases matched up, the current research found.

Obama Says Michigan Labor Battle About 'The Right To Work For Less Money'

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama weighed in on the contentious labor battle playing out in Michigan, condemning the Republican push to make Michigan a so-called "right-to-work" state as nothing more than a partisan maneuver that will hurt the working class.

"We should do everything we can to keep creating good middle-class jobs that help folks rebuild security for their families," Obama said Monday in a speech at the Daimler Detroit Diesel plant.

Potential for diminished F-35 benefits to industry a time bomb for Conservatives

OTTAWA - Amid the avalanche of figures, statistics, estimates and soothing political assurances coming this week on the Conservative government's troubled stealth fighter program, one report will warn about the lagging benefit for Canada's aerospace sector.

And it could prove more damaging in the long run than the bruising debate about the eye-popping cost of the multi-role fighter, say some experts.

B.C. coal exports are Lotus Land’s dirty little secret

EDMONTON - West Coasters are fiercely proud of British Columbia’s green image.

Environmental activism has long been a key part of the province’s identity and political fabric. Given that, it’s no surprise that many Lotus Landers despise what they regard as “dirty oil” from Alberta’s oilsands and are dead set against any new pipelines that would carry bitumen to the West Coast.

First they demonized the Roma, but I did not speak out because I was not Roma

First they demonized the Roma, but I did not speak out because I was not Roma ...

Martin Niemöller was a German Lutheran pastor who came of age in the first part of the 20th Century and who, when it first came to power, supported Hitler's regime.

At that time, Niemöller was, in the words of one historian, a "typical Christian anti-semite who openly professed his belief that the Jews had been punished through the ages because they had 'brought the Christ of God to the cross.'"

Guardian person of the year: Voters choose Bradley Manning

Forget the Olympics, mummy porn, particle physics, elections galore and the bravery of a young Pakistani girl. The Guardian's 2012 person of the year vote has concluded and the winner, after some rather fishy voting patterns that belied earlier reader comments on the poll, is Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower on trial for leaking state secrets.

It was very much a game of two halves. The overwhelming majority of early votes in the three-day poll went to Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for defending girls' right to education. Malala, who is still recovering from injuries sustained in October, had 70 percent of votes at the halfway stage with many readers predicting a foregone conclusion. "What that kid did really focussed the world on the evil that these men can do - and what evil all people can do when they feel inclined. But it also showed the courage to pull through and the will of others to not succumb to evil," wrote jamieTWC1.

But in the latter stages, following a series of tweets from the @Wikileaks twitter handle telling followers to vote Manning, thousands of voters flocked to his cause. Manning secured 70 percent of the vote, the vast majority of them coming after a series of @Wikileaks tweets. Project editor Mark Rice-Oxley said: "It was an interesting exercise that told us a lot about our readers, our heroes and the reasons that people vote."

Original Article
Source: guardian
Author: -

Rising aboriginal frustration palpable

OTTAWA -- As far as First Nations are concerned, it is fitting that Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada had approved the Chinese takeover of two Canadian oil companies from the room on Parliament Hill known as the Aboriginal People's Committee Room.

It was just another sign the natural resources First Nations should be benefiting from were being sold off under their noses without their input.

Devastation in wake of latest Israeli assault: Report back from Gaza

Eman El-Hawi, a smart and perky 24-year-old business student from Gaza got teary when she told our delegation about what she witnessed during the eight days that Israel pounded Gaza. “I saw the babies being brought into the hospital, some dead, some wounded. I couldn’t believe Israel was doing this again, just like four years ago. But at least this time,” she said with pride, "we struck back."

The fight was totally disproportionate. Israeli F-16s, drones and Apache helicopters unleashed their fury over this tiny strip of land, leaving 174 dead, over one thousand wounded, as well as homes, schools, hospitals, mosques and government buildings damaged and destroyed. On the Palestinian side, crude Qassam rockets left six Israelis dead and caused little damage. But for many Palestinians, it was a perverse kind of victory.

Conservative lawyer says voter suppression lawsuit is political 'payback'

OTTAWA — A left-of-centre advocacy group brought legal challenges against the election of six Conservative MPs was looking for “payback” and wanted to advance their “anti-Harper agenda” the MPs’ lawyer told the Federal Court Monday.

Lawyer Arthur Hamilton says the Council of Canadians is the true litigant behind the six legal challenges that claim the results were changed by misleading live and robocalls the applicants say they received in the last election.

Robocalls case: Tory’s lawyer argues eight complainants are stand-ins for advocacy group

OTTAWA—The federal Conservatives are arguing that eight voters challenging election results on the basis of allegedly receiving misleading robocalls are really stand-ins for a left-leaning political advocacy group.

“There are many pieces of evidence that points to the fact that the Council of Canadians is the true applicant here,” argued Arthur Hamilton, lawyer for the six Conservative MPs whose electoral victories are being challenged in Federal Court on Monday morning.

Lawyers for the eight voters from six federal ridings are in Federal Court this week to face off against lawyers for the six Conservative MPs who won seats in those ridings last year.

Province likely to impose contract on teachers to end impasse

OTTAWA — With just two weeks until the holidays and negotiations virtually on ice, it’s becoming increasingly likely the provincial government will be forced to impose a new contract on thousands of striking teachers and education workers.

As life at Catholic and francophone schools rolls merrily along, the labour peace Premier Dalton McGuinty worked so hard to establish and maintain during his nine years in power remains elusive in hundreds of public schools across Ontario.

Harassment allegations erased from public servants’ records after two years, committee hears

MPs on the House Status of Women Committee say they are concerned that departments are destroying all trace of public service harassment cases two years after incidents are resolved, allowing perpetrators to apply to new posts without a history of abuse.

“After two years, this person could move on to another department, get another job, and perhaps continue to harass again if that was the case because [departments] would not know that that was an issue,” said Conservative MP Susan Truppe (London North Centre, Ont.) Parliamentary Secretary to Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose (Edmonton-Spruce Grove, Alta.).

Canada's secret trials, immigration policy under fire on Human Rights Day

Organizers in at least eight cities across the country are rallying support for Canadian Muslims rounded up in the so-called War on Terror -- particularly the ongoing punishment without trial of three men under security certificates.

The events, which kicked off last night with a candlelight vigil in Vancouver, include what is billed as a "family-friendly noise demonstration" in front of Montreal's Laval Immigration Prevention Centre today, as well as events in Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, Ottawa, and Halifax.

Bullies in power: Rob Ford, Stephen Harper and the politics of smearing and intimidation

Earlier this year, Toronto's medical officer of health, David McKeown, recommended that the city's speed limits be lowered to improve road safety. Here is the entire response from the Mayor of Toronto: "Nuts, nuts, nuts, nuts. No." The proposal, he declared without elaboration, was "absolutely ridiculous."

Verbal abuse -- a form of bullying, as every school kid is taught -- is what Rob Ford substitutes for debate.

Trade agreements and the hypocrisy of 'free' market advocates

Many critics and most apologists focus on how "free" trade agreements are opening the economy up to the competitive market. Survival of the fittest in the marketplace is what corporations are supposed to desire.

This story is only partly true. Corporations want selective competition -- competition for others, but not for themselves.

Egypt's Army Takes Over Security Ahead Of Constitution Vote

CAIRO — The Egyptian military on Monday assumed joint responsibility with the police for security and protecting state institutions until the results of a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum are announced.

The army took up the task in line with a decree issued Sunday by President Mohammed Morsi. The Islamist leader on Monday also suspended a series of tax hikes announced the previous day on alcohol, cigarettes and other items.

Only shareholders will benefit from Nexen deal says Mulcair

OTTAWA — As far as NDP leader Tom Mulcair is concerned, there’s just one clear net benefit to a Chinese state-owned company’s takeover of a Calgary-based petroleum producer  – and that’s to the shareholders.

“The only clear net benefit is to Nexen shareholders in Mr. Harper’s oilpatch,” Mulcair told Global’s The West Block on Sunday.

The Nexen deal: 'Friends with benefits' may not be nearly as good as it sounds!

"When we say that Canada is open for business, we do not mean that Canada is for sale to foreign governments," Prime Minister Stephen Harper intoned at a news conference in Ottawa Friday -- except, he didn't add, those parts of Canada our government's rich pals feel like selling off.

So, once again, Dec. 7 gets to be a date that will live in infamy, in this case the soon-to-be infamous sale of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. for a tidy $15 billion to the government of a Communist dictatorship -- or whatever it is you call a Crown corporation run by the government of a Communist dictatorship, which by definition one would think is an uncrowned sort of place.

Navigable Waters Act changes could spark court battles

It does not look like there will be any bridge over the troubled water of the House of Commons any time soon.

Tempers flared across the aisle last week in House Chamber after a vote to remove federal oversight on bridges, dams, wharfs, and just about everything else that can built on or around Canada’s waterways.

First Nations vow to rise up against feds’ lack of consultation on budget bill

The federal government says it is consulting, but First Nations leaders say they are growing increasingly frustrated with the federal government’s lack of consultation and that last week’s unsuccessful attempt by a number of chiefs who tried to get into the House Chamber is just the beginning of such protests across the country.

“The government continues to disregard valid concerns that are raised. There really are no options,” NDP MP Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan, B.C.), her party’s aboriginal affairs critic, told The Hill Times. “When I talk to chiefs, they have a really hard time getting in to talk to the minister or any of the other ministers, aside from aboriginal affairs. They get stonewalled at every turn by the department. I don’t know what you expect from people when they have nowhere else to go to have an honest dialogue.”

Skilled trades stream targets 3,000 foreign workers in 2013

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has unveiled details of a new program intended to speed the arrival to Canada of foreign tradespeople whose skills are in demand.

Kenney said the Skilled Trades Stream will help address serious labour shortages in some regions of the country, including remote regions such as Northern Ontario, and will help grow the economy.

"This is about having an immigration system that works for Canada, works for our economy, works for newcomers [and] fuels our long-term growth and prosperity," Kenney said in making the announcement Monday in Mississauga, Ont.

Allies’ offices got Mayor Rob Ford’s list of job picks, emails show

Three Mayor Rob Ford allies who helped choose citizen appointees for city agencies stood at council in October to say they knew nothing of a mayor’s list of preferred candidates.

“Making up lists!” Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti thundered, scolding city ombudsman Fiona Crean for including evidence of one in her report that concluded other political interference “compromised” the appointment process.

The Harper government’s version of reality is falling to pieces

There comes a point in the politics of deception where the BS hits the bridge abutment and everything goes through the windshield.

The government is still at a distance from the moment of impact, but the tires on the Harper machine are beginning to squeal.

Are we trading away our rights and environment?

Global trade has advantages. For starters, it allows those of us who live through winter to eat fresh produce year-round. And it provides economic benefits to farmers who grow that food. That could change as oil, the world’s main transport fuel, becomes increasingly scarce, hard to obtain and costly, but we’ll be trading with other nations for the foreseeable future.

Because countries often have differing political and economic systems, agreements are needed to protect those invested in trade. Canada has signed numerous deals, from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to several Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPA), and is subject to the rules of global trade bodies, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Federal fisheries officials stalling on talks to protect water

OTTAWA - The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has no formal plans to consult with stakeholders on new regulations or partnerships to prevent industrial pollution in the wake of a major changes to environmental protection laws adopted last summer, says newly-released internal correspondence obtained by Postmedia News.

Despite pledging to develop new regulations and partnerships to protect Canadian waterways when it implemented the changes to Canada’s Fisheries Act and other legislation, the department is unable to provide any timelines or details of its progress, nearly six months later

New Egypt protest call as Morsi sticks to constitution plan

Egypt’s liberal opposition called for more protests Sunday, seeking to keep up the momentum of its street campaign after the president made a partial concession overnight but refused its main demand he rescind a draft constitution going to a referendum on Dec. 15.

President Mohammed Morsi met one of the opposition’s demands, annulling his Nov. 22 decrees that gave him near unrestricted powers. But he insisted on going ahead with the referendum on a constitution hurriedly adopted by his Islamist allies during an all-night session late last month.

Paying for It

It’s been almost a century since the British economist Arthur Pigou floated the idea that turned his name into an adjective. In “The Economics of Welfare,” published in 1920, Pigou pointed out that private investments often impose costs on other people. Consider this example: A man walks into a bar. He orders several rounds, downs them, and staggers out. The man has got plastered, the bar owner has got the man’s money, and the public will get stuck with the tab for the cops who have to fish the man out of the gutter. In Pigou’s honor, taxes that attempt to correct for this are known as Pigovian, or, if you prefer, Pigouvian (the spelling remains wobbly). Alcohol taxes are Pigovian; so are taxes on cigarettes. The idea is to incorporate into the cost of what might seem a purely personal choice the expenses it foists on the rest of society.

A Jew in Palestine: 'Shlomo, We're Not in East London Anymore'

First things first:

I'm a Jew.

A Jew in Palestine (I'm just waiting for some smartarse to 'politely' inform me that Palestine is not a country, although, as of last Thursday, I have the might of the UN behind me).

'So what?' you might ask, and go back to your lunchtime panini and the work you should be doing.

I hear you. What does it matter? Why does it matter?

Spaniards protest health care privatization plans

MADRID—Thousands of Spanish medical workers and residents angered by budget cuts and plans to partly privatize the cherished national health service marched through some of Madrid’s most famous squares on Sunday.

More than 5,000 people rallied in Puerta del Sol, according to police estimates, after marching from Neptuno and Cibeles squares. Organizers estimated attendance at 25,000 protesters, many dressed in white and blue hospital scrubs. The march, called “a white tide” by organizers, was the third such large-scale protest this year.

Industry Minister Explains Worrisome 'Trend' In The Oil Sands

The federal government has reached "a level of discomfort" with foreign investment by state-owned enterprises in Canada's energy sector.

That's the message Canada's Industry Minister is emphasizing after giving the green light to two major takeover deals; a $15.1-billion bid for Nexen Inc. by a Chinese state oil company and a $5.2-billion bid by Malaysia's Petronas for Progress Energy.

Catherine Galliford Case: Police Officers And Doctor Deny Allegations In RCMP Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

VANCOUVER - The police officers named in Cpl. Catherine Galliford's sexual harassment lawsuit against the RCMP have all denied her allegations in statements of defence, following the lead of the federal government, which issued its own blanket denial earlier this year.

Galliford, a police spokeswoman who worked on the Air India and Robert Pickton cases, filed a lawsuit in May, alleging nearly two decades of harassment and sexual abuse by her colleagues and superiors.

Egypt Protests: After Mohammed Morsi Annuls Decree, Opposition Seeks To Maintain Momentum

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's liberal opposition called for more protests Sunday, seeking to keep up the momentum of its street campaign after the president made a partial concession overnight but refused its main demand he rescind a draft constitution going to a referendum on Dec. 15.

President Mohammed Morsi met one of the opposition's demands, annulling his Nov. 22 decrees that gave him near unrestricted powers. But he insisted on going ahead with the referendum on a constitution hurriedly adopted by his Islamist allies during an all-night session late last month.

Secrecy the standard as Canada enters Trans Pacific Partnership talks

Despite growing opposition in Canada, Ottawa has begun formal participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, aimed at establishing one of the world’s most ambitious trade agreements.

As nearly a dozen countries — including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Mexico and Vietnam — gathered in New Zealand last week for the 14th round of talks, skeptics here have already expressed doubts about the benefits of the proposed deal.

In the F-35 fiasco, truth is the first casualty

They don’t call the F-35 a “stealth” fighter for nothing. Years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government identified the warplane as the only viable one for Canada, and shouted down critics who dared to say otherwise, Canadians still haven’t got a clue as to the true cost of each plane. We don’t know how many we can afford. We don’t even know whether we’ll buy it at all. We’re flying blind.

The F-35 may prove one day to be the most fearsome bird in the sky, but it is also proving to be a bit too stealthy, in too many ways.

Tory MPs lobby behind-the-scenes for communities derailed by Via cuts

OTTAWA - Backbench MPs from the party that gave Canada its first transcontinental railroad appear to be in a losing, behind-the-scenes struggle over cuts at Via Rail, leaving some communities scrambling for new transit options.

The service reductions have hit smaller towns and cities, particularly in the Maritimes and southwestern Ontario, the hardest. It came as cold comfort to some communities last week when Via announced increased service in the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto corridor.

Paradis says it's now up to China to explain deal to Canadians

Canada’s Industry Minister is remaining tight-lipped over the specific "net benefits" Canadians can expect in exchange for the sale of Alberta-based oil and gas company Nexen to a Chinese state-owned oil enterprise.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Friday his government is giving the green light to the controversial $15.1-billion takeover of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. by China National Offshore Oil Co., but made it clear that such deals will only be allowed under "exceptional circumstances" in the future.

Norwegian Peace Activist: Top Role in Global Arms Trade Makes E.U. Unworthy of Nobel Prize

Hundreds of Norwegians held a torch-lit march in Oslo on Sunday to criticize the selection of the European Union for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Its member countries account for one-third of global arms exports. “It is not only the [E.U.] member states that do export weapons, and it is not only the member states facilitating the weapons industry, but it is also the E.U., on an institutional level, and that is the main reason, at least, I’m here to contradict this prize,” says Hedda Langemyr, the director of the Norwegian Peace Council.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Vietnamese still fighting for recognition of Agent Orange impact

A warning sign near Danang airport.
The sign reads: "Dioxin contamination
zone livestock, poultry and
fishery operations not permitted."            
HUE, VIETNAM—The walls of the Hope Centre, a small garment factory founded in 1999, are covered in peeling paint. The bedrooms where the workers live are basic: a handful of simple metal bed frames and a few personal possessions. The donated sewing machines are outdated.

“We get very little financial support and it is hard for us to get contracts and compete against other businesses that employ able-bodied workers,” explains Nguyen Thi Hong.

The 54-year-old founder of the centre employs disabled young people. They are, she believes, victims of the Agent Orange dumped on Vietnam’s jungles 40 years ago.

Liberals, NDP call on Peter MacKay to quit over axed F-35 program after audit puts true cost near $40-billion

The opposition parties are demanding that Defence Minister Peter MacKay resign over the skyrocketing cost of the F-35 fighter jet after Postmedia News revealed the troubled program had finally been axed.

Faced with the imminent release of a government-commissioned audit by accountants KPMG that will push the total projected life-cycle costs of the aircraft above $30-billion, the Harper Conservatives have decided to scrap the controversial sole-source program and go back to the drawing board, a source familiar with the decision said.

For Corporate Donors, Inauguration Details

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s finance team is offering corporations and other institutions that contribute $1 million exclusive access to an array of inaugural festivities, including tickets to a “benefactors reception,” a children’s concert, a candlelight celebration at the National Building Museum, two reserved parade bleacher seats and four tickets to the president’s official inaugural ball.

GOP, Koch Brothers Sneak Attack Guts Labor Rights in Michigan

In the state where workers sat down in Flint General Motors plants seventy-five years ago and emboldened the industrial labor movement that would give birth to the American middle class, Republican legislators on Thursday voted to gut basic labor rights.

Union leaders warned that, if organized labor can be so battered in the union heartland of Michigan, it can—and may—be attacked anywhere. And the national significance of the move was highlighted by a statement from the Obama White House, which said:

    President Obama has long opposed so-called “right-to-work” laws and he continues to oppose them now. The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan—and its workers’ role in the revival of the US automobile industry—is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.

Nexen-CNOOC, Petronas Takeovers Approved: Alberta Politicians And Readers React

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement of approving the foreign takeovers of Calgary-based Nexen Inc. and Progress Energy Resources Corp. received a strong reaction from politicians and readers in Alberta.

Alberta’s NDP Leader Brian Mason said that there are grave concerns about the direction of the oilsands as a result.

Industry minister sees worrisome 'trend' in oilsands

The federal government has reached "a level of discomfort" with foreign investment by state-owned enterprises in Canada's energy sector.

That's the message Canada's Industry Minister is emphasizing after giving the green light to two major takeover deals: a $15.1-billion bid for Nexen Inc. by a Chinese state oil company and a $5.2-billion bid by Malaysia's Petronas for Progress Energy.

Climate delegates agree to extend Kyoto accord

A UN climate conference with nearly 200 countries has adopted an extension of the Kyoto Protocol through 2020.

The 1997 pact, aimed at controlling the greenhouse gas emissions of major industrial countries, expires this year.

Labour groups battle provincial cuts to social services

The Ontario government doesn’t need to slash spending on public services and freeze teachers’ pay to balance the budget, labour leaders say.

The Ontario Common Front, a loose coalition of labour representatives, poverty activists and environmentalists met all day Saturday in Toronto to discuss how to highlight their message.

School strikes aren’t the apocalypse, but beware the Tory horsemen

Teachers’ strikes are coming soon to a school near you.

Parents are rattled and opposition politicians are decrying the government’s supposed paralysis.

But the panic is misplaced. And Tory demands for an urgent strike ban are premature (but presage tougher tactics if they win power).

Stephen Harper’s Chinese education

OTTAWA—Stephen Harper could drag it out and huff and puff and wag his finger and say this time, but never again, but he really had no choice but to approve the Chinese takeover of Nexen.

He could hardly have travelled to Asia and hung out the huge Open for Business sign then yanked it away the first time a suitor came calling.

Prime Minister Harper recalibrating Ottawa’s overture to China

OTTAWA—Stephen Harper’s carefully crafted approval of a huge Chinese acquisition in Canada’s oil industry is the first step in the Prime Minister’s attempt to recalibrate Ottawa’s approach to the Chinese economic juggernaut.

Last winter Harper travelled to China to throw open the door to investment from China but the bid by Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd. to grab Calgary-based petroleum producer Nexen Inc. for $15 billion set off alarm bells across the political spectrum back home.

Nexen Cave-in: Chairman Harper's Economic Desperation

"I don't think Canadians want us to sell out important Canadian values -- our belief in democracy, freedom, human rights. They don't want us to sell that out to the almighty dollar.'' -- Stephen Harper talking about relations with China in 2006

Just a couple of weeks ago the Wall Street Journal inadvertently explained Prime Minister Stephen Harper's extreme bitumen jingoism, the dismantling of domestic environmental legislation as well as Ottawa's promiscuous overtures to Communist China's authoritarian capitalists, including the perfunctory approval of CNOOC's takeover of Calgary-based Nexen.