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.]

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Right-wing advocacy group says Toronto can fund subways with casino dollars

A right-wing advocacy group is making a case for using dollars from a Toronto casino to build subways.

A policy paper released Sunday by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition argues that a “Transit Funding Trifecta” of “innovative revenue sources” could bring in as much as $400 million a year for the city’s subway system without costing taxpayers a cent.

Navy supply ships set to join F-35 as political lightning rod in 2013

OTTAWA - The navy's long-delayed, much-studied joint support ship program is expected to come under the political microscope within weeks in what is likely another defence equipment embarrassment for the Harper government.

The parliamentary budget officer has been examining the program and is poised to release his findings once MPs return from their Christmas break.

Kevin Page's incendiary analysis of the F-35 fighter jet program sparked a raging political fire which continues to burn.

Glenn Hubbard, Leading Academic and Mitt Romney Advisor, Took $1200 an Hour to Be Countrywide's Expert Witness

Karma is a bitch. Just ask Glenn Hubbard.

A few months ago, the Dean of Columbia's business school was a leading economic advisor to Mitt Romney and a rumored (perhaps even consensus) candidate for the Treasury Secretary job.

Now Romney's out of the presidential picture and Hubbard – well, he's just yet another grasping jobholder who's been exposed as a paid mouthpiece in a court proceeding.

Angelo Mozilo, Former Countrywide CEO, Claims He Doesn't Know What 'Verified Income' Is

Another day, another corporate titan suffering from devastating amnesia. This time, the memory-loss patient is none other than Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial.

Deposed in the landmark lawsuit between the monoline insurer MBIA and Countrywide/Bank of America, Mozilo professed not to know the difference between "verified" income and "stated" income. He also made some incredible remarks regarding his notorious "Friends of Angelo" lending program, in which, among others, political figures like North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd received Countrywide mortgages on highly advantageous terms just because they were tight with the CEO.

John Baird's office of religious freedom

The Conservative government is creating an Office of Religious Freedom (ORF), fulfilling a promise made in the 2011 election campaign. The stated intention of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is to create an organization that will monitor and criticize religious persecution and to promote religious freedom around the world. There are some genuine questions about the wisdom of this idea, a fact that may also explain why the government has been so slow in fulfilling its promise.

The politics of wages

I hate when right-wing pundits whine and complain about someone’s wages. Regardless of legitimacy of the points raised, these arguments are nearly always made to obscure a debate.

Part of the response to the Idle No More campaign has included this strategy. For Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, the chorus of trolls at Sun TV are using her salary as an argument for why her hunger strike should be ignored.

Palestinian president orders name changed to “state of Palestine”

The Palestinian president has ordered his government to officially change the name of the Palestinian Authority to “State of Palestine.”

The move follows the November decision by the United Nations to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to that of a “non-member observer state.”

Mitch McConnell On Future Debt Deals: 'The Tax Issue Is Finished'

WASHINGTON -- There will be no more increases in tax revenues as part of any debt or deficit-reduction deal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared in several interviews on Sunday.

“[T]he tax issue is finished, over, completed,” said the Kentucky Republican, during an appearance on ABC’s "This Week." "That's behind us. Now the question is, what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that's our spending addiction. It's time to confront it. The president surely knows that. I mean, he has mentioned it both publicly and privately. The time to confront it is now."

The implications of Chevron's big move into gas export pipelines in B.C.

At present, one of the major Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) processing terminal and shale gas pipeline undertakings in northern B.C. is the Kitimat LNG/Pacific Trails Pipeline project. KLNG/PTP was until very recently owned by a consortium including EOG Resources, Encana Corporation, and majority owner Apache Corporation. The scheme would aim for PTP to connect shale gas from the existing Spectra Energy transmission system near Summit Lake, BC, to its processing terminal in Kitimat on the west coast. From there, the LNG is to be loaded onto tankers via the dubious Douglas Channel, and bound for Asian markets.

Secret and Lies of the Bailout

It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you'd think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we've been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?


Harper should listen to what he said in 2008

 “We are sorry.”

Those words were delivered on June 11, 2008, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he stood in the House of Commons and apologized to aboriginal peoples for the harm inflicted by Canada’s policy of assimilating their children.

The speech was historic. It was simple, straightforward and from the heart. It felt like a turning point.

Idle No More activists block VIA rail tracks near Kingston

More than a thousand VIA Rail travellers were stranded on four trains Saturday night when Idle No More protesters blocked off the main rail route between Toronto and Montreal.

About a dozen protesters took over the tracks in Marysville, near Kingston, around 4:30 p.m., forcing VIA Rail to dispatch 20 buses to transport passengers to their respective destinations, which included Toronto’s Union Station, Ottawa and Montreal.

Canadian Aid To Haiti: Fantino To Freeze Funding For New Projects

MONTREAL - Canada will stop funding new aid projects in Haiti until Ottawa finds a better way for the struggling nation to help itself, says International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino.

In an interview published Friday in Montreal La Presse, Fantino said he was disappointed at what he considered the lack of progress in Haiti during his November visit to the Caribbean country.

Still-stalled trucks program raises questions about Defence department’s procurement system

The Conservative government’s program to buy new trucks for the army, originally announced in 2006 but stalled ever since, is being rebooted but federal officials are at a loss to say when such vehicles may be delivered.

Public Works asked truck companies Friday to meet in Ottawa in mid-January so they can have consultations over how to best move ahead on the multi-million dollar purchase.

Spence wins staring contest with prime minister

Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, sent a letter on Thursday to the governor general and prime minister, inviting them to a meeting on Jan. 24, in the hope that it would convince Chief Theresa Spence to end her hunger strike, which was then in its 24th day.

On Victoria Island, across the river from Parliament Hill, Spence sat in her teepee while her supporters warmed themselves around a fire, drumming and chanting in the cold, chatting in Cree, English and French.

Idle No More targets Canadian travel routes

The Idle No More protest movement continued to gain steam with more demonstrations Saturday, after it was announced Prime Minister Stephen Harper would meet with a delegation of First Nations chiefs, including Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who is now on day 26 of a hunger strike.

Idle No More protesters staged a railroad blockade Saturday evening in Marysville, Ont., near Kingston. Via Rail trains travelling the Toronto-Montreal and Toronto-Ottawa corridors were disrupted.

First Nation flood evacuees in limbo in Winnipeg as housing squabble continues

WINNIPEG—Diane Sinclair often has the same nightmare.

In her home at Lake St. Martin First Nation reserve, there is water everywhere. It flows through the cracks of her family’s trailer and washes out the old dirt roads and hunting trails around it.

The water winds through a graveyard where she buried her 20-year-old daughter, Alexis, in the prettiest white dress she could find.

Back patient Sevan Hajinian shutout in Ontario but finds relief in New York

On Sunday — to celebrate Armenian Christmas — Sevan Hajinian intends to walk into Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in east Toronto and give thanks to those who made a potentially life-changing back surgery possible.

The province of Ontario will not be among them.

Friends and supporters, with the help of the church, raised $120,000 for a Dec. 4 surgery in New York City, which Hajinian says five Canadian spinal surgeons would not touch and the Ontario Health Insurance Plan would not fund.

Ex-Officer Is First From C.I.A. to Face Prison for a Leak

WASHINGTON — Looking back, John C. Kiriakou admits he should have known better. But when the F.B.I. called him a year ago and invited him to stop by and “help us with a case,” he did not hesitate.

In his years as a C.I.A. operative, after all, Mr. Kiriakou had worked closely with F.B.I. agents overseas. Just months earlier, he had reported to the bureau a recruiting attempt by someone he believed to be an Asian spy.

“Anything for the F.B.I.,” Mr. Kiriakou replied.

Can the Liberals and the NDP get it together to get rid of Harper?

What a difference third-party status makes. The last time the Liberals held an all-out leadership race, in 2006, it was about replacing Stephen Harper's frail minority and wielding power. Now even Justin Trudeau says, "This is about who's going to be leader of the third party." (An impressively long view from somebody who's supposed to lack maturity.) But what are the real stakes? It's about who will be the future Liberal Party of Canada.

Aurora Hostage Situation: Four Dead, Including Gunman, Following Shooting In Colorado, Police Say

AURORA, Colo. -- SWAT officers who stormed a Colorado home where a gunman had holed up found a horrific scene - four dead bodies including that of the gunman.

Police said the armed man fired shots at officers Saturday from a second-story window before officers killed him. Once inside, they found the bodies of three other adults.

The Revolution Added Two Years: On Cairo

In Cairo, there is a street named after the Arab League. It’s a grand boulevard that cuts through Mohandiseen, a neighborhood built in the 1950s to house engineers and other civil servants, whose ranks swelled during the 1960s with the guarantee of employment under the state socialism of President Gamal Abdel Nasser. These days, the boulevard is lined with luxury car showrooms, drab mid-rises and fast-food chains, all forming the commercial spine of an upscale area too expensive for most clerks and bureaucrats. Last December, on one of the quiet streets that radiates off the boulevard, I visited the office of an architect named Dina Shehayeb. A professor at the Housing and Building National Research Center in Cairo, Shehayeb also runs her own firm, which focuses on community-based development and the revitalization of historic areas. The deadly street battles of late November between the police and unarmed protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square had ended, and the attacks on protesters by military police outside the People’s Assembly near Tahrir were a week away. Cairo was relatively calm. But in her office, Shehayeb spoke heatedly of a city transformed during the reign of the recently deposed president, Hosni Mubarak.