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, January 12, 2013

Pipeline foes step outside 253-person hearing loop

Emma Gilchrist can be excused for feeling like an extra in Groundhog Day.

For eight days, she sat through the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings in Victoria, heard 253 oral presentations made to the panel reviewing the proposal.

For eight days, the Dogwood Initiative’s communications director heard speakers tell the same story: Enbridge’s plan to pipe Alberta oil to Kitimat and load it onto tankers is way too risky.

Idle No More Blockade In Nova Scotia Dismantled

HALIFAX - A blockade of a Canadian National rail line between Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia forged as part of the Idle No More protests has been dismantled.

About 20 people from the Millbrook First Nation placed wooden pallets and a car on the tracks in Truro at about 1 p.m. Friday.

Shelly Martin, the band's lawyer, says the blockade was removed later that evening around 10 p.m.

Via Rail said in an email on Friday that it took 53 passengers to Truro from Halifax by bus as officials at CN negotiated with protesters.

Chief Bob Gloade has said the blockade was sanctioned by the band council and was part of a growing wave of protests and blockades organized by the Idle No More movement.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: CP

First Nations, Harper Meeting: Commitment To Treaty Talks Will Bring Fundamental Change, Atleo Says

OTTAWA - When the hard-won meeting between First Nations leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper was finally over on Friday, the exhausted and contested chiefs said they could hardly believe what had been accomplished.

Despite rancorous boycotts by some chiefs and a door-pounding protest on the front steps of the prime minister's working office Friday, National Chief Shawn Atleo declared that Harper has finally agreed to top-level talks to modernize and implement the ancient treaties that were always supposed to bring peace and prosperity to First Nations.

First Nations’ grievances deeply rooted in history

EDMONTON - If you want to understand the anger of Canada’s First Nations on display at protests in Edmonton and Ottawa and around the country on Friday, you need a long memory. A history book would help, too.

Their frustration with the federal government goes back a ways, long before Stephen Harper became prime minister.

Rift opens among First Nations chiefs

A B.C. aboriginal leader has denounced chiefs who publicly questioned the leadership of Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo on Friday.

Chiefs such as Gordon Peters, of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Nations in Ontario, had demanded Atleo and other AFN leaders boycott Friday's meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Peters questioned Atleo's leadership after the AFN leader, a British Columbian, went ahead with the meeting.

A day of protests and a closed-door meeting: What was accomplished?

On Friday January 11 there was a three hour "Government-First Nations" meeting in the impenetrable Langevin Building that houses the Prime Minister's inner sanctum and a day of Aboriginal protests across the country

At the end of it all, Canada's First Nations people remain largely poor and marginalized.

As for the majority "white" Canadians -- they remain, at best, uneasy and ambivalent about Aboriginal demands, and, for the most part, blithely ignorant of the history and facts of their First Nations fellow citizens.

Idle No More flexes its muscles in day of action: 'We could shut down the country if we really wanted to'

Idle No More again flexed its muscles across the country yesterday, the third and largest Indigenous day of action since the grassroots movement began one month ago, on International Human Rights Day.

Blockades, round dances and protests sprouted in dozens of cities from coast to coast, bringing Native and non-Native supporters out into the streets to demand a fundamental change in the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.

The Right-Wing Organic Farmers of Germany

As the afternoon sun slanted into the farmhouse at the edge of the forest in this idyllic rural corner of northeast Germany, Helmut Ernst poured two glasses of cloudy apple juice and started talking. The forty-five-year-old organic corn farmer and sometime activist is against genetically-engineered crops, industrial soy farms in South America, and imported butter’s carbon footprint. Petite, blue-eyed, and engaging, Ernst does not belong to the Green Party. Rather, he says that he is a former member of the National Democratic Party (N.P.D.), which, for most Germans, is pretty much the same as announcing that you are a virulent neo-Nazi. Ernst said that he left the N.P.D. because “too many people were nostalgic for National Socialism,” but that many elements of the ultra-right political platform (drastically reducing immigration, cutting off Israel) still appeal to him. “I am not a Nazi,” he said. “But ask your Native Americans what they think of multiculturalism.”

Why the Government Should Pay Farmers to Plant Cover Crops

Globally, 2012 will likely rank as one of the ten hottest in recorded history, The New York Times reports. If it does, "it will mean that the 10 warmest years on record all fell within the past 15 years, a measure of how much the planet has warmed." Here in the US, last year was far and away the hottest ever on record. In other words, climate change is no longer a theory or a model or an abstract worry involving future generations. It's happening, now—and if you want to see its likely effect on farming, look at the breadbasket state of Kansas, where the same prolonged drought that reduced corn and soy yields is now pinching the winter wheat crop, as I wrote a few days ago. On Wednesday, the UDSA declared much of the wheat belt a disaster area because of the drought's effect on the crop.

New Federal Report: Climate Change is Really, Really Scary

Say what you want about the Obama administration's relative ignoring of climate issues: Many of his top scientists are paying rapt attention, and they think we're about to get our butts kicked—although dumping the news at 4pm on a Friday gives some indication of where it sits in federal priorities.

Theresa Spence Will Continue Hunger Protest

OTTAWA - Theresa Spence, the controversial First Nation chief whose month-long hunger protest has helped to fan the flames of the Idle No More movement, will continue to forgo solid food, a spokesman declared Friday.

Spence, who surprised many when she emerged from her island encampment to attend a ceremonial meeting with Gov. Gen. David Johnston, left Rideau Hall early with the sense that the gathering had accomplished little.

Haitians still await rebuilding after 2010 quake

Three years after the worst natural disaster in the history of the Americas — the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti — reconstruction has barely begun.

So far, the promise by aid groups to "Build Haiti back, better" remains just that, with hope fading.

That's the feeling that emerges from interviews with two journalists who have written books about what's happened since the earthquake.

After a show of respect, Ottawa must act on First Nation grievances

If Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t know he has all but “lost the trust” of many First Nations communities, and urgently needs to regain it, he knows now.

There was articulate if chaotic anger on Parliament Hill on Friday where thousands marched as Harper met with Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo and other chiefs to discuss a litany of grievances that ranges across Crown obligations, treaty relationships, aboriginal rights and economic development. There were demonstrations in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other cities. And the Idle No More movement threatened to block highways, rail lines and development unless Ottawa pays far more heed to the nation’s 1.7 million indigenous people.

Tankers too risky on B.C.’s north coast, oil-spill expert says

A marine consultant involved in B.C. oil-spill issues for a quarter century says the risks of a tanker oil spill associated with Enbridge Northern Gateway are simply too great for the project to proceed.

Gerald Graham of Victoria-based Worldocean Consulting Ltd. said that calculations based on Enbridge’s own research show there is a 8.7-to-14.1-per-cent chance of at least one tanker spill greater than 31,500 barrels over a 50-year period, depending on whether the pipeline has a 525,000 or 850,000 barrel per day capacity.

Canadian chief is no Gandhi, but hard truths are being revealed

When Mahatma Gandhi engaged in protest fasts against the British occupiers of India, he considered it a spiritual practice of satyagraha, which translates as "truth force."

Public fasts, like the month-old one engaged in by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, aim to prick consciences. As acts of self-sacrifice, they try to goad people in power, such as Stephen Harper, into taking action on uncomfortable truths.

Stephen Harper, First Nations and an opportunity lost

The strongest image from Friday's meeting between Stephen Harper and the Assembly of First Nations didn't come from inside the room where the prime minister met with a small delegation of chiefs.

It came from outside, where hundreds of band members massed in front of the prime minister's office building demanding he come out in the rain to negotiate with them.

Maude Barlow, Naomi Klein, Sarah Slean reject Queen’s jubilee medal

Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, will be mailing her Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal back to Gov. Gen. David Johnston on Monday to protest his attitude toward the Idle No More movement and its symbolic leader Chief Theresa Spence.

“It’s still hanging on my wall in Ottawa,” said Barlow from Toronto Friday. “But my husband has promised to take it down until I can mail it back to the Governor General on Monday morning.

Feds back off plan to charge for military help during disasters

OTTAWA — The Conservative government appears to have beaten a retreat over its plan to bill municipalities and provinces for help provided by the military in natural disasters and emergencies such as floods and wildfires.

The reversal will be welcome news to municipalities and provinces who worried about being able to cover the often significant costs associated with turning to the Canadian Forces for help in times of need.

Harper squanders chance to set new course with First Nations

MONTREAL—Based on the events of the past week, Canada’s constitutional earth is as scorched today as when the country’s political establishment — including the First Nations leadership — got burnt in a national referendum two decades ago.

If anything, our collective will to undertake some heavy lifting to co-habit politically may have continued to decrease since the 1992 rejection of the Charlottetown constitutional accord.

Toronto G20 Summit: protester convicted despite rights violation

A Toronto G20 Summit protester whose Charter rights were infringed by city police during a mass arrest has nevertheless been convicted of mischief for smashing store windows.

Eva Marie Botten, 31, of Surrey, B.C., was convicted Friday by Ontario Superior Court Justice Harriet Sachs of six counts of mischief over $5,000 and one of disguise with intent, according to court records.

What the oil industry wants, the Harper government gives

It was a year ago today that federal Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver declared war on environmentalists. You may recall his opening salvo was an open letter attacking “environmental and other radical groups” that “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”

Canada’s regulatory system was “broken”, he declared, and changing it was “an urgent matter of Canada’s national interest.”

Joe Biden Talks Violent Video Games With Industry Reps In Wake Of Newtown Shooting

The perennial controversy over violent video games was again a topic of discussion at the White House on Friday, where Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives of the video game industry as part of his effort to find legislative remedies to the problems associated with gun violence.

Entertainment Software Association CEO Mike Gallagher and other video game industry representatives were scheduled to meet with President Obama's gun violence task force on Friday, the Hill reports. The committee, led by Biden, is getting ready to release its recommendations next week.

David Dewhurst, Texas Lieutenant Governor, Calls For State-Funded Weapons Training For Teachers

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called Friday for state-funded, specialized firearms training for teachers and administrators to guard against school shootings.

Dewhurst, a Republican, said school districts would nominate who they wanted to carry weapons on campus. The training would be more extensive than what is currently required for a Texas concealed handgun license and include how to react in an active shooter situation.

National Climate Assessment Details Stronger Evidence Of Global Warming And Its Impacts

A federal committee has published a draft of the nation's third climate assessment report, a comprehensive analysis of the latest and best peer-reviewed science on the extent and impacts of global warming on the United States.

None of the body's findings are entirely new, but the report suggests that evidence is now stronger and clearer than ever that the climate is rapidly changing -- primarily as a result of human activities, including the copious burning of fossil fuels. Observed weather extremes are on the rise, and the possible connection between at least some of these events and human-induced climate change is also more strongly supported by the science.

Aboriginals stage protests across Canada

VANCOUVER—With rallies at city halls, teach-ins and panel discussions on campuses, and blockades along Canada’s transportation routes, First Nations activists and their supporters gathered across the country Friday to signal their ongoing push for better relations with the federal government.

While some saw the day as hopeful and important historically, others viewed the meeting in Ottawa between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and native leaders as insignificant and unproductive.