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 20, 2013

Life After Kyoto: Pursuing Decarbonization

The Kyoto Protocol is finished.  The United States and Canada had already withdrawn before its first round of commitments officially expired on New Year’s Eve, and other major emitters, including Japan and Russia, have said they will not join a second phase, preferring to wait for a new treaty – yet to be negotiated – to take effect in 2020.  This policy vacuum leaves only the European Union, Australia, and a handful of minor countries – whose emissions produce a measly 15 per cent of the world’s total – under a binding international agreement on climate change.

Oxfam says world's rich could end poverty

The world's 100 richest people earned enough money last year to end world extreme poverty four times over, according to a new report released by international rights group and charity Oxfam.

The $240 billion net income of the world's 100 richest billionaires would have ended poverty four times over, according to the London-based group's report released on Saturday.

Japan warns China over 'airspace violations'

Japan has said it may fire warning shots to keep foreign aircraft from violating the airspace over a set of dispuated islands, in the latest verbal exchange between Tokyo and Beijing.

Japanese officials made the comments after Chinese fighter jets recently tailed its warplanes near the islands in what is believed to be the first scrambling of Chinese air force jets since the tensions began to rise last spring.

Israel's right rises as peace prospects fade

Occupied East Jerusalem - For David Kazanovich, the growing popularity of far-right political parties in Israel is just a sign of the times.

"There is no way to end the conflict [with the Palestinians]," the healthcare worker told Al Jazeera as he shopped for toys less than a week before Israel's parliamentary election. "You can only manage the conflict."

Yemen Drone Strikes: Suspected U.S. Attack Kills At Least 8

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni military officials say eight people have been killed in two suspected U.S. drone strikes in Abieda valley in central Marib province.

Residents contacted by The Associated Press say that at least two of the eight people killed in Saturday evening's strikes were known al-Qaida militants of Saudi nationality. They identified one as Ismail bin Jamil.

Aaron Swartz Tribute: Hundreds Honor Information Activist

NEW YORK — Portraying his suicide as the product of injustice, friends and supporters at a memorial Saturday for free-information advocate Aaron Swartz called for changing computer-crime laws and the legal system itself.

At a New York City ceremony that was part tribute and part rallying cry, Swartz – who killed himself this month as he faced trial on hacking charges – was painted as a precocious technologist, erudite activist and hounded hero. One speaker called him nothing less than an "Internet saint."

The F-35 Could Explode In Midair If Struck By Lightning

The F-35 is unable to fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm because engineers believe it could explode if struck by lightning.

The storm restriction will not be lifted until an oxygen gauge in the fuel tank is redesigned in all F-35s.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program has experienced setbacks since 2000 when the first concept designs by Boeing, and winning contractor Lockheed Martin, were scaled back due to cost overruns and development delays. Current estimates place the cost of operating the projected U.S. fleet of F-35s at about $1 trillion over the five decades it's expected to serve the Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

Cops next to feel public wrath? It can be tough enforcing laws, but that’s why they get our tax money, respect and the lawful monopoly of violence

Terrorism can be violent, but it doesn’t have to be. Canadian law defines terrorism as not only the carrying out of terrorist acts, but also conspiring to commit them, or threatening to, or encouraging others to do so.

And this includes non-violent terrorism, like “serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system.”

Canada evacuates staff from Mali embassy, urges Canadians to get out

OTTAWA - The federal government has evacuated most of its staff and their families from the embassy in Mali, and is urging any Canadians still in the country to get out now.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says all non-essential staff and all 29 dependents of the workers and diplomats there have been relocated from the mission in the capital of Bamako.

Idle No More protests at the Toronto Sun

TORONTO - A small group of Idle No More demonstrators marched to the doors of the Toronto Sun on Saturday to protest what they claim to be “racist” statements made by Sun Media commentators.

Around 100 demonstrators chanted, bellowed, hoisted placards and waved First Nations flags outside the Sun’s King St. E. building for just over an hour in the early afternoon, protesting commentary made both in the Sun newspaper and on the Sun News Network around the plight of Native Canadians, the funding of reserves, the Idle No More movement, and the ongoing hunger strike of Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence.

Brad Wall's letter won't affect Obama's pipeline decision: diplomat

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson says a letter from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall urging the White House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline will have little impact on the project’s outcome.

The letter, also signed by 10 Republican governors, says the pipeline is fundamentally important to the economic prosperity of both the United States and Canada.

Education equality the key to First Nations future

We are at an important crossroads in our country. The Idle No More movement has shown itself to be grassroots and growing. Young indigenous people are finding their voices and they are determined to be heard. More non-aboriginal Canadians are joining the chorus of concern about the state of indigenous relations.

The government and Canadians are concerned about growing dissent. And they should be.

Historic grievances and current inequities are fuelling a growing climate of frustration and conflict. The ill-informed or "fringe" elements of our society are quick to invoke stereotypes, and dismiss the issues as having no merit or worse. For those who understand and work to address these issues every day as I do, it is easy to be frustrated.

Government lawyer Edgar Schmidt courageously blows the whistle

Even at the risk of his reputation and livelihood, Edgar Schmidt couldn’t stay quiet any longer.

For more than a decade, the senior justice department lawyer has been trying to convince his bosses that they are breaking the law by inadequately evaluating whether proposed bills violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When he was finally satisfied that no one would ever listen to him, he decided to sue the government.

Harper in a hurry to make new laws

It has been apparent for some time that the government of Stephen Harper might benefit from a little help in making law.

The prime minister’s hell-for-leather approach has opposition parliamentarians upset and other people brandishing rude signs, marching in the streets and threatening blockades — as some First Nations and friends of the environment are today.

Drug-buying plan expected to save provinces and territories $100 million

OTTAWA—Provincial and territorial governments expect to save up to $100 million in health-care spending by combining their purchasing power to drive down the cost of six commonly used generic drugs.

More savings could be on the way as the provinces and territories plan to continue discussions with brand-name pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the federal government has signalled a willingness to come on board with the new drug-buying program.

Ex-top army commander sounds the alarm on defence spending

A retired top army commander who penned a controversial report on transforming the military is breaking his silence 18 months after retiring from the ranks.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie said he's been drawn out from the sidelines after seeing a $475-million increase in spending by the Department of National Defence (DND) for professional services, including consultants and contractors, coupled with a 22 per cent cut in the army's budget.

CIBC to raise some bank fees

CIBC will begin charging $2 per month for paper account statements in April, as part of a slate of changes to its fees.

The hikes do not affect all customers, and those who are currently paying monthly fees will have new ways to reduce them, a spokesperson for the bank said.

NYC subway pushing: woman charged says she was having bad day

NEW YORK, N.Y.—A disturbed woman accused of shoving a man in front of a New York City subway train to his death last month says she did it because she was having a bad day.

Erika Menendez spoke to The New York Post on Friday at the city jail where she is awaiting trial in the killing.