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.]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where Your CPP Money Really Goes

In part one of this two-part series, we examined the Canada Pension Plan's (CPP) investment in drones, computerized soldiers, land occupation and an infamous prison scandal. Part two is dedicated to the many potential conflicts of interest -- yours, mine, the executives' and the PMO's. Some might be moral. Some might be something more.

If you look at the CPP Investment Board of Directors, you will find that all but one executive was appointed since the determined change in strategy under the Harper government. These board members are skilled leaders from different industries, but no matter their background, most of them share something in common.

Your CPP Is Funding War Crimes

How would you feel if someone told you that every one of your paycheques was being used to support war crimes and keep the companies accused of these atrocities rolling in lucrative business? And how would you feel if you lived off the avails of torture and bloodshed through the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), upon your long-awaited retirement after paying into it? This appears to be our dirty little secret, that Canadians enjoy prosperity at the unethical demise of others.

In a recent interview with Harry Fear we touched on CPP investments and how they contribute to the Israel-Palestine conflict; through complicity in drone warfare, an illegal wall, the death of children and suppression of human rights.

The $273 Billion Question: Enbridge and the Northern Gateway Controversy

The Harper government wants to supercharge the
 Canadian economy by allowing over 200 tankers a year through the waters off British Columbia. Detractors of the so-called Northern Gateway insist a single oil spill is all it would take to destroy one of the world’s most diverse natural environments. Is the payoff worth the risk?

Barack Obama Charts an Arc of History That Bends Toward Justice

Barack Obama, the president who publicly swore his second oath of office on the Bibles of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., used his inaugural address to chart an arc of history from the liberation movements of the sixteenth president’s time through the civil rights movements of a century later to the day on which hundreds of thousands of Americans packed the National Mall to cheer for the promise of an emboldened presidency.

This Is 'Roe' at 40

Just two years ago, as Roe v. Wade headed into its late thirties, it seemed to be losing its luster. States were hacking away at abortion rights, passing ninety-two new restrictions in 2011 alone—nearly triple the number of any other year on record. Americans appeared ready to tolerate all manner of barriers to abortion access, from parental notification laws and restrictions on late-term procedures to laws crippling the ability of clinics to provide care by subjecting them to absurd requirements (such as having five-foot-wide hallways, as one Virginia law demanded). These new burdens added to the weight of a decades-long and alarmingly successful campaign by the right to stigmatize women seeking abortions and to persecute abortion providers. As a result, 87 percent of US counties lack an abortion provider, and several states have only a clinic or two staffed by a doctor who flies in from another state. “It’s never been this frightening before,” one longtime clinic worker recently told The Washington Post.

First Nation wants Federal Court to stop ratification of Canada-China deal

VANCOUVER - A B.C. First Nation has asked the Federal Court to stop Canada from ratifying an investment treaty with China until it and other bands have been consulted.

In documents filed with the court in Vancouver, the Hupacasath First Nation said the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, or FIPPA, would gut its aboriginal right to resources subject to foreign investment.

Report urges federal support for clean tech

The federal government should create a national clean energy plan to stabilize the playing field and foster growth for emerging clean technology companies, says a report to be released Tuesday by the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based research organization.

Based on interviews with leading executives, entrepreneurs and academics, the report concluded that clean energy growth in Canada was at risk from foreign competition.

Harper leaves no doubt: Governor-General will not be included in any future First Nations policy discussions

The Harper government said Monday it will not include Governor-General David Johnston in any future policy discussions with First Nations, further clouding its battle of wills with aboriginal leaders.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Monday Stephen Harper will meet with Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Shawn Atleo “in the coming weeks,” and has no plans to abide aboriginal leaders’ demands for a summit Thursday.

“[First Nations people] are very insistent on having the Governor-General there, but the Governor-General says this is a policy matter with the government and that [he] shouldn’t be there,” Andrew MacDougall said. “We agree with that.”

Neb. Governor OKs Keystone XL Route Through State

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a new route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday that avoids the state's environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

The Republican governor sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying he would allow the pipeline to proceed through his state.

Yukon's court ruling on free-entry mining could help Idle No More

On December 27 this past year, the appeals court of the Yukon Territory gave an important ruling regarding the rights of First Nations in relation to Yukon's free-entry mining policy. The plaintiff in the case, the Ross River Dena Council tribe, considers that Yukon's government cannot allow quartz production on its territory without first consulting the Council. The Kaska nation, to which the Ross River Council belongs, owns more than 63,000 square km, which represents nearly 13 per cent of the entire Yukon Territory.

Covering the 'war on terror': In conversation with Robert Fisk

It is Monday morning January 21 and here I am sitting in downtown Toronto on a comfy white CBC couch with Robert Fisk, the most famous foreign correspondent in the world.

This veteran Beirut-based reporter for the UK newspaper, the Independent, has just provided among other things a spirited commentary on the latest bound-to-fail military interventions into Muslim lands by the west, this one in Mali, on the morning radio, The Current.

Then, it is my turn to chat with Fisk, courtesy of the Montreal based Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, which sponsors these cross-Canada tours on a regular basis. It aims to provide different perspectives from various experts on the raging conflicts in that region and where Canadian foreign policy may fit in, positively or negatively.

With no market for hate and right-wing drivel, Sun News comes cap in hand for public subsidy

Sun News Network, that fearless foe of state subsidies for the CBC, wants you, Dear Television Viewer, to directly subsidize it to the tune of $18 million a year.

Have no doubt, that's just the beginning, but it would nicely cover losses the company says now amount to a modest $17 million a year -- hardly a corporate killer, one would think, but apparently enough to get Sun News queuing up at the public trough.

It turns out, as others have discovered before them (Ted Byfield, c'mon down!) that there's not much of a market in Canada for the kind of market fundamentalist pap Sun News peddles -- at least when consumers have the choice not to pay for it.

Honouring Aaron Swartz, Internet Activist

The Internet community has been reeling for the past week as it grapples with the suicide of Aaron Swartz, a prominent digital rights activist who left a remarkable legacy for a 26-year-old. Swartz's contributions are used by millions of people every day as he played a key role in developing the specifications for RSS (which makes it easy to syndicate online content), Creative Commons licenses (which makes is easy to make creative works freely available), and the popular website Reddit.

Obama to Conservatives: No More Mr. Nice Guy

Before he uttered the first words of his second inaugural address on the national holiday that honours Martin Luther King, the nation's first African-American president made clear to his opponents on the right that he had a mandate, and he, Barack Hussein Obama, was done playing nice.

Offering the benediction was Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of the slain civil rights leader, Medgar Evers. On the right, Medgar Evers is not celebrated as a hero. Now, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, servant of the Tea Party movement, was forced to bow his head in prayer as a living testament to the ravages of intolerance prevailed upon the Almighty to bless him.

Activists Disrupt Arch Coal Corporate HQ

CREVE COEUR, MO —  Seven affiliated with the RAMPS campaign (Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival), MORE (Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment) and Mountain Justice are locked down to a 500-pound small potted tree in Arch Coal’s third-floor headquarters while a larger group is in the lobby performing a song and dance.  Additionally, a helium balloon banner with the message “John Eaves Your Coal Company Kills”, directed at the Arch Coal CEO was released in at the Arch Coal headquarters.

“We’re here to halt Arch’s operations for as long as we can. These coal corporations do not answer to communities, they only consume them.  We’re here to resist their unchecked power,” explained Margaret Fetzer, one of the protestors.

Harper quietly holds face-to-face talks with Chinese propaganda chief

One of China’s most powerful figures slipped into Ottawa unannounced. Unless you were watching Chinese TV.

Li Changchun is ranked No. 5 in the Chinese hierarchy, one of the nine members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and the party’s propaganda chief. When he arrived in Ottawa Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Factory owned by Ontario Liberal leadership contender Harinder Takhar has history of worker safety infractions

A Woodstock factory owned by Ontario Liberal leadership hopeful Harinder Takhar has run afoul of provincial laws on worker safety twice since 2010 because of dangerous conditions, the Star has learned.

The MPP for Mississauga-Erindale, a former cabinet minister, touted his business credentials as owner of the custom packaging plant during a recent all-candidates’ debate as part of his bid to replace retiring Premier Dalton McGuinty at next weekend’s convention.

Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare

Premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the new documentary "Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield" follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as he chases down the hidden truths behind America’s expanding covert wars. We’re joined by Scahill and the film’s director, Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise Films. "We’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush," says Scahill, author of the bestseller "Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army" and a forthcoming book named after his film. "One of the things that humbles both of us is that when you arrive in a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family," Rowley says. "We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. ... Finally we’re able to keep those promises."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Canada opened up military channels on Mali early last year: documents

OTTAWA - Canada's soldiers and diplomats began paving the way for possible military involvement in Mali last spring, shortly after al-Qaida-backed rebels seized control of the country's north, newly released documents show.

The documents indicate Canada began laying down lines of communication with the French and Americans over the crisis in the African country as early as March of last year.

Environment minister’s letter calls Postmedia reporter an ‘activist’

A letter from Environment Minister Peter Kent to editors at Postmedia in January called one of the news chain’s reporters an environmental activist.

On January 4, Kent wrote to Postmedia, saying he wanted to “clarify a few points” in a story the news chain ran on Christmas Eve. That story, by Postmedia reporter Mike De Souza, examined the government’s new fuel economy standards. De Souza reported that a government analysis had shown those regulations could put more cars on the road “and cost consumers and the economy up to $11.2 billion between 2017 and 2025.”

Betting on Natural Gas Brings Public Concerns Will politicians vying to lead BC forthrightly address two key fears?

I am a lawyer, not a scientist or an engineer. My task is to ask questions. Today's questions should be dealt with by the two leading contending B.C. parties before the May election but my guess is that they will trust the public to remain basically uninformed thus unable to provoke any political issues.

Revenues to our government largely come from our resources. Fish are in the dumper and forestry, a big player, is subject in large measure to exports, largely to the United States, whose appetite depends on housing starts which in turn depend upon consumers having enough money to build houses. If you believe that the U.S. faces worsening financial problems, you are forced to imagine a less than rosy picture for lumber markets below the line.

Some 48 per cent think feds will go ahead with F-35 fighter jets, despite Cabinet’s decision to compare costs

PARLIAMENT HILL—Despite the government’s decision to compare costs and capabilities of four modern fighter jets with the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth warplane, nearly half of Canadians said they believe the government will go ahead with the $45.8-billion F-35 fleet procurement anyway, according to a new poll by Forum Research.

The Forum poll survey of 1,600 voting-age Canadians also found that even though the government argued that an independent review released in December confirmed its own estimates of F-35 costs were accurate, two-thirds of Canadians remain convinced that Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary-Southwest, Alta.) and his Cabinet misled Canadians with estimates they released prior to the federal election in 2011.

Top players behind aboriginal movement

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo

Hereditary Chief from the Ahousaht First Nation, B.C.; first elected as national chief in 2009; re-elected on the third ballot in 2012; and is currently on medical leave. Is focused on increasing two per cent funding cap and education. ‘We have arrived at a moment unlike any other in the history of our peoples.’

Bill 115: Liberals repealing controversial anti-strike law for teachers

Ontario’s governing Liberals are repealing a controversial law that imposed contracts on public school teachers and limited their ability to strike.

They say the change will take effect Jan. 23.

Bill 115 sparked a major protest by unions that resulted in rotating strikes by elementary teachers and withdrawal of extracurricular activities by high school teachers.