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, February 03, 2013

Wayne LaPierre: Obama Is 'Trying To Take Away' Americans' Guns

WASHINGTON -- Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, accused the president on Sunday of wanting a universal gun registry, "trying to take away" guns and believing his children deserve security while others do not -- all of which led to a testy exchange with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace.

At the end of an already tense interview, Wallace asked LaPierre to explain the NRA's video accusing President Barack Obama of wanting armed security for his own children but opposing it for others. Wallace pointed out that the president's children face a larger threat than most.

Are voter ID laws too onerous? B.C. court readies to hear arguments

A B.C. court will be asked this coming week to decide whether the right to vote trumps all concerns about voter fraud, or whether protecting the system means turning some people away from the polls.

The government has taken note of the case that resurfaced in 2012 following a two-year-hiatus during which the three applicants had to find themselves a new legal team. A summary of the case was contained in a briefing note to Democratic Reform Minister Tim Uppal with departmental officials adding they would keep Uppal apprised of further developments.

Why Black History Month should be called African Liberation Month

As Black History Month 2013 begins, we are re-posting this piece by Ajamu Nangwaya.

We are now in February and for Africans in North America it is a significant month. It is usually observed as Black History Month.

It is taken as an opportunity to acknowledge African people's struggles, achievements and commemorate significant moments in the fight against white supremacy, capitalism, sexism and other forms of oppression.

Iran's media: The new red lines

On the Listening Post we track the treatment of media around the world. With the muzzling of news outlets, censorship of content and the arrest of journalists, Iran is a repeat offender.

Over the past days, at least 14 reporters have been detained in a sweep of reform-minded news outlets in the country. They worked for seven different news outlets but the implication is that most of them also did work for foreign media outlets the government calls 'anti-revolutionary'.

France continues strikes in northern Mali

French warplanes have pounded rebel camps in the far north of Mali, hours after French President Francois Hollande visited the West African country.

Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the French army in Paris, said on Sunday the overnight raids targeted logistics bases and training camps used by the al Qaeda-linked rebels to the north of the desert town of Kidal.

Israeli minister comments on Syria air strike

Israel's defence minister has indicated that his country was behind an air strike in Syria last week, in the first public comments from his government on the attack.

Ehud Barak on Sunday refrained from a direct confirmation as he brought the issue up at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

"I cannot add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria several days ago," Barak told participants.

Ed Koch and the Cost of the Closet

The instant beatification of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has a lot of folks itching to do some grave-dancing. Leftists will denounce Koch because he was one of the original neoliberal mayors, ushering in a regime of gentrification and finance-driven inequality that defines the city to this day. Minorities regard him with suspicion because he marginalized the city’s black and Hispanic leadership and inflamed racial fault lines to corner the white vote, presaging the Sister Souljah moments that would come to afflict the national Democratic Party. And yet even there, among the new Democrats, Koch was never a stalwart, breaking with the party to endorse George W. Bush for president in 2004 and flirting with the neocons over Israel late in his life.

From the Waldorf to W2: Vancouver's disappearing arts and community spaces

I don't know what's going on lately in Vancouver.

It seems that whatever sliver of creative arts and cultural spaces artists and community members manage to sustain eventually falls victim to big business, developers and the City.

It's the W2 centre in the Woodward's building and Waldorf Hotel evictions that are on the docket as of late. And artists and media activists are outraged, rightfully so. But beneath the surface of various spaces trying to make ends meet, there is a pattern of gentrification assailed upon areas often already gentrified.

Liberal leadership: Protesters make biggest bang at polite debate

WINNIPEG—In a leadership race seen not really as a race, the federal Liberals staged a debate this weekend that wasn’t quite a debate either.

A noisy but brief Idle No More drumming protest at the back of the theatre was the most fiery outburst when nine federal Liberal leadership contenders took to the stage in Winnipeg for a series of one-by-one interviews with a moderator.

A party known for its history of infighting has chosen instead to fight this contest with polite, veiled differences among the contenders.

Mount Sinai orders review of hospital’s ‘agreement’ with Chris Mazza

An “external independent review” commissioned last week by the Toronto hospital will examine “agreements” between Mazza and the hospital that recently came to light in a Star investigation.

Earlier, the Star reported that top Mount Sinai doctor Tom Stewart was paid $436,000 in public money by ORNGE over seven years to advise Mazza and ORNGE on medical issues — work that the air ambulance firm’s new managers say they cannot confirm was done because the relationship was primarily between Mazza and Stewart.

Europe’s economic crisis: How the rich avoid paying their tax bill

ATHENS—In olive green fatigues, with sleeves rolled up to reveal thick forearms, Costas Vaxevanis resembles an army drill sergeant. As he leans forward to examine the latest issue of Hot Doc, the magazine he edits from a cramped office in a half-empty suburban shopping mall, he looks as if he is preparing for battle. And Vaxevanis, 46, is fighting a war of sorts.

The veteran journalist made his name covering the 1991 Gulf War from Baghdad for Greek television. He is now the nation’s best-known investigative journalist, targeting the country’s oligarchs in the magazine he launched last April with $6,700 of his own money.

Spaniards protest after PM denies under-the-table payments

MADRID—Riot police clashed with protesters in Madrid late Saturday and demonstrations broke out in several other Spanish cities after the prime minister denied he had accepted under-the-table payments.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy promised to open his personal bank accounts to public scrutiny and denied reports alleging that he and members of his governing conservative Popular Party accepted or made undeclared payments.

Rajoy said the reports were false.

Rob Ford broke election law, audit suggests

A week after the court victory that kept him in office, Mayor Rob Ford is back in hot water and facing the possibility of yet more legal proceedings against him.

An audit of his 2010 election campaign spending released Friday concludes that Ford committed scores of “apparent contraventions” of both the provincial Municipal Elections Act and city by-laws.

Egypt Police Abuse: Video Of Beating Stokes Outrage

CAIRO -- Egypt's Interior Ministry offered a rare expression of regret Saturday after riot police were caught on camera a day earlier beating a protester who had been stripped of his clothes, and then dragging the naked man along the muddy pavement before bundling him into a police van.

The video of the beating, which took place late Friday only blocks from the presidential palace where protests were raging in the streets, further inflamed popular anger with security forces just as several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched on the palace again on Saturday. The uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 was fueled in part by anger over police brutality.

Orrin Hatch Defends Costly Amgen Provision In Fiscal Cliff Deal

WASHINGTON -- Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch angrily defended the inclusion of a controversial provision in the fiscal cliff deal that will pay major dividends to a single biopharmaceutical company, Amgen. The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Hatch teamed with panel chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to include a host of tax extenders, credits and other provisions that added billions to the price tag of the bipartisan bargain.

War Of 1812 Website's Exit Most Popular Page After Arriving

OTTAWA - The splashy home pages for the Harper government's elaborate War of 1812 website were by far the most popular feature for visitors who crowded into the online museum last year, thanks to an ad blitz during the Olympics.

The next most popular page? The exit.

Telus buys forensic computer security firm

Telus Corp. is beefing up its ability to offer security solutions for customers by buying a digital forensics company.

The carrier said Friday it has bought Digital Wyzdom Inc. of Toronto for an undisclosed price.

Digital Wyzdom is an independent security consulting firm with about 25 investigators that provide digital forensics, network security, E-discovery, intellectual property, and fraud advisory services to organizations across the country.

Energy minister solidifies federal acceptance of west-to-east oil pipeline

OTTAWA - The federal government is firming up its support of two projects that would see oil from Alberta piped to Atlantic Canada.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says he gave a tentative nod to one proposal in a meeting with industry giant Irving Oil.

"I met with Arthur Irving (Irving Oil's chairman) and expressed the support of the government of Canada, in principle, for this initiative," Oliver said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Harper rejects Quebec’s demand for EI rule changes

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has categorically rejected Quebec’s demands for changes to tough new employment insurance rules that Premier Pauline Marois says will have “dramatic consequences” on seasonal workers in her province.

Even before a bilateral meeting with Ms. Marois began on Friday, Mr. Harper said Ottawa has no intention of relaxing the rules, let alone surrendering jurisdiction over the program to Quebec as the PQ government is demanding.

Mulcair open to free-trade with Europe

OTTAWA — New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair says he’s “very open” to the Harper government’s proposed Canada-European Union trade deal – as long as concerns in areas such as prescription drug prices and public sector procurement are addressed.

Mulcair said the NDP will view the accord, if it is reached, through a far different lens than the Canada-China investment protection agreement that his party vehemently opposed.

‘Generation gap’: Have women’s gains made push for gender equity legislation outdated?

To Senator Linda Frum’s mind, it is time for her older colleague, Céline Hervieux-Payette, to lay down her arms. The key feminist battles have already been settled in women’s favour, Ms. Frum argues, and it is the passage of time — not legislation — that will cement the victory.

Ms. Hervieux-Payette, a 71-year-old Liberal senator from Quebec, is the sponsor of a bill that would legislate gender balance on boards of public companies, banks and Crown corporations — a bill that once prompted a heated tète-à-tète in the upper chamber, with Ms. Hervieux-Payette accusing the Conservatives generally of “complete fabrication,” and Ms. Frum specifically of playing games with numbers.

Attack of the lady premiers

The election of Kathleen Wynne as premier of Ontario, and the visit of Quebec Premier Pauline Marois to Scotland so she could pose as being on the cutting edge of a legitimate, contemporary international separatist wave, might incite fear among some traditionalists that much of Canada, at the provincial level, has passed into the hands of governments led by nasty women.

Ms. Wynne is not as well-known nationally as is Ms. Marois. But she is steeped to the eyeballs in the brackish water of the McGuinty regime, whose outgoing leader claims to have got “the important things” right, but has conducted Ontario to a position of dependence on hand-outs from Ottawa, and has nearly doubled the provincial debt; squandered billions on hare-brained eco-fadishness and other nostrums, and is, by Canada’s prudish standards, scandal-tainted.

Why should the labour movement support Idle No More?

Idle No More has emerged to be the most important movement in Canada right now. For people who are new to Indigenous organizing or movements, it can sometimes feel like the issue is to too complex, too overwhelming and too large to understand. In partnership with the Canvass Campus Assembly Initiative, I’ve written this Q&A on Idle No More with an eye to a labour audience. This work should be seen as dynamic and suggested changes and additions are welcomed.