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, June 23, 2013

Syrian Rebels Executed Teen 'For No More Than A Joke', Mother Of Slain 14-Year-Old Says

A Syrian mother witnessed the unthinkable when she saw her 14-year-old son, Muhammad al-Qatta, shot in cold blood in Aleppo on June 9. Now, Nadia Umm Fuad is speaking out about how Syrian rebels executed the teen "for no more than a joke" he made about the Prophet Muhammad.

78% of Canadians support coverage to include medically necessary prescription drugs

Polls show that most Canadians cherish the underpinning ethics of our medicare system: that healthcare should be allocated on the basis of need not ability to pay. But polls also show that Canadians want more from the system.

The list of potential improvements is long. Public opinion and research evidence point to areas such as improving primary healthcare, reducing wait times and being more proactive about health promotion and disease prevention.

Edward Snowden leaves Hong Kong on Moscow flight

US intelligence fugitive Edward Snowden has flown out of Hong Kong, from where the US was seeking his extradition on charges of espionage.

His flight is expected to land in Moscow shortly amid speculation he will then fly on to another country.

Hong Kong said Washington had failed to meet the requirements for extradition.

Synthetic oil leak shuts down Enbridge pipeline in northern Alta

CALGARY - An Enbridge (TSX:ENB)(NYSE:ENB) pipeline has sprung a leak in northern Alberta.

The company issued a release late Saturday night saying an estimated 750 barrels of light synthetic crude oil had spilled onto the ground approximately 70 kilometres southeast of Fort McMurray.

The company says it shut down its Line 37 pipe early Saturday morning and installed booms to contain the spill.

As a precaution, all other Enbridge pipelines in the area have also been shut down, including the Athabasca and Waupisoo lines.

Enbridge says there have been no reports of harm to wildlife and that it's working with Alberta Environment officials and local aboriginal communities to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

There's no official word yet on the cause of the leak, but Enbridge says it believes heavy rain in the area may have resulted in ground movement that impacted the pipeline.

Original Article
Author: The Canadian Press

For Indigenous Women, Radical Art as a Last Resort

A man sprints down a deserted alley, away from a motorcyclist, only to reach a dead end. As the motorcycle screeches to a stop, a beautiful, leather-clad native woman jumps off and begins to beat up the man. The screen flashes, and the man appears as both a police officer and a thug interchangeably. When the woman is finished, she lights a cigarette and begins to speak.

"I've been on this warpath for six long, lonely years," she says. "White boys have been having their way with Indian girls since contact. Forget what Disney tells you -- Pocahontas was 12 when she met John Smith. It's pretty little lies like this that hide the ugly truth."

Alberta flood victims mostly out of luck with insurance

Alberta homeowners who hope to make claims with insurers for flood damage will be out of luck in most cases.

That's because not all flooding is covered under most insurance policies.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada says water that comes in through doors and windows — called "overland flooding" — is not covered.

Extending Toronto vote to permanent residents is the right thing to do

Toronto City Council got it right. Last week, it decided to ask the province to consider extending the municipal franchise to permanent residents in Toronto. This is good public policy, and is in line with legal principles and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Several commentators, however, have viewed it differently, calling it a “backward step” and comparing it to the rules governing admission to a private club. Clubs, they argue, have a right to choose who gets to join, and those who aspire to membership better be prepared to shape up or ship out.

7 in 10 U.S. workers ‘actively disengaged’ at work: survey

Seven out of 10 workers have “checked out” at work or are “actively disengaged,” according to a recent Gallup survey.

In its ongoing survey of the American workplace, Gallup found that only 30 per cent of workers “were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.”

Although that equals the high in engagement since Gallup began studying the issue in 2000, it is overshadowed by the number of workers who aren’t committed to performing at a high level, which Gallup says costs companies money.

University of Toronto plan to build field hockey pitches for Pan Am Games puts environmental health at risk

This year, we learned that the University of Toronto’s senior administrators had secretly agreed in 2009 to convert the Back Campus from its traditional use as a commons -- a collegial gathering space accessible and enjoyed by all -- to a fenced and gated enclosure designed primarily for the exclusive use of athletes playing field hockey.

Neither the Pan/Parapan Am Games Office nor the University of Toronto administrators have released details for all to see on how the playing fields will be designed and managed, even though construction begins on July 1, 2013.

Firing of Five Walmart Strikers Condemned by Rep. Ellison: 'Completely Unjust and Illegal'

Update (4:45 pm EST, Saturday): Of the roughly 100 Walmart workers who this month went on strike and traveled to Arkansas, OUR Walmart alleges that five have been fired, ten have received disciplinary “coachings,” and one has been suspended. Along with Lisa Lopez from Orlando, the other fired workers are from Miami; Chicago; and Lakewood, California. Organizers allege that one of workers was told directly that the termination was for striking, and that several of the “coachings” were identified as punishment for “unexcused absence” during the strike.

Sherwin Smith, Tennessee Official, Says Water Quality Complaints Could Be 'Act Of Terrorism'

A Tennessee state official reportedly told residents who were concerned about dirty drinking water that complaining about water quality could be considered "an act of terrorism."

The controversial comment was made by Sherwin Smith, the deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's (TDEC) Division Of Water Resources, during a May 29 meeting organized by Tennessee state Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia).

Nancy Pelosi Booed, Heckled Over Edward Snowden, NSA Comments At Netroots Nation 2013

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) drew vocal backlash Saturday for her answers to questions about National Security Agency data surveillance and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Speaking at a gathering of progressive activists at Netroots Nation, Pelosi weighed in on recent controversy over domestic spying, claiming it was unfair to label this President George W. Bush's "fourth term." She argued that Democrats had brought increased oversight to the NSA programs by giving Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts -- or FISA courts -- a role in the process.

Michael Hastings Sent Email About FBI Probe Hours Before Death

Hours before dying in a fiery car crash, award-winning journalist Michael Hastings sent an email to his colleagues, warning that federal authorities were interviewing his friends and that he needed to go "off the rada[r]" for a bit.

The email was sent around 1 p.m. on Monday, June 17. At 4:20 a.m. the following morning, Hastings died when his Mercedes, traveling at high speeds, smashed into a tree and caught on fire. He was 33.

Homeless in the GTA: Finding affordable housing especially tough for women

Lisa Roberts and her 15-month-old son, Liam, spend their days at the Whitby library or walking around parks and playgrounds.

At night, the same playgrounds become their place to sleep, curled up in the play structures wrapped in blankets.

Roberts, 38 — who is nearly eight months pregnant with a girl — and her son have been homeless since the beginning of May, when she had to leave her basement apartment in Whitby because her landlord’s son was returning from university.

Documents Show FBI Monitored Mexican Author, Carlos Fuentes

MEXICO CITY -- The FBI and the U.S. State Department closely monitored Mexican author Carlos Fuentes for more than two decades because he was considered a communist and a sympathizer of Cuba's Fidel Castro, recently released documents show.

The documents posted on the FBI's website this week show the United States denied Fuentes an entry visa at least twice in the 1960s.

In Ottawa, a hero is vilifie

When MP Brent Rathgeber recently announced his departure from the Conservative party to which he had once adhered, he perhaps unwittingly opened up a new era in Canadian politics: the time of the principled politician.

Rathgeber wasn’t the first to bolt from a political party in the last few decades, but in such a hyper-partisan age his exit had something of the authentic in it.

To deflect or to distract, that is the question

Wanna hear an insider secret about politics? Sitting prime ministers despise party policy conventions. Who can blame them? From the third floor of the Centre Block, prime ministers can command the whole of the federal government. They can name ambassadors, regulate federal industry and direct foreign relations. Draped in the power of a majority Parliament, there are few limits on their control. And being human, they typically quite like it that way.

Certainly Stephen Harper does. Control is something that he has shown an uncommon flair for exerting. Coming off a session littered with Senate scandals, PMO resignations, caucus tensions and trade policy frustrations, you can bet that control is also something he’s looking to regain by the bushelful.

Glover awaits spending penalty

OTTAWA -- Saint Boniface MP Shelly Glover exceeded her 2011 election expense limit by more than $2,200, her latest claims with Elections Canada show.

Glover filed a new elections return with the agency June 13, and the chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, has accepted the changes. Glover's campaign and Mayrand were locked in a battle over how she accounted for the cost of bus-bench and garbage-bin advertising she had taken out as an MP but remained in place during the 2011 campaign.

Glover's lawyer argued the ads were not election ads and shouldn't be claimed as election expenses. Mayrand said they clearly advertised her during an election, and noted she had even affixed stickers to them saying they were authorized by her official agent, therefore she had to claim them.

Is green energy fading to black in Ontario?

Queen’s Park has downsized its supersized Samsung renewable energy deal.

Once hailed as the miracle cure for Ontario’s ailing industrial sector, it has been cut down to size — by a hefty $2 billion.

Is green energy fading to black?

Conservatives Pledge To Defy Any Marriage Equality Ruling The Supreme Court Reaches

The Supreme Court has yet to announce its decision on the two gay marriage cases. However, that has not stopped conservatives from pledging to defy marriage equality, if the high court makes a pro-LGBT decision.

In a letter released Thursday, more than 200 conservative activists -- ranging from the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (R) -- vowed to ignore any ruling in favor of same-sex couples. The group of endorsers, signing under the moniker of Freedom Federation, is composed of anti-LGBT Christian conservatives, many of whom have fallen from prominence in recent years.

Obama Administration Urges Hong Kong To Act Soon On Edward Snowden Extradition

WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - The United States said on Saturday it wants Hong Kong to extradite Edward Snowden and urged it to act quickly, paving the way for what could be a lengthy legal battle to prosecute the former National Security Agency contractor on espionage charges.