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, June 29, 2013

The Criminal N.S.A.

THE twin revelations that telecom carriers have been secretly giving the National Security Agency information about Americans’ phone calls, and that the N.S.A. has been capturing e-mail and other private communications from Internet companies as part of a secret program called Prism, have not enraged most Americans. Lulled, perhaps, by the Obama administration’s claims that these “modest encroachments on privacy” were approved by Congress and by federal judges, public opinion quickly migrated from shock to “meh.”

The Love That Dares

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to karaoke. And those of you who were at Buckingham Palace: Welcome back." That's a joke; none of us was at Buckingham Palace, which is 4,000 miles from here, but we've all been watching Kate Middleton storm Westminster Abbey in five yards of ivory satin gazar and appliqu├ęd lace on televisions citywide all day. On the projector screen in this Kampala bar, the news now focuses on footage from local events, like when cops used a pistol to smash out the window of a car, unleashed a torrent of pepper spray into the faces of its passengers, including opposition leader Kizza Besigye, and then dragged them off to custody. We watch subsequent crowds of protesters being dispersed by tear gas and live rounds, wince as men get beaten mercilessly over the head with batons. But then the TV is turned off and the karaoke machine is turned on, the Chinese kind that scrolls inexplicable pictures of hay bales and people going for sunset horseback beach rides and cityscapes (Rio, maybe?) behind the lyrics. Our emcee is wearing a sweater vest and a sassy lavender shirt and high-tops. He reminds us between every song that karaoke night is all about having fun and at one point welcomes to the microphone Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a lanky, ropy dyke with skinny dreads who gets up from our table to rock "Livin' la Vida Loca." A string of rainbow lights spells out "Sappho" over the bartender's head. When a patron performs Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?," a guy yells out, "Yes, I have!"—dramatic pause—"My mother is a woman!" and everybody laughs because that guy is gaaaaaaay, and the boys slow-dancing up front are so tender it could break your heart, and when I make eye contact with a butch gal who has her hand down the front of a femme's strappy coral tank top, she smiles and says, "I'm just checking for a heartbeat." When I ask Kasha, who's ordering us whiskey and who owns this bar—Uganda's only gay bar—if she isn't worried about somebody coming in here and hurting or arresting anybody, she shakes her head. "We're not doing anything wrong."

TekSavvy File-Sharing Lawsuit: Voltage Pictures Will Likely Get Their Way In Court, Observers Predict

More than 1,000 Canadians will likely be exposed to legal action over unauthorized downloading of movies, observers of an ongoing court battle predict.

The Federal Court in Toronto resumed hearings this past week into a request by Voltage Pictures, maker of The Hurt Locker, to access internet subscriber information for some 2,000 IP addresses the filmmaker says it linked to unauthorized downloading of its movies. It’s believed some 1,000 to 1,200 individuals are linked to those IP addresses.

MPs should remember they work for us

Being an MP may be the best part-time gig in the country. The job pays $160,000 per year with a ridiculously generous pension plan. You set your own hours and the job comes with a generous expense account and opportunities to travel to faraway places. And if you are so inclined you can earn a few extra bucks on the side.

The issue of MPs making an outside income came into focus after Justin Trudeau acknowledged he collected $277,000 in professional speaking fees while serving his constituents in the House of Commons. But give Trudeau credit for disclosing more about the particulars of his arrangements than the system demanded.

Harper government reduces employment equity requirements for contractors

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has significantly reduced the decades-old requirement for companies seeking to do business with the government to have an employment equity program, iPolitics has learned.

Under the changes introduced this week to the Federal Contractors Program for Employment Equity, only companies with a workforce of more than 100 employees seeking contracts worth more than $1 million will have to prove they have an employment equity program designed to ensure that women, visible minorities, aboriginal peoples and people with disabilities don’t face discrimination. Previously, the threshold was set at contracts worth more than $200,000.

Hospital parking fees in GTA spark grassroots campaign

You could call it an urban humanitarian mission, of sorts.

A grassroots campaign that John Hazelwood and Alan Powell believe will help make the lives of the most vulnerable in the province a little easier, and perhaps a little less painful — especially on the wallet.

The object of their offence couldn’t be any more loathed, or any more complex: hospital parking fees.

Tories signal cost-cutting in civil service but bureaucracy ballooned under them

OTTAWA - The Conservative government has made it clear that curbing public service costs is a key part of its agenda as it heads into the second half of Stephen Harper's majority mandate.

But budget measures and ministerial musings about everything from public sector pensions to the collective bargaining process and even sick leave may obscure the bureaucracy sprawl under the Conservative watch.

York Region seeing rising affluence and deepening poverty

A trip through the sprawl that has galloped north across York Region to the border of East Gwillimbury has increasingly become a tour of monster homes, luxury car dealerships and exclusive golf clubs.

But just beyond the edge of development, tucked between farm fields along the Yonge St. corridor, a shelter for homeless families is a stark reminder that amid rising affluence in Toronto’s northern suburb, poverty is increasing, too.