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, December 07, 2013

Natural Gas Building Spree Cancels Out Emissions We Save From Leaving Coal Behind: Report

WASHINGTON -- Companies are so excited about cheap natural gas that they're on an expansion spree, which might undo some of the good we've done by switching to the cleaner fuel from coal, a new report says.

The low cost of natural gas is largely seen as a net positive for climate change, as burning gas generates lower levels of emissions than burning coal. But an Environmental Integrity Project report released Thursday says that though gas is replacing coal -- the dirtier alternative -- in electric power plants, new industrial projects that use natural gas for feedstock or fuel are now being constructed so quickly that we're probably walking back some of our progress.

San Francisco Bay Water Clarity Improvments Leading To Threatening Algae Blooms

More than a century after regulations put a stop to California Gold Rush practices clouding the San Francisco Bay waters with silt, tidal movements have finally started clearing the water. However, that water clarity has made the bay a hotbed for algae blooms, threatening local marine life and posing expensive changes for the Bay Area.

A practice of blasting apart hillsides to mine gold was banned in 1884, but the resulting millions of tons of gravel and mud that settled in the bay as silt have remained a fixture in the ecosystem until recently, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

Pennsylvania's New Environmental Chief Doesn't Think Climate Change Is A Big Deal

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's (R) nominee to head the state's Department of Environmental Protection says he doesn't believe that climate change is all that bad.

Christopher Abruzzo, Corbett's pick for DEP secretary, testified at a hearing of the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on Wednesday, where he was asked about climate change, StateImpact Pennsylvania reports.

State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax

Conservative groups across the US are planning a co-ordinated assault against public sector rights and services in the key areas of education, healthcare, income tax, workers' compensation and the environment, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.

The strategy for the state-level organisations, which describe themselves as "free-market thinktanks", includes proposals from six different states for cuts in public sector pensions, campaigns to reduce the wages of government workers and eliminate income taxes, school voucher schemes to counter public education, opposition to Medicaid, and a campaign against regional efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

Canada's Border Agency Broke Law With War Crimes Tag: Watchdog

OTTAWA - The federal privacy watchdog says Canada's border agency broke the law by labelling people on its highly touted "wanted" list as war criminals — a potentially misleading tag the agency failed to justify.

The privacy commissioner is also taking the Canada Border Services Agency to task for leaving profiles of listed people on the Internet too long and failing to assess the privacy implications of the program in advance.

4 Surprising Things We Learned From The Rob Ford Documents

1. Rob Ford and Doug Ford weren't speaking after the crack video story emerged
On May 18, Toronto Police detectives interviewed David Price, a longtime Doug Ford friend who was also serving as the mayor's director of operations and logistics at City Hall. Price told police that the two Ford brothers "are not on speaking terms right now." The interview happened just two days after Gawker published its story about Rob Ford's crack video.

Rob Ford Scandal: Why Haven't Charges Been Laid?

As the latest release of police wiretap information unveils more shocking insight into Rob Ford's behaviour, some are wondering why Toronto's mayor is not facing criminal charges.

Documents released by the court Wednesday chronicle conversations police overheard between alleged gang members discussing a video that shows Ford smoking crack cocaine.

The documents and the conversations they chronicle gathered by police are part of a guns and drugs investigation called Project Brazen 2.

Don't Let Libs Hand Our Forests to Corporations

Last spring, the Liberal government introduced changes to the Forest Act that would have drastically changed the way British Columbia's publicly owned forests are managed. The changes would have "rolled over" existing volume-based cutting rights into corporately-controlled Tree Farm Licenses (TFL), essentially giving private corporations free rein over huge tracts of public lands.

These changes were introduced as one of several elements in a "Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act," the Liberals' trick of attempting to hide legislative changes without drawing too much attention to them. But after tremendous public pressure by environmentalists, forestry professionals, and the opposition, this portion of the act was withdrawn.

Because 'Domestic Violence Is Not a Private Matter'

Lori Dupont arrived to her job at Windsor's Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital on a cold fall day in November 2005. Before it was time for her morning coffee break, her former lover, physician Marc Daniel, had ambushed her in a hospital corridor and brutally ended her life, stabbing her repeatedly with a military style dagger and leaving her in a pool of blood. An inquest into Dupont's death was told that her employer had failed to respond to 44 warning signs and opportunities to intervene as Daniel repeatedly harassed her at work.

NDP MP wants House Access Committee to probe government-wide email preservation systems, calls recent PCO email deletion lapse ‘appalling’

PARLIAMENT HILL—Government information policies that allowed the Privy Council Office to delete email accounts containing information about a $90,000 payment from former PMO chief of staff Nigel Wright to Sen. Mike Duffy are “appalling,” NDP MP Pat Martin says.

Mr. Martin (Winnipeg Centre, Man.) told The Hill Times he wants a government oversight panel he chairs in the House of Commons, the Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee, to investigate government-wide information preservation systems after the RCMP initially failed to obtain the email records Mr. Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) former PMO legal counsel, Benjamin Perrin, because the Privy Council Office allowed Mr. Perrin to delete the records when he left the PMO last April.

Autumn statement: George Osborne refuses to ease austerity

George Osborne is relying on the Bank of England and Britain's resurgent housing market to deliver strong growth in the runup to the 2015 general election after he spurned the chance to use a surprise pick-up in the economy this year to ease the government's austerity programme.

In an upbeat autumn statement that left his Labour shadow, Ed Balls, struggling, the chancellor produced plans to shrink the size of day-to-day state spending to its lowest level for at least 70 years and sought to neuter Ed Miliband's cost-of-living campaign by using the proceeds of the squeeze to trim domestic fuel bills by £50 a year, freeze fuel duty for motorists and limit increases in rail fares.

Flood alert continues as tidal surge moves south

Floodwaters were reported to be receding after the worst tidal surge for more than 60 years hit coastal towns along the east coast of Britain and sparked a tense night of evacuations and emergency measures.

Thousands of people were told to leave their homes and spent the night in temporary accommodation as officials warned lives could be at risk.

The North Sea surge hit the north Norfolk coast early on Thursday evening and headed south throughout the night.

Third Apache Pipeline Leak Releases Additional 1.8 Million Litres of Produced Water in Northern Alberta

A third leak recently discovered on Apache Canada’s property near Zama City in northwestern Alberta has released an estimated 1.8 million litres of wastewater onto 5 hectares of land, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER).

The spill was discovered on Friday, October 25th after an operator investigated a volume discrepancy at Apache’s Shekilie site, reports the Northern Journal. The leak is believed to have begun on October 3rd, according to Apache.

Internet’s new biggest threat? How web traffic can be secretly redirected

Internet experts say huge chunks of sensitive web traffic have been routinely hijacked by hackers and diverted to foreign computers, compromising the data of victims in at least 150 cities worldwide.

Researchers at New Hampshire-based global internet intelligence company Renesys say that they’ve witnessed a complex type of Man-in-the-Middle attack occur on computer networks no fewer than 60 days this year already, the likes of which they say should never have happened.