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, March 09, 2014

Obama: Crimea Separation Would Violate Law

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared on Thursday that a referendum in 10 days on the future of a Ukraine's Crimea peninsula would violate international law. The United States also moved to impose visa restrictions and financial sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians for the moves Moscow already has made into Crimea.

Speaking from the White House, Obama said any decisions on the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of Ukraine, must include the country's new government.

Building Permits Up In January, All But One Province Sees Gains

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says municipalities issued $7 billion worth of building permits in January, up 8.5 per cent from December.

The agency says the increase in January came from higher construction intentions in the residential sector, which more than offset a decline in the non-residential sector.

Gains were posted in every province in January, except Quebec, with Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario reporting the largest increases.

After two consecutive monthly decreases, construction intentions for residential dwellings rose 26.3 per cent to $4.6 billion, with gains in all provinces.

In the non-residential sector, the value of permits fell 14.6 per cent to $2.4 billion, following a 5.4 per cent increase in December.

Decreases in Quebec and, to a much lesser extent, New Brunswick offset gains posted in the other provinces.

Original Article
Author: CP

In Honour of Loretta Saunders

Trigger Warning - This article deals with the death of Loretta Saunders, an Inuk woman who was found murdered on Wednesday, February 26th in Salisbury, New Brunswick.

I woke up early this morning, unable to fall back asleep. As you may imagine, the past 10 days or so have been extremely difficult, for a number of reasons that I never could've predicted.

Bill that aims to uncover public servants’ political history has ‘feel of a witch hunt’

OTTAWA – The union representing lawyers working for Canada’s parliamentary watchdogs say a Conservative MP’s bill to compel employees in those agencies to disclose their past political activities will politicize the public service and risks “witch hunts” for partisan bureaucrats.

Lisa Blais, president of the Association of Justice Counsel, said the union has nearly 40 members working for the agents of Parliament who are targeted by Conservative MP Mark Adler’s private member’s bill. The bill would force employees to make a public declaration of their political activities going back a decade. If passed, the legislation would extend to current employees to disclose their political pasts.

Prairie grain backlog follows democracy backlog

Believe it or not, there is a relationship between the backlog in prairie grain and the "Fair Elections Act." Here's how.
As prairie farmers wait anxiously for the backlog in grain transportation to be resolved and for prices that at least cover cost of production, Minister Ritz and friends continue to meet with devotion in the sanctuary of "free-dumb." Farmers on the prairies can no longer afford these bizarre ideas from Ritz and Co.

Corporate Fundraising Fuels School Trustee Concerns

The Vancouver School District isn't opposed to accepting corporate donations from private businesses to help fund school supplies and programming. But school board chair Patti Bacchus is concerned about the "aggressive" pursuit of the district's business by the Chevron-funded Fuel Your School fundraising campaign.

During a Fuel Your School drive, Chevron puts posters up at gas stations in the district informing customers $1 from every purchase of 30 litres of gas or more will go towards the school projects until they reach their $200,000 fundraising goal.

The foul called on the Fair Elections Act

Until now, Brad Butt laboured as a little-known Conservative MP.

That relative obscurity probably seems like the good old days now that he's been called out in the Commons for telling a fabricated story in support of his government's controversial plan to rewrite federal election laws.

Obviously, Butt's credibility is taking a hit this week over the concocted story that he'd seen, first-hand, people fishing discarded voter information cards out of the trash and using them.

Alberta Regulator Quietly Halts Steam Bitumen Mining Near Fort Mac

The Alberta energy regulator has suspended the fastest-growing source of bitumen production around Fort McMurray due to concerns about fracturing the region’s cap rock.

Last January, the regulator quietly issued a bulletin announcing the freeze on development in the Wabiskaw-McMurray deposit of the Athabasca Oil Sands Area while it completes “a thorough technical review of the factors that affect reservoir containment of steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) projects.”

2 More Texas Abortion Clinics Shut Down Because Of New Anti-Abortion Law

Two abortion clinics on Thursday join the growing list of Texas providers shutting down because of restrictions passed by the state legislature last summer, the clinics' owner said.

Whole Women's Health, which operates five abortion clinics and one ambulatory surgical center in Texas, will close its rural clinics in Beaumont and McAllen, Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women's Health, told HuffPost. The McAllen clinic was the last center serving women in the Rio Grande Valley, and the Beaumont clinic was the only abortion provider between Houston and Louisiana.

The Senate Decides Being A Lawyer Disqualifies You From Holding A Legal Post

WASHINGTON -- Lawyers hoping for a political appointment in the future, take note: the U.S. Senate is now judging attorneys based on their representation of politically unpopular clients.

In a move sure to rattle the legal community, a majority of senators voted Wednesday to block the confirmation of a respected civil rights lawyer to a top Justice Department spot because he helped get a convicted murderer off death row.

Researchers Suggest Banks Might Be Rigging Gold Prices

Gold has drawn glowing praise in the last six years or so, since the onset of the recent recession—and now, according to a duo of researchers, it ought to be the subject of a different kind of attention that calls into question the way its price is set.

The London gold fix is the focus of a draft paper by Rosa Abrantes-Metz and Albert Metz, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this week:

Unusual trading patterns around 3 pm in London, when the so-called afternoon fix is set on a private conference call between five of the biggest gold dealers, are a sign of collusive behaviour and should be investigated, New York University’s Stern School of Business Professor Rosa Abrantes-Metz and Albert Metz, a managing director at Moody’s Investors Service, wrote in a draft research paper.

Alpha Natural Resources Water Pollution Settlement Is Largest Of Its Kind

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.

The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.

The Associated Press obtained details before the settlement involving Alpha Natural Resources Inc. was filed in court in West Virginia.

The government says the company and its subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times between 2006 and 2013.

The government says they discharged heavy metals harmful to fish and other wildlife directly into rivers and streams.

The companies agreed to take measures to reduce discharges from 79 active coal mines and 25 processing plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Original Article
Author: AP  | by  DINA CAPPIELLO

All the Times Putin Said He Wouldn't Invade Ukraine

Many a theory has been offered about how the situation in Ukraine has escalated to this point. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel wondered if Russian President Vladimir Putin was "in touch with reality." Her point was bolstered by his rambling Tuesday press conference, during which Putin implied—among other things—that this whole thing was the United States' fault and that the troops on the ground weren't Russian soldiers but well-outfitted, trained military imposters. "If I do decide to use armed forces," he said, "this will be in full compliance with international law." President Barack Obama offered his take, saying that "President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but I don't think that's fooling anybody." Obama added, "There is a strong belief that Russia's action is violating international law."

Barclays Must Pay Big Bonuses To Prevent 'Death Spiral', CEO Antony Jenkins Says

Barclays needed to pay its top bankers bigger bonuses in order to avoid investment bankers quitting and sending the bank into a "death spiral", according to chief executive Antony Jenkins.

The Barclays boss made his stark warning as he defended the bank's decision to increase bonuses by up to £200 million in 2013, despite falling profits and up to 12,000 jobs being axed.

Jenkins insisted that the bank's decision to increase bonuses would be a "one-off" and would not be repeated if profits continued to slide. The chief executive said that he made the move in order to stop Barclays' investment bank from shrinking.

Britain Sells £86m Of Arms To Russia And Still Has 271 Export Licences, Despite Crimea Crisis

Britain has sold more than £86m of sniper rifles, ammunition, drones and laser technology to Russia in just over a year, it can be revealed.

There are 271 arms export licences given for arms sales, air vehicles, military helicopters, and spy equipment to Russia that remain active, despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Between 2008-2013 UK licensed over £406 million in military and dual use licences to Russia, according to official Whitehall documents.