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.]

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The U.S. Is Even More Unequal Than You Realized

When it comes to income inequality, no other developed economy does it quite like the U.S.A. If you need some proof, here it is:
emilys chart

After $66 Million Spent on 'Talk,' Has BC Reworked Aboriginal Child Welfare?

It's been over six months since B.C.'s child watchdog revealed the province spent roughly $66 million between 2002 and 2013 on "talk" with indigenous family service organizations and governments, rather than concrete services for kids and families.

The sum was in addition to the $90 million the government provides to indigenous organizations to run child and family services every year.

"What this report reveals may shock some British Columbians, and hopefully it will prompt some change in how [the ministry] and the provincial government as a whole approaches the difficult job of serving this vulnerable sector of our population," child and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said at the release of the report, "When Talk Trumped Service," in November.

Diversify, Don't Privatize Canada Post: Union

Amid fears that job cuts and service changes spell imminent privatization of Canada Post, the postal workers' union is renewing calls for the Crown corporation to consider revenue-generating alternatives.

Two-thirds of Canadians "have no appetite" for the privatization of their postal office, according to a poll commissioned and released yesterday by the union.

"Canadians have consistently rejected privatization as an option for our post office," said Denis Lemelin, national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, in a news release. "This opposition has kept privatization-friendly governments at bay for many years, although it may not stop the Harper government."

Why postal banking may save Canada Post

Last weekend, in a bare, white-walled conference room in downtown Ottawa a group of trade unionists, economists and academics met to discuss a potentially revolutionary idea -- that a bank could save Canada Post.
Not through a loan or a bailout, but with Canada Post creating its own bank.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), has long said postal banking is the answer to the question 'How do we save Canada Post?'

The banks give thanks: How Ottawa killed a good idea

Few myths are more carefully nurtured by Canada’s elite than the notion that Canadians are well served by our six big banks.

Stephen Harper rarely misses an opportunity to suggest that our banks saved us from calamity when the 2008 financial crisis pushed the world into recession. (It’s true that Canada’s more regulated banking sector did hold up better than the unregulated casino banks of Wall Street.)

Still, beyond the confines of the business class and the Harper Conservatives, it would be hard to find an ordinary Canadian who wouldn’t be delighted to see our century-old banking oligopoly face some actual — what’s the word? — competition.

Tories incensed with Supreme Court as some allege Chief Justice lobbied against Marc Nadon appointment


Frustrations inside the Harper government at the recent string of losses at the Supreme Court are in danger of boiling over.

One minister said he had been advised not to get into a public “firefight,” but senior Conservatives are privately incensed and feel the court has blocked Parliament’s ability to make laws.

Rumours about Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice, are being shared with journalists, alleging she lobbied against the appointment of Marc Nadon to the court (an appointment later overturned as unconstitutional). It is also being suggested she has told people the Harper government has caused more damage to the court as an institution than any government in Canadian history.

Fair Elections Act: Conservative Caucus Behind Evolution Of Bill

OTTAWA - To understand why the Conservatives ended up amending the proposed Fair Elections Act, one has to look past the long list of opposition critics, academics and electoral experts who were pushing the government for changes.

Nor does the answer lie with the opinion polls, which seemed to show support — or at least indifference — to the legislation's key elements.

Ultimately, it was the Conservative caucus that shaped, moulded, rejected and approved elements of the bill going back more than a year.

Who Gives The Most To Political Parties? Dead People

OTTAWA — Generous New Democrats have been giving the NDP a lot of money in their wills, but that practice is about to come to an end with the Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act.

A review of Elections Canada’s records of contributions to political parties shows posthumous donations count for the largest gifts political parties receive – a total of $867,864.75 from the estates of 30 people between 2007 and 2012. But the gifts are not evenly distributed.

TFW Program 'Will Slowly Kill' Helicopter Industry, Pilots Say

OTTAWA - Canadian helicopter pilots say they're being denied jobs in favour of cheaper temporary foreign workers as alarm bells grow ever louder about the integrity of the embattled federal program.

"The saddest and most outrageous part is that this will slowly kill the industry," Bill Wadsworth, a helicopter pilot in Mayne Island, B.C., with 25 years experience, said in an interview Wednesday.

Cold War Against Russia—Without Debate

Future historians will note that in April 2014, nearly a quarter-century after the end of the Soviet Union, the White House declared a new Cold War on Russia—and that, in a grave failure of representative democracy, there was scarcely a public word of debate, much less opposition, from the American political or media establishment.

The Obama administration announced its Cold War indirectly, in a front-page New York Times story by Peter Baker on April 20. According to the report, President Obama has resolved, because of the Ukraine crisis, that he can “never have a constructive relationship” with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will instead “ignore the master of the Kremlin” and focus on “isolating…Russia by cutting off its economic and political ties to the outside world…effectively making it a pariah state.” In short, Baker reports, the White House has adopted “an updated version of the Cold War strategy of containment.” He might have added, a very extreme version. The report has been neither denied nor qualified by the White House.

ExxonMobil’s New Guinea Nightmare

This report was produced in association with Project Word and made possible by grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute. Research assistance: Nick Sexton, Shruti Banerjee and Hannah Rappleye.

Monday, January 23, 2012, was a routine day for 15-year-old Jackson Piwago. Like every other weekday, his father met him after school, and the two walked hand in hand back to their home in Tumbi, a small village in the remote, mountainous Hela Province of Papua New Guinea. There, at the foot of the Gigira Mountain Range, Jackson went about his chores: looking after the family’s pigs, collecting firewood, fetching water and cooking sweet potatoes. He chatted with some of his father’s nine wives, as well as his many brothers and cousins. As on most evenings, dinner was boisterous and joyful.

Round-the-Clock Solar Power is Here

LONDON—Solar power’s greatest drawback has always been that it is intermittent and, even in the sunniest climes, peak electricity demand is frequently in the evening when the Sun is going down.

The engineering challenge has been to design a system in which enough of the Sun’s heat can be stored to produce full power continuously even on cloudy days – and better still, all night.

Many different designs have been tried, but finally a commercial plant in Spain seems to have cracked the problem, and as a result has won an award from a panel of independent judges.

Will the Senate Be Able to Reverse the Supreme Court’s Disastrous McCutcheon Decision?

In a gesture probably more symbolic than practical, the Senate may soon take up a constitutional amendment to give Congress and states the power to regulate political contributions and spending.

At a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday on the influence of so-called “dark money” groups, nonprofits that don’t have to report their donors for election spending, Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Democrats would soon bring the amendment up for a vote.

How the U.S. Created the Afghan War—and Then Lost It

It was a typical Kabul morning. Malik Ashgar Square was already bumper-to-bumper with Corolla taxis, green police jeeps, honking minivans, and angry motorcyclists. There were boys selling phone cards and men waving wads of cash for exchange, all weaving their way around the vehicles amid exhaust fumes. At the gate of the Lycée Esteqial, one of the country’s most prestigious schools, students were kicking around a soccer ball. At the Ministry of Education, a weathered old Soviet-style building opposite the school, a line of employees spilled out onto the street. I was crossing the square, heading for the ministry, when I saw the suicide attacker.

Canada May Sue U.S. Under NAFTA Over Keystone XL: Report

As the U.S. Senate inches closer to a vote that could force the White House to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline, Canada may use the North American Free Trade Agreement to sue the U.S. over the issue, according to news reports.

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is mulling joining forces with Keystone XL builder TransCanada and oil companies to challenge the Obama administration's repeated delays on a decision, the National Post reports, citing unnamed sources.

Trudeau says PM Harper’s comments on vouching suggest he doesn’t trust Canadian voters

PARLIAMENT HILL—An assertion from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that there may be Canadian electors who have no intention of proving their identity at the polls even if they have it demonstrates he and the Conservative government “don’t trust” Canadians, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) was responding to a comment Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) made Tuesday as the opposition parties made a final push in the House of Commons for last-minute changes to the government’s controversial election legislation, Bill C-23, prior to a 5:30 p.m. deadline Thursday for debate over a host of opposition amendments and 45 government proposals to amend several clauses and put in new ones in response to a range of criticisms.

Students' Dreams Must Now Be 'Data-driven'

I spent over 40 happy years in B.C.'s post-secondary system, teaching students to become qualified for jobs. They were in career programs, not university transfer: Business Management, Tourism, Retail Fashion, Legal Assistant, Applied Information Technology. As a Communications teacher, I was interested in practical results: landing a job interview and then a job.