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.]

Monday, May 05, 2014

Evangelicals get head start lobbying on federal government’s prostitution laws

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has a head start in lobbying on prostitution legislation as several interest groups jockey for position while the government prepares to table its bill.

The Conservative government has been consulting with Canadians and interest groups on prostitution legislation after the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Canada’s laws in December as unconstitutional.

Temporary Foreign Workers Taking Jobs Where Canadians Available: HRSDC

A cabinet minister in the Harper government was warned two years ago that jobs were going to temporary foreign workers even in areas where there were Canadians available to do them, according to internal documents.

In notes prepared for then-Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, HRSDC warned of a "disconnect between the Temporary Foreign Worker program” and Employment Insurance payouts.

Rocco Galati, Lawyer Who Challenged Nadon Pick, Calls Harper Comments 'Inappropriate'

The Toronto lawyer who first challenged the appointment of Justice Marc Nadon says Prime Minister Stephen Harper's statements toward the head of the country's top court are "totally inappropriate."

Rocco Galati says he believes Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverely McLachlin was right to warn the Conservative government that Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge, might not fit the legal criteria set for Quebec appointees to the Supreme Court.

Why the Most Popular Tax in History Has Real Momentum

The European Financial Transaction (a.k.a. Robin Hood) tax scored a big legal victory on April 30, when a challenge regarding the legality of the tax brought by the British government was thrown out by the European Court of Justice. The ECJ has struck a serious blow for fairness, as the dismissal essentially chastises the British government for championing the interests of the UK’s financial industry over those of its citizens. David Hillman, spokesperson for the Robin Hood campaign, told The Guardian, “This futile legal challenge tells you all you need to know about the government's misguided priorities: it would rather defend a privileged elite in the City than support a tax that could raise billions to tackle poverty and protect public services.”

Las Vegas Police Host ‘Choose Purity’ Event Claiming Premarital Sex Turns Girls Into Prostitutes

Girls who are not sexually abstinent, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Regina Coward reportedly said, typically wind up victims of sexual assault. Or they become members of a gang. Or they take drugs. Or they become prostitutes.

To drive this message home, Coward organized a “Choose Purity” event that was co-sponsored by her police department. The message of the event, according to the Las Vegas Sun is that “[g]irls who ‘get promiscuous’ can wind up dead.” Approximately 125 parents and children attended.

The event’s program mingled its pro-abstinence message with video about women in dire circumstances. One video included interviews with a pimp and prostitutes and emphasized that women who sell sex for money are often forced into a kind of modern-day slavery. Another showed gruesome images of people who used hard drugs, including a woman who lost limbs in a meth lab explosion.

A survey published in 2006 found that 95 percent of Americans have had premarital sex. Most of these people are not prostitutes. Most of them also have never been injured in a drug-related accident.

Original Article
Author: Ian Millhiser 

Arms Cache Most Likely Kept in Texas by the C.I.A.

WASHINGTON — In passing references scattered through once-classified documents and cryptic public comments by former intelligence officials, it is referred to as “Midwest Depot,” but the bland code name belies the role it has played in some of the C.I.A.’s most storied operations.

From the facility, located somewhere in the United States, the C.I.A. has stockpiled and distributed untraceable weapons linked to preparations for the Bay of Pigs invasion and the arming of rebels and resistance fighters from Angola to Nicaragua to Afghanistan.

Those of the ilk of rancher Cliven Bundy and billionaire Donald Sterling believe there’s a place for African-Americans. And, Sterling said in a taped conversation, that place certainly is not in photographs with his girlfriend posted on Instagram.

Supreme Court Upholds Prayer At Government Meetings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity, a divided Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court said in 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or proselytize.

The ruling by the court's conservative majority was a victory for the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester. The Obama administration sided with the town.

Boko Haram claims responsibility for kidnapping Nigeria schoolgirls

The Islamist militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility on Monday for the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in north-east Nigeria last month and threatened to "sell them on the market", the French news agency AFP has reported, citing a video.

On 14 April, Boko Haram stormed an all-girl secondary school in the village of Chibok, in Borno state, then packed the teenagers, who had been taking exams, on to lorries and disappeared into a remote area along the border with Cameroon.

The Post-Constitutional Era

The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.

Robocalls report clearest sign yet of our democracy’s decay

Kinsley’s Law: “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal — the scandal’s what is legal”.

I guess Elections Canada must have a selfie-video of Michael Sona looking into his cell-phone and cackling,”I just sent a hundred people to the wrong poll and I intended to do it…hahahaha.”

Long-term expat Canadians win back voting rights after judge nixes law

TORONTO - More than one million Canadians living abroad are now eligible to cast ballots in the next federal election after a court struck down a law stripping them of their voting rights.

While mass murderers have the right to vote, long-term expats "who care deeply about Canada" do not have the right, Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny said in his decision.

Toxic Chemical Bill Championed By Industry, Chided By Children's Health Advocates

Brad Springer, 10, has fought and defeated neuroblastoma cancer -- twice. Today, according to his dad, the now healthy Idaho boy is wielding his powers in another battle.

Brad was among four children dressed up as "Toxin Freedom Fighters," complete with green shorts, capes and masks, in the halls of Congress on Wednesday. They hand-delivered a petition that urges legislators to strengthen the nation's regulation of toxic chemicals.

Jean-Pierre Kingsley still has concerns over electoral changes

Canada's former chief electoral officer has come out swinging against the amended version of the proposed fair elections act, known as Bill C-23, including the compromise on the controversial issue of vouching.

"This (Bill C-23) will result in some people having more difficulty voting," Jean-Pierre Kingsley told host Evan Solomon on CBC Radio's The House.

DND breaks promise, dismisses PTSD soldier

OTTAWA - National Defence has done an about-face and revoked an offer that would have allowed a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder, who spoke publicly last fall about his attempted suicide, the right to an extended release from the military.

Master Cpl. Kristian Wolowidnyk's story made headlines across the country in November when it was revealed he tried to take his own life after the army put him on the fast-track for dismissal.

The military backed down when his case became public, but just last week reversed itself and said he doesn't qualify.

Feds lack accountability in dealing with Canadians’ private info: privacy czar

Canada’s privacy watchdog says there’s an accountability gap when it comes to how and why government agencies access private information.

In an interview on the West Block with Tom Clark, Interim Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier said a lack of transparency in the system means she has no way of knowing whether government agencies and telecommunications companies are following the rules.

It’s official, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford didn’t save $1 billion

To hear Mayor Rob Ford tell it, Toronto’s finances were a disaster before he came to office. But by running government like a business, and saving $1 billion, he managed to pull city hall from the brink and “fix the mess I inherited.”
There’s a problem with this narrative: it’s just not true. Toronto’s top financial managers shuffled their papers on Monday, cleared their throats, and explained how the boss is wrong.

Rick Perry On Clayton Lockett Execution: 'I Don't Know Whether It Was Inhumane Or Not'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) defended the use of capital punishment and lethal injections Sunday, after the disastrous execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on Tuesday renewed a national debate on the practices.

Perry, whose state has put more prisoners to death than any other since 1976, acknowledged that Lockett's execution was "botched" but stopped short of calling it "inhumane."

Netanyahu: You can't have Palestinian state alongside bi-national state

"There are those who do not want the State of Israel to be defined as the nation-state of the Jewish People. They want a Palestinian nation-state to be established alongside us and that Israel should gradually become a binational, Arab-Jewish state inside shrunken borders," Netanyahu said at start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

"But I simply say that one cannot hold the national stick at both of its national ends.They cannot say that they want to separate from the Palestinians in order to prevent a binational state, which has a certain logic, and also sanctify a binational, Jewish-Arab state within the permanent borders of the State of Israel," he added.

Hillary Clinton Works to Neutralize the Only 2016 Opponent She Fears: The Media

There are two reasons for a national politician to participate in a lengthy story about how overbearing the media can be: Because you are naive about the media or because you are trying to guilt the media into being less critical. When that national politician is Hillary Clinton, the options narrow.

In its exhaustive overview of Clinton's longstanding aversion to the press, Politico presents all of her available defenses. Clinton entered the national stage through a curtain of fire, thanks to her husband's appetites. The relentless and savage attacks from the conservative media that blanketed Bill's two terms are legendary. And then she ran for president, and lost, and blamed — in part — the press' drooling attention to her opponent. It is hard to argue with those things.

Miliband: Cameron is a cheerleader for Pfizer takeover of AstraZeneca

Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of acting as a cheerleader for the US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer's proposed takeover of its British rival AstraZeneca as he called for the brakes to be put on the biggest takeover in UK corporate history.

The Labour leader, who said Pfizer had a "pretty dubious record" on takeovers, has written to the prime minister calling for a change in the law to ensure that a public interest test on such corporate deals should be applied to strategic economic interests. The public interest test normally applies to defence companies or utilities.

Vancouver Police Defend Arrest Video

Vancouver police are defending the actions of officers after a video showing a protester being kneed in the back was uploaded to YouTube.

Video footage, which can be seen above, shows police officers pushing a protester off his bike at the Beat the Pipelines march on May 1. In a second video, two police officers hold the man's arms and one knees him in the back in an attempt to hold him down. He screams as he's been subdued, yelling "I'm being oppressed, I'm being oppressed!" Observers also shout at the officers to "leave him alone" as they're "breaking his f**king arm." It's unclear what the man did before he was pushed over, and the video does not include what happened before and after the arrest.

China To Have World's Largest Economy This Year: World Bank

The United States has had the world’s largest economy for more than 140 years, but according to new numbers from a World Bank project, that run will likely come to an end this year.

The World Bank’s International Comparison Project (ICP) recently released comparison GDP estimates for the world’s economies for 2011, and found that China’s economy had caught up so close to the U.S. its economy is likely to surpass the U.S.’s this year.

How the Conservative government has dealt with past critics

This past week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office got into a public argument with Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin over the government’s failed attempt to place Marc Nadon on the top court. It was the latest in a series of battles in which the government has criticized current and former independent public officials.

Ignore the Senate

When the Supreme Court of Canada hands down a decision of the sort that’s instantly labelled “landmark,” the traditional politician’s response is to plead for time to absorb the implications. Not so with the judges’ unanimous conclusion that Stephen Harper’s plan to reform the Senate is out of bounds—unless the Prime Minister cares to negotiate with the provinces to amend the Constitution, which he emphatically does not. “There is no consensus among the provinces on reform, no consensus on abolition, and no desire of anyone to reopen the Constitution,” Harper declared at a local chamber of commerce event last week in Kitchener, Ont., his first opportunity to comment.

Hudak Stresses Job Creation, Reduced Spending

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said it’s “understandable” federal Tories have attacked the policies of his Liberal rival — though he did not know the comments from Ottawa were coming.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Joe Oliver on Friday took aim at the Liberals’ plan for a made-in-Ontario pension, and the budget that triggered the election; a break with tradition that typically sees federal politicians stay out provincial campaigns

Koch Brothers Face Lawsuit Over Chicago's Toxic Black Dust

Environmentalists are planning to take billionaires Charles and David Koch to court, alleging the brothers' companies are responsible for polluting Chicago's Southeast Side with the black, thick dust known as petroleum coke -- or petcoke, a byproduct of the oil refining process.

Democracy's Deepening Recession

While the world’s attention has been riveted on Ukraine and what move an emboldened Vladimir Putin will make next, diverse threats to democracy have intensified on other fronts as well. The story is not new. According to Freedom House, 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which more countries experienced declines in political rights or civil liberties than improvements. Since 2005, democracy has ceased its decades-long expansion, leveling off at about 60 percent of all independent states. And since the military coup in Pakistan in 1999, the rate of democratic breakdowns has accelerated, with about one in every five democracies failing.

Oklahoma Lawmaker: I Don’t Care If Death Row Inmates Are ‘Fed To Lions’

On Tuesday, an Oklahoma inmate named Clayton Lockett was slowly tortured to death after a botched execution left him conscious and convulsing while strapped to a gurney. He eventually died of a heart attack 43 minutes into this ordeal.

Marijuana was criminalized in 1923, but why?

Pot activists in Canada and elsewhere took part Sunday in what was billed as a "Global Marijuana March." In this country, they were calling for the decriminalization of marijuana.

They might also have asked why it became illegal in the first place.

That happened in 1923, and if there was any kind of parliamentary debate historians have been unable to find a record of it.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin responds to PMO allegations

Faced with insinuations of improper conduct from the Prime Minister's Office and reported widely in the press, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sets the record straight in the press release below
In response to recent media reports, the office of the Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C. is releasing the following statement.

Canadian Bar Association: Deeply Concerned About Spat Between Harper And Beverley McLachlin

OTTAWA - The association that represents lawyers in Canada is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to acknowledge the chief justice of the Supreme Court has done nothing wrong.

The Canadian Bar Association says it's deeply concerned about the public spat between Harper and Beverely McLachlin.

Harper has accused McLachlin of acting improperly last July when she advised his office that Marc Nadon, a Federal Court of Appeal judge, might not fit the legal criteria set for Quebec appointees to the Supreme Court.

Republicans in Congress Are Trying to Gut Local Fracking Regulations

Capitol Hill on Tuesday was home to a rare sight: House Republicans preparing a bill they say will strengthen the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency.

But a coalition of public health experts, environmentalists, and state officials argue that the bill, called the Chemicals in Commerce Act, is a Trojan horse that would kneecap state rules on toxic chemicals across the country without giving the Environmental Protection Agency any authority to pick up the slack. Opponents of the Chemicals in Commerce Act warn that the bill would weaken oversight of fracking fluids in particular, as these are almost exclusively regulated by state agencies.

Absent a Two State Solution, a 'Jewish State' Means Apartheid

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that have been in the works for nearly two decades are back to square one. There are many reasons for the failure of the negotiations, but one of the key reasons is that Israel has moved the goalposts.

South Sudan Facing Genocide Risk Amid Personal Power Struggle, U.N. Officials Warn

UNITED NATIONS, May 2 (Reuters) - Ethnic violence in South Sudan risks spiraling into genocide, with the country's leaders locked in a personal struggle for power, top U.N. officials said on Friday as a U.N. Security Council showdown looms over calls to impose targeted sanctions.

Thousands of people have been killed and more than 1 million have fled their homes since fighting erupted in the world's newest nation in December between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked deputy, Riek Machar.


One of the surprises of President Obama’s second term has been the prominence of a question that seemed peripheral to his first: the meaning of religious freedom. For years, opponents of the Affordable Care Act framed their objections in terms of economic freedom, but now some of the most noticeable challenges are coming from Christian groups who oppose the law’s contraception-coverage requirement. In January, the Supreme Court extended a temporary injunction for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that objects to having to file a form to obtain a religious exemption from the requirement. (When an organization files, the government effectively subsidizes its insurance provider, so that the employees’ contraception is still covered.) The Supreme Court will soon hand down a decision in the case of Hobby Lobby, the craft-store chain that strives to operate “in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” One of those principles, in Hobby Lobby’s view, forbids it to pay for those contraceptives which it considers tantamount to abortion. If the Court rules in the store’s favor, the decision would be a small setback for the A.C.A. But it would be a big advance for the religious-freedom movement, which wants courts to recognize that for-profit corporations can be believers, too.