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, October 20, 2014

The Ebola Wars How genomics research can help contain the outbreak.

The most dangerous outbreak of an emerging infectious disease since the appearance of H.I.V., in the early nineteen-eighties, seems to have begun on December 6, 2013, in the village of Meliandou, in Guinea, in West Africa, with the death of a two-year-old boy who was suffering from diarrhea and a fever. We now know that he was infected with Ebola virus. The virus is a parasite that lives, normally, in some as yet unidentified creature in the ecosystems of equatorial Africa. This creature is the natural host of Ebola; it could be a type of fruit bat, or some small animal that lives on the body of a bat—possibly a bloodsucking insect, a tick, or a mite.

Amazon’s Monopsony Is Not O.K.

`, the giant online retailer, has too much power, and it uses that power in ways that hurt America.

O.K., I know that was kind of abrupt. But I wanted to get the central point out there right away, because discussions of Amazon tend, all too often, to get lost in side issues.

For example, critics of the company sometimes portray it as a monster about to take over the whole economy. Such claims are over the top — Amazon doesn’t dominate overall online sales, let alone retailing as a whole, and probably never will. But so what? Amazon is still playing a troubling role.

As Ebola raged, Ottawa sold masks and gowns to highest bidder

Ottawa continued to auction off stockpiled medical supplies to the public, even after the World Health Organization requested the protective gear amid an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa.

Sales of so-called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which includes surgical masks and isolation gowns, also apparently took place despite requests that are said to have been made this summer via both Sierra Leone’s ambassador to the U.S. and a Canadian aid organization for donations to equip front-line health-care workers. And some of the low-priced auctioned gear landed in the hands of entrepreneurs who then tried to hawk the items for a profit.

Lacking abortion access, New Brunswick women head for Maine abortion clinics

Before the closure of the Fredericton Morgentaler Clinic this summer, Ruth Lockhart of the Mabel Wadsworth Women's Health Center in Bangor, Maine, saw a client from New Brunswick every eight-to-ten weeks.
That number has jumped to five New Brunswick clients accessing her clinic's services every week.
"We do about 500 abortions a year. We see maybe ten to 15 [clients] a week, and … we had one to two [women from New Brunswick] in a six-month period," said Lockhart.

Uniting the haves and have-nots of Canadian childcare

If there's one thing that neoliberal politicians have figured out, it's that dividing people to conquer them is the best way to impose bad policy.
Indeed, it seems like everything that leaks out of the lips of our glorious Prime Minister seeks to divide and then conquer some community.
But social democratic parties aren't immune from these tactics either. Whether intentional or accidental, dividing people further is a deadly mistake.

With Voter ID On Hold, Here’s What Wisconsin Republicans Have Planned For Election Day

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Less than one week after the Supreme Court delayed the implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law until after the midterm elections, a GOP official urged Republican activists to take matters into their own hands to prevent voter fraud.
Milwaukee County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas warned a crowd of volunteers and supporters Friday night to be “concerned about voter fraud,” and urged the hundreds of attendees to take an “extra step of vigilance.” “You as a Wisconsin resident can challenge people who are not supposed to be voting,” he said at the Milwaukee County Republicans event. “You’ve got to do that.”

Justin Trudeau Says He's Focused On Building Economy, Not Tax Cuts

OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is signalling the tax cuts promised by the Conservative government could lead to a political showdown ahead of the 2015 federal election.

Trudeau suggested in an interview today with CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada that a Liberal government would prioritize investment in infrastructure, education, and research over any tax relief.

Author Michael Harris’s new book is a takedown of Stephen Harper

By the time author Michael Harris nears the end of his magisterial review of the strife and times of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it is as if he felt the need of a shower.

Almost 500 pages of Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover have by then been devoted to chronicling the Harper government’s bullying, abuse, duplicity, betrayal, affinity for crooks, public shaming of individuals, diminishment of democratic institutions.

“It was hard every day getting up and working on this particular government,” Harris told the Star in advance of the book’s publication this week. “It made you feel poorly.”

Opposition MPs want feds to release cost of military action against ISIS in Iraq

Opposition MPs say the federal government needs to make public its cost estimates for Canada’s military contributions to the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

On Oct. 17, Chief of defence Staff General Tom Lawson told reporters at a briefing that the cost estimates for Canada’s military contributions have been provided to Cabinet and will be made public in the “future.” Gen. Lawson said costs will be done “incrementally” and through the regular Parliamentary process and will not impact other operations, such as search and rescue.

Taxation union refuses to give up severance and sick leave

The Conservative government is facing a showdown with employees at Canada’s tax agency over two hot-button issues for public servants: giving up severance pay, and banked sick leave.

The Union of Taxation Employees stands out as the only federal union that has yet to give up severance benefits for public servants who quit voluntarily. And it’s the only large union that isn’t at the table in the current round of collective bargaining to negotiate the government’s demand to replace the existing sick leave regime with a new short-term disability plan.

Feds’ report on deforestation by oil, gas industry not out until after next election

The latest government information about the scope of deforestation by Canada’s oil and gas industry—predominantly the Boreal Plain forest destroyed by Alberta oilsands mining and production—will not be published until a year after the next federal election, according to information from the federal Natural Resources department.

Even then, when the next national breakdown of deforestation by industry is published in the 2016 annual report to Parliament on the State of Canada’s Forests, the new data will cover only 2011 and 2012.

Five Lessons for Canada from Germany's Clean Energy Revolution

When Dr. David Jacobs comes to North America from Europe, he hears the same myths repeated over and over about Germany's state-led shift to a zero-carbon society. Replacing oil, coal, gas and nuclear with wind and solar will tank the economy; clean energy is a luxury only citizens of wealthy European countries can afford; and embracing it hasn't even reduced carbon emissions. "There are lots of very basic misconceptions," he said during a recent interview at Vancouver's Georgia Hotel.

Jacobs, who heads a consulting firm called International Energy Transition and teaches energy policy at the Free University of Berlin, was in town for Clean Energy B.C.'s Generate 2014 conference. He'd spent the morning before our chat correcting misconceptions about Germany's Energiewende (or energy transition) for a private audience of local policymakers and academics. The best myth-busting tools at his disposal are hard economic facts. These days, Jacobs has a lot of them to share.

Harper's Foreign Policy Confirms Orwell's Insights

It's getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper's most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.

Harper's amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play -- or even in what Canada's "interests" are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.

Is Canada's Food Guide Past Its Best-Before Date?

[Editor's note: In this ongoing series,Grow, Eat, Learn: School from the Plate Up, Tyee Solutions Society reporter Katie Hyslop visits farms, schools, full-length mirrors and our own kitchen cupboards to examine how we lost our way when it comes to feeding our kids, and how we can get back on the path to wholesome, healthy eating. Find the series so farhere.]

Whether you're familiar with Canada's Food Guide or not, it has a big impact on the food you eat.

Each new edition of the guide "becomes our nutritional backdrop, our nutritional consciousness as a nation," says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the for-profit Bariatric Medical Institute and one of only three Canadian physicians certified as an obesity specialist.

Negative online reviews can lead to threats of legal action from targeted businesses

It's just an opinion, right? But if you post it online, you could get some unwanted attention from lawyers.  A growing number of companies are going after people who post negative reviews online.
Ottawa student Olivia Parsons learned that the hard way. After moving out of her apartment in June, she posted several less-than-flattering online reviews on GoogleYelp and Pissed Consumer.

This Ebola Diagram Shows What The Deadly Virus Really Looks Like & How It Works

We're guessing that by now, you're pretty familiar with this little squiggle. But if you want to know what Ebola really looks like -- and how it hijacks cells to wreak havoc inside the human body -- you need a detailed diagram of an Ebola virus particle.

The infographic below affords an up-close look at a simplified Ebola virion.
Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Macrina Cooper-White

Congressional Hearing On Ebola Was 'Shameful,' Janet Napolitano Says

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Janet Napolitano on Saturday lambasted Congress for politicizing concerns about the Ebola virus, and drew parallels to the response to 2009's H1N1 flu pandemic, which she oversaw as Homeland Security Secretary.

Napolitano criticized a recent Congressional hearing on Ebola featuring Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In the middle of a crisis, pulling Dr. Frieden away from the work he needs to do so Congress members could all make their little press statements -- it was shameful,” Napolitano, now president of the University of California, said to The WorldPost at a Pacific Council on International Policy conference.

Dallas Ebola Victims' Families Speak Out

The families of the Liberian man who died of Ebola earlier this month in Dallas, and one of the two nurses who contracted the virus after treating him, spoke out on Sunday.

In a statement, the family of Amber Vinson, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, responded to critics who have blamed her illness on a possible failure to follow safety guidelines.

"In no way was Amber careless prior to or after her exposure to Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan," the family said. "Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician and government-provided protocols recommended to her are patently untrue and hurtful."

Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows

A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem.


In the first few days of 2014, scientists, journalists, and environmentalists were horrified to discover that the Harper government had begun a process to close seven of the 11 of Canada’s world-renowned Department of Fisheries and Oceans libraries, citing a consolidation and digitizing effort as the reason. Reports immediately proliferated that the process was undertaken in careless haste, with the officials sent to gather and transfer the documents allegedly neglecting to take proper inventory of the centuries’ worth of documents containing vital information on environmental life, from aquatic ecosystems to water safety and polar research, with some documents reportedly dumped in landfills or burned, leading some scientists to refer to it as a ‘libricide.'