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.]

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Osborne moves to cut spending to 1930s levels in dramatic autumn statement

The chancellor, George Osborne, has set out dramatic plans to move Britain from the red into the black that will see public spending as a percentage of GDP fall to its lowest level since the 1930s and could require cuts in non-protected departments such as police, local government and justice amounting to a further £60bn by 2019-20.

The plans, according to the Treasury spending watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility, also presume the loss of a further one million public sector jobs by 2020, a renewed public sector pay squeeze and a further freeze on tax credits.

Grand Jury Declines To Indict NYPD Officer In Chokehold Death Of Eric Garner

A grand jury in Staten Island voted Wednesday not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold.

Giving away Wheat Board assets and Pat Martin's outburst in the House

If you believe that government monopoly agencies are not the best way to get Canadian agricultural products to market you probably applauded when the Harper government eliminated the Canadian Wheat Board's control of the prairie grain business.
That move "liberated" Western farmers, freed them from the bondage of "big government," Prime Minister Harper boasts, and allowed them to take part fully in the free market economy.
But even if you are an enthusiastic cheerleader for open markets in agriculture, you've got to be a bit worried about the Conservatives' current plans for the no-longer-single-desk Canadian Wheat Board.
The Harper government legislation that got rid of the Wheat Board's monopoly also stipulated that the agency should be fully privatized by 2017.

British Columbia's premier shames parents for taking their kids to tar sands pipeline protest and crossing police line

Premier Christy Clark criticized two Burnaby families for letting their daughters cross a police line on Burnaby Mountain to protest Kinder Morgan's controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Over 120 people were taken into police custody over the past two weeks, including university professors, an 87-year-old concerned citizen and First Nation leaders.

“They’re 11 years old, for heaven’s sakes,” Clark said in an interview with The Province, referring to two grade six students who crossed the line with their parents. “Teaching your kids that it’s OK for them to break the law when they’re 11 years old isn’t OK. I think we all as parents would ask ourselves, ‘What kind of message are we sending to our kids?’”

How Monsanto's Big Data Push Hurts Small Farms

Ask an agribusiness exec about sustainable agriculture, and you'll likely get an earful about something called "precision agriculture." What is it? According to Yara, the fertilizer giant, it's technology that "enables farmers to add the specific nutrients needed for their crop, in exactly the right amount, at the right time."

That is to say, instead of using intuition and experience to decide how much fertilizer or pesticides to apply, farmers rely on sensors, satellite data, and the Internet of Things to make such choices. In addition to selling farmers agrichemicals, Yara also sells a "knowledge platform, supported by tools for precision farming," including "an online service providing advice on the physical mixing characteristics of Yara's foliar products with agrochemicals."

Feds: Duty to vets ‘not commitments’

OTTAWA — The federal government will argue Wednesday that its social covenant to care for injured veterans was just political speech and not meant to be taken seriously.

Ottawa is trying to have a lawsuit by a group of disabled veterans tossed out. The British Columbia Supreme Court refused, but the government is now appealing the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

Six disabled veterans, united under the banner of the Equitas Society, hope to strike down the government’s decision to replace lifelong pensions for injured soldiers with one-time payments.

Alberta 'ground zero' for abuse of Temporary Foreign Worker Program

For the first time, the federal government has come down on an Alberta employer for misusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Noralta Lodge is a hotel chain in northern Alberta that specializes in providing accommodations for oilfield workers. After a six month audit, the government found that Noralta provided "false, misleading or inaccurate information" in its request for a Labour Market Opinion, which permits an employer to hire staff through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. 

Bill C-2 spreads Harper's misinformation about harm reduction

Bill C-2, known as the Respect for Communities Act, was drafted by the government in response to the Supreme Court ruling of September 2011 that supported the continued operation of Insite, Vancouver's supervised injection facility.
It has completed first and second readings in the House of Commons and is currently one-third of the way to becoming law.
If passed, Bill C-2 will create substantial barriers to the establishment of safe consumption sites, such as Vancouver's Insite.

Mikhail Gorbachev Blames American 'Triumphalism' For Bringing About A New Cold War

Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed America for bringing about a new Cold War, warning that "militarists” are pushing Europe to the brink of conflict by building fences around his country.

Speaking to the Russian state-owned news agency Tass on Monday, the 83-year-old former Soviet President said that “triumphalism” emanating from Washington had led to rising tensions between East and West, though he added there was still time to resolve the growing dispute before it led to direct conflict.

Progressives Urge Senate To Reject Obama Treasury Nominee Antonio Weiss

WASHINGTON -- More than 100,000 progressive voters are urging the Senate to reject President Barack Obama's choice of Antonio Weiss, a former Wall Street banker, to fill a key post at the Treasury Department tasked with overseeing financial reform.

The president last month nominated Weiss, the head of investment banking at financial giant Lazard, as undersecretary of domestic finance. The role would oversee much of the Treasury Department's domestic economic policy-making, including implementation of Wall Street reforms put into place under the 2009 Dodd-Frank Act.

Number Of Aboriginal Women Behind Bars Spiking: Report

OTTAWA - Emily, an alcohol-addicted young Inuit woman racked by painful memories of sexual abuse, went to jail for manslaughter in 2009 — joining what a newly released report calls one of the fastest growing segments of Canada's prison population.

The number of aboriginal women who were locked behind bars in federal institutions grew a staggering 97 per cent between 2002 and 2012, the study by the federal Justice Department concluded.

Pipeline Projects Over-Promise and Under-Deliver on Jobs

"Under-promise and over-deliver" is a concept politicians would do well to master early in their careers. The three pipeline companies currently trying to ram through their projects in the face of massive protests have gotten the concept, but in reverse. Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and Transcanada Pipelines have all trumpeted the creation of thousands of jobs their star-crossed projects would create, but a closer look reveals the massive scale of their over-promising and under-delivering.