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, March 12, 2015
After BP's Deepwater Horizon well blowout in April 2010, responders dumped approximately 1.84 million gallons of chemical dispersants into the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to stop the oil slick from fouling fragile coastal environments. The use of such a massive quantity of dispersants, coupled with serious gaps in knowledge about the possible environment impacts of dispersant use, prompted a public outcry and led the United States Environmental Protection Agency to publicly rebuke the company and order them to use fewer (and less toxic) dispersants.
The prime minister ratcheted up the rhetoric against the niqab even as Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accused him and his ministers of stoking prejudice against Muslims.
Among other things, Trudeau pointed to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander calling the hijab — a head scarf worn by some Muslim women — a perversion of Canadian values, and New Brunswick MP John Williamson, a former Harper communications director, referring last weekend to "whities" and "brown people."
Canada's privacy commissioner, ex-CSIS officials, former prime ministers and international whistleblower Edward Snowden have all raised alarm about the bill's impacts on Canadians' freedom and privacy. Lawyers at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association have gone over the bill paragraph by paragraph, and we've outlined the parts of this document that concern us most.
An adjudicator for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled March 9 that B.C. Pavilion Corporation must release a full copy of the B.C. Lions' contract to play at B.C. Place Stadium by April 21. The dispute stems from a Freedom of Information request filed three-and-a-half years ago.
Unless the Lions appeal to B.C. Supreme Court, the public will finally get to see whether the Canadian Football League franchise pays fair market rent to be an anchor tenant at the publicly owned stadium. B.C. Place was renovated for $514 million in 2011, but lost nearly $19.5 million in 2013-2014.
Live Oak cemetery is a burial site for Confederate soldiers in the civil war and contains the grave of Edmund Winston Pettus, the general – and member of the Ku Klux Klan – after whom the town’s bridge was named.
Tensions between the U.S. and Venezuelan governments mounted this week following the news that President Obama had officially declared Venezuela a national security threat and had levied sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials.
This latest round of political maneuvers comes in response to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s March 1 diplomatic clampdown against American officials and tourists in his country.
Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress, the shadow think tank that speaks for Clinton-Obama politics, issued a more substantive agenda in a 161-page report from its self-appointed “Commission on Inclusive Prosperity.” The co-chair was Lawrence Summers, former Treasury secretary under Bill Clinton and senior adviser to Obama. He performed an intellectual conversion equivalent to a double somersault in gymnastics. The new ideas were actually old ideas that progressive advocates have championed for decades to no avail. They were ignored or rejected by Summers himself and the two Democratic presidents he served.
The PA’s demand is a response to Lieberman's recent declaration that Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to Israel should be beheaded. Speaking at an elections rally on Sunday, Lieberman said: "Those who are against us, there's nothing to be done -- we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head... Otherwise we won't survive here."
Harper was clearly stung by a speech Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau gave Monday in Toronto that condemned the Conservatives for rhetoric he said threatens to expose Muslims to the same bigoted fears that Jews faced in the 1930s and ’40s.
Entrapment: The act of government agents or officials that induces a person to commit a crime he or she is not previously disposed to commit - West's Encyclopedia of American Law
After serving nine years in prison, Eric McDavid was freed on January 8, 2015, when it was revealed - through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)-released court documents pored over by his supporters - that the government withheld documents from him that supported his defense claim that he was entrapped by the FBI.
In his testimony Tuesday at committee hearings examining the federal legislation, Blaney dismissed concerns the new provisions would allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to squelch or infiltrate environmental protests that fall outside the letter of the law.
The planned measures are needed to protect the public from extremists who hate Canadian values, Blaney said during a meeting of the House of Commons public safety committee.
Mary Dawson said Finley provided money under the Enabling Accessibility Fund to the Markham Centre for Skills and Independence, a proposal submitted on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch by Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn.
Defence minister Jason Kenney has been making the mainstream media rounds, dropping hints about Canada's potentially expanded role in the battle against ISIS. A move that could see Canadian troops in Syria and Libya, in addition to Iraq, for a mission that is not NATO, UN or humanitarian.
Kenney denies this expansion will mean a combat mission. Although there's been plenty of double-speak leaving the door open for just that.
Tony Abbott a 'disgrace', says Federal Opposition after comments that living in remote Indigenous communities was a 'lifestyle choice'
Tony Abbott has backed the West Australian Government's plans to close nearly half of the state's 274 remote communities and said it was not unreasonable if the cost of providing services such as schools, outweighed the benefits.
"What we can't do is endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have," he said.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday night blasted as "inexcusable" Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) decision to sign a "right-to-work" bill into law.
"He just blended right in with the homeless in line," said Michael Pastore, 60, a local activist who works with the homeless. "He was disheveled and had his hair messed up and was wearing dirty clothes, but I recognized him."
The difference between Marbut and the others was that he was a welcome guest in the city. Daytona Beach has been trying to rid its streets of homeless people for years. Finding the problem insurmountable, however, the Daytona Beach City Commission decided last year to bring in an expert. They're paying Marbut six figures to investigate the city’s homelessness problem and devise a solution.
Drafted by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-signed by 46 Republican senators, the letter was a not-so-subtle threat to Iran that any international agreement reached with President Barack Obama on Iran's nuclear program would unravel under his successor.
Coming just weeks before a March 24 deadline for the current talks, it was met with a combination of outrage and ridicule. Former Bush administration legal adviser Jack Goldsmith poked a hole in the senators' interpretation of constitutional law. Others decried the letter's blatant effort to sabotage the ongoing talks between Iran, the U.S. and five other nations. Still others found the whole episode perplexing and overdramatized.
"It’s not a true black celebration until somebody is selling Shea Butter,” read a tweet sent Sunday afternoon from Hiram College professor Jason Johnson, accompanied by a picture of a vendor’s stand and hashtagged with #Selma50, in honor of the 50 anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights demonstrations.
Another day, another oil train derailment. Early Saturday morning, a Canadian National Railway train carrying Alberta crude derailed outside the tiny town of Gogama in northern Ontario. Thirty-eight cars came off the tracks, and five of themsplashed into the Mattagami River system. The accident caused a massive fire and leaked oil into waterways used by locals—including a nearby indigenous community—for drinking and fishing. No one was injured, but according to CN Railway's Twitter feed, fire fighters were still suppressing fires earlier today. People in the area, including members of the Mattagami First Nation, have been complaining of respiratory issues from the smoke.
While Sen. Marjory LeBreton said she feels the government is "getting a bad rap" on the issue thanks in part to the media, she told a luncheon crowd she regrets the fact some Muslims are saying they feel unwelcome in Canada.
In recent months, the prime minister has explicitly linked mosques to terrorism and the party has circulated fundraising pitches uses menacing images of Muslim men.
Speaking at the University of British Columbia Wednesday, Trudeau encountered a student audience that was vocally critical of the Grits’ support for the sweeping legislation. The Liberal leader told the crowd he sympathizes with the many Canadians who have concerns about Bill C-51.
CN Rail said Monday that it was working with Gogama and Mattagami First Nations officials, as well as provincial and federal investigatory and regulatory officials after the derailment of 38 cars on a 94-car train. The derailment site is about 110 kilometres southwest of Timmins.
The Liberal leader drew a parallel Monday between the current government's rhetoric about Muslims and other "dark episodes" in Canada's history: the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese and Italian Canadians during the two world wars, the turning away boatloads of Jewish and Punjabi refugees and the imposition of residential schools for aboriginal children.
And Canadians, he said, should "shudder" that the government is employing the same kind of rhetoric to raise fears against Muslims that was used to promote a “none is too many” restrictive immigration policy toward Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.
"These are troubling times. Across Canada, and especially in my home province, Canadians are being encouraged by their government to be fearful of one another," the Liberal leader said in a speech in downtown Toronto Monday night.
Forty-seven GOP senators sparked intense criticism by suggesting in a missive to Tehran that any nuclear agreement with the Obama administration would not be constitutionally binding, because a future U.S. president or Congress could take steps to undo the deal.
I had a dream last night after Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's livestream to the nation on the subject of liberty. It was like a scene out of the Planet of the Apes, me surrounded by the Prime Minister's babbling gorillas taunting the Liberal leader with every word he spoke. I awoke in a cold sweat.
It was probably the Twitter backlash to Trudeau's speech that caused it. The predictable onslaught follows on social media among Conservatives every time anyone takes off the gloves with their beloved PM. There were a few moments like that last night, with the Grit leader saying the PM's anti-terror rhetoric is fomenting hatred against Muslims of the kind more familiar in history when brown shirts were laying waste in Europe, and Canada was battling its own demons of intolerance.
Public safety critic Randall Garrison grilled Steven Blaney on what he calls the minister’s “inflated rhetoric” and “offensive” remark on the first day of committee hearings into Bill C-51.
Blaney said the proposed bill would help the government target websites that distribute “extremist ideology” and promote “hatred and violence." To emphasize his point, he compared threats made by the Islamic State to those made by Nazi propagandists.
In a statement released after a press conference intended to end a week-long controversy, Clinton’s office said that she did not preserve 31,830 of the 62,320 emails she sent and received while serving as Barack Obama’s secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
Sgt. Doiron was the Canadian soldier killed by friendly fire from Kurdish peshmerga forces in Iraq on Friday. The details of the incident — the first Canadian casualty in the Canadian mission assisting the anti-Islamic State coalition in Iraq, or what the Harper government calls “Operation IMPACT” — are still in dispute. As of Monday evening, four investigations into the incident had been announced.
Michael Doucet, executive director of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, says the watchdog will see a smaller slice of CSIS's activities in coming years.
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting revealed Sunday that under Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has barred its employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in reports, emails, and other official communications. Although the DEP denies such a policy exists, former employees from various offices around the state said it was communicated verbally after Scott took office and installed a new director at the agency.
As states across the country are moving to expand Medicaid coverage to additional low-income people under the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers in Arizona want to take the opposite approach.
The Canadian Press recently obtained a copy of a January memo written by Nunavut's deputy minister of justice to several of her colleagues and copied to her boss, Justice Minister Paul Okalik.
Welcome to the United States, which has a military with an increasing domestic expansion that may soon be coming to your town, city or national forest.
In a brief made public Monday, Amnesty International Canada added its voice to those who say the bill would go beyond genuine security threats to ensnare those who mount demonstrations that fall outside the strict letter of the law.
The Conservatives brought in the bill — which would broaden the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's mandate — following the murders of two Canadian soldiers last October.
What’s behind this? Two big facts.
First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.
In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues — and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
Immediately upon returning to the safer soil of neighbouring Jordan, Nicholson advised reporters via teleconference that Canadians should brace themselves for an extended mission.
In the U.S., transit funding referendums have become a fact of life. But on March 16, the first ballots will be mailed out in the Metro Vancouver transit referendum, apparently the first ever in Canada.
This could either be the start of a downward spiral for transit in Canada or the spark for a sustainable transportation movement -- one that changes our communities for the better and greatly reduces our dependence on oil from the tar sands and fracking fields.
The source of the high-pitched chinks becomes obvious as the woman and her bangles enter the break room. All eyes follow the older woman, shrouded in a black blouse and tight black jeans bejeweled with a shiny belt. We know her as "The Liquidator from Las Vegas."
She strides past us in her high heels leaving a waft of floral fragrance over the small cluster of Target workers. A few of the folks at the 'soon-to-be-sold' table raise their eyebrows at one another. Today, the Liquidator takes over the operations of the store.
The circumstances surrounding the death of a Canadian special-forces soldier in Iraq are important because they strongly suggest the Harper Government has been lying to Canadians about what our troops are doing in that country.
Whether Canadian soldiers should be in Iraq is a policyquestion Canadians are entitled to argue about, but there is nothing improper about the Canadian Forces serving abroad -- even in dangerous and potentially lethal fights -- if the Canadian government has determined their presence is appropriate and in the country's interest.
Likewise, whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are making the right choices about the security and interests of Canada is a political question we are also entitled to argue about, but since his party has a majority in Parliament it is impossible to claim it does not have the right to make such decisions, at least if it brings them before the House of Commons.
Canada lost its innocence this week. What was a largely sane nation populated by reasonable, stoic people is slowly vanishing.
Word came out this week that a handful of Saskatchewan high schools cancelled plans to travel to West Edmonton Mall to take part in a cheerleading competition this weekend -- spooked by a threat against the mall in an Al-Shabaab terrorist propaganda video, and subsequently hyped and exploited for political effect by a federal government immune to shame.
I almost spilled my muesli the other morning when I read that the prime minister's office had reacted to President Obama vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline, saying, "it has the support of the Canadian and American people... "