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.]

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Women Are Spending $1.4 Billion Less On Birth Control Due To Obamacare: Report

Spending on birth control has significantly decreased since the Affordable Care Act's mandate for insurance companies to cover contraception went into effect in August of 2012, according to a new report.
An analysis published Tuesday in Health Affairs shows that women have saved $1.4 billion on birth control pills, while out-of-pocket spending on intrauterine devices has fallen 68 percent. Annual out-of-pocket savings were $248 for IUDs and $255 annually for oral contraceptives.

Greece ‘A Sideshow To China Meltdown,' Ex-BMO Chief Economist Says, And Canada Will Feel Impact

As the Greek debt drama plays itself out one 60-euro withdrawal at a time, some economic observers are saying the world is paying attention to the wrong crisis.

That's because in the space of three weeks, China’s Shanghai Composite stock index has lost nearly 30 per cent of its value, wiping out some $2.3 trillion U.S. in wealth. AsBloomberg News put it, that’s a loss of $1 billion for every minute of trading. Regulators have halted trading in more than 700 listed companies, and at least two dozen IPOs have been cancelled.

Drought-Parched BC All but Gives away Water

"That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That's an extreme solution." -- Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman, Nestle, 2005

As British Columbians face increasing water use restrictions due to a heat wave, forest fires and drought, the province must answer why it is charging bottled water companies only $2.25 per million litres taken from B.C. sources.

Canada doesn’t need new measures to boost economy, Finance Minister Joe Oliver says

OTTAWA—Finance Minister Joe Oliver says no new economic measures to boost the economy are needed because Canada will not be in a recession at year’s end, despite gloomier private sector economic forecasts.

Trying to calm a jittery economy, Oliver stuck to the Conservative government’s calculation that Canada would see overall positive economic growth this year. He said his main concern is “external factors” but said the federal budget would remain balanced in the face of falling oil prices and dismal trade numbers.

The Gargoyle – Tories unleash torrent of patronage appointments

The Conservative government made 98 patronage appointments over two days last month, filling up federal boards, tribunals and panels in advance of the October election.

At least two failed Conservative candidates number among those receiving government jobs.

On June 18 and 19, cabinet approved the long list of appointees to bodies such as the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the National Capital Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Feds Haven't Softened Anti-Corruption Rules Enough, SNC-Lavalin Says

MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin says the federal government's softening of anti-corruption rules doesn't go far enough and raises new legal questions.

The embattled engineering firm said Monday that Ottawa has addressed some issues by potentially reducing the penalties for companies that have been convicted of offences and are seeking government work.

Oka Crisis, 25 Years Ago, Inspired Native Movements Around The World

OKA, Que. - It was a crisis that grabbed international headlines, with armed Mohawks and Canadian soldiers involved in a lengthy standoff that often appeared on the verge of exploding into full-blown combat.

Twenty-five years on, the legacy of the Oka Crisis for many of those who experienced the tension west of Montreal is a greater awareness of native issues.

Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel

The never-ending austerity that Europe is force-feeding the Greek people is simply not working. Now Greece has loudly said no more.

As most of the world knew it would, the financial demands made by Europe have crushed the Greek economy, led to mass unemployment, a collapse of the banking system, made the external debt crisis far worse, with the debt problem escalating to an unpayable 175 percent of GDP. The economy now lies broken with tax receipts nose-diving, output and employment depressed, and businesses starved of capital.

Here’s What Obama Should Do Right Away to Disrupt the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

President Obama is said to be considering an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. He should sign it immediately.

But he should go further and ban all political spending by federal contractors that receive more than half their revenues from government.

Ever since the Supreme Court’s shameful Citizens United decision, big corporations have been funneling large amounts of cash into American politics, often secretly.

The Secrecy of Torture: What Happens When Survivors' Memories Are "Declassified"?

Among the numerous bizarre facets of the Guantánamo Bay prison saga is the classification of people's memories as state secrets. For years, Guantánamo prisoners who were held in CIA secret prisons known as "black sites" could not publicly discuss their experiences and memories of their captivity. The US government argues that, in doing so, the prisoners would reveal classified information about the CIA's torture program, such as the names of interrogators, the locations of facilities and the torture techniques that were used.

UK and US demands to access encrypted data are 'unprincipled and unworkable'

Demands by US and British security agencies for access to encrypted communication data have been dealt a serious blow in a report by an influential group of cryptographers and computer scientists who dismiss the move as unprincipled and unworkable.

They warn that such access “will open doors through which criminals and malicious nation states can attack the very individuals law enforcement seeks to defend”.

How Harper will win the election

Just one day after Justin Trudeau was anointed leader of the Liberal Party in April of 2013, the Conservative Party unleashed a barrage of attack ads saying he was in “way over his head.”

One of the ads mocked Trudeau for having been a camp counselor, rafting instructor, drama teacher and boasting one of the worst attendance records in the House of Commons. “Now he thinks he can run Canada’s economy?” – it sneered over footage of Trudeau undressing and prancing around on a stage wearing a tank top.

'He didn't deserve to die,' neighbour says of police shooting victim Andrew Loku

Since Sunday morning, a lone candle has been burning outside the door to Andrew Loku’s apartment, next to a bundle of flowers and a card overflowing with goodbye messages.

“Andrew may you rest in peace. We all will miss you,” reads one note from a fellow tenant at Loku’s Gilbert Ave. apartment complex, near Eglinton Ave. W. and Caledonia Ave.

“Such a tragedy, you will be truly missed,” wrote another.

Oilsands Cleanup May Not Be Adequately Funded: Alberta Auditor General

EDMONTON - Alberta's auditor general says the province may not be requiring oilsands companies to save enough money to ensure their gigantic mines are cleaned up at the end of their life.

"If there isn't an adequate program in place to ensure that financial security is provided by mine operators ... mine sites may either not be reclaimed as intended or Albertans could be forced to pay the reclamation costs," says a report released Monday by Merwan Saher.

Bill C-24: New Citizenship Rules Worry Some Ethnic Groups

OTTAWA - A new law allowing the government to revoke Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of certain serious crimes is prompting fears among some ethnic communities that they'll be unfairly stigmatized.

Those from countries that don't allow dual citizenship told government focus groups last year they had no issue with the law stripping of Canadian citizenship from dual citizens convicted of terrorism, treason or spying offences.

But other participants said while they agreed people convicted of such offences should be punished, they were alarmed by the potential longer-term implications of the measures.

CSIS Overseas Spying: Feds Drop Supreme Court Appeal

OTTAWA - The federal government has abandoned its high-profile appeal to the Supreme Court on overseas spying by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The court agreed last February to take the case after federal lawyers argued for guidance on whether CSIS needed a warrant to seek allied help in spying on Canadians abroad.

They said the spy service was left in the dark as to when a judge's approval was required to monitor suspected Canadian extremists in other countries.

Health Firings: How Ombudsperson's Hands Could Be Tied

The British Columbia government is steering an examination of the botched 2012 health ministry firings to the Ombudsperson, an office that the attorney general can block from investigating top political officials.

Carole James, the MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill and the vice-chair of a legislature committee being asked to refer the matter to the Ombudsperson, said the NDP opposition is concerned that office's reach may be too limited to get to the bottom of what happened.

"This is a very serious issue," James said, adding the government appears to be rushing the committee's decision. "It has been mishandled from the start. I want to make sure we as a committee do our due diligence to get this back on track."

Empty bargaining table threatens coming school year

There are still no dates set for labour talks between the Ontario government and two teachers’ unions, an absence of dialogue that school boards say threatens the upcoming academic year.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and the province have all confirmed there are no talks scheduled for the summer.

Michael Barrett, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, told the Star on Friday that talks have been stalled for about two months, with little indication the situation will change.