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.]

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Health Canada hands over documents but muzzles doctor

Four years after he first asked Health Canada for all the information it had on a popular morning sickness drug, Toronto doctor Nav Persaud finally has the documents.

But he cannot tell his patients or any other Canadians what’s in them.

Under the terms of a confidentiality agreement he had to make with the federal regulator in order to receive the 35,000 pages, he can’t even tell his wife.

Edward Snowden and Allies Issue Warnings as Australia Unleashes Mass Spying

As new controversial metadata laws went into effect in Australia on Tuesday, whistleblower Edward Snowden took to Twitter to warn the country’s residents about the privacy violations that accompany the legislation.

The new laws require Australian telecommunications companies and Internet service providers (ISPs) to store user metadata—such as phone records and Internet Protocol (IP) addresses—for two years, during which time it may be accessed by law enforcement without a warrant. Civil liberties and Internet freedom groups have criticized the laws as invasive and unconstitutional.

The Top One Per Cent Own Half Of The World: Credit Suisse Report

Despite global wealth decreasing by $12.4 trillion over the past year, mainly due to currency fluctuations, the global distribution of wealth has become even more unequal.
Today the top one per cent "account for half of all assets in the world," according to Credit Suisse's 2015 Global Wealth Report.

Civil Service Infected by Culture of Intimidation, Say Former Top Bureaucrats

No matter who forms government after Monday's election, they need to move quickly to end the culture of intimidation, inefficiency and top-down management that infects Canada's public service, say two former top bureaucrats.

Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page and the former nuclear safety watchdog Linda Keen agree the public service needs major, quick reform.

Canada’s Justice System Is Totally Racist and Classist: Study Confirms the Obvious

The disproportionately high rate of visible minorities and poor people in Canada's prisons is rooted in the discriminatory decisions made by the politicians who run our cities, a recent study claims.

McGill professor Jason Carmichael analyzed the factors that determine the size of a city's police force and discovered it had little to do with crime rates. Rather, he found officials determined the number of officers on the ground based primarily on the size of the city's visible minority and lower-income populations, regardless of criminality.

Native Lives Matter, Too

IN August 2010 John T. Williams, a homeless woodcarver of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe who made his living selling his work near the Pike Place market in Seattle, was shot four times by a police officer within seconds of failing to drop the knife and piece of cedar he was carrying (Mr. Williams had mental health problems and was deaf in one ear). He died; the folding knife was found closed on the ground. The young police officer who shot Mr. Williams resigned, but he never faced criminal charges, even though the Seattle Police Department’s Firearms Review Board called the shooting unjustified.

In South Dakota in 2013, a police officer used his Taser to shock an 8-year-old, 70-pound Rosebud Sioux girl holding a knife; the force of the shock hurled her against a wall. After an investigation, the officer’s actions were deemed appropriate.

College Football Is Stealing Your Education

We are in a college debt crisis. Almost 70 percent of college students graduate with approximately $30,000 in college debt. In 1992, it was one-third of that average. Why has the cost and burden of debt for higher education risen so dramatically in just over 20 years? One of the answers is college athletics, namely football. The new short above by Brave New Films entitled The Big Game: College Football Stealing Your Education explains just how that happens.

Stephen Poloz Says He's Not Responsible For Your 'Bad Choices' On Debt

Heavily indebted Canadians, know this: Stephen Poloz, the governor of the Bank of Canada, does NOT have your back.

Poloz said this past weekend that Canadians' record-level debt loads are not surprising and are a “rational response” to years of low interest rates.

But if a debt crisis and/or a housing market crash comes, don’t blame the bank’s interest rates. Consumers and lenders have no one at which to point the finger but themselves for “bad choices,” Poloz said.

Tom Mulcair: Bad Blood Between Trudeau And I Means Co-operation Will Be Tough

OSHAWA, Ont. — Stark policy differences and personal bad blood with Justin Trudeau makes potential co-operation between either a Liberal — or NDP — minority government difficult, Tom Mulcair said Tuesday.

The NDP leader also dismissed appeals to stop vote-splitting in the run-up to Monday's election, saying only his party has the strength and credibility to defeat the governing Tories.

Mulcair bobbed and weaved around renewed questions over the breadth and depth of possible co-operation between the Liberal and NDP leaders, who've both made it clear in no uncertain terms that they would defeat a Conservative minority at the first opportunity.

Harper ‘betrayed and abandoned’ me in insect-infested cell, journalist says

TORONTO - Freed journalist Mohamed Fahmy lashed out at Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday, accusing him of washing his hands of his case when intervention with the highest levels of the Egyptian government was most needed.

Speaking at a news conference in Toronto, Fahmy said he initially refused to believe Harper was not bringing his full weight to bear on Egyptian authorities.

"While you here citizens in Canada and around the world clearly understood the urgency of the situation we faced in prison in Egypt, the Harper government did not," Fahmy said.

What the Trans-Pacific Partnership means for the cost of drugs

Last week WikiLeaks posted the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)intellectual property chapter hammered out at the TPP ministerial meeting in Atlanta. While the chapter is not as bad as previous leaked drafts, and falls short of the most extreme demands from the brand-name drug industry and U.S. government, it's still a harmful agreement that will increase drug costs and reduce access to medicines, especially in developing countries. It also has worrying implications for Canada, binding our country to a regulatory regime that would lock in high drug costs.

No Easy Solution to Lone-wolf’ Palestinian Attackers

Monday, the fifth straight day of multiple stabbing attacks inside Israel, added an extra portion of atrocity to the daily dose: Two Palestinian teens critically wounded an Israeli teen in Jerusalem, in a kind of local version of “Lord of the Flies.”

Over the past five days, there have been no fewer than 17 stabbing attacks, including Monday’s four (but excluding the two that occurred a few days earlier, on October 3). More than half of these attacks were in Jerusalem.

Social Security Benefits Are Eroding, Thanks to an Inadequate Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

On October 15, the Social Security Administration will announce some news that will be distressing to more than one in four households: there will be no Social Security cost of living adjustment ("COLA") for 2016. This is no small matter. The purpose of the annual adjustments is to ensure that Social Security's benefits don't lose value over time. They are intended to keep seniors and other beneficiaries afloat, to allow them to tread water. But they are not floating; they are sinking.