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, January 09, 2016

A question on torture for Canada's new defence minister

Rideau Hall's glorious fall foliage produced the perfect backdrop for a series of memorable photo-ops during the Trudeau government's swearing-in ceremony, from the most diverse cabinet in Canadian history to the large crowds who waited patiently for selfies with the photogenic PM.
Yet one of the most posted photos of the day did not come from the colourful festivities marking what seemed a refreshing changeover to a government marked by openness and transparency. Rather, it was an old handout of a camouflaged Sikh man packing serious heat in Afghanistan, Harjit Sajjan, who had just been named Canada's new Minister of National Defence. 

While the social media universe immediately featured a disturbing round of racist comments -- including the conclusion that the bearded man could not be trusted because he must be a Muslim -- most press coverage was far more salutary, from Foreign Policy's gushing "Canada's New Defense Minister Made His Own Gas Mask to Work With His Beard" to the National Observer's "You don't know how badass Trudeau's Defence Minister really is." 


Last week, in prefacing a speech to city council, Mayor John Tory said something revealing.

“I’ll take a few minutes longer than the deputy mayor did,” Tory advised his colleagues on November 3, “to perhaps end up in the same place.”

The issue was a proposed program that would offer short-term loans of up to $2,500 to eligible homeowners to encourage them to replace dangerously toxic lead pipes carrying city water from their property lines to their houses. Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong was opposed.

Our solidarity with Paris is embarrassingly misguided

The World, at Large -- We are in mourning. Again. Indeed, Paris is in mourning, again.
For the second time in less than a year, we are all de facto Parisians -- with Facebook profiles, casinos, and whole buildings draped in the blue, white, and red of the French flag. Solidarity as sympathy, bien sûr -- a most poignant message that humanity stands with Paris -- and will act decisively to avenge the "carnage" unexpectedly wrought by those whose motives most will never fall victim to, much less comprehend.

Hollande: Fight Against ISIS Demands Constitutional Changes

During a rare trip to the Palace of Versailles Monday French President François Hollande called on lawmakers to change France’s constitution in order to better protect the country.

Hollande referred to article 36 of the charter as outdated, and asked that parliament change it to give the government greater power without needing to resort to a state of emergency.

“We are at war, this new kind of war demands a constitution that can manage a state in crisis," he said.

Navy Expands Domestic War Games, Despite Public Concern Over Alleged Illegalities

In an act of ongoing domestic military expansion, the US Navy is disregarding federal and state laws that require it to adhere to consultations with state historic and archeological preservation groups during the run-up to its war games across western Washington State.

The Navy's recent action on November 6, which many are now referring to as "going rogue," also comes on the heels of the Navy producing an environmental impact statement in October in preparation for war gaming on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula without finishing required consultations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Brad Wall: Syrian Refugee Plan Should Be Suspended

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall wants the federal government to suspend its plan to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

Wall says in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he is concerned about fast-tracking refugee claims.

Responding to Paris, and the Endless Retribution Cycle

The world struggles to process the carnage in Paris. More than 100 slaughtered, hundreds more injured -- physically or otherwise. Lives shattered by violence, inducing the involuntary urge by those left behind to inflict the same elsewhere, on others.

Vengeance -- the ancient emotional dipole of love -- manifests with the same passion with which we embraced those taken from us. It also lingers for generations. For if those unjustly killed are no longer here to forgive the fanatics who inflicted such violence -- or forgive us for wanting to drop the mantle of endless retribution -- who then can break the spell? Violence on violence, it cycles. This is the business case of terrorism, fanned by professional provocateurs on both sides of divide.

France Bombs ISIS Headquarters In Syria

French warplanes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria on Sunday as police in Europe widened their investigations into coordinated attacks in Paris that killed more than 130 people.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday's suicide bombings and shootings, which have re-ignited a row over Europe's refugee crisis and drawn calls to block a huge influx of Muslim asylum-seekers.

Prince George Homeless Men Paid Below Minimum Wage To Work At Dinosaur Exhibit

A U.S. company that used homeless men to staff its for-profit Discover the Dinosaurs exhibit in Prince George says it did not intend to pay the workers below minimum wage.

Twenty eight men were recruited at two homeless shelters to work at the dinosaur show at Prince George's CN Centre Nov. 7 and 8. The men were promised to be paid $50 per day. That's substantially less than the $84 per day earned when working a regular eight-hour shift at the minimum wage of $10.45 per hour.

Despite Paris’ misery, Trudeau mustn’t fall into Harper’s old traps

In politics as in life, you always meet the devil on a curve.

For Justin Trudeau, mass murder in Paris is his trial by ordeal as prime minister. It didn’t take very long. At the end of the month, Paris was supposed to be the glittering venue where a new, young prime minister, and an impressive delegation, would announce to the world that the old Canada is back. No more fossil awards, no more climate change denial on behalf of oil companies or the Koch Brothers, no more corporate-driven “facts” on the environment, no more beating the war drums. Canada was not shaking its finger at the world anymore, but offering an embrace.

The US Is Still Manipulating the UN After 70 Years

Although President Barack Obama said he opposes "endless war" and "America's combat mission in Afghanistan may be over," he announced that the 9,800 US troops presently there will remain. Obama had previously stated that he would cut the US force in half, but he has decided to maintain the current troop level until 2017.

Seventy years after the founding of the United Nations, armed conflict, especially US wars that violate the UN Charter, continues to plague the world. In 1945, the UN Charter was created "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." It forbids the use of military force except in self-defense after an armed attack by another state or when approved by the Security Council. Yet the three most recent US presidents have violated that command.

What ISIS Really Wants

What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.

Liberal Party Uses Remembrance Day To Identify Potential Supporters, Donors

OTTAWA — Lest we forget, politicking evidently never stops, even on Remembrance Day.

The Liberal party, flush from the Oct. 19 election victory, is using the solemn occasion to continue trying to accumulate information on potential supporters and donors.

The governing party has issued an email from new Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr, which encourages readers to add their names to an online message of thanks to members of the Armed Forces and veterans "for their service and sacrifice."

WHO director-general criticizes the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The World Health Organization director-general has criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership for its impact on drug costs.
Margaret Chan said she has "some very serious concerns" about the TPP and that, "If these agreements open trade yet close the door to affordable medicines we have to ask the question: is this really progress at all." She added, "Can you bear the cost of $1,000 for a pill to treat Hepatitis C? Unless we get these prices down many millions of people will be left behind."
Transnational pharmaceutical corporations are highly profitable businesses that are seeking to increase those profits through extended patent protection provisions in so-called "free trade" agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).