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, August 31, 2014

Glazed and confused: Dissecting the Tim Hortons merger

To hear stock market analysts and industry gurus gush over the proposed US$12.5-billion merger between Tim Hortons and Burger King this week, one might wonder if they were hopped up on double-doubles and honey crullers. What started with a shocking late Sunday news report that the two food chains were in talks quickly rose to a swelling of adulation for the corporate union and what it might mean to Tim Hortons’ future. The deal offers “huge upside” for the coffee chain’s U.S. expansion, noted one management prof. Consultants were soon envisioning Tim’s kiosks in Burger King’s thousands of restaurants across the U.S. But why stop there? “Could you have a Tim Hortons and a Burger King across the street from each other in South Africa?” a person close to the merger talks mused to Forbes. “Absolutely.”

World domination, Timmy’s style.

More chance of dying from work than going to war - Intl Labor Organization

Going to war may seem one of the most hazardous ordeals on the planet, but perhaps not. The International Labor Organization (ILO) says there is more chance of dying from work than fighting for your country on the battlefield.

The admission was made by Guy Ryder, the ILO’s director-general, who was speaking at the 20th World Congress in Frankfurt to participants from 141 countries in what is the world’s largest occupational safety event.

Mayor Forces Man To Leave Public Meeting Because He Won’t Stand During Prayer

A Florida mayor ejected one of his constituents from a City Commission meeting on Thursday because he declined to stand during the invocation and pledge to the flag at the beginning of the meeting.
Winter Garden Mayor John Rees, a nonpartisan official leading an Orlando suburb of about 37,000, was caught on video demanding that an audience member stand for a prayer, which thanked God for “allowing us to live in a country where we’re free to believe, think, and pray.”

China: No Open Nominations For Hong Kong Leader

BEIJING (AP) — China's legislature on Sunday ruled out allowing open nominations in the inaugural election for Hong Kong's leader, saying they would create a "chaotic society." Democracy activists in the Asian financial hub responded by saying that a long-threatened mass occupation of the heart of the city "will definitely happen."

B.C. teachers' strike: Vince Ready walks out of talks

Vince Ready has left talks between the B.C. teachers' union and the provincial government in Richmond, B.C., saying the sides are too far apart to come to a resolution anytime soon.

"I don’t see a resolution here before the start of school given the positions of the parties. They are a long, long ways apart," the veteran mediator said.

He has been working as a facilitator since Thursday, when talks resumed after a summer of stalled negotiations.

EU leaders deliver sanctions ultimatum to Russia over Ukraine

European Union leaders have given Russia a week to reverse course in Ukraine or face a new round of sanctions as Kiev warns it is on the brink of full-scale war with Moscow.

Fears are growing that the confrontation on the EU's eastern borders could engulf the whole continent after Russia sent troops to back a new offensive by pro-Kremlin rebels in south-east Ukraine.

The EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, said the 28 leaders meeting in Brussels had agreed to take "further significant steps" if Moscow did not back down.

St. Louis County Police Officer Dan Page Retires Following Inflammatory Video

The St. Louis County police officer who pushed a CNN journalist on live television in Ferguson, Missouri, and was earlier suspended from duty after a videotape surfaced in which he threatened to "kill everybody," has retired.

St. Louis County police officer Dan Page, a 35-year police veteran, had his last day with the force on August 25th, MSNBC reported on Friday night. A representative of the St. Louis County Police Chief told MSNBC that Page is expected to receive a his full pension.

Page fell into the national spotlight when he pushed CNN's Don Lemon who was in Ferguson covering the unrest stemming from the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a police officer. The engagement between Page and Lemon was shown on CNN.

Lemon would later uncover a video of Page where he threatens violence and also says disparaging things about President Barack Obama, Muslims, and LGBT people. Page was suspended from duty on August 22, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar saying that the comments Page made in the surfaced video, "deeply disturbed me immediately."

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Andrew Hart

Canada looks to join NATO force of 10,000 troops meant to keep Russia in check

Canada is interested in joining a NATO joint expeditionary force of at least 10,000 troops that is being created to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank in an effort to check Russia’s creeping military takeover of eastern Ukraine, according to Britain’s Financial Times newspaper.

The British-led division-sized force will include troops from at least six countries. It will be comprised of air, sea and land components as well as special forces, the British business daily said Friday in the lead story on its website. The as yet unnamed force would exercise frequently and be maintained at a very high state of readiness, according to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who spoke of its creation for the first time in interviews with European journalists earlier this week.

Texas National Guard Troops At Border Can't Afford Food

WASHINGTON -- National Guard troops deployed to the border in Texas are visiting a food bank because they can't afford food and gas ahead of their Sept. 5 payday, according to a report Friday by local station Action 4 News and a state senator.

Action 4 News reported that a Rio Grande Valley food bank had been contacted about 50 Texas National Guard troops who needed assistance. The troops are reimbursed for their meals, but pay for them upfront, stretching the finances of some troops who were called to southern Texas earlier this month to address an increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally.

NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen Urges Canada To Boost Defence Spending

NATO's outgoing secretary general is repeating his call for member countries like Canada to boost their defence spending in response to the "wake-up call" of recent crises like the one unfolding in Ukraine.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who will preside over his final NATO heads of government summit Sept. 4-5 in Wales, said that after 25 years of "relatively calm weather" the alliance now needs to reinforce its collective defence and adapt to what he calls "a profound climate change."

What Makes Us Unequal? Precarious Jobs

In his last year of undergrad at the University of British Columbia, Andrew Longhurst noticed his friends grow increasingly anxious.

On the cusp of entering the workforce, their bachelor's degrees were no longer a one-way ticket to permanent employment, some joined temporary work agencies in the hopes of scoring some on-call office or construction work. At best, they found part time or contract gigs to pay the bills.

How Brazil Has Dramatically Reduced Tropical Deforestation

Over the past nine years, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has dropped by 70 percent. This success has been achieved despite high beef and soy prices, which in previous years had pushed deforestation upward, and during a time that Brazil had rapid economic growth and made important progress in reducing poverty, hunger, and inequality. Brazil’s reduction in emissions from deforestation is the largest contribution so far by any country—rich or poor—to reducing global warming pollution. The factors responsible for this accomplishment include government policies and enforcement actions by prosecutors, on both the federal and state levels; incentives created by Norway’s pledge of up to $1 billion in results-based compensation; the concerted pressure exerted by non-government organizations (NGOs) on the government and the soy and beef industries; and the positive response by those industries, resulting in the 2006 soy and 2009 beef moratoria. Political leaders, such as President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, Minister of the Environment/2010 Green Party presidential candidate Marina Silva, the independent public prosecutors, and several state governors can also claim an important share of the credit. Ultimately, however, it was the change in the political dynamic of the deforestation issue due to years of effort by Brazilian civil society that made these actions and this success possible.

EU Mulls New Russia Sanctions As Ukraine Rebel Offensive Gains Ground

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The European Union on Saturday was poised to impose new sanctions against Russia as Ukraine's president warned the conflict with Moscow threatens peace and stability for Europe as a whole.

Petro Poroshenko said before a summit of the EU's 28 leaders that a strong response was needed to the "military aggression and terror" facing his country.

Should Companies Have to Pay Taxes?

Reading companies’ annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission is a reliable cure for insomnia. Every so often, though, there is a significant revelation in the paperwork. This year, one of the most important revelations came from Microsoft’s filings, which spotlighted how the tax code allows corporations to enjoy the benefits of American citizenship yet avoid paying U.S. taxes.

According to the SEC documents, the company is sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore. That amount of money represents a significant spike from prior years.

Ukraine president warns Europe nearing 'point of no return'

The European Union has warned that the apparent incursion of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil pushes the conflict closer to a point of no return, with new economic sanctions being drawn up to make Moscow reconsider its position.

The Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, who briefed a summit of the 28-nation EU's leaders in Brussels, said a strong response was needed to the "military aggression and terror" facing his country.

Canadian commandos shopping for new equipment

Canada’s special forces have put together a shopping list of new equipment, ranging from armoured vehicles to radios, that they plan to acquire.

The purchases will unfold over the next 10 years and could include up to $99 million in new equipment for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Regiment (CSOR) based in Petawawa, and up to $249 million for new armoured vehicles to be used by various units in the Ottawa-based special forces command.

B’nai Brith CEO to nominate Harper for Nobel Peace Prize

The head of a prominent Canadian Jewish organization says he plans to nominate Stephen Harper for a Nobel Peace Prize Mr. Harper is a staunch supporter of Israel whose comments on the Middle East have at times put him at odds with other Western leaders.

In a news release issued by B’nai Brith Canada, Mr. Dimant praised the Prime Minister’s approach in dealing with major international conflicts.

Miliband calls for tougher action on Britons travelling to Iraq and Syria

The government should take tougher action to prevent would-be British jihadis from travelling to Iraq and Syria to fight for Islamic State (Isis) and force those who return to Britain to undergo a process of "de-radicalisation", Ed Miliband has said.

The Labour leader said the government should revisit the decision to scrap the control orders regime for terror suspects, after the terror threat level to the UK was raised from substantial to severe.

Syria Refugees Top 3 Million Mark, UN Says

GENEVA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance of Islamist militants or are having difficulty in reaching open border crossings, the United Nations said.

Syrians desperate to leave their war-engulfed homeland are forced to pay hefty bribes at armed checkpoints proliferating along Syria's borders, or to smugglers, the U.N. refugee agency said.

Acknowledging the Reality of Police Brutality

As recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, move from headlines to history, I would like to say a few words about two very sensitive subjects: police brutality, and racism.

As we all know, recently a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri killed an unarmed African-American teenager. The police officer shot him somewhere between six and eleven times. According to some eyewitnesses, the victim, Michael Brown, was shot in the back. Then Brown turned around, with his hands up, and shouted "I don't have a gun -- stop shooting!" At which point the officer allegedly shot him several more times, and killed him.

Dunkin' Donuts Worker's Death Reveals The True Cost Of Our Low-Wage, Part-Time Economy

A New Jersey woman died earlier this week trying to catch a few hours of sleep between jobs, a chilling reminder of the struggle low-wage workers, particularly women, face making ends meet.

Police found Maria Fernandes dead in her car on Monday night, parked in a convenience-store parking lot in Elizabeth, N.J., according to a police press release. Fernandes, 32, was wearing a Dunkin’ Donuts uniform when she was found. A friend and fellow employees told officials she worked as many as four jobs, said Lt. Daniel Saulnier, a spokesman for the Elizabeth police department.

Charles Koch Linked To Creation Of Fossil Fuel-Defending Nonprofit: Report

WASHINGTON -- Documents uncovered by Republic Report link billionaire Charles Koch to the formation of a nonprofit that would later become the Institute for Energy Research, an active player in Washington policy debates.

IER, also a nonprofit, describes its mission as providing "intensive research and analysis about American energy." It's known for advocating against tax subsidies for renewable energy and the Environmental Protection Agency's new rules on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. It's highly critical of policies that would be bad for oil, gas and coal interests -- which, of course, are the source of much of Koch's immense wealth. And its political arm, the American Energy Alliance, has run ads attacking President Barack Obama and other politicians for their energy policies.

Tax Breaks for Tesla? States Should Think Twice

This week’s merger between Burger King and Tim Hortons, and the proposed shift of the American food icon’s headquarters to Canada, has everyone talking about the merits of corporate taxation. But something is missing from this discussion: the billions in tax breaks states lavish upon corporations to lure their operations.

You cannot talk about the corporate tax burden honestly without accounting for these subsidies.

Mount Polley Spill: Elevated Levels Of Chemical Elements Found In Nearby Water

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - Elevated levels of seven chemical elements have been found by B.C. government staff in the sediment near a mine tailings spill.

The Ministry of Environment says copper, iron, manganese, arsenic, silver, selenium and vanadium were found in concentrations that exceeded provincial standards during testing near the Mount Polley mine Aug. 12 and Aug. 15.