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.]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dick Cheney Tells GOP It's Time To Restart The Iraq War Machine

WASHINGTON -- The United States needs to rev up the war in Iraq, former Vice President Dick Cheney told Republicans Tuesday on Capitol Hill -- and most lawmakers seemed to agree with the man perhaps best known as a lead architect of America's ill-fated 2003 intervention there.

Cheney met with the House GOP a day before President Barack Obama is set to address the nation on the threat posed by the Islamic State, the militant group also known as ISIS. Republican lawmakers trickling out of the meeting said Cheney warned that American security is jeopardized around the world and it's time to act.

13 More 'Michael Brown' Police Killings We've Learned About In The Month Since His Death

It has been exactly one month since Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The unarmed black teen's death drew national attention to a number of issues about policing and equal treatment under the law that have long been of concern to the African-American community. How did a fatal confrontation sprout, when initial reports suggest that Brown was simply walking in the street? Why did Officer Darren Wilson fire six shots into Brown's body, including two to the head? Were Brown's hands in the air at the time the fatal shot was fired? Was such lethal force really necessary, even if investigators end up concluding Wilson's actions were justified? And if Wilson's actions were criminal, will Brown's family actually find justice?

The End Of Net Neutrality Would Be 'Clusterfuck Worse Than Comcast Customer Service'

The consequences of ending net neutrality aren't always easy to explain, but Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian just came up with a pretty striking descriptor:


If regulators kill off neutrality by carrying out their proposal to create an Internet fast lane and leave the rest of the web crawling slowly behind, it "would be a clusterfuck worse than Comcast's customer service," Ohanian writes in a blog post published Monday on The Verge.

The Twenty-Eight Pages

On the bottom floor of the United States Capitol’s new underground visitors’ center, there is a secure room where the House Intelligence Committee maintains highly classified files. One of those files is titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” It is twenty-eight pages long. In 2002, the Administration of George W. Bush excised those pages from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said then that publication of that section of the report would damage American intelligence operations, revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.”

Georgia State Senator Complains That Voting Is Too Convenient For Black People

One of Georgia’s largest counties announced last week that it will allow early voting on a Sunday in late October and will open an early voting location in a shopping mall popular among local African-Americans. Concerned that this will lead to higher African-American voter turnout and hurt his party’s dominance, one state lawmaker is speaking out and vowing to stop this easy voting for minority voters.

U.N. Scientists See Largest CO2 Increase In 30 Years: ‘We Are Running Out Of Time’

More carbon dioxide was emitted into our atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 than in any other year since 1984, putting humans on the fast track toward irreversible global warming, the United Nation’s weather agency said in a report released Tuesday.
The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that the increase of atmospheric CO2 from 2012 to 2013 was 2.9 parts per million (ppm), the largest year-to-year increase in 30 years. Because of that growth, the average amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached 396 ppm — just 9 ppm away from an average level some scientists believe could cause enough sea level rise, drought, and severe weather to significantly harm human populations across the globe.

America’s Business Elites Admit They’d Rather Hire Robots Than People

Corporate boards lavish them with massive pay packages and politicians venerate them as “job creators.” But it turns out that America’s business chieftains would rather not create full-time jobs to do what needs doing if they can possibly avoid it, according to the latest annual survey from the Harvard Business School (HBS).

America's 'Job Creators' Would Rather Do Anything But Create Jobs: Survey

hereAmerica's capitalists take every chance they get to remind us that they are our "job creators," but it turns out that their least-favorite thing on earth to do is create jobs.

23 Reasons Why Jeb Bush Should Think Twice About Running for President

For months, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been mentioned as a possible 2016 candidate, with the conventional wisdom holding that he was the one GOP contender the party's donor class could unite behind. "Jeb has the capacity to bring the party together," Fred Malek, a top Republican operative, told the Washington Post in March. Bush has yet to signal whether he'll seek to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and their father by launching a bid for the White House, but the Wall Street Journal reported last week that his advisers have reached out to key fundraisers and consultants to ask them to hold off on throwing in with a presidential candidate until Bush makes up his mind sometime after the November election. One Bush family confidant told the Journal that there was a better than 50-50 chance that Bush would run.

Harper facing pressure to explain decision to send soldiers to Iraq

The Conservative government will defend ordering special forces soldiers to Iraq on both moral and pragmatic grounds, arguing that Canadians are obliged to help stop a savage militant group whose self-proclaimed caliphate risks becoming a training ground for terrorists who could attack Canada and other Western countries.

The Commons hasn’t resumed sitting yet, but Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson are appearing before MPs at a special committee hearing Tuesday to argue the case for Canada’s surprise decision last week to send dozens of this country’s most elite soldiers to northern Iraq.

Stephen Harper government muzzles top general on eve of retirement

Lt.-Gen. Jon Vance becomes responsible for all Canadian troops deployed at home and abroad during a handover ceremony to take place Tuesday afternoon in Ottawa.

The outgoing leader of Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is Lt.-Gen. Stu Beare. Both he and Vance served with distinction in Afghanistan — Vance during two combat tours in Kandahar and Beare with NATO in Kabul.

Beare was muzzled by the Harper government a couple of weeks ago, preventing him from talking to journalists about the challenges that CJOC and Canada face during this period of global tumult. The general deserved better than this parting order after 36 years of service. During his Afghan and CJOC years he has been responsible for the lives of thousands of Canadians in dangerous places, as well as for spending billions of dollars.

Government Rejects Teacher Arbitration, Again

In case there was any doubt, this afternoon B.C. Education Minister Peter Fassbender gave a clear and definitive "no" to the teachers' proposal for binding arbitration to end the strike.

He said there is much more for the government to lose in arbitration, because it is the only body at the negotiating table responsible for ensuring teachers, students, and the province's taxpayers are respected, in addition to balancing the budget.

Rob Ford asked city staff to consider expropriation to help client

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s office asked city staff to look into using one of their most coercive powers – the expropriation of privately owned land – to help a client of the mayor’s family business add more parking spaces.

Mayor Ford’s relationship with Apollo Health and Beauty Care, a soap manufacturer that contracts the Ford family’s printing company to make labels for its products, is the focus of an ongoing investigation by Toronto’s integrity commissioner. In the first two years of Mr. Ford’s mayoralty, he and his brother Councillor Doug Ford, repeatedly came to the aid of Apollo, helping the soap company unsuccessfully lobby the city’s top manager for a special property tax break and calling a meeting with three top managers after water inspectors began probing Apollo’s alleged role in a sewage spill.

16 Government Officials Involved In One Request To Interview Scientist Max Bothwell

VANCOUVER - It was a story about rock snot.

And if there's a person you want to talk to about the pervasive algae also known by the less-offensive, more scientific name of Didymo, it's Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientist Max Bothwell.

Bothwell is, other scientists will tell you, the rock snot man. He wrote the book. Or in this case, co-authored a published article in a renowned scientific journal.

But a request from The Canadian Press to speak to Bothwell when the article was published in May failed to produce an interview.

Why Immigration Reform Has to Go Hand-in-Hand With Stronger Labor Rights

This weekend, President Obama again pushed away the issue of immigration. Despite growing pressure to take executive action to curtail deportations, Obama again swept the lives of millions of immigrants off this fall’s agenda—enraging advocacy groups by heeding his party’s fears of angering right-wing voters before key mid-term elections.

But while politicians dismiss immigration as a third rail, they cruelly ignore the fact that another major election issue, the economic woes plaguing workers, is also an immigration issue.

Two Liberal Strategists Charged over 'Quick Wins'

BC Liberal strategists Brian Ashly Bonney and Mark Robertson are facing charges under the Election Act related to their party’s Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan scandal, also known as "Quick Wins."

Charges were filed Sept. 8 under section 263 of the Election Act regarding making or accepting a political contribution and incurring election expenses. The offences are alleged to have taken place in Port Moody and Vancouver. Charges were recommended Sept. 5 by David Butcher, the Special Prosecutor who was appointed last summer to investigate. The investigation is expected to continue into early 2015.

Bonney and Robertson are scheduled to appear Oct. 14 in Vancouver Provincial Court.

Is Russia a Block of Ice Floating Back Into the 16th Century?

MOSCOW -- If the recent coverage of Russia is anything to go by, the country appears not only to be stuck in the past but actually sprinting backwards. So seemingly regressive is contemporary Russia that, among Russian liberal intellectuals and Western commentators, even medieval comparisons do not seem too far-fetched.

"Russia is like a block of ice floating back into the 16th century," asserted controversial Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin in a BBC interview.

Tories accused of rushing prostitution bill through Parliament

The Conservative government is being accused of rushing its prostitution bill through Parliament to ensure it is passed into law this fall.

The criticism from opponents of the bill comes as a Senate committee begins three days of hearings on Tuesday into the legislation, known as C-36.

Critics, some of whom will testify before the Senate committee, are complaining that the hearings are tilted in favour of witnesses who support the bill.

Is Diablo Canyon California’s Fukushima-in-Waiting?

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean between Los Angeles and San Francisco. More significantly, it is nestled in a thicket of fault lines, some only recently discovered.

California’s only active power plant, Diablo has two reactors and is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Scalia’s utter moral failure: How he destroys any claim to a superior system of justice

While my views on the morality of the death penalty have nothing to do with how I vote as a judge, they have a lot to do with whether I can or should be a judge at all. To put the point in the blunt terms employed by Justice Harold Blackmun towards the end of his career on the bench, when he announced that he would henceforth vote (as Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall had previously done) to overturn all death sentences, when I sit on a Court that reviews and affirms capital convictions, I am part of “the machinery of death.” My vote, when joined with at least four others, is, in most cases, the last step that permits an execution to proceed. I could not take part in that process if I believed what was being done to be immoral.
– Justice Antonin Scalia

California Trial Places Mortgage Blame on Bankers

In an “unprecedented” trial that challenges the Obama administration’s official position on who was responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, a Sacramento jury in late August thwarted a federal prosecutor’s effort to charge borrowers with mortgage fraud after the defense successfully argued that executives who signed off on the loans didn’t care whether answers given on mortgage applications were accurate.

Workers Get Lowest Share Of Corporate Income Since 1950

In 2013, the share of corporate income that trickles down to workers hit its lowest point since 1950, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.
Corporate income, which makes up about three-quarters of all private sector income in the country, can either go to employees or the owners of companies, and last year just under 73 percent went to employees, the lowest point in more than six decades.

Why the World Health Organization Doesn't Have Enough Funds to Fight Ebola

With the Ebola virus continuing its spread throughout West Africa—and landing this week in a fifth country, Senegal—the custodians of global health are becoming more adamant that the world is not doing enough to stop the deadly pathogen. That is, the rich nations of the world are not providing sufficient resources for the fight against Ebola. World Health Organization leaders came to Washington last week to ask for $600 million to build and administer new treatment centers in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone—the three countries with the most infections—and provide safe burials for victims in those countries. This is essential, given that the killer virus spreads via bodily fluids, and many people have contracted the disease through contact with the bodies of dead Ebola victims.

Taxpayers subsidize defence industry's participation in arms trade shows

The trade group representing Canada’s arms industry is defending the fact it has been using taxpayer dollars to attend international trade shows and engage potential customers abroad.

The Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) is just one of 38 trade associations benefiting from a $3-million annual fund set up by the federal government to bolster Canadian exports and business outside the country.

The list includes trade groups representing Canada’s independent music industry, post-secondary institutions, and the aerospace sector.

PS unions fear Conservatives will trigger strike to win election

Canada’s federal public service unions are bracing for tough contract talks, concerned that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government will attempt to provoke a confrontation or even a strike as part of its re-election strategy.

At the same time, at least one union is hoping to take advantage of the election and is reaching out to leaders of the federal parties in an effort to get its issues on their radar in the upcoming election campaign.

If Alberta fracks, why can't we? Dispelling the myth of resource development

The Wheeler commission on fracking did its due diligence under difficult circumstances, except for the part where it further warped an already unhinged debate. It did this by toying with scenarios and declaring that even the middling one would provide a billion dollars a year in economic benefits, and royalties in the hundreds of millions a year for decades.
So the hyper-questionable idea will remain afoot, fracking ban or not: we are sitting on a fortune that we are too backward and obtuse to develop.

Forget benefits to Canada, the Tim Hortons-Burger King deal only helps corporations

As we saw with Tim Hudak's Million Jobs fantasy, claims about the benefits of corporate tax cuts can sometimes stretch into the realm of hallucination.
We've now reached a new level of silliness in public discourse about taxes with thesuggestion by Finance Minister Joe Oliver that Burger King's $11-billion takeover of Tim Hortons somehow illustrates the benefits of Canada's low corporate tax rates.
One might be left with the impression that the corporate creator of the Whopper plans to invest a whopping $11 billion in Canada. There's a whopper for you, but it's not inside a bun.