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.]

Friday, January 30, 2015

Special Report: Money and Lies in Anti-Human Trafficking NGOs

The United States' beloved - albeit disgraced - anti-trafficking advocate Somaly Mamhas been waging a slow but steady return to glory since a Newsweek cover story in May 2014 led to her ousting from the Cambodian foundation that bore her name. The allegations in the article were not new; they'd been reported and corroborated in bits and pieces for years. The magazine simply pointed out that Mam's personal narrative as a survivor of sex trafficking and the similar stories that emerged from both clients and staff at the non-governmental organization (NGO) she founded to assist survivors of sex trafficking, were often unverifiable, if not outright lies.

Obama Administration Outlines New Proposal For Offshore Oil And Gas Leasing

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration released a draft of a five-year plan for oil and gas lease sales on Tuesday that would open areas of the Atlantic Ocean and offshore Alaska to drilling.

The draft plan includes 14 potential lease sales in eight planning areas. Ten of the sales are in the Gulf of Mexico, three are off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea and Cook Inlet areas, and the final one includes parts of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. It also declares certain portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off limits for sales, which the Interior Department said is a recognition of the "unique and sensitive environmental resources" in those areas.

The Netanyahu Disaster - The Israeli prime minister has two main tasks, and he's failing at both.

Benjamin Netanyahu believes he has just one job, and that is to stop Iran from getting hold of nuclear weapons. He might argue that this description of his mission as Israel’s prime minister is too limiting, though such an argument would not be particularly credible. Israel’s very existence, he has argued, consistently, and at times convincingly, is predicated on stopping Iran, a country ruled by a regime that seeks both Israel’s annihilation and the means to carry it out.

Netanyahu’s options are limited. A country possessing scientific knowledge, material resources, and the will to cross the nuclear threshold is very difficult to stop. One way for Netanyahu to stop Iran, or to slow down its progress toward a bomb, would be to launch a preventative attack on its nuclear facilities. He has threatened to do so (credibly, according to officials of the Obama administration) but he has not yet done it, perhaps because American warnings against such a strike have been dire; perhaps because he understands that such an attack might not work; or perhaps because he is by nature cautious, despite his rhetoric.

How Does Russia See the World?

MOSCOW -- International relations are going through a complicated stage of development -- as one historical epoch replaces the other, with a new polycentric world order now taking shape. It is a process accompanied by increasing instability -- both at global and regional levels. Risks of deeper inter-confessional and inter-civilizational splits are growing. The world economy remains unstable, and might still relapse into crisis.

The global situation has been deteriorating recently, with new dangerous hotbeds of tension emerging, in addition to old conflicts. An upsurge of terrorism and extremism, both in the Middle East and North Africa, are causes of serious concern. The security situation in Europe is all but satisfactory.

Low-Wage Workers Forced to Slog Through ‘Snowmageddon’

A huge blizzard is ravaging the East, causing thousands of flight cancellations, school closures, at least one death so far and general chaos. Many of those making minimum wage or less are forced to choose whether to venture into the cold or lose their jobs.

A hotel maid told Al Jazeera America: “My boss is making me work tonight and tomorrow night. If I didn’t go in, I would lose my job.” She has to commute 25 miles on dangerous roads to make less than minimum wage.

It’s a similar story when the weather is ideal. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, only 20 percent of low-wage workers nationwide have paid sick leave. That’s a real problem for everyone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a lack of sick leave is a major cause of the spread of foodborne illnesses. According to the agency, “12% of food workers said they had worked when they were sick with vomiting or diarrhea.” The reason? Fear of losing low-paying jobs needed to put food on the table and rent into the landlord’s hand.

Original Article
Author: Peter Z. Scheer

What’s the Difference Between Sheldon Silver and Jamie Dimon?

I have a legal question citizens of New York might wish to ponder. What is the difference between Sheldon Silver and Jamie Dimon? Representative Silver is speaker of the State Assembly in Albany, and federal prosecutors want to put him in prison for taking kickbacks for doing political favors. Dimon is CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, which has richly rewarded him for political manipulations that saved the megabank billions in regulatory fines for defrauding investors and saved fellow bankers from criminal prosecution.

Something about this comparison doesn’t smell right.

Harper Government's 10-Week Anti-Drug Ad Blitz Cost $7 Million

OTTAWA - Newly released figures show the Conservative government spent more than $7 million on a 10-week, anti-drug advertising campaign that wrapped up at the end of last month.

That's more money than Health Canada spent advertising all its programs and services combined in the previous 2013-14 fiscal year.

A government response to a House of Commons order paper question by Liberal MP Scott Simms said the ad campaign to raise awareness of the harms of marijuana and prescription drug abuse among youth cost $7,026,822.

Did Stephen Harper just find his Falklands moment?

In 1982, the Conservative government of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was in trouble. Three million Britons — one in every eight workers — were out of work. Manufacturing firms shut their doors and the economy slid into a deep recession.

Trade unions demanded wage increases and engaged in acts of violence. Critics, including members of Thatcher’s own party, accused the PM of being obsessed with cutting public spending instead of supporting ailing industries. Her party was trailing in the polls, an election was looming, and most pundits predicted Thatcher and the Tories would be out of government before long.

Sinking Oil Prices Could Push Ottawa into Deficit: Report

A report from Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer says the country's fiscal situation can stabilize in the face of plunging oil prices if the government uses up its $3-billion contingency fund, sells assets or "tweaks" other expenditures.

If it manages those feats, it can get away with little more than a $400-million deficit in the next budget.

But that's only if oil prices stay at $48 per barrel, or if they rise. The budget watchdog did not examine the worst-case scenario of oil prices dropping further.

Dillon Hillier, Canadian vet who fought ISIS, returns home safely, parents say

A Canadian veteran has returned home safely after aiding the Kurdish fight against ISIS, according to a statement from his parents posted to social media on Tuesday.

Dillon Hillier, 26, is a retired corporal in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry who flew to northern Iraq in November to fight alongside a group battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Tim Hortons confirms layoffs at headquarters, regional offices

Tim Hortons is laying off people in its headquarters and regional offices in the wake of its merger with Burger King.

The restaurant chain, renamed in the deal as Restaurant Brands International, confirmed the layoffs in late afternoon, but did not say how many jobs were affected.

“We have had to make some difficult but necessary decisions today as we reorganize our company to position ourselves for the significant growth and opportunities ahead of us," Alexandra Cygal, vice-president of corporate affairs, said in an email statement.