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.]

Monday, February 02, 2015

Ottawa refuses to release cost of Iraq mission

OTTAWA—The federal government has formally refused to release any details about the cost of Canada’s ongoing military mission in Iraq, prompting opposition charges of cover-up.

In a response to a question by NDP MP Jack Harris, the government says it knows the estimated price tags for its air and ground operations but is refusing to make them public because the situation is “dynamic.”

Instead, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said in a formal response tabled in the House of Commons that Harris — and all Canadians will have to wait until months after the mission ends before the costs will be revealed.

Anti-terrorism provisions potentially harmful

There are many reasons to be appalled by the haphazard, overbearing and ill-defined provisions criminalizing the general promotion of terrorism that were presented by the federal Conservative government on Friday, but worst of all is the potential they have to actually increase the likelihood of radicalization and terrorism in Canada.

Under the bill, those who encourage terrorist attacks (which are defined in many different ways) via signs, writing, audio or video recordings, or other visual representations could face up to five years in prison. The Conservatives haven’t really explained the rationale yet, though it seems to come down to the assertion that, as Justice Minister Peter MacKay put it following the shootings here in Ottawa in October, pro-jihadi media are “poisoning young minds.”

Why haven’t any Harper-friendly charities been scrutinized

It turns out charities in Canada — at least the ones the government doesn’t like — are forbidden from “exercising moral pressure.” As if that isn’t the entire point of charitable enterprises. The absence of the profit motive and of self-interest in those involved in such an organization virtually defines a charity. Without those two things, what’s left is the pressure of morality compelling people to do the right thing.

But that’s illegal for a charity, it turns out.

The Kochs Are Already Getting What They Paid for in Congress

Ask progressives what the last three weeks of Senate debate on a Keystone XL bill was really about, and they might mention the Koch brothers. “The Republican's Keystone XL obsession is about one thing and one thing only—a direct payback to Big Oil, specifically to the Koch brothers,” Credo’s Senior Campaign Manager Elijah Zarlin said in response to the Senate passing a Keystone XL bill, 62-36, on Thursday.

War Is the New Normal

It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT.  Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,”  an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent.  It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well.  Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition.  Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.

Malcolm X Was Right About America

NEW YORK—Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.

Print this item Malcolm X Was Right About America

Original Article
Author: Chris Hedges
Original Article

Scott Walker To Cut $300 Million From Universities, Spend $500 Million On A Pro Basketball Stadium

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) will unveil a budget Tuesday night that aims to slash hundreds of millions of dollars from the state’s public universities over the next two years. Students, professors and state lawmakers are already blasting the plan — the deepest cut in state history — and tell ThinkProgress they’re organizing to block its passage.
Ahead of his presentation of the budget to the state legislature, Governor Walker told local right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes that his budget cuts over the past few years have created positive “efficiencies” at the university, and offered: “Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work.”

Great leaders hold their nerve; Stephen Harper? Not so much

Disaster democracy is Stephen Harper’s election year Hail Mary.

Disaster democracy needs just three things; an atrocious event, a political leader sufficiently cynical not to let any catastrophe go to waste, and a public mindset willing to exchange liberties for the illusion of safety.

The great benefit of disaster democracy is that draws away public attention from matters of the government’s record and redirects it to a more emotional plane. It’s weakness is its limited appeal; disaster democracy only works with frightened populations.

John McCain Stands By Calling Protesters 'Low-Life Scum': 'I Think They're Terrible People'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that he will not apologize for calling protesters "low-life scum" at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing earlier this week.

"I think they're terrible people," McCain said of Code Pink, the women-led grassroots peace and social justice group that protested the hearing, in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

Code Pink brought signs and handcuffs into the hearing to protest the presence of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, demanding that he be arrested for his role in alleged war crimes during the Nixon and Ford administrations. The protesters objected to the U.S.'s use of the poisonous chemical Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, the bombing of Cambodia and other issues.

B.C. Clinical Trials Oversight Shows Need For Health Sheriffs

Imagine, if you will, being enrolled in a clinical trial and researchers failing to inform you that you had a higher risk of death depending upon which of the two groups in the trial you were assigned to -- that renal failure or stroke were just two of the possible side-effects of one of the treatments, or that one of the groups might not receive patient care to the highest levels available.

Now imagine that you were enrolled without your written consent or knowledge, with researchers relying instead on verbal consent given over the telephone by your legally authorized representative.

Additional oversight for security agencies just 'needless red tape': government

Shortly after tabling its controversial new anti-terror legislation, the government says the creation of any additional oversight body for Canada’s security agencies is just “duplication” and “needless red tape.”

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told CTV’s Question Period that any oversight efforts beyond the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which reports to Parliament on the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), would be redundant.

Texas Governor To Declare 'Chris Kyle Day' In Honor Of Famed Sniper

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott said on Friday he would officially declare Feb. 2 "Chris Kyle Day" in the state, in honor of the late Navy Seal sharpshooter portrayed in the film "American Sniper."

The movie, starring Bradley Cooper as Kyle who was killed by a disgruntled U.S. veteran on a Texas gun range in 2013, has been a box office hit as well as a flashpoint of debate between liberals and conservatives.

Germany's Merkel Says She Doesn't See Another Greek Debt Cut

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined the refusal of Greece's European creditors to consider forgiving part of the debt-ridden country's rescue loans, though she stressed in an interview published Saturday that Berlin's aim is to keep Greece in the eurozone.

Greece's new government insists it will honor pre-election promises to seek a cut on the country's rescue debt and scrap painful budget measures that were demanded in exchange for the loans.

Just Clicking on a Link Could Make You a Target For In-Depth Government Surveillance

Have you ever used Megaupload or Rapidshare to store or share files online? Because if you have used those services, or any of over 100 other popular file hosting services, there's a very good chance that agents at Canada's spy agency CSE (formerly CSEC) have been rifling through your private, personal uploads.

A report from The Intercept revealed that CSE agents been conducting surveillance on files that people upload using services like Rapidshare and Megaupload. Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher report that CSE analyzed between 10 and 15 million downloads per day from the popular file-sharing services.