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, February 18, 2015

Sinister Law Brings Theocracy To Tennessee: The Christian Right Are Coming For Your State Next

Tennessee Republicans have introduced legislation that would establish the authority of God in the state’s constitution – and the Christian Right could be coming for your state next.
Under House Joint Resolution 71, proposed by Rep. James VanHuss (R-Jonesborough), the following words would be added to Article I of the Constitution of Tennessee.:
“We recognize that our liberties do not come from governments, but from Almighty God, our Creator and Savior”

Jeb Bush's Foreign Policy Plan: More Military Spending Will 'Encourage Peace'

WASHINGTON -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will lay out a vision of American foreign policy on Wednesday aimed at pushing his nascent 2016 presidential campaign out of the shadow of his father and brother, two former presidents who waged overseas wars.

"I love my father and my brother … But I am my own man –- and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences," Bush will say in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, according to excerpts provided to reporters late Tuesday night.

Civilian Casualties In Afghanistan Topped 10,000 In 2014, UN Reports

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The number of civilians killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan climbed by 22 percent in 2014 to reach the highest level in five years as foreign troops concluded their combat mission, the U.N. said in an annual report released Wednesday.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented 10,548 civilian casualties in 2014, the highest number in a single year since 2009. They include 3,699 civilian deaths, up 25 percent from 2013.

Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program

(Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world's computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said. (

Why Is Big Pharma Financing a Conservative Group Trying to Destroy Obamacare?

During the contentious battle to pass the Affordable Care Act, the pharmaceutical industry was a crucial partner of President Barack Obama. Big Pharma sank $150 million into an ad blitz promoting the Obamacare bill and spent millions lobbying for its passage. Backing health care reform was a no-brainer for the drug manufacturers; they stood to reap billions in revenues as a result of expanded health care coverage. Yet all of this makes one of Big Pharma's alliances highly curious: It has bankrolled the libertarian think tank trying to demolish Obamacare.

Francois Legault: Investigate All Mosques Prior To Opening

MONTREAL - The leader of Coalition for Quebec's Future said Tuesday all mosques should be investigated prior to being allowed to open in the province.

Francois Legault, head of the third-most popular party in Quebec's legislature, said a public body should be created to investigate people who potentially disagree with so-called Quebec values.

Legault said the body would be able to find out if "applicants (for mosques) have consistently denigrated Quebec values."

Conservatives downplay allegations of misusing mail privileges

Conservative MPs defended themselves Tuesday after House of Commons administration suggested in a secret report that about 10 MPs, including a handful of cabinet ministers, had misused their parliamentary mailing privileges.

The possibility that the Tories circumvented the rules of the Commons when it comes to sending out political flyers free of charge, and that this could cost the party tens of thousands of dollars – or possibly more – left MPs scrambling to distance themselves from the NDP, which is on the hook for $1.17 million for partisan mailings.

Harper does little to help Canadians like Mohamed Fahmy

Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy sits trapped in Cairo limbo awaiting retrial next week on trumped-up charges he spread "false news" supporting Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
Meanwhile, his Australian colleague, Peter Greste -- who was convicted with Fahmy on the same charges last year -- is home in Brisbane after being released Feb. 1 from what he calls the "near death experience" of an Egyptian prison.
Why the difference? The Harper government. So suggests Fahmy himself.

Was Ottawa 'terror' arrest timed to support repressive new legislation?

When the RCMP announced an Ottawa anti-terrorism arrest this month, the timing could not have been better for a federal government that appears to thrive on national security hysteria. After all, Prime Minister Harper, positioning himself as a wartime leader protecting Canadians from terrorists, had just introduced legislation (C-51) that would vastly increase the powers of Canada's state security agencies, a bill that's met with equal alarm from civil rights groups and the Globe and Mail's editorial board.

Let’s Call Female Online Harassment What It Really Is: Terrorism

A few months ago I was on television speaking about rape culture. It was shortly after the allegations against Jian Ghomeshi had come to light, and I was part of a panel discussing sexual assault and violence against women. I made sure to keep what I was saying was pretty basic—not too radical, and completely based on easily available statistics. I wasn't in "angry feminist" mode; I was more like "nice girl on TV who maybe smiles too much," I was aiming to came across as likeable and reasonable.

In Fairfax, Va., a different, no-less-scary police shooting

White privilege didn't protect John Geer.

That's not to say he didn't have it. As a middle-class kitchen designer living in the pleasant Washington suburb of Fairfax, Va., he had nothing whatsoever in common with the impoverished black men killed by police in Missouri and Brooklyn last year.

Those deaths triggered riots, marches and demonstrations across America, and interventions by the White House.

But Geer, pierced 18 months ago by a police bullet as he stood inside the screen door of his own home, his hands raised, begging not to be shot, simply disappeared into the emotional mixing bowl of American news and political priorities.

Standstill On DHS Funding Continues After Judge Halts Obama Immigration Actions

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration have been halted temporarily, thanks to a preliminary injunction issued late Monday by a federal district court judge in Texas.

The order doesn't appear to have shaken congressional Republicans' commitment to gutting the immigration policies as part of a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security. Should Obama and Democrats keep their promises to block the Republicans' package, DHS could shut down on Feb. 27.

If anything, the order seems to be making Republicans dig in their heels.

Republican Senators and Republican Congressmen Are on a Collision Course

To increase the odds that the Supreme Court will eventually end President Obama’s most recent deferred deportation program, Republican state officials based their challenge in Texas, where they knew they were likely to draw sympathetic conservative federal judges.

They hit the jackpot with Andrew Hanen, a district court judge who has enjoined the program, pending a ruling on the merits of the case. Hanen's decision ties the administration’s hands just as it was preparing to accept deferred action applications, ostensibly an outright victory for the GOP. But like so many lottery winners, Republicans are already overspending their way to ruin.

Ontario Gas Plants Report Is Liberal 'Whitewash': Opposition

TORONTO - A legislative committee report into the deletion of government emails on two cancelled gas plants is nothing but a Liberal "whitewash," Ontario's opposition parties charged Tuesday.

"This was a cover up of a cover up," said New Democrat Jagmeet Singh. "The deletion of emails was covering up the truth, and now the report that's been tabled further covers up that truth."

The committee began hearings into the destruction of gas plant documents in February 2013 when the Progressive Conservatives and NDP controlled the agenda because the Liberals were in a minority government.

Denis Coderre To Jewish Defence League: You're Not Welcome In Montreal

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says the Jewish Defence League isn't wanted in the city.
Coderre took to Twitter on Monday night to express his concern about the ultra-nationalist Jewish-rights group.

Trudeau calls government reasons for appeal of niqab ruling unjustified

OTTAWA - Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is taking issue with Stephen Harper's rationale for the decision to defend a federal ban on the wearing of face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

Earlier this month, a Federal Court judge ruled that a portion of the law requiring would-be citizens to remove their face coverings while taking the oath of citizenship was unlawful.

Asked about the ruling last week, the prime minister denounced the court decision, saying most Canadians consider it offensive for someone to conceal their identity at the moment they are becoming a citizen.

Wall Street Is Scared of a President Rand Paul, But the Entire GOP Field Should Frighten Them

On Monday, Politico’s Ben White and Katie Glueck reported that Wall Street is becoming increasingly concerned at the idea of Senator Rand Paul in the White House. Paul has been barnstorming around the country promoting his “Audit the Fed” bill and making ignorant statement after ignorant statement about monetary policy. His libertarian audience has eaten it up, which has only reinforced the fear that Paul is a real threat to the economy.

Trains Hauling Crude Oil Across North America Just Keep Exploding

A train hauling more than 100 tankers from North Dakota's booming oil fieldsderailed during a snowstorm on Monday in West Virginia. The accident sparked massive explosions that prompted the evacuation of two nearby towns, and an oil spill that threatened the water supply of thousands of local residents. The train was heading to Yorktown, Virginia, and came off its tracks 33 miles southeast of Charleston, West Virginia. A state of emergency was declared.

Anti-terrorism bill opens door to spying on opponents, Mulcair charges

OTTAWA - Information-sharing measures in proposed anti-terrorism legislation are so broadly worded they would allow the government to spy on its political foes, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says.

Mulcair took exception Tuesday to the bill's mention of interference with infrastructure or economic stability as activity that undermines the security of Canada.

The wording is sufficiently vague to permit a Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation of anyone who challenges the Conservatives' social, economic or environmental policies, the Opposition leader said during the daily question period.

War of the words: Terrorists, Nazis and other concocted threats to Canadian democracy

What's in a word? A great deal, it seems, when that word is "terrorism."
There are probably no terms that are currently subject to more purposeful distortion and misuse than "terror" and "terrorism."
As many astute commentators have pointed out "terror" is a tactic. It has been -- and continues to be -- employed by various groups in pursuance of political agendas.
Thus, a "war on terror" is a terminological absurdity. One cannot wage a war on a tactic. One cannot bomb a "tactic" out of existence. Nonetheless, such terminological (and consequently tactical) nonsense has dominated the foreign policy of a variety of nations (United States, Great Britain, NATO, and now, seemingly, Canada) for the past 15 years (see the War on Terror). 

Is Jim Prentice the Premier of Alberta or its CEO?

“We have to do more with less. That will apply across the board. It will have to apply to the very good work [of the child advocate], it will have to apply to my office, it will have to apply to the auditor general’s office. That’s the way it’s going to be.” Jim Prentice defending cuts to the Child Advocate’s Office and the Auditor General’s Office, Feb 11, 2015
Would someone please tell Mr. Prentice that he's not the President of the United States?

Eleven reasons the new B.C. Liberal budget is terrible

1. Budget 2015 ends the claw-back on child support payments for single parents on welfare. This is estimated to put $13 million in the hands of some of the poorest British Columbians. It's a good step forward, but it is very, very small. $13 million is three hundredths of one percent of the provincial budget.
In contrast, the richest two per cent of British Columbians are getting 17 times more (or $227 million) with the phase out of the tax bracket at $150,000.

BC Budget: Average Families Left Out?

British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong presented a stay-the-course surplus budget that spends a small amount to end the clawback of child support payments for parents receiving disability or income assistance payments. But observers said it does little else for low or middle-income earners.

"The government has decided to fully exempt child support payments from income and disability assistance calculations," de Jong said while presenting a budget overview to reporters and stakeholders gathered at the Victoria Conference Centre.