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.]

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Andrew Joseph Doiron, Canadian Soldier, Dies In Iraq As Result Of Friendly Fire, 3 Others Injured

OTTAWA — Canada suffered its first fatality in the current war in Iraq on Friday after friendly fire claimed the life of a special forces member.

Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, 31, from Moncton, N.B., was killed on March 6, at 11:50 p.m. local time. He joined the Canadian Forces in 2002 and was based at the Canadian Special Operations Regiment in Petawawa, Ont. Three other soldiers were also wounded after members of the Special Operations Forces were “mistakenly engaged by Iraqi Kurdish forces following their return to an observation post behind the front lines,” the Department of National Defence said.

The department would not say how extensive their injuries were but Defence Minister Jason Kenney said they were in “stable condition.”

Florida Officials Were Barred From Using The Term 'Climate Change' Once Rick Scott Took Power

Officials responsible for making sure Florida is prepared to respond to the earth's changing climate are barred from using the terms "global warming" and "climate change" in official communications, emails and reports, according to new findings from the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

"We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact," said Kristina Trotta, a former Florida Department of Environmental Protection employee.

Since the City of Denton Banned Fracking, Texas GOP Moves to Preempt Local Control

"I do feel very strongly that air-quality measures and the engineering and scientific issues of oil and gas should be regulated at the state level, where the expertise is," Texas Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) told a group of North Texans Monday, March 2, during a meeting in his Capitol office about a bill he introduced that would create barriers to a city's ability to regulate the oil and gas industry.

The room was largely filled with people from Denton, which passed Texas' first ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within city limits. Since the ban passed last fall in a landslide victory, state lawmakers connected to the oil and gas industry and to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have introduced a number of bills aimed at undermining local democracy, ostensibly to prevent other cities from following Denton's lead.

Truthdigger of the Week: Rabbi Michael Lerner

hereAs Benjamin Netanyahu’s fear-mongering speech echoed through the chambers of Congress, an American Jewish voice could be heard directly opposing the Israeli prime minister’s bellicose machinations—that of Rabbi Michael Lerner.

Rabbi Lerner, a political activist and longtime advocate of spiritual progressivity, in the 1980s co-founded the journal Tikkun, a journal of politics, culture and society. The quarterly, whose title comes from the Hebrew tikkun olam, meaning “healing or restoring the world,” focuses on providing an alternative to Jewish conservatism. Such an alternative has perhaps never been as important as it is today, a time when, to use Lerner’s words, “the fantasies that the right-wing discourse advances” increasingly dominate the politics of both the United States and Israel.

Soldiers had passed Kurdish checkpoints at time of 'friendly fire' incident: source

The Canadian soldiers who were involved in a deadly incident of friendly fire on Friday had cleared two Kurdish checkpoints when they were fired upon, CTV News has learned.

A senior military source tells CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson that members of the Canadian Special Forces had communicated with Iraqi Kurdish fighters earlier on Friday, and arranged to return to the area later in the evening. A signal, notifying the Kurdish fighters of the Canadians approach, was established ahead of time so that they could be seen and heard from a distance, the source said.

At the time of the incident, the Canadians had already successfully passed by two groups of Iraqi Kurdish soldiers. When they approached a third unit, one fighter opened fire on them, followed by others.

NDP MP Jack Harris: Government Misled Canadians 'All Along The Way' About Iraq Mission

OTTAWA — What were Canadian soldiers doing close to the front lines in Iraq after the Conservative government promised they would not be engaged in combat?

That’s what NDP MP Jack Harris demanded to know Sunday after a Kurdish news agency reported that Canadians special forces members were mistaken for the enemy when they walked into an intense fighting area between the Kurdish Peshmerga and ISIL militants.

“We were all shocked yesterday to hear this, and the health of the three soldiers is obviously top of mind,” Harris said, responding to Saturday’s announcement that 31-year-old Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron from Moncton, N.B., was killed and three others wounded in a case of friendly fire in Iraq.

Why This Tech Bubble Is Worse Than the Tech Bubble of 2000

Ah the good old days. Stocks up $25, $50, $100 more in a single day. Day trading was all the rage. Anyone and everyone you talked to had a story about how they had made a ton of money on such and such a stock. In an hour. Stock trading millionaires were being minted by the week, if not sooner.

You couldn't go anywhere without people talking about the stock market. Everyone was in or new someone who was in. There were hundreds of companies that were coming public and could easily be bought and sold. You just pick a stock and buy it. Then you pray it goes up. Which most days it did.

Jeb Bush: Replace 'Monstrosity' Of Obamacare

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) denounced the Affordable Care Act and its health insurance exchanges on Saturday, calling instead for a "market-oriented" alternative in line with what many in his party support.

"We've created a monstrosity of consolidating power in Washington, D.C., suppressing wages, making it uncertain for investment. In fact, the greatest job suppressor in the so-called recovery that we've gone through is Obamacare. And I think replacing Obamacare with a market-oriented approach -- that is, where local and state input starts to drive the policies away from this top-down system" is something the country ought to be doing, Bush said at the Iowa Ag Summit, a forum on agriculture issues that also drew several other would-be presidential hopefuls.

50 Years After Bloody Sunday, Voting Rights Are Under Attack

States with restrictive voting legislation
(Image: Brennan Center for Justice)
Tens of thousands of people—including President Obama—will travel to Selma this weekend to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the infamous march that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

50 Years Ago Today, "Bloody Sunday" Catalyzed The Civil Rights Movement. Are We Backsliding?

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" assault in Alabama, where on March 7, 1965, police violently assaulted hundreds of demonstrators attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson.

ExxonMobil's NAFTA Win Over Oil R&D Called 'Corporate Bullying'

An international trade tribunal has ordered Ottawa to pay ExxonMobil and another oil company $17.3 million, following a complaint that the companies were required to spend money in Newfoundland and Labrador on research and development.

The oil companies fought the federal government in a trade challenge brought under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes made the decision through a recent tribunal, about three years after the two U.S. companies had successfully argued their NAFTA challenge, reported a trade dispute journal Investment Arbitration Reporter. The text of the decision has not yet been made public.


Given his well-known animosity toward those who get in his way, Stephen Harper seems like the last person to trust with a secret police force.

But a secret police force is exactly what the prime minister will soon have, as a result of Bill C-51, the government's "anti-terror" legislation currently making its way quickly through Parliament.

Even the pro-establishment Globe and Mail has come out strongly against Bill C-51 in a series of sharply worded editorials, accusing Harper of using the threat of terrorism to "turn our domestic spy agency into something that looks disturbingly like a secret police force."

California Drought Just Broke A 120-Year Record

Drought-stricken California, which just had its driest January ever recorded, smashed another dismal record last month: the hottest February.
Peter Gleick, a climate, water and sustainability scientist and member of the U.S. National Academy of Science, tweeted a graph from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday, pointing out the shocking data point. February's heat topped all previous Februaries since the agency began collecting weather information in 1895.

Wisconsin Police Fatally Shoot Black Teen, Prompting Protest

March 6 (Reuters) - Wisconsin police fatally shot an apparently unarmed African-American teenager on Friday, prompting dozens of people to protest at the site of the killing, according to police and videos published on social media.

CN train with crude oil derails in northern Ontario, no injuries, fire at site

GOGAMA, Ont. - A CN Rail train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday in northern Ontario, causing numerous tank cars to catch fire and spill into a local river system, the railway and provincial police say.

Ontario Provincial Police say the derailment occurred at about 2:45 a.m. about four kilometres southwest of Gogama, Ont., which is about 80 km south of Timmins.

They say the derailment involved 10 train cars — some of which caught fire and entered the Mattagami River System.

OPP Const. Gillian Coughlin says officers are at the scene to ensure public safety and the Gogama Fire Department was called to assist in containing the blaze.

Ottawa, judiciary set to clash over life without parole legislation

The Conservative government is setting the stage for a confrontation with judges over the introduction of life without parole for some killers – the harshest punishment, outside of the death penalty, in Canadian history.

The question that will inevitably come before the courts is whether leaving prisoners without hope of release, at least by a neutral decision-making body, meets Canadian standards of humane treatment.

Privacy Commissioner Slams Bill C-51

Canada's privacy commissioner says the country's proposed anti-terror legislation is excessive and provides no judicial recourse for those who are victims of improper use of parts of the legislation by authorities.

Daniel Therrien's submission to the House of Commons public safety committee regarding Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, was made public Friday morning. In it, Therrien said the bill is not clear on a number of points, particularly in relation to activities that "undermine" the security of Canada.

Therrien said the bill does not strike a balance between security and safety which is something Canadians "want and expect" from such legislation.

Eric Holder Prepared To Dismantle Ferguson Police Department If 'Necessary'

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Friday the Justice Department would use its full authority to demand police reforms in Ferguson, Missouri, including possibly going so far as dismantling the department accused of racial bias.

"We are prepared to use all the power that we have ... to ensure that the situation changes there," Holder told reporters.

Obama Calls Canadian Oil Extraction 'Extraordinarily Dirty'

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama has some less-than-laudatory words for Canada's oil industry in a new example of his increasingly critical take on the oilsands.

He was asked about the Keystone XL pipeline during a town-hall session Friday — and he launched into an explanation of why so many environmentalists oppose it.

Minimum Wage Hike Would Deter Contract Instability, Says Labour

Raising the province's minimum wage would reduce the incentive for employers to change contractors to save money, British Columbia labour leaders argued this week.

"[Employers] are really doing it to drive down wages and benefits and other provisions in the collective agreement," said Irene Lanzinger, the president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, when asked about the news that some 1,200 B.C. health sector workers employed by private companies expect to lose their jobs in the next few months.

McCarthy reverses on GOP leadership decision to skip Selma events

Scores of U.S. lawmakers are converging on tiny Selma, Alabama, for a large commemoration of a civil rights anniversary. But their ranks didn’t include a single member of House Republican leadership until the day the event began— a point that isn’t lost on congressional black leaders.

None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — originally planned be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. A number of rank-and-file Republicans have been aggressively lobbying their colleagues to attend, and several black lawmakers concurred.

Ferguson judge behind aggressive fines policy owes $170,000 in unpaid taxes

The judge in Ferguson, Missouri, who is accused of fixing traffic tickets for himself and colleagues while inflicting a punishing regime of fines and fees on the city’s residents, also owes more than $170,000 in unpaid taxes.

Ronald J Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.

Chris Christie Has Hit Rock Bottom

Barely three months in, 2015 has already been a very rough year for Chris Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate. On February 2, the New York Times published a report of Christie’s luxurious travels on the credit cards of friends like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Sheldon Adelson (at the time, the casino magnate was fighting an online gambling bill in the New Jersey legislature). That same day, Christie told reporters in the U.K. that parents should have “some measure of choice” over vaccinating their children, which he was forced to walk back that afternoon. Just days later, New Jersey’s U.S. attorney launched a criminal investigation into Christie and members of his administration in response to allegations that the then-attorney general dismissed indictments against the governor’s political allies.

Crime In North Dakota’s Oil Boom Towns Is So Bad That The FBI Is Stepping In

High levels of crime in North Dakota’s oil fields have prompted the FBI to set up shop in the region.
The FBI is opening an office in Williston, North Dakota and plans to have it fully staffed by later this year, The Hill reported Thursday. The FBI office — which will be North Dakota’s fifth — comes in response to North Dakota lawmakers’ and local officials’ calls for the FBI to step up its presence in North Dakota’s oil fields, which have seen a surge in criminal activity since the state’s oil boom began.

Canada's Trade Deficit Widens In January: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA - Plunging oil prices took a bite out of the value of Canada's exports as the country posted a trade deficit of $2.5 billion for January, the largest trade deficit since July 2012.

The deficit came as Statistics Canada also revised its initial estimate for the December deficit to $1.2 billion from its earlier reading of a deficit of $649 million.

Bill C-51 'May Fail In Its Obligation To Protect' Canadians, First Nations Chief Warns

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke sent an open letter to Stephen Harper on Wednesday expressing concerns about how Bill C-51 may impact the ability of First Nations to defend and support Aboriginal rights and title.

Chief Lloyd Oronhiakhète Phillips called the current language of the anti-terror legislation “very concerning, very alarming” – specifically in how its vague definition may open “legitimate protests” to be construed acts of terrorism.