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.]

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Israeli President Calls For Healing After Divisive Election

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Sunday that the new Israeli government will have to serve "all the citizens of Israel," and called for the country to begin a "healing process" after a stormy election campaign that highlighted deep internal divisions.

Rivlin serves a mostly ceremonial role and has positioned himself as a unifier since taking office last year. One of his few actual powers is choosing the person with the best chances of putting together a coalition government after elections. Throughout a close election campaign it seemed he would have a crucial role to play after the vote but a resounding victory by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party has made his considerations mostly moot.

California Governor Says Mitch McConnell's Pro-Coal Effort 'Borders On The Immoral'

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday that it is a "disgrace" that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to thwart the Obama administration's plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, urged all 50 state governors in a letter Thursday to reject the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to reduce emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

Pricey Bank of Canada meeting included trip to oilsands

A Bank of Canada junket to the oilsands at Fort McMurray, Alta., helped push the cost of a single board of directors meeting last June to over $100,000, a CBC News analysis shows.

The scheduled meeting of the board in Edmonton included a side trip to Fort McMurray, with a reception, dinner, museum tour and three private helicopter flights over northern Alberta costing about $2,500 each.

Those bills were in addition to meeting costs at Edmonton’s Matrix Hotel of at least $27,000, including almost $1,300 for wines and $900 for centrepieces for the tables.

Popular Weed-Killer Is Probably Carcinogenic, WHO Says

LONDON (AP) — One of the world's most popular weed-killers — and the most widely used kind in the U.S. — has been labeled a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The decision was made by IARC, the France-based cancer research arm of the World Health Organization, which considered the status of five insect and weed killers including glyphosate, which is used globally in industrial farming.

Never Count on the Supreme Court to Protect Voting Rights

Chief Justice John Roberts's decision in Shelby County v. Holder may be the most politically naïve decision of our era. Rooted in the notion that there simply isn't enough racism left in the United States to justify a full-functioning Voting Rights Act, Shelby County struck down the law's preclearance provision—which required new election rules in states with a history of voter suppression to be reviewed by federal officials before they took effect—and left voters to the mercy of a judiciary that is increasingly skeptical of voting rights.

Jerusalem at boiling point of polarisation and violence – EU report

A hard-hitting EU report on Jerusalem warns that the city has reached a dangerous boiling point of “polarisation and violence” not seen since the end of the second intifada in 2005.

Calling for tougher European sanctions against Israel over its continued settlement construction in the city – which it blames for exacerbating recent conflict – the leaked document paints a devastating picture of a city more divided than at any time since 1967, when Israeli forces occupied the east of the city.

The report has emerged amid strong indications that the Obama administration is also rethinking its approach to Israel and the Middle East peace process following the re-election of Binyamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister.

Tom Cotton Wants To Punish Countries That Take Guantanamo Prisoners -- Including U.S. Allies

WASHINGTON -- Days after touring the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark). introduced legislation that would likely ensure the prison remains open for future lawmakers to visit as well.
Cotton, apparently unbowed by the outcry over his recent open letter to Iranian leaders, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would cut U.S. funding to countries that receive former Guantanamo detainees who are later suspected of terrorism. He toured the prison March 13 with three other senators.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Go After Workers’ Weekends

Two Wisconsin state lawmakers have proposed a bill that would roll back the state’s requirement that companies give workers at least one day off every seven days.
Currently, state law mandates a 24-hour rest period every seven days for employees in factory and mercantile workplaces. The bill would create an exemption allowing workers to voluntarily opt out of the rest period and keep working more than seven consecutive days.

At a Jewish Voice For Peace Conference: This Is What Solidarity Looks Like

The victory of Benjamin Netanyahu and the extreme right in the Israeli elections sorely disappointed those who had pinned their hopes on the Labor-led Zionist Camp so they could resume the peace process.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Obama administration and the European Union (EU) now have to face the fact that the Palestinians have no partner for peace. They will have to take actions they had hoped to avoid and ramp up outside pressure on Israel to reach a just and lasting agreement.

What It Feels Like to Be a ‘Demographic Threat’ to Israel

I am a demographic threat.

I am a demographic threat; I am the son, grandson and father of demographic threats; and I am the husband of demographic spillover. I am a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and this is the language that the State of Israel, its leaders and its elites have sanctioned within their discourse to refer to me and to millions of other human beings.

And once you have defined a threat, what action is there to take other than to attack it, marginalize it, contain it or eliminate it?

Deadly Suicide Bombings Hit Mosques In Yemen's Sanaa

ADEN, Yemen (AP) — Suicide bombers attacked a pair of mosques Friday in the Yemeni capital, unleashing monstrous blasts that ripped through worshippers and killed 137 people in the deadliest assault yet targeting Shiite rebels who have taken over large parts of the rapidly fragmenting nation. At least 13 children were among the dead.

A purported affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombings, which also wounded 357 people — raising the alarming possibility the extremist group has expanded its presence to Yemen after already setting up a branch in Libya. Earlier this week, the group claimed responsibility for a bloody attack on Western tourists in Tunisia that authorities said was carried out by militants trained in Libya.

Report On Friendly Fire Death Of Sgt. Andrew Doiron May Stay Secret: Military

OTTAWA - The Canadian military was unable to say Friday how much — if anything — the public will learn following a pair of investigations into the deadly friendly fire incident in northern Iraq which claimed the life of Sgt. Andrew Doiron.

The reviews — one by military's criminal investigation service and the other by the special forces — are still ongoing, navy Capt. Paul Forget said at a briefing.

Bilcon To Sue Canada For $300 Million After Winning NAFTA Ruling On Quarry

HALIFAX - A U.S. company that proposed expanding a quarry in southwestern Nova Scotia says it is seeking at least US$300 million in damages from Canada after winning a NAFTA ruling.

Bilcon proposed the expansion at the Whites Point quarry in Digby Neck in September 2002 but the Nova Scotia and federal governments rejected it after a federal-provincial joint review panel recommended it not proceed.

Harper, Netanyahu Set To Talk For First Time Since Israeli Election

OTTAWA - As relations between the U.S. and Israel continued to deteriorate Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper was playing the politics of silence with the Middle East in the wake of the Israeli election.

Harper plans a Sunday telephone call with his Israeli counterpart and friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But so far, the Canadian government has maintained a low profile in reaction to Netanyahu's victory in Tuesday's hotly contested election.

The hardline Israeli leader won re-election, but not before making some incendiary remarks in the final day of the campaign that raised the ire of the Obama administration in Washington.

Harper’s extremism pushing opposition onto the streets

It’s getting worse.

Stephen Harper is now serving notice that he’s willing to tear the social fabric of the country apart if that’s what it takes to get his party re-elected. That is, if torquing democratic process, the rule of law, election rules, the tax system etc., etc., to make them conform to Harperism isn’t enough, he’ll throw stink bombs in the public place in the expectation that, amid the chaos, he’ll be seen as the strong hand who can straighten things out.

Canadian Bar Association denounces government’s anti-terrorism bill

OTTAWA - The Conservative government's anti-terrorism bill contains "ill-considered" measures that will deprive Canadians of liberties without increasing their safety, the Canadian Bar Association says.

The bar association objects to the planned transformation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service into an agency that could actively disrupt terror plots.

It argues the bill's "vague and overly broad language" would capture legitimate activity, including environmental and aboriginal protests — and possibly put a chill on expressions of dissent.

BMO's Bill Downe Gets Raise Despite Missed Targets; CIBC's New Boss Cheaper Than Old One

The chief executive of Bank of Montreal got a half-million-dollar raise last year, despite the bank missing three of four performance targets, the Globe and Mail reports.

Bill Downe's total compensation rose 4.9 per cent in 2014, to $9.94 million from $9.48 million, according to the company's proxy circular. Most of that can be accounted for by a 35-per-cent jump in Downe's bonus, to $1.75 million from $1.3 million.

Mr. Harper and the Right of the Living Dead

Suddenly we’re back to playing a game once popular in Canadian politics: Spot the Reformer.

Although it seems like ages since a protester drenched Stockwell Day in two quarts of chocolate milk, the evidence is mounting that Reform and Canadian Alliance zombies have crawled out of their shallow graves and are shambling across the landscape once more.

Let’s start with the brain-eater-in-chief. Well-known cultural anthropologist and fashion consultant Stephen Harper recently pronounced that the niqab is “rooted in a culture that is anti-women” and that most Canadians find it “offensive”. The Federal Court, meanwhile, has ruled that wearing the niqab is a constitutionally-protected right.

McConnell Urges States to Help Thwart Obama’s ‘War on Coal’

WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has begun an aggressive campaign to block President Obama’s climate change agenda in statehouses and courtrooms across the country, arenas far beyond Mr. McConnell’s official reach and authority.

The campaign of Mr. McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is aimed at stopping a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring states to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, the nation’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

The $5,650 speech nobody ever heard

It cost Canadian taxpayers $5,650. The minister’s office said it was so time sensitive that it ran roughshod over federal government contracting rules.

However, a speech written in March 2013 for Conservative cabinet minister Joe Oliver by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Guy Giorno, was never used, despite the fact that the government paid $5,650 for the six and a half page text, iPolitics has learned.

Natural Resource department officials say the department doesn’t make a practice of commissioning speeches that are never delivered. However, they have repeatedly refused to reveal which group Oliver, then natural resources minister, had been scheduled to address.

How dangerous is C-51? You might be surprised.

As witnesses line up to warn about the dangers associated with Bill C-51, Canada’s anti-terrorism bill, it’s increasingly clear that the proposed legislation is an unprecedented undermining of Canadian privacy protection.

Much of the focus on the bill has related to oversight: the government implausibly claims that it increases oversight (it does not), the Liberals disappointingly say they support the bill but would like better oversight, and much of the NDP criticism has also centred on oversight. Yet with respect to privacy and Bill C-51, lack of oversight is only a part of the problem.

Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget

WASHINGTON -- Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee voted Thursday to shield attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act from objections that it would add to the government's budget deficit.

The budget resolution for 2016 includes what are known as reconciliation instructions that tell several congressional committees to come up with ways to undo Obamacare. Such reconciliation measures only require 51 votes to pass in the Senate.

But the spending plan also includes language that allows lawmakers to raise what are known as budget points of order against any legislation that would add more than $5 billion to the deficit, and block it. According to the last estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, repealing Obamcare would add $210 billion to the deficit.

American Legion Condemns Education Department Over Student Loan Investigation

The American Legion, the influential veterans organization, has criticized the U.S. Department of Education's handling of federal allegations that student loan giant Navient Corp. intentionally cheated troops on their federal student loans.

The Legion, one of the nation’s oldest and most politically powerful veterans groups, this week told the House Veterans' Affairs Committee that it was concerned the Education Department seems to be dragging out a review of whether Navient violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Arctic Sea Ice Hits Record Low Winter Maximum, Points To Evidence Of Long-Term Climate Change

OSLO, March 19 (Reuters) - Arctic sea ice this year is the smallest in winter since satellite records began in 1979, in a new sign of long-term climate change, U.S. data showed on Thursday.

The ice floating on the Arctic Ocean around the North Pole reached its maximum annual extent of just 14.54 million square kms (5.61 million sq miles) on Feb. 25 - slightly bigger than Canada - and is now expected to shrink with a spring thaw.

At Time of Firings, Health Ministry Discussed Selling Patient Data

At the same time that the British Columbia health ministry was cracking down on alleged data breaches in 2012, it was actively discussing selling patient health information to private companies.

"This is what was happening concurrently with the process around the health firings -- a significant effort by the ministry to conceal the opening up of health information for private hands," said Adrian Dix, the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway.

Referring to 32-pages of documents the government released recently through the freedom of information process, Dix said, "It's laid out pretty explicitly in there that was the direction they were going in."

Bill C-51 Reveals Harper's Inner Bully

The Harper government's pursuit of its odious Secret Police Act (Bill C-51) is just another chapter in the most through-going and massive social engineering project in the history of the country.

Social engineering used to be one of the favourite phrases of the right in its attack on social programs -- accusing both liberal-minded politicians and meddling bureaucrats with manufacturing the welfare state. They conveniently ignored the fact that there was huge popular demand and support for activist government.

That was the so-called golden age of capitalism, and it wasn't just because of expanding government services. It was so-called because of a much broader and well-informed citizen engagement -- both through social movements and as individual citizens. The level of trust in government was much higher than it is today. And absent from the picture were the factors that today dominate the political conversation: fear and economic insecurity.

White House 'rethinking' Israel ties, peace process rules

Almost certainly, what happened yesterday in the White House briefing room is provoking joy among Palestinians, concern if not fear in Israel, and urgent "taking of views," as the British put it, in foreign ministries worldwide.

For the first time in decades, Washington is not reflexively and unconditionally standing with Israel.

As a matter of fact, the Obama administration is explicitly doing the opposite.

Despite Hillary Clinton Promise, Charity Did Not Disclose Donors

NEW YORK, March 19 (Reuters) - In 2008, Hillary Clinton promised Barack Obama, the president-elect, there would be no mystery about who was giving money to her family's globe-circling charities. She made a pledge to publish all the donors on an annual basis to ease concerns that as secretary of state she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence.

At the outset, the Clinton Foundation did indeed publish what they said was a complete list of the names of more than 200,000 donors and has continued to update it. But in a breach of the pledge, the charity's flagship health program, which spends more than all of the other foundation initiatives put together, stopped making the annual disclosure in 2010, Reuters has found.

National Energy Board Investigating Keystone XL Builder TransCanada's Safety Practices

CALGARY - The National Energy Board is investigating new concerns about TransCanada Corp.'s pipeline safety practices.

A "concerned individual" brought the problems to the board's attention, spokesman Darin Barter said Thursday. A probe began in December of last year.

Shell Oilsands Workers To Carry Electronic Trackers On The Job

The idea of carrying an electronic tracker as you go through your work day would be an uncomfortable thought for many — but for oilsands workers, it is fast becoming something that goes with the territory.

Shell is the latest company to introduce the electronic trackers, which will be carried by contractors at the Albian Sands mining operation as part of a new pilot project.

Details, details: Defence minister Jason Kenney's blunt style betrays him

Defence Minister Jason Kenney’s credibility has come under fire after some recent public miscues, just as the Conservative government is proposing to expand Canada’s war against the Islamic State.

Kenney has been a visible presence on television and radio news shows, on Twitter and in Parliament since taking over the all-important defence file six weeks ago. He has been forceful on the threat posed by ISIL, proclaiming the government’s support for the military and hammering the opposition for its views on the conflict.

Yet Kenney, one of the few ministers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet allowed to speak freely, has also found himself clarifying or backtracking on some of his blunt assertions.

Justice, capitalism and progress: Paul Tudor Jones II at TED2015

Can capital be just? As a firm believer in capitalism and the free market, Paul Tudor Jones II believes that it can be. Jones is the founder of the Tudor Investment Corporation and the Tudor Group, which trade in the fixed-income, equity, currency and commodity markets. He thinks it is time to expand the “narrow definitions of capitalism” that threaten the underpinnings of our society and develop a new model for corporate profit that includes justness and responsibility.

It’s a good time for companies: in the US, corporate revenues are at their highest point in 40 years. The problem, Jones points out, is that as profit margins grow, so does income inequality. And income inequality is closely linked to lower life expectancy, literacy and math proficiency, infant mortality, homicides, imprisonment, teenage births, trust among ourselves, obesity, and, finally, social mobility. In these measures, the US is off the charts.

Filipinos Say They Worked For $3 Per Hour As U.S. Guestworkers

Eleven Filipino bakery workers say they were lured to the U.S. by the promise of high wages to support their poor families back home. Instead, they claim in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in California court, they were forced to work 14-hour days for as little $3 an hour, threatened with debt and deportation if they spoke up about their working conditions.

The workers are now suing the Los Angeles bakery and its owners, a Filipino couple, accusing them of misusing a little-known class of visa, the E-2, which is overseen by the U.S. State Department. The details in the suit echo other allegations of fraud and abuse stemming from the country's numerous guestworker programs, in which workers are brought from overseas and employed temporarily in the U.S., often in low-wage capacities.

Netanyahu Back To Barely Pretending He Supports A Two-State Solution

Fresh off his party's victory in this week's parliamentary election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday walked back a statement from earlier this week in which he had ruled out a "two-state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I haven't changed my policy," Netanyahu said Thursday in an interview with NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

Dear Politicians, Stop Calling People "Taxpayers"

Earlier this week, House Republicans released their budget for the 2016 fiscal year, “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America.” There is much to criticize in it, including deep cuts to social spending,questionable accounting, increasingly quixotic Obamacare repeal procedures, and disturbing gestures toward more military spending. But the plan is also an ideological document meant to advance a particular set of beliefs about how government should function, and toward what end. Its composition and slick rollout (including an upbeat YouTube presentation, a BuzzFeed-esque gif set, and a highly navigable website complete with rolling documentation of news coverage) are meant not only to advance certain policy measures, but persuade voters to adopt its ideological point of view.

9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools—Here’s Their Story

Hedge-fund manager Whitney Tilson stands at a Harvard club podium in midtown Manhattan, facing a room full of investors eating eggs and bacon, and eager to learn more about charter schools. The walls of the wood-paneled room are lined with the portraits of Tilson’s Harvard forefathers. Above the podium where Tilson stands hangs an ornamental gold ship, swaying. In the corner of the room is a large screen, on which the logos of the day’s sponsors, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, float like guardian angels. Two large stone fireplaces dominate the west end of the room. Their exaggerated mantelpieces are each decorated with two empty crests and a laurel—symbols of power drained of any purpose.

These Republicans Want to Take Away Your Weekend

As Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the so-called “right to work” bill on March 9, making Wisconsin the twenty-fifth right-to-work state in the country, labor advocates braced themselves for the stream of anti-worker bills that were almost certain to follow. Many assumed the first target would be Wisconsin’s 1930s prevailing wage laws, which require that workers on public works projects be paid the established going rate for their labor, rather than allowing contractors to try to outbid each other by lowering workers’ wages. Few, however, expected the legislative cluster bomb that is currently being referred to committee by a pair of Republicans: a bill to repeal the weekend.

Taxpayer Group Urges Tories To Stop Pumping Public Money Into Partisan Ads

A government waste-watching group once headed by Defence Minister Jason Kenney is calling out the federal government for using taxpayer money to pay for partisan ads.

In a release issued Wednesday, Canadian Taxpayers Federation federal director Aaron Wudrick points to several recent ad campaigns that have been in heavy rotation, including the anti-pot messaging launched last year and commercials touting new tax cuts.

"These ads are all paid for with your tax dollars," he notes.

CCPA Alternative Budget: Harper's Rush To Surplus 'Impaired Recovery'

OTTAWA - To balance, or not to balance.

The Harper government's stubborn push to eliminate the deficit in its election-year budget has opened a debate: should it even bother scrambling to balance the books at all, particularly with the financial sting of the oil slump?

Finance Minister Joe Oliver has stressed the importance of pulling the country back into the black in 2015, a pre-electoral pledge his government made long before the unexpected, late-2014 price plunge.

It's Time To Bring Back The Term 'Working Class,' New University Of Calgary Report Says

Who are these middle-class Canadians that politicians talk about so much?
The odds are you’re one of them.
The term “middle class” is so nebulous in Canada that it can include people earning less than $20,000 a year or someone who earns $100,000 a year, depending on which statistician or political party you ask.
The question of whether the middle class is making strides is also a matter of perspective.

Conservative fear-mongering keeps our eyes off the economy

If I were to pay a lot of attention to the messages from the Conservatives, I would be afraid. Very afraid. It seems to be an ongoing theme in any of the prime minister's statements these days. It makes me wonder, why all this talk about fear and by focusing on fear? What is the government ignoring?

Here's something I'm actually worried about: the economy, unemployment -- particularly for young people -- and crappy returns on my investments putting my retirement plans in jeopardy. Notice, there's no niqab on that list. Just saying.

Indeed, it feels like the Conservatives are playing the old game of bait and switch. Divert our attention to national security, the rights of women and that old standby, immigrants, and we won't focus on our fiscal bottom line.

Lack of Nation-to-Nation relationship between Canada and Indigenous fishermen causes conflict

On Monday March 9, 2015, a fishing trial began outside a Vancouver Court House.
With the lack of Nation-to-Nation relationships between the First Nation and the Canadian Government, disputes -- in this case fishing disputes -- must be handled by the provincial courts.
The Nuu-chah-nulth Nations are back at the B.C. Supreme Court of Canada in order to secure their Aboriginal rights to fish and sell that fish from their territories on the west coast of Vancouver Island, a deal implemented by the federal government in 2009. That was the plan, anyway.
But for over the past five years, there has been nothing but frustrating discussions and countless meetings with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) -- meetings that have amounted to nothing but have forced the five Nations to return to Court in early March.

Netanyahu Has Been Rewarded for Blatantly Disrespecting the U.S. and the United Nations

TEL AVIV— It was 10 p.m. and the rave beats were pumping at the Drive In Arena in north Tel Aviv. Recently built as the new home of the Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball club, on Tuesday it was the election night base camp of the center-left Zionist Union, led by Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua's Tzipi Livni. Young people pogoed to the music and waved Israeli flags. Parents held their children aloft as crane cameras swooped past. A movie screen behind the arena stage flashed with stylized portraits of Zionist Union leaders set amid animated fireworks.

We Need a New Economic Model Because the Current Model Is Falling Apart

It’s now possible to sell a new product to hundreds of millions of people without needing many, if any, workers to produce or distribute it.

At its prime in 1988, Kodak, the iconic American photography company, had 145,000 employees. In 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy.

The same year Kodak went under, Instagram, the world’s newest photo company, had 13 employees serving 30 million customers.

Harper Says Gun Comments Did Not Promote Vigilante Justice

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it is "patently ridiculous" to suggest that comments he recently made about guns and the safety of rural Canadians encouraged vigilante justice.

"Gun owners in Canada are not allowed to take the law into their own hands," Harper said Wednesday after an announcement in Mississauga. "Nobody here is suggesting they should be able to do that."

Conservatives to introduce motion to extend, expand mission in Iraq

PARLIAMENT HILL—Canadian Armed Forces regulations that govern risk allowances and other benefits for troops serving abroad include definitions of combat operations that appear to contradict government claims that soldiers who have engaged with Islamic State fighters in Iraq were not in combat.

Since January, when officers briefing media at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa first revealed Canadian Special Forces accompanying Iraqi security forces near front lines of ISIL soldiers had “neutralized” ISIL combatants who fired at them, the government has denied the nature of ground operations has shifted since the House of Commons approved the mission last October.