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, October 27, 2015

Israel's Richard Nixon

Imagine, if you will, Richard Nixon without the vision which informed his better moments. The residue is insular, divisive, self-serving, rhetorically dishonest and politically amoral: an ersatz Churchill who exploits the dangers facing his country to assure his grip on power. In short, Benjamin Netanyahu.

More Than Half of All Americans Make Under 30,000 Dollars a Year According to a Shocking New Report

Wage statistics for 2014, recently released by the Social Security Administration, provide proof to the claim we all feared was true: the middle class is actually disappearing. As the online publication Washington’s Blog notes, 51 percent of U.S. workers made less in 2014 than what is required to support a middle class family, with a monthly salary of 2,500 dollars, before taxes. What’s worse is that as the numbers in the original report are parsed, other stunning facts become clear. For instance the fact that nearly 40 percent of Americans aren’t even making 30,000 dollars but rather are earning closer to 20,000. Or that 70 percent of workers made less than 50,000 dollars in 2014.

Another Doctors Without Borders Hospital Hit By Airstrikes

DUBAI, Oct 27 (Reuters) - A Yemeni hospital run by medical aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was bombed in a Saudi-led air strike, wrecking the facility and wounding several people, the hospital director said on Tuesday.

A Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in Yemen's civil war in March to try to restore its government after its toppling by Houthi forces but the civilian death toll has escalated since then, alarming the United Nations and human rights groups.

Finally: A decisive end to the Harper era

The longest election in Canadian memory has produced a new government and a decisive end to the Harper era. The reasons are not especially complicated: Canadians demanded change in Ottawa, and an end to the "politics of fear and divisiveness," as Liberal leader Justin Trudeau told us repeatedly along the 78-day campaign. Polls throughout this time consistently backed him up. The question, until close to election day, was which of the main opposition parties -- the Liberals or the New Democratic Party -- could reasonably provide that change by defeating the Conservatives. Canadians answered it by giving Prime Minister Trudeau a majority in Parliament.

Gender Pay Gap Widens: Men’s Earnings Growing Twice as Fast as Women’s

The glass ceiling is still very much intact, as a recent study reveals. According to Labor Department data, the gender pay gap is widening again because men’s earnings are growing this year at twice the rate of women’s.

The median weekly earnings for full-time male workers was $889 in the third quarter, representing a 2.2 percent increase from a year earlier. Meanwhile, full-time female workers’ earnings were $721, up just 0.8 percent from a year earlier.

The Liberals Must Repeal Bill C-51

Canadians are still catching their breath after Monday's remarkable election results -- but already attention is turning to what the Liberals plan to do when they formallyassume office in just a couple weeks.
Many Canadians will be watching very closely to see what the Liberals are planning on Bill C-51, the reckless secret police bill introduced by the previous government. Bill C-51 was passed with support from Liberal MPs -- though most Liberal senators voted against it.

C-51, TPP Top List of 'Real Change' Tech Priorities

Digital policies may not have played a significant role in the just-concluded national election, but the arrival of a majority Liberal government will leave many expecting "real change" on the digital front in the years ahead.

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau is likely to focus on key economic promises from his platform once Parliament resumes. However, there will be several digital issues that should command attention during his first 12 months in office.

BC Gov't Gives Green Light to Woodfibre LNG

Woodfibre LNG has the go-ahead from the BC Liberal government, but the environmental assessment of a necessary natural gas pipeline continues.

B.C.'s environmental assessment office issued the certificate Monday, backed up by a joint ruling from Environment Minister Mary Polak and Natural Gas Minister Rich Coleman.

The six-page letter from Polak and Coleman said the certificate includes "enforceable conditions" and "project design parameters" that ensure "the project will be constructed, operated and decommissioned in a way that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur."

Paul Ryan Wants to Shut Down the Government, Permanently

Everyone has seen the news stories about how Representative Paul Ryan, the likely next Speaker of the House, is a budget wonk. That should make us feel good, since we would all like to think a person in this position understands the ins and outs of the federal budget. But instead of telling us about how much Ryan knows about the budget (an issue on which reporters actually don't have insight), how about telling us what Ryan actually says about the budget?

Palestinians Suspicious Of Al-Aqsa Surveillance Promoted By Kerry

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Palestinian officials reacted warily on Sunday to what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hailed as Jordan's "excellent suggestion" to calm Israeli-Palestinian violence by putting a sensitive Jerusalem holy site under constant video monitoring.

"This is a new trap," Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Voice of Palestine radio, accusing Israel of planning to use such footage to arrest Muslim worshippers it believes are "inciting" against it.

Benjamin Netanyahu's Latest Rejection Of A Palestinian State

WASHINGTON -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed on Monday that he does not envision a two-state solution for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories any time soon.

During a parliamentary committee meeting, Netanyahu told members of the Knesset that he has no current plans to surrender control of the occupied West Bank to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement. “At this time, we need to control all of the territory for the foreseeable future,” he told lawmakers, reported Haaretz.

Prosecution Of U.S. Police For Killings Surges To Highest In Decade

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. police officers charged in fatal shootings has hit the highest level in a decade in 2015, new research shows, driven by greater scrutiny over use of deadly force.

Public outrage over the deaths of black men at the hands of police in New York, Missouri and elsewhere have spurred prosecutions. Police body cameras and bystanders' videos also have helped bring cases, but even with the upturn, only a small percentage of police killings result in charges, lawyers and analysts say.

13 Ridiculous Things Ben Carson Actually Believes

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson has become an unlikely frontrunner in the GOP presidential primary, leading recent polls in Iowa and surpassing all of the other Republican candidates’ recent fundraising totals.

Though he has never held political office, his short time in the spotlight has given him plenty of opportunity to make controversial and often factually incorrect statements. In May, ThinkProgress highlighted seven ridiculous things that Ben Carson believes. But in the past six months, Carson has come up with even more incendiary remarks and comparisons, which seem to only help his campaign.

After Company Raises Minimum Salary To $70,000, Revenue And Profits Double

In April, Dan Price, CEO of the credit card payment processor Gravity Payments, announced that he will eventually raise minimum pay for all employees to at least $70,000 a year.

The move sparked not just a firestorm of media attention, but also a lawsuit from Price’s brother and co-founder Lucas, claiming that the pay raise violated his rights as a minority shareholder.

But six months later, the financial results are starting to come in: Price told Inc. Magazine that revenue is now growing at double the rate before the raises began and profits have also doubled since then.

Did the US Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests?

The US Navy aims to begin conducting electromagnetic warfare training across much of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula soon.

Meanwhile, it is being accused of breaking federal laws in order to secure the permits necessary to move forward with its training operations.

Karen Sullivan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 and a half years, and is an expert in the bureaucratic procedures the Navy is supposed to be following.

Higher Education: Capitalism at Its Most Despicable

Rating capitalist despicability is a daunting task with Big Pharma and High Finance in the running, but Higher Ed’s betrayal of a century-old trust with young Americans vaults it toward the top of the list.

Since 1862 public colleges had been expected to serve primarily as a means for the American people to achieve an inexpensive college education, and to benefit from academic research. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act changed it all. It freed public universities from releasing new research discoveries to the public, allowing them instead to patent the results and make licensing deals with private companies. The University of California, anticipating big agri-business subsidies, took full advantage in 2013, siding with Monsanto in a lawsuit against a farmer who was accused of stealing the company’s seed. The farmer lost. And universities became more deeply entrenched in the capitalist world.

Netanyahu: Have You No Shame?

Israel's Prime Minister attributing the Holocaust to Palestinian influence over Hitler is a "Blood Libel" level lie.

In the Middle Ages, some Christians claimed that Jews were kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make Passover Matzah (which in Jewish law would make the Jewish kidnapper a murderer, deserving the death penalty, and the Matzah itself unkosher, because Jews are forbidden to eat blood). This "blood libel" lie has been repeated by anti-Semites and sometimes is accompanied in bookstores with a book called "The Elders of Zion," who purportedly met and planned to rule the world. This sort of hate literature is still disseminated in some Muslim countries.

Banking Giant HSBC May Leave U.K. Over Taxes, And John Tory Wants It To Come To Toronto

HSBC, the world’s fourth-largest bank by assets, is so fed up with new regulations and a new tax on banks in Britain that it’s looking to leave London for lower-tax pastures.

The bank’s plans are controversial to say the least, with some observers accusing the company of throwing a temper tantrum at Britain for its post-financial crisis banking regulations, while other observers fear for the future of the 50,000 people employed by the bank in the U.K.

Aboriginal Voters Rally 'Turnout Harper Never Expected'

Aboriginal activists who spent months mobilizing First Nations communities say Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attempt to disenfranchise aboriginal voters backfired and fuelled turnout so high that some reserves ran out of ballots.

Some aboriginal communities saw voter turnout spike by up to 270 per cent in the Oct. 19 election despite the Fair Elections Act which made it harder for someone to vote without approved identification.

In the riding of Kenora, which includes 40 First Nations in northern Ontario, voting on the reserves was up 73 per cent -- almost 3,000 voters. At least four of those First Nations ran out of ballots and either used photocopies or waited for more to be brought in.

The man behind the curtain: Why Gerald Butts is Trudeau's most trusted adviser

They were sitting on one of Montreal’s famous outdoor patios one lazy summer afternoon, two friends enjoying a beer and looking toward the future.

It was the early 2000s — Jean Chretien was prime minister — and as they sipped their drinks, a young Justin Trudeau laid out for Terry DiMonte how he thought the federal political landscape was going to play out.

A newly resurgent Conservative party would come to power, predicted Trudeau. The Liberals, riven by infighting, would churn through a leader or two before seeking new blood.

Just go Mr. Harper, and take your sycophants with you

Old soldiers never die, General Douglas MacArthur said, they just fade away.

But not politicians.

Public figures inhabit a world of extremes. I was reminded of that this week when Danny Williams called me after Justin Trudeau’s crushing victory in the federal election over the Harper Conservatives.

Growing Chorus Of Conservatives Accusing Black Lives Matter Of Advocating Murder Of Police

During an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday, former New Jersey governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie told host John Dickerson that President Obama has encouraged “lawlessness” with his support of civil rights movements like Black Lives Matter.

After noting that murder rates have gone up in cities like Chicago and New York, Christie said that “the problem is this — there is lawlessness in this country.”