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.]

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Crash of ‘The Mechanic’: Oil Sands Flogger Bruce Carson Found Guilty

Bruce Carson, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2006 to 2009, has been convicted on three different counts of illegal lobbying.

Carson broke the law while pushing Harper’s fossil fuels friendly agenda from two perches. One was an oil lobby group, and the other was a federally funded think tank at the University of Calgary billed as a clean energy research centre before Carson helped bend it to oil sands advocacy.

Amazon Says It Puts Customers First. But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn’t

One day recently, we visited Amazon’s website in search of the best deal on Loctite super glue, the essential home repair tool for fixing everything from broken eyeglass frames to shattered ceramics.

In an instant, Amazon’s software sifted through dozens of combinations of price and shipping, some of which were cheaper than what one might find at a local store., an online retailer from Farmers Branch, Texas, with a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating, was selling Loctite for $6.75 with free shipping. Fat Boy Tools of Massillon, Ohio, a competitor with a similar customer rating was nearly as cheap: $7.27 with free shipping.

Banks Used Low Wages, Job Insecurity To Force Employees To Commit Fraud

The manager instructed her to push accounts but not to tell the customers about the downfalls and fees of new accounts. “Make them read the paperwork.” She replied, “But you know no one ever reads the paperwork.” His response: “Exactly.”

You might have heard that Wells Fargo Bank was busted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for opening millions of fraudulent accounts - ruining customer credit scores and finances to rack up profits from big fees - and had to pay a $185 million fine.

Chief statistician resigns over government's failure to 'protect the independence' of StatsCan

Canada's chief statistician has resigned in protest over what he says is the federal governments' failure to protect Statistics Canada's independence.

Wayne Smith says the government's decision to create Shared Services Canada and centralize all information technology services across government has compromised Statistics Canada's ability to fulfil its mandate.

Canadian CEO Pay Is 159 Times More Than The Average Worker's Salary

It's good to be a CEO.

In Canada, the top CEOs make 159 times what the average worker does, according to a human resources consulting firm. But that hardly approaches the ratio you see at the top of a public company in the U.S.

The estimate of CEO pay was drawn up in a recent report by Gallagher McDowall Associates, which is based in Toronto.

Donald Trump Finally Told the Truth About Barack Obama’s Birth—and Then He Lied Some More

So, he lied even as he conceded, sort of, the point.

Donald Trump tried Friday morning to leave behind his longstanding embrace of the discredited assertion that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore cannot legally be president. But Trump’s brief statement, at a purported press conference in Washington where he refused to take questions from reporters, mainly recycled false assertions he has made in the past, notably that Hillary Clinton was the originator of the so-called “birther” allegation and that it was Trump himself who had previously put it to rest.

A Lesson for Trump From Scott Walker: If the Election Is Close, Cry Fraud

The first great electoral challenge to Governor Scott Walker’s assault on labor rights, public education, and public services in Wisconsin came in an April 2011 state Supreme Court race. Incumbent Justice David Prosser, a former Republican legislator who had mentored Walker when both served in the legislature, faced an unexpectedly robust challenge from state Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, who argued that the state’s highest court needed to be independent from the governor.

The Only Way for Muslim Americans to Be Considered Patriotic: Stay Silent

This election season has been bruising and divisive, but it has had the one advantage of clarifying for Muslims that we are conditional citizens. We must constantly prove our allegiance by showing gratitude to America, muting criticism of the government and its foreign policy, and denouncing any Muslim, anywhere in the world, who takes it upon himself to commit an act of violence. If we fail to abide by these rules, our loyalty is called into question.

It hurts to be right: How Scott Walker proved Citizens United wrong

We now have a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a broken campaign finance system.

The Guardian this week published 1,500 previously unreleased emails and financial documents leaked from a now-halted investigation into alleged campaign finance violations by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his allies.

Theresa May’s nuclear power play short circuits

LONDON — When Theresa May slammed the brakes on a deal for the Chinese to help build Britain’s first nuclear reactor in a generation, the world sat up and paid attention.

Here was a prime minister who wasn’t going to be hamstrung by her predecessors but would play by her own rules. If the decision irritated Beijing and Paris, then so be it.

Donald Trump’s Plans to Help Women Are Ridiculously Regressive

Ivanka Trump just reprised the role she played at the Republican convention, depicting her father as the friend of working women, a president who would advance progressive policies on child care and family leave. After her widely praised convention speech, though, it came out that the Trump organization provides neither to its employees—Trump claimed he provided child care, but it turned out he was confused about a program for the kids of wealthy Trump hotel guests, the Trumpeteers.

Student Income Loans Transfer Wealth to Investors, Risk to Students

At more than $1.3 trillion dollars as of 2016, US student loan debt has become widely discussed in the media, the business press and academia as a new debt bubble with the potential to burst and trigger a global economic crisis that puts everyone at risk. The student debt bubble is regularly compared to the subprime mortgage debt bubble that resulted in the failure of banks, the great recession and the public bailout of Wall Street and the auto industry in 2008. Prior to the subprime crisis, high- and low-risk mortgages were packaged together into investment bonds so that when enough of the high-risk mortgages defaulted, the bonds that had been rated as safe collapsed. Similarly, one form of student debt investment security, Student Loan Asset Backed Securities (SLABS), is composed of pooled student debt.

Miloš Zeman: the hardline Czech leader fanning hostility to refugees

In Prague’s magnificent ninth-century castle, once the seat of power to Holy Roman emperors, Miloš Zeman has a mundane preoccupation sharply at odds with the grandeur of his surroundings.

“Do you smoke?” asks the Czech Republic’s president, lighting the first of several cigarettes during an interview with the Guardian at his sumptuous official residence overlooking the city.

Ohio Keeps Making It Harder to Vote

The Supreme Court today declined to overturn a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that upheld Ohio’s elimination of the first week of early voting in the crucial battleground state. There was no explanation for the decision or dissents.

This is a blow for voting rights, after the Supreme Court declined to reinstate new voting restrictions in North Carolina and Michigan in recent weeks. In 2012, 80,000 people voted during the first week of early voting in Ohio and 14,000 used same-day voter registration during the period known as “Golden Week.” African-Americans were five times more likely than whites to vote during Golden Week in 2012. The US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio found that cutting early voting “results in less opportunity for African Americans to participate in the political process than other voters.” (That ruling was overturned by the court of appeals.)