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, July 23, 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Is ‘Parroting Lies’ Over Brexit, Warn Lib Dems

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is “parroting the lie” that the UK cannot stay in Single Market once it leaves the EU, the Lib Dems have claimed.

The Labour leader today said the Britain would have to quit the Single Market after Brexit as membership was “inextricably linked” to being in the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn Insists Labour Never Promised To Write Off Historic Student Debt

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted Labour never committed to writing off historic student debt in the run-up to the General Election.

The Labour leader was questioned by Andrew Marr on what exactly he meant when he said he would “deal” with student debt.

During the election, the Islington North MP told NME: “I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively.”

At Least Six Dead In Worst Israeli-Palestinian Bloodshed For Years

JERUSALEM, July 21 (Reuters) - Six people were killed on Friday in the bloodiest spate of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years, prompted by new security Israeli measures at Jerusalem’s holiest site.

Three Israelis were stabbed to death in a Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hours after three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

Is it possible to beat facial recognition software? One company says it is.

Facial recognition software is virtually inescapable.

The technology has become a critical tool for government agencies and law enforcement. The Trump administration recently announced an expansion of the technology’s use in airports for international travelers and along the border using drones. Some local police departments already use facial recognition technology, and the feature is expected to be added to body cameras. Even consumer electronics companies are building facial recognition into everything from smartphones to video games.

Study: How Breitbart Media's Disinformation Created the Paranoid, Fact-Averse Nation That Elected Trump

Right-wing media evolved into a hall of mirrors in 2016, when Breitbart displaced Fox News as the key agenda-setting and attack-leading epicenter of a disinformation-filled, paranoid ecosystem promoting Donald Trump and his pro-white America agenda.

Breitbart not only led the right’s obsessive, hostile focus on immigrants, it was also the first to attack professional reporting such as the New York Times and Washington Post. Breitbart's disruptive template fueled the political and information universe we now inhabit, where the right dismisses facts and embraces fantasies.

The Tories' U.S.-based Khadr comms strategy is a really, really bad idea

Since the subject is Conservative party politics, let me begin with a joke from the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

It belongs to Conan O’Brien.

“Fox News has forbidden Sean Hannity from appearing in any more campaign ads for Donald Trump. ‘We want to appear neutral while covering the race between Mr. Trump and that Sickly, Lying Witch.’”

How the Left Can Win in the South

Bernie Sanders didn’t just lose the South in the 2016 Democratic primary—he got destroyed in it.

The Vermont senator lost all 11 states that made up the Confederacy to his opponent, Hillary Clinton—and most of them by huge margins. Clinton won by nearly 50 points in South Carolina, almost 60 in Alabama, and a whopping 66 points in Mississippi. In all, Clinton won around 5.1 million votes to Sanders’s estimated 2.5 million. Without such a poor showing in the region, his party’s nomination might have been within Sanders’s reach.

Students say Christian college turned a blind eye to serial rapists

WENHAM, Mass. — Joggers weaved their way through a group of friends along the Gordon Woods trail on a sunny Friday afternoon. Behind them, a breeze rippled across the quiet surface of Gull Pond. On the beach, a tree log served as a makeshift bench.

It’s a spot where many students at Gordon College, a conservative Christian campus of approximately 1,700 students just north of Boston, go to relax. But for Isabella — who asked to be identified only by her first name out of fear of backlash — it’s where her nightmare began.

Avi Gabbay, Israel’s Rising New Threat to Benjamin Netanyahu

In 1981, I accompanied the secretary-general of Israel’s Labor Party, Haim Bar-Lev, on a visit to Jerusalem’s Moroccan fruit market. Bar-Lev, a storied former Army chief of staff, was distributing flowers in an effort to show voters that the leaders of his once dominant party could relate to average people. Four years earlier, the conservative Likud Party had won its first general election, and a new national vote was in the offing. “You trust Arabs?” a fruit vender shouted at Bar-Lev. “You want to give them back the land?” Bar-Lev responded with a fifteen-minute disquisition, with careful distinctions, regarding the meaning of “trust,” “give back,” “land,” and “Arabs.” Exasperated, the vender finally interrupted him. “I still don’t trust them,” he shouted. Likud had mismanaged the economy; inflation was already hurting him. Many thought Labor would sweep back into power. But, after watching the exchange, I realized that the vender’s ten-second shouted question had given Likud a fourteen-minute-fifty-second advantage. It also exposed a widening gap between working-class Israelis, many of them of Moroccan background, and Labor leaders.

Democrats, Not Republicans, Stand for “Freedom” in Health Care

There was a moment, early in the House GOP’s secret health care deliberations, when they reportedly considered doing something fairly radical and—under different conditions—very good. In Republicans’ haste to repeal every tax in the Affordable Care Act, their budget lines were hemorrhaging revenue, leaving them torn between taking health care subsidies away from millions of poor and working class people or finding a new revenue stream to limit the insurance coverage loss their bill would cause.

New Studies Cast Doubt on Cherished Conventional Wisdom From 2016

Last month, four studies were published by the Voter Study Group that, taken together, provide a serious challenge to some of the most common—and perhaps cherished—beliefs of what went down during the 2016 presidential election. (One might be tempted to write that they “destroyed,” or “blew up” the conventional wisdom, but that would be overstating it.)

The studies used a unique database that offers some advantages over previous efforts to determine what motivated voters last year. Rather than surveying random samples of, say, 1,000 voters at various points in the race, the Voter Study Group researchers, in conjunction with the polling firm YouGov, repeatedly surveyed the same panel of 8,000 voters before and after the 2012 election, and then again before and after the 2016 election. This allowed them to see how individual voter’s preferences changed over time.

The Circular Firing Squad Isn’t Amusing Anymore

Notwithstanding the addictive daily drama of leaks, tweets, and resistance, there are major issues that exist separate and apart from the 24-hour news cycle. These long-term problems are as salient in the digital moment as they were in the analog ’60s.

This coming October 9 will mark the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara’s murder. Yet the pathology underlying his famous quip that when the American left is asked to form a firing squad it gets into a circle is as relevant today as a Rachel Maddow response to Kellyanne Conway’s spin du jour.

My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer.

At 24 years old, my daughter, Jessi, was sparky, beautiful, and ambitious, with red hair that mirrored her fiery spirit. In summer 2012, she was finishing her final year of college in Colorado and looking forward to pursuing a career as a sports journalist. On the night before she had an interview for a dream job, she went with her close friend Brent to a midnight movie.

U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel

The criminalization of political speech and activism against Israel has become one of the gravest threats to free speech in the West. In France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. The U.K. has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. In the U.S., governors compete with one another over who can implement the most extreme regulations to bar businesses from participating in any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements, which the world regards as illegal. On U.S. campuses, punishment of pro-Palestinian students for expressing criticisms of Israel is so commonplace that the Center for Constitutional Rights refers to it as “the Palestine Exception” to free speech.

Students And Graduates Deserve Better Than Jeremy Corbyn’s Cynical Bait-And-Switch

In the run-up to this year’s general election, the Labour leader had some fine words for students and graduates. He claimed that university tuition fees had put the poorest young people off attending university, and so he would abolish tuition fees. And when asked about the debt of those had already been to university, he said confidently that he would “deal with it”.

Dems see huge field emerging to take on Trump

Democrats are expecting one of their party’s biggest fields in history will battle to take on President Trump in the 2020 election.

They say Trump’s low approval ratings, his lack of legislative accomplishments and the lingering controversy surrounding multiple investigations into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 race have a number of Democrats positioning themselves for a White House run.

“So long as Trump is hanging around [with approval ratings] in the 40s, potential challengers will be attracted like moths to a flame,” said David Wade, a Democratic strategist who served as a top aide to former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in his 2004 presidential run.

Another factor? The lack of a whale candidate who might scare off other rivals.

For the first time since Kerry was the party’s nominee, no one named Clinton or Obama is expected to run for the Democratic nomination.

“Candidates knew that opportunities didn’t come around often to run in a wide-open field without an anointed front-runner or incumbent Democratic vice president,” Wade said, comparing the lead-up to the 2004 cycle with the 2020 cycle.

Hillary Clinton was the clear front-runner going into both the 2008 and 2016 campaigns, and her presence left some Democrats wary of getting in the race — particularly in the last cycle. In 2012, no Democrat challenged then-President Obama.

“Hillary and her team did a good job freezing the field and keeping most other potential candidates at bay,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a Clinton surrogate in 2016, said of last year’s cycle.

“The Democratic Party thought they could try and control the process, but I don’t think that’s going to be an option this time around. No one is going to be able to clear or winnow the field. There’s nothing anyone can do about it.”

Dozens of Democrats, along with Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), are thought to be eyeing the race, though no one has officially thrown their hat in the ring at this early stage.

Besides Sanders, 75, the heavyweights include former Vice President Joe Biden, 74, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is 68.

A survey released this week by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling showed Biden ahead of Trump 54 percent to 39 percent in a hypothetical matchup, and Sanders leading 52 percent to 39 percent.

Britons living in Europe could lose right to live in another EU country

British people living in the European Union could lose the right to live in another EU member state after Brexit, it emerged at the end of talks in Brussels.

British officials raised the issue with their European counterparts during three-and-a-half days of intense technical talks. The EU made clear it would not move without a reciprocal offer for European nationals living in Britain that would allow them to move to another EU country and return to the UK.

A Top Rohrabacher Aide Is Ousted After Russia Revelations

Paul Behrends, a top aide to Representative Dana Rohrabacher, has been ousted from his role as staff director for the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that Rohrabacher chairs, after stories appeared in the press highlighting his relationships with pro-Russia lobbyists.

“Paul Behrends no longer works at the committee,” a House Foreign Affairs Committee spokesperson said on Wednesday evening.

The Mega Rich Are Getting Mega Richer: A Former CEO Exposes the Corruption Behind Their Obscene Paychecks

The following is an excerpt from the new book The CEO Pay Machine: How It Trashes America and How to Stop It by Steven Clifford (Blue Rider Press, May 2017), available from Amazon and IndieBound:

In the long term, the indirect effect of the Pay ­Machine—​the increase in income inequality—is economically more injurious than the erosion of company earnings or a stock market downturn.

Income inequality in America has risen sharply since 1976. Economists and pundits point to multiple causes—globalization and competition from low-wage​ countries; growing educational disparities that particularly affect men and minorities; technological changes that reward the highly skilled; decline of labor unions; changes in corporate culture that place stock price and earnings above employees; free market philosophy and the rise of winner-take-all economics; households with high-income couples; lower rates of marriage and of intact families; high incarceration levels; immigration of low­-skilled individuals; income tax and capital gains tax cuts and other conservative economic and tax policies; deregulation; and decreased welfare and antipoverty spending coupled with redistribution programs that disproportionately benefit the elderly.

Trump Team, ALEC, Koch Industries Debate Gerrymandering the US Senate in Denver

Now that GOP state legislators have control over 32 state legislatures (both chambers), thanks in large part to partisan gerrymandering, some extremists are preparing to use their clout to gerrymander the US Senate.

This week in Denver, July 19-21, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) will welcome Republican state legislators and its corporate funders, including Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, K12 Inc., Peabody Energy, and PhRMA, to vote on corporate legislative priorities and create cookie cutter "model" bills in task force meetings that are still closed to the press.

In Turkey, defending human rights is a crime

In Turkey, truth and justice have become strangers. Six human rights defenders were imprisoned this week on the absurd charge of supporting a terrorist organization. They await trial, which could prolong their incarceration for several months. Four others were released but remain under investigation. Their movements have been restricted and they have to report to the police three times a week.

Moscow spooks return to Hungary, raising NATO hackles

NATO allies are worried about expanding Russian intelligence operations in Hungary.

While Western officials have often criticized the government in Budapest for backsliding on democracy, they’ve tended to praise it for a steadfast commitment to NATO. But officials from allied countries say Russia increasingly sees Hungary as an operational backdoor into Europe.

How Anti-Clintonism Gave Birth to Trumpism

Joshua Green’s Devil’s Bargain is pitched as a book about Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News executive chairman who is now chief White House strategist, but it isn’t a biography per se. The now-familiar checkpoints of Bannon’s life—his working-class roots and Catholicism, his stints in the Navy (the source of his Islamophobia) and Goldman Sachs, and his stewardship of Breitbart—are mere fodder for an inevitable ending: the election of Donald Trump. Which is to say that Devil’s Bargain is really a campaign book.

ALEC Is Talking About Changing the Way Senators Are Elected and Taking Away Your Vote

The United States Senate is an undemocratic institution. Just do the math: Progressive California Senator Kamala Harris was elected in 2016 with 7,542,753 votes. Yet her vote on issues such as health-care reform counts for no more than that of conservative Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi, who was elected in 2014 with 121,554 votes.

This is an absurd imbalance. In fact, the only thing that would make it more absurd would be if voters were removed from the equation altogether.

Democrats Don’t Need a “Core Message” in 2018

Democrats, you may have heard, have a messaging problem. President Donald Trump’s poll numbers are imploding, and the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act is sunk once more, yet members of the opposition are “still struggling to tell voters what their party stands for,” the Associated Press reported on Sunday. “The message is being worked on,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley told the outlet. “We’re doing everything we can to simplify it, but at the same time provide the meat behind it as well. So that’s coming together now.” The fact that the number-four Democrat in the House admitted “his party lacks a clear, core message even amid Republican disarray,” the AP claimed, “highlights the Democrats’ dilemma eight months after President Donald Trump and the GOP dominated last fall’s elections, in part, because Democrats lacked a consistent message.”

Netanyahu Tells European Leaders Concern for Palestinian Rights Is “Crazy”

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, was caught on tape on Wednesday urging four European leaders to help him undermine a provision of a European Union trade agreement that imposes an obligation on Israel to respect the rights of the millions of Palestinians it rules in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Why Hillary Clinton Is Really Unpopular – Again

Hillary Clinton is even less popular now than when she was running for president.

Just 39 percent of Americans view Clinton favorably, according to a Bloomberg national poll conducted last week and released on Monday. A year ago, when Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee, her favorability was at 43 percent. The former secretary of state is viewed slightly more negatively than President Donald Trump, who has historically low poll numbers for a president this early in his administration.

People in Denmark Are a Lot Happier Than People in the United States. Here’s Why.

Last week, in Denmark, Malthe and Lærke Knudson had a baby girl they named Emma. That same day, the Robinsons—Dale and Beth—had a little baby in the United States. They called her Rachel.

Right now, they’re just two little babies keeping their parents awake at night. But Emma and Rachel were born in countries that have very different priorities, and that’s going to lead to pretty different futures.

The Real Voter Fraud

For a while there, it appeared that the GOP’s long-running assault on voting rights was finally losing steam. In recent years, federal courts have struck down or significantly weakened several of the country’s worst voting restrictions. At the same time, many states—including red ones—have debated or passed bills to expand access to registration and polling places.

Donald Trump's Defenders on the Left

When it comes to possible collusion with Russia, Donald Trump’s most interesting defenders don’t reside on the political right. They reside on the political left.

Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich aren’t defending a principle. They’re defending a patron. Until recently they were ultra-hawks. Now, to downplay Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, they sound like ultra-doves. All that matters is supporting their ally in the White House.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Maryam Mirzakhani’s Pioneering Mathematical Legacy By

The Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who died on Friday, at the age of forty, was known to her colleagues as a virtuoso in the dynamics and geometry of complex surfaces—“science-fiction mathematics,” one admirer called it—and to her young daughter, Anahita, as something of an artist. At the family’s home, near Stanford University, Mirzakhani would spend hours on the floor with supersized canvases of paper, sketching out ideas, drawing diagrams and formulae, often leading Anahita, now six, to exclaim, “Oh, Mommy is painting again!”

Mirzakhani could be private and retiring, but she was also indomitable and energetic, especially at the blackboard. According to Roya Beheshti, an algebraic geometer at Washington University in St. Louis, and a lifelong friend—the two talked math, read math, and did math, sometimes competitively, for several years growing up—Mirzakhani’s passion was evident early on. “Maryam’s work was driven by a certain pure joy,” Beheshti told me. “A lot of people have been saying how humble she was, and that’s true. She was very humble. She was also really, really ambitious. From the very beginning, from a very young age, it was clear that she had very big goals.” When Mirzakhani was in sixth grade, in Tehran, a teacher discouraged her interest in mathematics, noting that she was not particularly talented, not at the top of the class. A quarter century later, in 2014, she became the first woman (and the first Iranian) to win the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor.

America’s Biggest Publicly Funded, Fully Integrated Health-Care System Is Under Attack

In the Bay Area, public meetings critical of conservatives are not hard to find. But when about 200 San Francisco military veterans jammed into an auditorium in their city’s Veterans War Memorial Building in mid-April, they added diversity to the local “resistance.” Those in attendance—representatives of veterans-service organizations, patients of the Veterans Health Administration, health-policy experts, and local Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi—were trying to educate veterans and the public about proposals that could destroy a single-payer plan for 9 million Americans whose past military service, in combat and noncombat jobs, makes them eligible for VHA coverage.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A basic income really could end poverty forever

I first heard the term “basic income” in the socialist magazine Dissent in 2005. I was a 15-year-old leftist with a taste for weird, radical plans to restructure society: say, having the government buy up majority stakes in every company and then distribute them equally to every American; converting all companies into worker cooperatives; trying a planned economy where the planning is done by decentralized worker and consumer councils rather than a government bureaucracy. Basic income, wherein the government gives everyone enough cash to live on with no strings attached, struck me as an idea in that mold: another never-going-to-happen but fun-to-think-about alternative to the unfettered financial capitalism of the second Bush term.

Beijing’s Balkan backdoor

BELGRADE — In the thick of a discussion about the future of the Balkans, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić jumped from his chair, unfurled a wall-sized map and spread it across the thick mauve carpet in his private receiving room.

“You’ll see what my real passion is,” he said, kneeling next to a multicolored map of Serbia criss-crossed with planned highways and rail lines. “It’s roads and economy.”

Serbia is in the midst of a physical transformation that Vučić has promised his compatriots will end their isolation and open the door to the European Union. To turn his “passion” into reality, the Serbian president is relying not just on Europe, but on an old ally farther east — China.

The Strange Defense of Martin Shkreli

On Wednesday, June 28th, the criminal-defense attorney Benjamin Brafman stood in front of a Brooklyn jury and presented an unusual argument. In white-collar trials, which this was, defense lawyers often do their best to portray their clients—typically wealthy executives from companies or industries that may not be known for high ethical standards—as generous folk who go to church and coach children’s soccer leagues, gentle-hearted people who happen to drive Porsches. In this case, though, Brafman was representing Martin Shkreli, the notorious hedge-fund manager and drug-company entrepreneur, and such an argument wasn’t an option. Instead, Brafman tried to build a case around Shkreli’s greatest potential liability, one that Shkreli has highlighted live-streaming himself and in interviews—his behavior. “Is he strange? Yes,” Brafman said, of his client, during his opening argument. “Will you find him weird? Yes.” He said that Shkreli had been compared to “Rain Man” for his eccentricity, and finally added, “As Lady Gaga would say, he was born this way.”

Ukraine wants Russia held to account over MH17 downing

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says Russia must be held to account over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, three years after the tragedy that killed 298 people.

International investigators have said the Boeing jet flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 by a Russia-supplied missile system that was fired from territory held by Russian-backed fighters.

Defend Europe boat tries to block migrant rescues

Far-right activists have set sail in a boat with plans to prevent the arrival of Europe-bound boats carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, sparking criticism from an anti-racism monitor.

Defend Europe, the group behind the journey which began Sunday, said on its fundraising page that its members would set sail in a 422-tonne vessel with a 25-member crew after receiving more than $115,000 in donations in recent weeks.

Turkey’s free press on trial

In a small courtroom at the city’s gargantuan Palace of Justice, Canan Coşkun took the stand with her hands clasped nervously behind her back.

As a journalist covering the courts for Cumhuriyet — the Turkish newspaper that has been most outspokenly critical of the government — Coşkun is no stranger to judicial proceedings. But on this Tuesday morning in June, she wasn’t there to cover a case. She was on trial herself, for the fourth time this year.

My Visit With One of the Forgotten Prisoners of Guantánamo

Last month, I took my first trip to the US military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay to visit Sufyian Barhoumi. As a military handler drove me and my colleagues from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) down the winding road from the ferry landing to the camp, I marveled at the lush green hills and sparkling blue water around us. The serenely beautiful setting stands in stark contrast to the detention camp, which is jarringly ugly: Endless rolls of rusty barbed wire, layers of fencing enmeshed with opaque green cloth, cages with peeling paint, gravel pits where grass should be. A warehouse to store men we don’t know what to do with.

Pierre Poilievre Launches Petition To Condemn Trudeau Over Khadr Payout

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre has launched an electronic petition calling on the "government of Canada to condemn Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau's $10.5 million payment to Omar Khadr."

The Ottawa MP's petition, E-1194, states that the Canadian government "did not force Omar Khadr to fight for the Taliban and murder a U.S. medic," that "the Canadian government had no role in his subsequent incarceration," and that "the people of Canada owe Omar Khadr no compensation."

Sears managers to earn thousands in bonuses while laid-off workers get no severance

Sears Canada plans to dole out big bonuses to senior management while the retailer restructures, even as thousands of laid-off workers aren't being paid severance.

According to court documents, Sears will pay up to $7.6 million in retention bonuses to 43 executives and senior managers at the company's head office in Toronto. That works out to an average of $176,744 per employee, although it's unlikely the money will be divided up so evenly.

Jerusalem: Israeli policemen killed in shooting attack

Two Israeli policemen died after Palestinian gunmen reportedly opened fire near al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's Old City, before they too were killed in a gunfight.

Israeli police said the three gunmen reached one of the gates near the al-Aqsa compound, opened fire and fled towards al-Aqsa Mosque where they were shot dead by police officers on Friday.

'The attacks were relentless': CSIS employees launch $35-million suit

Five intelligence officers and analysts with Canada’s spy service have launched a $35-million lawsuit against their employer, claiming the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is a toxic workplace with managers who openly espouse Islamophobic, racist and homophobic views and discriminate against Muslim, Black and gay employees.

The allegations contained in a 54-page statement of claim — filed in Federal Court and obtained by the Toronto Star — provide detailed accusations from inside one of the country’s most secretive organizations.

What Is “Neo” About Neoliberalism?

In the buildup to the 2015 General Election, Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), reiterated his support for an “Australian-style points system” as a means of controlling immigration, the policy issue that his party had prioritized above all others. What was curious about Farage’s statement was not the policy commitment itself, which had been known for some time, but the liberal rhetoric that he used to justify it. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Farage argued “what UKIP wants is not to do down migrants. It’s not to stigmatize, or discourage, or blame people for coming to this country and trying to make a better life for themselves” and that the “points system” is the only fair basis for managing immigration.

EU says Brexit talks could fail after Johnson's 'go whistle' remarks

The European Union has said the Brexit talks could be derailed by an escalating fight over money as it fired back at Boris Johnson for telling the EU leaders to “go whistle” if they expected Britain to pay a divorce bill for withdrawing from the bloc.

“I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking,” said the EU negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference in Brussels to preview the next round of talks, due to begin on Monday.

Exclusive: House Democrats introduce new plan to fix Obamacare

A small group of Democratic legislators will do something unusual Wednesday morning: hold a press conference to talk about the parts of Obamacare that are broken.

Ten House Democrats will unveil a new plan to fix Obamacare, highlighting the parts of the law that have struggled to work and offering modest steps to improve them. The proposal includes more funding to help insurance plans cover the sickest patients, along with possibly changing the timing of the open enrollment season in hopes of attracting more Americans to sign up for insurance.

Vancouver Fix? Peg Its Minimum Wage to Housing Costs

A few months ago we published our Slowest City Action Plan for Vancouver. While delivered with tongue at least partly in cheek, the proposals were actually quite serious. Basically, they argued the city’s leaders have chosen goals and policies that make citizens more sped up and anxious. In contrast, we offered paths for Vancouver to:

1. Shift to a more relaxed way of getting around,

2. Adapt housing stock to conform to actual, achievable incomes,

3. Reimagine the city’s cultural “third places,” proliferating different kinds of settings where people can comingle, and

4. Acknowledge that our jobs mostly are about serving each other in one way or another, therefore foster an urban economy where people doing such work can afford life in Vancouver.

Toronto Parking Authority keeps executive salaries secret

The Toronto Parking Authority is keeping secret the salaries of its top executives, including the compensation of its president, Lorne Persiko, who was put on paid leave this week pending further investigation of a land deal.

The Star has tried for a year to find out how much Persiko and other parking authority executives are paid, but the city agency has hired an employment law firm to fight the release of the information.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

You can't 'work' with Putin. You can only isolate him.

A recent exclusive in the Washington Post exposes the fundamental error at the heart of the West’s policy towards Russia.

Russia continues to divide Europe and the world into spheres of influence, through an active hybrid war which masterfully utilizes manipulation of the media, influencing politicians, economic blackmail and military aggression in order to secure itself an outsized influence on global events.

Seth Rich’s family pleads to end conspiracy theories

Seth Rich was murdered in the early-morning hours of July 10, 2016 in Washington, D.C., on his way home from a local bar. He was found still conscious and breathing, but died of his gunshot wounds at a hospital. A year later, his death continues to fuel far-right conspiracy theories—so much so that Rich’s parents and brother are pleading with everyone to stop.