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, September 13, 2012

Tom Brokaw At DNC: Job Crisis May Be Civil Rights Issue Of 21st Century

Tom Brokaw said he thinks that the jobs crisis may be this century's civil rights issue.

After moderating the HuffPost-sponsored Opportunity: What Is Working jobs panel Wednesday at the DNC, the well-known journalist and 'NBC Nightly News' anchor spoke with The Huffington Post about the "extraordinary transition" we are going through today.

He drew parallels to the civil rights issues of the 1960s and the current job crisis, saying that awareness is what moves people to action.

"During the Civil Rights Era when I was a young just going out and covering it and putting it on the air every night, it began to move the conscience of people and raise their awareness of what we needed to do," Brokaw explained. "I think we can do the same thing with jobs, which may be the civil rights issue of the 21st Century.

Brokaw went on to describe the role the media can play in this challenge, saying "I think if we just start covering the subject in a more sophisticated way, people will get it and respond to it."

He also said he believes that local communities are going to play an important role: "I always think that the solutions are best from the ground up."

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: -

Voter ID Laws Could Disenfranchise 1 Million Young Minority Voters: Study

An estimated 700,000 young minority voters could be barred from voting in November because of photo ID laws passed across the country in recent years, according to a new study.

The number of minority voters under the age of 30 likely to be disenfranchised by these new voting laws -- passed overwhelmingly by Republican-led legislatures across the country -- is a conservative estimate, according to the study's authors. The actual number of voters in that category who could be disenfranchised is probably closer to 1 million, they said.

Arctic Ice Melt Could Mean More Extreme Winters For U.S. And Europe

The record loss of Arctic sea ice this summer will echo throughout the weather patterns affecting the U.S. and Europe this winter, climate scientists said on Wednesday, since added heat in the Arctic influences the jet stream and may make extreme weather and climate events more likely.

The “astounding” loss of sea ice this year is adding a huge amount of heat to the Arctic Ocean and the atmosphere, said Jennifer Francis, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “It’s like having a new energy source for the atmosphere.” Francis was one of three scientists on a conference call Wednesday to discuss the ramifications of sea ice loss for areas outside the Arctic. The call was hosted by Climate Nexus.

Paul Ryan Budget Proposal To Cut Federal Spending Could Pull Millions From Some School Districts

A New America Foundation analysis has calculated that under Paul Ryan’s budget proposal to cut federal spending by 20 percent, 77 percent of the 1,500-plus school districts that rely on federal funds for 20 percent or more of their annual revenue could wind up losing millions.

The districts most at risk of losing more than 10 percent of their annual revenue are smaller ones -- enrolling between 100 and 2,000 students -- that rely heavily on the federal government for education funding.

Restoring balanced economy key, Mulcair tells London audience

Canada is losing its balanced economy and must focus on trade deals that consider labour issues and the environment, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair told reporters in London on Tuesday.

Speaking to the media after a roundtable discussion with the London Chamber of Commerce, Mulcair said his party is getting a good reception from business leaders as he travels across the country.

“In an area like this one, where you’ve seen a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector and lots of good-paying jobs leaving the area, people want to know what the NDP would do differently and that’s what we’re able to talk about,” Mulcair said.

Pauline Marois Hitler Photo On Facebook Slammed

Looks like Godwin's Law is still in full effect. At least in the case of the Internet discussion on incoming Quebec premier Pauline Marois.

A photo of Marois as Hitler was posted late Tuesday night to the MontrealOfficial Facebook. As of 9:30 am Wednesday, the photo had been shared more than 200 times and racked up nearly 700 comments. The page has 133,000 followers.

The photo is accompanied by the caption: "How long will it take her to fuck up Quebec?" in English.

Homeless people racking up thousands in fines under Safe Streets Act

Louis Quinn died debt-ridden.

Yet the 66-year-old hadn’t maxed out his credit cards. Or borrowed heavily. He didn’t have a mortgage. No gambling debts or car payments.

In August, he suffered a massive heart attack. He spent a few days on life support before he died.

A memorial service will be held for Quinn at the Fred Victor Centre on Monday, September 17 at 1 pm.

Tories plan War of 1812 monument on Parliament Hill

The Liberal prime minister who famously declared the 20th century would belong to Canada will soon be sharing a corner of Parliament Hill with a new Conservative government monument to the 19th century.

As part of a nearly $30-million spending binge to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Tories are erecting a memorial to the long-ago conflict that pitted the United States against what would later become Canada.

South African mine strikes spread

Rampaging protesters are wreaking havoc in the world’s leading platinum sector, forcing the closure of another major mining operation as South African workers grow increasingly militant in the aftermath of a deadly police crackdown.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the top global producer, decided to shut down four of its shafts on Wednesday when about 1,500 protesting mine workers – many waving machetes and sticks – blockaded roads and marched to the company’s gates near Rustenburg in South Africa’s platinum belt.

CAW offers wage cuts to head off strikes

The Canadian Auto Workers union has laid out a proposal to cut wages for new employees – a move it says will meet a key demand of the Detroit auto makers as the clock ticks toward a strike deadline just four days away.

The union, which has been at an impasse in negotiations with the Canadian units of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, has agreed to chop wages for new hires to less than the current rate of about $24 an hour, sources told the Globe and Mail.

Ford ran on taxpayers’ rights – and fumbles that very play

Mayor Rob Ford loves coaching and his football program helps troubled youth. Why can’t he miss a few meetings to keep it going? Why shouldn’t he enlist his staff to help?

Before letting the mayor off the hook for slipping away from city hall to coach and taking city staffers along with him, remember this. Rob Ford built his political career on scrutinizing the use of taxpayers’ money. Again and again in his 10-year run as a city councillor, he roasted other councillors for playing fast and loose with their office budgets and staff. He even went after them for serving sandwiches at evening council meetings.

In Brampton, the front yard has no clothes

Toronto may not allow you to eat shark fin soup or raise chickens, and Mississauga is thinking about restricting bird feeders and sales of graffiti-capable art supplies to minors.

But only Brampton wants to decree where you should hang your wet laundry. And it’s not in the front yard.

Brampton council recently asked city staff to report back on how to ban the hanging of laundry in front yards. The fact that city staff say there isn’t really a big problem with unslightly laundry didn’t wash with councillors.

Neocon Gambits

It is hard to overestimate the risks that Benjamin Netanyahu poses to the future of his own country. As Prime Minister, he has done more than any other political figure to embolden and elevate the reactionary forces in Israel, to eliminate the dwindling possibility of a just settlement with the Palestinians, and to isolate his country on the world diplomatic stage. Now Netanyahu seems determined, more than ever, to alienate the President of the United States and, as an ally of Mitt Romney’s campaign, to make himself a factor in the 2012 election—one no less pivotal than the most super Super PAC. “Who are you trying to replace?” the opposition leader, Shaul Mofaz, asked of Netanyahu in the Knesset on Wednesday. “The Administration in Washington or that in Tehran?”

“Libya Surprise” Could Be Death Knell for Romney Campaign

Harold Wilson, who was Prime Minister of Britain twice, in the sixties and seventies, famously said a week is a long time in politics. Sometimes, so is a day. This time yesterday, the conventional wisdom, faithfully trotted out by yours truly among many, was that Obama was coasting to victory in a Presidential sweepstakes that was threatening to peter out in tedium.

So much for that. After last night’s “September surprise,” Obama is still home free, and Mitt Romney is still trailing. In fact, this might well be the death knell for his campaign. But what an uproar.

Incomes Declined In 2011 For Fourth Straight Year

WASHINGTON -- Household incomes declined for the fourth straight year in 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau announced on Wednesday, in another reminder of the economy's failure to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

In its annual economic snapshot, the Census Bureau reported that the median household income -- half of Americans made more, half made less -- fell 1.5 percent to $50,054 last year, using inflation-adjusted dollar amounts. Incomes have fallen 8.1 percent since 2007, the year before the Great Recession got started (it ended halfway through 2009).

U.S. Poverty: Census Finds 46.2 Million Impoverished As Median Income Drops

WASHINGTON (AP) — The ranks of America's poor remained stuck at record levels, although dwindling unemployment benefits and modest job gains helped stave off what experts had predicted would be the fourth rise in a row in the poverty rate.

With joblessness persistently high, the gap between rich and poor increased in the last year, according to two major census measures. Also, the median, or midpoint, household income was $50,054, 1.5 percent lower than 2010 and a second straight decline.

Financial Crisis Cost U.S. $12.8 Trillion Or More: Study

The 2008 financial crisis cost the U.S. economy at least $12.8 trillion, a new study found -- and that's a "very conservative number," according to the authors.

The study, timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, is a direct counter to the banking industry's relentless warnings of the potential costs of new financial regulations.

The cost of letting the banks wreck the global economy again is far, far higher.

Jimmy Carter: Citizens United Ruling, 'Financial Corruption' Are Threatening Democracy

ATLANTA -- Former President Jimmy Carter issued a blistering indictment of the U.S. electoral process Tuesday, saying it is shot through with "financial corruption" that threatens American democracy.

Speaking at the international human rights center that bears his name, Carter said "we have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it's almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money."

The 39th president lamented a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited contributions to third-party groups that don't have to disclose their donors.

Priebus Posturing: RNC Chair Crosses the Last Line of Political Propriety

Mitt Romney’s response to the attacks on US diplomatic sites in Egypt and Libya—which left a US ambassador and other diplomats dead—was one of the more ignorant and irresponsible statements ever issued by a major party presidential nominee in such a circumstance. Early Wednesday, the Romney camp released a statement that read: “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

In fact, the Obama administration’s response had been fully in keeping with what the response of a Reagan, Bush, Clinton or Bush administration would have been. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior [at the diplomatic sites] as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the details of the violence in Benghazi were revealed. “But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

Confessions of an Ex-Republican

I used to be a serious Republican, moderate and business-oriented, who planned for a public-service career in Republican politics. But I am a Republican no longer.

There's an old joke we Republicans used to tell that goes something like this: "If you're young and not a Democrat, you're heartless. If you grow up and you're not a Republican, you're stupid." These days, my old friends and associates no doubt consider me the butt of that joke. But I look on my "stupidity" somewhat differently. After all, my real education only began when I was 30 years old.

Canada Inflation: C.D. Howe Urges StatsCan To Capture True Cost Of House Price Spike

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada is being urged to change the way it calculates housing costs in its inflation reports, with critics saying its current method could be fuelling a housing bubble.

In a report released Wednesday, the C.D. Howe Institute, one of Canada's leading policy think-tanks, argues that house prices have risen far faster than has been captured by Statistics Canada in the past few years.

Canada Gas Prices: 'Greed' Behind Pump Hikes Across Country, Analyst Roger McKnight Says

MONTREAL — One industry analyst has a simple explanation for the higher gas prices that jolted motorists Wednesday in major Canadian centres: "greed.''

The shock at the gas pumps was particularly acute in Montreal, where prices soared by as much as 13 cents a litre. The price of regular in the Montreal area was set at just under $1.53 a litre, an increase of almost 20 cents since the start of summer.

Ethics probe in Stephen Harper’s office prompts calls for tougher penalties

OTTAWA – A probe into a mining company’s efforts to lobby Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s top adviser has prompted new questions about whether it’s time to strengthen existing rules and consider fines to prevent conflicts of interest.

“The vast majority of people who do lobbying, follow the rules, but you want to make sure that in (alleged) conflict of interest and lobbying (cases), if rules are broken, then there’s a price to be paid,” said NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus in an interview Wednesday.

Omar Khadr To Return To Canada

OTTAWA — Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr will be back in Canada before winter, ending a diplomatic logjam with the United States after a controversial legal saga that has divided Canadians ever since he was captured on an Afghan battlefield a decade ago.

While Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is not expected to formally communicate the decision for several weeks, The Huffington Post Canada has learned the Conservative Government will approve Khadr’s transfer from the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay and plans are afoot to house the 25-year-old Canadian in a federal institution with a segregated space for his own safety.

The future of Harper chief of staff a mystery

Stephen Harper’s right hand in the Prime Minister’s Office is on temporary loan from a major Bay Street firm and as time runs out on what was expected to be a two-year leave, the question arises: will he stay or will he go?

In late 2010, when Nigel Wright left a lucrative and powerful position at private equity giant Onex Corp. for a new assignment as Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, his former employer was quoted saying they expected him back by late 2012.

Stephen Harper’s democracy award a sad joke on Canadians

With great fanfare, an international organization has announced it is honouring Stephen Harper as its World Statesman of the Year for his work as a “champion of democracy, freedom and human rights.”

Harper will accept the award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, which was created by a New York rabbi in 1965, at a reception on Sept. 27 in New York City.

Harper won the award largely because of his support for Israel and his criticism of Iran.

As U.S. Inequality Widens, Scholar Cornel West and Broadcaster Tavis Smiley Launch Poverty Tour 2.0

New government data shows economic inequality continued to widen in the United States last year. The Census Bureau reports the wealthiest Americans increased their share of total wealth by 4.9 percent, while the median income reached its lowest level since 1995. Some 46.2 million Americans were classified as living in poverty. We’re joined by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who are attempting to start a national dialogue with their new Poverty Tour 2.0, visiting four battleground states: Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida. West is a professor at the Union Theological Seminary and prolific author. Smiley is an award-winning TV and radio broadcaster who hosts the PBS TV show, "Tavis Smiley." Together they are co-authors of the book, "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Wake-up call: Time to put climate change back on the news agenda

When was the last time you can remember global warming being the top story on the evening news?

Yeah, I don't remember either.

The United Nations' international climate policy negotiations in Copenhagen back in 2009 was the last time that global warming was consistently front page news.

That seems strange, doesn't it? Particularly given that the United Nations has stated repeatedly that climate change caused by global warming is the "single biggest threat facing humanity today"!

Rights, Wrongs, and the War on Drugs

Former White House Drug Chief Robert DuPont argues that recreational drug use is not a human right.

One of the common arguments for ending the so-called “war on drugs” is that the enforcement of drug prohibition policies has “led to widespread and serious human rights violations” around the world. Dr. Robert DuPont, former White House drug chief, explains why he thinks the aim of protecting human rights actually justifies prohibition policies.

Behind Mitt Romney’s response to killings in Libya

The heart of Mitt Romney’s critique of Obama’s foreign policy is the claim that Obama “apologizes” for America, and that he “leads from behind.” His differences with Obama’s foreign policy in many ways have more to do with style than substance—for example, he hasn’t offered any distinctive policies on the two most pressing foreign policy issues: Iran and Afghanistan. (Both men agree in keeping the military option on the table with regard to Iran’s nuclear progress, and Romney has not offered a different withdrawal timeline from Afghanistan than the one Obama has proposed. The most concrete policy difference is that Romney plans to increase military spending, while Obama would shrink it.)

MPs could vote to waive Parliamentary privilege and allow AG to release his documents

PARLIAMENT HILL—The House of Commons’ Federal Court bid to stop Auditor General Michael Ferguson from releasing correspondence between his office and House committees will likely die without further action if MPs vote to waive Parliamentary privilege protection over the records when the House resumes next Monday, The Hill Times has learned.

 The House Speaker’s office was meeting with officials on Wednesday over the fate of the unprecedented court action launched by House of Commons legal counsel last Friday as a 20-day deadline neared to take legal action to protect the documents, including letters about Mr. Ferguson’s committee testimony on the F-35 stealth fighter jet project.

Ford deflects queries on team aides

Toronto’s mayor is emphasizing his dedication to underprivileged high-school athletes to deflect questions about his use of taxpayer-funded employees and cell phones to help run his football squads.

Rob Ford trumpeted his work as a volunteer coach and derided as “cowards” anyone who would hypothetically criticize his staff in an official statement Wednesday. But neither the mayor nor his spokesman directly addressed the questions raised in a Globe and Mail story – namely, why the mayor has had at least three “special assistants” in his office, including former university quarterback Andrew Gillis, help administer and coach his football teams.

President of Royal Dutch Shell Canadian division urges carbon price

A senior oil executive is urging federal and provincial governments to put a significant price on carbon dioxide to encourage the industry to reduce emissions even as it increases production and accesses new and growing markets.

In an interview Monday, Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Canadian president, Lorraine Mitchelmore, said the country needs to address what often appear to be the competing goals of improved environmental performance and greater output of oil and gas, and “carbon management” must be part of that approach.

Unprecedented opposition may make British Columbia pipeline a non-starter

OTTAWA—More than 1,000 Canadians have spoken out at public hearings on whether to build the Northern Gateway oil pipeline through the British Columbia wilderness.

The information-gathering sessions, which resumed this week, will go on for months, with thousands of others waiting to give evidence.

But, even as corporate backers of the proposed $6-billion project began presenting their case, there was a growing conviction that the pipeline to carry oilsands-derived crude from Alberta to the B.C. coast had already become a non-starter.

Harper’s environmental performance: cuts, denial and devastation

In less than a week, MPs will head back to Parliament after spending the summer working in their constituencies, and so it is a good time to review the government’s record on the environment over the past year. Perhaps the best words to sum up its 2011-12 environmental performance are cuts, denial and devastation.

In 2011, a new, unexpected, two million square kilometre hole was discovered in the protective, life-giving ozone layer over the Arctic. The hole was found because Canada has been the eyes and ears of the world when it comes to ozone monitoring.

After its discovery, the government negligently announced cuts to ozone science, which came on top of a previous announcement of cuts of over 700 positions at Environment Canada. Monitoring is desperately needed because new chemicals and climate change might affect the ozone layer, which protects us from harmful ultra-violet radiation from the sun.

Tories continue the war on science, environment

The federal Tories are up to more of their tricks, putting fossilfuel interests ahead of pretty much everything else.

During the past week, Arctic sea ice retreated to all-time lows, shattering the previous record set in 2007 by an area roughly the size of (ironically) Alberta. In a bizarre response, cruise ships are now bringing tourists through the inside passage to check things out, and our federal minister of natural resources is in Vancouver trying to convince British Columbians that the proposed Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipeline projects are a good thing.