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, October 18, 2012

Green Economy: Canada Needs Strategy Or Risk Losing Competitive Edge, Axed Panel Says

OTTAWA - Low-carbon goods and services are the way of the future, and Canada had better embrace that fact or expect to lose its competitive edge, says the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

The federal advisory body lost its $5.2 million in annual funding in the last budget, and is using its very last breath to design a national environment-and-energy framework that would position Canada to become a global player in the burgeoning low-carbon economy.

Omnibus Budget Bill 2: Pension Changes Won't Get Separate Legislation, Flaherty Says

OTTAWA - The federal government introduced another massive budget bill today that critics say once again covers way too much ground — everything from MP pensions to environmental controls, from tax credits to border-crossing issues.

"It's such a large bill, and once again they've thrown so much into it," finance critic Peggy Nash said of the 450-page Jobs and Growth Act.

DND warns clock ticking on surveillance satellite

Canada runs the risk of having no space-based surveillance of its territory if the federal government can’t deliver on its ambitious plan to launch a new constellation of satellites in 2014, the Defence Department is warning.

The clock is ticking on the replacement of Canada’s Radarsat-2 surveillance satellite, originally launched in 2007.

Documents obtained by the Citizen show that DND has plans to build a new ground station in the Arctic next year and upgrade two others in preparation for the launch in 2014 and 2015 of a series of three replacement surveillance satellites, called the Radarsat Constellation Mission or RCM.

Government rejects low-carbon plan proponents say would save, earn billions

OTTAWA - Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent is rejecting the final advice from the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy to embrace a low-carbon economy.

The federal advisory body lost its $5.2 million annual funding in the last budget and is using its last breath to promote a national environment-and-energy framework that would position Canada to become a global player in the burgeoning low-carbon world.

Female Romney Adviser Calls Equal Pay a Left Wing Agenda

Thursday on Andrea Mitchell Reports, Romney senior adviser Delegate Barbara Comstock (and transvaginal ultra sound supporter) called equal pay a “left wing agenda”, dissed Lilly Ledbetter as bing “partisan” and claimed that “real women… appreciate male and female bosses who accommodate their schedules and time.”

All you not real women, holla.

Climate Change, The Debate’s Great Unmentionable

Early on in Tuesday night’s debate, the candidates faced off about gasoline prices. In the subsequent coverage, that discussion was very nearly ignored in favor of Mitt Romney’s claim to have hired “binders full of women” as the governor of Massachusetts and the question of what, exactly, the President said about Benghazi in the Rose Garden. But the exchange deserves attention because it demonstrates why America has never had—and, at the rate things are going, never will have—an even remotely sane energy policy.

The gasoline question was posed by a Long Islander named Philip Tricolla, who wanted to know whether the President saw it as the job of the Department of Energy to lower prices at the pump. This is a question that, in one form or another, seems to be asked every four years, and every four years the candidates all know, or should know, what the answer is. Oil is a globally traded commodity whose price is set on a global market; no matter what the Energy Secretary does or doesn’t do, it’s not going to make much difference. The candidates also know that this is not what voters want to hear, and so they say something else.

Slush funds, or sound planning?

On his radio show on Sunday, the mayor devoted a good chunk of air time to bashing a city planning rule known as Section 37. Echoing a series of inflammatory Toronto Sun stories from the week before, Rob Ford accused downtown councillors of using the Section 37 rule to "shake down" developers in exchange for building approvals, and amassing "re-election slush funds" with the resulting money.

Ford’s claims were typically bombastic, lacking in evidence, and, if taken literally, verging on libel. But they’ve succeeded in putting a spotlight on city planning rules, which are after all, far from perfect.

Gambling with Toronto’s core

What’s proposed

A 7.35-million-square-foot (678,192-square-metre) mixed-use development on a 4.5 hectare space in the heart of the downtown core currently dominated by the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.


1 million square feet (92,903 square metres) of retail space. That’s about two-thirds the size of the Eaton Centre, which houses 330 shops.

1.1 million square feet (102,193 square metres) Convention Centre.

2.5 million square feet (232,257 square metres) of office space. That’s more than the 2.2 million square feet (204,386 square metres) of floor space in New York City’s 102-storey Empire State Building. Nuts.

600,000 square feet (55,741 square metres) of residential space. We’re talking another 65-storey condo we don’t need.

1.7 million square feet (157,935 square metres) of hotel and amenity space. That’s bigger than Scotia Plaza, the third largest skyscraper in the land.

450,000 square feet (41,806 square metres) of casino and amenity space – that’s almost three times the size of the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas, which has 2,500 machines for gaming and 139 poker and games tables.

4,000 parking spaces, almost twice as many as the Nathan Phillips Square underground parking garage but nowhere near the amount needed under the 1.5 spots per slot machine formula used by casino operators. Using that formula, the development would need upwards of 7,500 parking spaces.

5.5 acres (2.2 hectares) of public parkland built on a deck over the railway lands. It’s a ridiculously expensive and undoable scheme unless we want to stop train traffic for three years. Also, Oxford doesn’t own the air rights over the rail lands.

Original Article
Source: NOW
Author: Enzo Di Matteo

Blue States are from Scandinavia, Red States are from Guatemala

THIS ELECTION, we’ve heard a lot about divisions that define America. First it was the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Then it was the moochers and the makers. Politicians, of course, love to claim that we are more than the sum of our differences, but the dividers actually have a point. In all kinds of real and practical ways, the United States today is not one nation, but two.

We’ve come to think of “blue” and “red” states as political and cultural categories. The rift, though, goes much deeper than partisan differences of opinion. The borders of the United States contain two different forms of government, based on two different visions of the social contract. In blue America, state government costs more—and it spends more to ensure that everybody can pay for basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care. It invests more heavily in the long-term welfare of its population, with better-funded public schools, subsidized day care, and support for people with disabilities. In some cases, in fact, state lawmakers have decided that the social contract provided by the federal government is not generous enough. It was a blue state that first established universal health insurance and, today, it is a handful of blue states that offer paid family and medical leave.

Canada Economic Growth May Be Slower Than Expected, Jim Flaherty Says

OTTAWA - The federal government may need to downgrade its growth projections for the Canadian economy when it releases its mid-year budget update, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday.

The minister told reporters prior to tabling his budget implementation bill that Canada's economy is holding up reasonably well, but is not immune to gathering headwinds from around the world.

Flaherty said the mood at last week's meetings of finance ministers in Japan, was "not a positive one."

Canada Provincial Debt: Eurozone-Style Crisis Could Hit If Provinces Don't Take Finances In Hand, Report Warns

Canada could face a eurozone-style debt crisis in the coming decades if provinces don’t fix their finances, says a new report from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute that echoes growing concerns among Canadian policymakers over provincial deficits.

“In the medium to long-term, public finances in several provinces are unsustainable, raising the spectre of debt crises, damaged credit ratings, and federal bailouts if corrective steps are not taken,” states the report written by U.S. credit expert Marc Joffe.

Conservatives rejected again ... next stop Federal Court!

The Federal Court rejected the Conservative Party MPs' motions on security for costs against the ongoing legal challenges in the robocall scandal.

You'll remember the Conservative Party MPs called for the nine individual applicants to put up a total of $260,409 as a security deposit -- an outrageous 3620 per cent increase above the $1,000 per application required under the Canada Elections Act. "The respondent MPs have failed to raise grounds or bring to bear evidence that would justify any further payment of security for costs, let alone in the amount requested," Madam Prothonotary Roza Aronovitch wrote in her ruling.

Enbridge Northern Gateway Promises Unsatisfactory: BC Minister

VANCOUVER - B.C.'s environment minister says the company behind the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has not yet instilled confidence in the provincial government that the project will be safe.

Terry Lake said Enbridge (TSX:ENB) is making lots of promises about how it would mitigate environmental risks, but is so far short on providing solid evidence and action.

Ottawa’s obsession with keeping George Galloway out of Canada

One thing about Stephen Harper’s Conservatives: They never give up.

Two years ago, the government was chastised by a federal court judge after it tried to bar a pro-Palestinian British MP from entering Canada.

Now it wants to change the law to ensure this never happens again.

With debt behind her, Hall Findlay ponders re-entering the Liberal fray

It was not long ago that Martha Hall Findlay still owed tens of thousands of dollars from her 2006 attempt to lead the federal Liberals. Now, with the debt nearly behind her, she is thinking about launching another campaign.

Ms. Hall Findlay, a lawyer and former Toronto MP who was first to enter the race six years ago, announced Wednesday that she has raised enough money to pay the remainder of what she borrowed to finance that bid. Just last month, she still owed more than $20,000 – all of it money that she had lent to her own campaign.

Officer 728: Montreal cop a lightning rod for lingering tension in city

MONTREAL—Better known by her Montreal Police badge number, 728, Const. Stéfanie Trudeau has been unveiled as a crass-talking cop with a penchant for pepper spray, violent chokeholds and, if witnesses can be believed, falsifying notes so that her dubious interventions hold up in court.

She is Montreal’s version of Officer Bubbles, the stone-faced Toronto officer who threatened assault charges against a bubble-blowing G20 protester in 2010.

Instead of reassurance, Hudak throws a grenade

There’s a reason Tim Hudak’s party failed to elect a single MPP in Toronto in the 2010 provincial election. Neither Hudak nor the provincial Tories speak to the city’s interests.

So, what does Hudak have in mind to remedy the huge hole in the electoral map — one he’ll need to mend if he aims to lead the province? He promises more alienation of Toronto and perpetual upheaval around transit, the city’s most pressing file.

Homelessness: Ontario’s $21 million cut likely to leave more people without a roof

A $21 million provincial cut to homelessness prevention funding in Toronto will make it harder for thousands of poor residents to stay out of shelters, residents and community advocates say.

The biggest chunk of the cut, $12.8 million, is from the province-wide elimination of a benefit program that gave up to $1,500 every two years to families that were facing eviction, in danger of having their utilities cut off, fleeing domestic violence, moving from shelters or unsafe housing, or unable to replace bedbug-infested furniture or broken appliances.

Student Loan Debt Ranking By State Shows Continued Rise

NEW YORK -- College students who graduated with bachelor's degrees in 2011 left school with the largest average student debt load in history, according to a new report.

The class of 2011 came out with an average of $26,600 in student loan debt, a 5 percent increase from $25,250 in 2010, according to the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success.. The increase, in line with recent years, shows student debt continues to grow faster than inflation.

Mitt Romney Encouraged Business Owners To Advise Employees How To Vote

In a June conference call hosted by the conservative-leaning National Federation of Independent Businesses, Mitt Romney encouraged business owners to let their employees know which candidate they support and how the election's outcome will affect their business.

During a telephone town hall with small-business owners, first reported by In These Times, Romney said President Barack Obama's policies have hurt employers, criticizing the president on trade, labor, and his signature health care law.

What Does Mitt Romney Really Want for Women?

Women watching the debate last night let out a collective “hallelujah”: issues of direct importance to  our lives finally merited a mention. We got equal pay, contraception, Planned Parenthood, poverty and bizarre discussions of single mothers.

Mitt Romney tried hard to pretend he’ll come down on women’s side in these issues. But as is classic Mitt, his positions send mixed messages. What does Mitt Romney really want for women? What would he do to improve their economic outlook? It depends on which talking point you listen to.

Romney Points Finger at Single Moms on Gun Violence

The issue of gun violence, long stuck in an unvirtuous cycle of hardened rhetoric, tends to get ignored in national politics. But 2012 has been terrible with mass shootings, and an audience member raised the issue in Tuesday's town hall presidential debate, asking what will be done to limit the availability of assault weapons and keep them from criminals. President Obama, directly acknowledging the recent slaughter at a Colorado movie theater, called for a "comprehensive strategy" to deal with the problem.

Cost to Prevent All Future Extinctions: $11 per Person?

A global effort to prevent all future species extinctions would cost about $80 billion a year, or $11.42 annually from every person on the planet, according to a study published last week in Science.

The study, released in conjunction with the 11th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) currently underway in Hyderabad, India, is intended to support goals and commitments to halting extinctions and preserving nature by the year 2020 that the world's governments have agreed to under the convention.

"47 Percent" Host and Get-Rich-Quick Schemers Holding Romney Fundraisers

In a move that brings the Romney camp precariously close to the location of the candidate's 47 percent blunder, the campaign is scheduled to rake in contributions at three invite-only fundraisers in Boca Raton, Florida. One of the hosts for these events is Marc Leder, the controversial private equity fund manager who gained notoriety in 2011 for a bacchanalian party he threw in the Hamptons. Leder held the $50,000-per-plate fundraiser at his Boca mansion in May where Romney delivered his "47 percent" rant. But he's not the only member of the host committee with baggage. The organizers of this big-dollar fundraising spree include Mike and Irene Milin, a husband-wife team who have made a career out of peddling get-rich-quick schemes that state attorneys general have blasted as "deceptive," "unconscionable," and "illegal."

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons

IT'S BEEN SEVEN MONTHS since I've been inside a prison cell. Now I'm back, sort of. The experience is eerily like my dreams, where I am a prisoner in another man's cell. Like the cell I go back to in my sleep, this one is built for solitary confinement. I'm taking intermittent, heaving breaths, like I can't get enough air. This still happens to me from time to time, especially in tight spaces. At a little over 11 by 7 feet, this cell is smaller than any I've ever inhabited. You can't pace in it.

Alberta Environmental Watchdog: Government Panel Proposes Independent Body

EDMONTON - The Alberta government will set up an arm's-length watchdog agency to monitor the effects of industrial development on the province's environment.

The agency will set its own agenda and be empowered to decide for itself what information to release to the public, Environment Minister Diana McQueen said Wednesday at a news conference.

Although there is no price tag as yet on a provincewide system of monitoring, it will likely be funded by both industry levies and general taxation.

Canada-China FIPA: Critics Say 'Flawed' Agreement On Fast Track To Ratification

OTTAWA - The federal government has rejected demands for public hearings on its investment protection agreement with China, leaving the controversial deal even supporters say is far from perfect on a fast track to ratification.

Opposition critics say the haste to ratify a deal that took 18 years to negotiate in just 21 sitting days — and without hearings — leaves Canada vulnerable to costly surprises down the road.

Omnibus Budget Bill: Flaherty Promises No Surprises In Spring's Round 2

OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty put on his best poker face Wednesday as he insisted the Conservative government's next budget implementation bill wouldn't contain any unexpected surprises.

Flaherty's second budget bill, to be introduced Thursday, is believed to contain measures to reform MP and public sector pensions, as well as a host of tax changes. But that's it, the minister insisted.

Critics question secrecy surrounding decision to prorogue Ontario legislature

OTTAWA — Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley took advice from constitutional experts before proroguing the provincial legislature, his private secretary said Wednesday, but critics are questioning the lack of transparency in the process as well as the failure to set a deadline for the legislature to return.

“The lieutenant-governor always, even in routine decisions made of this sort, would do due diligence and consult constitutional experts,” Anthony Hylton told the Citizen.

Roundtable's last report strikes familiar low-carbon chord

The National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy has used its final report to chart a suggested route for Canada to make the transition to a low carbon economy and to profit from it.

The report is the last in a six-part series that looks at the economic risks and opportunities that global climate change presents.

Alberta to set up ‘arm’s-length’ agency to monitor oilsands’ environment impact

CALGARY — The Alberta government will create a new “arm’s-length” agency to track the long-term environmental effects of industrial development in the oilsands — and eventually across the province — but questions remain over how independent it will be and exactly how it will be funded.

Environment Minister Diana McQueen made the long-awaited announcement in Edmonton on Wednesday after releasing a 128-page report from a working group formed earlier this year to advise the province on how such an organization should operate.

Canadian economy missing out on green revolution, says panel axed by Stephen Harper

OTTAWA — The Canadian economy will miss out on a booming market of green goods and services worth trillions of dollars if governments fail to steer away from foolish energy and climate change policies, says a new report to be released Thursday.

The analysis, the sixth and final report in a research series undertaken by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, concluded that goods and services promoting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were part of a sector that’s growing faster than the Canadian economy.

Shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic: E. coli-plagued Brooks packer handed off to Brazilian owned multinational

The U.S. arm of a giant Brazilian beef-processing company announced yesterday it will immediately take over operations of XL Foods Ltd.'s troubled beef packing plant in southeastern Alberta, site of the continuing E. coli contamination crisis that has sparked the largest meat recall in Canadian history.

Catching most of agricultural Alberta by surprise, JBS USA said yesterday in a news release it had reached an agreement with XL Foods to manage the huge plant in the town of Brooks with an exclusive option to buy all Canadian and U.S. operations of XL Foods, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of privately held Nilsson Brothers Inc.

Regulator probing 'safety culture' at TransCanada Pipelines

Canada's federal energy industry regulator is investigating the "safety culture" within TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., following revelations from a former engineer about substandard practices, CBC News has learned.

"This upcoming focus audit will certainly address the allegations and things related to the allegations," National Energy Board (NEB) chief engineer Iain Colquhoun told CBC News in an exclusive interview.

Chinese business, political elite flaunt their success with mistresses

The accusations against Bo Xilai are serious enough – massive corruption, abuse of power, helping to cover up a murder – that the fallen star of China’s Communist Party is likely going to jail for a long time.

But the official Xinhua newswire added one more titillating allegation to the list when it passed judgment on the disgraced Mr. Bo late last month: that he also had “improper sexual relationships with a number of women.”

China’s growth slows to lowest rate in three years

China’s growth has slowed to its lowest rate since early 2009, reflecting the draft felt in falling global commodity prices and profits for companies ranging from luxury retailers to heavy equipment makers.

The Chinese economy grew 7.4 per cent in this year’s third quarter over the same period a year ago, bringing GDP growth for this year to date to 7.7 per cent. It’s still above the government’s official year-end target of 7.5 per cent, but marks the seventh consecutive quarter of slowdown and the lowest rate of quarterly growth since the start of 2009.

More money for cybersecurity but risk of large-scale attack may be exaggerated, says Toews

OTTAWA— Canada’s minister of public safety has suggested that the U.S. defence secretary’s warning of a “cyber Pearl Harbor” attack on key commercial infrastructure may be an exaggeration.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews was asked at a news conference about cyber security whether he believes Canada also faces a potential attack on its public and private networks — on the scale described by U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

Greg Palast: “Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions From The Rescue of Detroit"

We turn now to a major new exposé on the cover of The Nation magazine called, "Mitt Romney’s Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions From The Rescue of Detroit." Investigative reporter Greg Palast reveals how Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney made some $15 million on the auto bailout and that three of Romney’s top donors made more than $4 billion for their hedge funds from the bailout. Palast’s report is part of a film-in-progress called, "Romney’s Bailout Bonanza." Palast is the author of several books, including recently released New York Times best seller, "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal An Election in 9 Easy Steps."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

XL Foods management taken over by arm of Brazilian food giant

Management of XL Foods, the Alberta-based meat packer at the heart of a widespread beef recall, has unexpectedly been taken over by an arm of a Brazilian food-processing giant.

JBS USA, in a news release issued from its headquarters in Greeley, Colo., said the deal also provides the company with an exclusive option to buy XL Foods’ Canadian and U.S. operation.

Arctic ships face 'increased cost of ownership' in separate maintenance deal

OTTAWA - Canada's new Arctic patrol ships will cost more to maintain if National Defence signs a long-term service contract for the mini-icebreakers while the boats are under construction.

The ships are at least two years behind schedule, and could fall further behind if contract talks with the Irving shipyard building them hit a snag.

An internal briefing for Julian Fantino, former associate defence minister, noted last fall the project's financial uncertainty, including the price tag for building up to eight warships.

U.S. court ruling casts shadow on Omar Khadr's war crimes convictions

TORONTO - A new American court ruling in favour of Osama bin Laden's driver has cast a shadow on the validity of Omar Khadr's war crimes convictions, legal experts said Wednesday.

Even so, they said, several factors make it essentially impossible for Khadr to have his convictions before a military commission in Guantanamo Bay set aside.

Those factors include his guilty pleas, his waiver of his appeal rights, and the murky legal nature of his most serious crime: murder in violation of the law of war.

However, the ruling could potentially help him win release in Canada.

Minnesota Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment Fuels National Battle Over Marriage Equality

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington will decide November 6 whether to recognize same-sex marriage, potentially marking the first time such marriages are legalized by popular vote. However, in Minnesota, opponents of same-sex marriage are pushing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Thirty-two states have previously held votes on same-sex marriage and, each time, voters have opposed it. Civil rights groups are organizing to defeat the ballot measure, joined by a growing number of sympathetic churches. One of the groups at the forefront of the movement for marriage equality is Minnesotans United for All Families. The Human Rights Campaign — a national group that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people — announced on Wednesday that it has invested an additional $200,000 in Minnesota to defeat the amendment. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has spent at least $1.1 million to oppose same-sex marriage bills. For more, we’re joined now by Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble, who is openly gay, and who helped found "Minnesotans United for All Families."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

The Commons: Gerry Ritz did not inspect that ground beef

The Scene. Shortly before the farce was laid bare before the House yesterday, Stephen Harper stood and offered an important clarification on the contractual obligations of the Minister of Agriculture.

“Mr. Speaker,” the Prime Minister explained, “it is not the minister who does food inspection; it is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that does food inspection.”

MP's message only too clear

Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar MP Kelly Block says her recent mail-out taking aim at refugees supposedly being offered health-care benefits that other Canadians don't receive "could have been clearer."

One begs to differ. The message behind Block's mail-out, headlined Ending Unfair Benefits for Refugee Claimants, could not have been clearer.

Nor could it have been more irrelevant to the vast majority of voters in her constituency, who would rate having to pay for refugees' prescription drugs somewhere at the bottom of their list of pressing federal concerns.

U.S. authorities repeatedly warned CFIA over safety problems at XL Foods facilities

OTTAWA —Long before E. coli contamination was discovered in XL Foods Inc. products, U.S. authorities repeatedly warned the Canadian Food Inspection Agency about safety problems at the Alberta meat packer.

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) sent a series of audit reports to the CFIA between 2003 and 2008 detailing deficiencies they had found at Canadian processing plants, including XL Foods facilities.

Environment Canada to probe ocean experiment on west coast

Environment Canada is investigating how a controversial American businessman pulled off an ocean fertilization experiment off the west coast that has breached an international moratorium and horrified climatologists and other scientists.

“If this (experiment) happened, it would be in violation of Canada’s Environment Protection Act,” Peter Kent, the Minister of Environment, told the Star.

He declined to comment on allegations that Environment Canada was aware if it but did not stop it.

Flaherty flooded with complaints about Bill C-38

OTTAWA—As Finance Minister Jim Flaherty prepares to table another budget implementation bill, his ears might still be ringing from the thousands of complaints Canadians sent his way about the first omnibus bill.

The Star was provided with more than 3,200 pages of correspondence the public sent to the office of the finance minister on the subject of Bill C-38 in the two days leading up to the marathon voting session that began just after midnight on June 15.