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, December 16, 2012

China telecoms giant could be cyber-security risk to Britain

Britain could face a damaging multibillion-pound trade war with China and see the roll-out of economically vital 4G mobile internet services derailed if an intelligence report, due to land on David Cameron's desk within the next two weeks, finds that the UK operations of the Chinese communications giant Huawei represents a threat to the UK's cyber-security.

Downing Street, according to intelligence sources, is prepared to face a costly trade backlash by Beijing if it opts to blacklist the multinational over allegations that the company has links to the Chinese army and concerns that its equipment could be used for cyber-espionage by the Chinese government. Huawei, though not a high-profile consumer brand in the UK, controls a quarter of the EU's telecom-equipment market, winning over half of all the contracts for 4G infrastructure technology awarded throughout Europe. The Chinese multinational is also supplying the 4G technology for EE, the company that controls Orange and T-Mobile, and has signed similar deals with O2 and 3UK.

In Japan, right-wing party scores landslide election win

Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in a landslide election victory Sunday after three years in opposition, exit polls showed, signalling a rightward shift in the government that could further heighten tensions with rival China.

The victory means that the hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will get a second chance to lead the nation after a one-year stint in 2006-2007. He would be Japan's seventh prime minister in six-and-a-half years.

Illinois Concealed Carry Ruling Sets Stage For High Court Fight Over Right To Carry A Gun

WASHINGTON — The next big issue in the national debate over guns – whether people have a right to be armed in public – is moving closer to Supreme Court review.

A provocative ruling by a panel of federal appeals court judges in Chicago struck down the only statewide ban on carrying concealed weapons, in Illinois. The ruling is somewhat at odds with those of other federal courts that have largely upheld state and local gun laws, including restrictions on concealed weapons, since the Supreme Court's landmark ruling declaring that people have a right to have a gun for self-defense.

Bill Bennett, Former Education Secretary, Says Schools Should Consider Arming Employees

In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting that claimed 26 lives Friday, former Education Secretary Bill Bennett said Sunday that schools should possibly consider arming certain employees to prevent attacks.

"Let's remember the good things here: the heroism of those teachers and that principal," Bennett said on "Meet the Press." "And I'm not so sure -- and I'm sure I'll get mail for this -- I'm not so sure I wouldn't want one person in a school armed, ready for this kind of thing."

Tom Mulcair Touts NDP's Economic Management Abilities With Conservative Tone

OTTAWA - Tom Mulcair boasts that he often sounds more like a conservative than Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It may seem an odd thing for the leader of a social democratic party to brag about.

But for the NDP leader, it's part of his mission to prove to Canadians that New Democrats aren't the wild-eyed, reckless taxers and spenders of lore.

Connecticut Shooting Hits Home In Quebec

The shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn. may have sparked talks about gun control in the U.S., but the discussion has crossed over the border to Canada as well.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was visiting New York when news of the tragic shooting broke on Friday.

She took the opportunity to speak out about her government's stance on Canada's long-gun registry — a topic of contention since the federal Conservative government scrapped the registry last April.

‘Trust is broken’: Page on F-35 process

OTTAWA – The government’s handling of the fighter jet program has broken trust with Canadians – and a simple “reset” on the process is not enough to get over that, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said.

“Trust is broken. I don’t think you get, in terms of a reset, that trust back until you have that debate in front of Parliament,” Page said during an appearance on the Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark.

Poor and homeless people made to shoulder cuts to essential social programs

She called it the darkest period in her life.

A series of traumatic events that left Zoe Dodd unemployed, precariously housed and without savings.

As the situation became more desperate, Dodd had lingering thoughts about suicide until she applied for social assistance benefits.

Mass Shootings: Maybe What We Need Is a Better Mental-Health Policy

Editor's note, December 14: This story on the prevalence of previously identified mental-health problems among mass shooters has new relevance in light of the Newtown tragedy.

Mass murderer Jared Loughner was sentenced on November 8 to multiple life terms in prison. It's difficult to read an account of the court proceedings in Tucson without getting a lump in your throat. The man who shot 19 people at a shopping center in January 2011—gravely wounding former US congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and killing six including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl—faced potent testimony from some of his victims.

Louie Gohmert Says More Guns Are Answer To Preventing Mass Killings

WASHINGTON -- In the wake of the mass killing that claimed 26 children and adults at a Connecticut elementary school Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) made the case Sunday that the answer to preventing massacres in the U.S. is for more Americans to carry guns.

"There has been great investigation and study into this," Gohmert told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, arguing that mass killings happen where citizens tend to be unarmed. "They choose this place [because] they know no one will be armed."

China Watches Newtown: Guns and American Credibility

The children of Chengping were still filtering into the local elementary school on Friday morning, China time, when a deranged thirty-six-year-old man named Min Yingjun entered the campus. He carried a knife. (China bans private gun ownership.) By the time the security guards got to him, he had wounded twenty-two children and one adult. All survived. China, like most places, had seen this kind of madness before: one especially heavy string of school attacks in 2010 killed nearly twenty people and wounded more than fifty. The killers are as hard to recall in their particulars as they deserve.

High Anxiety: LSD in the Cold War

For decades, the U.S. Army conducted secret clinical experiments with psychochemicals at Edgewood Arsenal. In the nineteen-sixties, Army Intelligence expanded the arsenal’s work on LSD, testing the drug as an enhanced-interrogation technique in Europe and Asia. This companion piece to “Operation Delirium,” which ran in the December 17th issue of The New Yorker, documents the people who were involved and what they did.


Making Gun Control Happen

Do you feel that? That’s your sense of moral outrage dissipating.

It may still feel raw and vivid in the wake of Friday’s bloodbath in Connecticut. But if other recent massacres are anything to go by, our collective indignation has a half-life—and it isn’t long. The tender ages of the victims at Sandy Hook made the tragedy feel exceptional, and on television and Twitter, and at kitchen tables around the country, many of us expressed an urgent sense, over the past forty-eight hours, that something should be done. Even President Obama suggested that “meaningful action” is in order, though he didn’t elaborate on what that might entail, and notably absent from his remarks was the single monosyllable that might explain how one disturbed young man could walk into an elementary school and end twenty-six lives in a matter of minutes: “gun.”

Greece Is On The Brink Of Civil War

“I’m wondering how much this society can endure before it explodes,” said Georg Pieper, a German psychotherapist who specializes in treating post-traumatic stress disorders following catastrophes, large accidents (including the deadliest train wreck ever in Germany), acts of violence, freed hostages....

But now he was talking about Greece.

He’d spent several days in Athens to give continuing education courses in trauma therapy for psychologist, psychiatrists, and doctors—for free, this being a country in crisis.

Mark Carney's big idea may not be of much benefit to Britain

When the Office for Budget Responsibility recently delivered its pretty gloomy message about the state of the economy and the national finances to the chancellor, eyewitnesses were surprised at how relaxed George Osborne appeared to be.

The reason, apparently, was that the chancellor was so pleased with himself for having landed what he regards as his big catch – the Canadian Mark Carney for the job of governor of the Bank of England – that the implications of the OBR report for his imperilled strategy hardly sank in.

Peter Mackay and F-35s: Accountability starts with firing incompetents

Ministers are responsible for their departments’ initiatives. They are responsible for clear, accurate, complete disclosure of information in their remit when asked a question in the House. They are responsible for the work performance of the civil servants who serve them.

On all three measures, Minister of National Defence Peter Mackay has proven himself to be an irresponsible git.

Prime Ministers are responsible for the quality of the Cabinet. They are accountable for sacking any minister who doesn’t do their job properly. They are accountable for sacking any minister who doesn’t take their own accountabilities seriously enough to resign when they’ve botched their job.

Stephen Harper is acting as though he has no accountabilities, no worries.

Time to put Flaherty on the spot

When Finance Minister Jim Flaherty debates pension reform with the provinces Monday, he’ll be counting on Canadians to tune it out so he can wait it out — yet again.

We will all pay a price for his inertia and our indifference: The day of reckoning for retirement incomes is coming, and Flaherty’s shameful procrastination on pensions won’t prepare us for what must inevitably be done — sooner rather than later.

Edmonton neo-Nazi gang’s operations spreading

Two bodies dumped on rural Alberta roads, a head tossed in an Edmonton alleyway, and a mother of four gunned down when she answered the door to her family home — all the alleged work of an expansive and reckless neo-Nazi gang whose drug operation stretches across the prairies and northern territories.

The four men charged with first-degree murder in the homicides are described by police as members of the White Boy Posse, a gang of white supremacists with known drug ties.

The three homicides took place in September and October.

Ethnic Jarai Community Stands its Ground

O’Yadaw district, Ratanakkiri province – In the beginning, the Jarai lived as one in the forested foothills on at the southern tip of the Anamite Cordillera. At that time, before cartographers and borders, the beloved daughter of a powerful Jarai chief died unexpectedly.

Stricken with grief, the distraught chief sacrificed water buffaloes, pigs, and all sorts of farm animal to mark his daughter’s death. But his sadness was unfathomable, and in his desire to honor his daughter’s passing he ordered an even greater blood sacrifice: Wild deer that roamed the forest were trapped and killed for the funeral ceremony.