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.]

Monday, November 11, 2013

Mixed Results

Last Tuesday, a conservative Republican governor with an aura of moderation won big in pale-blue New Jersey, a liberal Democratic mayoral candidate with a talent for speechmaking won even bigger in midnight-blue New York City, and a moderate Democratic moneyman was barely elected governor of burgundy Virginia. The percentage of Virginia voters between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine dropped by six points from last year, while the percentage of those older than sixty-five rose by four points and the percentage of women fell by two. In Colorado, a proposal to raise the state income tax to fund education was soundly defeated, while in New Jersey an increase in the minimum wage received even more overwhelming approval than did Chris Christie, who opposed it. The winners in Virginia and New Jersey raised far more money than their opponents, but the winning side on the Colorado ballot initiative was vastly outspent by the losers. Seattle threw out its third mayor in a row. The lessons that the 2013 elections hold for the 2014 midterms and beyond are not immediately clear.

Oh, Canada -- How America's friendly northern neighbor became a rogue, reckless petrostate

For decades, the world has thought of Canada as America's friendly northern neighbor -- a responsible, earnest, if somewhat boring, land of hockey fans and single-payer health care. On the big issues, it has long played the global Boy Scout, reliably providing moral leadership on everything from ozone protection to land-mine eradication to gay rights. The late novelist Douglas Adams once quipped that if the United States often behaved like a belligerent teenage boy, Canada was an intelligent woman in her mid-30s. Basically, Canada has been the United States -- not as it is, but as it should be.

But a dark secret lurks in the northern forests. Over the last decade, Canada has not so quietly become an international mining center and a rogue petrostate. It's no longer America's better half, but a dystopian vision of the continent's energy-soaked future.

Why NSA's war on terror is more than just a 'neat' hacking game

Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. And then there's Edward Snowden, who was a spy and then became something else. Nobody's neutral about him. The other day I heard a senior military officer describe him unambiguously as "a thief". In Washington he seems to be universally regarded as a traitor. Many people in Europe regard him as, at worst, a principled whistleblower and, at best, a hero in the Daniel Ellsberg mould.

Whatever you think about him, though, one thing is clear: Snowden is a pretty astute geek. The evidence for this is in the way he approached his whistleblowing task. Having concluded (as several other distinguished National Security Agency employees before him had) that the NSA had misinterpreted or overstepped its brief, he then identified prominent instances of agency overreach and for each category downloaded evidence that supported his conjecture.

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi admits taxpayers paid power bill for his stables

A Tory MP has apologised and promised to repay part of a £5,822.27 expenses claim for his energy bills after it emerged taxpayers were paying for the electricity supply to his stables.

Nadhim Zahawi, a founder of the market research firm YouGov, said he was "mortified" to discover the error, which came to light after he was among politicians criticised over subsidised energy bills.

The Stratford-on-Avon MP claimed the most, with a bill totalling £5,822.27 to cover electricity and heating oil for his estate in Warwickshire.

Affordable homes facing demolition because of bedroom tax

Three-bedroom homes are being condemned to demolition by housing associations because the coalition's bedroom tax has made them too expensive for tenants to live in, the Observer can reveal.

Despite a national property shortage, providers of affordable homes are unable to find people who can meet the cost of living in a home with an extra bedroom and are, in some cases, planning demolitions. In Liverpool, one housing provider, Magenta Living, has admitted that "with changes to welfare benefits there is very little prospect of letting upper three-bedroom maisonettes in the current climate".