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, November 14, 2013

Kathleen Wynne: Economic Crisis Coming If No Action On Pensions

TORONTO - Canada is headed for a "huge economic crisis" if the provinces and federal government don't take action now to improve retirement incomes, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne warned Tuesday.

"One of our fundamental priorities is retirement income security, especially for the middle class," Wynne told a business audience in Toronto.

"People are not saving enough for retirement and if we let this go unchecked we're going to face a huge economic crisis."

Tory Mandatory Minimums For Gun Crime Ruled Unconstitutional

TORONTO - Mandatory minimum sentences for gun possession enacted by the federal Conservatives' as part of their law-and-order agenda are "cruel and unusual punishment," Ontario's top court ruled Tuesday in striking the laws down as unconstitutional.

The sentencing laws, enacted as part of the Harper government's 2008 omnibus bill, could see people sent to prison for three years for what would amount to a licence violation, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled.

The Demi-Glace Ceiling: Why Do We Ignore Lady Chefs?

When Time couldn't think of a single female chef to name to its now-infamous "13 Gods of Food" list, I shared the instant outrage that overtook the internet, but I wasn't surprised at all.

That's because the vexed gender politics of culinary prestige—the increasingly glaring fact that women are largely shut of the food world's top honors—hit me like a sizzling chunk of foie gras to the face in mid-September.

That's when I got the invitation to a prestigious food conference in Westchester County, New York, sponsored by a group called the Basque Culinary Institute. I have to admit my heart skipped a beat. The star-studded guest list—drawn up by the BCI, International Advisory Council, an influential (and all-male) group of chefs known as the G9—included Spanish legend Ferran Adrià, the surrealist godfather of the postmodern cooking style called molecular gastronomy; Michel Bras, whose eponymous restaurant in southern France has held the food world's highest ranking, three Michelin stars, since 1999; and René Redzepi, an Adrià acolyte hailed by The New Yorker as "arguably the most famous Dane since Hamlet" for his radically woodsy "New Nordic" fare.

House Dems Can Block GOP Food Stamp Cuts—by Killing the Farm Bill

The food stamps program—which helps feed 1 in 7 Americans—is in peril. Republicans in the House have proposed a farm bill—the five-year bill that funds agriculture and nutrition programs—that would slash food stamps by $40 billion. But by taking advantage of House Republicans' desire to cut food stamps as much as possible, Democrats might be able to prevent cuts from happening at all.

To pull it off, Democrats would have to derail the farm bill entirely, which would maintain food stamp funding at current levels. Here's how it would work, according to House Democrats who've considered the idea.

Candidate or Not, Elizabeth Warren Has the Right 2016 Message

It is no secret that, should Hillary Clinton decide to mount a White House bid in 2016, she is well positioned to become the first woman president of the United States. It is hard to find a pollster who does not share the view of veteran Democratic analyst Doug Schoen: “Clinton not only leads the Democratic field in polls but also leads potential Republican challengers.”

To be specific, according to the latest NBC News poll, Clinton is the favored candidate of 66 percent of prospective 2016 Democratic primary voters. Her appeal cuts across demographic lines, taking in those who view her candidacy as “historic,” those who share her views and those who simply see her as a winner. Just 14 percent opt for an alternative at this point. (In a Public Policy Polling survey from earlier this month, Clinton’s at 67 percent among Democrats) In NBC’s hypothetical November 2016 pairing, Clinton beats the “hot” Republican prospect of the moment, Chris Christie, by a 10 point margin nationally. “Clinton [is] benefiting from the same demographic trends that helped propel President Barack Obama to win the election in 2008 and re-election in 2012,” argues a poll analysis, which also suggests that “other prominent Democrats would likely avoid the race if Clinton decides to throw her hat into the ring.”

A Mass Shooting Happened This Week In Detroit, But You Probably Didn't Hear About It

A mass shooting happened on Wednesday, but you probably didn't read about it in the news.

It happened at Al's Place, a barbershop. There was a back room in the salon where men would often gather to gamble, get a haircut and just talk. Wednesday was a "crumbs" dice game, only $5 and $10 bills allowed.

That afternoon, two men drove up in Chevrolet Impalas; one white, one black. They began exchanging gunfire.

"Criminalizing Black Corpses": No Charges Filed After White Man Kills Detroit Teen Renisha McBride

Anger is growing in the Detroit area over the killing of Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old African-American woman who was shot dead by a white homeowner on his front porch. Her family says she died as she was seeking help after a car accident. The homeowner told police he believed McBride was trying to break into his home, but he claimed his gun accidentally fired at her. No charges have been filed. An autopsy revealed McBride was shot in the face by a shotgun, but not at close range. We are joined from Detroit by Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations; and by dream hampton, a writer, activist and filmmaker.

Author: --

Meet Your Taxpayer-Subsidized Farm Bill Billionaires!

When most people think about farm subsidies, chances are they do not immediately think "massive taxpayer money boondoggle that should be cut from the federal budget immediately." They've probably heard about how hard it is out there for small family farmers, doing honest work in the world, keeping everyone fed and maintaining our institutional repository of agricultural practices. Surely, these subsidies are helping to keep an important way of life alive for the True Sons of Soil and Toil ... like, say, multi-billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Richard Cohen Defends Inflammatory Column On Interracial Marriage

UPDATE: Richard Cohen says that his latest piece was not intended to be and shouldn't be read as racist.

"The word racist is truly hurtful," he told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "It's not who I am. It's not who I ever was. It's just not fair. It's just not right."

Thom Hartmann on "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It"

Could the United States face another economic collapse? Writer and broadcaster Thom Hartmann looks back at past financial crises and comes to a startling conclusion. "As long as you don’t look too closely at our nation, things seem under control — the United States looks whole … but when you go around to the 'dark back side' of the nation, you see the shocking truth. There you see a nation whose core fundamentals have been hollowed out," writes Hartmann in his new book, "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America — And What We Can Do to Stop It."


As John Kerry Questions Official Story of JFK Killing, Thom Hartmann Discusses "Legacy of Secrecy"

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is a topic our guest Thom Hartmann wrote about the 2009 book, "Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination," co-authored with Lamar Waldron. Warner Brothers is now making the book into a movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of FBI informant Jack Van Laningham. The topic of JFK’s assassination has also been in the news after last week’s interview with Secretary of State John Kerry on NBC, in which he expressed doubts about whether JFK’s accused shooter acted alone. Kerry was questioned about those remarks Sunday by NBC’s David Gregory. Kerry declined to elaborate on his beliefs about a possible conspiracy surrounding the assassination.


Idle No More group in Akwesasne protests fracking

About a dozen people from an Idle No More group based on the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve are marching today against shale gas exploration.

They blocked the Seaway International Bridge, also known as the Three Nations Bridge, connecting Cornwall, Ont. and Massena, NY for about an hour early on Saturday afternoon.

Harper can’t be trusted to give the Wright answers

Since sashaying back from Calgary, the Harper government has been trying to douse a five-alarm fire – the towering blaze of their credibility.

Neither the PM’s stalag convention, nor his dalliance with black-clad zombie rock at the Cowboy Club, changed any channels. Not even Rob Ford’s psychotic fit in front of someone’s enterprising cellphone could do much to change the talk around town. As it had in the weeks leading up to the convention Duffygate awaited him back on Parliament Hill like an 800-pound gorilla.

‘Ruthless’ cuts putting veterans, families at risk, Dallaire says

OTTAWA — Decorated Canadian general Sen. Romeo Dallaire says “ruthless” federal government cuts to Veterans Affairs and National Defence are putting mentally injured war veterans and their families at risk.

“We invested tens of millions of dollars for them to do the job overseas so we’d better be prepared to do what’s needed to take care of them and their families,” said Dallaire, Canada’s first public face of post-traumatic stress disorder. “Veterans Affairs should have been exempt and funded according to the increasing demand, but it didn’t get that pass.”

Federal government awards $2-million contract for prison religious counselling to private company

OTTAWA — The federal government has awarded a private company a $2-million contract to deliver religious counseling to prisoners, including minority faith services, as part of a system overhaul quietly rolled out over the last six months.

It comes little more than a year after the government came under fire for cutting loose about 50 part-time minority faith chaplains after a Correctional Service of Canada ad for a  Wiccan service provider, in particular, struck a nerve with then public safety minister Vic Toews, who said he was concerned about the use of taxpayer dollars.