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.]

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tories Defend Half A Billion Dollars In Outside Legal Costs

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is defending spending nearly half a billion dollars on outside legal fees over the past eight years by arguing that its own lawyers are now litigating less.

The Huffington Post Canada reported Thursday that federal departments spent $481.9 million on outside legal assistance since the Tories came to power in 2006 — despite employing 2,500 Department of Justice lawyers.

What’s Really Behind the Koch Attacks on Democrats

For the next eight months, America will be awash in campaign ads funded by Americans for Prosperity, the political action committee backed by Charles and David Koch. With a combined net worth of $80 billion, the Koch brothers have already funneled more than $30 million into congressional races. As of February, AFP had spent more money on ads attacking North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan than Democratic groups had spent on all Senate races in the country combined.

U.S. Tries To Stop India's Solar Policy While Pushing Fight Against Climate Change

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration talks a lot about the need to develop renewable energy around the world to curb climate change. But right now, it's trying to kill India's effort to boost its domestic solar industry.

The U.S. wants India to back off a policy that would require local sourcing for solar energy technology, and has sought World Trade Organization enforcement action. Representatives from the two nations reportedly met last week to try to settle the trade battle over India's rapidly developing solar industry, but reached no resolution.

IPCC report: climate change felt 'on all continents and across the oceans'

Climate change has already left its mark "on all continents and across the oceans", damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday.

Government officials and scientists are gathered in Yokohama this week to wrangle over every line of a summary of the report before the final wording is released on Monday – the first update in seven years.

How Vladimir Putin's actions in Crimea changed the world

Nuclear bombshell

Vladimir Putin's policies in the Soviet Union's former "near abroad" have gone hand in hand with an increasingly tough nuclear stance. The thaw of the US-Russian "reset" that led to the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New Start) in 2010 has passed and the disarmament process is largely frozen.
The reductions in both countries' strategic arsenals to the 1,550 deployed strategic warheads agreed four years ago do appear to be going ahead. But Putin has made clear that he has little interest in a more ambitious follow-on treaty that would have addressed the issue of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

Amend election reform bill or kill it, Harry Neufeld says

Harry Neufeld, the author of the report often cited by government officials to support its proposed changes to Canadian election laws, says the government has to amend its election reform bill or kill it.

The elections expert also fears half a million people could be disenfranchised based on changes included in the Conservative government's Bill C-23, he told reporters following his appearance before the procedure and House affairs committee Thursday.

Danielle D'Entremont, Queen's University Student, Attacked After Threats Over Support Of Feminism

KINGSTON, Ont. - A Queen's University student says she was attacked by a stranger after receiving threatening emails over her support for feminist activities on campus.

Danielle d'Entremont posted a picture of her swollen face on Facebook saying she walked out of her house in Kingston, Ont., late on Wednesday night and "got attacked by a stranger."

She says she was punched in the face multiple times and lost half a tooth.

Boeing Got $7,250 In Tax Breaks For Every $1 It Spent Lobbying

lobbying graphic
That's the benefit Boeing Corp. will reap from a ramped-up lobbying push in Washington state that ended with a massive $8.7 billion tax subsidy, according to ananalysis of lobbying data released Thursday. The tax break came as part of a deal to keep production of a new jet, the 777X, in the Seattle area.

Bernie Sanders: Citizens United Is Creating An 'Oligarchic Form Of Society'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) spoke out against the rise of the wealthy in United States politics from the Senate floor Thursday, saying the rise of the billionaire class leads to a discussion of "whether or not this nation is going to become an oligarchic form of society."

"We have a nation in which the economics and politics are controlled by a handful of billionaire families, [where] it doesn't matter what party is in power because the real power rests with a billionaire class," he said. "Unless we act boldly to reverse that trend, we're seeing this country moving in exactly that direction."

The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, Sanders argued, "allows the super wealthy to spend as much as they want on elections," meaning that the "billionaire party is now in fact the major political force in this country ... led by people like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson."

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post  | by  Natasha Bach

World's Biggest Coal Company, World's Biggest PR Firm Pair Up To Promote Coal For Poor People

WASHINGTON -– Peabody Energy Corp., the world's largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is "the world's number one human and environmental crisis."

To enter the campaign website, readers encounter a drop-in screen that asks them to agree or disagree with the statement, "Access to low-cost energy improves our lives." The site notes that there are 3.5 billion people in the world "without adequate energy" -- 1.2 billion of them children. A video titled "Energy Poverty" features babies and small children, with text that implores, "We can solve this crisis." It adds: "Affordable energy leads to better health."

BC Loosens Restrictions on Swaths of Protected Farmland

The British Columbia government is dividing the Agricultural Land Reserve into two zones and loosening restrictions on how 90 per cent of that land can be used.

While the ministers responsible and various stakeholders said the changes will give farmers in some areas more flexibility to generate income, critics say the government is messing with a system that for 40 years has successfully protected land used to produce food.

Follow the Money, Part 1 -- The Weston Family

You've seen him in television ads hyping President's Choice dessert ideas, naming fake supermarkets after enthusiastic customers, sitting down with moms around the kitchen table and talking to President's Choice farmers on their hormone-free farms.
He's Galen Weston Jr., executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd. And while he, or his media handlers, hone the image of Galen among the common folk -- top shirt button always undone -- the reality is that he's next in line to head Canada's second-wealthiest family, with a 2014 net worth of $10.4 billion, a 26-percent increase over 2013.

Harper Government Under Fire Over $482 Million In Outside Legal Fees

OTTAWA – The Conservative government has spent $482 million on outside legal fees since it came to power in 2006. And more than $447,045 to defend the Prime Minister, his staff and ministers, according to documents tabled in the House of Commons.

“It’s just a shocking number,” Liberal MP Sean Casey told The Huffington Post Canada Wednesday.

“They closed Veterans [Affairs]’ district offices and saved $5 million bucks, [but] over the past eight years, they’ve spent half a billion on outside lawyers. It’s pretty stark.”

A Massive Chemical Plant Is Poised to Wipe This Louisiana Town off the Map

In 1790, a freed slave named Jim Moss found a place to settle down on a bend in the Houston River in the bayous of southwest Louisiana. Although never formally incorporated, the village of Mossville became one of the first settlements of free blacks in the South, predating the formal establishment of Calcasieu Parish by 50 years. But over the last half century, Mossville was surrounded. More than a dozen industrial plants now encircle the community of 500 residents, making it quite possibly the most polluted corner of the most polluted region in one of the most polluted states in the country. Now, a proposal to build the largest chemical plant of its kind in the Western Hemisphere would all but wipe Mossville off the map.

The New Tribalism and the Decline of the Nation State

We are witnessing a reversion to tribalism around the world, away from nation states. The same pattern can be seen even in America -- especially in American politics.

Before the rise of the nation-state, between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, the world was mostly tribal. Tribes were united by language, religion, blood, and belief. They feared other tribes and often warred against them. Kings and emperors imposed temporary truces, at most.