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, May 15, 2014

Harry Reid Proposes Changing Constitution To Block The Koch Brothers

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday called for amending the U.S. Constitution to bar big money donors from having an outsized impact on the nation's elections, saying billionaire donors were mounting a "hostile takeover" of America.

School Segregation Across The Country Proves Students Are Still Separate

While many of the major gains in the South since the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education have been reversed in recent years, a new report says that, at the very least, things are not as bad as they were before the court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools.

“Contrary to many claims, the South has not gone back to the level of segregation before Brown. It has lost all of the additional progress made after l967 but is still the least segregated region for black students,” says the report, released Thursday by researchers at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project.

Palestinians March To Mark Their 1948 Displacement

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian teens in a West Bank clash that erupted Thursday after Palestinians marked their uprooting during the Mideast war over Israel's 1948 creation, a doctor said.

Three Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, when Israeli troops fired to disperse stone throwers near an Israeli military checkpoint in the West Bank, said Dr. Samir Saliba, head of the emergency department at Ramallah Hospital.

Brazil Braces For Widespread Protests

SAO PAULO (AP) — Protesters began a wave of demonstrations around Brazil on Thursday, burning tires and blocking highways to draw attention to housing and education needs before next month's World Cup.

In Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city, demonstrators blocked two key roads into the city and hundreds protested near one of the stadiums built for soccer's premier tournament.

Wars Internally Displaced 33.3 Million People In 2013, Reports U.N.

GENEVA (AP) — A record 33.3 million people worldwide were displaced by conflict and violence inside their own nations in 2013, U.N. and Norwegian officials said Wednesday.

The increase of 4.5 million above the 2012 total was driven largely by Syria's civil war, now in its fourth year, which activists estimate has killed 150,000 people.


At the annual City University Journalism School dinner, on Monday, Dean Baquet, the managing editor of the New York Times, was seated with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the paper’s publisher. At the time, I did not give a moment’s thought to why Jill Abramson, the paper’s executive editor, was not at their table. Then, at 2:36 P.M. on Wednesday, an announcement from the Times hit my e-mail, saying that Baquet would replace Abramson, less than three years after she was appointed the first woman in the top job. Baquet will be the first African-American to lead the Times.

Was Jill Abramson Fired After Complaining About Pay Discrimination?

The question of why, exactly, Jill Abramson was fired as the top editor of the New York Times has been dominating media circles since the paper announced her departure on Wednesday. While the news was initially steeped in mystery, several reports have painted a picture of continual clashes between Abramson and the two other key players in the Times hierarchy: publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. and Mark Thompson, the CEO of the New York Times company.

Koch Brothers Face Insults While Unions Face Threats To Their Very Existence

WASHINGTON -- Not a week goes by these days without Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denouncing the billionaire Koch brothers as "un-American" and "power-hungry tycoons" for funding a massive independent political machine working to defeat the Democratic Senate majority.

Republicans have called Reid's comments an attack on private citizens and free speech and an attempt to stifle conservative voices. Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who represents the Kochs' home state of Kansas, labeled Reid's remarks as "bizarre" and, at a April 30 committee hearing, said, "The First Amendment doesn’t allow us to silence those who oppose us."

Climate Change Is A Growing National Security Concern, Say Retired Military Leaders

A report released Tuesday from an advisory group of retired U.S. military leadership echoes the findings of other recent reports on climate change: It is real, it is already happening and it poses major threats to the U.S. and the rest of the world.

The federally funded Center for Naval Analyses and its Military Advisory Board, a group of 16 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals, affirm in the report that climate events like flooding, prolonged drought and rising sea levels, and the subsequent population dislocation and food insecurity, will serve as "catalysts for instability and conflict" in vulnerable regions of the world.

Kinder Morgan oil spill volume from 2013 was quadruple the reported amount

After persistently prodding the National Energy Board, pipeline critic David Ellis finally got a report on Kinder Morgan's two oil spills along the Trans Mountain pipeline route. The spills happened last June, and had temporarily shut the pipeline down for investigation.

What he saw on page two of Kinder Morgan's Engineering Assessment floored him. It stated that instead of just 20-25 barrels spilled near the Coquihalla Canyon, the pipeline leaked well over quadruple that amount.

Government muzzles expert witnesses on major citizenship bill

Citizenship advocates Don Chapman and Melynda Jarratt are fuming after seeing what they call a flagrant violation of the democratic process in Parliament unfold before their eyes.

Just moments before they were set to testify before the Citizen and Immigration committee on Monday, Conservative caucus member Ted Opitz  motioned to close the meeting to the public, preventing them from speaking on bill C-24, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act.

Paul Ryan's Approach To Poverty Is Straight Out Of The 19th Century

Bob Woodson recalled the day 11 years ago when two of his sons left the house to go buy some CDs at the now-defunct electronics superstore Circuit City.

"Three minutes later I got a harried call from my [younger] son that they were turned over in their car on the highway right outside of my house," Woodson said. "And my wife and I came there and the ambulance and fire trucks had not arrived yet, and we were the first ones to hear my son scream and to watch the body of my older son pulled from the wreckage."

Nebraska Senate Nominee Says Religious Beliefs Can Justify Breaking Any Law

“[O]ur right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life,” according to the campaign website of Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday. Nebraska is a solid red state that preferred Romney to Obama by a massive 21 point margin in 2012, so Sasse is now all but certain to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) this November. If he does, Sasse promises to promote an almost anarchistic vision of religious liberty as a member of the Senate. According to Sasse’s website, “[g]overnment cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances.”

Bribes, Favors, and a Billion-Dollar Yacht: Inside the Crazy World of the Men Who Do Oil Companies' Dirty Work

When big oil companies like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron set their sights on a prime new oil reserve in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, the first phone call they make usually isn't to the government office putting it up for sale. Instead, they ring up one of their contacts in a small, elite group of so-called "fixers," a shady cabal of a few dozen well-connected billionaires who hold the strings on the market for the world's most valuable commodity. The fixer gets a fat fee and a straightforward assignment: Do whatever you need to do to get us those oil rights.

Children Work U.S. Tobacco Farms At The Ripe Age Of 7: Human Rights Watch

RICHMOND, Va. - You may have to be at least 18 to buy cigarettes in the U.S., but children as young as 7 are working long hours in fields harvesting nicotine- and pesticide-laced tobacco leaves under sometimes hazardous and sweltering conditions, according to a report released Wednesday by an international rights group.

The Human Rights Watch report details findings from interviews with more than 140 children working on farms in North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, where a majority of the country's tobacco is grown. The group acknowledges that most of what it documented is legal under U.S. law but aims to highlight the practice and urge both governments and tobacco companies to take further steps to protect children from the hazardous harvesting of the cash crop that has built businesses, funded cities and influenced cultures.

Elections overhaul bill includes loophole that could hinder investigations into fraud between election cycles

PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs mounting a last stand Tuesday in the face of government closure of debate on controversial election bill discovered yet more “bread crumbs for a starving man” as they realized last-minute Conservative amendments include a loophole that could hinder completion of investigations into fraud on voters between elections.

The provision, an amendment to original wording in the legislation that extended the length of time voter calling services will be required to keep records and caller scripts for robocall telephone calls to voters, would allow the calling services to destroy the records from one election a full year before the next election.

The real issue in Harper vs. the Supreme Court

MONTREAL — Recent comments by the Harper government concerning the Supreme Court of Canada have garnered much criticism. The Council of Canadian Law Deans has decried the government's "impugning the integrity of the Chief Justice and the independence of the Supreme Court," while 11 former Canadian Bar Association presidents have denounced "disrespect by the executive branch for the judicial branch of our constitutional democracy."

While the specifics of l'affaire Nadon add up to a veritable judicial-appointments whodunit, perhaps it is worthwhile to appreciate the real issue in Harper vs. the Court.

Bar warns of conflict if tribunals merged under Bill C-31

Independent experts are calling for several sections to be removed from the Conservative government’s sweeping omnibus budget bill as an expanding number of provisions come under fire, including a move to shrink 11 independent tribunals into one “mega agency.”

The latest appeal for changes came Tuesday from the Canadian Bar Association, which is calling for the government to scrap sections of the bill that would merge the staffing of 11 independent tribunals and place the new entity under the direction of the federal Justice Minister.

Canadian Science Goes Down the Drain

Two years ago, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that it would be closing the Experimental Lakes Area as part of a budget-balancing move. The government first announced that the ELA was no longer needed, and that similar science could be done at its other facilities. Never mind that the ELA had a license to perform whole-ecosystem experiments that were not possible at any other facility in the world, or that the station had the longest monitoring record for lakes and streams in Canada.

News Christy Clark's Never Ending Campaign

The bus bearing the Debt-Free B.C. slogan and Premier Christy Clark's face stood parked the day after the BC Liberals won a surprising return to running the province.

If Premier Christy Clark's Twitter account is any indication, soccer is on her mind more than her constituents.

By The Tyee's count, she has tweeted 17 times about her riding since she was sworn-in as Westside-Kelowna MLA on July 30, including a Sept. 11 group cabinet photo by Okanagan Lake. By comparison, Clark has tweeted 19 messages about the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Google Looms As 'Censor-In-Chief' After ‘Right To Be Forgotten' Ruling

Europe’s top court ruling that forces internet search engines to remove links containing embarrassing material about an individual’s past may have significant implications on the future of freedom of speech online, George Washington University law professor Jeffery Rosen warns.

Or, as Oxford professor Viktor Mayer-Schonberger sees it, the decision could have little impact, and the online world tomorrow will be much like the online world today.

Death Toll In Turkish Mining Accident Climbs As Hundreds Found Dead

SOMA, Turkey (AP) -- Anger and grief boiled over into a violent protest Wednesday in the western Turkish town of Soma, where officials said at least 245 miners died in a coal mine explosion and fire.

Nearly 450 other miners were rescued, the mining company said, but the fate of an unknown number of others remained unclear in one of the world's deadliest mining disasters in decades.

Tensions were high as hundreds of relatives and miners jostled outside the coal mine waiting for news, countered by a heavy police presence. Rows of women wailed uncontrollably, men knelt sobbing and others just stared in disbelief as rescue workers removed a steady stream of bodies throughout the night and early morning. Others shouted at Turkish officials as they passed by.

Outdated listings on Canada Job Bank

OTTAWA - Employment Minister Jason Kenney says there are no job postings languishing on the federal government's online job bank that are older than six months — even though the site is strewn with ads that are almost a year old or older.

"The typical maximum posting period is 30 days," Kenney said this week in the House of Commons. "We only extend it beyond that if employers ask for an extension for up to six months maximum, after which the postings expire."

Veterans Affairs Canada spent $100,000 on promoted tweets: documents

OTTAWA – The department of Veterans Affairs spent more than $100,000 promoting its tweets on Twitter last year, newly released documents show.

The money, which came from advertising funds allocated by the Privy Council Office, was mostly geared towards promoting Remembrance Day in 2013.

A “promoted tweet” is a tweet an organization pays to promote specific topics on the 140-character social media site.

Legal community demands Stephen Harper withdraw criticism of Beverley McLachlin

OTTAWA—An outraged Canadian legal community is marshalling criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, writing an open letter to him and seeking outside international help to reaffirm the independence of Canada’s top jurist.
More than 650 lawyers and law teachers from across Canada released an open letterTuesday calling on Harper to withdraw his criticism of Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Sallie Mae Braces For Nearly $200 Million In Penalties As Education Department Ponders Next Move

Sallie Mae and its former loan servicing unit have struck a deal with federal authorities to resolve allegations that the nation's largest student loan company cheated active duty troops, as well as other borrowers who were being charged late fees.

The two companies more than doubled to $173 million the amount they have set aside to cover settlements resolving allegations brought by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Department of Justice.

America’s Oil And Gas Industry Averaged At Least 20 Spills Per Day In 2013

Despite missing data from one of the largest natural gas-producing states in the nation, an EnergyWire analysis released Monday found that the U.S. oil and gas industry was responsible for at least 7,662 spills, blowouts, and leaks in 2013 — an average of about 20 spills per day.

Police could see tax info without warrant under proposed law

Police would be able to see Canadians’ private tax information without the use of a warrant under a proposed government law.

If it’s passed, the Canada Revenue Agency could voluntarily hand over a taxpayer’s data to police and the citizen would never be notified.

The change is proposed in the Conservatives’ 375-page omnibus budget bill through a clause that amends the Income Tax Act.

Robocall probe didn’t contact Winnipeg riding

OTTAWA — Investigators did not speak to the company that placed Conservative get-out-the-vote calls in Winnipeg South Centre, the riding with the second largest number of complaints of deceptive calls in the last election.

Elections Canada issued a report last month after a two-year, $650,000 investigation into reports of dirty political calls across Canada, finding no evidence of “a conspiracy or conspiracies to interfere with the voting process.”

Senate Candidate: Government Has No Business Setting A Minimum Wage

ATHENS, GEORGIA — Georgia’s minimum wage is only $5.15 an hour. Since that is more than $2 lower than the federal minimum wage, low-income workers take home the higher amount of at least $7.25 an hour. That’s still not enough to get by in Georgia, where many families working for minimum wage are stuck below the poverty line.


This is the time of year when publications that cover the hedge-fund industry do their annual rankings, and people get irate about the vast sums of money that the top hedgies make—in some cases, billions of dollars. At the top of this year’s list, according to a survey from Institutional Investor Alpha, are four familiar names: David Tepper, of Appaloosa Management, who made $3.5 billion; Stephen Cohen, of SAC Capital ($2.4 billion); John Paulson, of Paulson & Co. ($2.3 billion); and James Simons, of Renaissance Technologies ($2.2 billion).

Impeach Clarence Thomas?

Of all the justices on the Supreme Court, none—not even the fulminating homophobic Antonin Scalia—deserves more consideration for impeachment than Clarence Thomas, and for reasons having nothing to do with Anita Hill.

But can a sitting justice really be removed from office, and if so, when is removal warranted?

UN Report On Indigenous Rights Finds Canada Still Has A Long Way To Go

OTTAWA - A United Nations rapporteur is at a loss to explain how a prosperous and sophisticated country like Canada has come to have on its hands a First Nations human-rights problem that has reached "crisis proportions."

James Anaya's report picks a fight with the federal government on several fronts — education, energy projects on reserves and missing or murdered aboriginal women, to name a few — and is sure to amplify tensions between Canada's First Nations and a federal government they so thoroughly distrust.

Terrible Net Neutrality Plan Will Get A Makeover, Still Be Terrible

FCC Chairmain Tom Wheeler is taking another stab at that whole "net neutrality" thing, after over 100 tech companies blasted his recent proposal for new net neutrality rules as weak and biased towards wealthy companies that can pay extra to have their sites load more quickly on the web.

A court struck down the FCC's original rules on net neutrality -- or the principle that Internet service providers should treat all online traffic equally -- in January, and in April Wheeler put forward a new proposal that would revise the rules. Under the new system, Internet providers could charge websites like Netflix or Skype for faster Internet, essentially creating two lanes for online traffic -- one for companies that can pay up, and a slower one for those that can't. Critics say that such a "pay-to-play" system will stifle innovation and make Internet more expensive.

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden Gleefully Admits: We Kill People Based on Metadata

Since the very first Snowden leak a year ago, one of the more common refrains from defenders of the program is "but it's just metadata, not actual content, so what's the big deal?" Beyond the fact that other programs do collect content, we've pointed out time and time again that the "just metadata, don't worry" argument only makes sense if you don't know what metadata reveals. Anyone with any knowledge of the subject knows that metadata reveals a ton of private info. Furthermore, we've even pointed out that the NSA regularly uses "just metadata" to pick targets for drone assassinations. As one person called it: "death by unreliable metadata."

Kashechewan Flooding Forces Community Evacuation

KASHECHEWAN, - An evacuation of all remaining residents in the northern Ontario First Nation of Kashechewan was to be carried out Monday because of the threat of rising floodwaters, said an official with the provincial government.

Community leaders in the remote community of 2,000 asked the federal and Ontario governments to help move all those residents who haven't already been relocated said Andrew Morrison, a spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

Ford brothers helped business client lobby city for tax break

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his councillor brother Doug Ford helped one of the customers of their family business to lobby the city’s highest ranking bureaucrat for a special property tax break and repeatedly intervened with city staff without disclosing the company had a commercial relationship with the Ford family, a Globe and Mail investigation has found.

Increasing inequality and the rise of a super-rich in Canada

As Donald Sterling discovered last week, even billions of dollars can't spare you public humiliation when you're caught on tape making racist remarks.
For everything else, however, there's MasterCard.
Indeed, apart from the slagging the L.A. Clippers owner received from the NBA, enormous wealth can get you just about everything, while lack of resources leaves you barely able to function in society.
So the fact that there's been a massive diversion of income and wealth to those at the top in recent years seems like it should be a big deal.
And in the U.S., it's at least seen as a big deal. From inside the White House, Barack Obama has made the dramatic surge in inequality his signature issue, describing it as "the defining issue of our time."

Red tape leaves expectant B.C. mom with no medicare

A B.C. couple about to have their first baby said the best time of their lives has been marred by fear and frustration — because red tape has them facing up to $20,000 in hospital bills.

“Seeing how the system has failed in this case is the most frustrating thing,” said father-to-be Kevin Ganshorn, who lives in Vancouver with his wife Susana Bustes.

There is plenty of room under Stephen Harper's bus

There is no limit to Stephen Harper's throw-them-under-the-bus list. For him and his ministers there is always room for the next victims. The list of those run over in the past eight years is already extensive. But it's clear we've seen nothing yet. Mr. Harper doesn't like to be crossed. His capacity for vindictiveness seems to have few limits. Here are four of the latest losers.

Election call centre script raises questions about honesty of Conservatives

The lawyer for the Conservative party twice gave Elections Canada incorrect information about telephone calls that directed voters to the wrong polling station in the last days of the 2011 federal election.

In an email May 1, party lawyer Arthur Hamilton told Elections Canada that Conservative call centre workers were not advising voters that Elections Canada had changed the location of polling stations, and that the party had not advised voters to go to a polling station an hour and a half from their home.

Canada Sticking To Tough On Crime Approach, While U.S. Slowly Moving Away: Report

WASHINGTON - A pair of newly released reports show two countries moving in opposite directions on law and order: Canada gearing up for stricter sentencing laws just as the tough-on-crime era winds down in the United States.

Canada's auditor general issued a warning last week about increasingly overcrowded prisons in an era of stiffer jail terms.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., these are tough times to be tough on crime. The prison population actually receded in the U.S. in recent years, a new study shows — a dramatic shift from a decades-long trend that made America the undisputed world leader in incarceration with more than two million prisoners, or one-quarter of the entire international total.

The Minimum Wage Loophole That's Screwing Over Waiters and Waitresses

As Republicans stonewall President Obama's initiative to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2016, some state lawmakers have taken the matter into their own hands, passing legislation that increases the salaries for America's most vulnerable workers. But there's one group that is still largely left out of the minimum wage battle: people who work for tips.

As it stands, only seven states require employers to pay tipped workers the same minimum wage as nontipped workers. The federal minimum wage for the latter is $7.25, but the federal minimum wage for tipped workers has remained stagnate at $2.13 since 1991, with no adjustment for inflation. Employers are supposed to make up the difference if tipped workers aren't earning the regular minimum wage through their tips, but it doesn't always happen. The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, found in 2011 that tipped workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to fall under the federal poverty line.

FCC Head to Revise Broadband-Rules Plan

The head of the Federal Communications Commission is revising proposed rules for regulating broadband Internet, including offering assurances that the agency won't allow companies to segregate Web traffic into fast and slow lanes.

The new language by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to be circulated as early as Monday is an attempt to address criticism of his proposal unveiled last month that would ban broadband providers from blocking or slowing down websites but allow them to strike deals in which content companies could pay them for faster delivery of Web content to customers.

Ukrainian National Guardsmen Fire On Crowd In Eastern Ukraine

KRASNOARMEISK, Ukraine (AP) — Armed men identified as Ukrainian national guard opened fire Sunday on a crowd outside a town hall in eastern Ukraine, and an official for the region's insurgents said there were fatalities.

The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of armed men shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region. One of them identified the group as being national guardsmen.

Mothers’ Thankless Work Building an Economy for the Rest of Us

There’s a video that recently made its way around the Internet. In it, supposedly unsuspecting people join a video call to interview for a job as “Director of Operations.” Then the person doing the interviewing starts describing the job. It requires “mobility…that you must be able to work standing up most or really all of the time.” The hours are “basically twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” with no breaks and no vacation—and the workload increases on holidays. It “requires excellent negotiation and interpersonal skills” and the company is looking for “someone that might have a degree in medicine, in finance and in the culinary arts.” All this has to be done “with a happy disposition” and the job will “pay absolutely nothing.”

Fewer than half of Edmonton kindergarten children start class ready to learn

Only 42.5 per cent of kindergarten-aged children in Edmonton are developing appropriately — physically, intellectually, linguistically, socially and emotionally.

That’s the disturbing finding of a new five-year research study, released Friday by the University of Alberta and Alberta Education.

“I was absolutely astounded,” says Susan Lynch, the University of Alberta professor who directed the study. “I knew that a certain percentage of students were experiencing difficulty. But the percentage of children who are developing appropriately across all five areas is below 50 per cent. I was expecting it to be up around the 70-per-cent mark.”

Meet The Republican Judge Fighting To Bail Scott Walker Out Of A Criminal Investigation

Last Tuesday, a Republican federal judge named Rudolph Randa handed down an unusual order cutting off a criminal investigation alleging illegal coordination between several political campaigns — including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) 2012 recall campaign — and conservative groups such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth. Randa speckled his order with uncharacteristic rhetoric for a judge tasked with being a neutral and impartial arbiter of the law. At one point, he labels the criminal probe “a long-running investigation of all things Walker-related.” At another point, he compares efforts to reign in excessive campaign spending to “the Guillotine and the Gulag.”

Russian Billionaires Lose Wealth As Ukraine Crisis Continues

(Reuters) - Russia's Alisher Usmanov has lost his spot as the richest man in Britain, according to the Sunday Times, as the crisis in Ukraine wiped billions of pounds off the bank balances of Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

The Indian-born, London-based brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja, who run the global automotive, banking and investment Hinduja Group, have climbed to the top of the list as Britain's wealthiest pair, valued at 11.9 billion pounds ($20 billion).


Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, probably hoped he could avoid spending too much of his tenure dealing with net neutrality. He likely envisioned spending a few pleasant years in office, liberating some spectrum (he’s already done some of that), and maybe playing with a few mergers. But, like an American President hoping to stay away from the Middle East, things haven’t quite worked out that way.

The troubles began in January. The F.C.C. has two ways of regulating Internet openness: through its main authority (called, in telecom jargon, Title II) and through auxiliary rules. Wheeler’s predecessor, Julius Genachowski, had tried to defend net neutrality with the auxiliary rules—like the commander of a battleship foreswearing his sixteen-inch guns and relying instead on fire hoses. Not surprisingly, early this year, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down Genachowski’s rules.