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, May 16, 2014

Timothy Gonterman, Cop In 'Excessive Force' Case, Promoted By Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police promoted a commander who was accused in a lawsuit of burning off part a homeless man's ear with a stun gun, officials announced Thursday.

Albuquerque Police Department Chief Gorden Eden said in a statement he was promoting two Albuquerque commanders to the newly created rank of major in response to a harsh U.S. Justice Department report that was critical of Albuquerque police's use of excessive force and demanded the agency adopt a number of reforms.

Drone Lawyer: Kill a 16 Year-Old, Get a Promotion

If you think that as a United States citizen you're entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill you -- you're wrong. During his stint as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, David Barron was able to manipulate constitutional law so as to legally justify killing American citizens with drone strikes. If you're wondering what the justification for that is, that's just too bad -- the legal memos are classified. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn't it? What's even more suspicious is that now the Obama Administration wants to appoint the lawyer who wrote those legal memos to become a high-ranking judge for life.

Republicans Are Already Ignoring The Benghazi Special Committee They’ve Been Begging For

That was fast.
One week ago, the House of Representatives voted to establish a new select committee, designed to take over from the four House committees already investigating the 2012 Benghazi tragedy. Just literally 7 days later, one of the top Benghazi investigators has opted to ignore the new committee and continue his own investigation.

Town Official Defends Police Commissioner Who Called Obama The N-Word

On March 6, Jane O’Toole was in a Wolfeboro, N.H., restaurant when she heard a town police commissioner call President Obama “the ‘N’ word.” In an email response to O’Toole’s complaint to town officials, the commissioner, Robert Copeland, admitted to having made the comment, writing, “I believe I did use the ‘N’ word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse. For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such,” according to a report from the Associated Press and the New York Times.
Copeland, 82, is one of three elected police commissioners in Wolfeboro, an overwhelmingly white town with 6,300 residents, about 20 of whom are black.
Commission Chairman Joseph Balboni Jr. told the Concord Monitor that O’Toole, whom he referred to as “this woman,” is “blowing it out of proportion,” and that he doesn’t plan to ask Copeland to resign. “He’s (Copeland) worked with a lot of blacks in his life,” Balboni said.
The town manager said he finds the comments “reprehensible” but doesn’t have the power to remove Copeland from office.
Original Article

Governments deny radiation health risks

We love electrical gadgets, particularly new mobile wireless devices such as "smartphones." And we demand more and better connectivity -- cell phone towers, WiFi networks, home wireless routers, etc. Wireless television -- now being aggressively promoted by Bell Canada -- will further increase demand.
An unavoidable trade-off is that we are bathed in radiation. At one end of the electromagnetic spectrum is extremely low-frequency (ELF) radiation. Power lines produce ELF radiation at 50-60 Hertz (Hz, or cycles per second), similar to the frequency of our heartbeats. The middle of the electromagnetic spectrum is occupied by radio frequency (RF) radiation, used for AM and FM radio, television and cell phones. Next comes infrared radiation, followed by the visible portion of the spectrum, ultraviolet rays, x-rays, and finally, gamma rays.

Privatization is the problem, not the solution

Canadians are forever being informed, explicitly or implicitly, that the solution to the crisis of the day, or decade, is a freedom-sounding word called "privatization." This, the free-marketeers tell us, will solve our problems. 
The reality is invariably the opposite. "Privatization" -- also known as bailed-out, highly subsidized corporatism -- is in fact the problem, not the solution. 
Furthermore, the crises being addressed are often manufactured for the express purpose of rolling out a parasitical regime of corporatization that profits from calamity, even as its "host," the public, is fleeced. 

New pipeline rules don't reach 'world class' standard

The federal government announced a handful of changes to how oil and gas pipelines are run earlier this week, but pipeline watchers, environmental groups and First Nations communities are greeting the proposed reforms with some skepticism.

The measures include a $1-billion absolute liability for oil spills, more consultation with First Nations and expanded powers for the federal regulator, the National Energy Board, which oversees 73,000 kilometres of pipeline.

Leading GOP Senate Candidate: Creationism Should Be Taught in Public Schools

In a little-noticed 2012 interview, Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the front-runner in Montana's open 2014 Senate race, expressed support for teaching creationism in public schools.

In an interview that aired on November 2, 2012, Sally Mauk, news director for Montana Public Radio, asked Daines, who was then running for Montana's lone House seat, whether public schools should teach creationism. Daines responded, "What the schools should teach is, as it relates to biology and science is that they have, um, there's evolution theory, there's creation theory, and so forth. I think we should teach students to think critically, and teach students that there are evolutionary theories, there's intelligent-design theories, and allow the students to make up their minds. But I think those kinds of decisions should be decided at the local school board level." He added, "Personally I'd like to teach my kids both sides of the equation there and let them come up to their own conclusion on it."​

Guards Won't Face Charges For Death Of Inmate Ronald Spears

NEW YORK -- The family of a Riker's Island inmate who was allegedly beaten to death in an altercation with corrections officers is demanding justice after the district attorney's decision not to press charges in the case.

"The family is extremely disappointed," Zoe Salzman, a lawyer representing the family of Ronald Spear, told The Huffington Post. "This is a case that's worthy of criminal prosecution. This is a homicide, and there should be criminal charges."

Congress Takes From The Poor, Gives To The Corporate Rich

The most dysfunctional Congress in U.S. history has finally found something that can attract bipartisan support: an expensive package of tax breaks that mostly benefit corporate interests.

By a vote of 96-3, the Senate this week advanced an $85 billion bundle of breaks known as "extenders," so named because they supposedly expire every two years. In reality, these breaks have become an all-but-permanent part of the tax code, costing the Treasury billions of dollars a year in lost revenue. Though the House has introduced rival legislation, some version of the Senate bill is likely to win final passage.

Yan Xuetong: ‘Conflict control’ is key to U.S.-China relations in a bipolar world

Restoring China’s national pride is a primary concern for President Xi Jinping as he seeks to establish a "new type of great power relationship" with the United States, according to a scholar who influences Beijing’s policy with Washington.
In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Yan Xuetong, dean of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Modern International Relations, also said the concept of “conflict control” should play a key role at a time when China’s rise is driving a sea change in the world order.

Wall Street Has Been Sneaking Peeks At Fed Decisions: Study

For at least the past 16 years, stock market traders have apparently been profiting from sneak peeks at the most important monetary policy decisions in the world. But the markets are not rigged! No, sir.

Interest rate decisions by the Federal Reserve's policy committee between 1997 and 2013 were regularly leaked, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for traders who got the information ahead of the rest of the market, according to a new study by Gennaro Bernile, Jianfeng Hu and Yuehua Tang of Singapore Management University, first reported by Bloomberg.

FCC Votes For Plan To Kill Net Neutrality

(Reuters) - U.S. telecommunications regulators on Thursday formally proposed new "net neutrality" rules that may let Internet service providers charge content companies for faster and more reliable delivery of their traffic to users.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has come under fire from consumer advocates and technology companies for proposing to allow some "commercially reasonable" deals in which content companies could pay broadband providers to prioritize traffic on their networks.

India Elects Hard-Right Hindu Nationalist as New Indian Prime Minister Backed by Corporate Interests

Early results from the largest election in the world show India’s opposition leader Narendra Modi has won a landslide victory to become the country’s new prime minister. Modi is the leader of the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party. "This is the result that the corporations in India wanted," says Siddhartha Deb, Indian author and journalist, noting that Modi "is very a pro-development politician, which basically means pro-business." Deb adds that Modi served as the chief minister of Gujarat, where anti-Muslim riots in 2002 left at least a thousand people dead. After the bloodshed, the U.S. State Department revoked Modi’s visa. Modi has never apologized for or explained his actions at the time of the riots. Deb’s recent article in The Guardian is "India’s Dynasty-Dominated Politics Has No Space for Dissent" and his nonfiction book is "The Beautiful and the Damned: A Portrait of the New India."

Author: --

5 Reasons Why Narendra Modi Leading India Is So Controversial

As the world's largest-ever democratic vote wrapped up on Monday, a controversial politician is poised to take the reins of power, after exit polls showed his opposition party trouncing the incumbents.
After more than half a billion Indians cast their ballots, the latest tallies suggest the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to win between 248 and 282 seats in the parliamentary election, with the ruling Congress party set to take 92-102 seats. Final results are expected on Friday.

Putin: Ukraine Will Have to Pay In Advance For Russian Gas

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has ratcheted up pressure on Ukraine, with President Vladimir Putin saying in a letter released Thursday that it only will deliver gas to its struggling neighbor next month if it pays in advance.

Putin first warned of the move in April in a letter to European leaders whose nations are customers of Russian state-controlled Gazprom natural gas giant. He said that Moscow would switch to pre-paid deliveries if Ukraine, which serves as a major conduit for Russian gas supplies to Europe, failed to start settling its mounting gas debt.


The other day, I asked how hedge funds manage to bestow such great riches on their managers despite the fact that, in many cases, their performance seems pretty ordinary. That got quite a reaction. The responses ranged from claims that hedgies are remunerated perfectly appropriately to charges that they are outright crooks who prey on gullible and greedy investors. Because the industry has grown enormously in recent years—according to one industry source, hedge funds now manage about $2.1 trillion of capital, a good deal of which comes from pension funds and charitable endowments—it’s not a trivial matter which of these explanations is the most accurate.

Jill Abramson Was Right

Here is something that’s been lost in the coverage of The New York Times’s abrupt, humiliating firing of Jill Abramson: in most of her publicly aired conflicts with publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Mark Thompson about the future of the institution, she was clearly in the right.

There are two intertwining narratives of Abramson’s downfall, and both probably have some truth to them. The story that’s gotten the most attention, of course, is about sexism. “Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs,” Ken Auletta reported in The New Yorker. “’She confronted the top brass,’ one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was ‘pushy,’ a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect.”

Elizabeth Warren Reveals Inside Details of Trade Talks

One of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s top priorities since coming to Washington has been opening up ongoing international trade talks to public scrutiny—she has, on several occasions, criticized the secret nature of the negotiations, and has pressed the administration’s trade representative directly about transparency.

On Wednesday night in DC, at Public Citizen’s annual gala, Warren spoke about the trade deals in some of her most direct remarks to date on the issue—and revealed some inside details about the debate in Congress.

Bernard Valcourt Refuses To Meet 'Rogue Chiefs' In Assembly Of First Nations

OTTAWA - The federal government is refusing to meet with a group of "rogue chiefs" from within the stricken Assembly of First Nations until they withdraw their threat to cripple the Canadian economy.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said Thursday he won't talk to representatives from the Confederacy of Nations — a group of chiefs from across the country who meet in times of crisis, or in between the assembly's scheduled gatherings — until they retract their threat.

Supreme Court's Harkat ruling is a profound injustice

The Supreme Court decision Wednesday to uphold the Security Certificate process is devastating news for Mohamed Harkat, his wife Sophie, and his family. The ruling is a serious blow to human rights in Canada and preserves a deeply undemocratic practice.
Despite some reports, the Supreme Court did not rule that Harkat is or has ever been a terrorist. In fact the court didn't even rule that he has committed any crime whatsoever. The Supreme Court only ruled that Security Certificates are a "reasonable" process, despite the fact that they are based on hearsay, innuendo and secret information.

Cone of Silence descends over deeds of Tory Jim Prentice's secret agents, real or imagined

Like those Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki men from Russia allegedly crawling all over Ukraine and stirring up nothing but trouble, secret agents of Jim Prentice's campaign to become the next leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative dynasty seem to be everywhere and nowhere these days.
According to a claim made yesterday by the equally right-wing Wildrose Party, "a person close" to Prentice called up a person close to Danielle Smith, the official Opposition party's leader, and suggested an 11th Hour Wildrose-PC merger.

Single Mom Slams Clark on Clawbacks: 'She Has Zero Idea'

Jessica Sothcott could work and earn as much as $9,600 a year without it affecting the amount she receives in disability payments, but every dollar she receives in child support from her daughter's father is deducted in full from what the government will provide.

"I was shocked," said the mother of two who was at the British Columbia legislature with her 14-year-old daughter Rosalie on Wednesday to draw attention to the issue.

Sothcott said she raised the matter with the office that administers the province's Person With Disability benefits. "When I finally got on PWD, I went there and I said, 'Why are you taking my child support off my cheque still, because I'm allowed to earn $800 a month?' And they said, 'Oh, you don't earn that money.'

IMF Pegs Canada's Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $34 Billion

While Canada slashes budgets for research, education and public broadcasting, there is one part of our economy that enjoys remarkable support from the Canadian taxpayer: the energy sector.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that energy subsidies in Canada top an incredible $34 billion each year in direct support to producers and uncollected tax on externalized costs.

These figures are found in the appendix of a major report released last year estimating global energy subsidies at almost $2 trillion. The report estimated that eliminating the subsidies would reduce global carbon emissions by 13 per cent. The stunning statistics specific to this country remain almost completely unreported in Canadian media.

A million jobs? Heck, why not a zillion?

One of my all-time favourite comments by an economist goes like this:

“If two people claim to have seen a UFO, with one person claiming that it was large and the other person claiming that it was small, should we assume that the UFO was medium-sized?”

This great comment — actually by two economists, Brian MacLean and Mark Setterfield — reminds us of a basic, often-neglected law of economics: The fact that people assert something to be true doesn’t mean that it is.

Rona Ambrose Needs To Review New Brunswick Abortion Rules: MPs

FREDERICTON - Three Liberal MPs say they believe regulations governing abortion access in New Brunswick may contravene the accessibility principle of the Canada Health Act and they've asked federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose to intervene.

Hedy Fry, Dominic LeBlanc and Carolyn Bennett have sent a letter to Ambrose asking her to invoke a dispute and resolution process in order to resolve the issue.

New Oil Spill Safety Rules Make Pipeline Companies Liable For Costs

VANCOUVER - The Canadian government says pipeline companies will be liable for all costs and damages from a spill, regardless of fault or negligence under a new law.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford said Wednesday pipeline operators will also have to have a minimum amount of cash available to pay cleanup costs and the National Energy board will be given the power to order reimbursement for those affected by a spill.

The law comes amid opposition in the province to two pipelines. Enbridge's Northern Gateway project would transport 525,000 barrels a day from Alberta to the B.C. coast. Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain expansion would almost triple the current capacity of a pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver to 900,000.

Canada needs more pipeline infrastructure to export its growing oil sands production from Alberta.

Original Article
Author: CP

Baird: Canada's 'Middle-Path' Foreign Policy Days Are 'Gone'

WASHINGTON - A Washington audience heard an anecdote Wednesday about a young John Baird as the foreign affairs minister illustrated how much Canada's foreign policy has changed during his time in politics.

Baird told more than 1,000 people at an American Jewish Congress convention about his days as a staffer in the Mulroney-Campbell governments, to drive home a point about Canada's increasingly idealistic foreign policy.