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, June 23, 2014

Justice Scalia Tries To Blow Up America’s Ability To Conduct Diplomacy

The Supreme Court’s decision in Bond v. United States arises out of a set of facts that seem lifted from a soap opera. Yet, if the Court’s two most conservative members had their way, it would have also cut off America’s ability to conduct international diplomacy at its knees. Justice Antonin Scalia, in an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, would strictly limit America’s ability to comply with its own treaty obligations — calling into question whether foreign nations can trust the United States to keep the promises it makes on an international stage.

Why 200 Black Men Raised Concerns About Obama’s Initiative Targeting Men and Boys of Color

More than 200 black men have signed on to a letter expressing concerns about My Brother’s Keeper, the initiative launched by President Obama and the philanthropic community earlier this year to address what the White House calls “opportunity gaps” facing young men and boys of color. The signers—among them actor and activist Danny Glover, scholar Robin D.G. Kelley and author Kiese Laymon—take issue with the $200 million effort’s exclusive focus on boys and men.

The entire letter is worth a read, but its argument is summed up in its final paragraph:

Ohio May Take Away Low-Income Women’s Access To The Most Effective Form Of Birth Control

The Ohio legislature is currently considering a measure that would institute a sweeping ban on insurance coverage for abortion in state residents’ public and private health plans. Restricting women’s ability to use their insurance plans to pay for abortion is becoming anincreasingly popular anti-choice strategy — and Ohio’s proposed legislation may actually go even further. The measure would also make it harder for low-income women to afford the most effective form of birth control.

Secret terror trial is threat to open justice, human rights campaigners warn

A major criminal trial involving two men charged with serious terrorism offences could be held entirely in secret for the first time in modern British legal history.

Lawyers contesting the decision at the court of appeal on Wednesday said the plan amounted to "an unprecedented departure from the principles of open justice" and was "inconsistent with democracy and the rule of law".

Hillary Clinton's Goldman Sachs Problem

A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton delivered a much-touted policy speech at the New America Foundation in Washington, where she talked passionately about the financial plight of Americans who "are still barely getting by, barely holding on, not seeing the rewards that they believe their hard work should have merited." She bemoaned the fact that the slice of the nation's wealth collected by the top 1 percent—or 0.01 percent—has "risen sharply over the last generation," and she denounced this "throwback to the Gilded Age of the robber barons." Her speech, in which she cited the various projects of the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that address economic inequality, was widely compared to the rhetoric of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the unofficial torchbearer of the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Here was Hillary, test-driving a theme for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, sticking up for the little guy and trash-talking the economic elites. She decried the "shadow banking system that operated without accountability" and caused the financial crisis that wiped out millions of jobs and the nest eggs, retirement funds, and college savings of families across the land. Yet at the end of this week, when all three Clintons hold a daylong confab with donors to their foundation, the site for this gathering will be the Manhattan headquarters of Goldman Sachs.

Canada Increasingly Dependent On Resources As Factories, Housing Slide

OTTAWA - The Conference Board's latest barometer of the economy shows Canada's short-term outlook is becoming ever more dependent on commodities.

The newest composite leading index for April rose by 0.4 per cent, twice the pace of March, but the composition shows the trigger for growth was almost exclusively on the commodity export side.

Higher resource prices contributed to an eighth consecutive month of growth in the Toronto stock market, with the Bank of Canada commodity price posting the biggest gain in three years at 2.4 per cent.

As well, wheat prices were strong in part due to the turmoil in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, manufacturing was flat in the month and housing fell for the sixth consecutive month.

The labour component was also soft with claims for employment insurance experiencing the largest jump in almost three years.

The Conference Board says the leading index is composed of 10 indicators designed to track the short-term course of the economy.

Original Article
Author: CP

Canada's Military Presence In Eastern Europe Could Be Bolstered, Harper Says

WARSAW, Poland - Canada is considering bolstering its long-term military presence in Eastern Europe to counter the long-term threat posed by Russia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday.

Speaking in Warsaw after a meeting with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, Harper stressed no decisions had been taken, but clearly signalled Canada is ready to do more.

When you’re the Khan, you don’t need reasons

“The political opposition parties don’t check the power of the prime minister. Parliament doesn’t check the power of the prime minister. Media doesn’t check the power of the prime minister. You might as well elect Genghis Khan.”

— Ottawa lawyer Richard Mahoney

Actually, we did.

And now we have another example of Stephen Harper riding roughshod over due process at the expense of five talented people.

Amid China's Broiling Growth, a Quiet Tiananmen Square

BEIJING -- In the 25 years since tanks rumbled across Tiananmen Square and brutally put paid to mass expressions of discontent here, the Chinese capital has been transformed. With a tip of the hat to Milan Kundera, one might think of Beijing these days as the city of spending and forgetting.

"Beijing differs vastly from what it was in 1989," reports The Wall Street Journal. "Where bicycles once dominated the city, luxury cars now clog its roadways. Well-heeled residents dress in international designer brands and the city has become a major destination for global commerce despite a slowing Chinese economy."

Nigel Wright set to return to Onex, CEO says

Nigel Wright, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, is poised to return to Onex Corp., CEO Gerald Schwartz said yesterday.

Wright, who left the Prime Minister's Office in May 2013 after cutting a personal cheque to pay back improper expenses for Senator Mike Duffy, is a former managing director of the private equity firm.

How racism, hysteria and militarism are gripping Israel

The return visit from far right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin to Toronto, where he called for an exclusivist Jewish state, minus the indigenous Arab population, sparked barely a whimper of concern in Canada beyond a protest of his presence by Independent Jewish Voices.
Feiglin, a deputy Knesset speaker and Jewish West Bank settler, is a follower of the now deceased racist rabbi Meir Kahane, and someone who has been barred from entering Britain for his views. But Feiglin has managed to pop up in New York City to address followers there, without any hassle from U.S. authorities. 

Why China and America are Headed Toward a Catastrophic Clash

Many people find it hard to understand why China is acting the way it is in the East and South China Seas. What does Beijing hope to achieve by alienating its neighbors and undermining regional stability?

Let me suggest an answer: China is trying to build what President Xi Jinping calls "a new model of great power relations." To understand how this might be the aim of Beijing's actions, we have to recognize that under his "new model," Xi wants China to wield much more power and influence in Asia than it has for the past few centuries. These things are inherently zero-sum, so for China to have more power and influence, America must have less. This is what Xi and his colleagues are trying to achieve.

Troops Advance On East Ukraine Rebels Amid Heavy Fighting

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian troops on Tuesday launched an offensive against pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk and advanced through the city's outskirts, the nation's interior minister said.

Arsen Avakov said that government troops broke through rebel positions around the village of Semenovka on the eastern fringe of Slovyansk. "An active offensive stage of the counterterrorist operation is underway in Slovyansk," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Abdel Fatah al-Sisi won 96.1% of vote in Egypt presidential election, say officials

Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was officially confirmed as Egypt's next president on Tuesday evening, after the country's electoral commission announced that he had won 96.1% of last week's presidential runoff.

Officials claimed that just under 47.5% of Egypt's 53 million eligible voters participated – a respectable turnout that, if true, would compare favourably with the 52% who voted in Egypt's 2012 presidential election.

National Conservation Plan Ignores National Parks, Wilderness

Some scientists and environmental groups are coming down hard on the federal government’s first ever National Conservation Plan, claiming that it will neglect most of Canada, given its focus on agricultural and built-up areas near urban centres.

The new plan, released earlier this month by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, promises to conserve Canada’s lands and waters, restore Canada’s ecosystems and connect Canadians to nature.

Canadian CEO Pay Jumped 11% In 2013, Quadrupling Everyone Else

CEO pay in Canada grew at nearly four times the pace of average earnings in 2013, according to data from Global Governance Advisers, cited at the CBC and Globe and Mail.

The median total pay for a CEO of a publicly traded company in Canada was $5.6 million, the survey found. That’s 116 times the average weekly wage in Canada today. Average wages grew about three per cent in 2013, according to StatsCan.

The Rockefeller Files: Alison Redford and the power and energy sector

While Jim Prentice was overseeing the U.S.-Canada Clean Energy Dialogue (CED), launched in 2009, the Harper Cabinet appointed political fixer Bruce Carson to hold a variety of business conferences on that theme. The CED envisions that Canada's "cheap, clean" power -- generously subsidized by Canadian ratepayers -- ramp up production for export.
In a variety of speeches, Carson advocated the creation of a massive high-voltage/direct-current (HVDC) "smart" electricity grid that would march "both North-South and East-West" across the country and the continent.

Who Needs $80 Billion? Starve Us Some More!

For years Stephen Harper often seemed at war with his own government, so consistently critical were reviews by its various independent oversight agencies. It seems that at least one "independent" body, the Parliamentary Budget Office, is now a little more PMO-friendly. A recent report from the PBO's new chief Jean-Denis Fréchette declared that thanks to the incredible generosity of the federal government, "Canadians" have an extra $30 billion in their pockets -- money "saved" due to Conservative tax cuts. The figure includes reductions in personal income tax  of $17.1 billion and the federal share of  revenue loss GST/HST of   $13.3 billion.

Desmond Tutu calls oilsands 'filth,' urges cooperation on environment

Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu has called Alberta's oilsands "filth" created by greed, and has urged all sides to work together to protect the environment and aboriginal rights.

"The fact that this filth is being created now, when the link between carbon emissions and global warming is so obvious, reflects negligence and greed," Tutu told more than 200 rapt attendees a conference on oilsands development and treaty rights in Fort McMurray.

If You’re A West Virginia Inmate, You Can’t Read This Story

Last week, ThinkProgress published an investigation into inmates’ claims of abuse in a West Virginia jail during the state’s recent water crisis. But very few have been able to read the story they were quoted in — because the jail outlaws prisoners from receiving any printed articles or news clippings.
“We don’t take anything that’s computer generated because people can send drugs through the ink,” said a staff member at South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, West Virginia. “If you type the letter up, they’ll give it to you [but] anything else that’s computer-generated, no.”