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, June 26, 2014

The Rockefeller Files: Harper and the Canadian petro-state

By 2012, the U.S. was awash in light sweet crude from (fracked) shale oil deposits in Texas, North Dakota and elsewhere. With Midwest and Gulf Coast refineries configured to take heavy oil, that light crude has been looking for a refining home.
Just months after the 2012 Bilderberg meeting, media reports revealed that Royal Dutch Shell and BP (whose executives were at the secret conclave), trading firm Vitol and three other (unidentified) shale oil producers in the U.S., had applied to tanker their fracked light crude from the U.S. Gulf Coast up to Eastern Canada for refining -- replacing conventional imported oil.

Harper's party of paranoia

Causing great injury to the whole of Canada, Stephen Harper may soon divide the country’s citizens into two classes: those who can have their citizenship revoked if convicted of a crime like terrorism, and those who can’t.

As Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada tells me, by denying dual nationals the rights of other Canadians, Bill C-24 echoes “a very troubling narrative that we hear often, but don’t expect to see in legislation, which equates foreignness with suspicion.”

By threatening some people — but not all — with deprivation of citizenship, the Canadian government isn’t alone; it keeps company with other governments that, together, sustain a global climate of paranoia.

Enbridge Set to Win Canada Approval on Northern Gateway

Enbridge Inc. (ENB) is poised to win government approval as soon as today for its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the Pacific coast, a major step for the project that still faces opposition from aboriginal and environmental groups.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet must decide by midnight tomorrow whether to approve the C$6.5 billion ($6 billion) pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands across British Columbia. Canada’s petroleum industry is seeking measures to move landlocked crude to offshore markets with another proposed pipeline, TransCanada Corp’s, Keystone XL, in regulatory limbo in the U.S.

Tony Blair Says ISIS's Success In Iraq Is Due To Failure To Intervene In Syria, Not 2003 Invasion

The looming civil war and bloody insurgency in Iraq were caused by the West's failure to intervene in Syria, not the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair has said in a renewed call for military action.

Thousands have fled the sweeping advance of fighters from ISIS, Islamists so extreme they were disavowed by Al Qaeda.

The group has have taken control of large areas including second city Mosul, imposed the death penalty by crucifixion for failing to adhere to strict Islamic law and reportedly beheaded a man and published the video of it.

Average house price in Canada rose 7.1% to $416,584 in May

The average resale price of a Canadian home continued to march higher, with the national real estate association showing it hit $416,584 in May, a rise of 7.1 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said sales activity in Toronto and Vancouver continue to skew the average price higher. If those two cities are stripped out, the average Canadian home is worth $336,373 while the year-over-year increase shrinks to 5.3 per cent.

Rio Police Clash With World Cup Protesters

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 15 (Reuters) - Police blocked a small group of anti-World Cup protesters who were trying to reach the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, before Argentina played Bosnia in the city's first game of the tournament.

About 150 bandanna-clad protesters carrying banners that said "Fifa go home" marched towards the stadium, causing some stores to shut their doors temporarily and one metro station to close briefly.

Original Article

Dispatches From Brazil’s World Cup: ‘No One Lives Here Anymore’

Favela do Metro was once a community of 700 families living a five-minute walk—just up the Rua São Francisco Xavier—from Rio’s legendary Maracanã Stadium. Now it’s a couple of storefronts and a tonnage of rubble. All of the 700 families are gone, uprooted by a World Cup agenda that looked at their homes and envisioned parking lots for the Maracanã. Even that was too much for city planners, as the parking lot has yet to be built, with the World Cup already underway. Perhaps it will be ready for cars by the start of Rio’s 2016 Olympics. When I asked one of the former favela residents, hanging around a food stand, to explain the delays, he said, “If they can’t finish the World Cup stadiums, do you really think they care about this place?”

Hawks Push for Iraq War, Rule of Law Prevents It

The same people who got the US into the mistaken Iraq War are now urging President Obama to use military force in Iraq again. Republican hawks are using the violence in Iraq as a political tool that is escalating pressure for US military intervention. But, if the US follows the rule of law—both US and international law—the president does not have the authority to attack Iraq without Congressional and UN authorization.

John McMain went roaring onto the Senate floor “calling on the entire Obama administration national security team to resign.” McCain urged immediate action saying “Every hour the options become fewer and fewer as ISIS, the most radical terrorist group alive, sweeps across Iraq.” On the House side, John Boehner mocked: “What’s the president doing? Taking a nap?”

American Socrates

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Noam Chomsky, whom I interviewed last Thursday at his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has influenced intellectuals in the United States and abroad in incalculable ways. His explications of empire, mass propaganda, the hypocrisy and pliability of the liberal class and the failings of academics, as well as the way language is used as a mask by the power elite to prevent us from seeing reality, make him the most important intellectual in the country. The force of his intellect, which is combined with a ferocious independence, terrifies the corporate state—which is why the commercial media and much of the academic establishment treat him as a pariah. He is the Socrates of our time.

Palestinian parliamentary speaker arrested in search for kidnapped teens

Israeli troops have arrested the speaker of the Palestinian parliament and Hamas member Aziz Dweik during a wave of detentions linked to a massive manhunt for three kidnapped teenagers.

An Israeli army statement on Monday said more than 40 suspects in the West Bank, "including Hamas leadership and operatives", had been arrested, bringing the total number of arrests in the search to at least 150.


The day after Islamic militants swept into Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and several other enclaves along the Tigris River, the conquering army, called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, posted a photograph on Twitter. It showed one of its fighters—a Chechen volunteer, the group said—opening the door of an American-made Humvee that it had seized from the Iraqi Army. The Humvee and the militant, the group said, had just arrived at an isis base in Syria, where, presumably, they were ready to be dispatched in the war there.

The border between Iraq and Syria may have effectively disappeared, but the dynamics driving the civil wars in those nations are not identical. In Syria, an oppressed majority is rising up; in Iraq, an oppressed minority. (The opposition fighters in both wars are mostly members of the Sunni sect.) Both countries just held elections: in Syria, the dictator, Bashar al-Assad, won in a display of empty theatre; in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is expected to form a government for a third term, the elections were for the most part free. In Iraq, the dynamics driving the strife are largely Iraqi, and in Syria they are largely Syrian.

Koch Brothers Plan $300 Million Spending Spree In 2014

The billionaire Koch brothers and their political network are planning to spend almost $300 million during the 2014 election cycle, some of which will go toward a renewed effort to combat unprecedented carbon regulations unveiled by the Obama administration last month.

According to The Daily Beast, industrialists Charles and David Koch will advance a new energy initiative this weekend at a California resort featuring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and libertarian political scientist Charles Murray. While its scope isn't clear yet, the group will be spearheaded by the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a 200-member organization that has funneled millions of dollars to various nonprofits in the Koch network.

Don't Blame Central American Newspapers For Influx Of Undocumented Children

A new conservative talking point holds that Central American newspapers are inaccurately reporting on U.S. immigration policy, thereby creating a stampede of undocumented minors over the U.S.-Mexico border. But an examination of those newspapers shows the picture is more complicated than that.

The number of unaccompanied minors apprehended while crossing illegally into the country has shot up from less than 7,000 in 2011 to an estimated 70,000 for the current year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services -- with most of them coming from Central America.

The Three Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Poverty

Rather than confront poverty by extending jobless benefits to the long-term unemployed, endorsing a higher minimum wage, or supporting jobs programs, conservative Republicans are taking a different tack.
They're peddling three big lies about poverty. To wit:
Lie #1: Economic growth reduces poverty.
"The best anti-poverty program," wrote Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, in the Wall Street Journal, "is economic growth."

Shep Smith Gives Iraq Hawks A History Lesson

Fox News' Shep Smith bucked his network's conservative ideology by taking on Republicans who are pressing Obama on Iraq. The president has faced pressure to take aggressive action in response to the extremist Islamist insurgency that has seized two Iraqi cities and is bearing down on Baghdad.

"Are we about to be drawn back into a conflict in Iraq?" Smith asked. "The same people who 12 years ago told us this will be quick, this will be easy, this will be inexpensive, they will see us as liberators, it's the right thing to do, are now telling us, 'It's the right thing to do.' What's the endgame? Who's thought this through?"

Abandoned Oil Wells Spouting Significant Levels of Methane: Study

A Princeton University study has found that leaks from abandoned oil and gas wellbores pose not only a risk to groundwater, but represent a growing threat to the climate.

Between 200,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells in the state of Pennsylvania likely account for four to seven per cent of estimated man-made methane emissions in that jurisdiction, a source previously not accounted for, the study says.

Verizon Says It Wants to Kill Net Neutrality to Help Blind, Deaf, and Disabled People

Verizon lobbyists are canvassing Capitol Hill with a curious new argument against net neutrality—it hurts disabled people. 
The odd pitch comes as the Obama administration is mulling a plan to scrap net neutrality—the idea that Internet service providers should treat all websites equally—and instead allow ISPs to create Internet "fast lanes" for companies that can afford to pay for speedier service. The proposal, which is under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission, has sparked a massive public outcry, including an "Occupy the FCC" protest and a letter signed by 150 tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Netflix, opposing the plan. 

Migrant Children Accuse Border Patrol Agents of Physical and Sexual Assault

Five immigrant rights groups filed a complaint Wednesday accusing US border officials of participating in the systemic abuse of unaccompanied migrant children detained near the southwest border, including physical and sexual abuse, painful shackling and denial of adequate food and water.

The complaint details alleged abuse and mistreatment suffered by 116 children detained by US Customs and Border Protection officials. One in four children said they experienced physical abuse, including kicking, beating and forced stress positions. More than half reported verbal abuse, including taunts, death threats and racist or sexually charged comments. A majority said they were held for longer than seventy-two hours, the maximum time permitted before CBP officials are required to transfer custody to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

How the Internet Is Transforming from a Tool of Liberation to One of Oppression

Remember when the Internet was going to fix the world? According to leading technology pundits, traditional dinosaurs were going to be "disintermediated" and "disrupted," freeing us all from meddling middlemen and allowing competition to flourish. We wouldn't need corrupt professional media makers anymore because we would all blog and tweet. Social networking would empower protesters and enhance democracy the world over.

World Must Act To Stop Another Massive Housing Crash, Warns IMF

The International Monetary Fund has sounded the alarm over the state of the housing market around the world, as it published new data showing that property prices were "well above" their historical average in many countries.

This comes as business secretary Vince Cable has asked banks to restrict the size of mortgages they offer to just three-and-a-half times an applicant's income due to concerns over Britain's overheating housing market.

CEO Pay Has Increased By 937 Percent Since 1978

A new report by the Economic Policy Institute shows that CEO compensation at the largest corporations has ballooned by 937 percent since 1978, when adjusted for inflation. A typical worker’s compensation grew a measly 10.2 percent over the same period.
The average CEO compensation at the 350 publicly owned companies with the largest annual revenue in the U.S. last year was $15.2 million, according to the EPI, a left-leaning think tank. That’s a 21.7 percent rise since just 2010.

Halliburton Ruling Could Be A Big Win For Big Pharma, Wall Street

NEW YORK, June 12 (Reuters) - Within the next two weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in a major case that could make it much harder for shareholders to band together against public companies in securities fraud class actions.

If the court rules in favor of Halliburton and against a group of shareholders, then the oilfield services company won't be the only business to gain. A handful of other major companies would also likely reap immediate benefit.

The craziest thing in Hudak’s platform? It’s not the math.

In one of the weirdest political endorsements in recent memory, the Globe and Mail noted this week that Tim Hudak heads “an untested Progressive Conservative Party that needs to moderate and mature. The only way it will do so is if it is given the chance to govern (italics added).”

The cure for immaturity, apparently, is a stint as premier.

This sort of softball treatment by the media has helped Hudak craft an image of himself as a friendly, plain-talking dad who is — at worst — a little goofy and bad at math.

OECD Report On Canada Worries About Inequality, House Prices, Regional Divide

The OECD has released its first analysis of Canada’s economy in two years, and while it sees economic growth strengthening, the report contains warnings about the housing market, growing inequality and a growing regional economic divide.

'Disturbingly High' Number Of Execs Believe Corruption Widespread In Canada

A “disturbingly high” number of Canadian executives believe corruption is rampant in this country, according to a new global study.

One in five business leaders believes bribery or corruption happen widely in industries across Canada, the EY Global Fraud Survey found. The 20 per cent of Canadian business execs was slightly higher than the average of 17 per cent in developed market countries.

“That’s disturbingly high,” says Mike Savage, EY’s Canadian fraud investigation leader.

Liberals Take Ontario Election 2014 With Majority Win

TORONTO - Kathleen Wynne powered Ontario's minority Liberals past a legacy of scandal Thursday, staving off aggressive assaults from the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats for an unexpected majority win and a fourth straight mandate.

Despite a hard-fought campaign rife with accusations of corruption and incompetence, jaundiced voters gave Wynne's government a fresh chance, making her the province's first elected female premier.

STUDY: Economic Hardship Makes People More Racially Biased

The economic collapse of the late 2000s hurt most Americans—but not equally. In fact, according to a 2011 Pew study (visualized above), while median household wealth dropped by 16 percent for white Americans, it dropped a stunning 53 percent for African-Americans.