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.]

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

America's Wealth Gap 'Unsustainable' According To Harvard Study

BOSTON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - The widening gap between America's wealthiest and its middle and lower classes is "unsustainable", but is unlikely to improve any time soon, according to a Harvard Business School study released on Monday.

The study, titled "An Economy Doing Half its Job", said American companies - particularly big ones - were showing some signs of recovering their competitive edge on the world stage since the financial crisis, but that workers would likely keep struggling to demand better pay and benefits.

10 First Nations with more than 10 years of bad water

Nearly half of the 133 First Nations in Ontario currently have boil water advisories, and it has been more than ten years since ten First Nations in northwestern Ontario had clean drinking water.

Neskantaga First Nation, in the James Bay lowlands, has the longest-standing boil water advisory. The community of about 300 people has been without potable water since 1995.

Creationism can be taught with evolution: Tory

TORONTO - There is no reason creationism could not be taught in addition to evolution and "other theories" if private religious schools are brought into Ontario public school boards, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said Wednesday.

The Conservatives are promising to give private religious schools $400 million if they opt into the public system, teach the provincial curriculum, hire accredited teachers and administer standardized tests, Tory said.

Santiago Hernandez Claims Police Brutality In NYPD Beating Caught On Video

The New York City Police Department's Internal Affairs division is investigating an incident in which a number of officers were caught on tape apparently beating a Bronx man during an arrest.

Santiago Hernandez, a 23-year-old out on parole after serving six years in prison for a gang assault when he was 14, says police frisked him while investigating a noise complaint on Aug. 18. Surveillance video from the scene aired on ABC-7 in New York shows him and another man cooperating with the search.

The 'Wall Street Journal' Parade of Climate Lies

That Rupert Murdoch governs over a criminal media empire has been made clear enough in the UK courts in recent years. That the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages, the latest victim of Murdoch's lawless greed, are little more than naked propaganda is perhaps less appreciated. The Journal runs one absurd op-ed after another purporting to unmask climate change science, but only succeeds in unmasking the crudeness and ignorance of Murdoch's henchmen. Yesterday's (September 5) op-ed by Matt Ridley is a case in point.

Driving American Politics Underground

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”

Bad News for Obama: Fracking May Be Worse Than Burning Coal

If you're a politician, science is a bitch; it resists spin. And a new set of studies—about, of all things, a simple molecule known as CH4—show that President Obama's climate change strategy is starting to unravel even as it's being knit. To be specific: Most of the administration's theoretical gains in the fight against global warming have come from substituting natural gas for coal. But it looks now as if that doesn't really help.

Mt. Polley Debacle: BC Miles behind US on Mine Danger Info

British Columbia is one of the country's biggest mineral producers. But compared to Americans, British Columbians have very little information about the safety and regulation of that activity.

And that means journalists, activists and citizens have very little power to stop mining problems before they become mining disasters.

Just such a disaster happened last month when the tailing dam at Imperial Metals Corp.'s Mount Polley Mine collapsed, resulting in a flood of concern and questions about safety at similar operations in the province.

From sugar to drugs, Harper has turned everything partisan

Warning young people about the dangers of smoking pot should be about as controversial as telling them to brush their teeth. The same goes for recommending that adults consume no more sugar than they can bench-press. Health officials are right to point out the pitfalls of both.

This is Canada, in 2014, however, where the Harper government’s insistence on putting its political stamp on policies that were previously left to independent agencies or experts in the bureaucracy means that even its public service announcements (PSAs) are suspect. Where an anti-pot ad aimed at teens seems partisan and nutritional guidelines seem to go light on the sugar lobby.


In a recent speech to the Canadian Medical Association, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said something no cabinet minister ought to have to say out loud: that her boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and his government are firm believers in evidence-based policy.

Ambrose claimed that “at the end of the day, for policymakers like me, it’s the medical science and data-based evidence that must guide our decisions on health sector regulation and allocation of resources.”

A hard look at Mr. Harper's Economic Record

When the next federal election rolls around, likely next spring, Stephen Harper says he wants to campaign on his economic record.  Well bring it on.

 That record is highlighted by some spectacular failures.

Military procurement is one of them -- specifically the proposed acquisition of F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace Canada's aging CF-18s.  The botched process started in 2006 and is still nowhere near completion.  The plane isn't even operational and costs have ballooned from $9-billion to close to $50-billion.  The Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General have depicted the management of this file as both incompetent and deceitful.

Over $30 Billion In Dirty Money Leaves Brazil Each Year: Study

WASHINGTON, Sept 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Over $30 billion in dirty money linked to crime, corruption and tax evasion is flowing out of Brazil each year, double the amount a decade earlier, a study has found.

Trade mispricing is the primary way that illicit money leaves the country, accounting for 92.7 percent of the $401.6 billion that flowed out of Brazil between 1960 and 2012, according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington-based research and advocacy group for financial transparency.

Dignity - Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism.

For the customers, nothing has changed in the big, busy McDonald’s on Broadway at West 181st Street, in Washington Heights. Promotions come and go—during the World Cup, the French-fry package was suddenly not red but decorated with soccer-related “street art,” and, if you held your phone up to the box, it would download an Augmented Reality app that let you kick goals with the flick of a finger. New menu items appear—recently, the Jalapeño Double and the Bacon Clubhouse, or, a while back, the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. But a McDonald’s is a McDonald’s. This one is open twenty-four hours. It has its regulars, including a panel of older gentlemen who convene at a row of tables near the main door, generally wear guayaberas, and deliberate matters large and small in Spanish. The restaurant doesn’t suffer as much staff turnover as you might think. Mostly the same employees, mostly women, in black uniforms and gold-trimmed black visors, toil and serve and banter with the customers year after year. The longtime manager, Dominga de Jesus, bustles about, wearing a bright-pink shirt and a worried look, barking at her workers, “La linea! La linea! ”

University of Illinois Urged to Reinstate Professor Steven Salaita, Critic of Israeli War in Gaza

As the fall school term begins, an Illinois college campus is embroiled in one of the nation’s biggest academic freedom controversies in recent memory. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has sparked an outcry over its withdrawal of a job offer to a professor critical of the Israeli government. Steven Salaita was due to start work at the university as a tenured professor in the American Indian Studies Program. But after posting a series of tweets harshly critical of this summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza, Salaita was told the offer was withdrawn. The school had come under pressure from donors, students, parents and alumni critical of Salaita’s views, with some threatening to withdraw financial support. Thousands of academics have signed petitions calling for Salaita’s reinstatement, and several lecturers have canceled appearances in protest. The American Association of University Professors has called the school’s actions "inimical to academic freedom and due process." A number of Urbana-Champaign departments have passed votes of no-confidence in the chancellor, Phyllis Wise. And today, Urbana-Champaign students will be holding a campus walkout and day of silence in support of Salaita. We are joined by two guests: Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke, who has canceled a lecture series at Urbana-Champaign in protest of Salaita’s un-hiring; and Kristofer Petersen-Overton, a scholar who went through a similar incident in 2011 when Brooklyn College reversed a job offer after complaints about his Middle East views, only to reinstate it following a public outcry.

Author: --

Canada's War on Science Brings Us International Shame

A push to prioritize economic gains over basic research is endangering science and academic freedom in countries around the world, according to a new report published by a leading researchers union, the French National Trade Union of Scientific Researchers (SNCS-FSU).

The group surveyed higher education and research unions in 12 countries including France, Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S.

Ex-Tory MP's book offers a glimpse into the tightly controlled caucus

Upset with the Conservative government’s handling of the F-35 jet purchase, Brent Rathgeber wrote a blog entry critiquing it. It was an innocuous act, save for one detail: He was a Conservative MP himself.

Soon after, the phone rang, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office on the line demanding the blog post be taken down. Mr. Rathgeber’s aide refused. “You don’t understand; I am calling from the PMO,” the staffer replied.

U.S. Launches Airstrikes Around Iraq's Haditha Dam

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — The U.S. military said Sunday it launched airstrikes around Haditha Dam in western Iraq, targeting Islamic State insurgents there for the first time in a move to prevent the group from capturing the vital dam.

The strikes represented a broadening of the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State militants, moving the military operations closer to the border of Syria, where the group also has been operating.

Democracy gone digital

In what has to be a direct rebuke to anyone who has ever called the United Nations boring and out of touch, last week the organization proved that not only can it talk tech with Generation Mac, but it has a wickedly ironic sense of humour. It hosted its annual Internet Governance Forum in Turkey, a country run by a government that hates the Internet. Though “hate” may be too gentle a word. Turkey’s elected authoritarian, Recep Erdogan, refers to social media in terms usually reserved for entities you want to torture rather than merely kill, calling it “that thing” and “the curse of society today.”

Only These Three Steps Will Enable NATO to Stand Up to Putin

The Atlantic Alliance must create a 21st century NATO Future Force if NATO is to remain a strategic military hub. This week NATO leaders sit down together in Wales to consider the future of the world's most powerful democratic military alliance. As they commence their discussions, Russian forces are dismembering Ukraine, Afghanistan's future is again in doubt, Islamic State fanatics threaten the entire Middle Eastern state structure and rapidly developing cyber, missile and nuclear technology is changing the face of NATO's two critical spaces -- the battle space and the security space.

Palestinian President Urges Hamas To Give Up Power In Gaza

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — The new Palestinian unity government faced a new crisis on Sunday after President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to dissolve his alliance with Hamas if the Islamic militant group does not give up power in the Gaza Strip.

The dispute erupted just over two weeks after Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza ended in a cease-fire. Abbas is looking to regain a foothold in Gaza, which suffered heavy losses during the fighting, and expects to play a leading role in internationally backed reconstruction efforts. His comments, which also included harsh criticism of Hamas' conduct in the war, appeared to be part of a brewing power struggle over who will control post-war Gaza.

Monsoon Floods Kill Nearly 300 In India, Pakistan

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed nearly 300 people in large swaths of northern India and Pakistan, officials said Sunday.

Five days of incessant rains in Indian-controlled Kashmir have left at least 120 people dead in the region's worst flooding in more than five decades, submerging hundreds of villages and triggering landslides, officials said. In neighboring Pakistan, more than 160 people have died and thousands of homes have collapsed, with an official saying the situation was becoming a "national emergency."

India's Smog Destroyed Enough Crops In A Year To Feed 94 Million People: Study

India's smog problem could be preventing tens of millions of the country's poorest people from getting the food they desperately need.

According to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, ground-level ozone, the main component of smog, damages about 6.7 million tons of India's staple crops, including wheat and rice, in a single year. Researchers say those lost crops, worth an estimated $1.3 billion, could feed around 94 million people, or about a third of the country's poor.

L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With CIA Before Publication

In a revelation that seems to vindicate long-aired warnings about how state intimidation worsens the corruption of a press already defanged by the implosion of its financial model, documents obtained by The Intercept show that Ken Dilanian, a prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times, “routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication.”

The Fatal Flaw in American Foreign Policy

The New York Times used an incendiary phrase to describe the beheading of another American reporter in Syria. It was, the newspaper said, an “apparent murder.” The Times simply repeats the assertion of President Obama, who denounced the event as “the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.” Perhaps it was. But popular American outrage at the barbaric killing and political voices demanding forceful retaliation reveal profound national hypocrisy.

If killing an individual American the jihadists identify as an enemy is murder, then how should we describe the American drone attacks that single out Islamic leaders for execution? For that matter, how do we differentiate the clandestine raids staged by US Special Forces in foreign lands when those soldiers in black capture and kill human targets secretly selected by American intelligence?

Ontario's Ring Of Fire Gets A Development Corporation As First Nation Objects

The First Nation band closest to the Ring of Fire says the Ontario government is failing to live up to promises it made to the community and has neglected to include First Nations in initial plans.

Webequie, a tiny isolated community, is taking issue with Ontario’s decision to create an economic development corporation and nominate board members -- all four from government-- without consulting other partners.

What Makes Us Unequal? Being a Mom

Sylvia Fuller remembers growing up in the 1970s with a stay-at-home mom, much like the rest of her friends. Back then, it was rare to see mothers in paid employment -- only 37 per cent of mothers with young kids were working in Canada at the time.

Things have changed a lot since then, with more mothers engaged in paid employment than ever before. In 2008, 74 per cent of mothers with young children worked, balancing both family and career with their partners.

Today, as a working mom with a young child, Fuller understands how caregiving and job responsibilities intersect -- and why that matters in today's workforce.

Thomas Mulcair’s plan to win the next election

If there’s going to be a happy warrior in the 2015 election, then, by God, Tom Mulcair is determined it’ll be him. The NDP leader arrived at Toronto’s Rogers headquarters, fresh from a Labour Day parade, and remained determinedly upbeat through a half-hour conversation. Next year’s election campaign is already under way, he said. He hinted at what the NDP will promise on business taxes, carbon pricing, child care, the Senate and more. The past year has been frustrating for the man who replaced the revered Jack Layton as head of Parliament’s first NDP official Opposition. Too much of the spotlight, for his taste, has gone to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau. But if ever a leader has relished an uphill fight, it’s Mulcair.

Henry Kissinger: Iran 'A Bigger Problem Than ISIS'

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that Iran "is a bigger problem than ISIS."

In an interview with NPR that was released on Saturday, Kissinger explained that because Iran has a stronger footing in the Middle East, it has a greater opportunity to create an empire.

"The borders of the settlement of 1919-'20 are essentially collapsing," he said. "That gives Iran a very powerful level from a strategic point of view. I consider Iran a bigger problem than ISIS. ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran.

The Kissinger interview comes just a day after the BBC reported that Iran's Supreme Leader had ordered his military to cooperate with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS forces. CNN had a similar report.

Kissinger's warning about Iran is unsurprising given his past skepticism about its nuclear program. On Friday, nuclear talks went south after Iran failed to provide key information on its past nuclear work by an agreed-upon deadline.

Earlier this week, ISIS drew international fury when it released a video allegedly showing the beheading of an American journalist. Kissinger told NPR that he would "strongly favor a strong attack on ISIS" in response.

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Alana Horowitz

Mom Ann Whalen Sentenced To Prison For Giving Daughter Abortion Pills

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept 6 (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy.

Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child.