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, August 21, 2015

Teachers Demand Chris Christie Apologize For Face-Punching Comment

Teachers are fighting back after Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said Sunday that their unions deserve a punch in the face.
The American Federation of Teachers -- the specific union apparently referenced by Christie during his interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper -- is promoting a petition asking Christie to apologize for threatening teachers. The petition, launched earlier this week, had over 28,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

Chicago police detained thousands of black Americans at interrogation facility

At least 3,500 Americans have been detained inside a Chicago police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility, newly uncovered records reveal.

Of the thousands held in the facility known as Homan Square over a decade, 82% were black. Only three received documented visits from an attorney, according to a cache of documents obtained when the Guardian sued the police.


The G20 turned Tommy Taylor into an activist. A theatre artist who was arrested outside the Novotel hotel and caged at the detention centre on June 26-27, 2010, he recounted his experience in an epic Facebook note that he later adapted into a monologue play, You Should Have Stayed Home; it toured across the country in 2013.

In the show's climax, Taylor describes the brusque indifference with which then-police chief Bill Blair greeted him in their one and only encounter, two years after the summit.

Why Stephen Harper needs B.C. voters

The outcome of the 2015 federal election may be decided in Ontario and Quebec, but according to academics and pollsters, Stephen Harper needs B.C. voters if he wants to win a majority government. 

The NDP currently leads in federal election B.C. polls, and averages show Conservative support in the province is slowly slipping.

How Ferguson Changed Once The Media Went Home

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death at Officer Darren Wilson’s hands in Ferguson — the spark that ignited a national movement of protest against police violence and racial inequality. One year later, that movement is nowhere near finished. The cameras may have left, but dynamic grassroots programs are changing Ferguson while no one is watching.

Since last August, four separate Department of Justice (DOJ) reports have been released, detailing racially-discriminatory and exploitative policing, officer misconduct and mismanagement during the unrest that followed Brown’s death, and a troubled Family Court system. Members of law enforcement have been ousted, a new interim police chief has stepped in, and the Ferguson City Council has diversified.

Why Is Apple Lying About Powering Its Data Centers With Renewable Energy?

It seems that these days, everywhere you look, journalists and environmental activists are praising Apple for powering its data centers with "100 percent renewable energy," as the company puts it.

Greenpeace named Apple tops in its 2015 "Clicking Clean" report and commended the company for being transparent about its energy use, pledging to power its data centers entirely with renewable energy, seeking to reduce and mitigate its carbon footprint, and advancing the cause of renewable energy by pushing utility companies to make it available to both large and small customers.

Sharing the fruits of destruction or building toward sustainability?

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has recently been complaining about the hesitation other provinces are showing toward the proposed Energy East pipeline, which is intended to help open markets and sustain development of the bitumen sands. The premier has touted billions of dollars in supposed revenues for other provinces, and rejected the idea that any part of Canada's federation can veto energy development by any other part.
What all of his comments have in common is failure to appreciate the nature and importance of the climate problem we face, and the consequences that carries for Canadian infrastructure planning.

That Conservative foreign policy election plank: Shaky, incoherent and quite possibly dangerous

Prime Minister Stephen Harper likes to portray himself as a leader who stands by his foreign friends through thick and thin. But can they really depend on him? And can we depend onthem?
Like the economy, Harper has made foreign policy a key plank in his Conservative Party's reelection strategy. And that stalwart support for certain groups and countries is a showpiece part of the prime minister's vote-winning effort.

How to Repeal the Tax Loophole That Allows Companies to Hide Their Profits in Offshore Accounts

More than a third of a century after Ronald Reagan led America down a costly and unnecessary path into extreme income and wealth inequality, the opportunity to restore broad prosperity is rising before us. This is a moment not for despair, but resolve—and hard work.

Income inequality has become so outrageous that even Republicans vying for their party’s presidential nomination are talking about it, though not their party’s role in creating it or any workable solutions. On television the talking heads wring their hands, saying, “If only we could afford the costs of digging ourselves out of the economic hell most Americans have been shoved into.”

Read These 14 Quotes From His Opponents And Decide Whether Trump Is Too Crazy To Be The GOP Nominee

One question is dominating the political discussion of the Republican presidential primary: How is Donald Trump crushing the rest of the candidates when he’s so crazy? The New York Times recently hosted a debate on the topic.
(For the purposes of this discussion “crazy” is shorthand for “politically reckless” rather than an offensive way to describe a real psychological disorder.)

Why Taxpayers Are Getting Shut Out Of Stadium Debates

When a judge struck down a St. Louis city ordinance in a highly anticipated ruling Monday afternoon, he added the city to a growing list of places around the country where voters don’t have any say in whether their towns spend millions of dollars on building new stadiums.

The state of Missouri has been trying to put funding toward a new stadium in an effort to keep the NFL’s St. Louis Rams from moving to Los Angeles. The local stadium authority launched a lawsuit against the city in April, kicking off the effort to move forward with construction and forgo ballot-box approval.

Fraternity Groups Push Bills To Limit College Rape Investigations

Colleges would not be allowed to punish a student for committing sexual assault unless the alleged victim agrees to report their attack to police, under a pair of new bills pushed by national fraternity organizations and opposed by higher education groups. 
The North-American Interfraternity Conference and the National Panhellenic Conference, umbrella groups representing fraternities and sororities, are promoting legislation that calls for new protections for students accused of rape. The legislation, introduced last week in the House of Representatives, would also limit the cases that colleges can investigate.

Prison Dramatically Reduces Inmate Misconduct With Reward System

Michael McCall, a South Carolina Prison Warden, has transformed Lee Correctional Institution from the state's most dangerous corrections facility into a rehabilitation site. When violence at the prison was at all-time high, McCall decided to implement an incentive program to reward inmates for good behavior rather than cracking down with hard disciplinary measures.

McCall created the Better Living Incentive Community in 2012, a residence hall where inmates with a clean record can apply to live. The BLC living environment has more lenient security than the rest of the prison as well as other benefits, such as an education program -- residents can take music classes, art lessons, or study beekeeping or barbering. Inmates can even take part in "Healing Species," a compassion-education program in which prisoners work with rescue dogs. But the programs aren't just for recreation; rather, the purpose is to educate and enrich the lives of these incarcerated men.

2016 GOP Field Divided On Whether To Shutter Government Over Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON -- Enraged by a string of controversial videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing aborted fetal specimens, conservatives in and out of Washington are pushing to shut government down, if necessary, to stop federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Some Republican presidential candidates have picked up the call, urging Congress to do anything in its power to defund the women's health group after a procedural vote in the Senate on Monday failed to advance a bill doing just that. Other presidential hopefuls, however, are more cautious about using such a blunt tactic that proved unsuccessful in the past.

Jeb Bush Evokes Ghost Of Mitt Romney With Flub About Abortion

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Tuesday committed another unforced error by suggesting he wanted to cut funding for women's health services.

Addressing 13,000 pastors at the Southern Baptist Forum in Nashville, Tennessee, Bush said he supports cutting federal funds for Planned Parenthood, the largest women's health service provider in the U.S.

People Seem To Have Turned On CEO Offering $70,000 Minimum Salary

Readers of The New York Times appear to have given up on Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price's idea of setting his company's minimum salary at $70,000.
The newspaper on Monday published a five-paragraph call-out to readers, asking them to weigh in on whether they would follow the lead of the now financially troubled entrepreneur, who in April slashed his own $1 million salary down to $70,000 and gave most of his lowest-paid workers raises.
The responses, overall, were cynical.

Feds Sidestep Law to Let BC's Biggest Fishery Sell Catch as Farm Feed

The economic squeeze of a Russian trade embargo has prompted Canada to sidestep its own laws by allowing B.C.'s biggest fishery to sell thousands of tonnes of high-quality fish as slurry to feed farmed salmon and chickens.

Russia is the dominant market for B.C.'s most abundant food fish, locally known as Pacific hake -- a close relative of haddock that roams the edges of the North American continental shelf in schools comprising at least a million tonnes of biomass.

Number Of Women And Children Killed In Afghan War Soars, UN Reports

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The United Nations said on Wednesday that an increasing number of women and children were getting hurt or killed in Afghanistan's war against the Taliban and other insurgents.

The total number of casualties in the almost 14-year conflict was up one percent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, a new U.N. report said. However, the number of women casualties rose by 23 percent and children 13 percent.

Stephen Harper calls Alberta NDP a 'disaster' rejected by Albertans

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley lashed back at Stephen Harper Tuesday saying her government's priority is to protect the jobs of "regular working families" rather than "wealthy Conservative friends and insiders."

On Monday Harper called Alberta's new NDP government a failed experiment, a disaster uniformly rejected by Albertans.

Harper economics: Planets revolve around the earth and austerity creates growth

What a month it's been. While the first half of 2015 has not been kind to Canadians and the economy, July has proven to be worse.
On the economic front, we have had a tumultuous month capping a tumultuous first half of the year. When Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz described Canada's economy as "atrocious," little did we know how atrocious it was going to get.

Cry me a tailings pond, Canada

The United States has its Clean Power Plan. Canada has the tar sands.

That sums up the difference between the two countries when it comes to dealing with climate change.

The Clean Power Plan that U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled on Monday puts the Americans on track to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 32 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.