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.]

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chiefs urge aboriginal people to vote against Harper government

Chiefs across Canada are being urged to get their people into federal voting booths next fall with the aim of defeating the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The call on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), adds another dynamic to an already tight three-way race and offers incentive to opposition leaders to target at least part of their campaigns at aboriginal people – a demographic that has largely been considered inconsequential to the outcome of elections.

Canadian government spent millions on secret tar sands advocacy

Canada’s Conservative government spent several million dollars on a tar sands advocacy fund as its push to export the oil faltered, documents reveal.

In its 2013 budget, the government invested $30 million over two years on public relations advertising and domestic and international “outreach activities” to promote Alberta’s tar sands.

After 2 Killers Fled, New York Prisoners Say, Beatings Were Next

Night had fallen at the Clinton Correctional Facility in far northern New York when the prison guards came for Patrick Alexander. They handcuffed him and took him into a broom closet for questioning. Then, Mr. Alexander said in an interview last week, the beatings began.

As the three guards, who wore no name badges, punched him and slammed his head against the wall, he said they shouted questions: “Where are they going? What did you hear? How much are they paying you to keep your mouth shut?” One of the guards put a plastic bag over his head, Mr. Alexander said, and threatened to waterboard him.

Jeb Bush wants to bring back the Bush Doctrine

Jeb Bush will be making a speech on foreign policy today, and if the excerpts that his campaign released to reporters beforehand are any indication, it will embody all the thoughtfulness, nuance and sophistication that have characterized Republican foreign policy thinking in recent years. If you were thinking that Bush might be the grown-up in this field — or offer something much different from the approach that was so disastrous for his brother — well, think again. It’s looking a lot like the return of the Bush Doctrine, just with a different Bush.

Republicans Who Oppose the Iran Deal Are Making Promises They Can’t Keep

The partisan debate over international efforts to forestall an Iranian nuclear weapons program has been stuck in a loop of self-parody ever since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to sabotage the negotiations with an address before Congress this past March. In the ensuing months, Republican opponents have continuously echoed Netanyahu’s unsubstantiated insistence that he and other Iran deal skeptics don’t propose war or regime change or outright failure to keep Iran from manufacturing a weapon, but a "better deal," the particulars of which remain mysterious to everyone.

White Militiamen, Openly Carrying Large Guns, Descend On Ferguson

One year after criticizing the militarized police force in Ferguson, the Oath Keepers — a group of armed white militiamen — took to the city’s streets, clashing with protesters on Monday night.

The day after a tense standoff between cops and protesters, as well as the police shooting of an armed teenager, hundreds of protesters gathered on West Florrisant Ave after a state of emergency was declared in St. Louis. Officers in riot gear told the crowd to disperse and arrested people who did not comply. Then, several white militiamen showed up to the protest carrying rifles, and would not leave when demonstrators asked them to.

How the Bush Family Aided Planned Parenthood's Rise

Like his fellow GOP presidential contenders, Jeb Bush has fiercely condemned Planned Parenthood in the wake of hidden-camera videos purporting to show the nonprofit's employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. In addition to pushing for a congressional investigation into the group, he has called on the next president to halt the more than $500 million in annual federal funding that it receives, and to redirect those funds to other women's health organizations. But lost in the polarized debate over Planned Parenthood is a fact that Bush would likely prefer not to highlight: His family, dating back to his grandfather, was instrumental in launching and securing federal funding for the group.

It's not JUST the economy, stupid!

The insiders in the media have decided the election is mostly about the economy.
Are we in a recession, whether technical or otherwise, or not?
Will Canada run a small surplus by the end of this year, or a small deficit? And, political rhetoric aside, would it matter one way or the other?

Canada's job recovery: Best in show?

History is clear: The Harper government's record on job creation is the weakest of Canada's past nine prime ministers.
But is it the best job creation record we could have right now, given how so many nations are struggling with the enduring impact of the 2008 global economic crisis? When it comes to recovery, are we the best in show in the G7? That depends on what you measure.

Are you voting for policies that hurt you? Neoliberal polices and your paycheque

Another federal election is coming, and the promises are gearing up. But after the election is over and politicians start implementing those promises, do they really work out the way we had hoped? 
We are particularly vexed about one promise that has been tossed around for a long time. Remember "the rising tide that lifts all boats?" Supposedly, politicians would implement policies to boost productivity growth and we were told that this growing economic pie would "trickle down" to our paycheques.

Wynne calls proposed Ontario pension plan ‘right thing to do’

Premier Kathleen Wynne is standing firm on bringing in a made-in-Ontario pension in the face of widespread criticism.

After details for the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan ‎(ORPP) were revealed Tuesday, Wynne said something has to be done for the two-thirds of workers in the province who don’t have a workplace pension.

Harper Government Spends $700,000 Fighting Veterans Class-Action Lawsuit

OTTAWA - The federal government has so far spent nearly $700,000 fighting a disgruntled group of wounded Afghan veterans in court— a revelation that on Wednesday rekindled a political controversy the Conservatives had hoped was behind them.

During question period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to cast the ongoing court battle as the legacy of a flawed policy that was foisted on Parliament nine years ago by Paul Martin's Liberal government.

Study Reveals The True Scope Of Voter Disenfranchisement In Texas

A Texas law, which closely resembles similar laws erecting obstacles to the franchise in other states, does far more to keep voters from casting a ballot than previously thought, according to a study conducted by researchers at Rice University and the University of Houston.

Typically, analysts examining how voter ID laws affect turnout have honed in on voters who lack ID as the obvious victims of such a law. The Rice/Houston study, however, reveals that these laws reach far beyond the universe of people without IDs. “[T]he most significant impact of the Texas voter photo ID law on voter participation,” at least within the congressional district examined by the study, “was to discourage turnout among registered voters who did indeed possess an approved form of photo ID, but through some combination of misunderstanding, doubt or lack of knowledge, believed that they did not possess the necessary photo identification.”

If It’s Going to Push Us to War, Is It Time for AIPAC to Register as a Foreign Agent?

Most polls show that Jewish Americans are the Americans most enthusiastic about the diplomatic deal reached at Vienna between Iran and the UN Security Council over its civilian nuclear enrichment program.

China Devalues Yuan After Poor Economic Data

LONDON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - The global "currency war" entered a new phase on Tuesday as China's surprise devaluation threatened to unleash competitive devaluations and keep monetary policy around the world looser for longer, perhaps even forcing the U.S. Federal Reserve to delay its expected interest rate rise.

"Currency wars," a phrase used by Brazil's former finance minister Guido Mantega in 2010 to describe how competing countries explicitly or implicitly weaken their exchange rates to boost exports, have intensified in recent years.

Carly Fiorina Backs Maternity Leave Policy Worse Than Afghanistan's

WASHINGTON -- GOP presidential contender Carly Fiorina said on Sunday that she opposes changing federal law to require companies to provide paid maternity leave. Her position is at odds with the policies of virtually every developed country on Earth and considerably worse than the maternity leave policy in war-torn Afghanistan.

Huffington Post, Washington Post Reporters Charged For Doing Journalism In Ferguson

NEW YORK – Reporters from The Huffington Post and Washington Post have been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer’s performance, a chilling setback for press freedom coming nearly a year after their arrests in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly and Washington Post's Wesley Lowery were arrested while working out of a McDonald's on Aug. 13, 2014, just four days after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.