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, November 02, 2015

In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System’

Deborah L. Pierce, an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, was optimistic when she brought a sex discrimination claim against the medical group that had dismissed her. Respected by colleagues, she said she had a stack of glowing evaluations and evidence that the practice had a pattern of denying women partnerships.

She began to worry, though, once she was blocked from court and forced into private arbitration.

Presiding over the case was not a judge but a corporate lawyer, Vasilios J. Kalogredis, who also handled arbitrations. When Ms. Pierce showed up one day for a hearing, she said she noticed Mr. Kalogredis having a friendly coffee with the head of the medical group she was suing.

Top Republicans Seek To End Most Debating, Replace It With Infomercial

Ben Carson is seeking to rally Republican candidates to end most actual debating at future Republican debates. Instead, candidates would spend most of their time taking turns delivering speeches.

Carson’s campaign is convening a meeting of various campaigns on Sunday night. The campaigns will discuss Carson’s proposal, which includes “a minimum of five minutes for opening and closing statements with all major declared GOP candidates on stage.” There are currently 14 candidates that have regularly been appearing in debates. Giving them five minutes each for opening and closing statements would take 140 minutes, which is more than the total time for a typical two hour debate.

How Big Corporations and Wall Street Banks Rig the American Market

Much of the national debate about widening inequality focuses on whether and how much to tax the rich and redistribute their income downward.

But this debate ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market.

Wisconsin Poised to Gut Its Campaign Finance and Anti-Corruption Laws

Scott Walker's presidential bid may have failed, but the Wisconsin governor and his Republican allies are making a massive push to transform the way the state conducts elections and investigates illegal campaign activity. If they're successful—and by all indications, they will be—by the end of this week, they will have uprooted Wisconsin's anti-public corruption laws and lifted restrictions on the money pouring into state elections.

Wright-Duffy affair must be cautionary tale for Trudeau’s Liberals

When at the age of 80, Nigel Wright lies between his Frette sheets, his bespoke suits long gone to Goodwill, I often wonder whether he will believe he served the Lord, or the Dark Lord, in his brief stint in public service?

With the criminal trial of Mike Duffy set to resume, the curious and controversial role that Wright played in this soap opera of trough politics and shady payoffs is worth reconsidering. A new PMO is in the process of being cobbled together and the Harper operation offers a cautionary tale of how not to do it.

Top bureaucrats met to resist partisanship imposed on public service

As a new Liberal government takes the reins this week, Canada's top bureaucrats are looking for ways to purge partisan politics from the shell-shocked public service.

The highest echelon of the bureaucracy met in the spring, before the election was called, to discuss ways to insulate public servants from intense pressure to be "promiscuously partisan" instead of neutral in carrying out the government's agenda.

Russia, China sign deal to bypass US dollar

In a symbolic blow to U.S. global financial hegemony, Russia and China took a small step toward undercutting the domination of the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency on Tuesday when Russia’s second biggest financial institution, VTB, signed a deal with the Bank of China to bypass the dollar and pay each other in domestic currencies.

The so-called Agreement on Cooperation — signed in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is on a visit to Shanghai — was followed by the long-awaited announcement on Wednesday of a massive natural gas deal 10 years in the making.

It’s not too late to nix disastrous Hydro One sell-off

Last week, Stephen LeClair, Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Officer, untangled months of spin and confusion to reveal the truth about the provincial government’s sale of Hydro One.

It’s a terrible deal for Ontario.

He compared two approaches to financing infrastructure. In the first, the government would borrow money, an approach that Justin Trudeau advocated during his successful election campaign. In the second, the government would sell public assets.

White Nationalists Gather On Halloween To Discuss How Oppressed They Are

WASHINGTON -- The 150-plus white men who gathered on Halloween to discuss their shared European heritage and identity insisted they don’t think they’re better than other races.

They’re simply different, they said. They’re “white advocates” and “identitarians.” “Racial idealists” or “racial communitarians.” The label “white supremacists,” to them, is a political “scare term” created by liberals and groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center to undercut “legitimate” white interests.

Netanyahu Retracts Assertion That Palestinian Inspired Holocaust

JERUSALEM — After more than a week of local and international condemnation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel issued a statement on Friday retracting his accusation that it was a Palestinian cleric who gave Hitler the idea of annihilating Europe’s Jews during World War II.

Mr. Netanyahu, criticized even by Israeli historians for distorting facts, had already said he never intended to absolve Hitler of responsibility for the Holocaust by blaming the mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, but the new statement went further.

Paul Ryan Says There Will Be No Immigration Reform Under Obama

In case there was any lingering hope of immigration reform passing in the next year, newly elected Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) stamped it out for good Sunday morning.

Ryan told several Sunday shows that he would not work with President Barack Obama on the matter, since the president’s unilateral actions to give legal protections to some of the undocumented had poisoned the proverbial well.

Hundreds Of Cops Kicked Off Force For Committing Sex Crimes

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Flashing lights pierced the black of night, and the big white letters made clear it was the police. The woman pulled over was a daycare worker in her 50s headed home after playing dominoes with friends. She felt she had nothing to hide, so when the Oklahoma City officer accused her of erratic driving, she did as directed.

She would later tell a judge she was splayed outside the patrol car for a pat-down, made to lift her shirt to prove she wasn't hiding anything, then to pull down her pants when the officer still wasn't convinced. He shined his flashlight between her legs, she said, then ordered her to sit in the squad car and face him as he towered above. His gun in sight, she said she pleaded "No, sir" as he unzipped his fly and exposed himself with a hurried directive.

Obama's Foreign Policy Promises Then and Now

WASHINGTON -- The White House announced on Friday that a small number of U.S. troops are heading into northern Syria to assist local ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State.

Though the deployment of ground troops is a somewhat expected extension of the air war the U.S. has conducted over Iraq and Syria since last August, the announcement is in stark contrast with President Barack Obama’s 2013 promise of no "boots on the ground" in Syria.

Bonavista Energy Must Truck Water To Family Farm, Alberta Regulator Orders

An Alberta energy company has been ordered to truck water to a family dairy farm where groundwater has been contaminated by chemicals from a nearby gas plant.

The lawyer for Ron and Lonni Saken says the plant's current and previous owners still need to compensate the family for land that will be tainted for a generation.

What If Your Tap Water Was Too Polluted to Drink?

One hallmark of life in a “developed” country is a secure supply of clean water. But America’s rural and urban landscapes are marred with dry patches. Activists went to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) last week to shame the US government for forcing on its people a kind of thirst that smacks of festering poverty in the world’s richest society.

At an IACHR hearing on water rights, activists from different regions denounced the US government’s failure to provide clean, affordable water. While they cited crumbling sanitation systems and agricultural pollution, the fundamental crisis wasn’t simply scarcity, but institutionalized deprivation and massive social inequality from coast to coast.

Guantánamo Is Leaving Obama With Choices, Neither of Them Simple

As President Obama approaches his final year in power, a political impasse over the Guantánamo prison appears increasingly likely to force him to choose between two politically unsavory options: Invoke executive power to relocate the remaining detainees in defiance of a statute, or allow history to say he never fulfilled his promise to shutter the prison.

While the administration is slowly whittling down the population of those deemed a lower risk — including the transfer Friday of a prominent prisoner, Shaker Aamer, to Britain — its plan also calls for moving at least five dozen higher-level detainees to a prison on domestic soil. But statute bars that move, and the Republican-controlled Congress has shown little interest in revoking it. Mr. Obama vetoed a defense bill on Oct. 22 in part because it kept the restriction.