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, November 17, 2015

Cooks And Janitors At U.S. Capitol Strike In Protest Of The British Company We Pay To Serve Senators

Workers who serve food at the United States Capitol went on strike Tuesday morning to protest their low wages and call attention to retaliatory actions they say their employer has taken against workers who want to unionize.

That company, Restaurant Associates, holds the federal contract to operate the cafeterias in the Capitol Visitors Center and in the Senate itself. The government contracts out janitorial and food service work at many public buildings, paying taxpayer money to private companies rather than employing service workers directly.

Soviet-Themed Anti-Elizabeth Warren Ad Will Air During Republican Debate

Liberal fans haven't been able to persuade Sen. Elizabeth Warren to make a run for president, but she'll appear at Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate on Fox Business Network—during a commercial break. As Politico's Burgess Everett reports, the conservative American Action Network will run an ad opposing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer watchdog agency that Warren created following the financial crash. Per Everett, the group is spending half a million dollars to run the ad during the debate and later this week.

Does Justin know? The virus that invaded the body of Liberal thought is still there

It is legitimate to look for real change in economic policy under the new Liberal government. Instead what requires explaining is Justin Trudeau naming Bill Morneau -- a leading economic conservative -- as finance minister.
Morneau who made millions working for his Father's firm told Eric Andrew-Gee of the Globe and Mail: "Most of the really smart people find jobs. Even when there's high youth unemployment. The reality is, it's 13 per cent. That means 87 per cent are employed."
Young Canadians looking for change now find an apologist for the status quo is the new Liberal finance minister.

The Incident You Have To See To Understand Why Students Wanted Mizzou's President To Go

When students at the University of Missouri started a petition calling for the system's president, Tim Wolfe, to resign, it was not simply because he hadn't done enough to address racism on campus. The petition clearly stated students were outraged that Wolfe sat in silence while his driver clipped at least one protester with a car during a demonstration weeks earlier.

On Oct. 10, a group of black students interrupted the Mizzou homecoming parade. Wearing T-shirts that read "1839 Was Built On My B(l)ack," referring to Mizzou's founding and slave labor, the students stopped right in front of the convertible that Wolfe was traveling in as he waved to parade watchers. The students took out a megaphone and one by one began speaking about incidents of systemic and anecdotal racism from the founding year 1839 through 2015.

Conservatives won't abuse Senate majority to thwart Liberal agenda, Carignan says

OTTAWA — Conservative senators don't plan to be an ideological roadblock to the Liberal government's legislative agenda.

Sen. Claude Carignan, the Conservative leader in the upper chamber, says his senators will look for ways to improve legislation coming from the House of Commons and won't abuse their majority status in the upper chamber to thwart Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's program.

DC judge rips into the NSA over mass surveillance

In an extraordinary opinion, DC judge Richard Leon has laid into the NSA and US government for its bulk collection of phone records, and issued an injunction banning the collection of metadata on several individuals.

Railing against arguments made by the government to dismiss the case, claims it needed more time to make changes, and the argument that the USA Freedom Act makes the case moot, Leon's opinion [PDF] is unequivocal that the program breaks the US Constitution and infringes citizens' rights.

Think Burma Is a Democracy Now? Think Again.

For millions of people in Burma and for supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi around the world, Sunday's election appears to be the fulfillment of their dreams. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) looks to have won a landslide victory, ending more than fifty years of military rule. Democracy has finally arrived. Or has it?

Toronto House Prices At Risk Of 'Severe' Correction, OECD Says, But CIBC Begs To Differ

Canadian housing is overheating and Toronto’s housing market is especially at elevated risk of a “severe correction” due to an oversupply of condos, the OECD says.

But CIBC thinks the international organization is “barking up the wrong tree.”

In a new report, the group calls on Canada’s incoming new government to cool down the housing market, calling for “further tightening” of the mortgage market.

 3 Lessons From University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s Resignation

In shocking news that comes in utter contradiction to a statement released just yesterday, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has announced his resignation.

The move comes after incidents of bigotry and racial vandalism that scarred the Columbia campus, followed by weeks of protest, a hunger strike by grad student Jonathan Butler, as well as the announcement that faculty members would not be showing up for work.

Companies Are Ripping Off Ontario's Water Resources

Ontario must stop allowing big companies to rip off the province's water. It is bad enough that the government allows multinational companies to privatize a public resource, it is even worse that taxpayers are being hosed by charging so little for it.

Several industries get a total free ride when it comes to taking our water, an explosive new report from Ontario's Environment Commissioner revealed. Those who do pay for taking water -- "phase one" industrial and commercial users that include bottled water producers; vegetable and fruit canning facilities; and certain types of chemical manufacturers -- are charged a paltry $3.71 per million litres used.

Trudeau Trying To 'Excise' Images Of Queen, Worries Monarchist League Of Canada

OTTAWA — After the Queen’s portrait was removed from a prime location at the Foreign Affairs building, the Monarchist League of Canada is expressing concern that Justin Trudeau’s government may be trying to “excise” her images from Canada’s “national life.”

In an email titled “urgent bulletin” to league members on Monday, chairman Robert Finch wrote: “It is curious, at the start of the first complete week of the Trudeau government, that such a high-profile removal of The Queen’s portrait would have been made.”

Brad Wall: Trans-Pacific Partnership In Best Interest Of Saskatchewan

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he still believes the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good deal, despite concerns being raised by a prominent businessman.

The premier says the agreement is too important for Western Canada not to proceed with it and is writing a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging Canada to move forward.

Wall specifically says the partnership is good for agriculture in the province.

Pace of Canadian airstrikes against ISIL picks up despite Trudeau’s vow to end mission

The pace of Canada’s aerial bombardments against ISIL has picked up since Justin Trudeau became prime minister, a curious scenario given his campaign pledge to withdraw from the U.S.-led mission in Iraq and Syria.

Since Trudeau’s swearing-in five days ago on Nov. 4, Canada’s CF-18 jets conducted five airstrikes, hitting seven targets identified as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant assets, according to information from the Department of National Defence.

There were 14 airstrikes in all of October, 10 in September and 11 in August. The busiest the CF-18 crews have been recently was in July, when there were six airstrikes in a five-day period.

Chris Christie Vetoes Election Reform Bill In New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a package of election reforms passed by the state's Democrat-controlled legislature Monday, arguing the legislation was "thinly-veiled political gamesmanship."

The Democracy Act aimed to implement automatic voter registration when voters apply for driver's licenses. (Eligible voters have the option to opt out before they are automatically registered with Department of Motor Vehicles information.) Only two states -- California and Oregon -- have passed automatic registration bills.

NSA Says It Will End Bulk Call Data Collection This Month

WASHINGTON, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency is ready to end later this month collecting Americans' domestic call records in bulk and move to a more targeted system, meeting a legislative deadline imposed earlier this year, according to a government memo seen by Reuters.

The memo, sent on Monday from the NSA to relevant committees in the U.S. Congress, stated that the spy agency "has successfully developed a technical architecture to support the new program" in time for it to become operational as scheduled on Nov. 29.

Saken Family Asks For Compensation After Gas Company Contaminates Farm's Groundwater

An Alberta family whose farmland has been tainted by chemical contamination has asked the province's energy regulator to force the responsible companies to negotiate compensation.

"These are very solid facts upon which the regulator can demonstrate it does have the ability to be an enforcer when things go wrong,'' said Keith Wilson, lawyer for Ron and Lonni Saken.

Montreal Sewage Dump Given Green Light By Environment Minister Catherine McKenna

Montreal can begin dumping eight billion litres of untreated sewage into the St. Lawrence River if certain risk-mitigating conditions are met, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said Monday, calling the situation "less than ideal" but the best solution to the city's waste water crisis.

Before the city can dump the sewage into the river it needs create an emergency plan for unintended problems, keep a close watch on the discharge and deploy measures to clean up affected areas, McKenna said during a media conference call from Paris.

Where’s the Outrage Over the Beheadings in Saudi Arabia?

By the time you read this column, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, Dawoud Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher may be dead.

In case you’ve never heard their names, they are young prisoners of conscience currently housed in solitary confinement at the notorious al-Ha’ir penitentiary in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They are waiting to be beheaded. In all likelihood, as is Saudi custom, no advance public notice of their executions will be given. We’ll learn of their demise only after the fact, via social media, or when the Saudi government officially announces that their sentences have been carried out.

Why isn't Christy Clark facing the fight of her life over triple-deletes?

Premier Christy Clark should be facing the fight of her life. Just one week ago, it was reported that the BC Liberal government routinely disposes of all written records relating to government decisions.

When a local resident from Delta submitted a request for background information on how the government made the $3 billion decision to replace the Massey Tunnel, the government stated that there was simply no written information to be found.

The Math on Rubionomics Is Way, Way Crazier Than You Think

Last week, Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal think tank that uses mainstream economic tax modeling, analyzed Marco Rubio’s tax-cut plan. Thirty-four percent of the benefits of the plan would go to the highest-earning one percent of Americans (who, by the way, earn about 21 percent of all income). Rubio’s proposal deliberately provides some benefits to Americans of modest income, which means that its enormous tax cuts for the very rich come alongside some pretty decent-size tax cuts for the rest of us. All told, Rubio’s plan would reduce federal revenue by $11.8 trillion over the next decade. The entire Bush tax cuts cost about $3.4 trillion over a decade, making the Rubio tax cuts more than three times as costly.

University Of Missouri’s Black Football Players Strike, Won’t Play Until President Resigns

Following a series of racist incidents on campus, at least 32 members of the University of Missouri’s football team will not play until the school’s president, Tim Wolfe, resigns. On Saturday night, a group of black players declared that they are going on strike, citing Wolfe’s “negligence” in handling discrimination on campus.

The announcement was tweeted from Missouri’s Legion of Black Collegians, next to a photo of 32 players with linked arms. According to the Columbia Missourian, 60 of the 124 players on the current roster are black, but the exact number joining the protest is undetermined.

First They Jailed the Bankers. Now All Icelanders Will Get a Payout From Bank Sale.

First, Iceland jailed its crooked bankers for their direct involvement in the financial crisis of 2008. Now, every Icelander will receive a payout for the sale of one of its three largest banks, Íslandsbanki.

If Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has his way — and he likely will — Icelanders will be paid kr 30,000 after the government takes over ownership of the bank. Íslandsbanki would be second of the three largest banks under State proprietorship.

Jim Balsillie fears TPP could cost Canada billions and become worst-ever policy move

Jim Balsillie warns that provisions tucked into the Trans-Pacific Partnership could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars — and eventually make signing it the worst public policy decision in the country's history.

After poring over the treaty's final text, the businessman who helped build Research In Motion into a $20-billion global player said the deal contains "troubling" rules on intellectual property that threaten to make Canada a "permanent underclass" in the economy of selling ideas.

Netanyahu, Seeking $5 Billion a Year From U.S., Hires Man Who Called Obama a Muslim Hate Sympathizer

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed West Bank squatter Ran Baratz to be his director of communications on the eve of his procession Monday to Washington to demand a vast increase in annual US aid to Israel, which includes civilian as well as military grants of some $3 bn. a year.  Netanyahu wants $5 bn. now, or $50 billion over the next ten years.

One wouldn’t even complain about this aid if Israel weren’t using it in part to occupy the stateless Palestinians.  But it is worth noting that the US doesn’t give such sums to NATO allies like France or Britain or even Turkey.  Israel is a wealthy country.  It already receives special access to the US market and technology.  But there is no point in complaining about this tax on American households for Netanyahu’s brutal policies toward Palestinians.  As long as Congress is bought and sold, this sort of thing will continue inexorably.  In fact, in the terms of Washington debate, it cannot even be brought up as an issue.  It is after all a minor piece of corruption, in a political system that is among the more corrupt in the world.