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.]

Thursday, January 07, 2016

One year after Ghomeshi watershed moment, the labour of healing still falls on women

The Guardian recently published a widely circulated piece about women and emotional labour, in which Rose Hackman poses an important question: is the question of women's emotional work the next frontier of feminist activism?
As Hackman acknowledges, this is not really a new question or a new frontier at all: after all, American sociologist Arlie Hochschild coined the term more than 30 years ago in her 1983 book The Managed Heart. However, there is significant renewed interest in emotional or affective labour, particularly as social media creates an entirely new sphere of emotional engagement -- one that can blur the lines between personal and professional lives, where many women are often demanded to be constantly on the clock, and in which they often face virulent and constant abuse and harassment.

Don't Reward Corporations for Donating Food Waste, Critic Says

The federal government should refuse to give a tax break to corporations that donate waste food to charity, says retired University of British Columbia social work professor Graham Riches.

"They're being offered a carrot, when perhaps they should be offered a stick," said Riches, an editor of the book First World Hunger Revisited and a long-time critic of food charity.

The National Zero Waste Council -- an organization whose membership includes local governments, businesses and non-profits -- wants municipal governments to pass motions urging the Canadian government to create a tax incentive "for food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate unsold edible food."

Pacific Trade Deal Will Test Trudeau's Resolve

Justin Trudeau has proven to be much more bold in his first couple of weeks than almost anyone imagined. Unlike Jean Chrétien and his 1993 election Red Book, Trudeau actually seems to be intent on keeping many of his promises.

Most importantly he has done what no other premier or prime minister in my memory has ever done. He has put numerous people in ministries who actually have a passion for their portfolios: a doctor in charge in health care, a potato farmer in charge of agriculture, an Aboriginal former treaty commissioner in justice, a former CIDA staff person in charge of international development. Prime ministers who want to exercise executive control don't do this. Trudeau, it seems, genuinely wants to run a government by cabinet.


There's a new mood in the nation's capital, one of hope and expectation that newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will magically eliminate all the woes created by nine years of Stephen Harper.

Even at the traditionally sombre ceremonies leading up to Remembrance Day, renewed optimism can be sensed among the veterans' organizations that have been battling government bureaucracy to secure improved benefits.

Terrorizing Students: The Criminalization of Children in the US Police State

Violence has become the problem of the 21st century. This claim is indebted to W. E. B. Dubois' much quoted notion that "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of color line."[1] For Du Bois, racism was one of the most pressing problems of the time and could not be understood outside of the gross inequities of wealth, power, opportunity and access. What he did not anticipate was the degree to which the violent character of racism would come to define the 21st century on a national and global level. What he described as a ruthless ideology and attitude of racist hostility would later mutate in the new millennium into a raw display of police brutality and state terrorism, camouflaged under the guise of an alleged post-racial society.

The Hidden and Deadly Bias of Class

White working-class voters have been a key building block of the Republican coalition since the rise of the Reagan Democrats 35 years ago. You would think that the party’s presidential candidates would want to respond to the heartbreaking crisis these Americans are facing.

Two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case, issued a study last week that should push what the writers Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb called the “hidden injuries of class” to the center of our political conversation. Deaton and Case found that the death rates for whites 45 to 54 who never attended college increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2014. They unearthed a startling rise in suicides as well as diseases related to alcohol and drugs.

 Ben Carson Is As Wrong About Wage Hikes as He Was About the Pyramids

Of course Dr. Ben Carson was wrong when he claimed in the fourth Republican presidential debate that “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.”

The Pulitzer Prize–winning analysts at PolitiFact rated that statement “false”—with no qualifiers or wiggle words like “mostly.”

Minimum-wage hikes are not always associated with immediate spikes in employment; especially in recessionary moments. But PolitiFact notes that “[of the] five minimum wage hikes that occurred when a recovery was under way, joblessness declined four of those times.”

Utah judge orders baby taken away from married lesbian foster parents

Utah state child welfare officials on Wednesday were wrangling with a ruling by a juvenile court judge who ordered a baby to be taken from lesbian foster parents and instead placed with a heterosexual couple, saying it was for the child’s wellbeing.

Judge Scott Johansen’s order on Tuesday raised concerns at the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said agency spokeswoman Ashley Sumner.

Rich Nations Subsidize Fossil Fuels Four Times More Than Renewables

The G20 countries spend almost four times as much to prop up fossil fuel production as they do to subsidize renewable energy, calling into question their commitment to halting climate change, a think tank said on Thursday

The G20 spent an average $78 billion on national subsidies delivered through direct spending and tax breaks in 2013 and 2014, according to a report from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on Thursday.

Hack Reveals Prison Phone Company Recorded Attorney-Client Calls

Whenever a prisoner makes a phone call, that call is recorded. Prison phone giant Securus Technologies says on its website that it makes an exception for calls from inmates to their lawyers.

Yet The Intercept reported Wednesday that a massive hack, compromising over 70 million calls in 37 states over two and a half years, shows that Securus is not only recording attorney-client calls, but that the company's "secure" recording and storage systems are, in fact, porous.

The Crazy Proposal From Carly Fiorina Everyone Missed During Last Night’s Debate

The problem with Washington, according to a little-noticed remark by Carly Fiorina at Tuesday evening’s Republican presidential debate, is that it is too nimble and capable of adapting to new challenges. This must be cured, Fiorina claimed, through legislation that will effectively freeze federal regulation in place and prevent the government from adapting to new circumstances or new technologies.

“We need to pass the REINS Act so Congress is in charge of regulation,” Fiorina told the debate audience, referring to an obscure bill intended to hobble federal agency action. Though it is unlikely that many people in the audience know what the REINS Act is, this bill has long been one of the top priorities of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the primary lobbying group representing big business as a whole. Moreover, the bill has a fairly high chance of becoming law if Republicans gain control over both houses of Congress and the presidency. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House on multiple occasions.

New Zealand MPs Kicked Out Of Parliament For Revealing Their Sexual Assault

New Zealand’s Parliament resulted in a walk-out Wednesday, as the speaker attempted to shout down and ultimately kicked out several female members of Parliament who disclosed they had been sexually assaulted.

The uproar began when Prime Minister John Key claimed that Labour and Green Party members “back the rapists” because they protested the treatment of Kiwis, some of whom have committed violent crimes, being detained in Australia.

Here's What Happens When Cops Police For Profit, Not Public Safety

A controversial program that allows police to seize private property has become a massive revenue driver for law enforcement departments around the country, an expansive report published Tuesday has found. Under the practice known as civil asset forfeiture, police and prosecutors work together to permanently seize cash and property -- including cars, homes and businesses -- based on the suspicion that it's connected to criminal activity.

While civil forfeiture is regularly touted as an important crime-fighting tool, authorities don't need to charge owners with a crime in order to take their property, and most of the time, forfeiture is approved without any definitive proof of the alleged criminal ties. Once the government takes control of a person's property, it's typically sold off, sending proceeds back the police departments and legal offices that worked the case.

Why the TPP Is Too Flawed for a 'Yes' Vote in Congress

Globalization is a positive and powerful force for good, if it is embedded in the right kind of ethical and legal framework. Yet the current draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not worthy of a simple thumbs-up by the Congress. Without jettisoning the purported goals of TPP, the 12 signatories should slow down, take the pieces of this complex trade agreement in turn and work harder for a set of international standards that will truly support global sustainable development.

 A Billionaire, Some Millionaires, and a No-Show Senator Debate How Best to Block Wage Hikes

The first Republican president of the United States was a friend of labor and a champion of working people.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital,” Abraham Lincoln told the Congress in 1861. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Elizabeth Warren Exposes How Financial Advisers Exploit Retirees

Retirees across America look to financial advisers for help in navigating options for smart retirement saving. But there's a scary fact many folks don't know when they entrust their life savings to a broker. According to a report released by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) last week, many financial advisers promote inferior financial products to collect kickbacks—from pricey Caribbean vacations to gift cards and golf outings—offered by the companies that sell certain annuities. And what's worse, that practice is totally legal.

Canada's Newspapers Were In The Tank For Harper, Media Analysis Finds

Canadian newspapers overwhelmingly supported Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the past two elections, much more so than they would have if they had reflected public opinion, a new study finds.

The report from the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project found that 95 per cent of newspaper endorsements in the 2011 election went to Harper. That’s every daily in Canada that endorsed a party, except for the Toronto Star, which endorsed the NDP that year.