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.]

Saturday, February 06, 2016

I Despise Hillary Clinton, And It Has Nothing To Do With Her Gender

In the last few weeks, as Bernie Sanders has inched closer to Hillary Clinton in the primaries, her more ardent supporters have responded by attacking the sexism of "Bernie Bros" and their online comments.

Without question, there has been a disheartening amount of seemingly sexist comments made about Hillary from people who you would otherwise expect to at least support her unenthusiastically. But the response from the Hillary supporters has basically been a general blanket statement that goes something like this: "Bernie Sanders supporters hate Hillary because she's unlikeable as a woman, and her policies really aren't that different than his. If she were a man they'd be singing a different tune."

Great Bear Rainforest Hunting Negotiations To Cost Millions

VICTORIA — New information reveals ending the trophy hunt for grizzly bears in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest will cost millions of dollars, and in the meantime hunters will still be able to set their sights on the bruins.

Premier Christy Clark announced a landmark deal earlier this week to limit logging and end the commercial grizzly hunt on the central coast, which is home to rare, white spirit bears and 1000-year-old cedar forests.

Tory MPs Say They Support Pay Equity, But Could Not Back NDP's Motion On Issue

Conservative MPs who voted against an NDP motion on tackling the gender wage gap say they absolutely believe Canadian men and women should receive equal pay for equal work.

And they appear to be urging a closer look at the motion and the debates that preceded the vote.

On Wednesday, the motion from NDP status of women critic Sheila Malcolmson — which, among other things, called for a special parliamentary committee to study the issue — passed the House of Commons with the support of 173 members of the Liberal government. Nine Bloc Quebecois MPs and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May voted in favour, along with 41 New Democrats.

Energy East Is Anything But Canadian Oil For Canadians

When TransCanada first announced its 4400km Energy East pipeline project from Alberta to Saint John, the spin was all about nation-building.

At their first news conference, CEO Russ Girling compared Energy East to "bold ventures" such as the Canadian Pacific Railway that evoke civic pride. "Each of these enterprises demanded innovative thinking and a strong belief that building critical infrastructure ties our country together, making us stronger and more in control of our own destiny," said Girling, as quoted in a Macleans article.

Martin Shkreli, Price-Gouging Pharma CEO, Refuses To Answer To ‘Imbecile' Congress

Martin Shkreli, the indicted former pharma CEO who raised the price of a life-saving drug by 5,400 per cent last year, refused to answer questions in front of a congressional committee on Thursday morning, taking the Fifth Amendment on his lawyers' advice.

But Shkreli followed up his appearance in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a tweet referring to congresspeople in a very pointed way.

Martin Shkreli pleads the 5th as Congress demands answers on drug prices

Former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and declined to answer questions on Thursday from U.S. lawmakers interested in why the company raised the price of a lifesaving medicine by 5,000 per cent.

Shkreli, 32, sparked outrage last year among patients, medical societies and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton after Turing raised the price of 62-year-old Daraprim to $750 US a pill from $13.50.

Russia 'simulated a nuclear strike' against Sweden, Nato admits

The Russian airforce conducted a mock nuclear strike against Sweden during war games less than three years ago, Nato has said.

The 2013 exercise, which saw a contingent of Russian aircraft approach Swedish airspace after crossing the Gulf of Finland, was one of several examples of dummy nuclear attacks against Nato and its allies in recent years, according to a new Nato report.

The 13th Amendment Created Legal Slavery Through Incarceration

Slavery didn't end, it evolved. That's the powerful argument made in Slaves of the State: Black Incarceration From the Chain Gang to the Penitentiary by Dennis Childs. Ever since a clause in the 13th Amendment allowed for enslavement as "punishment for crime," the groundwork has been laid for the prison industrial complex to function as the 21st century equivalent of chattel slavery. Order your copy of this eye-opening book by making a donation to Truthout today!

In this excerpt from Slaves of the State, Dennis Childs illustrates how the 13th Amendment plated a primary role in perpetuating slavery:

Why Is My Kindergartner Being Groomed for the Military at School?

When he got home from Iraq, Hart Viges began sorting through his boyhood toys, looking for some he could pass on to his new baby nephew. He found a stash of G.I. Joes - his old favorites - and the memories came flooding back.

"I thought about giving them to him," he said. But the pressures of a year in a war zone had strengthened Viges' Christian faith, and he told the Army that "if I loved my enemy I couldn't see killing them, for any reason." He left as a conscientious objector. As for the G.I. Joes, "I threw them away instead." Viges had grown up playing dress-up with his father's, grandfather's and uncles' old military uniforms. "What we tell small kids has such a huge effect," he told Truthout. "I didn't want to be the one telling him to dream about the military."

Travel claim paid out by Canadian Commercial Corp. based on false receipt

A Canadian Crown corporation paid out a travel claim to the chair of its board based on a false receipt, and approved two taxpayer-funded trips to international conferences that overlapped with his private business interests, CBC News has learned.

Ray Castelli, a one-time aide to former Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell, was appointed by the former Harper government as the Canadian Commercial Corporation board chairman in 2012.

Why I still worry about auto job losses under a TPP

My friend and fellow #cdnecon tweeter Mike Moffatt has published a thought-provoking commentary regarding the impact of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Canada's auto industry. Specifically, Mike engages critically with previous arguments I have made (here and elsewhere) that the TPP, as currently negotiated, could result in the ultimate loss of tens of thousands of Canadian auto jobs, due to the relocation of a significant proportion of the industry's North American supply chain. In this post I will respond to his three main arguments.

Exxon Mobil primed to get royalty refund worth additional $100M

A Nova Scotia government royalty refund owed to Exxon Mobil and its partners in the Sable Offshore Energy Project jumped by nearly $100 million late last year when the oil company unexpectedly increased the estimated cost of abandoning the project, the province's energy minister says.

Dear Liberals: Do better. Listen to concerns about the TPP.

When the Harper government concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in October 2015, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau stated, "The Liberal Party of Canada strongly supports free trade... The Trans-Pacific Partnership stands to remove trade barriers, widely expand free trade for Canada, and increase opportunities for our middle class and those working hard to join it."

But while Trudeau expressed his support for the TPP in principle, he asserted that the Conservatives had "failed to be transparent through the entirety of the negotiations -- especially in regards to what Canada is conceding in order to be accepted into this partnership." He highlighted, "Canadians deserve to know what impacts this agreement will have on different industries across our country." And he concluded that if the Liberals were to form government, they would "ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement."

Boris Johnson: 'Lot More To Do' On David Cameron's EU Deal

Boris Johnson has again burnished his Eurosceptic credentials by refusing to back David Cameron’s draft EU deal, declaring “there is a lot more to do” to get a good deal for Britain.

Speaking to reporters outside his home, the Mayor of London appeared in his trademark woolly hat to once more tweak the Prime Minister’s tail over the proposals from Brussels.

The Terror of Flint’s Poisoned Water

Less than one month after the attacks of Sept. 11, a senior FBI official, Ronald Dick, told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, “Due to the vital importance of water to all life forms ... the FBI considers all threats to attack the water supply as serious threats.” In 2003, a UPI article reported that an al-Qaida operative “(does not rule out) using Sarin gas and poisoning drinking water in U.S. and Western cities.’” Where the terrorists have failed to mount any attack on a water supply, the Michigan state government has succeeded. In the city of Flint, lead-poisoned water has been piped into homes and offices since 2014, causing widespread illness and potentially permanent brain damage among its youngest residents.

Canada's democracy took a hit from Harper, but it's not too late to save it

Parliament's back, and while we can say that it's an advance on the late, unlamented Harper years, it's hardly ready for prime-time parliamentary democracy. If the members of Parliament are serious in restoring some dignity to the institution -- still a real "if" -- a few observations spring to mind. These are only relevant, however, to members who care that Parliament has for years been seriously discredited by undisciplined, thoughtless members unleashed by indifferent party leaders. Others will continue their shabby ways.

Uber Has A New Look, But Its Drivers Still Have The Same Complaints

Uber unveiled this week a dramatic redesign to its app and website, as the $60 billion company continues to fight complaints from its drivers.

On Tuesday, Uber traded in its signature "U" logo for ones that CEO Travis Kalanick said were inspired by the tech building blocks of bits and atoms. The ride-hailing company, which has recently expanded into services like food delivery and is eyeing a future in self-driving cars, says the new look better represents its ambition.

A Clinton Aide Once Called Hillary 'Quite Culturally Conservative'

In her quest to secure the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has alternately described herself as "a progressive who likes to get things done" and "kind of moderate and center." So Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) touched a nerve this week when he said in New Hampshire that Clinton is only a progressive on "some days."

"Some days, yes," Sanders told a reporter Tuesday. "Except when she announces that she is a proud moderate. And then I guess she is not a progressive."

San Francisco Clears Out Homeless Ahead Of The Super Bowl

Millions of football fans are expected to descend on San Francisco to watch the Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in nearby Santa Clara on Sunday. But ahead of their arrival, San Francisco is shuffling its homeless population elsewhere.

The city has said that it relocated 24 people from six blocks along the waterfront, where the weeklong “Super Bowl City” will be set up, giving them slots at the Navigation Center, a homeless shelter that offers meals and helps people find permanent housing without imposing a curfew. Yet the shelter is in such high demand that it has a waiting list 150 people long, all of whom were skipped over to relocate those who were moved to make way for Super Bowl visitors. “From the perspective of a homeless person, that’s unfair,” Laura Guzman, director of Navigation Center, told the Wall Street Journal.

TPP is ‘Fundamentally Flawed,’ and Should be Resisted, Says U.N. Human Rights Expert

The leading United Nations expert on human rights is calling upon the 12 nations considering the Trans-Pacific Partnership to reject the trade agreement, out of concerns that it “is out of step with today’s international human rights regime.”

Alfred de Zayas, the UN’s independent expert on the promotion of democratic and equitable international order, said the TPP “is fundamentally flawed and should not be signed or ratified unless provision is made to guarantee the regulatory space of States.”

Mayor Tory wants council to wait on Uber injunction

Toronto Mayor John Tory is trying to head off immediate legal action against Uber, while suggesting he’ll support kicking the company out of Toronto if it doesn’t play by new taxi rules coming this spring.

At city council on Wednesday, Tory proposed an amendment to a motion that would order city lawyers to seek an injunction banning Uber, which in Toronto uses app-dispatched cabs, and UberX, where private citizens drive customers in their private vehicles.

Elizabeth Warren: American Justice Is 'Rigged' In Favor Of The Rich

WASHINGTON -- In a scorching speech from the Senate floor on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said the American criminal justice system is rigged in favor of the wealthy, and condemned new legislation that would make it harder to prosecute bank fraud.

"There are two legal systems," Warren said. "One for the rich and powerful, and one for everyone else."

Pharma Bro Emails Reveal Just How Greedy Drug Companies Can Be

"$1bn here we come."

That was the triumphant message sent by then-Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, the infamous "Pharma Bro" who jacked up the price of a life-saving drug by 5,000 percent last year, when it became clear his firm could acquire the rights to the medicine. The email went to Turing's presumably pleased board of directors last May.

New Privacy Deal May Not Actually Stop U.S. Snooping

A new deal reached between the United States and European Union Tuesday would allow American companies like Facebook to continuing collecting personal data from people who live across the Atlantic.

While this might make business easier for corporations, experts are worried that without reform of surveillance laws in the United States, the new arrangement -- known as the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield -- could still leave people vulnerable to the prying eyes of the American government.

Charles Sousa criticized for ignoring public consultations with early budget plan

Opposition MPPs took Finance Minister Charles Sousa to the woodshed Tuesday, saying talk of an early budget is a “slap in the face” to costly pre-budget hearings in six cities.

With Sousa expected to unveil his fiscal blueprint March 3 or 10, Progressive Conservatives and the NDP said the budget will be out before the legislature’s finance committee can report on what Ontarians want to see in it.

The U.S. Just Struck A Crucial Deal With Europe On Data Privacy

European and U.S. negotiators agreed to a data pact on Tuesday that should prevent European Union regulators from restricting data transfers by companies across the Atlantic.

The European Union and the United States have been racing to replace the previous transatlantic data transfer framework called Safe Harbour.

David Cameron's European Union Draft Deal: Six Things We Learned


The Conservative manifesto was pretty clear last year on the vexed issue of migrant benefits. It thundered: “We will insist that EU migrants who want to claim tax credits and child benefit must live here and contribute to our country for a minimum of four years”.