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, February 15, 2016

Former Obama intel official: Hillary Clinton should drop out

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official said Hillary Clinton should pull out of the presidential race while the FBI investigate her use of a private email server for official government communication while secretary of state.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the retired chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made the call in an interview with Jake Tapper on "The Lead."

Government Accused Of Using Junior Doctors' Row To 'Bury Bad News' On Courts, Health Spending And Welfare

The Government has been accused of “deceit” for using its row with junior doctors as cover to bury bad news.

Ministers “slipped out” an announcement that it is to close 86 courts in England and Wales just minutes after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced yesterday he would controversially impose a new contract on junior doctors.

Officials also released controversial details of a key welfare reform, student loan repayments and cuts to health spending on the same day.

UK needs Trident to play 'outsized' role in world affairs, says US defence secretary

Britain must keep its Trident nuclear deterrent to maintain its “outsized” role in the world, the US defence secretary, Ash Carter, has said.

Carter said the nuclear-armed submarines were an “important part of the deterrent structure of Nato”.

MPs are expected to vote on government plans to renew the weapons system, an issue on which Labour is split.

Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger: It's Personal. Very Personal.

At Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate, one of the most heated exchanges concerned an unlikely topic: Henry Kissinger. During a stretch focused on foreign policy, Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, jabbed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for having cited Kissinger, who was Richard Nixon's secretary of state, as a fan of her stint at Foggy Bottom.

The Koch Brothers' Dirty War on Solar Power

After decades of false starts, solar power in America is finally poised for its breakthrough moment. The price of solar panels has dropped by more than 80 percent since President Obama took office, and the industry is beginning to compete with coal and natural gas on economics alone.

But the birth of Big Solar poses a grave threat to those who profit from burning fossil fuels. And investor-owned utilities, together with Koch-brothers-funded front groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are mounting a fierce, rear-guard resistance at the state level – pushing rate hikes and punishing fees for homeowners who turn to solar power. Their efforts have darkened green-energy prospects in could-be solar superpowers like Arizona and Nevada. But nowhere has the solar industry been more eclipsed than in Florida, where the utilities' powers of obstruction are unrivaled.

Parsing Hillary Clinton's Disingenuous Foreign Policy Record

In their most recent debate in Wisconsin, the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination for president, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, clashed on a number of domestic and foreign policy issues. According to many experts and political observers questioned by the main stream media in the aftermath of this debate, Hillary Clinton separated herself from Bernie Sanders on the issue of foreign policy, in a large part because of the perceived strength of her record as a former Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

Hillary Clinton Sugarcoating Her Disastrous Record

Bernie Sanders is far too easy on Hillary Clinton in their debates. Clinton flaunts her record and experience in ways that Sanders could use to expose her serious vulnerabilities and disqualifications for becoming president. Sanders responds to Clinton's points, but without the precision that could demolish her arrogance.

For example, she repeatedly says that Sanders has not levelled with people about the cost of full Medicare for all, or single-payer. Really? In other countries, single-payer is far simpler and more efficient than our present profiteering, wasteful, corporatized healthcare industry. Canada covers all of its citizens, with free choice of doctors and hospitals, for about $4,500 per capita, compared to the over $9,000 per capita cost in the U.S. system that still leaves tens of millions of people uninsured or underinsured.

West Virginia Republicans Just Delivered A Huge Blow To Unions

Republicans in the West Virginia legislature overrode the governor's veto of a contentious right-to-work bill on Friday, delivering another major legislative setback to organized labor.

The swift override means that a majority of U.S. states now have right-to-work laws, with West Virginia becoming the 26th. Despised by unions, these laws give workers the option to stop paying fees to unions that must still represent them.

Utility Dumps Over 30 Million Gallons Of Coal Waste Water Into Virginia Creek

Allegations of dubious practices are mounting against a Virginia state agency that last month approved the disposal of millions of gallons of partially-treated coal ash water in two Virginia Rivers. This time, however, harsh comments are not coming from environmentalists alone.

Just days after Dominion Virginia Power, a utility company, confirmed it released 33.7 million gallons of coal ash water into a tributary of the Potomac River last spring, county officials say they distrust the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the company alike.

Inside The Most Important Supreme Court Case In Human History

The earth just had a terrible day in court.

Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court unexpectedly suspended the Obama administration’s most aggressive effort to fight climate change in a 5-4 vote. The rules, known as the “Clean Power Plan,” target greenhouse emissions from existing power plants and are expected to “decrease total emissions by a total of 16% from 2020 levels” by the time the rules take full effect in 2030. That’s only one step towards the 80 percent total reduction needed to ward of the worst effects of climate change, but it is a significant step.

Hillary Is the Candidate of the War Machine

There's no doubt that Hillary is the candidate of Wall Street. Even more dangerous, though, is that she is the candidate of the military-industrial complex. The idea that she is bad on the corporate issues but good on national security has it wrong. Her so-called foreign policy "experience" has been to support every war demanded by the US deep security state run by the military and the CIA.

'Cessation Of Hostilities' In Syria Lets Russia Keep Bombing

MUNICH, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Major powers agreed on Friday to a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria to begin in a week, doing nothing in the meantime to halt Russian bombing poised to give government forces their biggest victory of the five-year-old war.

If implemented, the deal would allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged towns. It has the potential to be the first diplomatic breakthrough in a conflict that has fractured the Middle East, killed at least 250,000 people, made 11 million homeless and sent hundreds of thousands fleeing into Europe.

Despite Stated Aims, Obama's New ICE Policy Targets Immigrants for Minor Offenses

Four men in unmarked cars showed up at a local trailer park where many Latinos reside in the small Midwestern college town of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. It was 8 am one cool morning in October 2015, and José was getting ready to go to one of his three jobs. He heard a knock at the front door and when he opened it, the men came inside. They never showed him a warrant. They wanted to know his name, and then put him in handcuffs. José noticed the badge on one man's belt and guessed it was immigration enforcement, or "la migra."

The Oregon Standoff and the ALEC-Backed Push to Put States in Control of Public Land

After a six-week takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon, Ammon Bundy and seven other members of his ragtag militia were in a Portland jail facing criminal proceedings. And Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, inspired to join the occupation following an earlier armed resistance by Bundy's father, was dead - shot by police officers after attempting to avoid a traffic stop on the highway north of the city of Burns.

Layoff for older workers means some tough budget decisions

The layoffs have been rolling through Calgary and St. John's, anywhere dependent on the energy sector, and that's after years of downsizing throughout Ontario's manufacturing heartland.

So what of the workers aged 55 or 57, at the peak of their earning years, who get the dreaded pink slip or are told their contract will not be renewed?

Are you on the terrorism blacklist? Maybe, but you can't do anything about it.

Last week, a Vice News investigation revealed that a terrorism blacklist database, known as World-Check and founded in 1999, contains 2.7 million entries, many of them Muslim individuals and organizations.

This list is not a scientific compilation of data; rather, it's a controversial list that many victims suspect of ruining their lives. Indeed, some non-profit organizations based in the U.K. believe that this list is the sole reason behind the sudden decision of banks to freeze their accounts with no explanation.

Climate action neglected in B.C. Liberals' throne speech

This week the B.C. Liberals delivered their throne speech as a new session of the province's legislature began. High on the list of issues covered were the province's economic record, LNG projects and agricultural growth.

With the B.C. provincial election just over a year away, the speech acted as a foundation for the B.C. Liberals' election campaign, highlighting some of their previous accomplishments and plans for the months ahead.

This crisis has been caused by arrogant central banks

It was Friedrich von Hayek, the great Austrian economist, who explained just how central the price system is to capitalism and our civilisation’s astonishing prosperity. The fact that goods, services, assets, money, time, ideas and risk all come with a price attached allows resources to be allocated remarkably effectively.

An increase in the price of oil means that demand has gone up, which encourages producers to invent new ways of extracting more of it. A reduction in the price of corn means that there is too much of it, and the fact that it becomes less profitable to sell it encourages producers to exit the market. Adam Smith described this as an invisible hand that aligned the self-interest of individuals, coordinating their actions for the greater good.

British First-Time Buyers Foot £50K On Rent, And For Those Just Leaving Home The News Is Even Worse

First-time buyers joining the property ladder this year have spent on average more than £50,000 on rent, according to the latest figures.

Most people purchasing a house in England have already shelled out £52,900, research by the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (Arla) shows.

The figure is set to hit £64,400 for those starting renting now, meaning some people will never be able to afford to buy their own place.

Most of Toronto's newest police don't live in Toronto

Fewer than half of Toronto’s new police recruits — 21 of 44 — actually live here, continuing a tradition of the vast majority of police officers not residing in the city they serve.

Most Toronto officers — between 80 and 85 per cent, according to former deputy chief Peter Sloly — make their homes in places such as Ajax or Burlington and other suburban and small-town settings where life differs greatly from this increasingly diverse big city.

Deutsche Bank: Germany's financial colossus stumbles

Deutsche Bank fuelled Germany’s rise to the status of economic powerhouse, financing its industry in the 19th century and helping the country’s economy to rise again from the rubble of the second world war. It took on the giants of Wall Street in the postwar globalised economy and survived the 2008 banking crisis without a bailout.

Such is its stature that in 2008 Angela Merkel organised a special 60th birthday party, with a dinner of fresh asparagus and veal schnitzel, for its then head, Josef Ackermann, at her chancellery.

Deutsche Bank shocks with warning of €6bn losses

Deutsche Bank has warned it will lose more than €6bn (£4.4bn) in the third quarter in a record loss.

In a late-night announcement that shocked analysts, Germany’s biggest bank blamed huge impairment charges of €5.8bn for the unexpected losses. Forecasts had been for profits of about €1bn.

Deutsche is one of the pillars of corporate Germany, along with Volkswagen, which has been rocked by the emissions-rigging scandal.

Clinton to Sanders: You Are No Friend of Obama’s

Thursday night’s Democratic primary debate was among the most substantive and subdued of the cycle, and until the end, it was largely drawn from familiar material.

But in the debate’s closing moments, Hillary Clinton sharpened one of her most promising—yet fraught—appeals to the Democratic base. Clinton frequently portrays herself as President Obama’s natural heir. On Thursday night, for the first time, she effectively portrayed Bernie Sanders as one of President Obama’s most inconstant allies.

Democratic Debate Exposes The Real Divide Between Clinton And Sanders -- He thinks it's possible to change politics. She doesn't.

Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate began with a dispute over health care policy and ended with an argument about President Barack Obama’s legacy.

But in each of those moments, and at several points in between, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were really arguing over something very basic.

Offered Wages Are Falling Across Canada, StatsCan Data Shows

StatsCan has some bad news for job-seekers: You’re likely going to be offered less money for a job today than you would have been a year ago.

The wages that Canadian employers are offering when hiring took a sharp downward turn during 2015, Statistics Canada data shows. It's a sign of worsening economic conditions. Employers are either more confident they can easily find employees, or they can no longer afford their earlier pay scale, or both.

California's Massive Methane Leak Temporarily Stopped For First Time In Months

LOS ANGELES -- Southern California Gas Co. announced Thursday that it has temporarily controlled the flow of natural gas at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility, which has been leaking for nearly four months.

“We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak,” said Jimmie Cho, SoCalGas' senior vice president of gas operations, in a statement.

Obama Is Letting Turkey Target The U.S.'s Best Bet Against ISIS

WASHINGTON -- Turkey's brutal treatment of its Kurdish population could plunge the country into a full-on civil war and make the Middle East even more chaotic, a Turkish parliamentarian warned Wednesday during a visit to Washington to plead for more American attention to the problem.

Osman Baydemir, a Kurdish member of Turkey's leftist, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic party, or HDP, said he is part of an HDP delegation speaking with officials at the State Department, staffers in Congress and civil society activists to ask for more American pressure on the Turkish government to end the violence.

Cree RCAF member left suicidal after years of racist abuse in the military

A Cree member of the Royal Canadian Air Force says he is leaving the military after enduring years of racism that left him feeling ostracized and contemplating suicide.

Master Cpl. Marc Frenette served under "poor, incompetent and often inconsistent leadership" that allowed the alleged harassment to continue for so long, according to a military report obtained by CBC News.

Hillary Clinton Keeps Campaign Press Corps At Arm's Length

After Republican candidate Marco Rubio spent 45 minutes taking questions from his traveling press corps Wednesday en route to South Carolina, New York Times reporter Amy Chozick noted that Hillary Clinton hasn't done the same in more than two months.

Clinton last held a media availability in which she took questions from the traveling press corps on Dec. 4 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Nigeria Struggles To Protect Citizens As Boko Haram Death Toll Climbs

It took militants a few hours to burn the small Nigerian village of Dalori to the ground. At least 86 people were killed in the hail of bullets, fire bombs and suicide bombings that engulfed the village on Jan. 30, officials said.

Nigerian troops showed up about an hour after suspected members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram sped into the village on cars and motorbikes that Saturday evening. They were outgunned by the armed militants, and the assault continued until better-armed reinforcements could arrive about four hours later, local soldiers and residents who survived the attack told The Associated Press. Some Dalori residents criticized forces for not showing up in time to stop the massacre, The New York Times reported.

Devastating cuts threaten Toronto city workers' job security, union says

Thousands of City of Toronto workers are facing sweeping contract changes designed to eliminate job security, create less stability for part-time employees and significantly reduce benefits, union locals have revealed.

Locals 79 and 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have been in negotiations with The City of Toronto since late October over new collective agreements for their members. Yesterday, Toronto city public library workers began negotiating with the City.

Uber France Executives Face Possible Jail Time For Running Illegal Taxi Service

PARIS _ Two of Uber's top European executives are appearing in criminal court in France on charges of running an illegal taxi operation, and they could face jail time.

The ride-hailing company has since shut down the low-cost UberPop service that prompted the charges. The company continues to operate in France despite repeated strikes and sometimes violent tensions with taxis.

Thibaud Simphal, France general manager, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, chief for Western Europe, face up to five years in prison and a 300,000-euro ($338,000) fine each if convicted of all charges in Thursday's trial, which include violations of privacy law and allegations of commercial deception. Uber France faces a 1.5 million-euro ($1.7 million) fine.

Uber says the charges are unclear and the way the men are being prosecuted is questionable.

Original Article
Author: CP

The Koch Brothers Are Now Funding The Bundy Land Seizure Agenda

The political network of the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch signaled last week that it is expanding its financial and organizational support for a coalition of anti-government activists and militants who are working to seize and sell America’s national forests, monuments, and other public lands.

The disclosure, made through emails sent by the American Lands Council and Koch-backed group Federalism in Action to their members, comes as the 40-day armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon is winding to an end.