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, February 16, 2016

Playing the Victim Card, Hillary Clinton Betrays Women

February has been a tumultuous month for feminism. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright damned young women who prefer Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton, and Gloria Steinem dismissively attributed what she perceives as an irrational preference for Sanders among young women to their raging hormones. The following day she apologized “for what’s been misrepresented as implying young women aren’t serious in their politics” but failed to acknowledge the blatant sexism of her remarks, sinking her reputation as a feminist in the minds of many. Albright eventually published her own mea culpa in The New York Times.

Assad and Putin Will Likely Disregard the Syria Cease-Fire and Destroy the Opposition

Airstrikes destroyed three hospitals in northern Syria Monday, killing at least 23 civilians and leaving tens of thousands without health care. Both Russian and Syrian warplanes operate over the region.

The strikes occurred amid discussions of a cease-fire to be implemented by Thursday. On paper, the cease-fire deal made last week by members of the International Syria Support Group -- most notably Russia and the U.S. -- is an unprecedented diplomatic success: they agreed to a "cessation of hostilities" and to expand humanitarian aid in the region. But the details of the deal are not promising.

Global Water Shortage Risk Is Worse Than Scientists Thought

The growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study.

More than 70 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world's population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies calculated a lower number, estimating that between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people lived with moderate to severe water scarcity for at least a month out of the year.

Salim Alaradi Case: UN Calls On United Arab Emirates To Release Detained Canadian

Several U.N. human rights experts urged the United Arab Emirates on Monday to immediately release a Canadian man and four others who have allegedly been tortured over the last year and a half.

The call came as Salim Alaradi's trial proceeded at the U.A.E. Federal Supreme Court, where the Canadian businessman of Libyan origin has pleaded not guilty to three terror-related charges.

Canada's minimum income experiment and the fight against poverty

Eric Richardson still has the dining table and chairs his parents bought during the Mincome social experiment of the 1970s.

The carpentry instructor, who grew up in the small Manitoba town of Dauphin, was about 12 years old when the four-year guaranteed annual income program was implemented in his rural hometown in 1974.

Dubbed Mincome, the program provided about 1,000 low-income families -- including the Richardsons -- with monthly cheques that topped up their household income to a base amount.

9 key problems uncovered in auditor general’s report

OTTAWA—Highlights from auditor general Michael Ferguson’s fall 2014 report, released Tuesday:

1. Some veterans are forced to wait as long as eight months to find out if they can receive benefits. The disability benefits program application is complex and time-consuming.

2. Many veterans must endure long delays in obtaining medical and service records from National Defence and long wait times for mental health assessments.

Taxpayers in the dark over billions spent on auto bailouts, auditor says

OTTAWA—A federal watchdog is urging the government to publicly report on its billion-dollar contributions to bail out automotive firms in the 2009 recession, saying that even today Canadian taxpayers remain in the dark about how much they might have lost on the deals.

In a report released Tuesday, auditor general Michael Ferguson reviewed Ottawa’s efforts to join with Ontario and the United States to help keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat during the recession.

Syrian hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders hit by airstrike

An airstrike in the northern Syrian province of Idlib destroyed a makeshift clinic supported by an international aid group on Monday, killing at least seven people and wounding many others, activists and the group said.

In the neighbouring Aleppo province, a missile struck a children's hospital in the town of Azaz, killing at least five people and wounding dozens on Monday. And in a nearby village, an air raid hit a school, killing seven and wounding others.

The Politics of Antonin Scalia

Antonin Scalia was one of the most influential and consequential justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, he was the intellectual anchor for today's conservative movement. His sudden death was a shock to all Americans, especially Republicans, who immediately assumed their battle positions.

Woodward and Bernstein Can't Stop Comparing Hillary Clinton to Richard Nixon

Earlier this month, Carl Bernstein—half of the reporting duo that helped expose the Watergate scandal in 1972—went on CNN to volunteer an observation about Hillary Clinton's failure to release the transcripts of her paid speaking gigs at Wall Street firms. "Now, you've got a situation with these transcripts," he said, "a little like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled and wouldn't release."

One Percenters Get Their Own Special Social Welfare Deal

One percenters have it all, extra houses, extra cars, even an exclusive legal defense if they kill, “affluenza,” to keep them out of jail.

But until last week, they felt unfairly denied access to the benefits of social welfare organizations, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the like. Now, these are rich people, so they wanted special social welfare groups, ones that would solely benefit rich people. And that’s exactly what they got.

Sask. farmers call for return of Canadian Wheat Board

A meeting of Prairie farmers has called for the return of a single-desk system for grain marketing.

The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance says more than 50 farmers from the Swan River and Pelly areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan met last week and unanimously passed a resolution calling for the re-establishment of the Canadian Wheat Board.

The group says the loss of the single-desk system has resulted in an increasingly dysfunctional rail system, reduced grain quality guarantees to other nations and an overall loss of $6.5 billion in income to farmers over the last two years.

Former agriculture Minister Ritz passed legislation ending the Canadian Wheat Board, and last year half of its assets were sold to Saudi-owned G-3 Global Grain Group.

Original Article
Source: CBC
Author: The Canadian Press

John Kasich Teamed With Clintons on 1990s Law That Helped Double Extreme Poverty

As House Budget Committee chairman in the 1990s, Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has claimed to be a friend of the working poor and a foe of Hillary Clinton, worked with the Clintons to throw Americans off welfare—a bipartisan project that helped double the rate of extreme poverty in the United States.

The Department of Defense Is the Third Largest Polluter of US Waterways

Advocacy group Environment America has "crunched the numbers" in an effort to reveal who the largest polluters of American waterways are. The culprits that crack the top-15 list may very well surprise you.

If you ask people on the street who America's biggest water polluter is, for many, oil Goliaths like Exxon or Chevron might be first to come to mind - but not by a long shot would either of those be the correct answer.

In Praise Of Scalia

Antonin Scalia received his first political appointment in 1971, shortly before President Richard Nixon’s final two picks for the Supreme Court, Justices Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist, donned their black robes for the first time.

It was an auspicious time for conservatives. Because of Powell, Rehnquist, and two other Nixon appointees to the high Court, public school desegregation began to unravel, thanks to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Miliken v. Bradley. Poor children were told that they did not have a right to the same educational resources provided to rich children by the Court’s 5-4 decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez. As I write in my book, Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted, before Nixon’s justices joined the Supreme Court, liberals could hope for a day where “poverty is itself unconstitutional.” After Nixon filled nearly half the bench, the Court’s days as an agent for economic justice were largely over.

Here's What Happened Last Time An Outgoing President Made A Supreme Court Nomination

Just minutes after news broke Saturday afternoon that Antonin Scalia had died at 79, Republicans said they would not confirm President Barack Obama's nomination to replace the conservative Supreme Court justice -- no matter who it is. "Justice Scalia was an American hero," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a presidential candidate and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted Sunday. "We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement."

Antonin Scalia’s Death Is a Huge Opportunity for Hillary Clinton

Antonin Scalia is dead. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court is broken, at least for the moment—a rare opportunity for the United States, and an even a bigger opportunity for Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has been painted by opponents, both among Republicans and those in her own party, as a stage-managed politician without a moral or philosophical center, a woman whose only burning passion is for her own election. Most significantly, she is perceived as someone who cannot be trusted to represent the interests of those who would vote for her.

Air Pollution Kills More People Than Malnutrition And Unsafe Sex, Scientists Say

When Cecilia Salas sees fumes of agricultural burning rising in the horizon, she knows it will be a bad day for her son.

Gabriel, 16, has suffered from serious respiratory problems like asthma for about a decade, Salas told ThinkProgress, and little has changed since he was first taken to a hospital. “His condition hasn’t improved,” she said in Spanish.

Elizabeth Warren Demolishes Arguments Against Filling Scalia’s Supreme Court Seat

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) eviscerated the main conservative argument against filling Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat during President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

Warren, an acclaimed legal scholar, explained in a viral Facebook post that since the American people re-elected Obama in 2012, his power to nominate a replacement has already been approved by the voters.

The TPP: What’s Behind It?

It is hard to believe that poverty and inequality could come to such unconscionable levels in a rich country like Canada. It tells us who is running the show or making the decisions for our future and it’s not we, the people. It’s the corporate elite, otherwise universally known as the 1%, using, among other things, the so-called free trade agreements and globalization as the conduit.

Agreements such as NAFTA are turning the world into a free market planet, countries without borders. More and more, the multinationals are overriding the democratic process, so that the election of government to represent the will of the people is becoming a mockery. The autonomy or sovereignty of countries is being undermined by the new world order of neo-liberal dog eat dog free market ideology. The latest are CETA, TiSA and TPP.

Hillary Clinton and the Syrian Bloodbath

In the Milwaukee debate, Hillary Clinton took pride in her role in a recent UN Security Council resolution on a Syrian ceasefire:

    But I would add this. You know, the Security Council finally got around to adopting a resolution. At the core of that resolution is an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva, which set forth a cease-fire and moving toward a political resolution, trying to bring the parties at stake in Syria together.

The Tragedy of Hillary Clinton (and Her Generation)

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, it is now utterly clear that the Clinton team disastrously misjudged the American electorate. This is not an accident. It derives from the Clintons' gradual evolution from idealists to hardened insiders, America's decline into crony capitalism, and the Democratic establishment's betrayal of its base, over the last forty years. In the most recent debate Hillary tried to pivot, and she might just pull it off, in image though not in reality.

Civilian Casualties Hit Record High In Afghanistan -- Women and children were especially hard hit.

KABUL (Reuters) - Civilian casualties of the war in Afghanistan rose to record levels for the seventh year in row in 2015, as violence spread across the country in the wake of the withdrawal of most international troops, the United Nations reported on Sunday.

At least 3,545 noncombatants died and another 7,457 were injured by fighting last year in a 4-percent increase over 2014, the international organization said in its annual report on civilian casualties.

Sri Srinivasan: Supreme Court justice in the making?

WASHINGTON — The issue before the Supreme Court was the Defense of Marriage Act, and the smooth-talking native of India representing the United States of America at the podium had a tough argument to make.

Why, Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to know, was the government not only refusing to defend the law, which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, but arguing the other side — all while continuing to enforce it?

Why Wall Street Won Round One and We Might Win the Next

When the ground from under Wall Street opened up in autumn 2008, there was much talk of letting the banks get their just desserts, jailing the "banksters", and imposing draconian regulation. The newly elected Barack Obama came to power promising banking reform, warning Wall Street, "My administration is the only thing that stands between you and the pitchforks".

Yet nearly eight years after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, it is evident that those who were responsible for bringing it about have managed to go completely scot-free. Not only that, they have been able to get governments to stick the costs of the crisis and the burden of the recovery on their victims.

Ted Cruz Gets Called Out By Debate Moderator For Making Up Facts About The Supreme Court

Just hours after news of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death broke, the Republican candidates gathered in Greenville, South Carolina for another GOP debate. While they were all prepared to speak about Scalia’s conservative legacy, the candidates apparently did not have enough time to brush up on their facts about the country’s highest court.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) declared that President Obama should not nominate a successor this year and that the decision should be left for the next president. “We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year,” he said.

The Simply Breathtaking Consequences Of Justice Scalia’s Death

Twenty-four hours ago, Republicans were headed into what remains of the current Supreme Court term with a solid majority and a docket strewn with some of the most consequential cases in decades. Affirmative action, abortion, birth control, immigration, an effort to shift congressional power to Republicans — all of these issues are before the justices this term.

The issues remain before the Court, but the balance of power just changed. Justice Antonin Scalia, the longest-serving member of the Court and one of its most outspoken conservatives, is dead. When the sun rose this morning, Republicans enjoyed a 5-4 majority on the nation’s highest Court. It sets on an evenly divided bench.

Here’s a Way to Hold Wall Street Accountable

The year 2016 is off to a rocky start for the stock market, not just in the United States but also globally. Many economists are predicting a financial crash this year or next. Stocks are overvalued without a foundation to hold them up, production is down and debt is high. Central banks, such as the Federal Reserve, have run out of solutions, and investors have run out of confidence in them. The grand illusion of economic recovery is about to be exposed.

Financial fraud is at the heart of the coming crisis. In 2008 when a sector rife with fraud crashed, instead of having to face responsibility the too-big-to-fail banks were bailed out with public dollars. The public, meanwhile, bore the cost not just in dollars but also in lost jobs, lower wages and home foreclosures.

Hillary Clinton Is The Ultimate 'No' Woman

In Thursday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton again found herself questioning how Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would really turn his big ideas into realities should he get elected president.

She has done this time and time again. Free college sounds great, but how would he get GOP governors to cooperate? Single-payer health care is popular with progressives, but how would he get Republicans in Congress to go along with it after the nasty Obamacare fight?

Russia PM warns of 'new cold war' amid Syria accusations

The Russian prime minister has said the world is slipping into a “new cold war” after European leaders condemned his country’s airstrikes on Syria and called on Vladimir Putin to end them as a precursor for peace negotiations.

Dmitry Medvedev told a security conference in Munich that a lack of cooperation threatened to return the continent to “40 years ago, when a wall was standing in Europe”. He rejected the widely held belief that Russian planes had hit civilian targets in Syria.

The Kochs Are Ghostwriting the United States' Story

Gather round for the word of the day: metanarrative. Definitions vary but let's say it's one big narrative that connects the meaning of events to a belief thought to be an essential truth, the storytelling equivalent of the unified field theory in physics.

Now use it to define what's being done to America today - our Big Story. Journalist and activist Naomi Klein did just that a couple of weeks ago when she and I talked at Finger Lakes Community College in upstate New York about the Koch brothers' resistance to the reality of climate change.

How the United States' Two Major Parties Helped Destroy Democracy

Cartel: An association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.

A little over two decades ago, on December 2, 1993, the principle engineer of Colombia's infamous cocaine empire, Pablo Escobar, was killed while fleeing police on the barrio rooftops of his hometown, Medellin. Before he died he had amassed an organization of state-like power, challenging, in fact, the government of Columbia itself over the question of its extradition policies-and winning. Dubbed the Medellin drug cartel, his international cocaine operation grew to prominence functioning similarly to the corporations which dominate today's global economy. Escobar knew, by controlling every possible link in the drug chain from production to retail, he could corral suppliers under a single umbrella, dictate the price of his product, and severely limit any would-be competitors from challenging his power.

Millions face 'retirement crisis' over pensions tax raid

Millions of middle-class workers will face a "retirement crisis" if George Osborne pushes ahead with a multi-billion pound raid on pensions, a new analysis has found.

The Chancellor is considering plans to end more generous rebates for higher rate taxpayers on pension contributions and replace them with a flat rate of relief which could be as low as 20 per cent.

Allegations of conscripted labour in Canadian mine: the fifth estate

A Vancouver-based mining company that struck gold in the small North African country of Eritrea is being accused in a B.C. lawsuit of permitting forced labour to be used in the construction of its mine.

The allegations filed by three former Eritrean conscripts in B.C.'s Supreme Court accuse Nevsun Resources of being "an accomplice to the use of forced labour, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses at the Bisha mine."