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, March 01, 2016

Congressman Suggests FBI Is Taking Advantage of San Bernardino Tragedy to Push Agenda

A leading House Democrat expressed serious concern on Tuesday that the FBI is exploiting the ISIS-inspired massacre of 14 people in San Bernardino to sidestep Congress on the encryption debate.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said it was troubling “that in the middle of an ongoing congressional debate on this subject, the FBI would ask a federal magistrate to give them the special access to secure products that this committee, this Congress, and the administration have so far refused to provide.” He spoke at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, of which he is the ranking Democratic member.

Federal Law Criminalizes Protesting Trump Now That He’s Guarded by the Secret Service

While he otherwise exhibits many of the traits of a stand-up comedian, laying into his rivals like an insult comic at a roast, Donald Trump’s inability to tolerate heckling, or even silent protest, has made the spectacle of critics being forcibly removed from his rallies a routine feature of his campaign.

On Monday, though, the pre-emptive removal of about two dozen black college students from a crowd waiting for the candidate at Valdosta State University in Georgia raised an obvious question: Why, exactly, did a local police force apparently obey orders from the Trump campaign to help screen his audience by removing dissenters?

Reminder: The FBI Doesn't Just Want To Get Inside One Single iPhone

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told Congress on Tuesday that he understands the outcome of the San Bernardino iPhone encryption case will set a precedent for other cases.

Apple Inc has said complying with a court order to grant the FBI access to data on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would set a dangerous precedent that would require it to weaken security in other phones.

GOP Senator: Even If Trump Meant It On The KKK, He's Still A Better Choice Than A Democrat

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) argued Tuesday that even if Donald Trump's controversial remarks about the KKK and David Duke were intentional, rather than a gaffe induced by a faulty earpiece, he's still a better choice for president than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

A New Libya, With ‘Very Little Time Left’

It was a grisly start to the new era for Libya, broadcast around the world. The dictator was dragged from the sewer pipe where he was hiding, tossed around by frenzied rebel soldiers, beaten bloody and sodomized with a bayonet. A shaky cellphone video showed the pocked face of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, “the Leader” who had terrified Libyans for four decades, looking frightened and bewildered. He would soon be dead.

Despite lip service, Trudeau government denies release of memos on openness

OTTAWA — Federal proposals on how to make the government more open are being kept secret.

The Treasury Board Secretariat has chosen to withhold key memos to minister Scott Brison on reforming the antiquated Access to Information Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has promised to amend the access law so that federal information is open by default.

But Canadians aren't allowed to see the advice from officials on how to reach that goal.

Hillary Clinton To Raise Money From Ex-NRA Lobbyist

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton’s campaign will hold a fundraiser in Washington on March 21 that will feature as one of its hosts Jeff Forbes, who until the end of last year worked as a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

Forbes, a former chief of staff to former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), was registered as a lobbyist for the NRA Institute from 2009 until the end of 2015 on issues such as protecting Second Amendment rights, and regulation and gun control, according to lobbying disclosures. He donated $2,700 to the Clinton campaign in April when he was still registered to lobby against gun control. In addition, a colleague at his Forbes-Tate lobbying shop, Elizabeth Greer, also donated $2,700 while registered to lobby for the NRA.

Why the Next President Must Reform Wall Street

"The business model of Wall Street is fraud. It's fraud. I believe that corruption is rampant, and the fact that major bank after major bank has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with the United States government when we have a weak regulatory system tells me that not only did we have to bail them out once, if we don't start breaking them up, we're going to have to bail them out again, and I do not want to see that happen..."—Bernie Sanders in a one-on-one debate with Hillary Clinton.

A Tale of Two Tyrants: Nestlé's Role in Prayuth's Thailand

In what came as a shock to many, in February, the United States took the step of completely banning the import of goods made by slave labor. Indeed, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, closing an 86-year-old loophole that had allowed the United States to purchase foreign goods produced with child labor or forced labor. Hold the applause, for this moral awakening did not come from Washington, DC, but stemmed from the efforts of journalists working for The Associated Press as well as from Nestlé's surprising admission of guilt that its global supply chain relied on impoverished migrant workers in Thailand.

National Carbon Price Will Be Test For Liberals At First Ministers Meeting

This week's first ministers meeting in Vancouver will be a tough reality check for the Liberal government's ability to make good on one of its most high-profile election promises — tackling climate change.

Sources have told CBC News that the preparations with the provinces and territories have been testy. Officials have been parsing every word toward the final declaration that will include a working group to look at options for a pan-Canadian approach to pricing carbon.

BC's 'Bright Spot' Economy Not So Sunny in North and Interior

With British Columbia's economic growth forecast to lead Canada in 2016, Premier Christy Clark has been bragging about the province being a bright spot.

But recent indicators suggest there's little need for sunglasses throughout much of the province, particularly in what's been called B.C.'s Heartland.

"The key issue right now for the province is there's a divergence," said Bryan Yu, a senior economist for B.C. at the Central 1 Credit Union.

America's Rotten Request to Unlock an Apple iPhone

The U.S. government's attempt to invoke a centuries-old law to obtain a court order to require Apple to create a program that would allow it to break the security safeguards on the iPhone used by a San Bernardino terrorist has sparked an enormous outcry from the technology, privacy, and security communities.

For U.S. officials, a terrorism related rationale for creating encryption backdoors or weakening user security represents the most compelling scenario for mandated assistance. Yet even in those circumstances, companies, courts, and legislatures should resist the urge to remove one of the last bastions of user security and privacy protection.

Toronto detached homes soon only for the wealthy: Report

RBC says that if current trends continue, single detached homes in Toronto and Vancouver will soon be firmly in the luxury housing segment, available only to wealthy households.

In its latest housing affordability report, RBC says trends continued to vary widely between the country’s various real estate markets in the fourth quarter of last year.

Data reveal 'shocking' numbers of Ontario inmates in solitary

Their entry into isolation followed Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi’s announcement in March 2015 that the government was planning a sweeping review of segregation practices in provincial jails, a move that came as calls to limit or ban solitary confinement in Canada and abroad grew louder.

Corrections officials disclosed the figures for two Ontario jails — the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay — in a case against the province recently settled before the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Housing in Vancouver, Toronto 'dangerously unaffordable,' says RBC

Housing in Canada remains affordable — unless you want a single family detached home in Toronto or Vancouver, according to the RBC housing affordability measure.

There's been a marked erosion of affordability in Vancouver and Toronto, where housing is approaching the "dangerously unaffordable" level, according to Royal Bank economists. That situation is likely to continue as long as the demand for single family homes outstrips the supply.

Trudeau's Stance On Saudi Arms Deal Unpopular, Poll Suggests

A new poll suggests that only one-fifth of Canadians think the federal government should stick by the controversial, $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia — and it's an issue that cuts across party lines.

Numbers released by the Angus Reid Institute on Monday show nearly half of Canadians (48 per cent) believe that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making the wrong call by honouring the deal.

Clashes as authorities demolish homes in Calais 'Jungle' camp

Clashes between police and migrants continued into Monday evening after authorities moved in earlier in the day to dismantle parts of the refugee camp known as the Jungle.

The homes of up to 200 people of the approximately 3,500 people living in the camp had been demolished by the middle of the day, according to a British refugee aid group, as smoke went up from blazes engulfing makeshift shelters.

Iranian Voters Seek Gradual Change, Electing Moderate Candidates

Iran can still surprise. Despite thousands of candidate disqualifications, tens of millions of Iranians flocked to the polls to vote in their 2016 elections. Turnout has surpassed 60 percent. Victory by candidates aligned with President Hassan Rouhani already exceeds expectations. Thus far, there have been no allegations of cheating. This begs the question: What just happened? Votes are still being counted, but the preliminary results highlight a few key points to bear in mind going forward.

The Meeting That Never Was: One UN Weapons Inspector's Effort to Educate Hillary Before Her Iraq Vote

America heads to the polls tomorrow as part of "Super Tuesday," and supporters of Hillary Clinton hope they will be able to cement the inevitability of her status as the Democratic Party's nominee for president of the United States with an impressive victory. Politicians like to live in the moment, and Hillary Clinton is no different, cloaking herself in the aura of a woman who is well positioned to make the hard choices of governance based upon her "experience, wisdom, skepticism, and humility." But Hillary's "moment" was shaken to the core by the resignation Sunday -- two days before the "Super Tuesday" contests -- of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, from her position as vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Even before Super Tuesday, Clinton is thinking about a likely matchup with Trump

Hillary Clinton and her allies are shifting their attention to a likely general-election contest against Donald Trump that they expect to be strongly negative — and for which they are planning an intensive effort to draw out minority voters who feel ­demonized by the billionaire real estate mogul.

Alberta's Economic Downturn Hits Charities Hard

EDMONTON — Alberta's economic downturn is putting the squeeze on charities as growing numbers of unemployed seek help and others cut back on discretionary spending.

Demand is up at food banks in Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray, swollen by people who have recently lost their jobs in the oilpatch or by others who were laid off last year and have burned through their savings and credit.

Stop Downplaying The Underfunding Of B.C. Schools

Dear Mike Bernier,

I write to you today regarding your recent comments about our public schools in B.C. and how you believe there are only a few small groups who believe there are funding issues.

I have to say that I am both shocked and disheartened to know that the very person charged with overseeing our public schools can be so blind to the very obvious issues plaguing our public education system.

Trial by Fire: Prosecutors Sending Juveniles to Adult Courts

Beginning in the 1990s, in response to an increase in juvenile crime, influential criminologists filled the airwaves with predictions of a coming wave of "superpredators." As reported in a New York Times Retro Report, "The Superpredator Scare," these criminologists mistakenly believed crime would keep climbing, and fostered a myth that demonized youth, in particular young people of color. These experts believed that we would soon see "radically impulsive, brutally remorseless" kids, many "who pack guns instead of lunches" and "have absolutely no respect for human life."

Noam Chomsky Wants You to Wake Up From the American Dream

If you've just seen Michael Moore's movie and are wondering how in the world the United States got diverted into the slow lane to hell, go watch Noam Chomsky's movie. If you've just seen Noam Chomsky's movie and are wondering whether the human species is really worth saving, go see Michael Moore's movie. If you haven't seen either of these movies, please tell me that you haven't been watching presidential debates. As either of these movies would be glad to point out to you, that's NOT HOW YOU CHANGE ANYTHING.