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.]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Donald Trump's Media Enemies List

When Donald Trump declared victory Tuesday night in the Florida Republican presidential primary, he made sure to reserve a few choice words for his favorite target: "disgusting reporters." His comments came in the aftermath of an accusation last week by Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields that Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, had violently grabbed her at a Trump event. That incident was the most visible manifestation of the Trump campaign's hostility toward the press, and the one that brought the issue fully into public view. But for months, reporters have been feeling the wrath and capriciousness of the Trump operation, which has developed a lengthy list of publications that are banned from covering the Republican front-runner's public events.

The Frictionless Machine of Modern Fascism

When facing the growling, violent bedlam that is Donald Trump's presidential campaign, I am given to contemplate the concept of the Perpetual Motion Machine. According to Wikipedia, "A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical machine that can do work indefinitely without an energy source. This kind of machine is impossible, as it would violate the first or second law of thermodynamics."

Opponents of GMO Labeling Broke Washington's Campaign Finance Law

A court in Washington has ruled that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) violated the state's finance disclosure law when it funneled millions of dollars in dark money from its major corporate members to the campaign that defeated a 2013 ballot initiative to label food containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The GMA could face up to a $33 million fine if a trial court determines that members of its staff knew they were breaking the law when they attempted to hide the identities of processed food companies opposed to the ballot initiative, which would have required special labels for grocery items containing GMO ingredients.

Why Are Liberal Commentators Acting as Apologists for Trump's Racism?

The lynch-mob mentality that permeates Donald Trump campaign rallies was made visible once again this month at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when Rakeem Jones, a 26-year-old Black protester, was sucker punched by a white Trump supporter. A video of the incident documents how, after Jones was punched, the audience cheered and the police threw Jones to the ground and handcuffed him. John McGraw, the man who admitted on camera that he had punched Jones, was later arrested. When asked why he did it, McGraw, 78, not only admitted to having committed the assault, but said he "liked it, clocking the hell out of that big mouth," whom he said he thought might be a member of ISIS. He then added, "Yes, he deserved it. We don't know who he is, but we know he's not acting like an American ... the next time we see him, we might have to kill him."

Donald Trump Has the Soul of a Killer

So, another loser was voted off the island. From the starting seventeen, three remain: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, two of the most obviously despicable humans we've ever been exposed to, and John Kasich, a guy with the low-bar skill of hiding his detestability behind a veneer of civility.

CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves Finds New Way to Cheer for Donald Trump

CBS chief Les Moonves famously cheered “Go Donald!” during an investor call in December, and in February said Donald Trump’s campaign “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

Now he’s found a new way to celebrate the Trump run.

Terrorist Watchlist Errors Spread to Criminal Rap Sheets

LAST FEBRUARY, attorney Anisha Gupta represented a Latino man charged with two misdemeanors: trespassing and resisting arrest. At her client’s arraignment, the first appearance before a judge where a bail determination is made, Gupta thought her client would be quickly let out on his own recognizance — meaning a release without posting bail; the prosecution was not even asking for bail to be set.

Donald Trump Warns There Could Be Riots If He Isn't GOP Nominee

WASHINGTON -- Although he is leading the Republican primary race by a wide margin, casino mogul Donald Trump is still far from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the party's uncontested nomination.

Trump warned Wednesday morning that there would be widespread unrest if he does not "automatically" get the nomination as the candidate with the greatest number of delegates.

Putin Praise Over Syrian Troop Withdrawal Is Like Asking 'Did He Stop Beating His Wife?'

Praising Vladimir Putin’s "withdrawal" of troops from Syria is like asking “did he stop beating his wife?" the British foreign secretary said on Tuesday.

Speaking in the Commons, Philip Hammond called the Russian president a “very difficult partner” and reminded MPs he had also promised to withdraw forces from Ukraine but that transpired to be a “routine rotation” of soldiers.

Putin's Withdrawal From Syria Shows His Real Objective Wasn't Fighting ISIS

Russia's airstrikes have only tipped the balance in Assad's favor.

Russian warplanes on Tuesday left the Hmeymin base in Syria for their home country -- the start of a partial withdrawal of Russian forces announced Monday by President Vladimir Putin.

Budget 2016: Osborne Headache As Recovery In Wages 'Still Years Away'

A pre-Budget jobs boost for George Osborne has been undermined by wages remaining in the “slow lane”, potentially knocking his economic plans off course.

As the Chancellor prepares to deliver his financial update to the Commons, the Office for National Statistics revealed unemployment fell by 28,000 to 1.68 million between November and January, leading to the unemployment rate remaining at 5.1% - a decade low.

The ‘Drone President’: Rhetoric Versus the Atrocious Facts

President Obama, dubbed “The Drone President” by some, faces rising criticism over a program that has very little oversight, a mounting death toll and results that can be seen as war crimes.

On Monday in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf exposed the major inconsistencies of Obama and CIA Director John Brennan, who claims the president “requires near-certainty of no collateral damage” before he will approve a drone attack.

The Atlantic reports:

    The notion that the Obama Administration has carried out drone strikes only when there is “near-certainty of no collateral damage” is easily disproved propaganda. America hasn’t killed a handful of innocents or a few dozen in the last 8 years. Credible, independent attempts to determine how many civilians the Obama administration has killed arrived at numbers in the hundreds or low thousands. And there is good reason to believe that they undercount the civilians killed.

Trump Is No Heir to Reagan, or Even Nixon: He’s a New, and Vile, Kind of American Politician

John Kasich won in his home state of Ohio, but the Trump machine moved ahead at high speed Tuesday, bringing with it the prospect of more violence-tinged rallies, inflammatory news conferences and mean speeches by its leader, who is approaching the Republican presidential nomination.

Ohio, voting for its Republican governor, Kasich, said no to Donald Trump, the egomaniacal entrepreneur who has offered himself as the savior of the nation and the Republican Party. Missouri remained divided between Trump and right-wing Sen. Ted Cruz. But elsewhere, Trump’s Republican challengers collapsed. “We have to bring our party together,” said Trump, enjoying every moment of his triumph over that ephemeral body that the media call “the Republican establishment.”

Four More Whoppers about LNG in British Columbia

The B.C. budget claims the province is making money from shale gas. But last month The Tyee showed the province is pouring more cash into the industry than it is getting back.

In fact the only time the B.C. government made any money from shale gas was during a land lease boom nearly a dozen years ago. Ever since then, revenues have dwindled to next to nothing due to low royalties and taxpayer-funded subsidies to the ailing shale gas industry.

The New Truth About Free Trade

I used to believe in trade agreements. That was before the wages of most Americans stagnated and a relative few at the top captured just about all the economic gains.

The old-style trade agreements of the 1960s and 1970s increased worldwide demand for products made by American workers, and thereby helped push up American wages.

Some Things You Should Know About the FCC’s Proposed Privacy Rules

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new privacy rules for Internet providers. The proposal was immediately praised by privacy advocates as “a major step forward” and lambasted by AT&T as an effort to place a “thumb on the scale in favor of Internet companies.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stopped by our offices to explain the proposal, which will be voted on by the commission later this year after a period of public comment. Here is what you need to know about the proposed rules.

Donald Trump’s War on the First Amendment

If you were to ask Donald Trump’s supporters what they most admire about the GOP front-runner, chances are they would cite his so-called authenticity, his willingness to “tell it like it is” and, perhaps more than anything else, his rejection of that great bugaboo of the Obama Age: political correctness.

Such qualities ought to mean that whatever else Trump may be—a blowhard, a demagogue, a bigot, a reality TV huckster, a malignant narcissist, an unparalleled deal maker—he’s an ardent believer in press protections, free speech and the First Amendment. Indeed, in a Feb. 27 appearance on the Fox News channel, Trump seemed—at first—to be saying so, declaring, “I love free press. I think it’s great.”

McGill must rectify its misleading and one-sided statement on the BDS movement

Dear Professor Fortier,

After the recent General Assembly vote for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and its subsequent failure to be ratified by the Students Society of McGill University (SSMU) you released a statement in which you write that the BDS movement "flies in the face of the tolerance and respect we cherish as values fundamental to a university" and that it proposes "actions that are contrary to the principles of academic freedom, equity, inclusiveness and the exchange of views and ideas in responsible, open discourse."

People Hate Rahm Emanuel So Much It Might Cost Hillary Clinton Illinois

The race between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders has tightened in Illinois' Democratic primary as Sanders' campaign works relentlessly to tie Clinton to Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's deeply unpopular mayor.

The wealth of votes in the Chicago metropolitan area could be key to victory in the state's Tuesday primary. Early voting has already begun, and turnout is reportedly high in the city and surrounding Cook County.

Ex-Trump workers describe egocentric micromanager: 'Donald loves Donald'

Randal Pinkett’s first day in the Trump Organization was one he would never forget. Summoned to the offices in Trump Tower, the billionaire’s garish midtown skyscraper, Pinkett entered the room as Trump thumbed through a stack of the day’s newspapers and magazines.

It was 2005, and having just won season four of The Apprentice, the only African American to do so in the show’s history, Pinkett expected Trump’s attention. But as the two spoke about his hard-won contract with the company, it was clear Trump really only cared about one thing: himself.

The Government Wants Apple To Turn Over The iOS Source Code So It Can Spy On Any iPhone

The latest filing in the legal war between the planet’s most powerful government and its most valuable company gave one indication of how the high-stakes confrontation could escalate even further.

In what observers of the case called a carefully calibrated threat, the U.S. Justice Department last week suggested that it would be willing to demand that Apple turn over the "source code" that underlies its products as well as the so-called "signing key" that validates software as coming from Apple.

If You Thought Trump’s Ugly Weekend Cost Him Supporters, You’re Mistaken

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s Friday rally in Chicago was cancelled after protesters turned out in huge numbers. The next day, a protester charged at a profusely sweating Trump during a rally in Dayton, Ohio. Trump later cited an easily debunked video to try and tie the man with ISIS. When he was confronted about the hoax video on Sunday, he said, “All I know is what’s on the internet.”

How Hillary Clinton Responded To An Innocent Man Who Spent Years On Death Row

The Democratic candidates have debated eight times and have held countless town halls and forums, and most questions they are asked are not new.

But on Sunday night, a man who spent 39 years in prison, including time on death row, for a crime he did not commit asked Hillary Clinton if she supports the death penalty. Clinton has struggled with questions about capital punishment in the past, and this was the first time she was presented with the question by a victim of the country’s broken justice system.

The Shady Backstory Behind The Florida Attorney General’s Endorsement Of Donald Trump

A day ahead of the crucial Florida primary, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump at a rally in Tampa.

Bondi’s Monday endorsement comes more than two years after she decided not to follow the New York attorney general’s lead and sue Trump over accusations Trump University seminars swindled people. The timeline of that fall 2013 episode raised eyebrows. Three days after a Bondi spokeswoman said the attorney general was studying New York’s lawsuit to see whether she wanted to take similar action in Florida, Trump cut a $25,000 check to a committee associated with Bondi’s campaign. That seeming conflict of interest was criticized in the Florida press at the time, but a Bondi spokesperson justified her decision by suggesting no action was necessary because the affected Florida consumers would be compensated if New York won that case.

'When You're Accustomed to Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression'

I've never been punched in the face. Not in an actual fight, at least. I'm not much of a fighter, I suppose... more of an "arguer." I don't think I'm "scared" to get into a fight, necessarily -- there have been many times I have put myself in situations where a physical fight could easily have happened.

I just can't see myself ever being the guy who throws the first punch, and I'm usually the kind of guy who DE-escalates things with logic or humor. And one of the things about being that sort of person, is that the other sort of guy -- the sort who jumps into fights quickly -- tends to not really be a big fan of me. Not when he first meets me, at least. They usually like me later. Not always. You can't win 'em all...

Elizabeth Warren: Enough Is Enough, It's Time To Stand Up To Donald Trump

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is calling on "decent people everywhere" to denounce Donald Trump, saying the GOP presidential frontrunner continues to grow into a "bigger, uglier threat every day."

This Election Is 1968 All Over Again, And That's Not A Good Thing

WASHINGTON -- It was the spring of a presidential election year, but there was no sense of hope and renewal in the land.

Instead, the United States was in the grip of tribalism and seething fear. Voters were energized by anger and resentment. The media ran red with violent language; surging crowds, cops and protesters filled city streets.

The main candidates were: a shopworn Democratic front-runner who embodied the party establishment; a white-haired, professorial anti-war protest candidate beloved by college students; a disruptive, race-baiting outsider with a knack for drawing press attention and an unctuous, beady-eyed Republican lawyer practicing dirty tricks.

Uber and the fickle mantle of innovation

Innovation™ has become both a rebranding exercise and an apology for a host of regressive corporate practices that look suspiciously like business as usual.

But let's be clear: there is nothing unconventional or remotely innovative about corporations that rationalize exploitation -- of a workforce, of political connections, of rules that exist to protect a minimum standard of rights, dignity and safety -- to justify their continued pursuit of profit. After all, that's what -- left unchecked -- they've pretty much always done.

The Rise of Trump Shows the Danger and Sham of Compelled Journalistic “Neutrality”

As Donald Trump’s campaign predictably moves from toxic rhetoric targeting the most marginalized minorities to threats and use of violence, there is a growing sense that American institutions have been too lax about resisting it. Political scientist Brendan Nyhan on Sunday posted a widely cited Twitter essay voicing this concern, arguing that “Trump’s rise represents a failure in American parties, media, and civic institutions — and they’re continuing to fail right now.” He added, “Someone could capture a major party [nomination] who endorses violence [and] few seem alarmed.”

More Than 1.5 Million Florida Voters Will Be Missing From Tuesday’s Primary

MIAMI, FLORIDA — Sheena Meade is campaigning to be the youngest African-American woman to ever represent Central Florida in the state legislature, and her husband Desmond Meade couldn’t be prouder.

“I know she would be a great public servant,” he told ThinkProgress, smoothing his tie over his belly and beaming.

Boston Claims Students Protesting Public School Cuts Simply Don’t Understand Budgets

After thousands of Boston public school students marched to protest school budget cuts last week, city officials and Boston media suggested the students are simply misinformed and don’t understand what they’re doing.

Last Monday, students walked out of classes and marched from Boston Common to City Hall and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Boston Globe reported. These protests came soon after Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang announced cuts that would cover part of a budget shortfall of $50 million for the 2016-17 school year. Chang said $10 million to $12 million would be cut from the per-student funding formula and $20 million would be cut from the central office budget.

Facebook, Google and WhatsApp plan to increase encryption of user data

Silicon Valley’s leading companies – including Facebook, Google and Snapchat – are working on their own increased privacy technology as Apple fights the US government over encryption, the Guardian has learned.

The projects could antagonize authorities just as much as Apple’s more secure iPhones, which are currently at the center of the San Bernardino shooting investigation. They also indicate the industry may be willing to back up their public support for Apple with concrete action.

Oxfam Report Reveals Richest 1% Took Quarter Of New UK Wealth Since 2000

The richest 1% of the UK’s population has pocketed more than a quarter of the wealth created in Britain since 2000, it has been revealed.

Over the past 15 years, the total net wealth in real terms of people in the UK has increased from £6 trillion to more than £10 trillion in 2015.

Why It’s Imperative That We Hear Michigan’s Angry Voices

Last Tuesday in Michigan was brought to you by white working-class men and the people from little towns and small cities. The outcome of a primary that shook the certainties in the Democratic presidential race while also ratifying the ongoing power of Donald Trump’s coalition of discontent was determined by voters who don’t trust trade deals and don’t believe in the promises of the new economy.

Five Years On, Clark's 'Open Government' Pledge Unfulfilled

On March 14, 2011, Christy Clark was sworn-in as the 35th premier of British Columbia. Two years later, she became the first woman to lead a B.C. party to a majority election victory.

When the BC Liberal Party chose her to succeed Gordon Campbell on Feb. 26, 2011, Clark directed the first words of her acceptance speech to all British Columbians.

"I want you to be my partners in change in Victoria, I want you to be my partners in bringing open government," she said, even before addressing her leadership campaign policies on jobs and families.

The World Bank Is Supposed to Help the Poor. So Why Is it Bankrolling Oligarchs?

A mile north of the chaotic heart of downtown Rangoon, where electrical wires dangle haphazardly overhead and street vendors hawk roasted pig intestines, sits an upscale complex of 240 luxury residences overlooking the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda and a serene man-made lake. Marketed to wealthy expatriates and foreign businesspeople on extended stays in Burma's bustling commercial capital, the newly built Shangri-La Serviced Apartments advertise "idyllic luxury in a modern metropolis" and amenities including a swimming pool, 24-hour private security, maids quarters, and a limousine service. Signs in the lobby inform guests that the complex now offers the Cartoon Network and yoga classes.

The World Bank's Anti-Poverty Push Made These Controversial Tycoons Even Richer

A branch of the World Bank called the International Finance Corporation is tasked with helping the bank end extreme poverty and "boosting shared prosperity." Today,the IFC is a moneymaker for the rest of the World Bank and finances the private sector in developing countries via loans and direct investments. The beneficiaries of the IFC's largesse have included dozens of multi­national corporations and private enterprises that are owned or controlled by some of the world's richest people. Here are some of the IFCs most controversial beneficiaries:
Miguel Facussé Barjum Corp Dinant/Flickr
The late Honduran oligarch, who died in June, founded a manufacturing giant that owns 20,000 acres of palm plantations in Bajo Aguán, Honduras.Described by the Los Angeles Times as "colorful" and "often ruthless," Facussé presided over a company that has been dogged by allegations of using a private security force to forcibly evict families from the land near its plantations.