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.]
An organizer of Black Lives Matter says the group is optimistic that some good will come out of a preliminary roundtable organized by Mayor John Tory on Saturday on "racial equity" even though the group has not been invited.
"I am optimistic," Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Toronto, told Metro Morning on Thursday.
“Senator Duffy, in the last two to three years,” said Duffy’s lawyer Donald Bayne Thursday afternoon, “has been subjected to more public humiliation than any other Canadian in history.”
Justice Charles Vaillancourt described that ordeal in more acid terms: “Damage control at its finest,” administered with “ruthless efficiency,” he called it. “The political, covert, relentless unfolding of events is mindboggling and shocking. The precision and planning of the exercise would make any military commander proud.”
UPDATE: Justice Charles Vaillancourt has found Senator Mike Duffy not guilty on all charges, starting with the key one of fraudulently claiming his cottage in Prince Edward Island as his principal residence.
The judge ruled that he believed Duffy when the latter said he honestly tried to follow the rules as he understood them -- and as the Senate's leadership and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had explained them to him.
After one woman broke his heart, Khalil Abu Rayyan, a 21-year-old Michigan man, contemplated suicide. Then, when he confided his dark thoughts to another woman, she suggested he steer his violence toward other people.
Both women, it turned out, were FBI honeypots, and one of the recorded conversations with Rayyan entered into ongoing court proceedings provides a rare glimpse into how federal informants work.
April 24 is the remembrance day of the Armenian genocide, and to mark the date, a group ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, implying that Turks and Armenians lost a similar number of lives in 1915.
One hundred and one years ago, between 664,000 and 1.2 million Armenians were systematically massacred or died from abuse by Ottoman officials. Survivors who fled have kept the story alive of what many call the 20th century’s first massacre.
“Rape and beating were commonplace,” David Fromkin wrote in A Peace to End All Peace, a history of World War I. “Those who were not killed at once were driven through mountains and deserts without food, drink or shelter. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians eventually succumbed or were killed.”
The media has continued its bizarre insistence that the GOP primary has been settled after the completely expected Donald Trump rout in New York on Tuesday, and are seemingly convinced this non-existent reset had something to do with the Trump makeover that is likewise non-existent. Since his victory speech didn’t include any crude epithets or mentions of his manly member, they seemed to be under the impression that he’s a restrained and dignified statesman worthy of the presidency. Chris Cilizza at the Washington Post’s “The Fix” even said that this transformation should alarm the party establishment because he is now so respectable that any #nevertrump illusions are now up in smoke:
[I]t’s clear, at least for now, that Trump is listening to his new political advisers — chief among them convention manager Paul Manafort and national field director Rick Wiley. Trump’s change in tone on Tuesday night was absolutely unmistakeable to anyone who has paid even passing attention to his campaign to date. The man who had built his frontrunning campaign on a willingness to always and without fail take the race to its lowest common denominator — was suddenly full of respect for the men he beat and full of facts about the state of the race…
After the impeachment vote against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, attention is shifting to her accuser-in-chief, who is charged with greater crimes – but looks more likely to escape justice.
The lower house speaker, Eduardo Cunha, an evangelical conservative and conspiratorial mastermind, started and steered the drive to remove the country’s first female leader from power as a means of reducing the risks to himself from investigations by a congressional ethics committee and prosecutors for alleged perjury, money laundering and receipt of at least $5m in bribes.
WASHINGTON — Ride-sharing titan Uber — which is valued at about $68 billion — makes a lot of its money by skirting labor laws. And one of its top lobbying allies in the nation’s capital may have just undermined its profits.
Uber keeps its costs low by refusing to treat its drivers as employees. Under American labor law, employees are entitled to a minimum wage, overtime pay and have their expenses reimbursed. They can receive unemployment benefits if they get laid off, and have the right to unionize if they want to bargain collectively for better contract terms. The company’s drivers aren’t eligible for any of this, however, because the company maintains that its drivers are independent contractors — automotive entrepreneurs running their own businesses who have decided to link their operations with Uber.
Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?
Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?
The people on the bridge were unarmed and frightened, fleeing homes left uninhabitable by Hurricane Katrina. Suddenly, a squad of plainclothes police officers drove up and opened fire, killing two and wounding four. The officers later conspired to cover up the whole affair with planted evidence and fabricated stories.
The officers on New Orleans’ Danziger Bridge that day in 2005 were sentenced back in 2011 to decades in prison. But earlier this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed their guilty verdicts to be overturned, paving the way for a new trial on the basis that federal prosecutors anonymously commented on stories about the case online.
President Obama received a rather lukewarm reception from Saudi royals when he landed in Riyadh on Wednesday. Saudi social media commentators noted that he was met with a reception led by the city’s mayor instead of King Salman, who greeted regional leaders with a great deal more gusto right after they landed. Nor did Obama exchange kisses with the Saudi leader, as his predecessor George W. Bush once did.
The Department of Defense has a lot of problems — a series of wars in Iraq that never seem to fully end, a conflict in Afghanistan that just won’t end, quasi-wars in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia with no end in sight; a proliferation of terror groups around the globe; and its numerous failed, failing, and scuttled training efforts to create local proxy armies.
One of the many obscure provisions jammed into a last-minute budget bill in 2014 endorsed and signed by President Obama is leading to what would be the first cuts in earned pension benefits to current retirees in over 40 years.
The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department is on the verge of approving an application from the Central States Pension Fund – a plan that covers Teamster truckers in several states – to cut worker pensions by an average of 23 percent, and even more for younger retirees. Over 250,000 truckers and their families would be affected. Workers over 75, or those who have acquired a disability, would be exempt from the changes.
President Barack Obama is meeting with Saudi Arabia’s king and other Gulf Cooperation Council leaders key issues including counterterrorism. But his arrival in the capital Riyadh on Wednesday has also shone a spotlight on the U.S. ally’s appalling human rights record.
Obama’s last trip followed the death of King Abdullah and the ascension of King Salman to the throne. Many observers predicted that Salman’s rule would largely be a continuation of Abdullah’s policies, but Saudi Arabia has instead intensified its crackdown on dissent and expanded its involvement in regional conflict and crises.
As a lifelong Democrat who will be enthusiastically voting for Bernie Sanders in next week’s Pennsylvania primary, I have trouble understanding the fuzzy rosy filter through which Hillary fans see their champion. So much must be overlooked or discounted—from Hillary’s compulsive money-lust and her brazen indifference to normal rules to her conspiratorial use of shadowy surrogates and her sociopathic shape-shifting in policy positions for momentary expedience.
Of all the justifications Stéphane Dion has offered for endorsing the sale of $15 billion worth of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, none is more amusing than his contention that the kingdom is a hub of stability in a violent and unstable region.
In his April 13 statement, the foreign minister said: “Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner in an increasingly volatile region, particularly in the armed conflict against the so-called Islamic State (IS). Supporting our partners is essential in preventing the chaos, lawlessness, atrocities and terrorist attacks perpetrated by IS, al Qaida and other terrorist groups active in the region and beyond.”
The head of a union representing government scientists and other civil servants wants to know why the government is still blocking access to a wide range of websites in certain departments, saying it prevents the workers from doing their jobs.
The president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, Debi Daviau, said Internet restrictions imposed on workers by the former Conservative government remain in effect even though the Liberals took power late last year.
Danger came with Paul Manning’s job. One time, as an undercover Hamilton police officer, he was lured into a dark basement, certain that he was about to get a bullet in the back of the head.
Other times, the danger came from within. Feeling sold out and alone, Manning says he placed his service handgun in his mouth and thought of pulling the trigger.
In an extraordinary lawsuit, Manning and his wife, Sabina, are seeking $6.75 million in damages, including $4.5 million from Hamilton police, alleging the service failed to protect him and his family, effectively ending his career. Sabina Manning claims the police had a “duty of care” to her husband that should have been “extended to her.” The couple is also seeking $2.25 million from the OPP.
Canada went through a "dark age" for press freedom during the government of Stephen Harper, but "only time will tell" if things will improve under the Trudeau government, an international media watchdog said Wednesday.
Canada fell 10 spots to 18th place in the latest ranking of press freedom from Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF), while the U.S. rose eight spots to 41st place.
In the wake of a dominant victory in Tuesday’s New York primary, Donald Trump delivered a victory speech that was subdued by his standards. In a sign that he’s possibly toning things down ahead of the general election, the Republican frontrunner avoided the incendiary rhetoric that has characterized his campaign to date.
Millions of low-income American students could lose access to free school meals under a proposal circulating among House lawmakers.
The measure would reverse years of progress on free meals in U.S. schools by setting a much higher eligibility bar for schools to start making meals free to all students. Thousands of schools have expanded their meal offerings in recent years as researchers expose the extent of child hunger — and the dividends that come from curing it inside schoolhouses.
"Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?" -- Robert Orben
It's over, and it wasn't close. It was, in fact, a wipe-out. The state of New York took the two big-money front-runners and catapulted them over the moon. Hillary Clinton trounced Bernie Sanders by more than 15 points, placing her firmly in the driver's seat for the Democratic nomination. Clinton's victory margin, however, was left in deep shade by Donald Trump, who utterly obliterated his remaining two opponents. He beat John Kasich by 35 points and beat Ted Cruz by 46 points. The Washington Generals do better against the Harlem Globetrotters most nights.
BERLIN — Few knew the German satirist and talk show host Jan Böhmermann until earlier this month, when he triggered a bilateral crisis between Germany and Turkey by reciting a vituperative poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Böhmermann started his show “Neo Magazin” in 2013 under the aegis of a secondary channel of the public TV giant ZDF. “Neo Magazin” targeted a young, Internet-savvy generation, far from the general audience of ZDF. Böhmermann paved his way to stardom by performing clever, mostly Internet-based gags that ended up as viral videos across all German social media. His latest hit before the Erdoğan uproar? A music video in which he called for a diverse Germany that warmly receives refugees.
WASHINGTON — The American people have spoken. A majority of them now say they want the Senate to vote this year on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. That’s according to a Tuesday NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.
But a top Republican senator dismissed the idea that “letting the people decide” — the GOP’s mantra for denying Obama a vote on his nominee and leaving the seat vacant until the next president takes office — applies to the poll’s finding that 52 percent of voters want the Senate to move forward now.
WASHINGTON — UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurer in the U.S., will pull out of most states’ Obamacare exchanges next year, the company announced Tuesday.
UnitedHealth cited about $1 billion in losses over the past two years for the firm’s decision to significantly scale back its business on the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
UnitedHealth offers policies on the exchange marketplaces in 34 states this year, but will only remain in a “handful” of states in 2017, UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley said during a conference call on the company’s quarterly earnings. The company cautioned in November it might bail on the marketplaces nationwide.
The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.
In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed.
Business bosses faced a backlash today after claiming that a rise in unemployment “could be a good thing”.
The Institute of Directors (IoD) came under fire from left and right as it reacted to the news that joblessness had gone up for the first time in months, rising by 21,000 to 1.7m.
The IoD – which represents more than 30,000 company directors and business leaders – said in a press release that “rising unemployment could be a good thing if it means more people are looking for work”.
A new strategy has emerged in the Hillary Clinton camp: No longer even try to match Bernie Sanders’ left-wing politics — which the Wall Street-backed multimillionaire war hawk Clinton is fundamentally incapable of doing. Instead, appeal to authority and accuse the democratic socialist of disloyalty to the corrupt Democratic Party.
Clinton’s campaign did just that this week, accusing Sanders “of trying to convince the next generation of progressives that the Democratic Party is corrupt.”
In the wake of his big win in New York, I want to push back once more against the normalization of Trump as a legitimate presidential candidate, given his policy positions. Let us remember what the Republicans of New York voted for (there are hardly any Republicans in New York City, so it can be spared the shame).
In Bronx's #NY15, Trump received 604 votes and won three delegates. In North Country's #NY21, Kasich received 17,868 votes and won ZERO.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) April 20, 2016
Here is what the Republicans of New York voted for:
Billionaire and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker came and went to the National Press Club with hardly a tough question on Monday—see video and PDF.
I’d submitted several questions, but first a word on the choreography of the event: Virtually every “news maker” event I recall seeing at the Press Club had the speaker at the head table which is on a stage a few feet up, speaking at a podium. This event, it was just her and the moderator, Press Club President Thomas Burr on two cushy chairs on the stage, with the “head table” below them. Whether this was to elevate the two of them, save her the trouble of having prepared remarks, a new thing, an attempt to cast the billionaire in a more casual light—inspired by Davos type events—I don’t know. But it was weird.
The British Columbia government has chosen to use misleading accounting at BC Hydro to fudge the province's finances ahead of the 2017 election, charges NDP energy critic Adrian Dix.
"They misled people about the state of B.C.'s finances, and they misled people about the state of BC Hydro's finances," said Dix, the MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway, in an interview. "This will affect every single person in the province."
The Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN) is seriously considering filing for an immediate injunction against Enbridge's Line 9.
The injunction would force Enbridge to cease the flow of Line 9 -- currently pumping up to 300,000 barrels a day of diluted tar sands bitumen through the First Nation's territory -- at least until COTTFN's appeal to the initial ruling is heard by Supreme Court.
The Government has spent more than £350,000 on chauffeur driving only ministerial briefcases around Whitehall in the last five years, HuffPost UK has found.
It cost on average £125 each time documents - and no passengers - were ferried between government departments and a minister’s home at its peak, a response to Freedom of Information request has revealed.
The disclosure follows HuffPost UK reporting in January how state-funded limos moved papers and boxes around in “air-conditioned splendour” almost 2,000 times since 2012.
If the apocalyptic photos of smog blanketing Beijing last year seemed like a world away, think again.
The American Lung Association released its annual “State of the Air” report Wednesday and revealed that if you live in the U.S., chances are you’re living among some seriously unhealthy air.
The report, which covers data collected from 2012 to 2014, measures year-round particle pollution, the average amount of tiny solid and liquid particles found in the air over a year; short-term particle pollution, harmful hours- or dayslong spikes in particle pollution; and ozone pollution, also known as smog, which is created when gases that come out of tailpipes, smokestacks and other sources come into contact with sunlight.
Texas Senator and Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz refused to meet with a Muslim delegation from his home state on Monday, snubbing the group during Muslim Advocacy Day.
According to the Religion News Service (RNS), a group of 14 Texas Muslims visited Cruz’s senate office on April 18, hoping to speak with him or a staff member about their concerns as constituents in the Lone Star State. Although Cruz was campaigning in New York ahead of that state’s primary that day, the delegation was hoping to meet with one of his aides — a common practice for lawmakers with busy schedules.
IN RECENT MONTHS, PFOA, the perfluorinated chemical formerly used to make Teflon, has been making news again. Also known as C8, because of its eight-carbon molecule, PFOA has been found in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, New York; Bennington, Vermont; Flint, Michigan; and Warrington, Pennsylvania, among many other places across the United States. Although the chemical was developed and long manufactured in the United States, it’s not just an American problem. PFOA has spread throughout the world.
In the 2002 speech against the Iraq War that helped propel him to the presidency, then-state Sen. Barack Obama denounced not just the looming invasion of Iraq, but also human rights abuses by our “so-called allies” in Saudi Arabia:
Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.
IT WAS A DAY of reckoning for Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb war criminal, and a day of reckoning for me.
On March 24, I stood outside the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, surrounded by dozens of men and women who had survived massacres and concentration camps and rapes during the Bosnian war. I had joined the gathering on Churchillplein before the announcement of the tribunal’s verdict for Karadzic, who was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. I noticed a female security officer from the U.N. weaving back and forth through the crowd, trying to reach me. I realized, as the officer grabbed for my wrist and tried to put handcuffs on me, that my freedom was at issue on this day, too.
According to Prime Minister Trudeau, proceeding with the multi-billion dollar arms deal with human rights violator Saudi Arabia is "a matter of principle." When have we heard this before? Ah yes, the previous government.
Global Affairs Canada has released a statement explaining its rationale for authorizing the deal, ostensibly in response to the widespread backlash and barrage of questions in the wake of revelations that export permits for the deal were only authorized in early April. Perhaps not surprisingly, the statement's title, "Honouring the deal with Saudi Arabia: Credibility, Security, Economy" lacks any reference to the protection of human rights.
What's good for the planet won't be great for the oilsands, if two recent studies are any indication.
The price of oil could level out at anywhere between $83 and $87 per barrel from 2030 to 2050 if countries manage to pass lower-carbon policies, says a report from U.K.-based consultancy Cambridge Econometrics.
Scores of Lower Mainland residents who wanted to tell the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade what they think of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade and investment deal negotiated by the Harper Conservatives were denied that chance Monday.
More than 50 people rallied outside the Richmond Radisson Hotel where the hearings were scheduled to be held, eventually being frisked before entering the hearing hall on a red carpet laid by protesters that read "170,000 Say No to TPP" -- referring to the number of signatures on an anti-TPP petition.
An analysis of data by the Star has found a trend of skyrocketing police salaries across the GTA: almost 80 per cent of uniformed Toronto police officers made the 2015 Sunshine list, a 108 per cent increase over five years in the number of officers on the list.
York Region Police saw a 183 per cent increase in officers on the list, compared to 2010, with 70 per cent of its officers now making more than $100,000.
"The undersigned First Nation leaders and citizens of the Nine Allied Tribes of Lax Kw'alaams hereby declare that Lelu Island, and Flora and Agnew Banks, are hereby protected for all time, as a refuge for wild salmon and marine resources, and are to be held in trust for all future generations." - From the Lelu Island Declaration, signed January 23, 2016 at the Salmon Nations Summit