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.]
As thousands across the world rallied for workers and immigration rights in celebration of May Day, some protests in Seattle, Paris and Istanbul went from peaceful to violent as protesters clashed with police.
Anti-Capitalists In Seattle Turn Violent
In Seattle, Washington, what began as peaceful protests for immigration and workers rights turned ugly when anti-capitalist demonstrators began throwing rocks and bottles, the Seattle police department said.
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to discuss even the broad strokes of some of its secret investigative methods, such as implanting malware and tracking cellphones with Stingrays, is backfiring – if the goal is to actually enforce the law.
In the most recent example, the FBI may be forced to drop its case against a Washington State school administrator charged with possessing child porn because it doesn’t want to tell the court or the defense how it got its evidence – even in the judge’s chambers.
It’s been roughly three months since Hillary Clinton promised, during her Feb. 4 debate with Bernie Sanders on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, to “look into” releasing the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street investment houses.
If you’re a stickler for details and would like to know precisely how long Clinton has delayed on fulfilling her pledge or exactly how much cash she has raked in for her speaking gigs and from whom, you don’t have to spend hours scouring the Internet. You can simply log onto two sites created by a 40-year-old Sanders supporter and web developer named Jed McChesney of Olathe, Kan.
NEW YORK -- A U.S. senator is calling for a federal investigation into an outdoor advertising company's latest effort to target billboard ads to specific consumers.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer has dubbed Clear Channel Outdoor Americas' so-called RADAR program "spying billboards,'' warning the service may violate privacy rights by tracking people's cellphone data via the ad space.
Montreal's annual May Day march turned chaotic on Sunday as Montreal police clashed with anti-capitalist demonstrators in the city's downtown.
The afternoon march began peacefully but degenerated after about an hour, when police say protesters threw projectiles and broke windows at a downtown police station, prompting police to fire off tear gas canisters.
Red and orange-coloured smoke filled the air as protesters dispersed into small groups and ran in different directions, some being chased by police.
OTTAWA — The federal government quietly spent $75 million to settle with victims and creditors affected by the Lac-Megantic rail disaster — a contribution that also shielded it from lawsuits related to the deadly crash.
Former transport minister Lisa Raitt said the deal, which involved 24 other defendants who settled, was under negotiation before her Conservatives lost the October election to the Liberals.
Like a bad penny, the F-35 just keeps turning up in Canadian media.
A more fitting place would be in our history books, as a cautionary tale of how not to break the bank on a white elephant while torching one’s credibility.
This is an issue in which Justin Trudeau either earns his wings as a new type of politician, or he ditches in the same sea of double-talk that swallowed up his predecessors. Either his government is running the show, or bureaucrats over at Industry Canada are – the ones who are still dazzled by the lure of industrial benefits for the Canadian aerospace industry if Canada only sticks with the F-35.
These Harper era worthies seem to have forgotten that pilots fly airplanes, not industrial benefits. If Canadians ever see Trudeau or his defence minister posing in the cockpit of this stealthy lemon, with one engine, one seat, and no known price-tag, a la Peter MacKay, it will be time to move to Iceland.
Which is just to say that there is not much wiggle room here for the new government. Trudeau made clear on the campaign trail – crystal clear, that a Canada run by him would not be buying the F-35. Too expensive, too unreliable, and far too much political chicanery applied to the “acquisition” by the Harper Conservatives.
It was, of course, not an acquisition at all, just a five-alarm scandal. The former PM, his various defense ministers, and a bevy of Conservative MPs lied their way into oblivion on this disgraceful file. Remember Harper’s quotes about a “contract” for the F-35 when there wasn’t one? Remember Julian Fantino and Chris Alexander breaking the Baloney Barrier with their inflated claims about this over-rated golden goose of the defense contractor community?
But since then, the Trudeau government has gone wobbly on its commitment to buy a better, cheaper fighter jet to replace the CF-18 and invest any savings in naval vessels. Both his defense minister, Harjit Sajjan, and his minister of public services and procurement, Judy Foote, have refused to rule out the F-35 as part of the review looking into which jet Canada should purchase. Call that what you like, but it is hardly keeping the promise their leader so unequivocally made to Canadians when applying for the country’s top job.
When the only way to get the largest military procurement in history through the system was to eliminate competition and lie big about the cost, as Harper did, you know that there is something rotten in cabinet and at HQ. This fifth-generation fighter may be invisible to radar, but it’s not nearly as stealthy as the forces determined to buy this boondoggle with wings.
Lest we forget, the boys with stars on their shoulders had decided to buy the F-35 four years before the specs were even written for the acquisition. The fact that the sales pitch is still being made is remarkable in itself, given what is known about the F-35 program – the dishonesty and deception at the highest levels.
Despite all the public relations that tax dollars can buy, the Pentagon doesn’t even know if the $100-million planes are fit for combat. In the United States, the F-35 program was supposed to deliver 1,013 aircraft by fiscal 2016; it has delivered 179. Since the project began in 2003, the cost of the aircraft has doubled. According to the Government Budget Office in Washington, it costs $30,000 an hour to fly. The last F-35 is now scheduled to be delivered in 2040 — fifth generation jets produced at horse and buggy speeds.
Nor should anyone forget how this budget-breaking aircraft was born. The Pentagon and Lockheed-Martin actually put the F-35 into production years before the first test flight. Who would put an aircraft — or a mousetrap for that matter— on the assembly line before knowing if it worked? A defence contractor perchance?
After all, producing before testing meant that expensive refits had to be made every time defects were found in the aircraft. And that has happened a lot, since the design tools for the F-35 were deeply flawed. Making matters worse, there were also three variants of the aircraft — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy, and one for the Marines. Lots of room for refits there. Plus various parts of the F-35 were made in different countries, a ploy used as a sales pitch. No wonder back in 2012, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, called producing the F-35 before testing it “acquisition malfeasance.”
Consider the opinion of that well-known peacenik John McCain about the F-35 program. If anyone should have been an advocate for this futuristic weapon it should have been McCain. Instead, America’s most famous pilot-cum-POW and the Republican senator from Arizona, excoriated the F-35 last week at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said he could not “fathom” how the delivery schedule of the F-35 made any strategic sense. He added that the history of the F-35, “has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance.”
McCain was talking about history, but the scandal surrounding the F-35 is ongoing. Five of six F-35s were recently unable to take off from Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. After 15 years of “development” and billions of dollars of investment, the planes could not boot up their proprietary software to get airborne — a story first reported in Flight Global and picked up by the Daily Mail.
How bad have things become? Pretty bad.
The House Armed Services Committee has even asked military leaders if it would be possible to re-start the ruinous F-22 Raptor program — also a Lockheed fighter — which had been shut down five years ago for gross cost overruns and unreliability. The politicians wanted to know what it would require to build 194 new Raptors to “finally meet the Air Force’s long-stated requirement of reaching 381 of the jets.” The request was described as an attempt to “side-step” mounting problems with the F-35’s electronic “brain” that could see the entire fleet grounded.
Predictably, the U.S. Air Force had an answer. Unfortunately, it was more public relations. A leaked media script showed that the Air Force was supplying its pilots with political-style talking points to be used to praise the F-35. You know, the kind Stephen Harper handed out when he couldn’t find real facts to support his arguments.
It remains to be seen if these “Public Affairs Guidance” notes will be able to counter an earlier leaked memo written by an F-35 pilot in his own words. In that memo, reported by Fortune Magazine, the pilot described how the F-35 was bested by a 40-year-old F-16 in mock air-to-air dogfights over the Pacific Ocean in 2015.
Justin Trudeau should deal with this issue as the crow flies — in a straight line between his election promise and Canada’s eventual decision on which fighter will be chosen to replace the CF-18.
If the government’s pledge to make fact-based decisions is for real, it’s hard to imagine how that could be the F-35.
The interests of BC Liberal Party donors who fund Premier Christy Clark's salary top-up appear to be determining the government's response to the housing affordability crisis in the province, says NDP critic David Eby.
A lot of BC Liberal donations come from wealthy people in the real estate industry, and the party's person in charge of keeping them flowing is himself a top marketer of condo developments, Bob Rennie.
Delegates from Germany’s anti-immigration party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) backed an election manifesto on Sunday that says Islam is not compatible with the country’s constitution and calls for a ban on minarets and the burqa.
The AfD was set up three years ago and has been buoyed by Europe’s migration crisis and the arrival of more than a million mostly Muslim migrants in Germany last year. The party has no presence in the federal parliament in Berlin but has members in half of Germany’s 16 regional state assemblies.
The allegations against the man were serious indeed.
* Donald Rumsfeld said he was “if not the number two, very close to the number two person” in al-Qaeda.
* The Central Intelligence Agency informed Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee that he “served as Usama Bin Laden’s senior lieutenant. In that capacity, he has managed a network of training camps… He also acted as al-Qaeda’s coordinator of external contacts and foreign communications.”
* CIA Director Michael Hayden would tell the press in 2008 that 25% of all the information his agency had gathered about al-Qaeda from human sources “originated” with one other detainee and him.
* George W. Bush would use his case to justify the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program,” claiming that “he had run a terrorist camp in Afghanistan where some of the 9/11 hijackers trained” and that “he helped smuggle al-Qaeda leaders out of Afghanistan” so they would not be captured by U.S. military forces.
As the primaries move into their final act, Sanders supporters confront a perplexing question: How could so many progressives vote for Hillary over Bernie?
After all, you would think that progressives would race toward the first self-declared socialist in American history who actually has a chance at becoming the nominee of a major political party, and even of winning the Presidency. What does Hillary offer to progressives that Bernie can’t provide in abundance?
Americans wouldn’t be imagining today what a Trump presidency might be like were it not for a crucial moment more than 25 years ago when government saved Donald Trump from his own profligate spending. In fact, it was one carefully calculated response by one of his attorneys that saved Trump from financial collapse—just two years after Trump had proposed himself as a vice-presidential running mate for George H. W. Bush.
The pictures and videos I captured during my first trip to Palestine in October 2010 came at a cost that included several hours of detention and interrogations at the Tel Aviv airport, courtesy of the fine members of the Israeli military, Shin Bet and the Ministry of the Interior. After a 13-hour international flight, I was held for hours without food or water — and I was forced to use the single-toilet restroom with the door cracked open and a roomful of men on the other side.
And that was just the beginning of incessant stops, searches and other harassment I was subjected to throughout my trip because of the scarf I wear on my head (the non-Muslims in our group did not face the same treatment).
A Supreme Court ruling issued Thursday could make it much easier for the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to hack computers across the country, angering privacy advocates and drawing a rebuke from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The court approved a change to Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, which outlines how federal criminal cases are run. The current version of the rule says search warrants are only valid in the relatively small judicial districts where they were issued. Under the new rule, magistrate judges would be able to issue warrants that apply to computers throughout the country, allowing law enforcement officers to hack and infect them remotely. The change still has to be approved by Congress, which has until December 1 to reject or alter the rule change before it automatically takes effect.
One day after a plainclothes cop unloaded on a fleeing eighth grader holding a toy gun, Baltimore’s police commissioner defended the shooting officer for having to make a split-second decision “in a very emotional moment.” He also blamed the boy for his own shooting, saying he should not have had a toy gun at all.
Dedric Colvin was carrying a basketball and his BB gun when two non-uniformed officers approached him on the street. Commissioner Kevin Davis says the officers identified who they were before the boy tried to run away. Colvin allegedly stopped and turned toward the cops, which is when Officer Thomas Smith shot Colvin in the shoulder and leg.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized rules that require financial advisers who help people make investments for retirement to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. But House Republicans aren’t letting the rule go into effect without a fight.
On Thursday, the House voted on a resolution that would effectively block the new rules, which require advisers to adhere to a “fiduciary standard,” that passed along strict party lines, with 234 Republicans voting yes and 183 Democrats voting no. Republicans claim that the rule will make investment advice more expensive, with Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), a sponsor of the legislation, saying it would “protect access to affordable retirement advice.” They’ve also characterized the rules as government overreach, with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) calling them “Obamacare for financial planning.”
WASHINGTON — The United States did not pressure Germany more heavily to give Greece debt relief because it needed Germany’s cooperation in higher-priority foreign policy matters, according to a former Greek finance minister.
Yanis Varoufakis, the ex-cabinet official who became famous as the face of Greek defiance in the first half of 2015, said the United States, like the International Monetary Fund, believed Greece’s European creditors must provide the country with debt relief if it was ever to regain financial independence. High-ranking officials in Germany, which is Greece’s largest sovereign lender, remain reluctant to reduce the Mediterranean nation’s debts.
The former finance minister of Greece says the European Union and international financial institutions are imposing unjust “ponzi austerity” on his country, while banks rake in billions and the Greek people suffer.
For years, Greece has faced enormous economic hardship. In the wake of the 2008 Great Recession, the country plunged into a debt crisis. In return for large loans, the Troika — which consists of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — has demanded that Greece impose harsh austerity measures, cutting social services, slashing government programs and privatizing state assets.
If it is a day ending in “y,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan must be pretending the Republican Party is about to unveil its alternative to Obamacare. And only six years after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. Impeccable timing! I can’t wait for next week, when Ryan introduces his alternative to the Smoot-Hawley tariff.
Republicans have, of course, been promising to unveil an alternative to Obamacare since the bill was being written in 2009-10. This plan is always said to be just about ready for a public rollout – before the holiday recess, before the next election, before next summer. The latest target date is just before the Republican National Convention this July. At this point, how any GOP legislator can make such a promise without a reporter laughing right in their face is beyond me.
Pundits are paid to pretend they know things. But we have no special insight, no higher claims to truth. We’re wrong as much as we’re right, if not more so. Sometimes it’s clear what will happen, often it’s not. In the case of Trump, everyone – myself included – got it wrong.
When Trump descended preposterously from that escalator and announced he was running for president, we all giggled. Trump? President? Seriously? And yet all the polls suggested that he had real traction. But we assumed his star would fade. Then he started winning primaries – by massive margins. We downplayed it. Then he made one gaffe after another – insulting John McCain’s military service, hurling a menstruation jab at Megyn Kelly, calling Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals,” promising to ban all Muslims from entering the country. He even vicariously called Ted Cruz a “pussy.”
Fresh after Bernie Sanders’ call for a “a fifty-state strategy… to plant the flag of progressive politics” nationwide, new reporting on Friday suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign won’t be budged any further to the left.
After Clinton claimed more victories in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania this week, Sanders said, “we are in this race until the last vote is cast,” adding that his campaign would head “to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform.”
OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals may have promised to exclude the F-35 from the competition to replace the air force's aging CF-18 jet fighters, but federal officials meeting the day after last fall's election were singing a completely different tune, documents reveal.
The records, obtained by The Canadian Press, show top Industry Canada bureaucrats met on Oct. 20 and discussed what advice to give the incoming government about the controversial procurement, emphasizing the decision should be based on requirement, not politics.
Scott Gilmore of Maclean's has thought about it. Walrus Magazine editor-in-chief Jonathan Kay has considered it. Even former prime minister Jean Chrétien has suggested it.
Admit it: you've likely wondered why the Attawapiskatians (or the Attawapiskatites) don't just roll up their blankets, hop a bus and fry their bannock somewhere else upriver.
The northern Ontario community is all too familiar with its own unique brand of tragedy: flooding, a chronic housing shortage, government disregard, flagrant misspelling of its name and now a frighteningly high rate of suicides and suicide attempts among its young people.
Canada's largest oil sands producer, Suncor, appeared to take a sharp turn on climate change when it announced to an annual meeting of its investors in Calgary on Thursday that it will dramatically boost oil production, despite facing the lowest oil prices in a generation.
Those historic lows have hollowed out Canada's oil-sands industry with layoffs and losses -- but sent Suncor on a buying spree.
Who’s writing the script for the post-Duffygate coverage? Franz Kafka?
A significant part of the Canadian Establishment is not only blaming a victim — it’s blaming an exonerated victim. Some want even more punishment for a man the courts decided deserved no punishment at all.
RCMP brass have buried themselves head-first in the sands of denial. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud actually wrote congratulatory letters to the investigators who worked on the Duffy case and helped come up with the 31 charges against him.
The Democratic Party was once the party of the New Deal and the ally of organized labor. But by the time of Bill Clinton's presidency, it had become the enemy of New Deal programs like welfare and Social Security and the champion of free trade deals. What explains this apparent reversal? Thomas Frank—best known for his analysis of the Republican Party base in What's the Matter with Kansas?—attempts to answer this question in his latest book, Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?
Sometimes faces become symbols of the anonymous forces behind them. Was not the stupidly smiling face of Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem the symbol of the European Union’s brutal pressure on Greece? Recently, the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP)—the European cousin of the Trans-Pacific Partnership—acquired a new symbol: the cold face of E.U. trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who responded to massive public opposition to TTIP this way: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.”
WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants giving law enforcement agents power to access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas, under a controversial rule change likely to be approved by the Supreme Court by May 1.
Magistrate judges can normally only order searches within the jurisdiction of their court, which is typically limited to a few counties.
A lobbyist for Uber Technologies Inc. has filed an open records request to obtain more than a year's worth of my emails and text messages sent to city of Austin elected leaders and staff.
Uber's Austin-based lobbyist Adam Goldman, CEO of Congress Avenue firm The Goldman Group, filed a public information request with the city of Austin on April 22 seeking the emails and texts that I sent to City Council members, their policy aides, staff in the Austin Transportation Department, and the city attorney's office for a period stretching from Jan. 1, 2015 to April 22, 2016.
Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s palace, is impressive by the standards of Palm Beach—less so when judged against the abodes of the world’s autocrats. It doesn’t, for instance, quite compare with Mezhyhirya, the gilded estate of deposed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. Trump may have 33 bathrooms and three bomb shelters, but his mansion lacks a herd of ostrich, a galleon parked in a pond, and a set of golden golf clubs. Yet the two properties are linked, not just in ostentatious spirit, but by the presence of one man. Trump and Yanukovych have shared the same political brain, an operative named Paul Manafort.
Spring is upon us, which means the weather is finally nice enough to sit outside and munch on a grilled burger slathered with ketchup. Or, if you prefer, a crispy salad topped with strawberries and walnuts. Either way, chances are that at least a few of the ingredients in your meal were grown in California—the country's cornucopia. The Golden State cultivates more than a third of all vegetables and two-thirds of all fruits and nuts sold domestically. California is also home to the largest number of farmers markets and, according to the most recent USDA Organic Survey, the highest number of 100 percent organic farms of any state.