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.]

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Victoria's Tent City community provides shelter and dignity to those without homes

Right now in Victoria, British Columbia over 100 individuals have created a community on the courthouse lawn. It's a community like most others -- except, everyone is homeless.

You may have heard about the community in the news: that it's full of crime, a safety hazard, or perhaps that it's a costly nuisance to the neighbourhood. You may have read news stories that portray the tent city through a lens of contempt and stigma. But this isn't the real story.

Donald Trump’s campaign looks more like a con every day. The press should cover it accordingly

“Conservatism is a racket for a lot of people to get very, very rich. With no thought of winning elections.” MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, 2012.

Stunned reporters this week have been unrelenting in depicting Donald Trump’s campaign as one whose wheels have not only come loose, but whose doors and windows have also flown off the hinges.

The 'terrible beauty' of Brexit

The Facebook posting said what was on a lot of people’s minds after Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

“Only the British could colonize half the world and then leave the EU because they don’t want immigrants.”

There will be much epigrammatic wisdom on the political knee-wobbler that is Brexit; the definitive verdict will have to wait.

Spike In Racism Reported After Brexit Vote, ‘We Voted Leave, It’s Time For You To Leave’

The first Muslim woman to serve in the British cabinet says that her country’s vote to leave the European Union triggered a spike in racist abuse.

“I’ve spent most of the weekend talking to organisations, individuals and activists who work in the area of race hate crime, who monitor hate crime,” says Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a former co-chair of the Conservative Party who served as Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2012 until 2014. “They have shown some really disturbing early results from people being stopped in the street and saying look, we voted Leave, it’s time for you to leave.”

Transgender Activist Beaten Following Benefit For Orlando Victims

Seattle police and the FBI are searching for the perpetrator who assaulted a transgender activist after a benefit concert for victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

The attacker allegedly said “Happy Pride” before uttering offensive language as he punched and strangled the victim, who lost consciousness, on Wednesday night in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Far-Right Xenophobia Behind Britain’s Decision To Leave The E.U.

The U.K. voted to leave the European Union on Thursday — the first time a member state has chosen to do so — a win for the far-right in the U.K. who had campaigned for leaving the E.U. with the slogan “take control.” The vote, which came as a huge shock, has been met with praise by far-right politicians across the world, and points to the further rise of the far-right across Europe.

Brexit Was Sold As A Victory For The Working Class. It Isn’t.

Voters hoping for a shift in their fortunes when they opted for Brexit faced a rude awakening Friday morning. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was celebrated by supporters as taking control of the economy — but while some are celebrating it as a victory against the elite, it’s clear that the effects of Brexit will likely hurt the working class far more.

Working class voters in the U.K. disproportionately voted to leave the E.U. and greatly influenced the outcome of Thursday’s vote. But if the working class enabled Brexit to happen, they had remarkably little to do with leading the revolt. The primary figures in the Brexit saga have been wealthy politicians, who have ridden the recent European wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and fears over refugees into a position of power — where they likely won’t suffer from the economic repercussions of Brexit in the same way that others in British society will.

This Tennessee Candidate For Congress Wants To ‘Make America White Again’

As Britain grapples with its decision to leave the European Union following a campaign which was at times explicit in its desire to make the U.K. white and British again, one Tennessee politician is making waves for his similar vision of America’s future.

Independent politician Rick Tyler, who is running for Congress in the northeastern part of Tennessee, has garnered controversy for putting up a billboard alongside a highway in Polk County that says, “Make American White Again,” playing off of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.

Chris Christie’s ‘Fairness Formula’ For Public Schools Is Anything But Fair

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proposed a plan he has called the “Fairness Formula” to equalize education funding so that all public schools receive the same amount of money from the state per pupil: $6,599.

“No child’s dreams are less worthy than any others,” Christie said in his speech at Hillsborough High School on Tuesday. Currently, $5.1 billion of that money goes to 31 districts and $4 billion goes to 546 districts, Christie said. But in practice, this plan tells the public the very opposite. The plan would help students such as those at Hillsborough High School, located in a majority white suburb, but it would take money away from the most disadvantaged kids in New Jersey.

The Duffy coda: The hypocrites hit back

The Harper Conservatives never did have much for use for judges who didn’t see things their way. We can now add Justice Charles Vaillancourt’s name to the list.

Remember Stephen Harper’s attack on Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin — the one that had her squirmin’ in her ermine? And then there was Dean Del Mastro’s assertion that his guilty verdict on four counts of electoral fraud was only Judge Lisa Cameron’s “opinion.”

Republicans Stormed The Democrats’ Sit-In To Vote For Letting Wall Street Rip Off Americans

House Democrats are holding a marathon sit-in on Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning to demand votes on gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando. But when Republicans showed up in the middle of the night, it was to take action on an entirely unrelated issue: a new rule issued by the Obama administration that requires financial advisers to act in their clients’ best interest.

Donald Trump and the Rise of the Far Right on Both Sides of the Atlantic

Summer has just arrived to Europe and the streets of Paris, blockaded by striking workers and students throughout the spring, are still on fire. The tumult in France is the latest in a five-year wave of uprisings across the world -- from Egypt to Istanbul -- that have drawn comparisons to the global uprisings of 1968.

But it's not just the forces of social and economic justice that are having their moment. A few hundred kilometers away in Austria, the far-right Freedom Party has been very narrowly defeated in the presidential election in these same days, demonstrating the significant resurgence of nationalism in the region. In Greece, as the state positions itself to deport tens of thousands of refugees, riot police have stormed makeshift shelters and forcefully relocated those who have fled places like Syria and Afghanistan to government-run detention centers.

The Most Overrated Intellect In Washington

Remember 2009? Glenn Beck was a ratings bonanza for Fox News. Sarah Palin, with her false warnings of looming “death panels,” was a thought leader in conservative circles. Groups opposed to the Affordable Care Act poured angry supporters into lawmakers’ town halls, arming them with advice like “be disruptive early and often,” “try to ‘rattle him,’ not have an intelligent debate,” and “watch for an opportunity to yell.”

It was not a high point for intellectual discourse within the American right.

Before they opposed Muslims, Europe’s far right targeted a different minority

In March, a party led by a neo-Nazi won 14 parliamentary seats in elections in Slovakia, accounting for more than 200,000 of the ballots cast and almost a quarter of first-time voters. Marian Kotleba, the mustachioed politician at the helm of the ultra-nationalist People's Party Our Slovakia, was known for his propensity to don distinctly fascist attire, his admiration for the Third Reich and his contempt for the European Union, NATO and other institutions of the West.

Donald Trump’s Campaign Paid Trump Companies More Than $1 Million In May

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign paid more than $1 million last month to companies controlled by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, according to reports the Trump campaign filed late Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

The figure represents payments for facilities rental, catering, monthly rents and utilities at more than a half-dozen Trump-owned companies and properties. It includes nearly $350,000 that the Trump campaign paid a Trump-owned company, TAG Air, for the use of Trump’s private jets and helicopters.

In Scathing Dissent, Justice Sotomayor Says Supreme Court Just Gave The Green Light To Racist Cops

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that police can still arrest someone for an outstanding warrant even if they had no right to stop the person in the first place.

The opinion, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, reverses a Utah Supreme Court order to suppress evidence discovered by a police officer during an illegal stop. After getting an anonymous tip about unspecified drug activity at a house, Officer Douglas Fackrell monitored the house for several days and ultimately decided to stop a random visitor to the house. That unlucky visitor turned out to be Edward Strieff. Fackrell had no reason to stop Strieff, yet he asked for identification and discovered a minor traffic violation on his record. Fackrell arrested him for the outstanding warrant and searched him, finding a bag of methamphetamine.

Bill Blair took donations from men charged in police union probe

Former Toronto police chief and Liberal MP Bill Blair accepted almost $4,000 in campaign donations from two lawyers last year — three months after they were publicly named as targets of an RCMP probe into police union fraud.

The lawyers are two of five people charged last week as part of an alleged scheme involving top leaders at the Ontario Provincial Police union.

Blair, who was chief of the Toronto Police Service from 2005 to 2015, was elected last October as a Liberal MP for Scarborough Southwest.

Donald Trump is going down in flames

What do you get when you cross a Tea Party Republican with Donald Trump?

Kevin O’Leary.

Alternate answer for our American cousins? The political equivalent of the Hindenburg, due to crash and burn this November and take the GOP with it — unless something Disney-esque happens at the party’s Cleveland convention.

To Tackle Inequality, Start with BC's Two-Tier Education

We don't talk much about two-tier education.

Two-tier health care, sure. Governments reject the idea that a sick child from a wealthy home should get better treatment than a child from a poor home.

But B.C. governments have been happy to let parents with money buy their children a big educational head start over the equally bright poor kid a few neighbourhoods away.

Trump’s lies aren’t unique to America: Post-truth politics are killing democracies on both sides of the Atlantic

“There was a time, not long ago, when we would differ on the interpretation of the facts. We would differ on the analysis. We would differ on prescriptions for our problems. But fundamentally we agreed on the facts. That was then. Today, many feel entitled to their own facts.”

So said Marty Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, in a speech he gave to Temple University’s newest Media and Communication graduates not two weeks ago. Baron was talking about a new form of politics that’s been taking hold, a kind that brings into question the prospects of these hopeful future journos, a kind that threatens democracy as we know it.

'Air Christy' Bill to Taxpayers Tops $560,000

Premier Christy Clark's controversial visit to Haida Gwaii to give $150,000 to a school under federal jurisdiction was her most expensive charter jet trip between late November and March.

The $8,170 round-trip on Nov. 26 was among 14 trips for photo opportunities and speeches that added $54,000 to the more than $500,000 Clark has spent on private jets since she became premier in March 2011.

Old homophobia is rising again in the United States

A candlelight vigil in Toronto for the victims of the Orlando massacre.

We’re driving through rural Indiana to the Indianapolis airport on a hot afternoon. Enormous American flags droop at half-mast. When I ask the driver why, he doesn’t know but says it’s customarily done for “uniformed officers” when they’re killed on the job. I wonder silently, “Do they do that for Black kids shot by the uniformed officers?”

West Bank Palestinians Without Clean Water After Israel Cuts Off Supplies

Tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are currently observing Ramadan without clean drinking water after Israel cut off water supplies.

“Mekorot, the main supplier of water to Palestinian towns and cities, siphoned off water supplies to the municipality of Jenin, several Nablus villages and the city of Salfit and its surrounding villages,” Al Jazeera reported.

When corporations go rogue

Responsible Canadian companies, especially those doing business around the world, understand that a reputation for ethical practice is vital to their corporate brands. So it should come as no surprise that business leaders overwhelmingly support the federal government’s attempts to police corporate wrongdoing, and to ensure that Ottawa only does business with ethical suppliers.

Government Manipulating Hydro Finances, Says Former Civil Servant

A former senior British Columbia civil servant says the provincial government has manipulated BC Hydro's finances for political gain.

In a June 10 presentation to a B.C. Utilities Commission panel in Victoria, Richard McCandless called on the regulator to publicly probe the Crown corporation's finances.

"It is time to re-establish the commission's credibility in representing the public interest, and to provide a voice for future generations," he told the panel, saying there have been no public hearings on BC Hydro's finances and related policy questions for eight years.

Despite collective profits of $34.8B, the big banks need you to pay more in account fees

There is a kind of comfort that one can find in a familiar story, retold.

When you know the story arc, and you can anticipate what happens next, you can glean the most important lessons, unbothered by details flying at you that you didn't expect.

Indeed, even Jesus taught his religion in this way. He told stories over and over to hammer home the moral code that forms the foundations of the Christian faith.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Call for Bombing ISIS After Orlando Shooting That ISIS Didn’t Direct

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reacted to the Orlando shooting with evidence that they can agree on at least one thing: bombing people. Both candidates called for an escalation of the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

“We have generals, that feel we can win this thing so fast and so strong, but we have to be furious for a short period of time, and we’re not doing it!” Trump complained on Fox & Friends Monday morning.

Fully Loaded: Inside the Shadowy World of America's 10 Biggest Gunmakers

They are all white, all middle-aged, and all men. A few live openly lavish lifestyles, but the majority fly under the radar. Rarely is there news about them in the mainstream media or even the trade press. Their obscurity would seem unremarkable if we were talking about the biggest manufacturers of auto accessories or heating systems. But these are America's top gunmakers—leaders of the nation's most controversial industry. They have kept their heads down and their fingerprints off regulations designed to protect their businesses—foremost a law that shields gun companies from liability for crimes committed with their products.

The unexpected side effect of Hillary 2016: How she transformed Democrats into “new” Republicans

On Oct. 30, 2010, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Despite the fact that midterm elections were right around the corner, the main goal of the rally was not openly to affect the vote. Instead, the idea was to use satire and comedy to “restore sanity” to the political dialogue in a nation that had become overwhelmed by fear, irrationality, and prejudice.  Stewart ended the rally with a “moment of sincerity” where he criticized the polarizing press, the panic incited by pundits, and the increasing inability of citizens to find any sort of reasonable compromise.

The Hypocrisy Of Canadian Ownership In Africa

What is wrong here? While Canadian companies exploit African resources for their own benefit this country's charities call on us to join Africa "hope" walks.

Last week Toronto-based Lundin Mining hired the Bank of Montreal to help it decide what to do with its stake in the massive Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in Eastern Congo (Kinshasa).

The Doomsday Clock

In January 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists advanced its famous Doomsday Clock to three minutes before midnight, a threat level that had not been reached for 30 years. The Bulletin’s statement explaining this advance toward catastrophe invoked the two major threats to survival: nuclear weapons and “unchecked climate change.” The call condemned world leaders, who “have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe,” endangering “every person on Earth [by] failing to perform their most important duty — ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”

Donald Trump: Americans Who Don’t Report Their Suspicious Neighbors Should Be ‘Brought To Justice’

Donald Trump on Monday proposed punishing Americans if they don’t turn in their friends and neighbors for behaving suspiciously.

“In San Bernardino, people knew what was going on, they knew exactly, but they used the excuse of racial profiling for not reporting it,” Trump said during a speech in the wake of the Orlando mass shooting.

Donald Trump Just Defied Congress To Stop His Muslim Ban

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump ramped up his earlier call to ban Muslims from entering the country in a high-profile national security address on Monday — and made clear he believes he can do it with or without congressional approval.

Trump Claimed Orlando Shooting Suspect Was Foreign-Born. Actually They Were Born In The Same City.

During a counterterrorism speech on Monday, Donald Trump claimed that Orlando shooting suspect Omar Mateen was born in someplace called “Afghan.” He then transitioned to discussing how his proposed ban on Muslim immigration would help prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future.

The One Response To The Orlando Shooting Both Presidential Frontrunners Support

In a campaign rally-turned-somber national security speech on Monday, Hillary Clinton laid out her plan for how the nation should respond to the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history perpetrated by a lone gunman — which left nearly 50 people dead at an LGBT club in Orlando on Sunday. Much of her speech focused on the need to “step up” and improve government surveillance.

“We need better intelligence to discover and disrupt terrorist plots before they can be carried out,” she said. “That’s why I proposed an intelligence surge to bolster our capabilities across the board with appropriate safe guards at home.”

Was the Democratic Primary Just Manipulated, or Was It Stolen?

The debacle that was the 2016 primary season is nearly over, but the primary system itself may have destroyed faith in American democracy. Certainly it has divided the Democratic Party.

The Internet is awash with accusations that the Democratic primary was rigged; anger, confusion, and fault-placing are running wild, and so are the online right-wing "trolls" who feed the fires of discord between the two camps of the Democratic Party through misinformation and divisive invective.

Donald Trump Calls Obama Complicit in Orlando Shooting, Escalating Years of Anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Donald Trump’s first response to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was to congratulate himself “for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”

His second response was to accuse President Obama of complicity.

Missing Mountie

Could Bob Paulson’s days as top banana of the RCMP be numbered?

If he doesn’t start showing more cooperation in bringing about fundamental change to the nation’s police force, he could be headed for a change in his career path. Some critics would argue it comes not a moment too soon. The organization he runs is more top down than Donald Trump.

Bernie Has Every Right To Raise Hell at the Democratic Convention

With increasing fear and dismay, the pearl-clutching pundits and flacks in the Democratic Party establishment have been doing their utmost to scold, bully and shame Bernie Sanders and his Teen Spirit revolutionaries into submission.

They would prefer that the Democratic National Convention be a stage-managed coronation, rather than an honest and disputatious contest over what the Democratic Party should stand for. Conventional Democratic wisdom goes as follows: Now is the time for all sentient Democrats to subordinate their differences and close ranks against the terrifying Trump.

Israel's Silent Allies Are Its Worst Enemy

By now anyone even vaguely aware of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has heard the phrase ''the new anti-Semitism.'' It is a clever propaganda piece aimed at anyone who dares criticize Israel for its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its continued brutalization of Palestinians in Gaza.

But in the space of two days, new critics emerged from within the highest positions of Israel state power. Moshe Ya'alon -- until recently the Israeli Defence Minister -- and Major General Yair Golan, the Israeli army's deputy chief of staff, confirmed what many of Israel's most vociferous (and vilified) critics have been saying for years: that Israel is heading down the road of extremism and racism.

Amidst Constant Crisis, Michel Temer Appears Ill-Equipped To Lead Brazil

BRASILIA, Brazil — Earlier this week a source close to Michel Temer and member of the interim president’s PMDB party candidly admitted: “There is a new crisis every day. If the government makes a drastic decision every time there is negative news, it would all be over in two weeks.”