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.]

Monday, December 26, 2016

China torturing suspects in 'war on corruption' says Human Rights Watch

Regular beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions and solitary confinement are among the tools used by China’s anti-corruption watchdog to force confessions, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

The report throws the spotlight on to President Xi Jinping’s war on corruption, which has punished more than a million Communist party officials since 2013. Xi has said fighting corruption is “a matter of life and death” but many experts characterise the campaign as a political purge against members of rival factions.

A Proof, a Test, an Instruction

Let us say, as a thought experiment, that history and providence conspired to create
 a president suited to 21st-century America. He might unite in his own person the two races that are shorthand for difference and division within the society, and have deep personal bonds with both black and white. Race has only the meaning that culture gives it—and we learn every day that culture is a heavy-handed enforcer of the distinctions it has made. An ideal president would be one suited to his circumstance, to dealing with the potent aftershocks of an unjust and violent history. If it were clear that he loved and honored, and identified with, both streams of his heritage, he would bring as much humanity to this grievous old affliction as any one person could bring to it.

Fillon’s Russophilia heads for reality check

PARIS — There came a point during his primary campaign when François Fillon started making foreign policy pronouncements that seemed cut-and-pasted from Vladimir Putin’s propaganda manual.

The annexation of Crimea? Bad, but what about the NATO intervention in Kosovo back in 1999? Russia not abiding by the so-called Minsk accord on Ukraine? Bad, but what about Ukraine not doing its part either by granting autonomy to the Donbas region?

The 'Civilian Control of the Military' Fallacy

President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he intends to nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as his secretary of defense has drawn criticism from those who fear that installing a retired officer in the Pentagon would jeopardize civilian control of the military. Those critics are mistaken. Previous service in uniform shouldn’t disqualify nominees, and, as the Iraq war demonstrated, civilians with no military experience are perfectly capable of making catastrophic mistakes themselves.

Who’s Afraid of a Little Russian Propaganda?

Propaganda has a way of making the soberest and most responsible elements in our culture go all wiggy. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius filed a fretful column this week based on his interview with Richard Stengel, State Department undersecretary for public diplomacy. Ignatius and Stengel, America’s top counter-propagandists, advance all the most frightful clichés about propaganda.

Fake Cowboys and Real Indians

For most of this past week, a winter storm has lashed at the North Dakota prairie camp where the Standing Rock Sioux are making a stand to keep an oil pipeline away from water that is a source of life for them.

The sight of native people shivering in a blizzard, while government authorities threaten to starve them out or forcefully remove them, is a living diorama of so much awful history between the First Americans and those who took everything from them.


EVERY AMERICAN CORPORATION, from the largest conglomerate to the smallest firm, should ask itself right now: Will we do business with the Trump administration to further its most extreme, draconian goals? Or will we resist?

This question is perhaps most important for the country’s tech companies, which are particularly valuable partners for a budding authoritarian. The Intercept contacted nine of the most prominent such firms, from Facebook to Booz Allen Hamilton, to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry, an idea recently resurfaced by Donald Trump’s transition team. Only Twitter said no.

Jill Stein spoiled the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton

For those who worried that insufficient liberal support for Hillary Clinton would wind up electing Donald Trump, you were right.
According to a tweet from Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman on Thursday, the margin of difference separating the president-elect from his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the three  “Blue Wall” states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — was less than the total number of votes received by Green Party nominee Jill Stein in each of those states:

Trudeau's getting beaten up by bumper-stickers

Justin Trudeau’s detractors are doing their best to turn the boy-prince of Canadian politics into a dictator-loving tar pig.

And did I mention he’s also a “coward” to boot — the conclusion of MP Michelle Rempel, the CPC’s poster-girl of nothing in particular, if you don’t count sofa selfies?

Or that Kevin O’Leary says Trudeau facing off against Trump in renegotiating NAFTA would be Bambi versus Godzilla?

Leading DNC chair candidate Keith Ellison blasted for “disqualifying” remarks about Israel

The Anti-Defamation League shook up the race for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship on Thursday evening as it blasted Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the leading candidate, for a 2010 speech in which he allegedly said that Israel manipulates American foreign policy.

In a public statement, ADL chief Jonathan A. Greenblatt called Ellison’s comments “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” He also accused Ellison of promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes:

His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.

The controversial speech was delivered in 2010 at a private campaign fundraiser, a recording of which was obtained by anti-Islamic activist Steven Emerson, who is best known for his false claim that several major European cities have “no-go zones” that law enforcement officials refuse to police for fear of offending Muslims.

In an excerpt from the address released by Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, Ellison can be heard saying the following:

The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again?

Emerson reprinted several other statements indicative of what he described as Ellison’s belief that Jewish people have undue influence over American foreign policy.

The ADL’s scathing criticism of Ellison is a reversal for the civil rights group. Mere hours before, it had defended the Minnesota congressman after CNN published a report quoting  past statements from Ellison denying that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was racist and anti-Semitic.

Ellison, who is Muslim, has repeatedly retracted his past defenses of Farrakhan and has said that he believes that both the minister and his organization promote anti-white and anti-Jewish thinking. Responding to the assertion that he was promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking in his 2010 speech, Ellison posted an open letter to the ADL on Thursday night, saying that he had been misquoted:

The audio released was selectively edited and taken out of context by an individual the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an “anti-Muslim extremist.” My memory is that I was responding to a question about how Americans with roots in the Middle East could engage in the political process in a more effective way. My advice was simply to get involved. I believe that Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship are, and should be, key considerations in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East. Americans with roots or interests in the region, should be involved in advocacy and discussions of public policy concerning the region. My response was meant to encourage those in attendance to increase their level of involvement and effectiveness.

My record proves my deep and long-lasting support for Israel, and I have always fought anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and homophobia — the same values embodied by the Anti-Defamation League. I believe that this is an attempt by right-wing interests to drive a wedge between long-standing allies in the fight for equal rights. We cannot allow that to happen.

It’s unclear what effect this latest allegation against Ellison will have on his bid to head up the Democratic National Committee. His candidacy had been endorsed by several party heavy hitters, including outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid and his successor, Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, along with leading Senate progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Ellison is one of four Democratic officials who have declared interest in the DNC chairman race. Also in the running is current South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison and former Vermont governor Howard Dean. They were joined on Tuesday by current New Hampshire Democratic Party head Ray Buckley.

The presence of both Dean and Buckley in the contest is notable. Dean served an earlier term as DNC chair and during his tenure Buckley worked for him overseeing the “50-state strategy” that many party stalwarts believe contributed to the significant wins scored by Democrats in 2008.

Democrats have not held a competitive election for their top position since 2005, after party nominee John Kerry failed in his bid to capture the White House. It wasn’t much of a contest, however. Initially, many party insiders wanted to allow then-chairman Terry McAuliffe to retain his post, but he was opposed by netroots activists, with many backing Dean or another party outsider. Dean initially faced several opponents, but none could gain traction and all eventually dropped out before the actual election. Dean ended up winning the office by voice vote.

Unlike his competitors, Buckley has said that he wants to return to the former party practice of splitting the chair’s responsibilities between two individuals, one tasked with representing Democrats publicly and the other person focused on behind-the-scenes operations.

The party’s past chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, was criticized for devoting insufficient time to party work and also for improperly aiding Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Next year’s vote (which must be held before March 31 but otherwise has no fixed date) seems to be the first time in recent memory that Bill and Hillary Clinton are not openly supporting a candidate for the DNC chairmanship, further adding to the uncertainty surrounding the race.

Original Article


In April 2014, Viktor Tarasov wrote to the head of Ruselectronics, a Russian state-owned holding company, about a critical shortage of military equipment. The Russian military lacked thermal imaging systems — devices commonly used to detect people and vehicles — and Tarasov believed that technology might be needed soon because of the “increasingly complex situation in the southeast of Ukraine and the possible participation of Russian forces” to stabilize the region.

RUSSIAN PURGE The Horror Story of Publishing Children’s Books in Russia

I WALK IN ON a minor crisis at Samokat, a children’s publishing house in Moscow. The commercial director, Gleb Kochnev, is telling the editor-in-chief, Irina Balakhonova, that there is a problem in a book they have just published.

The book is called Say Hi to Me, it is a primer on refugees for elementary school children, and it contains a map of Russia and its neighbors. One of the countries on the map is Georgia, which Russia invaded in 2008, biting off two small regions. The regions have since declared independence, which is recognized only by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the island microstates of Nauru, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu (though Tuvalu later reneged and Vanuatu seems to have had second thoughts). The map in the book shows the regions as being part of Georgia — the way most of the world sees it. But federal law dictates that any published map must reflect Russia’s official view of the world, which is that these tiny regions are independent. It is not clear what the penalty for violating this provision may be, but it’s clear that it spells trouble.

Russian Anti-Torture Activist Assaulted in Chechnya

One of Russia’s leading human rights activists, Igor Kalyapin, was assaulted in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on Wednesday night by masked men who beat him and doused him in eggs, cakes, and green paint.

Kalyapin, whose nongovernmental group, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, is known for investigating abuses in the region, was in the city to meet a member of the Chechen Human Rights Council, Heda Saratova, and some journalists, according to his colleague Dmitriy Piskunov.

Russian Activists and Journalists Attacked at Chechen Border

Activists from one of Russia’s most prominent rights groups, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, were beaten by masked men as they attempted to bring a group of journalists into Chechnya today.

The ambush was carried out by about 20 men who beat the activists and journalists with sticks and set their vehicles on fire, according to Dmitriy Piskunov, a lawyer in the group’s Moscow office. Piskunov told The Intercept that the incident took place at the start of a press tour organized by the committee to give Russian and foreign journalists an unvarnished look at conditions in Chechnya, the Muslim-majority region ruled with notable brutality by Ramzan Kadyrov, an image-conscious leader appointed by the Kremlin.

U.N. Critic of Donald Trump Must Be Silenced, Russia Says

RUSSIA’S AMBASSADOR TO the United Nations filed a formal complaint last month demanding that the head of the world body’s human rights organization cease criticizing Donald Trump and other anti-Muslim politicians.

Russia’s ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday that he had delivered a démarche, a form of diplomatic protest, to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month. The complaint was in response to comments from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, denouncing the racist rhetoric of Trump and European nationalists, including Geert Wilders, the Dutch populist who has promised to close mosques and ban the Quran if elected.

Potential DNC Leader Keith Ellison’s Controversial Law School Columns Show Anger, Not Bigotry

MINNESOTA REP. KEITH Ellison’s bid to lead the Democratic National Committee has set off a flurry of articles noting his affinity, in his younger years, for the Nation of Islam — a black separatist group that practices a nontraditional form of Islam, whose former leader, Louis Farrakhan, frequently engaged in anti-Semitism and anti-white speech.

Raviv Drucker: the Israeli journalist incurring the wrath of Netanyahu

Israel’s best known investigative reporter, Raviv Drucker, has become used to the attacks from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

They have come in the form of personal and regular Facebook posts denouncing him, as well as telephone calls to Drucker’s colleagues.

This week, Drucker – who works for Channel 10 television – was in Netanyahu’s sights again as the prime minister used Facebook to accuse Drucker of waging a personal war against him and his family in attempt at “brainwashing” Israel’s voters.

Tulsi Gabbard Will Deploy With Fellow Vets to Stand With Standing Rock

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, the Hawaii Democrat who served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and who continues to serve as a major in the Army National Guard, will join thousands of veterans next week as they arrive to support Native Americans who are seeking to block construction of an oil pipeline near North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“If my participation in this protest helps send one message, it is this: We must protect our fragile water resources for current and future generations,” says Gabbard, who since her youth has been an environmental activist.

Keith Ellison’s radical plan to save the Democratic Party

With the country still reeling from the outcome of the presidential election, another high-stakes election approaches. The Democratic National Committee — having lost control of the White House, the House of Representatives, the Senate, most state legislatures and governorships, and soon, the Supreme Court — is preparing to elect its new leader. As the left argues over what went wrong over the past few years and how to recover, many are calling for fresh blood in the top ranks of a party that has long been controlled by older, white officials from coastal states.

Vladimir Putin says 'we are ready to cooperate' with Trump administration

Vladimir Putin has softened his rhetoric about the United States in an annual speech, expressing a desire to mend ties and work together in Syria once Donald Trump takes office.

“We are ready to cooperate with the new American administration,” the Russian president said in his state of the nation address to an assembly of lawmakers and officials. “It’s important to normalise and start to develop our bilateral relations on an equal and mutually beneficial basis.”

Boris Johnson denies privately backing free movement of people

Boris Johnson has denied privately telling a group of ambassadors that he supported the principle of free movement, and said he had always made it clear that the UK needed to “take back control” of immigration.

The British foreign secretary was cornered by journalists in a hotel lobby in Rome, where he was speaking on a panel about migration, and was forced to respond to allegations that he personally supported free movement, a view contrary to the official position of Theresa May’s government.

Russian wind blows over Eastern Europe

KIEV, Ukraine — The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, and the subsequent collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, passed with barely a whimper this year. A chill wind blowing from the East put a damper on the celebrations. Russia, which Europe kept at arms length for so long, is once again ascendant.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution in early November coincided with the victory of Donald Trump in the United States — who had made no secret on the campaign trail of his admiration for the autocratic former KGB agent.

Russia vows to save Aleppo from 'terrorists'

Moscow will continue military operations in the besieged and battered eastern part of Aleppo until the city is "cleared of terrorists", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference on a visit to Turkey after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Mediterranean town of Alanya, Lavrov said Russia would continue efforts to allow humanitarian aid into Aleppo and acknowledged the need for a truce.

This Is The Kind Of President Donald Trump Is Replacing

WASHINGTON ― On Aug. 5, 2015, when President Barack Obama was making the case for the Iran nuclear deal, he journeyed uptown to American University, where decades earlier John F. Kennedy had delivered a famous address on peace and the future of nuclear negotiations with the Soviet Union.

Hoping to bathe himself in some of the glow of JFK, Obama framed the deal as another critical step forward in the march toward world peace. In 1963, Kennedy had offered the same sense of hope.

Eastern Aleppo becoming 'one giant graveyard' says UN humanitarian chief

The UN’s humanitarian chief has warned that eastern Aleppo was being turned into “one giant graveyard” as the rebel-held area was being overrun by Syrian regime and Russian forces.

Stephen O’Brien told an emergency session of the UN security council that since Saturday 25,000 people had been forced from their homes in eastern Aleppo, more than half of them children, as the government offensive stormed into opposition districts.

Benefits Sanctions Cost More Than They Save, National Audit Office Report Finds

Benefits sanctions cost more to administer than they save, a damning report of the Government’s welfare crackdown has found.

The National Audit Office (NAO), the independent watchdog of state spending, said that fining claimants for failing to meet certain conditions caused them greater hardship, and cost the Government almost twice what it gained.

The analysis found the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) spent £30-50 million a year applying sanctions, and around £200 million monitoring the terms it set for job seekers.

Trudeau Just Sacrificed BC for Big Oil

Today is a dark, dark day for British Columbia, and it feels like we have been cast back in time a couple of centuries with the archaic decision to proceed with the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Today, the government chose big oil over the environment and First Nations.

It is a very sad day for Mother Earth, the lands and waters in B.C., especially the west coast. Today, as predicted and expected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder Morgan project. It is a massive blow to the First Nations, municipalities and people who live along the line and will be most impacted.

Aleppo families fear for 500 men seized by forces loyal to Assad

Residents of east Aleppo have said they hold grave fears for as many as 500 men who were seized by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad as they overran opposition strongholds in the city.

Three families contacted by the Guardian said there had been no word from their sons and nephews who had been arrested in the Masakan Hanano district, which fell on Sunday to Iraqi and Lebanese militias within hours of the biggest ground offensive of the war being launched.

Auditor General Fall Report 2016: Michael Ferguson Says It's 'Deja Vu All Over Again'

OTTAWA — Tax disputes are taking too long to resolve, there's no way to evaluate efforts to streamline cross-border traffic and trade and Canada is "squandering" the potential of its Aboriginal Peoples, the federal auditor general says in his annual fall report.

Michael Ferguson is marking the midpoint of his 10-year mandate by acknowledging some recurring themes, lamenting the fact that despite five years of pointing out flaws in the bureaucracy, many still show up in his reports year after year.

Russia hackers: German spy chief Kahl warns of election disruption

Germany's foreign intelligence chief has warned that Russia could seek to disrupt next year's German elections with cyber attacks.

Bruno Kahl said his agency was aware of cyber attacks with no other purpose than "causing political uncertainty".

"Europe is in the focus of this attempted disruption, and Germany in particular," he told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Rigging the gig economy: A proposed bill would lure freelance workers to sign away their employee rights for cash

Handy, a web-based home cleaning services company, thinks it might have hit on the solution to a problem vexing it and other companies that rely on freelancers instead of hiring workers: giving these independent contractors some cash annually to help offset the cost of health insurance.

The proposal in a draft bill that Handy has circulated in its home state of New York, according to news reports, would establish a system whereby participating companies that categorize workers as independent contractors pay the equivalent of 2.5 percent of a workers’ income into individual health savings accounts. In return, employees who enter into a deal like this would essentially accept their classification as nonemployees, shutting them out of any efforts later to sue for benefits like overtime pay or unemployment insurance.

Brexit Britain reaches out to Warsaw

LONDON — As grueling Brexit negotiations get closer, Britain needs a friend in Europe — and Theresa May thinks she has found one in Poland.

A meeting held in London Monday between the British prime minister and her Polish counterpart, Beata Szydło, went way beyond a routine head-to-head between national leaders.

Virtually every senior figure in May’s cabinet — Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Business Secretary Greg Clark — cleared their diaries to hold talks with their Polish opposite numbers.

May’s pre-Brexit expats plan nixed by Merkel

BERLIN — Angela Merkel rebuffed a request by Theresa May for assurances that Britons living in the European Union and EU citizens living in the U.K. would keep their rights to residence, work and healthcare after Brexit.

The German chancellor’s polite but firm “Nein” when the two leaders met in Berlin on November 18 dashed the British prime minister’s hopes of a quick, informal deal to reassure expatriates on both sides of the Channel that they will not lose out when Britain leaves the EU, three people familiar with the matter said.

Putin brings China's Great Firewall to Russia in cybersecurity pact

Russia has been working on incorporating elements of China’s Great Firewall into the “Red Web”, the country’s system of internet filtering and control, after unprecedented cyber collaboration between the countries.

A decision earlier this month to block the networking site LinkedIn in Russia is the most visible in a series of measures to bring the internet under greater state control.

Ad-free CBC would send $158M in ad dollars to private media

If Canada’s public broadcaster went ad-free, private media in Canada would reap $158 million of its advertising revenue, a study commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada found.

A position paper released by the broadcaster late Monday afternoon says that the CBC would lose $253 million in annual ad revenue if the broadcaster switched to an ad-free model — but two-thirds of that revenue “would migrate to other Canadian media.”

How much longer can east Aleppo hold out?

Hamza Abduljabbar's gnarled hands wipe the dust off the dashboard of his white Isuzu minibus.

Back hunched from decades sitting behind the wheel, Abduljabbar still wakes up each morning at 6am to check on his vehicle - the windows of which have long since been blown out by nearby air strikes - when his rounds of east Aleppo's Fardous neighbourhood would normally have begun.


PAT BOYLE, A Denver-based journalist, was shot in the abdomen last Sunday by a rubber bullet as he reported from North Dakota on a clash between demonstrators and police that would end with 26 protesters sent to hospitals and 300 requiring other medical treatment. One woman was severely injured and underwent emergency surgery on her arm after officers unleashed “less than lethal” weapons, including rubber bullets, icy cold water, and, reportedly, concussion grenades on the crowd. Police were reacting to an attempt by Dakota Access pipeline opponents to tow away burned vehicles that officers had secured in place to act as a highway blockade, preventing access to pipeline construction sites down the road. The rubber bullet that hit Boyle tore right through his press pass, leaving a jagged hole through the words “Unicorn Riot,” his news organization’s name.

In praise of a little nuance

We might as well face it: the whole shooting match is now bat-shit crazy.

Consider the bookends of our political insanity.

William Manchester, an historian, wrote the political history of John F. Kennedy. Stephen King, a nightmare novelist, may be the only writer fit to capture the history of the Trump Presidency. That’s because in the 56 years since Kennedy nipped Nixon in the 1960 presidential race, civil discourse, moderation, and the middle ground have turned into a horror show of pie-eyed ignorance, toxic partisanship, and downright hatefulness.

Theresa May Says God And Her Faith Are Guiding Brexit Decisions

Theresa May has said her Christian faith is guiding her decisions around Brexit and that leaving the EU keeps her awake at night.

In a revealing interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, the PM described Britain as going through a “moment of change” that is “highly challenging”.

May said the country “had to get on” with a Brexit deal and revealed her faith helps her decide what is right and wrong when it comes to making the big decisions.

French Socialists in chaos as Valls confronts Hollande

PARIS — France’s ruling Socialists fell into disarray Monday after a row between Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President François Hollande threatened to turn their upcoming presidential primary into a farce.

The men met for their weekly lunch as usual the day after Valls hinted in a Journal du Dimanche interview that he might run in the primary even if Hollande also put his name forward. The French president has so far declined to say whether he would try for a second term.

How Indigenous Activists in Norway Got the First Bank to Pull Out of the Dakota Access Pipeline

On November 8, 2016, Beaska Niillas, chairman of the Norwegian Sámi Association (NSR) walked into a conference room in Oslo, Norway, with his wife, Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska, who had spent time in Standing Rock. Both are members of the Sámi Parliament and Beaska is a member of the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature. Niillas and Beaska flew over 1,000 miles from their home in Finmark, the homelands of the Indigenous Sámi people and the most northern province of Norway located above the Artic circle.

Niillas set up a meeting with executives at DNB, Norway's largest bank, to demand that they withdraw their investment in the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

Syrian rebels' resistance 'waning' as thousands of people flee Aleppo

Signs that the dogged resistance to the Syrian Army and Russian airforce in eastern Aleppo may be crumbling have started to appear as thousands of people fled to areas under government control, either due to starvation, the continued air assault or the advance of Syrian troops.

The rebel troops retreated on Sunday, faced by the risk of being split into two due to Syrian army advances.

Hard Brexit would damage 'almost every sector' of UK economy

Leaving the single market would be damaging to almost every sector of the British economy, from manufacturing and energy to retail and financial services, according to a report commissioned by an alliance of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians trying to stop a hard Brexit.

The study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that every major wealth-creating sector would be affected negatively, with manufacturing hit if there were tariff barriers to EU trade and the creative industries suffering a “body blow” if there were strict controls on immigration.

Hundreds Displaced As Syrian Army Captures Part Of Eastern Aleppo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo fled shifting frontlines, sources said on Sunday, after an advance by the Syrian army and allied forces that rebels fear could split their most important urban stronghold in two.

The army and its allies took control on Saturday of the large Hanano housing district, on the northeast frontline of the besieged eastern part of Aleppo. On Sunday they said they had captured the neighboring district, Jabal Badro.

Army Corps of Engineers plans to evict Dakota Access protest camp

The Army Corps of Engineers announced plans on Friday to evict the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota, saying anti-pipeline protestors have until December 5 to leave. The camp is a key site in the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial $3.8-billion pipeline project that would run through the only water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The pipeline protestors — who call themselves water protectors — face arrest if they don’t vacate the camp in time, Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter delivered to Tribal Chairman Cave Archambault II on Friday. Citing weather and safety concerns, Henderson claimed the decision was “necessary” to shield the public from “the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area.”

The Real Concerns of the Trump Transition

A Presidential transition can be a disconcerting stretch of time, even in quieter days than these. The transition to the Presidency of Donald J. Trump has at its center a man who has never served in public office, has spoken disdainfully of constitutional norms, and was either too faithful a reader of the polls or too superstitious to do much about getting ready to govern. His first decisive move was to discard Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, who had been assigned to direct his transition. Even to speak of the transition in the singular is, in a way, misleading, given that there are many changes occurring at once: the handover of institutions from one set of hands to another; a businessman becoming President; an electorate witnessing a season of bitter campaigning give way to a period of governance.

East Aleppo Residents Are Days Away From Starvation, White Helmets Say

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The inhabitants of besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo have fewer than ten days to receive aid or face starvation and death from a lack of medical supplies, the head of the Syria Civil Defence, or “White Helmets”, said on Thursday.

The volunteer group which works in opposition-held territory and has rescued thousands of people from buildings bombed in the civil war is also running out of basic equipment from trucks to diesel and gas masks.

Canada's Inflation Is Eating All Your Wage Gains, And Then Some

Inflation in Canada is minimal these days, but it's still stronger than wage growth, meaning wages are effectively falling.

The average weekly earnings of Canadians rose by a weak 0.4 per cent in September from the same month a year earlier, to $957.27, Statistics Canada said Thursday. But the consumer price index for the same month showed prices rose 1.3 per cent over the past year, meaning that, adjusted for inflation, the average Canadian wage has fallen by 0.9 per cent in the past year.


ON A MUGGY Thursday morning in June, I drove through the gates of the Federal Correctional Institute in Tallahassee to meet a convicted criminal who, as far as I can tell, is the only person connected to two huge environmental contamination cases in Mississippi to ever serve prison time.

Yet, strangely, the convicted felon I was on my way to meet wasn’t a polluter. On the contrary, Tennie White, who was prosecuted by a joint team made up of attorneys from the Environmental Protection Agency and the environmental crimes division of the Justice Department, had spent her professional life exposing contamination. She was an environmental lab owner who was particularly vocal about protecting poor African-American communities. Before she was charged and prosecuted, White had spent much of her time volunteering for an organization she had co-founded to help these Mississippians contend with pollution.

Police Attacked Standing Rock Activists For Hours. Why Are They Calling It A Riot?

In a video streamed live on Facebook on the night of November 20, an army of riot police stand guard as fire hoses blast anti–Dakota Access pipeline activists on a bridge near Standing Rock in the subfreezing cold.

Scenes of distress and chaos follow. A breathless medic describes seeing mass hypothermia and severe hand and head injuries from rubber bullets. Two soaking wet young men complain of being gassed with smoke bombs, tear gas, and mace. A man shot in the head by a rubber bullet is bandaged and carted away in a hatchback. People are choking, crying. Helicopters whir overhead. Amid it all, in the shadows broken by police floodlights, elders sing a Lakota prayer song.

Boris Johnson is a clown who has united the EU against Britain

Britain can be proud of itself. Once again, it had already shown the world the way. In propelling Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage to triumph on 23 June, it demonstrated well before 8 November that Donald Trump was nothing new.

In fact foolishness, vulgarity, inconsistency and irresponsibility seem actually to be British inventions that have been painstakingly copied – once more – by the Americans.