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, December 29, 2016

How Trump Made Russia's Hacking More Effective

“It’s all just an attempt to delegitimize Donald Trump.” That’s the argument you hear from Trump supporters each time new information comes to light about how hard Russian spy services worked to damage Hillary Clinton. You heard it again on Thursday.

The Trump supporters are 100 percent right: The information is delegitimizing. The president-elect of the United States reportedly owes his office in considerable part to illegal clandestine activities in his favor conducted by a hostile, foreign spy service. It’s hard to imagine a crisis of presidential legitimacy more extreme than that. But that’s no argument against airing this information. It’s precisely why the information must be aired.

The Way To Fight Fake News Is Real News

On a Tuesday in November, a few hours after the president-elect of the United States tweeted a string of insults at journalists and suggested that Americans exercising their free-speech rights should be stripped of their citizenship, the New York Times published a terrifying story.

Researchers, it said, were finding the "warning signs flashing red" when it comes to the vitality of democracies across the world. From Europe to New Zealand  to the United States, the number of people who say it is important to live in a democracy has plummeted, while the number of Americans who think it would be okay for the military to seize power has skyrocketed.

Barack Obama Sanctions Russia Over Election Meddling

President Barack Obama sanctioned Russian officials and entities on Thursday in response to Moscow’s reported hacking during the U.S. presidential election.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” the president said in a statement.

In addition to hitting two Russian intelligence agencies, three companies and four individual intelligence officers with sanctions banning them from travel and business with U.S. companies or individuals, Obama ordered 35 Russian operatives posted at diplomatic facilities in Washington and San Francisco to leave. The president asked the State Department to bar Russians from entering two Russian-owned compounds in Maryland and New York that were used to gather intelligence, according to his statement. And Obama’s Treasury Department barred U.S. business with two Russians accused of cyber-theft of money and data.

Russian Embassy In London Responds To US Sanctions With Picture Of A Duck

The Russian Embassy in London has issued a curious response to President Barack Obama sanctioning Russian officials over meddling in the US elections - tweeting a picture of a duckling emblazoned with the words “LAME”.

The cavalier approach to international diplomacy followed the outgoing US President’s crackdown as he warned: “All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions.”

In case it needs spelling out, the Holland Park-based Russian outpost was referring to Obama as a ‘lame duck’ - coming as it does days before he makes way for President-Elect Donald Trump on January 20.

GOP Congressman says Russian hackers did ‘what the media should have done’

President Barack Obama announced a new set of sanctions against the Russian government Thursday, which were issued in part because of hacks targeting the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The intelligence community believes these attacks were backed by Russia.

President-elect Donald Trump, for his part, suggested on Wednesday that he would rather move past discussing these hacks. “I think we ought to get on with our lives,” the incoming president said. “I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on. We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I’m not sure we have the kind, the security we need.”

Barack Obama Sanctions Russia Over Election Meddling

WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama sanctioned top Russian officials on Thursday in response to Moscow’s reported hacking during the U.S. presidential election.

“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” the president said in a statement.

Obama’s successor, president-elect Donald Trump, has cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia was responsible for unearthing and releasing material damaging to Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Wednesday, Trump said it was time to “move on” and repeated that he believes it’s impossible to know who targeted Clinton.

Would You Feel Differently About Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange If You Knew What They Really Thought?

We live in the age of the leaker. Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange are celebrated as heroes on op-ed pages and across glossy magazine spreads.

By exposing the secrets of the government, they claim to have revealed its systematic disregard for individual freedom and privacy. Theirs are not the politics of left against right, or liberals against conservatives, or Democrats against Republicans, but of the individual against the state. To oppose them is to side with power against liberty, surveillance against freedom, tyrannical secrecy against democratic openness.

Russia’s blueprint for political chaos: Alleged election hacks may just be part of Vladimir Putin’s grand game

Many people are familiar with the alleged efforts of the Russian government to hack computer systems belonging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. What is now becoming clear is that these apparent efforts are actually part of a much larger strategy to subvert advocates of liberal democracy around the world.

While the efforts to subvert Clinton’s campaign took place in secret, Russia’s other attempts to undermine American unity aren’t secret at all. They’re just not widely known. Among them are the nascent campaigns for both California and Texas to secede from the United States.

Paul Ryan’s idiotic power play: Just maybe, his move to squelch future protests will backfire

Last summer Democrats in the House of Representatives felt so excluded from the legislative process that they staged a Civil Rights-style sit-in on the chamber’s floor to protest Speaker Paul Ryan’s refusal to allow a vote on a gun-control bill. Ryan and his Republican majority heard their complaints and, in the spirit of magnanimity and bipartisan comity for which the GOP is so well-known, have now responded with a proposal that will punish any members of the chamber who ever go to such lengths to get their voices heard again.

Putin’s army prepares for 2018 World Cup

MOSCOW — Alexander Shprygin, the 38-year-old head of Russia’s football supporters’ association, looked wary when I met him at his organization’s spacious offices in central Moscow. Dubbed a “Nazi-loving pal of Putin” and a “far-right fan leader” by international media after violence by tooled-up Russian hooligans at the summer’s Euro 2016 tournament, Shprygin represents what critics alleged was a Kremlin strike force sent to wreak havoc on the streets of France.

Julian Assange: "Donald? It's a change anyway"

LONDON - When they appeared on the scene for the first time in 2006, few noticed them. And when four years later they hit worldwide media headlines with their publication of over 700,000 secret US government documents, many assumed that Julian Assange and his organisation, WikiLeaks, would be annihilated very shortly.

Since 2010 Assange has lived first under house arrest and then confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum by Ecuador. The country's officials judged  his concerns of being extradited to Sweden and then to the US to be put on trial for the WikiLeaks' revelations well-grounded.

Why Hasn’t Brexit Made Homes More Affordable?

For Generation Rent it was supposed to be Brexit’s silver lining: a crash in house prices big enough to get them on the first rung of the property ladder.

A month before the referendum, investment analysts Moody’s released a report saying Brexit would be a huge boost for first-time buyers. Suddenly, unaffordable properties would be in reach - particularly in London.

Syrian Government and Rebels Have Reached a Truce, Putin Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday the Syrian government and rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad have reached a ceasefire to end the fighting in the more than five-year civil war. The agreement was reached, he said, after efforts by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, which will all act as guarantors of the truce. Russia and Iran back Assad while Turkey supports some rebel groups. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said seven rebel group that account for some 60,000 fighters will be part of the agreement. Turkish officials said groups the UN labels as terrorist organizations will not be party to the ceasefire. Previous Western- and Arab-mediated efforts at a ceasefire in Syria have failed, and it’s unclear whether this attempt will be successful. Putin acknowledged as much, calling it “fragile.” In recent months, Assad has recaptured most of Syria’s cities and, aided by Russia, Iran, and fighters from Hezbollah, has put the rebels on the defensive.

Original Article
Author:  Krishnadev Calamur

Will the Alt-Right Peddle a New Kind of Racist Genetics?

Jedidiah Carlson was googling a genetics research paper when he stumbled upon the white nationalist forum Stormfront. Carlson is graduate student at the University of Michigan, and he is—to be clear—absolutely not a white nationalist. But one link lead to another and he ended up reading page after page of Stormfront discussions on the reliability of 23andMe ancestry results and whether Neanderthal interbreeding is the reason for the genetic superiority of whites. Obsession with racial purity is easily channeled, apparently, into an obsession with genetics.

Trump’s China Policy is Already a Disaster

Donald Trump’s December 2 phone call with Tsai Ing-wen, the president of Taiwan, sent shock waves through China and much of the world. For nearly four decades it has been Washington’s official policy to recognize only China, and not Taiwan. Trump has indicated that he thought he could threaten China with abandoning this policy, in order to bargain for other concessions.

This has to be one of the worst diplomatic miscalculations of all time for a president-elect, and we should add, his incoming administration ― since it was apparently not just another foot-in-mouth event for Trump but a deliberate strategy complete with lobbyist influence.

Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Response to the United Nation's Resolution on Palestine Is 'Hysterical'

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution 14-0 condemning all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as having “no legal validity” and amounting to “a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution goes on to note that Israeli settlements pose “a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security.”

This represents the first UNSC resolution in almost eight years concerning Israel and Palestine, and the first in over 35 years regarding the issue of Israeli settlements. Typically the U.S. would veto resolutions critical of Israel, but in this case, the Obama administration opted to abstain, in effect allowing the resolution to pass.

Israel's never-ending crimes: It's not just settlements

Last week, the world stood fixated at a largely symbolic gesture by the United Nations in which it found the continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank of Palestine to be illegal. Or did it?

Although the UN Security Council, with rare uniformity, chastised Israel for flouting the law of occupation, the resolution, crafted with ambiguous lawyerly precision, left experienced thinkers on the subject debating just what it means.

Brexit Bill To Reach £55bn by 2030, IPPR Report Finds

Brexit will cost the UK £55bn by 2030, a major study has found, which calls it “the firing gun on a decade of disruption”.

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Britain In The 2020s, has said the vote to leave will “permanently” reduce growth and living standards, leaving households £1,700 worse off a year.

By 2030, the analysis predicted, some working age families will have weathered two decades with a “weak” growth in income, as it said leaving the EU will lead to major currency falls.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Threatens To Throw Corrupt Officials Out Of A Helicopter

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened corrupt government officials with the prospect of being thrown out of a helicopter mid-air, warning he has done it himself before and had no qualms about doing it again.

The fiery-tempered former prosecutor said he once hurled a Chinese man suspected of rape and murder out of a helicopter.