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.]

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

John Podesta Says ‘Forces Within The FBI’ Wanted Hillary Clinton To Lose

Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta criticized the FBI on Wednesday for how it responded to the Democratic National Committee’s hacked emails, which U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia stole and gave to WikiLeaks in order to tip the election to President Donald Trump.

“I think to this day it’s inexplicable that they were so casual about the investigation of the Russian penetration of the DNC emails,” Podesta said during a cybersecurity panel at the NewCo Shift Forum in San Francisco, according to TechCrunch. Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias and CrowdStrike president Shawn Henry, whose firm investigated the DNC hacks, were also on the panel.

State elections chiefs warn against eliminating agency that protects elections from hacking

House Republicans voted this week to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the only federal agency specifically tasked with helping states protect elections from hacking. The vote split down party lines, with the three Democrats on the committee voting to save the commission and six Republicans voting to terminate it.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who voted against the legislation, told ThinkProgress it’s likely that the full House will follow through with eliminating the agency, as protecting elections has become a partisan issue in Washington.

Lyon, the Capital of a Europe in Crisis

Lyon, declared the front page of its city paper Le Progrès, is now the “capital of [France’s] presidential election.” On the weekend of February 4-5, less than three months before a vote that may determine not just the future of France but the future of the European Union, the country’s third-largest city was host to the three political forces bent on destroying the political domination of France’s establishment parties.

Both of those two parties are currently mired in crisis and division. François Fillon of the center-right Republicans is struggling to recover from a potentially career-ending scandal: His wife and children received over 1 million euros—largely in public funds—for allegedly fictitious labor. Meanwhile, the center-left Socialist Party faces an internal civil war between a neoliberal party apparatus and its new presidential candidate, Benoît Hamon, who aims to revitalize left-wing social democracy.

How the Left’s Long March Back Will Begin in the States

Since the 2010 election, in which the GOP won power in a majority of statehouses, progressives have often lamented the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which creates template bills that allow legislators to easily replicate right-wing laws across states. It’s been a driving force, for example, in the spread of “right-to-work” legislation as the GOP’s strength in the states continues to grow.

The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) was founded in 2014 as a progressive answer to ALEC. It works with state legislators in a variety of ways to advance legislation, educate lawmakers and build a progressive power base in the states. Last year, staff members met with groups of legislators in about 20 states, to help them establish their policy priorities and understand the issues better. SiX’s priorities include climate change, predatory lending, criminal justice reform, education, election reform, and worker wages and benefits.

Cuomo Opposes Legal Weed, While Helping His Alcohol Industry Donors

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo waded into the national debate over drug policy, declaring his opposition to legalizing cannabis and asserting (despite research to the contrary) that using pot leads to the use of other, stronger narcotics. Cuomo has long promoted the alcohol industry, whose donors have bankrolled his election campaigns and whose businesses could be adversely affected by marijuana legalization.

Cuomo’s office did not respond to International Business Times’ request for comment about marijuana-related scientific research or about his support for the alcohol industry.

As Putin Looms And Trump Withdraws, Estonia Is Training Civilians To Fight

NARVA, Estonia ― On weekdays, Marju Prosin is a dental saleswoman. But this weekend, the 37-year-old left her two children at home, pulled on snow fatigues, grabbed a rifle and headed to the frozen forests of Estonia to train for a guerrilla war.

She joined dozens of other civilians on a snow-covered hillside here for a 36-hour exercise called the Utria Assault, after a historic Estonian victory over Russia. A whistle blew, and she ran up the hill in the darkness, weighed down by a heavy pack of rations and ammunition. Suddenly, machine gun fire rattled out from the tree line, sending her scrambling for cover. This was a test, one of many Prosin faced over this weekend in January.

A Childhood in the Pro-Life Movement

The alphabet had been radicalized; it marched for me now. The words, in their order, marched. This meant that I knew how to read. This meant that I could read the signs. They said “ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART” and “IT’S A CHILD, NOT A CHOICE.” Some of the signs had pictures on them, too, always the same picture, a picture of a fetus turned to the side with its thumb touching its lips and a human rope floating out of its belly and a pulse of black omniscience for an eye. The fetus was the suffused red, lit-up color you saw behind your eyelids, or when you put your hand over a flashlight. But I did not say fetus, I was told never to say that; they had told me to call it a baby.

Ex-CIA analyst: Pentagon has files that ‘completely vindicate’ NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake

Former CIA analyst Pat Eddington is suing the Department of Defense over a 2010 case in which a former National Security Agency employee was charged with espionage after speaking to a reporter with the Baltimore Sun. Thomas Drake faced charges in 2010 after speaking with the reporter about an intelligence program that he believed was a violation of Americans’ civil liberties.

Turkey's Erdoğan paves way for April vote on consolidation of power

Turkey’s president has approved a bill granting him broad new powers under an executive presidential system, paving the way for a referendum in mid-April on the proposed changes.

The 18-article bill was passed by parliament last month without garnering the two-thirds majority needed to become law. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s approval allows the proposed constitutional changes to go to a public vote.

Russia suspected over hacking attack on Italian foreign ministry

Russia is suspected by Italian officials of being behind a sustained hacking attack against the Italian foreign ministry last year that compromised email communications and lasted for many months before it was detected, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Italian government official confirmed that the attack took place last spring and lasted for more than four months but did not infiltrate an encrypted system used for classified communications.

The Billionaire CEO Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Would Rather Be Talking About Country Music

When he's not building pipelines, Kelcy Warren likes to write melancholy country ballads. In one, the Texas billionaire sees his girlfriend with his best friend and then takes a solitary drive to New Orleans, where he feels even more lonely in the lively crowd. Another song mourns a lost friend: "Do you ever talk with angels? Put in a word for me."

Warren is a co-founder and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the conglomerate whose security contractors have deployed pepper spray and snarling dogs against the Native Americans protesting its Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota. He's laying another contested pipeline, the Trans-Pecos, near Big Bend National Park—hallowed ground to many Texans. He's spent millions of dollars supporting right-wing politicians. He gave $700,000 to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's political action committee and $6 million to PACs supporting former Gov. Rick Perry's presidential campaign. He also put Perry on ETP'S board.

Russian newspaper tells women to be 'proud of their bruises' as state partially decriminalises domestic violence

One of Russia’s most popular newspapers has told women to be “proud of their bruises”, as the country partially decriminalises domestic abuse.

The article, published by Komsomolskaya Pravda, came ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin signing into law a new measure that will see offenders face fewer penalties.

Yaroslav Korobatov, a columnist for the paper, said: “For years, women who have been smacked around by their husbands have found solace in the rather hypocritical proverb, ‘If he beats you, it means he loves you!’

Britain Jumps Into a Brexit Wonderland

With all the craziness going on in Washington these days, it’s easy to ignore what’s happening in the outside world. But Trump-style populism and nationalism is a transatlantic threat, and we should keep an eye on how it is progressing in other countries.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom’s House of Commons took an important step toward pulling the country out of the European Union, passing a Brexit bill by an overwhelming margin: 494–122. Cowed by right-wing newspapers and fears that Brexit supporters in the rural shires and northern cities would punish them for defying the result of last year’s referendum, hundreds of pro-European M.P.s voted for the legislation, which opens the way for Theresa May, the Conservative Prime Minister, to trigger Article 50 of the European Union treaty.

Here’s a list of all of the murders laid at the feet of Vladimir Putin

The list of murders laid at the feet of Vladimir Putin has gotten so long now that you need a chart to keep track of them.

That’s just what the Association of Former Intelligence Officers produced in a recent edition of its quarterly bulletin, The Intelligencer. To be sure, AFIO, which represents 4,500 former CIA, FBI and military intelligence veterans, is steeped in Cold War hatred for the Kremlin. But even if its chart were off by half, the list of Moscow’s suspected victims would be grimly impressive: There are 40 names on the list assembled by Peter C. Oleson, a former assistant director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Republican congressmen fast-track bill that would repeal consumer protections from overdraft fees

Republicans are moving to scrap consumer protection rules that prevent the prepaid debit card industry from collecting tens of millions of dollars in overdraft fees. The resolution, introduced by Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia,  would undo the new rules package crafted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in October.

As BuzzFeed notes, Republicans are able to make these major changes with simple majorities thanks to the Congressional Review Act:

    Republicans are now moving to reverse the rules, using a fast-track process enabled by the Congressional Review Act, in which simple majorities in both houses of Congress can eliminate a recently-finalized regulation, with the president’s approval.

A new front in the assault on women’s freedom: Anti-choice activists now going after birth control

Most conservatives are masters of the bad-faith argument, but none so more than anti-choice activists. For decades now, anti-choicers have perfected the art of concealing their hostility to abortion and contraception with terms like “pro-life” and their supposed concern with “protecting women’s health.”

This disingenuous approach characterized the conservative response to a Department of Health and Human Services requirement, created under the Affordable Care Act, that requires insurance plans to cover contraception without a co-payment.

Eliminating mental health coverage will create a crisis for millions

With the future of the Affordable Care Act in immediate peril, people with mental illness are among those most in danger.

Within hours of his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to scale back the Affordable Care Act, making good on his promise to dismantle the act — even without a replacement.

As a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, I have often witnessed how some prioritize their physical health over mental health.

EU reaches out to Russia to broker deal with Libyan general Haftar

European diplomats are attempting a last-ditch effort to dissuade Russia from helping the renegade military strongman Khalifa Haftar seize overall military power in Libya.

Haftar, the military commander of Libya’s eastern government, has sought Moscow’s help to battle Isis, but European diplomats fear that that he could join what has been described as Vladimir Putin’s axis of secular authoritarians in the Middle East alongside Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

How Democratic Socialists Are Building on Bernie's Momentum

"Has anybody been angry before about capitalism?" Hannah Allison, a 29-year-old organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America, asks from the stage of a recent meeting in Los Angeles.

The nearly 100 DSA members who've gathered at the Friendship Auditorium in Griffith Park on this Saturday afternoon erupt in cheers and applause, after hours of presentations by speakers at least twice Allison's age.

Allison, who's based at DSA's New York City headquarters, has been visiting the group's local chapters around the country on a mission to get new members – especially younger and more diverse individuals, including those catalyzed by Bernie Sanders' campaign – excited about organizing toward so-called democratic socialism. There are signs her efforts are starting to pay off. The group, which officially formed in 1982 but has roots in the early-20th-century socialist movement, has experienced a renaissance of late. The LA gathering is one of the group's largest in 25 years. And since last March, the DSA's membership has nearly tripled, to more than 15,000 members, with 90 local groups in 37 states.

The Flight 93 Election

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

Tennessee Republican writes off voters worried about health care as ‘extremists, kooks and radicals’

A Republican congressman who has served his district for almost thirty years is refusing to hold a town hall in his district because he has no interest in hearing from “extremists, kooks and radicals.”

Rep. John J. Duncan Jr (R-TN), who was first elected to Congress in 1988, wrote an email  saying he has “often been described as one of the most accessible members of Congress in this Country,” reports the Knoxville News Sentinel.  Despite that he has no interest now in holding a town hall meeting to discuss the incoming Trump administration and listen to constituents who want to discuss GOP alternatives to the Affordable Care Act.

Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader found guilty

Russia's main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been found guilty of embezzlement and handed a five-year suspended sentence.

It bars him from running for president next year against Vladimir Putin.

But Mr Navalny, who denies the charges, has vowed to take part in the race regardless. It was not immediately clear if this was legally possible.

Have the Syrian Kurds Committed War Crimes?

Akcakale, Turkey—The Kurdish militia that supplies the ground troops in the US air war against the Islamic State has been a systematic violator of human rights in the area it controls in northern Syria, causing the displacement of tens of thousands of Arabs and even more massive flight by Kurds from the region.

A six-month investigation shows that the militia, reportedly under the strong influence of Iran and the Assad regime, has evicted Arabs from their homes at gunpoint starting in 2013 and subsequently has blown up, torched, or bulldozed their homes and villages. The Nation interviewed more than 80 Arabs and Syrian Kurdish refugees in the region as well as militia officials, former militia members, former Syrian government officials, political activists, and officials in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“All you see is blood”: life at a death camp where Assad has slaughtered thousands

Beatings. Starvation. Rape. And then death, administered quickly and with sickening efficiency.

Those are the hallmarks of Saydnaya Prison, a facility just outside of Damascus that the Assad regime has turned into a death camp. Many of the inmates are civilian dissidents, and they are mostly killed not long after their arrival. As detailed in Amnesty International’s newest report from Syria, “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison,” between 5,000 and 13,000 people have been executed there since the civil war began in 2011.

Republicans Are Set to Destroy Iowa’s Labor Unions

The ascendance of Donald Trump is often mistaken for a sudden turn in the history of the United States. It isn’t. Trump’s election was only the capstone of an era when reactionaries have seized every level of power in the country. Over the past eight years, the Republican Party has taken eleven Senate seats, 62 House seats, twelve governorships, and nearly 1,000 seats in state legislatures. At present, the GOP controls every branch of government in 24 states; in eight more, they merely control both houses of the legislature. It is in these states, far from the depravity of Washington or the fires in Berkeley, that the full extent of conservative ambitions is finally being realized. In Iowa, where we live and work, the successful Republican capture of the state Senate has completed the GOP trifecta, and the consequences, unseen by the larger, distracted nation, have unfolded with astonishing speed.

House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can’t Be Hacked

In a little-noticed 6-3 vote today, the House Administration Committee voted along party lines to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states run elections and is the only federal agency charged with making sure voting machines can’t be hacked. The EAC was created after the disastrous 2000 election in Florida as part of the Help America Vote Act to rectify problems like butterfly ballots and hanging chads. (Republicans have tried to kill the agency for years.) The Committee also voted to eliminate the public-financing system for presidential elections dating back to the 1970s.

Putin approves legal change that decriminalises some domestic violence

Vladimir Putin has signed into law a controversial amendment that decriminalises some forms of domestic violence.

The amendment, which sailed through both houses of Russian parliament before Tuesday’s presidential signing, has elicited anger from critics who say that it sends the wrong message in a country where, according to some estimates, one woman dies every 40 minutes from domestic abuse. It makes “moderate” violence within families an administrative, rather than criminal, offence.

Syria Killed Thousands In Secret Mass Hangings Inside Prison, Amnesty Reports

The Syrian government killed thousands of people during years of secret mass hangings at a single prison outside the capital of Damascus, an Amnesty International report published on Tuesday alleges.

The report details how authorities at Sednaya prison executed between 5,000 and 13,000 people over a period spanning four years from 2011 to 2015. Interviews with former detainees, prison guards and doctors, as well as other staff, chronicle what Amnesty describes as a “human slaughterhouse.”

How Corporate Dark Money Is Taking Power on Both Sides of the Atlantic

It took corporate America a while to warm to Donald Trump. Some of his positions, especially on trade, horrified business leaders. Many of them favoured Ted Cruz or Scott Walker. But once Trump had secured the nomination, the big money began to recognise an unprecedented opportunity.

Trump was prepared not only to promote the cause of corporations in government, but to turn government into a kind of corporation, staffed and run by executives and lobbyists. His incoherence was not a liability, but an opening: his agenda could be shaped. And the dark money network already developed by some American corporations was perfectly positioned to shape it. Dark money is the term used in the US for the funding of organisations involved in political advocacy that are not obliged to disclose where the money comes from. Few people would see a tobacco company as a credible source on public health, or a coal company as a neutral commentator on climate change. In order to advance their political interests, such companies must pay others to speak on their behalf.

Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was. Maybe He's Just What Democrats Need.

Last May, as Donald Trump was locking up the Republican nomination, a prophetic clip began circulating among portions of the left. It was a nearly one-year-old segment of ABC's Sunday show This Week, featuring Rep. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat then on the verge of winning a sixth term. "Anybody from the Democratic side of the fence who's terrified of the possibility of a President Trump better vote, better get active, better get involved," Ellison warned, "because this man has got some momentum and we better be ready for the fact that he might be leading the Republican ticket."

Ellison made his prediction in July 2015, shortly after Trump had launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants "rapists." His fellow panelists laughed along with moderator George Stephanopoulos, who offered Ellison a lifeline. "I know you don't believe that," he said. But Ellison insisted, "Stranger things have happened."

Israel passes bill retroactively legalising Jewish settlements

Israel’s parliament has approved a controversial bill to retroactively “legalise” illegal Jewish outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land, setting up an inevitable confrontation with the international community.

The so-called regulation bill paves the way for Israel to recognise thousands of illegally built Jewish settler homes constructed on privately owned Palestinian land in what opponents have dubbed a “theft” and “land grab”.

This American woman has given birth to 2 children while being held hostage in Afghanistan. Why is the family still there?

The slender American woman in the black abaya looks directly at the camera, her two children, their faces caked with dirt, sitting just to her left.

“Today is December 3, 2016. We have waited since 2012 for someone to understand our problems, the Kafkaesque nightmare in which we find ourselves,” she says in the video released by her captors in Afghanistan late last year. “My children have seen their mother defiled. We ask, in our collective 14th year of prison, that the governments on both sides reach some agreement to allow us freedom.”

Rural Ontario hydro users hoping for deliverance from high bills

Toronto resident Nick Pemberton used $1.30 worth of electricity at his Muskoka cottage in the fall — and paid Hydro One $82.53 to deliver it.

“It’s not a particularly overwhelming bill. It’s just silly,” says Pemberton, a computer programmer who stressed he is not looking for sympathy.

Senator Tammy Baldwin Just Destroyed Scott Walker on Twitter

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker grabbed again for the national spotlight Thursday and Friday, trying to pick a fight with Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin over her principled objections to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court vacancy that Republican senators refused to fill during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency.

But Baldwin refused to let Walker get away with it—and in so doing she showed Democrats, independents, and responsible Republicans how to respond to the extreme partisanship of Republican political careerists who encouraged the obstruction of Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland last year but now demand the immediate and unquestioning advancement of Gorsuch.

Go to Jail. Die From Drug Withdrawal. Welcome to the Criminal Justice System.

When Tyler Tabor was booked in a jail outside Denver on a spring afternoon in 2015, he told a screening nurse that he was a daily heroin user and had a prescription for Xanax. A friendly, outdoorsy 25-year-old with a son in kindergarten, Tabor had started using opioids after he injured his back on the job as a welder. When he was arrested on two misdemeanor warrants, his parents decided not to pay his $300 bail, thinking he would be safer in jail and away from heroin for a few days.

Catholic church claims 'seismic shift' after child sexual abuse scandals

The Catholic church says it has made a seismic shift in holding its leaders accountable for protecting Australian children after decades of abuse by hundreds of pedophiles.

The church says its new national professional standards body will ensure consistency across its autonomous dioceses and orders.

Each bishop and religious leader will sign a contract agreeing to abide by the standards and be monitored, audited and subject to public reporting, the church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive, Francis Sullivan, said.
“It is quite a seismic shift for the Catholic church in holdings leaders to account,” Sullivan said. “It is necessary in order to achieve consistency for survivors.

4,444 victims: extent of abuse in Catholic church in Australia revealed

Seven per cent of Australia’s Catholic priests were accused of abusing children in the six decades since 1950, according to new data from the royal commission.

On Monday the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse released damning statistics on the scale of the crisis within the Catholic Church. The numbers confirm the extent of sexual predation already suggested by four years of royal commission hearings involving the church, which are now entering their final weeks.

France election: Far-right's Le Pen rails against globalisation

The candidate of the National Front (FN) told supporters in the eastern city of Lyon that globalisation was slowly choking communities to death.

Her party is promising to offer France a referendum on EU membership if a renegotiation of terms fails.

France goes to the polls on 23 April in one of the most open races in decades.

Rona Ambrose Stayed On Billionaire's Yacht While Tories Attacked PM's Trip

OTTAWA — The Conservatives confirm their interim leader took a Caribbean vacation on a billionaire's yacht around the time members of her caucus were criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for vacationing on a private island owned by the Aga Khan.

A spokesman for Rona Ambrose verified a report by political news website iPolitics that the acting Conservative leader and her partner J.P. Veitch soaked up the sun last month on the yacht of energy mogul Murray Edwards around the islands of St. Barths and Saint Martin.

Fears Of Alt-Right, Divisive Referendum Behind Liberal Electoral Reform Reversal: Insiders

OTTAWA — Liberal insiders say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pulled the plug on electoral reform because he didn’t want to plunge the country into a divisive referendum and feared that proportional representation would lead to white nationalists’ acquiring seats in the House of Commons — concerns dismissed by critics Friday.

Several government sources, speaking to The Huffington Post Canada on condition of anonymity, said a decision to abandon the Liberals’ election promise of making the 2015 election the last held under a first-past-the-post system was reached after a two-hour discussion at the January cabinet retreat in Calgary. Only one cabinet minister was opposed.

Trump's Plan to 'Totally Destroy' the Johnson Amendment Is a Massive Gift to the Christian Right

President Donald Trump appears steadfastly committed to his campaign promise to repeal one of the clearest legislative examples of the separation of church and state in this country, recently repeating his vow to allow churches to engage in political activity while retaining their current tax-exempt status — opening the door for religious groups to become big-time partisan players in U.S. elections.

Investigation Reveals the Extent the Koch Empire Is Willing to Go to Take Over a University

In 2011, the public found out that the Florida State University Economics Department had signed a deal in 2008 with the Charles Koch Foundation, which would supply the department with $1.5 million over several years in exchange for control over hiring decisions and curriculum development. After public and faculty outcry over undue donor influence, the department renegotiated the deal, signing a new one in 2013. The foundation of billionaire fossil-fuel industrialist Charles Koch, a controversial Republican mega-donor, continues to fund various programs at FSU.

Kirsten Gillibrand and the Anti-Trump Left: 2020 Foresight?

When David A. Paterson, then governor of New York, appointed Kirsten E. Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat in 2009, there was little feeling that she would become a key voice in a movement of resistance from the left. As a Blue Dog congressional Democrat representing an upstate district, Ms. Gillibrand had an A rating from the National Rifle Association. She had an uptown bearing but talked about the guns she kept tucked under her bed. Working as a young lawyer, she defended the tobacco industry.

Brexit And The Sovereignty Delusion

Brexit is nothing if not exclusive and elitist. The government and Conservative party are united in contempt for the sovereignty of parliament, and the sovereignty of the people. The Remain campaign may have been one of the most vibrant and hopeful and articulate movements of recent political history but it has few friends in the establishment. And should Labour succeed in vetoing and tabling amendments to an erroneous and misguided agenda devised by the acolytes of May, the only thing we can look forward to with any certainty is that the country will be more bitterly and deeply polarised than before.

It’s official. Congress has rolled back two Obama-era rules that curbed pollution and corruption.

Friday morning, U.S. senators took some time out of their day to vote on a rule that increased transparency requirements for oil and gas companies operating overseas.

They voted to overturn the rule.

It was the second time this week the Senate, following on the heels of the U.S. House of Representatives, voted in favor of fossil fuel industries.

Barack Obama Radically Expanded Our Appreciation of African-American History

Among its other accomplishments, the presidency of Barack Obama—you do remember it?—featured an unmistakable expansion of public appreciation for African-American history. This was especially true as his time remaining in the White House dwindled away: From the opening of the Smithsonian’s Museum of African-American History and Culture to the designation of a site in South Carolina as the nation’s first national park devoted to Reconstruction, the Obama presidency ended with considerable emphasis on how the nation conceives of African-American history in public spaces. In many ways, and despite whatever uncertainties lie ahead, Obama’s attempts to memorialize more of the African-American experience enhanced the meaning of what it means to be an American.

Bet on it: Canadians are going to remember Trudeau's broken vow

Then came the work of the Electoral Reform Committee, including public consultations and that dubious online questionnaire. Former minister of democratic institutions Maryam Monsef, now bus-kill, kept making all the right noises. Marc Mayrand at Elections Canada even said that if there had to be a referendum (which the Liberals opposed), there would be time to do one and still change the system for the 2019 election. And then the bottom fell out.

Next to “the dog ate my homework,” the prime minister’s explanation for un-committing to his commitment has to go down as one of the lamest excuses on record from any Canadian leader. Trudeau told the country that there was no “national consensus” on how to change the voting system. He even made a stab at the oldest political alchemy of all — turning his political bad faith into a virtue. The Liberals would not change the voting system, he claimed, because it would be “irresponsible” to do something that would harm Canada’s “stability.”

Why Trump just killed a rule restricting coal companies from dumping waste in streams

With everything that Republicans want to do — repeal Obamacare, overhaul the tax code — it might seem odd that one of Congress’ very first acts would be to kill an obscure Obama-era regulation that restricts coal companies from dumping mining waste into streams and waterways.

But that is indeed what’s going on. In early February, the House and Senate voted to repeal the so-called “stream protection rule” — using a regulation-killing tool known as the Congressional Review Act. On Thursday, President Trump signed the bill, which means the stream protection rule is now dead. Coal companies will have a freer hand in dumping mining debris in streams.

New Arkansas Law Lets Men Block Wives’ Abortions

WASHINGTON― A new law in Arkansas bans most second trimester abortions and allows a woman’s husband to sue the doctor for civil damages or “injunctive relief,” which would block the woman from having the procedure.

The “Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act,” signed into law last week by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), bans dilation and evacuation procedures, in which the physician removes the fetus from the womb with surgical tools. D&E procedures are the safest and most common way women can end their pregnancies after 14 weeks of gestation, according to the American Medical Association.

Brexit White Paper Basically Reveals The Reason For Leaving The EU Isn’t True

Parliament has been sovereign the entire time we’ve been in the EU but it “hasn’t always felt like that,” according to the Government’s plan for restoring parliamentary sovereignty through Brexit.

Arguments for leaving the EU - from immigration to regulation - rested on the idea that EU membership eroded parliament’s sovereignty.

Researcher says Alberta regulator underestimating impact of thousands of oil spills

A researcher says the agency that monitors Alberta’s energy industry has underestimated the impact of tens of thousands of spills going back decades.

Kevin Timoney, an Edmonton−area consulting biologist, used sophisticated statistical analysis, an extensive research review and comparisons with other jurisdictions to conclude the Alberta Energy Regulator doesn’t have a good handle on how much oil and saline water has been released into the environment or remains there.

Why We Support Keith Ellison for DNC Chair

The Democratic Party hasn’t faced this serious a crisis of confidence and direction since the 1920s. Republicans control the White House, Congress, 33 governorships, and 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers nationwide. Even as Americans fill the streets demanding resistance to the extremist agenda of Donald Trump, congressional Democrats often lack the numbers for the pushback.