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.]

Friday, June 30, 2017

China launches aircraft carrier, boosting military presence

China has launched a new aircraft carrier in the latest sign of its growing military strength.

It is the country's second aircraft carrier, after the Liaoning, and the first to be made domestically.

The as-yet unnamed ship was transferred into the water in the north-eastern port of Dalian, state media said. It will reportedly be operational by 2020.

Turkey suspends 9,000 police officers for 'Gulen links'

Turkey has temporarily suspended more than 9,000 personnel from the country's police force while they are investigated for suspected links to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the country's state-run news agency said.

Anadolu Agency said that police personnel were removed from duty on Wednesday, hours after Turkey launched nationwide operations, detaining more than a thousand people with alleged ties to Gulen's movement which Turkey blames for orchestrating a failed coup in July.

Toronto Housing Crisis Caused By 'Government-Induced Land Shortage': Study

As Ontario’s provincial government brings in new rules aimed at cooling the province’s overheated housing markets, a report argues the government is to blame for the crisis in the first place.

The report from Ryerson University’s Centre for Urban Research and Land Development says the 2006 Places To Grow plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area left too little space around the region to build single-family homes, and mandated too much land to build condos.

Sen. Mike Enzi: A Guy Who Wears A Tutu To A Bar 'Kind Of Asks For It'

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) told a group of high school and middle school students last week that it’s fine to be a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer community ― but if you’re too open about it, don’t be surprised if you get picked on.

On Thursday, Enzi was speaking to students at Greybull High School and Middle School when a student asked him what he was doing to support LGBTQ people in Wyoming. Mathew Burciaga, an editor at the Greybull Standard, was at the event. The Standard published a rough transcript and audio of the event Tuesday evening.

What a difference a year makes

LONDON — On the campaign stump in Bridgend, Wales Tuesday, Theresa May painted a rosy picture of Britain after Brexit.

“Brexit isn’t just a process, it’s an opportunity, it’s an important moment for us because it’s an opportunity for us to change this country for the better,” the U.K. prime minister told supporters hoping for a landslide victory in the general election on June 8.

Exactly one year earlier, she was singing a rather different tune. On April 25, 2016, May made her only major intervention in the EU referendum campaign, at a speech at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. She gave a measured, but firm, endorsement of the Britain’s membership of the European Union.

Turkey targets Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria

Turkish military jets have carried out air strikes against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters in northern Iraq and northeast Syria, killing at least 70 people, according to a Turkish military statement.

A statement released by Turkey's air force said that it carried out the air strikes against PKK targets located in the Sinjar Mountains region in northern Iraq and in Karachok Mountains in northeastern Syria on Tuesday.

A cop shot an unarmed man in the back. The Supreme Court says there doesn’t even need to be a trial.

The penalty for drunk driving is not getting shot in the back. Nor is this the penalty for walking away from a police officer. Nevertheless, a cop shot Ricardo Salazar-Limon, causing him “crippling injuries,” as he tried to walk away from a drunk driving arrest. Salazar-Limon was unarmed.

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will do nothing for Mr. Salazar-Limon. A lower court decision holding Salazar-Limon will not even receive a full trial will stand without the Supreme Court hearing the case.

The Unity Tour Was Kind of a Mess—and That’s OK

The Democratic National Committee’s Unity Tour is over, and the reviews are in: Most journalists panned it. “At a ‘Unity’ Stop in Nebraska, Democrats find anything but,” wrote The New York Times. “Is Dem unity tour tearing the party apart? asked MSNBC’s AMJoy. Vice didn’t even bother with the question mark, proclaiming: “The Democrats are falling apart on their ‘come together’ tour.”

Bye bye, Bernie: He’s not fit to captain the Democratic ship if he can’t stop chasing the great white male

To the extent that Democrats are looking for their progressive soul, Sen. Bernie Sanders is not where they should be fixing their gaze. Sanders is clear that he is not a Democrat — except when he needs to be one in order to run for president. Yet he is demanding that the Democratic Party head for what Rebecca Traister last week called “third-way centrist bullshit.”

Economic populism and what are commonly erroneously and dismissively referred to as “social issues” — such as reproductive rights, immigration reform and civil rights for people of color, those who have disabilities, people of all faiths, LGBT people and women — are indivisible. Sanders routinely demonstrates his own lack of progressive values by dividing them.

Why Colleges Have a Right to Reject Hateful Speakers Like Ann Coulter

As graduation season approaches, colleges across the country are locking down commencement speakers to address the class of 2017. Harvard got Mark Zuckerberg (a Harvard dropout). Hillary Clinton is speaking at Wellesley, Bernie Sanders at Brooklyn College. Joe Biden will speak to my seniors at Colby. But if this year is anything like last, other invitees will prove more controversial, sparking another round of debates over “no-platforming”: the practice of opposing campus speakers.

How Russia hacked the French election

Since the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Moscow waged an influence campaign targeting the 2016 U.S. elections, experts have asked: Will it do the same in the French and German elections? Both votes will have an enormous impact on the future of Europe and the liberal order, and much is weighing on whether these democracies are adequately shielded from outside manipulation.

In fact, Moscow has already interfered in French elections. In 1974, the KGB launched a covert propaganda campaign to discredit both François Mitterrand and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. Overtly, Moscow courted Giscard, to an extent that papers such as the right-wing L’Aurore condemned it as an “intolerable” insertion into French domestic politics. Correspondents interpreted the move as “open intervention in national politics.”

The Real Trump Agenda: Helping Big Business

What with U.S. aircraft carriers sailing in the wrong direction, Attorney General Jeff Sessions describing Hawaii as “an island in the Pacific,” and Sarah Palin, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock larking around in the Oval Office, it’s been a pretty typical week for the Trump Administration: jaw-dropping, mind-addling, hard to keep up with. With all the chaos and dysfunction at the top, the Administration’s many pro-corporate regulatory initiatives are being somewhat overlooked by both the media and the public at large. This is wrong: these are decisions and actions that will have harmful consequences, and Trump’s own supporters will be among those hurt.

Bill O’Reilly ruined the news: 10 ways he and Fox News harassed us all

On Wednesday Fox News announced that it would sever ties with Bill O’Reilly in response to multiple charges of sexual harassment and the retreat of a number of sponsors from “The O’Reilly Factor.” Without question the firing of O’Reilly, which follows the departure of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, who also had been accused of sexual harassment, is a positive sign.

But what will these shifts at Fox News really mean? Are we really rid of these two vile characters?

Don’t believe Theresa May. The election won’t change Brexit one bit

Having informed European leaders that Britain is leaving the European Union and, after laying out the UK’s negotiating position in a detailed notification letter, the prime minister is now asking the British people how they would like their full English Brexit served. In Brussels, we now wonder who will be joining us at the breakfast table after all.

As a Belgian, I have a long-standing appreciation of surrealism. My colleague, the European council president, Donald Tusk, suggested last week that the script could have been written by Alfred Hitchcock. For me, it is more akin to the unworldly art of Magritte.

Election is a Tory power grab, says EU Brexit chief

Theresa May’s claim that she will be strengthened in the Brexit talks by a general election victory has been dismissed as nonsense by the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator, who has condemned the prime minister as a political opportunist.

In an outspoken attack, Guy Verhofstadt suggests the prime minister was motivated by party political considerations rather than the national interest in calling a poll for 8 June.

Absurdity is questioning a dictator's motives

News flash: Bashar al-Assad is bad. He has been murdering his own people for more than six years now. Before that, his father did the same. And not once in the decades the Assad family has held power in Syria did it need "justification" for its crimes against humanity.

Thus, a confirmed nerve agent attack on Khan Sheikhoun, one of many chemical weapons attacks committed by the regime, is not out of the ordinary! Pro-Syrian revolution individuals or organisations who say that Assad committed chemical attacks on Khan Sheikhoun are not calling for World War III - they are simply naming the aggressor, as they have been doing for more than six years.

Reminder To Progressives: Abortion Is An Economic Issue

Bernie Sanders traveled to Nebraska this week to throw his support behind Omaha Democratic mayoral candidate, Heath Mello, who is running against the incumbent Republican mayor, Jean Stothert. A Mello win, Sanders has said, would give hope to other “progressive Democrats” in conservative states.

But Mello’s “progressive” credentials are questionable at best. As a state senator, he co-sponsored a bill requiring that abortion providers tell women they can have an ultrasound first, and mandating that providers who use ultrasound display the image in a way women can see if they choose. He said it represented a “positive first step to reducing the number of abortions in Nebraska.”

Jason Chaffetz Is Fleeing Scandal—But Maybe Not His Own

Jason Chaffetz is so ambitious that his last name is a verb.

In the political world, to Chaffetz means to throw a former mentor under the bus in order to get ahead, and various prominent Republicans, from former Utah governor and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr. to House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, have experienced what it’s like to get Chaffetzed. But the five-term Utah Republican and powerful chairman of the House oversight committee shocked Washington on Wednesday when he announced he would not seek reelection in 2018 or run for any other political office that year in order to spend more time with his family.

B.C. belongs to resource companies. Clark's just the paid caretaker.

Unless Christy Clark’s bulldozer hits a ditch, the Liberal party’s power in British Columbia will probably grow. Just like the provincial debt, the horrid finances of BC Hydro and the evolution of Vancouver into a vast private club for the super-rich.

All this is supported by the nonsense view that Christy posing beside hulking dump trucks once every few years vanquishes all — including any zany notion of standing up for the environment. Even from a distance, surveying B.C. politics is like watching a python swallow a peacock.

Why Bernie Sanders’s Unity Tour Failed

Bernie Sanders will conclude his “Come Together and Fight Back” tour with Tom Perez this weekend—a political roadshow that’s taken the Vermont senator and the Democratic National Committee chair to more than half a dozen red and purple states across America since Monday. The goal of the tour, Sanders’s office said earlier this month, was “to begin the process of creating a Democratic Party which is strong and active in all 50 states, and a party which focuses on grassroots activism and the needs of working families.” But the tour was also meant to bridge divides between the Democratic establishment, as represented in last year’s primary by Hillary Clinton, and Sanders’s insurgent progressive wing.

‘They Starve You. They Shock You’: Inside the Anti-Gay Pogrom in Chechnya

GROZNY, Russia — It was supposed to be a night out. But for the young man who calls himself Maksim, as for scores of other gay men arrested in a pogrom this month in Russia’s Chechnya region, it pivoted into nearly two weeks of beatings and torture.

Maksim said it had started with a chat room conversation with “a very good old friend who is also gay,” and who suggested that they meet at an apartment. When Maksim arrived, however, he was greeted not by his friend but by agents who beat him. Later, they strapped him to a chair, attached electrical wires to his hands with alligator clips and began an interrogation.

Why is Jason Chaffetz leaving Congress? There are a bunch of conspiracies swirling around

Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz is no stranger to conspiracy theories. But now that he’s announced that he’s not going to run for re-election, he has become the subject of conspiracy theories rather than the one spreading them.

Marine Le Pen is using Islamophobia to draw female voters

French voters will go to the polls on Sunday, and the race could be a tight one.

After numerous controversies and heated debates, two frontrunners have emerged, the far-right Marine Le Pen and centrist ex-investment banker Emmanuel Macron. Regardless of which way the vote goes, however, the result could be historic if the winner is Le Pen, who would be France’s first female president. But making history is more complicated than just checking a box.

Marine Le Pen is trying to win the French elections with a subtler kind of xenophobia

Marine Le Pen, the face of the French far-right, is trying to bring American-style identity politics to France — wagering that direct appeals to the country’s women, Jews, and secular-minded voters will help her win the French presidency despite widespread concerns about her hardline views on immigration, outsiders, and globalization.

That strategy seems to have helped her ride a wave of general public dissatisfaction with the status quo into second place with 21.7 percent of the voting after the first round of voting on April 23. She was slightly edged out by Emmanuel Macron, a centrist banker turned politician who is running for elected office for the first time.

Syria Changed the World

ISTANBUL — The world seems awash in chaos and uncertainty, perhaps more so than at any point since the end of the Cold War.

Authoritarian-leaning leaders are on the rise, and liberal democracy itself seems under siege. The post-World War II order is fraying as fighting spills across borders and international institutions — built, at least in theory, to act as brakes on wanton slaughter — fail to provide solutions. Populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic are not just riding anti-establishment anger, but stoking fears of a religious “other,” this time Muslims.