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.]

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Duke Energy wants to push coal basin cleanup costs onto its customers

The bill is finally coming due and Duke Energy’s electric utility in North Carolina wants its customers, not its shareholders, to pay for the company’s ongoing management of coal ash at its coal-fired power plants across the state and the closure of coal ash basins.

Duke Energy plans to file a general rate case application with state regulators on June 1 that will include a request to raise its customers’ rates to cover the coal basin costs.

Growing Up Poor and Queer in a French Village

Since it was published in France, in 2014, “The End of Eddy,” Édouard Louis’s slim début novel, has sold more than three hundred thousand copies. Much of the extraordinary interest in the book has centered on its depiction of Hallencourt, a village of about fourteen hundred people in Picardy, in the north of France, not far from the sea. Hallencourt’s occasional beauty—fruit trees in gardens, explosions of color in the autumn woods—does little, in Louis’s telling, to alleviate the human suffering that takes place there. A post-industrial decline has shuttered most of the region’s factories, and jobs are scarce and hard. Children in the village leave school early; women have children young; one in five adults has difficulty reading and writing. Alcoholism is rampant and violence casual.

Syrian opposition walks out of Astana meeting

Syrian rebels have suspended their participation in the latest round of talks in Kazakhstan in protest against ongoing air raids in the war-torn country.

Syrian rebel and government delegations were discussing a Russian plan for "de-escalation zones" on Wednesday when the opposition walked out, citing the bombardment of rebel-held areas.

Le Pen an overwhelming favorite among Russians

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen may still be struggling to win over French voters ahead of Sunday’s presidential election second round, but there is at least one country where she enjoys overwhelming support—Russia.

Related: French Elections: Marine Le Pen Campaign Hits Back at 'Plagiarism' Accusations

Facebook’s gender bias goes so deep it’s in the code

A hurricane has been brewing at Facebook.

After years of suspicion, a veteran female Facebook engineer decided to evaluate what if any gaps there were in how female and male engineers’ work was treated.

She did it “so that we can have an insight into how the review process impacts people in various groups,” the Wall Street Journal learned exclusively.

What Is to Be Done in Venezuela?

The news from Venezuela is grim: A “fall in oil prices, soaring interest rates…have intensified an already deep-rooted recession. The country is being pauperized. It has the highest inflation in Latin America, increasing unemployment and more than 40 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty.” With economic immiseration comes political violence: Over the course of one year, “security forces killed 126 people, 46 in extra-judicial executions, and 28 when they were in police or military custody. Authoritarianism and repression are growing. Of 13,941 arbitrary detentions, 94 percent occurred during anti-crime operations mainly in poor neighborhoods.… Violent death has become a feature of Venezuelan life. On Monday mornings, the newspapers carry a grim roll call of those killed in stabbings and shootings in the city’s slums. The figure often reaches 40 or 50, mostly young, male and poor.”

Majority of Mélenchon supporters will not back Emmanuel Macron, poll finds

The majority of supporters of the hard-left French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon will abstain or spoil their ballot papers in Sunday’s second round, according to the results of a consultation of members of his France Unbowed movement.

About 450,000 of his supporters were asked to say whether they would abstain, spoil their ballots or support Emmanuel Macron in the second round runoff this Sunday. Voting for the other candidate, the Front National’s Marine Le Pen, was not an option.

11 Awkward Stories For The Government Given Cover By The Election

Ever since Theresa May called for a general election on April 18, the UK has been on election footing. All eyes have been on the campaign trail.

But the world keeps turning. Since then, the Government has made decisions that would have received greater attention otherwise, announced delays because of the vote or, as critics have claimed, attempted to bury bad news.

The Overwhelming Evidence Against the Death Penalty

The continuing controversy surrounding America’s reliance on lethal injection for capital punishment was vividly on display in the four executions Arkansas carried out last week. Two of those executions were marked by serious problems. Last Monday, it took almost an hour to find a vein and complete the execution of Jack Jones. And a witness to Thursday night’s execution of Kenneth Williams said the condemned man was “coughing, convulsing, lurching, (and) jerking” after the administration of midazolam, which was supposed to make him unconscious and insensate.

“Giant blind spots”: Elizabeth Warren says Barack Obama does not understand the “lived experience of most Americans”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., criticized former President Barack Obama and her own political party for selling out to corporate donors and failing to stay in touch with the working class in an interview with The Guardian on Monday.

“I think President Obama, like many others in both parties, talks about a set of big national statistics that look shiny and great but increasingly have giant blind spots,” Warren told the magazine, “that GDP, unemployment, no longer reflect the lived experiences of most Americans … And the lived experiences of most Americans is that they are being left behind in this economy.”

Canada Drops Out Of World Press Freedom Index's Top 20 In 2017

TORONTO — Canada has slipped for the second straight year in an index ranking freedom of the media, in part because of police spying on journalists and demanding reporters turn over background materials.

The four-place decline to the 22nd spot overall, on top of last year's 10-spot fall, leaves Canada out of the top 20 countries in terms of media freedom, Reporters Without Borders — or RSF — said Wednesday.