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, July 05, 2017

Russia: Syria safe zones closed to US coalition planes

The safe zones that regional powers have agreed to create in Syria will be closed for military planes of the international US-led coalition, Russia's envoy to Syria talks said.

Turkey and Iran agreed on Thursday to Russia's proposal for "de-escalation zones", a move welcomed by the United Nations but met with scepticism from the United States and Syrian rebel groups.

The benefit of the doubt is running out for Justin Trudeau

Now that Justin Trudeau has endorsed storytelling as part of Harjit Sajjan’s skill set, the PM has started down the low road to the ordinary — just another leader trying to save the hide of one of his own.

Canada’s defence minister did not dream up Operation Medusa in Afghanistan. But he was the architect of his own misfortune. Having grossly inflated his role in one of the largest Canadian military operations in recent history, Sajjan should have resigned. Failing that, he should have been fired.

Gustavo Dudamel attacks Venezuelan president Maduro: 'Enough is enough'

Throughout Venezuela’s slow descent into its current political and humanitarian crisis, the country’s most famous musical ambassador has chosen to remain largely silent.

But following the death of a 17-year-old boy during a crackdown against anti-government protestors, the acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel has denounced president Nicolas Maduro for the violent repression.

Big Polluters Are Headed to Germany for UN Climate Talks

According to a new report from Corporate Accountability International, several trade and business organizations based in countries that are among the biggest contributors of climate change are potentially obstructing the international community’s attempt to fight global warming.

Obama's carefully political post-presidency

Democrats hoping that Barack Obama will use his first big post-presidential address in Boston on Sunday to slam President Donald Trump or lay out a vision for the party will be disappointed.

Obama won’t speak directly about the Democratic Party, the midterm elections or the 2020 campaign. That will come in the fall, when he resumes doing Democratic fundraising.

The Democratic Party Is Fighting Over Its Future. How Important Will Defending Abortion Rights Be?

What does it mean to be a progressive? That question took on new urgency as Democrats reacted to the news that Heath Mello, a former Nebraska state legislator running for mayor of Omaha, had a long and aggressive anti-choice record. Apparently, Mello enthusiasts Tom Perez, new head of the Democratic National Committee, and Bernie Sanders, Perez’s co-headliner on the DNC’s cross-country “Unity Tour,” were unaware of this when they endorsed him. But unity came first: “If you demand fealty on every single issue, then it’s a challenge,” said Perez after the news came out. (He later reversed himself.) Bernie, who’s sticking by Mello, helpfully said this: “If we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose, at the end of the day we’re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate and state governments all over this nation. And we have got to appreciate where people come from and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”

Forget North Korea. The Next Nuclear Crisis Festers On The India-Pakistan Border

WASHINGTON ― While President Donald Trump is focused on North Korea’s nuclear madman, a more alarming threat is rising in South Asia: an explosive mix of nuclear weapons, terrorism and hair-trigger war plans.

Pakistan, already a major nuclear weapons power with well over 100 warheads and the missiles to carry them, is racing to expand its arsenal of short-range tactical weapons meant as a deterrent against India, its larger, more powerful neighbor and blood enemy. India is thought to have around 100 nuclear warheads of its own. (North Korea is estimated to possess enough fissile material to make several warheads.)

BC Liberals Have Now Returned Nearly $250,000 in Illegal Donations

Through the heart of the British Columbia election campaign, the BC Liberal Party has continued to return prohibited political contributions worth thousands of dollars.

In the last two weeks, according to summaries Elections BC released May 3 and April 26, the party has returned 49 donations totalling $73,348.

Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?

Every weekday before dawn, a morning migration takes place near the desert on Africa’s southwestern coast. At 5:30 in the Namibian enclave Swakopmund, whose century-old buildings still bear the imprint of German colonization, solitary men in khaki uniforms emerge from houses and apartment complexes, the white reflective strips on their pants flashing as they walk briskly through the darkness. They are not African but Chinese. No one else is stirring in the Atlantic Coast town as the men converge on a tidy house on Libertina Amathila Avenue, the only one in the neighborhood with its lights ablaze.

Who’s Behind the Billionaire PAC Targeting Elizabeth Warren?

America Rising, a billionaire-backed conservative group, is targeting Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as she tours the country in support of her new book, according to a memo obtained by Politico.

“We view (the) book launch as the soft launch of her presidential campaign,” said executive director Colin Reed. “We’ll do the same to her as we did with Hillary Clinton in 2014,” Reed added.

Elizabeth Warren Tests the Waters for 2020

Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday waded into the flamewar for the soul of the Democratic Party that Bernie Sanders started in 2016, with an impassioned speech decrying the increasing concentration of money and power in the highest, most rarefied echelons of American society.

"Concentrated money and concentrated power are corrupting our democracy – and becoming dangerously worse with Donald Trump in the White House,"  Sen. Warren tells a room full of progressives at the Center for American Progress' Ideas Conference in Washington, D.C.

Michel Temer 'taped approving Eduardo Cunha bribe'

Opposition politicians and protesters have called for the removal of Brazil's President Michel Temer following reports that he recorded discussing payments to silence testimony by a potential witness in the country's biggest-ever corruption probe.

A recording of the alleged conversation was presented to prosecutors by the chairman of JBS, the world's biggest meatpacker, as part of plea bargain negotiations, the O Globo newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Inside Putin’s Campaign to Destroy U.S. Democracy

It was a few days after the start of the new millennium, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow was holding a reception at Spaso House, for decades the elegant residence of the American ambassador. Russia’s tumultuous Boris Yeltsin era had come to an abrupt, shocking end on New Year’s Day, when the Russian president who had brought down the Soviet Union and turned his country into a chaotic, fledgling democracy announced his resignation. His successor was the man he had named his prime minister just four months earlier, a man barely known to most Russians, let alone to the outside world: former KGB officer Vladimir Putin.

Will Erdogan’s Thugs Face No Consequences For Attacking Us On U.S. Soil?

My four-year-old son has been telling what he witnessed yesterday. Two dozen peaceful Kurdish protestors, including two children, were attacked by the Turkish President Erdogan’s security guards at the Turkish Embassy Residence in Washington D.C.

His story goes like this, “The bad guys tried to catch mama; mama cried and the police came, and the bad guys hit apo (uncle) Mehmet.”

The bad guys are the Turkish President Erdogan’s security detail, who have been more than security, acting instead like mafia henchmen. It is a known fact that Erdogan is highly suspicious and that he carefully chooses his bodyguards. For example, one of the bodyguards Tuesday was his cousin.

Conservative Manifesto Pledge Demanding Voters Have Photo ID Could Stop Millions From Voting

Conservative plans to stop people from voting if they don’t have photo ID has been criticised by the Electoral Reform Society who argue it is an unnecessary measure and “poses big issues for our democracy”.

The requirement, announced on Thursday, could stop millions of people from taking part in future elections with the Electoral Commission estimating that it could prevent 3.5 million people, or 7.5 percent of the electorate from voting on June 8, the Independent reported.

Roger Ailes will be remembered as a lecherous, misogynistic and terrible boss — and that’s a good thing

Science and medicine will probably disagree with me, but I choose to believe that Roger Ailes died of a broken heart. Deprived of a steady stream of nubile employees to sexually exploit, the infamous Fox News CEO and progenitor of 21st-century-style authoritarian propaganda simply lost his will to live.

Ailes’s death was announced on Thursday, less than a year after his ouster from Fox News during a wave of accusations of sexual harassment from more than 20 women, thereby ensuring that Ailes will be remembered primarily as an alleged sexual predator. There are those who will no doubt worry that the legacy of his unrepentant lechery will crowd out other important aspects of his career, such as the way he replaced the goose-stepping severity of previous authoritarian propaganda with endless cheesecake and eye-bleedingly loud graphic design. But to my mind, there can be no better encapsulation of Ailes’s legacy than the struggle over the way he treated women.

Air Passenger Rights Bill Protects Airlines, Says Consumer Advocate

A newly introduced government bill that purportedly supports air passengers' rights does nothing of the sort, says one consumer rights advocate.

On Tuesday, Transportation Minister Marc Garneau introduced a passenger bill of rights as part of a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act. The bill follows an incident last month when an United Airlines passenger was violently dragged from a plane in Chicago after he refused to leave his seat on an overbooked flight.

Trudeau has abandoned the cause of peace in the Middle East

Once again — in a way that almost no one will notice or care about — Justin Trudeau has failed an important leadership test.

And no, I don’t mean his government’s perplexing and inexcusable failure to intervene on behalf of Canadian citizen Dr. Hassan Diab. Dr. Diab was locked up in a French jail for two years with scant evidence suggesting he is guilty of anything. He remains enmeshed in the French legal system.

'I could have died': how Erdoğan's bodyguards turned protest into brawl

The first sign things could turn violent outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington came when a group of men in trim suits and slick ties approached the small group of demonstrators who had gathered nearby to protest the visit by president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“They curse us, they curse my wife, my mother, my sister, my grandma,” Seyid Riza Dersimi told the Guardian.

Fox News Fires Bob Beckel Over Alleged Racist Remark

Fox News announced on Friday it has terminated Bob Beckel, co-host of “The Five.”

The network released this statement to Variety: “Bob Beckel was terminated today for making an insensitive remark to an African-American employee.”

Who's Maxime Bernier? From Separatist And Scandal To Tory Leadership Front-Runner (Part 1)

Maxime Bernier is unloading his baggage.

“I was separatist, I must have voted yes. Write I voted ‘yes,’ I have no problems with that,” he tells HuffPost Canada.

He supported sovereigntists during the 1995 Quebec referendum on independence. Now, he wants to lead a national party and be Canada’s next prime minister.

Admitting that he may have voted to split the country apart is perhaps Bernier’s latest display that he is the candid leader that some Canadians crave.

5 of the Most Destructive Right-Wing Supreme Court Decisions in American History

When ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, many on the left and center heaved a huge sigh of relief. Barack Obama was the sitting president who would be nominating his successor, perhaps bringing us a liberal dominated court and killing the constant threats of overturning Roe v. Wade for some time. But that comforting thought slowly morphed into an exasperated burst of heartburn once it became clear that the Grand Obstructionist Party was going to block any of Obama's choices for Supreme Court, however qualified and moderate she or he might be.

Man arrested over vandalism of The George

A man in his 20s has been arrested for criminal damage following the vandalism of Dublin’s best-known gay bar, The George.

The man is being held at Pearse Street Garda station.

On Saturday, the manager of the establishment said the man responsible for the vandalism had been caught on CCTV footage.

Canadian Speculators, Not Foreign Money, Are Driving up Home Prices

There’s a pretty straightforward reason why you can’t afford a home.

Real estate speculators are snapping up properties and selling them once the price rises. They earn a huge financial return, pay little in taxes and price ordinary people like you out of your city.

The common wisdom in Vancouver — and increasingly Toronto — is that the majority of these speculators come from overseas. Yet recent housing data suggests many, if not most, speculators may be Canadian.