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.]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Egypt Military Aims to Cement Muscular Role in Government

CAIRO — The military council governing Egypt is moving to lay down ground rules for a new constitution that would protect and potentially expand its own authority indefinitely, possibly circumscribing the power of future elected officials.       

The military announced Tuesday that it planned to adopt a “declaration of basic principles” to govern the drafting of a constitution, and liberals here initially welcomed the move as a concession to their demand for a Bill of Rights-style guarantee of civil liberties that would limit the potential repercussions of an Islamist victory at the polls.

Heat Wave Hits Much Of The United States This Weekend

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fiery reds and oranges nearly covered the United States on meteorologist maps as a massive heat wave hit hard in much of the country on Saturday.

Temperatures averaged up to 15 degrees above normal, with most peaks in the 90s but triple digit heat expected to strike from Montana to New Mexico, according to lead meteorologists for The Weather Channel and The National Weather Service.

Paired with oppressive humidity, temperatures will feel even hotter, as measured by the heat indexes.

Herman Cain: Americans Have The Right To Ban Mosques In Their Communities

Herman Cain said Sunday that Americans should be able to ban Muslims from building mosques in their communities.

"Our Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state," Cain said in an interview with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” "Islam combines church and state. They're using the church part of our First Amendment to infuse their morals in that community, and the people of that community do not like it. They disagree with it."

Last week, the Republican presidential candidate expressed criticism of a planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, telling reporters at a campaign event that "This is just another way to try to gradually sneak Sharia law into our laws, and I absolutely object to that."

Richard Cordray To Lead Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

President Barack Obama will nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House announced Sunday.

"American families and consumers bore the brunt of the financial crisis and are still struggling in its aftermath to find jobs, stay in their homes, and make ends meet," Obama said in a statement. "That is why I fought so hard to pass reforms to fix the financial system and put in place the strongest consumer protections in our nation’s history. Richard Cordray has spent his career advocating for middle class families ... and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system.”

2nd Loans, 2nd Wave of Losses

HAVE you heard the good news? Big banks are making more money than we thought.

On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase said it earned $5.4 billion during the second quarter. On Friday, Citigroup said it earned $3.3 billion.

Despite such happy tidings, many banks face a daunting challenge, and one federal regulators want to know more about: the potential costs associated with home loans that banks made during the great credit mania.

McConnell Plan For Debt Ceiling May Be Final Answer, Insiders Say

WASHINGTON -- A key liberal insider and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) indicated on Sunday that the final debt ceiling deal will likely resemble something akin to what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled earlier this week, despite bipartisan derison of the plan.

John Podesta, who runs the Center for American Progress, a think tank with extremely close ties to the Obama administraion, said on "Fox News Sunday" that McConnell's plan is the likely endgame for current debt talks. Nobody in the administration has indicated what they believe the outcome of the debt negotiations are likely to be.

Atlanta Schools Created Culture Of Cheating, Fear, Intimidation

ATLANTA -- Teachers spent nights huddled in a back room, erasing wrong answers on students' test sheets and filling in the correct bubbles. At another school, struggling students were seated next to higher-performing classmates so they could copy answers.

Those and other confessions are contained in a new state report that reveals how far some Atlanta public schools went to raise test scores in the nation's largest-ever cheating scandal. Investigators concluded that nearly half the city's schools allowed the cheating to go unchecked for as long as a decade, beginning in 2001.

Further Links Claimed Between Arrested NOTW Exec And Met Chief

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson, came under fresh pressure Saturday as it was claimed by Sky News that he spent time free of charge at a health farm for whom Neil Wallis, a former-New of the World executive who was arrested in connection with phone hacking last week, was working.

The claims came after it emerged that Wallis worked for Scotland Yard for more than two years as a media consultant, earning £24,000 during the period that the Met decided not to further investigate phone hacking claims against the News International newspaper.

Scott Walker Concedes Mistakes, Defends Policies

SALT LAKE CITY, July 16 (Reuters) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose moves to curb state workers' bargaining power brought massive protests, said this weekend he made mistakes but defended the policy steps of his rocky first term.

The fractious debate over the union measures propelled Wisconsin to the front of a wider national political battle over benefits and bargaining rights for public sector employees and triggered the biggest opposition demonstrations in the state since the Vietnam War.

In Egypt, Fighting For $50-A-Month Factory Jobs

TALKHA, Egypt — The sun was already searing the pavement on the early June morning when Mariam Hawas and her co-workers from the garment factory descended on the bank.

The bank employees knew why they'd come and rushed to bolt the doors.

The roughly 100 workers, most of them women, were looking for unpaid back wages from the United Bank in the city of Mansoura, until recently the largest shareholder in their factory. Labor protests like this are sweeping across Egypt after the uprising in January, as workers scramble to right decades of economic injustice.

California Gay History Bill: Conservatives Begin Push To Overturn Teaching Law

SACRAMENTO, California -- A family advocacy group is already challenging a new California law that adds lessons about gays to social studies classes.

Paulo Sibaja of the Sacramento-based Capitol Resource Institute said he started the process Friday for a statewide vote to overturn the bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown a day earlier.

Brown, a Democrat, signed SB 48, making California the first state in the nation to teach about gays and lesbians in a public school curriculum.

Advocates say the new law will teach students to be more accepting in light of the bullying that happens to gay students. It also ensures that students are taught about the contributions of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in social studies.

Conservatives opposed the law, saying it would teach children to accept homosexuality.

Source: Huffington 

East Africa On The Brink Of Catastrophe Unless International Aid Arrives, DFID Says

Choking droughts in East Africa could result in a human catastrophe unless the world community is prepared to give immediate help, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has said.

The international development secretary's calls for help come as the UN's Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Baroness Amos, has told the Huffington Post that more must be done to avoid disaster.

The World Food Programme estimates that the drought in the Horn of Africa is the worst in over 50 years, and is affecting more than 10 million people. The UN Children's Fund has said that more than two million children are malnourished and need emergency medical help.

U.S. Debt Talks: Obama Appeals To Public

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama appealed for public support Saturday to push Congress to avert an unprecedented default on America's national debt as lawmakers worked on dual tracks to reach an elusive deal.

Obama wants lawmakers to approve a giant package that would not only prevent a default by raising the government's borrowing limit, but also slash trillions of dollars from the country's enormous deficit. He challenged lawmakers "to do something big."

But opposition Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, reject Obama's proposal to raise some taxes in addition to cutting spending. They plan to vote next week on legislation that would tie an increase in the debt limit to a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Such an amendment is unlikely to get enacted.

Long live the tabs: A defence of the gutter press

It was an utterly shocking allegation. The child's features, the newspaper claimed, bore a striking relationship to his powerful father. The mother was young and attractive, and worked in the father's employ. “It is well known that the man … has kept [her as] his concubine.”

A scandal-sheet tale of Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child with Mildred Baena, his one-time maid? Or perhaps a reference to the daughter sired by John Edwards, a man recently within reach of the White House, via his campaign aide, Rielle Hunter?

Actually, neither. The story, published in 1802 in the Richmond Recorder, was an account of then-U.S. president Thomas Jefferson's illicit and clandestine relationship with his black slave, Sally Hemings. The shocking charge of miscegenation (not adultery, since Mr. Jefferson's wife, Martha, had died) was vehemently denied at the time, and only recently substantiated by DNA testing.