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, August 09, 2013

Israeli Drone Strike In Egypt's Sinai Kills 5

EL-ARISH, Egypt — An Israeli drone strike inside Egypt killed five suspected Islamic militants and destroyed a rocket launcher Friday, two senior Egyptian security officials said, marking a rare Israeli operation carried out in its Arab neighbor's territory.

The strike, coming after a warning from Egypt caused Israel to briefly close an airport Thursday, potentially signals a significant new level of cooperation between the two former foes over security matters in the largely lawless Sinai Peninsula after a military coup ousted Egypt's president. Egypt long has maintained that it wouldn't allow other countries to use its territories as hotbed to launch attacks against other countries.

NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens' emails and phone calls

The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.

The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".

Joe Arpaio Requiring His Deputies To Carry AR-15s At All Times, Fight Crime Even When They're Off Duty

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona announced Thursday he will start requiring his deputies to carry AR-15s at all times and expects them to use the weapons to fight crime even when they're off duty.

“While this decision may seem controversial to some in the public and among other law enforcement agencies, I have extreme confidence in the training and professionalism of the men and women deputies in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office,” Arpaio said, according to AZ Family.

The Trojan Horse of the Anti-Choice Movement

“A girl walks into a fake pregnancy clinic....” This sounds like the beginning of a joke, and what comes next is so outrageous that it might be laughable if it weren't  dangerous.

When Caitlin, a volunteer for NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, entered a “crisis pregnancy center” (CPC), as these fake clinics are called, posing as a scared woman in need of help, she got just the opposite.

Harper’s Senate favours experience over academic rank

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper, given an opportunity to re-shape the Senate while he attempts to reform or abolish it, has made the chamber more representative of ordinary Canadians, according to an analysis of the academic qualifications of his appointees.

His appointme nt of Canadians like B.C.’s Nancy Greene Raine, one of the country’s greatest athletes and a businesswoman who attended university but never obtained a degree, has had a marked affect on the typical qualifications of senators.

Federal government seeks independent review of oilsands crude pollution potential

OTTAWA - The science behind a European fuel-quality directive that slams Canada's oilsands is being targeted by the Harper government, which is seeking an independent review of the findings in its latest shot against the measure.

The European Union directive, which would favour low-carbon fuels, would penalize Canadian bitumen on the grounds that crude from the oilsands is the most harmful to the Earth's climate.

The federal Natural Resources Department is now seeking a company to carry out a study on pollution from crude oil.

Oops. MP tells City to apply for program that no longer exists

PETERBOROUGH -- Among a couple suggestions to better promote Peterborough, MP Dean Del Mastro recently encouraged the City to apply to Heritage Canada’s Cultural Capitals of Canada program.

 The only problem is, the program no longer exists.

During a presentation to City councillors on Tuesday (Aug. 6), the local MP highlighted the federal program, which recognized small, medium and large Canadian cities each year as cultural capitals in the nation for one year. The city has a good shot at the title, and the federal money that comes along with it, he told councillors, unaware the program ended last year.

The middle class: The battleground of all politicians

In the U.S., the "M" word has been on the lips of politicians from the left to the right of the political spectrum, albeit for different reasons. President Obama is not an exception. Indeed, he made the mention of the middle-class part of his electoral rhetoric immediately after the 2008 financial crisis and after hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their houses, their American dream.

Last February, in his State of the Union address, Obama declared it was "our generation's task" to "reignite the true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class." A few days ago, on August 5, he spoke in a gathering and he again pondered the same message, to "secure a better bargain for the middle class." Whether we agree with Obama's plan to revive the middle class or not, one must admit that he has been quite explicit about it. It includes measures affecting child care, dependent care, college expenses and retirement savings.

Lavabit, Edward Snowden's Email Service, Abruptly Shuts Down Amid Court Battle

Lavabit, the privacy-conscious email service famously thought to have been used by Edward Snowden, abruptly shut down on Thursday as the company prepares to go to court against the U.S. government.

In a message posted on Lavabit's website, founder and owner Ladar Levison wrote that after "significant soul searching, I have decided to suspend operations."

"I wish that I could legally share with you the events that led to my decision. I cannot," Levison wrote. "I feel you deserve to know what’s going on--the first amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this."

Onondaga Leader Oren Lyons, Pete Seeger on International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Hundreds of Native Americans and their allies arrive in New York City today after paddling more than a hundred miles down the Hudson River to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between Native Americans and the Europeans who traveled here. The event is part of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, first proclaimed by the United Nations 20 years ago. We speak with Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation who helped establish the United Nations working group on indigenous peoples in 1982. "We’re concerned about the future, we’re concerned about the Earth — seven generations hence — and the conduct of people," Oren says. “We wonder, how do you instruct seven billion people as to the relationship to the Earth? Because unless they understand that, and relate the way they should be, the future is pretty dim for the human species." We are also joined by one of their supporters, Pete Seeger, the legendary folk singer, banjo player, storyteller, and activist; and by Andy Mager, project coordinator for the "Two Row Wampum Renewal" campaign and a member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation.

Author: --

70 Percent Of Georgia Republicans Believe In Creationism: PPP Poll

A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll finds that a majority of Georgians believe in creationism over evolution.

Entitled "Georgia Miscellany," the Thursday item surveyed a pool of 520 voters on 32 questions. On the issue of creationism vs. evolution, 53 percent believe more in the former, compared to 29 percent choosing the latter, and 18 percent voting not sure.

Sallie Mae, Education Department Under Fire For Student Loans To Military Service Members

The U.S. Department of Education and Sallie Mae face fresh questions over the student loan business after the largest educational debt company disclosed a raft of likely federal violations that raise concerns over the government’s oversight of its largest corporate contractor.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. last month notified Sallie Mae that it plans to slap the company's banking subsidiary with an enforcement action accusing it of violating laws that ban “unfair or deceptive” practices and discriminatory lending. SLM Corp., known as Sallie Mae from its days before 2005 as a government-sponsored enterprise, disclosed the enforcement notifications to investors this week.

The Justice Department’s “War” on Wall Street: Still No Criminal Charges

It took them a while, but the Feds are finally going after some of the country’s biggest banks for alleged wrongdoing during the great housing and credit bubble. In the past few days, the Department of Justice has sued Bank of America for willfully understating the risks attached to hundreds of millions of mortgage-backed securities it sold in 2007, and J. P. Morgan Chase has revealed that two different U.S. attorneys’ offices, one in California and one in Philadelphia, are investigating whether it broke securities laws and duped investors with some of the mortgage deals it put together.

Yemeni Al Qaeda expert casts doubt on terror threat claims

Yemen’s foremost Al Qaeda researcher says recent U.S. drone strikes have failed to kill senior leaders of the organization, and he dismisses claims that a plot to bomb a Canadian-owned oil facility was foiled by Yemeni authorities.

Abdulrazzaq al-Jamal, a journalist and researcher who has been given exclusive access to the terrorist group’s Yemen branch, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), said the series of drone strikes in the past 12 days have killed 32 people, including low-level foot soldiers and civilians.

Senate expense scandal: Ottawa man tied to $9M in federal contracts behind loan to Mac Harb

OTTAWA—An Ottawa lawyer whose hotel has received millions of dollars worth of federal government contracts was behind a $55,000 loan to troubled Sen. Mac Harb .

Corporate records show Brian Karam, an Ottawa businessman and lawyer in private practice, is listed as the sole owner of the numbered company — 1202864 Ontario Ltd. — that property records show provided Harb with a $55,000 loan against his Ottawa condominium on May 17.

Ontario watchdog says Durham detective called him a terrorist on Twitter

Provincial watchdog Andre Marin said a Durham police officer called him a terrorist on Twitter Thursday, shortly before Marin announced an inquest into law enforcement guidelines in the wake of the Sammy Yatim shooting.

A user going by the name of Joe Mayo tweeted Thursday morning that the Ontario ombudsman was a “carded member” of Al Qaeda.

Mike Huckabee: Muslims Depart Mosques Like 'Uncorked Animals,' Throwing Rocks, Burning Cars

Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas GOP governor-turned-Fox News host and radio personality, tore into Islam earlier this week, using a recent terror threat that put United States embassies on high alert to suggest that the Muslims were "uncorked animals," encouraged to be violent by the religion itself.

Speaking on his radio program on Monday, Huckabee prefaced his remarks by saying that he understood it was "politically incorrect" to "say anything unkind about Islam." He then went on to suggest that Islamic teachings were to blame for recent unrest during the holy month of Ramadan.

NSA Chief: Solution To Stopping The Next Snowden Is Replacing His Former Job With A Machine

NEW YORK -- The director of the National Security Agency said Thursday that the agency has found a way to prevent further leaks about American surveillance by replacing nearly all its system administrators with machines.

At a cybersecurity conference, Gen. Keith B. Alexander told the audience that intelligence agencies plan to reduce by 90 percent the number of people in the system administrator position. Edward Snowden worked as a system administrator as an NSA contractor before leaking secrets about the agency’s controversial cyber-spying programs and then gaining refuge in Russia.

Yemen Drone Strikes: 3 Attacks Kill 12 Suspected Militants

SANAA, Yemen — The U.S. has sharply escalated its drone war in Yemen, with military officials in the Arab country reporting 34 suspected al-Qaida militants killed in less than two weeks, including three strikes on Thursday alone in which a dozen died.

The action against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen branch is known, comes amid a global terror alert issued by Washington. One Mideast official says the uptick is due to its leaders leaving themselves more vulnerable by moving from their normal hideouts toward areas where they could carry out attacks.

Brothers Ford stage PC coup

Big winner

Besides Andrea Horwath, whose NDP took two of five by-election races – and continued the party’s momentum from its earlier win in Kitchener-Waterloo – it was Doug Ford. Boing.

That’s right. The mayor’s big brother and councillor for Ward 2 got his fox, Doug Holyday, the new PC MPP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, into the henhouse to stir up more trouble for PC leader Tim Hudak.

Sammy Yatim Shooting: Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin Launches Formal Probe

TORONTO - Ontario's ombudsman will probe what kind of direction the provincial government provides to police for defusing conflict situations in the wake of the fatal shooting of a Toronto teen.

The police shooting of Sammy Yatim, 18, raises the question of whether it's time for Ontario to have consistent and uniform guidelines on how police should de-escalate situations before they lead to the use of force, watchdog Andre Marin said Thursday.

Greek Unemployment Hits Record High

ATHENS, Greece -- Unemployment in Greece rose to a new record high of 27.6 percent in May, leaving almost two thirds of young people without a job, the Hellenic Statistics Authority said Thursday.

The jobless rate rose from 27 percent in April and 23.8 percent in May last year. Young people were by far the worst affected, with unemployment among job-seekers aged 15 to 24 standing at 64.9 percent.

Greece has been depending on funds from international rescue loans since May 2010, after years of profligate spending and fiscal mismanagement left it with a massive budget deficit.

N.S.A. Said to Search Content of Messages to and From U.S.

WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans’ e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials.

 The N.S.A. is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have openly acknowledged. It is also casting a far wider net for people who cite information linked to those foreigners, like a little used e-mail address, according to a senior intelligence official.

SWAT-Team Nation

The moment the assault rifles surrounded her, Angie Wong was standing in a leafy art-gallery courtyard with her boyfriend, a lawyer named Paul Kaiser. It was just past 2 A.M., in May, 2008. Wong was twenty-two years old and was dressed for an evening out, in crisp white jeans, a white top, and tall heels that made it difficult not to wobble. The couple had stopped by a regular event hosted by the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), a red brick gallery with the aim of “turning Detroit into a model city,” and arrived to find a tipsy, jubilant scene: inside, gallerygoers were looking at art and dancing to a d.j.; outside, on the patio, several young women were goofily belting out the lyrics to “Hakuna Matata,” from “The Lion King”:

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It’s our problem-free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!