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.]

Monday, May 19, 2014

They Can’t Outlaw the Revolution

RIKERS ISLAND, N.Y.—Cecily McMillan, the Occupy activist who on Monday morning will appear before a criminal court in New York City to be sentenced to up to seven years on a charge of assaulting a police officer, sat in a plastic chair wearing a baggy, oversized gray jumpsuit, cheap brown plastic sandals and horn-rim glasses. Other women, also dressed in prison-issued gray jumpsuits, sat nearby in the narrow, concrete-walled visitation room clutching their children, tears streaming down their faces. The children, bewildered, had their arms wrapped tightly around their mothers’ necks. It looked like the disaster scene it was.

Hundreds of cases of RCMP corruption: study

OTTAWA - An internal RCMP study found 322 incidents of corruption within the national police force over an 11-year period — including a dozen examples involving organized crime.

Improperly giving out police information was the most common type of corrupt behaviour, followed by fraud, misuse of police officer status, theft and interference with the judicial process.

The RCMP undertook the study, dubbed Project Sanction, to help identify trends with a view to developing an anti-corruption strategy.

Stephen Harper's 'Strategic' Path to Ruin

The federal government, that is Stephen Harper, is expected to announce its long anticipated decision on Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline sometime in June. The decision could well determine whether or not the Conservatives can win the 2015 election.

The momentum of opposition to the pipeline -- and perhaps more importantly to the hundreds of supertankers that would move tarsands bitumen to Asia -- is clearly growing in both B.C. and the rest of Canada. This makes Harper's absolute dedication to the oil industry, and his dogged commitment to the pipeline in particular, tantamount to a suicide pact. This is a pipeline that will never be built. It is already dead. But don't assume Harper sees that. His decision, as many of them are, will be a war between his highly touted strategic genius and his narcissistic impulses -- revealed by a pattern of rejecting defeat until reality can no longer be denied.

Dark Days for Our Universities

On May 13 I attended a meeting of the Board of Governors of Capilano University, which has had a very bad year.

Last spring the board agreed to cut several programs altogether. This caused considerable anger and bitterness, especially since the recommendations for the cuts had been made by a handful of administrators without consulting the university senate.

Rogue Libyan General's Troops Attack Parliament

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Forces apparently loyal to a renegade Libyan general said they suspended parliament Sunday after earlier leading a military assault against lawmakers, directly challenging the legitimacy of the country's weak central government three years after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Libya's leadership condemned the attack and vowed to carry on.

NSA Row Sparks Rush for Encrypted Email

A new push to encrypt email, keeping messages free from government snooping, is gaining momentum.

One new email service promising "end-to-end" encryption launched on Friday, and others are being developed while major services such as Google Gmail and Yahoo Mail have stepped up security measures.

A major catalyst for email encryption were revelations about widespread online surveillance in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

Stephen Harper's suicide pact with Enbridge

Stephen Harper's Conservative government is expected to announce its long-anticipated decision on Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline sometime in June. The decision could well determine whether or not the Conservatives can win the 2015 election. 
The momentum of opposition to the pipeline -- and perhaps more importantly, to the hundreds of supertankers that would move tar sands bitumen to Asia -- is clearly growing in both B.C. and the rest of Canada. This makes Harper's absolute dedication to the oil industry and his dogged commitment to the pipeline in particular, tantamount to a suicide pact. This is a pipeline that will never be built. It is already dead. But don't assume Harper sees that. His decision, as many of them are, will be a war between his highly touted strategic genius and his narcissistic impulses -- revealed by a pattern of rejecting defeat until reality can no longer be denied.

Alberta energy regulator shutting off discussions, critics say

Critics say Albertans are in danger of being shut out of discussions on how the province's natural resources are developed.

Expert observers and opposition politicians worry Alberta's new energy regulator is drawing the circle of who can speak so tightly that one hearing on a proposed energy project had to be cancelled because no one was allowed to appear.

America dumbs down

South Carolina’s state beverage is milk. Its insect is the praying mantis. There’s a designated dance—the shag—as well a sanctioned tartan, game bird, dog, flower, gem and snack food (boiled peanuts). But what Olivia McConnell noticed was missing from among her home’s 50 official symbols was a fossil. So last year, the eight-year-old science enthusiast wrote to the governor and her representatives to nominate the Columbian mammoth. Teeth from the woolly proboscidean, dug up by slaves on a local plantation in 1725, were among the first remains of an ancient species ever discovered in North America. Forty-three other states had already laid claim to various dinosaurs, trilobites, primitive whales and even petrified wood. It seemed like a no-brainer. “Fossils tell us about our past,” the Grade 2 student wrote.

Why Are Kids Being Tried in Kangaroo Courts?

Of all the constitutional rights afforded to Americans, the right to counsel is one of the most well known. In movies and TV shows, cops recite Miranda rights immediately upon arresting anyone, informing suspects of their right to an attorney even if they cannot afford one. This protection for indigent defendants was ensured by the Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright in 1963; four years later, another case established due process rights for children. In that case, called In re Gault, the court ruled that "Under our Constitution, the condition of being a boy does not justify a kangaroo court."

Doug Ford defends group home comments

TORONTO - The city councillor brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford did not back down Sunday from comments about a home for developmentally disabled youth in his ward, saying it is a "nightmare" for the neighbourhood.

Coun. Doug Ford told TV station CP24 that his "heart goes out" to families with autistic children, but he said this issue is about kids in the residential home who have "violent tendencies."

Doug Ford's Griffin Centre Comment Sparks Online Backlash

TORONTO - The brother of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is being chastised on social media for reportedly saying a residential home for developmentally disabled youth has "ruined" a neighbourhood.

Coun. Doug Ford's comments have triggered an angry response on Twitter, with people including former Ontario premier Bob Rae blasting the Toronto city councillor.

Canada's Real Estate Market Is 'Fraying': Report

Canada's real estate market may look healthy, but it's showing signs of fraying in certain regions and prices could fall by 25 per cent in the long term.

So says a report by Capital Economics, a consulting firm that is holding fast to an ominous prediction it made for home prices in 2012 and 2013.

Economist David Madani says that the market is "surviving for the time being on rapidly rising prices" in overvalued and thinly-traded markets, but regional sales indicate that it's unraveling.

Advocates Say Female Genital Mutilation Is On Rise In U.S., Call On Government To Act

Available reports make it seem as though the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) is happening only in far-off places -- like rural parts of Africa and the Middle East. But the brutal tradition is actually growing right here in America, and advocates are pushing for more updated research to prove it.

The U.S. officially banned FGM -- procedures that involve partial or total removal of female genitalia or damage to other female organs for non-medical reasons -- back in 1996. But advocates say that the U.S. has been lagging in implementing those laws and in keeping accurate FGM records.


Yesterday’s open meeting on net neutrality in Washington, D.C., was in every way a public spectacle. Outside of the offices of the Federal Communications Commission, protesters—some of who had been camping out for days—beat drums, waved signs, and chanted slogans. The press corps was in full attendance, bringing a mess of tripods and telescopic lenses. At the hearing itself, F.C.C. commissioner Mignon Clyburn told a story about her mother, while chairman Tom Wheeler, his jaw firm, drew lines in the sand. “I will not allow the asset of the open Internet to be compromised,” he said emphatically. His proposal to consider* a rule passed on a 3-2 vote and was immediately criticized by all sides. Net neutrality has undoubtedly captured national attention.

The One Thing You Need To Understand About Net Neutrality

The fight to save the Internet as we know it hangs on what seems like a technicality: Should Internet service providers (ISPs) be treated more like telephone companies or like email providers? The policy wonk term for this issue is "reclassification."

You might think it doesn't matter, but it actually makes a huge difference. The question of how ISPs should be classified lies at the heart of the current debate over net neutrality, or the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally. If the web were legally regulated as if it were a phone company, it would be easier for the government to enforce net neutrality. Consumer advocates are pushing the Federal Communications Commission in that direction.

Joe Biden Cautions China In Its Dispute With Vietnam

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is conveying America's objections about China's behavior in a territorial dispute with Vietnam to the top brass of the Chinese military.

Biden met Thursday with Fang Fenghui, the military's general chief of staff. The White House says Biden told Fang the U.S. was seriously concerned about China's unilateral actions.

Biden told Fang the U.S. doesn't take a side in the territorial confrontation between the two countries over an area in the South China Sea. That's where China has triggered protests in Vietnam by deploying an oil rig in the long-disputed seas. One person has been killed, a Chinese worker in Vietnam.

But Biden says no nation should take provocative steps in the conflict that undermine stability and peace.

Original Article
Author:  AP  | by  By JOSH LEDERMAN

Some Countries Spend More On Domestic Violence Costs Than On Primary Education: Report

A report out this week from the World Bank Group examined some of the challenges facing women around the world and uncovered some unequivocally devastating finds. As shown in the map below, a significant share of women, especially in Africa and South Asia, have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime.

China’s state-run newspaper backs ‘non-peaceful’ steps against Vietnam

The state-run Global Times newspaper backed the use of “non-peaceful” measures against Vietnam and the Philippines on Friday, as it considered the possibility of war over territorial disputes in the strategically vital South China Sea.

“The South China Sea disputes should be settled in a peaceful manner, but that doesn’t mean China can’t resort to non-peaceful measures in the face of provocation from Vietnam and the Philippines,” the newspaper, which often takes a nationalistic tone, wrote in an editorial.

Thousands Of Chinese Evacuated From Vietnam Amid Violence

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnamese authorities forcibly broke up small protests against China in two cities on Sunday, after deadly anti-China rampages over a flaring territorial dispute risked damaging the economy and spooked a state used to keeping a tight grip on its people.

In southern Ho Chi Minh City, police dragged away several demonstrators from a park in the city center. In Hanoi, authorities closed off streets and a park close to the Chinese Embassy and pushed journalists and protesters away. Police were posted outside well-known dissidents houses, preventing them from leaving, according to activists.