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, June 30, 2014

How Did the FBI Miss Over 1 Million Rapes?

Earlier this month, a 911 dispatcher in Ohio was recorded telling a 20-year-old woman who had just been raped to “quit crying.” After she provided a description of her assailant, the caller went on to say, “They’re not going to be able to find him with the information that you’ve given.” This incident had its viral moment, sparking outrage at the dispatcher’s lack of empathy. But it also speaks to the larger issue of how we are counting rapes in the United States. Sixty-nine percent of police departments surveyed in 2012 said that dispatchers like this one, often with little training, are authorized to do the initial coding of sexual assault crimes.

Will the Government Finally Regulate the Most Predatory Industry in America?

When Dana Jones first heard about payday loans, she was struggling to pay for prescriptions for her mother, who had been struck suddenly with mental illness. She borrowed a small amount that first time—just $50, she remembers—and paid it back when she got her next paycheck. It seemed simple enough, so she began drawing regularly on short-term credit. “I really thought it was a loan that worked like any other loan I had gotten from finance companies,” said Jones, who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I just didn’t know.”

Lukaszuk Says Redford Should Consider Resigning MLA Seat

EDMONTON - An Alberta Tory leadership candidate says Alison Redford needs to consider whether she's fit to serve as a member of the legislature given revelations the former premier had a travelling trip planner that billed $330,000 in expenses.

"I'm at a point right now where I think I'm tired of talking about the member for Calgary-Elbow," Thomas Lukaszuk said in an interview Thursday referring to Redford's seat.

Stephen Harper Failing To Protect Charter Rights, Lawyers Claim

OTTAWA - The Harper government is falling short in its duty as a guardian of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Bar Association will be told Friday in a major speech.

Simon Potter, a past president of the association, is to deliver that scathing message in the keynote address to the day-long conference on the state of constitutional law in Canada.

CBC Cuts Will Hit Evening News, In-House Production, Jobs

TORONTO - The CBC is slashing some 20 per cent of its workforce over the next five years, while cutting back evening newscasts and in-house production and raising the possibility of selling its flagship headquarters in Toronto.

During a heated town hall with employees Thursday, the broadcaster announced its five-year strategic plan. President Hubert Lacroix unveiled sweeping changes designed to shift the CBC's priorities from radio and television to digital and mobile services.

Canadians imprisoned abroad: There are more of them than you think

There's something about a Canadian passport that offers its owner a degree of confidence. After all, in the hierarchy of citizenships, Canada ranks near the top. A Canadian passport can get you into 170 countries without a visa.
But it can't get you out of jail; even if it's clear that you've been wrongfully accused.
Along with the widely publicized sentencing of a Canadian journalist in Egypt, several other Canadians are currently being held abroad under dubious circumstances and critics say the Canadian government has repeatedly let them down.

Feds Quintuple Allowed Catch on Endangered Salmon Species

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is allowing commercial fishermen to catch five times as many endangered coho salmon in anticipation of this year's massive sockeye run on the Fraser River.

Conservationists are outraged with the federal decision, which they say will further threaten the coho species in the rush to allow fishermen a greater catch during the annual sockeye return. This year's return is expected to be tremendous, as high as 70 million fish.

The boss has gone crazy! He's giving away new uniforms! At $4.5 million, they're practically free!

After checking the date to make sure it wasn’t still April 1, many Canadians must have wondered if the Harper Government had completely taken leave of its senses whenthey learned last week we taxpayers are about to fork over $4.5 million so Canadian Forces officers can have British-style crowns and pips on their epaulettes again, and naval officers big loopy gold braids on their sleeves.
Well, that will scare the hell of Vladimir Putin, now, won't it?
Not that $4.5 million for regimental fripperies seems like very much to a government that has added a couple of hundred billion free-floating Canadian Credionias to the national debt since taking over from the Liberals, who had quietly been paying it down.

‘It’s unconstitutional’: lawyer Rocco Galati targets Conservative citizenship law

OTTAWA – Toronto lawyer Rocco Galati has launched yet another Constitutional challenge against the Conservative government – this time to do with a recently-passed citizenship law.

In court documents filed Wednesday, Galati says changes to the Citizenship Act are unconstitutional because they give Parliament the authority to strip Canadian-born citizens of their citizenship.

“If you can place the citizenship of Canadian-born citizens into chaos and uncertainty, well the entire bedrock for your democracy goes,” Galati said in an interview.

Why everyone should care about the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

With recent media scandals about the abuse of temporary foreign workers and the subsequent outrage about migrant workers stealing Canadians' jobs, Minister Jason Kenney has announced a number of changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program on June 20, 2014.
But these reforms are band-aid measures that maintain the legal exploitation of migrant workers. Coupled with increased Canadian Border Services Agency funding, migrant workers can now be removed more quickly -- within two years. Such reforms cater to reactionary sentiments to privilege Canadians and "get rid of migrant workers" without addressing the structural abuse inherent to the program. The fanfare about stricter penalties for employers is a PR stunt since employer sanctions will be based on workers' complaints to the government (totally unlikely!) Migrant workers will continue to be indentured to a single employer, won't have guaranteed access to social services or labour protections, and will not be granted permanent residency upon arrival.

The elephant in the room; Or, students bear the cost of the corporate university

The firing of outspoken University of Saskatchewan Dean Robert Buckingham this May raised questions not only of academic freedom, but of the ongoing transformation of Canadian post-secondary institutions as sites of private profit rather than public education. is proud to launch this special summer series on the corporatization of Canadian universities, by USask Professors Sandy Ervin and Howard Woodhouse. See their first entry: How to make USask 'The People's University' once again.
We have often been asked, "What is going on at the University of Saskatchewan?" The answer, we would maintain, is an appropriation of a younger generation's future wealth -- reflecting larger injustices.

Oilsands Moratorium, Big-Picture Thinking Needed: Academics

Canada needs a moratorium on new oilsands projects and pipelines, says a group of Canadian and U.S. academics.

In a comment article in the prominent science journal Nature, they argue that leaders have to stop considering the industry's development project by project and start thinking about the big picture.

"Governments have allowed corporations to profit from one-off policy decisions," the academics write in the article. "The collective result of these decisions is unnecessarily high social, economic and environmental costs."

Can the President Strike an American Anywhere in the World?: Drone Memo Raises Troubling Questions

During a three-month span in 2011, U.S. drones killed four American citizens overseas. On September 30, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Two weeks later, another U.S. drone killed Anwar’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen. A month later, a U.S. citizen named Jude Kenan Mohammad was killed in Pakistan. For the past two-and-a-half years, the Obama administration has refused to release its legal rationale for killing American citizens overseas. That changed on Monday when a federal court released a heavily redacted 41-page memo. It concludes the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force gave the U.S. government the authority to target Anwar al-Awlaki, who the Obama administration claims had joined al-Qaeda. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Ron Wyden praised the release of the memo but said it raises many questions. Wyden asked, "How much evidence does the president need to determine that a particular American is a legitimate target for military action? Can the president strike an American anywhere in the world?" Questions also remain over when the United States can kill non-U.S. citizens. We speak to Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.

Author: -0-

A Black College Student Has The Same Chances Of Getting A Job As A White High School Dropout

African-American students need to complete two more levels of education to have the same probability of getting a job as their white peers, a new study by Young Invincibles finds.
The researchers looked at data mainly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census, isolating the effects of race and education on unemployment. They found that an African-American male with an associates degree has around the same chance of getting a job as a white male with just a high school diploma. “At every level of education, race impacts a person’s chance of getting a job,” Tom Allison, a research manager and one of the study’s authors, told ThinkProgress.

'Neighborhoods Are Not War Zones'

Police said there was no way they could have known a baby was inside a home they stormed with a "no-knock" drug warrant at 3 a.m.

But a "flash grenade" tossed by a SWAT team officer landed in Bounkham Phonesavanh's crib, badly burning the 19-month-old and leaving holes in his face and chest that exposed his ribs. Today, weeks after the May 28 raid on the house outside Atlanta, it's not clear whether the child his family calls "Baby Bou Bou" will survive. Sheriff Joey Terrell of Habersham County, Georgia, called the incident "a terrible accident that was never supposed to happen."

Federal Judge Rules No-Fly List Is Unconstitutional

June 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. government's no-fly list banning people accused of links to terrorism from commercial flights violates their constitutional rights because it gives them no meaningful way to contest that decision, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Anna Brown, ruling on a lawsuit filed in federal court in Oregon by 13 Muslim Americans who were branded with the no-fly status, ordered the government to come up with new procedures that allow people on the no-fly list to challenge that designation.

House Passes Bill To Aid Koch Brothers, Deregulate Wall Street

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a financial deregulation package that would benefit the Koch brothers and the nation's largest banks by a vote of 265-143.

The legislation would significantly weaken elements of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law dealing with derivatives -- the complex products at the heart of the 2008 meltdown. Many components of the bill approved Tuesday had previously passed the House with bipartisan support. However, Democratic backing had been weakest on the most controversial measure, which allows U.S. firms to skirt domestic regulations on some derivatives by conducting trades through offshore affiliates in other major financial centers.

Prominent Republican Lawyer Says Ted Cruz Sounds Like A Racist

A leading Republican litigator argued on Tuesday that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) opposition to marriage equality was reminiscent of the sentiment advanced by racists during the 1970s. Ted Olson made the accusation during an appearance on SiriusXM radio’s The Agenda.
A new New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin quotes a Cruz speech this month in which the first-term Senator condemned the Supreme Court’s ruling that effectively struck down down California’s unconstitutional Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. Cruz told the Texas Republican Convention that “marriage is under assault,” adding, “You want to know what judicial activism is? Judicial activism is judges imposing their policy preferences on the words of the Constitution.”

So Begins the Slow March Back into Iraq and Toward Disaster

Imagine the president, speaking on Iraq from the White House Press Briefing Room last Thursday, as the proverbial deer in the headlights—and it’s not difficult to guess just what those headlights were. Think of them as Benghazi on steroids. If the killing of an American ambassador, a Foreign Service officer and two CIA private security contractors could cause almost two years of domestic political uproar, unending Republican criticism and potential damage to the president’s “legacy,” consider what an Iraq in shambles and a terrorist state stretching across “the Levant” might do. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a president regularly described as “reluctant” nonetheless stepped before the press corps and began the slow march back into Iraq and toward disaster.