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, September 05, 2014

The Color of Justice

Jon Stewart was on vacation when Darren Wilson, a twenty-eight-year-old white police officer, shot and killed Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Missouri. But Fox News wasn’t. So when Stewart returned to “The Daily Show,” on August 26th, he made up for lost time, disparaging Fox’s coverage of the event, which, in Stewart’s admittedly selective edit, largely consisted of accusing commentators and activists of “playing the race card.” As one Fox commentator complained, “This mantra of an unarmed black teen-ager killed by a white cop … actually colors the way we look at this story.”

Oriana Ferrell, Mom Whose Van Full Of Kids Was Shot By Police, Breaks Silence

The Tennessee woman who was on vacation with her five children, when she became the subject of a wild pursuit that ended with an officer firing upon her minivan, has broken her silence.

"I was just feeling more and more unsafe," Oriana Ferrell told Good Morning America on Wednesday. "I started thinking about children who have been shot -- families who have been shot. I started thinking about Trayvon Martin."

Columbia University Student Will Drag Her Mattress Around Campus Until Her Rapist Is Gone

Emma Sulkowicz is a senior visual arts student at Columbia University. On the first day of her sophomore year, she says, she was raped by a classmate on her mattress.

"Rape can happen anywhere," she explains in the video above. "For me, I was raped in my own dorm bed. Since then, it has basically become fraught for me, and I feel like I've carried the weight of what happened there with me everywhere since then."

Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces To Hold Major Exercise This Month

MOSCOW, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The forces responsible for Russia's strategic nuclear arsenal will conduct major exercises this month involving more than 4,000 soldiers, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of rising tension with NATO over the Ukraine crisis.

Teachers Respond to Clark: We've Made Enough Concessions

B.C. teachers' union President Jim Iker said his bargaining team is ready and willing to get back to the negotiating table, and could have met with the BC Public School Employers' Association today -- if the government had been amenable.

Over the weekend, the union reduced its proposed $225-million fund for teacher class size and composition grievances to $100 million, as opposed to the $75-million annual Learning Improvement Fund the government has promised to use for addressing class size issues, he said in a press conference this afternoon.

Reports contradict PM’s view on aboriginal women victims

OTTAWA - Dozens of federal, provincial and community studies compiled by the Conservative government appear to contradict the prime minister's contention that the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women isn't a "sociological phenomenon."

But some in the aboriginal community don't quibble with the government's other main response to calls for a public inquiry — that there has been more than enough research.

Officials point to a non-exhaustive list of 40 studies conducted on the issue between 1996 and 2013.

Egypt spurns foreign NGOs

In early August, Egypt made international headlines once again for excluding its critics when a Human Rights Watch (HRW) delegation was denied entry into the country.
HRW's executive director, Kenneth Roth, and Middle East and North Africa director, Sarah Leah Whitson arrived in Cairo on August 10 to attend a press conference where they were to present a report on the group's year-long investigation into the mass killings during the Raba'a dispersal in August of last year. The pair were held in the Cairo airport for 12 hours and then deported. It was the first time that HRW has ever been denied entry into the country.

WEF's Global Competitiveness Ranking Shows Canada In Long-Term Slide

Canada isn’t being innovative enough, and that’s costing the country its ranking on a global measure of competitiveness.

The World Economic Forum (WEF)’s competitiveness ranking for 2014 places Canada in 15th place, down one from last year. As recently as 2009, Canada had been in ninth place.

Congressman: Immigrant Children Should Be Deported Even If They Are Murdered Upon Their Return

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA—First term House Republican Robert Pittenger (R-NC) is running unopposed for another term representing North Carolina’s 9th District. At a town hall in suburban Charlotte Tuesday night, he told a small crowd of almost exclusively Caucasian constituents that he will do all he can to address the crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US/Mexico border.
When a constituent stood up and accused the freshman congressman of not doing enough to secure the border, Pittenger protested that he helped the House of Representatives pass a “very good bill” that would deport both the newly arrived child migrants as well as those commonly known as DREAMers who have been raised in the US. He faulted the Democratic-controlled Senate for refusing to take up that measure.

Top Koch Strategist Argues The Minimum Wage Leads Directly To Fascism

At a political strategy summit hosted on June 16 by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, Richard Fink, their top political strategist, told the private audience that when he sees someone “on the street” he says, “Get off your ass, and work hard like we did.” Fink's anecdote came during his presentation titled “The Long-Term Strategy: Engaging the Middle Third,” which capped off a session of four speeches detailing the intellectual foundation of Charles Koch’s political ideology. Audio of the event was obtained by The Undercurrent and shared exclusively with The Huffington Post.

Meet The Two Women Who Hold The Future Of The Internet In Their Hands

WASHINGTON -- One of the most consequential decisions Washington is set to make in 2014 won't come out of the White House, Congress, or any of the nation's boardrooms, but rather from a nondescript federal building along the city's southwest waterfront. It's here, in the offices of the Federal Communications Commission, that the fate of the Internet will be decided.

The FCC is currently revising rules on "net neutrality" -- or the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally -- after a federal court in January struck down a regulation that forced Internet service providers to abide by the principle. But the court allowed the FCC to go back to the drawing board and craft new net neutrality rules under a different statute that would pass muster. In April, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler introduced a draft proposal that would still effectively end net neutrality, though he puzzlingly claimed in public that it would not.

Here's What The World Thinks Of Israel's Controversial Land Grab

ISTANBUL -- Israel has come under a barrage of criticism since announcing on Sunday its plans to seize 1,000 acres of Palestinian-claimed land -- roughly the size of New York City's Central Park -- in the occupied West Bank.

Putin Calls On Ukraine Rebels To Stop Advance

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia and Ukraine said Wednesday they are working on a deal to halt months of fighting in eastern Ukraine, but Western leaders expressed skepticism — noting it wasn't the first attempt to end the deadly conflict.

On the eve of a crucial NATO summit, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed on steps for a cease-fire.

Pipeline Giant Handed Permit to Open Tar Sands Rail Facility

On the Friday before Labor Day—in the form of an age-old “Friday News Dump“—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) handed a permit to Enbridge, the tar sands-carrying corporate pipeline giant, to open a tar sands-by-rail facility in Flanagan, Illinois by early 2016.

With the capacity to accept 140,000 barrels of tar sands product per day, the company’s rail facility serves as another step in the direction towards Enbridge’s quiet creation of a “Keystone XL clone.” That is, like TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline system sets out to do, sending Alberta’s tar sands all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico’s refinery row—and perhaps to the global export market.

Muslim Engineer Banned From Working At Nuclear Sites In France

A French court has upheld the decision to prohibit a 29-year-old Muslim engineer from working at nuclear test sites because of his alleged links to a jihadist terrorist group, officials say. However, the unnamed man's lawyer, Sefen Guez Guez, told Agence France-Presse that the court's decision on Monday was a result of "Islamophobia" and that "[t]here is no proof of these supposed links."

Hamas Spikes In Popularity After Gaza War

JERUSALEM (AP) — The popularity of the Hamas militant group among Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has spiked significantly following the 50-day war with Israel, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday.

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and headed by leading Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki, indicates that 61 percent of Palestinians would choose the Islamic militant group's leader, Ismail Haniyeh, for president if Palestinian presidential elections were held today.

Texas Slammed for Paying Discredited Abortion Foe

In the first six months of 2014, Texas paid a controversial marriage therapist named Vincent Rue $42,000 to prepare the state's defense of a draconian anti-abortion law. It turns out that wasn't such a great idea. On Friday, when US District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down part of that law, he slammed the state for hiring Rue—and for trying to hide Rue's involvement.

"The level of input exerted by Rue undermines the appearance of objectivity and reliability of the experts' opinions," Yeakel wrote in his decision. "Further, the court is dismayed by the considerable efforts the State took to obscure Rue's level of involvement with the experts' contributions." His decision blocked a portion of the law that would have closed all but about a half-dozen of the state's abortion clinics.

Study: Science and Religion Really Are Enemies After All

Are science and religion doomed to eternal "warfare," or can they just get along? Philosophers, theologians, scientists, and atheists debate this subject endlessly (and often, angrily). We hear a lot less from economists on the matter, however. But in a recent paper, Princeton economist Roland Bénabou and two colleagues unveiled a surprising finding that would at least appear to bolster the "conflict" camp: Both across countries and also across US states, higher levels of religiosity are related to lower levels of scientific innovation.

College Has Gotten 12 Times More Expensive in One Generation

As bright-eyed college freshmen arrive on campus, they can look forward to accruing knowledge, independence, lifelong friendships—and serious bills. In the 2012-13 school year, first-year, on-campus tuition averaged $43,000 at four-year, private schools and $21,700 at in-state public schools.

Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia

EIRUT -- ISIS is indeed a veritable time bomb inserted into the heart of the Middle East. But its destructive power is not as commonly understood. It is not with the "March of the Beheaders"; it is not with the killings; the seizure of towns and villages; the harshest of "justice" -- terrible though they are -- that its true explosive power lies. It is yet more potent than its exponential pull on young Muslims, its huge arsenal of weapons and its hundreds of millions of dollars.

Teacher Supporters: 'Our Government Is Not Listening'

On what would normally have been the first morning of the new school year, hundreds of people gathered on the British Columbia legislature lawn to protest the stalled labour negotiation that's keeping kids out of classrooms.

The "teach in" was parent organized but distinctly pro-labour, with speakers including B.C. Teachers' Federation first vice-president Glen Hansman and B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair. The Greater Victoria Teachers' Association dropped pickets for the day so members could attend the rally.

University Of Kansas Considered Community Service Too 'Punitive' For Rape Punishment

On the night of Oct. 18, 2013, a few blocks from the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, underage students put back vodka shots at a "Stars and Stripes"-themed party hosted by the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. One of the students was a young woman, a freshman from out of state who after midnight was drunk enough to need help from a male classmate getting back to the campus dorm where they both lived. They went to his room that night and had sex.

'Duck Dynasty' Star Phil Robertson's Plan For ISIS Is To 'Convert Them Or Kill Them'

Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the "Duck Dynasty" reality TV show, says Islamic militants waging a campaign of war and terror in Syria and Iraq either need some Jesus or need to be killed.

"In this case, you either have to convert them, which I think would be next to impossible. I'm not giving up on them, but I'm just saying either convert them or kill them," Robertson said on the Fox News show "Hannity" on Tuesday night. "One or the other."

Scalia Once Pushed Death Penalty For Now-Exonerated Inmate Henry Lee McCollum

A North Carolina death row inmate exonerated by DNA evidence on Tuesday was once held up by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as an example of someone who deserved to die.

When the court declined to review an unrelated death row case out of Texas in 1994, Justice Harry A. Blackmun issued a dissenting opinion arguing that capital punishment is cruel and unusual, and therefore unconstitutional.

Private Prison Stocks Soar As Companies Cash In On Incarcerated Immigrants

Share prices for two of the largest private prison firms have spiked sharply since an influx of unaccompanied migrant children crossing the border was reported this summer. And some investors in GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America are seizing on the opportunity for more profit from incarceration, according to recent comments to CNN Money.

Sask. contractor laid off Canadians, retained TFWs

A large electrical contractor in Saskatchewan is being investigated by the federal government over allegations it laid off dozens of Canadian electricians while keeping temporary foreign workers on the job.

Natalie Cranston was one of about 800 electricians working for Alliance Energy on the expansion of the Agrium potash mine in Vanscoy near Saskatoon.

The young woman is one of 58 Canadian workers who were laid off in May.

A New, Senseless Cold War Is Now Inevitable

MOSCOW -- Turning points in history are rarely recognized as such by contemporaries. Even while following the news and sensing that something has gone wrong, people go about their lives in the usual way.

But everything can change drastically in a matter of months, and then these days will be only a memory of a past way of life in a big, open world. A new, second Cold War is likely to become an incontrovertible reality by the end of this year.

Black LGBT Activist Arrested For Distributing Voting Rights Information

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, arrested a black LGBT activist and former state Senate candidate Monday, saying that he violated a city ordinance by distributing literature about voting rights and candidates on parked cars.

The arrest of Ty Turner, who was attending a Moral Mondays-affiliated rally at a park in Charlotte, was particularly poignant given that the event was held to condemn the state's record on voting rights and racial profiling.

Anti-Abortion Leader Admits Clinic Restrictions Are Not About Safety

The anti-abortion movement has long claimed that the aim of passing new abortion clinic regulations is to protect women's health and safety. But a leader in that movement admitted on Sunday the real motivation behind those laws is to block women's access to abortion.

In a heated exchange on ABC's "This Week," National Right to Life President Carol Tobias defended a wave of state laws requiring abortion clinics to meet the same physical building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, including specific parking lot designs, hallway widths and ventilation systems. She said clinics are shutting down because "they don't want to meet the minimum of safety standards."

The Masked Avengers

In the mid-nineteen-seventies, when Christopher Doyon was a child in rural Maine, he spent hours chatting with strangers on CB radio. His handle was Big Red, for his hair. Transmitters lined the walls of his bedroom, and he persuaded his father to attach two directional antennas to the roof of their house. CB radio was associated primarily with truck drivers, but Doyon and others used it to form the sort of virtual community that later appeared on the Internet, with self-selected nicknames, inside jokes, and an earnest desire to effect change.

Doyon’s mother died when he was a child, and he and his younger sister were reared by their father, who they both say was physically abusive. Doyon found solace, and a sense of purpose, in the CB-radio community. He and his friends took turns monitoring the local emergency channel. One friend’s father bought a bubble light and affixed it to the roof of his car; when the boys heard a distress call from a stranded motorist, he’d drive them to the side of the highway. There wasn’t much they could do beyond offering to call 911, but the adventure made them feel heroic.

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Indiana's Right-To-Work Law

WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) - The validity of an Indiana state law that bars companies from requiring workers to join a union and pay union dues was affirmed on Tuesday by a U.S. appeals court in a win for "right to work" advocates.

The Indiana law does not violate the U.S. Constitution or federal labor statutes, a three-judge appellate panel said, agreeing with a lower court's decision to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the law.

Jeff Bezos Refuses To Talk To Washington Post About Huge Washington Post News

Jeff Bezos may own the Washington Post, one of America's leading news organizations, but that doesn't mean he has to actually talk to the journalists at newspaper.

Bezos kept up a dubious practice of refusing comment to the journalists he pays when it was announced on Tuesday that he had replaced the Post's publisher, Katharine Weymouth, with former Politico executive and Reagan administration official Fred Ryan. Given that Bezos has owned the Post for little over a year, and that he was severing the paper's last ties with the storied Graham family by ousting Weymouth, the news was not insignificant.

Anybody expecting openness and transparency from Bezos, however, would be disappointed, as the Post's own story made clear:

"The announcement did not give reasons for the change or its timing. Bezos declined to comment through a spokesman."

Uh, OK then! Thanks for the help, boss.

Bezos, of course, has form in this area. Amazon, the other company he leads, is notorious for its almost complete refusal to comment on any story. It has continued to do this even with stories written in the Post.

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Jack Mirkinson

Class dismissed: 500,000 students denied 1st day of school by teacher strike

More than half a million B.C. public school students will not be attending what was supposed to be their first day of school today.  Failed teacher strike negotiations since June have left parents scrambling to make last minute daycare and alternate arrangements.

NDP’s Rob Fleming wants the education minister’s head to roll.

“Education Minister Peter Fassbender has utterly failed kids and families in B.C. Either he should admit he is not up to the task and step down, or Premier Clark should remove him,” wrote the MLA from Victoria.

Harper's Nobel Peace Prize nomination slammed as 'outrageous'

Strong reaction to a national Jewish organization's nomination of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a Nobel Peace Prize continues to mount.

On Friday, the head of B'nai Brith Canada announced his intention to put forward Harper's name for the world's most prestigious peace prize, for his "outstanding moral leadership" in support of Israel during its conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza.

Deputy who killed former Napster COO after drifting into the bike lane while distracted by his laptop will NOT face charges because he was answering a work-related email

California prosecutors have declined to file charges against a sheriff's deputy who struck and killed a prominent entertainment attorney and former Napster executive with his patrol car last year.

Deputy Andrew Wood was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when his patrol car drifted into the bike lane, running over cyclist Milton Olin Jr.

Olin, a 65-year-old attorney and former chief operating officer of the online file-sharing service Napster, was riding in Calabasas in December when he was hit.

Prosecutors said in a letter released Wednesday and cited by Los Angeles Daily News that because Wood was acting within the course of his duties when typing into his computer, criminal charges are not warranted.

The interview: Alleged fraudster Arthur Porter

Arthur Porter has been in prison in Panama for more than a year. The former CEO of the McGill University Health Centre is fighting extradition to Canada, where he and several others are facing charges related to a $22.5-million kickback that SNC-Lavalin allegedly paid to secure the contract to build the new $1.3-billion super-hospital. Porter denies any wrongdoing. Born in Sierra Leone, Porter is a well-known oncologist and was appointed by Stephen Harper to the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the watchdog of the Canadian security service, in 2008. He was named chairman in 2010. Porter spoke with reporter Jeff Todd, who worked with Porter on his memoir: The Man Behind the Bow Tie: Arthur Porter on Business, Politics and Intrigue. The book will be published in mid-September.

Dealing with Edmonton's misogyny problem

In April 2014, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternativesnamed Edmonton the worst Canadian city to be a woman. Among its numerous indicators, the study specifically names Edmonton's higher than average reports to police of intimate partner violence and the city's ranking among the highest incidents of police-reported sexual assaults. While these indicators cannot include forms of violence that go unreported or are ignored by police in the cities studied, the findings consist (almost laughably) with the overall sense of unease that I have experienced as a woman and as a feminist since moving to Edmonton in 2012.

LNG pipedreams, fractured futures and community resistance

The fight against fracking, fracked gas pipelines and LNG terminals is heating up in B.C. Resistance is on the rise -- communities across B.C. are mobilizing to take a stand against a fractured future and oppose Premier Clark's dangerous and dirty LNG pipedreams.
Liquefied natural gas, also known as LNG, is anything but natural. It is fracked gas that has to be turned into liquid by super cooling the gas to -163 C so it can be exported via some of the largest tankers in the world. There are upwards of six northern and six southern corridor pipelines proposed to connect the fracked gas fields of the northeast to the proposed LNG export terminals and tankers on the west coast. At some point in the future, these fracked gas pipelines could be converted to carry oil. Click here to view map of the many proposed pipelines and LNG terminals. 

The 25/60 rule says Harper can be re-elected in 2015

Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) can still win the next election, scheduled for October 2015. Yes, opinion polls have turned against the CPC. It's true many Canadians cannot abide Harper. And there is no great economic news in sight that can be used to whip up Conservative support among non-partisan voters.
Thanks to Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system, Stephen Harper can repeat his 2011 victory by garnering support from one voter in four. All he needs is for four voters out of 10 to stay home.
The 25/60 rule says when only 60 per cent of Canadian citizens go out to vote, 25 per cent of the voters can deliver a majority government. In 2011, the Conservatives received 39 per cent of the vote, and won 53 per cent of the seats, because only 61 per cent of Canadians made the effort to vote.

ISIS threat: Obama orders more troops to Baghdad protect U.S. embassy

The U.S. is adding 350 more troops to help protect the American Embassy in Baghdad and its support facilities in the capital, raising the number of U.S. forces in the country to over 1,000, officials said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama approved the additional troops for protection of American personnel following a request by the State Department and a review and recommendation by the Defense Department, the White House said in a statement.

Eric Cantor To Join Investment Bank Moelis & Co. As Vice Chairman And Managing Director

Sept 2 (Reuters) - Former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will join investment bank Moelis & Co as vice chairman and managing director, the company said, adding that Cantor will also be elected to its board.

Cantor, who was defeated in June by a Tea Party challenger in a Republican primary election, will provide strategic counsel to the company's corporate and institutional clients on key issues, Moelis said.

"Eric has proven himself to be a pro-business advocate and one who will enhance our boardroom discussions with CEOs and senior management as we help them navigate their most important strategic decisions," Moelis CEO Ken Moelis said in a statement.

Cantor, the No.2 Republican in the House of Representatives, was beaten by college economics professor David Brat, who accused Cantor of betraying conservative principles on spending, debt and immigration.

Cantor stepped down from his leadership position in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last month and resigned from his Virginia seat. (Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

Meet the Risky Mortgage Pioneer Trying to Pay His Buddy's Way Into Congress

If New Hampshire Republican Dan Innis wins his congressional race, he knows where to send the fruit basket: to the home of mortgage giant Peter T. Paul.

Before running for Congress, Innis served as dean of the University of New Hampshire's business school, which was renamed for Paul after he donated $25 million. His campaign website touts major building projects he oversaw as dean—projects financed by Paul's contribution. And Innis' congressional run is getting a big-time boost from a brand new super-PAC founded and financed by Paul.

Top Gun Rights Group Backs White Supremacist's Supreme Court Case

Samuel Johnson isn't exactly a lawyer's dream client. He's a white supremacist with a lengthy rap sheet who a couple years ago was accused of plotting an attack on a Mexican consulate. He ended up drawing a 15-year prison term on a gun charge, and his case is now on his way to the US Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear a challenge to his sentence. Johnson has won the vocal backing of a top gun rights group, but as his case moves forward, it may eventually draw support from some liberals and civil libertarians who oppose harsh mandatory minimum sentences.