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.]

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

Just before a federal court in Washington granted a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the Obama administration's policy of incarcerating asylum-seeking mothers and children as a deterrent to other potential migrants, two major private prison corporations released their projections for 2015 earnings, and are betting on increased profits this year.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, which have profited heavily from contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to lock up undocumented immigrants - including mothers and children seeking asylum from Central American countries - are predicting more such contracts at the state and federal level in 2015.

“He makes George W. Bush and Nixon look good”: Why Obama’s attack on privacy is so historic

As increasingly tends to be the case, this year’s edition of the Academy Awards was deemed by many to have been a boring dud. But aside from Chris Pine’s tears and Patricia Arquette’s clarion call for true gender equality, one of the few memorable moments of the show was undoubtedly when Laura Poitras won the best documentary award for her movie on the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, “Citizenfour.” Flanked by the film’s producer and editor, as well as Salon alum Glenn Greenwald, Poitras used her acceptance speech to argue that the Snowden leaks “don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself.”

Kinder Morgan Fails To Answer Hundreds Of Questions: Vancouver, Burnaby Mayors Say

VANCOUVER - Kinder Morgan has come under fire from two Metro Vancouver mayors for failing to answer hundreds of questions about a proposed $5.4-billion pipeline expansion.

The mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby issued a news release Friday criticizing the company for only answering half of their questions during the final round of National Energy Board consultations on the Trans Mountain project.

Violence At Rikers Island Jail Leaves 7 Guards Injured

A brawl among more than a dozen inmates at a New York City jail plagued by violence has left seven correctional officers injured.

On Friday morning, 14 inmates began fighting in a classroom at Rikers Island, a facility dogged by complaints of mistreatment of inmates. Jail officials quickly ended the fight after using "chemical agents" on the inmates, Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Jack Ryan told The Huffington Post. Ryan did not specify what the agents used were.

The seven officers that sustained injuries in the fight were all taken to the hospital to be evaluated. Ryan described the injuries as minor.

Rick Perry: I Care About "Real" Pollution, Not Climate Change

Rick Perry said Friday that he cares about “real” pollution—but not climate change pollution.

Texas “decreased our nitrogen oxide levels, which by the way is real. It’s a real emission,” he said, when asked about climate change during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington. He took credit for cuts to Texas air pollution over his 14 years as governor. “Our carbon dioxide levels were down, whether you believe in this whole climate change concept or not.”

Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead In Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) -- Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Saturday near the Kremlin, just a day before a planned protest against the government.

The death of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, ignited a fury among opposition figures who assailed the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance of any dissent and called the killing an assassination. Putin quickly offered his condolences and called the murder a provocation.

Nemtsov was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia's direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that has raged in eastern Ukraine since last April. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of backing the rebels with troops and sophisticated weapons. Moscow denies the accusations.

Why is Stephen Harper’s anti-terrorism bill so popular?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper would like it to be known that Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, is “strongly supported by Canadians.” Indeed, an early-days Angus Reid poll did show that 82 per cent of us support the new law, which the Conservatives have been rushing to put away as if it were past legislative last call, the lights had gone on and the waitress was coming to clear it from the table. Bottoms up!

“Cheers,” much of Canada shouted. “If people have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t fear scrutiny,” some said, giving the Conservatives a free pass on very much not wanting the bill scrutinized.

Rona Ambrose's Speech On 'Health Care Innovation' Abruptly Switches To.. Terrorism

CALGARY - Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose made an unexpected leap Friday from talking about health-care innovation to fears over the threat of the Islamic State.

Ambrose was discussing health care in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce when she abruptly changed topics.

"We're also proud of our record of making careful, principled choices reflecting the values of Canadians whether it's economic and financial security or creating and protecting jobs but also keeping Canada and Canadians safe in a dangerous and an uncertain world," Ambrose said.

Exxon Settles $9 Billion Pollution Case in New Jersey for Far Less

A long-fought legal battle to recover $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon Mobil Corporation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in northern New Jersey has been quietly settled by the state for around $250 million.

The lawsuits, filed by the State Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, had been litigated by the administrations of four New Jersey governors, finally advancing last year to trial. By then, Exxon’s liability was no longer in dispute; the only issue was how much it would pay in damages.

KKK Was Terrorizing America Decades Before Islamic State Appeared

When Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) returned home from a trip to the Middle East in October, he offered a reflection on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, to the Bangor Daily News:

"My characterization of ISIS is that they have 14th century ethics and 21st century weapons," he said.

King and others who have reached into the Middle Ages for an apt Islamic State comparison may be going back further than they need to. The 19th and 20th centuries work just as well.

Greek Prime Minister Rules Out Third Bailout

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's new radical left government has no intention of seeking another bailout deal from international creditors and will spend coming months trying to ease the terms of its current commitments, the financially struggling country's prime minister said Friday.

Alexis Tsipras remarks came hours after lawmakers in Germany, a key rescue loan provider, overwhelmingly approved the four-month extension of Greece's extant deal.

"The bailout agreements are over, both in form and in essence," Tsipras told a cabinet meeting. "Some people are betting on a third bailout in June ... but we will disappoint them."

Fifty Years After Bloody Sunday in Selma, Everything and Nothing Has Changed

Congress can’t agree on much these days, but on February 11, the House unanimously passed a resolution awarding the Congressional Gold Medal—the body’s highest honor—to the foot soldiers of the 1965 voting-rights movement in Selma, Alabama.

The resolution was sponsored by Representative Terri Sewell, Alabama’s first black Congresswoman, who grew up in Selma. Sewell was born on January 1, 1965, a day before Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Selma to kick off the demonstrations that would result in passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) eight months later. On February 15, 2015, Sewell returned to Selma, which she now represents, to honor the “unsung heroes” of the voting-rights movement at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, the red brick headquarters for Selma’s civil-rights activists in 1965, taking the pulpit where King once preached.

Why the Disturbingly Sane Voices at CPAC Should Scare You

I’ve been covering the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on and off for more than a decade. I’ve seen it in full jingoistic flower early in George W. Bush’s administration, when attendees could buy bumper stickers than said “No Muslims = No Terrorists” and hurl beanbags at toy trolls holding signs that said “The Homosexual Agenda” or “The Liberal Media.” I’ve seen it during moments of despair, when conservatives realized that Republican leaders wouldn’t enact the entirety of their kamikaze agenda. But I have rarely seen it as slick and sunny as this year, and that scares me.

Bill C-51 Spurs More Than 100 Academics To Write Letter Urging Rejection

OTTAWA - The Conservative government's anti-terrorism bill will lead to spy scandals due to weak scrutiny of Canadian intelligence agencies, says a new legal analysis.

Canada’s real-time oversight of spy agencies is "imperfect" and its after-the-fact review of security activities is perhaps "close to broken," say law professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.

In a paper published Friday, they say the "poorly constructed" and "inherently flawed" anti-terrorism bill introduced last month will only make things worse because it expands spying and information-sharing powers.

Toronto now Canada's inequality capital, United Way study shows

Toronto is now the income inequality capital of Canada, a new United Way Toronto report shows, with the gap between rich and poor households in the city widening at double the national pace.

The study, to be released Friday, says income inequality in Toronto ballooned by 31 per cent between 1980 and 2005, the most drastic increase of any major Canadian city. On average, the gap across the country grew by 14 per cent.

Drawing on a growing body of research on income disparity, the report warns Toronto’s growing divide could dampen social mobility, weaken community bonds and undermine economic stability.