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.]

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana Shut Down Its Rural Planned Parenthood Clinics And Got An HIV Outbreak

Scott County, Indiana, the center of an exploding HIV outbreak, has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider -- a Planned Parenthood clinic -- was forced to close its doors. The clinic did not offer abortion services.

The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state's public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.

Elizabeth Warren: Give Hillary Clinton A Chance

Elizabeth Warren wants America to hear Hillary Clinton out.

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday to promote her new book, the Massachusetts senator said that the former Secretary of State deserves an opportunity to demonstrate how she plans to help the middle class if she decides to run for president.

“I think we need to give her a chance to decide if she’s going to run and to lay out what she wants to run on,” Warren said. “I think that’s her opportunity to do that.”

White House Lifts Hold On Weapon Sales To Egypt Despite Lack Of Democratic Progress

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, President Barack Obama phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with good news: The White House promised to lift a hold on the transfer of four large-scale weapons systems that had been stalled since October 2013.

“In the interest of U.S. national security, President Obama has directed the release of 12 F-16 aircraft, 20 Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits that have been held from delivery,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement Tuesday.

Canadian Corporate Profit Margins At 27-Year High, Thanks To Low Loonie, Soft Labour Costs

TORONTO - CIBC World Markets says corporate profit margins hit a 27-year high in the fourth quarter and are likely to remain strong despite the recent softening in the economy due to the oil price shock.

According to a new study released Tuesday, the average profit margin of all non-financial corporations rose to 8.2 per cent of sales in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Purvi Patel sentenced to 20 years in prison for her miscarriage

A 33-year-old Indiana woman who suffered a miscarriage has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide -- causing the death of a fetus -- and child neglect.

Purvi Patel was arrested in 2013 after it was discovered that at 24 weeks pregnant, she prematurely gave birth at home and discarded the thought-to-be stillborn fetus in a dumpster. Patel then headed to the hospital to treat her heavy bleeding, where a doctor discovered an umbilical cord. The police were immediately called and questioned Patel on the spot.

Why bombing Syria breaks the law

There are a number of reasons why Canada’s military mission in Iraq should be extended and there seems to be wide public support for doing so. However, there is one more powerful reason why that extension should not involve the bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria.

The reason is that by doing so Canada is breaking international law and is in violation of the United Nations Charter. Cynics may react to this by saying, “So what?” They may argue that our responsibility to stop the horrors committed by this terrorist group overrides our obligations to follow the rule of law. The cynics would be wrong.

‘This ain’t Canada right now’: G20 police violated Charter rights, court rules

In a decision being hailed as a victory for civil liberties, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a group of G20 demonstrators who were prevented from approaching the security fence unless they submitted to a search had their Charter rights violated.

“It’s a victory for peaceful demonstrators,” said Kiel Ardal, one of the lawyers who argued the case. “We hope that police change their behaviour because of this ruling.”

The altercation between protester Paul Figueiras and a group of York Region police on June 27, 2010, gained notoriety thanks to a video posted to YouTube in which Sgt. Mark Charlebois says: “This ain’t Canada right now … There is no civil rights here in this area.”

Cindy Gladue Case: Not Guilty Verdict Ignites Outrage, Protests

The circumstances of Cindy Gladue's last hours were horrific. The mother of two bled to death in a motel bathtub, suffering from an 11-centimetre vaginal wound.

And the trial of the man accused of killing her was no less appalling, say aboriginal activists.

Earlier this month, an Edmonton jury found Ontario trucker Bradley Barton not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Gladue, a First Nations woman.

Who gets the biggest share of the benefits from Tory ‘family tax cut?’

OTTAWA - Just over half of the money the federal government is set to spend on child care will go to parents of teenagers or families who do not pay to put their kids in daycare, says a new report by the parliamentary budget officer.

Jean-Denis Frechette's latest report comes days after the Conservatives introduced legislation to enact its so-called "family tax cut" — a multibillion-dollar suite of measures that includes the controversial income-splitting plan.

This is your prime minister on drugs

Stephen Harper's policies on drugs are embarrassingly backwards. In Canada right now, millions of people are paying out of pocket for medically necessary prescriptions and supplies, or, becoming ill when they can no longer afford to. At the same time, proven life-saving initiatives like Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site for drug users, are being threatened by new legislation. Canadian communities need a national pharmacare program but instead, on March 23 the Harper government passed the second reading of Bill C-2, the "Respect for Communities Act," to throw up roadblocks in the creation of safe-injection sites. Once again, prejudice and fear-mongering trump evidence and compassion.

Chris Christie Embraces 20-Week Abortion Ban

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday joined other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in endorsing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“I am proud to be a pro-life Republican," Christie said in a statement to the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, which solicited endorsements of the legislation from Republicans. "I believe that every life is an individual gift from God, and that no life is disposable."

Arizona Governor Signs Controversial Abortion Bill Into Law

PHOENIX, March 30 (Reuters) - Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, said on Monday he has signed into law a controversial measure blocking women from buying insurance that includes abortion coverage through the federal healthcare exchange.

The fiercely debated bill also requires doctors to tell women they could possibly reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion, a claim that critics have called "junk science."

The measure cleared the Republican-controlled state legislature last week, largely along party lines.

"The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it's no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars," Ducey said in a statement after signing the measure on Monday. "This legislation provides clarity to state law." (Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix, Arizona; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Eric Beech)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

"Religious Freedom" Laws Don't Legalize LGBT Discrimination. That's Already Legal in Most of America.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence—his entire state, really—has been hammered in the national press since last week's passage of a "religious freedom" bill. This New York Times headline says it all: "Indiana Law Denounced as Invitation to Discriminate Against Gays." ABC News' George Stephanopoulos took that angle in an interview with Pence on Sunday, asking repeatedly for a one-word answer as to whether the new law makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gay couples.

Pence dodged, insisting that the media misunderstood the law's purpose. But had he been more honest, Pence would have said: George, Indiana doesn't need a new law to permit businesses from discriminating against gay customers. It's perfectly legal to do that right now.

Information-Sharing Bill Would Extend NSA’s Reach, Opponents Argue

Dozens of organizations and individuals, including some of the nation’s leading security experts, have come together to urge lawmakers to oppose the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill whose backers say would “improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.”

Some of the bill’s opponents—including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Free Press Action Fund, the New America Foundation and 45 others—sent a letter this month to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, arguing that, despite the bill’s name, CISA would do little to strengthen cybersecurity and would actually expand unnecessary surveillance on Americans.

GOP Presidential Hopefuls Rise To Defend Indiana Law That Many See As Anti-Gay

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopefuls are lining up in defense of Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law, which critics warn will open the door to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by businesses in the state.

“I think Gov. [Mike] Pence has done the right thing,” former Florida governor and likely 2016 contender Jeb Bush said in a Monday interview. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

As a reason why such laws are necessary, Bush pointed to the case of a Washington state florist who was fined for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

Oceans in Crisis: One Woman Will Cross the Pacific to Raise Awareness

Sonya Baumstein has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, kayaked from Seattle to Juneau, and paddled across the Bering Strait.

But now she is in final preparations to become, at 29 years old, the first woman to row across the Pacific Ocean. From Choshi, Japan, to San Francisco, her route will carry her over 5,700 nautical miles of what is arguably the most challenging open ocean crossing in the world, one that will include winds in excess of 50 knots, over 40-foot-high seas, and the threat of freighters and other large vessels.

Corporation Literally Served Inmates Trash

Two weeks ago Progress Michigan uncovered emails revealing that a prison food provider served cakes nibbled on by rats to inmates. They’ve now discovered that employees from this same food vendor, Aramark, served inmates at another facility an equally unsavory meal: garbage.
In an email exchange between the company’s general manager, Sigfried Linder, and the state’s Department of Corrections, Linder admitted that prisoners at Saginaw Correctional Facility were served food that was previously thrown in the trash. “Mr. Chisolm discarded the left-overs from the line before the last half unit was in the chow hall. He then realized that there were more inmates to serve so he rinsed them off, reheated them in the oven and instructed the inmates to serve them,” read one email. “They refused, so he and Miss Gibson proceeded to serve them to the remaining inmates.”

If You Want To Know The Problem With Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law, Just Ask George W. Bush

Just one day after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a law that’s widely expected to give anti-gay businesses a license to discriminate, two of the state’s top Republicans are already backing away from the law. At a joint press conference held by Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), both men said that they will “encourage our colleagues to adopt a clarifying measure of some sort to remove” the impression that the bill authorizes discrimination. It remains to be seen what, exactly, this “clarifying measure” will say, and if it will actually remove the bill’s protections for anti-gay business owners.

Vancouver Police Officer Smashes Car Window, Drags Driver Out

A YouTube video showing a Vancouver police sergeant smashing a driver's window is turning a spotlight on how much force police officers should be allowed to use.

The motorist, who uses the name Bodhi Sattva on YouTube, apparently recorded the incident in November, and uploaded it this week.

The driver opens his window slightly and asks why he's been stopped. When the officer refuses to answer, and the driver declines to get out, the exchange gets more heated.