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.]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The American Ritual of Racial Killings

What strikes me most about the recent videos of black men dying and dying and dying is the repetition. They all seem familiar—as in: We’ve heard it before, and before, and then well before even that. The scenes splashed across the news have become almost ritualistic, prayerful; they have a narrative potency that seems to move of its own accord, an agency exceeding that of the humans involved, whether police or suspects, victims or bystanders. We all know the words, we all sing along. In North Charleston, South Carolina, the death of Walter Scott began with a litany like so many before it: He reached for my weapon, a struggle ensued, I feared for my life, the weapon discharged. Amen.

Paul Martin Says 2015 Budget Fails Aboriginal Canadians

The federal government is failing the country's aboriginal people with a budget that has "virtually nothing" in it for native Canadians, says former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Describing the Conservatives' federal budget as "gross negligence" in terms of aboriginal funding, Martin blasted the government's financial commitment to aboriginal education and health care.

"You have to ask yourself, why are they ignoring decent health care in the North? Why is the government ignoring decent education?" Martin told host Evan Solomon in an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

Freddie Gray Went to an “Apartheid School”

Many of the protesters and rioters venting their frustrations over the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, from injuries sustained while he was in Baltimore police custody, are equally fed up with the systemic failures that keep African Americans marginalized in Baltimore and elsewhere.

Ted Cruz: Obama To Blame For Baltimore Riots Because He 'Inflamed' Racial Tensions

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday blamed President Barack Obama for the racial tensions and unrest unrolling across the U.S., including the current turmoil in Baltimore, Maryland.

"President Obama, when he was elected, he could have been a unifying leader," Cruz lamented in a question and answer session hosted by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Instead, the presidential candidate argued, Obama "has made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions, that have divided us rather than bringing us together."

Thousands Of New York Protesters Rally In Solidarity For Baltimore's Freddie Gray, Arrests Made

NEW YORK -- A New York police officer was hurt and at least 100 people were arrested Wednesday as thousands of protestors gathered in support of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore black man who was fatally injured in police custody this month.

Demonstrators flooded open spaces around Union Square, chanting and holding signs protesting Gray's death from spinal injuries. His funeral was Monday, the day mostly peaceful protests in Baltimore turned into mayhem, with 20 police officers hurt, more than 200 arrested and buildings and cars set ablaze. The NYPD officer's injuries appeared minor.

Ontario Auditor General Worries Changes Could See Public Pay For Partisan Ads

TORONTO - Ontarians could end up paying for partisan political advertising under changes the Liberal government is proposing, the province's auditor general warned Wednesday.

The government signalled in the budget last week that it would amend legislation to require the government to submit preliminary ads for the auditor general to review, define "partisan" in relation to its advertising and restrict government ads during elections.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said the proposed changes would "gut" the 10-year-old act.

'No Obligation' For Canadians To Pay Settlements In Copyright Notices

If your downloading habits have scored you a copyright infringement notice (or allegation) asking you to pay a settlement amount, you don't have to pay it.

A spokesman for Industry Minister James Moore told Metro News on April 22 that “there is no obligation for Canadians to pay these settlements."

This isn't utterly new. The ministry said on Jan. 9 the "notices were misleading," according to Reuters, and that companies can't use them to demand money. That was just a little more than a week after Internet service providers became legally obligated to forward copyright infringement notices from content owners to consumers.

Justices Fire Sharp Questions During Death Penalty Hearing

WASHINGTON – Exactly one year after a botched execution in Oklahoma, the state’s new lethal injection protocol came under intense questioning Wednesday by a divided U.S. Supreme Court, with the pivotal justice, Anthony Kennedy, doing little to tip his hand.

Some of the strongest verbal fireworks came from justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the court’s dissent in an earlier failed bid to stay the execution of Oklahoma inmate Charles Warner.

"They Can’t Lock Everybody Up"

“If you out there, you’re gonna be locked up with a misdemeanor.”

Donnail Lee gives his young neighbor a dubious look. “They can’t lock everybody up,” he tells her.

“It’s what they said…” she replies, as police helicopters fly overhead.

Killing the Future: The Theft of Black Life

"Tell me of the night your son was killed by the police," I asked. She sat up and a deep sorrow moved in her eyes. "I had a habit of looking out the window to see my son," Danette Chavis said. "But that night, I said to myself, 'oh leave the boy alone' and took a nap. The phone woke me up and my daughter was rushing out of the door. I followed her and saw police tape, cops standing around a body. I yelled to see if it was him. But they wouldn't let me close. Later, I went to the morgue and identified my son."

FBI’s Proposals for Mandatory Tech Security ‘Back Doors’ Are Slammed by Bipartisan Committee

An FBI proposal to force companies to provide law enforcement with so-called back doors into consumer phones and computers would be like “drilling a hole in a windshield,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the U.S. Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., called the proposal “stupid” and said law enforcement should “just follow the damn Constitution.”

The committee on Wednesday considered whether Congress should pass laws requiring companies to add back doors to their products. In other words, the FBI wants a way to get into consumer data that theoretically only law enforcement—and not hackers—can exploit.

Cutting Through Police Propaganda in Baltimore

On Monday, the day 25-year-old Freddie Gray was laid to rest in Baltimore after fatal injuries sustained during an arrest, The Daily Beast reported that members of the Crips and Bloods had declared a truce and united to protest Gray’s death. Hours after the report was published, the Baltimore Police Department issued a press release citing a “credible threat” based on intelligence that “various gangs ... have entered into a partnership to ‘take out’ law enforcement officers.” Later, gang members, upset that their truce had been spun by the police, told local NBC affiliate WBAL, “We did not make that truce to harm cops. ... We’re not about to allow y’all to paint this picture of us. ... We want justice for Freddie Gray.”

Right-Wing Media Try to Spin the Baltimore Riots Into a 2016 Victory

Bill Kristol threw out the main right-wing line on the Baltimore riots, and in his tweet you could hear a plaintive nostalgia for the days when violence in a major city meant an instant, measurable political bounce for his party:

Winning GOP message: Against anarchy & chaos, at home & abroad. Cheney-Giuliani 2016 probably too much to hope for…But if not them, who?

— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) April 28, 2015

Who, indeed? Kristol’s dream ticket is so monstrous that anything short of it would seem moderate by comparison.

Ministers' Regional Offices May Be Promoting Conservative Party: NDP

OTTAWA — Conservative ministers may be using taxpayer-funded offices to promote the Conservative party rather than doing government work, opposition parties suggested this week.

“It’s a black hole of accountability,” NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus told The Huffington Post Canada. “We’ve never really been able to get a clear picture of what these ministers’ regional offices actually do.”

Canadian Families' Debt Jumped By 64 Per Cent In Just Over A Decade

The amount owed by indebted Canadians grew by 64 per cent to $60,100 in just over a decade, according to a new Statistics Canada study.

The StatsCan report released Wednesday found that between 1999 and 2012, the median debt held by indebted families increased by $23,000. The number of households with debt — including mortgages, car loans, lines of credit, personal loans and student debt — also rose, from 67 per cent in 1999 to 71 per cent in 2012. The median figure is the middle number separating the top half of families with the most debt from the bottom half.

Jason Kenney did not breach privilege with munitions mistake: Speaker

Defence Minister Jason Kenney did not breach privilege when he erroneously told the House of Commons that Canada was the only country besides the U.S. with precision-guided munitions, Speaker Andrew Scheer has ruled.

NDP Defence Critic Jack Harris requested the ruling by Scheer on April 2, after Kenney made the statement to several media outlets at the end of March that Canada was needed in the fight against ISIS in Syria because it was the only country other than the U.S. that has the specialized weapons.

Canada's National Security Advisor Still Suspects Canadian Politicians Are Under Foreign Influence

Canada has a spy problem, according to the country's top national security advisor. And it's not going away.

Richard Fadden, a senior advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, suspects foreign governments are buying influence with the country's politicians for nefarious purposes. And he's hoping to fix the problem.

The question about espionage in Canada's halls of power came up while Fadden was testifying before a parliamentary committee on Monday. Senator Lynn Beyak wondered whether there's reason to be concerned over "foreign governments and other interests targeting prominent Canadian politicians," asking Fadden: "is it worse today because of the radicalization and the terror threat?"

Harper no-show as NDP pummels Duffy-Enbridge-PMO ties

In a third day of questions in the House of Commons, New Democrats hammered the Conservative government on a fine point, as yet unanswered: why was Prime Minister Stephen Harper working so closely with now-suspended Senator Mike Duffy in early 2012 regarding Enbridge's multi-billlion pipelines?

The questioning was prompted by a note from Harper to Duffy,

Federal health department lax in dealing with remote First Nations' needs, says Auditor General

Earlier this year, an institute associated with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto came out with a wide-ranging report on Indigenous health in Canada. 
It was entitled "First Peoples, Second Class Treatment," and the title tells it all.
The report provides a detailed, documented account of the ways in which Canada's nasty dealings with its first peoples, going back to the earliest colonial times, have yielded the results we know today. 

Harper's 'principled' foreign policy is empty rhetoric for profit

Both Swedish and Canadian foreign policy approaches were recently criticized for their stance on selling arms to Saudi Arabia, with the Canadian government defending its decision to supply Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) to a country with one of the worsthuman rights records in the world, at the same time as Sweden decided to cancel its arms deal with the gulf state.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper describes Canada's foreign policy as 'principled', though he is less clear about what these principles are. In contrast, Sweden -- a country often compared to Canada as reflecting similar social and political values -- defines its foreign policy as explicitly feminist.

What's Next for Canada if Tories Lose Election?

Canada's self-styled "progressive" parties face a triple problem this fall: beating the Harper Conservatives, restoring the status quo ante 2006, and then progressing beyond it.

This is awkward for progressives. Ditching a whole decade of Canadian history is literally regressive, and the Conservatives are past masters at regression. They ditched not just a decade but all Canadian history back to circa 1800 -- before the crazy idea of "responsible government" took hold, when ministers actually resigned when they screwed up.

BC NDP Candidate Entry Fee Betrays Grassroots, Critics Say

Officials with the British Columbia New Democratic Party say a $2,000 entry fee for people wanting to be the party's candidate in the expected Vancouver-Mount Pleasant byelection is part of a new emphasis on fundraising.

NDP supporters who are critical of the new policy say the fee is a sign the party executive has lost touch with the grassroots, and that the process is being changed to help a favoured candidate.

Four Things We May Never Know about the Vancouver Fuel Spill

Late Saturday afternoon, Transport Canada officially cleared the MV Marathassa to leave Canadian waters, weeks after the ship spilled an undetermined amount of fuel into Burrard Inlet.

As it exits the Salish Sea, the bulk carrier leaves angry mayors, a combative coast guard, a distrustful public and many, many questions in its wake. Here are four things we don't know -- and may never know -- about what happened in English Bay.

Airbnb to be targeted in Quebec bill

The Quebec government plans to table a bill next month regulating online home-sharing services such as Airbnb, making it the first province in the country to crack down on the practice of renting rooms without a permit.

Renting out private houses and apartments has become increasingly popular, thanks to fast-growing websites like Airbnb that help tourists find short-term accommodation in homes and apartments around the world.

Baltimore shows police killings America's real state of emergency

The first time I heard my father say it, I was trailing along behind him, licking an ice cream on a warm summer night in a Glengarry County town not far from our farm.

"Good evening, officer," he said, as we passed a uniformed patrolman. "Lovely evening tonight."

The cop smiled back and said something kind and reassuring, and the lesson was complete.

New bank fees target kids' accounts and allow 'double-dipping,' say customers

Banking fees are going up at all of Canada's five big banks, but some customers of RBC in particular are outraged about the changes. They're accusing Canada's biggest bank of targeting children and those who can least afford it.​

Gordon and Elaine Murray from Glen Margaret, N.S., have been RBC customers for 20 years. It took one envelope in the mail the other day to get them thinking about changing.

Hillary Clinton To Call For 'End To The Era Of Mass Incarceration' In Major Speech

WASHINGTON -- Hillary Clinton will deliver a major speech on criminal justice reform Wednesday, calling for fundamental changes to how the United States punishes its citizens and an end to a system that disproportionately targets black men.

Clinton is scheduled to keynote the 18th Annual David N. Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University Wednesday morning. It will be her most significant policy address since she launched her 2016 presidential bid this month.

The false narratives around Baltimore's uprising are entirely predictable

As is always the case when the disenfranchised, marginalized and racialized rise up in anger in North America, where we like to think there is no need for such actions, Monday's uprising in Baltimore is being portrayed in terms we have come to expect.
The message is that the "rioters" are undermining all the "good" being done (supposedly) by peaceful protests and are "hurting their own cause," turning the protests into "mindless" violence and looting.

Bill C-377 could cost almost double estimated price: CRA

The controversial private member’s Bill C-377, a union spending disclosure bill backed by the Harper government, could cost nearly double the figure its sponsor has often quoted to Canadians, iPolitics has learned.

In last week’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee hearings for the bill, Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, the bill’s sponsor, referred back to the oft-quoted $1.2 million a year for the first two years and $800,000 a year thereafter as the price tag for the Canada Revenue Agency to implement and run the measures.

How Many Like Baltimore's Freddie Gray Have Been Killed in Police Custody?

For many in Baltimore, Freddie Gray's death was shocking but came as little surprise. It was only a matter of time, some said, before Baltimore erupted the way Ferguson, Missouri, did last summer. While no one knows exactly how many Americans die in police custody each year, limited data gathered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics starts to give some sense of scale: At least 4,813 people died while in custody of local and state law enforcement between 2003 and 2009, according to the latest available report, published in 2011. Sixty-one percent of those deaths were classified as homicides.

The Future of Lethal Injection Is Being Debated at the Supreme Court. Read These 6 Stories Now.

Same-sex marriage is not the only major item on the Supreme Court's docket this week: Today, the court will begin considering the future of a drug used in lethal injections. The suit, Glossip v. Gross, was brought by three Oklahoma inmates sentenced to death and challenges the use of the sedative Midazolam. The inmates' lawyers argue that the drug—used in the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, who gasped for air and writhed in pain for a prolonged period as he was put to death—violates the Eighth Amendment's protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

"It Took This to Bring the Light To Everything"

Across the street from the burnt-out CVS destroyed in Monday’s rioting in Baltimore, Maryland, a church group in matching t-shirts broke out into song, joined by volunteers holding brooms and garbage bags: "Amazing Grace, how sweet your sound…"

Derrick Graham, 45, erupted in anger. "That man who wrote that song!" he exclaimed, furious that the group would pick a hymn written by a former slave trader.

Will the Courts Finally Block Texas’ Worst-in-the-Nation Voter-ID Law?

The 2014 election in Texas illuminated the burdens of voter-ID laws. Because of the law—the strictest in the country—many longtime voters were turned away from the polls and unable to vote.

The Texas voter ID law is once again before a court on Tuesday, when the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will consider whether to uphold a lower-court decision striking down the law as an “unconstitutional poll tax.”

Obama on the Baltimore Riots: It's About Decades of Inequality

Standing side by side with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the White House on Tuesday, President Barack Obama made some of his most detailed and forceful comments yet about economic inequality and police behavior during recent protests around the country. He told reporters that while there was no excuse for the violence that erupted in Baltimore last night, the unrest could be tied to decades of civil rights issues, income inequality, and a lack of opportunity. Here's an excerpt:

This is not new. This has been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, we also know if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty, they've got parents, often because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education, and themselves can't do right by their kids, if it's more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead than that they go to college, and communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men, communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing's been stripped away, and drugs have flooded the community and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a lot of folks, in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without, as a nation, and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem, and we'll go through this same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities, and the occasional riots in the streets and everybody will feign concern until it goes away and we just go about our business as usual.

Original Article
Author: AJ Vicens

Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think

After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.

The funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody this month, had ended hours earlier at a nearby church. According to the Baltimore Sun, a call to "purge"—a reference to the 2013 dystopian film in which all crime is made legal for one night—circulated on social media among school-aged Baltimoreans that morning. The rumored plan—which was not traced to any specific person or group—was to assemble at the Mondawmin Mall at 3 p.m. and proceed down Pennsylvania Avenue toward downtown Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department, which was aware of the "purge" call, prepared for the worst. Shortly before noon, the department issued a statement saying it had "received credible information that members of various gangs…have entered into a partnership to 'take-out' law enforcement officers."

U.S. worried about Canada’s ability to respond to oil spills, records reveal

Newly released U.S. documents show American authorities are nervously eyeing Canadian proposals to triple the number of oil tanker voyages through the shared waters off B.C.’s coast, saying among themselves that Canadian standards to clean up a major spill are decades behind those of the U.S. and leave states vulnerable to environmental damage and costs.

After the MV Marathassa spilled sticky, toxic bunker fuel into Vancouver’s harbour this month, Washington State officials noted in interviews with The Globe and Mail that the state’s oil-spill response regime was far advanced from Canada’s. One former maritime lawyer said if the U.S. Coast Guard ranked an eight or nine out of 10 worldwide, then Canada’s Coast Guard would rank a one or two.

Harry Reid Defends Baltimore Protesters: 'Let's Not Pretend The System Is Fair'

WASHINGTON -- Baltimore's violent protests are an understandable response to a system that's rigged in favor of the rich and leaves young people with little hope or opportunity, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday afternoon.

"We cannot condone the violence we see in Baltimore, but we must not ignore the despair and hopelessness that gives rise to this kind of violence," Reid said on the Senate floor, condemning the violence in a way that seemed more dutiful than heartfelt. "So let’s condemn the violence, but let’s not ignore the underlying problem."

Maryland Governor, Baltimore Mayor Walk Off Don Lemon Interview About Protests

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan walked off of an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday night, apparently fed up with Lemon’s line of questioning.

Gov. Hogan had declared a state of emergency in Baltimore earlier that evening, ushering in National Guard troops to help deal with the unrest and violence related to protests over the death of Freddie Gray. The 11-minute clip opens with Lemon asking the pair why Hogan did not make the call earlier.

Bernie Sanders To Launch Presidential Campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will launch a campaign seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2016 on Thursday.

Sanders will be the first official challenger for the Democratic nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who launched her campaign earlier this month.
Sanders' decision was first reported by Vermont P

The Economic Devastation Fueling The Anger In Baltimore

Last night, peaceful protests after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man killed in police custody, turned into more violent unrest when protesters were met with phalanxes of police.
The protesters’ anger was fueled, at least in large part, by the Baltimore police department’s long history of ugly violence against the city’s residents and a pattern of officers facing few, if any, repercussions. But the protests also take place in the context of a city that has been ravaged economically, most recently by the foreclosure crisis and predatory lending.

Auditor General Report: Feds Not Tracking Tax Credits Impact On Treasury

OTTAWA - The auditor general says the Finance Department is failing to properly manage a signature move of the Harper government, the targeted tax credit, which the federal watchdog describes as program spending by another name.

Popular, and heavily promoted, tax expenditures such as the children's fitness tax credit and the first-time home buyers' tax credit don't get the kind of routine evaluation and public oversight required "to determine if these tax measures are relevant and performing as intended.'

The Conservative Budget Is 500 Pages of Climate Change Denial

On Tuesday April 21st, Joe Oliver presented his first budget as Finance Minister. Its 518 pages have been universally described in less than flattering terms. It is really the Conservative platform dressed up as a budget -- long on promises, short on funding.

In order to get to "balance" he prematurely sold valuable shares in General Motors, losing $100 million in taxpayer's money in the process. He then mugged the emergency fund for $2 billion, leaving only $1 billion for serious emergencies. The emergency in this case was his mandate to "balance" the budget come hell or high water.

The Rise of Privatized Policing: How Crisis Capitalism Created Crisis Cops

On February 13, 2014, Thomas Michalak and Cheryl LaBash, who organize with Moratorium NOW!, a coalition fighting foreclosures, evictions and water shutoffs in Detroit, fired off some quick tweets encouraging others to join their group in a demonstration opposing the state-appointed emergency management of Detroit's bankruptcy. They'd planned the protest for the next day, at Detroit's Campus Martius Park.

Frustration for Canadians seeking help following Nepal earthquake

Canadians in Nepal and relatives of missing Canadian tourists are expressing frustration with Canada's response to Saturday's massive earthquake, with some complaining they're getting more support from American officials than their own.

Mark McDermott and Roel Teunissen were hoping to get on a military transport plane on Wednesday to return to Canada from the earthquake-ravaged country.

Return from Donbas: Cracks begin to show in Canada's support for war in Ukraine

I recently returned from a reporting tour to the war zone of eastern Ukraine. I traveled to Donetsk city and region with a media tour group organized by concerned citizens in Russia and Germany.

My first published report of our visit appeared on April 21. One of my travel colleagues and the other Canadian on the tour, Halyna Mokrushyna, has just published her first report. Like me, she will be writing much more on the visit.

International Day of Mourning: Number of workplace deaths on the rise in Canada

Last Thursday William Cerqueirafell to his death while working on a construction site in downtown Toronto. He fell from the 17th floor of a building on busy Adelaide Street, just west of Bay Street, while trying to strip a piece of plywood.
This tragedy will be repeated more than 1,000 times this year.
On April 28, the Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job, workers across the country will mourn for William Cerquiera and thousands of other workers that have been killed or injured on the job.

A new public sector activism: PSAC takes Harper's bet and raises him

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) opened its 17th triennial convention this week in Quebec City with a militant speech from National President Robyn Benson. PSAC is in the midst of bargaining with the Harper Conservatives. But, President Benson went beyond putting the Harper Conservatives on guard against breaking its word and overturning signed agreements.
On its first day at convention, PSAC adopted an emergency resolution authorizing $5 million spending from its reserve fund. The resolution spells out what needs to done: "elect a federal government that respects worker and union rights and federal public services, and that governs for the benefit of all Canadian workers."

Sen. Grassley: No Need To Fix Voting Rights Act Since 'More Minorities Are Already Voting'

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Monday he doesn't expect to bring up legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act, because lots of minority people are already voting.

During an event at the National Press Club, Grassley was asked about the committee considering a bill that would fix the landmark 1965 law. The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the law in 2013, ruling that it needed to be updated. The section determined which states and localities with a history of suppressing minority voters had to get permission from the Justice Department to change their voting laws. The justices instructed Congress to come up with a new formula for designating which regions of the country warrant special scrutiny.

Nonviolence as Compliance

Rioting broke out on Monday in Baltimore—an angry response to the death of Freddie Gray, a death my native city seems powerless to explain. Gray did not die mysteriously in some back alley but in the custody of the city's publicly appointed guardians of order. And yet the mayor of that city and the commissioner of that city's police still have no idea what happened. I suspect this is not because the mayor and police commissioner are bad people, but because the state of Maryland prioritizes the protection of police officers charged with abuse over the citizens who fall under its purview.

Remembrance Day Holiday? Bill To Make November 11 'Legal' Day Off Stalls

OTTAWA - An NDP private member's bill meant to formally recognize Remembrance Day as a "legal" holiday appears to be dying a slow, silent death as the sun begins to set on the current session of Parliament.

The Harper government recently asked for more time to study the straightforward, single-clause bill, which comes before a second House of Commons committee Tuesday.

Ontario New Democrat MP Dan Harris, who introduced the proposed legislation, says it's highly unlikely the bill will make it through the House of Commons and the Senate before summer, when Parliament adjourns prior to a fall election.