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.]

Sunday, October 25, 2015

FBI Agents Accused Of Torturing U.S. Citizen Abroad Can't Be Sued

Federal agents who illegally detain, interrogate and torture American citizens abroad can't be held accountable for violating the Constitution.

A divided federal appeals court on Friday tossed the lawsuit of a U.S. citizen who claimed the FBI trampled his rights for four months across three African countries while he was traveling overseas.

Scott Walker Signs Bill Ending John Doe Political Investigations

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Scott Walker, who has been involved in two secret John Doe investigations, signed a bill Friday doing away with the probes into political misconduct.

The Republican-controlled Legislature this week passed the bill eliminating John Does for any kind of political misconduct, including bribes, theft and campaign finance violations. They could still be used for violent felonies and some drug crimes.

Walker wasn't charged in either investigation involving him. The first focused on former aides and associates of Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive. Six people were convicted of a variety of crimes, including misconduct in office.

Obama Administration Is Cutting Aid to the Palestinians by $80 million

The State Department has notified Congress of its intention to reduce economic aid for the West Bank and Gaza Strip from $370 million to $290 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to the website Al-Monitor. As violence in the region escalates, congressional sources describe the move as a “message” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
From Al-Monitor:
The news of the 22% cut from the department’s initial request follows mounting criticism from Congress about Palestinian “incitement” in the rash of stabbing attacks that have left at least 10 Israeli civilians dead over the past three weeks.
“We need to dial up pressure on Palestinian officials to repudiate this violence,” said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Netanyahu’s Blood Libel Against Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in remarks in Jerusalem at the World Zionist Conference, blamed the former mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, for putting Hitler up to the Holocaust. Netanyahu is, of course, wrong on the history. But the real intent of his outrageous assertion is to create a blood libel that all Palestinians bear responsibility for the killing of 6 million Jews by the National Socialist state. He asserted that al-Husseini’s animus was rooted simply in irrational Jew-hatred, which he alleged characterized the Palestinian masses then and now, without regard to the issues of the Jewish ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians or of occupation.

Suspected Jewish Extremist Attacks Human Rights Rabbi On Video

A masked assailant attacked the leader of a Jewish human rights organization during a Palestinian olive harvest near a Jewish West Bank settlement on Friday in an incident caught on camera. The victim told local media he believed the attacker was a Jewish extremist.

The video shows a masked man throwing a rock and jabbing a knife at Rabbi Arik Ascherman, president of the Jerusalem-based group Rabbis for Human Rights.

Vale's Sudbury Operations May Have Leaked Toxic Run-Off For At Least 52 Years

Environment Canada is investigating Vale SA's Sudbury, Ont., smelting operations for allegedly leaking toxic run-off into local waterways since at least 1963.

The allegations are contained in a warrant the government agency used to seize documents, computers and related materials from Vale's Sudbury offices on Oct. 8 as part of its investigation into potential violations of the Fisheries Act.

Apple's Supply-Chain Workers May Be Risking Cancer to Build Your iPhone

If you thought you'd heard it all about labor violations in Apple's supply chain, think again. A new investigative report from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based nongovernmental organization that has revealed a litany of labor abuses throughout the tech, toy and apparel sectors in China, details inhumane, illegal and dangerous work conditions at Lens Technology, Apple's main supplier of glass for its iPhone and Apple Watch products. Among the worst offenses is the use of benzene, a known carcinogen that is linked to high rates of adult leukemia among those exposed to it, in improperly ventilated areas.

The report, released in late September, details the results of six months of undercover research at two Lens Technology facilities in Langli and Liyuang, Hunan Province, and includes findings from more than 60 off-site interviews with workers across the company's three main factories, including one in Shenzhen.

The Downsides of Cheap Abundance

In college, Economics 101 is often described as the social science discipline that deals with the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services. MIT Economist Paul Samuelson liked to focus on scarcity, or more specifically, the allocation of scarce resources. “Abundance” was always a pretty word with an idyllic connotation for Professor Samuelson. I often wonder why there weren’t a few classes about the real-life consequences of abundance, along with scarcity and people’s material welfare.

Even The Most Elite Women Are Subject To The Gender Pay Gap

A business degree, even from one from a top school in the country, won't be enough to protect women from the gender gap in compensation.

A report Bloomberg Businessweek published Tuesday found that the difference in pay for men and women swells as time goes by. Both groups leave their MBA programs earning about the same -- men's $105,000 to women's $98,000 -- but the split becomes more exacerbated years later. By the time they're six to eight years out of school, median compensation for men is $175,000, and $140,000 for women. For the latter, that rounds out to about 80 percent of men's paychecks, proving unfortunately that the roughly 78 cents women make to a man's dollar still holds up.

Trudeau's Invite To Paris Climate Summit Accepted By Canadian Premiers

OTTAWA — Canada's premiers huddled by teleconference call Thursday and agreed that everyone not facing an election campaign will attend December's climate change summit in Paris with prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau, The Canadian Press has learned.

Monday's surprising Liberal majority has cleared the path for an invigorated Canadian presence at the United Nations climate conference, known as COP21, that begins Nov. 30.

Good riddance to you Gilles Duceppe and to your racist tactics

Bloc Québecois leader Gilles Duceppe has just announced his resignation.
Il tire sa reverence. He tips his hat, and backs away, if not too graciously.
This is Duceppe's second such resignation, and we can now hope it is his last.
The custom is that one should find something good to say about a person in such circumstances.

When the NDP abandoned its socialist principles, it abandoned its chance of winning

Many New Democrats were shocked and dismayed at the outcome of Monday's federal election, despite their relief that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party government were gone at last. Long-time NDP activist and freelance Alberta journalist Mimi Williams explains in this Alberta Diary guest post why she believes the NDP's own campaign decisions were the principal reason for this unhappy turn of events. DJC
Jeremy Corbyn's stunning sweep to victory and leadership of the British Labour Party last month should have given the strategists in the NDP war room pause to reflect. It didn't. And it was probably too late, anyway.