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, November 12, 2016

North Carolina Won’t Stop Suppressing the Vote

North Carolina has spent $5 million and counting defending the country’s worst voting restrictions, which the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said targeted black voters with “almost surgical precision.” The state waited 17 days after that ruling, then asked the Supreme Court yesterday to reinstate its voter-ID law, cuts to early voting and ban on pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Governor Pat McCrory hired Paul Clement, the former solicitor general in the Bush administration who argued against Obamacare and for the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, to represent the state.

Is Angela Corey the Cruelest Prosecutor in America?

In March of 2011, 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez was taken into an interview room at a Jacksonville, Florida, police station and interrogated by Michelle Soehlig, a ponytailed female officer. Before Soehlig began questioning him, she told the child, “These are your constitutional rights,” and slid over a document listing the Miranda warnings, familiar to anyone who’s seen an episode of Law & Order. Cristian was otherwise alone, squirmy, resting his head on his chubby arms and sometimes talking to himself, as if practicing what to say to the adults who would question him, muttering, “Pow! Pow! Pow!” He responded to Soehlig’s questions with a barely audible “Uh-huh,” so she prompted him to say “Yes.” It was after 2 am.

Venezuela Is Descending Into Chaos. Now This Issue Is on America’s Doorstep.

Earlier this year, Venezuelan journalist and political scientist Francisco Toro described his home country as "the world's most visibly failing state." And now, amid a worsening economic crisis, a crackdown on political opposition, and increasing violent crime, more and more of his countrymen are seeking haven in the United States.

Russia’s season of menace

MOSCOW — August in Moscow is a season of brooding heat broken by sudden rainstorms, of bathing in chilly rivers and experiencing pangs of regret for a summer that never quite happened.

Also, it’s Russia’s traditional season of disaster.

The hard-line coup attempt that brought the fall of Communism in 1991, the default and financial collapse in 1998, the start of the second Chechen war in 1999, the sinking of the Kursk submarine in 2000, Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, the hydro-electric dam bursting in 2009, devastating wildfires in 2010, catastrophic floods in 2011 — all happened in August.

NATO beefs up presence in Eastern Europe

NATO is reinforcing its military presence on its eastern flank; in particular, in the Baltic states and Poland. The move is a reaction by the alliance's defense ministers to a threat they perceive emanating from Russia in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and constant large-scale military exercises on the Ukrainian border. At a meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called it the "biggest reinforcement of collective defense since the Cold War."

Russia must be ready to face 'aggressive actions' from NATO, says Putin

After ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of the invasion of the USSR by Nazi Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a speech to parliament on Wednesday warning NATO about its actions near Russia's border. He also criticized the West for its reluctance to build a collective security system with Russia.

"NATO is stepping up its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions close to our borders," Putin told lawmakers. "In these conditions we are obliged to dedicate special attention to resolving tasks connected with heightening the defense capabilities of our country."

Kremlin makes sweeping purge of Baltic Fleet commanders

According to Russian media, a slew of top commanders of Russia's Baltic fleet have been purged by Sergey Shoygu on Thursday for undisclosed flaws in carrying out their duties. The move marks the biggest sweeping removal of senior officers since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Fifty top-ranking officers along with fleet commander Vice Admiral Viktor Kravchuk were fired en masse. The news website reported that the purge followed an alleged cover-up of a submarine accident, as well as problems with recruitment and military construction projects.

Illinois Governor Vetoes Law That Would Have Registered 2 Million Voters

Late Friday afternoon, Illinois’ Republican Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have made the state the sixth in the nation to automatically register millions of voters.

Rauner had expressed some support for the policy back in May, telling reporters: “I am a big fan of simplifying the voter registration process and trying to get everyone who should be able to vote, to get them registered and vote.”

The Invisible Man: George W. Bush and a Hole in History

After Donald Trump blew into his dog saxophone and invited "Second Amendment people" to assassinate Hillary Clinton before she could appoint any judges, American politics went into China Syndrome meltdown mode in a way not seen since Preston Brooks beat Charles Sumner very nearly to death in the well of the Senate, 160 years ago almost to the day. Republicans who had endorsed Trump immediately fled en masse to Outer Mongolia to become anonymous yak herders, and witnesses reported seeing House Speaker Paul Ryan climb a large oak tree while muttering, "I hate this job, I hate this job, there's no place like home, I hate this job."

Foreign Buyer Tax Will Make Government Rich, But Won't Fix Housing

The government of British Columbia's decision to impose a 15-per-cent hike in Land Transfer Taxes for foreigners who buy real estate in Metro Vancouver will do almost nothing to lower high housing prices. It will, however, generate even more money for a government that has already profited enormously from foreign nationals seeking sanctuary not only for their capital (however it was gained) but also for their future.

Christy Clark holds fast to market fundamentalism as LNG dreams crumble

Christy Clark's fracking and liquified natural gas (LNG) dreams are being faced with a strong dose of reality. Michael Smyth recently published an insightful article on the government's new strategy for the up coming election.

An extremely aggressive campaign by the B.C. government to make the province an energy superpower has faced widespread resistance by Indigenous communities and grassroots climate justice activists. Terminals are being opposed. Pipeline routes are being occupied. The climate and health impacts of fracking are being exposed. But the Clark government seemed to willingly ignore one other major barrier: the market for LNG.

Bleecker St. residents say ‘ghost hotels’ ruining neighbourhood

Residents of Bleecker St. say five homes operating as short-term rentals — sometimes called “ghost hotels” — are ruining their downtown neighbourhood near Sherbourne and Wellesley streets.

Tenants who occupy the houses mostly on weekends, renting them through Airbnb and other popular websites, are creating noise, garbage on the street and parking issues, say the neighbours.

If Trump Drops Out, The Result Will Be A Horrible Legal Quagmire

Republican leaders have entered the denial phase of grief again.

After months of overt racism, religious bigotry, mockery of veterans and people with disabilities, and otherwise erratic behavior, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump finally committed an unpardonable sin — failing to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). As a result, Republicans reportedly are choosing sides:

More from same source: The next 24 to 72 hours are crucial. There is serious talk about key Republicans coming out hard against Trump.

WikiLeaks’ Motivations Aren’t What You Think

WASHINGTON ― WikiLeaks timed the release of thousands of embarrassing internal Democratic National Committee emails to coincide with the party’s 2016 convention extravaganza, Julian Assange, the group’s founder and editor-in-chief, told Democracy Now! in July. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Assange supports Donald Trump — or Russia, which Hillary Clinton’s campaign has claimed was behind the theft of the emails.

Victim of racial profiling traumatized by traffic stop

Pulled over by a Durham Regional Police officer on a September afternoon, her nearly 7-foot-tall boyfriend in the passenger seat, Beverly O’Grady instantly suspected the real reason for the traffic stop.

She wasn’t speeding, she wasn’t driving erratically, there were no road safety concerns that would justify a stop under the Highway Traffic Act — all of which the officer, Const. John MacKinnon, later acknowledged in court.

New York’s Blue Lives Matter Bill Would Make Cops a Protected Class

New York has become the latest state to introduce a Blue Lives Matter bill, which would classify assaulting an officer as a hate crime. The bill was introduced today by New York Assemblyman Ron Castorina (R), with support from Council Member Joseph C. Borelli (R) and NYPD Sergeant Joe Imperatrice, the president and founder of Blue Lives Matter NYC.

Paul Ryan Calls Trump’s Attack On Gold Star Family ‘Beyond The Pale,’ Still Supports Him

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Donald Trump’s attempts to discredit the family of a soldier who died in Iraq were “beyond the pale,” but not so unacceptable that he would revoke his endorsement of the candidate.

Over the last week, Trump has engaged in a back-and-forth with the parents of American war hero Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was Muslim. Trump said Khan’s father, Khizr, “viciously attacked” him during his speech at the DNC, and suggested that Ghazala Khan hadn’t spoken because she was not allowed to do so.