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, December 27, 2016

Russian Official Blames "Western Media" for Turkish Ambassador's Assassination

On Monday, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov was assassinated in an Ankara art gallery by a gunman who shouted, "Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!"

Alexei Pushkov, a member of the Duma—the Russian legislature—and the former chairman of its foreign affairs committee, was quick to blame the Western media for inciting the attack through its coverage of Syria.

Obama Commutes 153 Sentences, Pardons 78, In Clemency Push

WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama shortened sentences of 153 federal prisoners on Monday as part of a clemency push before he leaves office in a few weeks.

Obama has now commuted the sentences of 1,176 people during his presidency, and has pardoned 148. The announcement came as the president and his family were in Hawaii for a holiday vacation.

The Ankara Shooting Won't Start World War III

In September 1898, the Empress of Austria—on holiday in Geneva, Switzerland—was stabbed and murdered by an Italian anarchist. The killing stunned Europe. Forty years later, the novelist Rebecca West still recalled her shock at the news. She explained her surge of emotion to a puzzled housemaid: “Assassinations lead to other things.”

But do they?

Jails in LA County Knowingly Expose Prisoners to Deadly Fungal Infection

For nearly three years, the LA No More Jails Coalition has been organizing against the construction of a new women's jail in the city of Lancaster, California, which sits at the northern edge of LA County -- home to the largest jail system in the country. The fight has been a long one, and organizers continue to work to ensure that public funds are diverted away from another jail, and instead invested toward alternatives -- diversion programs that would get people released and much needed resources like stable housing, health care and education.

IMF Chief Lagarde Found Guilty In French Tycoon Payout Trial

PARIS, Dec 19 (Reuters) - French judges convicted IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Monday of negligence for a state payout made while she served as France’s finance minister in 2008, but imposed no punishment, citing her preoccupation at the time with the global financial crisis.

It was unclear whether the verdict would force Lagarde from her position as managing director of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, a job she started in 2011. The IMF said its executive board was meeting on Monday to consider the implications of the ruling.

Russian ambassador to Turkey shot dead by police officer in Ankara gallery

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has been shot dead by a police officer who shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo” as he pulled the trigger.

The chilling attack on Monday evening, which was captured on video, appeared to be a backlash against Russian military involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Andrei Karlov was attacked at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara by a man believed to be an off-duty Turkish police officer. Karlov was several minutes into a speech when he was shot. Footage of the attack showed a man dressed in a suit and tie standing calmly behind the ambassador. He then pulled out a gun, shouted “Allahu Akbar” and fired at least eight shots.

Christine Lagarde avoids jail, keeps job after guilty verdict in negligence trial

Christine Lagarde has been found guilty of negligence in approving a massive payout of taxpayers’ money to controversial French businessman Bernard Tapie but avoided a jail sentence.

A French court convicted the head of the International Monetary Fund and former government minister, who had faced a €15,000 (£12,600) fine and up to a year in prison. But it decided she should not be punished and that the conviction would not constitute a criminal record. On Monday evening the IMF gave her its full support.

Christine Lagarde: IMF chief convicted over payout

A French court has found International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde guilty of negligence but did not hand down any punishment.

As French finance minister in 2008, she approved an award of €404m ($429m; £340m) to businessman Bernard Tapie for the disputed sale of a firm.

Ms Lagarde, who always denied wrongdoing, was not present in court, having left Paris for Washington DC.

The 'Palestinisation' of the Syrian people

In solidarity with Aleppo, the lights on the Eiffel Tower were extinguished. Elsewhere in Paris, and in London, Amsterdam, Oslo and Copenhagen, people demonstrated against the slaughter. Turks rallied outside Russian and Iranian embassies and consulates in Istanbul, Ankara and Erzurum. The people of Sarajevo, who have their own experience of genocide, staged a big protest.

Prison reform gone wrong

It is getting to be a real crime.

All is not well in Canada’s prison system and Public Safety minister Ralph Goodale, charged with making it better, is working against the clock.

In fact, a fuse is hissing and smoking away in both our federal and provincial jails, unnoticed for the most part by Canadians. It is getting harder and harder to ignore.

Barack Obama’s Sanity-Affirming Press Conference

“I guess part of my over-all message here as I leave for the holidays is that, if we look for one explanation or one silver bullet or one easy fix for our politics, then we’re probably going to be disappointed,” President Obama said in a press conference on Friday. He will be in Hawaii for the next couple of weeks; that comment came in response to a question about whether, while he was gone, members of the Electoral College, which meets on Monday, should do something dramatic, and whether the whole electoral-college system needed scrambling. He demurred: “With respect to the electors, I’m not going to wade into that issue because, again, it’s the American people’s job, and now the electors’ job, to decide my successor. It is not my job to decide my successor.” It was his job, he said, to provide good information about the election, and during the campaign that came before, and he believed that he had done so. There had been “a lot of information,” above all, from the candidates: “The President-elect, I think, has been very explicit about what he cares about and what he believes in. So it’s not in my hands now; it’s up to them.”

Guilty of Grand Theft Overtime: Ruling Denies Protection to Millions of Workers

A Texas judge denied more than 12 million workers a raise with the stroke of a pen.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant issued an injunction to block a new rule from the Department of Labor that would have enabled millions of workers currently ineligible for overtime protections -- for example, getting paid time-and-a-half when you work more than 40 hours in a single week -- to become eligible.

Aleppo evacuations resume after buses attacked and burned

The evacuation of east Aleppo has resumed, with about 350 people able to leave a rebel-held pocket of the city on Sunday, according to medical officials.

The move came despite the official postponement of evacuations of civilians and fighters from the devastated Syrian city and as the UN security council prepared to vote on a resolution to deploy observers to the city, with Syria-allied Russia giving cautious backing to the measure.

DNC Chair Says Russian Hackers Attacked The Committee Through Election Day

The chair of the Democratic National Committee said Sunday that the DNC was under constant cyber attack by Russian hackers right through the election in November. Her claim contradicts President Barack Obama’s statement Friday that the attacks ended in September after he issued a personal warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“No, they did not stop,” Donna Brazile told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “They came after us absolutely every day until the end of the election. They tried to hack into our system repeatedly. We put up the very best cyber security … but they constantly [attacked].”

World Report 2016: Russia | Human Rights Watch

The Kremlin’s crackdown on civil society, media, and the Internet took a more sinister turn in 2015 as the government further intensified harassment and persecution of independent critics. For the fourth year in a row, parliament adopted laws and authorities engaged in repressive practices that increasingly isolated the country. Against the backdrop of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and sanctions against Russia over Crimea, anti-Western hysteria has been at its peak since the end of the Cold War.

Philippines’ Duterte: ‘Bye-Bye America,’ We Don’t Need Your Money

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told the United States on Saturday to prepare for repeal of an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises, declaring “bye-bye America”, and we don’t need your money.

But Duterte suggested relations could improve under a President Donald Trump. “I like your mouth, it’s like mine, yes Mr President. We are similar and people with the same feathers flock together.”

Revealed: Russia's worst war crime in Chechnya

Vladimir Putin is the new hero of Russian democracy, courted by Western leaders. He is also responsible for one of the most savage atrocities since the Second World War. John Sweeney is the first journalist to reach the devastated village of Katyr Yurt, where 363 people were slaughtered by Russian forces

Russia: special report 

Crisis in Chechnya: special report 

Her face burnt almost beyond recognition, she lies prone on her hospital bed and tells in a child's whispers of the day her mother, father, her two brothers, her sister and her cousin - among 363 people from the same village - were wiped out.

The Fear of Being Gay in Russia

Moscow’s first gay pride parade was held in May 2006, thirteen years after homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. It was supposed to be a joyous occasion, the beginning of a new era of openness for the LGBT community.

It didn’t quite work out that way. LGBT marchers that day clashed with riot police, who tried to stop the event. “We disturbed something very deeply rooted in Russian society, some very evil power of intolerance and violence,” says Nikolai Baev, a prominent LGBT rights activist who attended the march.

There are no 'good guys' in Syria — only victims

Two images from Twitter of the situation on the ground in east Aleppo:

In one, overjoyed Syrians are seen singing and dancing around parked cars. An elderly woman grins with joy as she talks about her newfound freedom following the defeat of the “terrorists”.

In another, a seven-year-old girl speaks to the camera: “I am talking to the world now live from east Aleppo,” she says. “This is my last moment to either live or die.”

‘It Makes You Human Again’

ALBUQUERQUE—Under a cloudless desert sky, David Kelhoyoma, a Marine veteran who help liberate Kuwait City during the first Gulf War, roamed the top of a city landfill, stuffing stray bits of plastic into a garbage bag. He felt really good about where he was.

An hour earlier he had been panhandling on a corner in downtown Albuquerque, something he’s done off and on during years of intermittent homelessness, when a van came by asking if he’d like a job for the day. Now he and eight other homeless people are walking along an artificial hillside at the city’s 980-acre Cerro Colorado landfill, picking up bits of trash that somehow avoided being bulldozed under the dirt. In fluorescent orange vests they fill garbage bags with bits of plastic sheeting, broken toys and a surprising number of discarded hospital breathing tubes, anything that might be carried off by the wind. It’s part of an innovative city program for helping the homeless that has attracted national attention. Six hours from now—after a lunch of sandwiches, chips and oranges—the van that collected Kelhoyoma and the others will return them downtown, where they’ll be paid $9 an hour for their work and they can connect with social service providers if they choose.

Boris Johnson Tells Friends He Believes Number 10 ‘Is After Him’

Boris Johnson has told friends he believes Number 10 is “after him” following a serious of gaffes and disagreements, it has been reported.

It comes after a tumultuous few weeks for the Foreign Secretary who has been publicly slapped down by Downing Street for comments over Saudi Arabia, and joked about the Prime Minister’s controversial choice of trousers.

Will Obama Order American Hackers to Dox Putin?

President Obama’s threat was direct and unequivocal: The United States will retaliate against Russia for its election-related cyberattacks. “And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing,” the president told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an interview that aired Friday. “Some of it may be explicit and publicized; some of it may not be.” But what he didn’t say is what the response will look like.

His national-security team has likely laid out a menu of options for him: He could ask intelligence agencies to train a cyberattack on Russian networks or infrastructure, to demonstrate the strength of their offensive capabilities. He could release damaging information about Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, just like Russian hackers published data stolen from top Democrats’ email accounts. Or he could choose a more traditional response, like imposing economic sanctions.

Don't let China ties slide into 'full conflict mode', Obama urges Trump

Barack Obama has cautioned Donald Trump against allowing relations with China to slip into “full conflict mode” after the president-elect put Beijing’s nose out of joint with a succession of controversial pre-inauguration foreign policy interventions.

Speaking on Friday at what is likely to be his last White House news conference Obama urged his successor to beware of provoking a “very significant” response from Beijing over Taiwan.

Driving Uber Toward Unionization

When workers rallied in cities nationwide for last month’s Fight for 15 National Day of Action, the street marches were joined for the first time by a protest on wheels, as Uber drivers ramped up their campaign for full-fledged labor rights.

The call for a $15 hourly minimum wage and a union seems a distant prospect for app-based contract drivers who are generally neither considered employees nor waged workers. But Uber drivers are taking to the courts and the streets to turn the taxi industry’s disruption into a new legal avenue for labor justice.

Uber and Lyft Are Threatening to Expose Poor and Elderly to Predatory Practices

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have grown increasingly popular in the last few years. During this time, both companies have faced numerous challenges to their business models, including lawsuits involving passenger safety and the misclassification of their drivers as independent contractors, as well as accusations that both drivers and passengers discriminate based on race and other factors.

What The Fall Of Aleppo Means For Syria’s Civil War

After years under rebel control, the Syrian city of Aleppo has now effectively fallen to pro-government troops and army forces. Thousands of residents are now being bussed out of the city and face an uncertain future.

The loss of Aleppo leaves Syria’s opposition at one of its weakest points since the nation’s peaceful protests turned into an armed uprising in 2011. Rebel groups now lack control of any major urban center and have dim prospects for retaking significant territory anytime soon.

UK naive to expect EU trade deal in two years, Germany says

A trade deal between the UK and European Union is unlikely to be negotiated within two years, alongside Brexit negotiations, a German official has said, while sounding cautiously optimistic over the issue of citizens’ rights.

Stephan Mayer, the home affairs spokesman for Angela Merkel’s party, said it would be ambitious to think a trade deal could be concluded within a two-year period.

Barack Obama promises retaliation against Russia over hacking during US election

Barack Obama has warned that the US will retaliate for Russian cyberattacks during the presidential election.

In an interview on National Public Radio on Friday morning, the US president said he is waiting for a final report he has ordered into a range of Russian hacking attacks, but promised there would be a response.

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio Sued, Again

One month after losing his reelection bid, Sheriff Joe Arpaio is facing yet another lawsuit accusing his office of racial profiling in Maricopa County, Arizona.

Jacinta Gonzalez Goodman, a field director for the Latino advocacy group Mijente, filed a suit Thursday against the man who calls himself “America’s toughest sheriff” and Maricopa County over her arrest and detention earlier this year. She claims that the sheriff’s office racially profiled her and unconstitutionally detained her based on a request from Immigration and Customs Enforcement ― even though she is a U.S. citizen.

The World, Not Just Assad, Is to Blame for Aleppo Tragedy

"You bear responsibility for these atrocities," US Ambassador Samantha Power said to the Bashar al-Assad regime, Russia and Iran at Tuesday's UN Security Council emergency briefing on Syria. She was referring to the mass atrocities committed against Syrian civilians in eastern Aleppo, including 82 people who were gruesomely executed by pro-government forces on Monday. While Power was correct in her anger toward a regime that has killed over 400,000 people and displaced millions in the last five years, she was wrong to insinuate that the international community, including the US, is excused from blame.

How the Brexit divorce will play out

BRUSSELS — The marriage has broken down. Now for the divorce proceedings.

At the European Council Thursday, Britain and the other 27 EU member countries will start to put the fights and angry recriminations of June’s Brexit referendum to one side and finally begin the formal stages of separation.

How Will History Judge Barack Obama?

There are three different temporal perspectives from which to evaluate the presidency of Barack Obama. There’s the perspective of November 8, when it was widely anticipated that he would hand off the White House to his favored successor and thus cement his legacy. Then there’s the perspective of November 9, when the most shocking electoral upset in American history was accomplished by a man who is in every way—from ideology to temperament to skin color—a repudiation of our nation’s first black president. Lastly, there’s the perspective historians will take decades from now, as they assess Obama’s entire tenure in comparison with what came after it—so long as what comes after isn’t total nuclear annihilation. (I’m joking… mostly.) Obviously, it’s the last of these perspectives that will prove most useful. But sitting here in 2016, I don’t have the luxury of distance, and so I find myself torn between the first two.

Recount Fiascos Reveal the Profoundly Pathetic State of Voting in America

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s recounts in the three states that gave Donald Trump his Electoral College majority have come to a close, not changing the official results and leaving the public even more wary about the integrity of American elections.

After several weeks, $7.3 million in donations from 161,000 donors, obstruction by top Republicans and Democrats, election officials who rejected the most accurate recount procedures, slights against communities of color where voting machines broke on Election Day but recounts were blocked afterward, new hacking pathways discovered, and unyielding responses by state and federal judges who didn’t think much of recounting votes or using best practices, Stein announced Tuesday that her presidential recount was mostly over—and now America needed to heed its lessons.

Vladimir Putin 'personally involved' in US hack, report claim's

US intelligence officials believe that Vladimir Putin was personally involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, NBC News has claimed.

The Russian president personally instructed how material hacked from US Democrats was leaked and otherwise used, the US television network said, quoting two senior officials with access to this information.

Images show 'significant' Chinese weapons systems in South China Sea

China appears to have positioned “significant” weapons systems, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven of the artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea, despite vowing it had no intention of militarising the archipelago, a US thinktank has claimed.

During a state visit to the US last year President Xi Jinping publicly stated that China did “not intend to pursue militarisation” of the strategic and resource-rich trade route through which about $4.5tn (£3.4tn) in trade passes each year.

Chris Christie-Backed Bill Would Devastate Newspapers That Hold His Feet To The Fire

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has long had an adversarial relationship with the press.

Now, in what newspapers in his state are calling little more than an act of revenge, he’s trying to push through a bill that would cut a substantial portion of their revenue.

New Jersey, like every other state, requires governments to post public notices to inform citizens about certain events. These ads ― also called legal notices ― vary from state to state, but typically cover matters like bidding for public contracts, hearings, sales of government property and foreclosures.

Putin Is Waging Information Warfare. Here’s How to Fight Back.

PRAGUE — Welcome to 21st-century conflict, more Machiavellian than military, where hacks, leaks and fake news are taking the place of planes, bombs and missiles. The Russian interference in the United States presidential election is just a taste of more to come.

How can countries protect themselves from such methods? As with nuclear weapons, deterrence is better than confrontation. The United States and its allies in the West need to find a way to discourage Russia, the leading practitioner of this kind of political warfare, from striking first.

With nuclear weapons, deterrence relies on demonstrating the possession of similar capabilities — and the will to use them. This won’t work with political warfare.

Vladimir Putin’s Popularity Is Skyrocketing Among Republicans

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s net favorable rating among Republicans has climbed by an astonishing 56 percentage points since July 2014, according to a new YouGov/Economist poll.

Thirty-seven percent of Republicans polled hold a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Putin, while 47 percent hold a very or somewhat unfavorable opinion of him.

Though still negative overall, that -10 percentage point net approval rating represents a drastic increase from 2014, when Putin’s net favorable rating stood at -66 points among Republicans, according to YouGov Elections Editor Will Jordan.

The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.

WASHINGTON — When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

Rise of the alt-right: How mainstream conservatives’ obsession with purity fueled a new right-wing radicalism

Faced with the emergence of the new racist political movement known as the “alt-right,” mainstream conservatives have generally responded in two ways: angry denunciation or cooptation of its worst tendencies. Both approaches have been ineffective, largely because of the political weakness of “movement conservatism” in the post-Cold War world, but also because fringe views are more closely integrated within today’s American right than they were in the days of Dwight Eisenhower or Richard Nixon.

Remembering El Mozote, the Worst Massacre in Modern Latin American History

Cerro Pando, El Salvador—Five days after the massacre, Trinidad Ramírez returned to his childhood home to bury his mother, sister, brother, 8-year-old niece, and 6-year-old nephew. He and two other men dug a meter-deep hole at the foot of a sapote tree. They wrapped the charred bodies in sheets and curtains and said a hasty prayer. Then they fled. There were still soldiers around.

Ramírez had been working as a field hand farther down the mountain, trying to survive an increasingly bloody civil war between leftist guerrillas and right-wing government troops. It was December 1981. The United States was sending the Salvadoran military a million dollars a day. Soldiers killed Ramírez’s family and nearly 1,000 other civilians—mostly women, children, and old people—in a scorched-earth operation in El Mozote, La Joya, Cerro Pando, and surrounding villages in the department of Morazán. It was the worst massacre in modern Latin American history.

Unhappy Russians nostalgic for Soviet-style rule

A quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, life satisfaction in Russia and other ex-Soviet states remains stubbornly low, with enthusiasm wavering for democracy and open market economics, according to a survey.

The study found that only 15% of Russians think their households have a better quality of life, compared with 30% in 2010 when respondents were last asked, and only 9% see their finances as better than four years ago.

GOP Senator Blames Opioid Epidemic On...Obamacare?

WASHINGTON ― Republicans and various conspiracy theorists have said a lot of crazy things about the Affordable Care Act. Think death panels or microchips embedded under your skin. But Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) appears to have come up with a brand-new one: Americans abuse heroin and painkillers because of Obamacare.

Yes, he actually made this argument.

Because it’s not enough for conservatives to say that the Affordable Care Act raised health insurance prices for some people, or that it costs the government too much money, or that the federal government shouldn’t legally mandate that people get health coverage.

Which Way Does the Arc of Obama’s Moral Universe Bend?

Our first black president will turn over the White House next month to a man I took to calling the Orange Hindenburg, back when I was sure the candidacy of Donald Trump would crash and burn. I was certain that the political, social, and racial legacy of Barack Obama would be preserved by the so-called Obama coalition: the black and brown voters, backed by some white women and millennials, who had made him president. Instead, that legacy could be obliterated by what pundits are calling a “whitelash”: the unexpected surge of white voters who took their country back from a black man, refused to hand it over to a liberal white woman, and entrusted it instead to a man whose victory has been hailed by white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan.

Have we been talking about climate change all wrong?

Conservatives who dismiss science might see climate change differently if exposed to messages that evoke the more verdant past rather than an apocalyptic future, according to a new study.

“The trick is to present a very positive past standard, and then draw attention to the less positive present,” said Matthew Baldwin, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Cologne, whose latest research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Democratic Fault Line Between Obama And Sanders Is Different Than You Think

Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will challenge Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in the contest to run the Democratic Party, a top-ranking party official confirmed to The Huffington Post.

A second party source said Perez was merely “exploring” a bid, first reported by The New York Times, but he would likely announce his intention to run in the next few days. Should that happen, the contest would pit two proven progressive candidates against each other, exposing a new rift in Democratic politics between the party’s emerging new establishment in Washington, D.C., and the forces that remain in the White House ― after eight years in which those two factions were one and the same.

UN Human Rights Office reports “slaughter” in Aleppo: At least 82 civilians killed by pro-government forces

As pro-government forces invade the neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, Syria, reports of civilian bloodshed have reached the United Nations. The UN Human Rights Office announced Tuesday that more than 80 civilians have been killed in the region “either by intense bombardment or summary execution” by pro-government forces.

Multiple sources have reported that pro-Government forces killed at least 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children, in the Bustan al-Qasr, al-Ferdous, al-Kallaseh, and al-Saleheen neighborhoods yesterday,” the UN Human Rights Office reported.

Le Pen vs Le Pen: French far Right’s latest family feud

PARIS — France’s National Front is at risk of a major split ahead of next year’s presidential election, with party leader Marine Le Pen on one side and her combative niece on the other.

The spat began last week when Marion Maréchal-Le Pen went against the party line by saying she opposed full public reimbursement for abortions. It was far from the first time the 26-year-old MP, who is beloved by Catholic conservatives, had struck out on her own.

Aleppo battle: UN says civilians shot on the spot

Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says.

The UN's human rights office said streets were full of bodies.

Meanwhile, the UN children's agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack.

Koch brothers protégé and Founding Father wannabe Gov. Greg Abbott wants to amend your Constitution 9 ways

When you think of America’s great constitutional originators, names like Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton and Franklin come to mind — and, of course, Abbott.

This past January, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the multimillionaire protégé of the Koch brothers’ plutocratic kingdom and American Legislative Exchange Council darling, revealed to a startled nation that he has penned not one but nine new amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Aleppo: Assad forces within 'moments' of retaking city amid reports of atrocities

Residents of east Aleppo have sent out desperate messages imploring the international community to save civilians in besieged districts of the Syrian city, as forces loyal to the president, Bashar al-Assad, bear down on the remaining enclaves still controlled by the opposition.

The rebellion of Aleppo appeared to be in its death throes as Assad’s troops and Iranian-backed militias took control of the vast majority of the territory once held by the opposition, coming within sight of a crucial victory in the war that has cost tens of thousands of lives over four and a half years.

An Enemy of the Kremlin Dies in London

On November 10, 2012, Alexander Perepilichny was feeling a little under the weather. He decided to try to shake it off by taking a few laps around the gated community southwest of London where Russian émigrés like him lived in multimillion-dollar mansions alongside members of the English elite. Perepilichny jogged through a neighborhood of homes once owned by Elton John, Kate Winslet, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr.

He collapsed on Granville Road, within 100 meters of the house he was renting for $20,000 a month. Police and medics were called to the scene, but within 30 minutes, Perepilichny was pronounced dead.