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, July 08, 2017

Mississippi’s richest county uses police checkpoints to enforce segregation, lawsuit claims

Madison County, Mississippi, is among the most segregated places in America. Past court decisions have made note of its “racial isolation” and “confluence of…geography and demography.”

Part of the reason the state’s wealthiest county remains so divided, according to a new class-action lawsuit filed Monday, is that county leaders want it that way — and are willing to use local law enforcement to enforce an unofficial cordon around the county’s roughly 40,000 black residents.

This Mississippi Sheriff’s Department Is Completely Out of Control, Lawsuit Alleges

In racially segregated Madison County, Mississippi, black residents live in fear of the police. According to a federal lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, the Madison County Sheriff’s Department has been using illegal tactics and subjecting people who live in majority-black towns to unreasonable searches of their bodies, their homes, and their cars. The purpose of these stops, the ACLU alleges, is to generate revenue by collecting unpaid fees and fines from those who are detained.

The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked

“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016

“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017

Serge and Beate Klarsfeld hunted Nazis. Now they fight Marine Le Pen.

PARIS — Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, France’s most famous Nazi hunters, thought their activist days were mostly behind them. After decades spent tirelessly tracking down Nazi war criminals across the globe, the couple — now 78 and 82, respectively — had finally settled into a quieter life.

Then Marine Le Pen arrived on the French political scene.

“I Want Americans to Know That Guantánamo Happened Not to Monsters, but to Men”

Lakhdar Boumediene and Mustafa Ait Idir were part of the “Algerian Six,” a group of men rounded up in Bosnia on the unproven claim they had plotted to bomb the American Embassy in Sarajevo. The two were beaten, shackled, blindfolded, and transferred in January 2002 to the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base—where they languished for seven years without charges under torturous conditions. Boumediene went on a 28-month hunger strike and was force-fed through a broken nose. The strike, he told me, “was the only thing I could control. Going hungry was hard, but it would have been harder to do nothing at all.”

This is the catastrophe the world has been ignoring

Blackouts, deaths, a state of emergency. Over the course of the past few months, Venezuela’s national crisis has gone from bad to worse, as food shortages and economic distress have pushed citizens into the streets. Protests have been raging for the past two months, resulting in the deaths of at least 37 people, with more than 700 protesters wounded and over 1,000 arrested. The situation hasn’t been getting a tremendous amount of attention in the Western world — but after this week, that could change.

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

On 22 February 2014, I published a post on my blog. I titled it “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race”. It read: “I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race. Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the existence of structural racism and its symptoms. I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience. You can see their eyes shut down and harden. It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals. It’s like they can no longer hear us.

NDP-Green accord touted as a way to give B.C. certainty provides Trudeau anything but

When the leaders of British Columbia's NDP and Green Party stood before the microphones in Victoria on Monday to say they'd reached a deal to join forces, the reverberations were felt clear across the country, on Parliament Hill.

While the deal won't be finalized until later today, it could spell an end to Christy Clark's chances of holding on to power before she can even introduce a throne speech that might take into account the priorities of the province's three Green MLAs, on things like political finance reform, more affordable housing and funding for clean technology.

As Putin Looks On, Macron Says Russian State News Channels Spread Lies About Him

The first meeting between Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was bound to be a little awkward, given that Macron’s aides had all but publicly blamed Russia for a massive cyberattack on his campaign on the eve of the election.

Asked about those suspicions on Monday at a joint news conference with the Russian president in Versailles, Macron said that the subject had not come up during their working lunch — because he had already raised it when Putin called to congratulate him on his victory. “When I say things once, I don’t usually repeat myself,” Macron added.

Two Vile Names, One Sweetheart Deal: Goldman Bails Out Maduro

Who says two amoral and corrupt institutions with diametrically opposing ideologies can't collaborate to sink even lower together?

Goldman Sachs, infamous investment bank and symbol of international predatory capitalism, has made a devil's bargain with Nicolás Maduro, the infamous left-wing dictator of Venezuela who claims to despise companies just like Goldman. As Forbes writes:

With Italy No Longer in U.S. Focus, Russia Swoops to Fill the Void

ROME — President Trump made the most of his short time in Italy. He was treated to a private audience with the pope, met with both the country’s president and its prime minister in Rome, flew to Sicily for a summit meeting of world leaders and visited with American troops at a nearby naval air station.

But as the sudden burst of diplomatic activity subsided with his departure, European and American officials fear a return to the new normal of American inattention as the administration struggles with political turmoil and Russia-related scandals back home.

Al Franken: The Happy Warrior

Last November, Al Franken had this great idea for a sketch.

Bits still come to him, unbidden, all of these years after Saturday Night Live. He doesn't do anything with them. At this stage in his life, as a U.S. senator representing his home state of Minnesota, passing along a freebie to one of his friends in show business would leave Franken with little control over the final outcome. ("Many a slip 'twixt cup and lip," as one of his favorite sayings goes.) Anyway, the idea for the bit came after Donald Trump's first postelection visit to the White House – that fleeting moment when, after meeting with Barack Obama, Trump seemed uncharacteristically humbled by the awesomeness of his new responsibility, and perhaps even spooked enough to lean on his predecessor for advice.

Home News The trouble with Andrew Scheer

“Harper lite” or "Harper with a Smile”?

Countless columns have described newly minted Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer as a kinder, gentler Stephen Harper, a "safe" choice for a party and conservative movement in Canada being pushed further to policy extremes by a growing social conservative base.

Yet, to a large extent the views of the 38-year-old MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan are more conservative than Harper's. Scheer has signaled he plans to move the CPC from the relatively moderate positions it often adopted under interim leader Rona Ambrose, who recently announced she is leaving politics.

Gun Rights Group Takes a Shot at Elizabeth Warren — Over Effort to Make Hearing Aids Cheaper

A small-time K Street battle between hearing aid manufacturers on one side and electronics firms who want to make cheaper ones on the other has attracted the attention of a radical gun rights group, looking to take a shot at one of the bill’s backers.

A bipartisan group in in the Senate introduced a bill in March to make hearing aids more affordable by allowing them to be sold-over-the counter. Only a handful of manufacturers make hearing aids, and most state laws restrict the selling of hearing aids to licensed audiologists, giving them an effective monopoly.

Greens and NDP Agree to End Liberal Era

The BC NDP will form government with Green support under an agreement the leaders of the two parties announced together today.

“I’m very excited about the prospect of delivering the people of British Columbia what they voted for, and that was change,” NDP leader John Horgan told reporters at the legislature.

Horgan said he hasn’t spoken with Liberal leader Christy Clark since election night, and Green leader Andrew Weaver said his party had serious discussions with both the Liberals and NDP about who they would help form government.

Document forgery in financial industry more common than you'd think, past employees say

Employees in Canada's financial industry are speaking out about falsifying documents, telling Go Public that potentially criminal acts — like forging and photocopying customer signatures, adding initials to blank documents and using Wite-Out to conceal information — are more common than most people would think.

"It was easily 85 per cent of the back sales team doing it," says a former CIBC financial services representative, speaking about the last branch in which she worked, but adding that forging signatures on documents occurred in other branches she worked as well.  CBC has agreed to conceal her identity.