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, September 04, 2011

The Big Society - Anarchy With A Middle Class Twist?

Anna is the model citizen. The 31-year-old self-described professional volunteer spends Mondays running a free bike workshop, Wednesdays counselling others in the community, and in her spare time is helping to build a community garden in Camberwell, South London.

For her it's about taking responsibility for where she lives. "If I didn't believe that what I spent most of my time doing made people's lives more pleasant, I'd be pretty lost. I'm hoping that I make life easier for others."

Among her projects: Free computing workshops, a shop set up to help young mothers who cannot afford their kids' back-to-school clothes, free skill-share workshops.

Cash-strapped counter terror unit has to hire private security staff

CASH-strapped West Midlands Police is secretly having to hire private security staff to bolster its stretched counter-terrorism unit, the Sunday Mercury can reveal today.

The force has been taking on private sector contractors to help out at the unit, which is based at Birmingham International Airport and deals with sensitive investigations.

Outside workers, who must undergo security services-style vetting, are being drafted in to help with time-consuming tasks including CCTV viewing and computer analysis.

The agency workers are being hired from a company called G4S Policing Solutions, an arm of global security giant G4S, which was previously known as Group 4 Securicor.

West Midlands Police began taking on agency workers for counter-terror work at the end of last year – after it announced plans to forcibly retire 1,200 experienced officers.

Libya: Files Reveal Cosying Between Gaddafi Regime And MI6

Documents retrieved by Human Rights Watch from Colonel Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief reveal embarrassingly close ties between the regime and western intelligence services.

The documents, found in the offices of Moussa Koussa, Gaddafi’s former right-hand man who has since defected, implicate the CIA in the rendition of suspects to the Libyan security forces, and suggest that MI6 gave the Gaddafi regime details of Libyan dissidents.

Koussa, Libya’s spy chief before he became Foreign Minister is suspected by human rights groups of involvement in the torture of Libyan prisoners; the British Government came under pressure to arrest him when he defected to the UK earlier this year. He has since moved to Qatar.

The files are believed to originate from a period of rapprochement between Gaddafi and the West, with Tony Blair instrumental in bringing the despot back into the international fold.

Human Rights Complaint Filed Against Angelo Persichilli, Harper's New Director Of Communications

MONTREAL - A separatist firebrand in Quebec has filed an official complaint against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's new choice for communications director.

Gilles Rheaume wants the Canadian Human Rights Commission to investigate the appointment of Angelo Persichilli.

The ex-president of the St. Jean Baptiste Society says the fact that Persichilli can't speak French is unfair to French-speaking Canadians and journalists.

Rheaume also says that Persichilli, a former journalist, has engaged in "Quebec bashing" in some of his work.

Rheaume isn't the first Quebecer to complain about the appointment.

Several politicians and pundits have criticized the choice, saying it's a sign the province isn't a priority for Harper.

Source: Huffington 

CIA, MI6 helped Gadhafi persecute dissidents, says watchdog

TRIPOLI—Documents found in the abandoned Tripoli office of Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief indicate the U.S. and British spy agencies helped the fallen strongman persecute Libyan dissidents, Human Rights Watch said Saturday.

The documents were uncovered by the human rights activist group in the abandoned offices of Libya’s former spy chief and foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.

The group said it uncovered hundreds of letters between the CIA, MI6 and Koussa, who is now in exile in London. Letters from the CIA began, “Dear Moussa,” and were signed informally with first names only by CIA officials, Human Rights Watch said.

The current military commander for Tripoli of Libya’s provisional government, Abdel Hakim Belhadj, was among those captured and sent to Libya by the CIA, Human Rights Watch said.

35,000 convicted worldwide for terror after 9/11 attacks

At least 35,000 people worldwide have been convicted as terrorists in the decade since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. But while some bombed hotels or blew up buses, others were put behind bars for waving a political sign or blogging about a protest.

In the first tally ever done of global anti-terror arrests and convictions, The Associated Press documented a surge in prosecutions under new or toughened anti-terror laws, often passed at the urging and with the funding of the West. Before 9/11, just a few hundred people were convicted of terrorism each year.

The sheer volume of convictions, along with almost 120,000 arrests, shows how a keen global awareness of terrorism has seeped into societies, and how the war against it is shifting to the courts. But it also suggests that dozens of countries are using the fight against terrorism to curb dissent and throw political opponents in jail.

Obama Better Give One Hell of a Speech

On the eve of a Labor Day that will mark the unofficial launching place of his 2012 re-election campaign, on the eve of an address to Congress that could be the most important of his presidency, there is no good economic news for Barack Obama.

The US economy has stalled,

A net total of zero jobs were added in the month of July, for which economic data was released Friday morning.

In addition, Friday’s report revealed, the number of hours worked by the average American has begun to decline.

And hourly earnings have dropped.

So even if Americans are employed, they are working less and making less.

Why Screwing Unions Screws the Entire Middle Class

IN 2008, A LIBERAL Democrat was elected president. Landslide votes gave Democrats huge congressional majorities. Eight years of war and scandal and George W. Bush had stigmatized the Republican Party almost beyond redemption. A global financial crisis had discredited the disciples of free-market fundamentalism, and Americans were ready for serious change.

Or so it seemed. But two years later, Wall Street is back to earning record profits, and conservatives are triumphant. To understand why this happened, it's not enough to examine polls and tea parties and the makeup of Barack Obama's economic team. You have to understand how we fell so short, and what we rightfully should have expected from Obama's election. And you have to understand two crucial things about American politics.

The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-'70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.

Since When Is It a Crime to Be Poor?

I completed the manuscript for Nickel and Dimed in a time of seemingly boundless prosperity. Technology innovators and venture capitalists were acquiring sudden fortunes, buying up McMansions like the ones I had cleaned in Maine and much larger. Even secretaries in some high-tech firms were striking it rich with their stock options. There was loose talk about a permanent conquest of the business cycle, and a sassy new spirit infecting American capitalism. In San Francisco, a billboard for an e-trading firm proclaimed, "Make love not war," and then—down at the bottom—"Screw it, just make money."

When Nickel and Dimed was published in May 2001, cracks were appearing in the dot-com bubble and the stock market had begun to falter, but the book still evidently came as a surprise, even a revelation, to many. Again and again, in that first year or two after publication, people came up to me and opened with the words, "I never thought…" or "I hadn't realized…"