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.]

Friday, April 26, 2013

How can you tell if your shirt was made in a sweatshop?

The death of more than 300 people in a garment building collapse in Bangladesh has renewed concerns about the conditions of workers who make clothing for some of the biggest brands in the Western world, including Canada’s Joe Fresh.

But analysts say the supply chain of the modern garment industry makes it hard for consumers to determine whether the shirt or pair of pants they bought was the product of sweatshop labour.

Feds commit sociology to learn why terrorists act

This is awkward.

By now, we’re all familiar with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s condemnation of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s remarks about seeking the root causes of terrorism.

When Paul Wells of Maclean’s noted last week that the federal government is paying $10 million over five years to fund exactly that kind of research, the Conservative spin on Trudeau’s remarks evolved to focus on their timing, coming as they did in the hours after the Boston Marathon terror attacks. That is, it wasn’t the right time to talk about causes.

Pierre Poilievre: 'The Root Cause Of Terrorism Is Terrorists'

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre has apparently taken the memo from his boss not to “commit sociology” or think too hard about what causes terrorism.

“The root causes of terrorism is terrorists,” Poilevre said bluntly on CBC’s Power & Politics Thursday.

Poilievre, part of a panel debating the politics of terror in Canada, slammed rookie Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s comments in the wake of the Boston bombings.

Keystone XL Pipeline Delayed: TransCanada Says U.S. Regulatory Hold-Up Pushing Back Project

CALGARY - TransCanada Corp. said Friday its controversial and long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline will take longer and cost more to bring into service than previously expected as it continues to await U.S. government approval.

The company (TSX:TRP) had been sticking to its late 2014 or early 2015 start up target, but the longer the regulatory process dragged on, the more difficult achieving that target became.

Why Christie Blatchford Is Wrong About My Daughter Rehtaeh

This morning I woke up and read an article in the National Post about Rehtaeh's case. I'm not upset or mad. A little disappointed maybe. The writer, Christie Blatchford, makes a few statements I would like to address.

    "What they had was a complainant whose evidence was all over the map, independent evidence that supported the notion that any sex was consensual, and no evidence that Rehtaeh was so drunk that she couldn't consent: The case was a mess." ~ Christie Blatchford

Occupy Draws a Bead on the NRA

Demonstrators protesting the US Senate's inaction on gun violence gathered in Washington's McPherson Park on Thursday before marching to the front doors of five lobbying firms that have worked on behalf of the National Rifle Association. The payments those firms received from the NRA in 2012 were displayed on giant novelty checks that demonstrators held up for photo-ops in front of police officers guarding the entrances.

That wasn't the original plan, exactly. The protest's organizers, which included Occupy the NRA, Public Campaign, and CREDO*, had intended to drive a hearse full of caskets to the firms back on April 16. That was the day before the Senate rejected the watered-down background check compromise bill brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). It was also the day after the Boston bombing, after which the organizers decided to postpone the march and tone down the imagery.

Yes, George W. Bush Was a Terrible President, and No, He Wasn’t Smart

More than three years still remained in George W. Bush’s presidency when it had already collapsed by the end of 2005. The Bush revisionism industry has thus enjoyed an unusually long period of time in which to plan out its action and predict their man’s comeback as a misunderstood, unduly maligned and — dare they say it? — successful president. The opening of the Bush museum today has opened up a flood of pent-up Bush revisionism.

Reinhart And Rogoff In NYT Op-Ed Aggressively Defend Error-Plagued Research

While a barrage of searing political criticism is certainly making them feel terrible, Kenneth S. Rogoff and Carmen M. Reinhart are not backing away from austerity.

The controversial Harvard economists and champions of austerity took to the pages of the New York Times on Friday in two essays again defending their highly influential work on the relationship between public debt and economic growth.

Louie Gohmert: 'Muslim Brotherhood Members' Have 'Influence' In Obama Administration

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said he thinks "Muslim brotherhood members" have "influence" in President Barack Obama's administration.

In an interview on WND Radio published on Thursday, Gohmert criticized immigration reform efforts in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, claiming that "radical Islam is at war" with America.

"It’s very clear to everybody but this administration that radical Islam is at war against us," Gohmert said."And I’m hoping either this administration will wake up or a new one will come in at the next election before irreparable damage is done."

One Fund Boston Raises More Than $20 Million, But Will It Be Enough For Injured Marathon Victims?

Cost of amputating a leg? At least $20,000. Cost of an artificial leg? More than $50,000 for the most high-tech models. Cost of an amputee's rehab? Often tens of thousands of dollars more.

These are just a fraction of the medical expenses victims of the Boston Marathon bombing will face.

The mammoth price tag is probably not what patients are focusing on as they begin the long healing process. But friends and strangers are already setting up fundraisers and online crowd-funding sites, and a huge Boston city fund has already collected more than $23 million in individual and corporate donations.

Gitmo Hunger Strike Rises To 97 Prisoners

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The number of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who are on a hunger strike has risen again.

Lt. Col. Samuel House said Friday that 97 men are now on strike, up three from the day before. He says 19 of them are receiving liquid nutrients through a nasal tube to prevent dangerous weight loss. Another five are under observation at the hospital on the U.S. base in Cuba.

He says none have life-threatening conditions.

The hunger strike began in February, with prisoners protesting conditions and their indefinite confinement. Lawyers for the prisoners say the military is undercounting the number of hunger strikers.

The U.S. holds 166 prisoners at Guantanamo, most without charges.

Original Article
Author: AP

Google Transparency Report Reveals More Government Snooping Than Ever

google transparency report
A graph of content removal requests from Google.
World governments keep asking Google to remove content, and Google keeps tattling on them. In its latest transparency report, released Thursday, Google writes that the number of requests from governments to remove online content has grown. Between July and December 2012, Google received 2,285 requests to remove online content, compared with only 1,811 requests during the first six months of 2012. These numbers have been steadily growing since 2010.

US ponders Syria options but urges caution over chemical weapons claims

The US is considering a range of military responses to alleged evidence of chemical weapons use by Syria but remains cautious about significant intervention.

Congressmen briefed by secretary of state John Kerry on Friday in Washington say the most likely option Kerry outlined would involve joining other countries in arming specific rebel groups.

S Korea to pull all workers from Kaesong

South Korea has decided to withdraw the roughly 175 of its nationals stationed at Kaesong joint industrial zone after North Korea rejected Seoul’s offer to open formal talks on restarting operations at the complex, according to a senior official.

Seoul said on Friday it was worried about its workers not having access to food and medicine at the factory park that has been closed for nearly a month.

UK to confiscate passports from ‘suspected’ terrorists, criminals, football hooligans

UK citizens can now be stripped of their passports for “actual or suspected” activities declared to be “contrary to the public interest” without a legal procedure, Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.

May told parliament the move is aimed at “individuals who seek to engage in fighting, extremist activity or terrorist training outside the United Kingdom, for example, and then return to the UK with enhanced capabilities that they then use to conduct an attack on UK soil.”

White House says the US may use military force against Syria

The White House says that United States President Barack Obama may approve of using military force against the Syrian government.

Early afternoon on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the administration has a number of options in regards to handling reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons, and those routes include but are not exclusive to using military force.

Deloitte, Ernst And Young, KPMG And PwC Using 'Insider Knowledge' From Treasury To Dodge Tax

Big accountancy firms are using "insider knowledge" gained from Treasury staff to help companies and wealthy individuals avoid paying UK taxes.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee warned over the way the big four firms - Deloitte, Ernst and Young, KPMG and PwC - were able to exploit loopholes in tax laws.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said the practice represented a "ridiculous conflict of interest" which should be banned.

Major Retailers Rejected Bangladesh Factory Safety Plan

DHAKA, Bangladesh — As Bangladesh reels from the deaths of hundreds of garment workers in a building collapse, the refusal of global retailers to pay for strict nationwide factory inspections is bringing renewed scrutiny to an industry that has profited from a country notorious for its hazardous workplaces and subsistence-level wages.

After a factory fire killed 112 garment workers in November, clothing brands and retailers continued to reject a union-sponsored proposal to improve safety throughout Bangladesh's $20 billion garment industry. Instead, companies expanded a patchwork system of private audits and training that labor groups say improves very little in a country where official inspections are lax and factory owners have close relations with the government.

Obama: Stay Out of Syria!

President Obama set a trap for himself last year, when he said that if Syria were to use chemical weapons in the civil war there it would be a “game changer” that would trigger direct US involvement. Now, it appears, he's stepped in it.

In 2012, Obama managed to veto a plan proposed to him by nearly his entire national security team, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, General Martin Dempsey of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and, last but not least, General David Petraeus of the CIA. Among other things, they wanted the United States to send advanced weapons to the rebels in Syria, many of whom are radical-right, fundamentalist Muslims allied to Al Qaeda. Rightly, Obama said no. But the “red line” about Syrian weapons of mass destruction was left open.

Uh oh.

Trudeau Ads Not Bullying, Just Part Of Debate, Says PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that flyers targeting new Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau shouldn't be confused with bullying and that the Conservative Party is following the rules on sending material to constituents.

The flyers contain the same messages featured in radio and television advertisements launched by the government immediately after Trudeau was chosen as his party's leader on April 14. They call the Quebec MP's judgment and work experience into question and use the tagline: "He's in way over his head."

Conservative think-tank accused of ‘intimidation,’ shunning some candidates

Two civic politicians are accusing Preston Manning’s home-builder-funded campaign program of training only its preferred conservative candidates, after they say they were deemed unworthy.

The Manning Centre has come under intense scrutiny and criticism this week after home builders revealed they’ve given the centre $1.1 million to help train candidates who can block Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s agenda to better control the pace of suburban expansion.

Canada Revenue Agency owed $29-billion as uncollected tax debt soars 60% since 2006 audit

The Canada Revenue Agency’s total uncollected tax debt has soared about 60% to $29-billion in the past seven years, at the same time the cost of “doubtful accounts” unlikely to be collected has more than doubled to almost $12-billion.

The CRA has, however, also significantly increased its collection of other tax debt in recent years — resolving $40-billion in 2011-12 — demonstrating it’s having mixed results in snaring the tax dollars owed by Canadians.

Conservative citizenship-stripping bill barbaric and pointless

The Conservative government stands poised to pass a law empowering the minister of Citizenship and Immigration to expedite the citizenship of certain permanent residents and to strip Canadians of their citizenship for misconduct as citizens. This is part of a larger campaign to increase the value of Canadian citizenship by making it harder to acquire, harder to pass on to your children, harder to retain, and easier to lose. Each is a solution in search of a problem: Has Canadian citizenship been devalued? By what measure? In comparison to what? What tangible (as opposed to symbolic) benefits will these changes confer, on whom, and at whose cost?

Harper government supports private bill that could bring minimum 40-year sentences for some violent crimes

OTTAWA – The triple crime of abduction, rape and murder will likely soon be punishable by at least 40 years in prison after the federal government lent its support to a Conservative private member’s bill Thursday.

It’s the latest in what appears to be a new push of its tough-on-crime agenda by the Conservative government, following recent terror attacks and foiled plots. It also comes as the government marks the eighth annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

Trudeau, Harper and Mulcair and two weeks that have changed Canadian politics

It’s not even been two weeks since Justin Trudeau was handed the Liberal crown, but his ascension to the party’s wobbly throne has tossed the country into a mini-election campaign.

The governing Conservatives, of course, never stop campaigning, whether they have a minority or majority.

But the frenetic pace of politicking here in the past couple of weeks has allowed for a close examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the three main political parties and their leaders.

Foreign policy and the consequences of drone killings

In the echoing words of the late Susan Sontag: "Let's by all means grieve together, but let's not be stupid together." She wrote that to Americans after 9/11. It applies maybe quadruple after the Boston bombings -- and to us as well.

U.S. policy-makers knew a huge spike in their drone killings in the Muslim world would have consequences. Why? Because actions have consequences. Just as they should've known that invading and shredding two nations, Afghanistan and Iraq, would have consequences. The surviving Tsarnaev brother "told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother." (Washington Post) The deceased brother told a friend: "America is a colonial power trying to colonize the Middle East and Africa." (60 Minutes). The conclusion they drew -- bombing the Boston Marathon -- is heinous. But it comes from somewhere and has antecedents, such as the civilian bombings of the Second World War on all sides. It also has its logic: you kill our innocents and we'll kill yours. It's barbaric, not irrational.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends Conservative bulk-mail campaign against Justin Trudeau

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there’s nothing wrong with using taxpayers’ dollars to finance a bulk-mail campaign against Justin Trudeau.

But the newly minted Liberal leader is hitting back, accusing the Tories of using the public purse to spread distortions and lies.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, meanwhile, says both the Conservatives and Liberals are equally guilty of abusing public funds for purely partisan purposes, although New Democrats have been known to do the same in the past.

We have a new anti-terror bill. Anyone else terrified?

Under Stephen Harper’s reign — and a reign it is — Canada has entered a kind of maple syrup Middle Ages.

Covered by the most treacly platitudes, things happen without solid reasons and at the pleasure of the king. Sometimes, the way the official narrative unfolds is funny in a macabre sort of way.

Take those Mounties at this week’s terror-arrest presser. They looked like extras from Jason Kenney’s department fresh from impersonating new citizens on Sun TV. No wonder the Big Bust was laughed off Fox News as a bunch of guys self-censoring in multiple languages.

Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Taken On By Congress In Right-To-Know Act

On Wednesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) introduced bills to the Senate and House of Representatives that would require food manufacturers to clearly label any product containing genetically engineered ingredients -- or risk having that product classified "misbranded" by the FDA.

Health Insurance Market Left Out 55 Million Americans In 2012, Survey Says

More than 40 percent of U.S. residents went without health insurance or had coverage that didn't protect them against high medical costs last year, survey results released Friday reveal.

Thirty percent of people in the U.S., or 55 million, were uninsured for at least part of the year prior to the survey, which was conducted from April to August 2012 for the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based research organization. Another 30 million people, or 16 percent of the population, were "underinsured," meaning their health plans offered too little coverage and exposed them to high out-of-pocket costs, the survey found.

Bangladesh Police Fire Rubber Bullets And Tear Gas Fired At Dhaka Garment Factory Protesters

Rubber bullets and tear gas have been used against thousands of protesters in Bangladesh, as crowds took to the streets calling for better working conditions after a factory collapsed killing at least 270 people.

As rescuers continued to search the rubble for survivors, police clashed with angry garment workers who want better safety standards in factories, many of whom export clothes to Western companies.

“Love Has No Color”: Georgia High School Students Set to Hold First Integrated Prom

A group of Georgia high school students are making history by challenging the segregation of their high school prom. Thanks to their efforts and the support of groups like the NAACP, Wilcox County High will hold its first ever integrated prom this Saturday, nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education desegregated the nation’s school system. In the past, the proms have been organized by private groups, and parents behind the "white prom" have refused to let African-American students attend. Local officials say the segregated prom has continued because it is organized privately, out of the school district’s control. News of the case spread quickly over social media, fueling support and donations for an integrated prom from as far away as Australia and South Korea. We speak with two of the students who are helping to organize the integrated prom: Mareshia Rucker and Brandon Davis. We also speak to Mareshia’s mother, Toni Rucker, who encouraged her daughter’s efforts. In addition, we air an excerpt from a recent interview with Carlotta Walls LaNier, who was 14-years old when she became one of the “Little Rock Nine” who integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Did FBI Focus on Controversial Stings Distract from Pursuit of Tsarnaev Before Boston Attacks?

Questions are mounting over whether U.S. security officials failed to heed warnings that could have foiled the bombing of the Boston Marathon. After news emerged that the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was on the intelligence radar in the United States. As a result, there have been growing calls for federal agencies to re-examine their priorities, particularly to focus on sting operations that critics say constitute entrapment. We speak with Trevor Aaronson, author of “The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism,” published in January. He is co-director of the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and a contributing writer at Mother Jones. His most recent article is called, "How the FBI in Boston May Have Pursued the Wrong 'Terrorist.'" In the piece, he writes while the FBI "decided to stop tracking Tsarnaev — whose six-month trip to Russia at that time is now of prime interest to investigators — the FBI conducted a sting operation against an unrelated young Muslim man who had a fantastical plan for attacking the U.S. Capitol with a remote-controlled airplane."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Clement: Ontario 'Ring Of Fire' Will Be Canada's Next Oil Sands

Ontario’s “Ring of Fire” mining project promises to be the economic equivalent of another oil sands, Treasury Board President Tony Clement says.

Clement, who was recently appointed the federal government’s point man on Northern Ontario development, said the giant mining project — which faces delays and opposition from some First Nations groups — would eventually expand to be worth $120 billion, when taking into account all the economic activity the planned mine and smelter would generate.

The Commons: Now is not the time for subtlety

It was just two weeks ago, asked about Alberta’s carbon tax, that Peter Kent was moved to muse aloud about a contentious and contested topic. “There hasn’t,” he ventured, “been a great deal of subtlety in talking about carbon pricing.”

Perhaps this lack of subtlety is something like the root cause of our current impasse. Or perhaps this is no time for nuance.

The foreign press is now referring to Joe Oliver as the Canadian “oil minister, which is terribly unfair to the trees and rocks and water he is also responsible for making use of. Of a year-old op-ed, Mr. Oliver is accusing a NASA scientist of “crying wolf” and suggesting that James Hansen ”should be chaining himself to a mannequin in Rodeo Drive,” which would be pointless unless the mannequin was itself nailed down. And now another scientist is likening Mr. Oliver to “a Shetland pony in the Kentucky Derby,” who is “making Canada look like a country full of jerks,” which is terribly unfair to at least the three or four of us who aren’t.

Teachers ‘insulted’ by Harper Tories for Trudeau attack ads that ‘target’ their profession

OTTAWA — Conservative Party advertisements that denigrate Justin Trudeau’s past employment as a teacher are an unwarranted attack on the profession and akin to the kind of bullying schools are trying to control, says a national teachers’ organization.

The head of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation says members have been contacting him since the Conservatives began running TV ads that refer to his past as a drama teacher as a sign of his inexperience and unsuitability to lead the country.

“People are very insulted that their profession was targeted in that way,” said Paul Taillefer, president of the federation, a national organization representing about 200,000 teachers. (Taillefer is also a former Liberal candidate who ran unsuccessfully in the 2008 federal election.)

Conservatives defeat Liberal motion on free speech in the Commons

OTTAWA - A Liberal motion aimed at enhancing freedom of speech in the House of Commons was defeated Thursday.

The motion failed by a vote of 150 to 96.

'We've just stripped away essential safeguards': Civil libertarians decry new 'anti-terror' law

With last night's passing of the Combating Terrorism Act (Bill S-7), Canada quietly marked the return of controversial post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation -- granting authorities "exceptional" abilities to detain Canadians, preemptively, for three days without charge, and imprisoning anyone for up to a year who refuses to testify before new "investigative hearings."

 The Conservative bill, mirroring the previous Liberal administration's 2002 measure which had expired under a sunset clause six years ago, passed with the latter party's support, although Liberal MP Irwin Cotler (who was Attorney General from 2003-6) said he would vote for the bill hoping it would be reviewed.

U.S. political advertising experts urge Trudeau to hit back hard against Tory attacks, but Liberals say Trudeau’s determined to take high road

PARLIAMENT HILL—Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau risks permanent damage from a barrage of Conservative attack ads trying to brand him as an inexperienced leader “in over his head” unless the Liberals mount an equally forceful campaign establishing Mr. Trudeau’s qualities and character the way they want the public to see him, political advertising strategists for both Democrat and Republican campaigns in the U.S. told The Hill Times Thursday.

Rent control loophole blamed for rising condo rents

The Ontario government needs to close a loophole that has created a “two-tiered system of renters” — an increasing number of them in new downtown condos where some landlords are jacking up rents as a form of economic eviction, says the head of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations.

The federation has had numerous calls from condo tenants, surprised to discover that apartment or condominium buildings occupied after November 1, 1991 are exempt from rent controls.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper rejects ‘sociology’ talk in wake of terror plots

OTTAWA—Now isn’t the time to talk about “sociology” despite concerns about radicalization of Canadian youth in the wake of terrorist plotting, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

The prime minister refused to be drawn into a discussion about “root causes,” the very topic that caused trouble for rookie Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau a week earlier.

Canada Is Slowly But Surely Shifting To Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism, aligned as it is with “rule by corporations”, is something that happens in incremental steps over time.  Nobody actually chooses it, it just happens, and it’s happening to Canada right now.

What are the conditions that foster these top-down, undemocratic trends?  Public conformity in matters of importance plays a large part.

Corporate “governance”, with its anti-social, anti-public orientation, is adept at manufacturing and perpetuating public conformity by employing subtle but effective tools that secretly subvert the populace.  These tools are employed to create what  Sheldon Wolin would describe as “inverted totalitarianism”.  The tactics persuade a population that what the government/corporation wants is also good for people, even when the opposite is the case.

Senior Mounties told not to meet MPs without prior approval

Internal emails obtained by CBC News show that RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has ordered all senior Mounties to get clearance from his office before committing to any meetings with MPs or senators.

Specifically, they are to notify a liaison office that co-ordinates RCMP strategy with the office of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Are average Canadians paying too much in taxes?

On April 23, the Fraser Institute released the annual update of their misleading Consumer Tax Index report. The piece is meant to feed the anti-tax sentiment with numbers sprinkled liberally for their shock value instead of providing any meaningful analysis. Here are some of the main flaws with the report's methodology.

If what follows sounds familiar, it's because I'm drawing heavily from the analysis I did in 2010 here, here and here. All of these critiques continue to apply to the 2013 report, which is based on the exact same problematic methodology as earlier editions employed.

Look in the mirror: Just substitute 'Canadian' for 'American child-care hell'

An article in the April 29 issue of The New Republic has generated considerable interest in U.S. child care as its content and perspective have been picked up and extended in social media, other magazines, U.S. TV, radio and daily newspapers and even in offshore news media. The hell of American daycare: the barely regulated, unsafe business of looking after our children describes a case of a fire in a family child-care home caring for seven very young children. The case -- prominent in the media for some time -- involved an untrained 23-year-old caregiver/owner who had left the kids alone to go shop at Target, a practice that --  testimony at the trial asserted -- was not new. An oil-filled pot left cooking on the stove caught fire and four children died. Eventually the caregiver who -- it became clear -- had a criminal record -- was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

A California Town Bleeds From Sequestration's Cuts

Except for the heavily armed guard at the entrance, there is little to suggest that the sprawling Navy airbase outside Lemoore—a town of 25,000 in central California—is anything but an oddly placed subdivision. Driving through its streets, we pass manicured lawns, several playgrounds, even a McDonald’s. It is not until we come to an intersection that the first hint of our location appears. Daddy, your princess has missed you! reads a handmade sign, swaying gently in the wind.

Times Square Targeted By Boston Marathon Bombing Suspects, FBI Says

The brothers who allegedly detonated pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon had rudimentary plans of traveling to New York for an attack on Times Square, according to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told interrogators that he and his older brother, Tamerlan, intended to set off explosives in Manhattan, according to unnamed law enforcement officials who spoke to Reuters and NBC News.

'You Deserve Rape' Sign Held By 'Brother Dean' Outrages University Of Arizona Students

Dean Saxton, a student at the University of Arizona, stood on campus Tuesday wearing a shirt that said "Virgin Pride" and holding a sign reading "You Deserve Rape."

Saxton, who's known on the UA campus as "Brother Dean," gathered a crowd of onlookers by holding the sign and suggesting women who wear short shorts in 90-degree weather are asking to be raped, the Daily Wildcat reported.

Spain Unemployment Hits Record High On Recession Fears

MADRID, April 24 (Reuters) - More than six million Spaniards were out of work in the first quarter of this year, raising the jobless rate in the euro zone's fourth biggest economy to 27.2 percent, the highest since records began in the 1970s.

The huge sums poured into the global financial system by major central banks have eased bond market pressure on Spain, but the cuts Madrid has made in spending to regain investors' confidence have left it deep in recession.

Syria Likely Used Chemical Weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Says

WASHINGTON — The White House declared Thursday that U.S. intelligence indicates Syrian President Bashar Assad has twice used deadly chemical weapons in his country's fierce civil war, a provocative action that would cross President Barack Obama's "red line" for a significant military response. But the administration said the revelation won't immediately change its stance on intervening.

The information, which has been known to the administration and some members of Congress for weeks, isn't solid enough to warrant quick U.S. involvement in the 2-year-old conflict, the White House said. Officials said the assessments were made with "varying degrees of confidence" given the difficulty of information gathering in Syria, though there appeared to be little question within the intelligence community.