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 27, 2013

New Congressional Coalition Emerges Against NSA Surveillance

Something unusual happened on the floor of the House of Representatives this week: Lawmakers divided themselves, not along party lines, but on the question of whether a top-secret surveillance program that has scooped up information from every telephone call in the country over the last seven years should continue. An amendment to the annual defense spending bill – co-sponsored by young, libertarian Michigan Republican Justin Amash and veteran, liberal Michigan Democrat John Conyers – contended that it should not. It failed on Wednesday night by just 12 votes: 205 in favor, 217 against.

Canadian Diplomats Strike At 15 Embassies After Negotiations Fail

OTTAWA - Canada's striking foreign-service officers have escalated their job action to 15 major embassies after an attempt to seek binding arbitration with the federal government broke down Friday.

The Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers accused Treasury Board President Tony Clement of negotiating in bad faith for insisting on a series of preconditions before agreeing to binding arbitration.

The union said Friday it will withdraw services at the 15 largest visa-processing centres in Canadian foreign missions, up from the three it had previously been targeting.

Darrell Issa's Got a Plan to Put the Postal Service in a Death Spiral

Congressman Darrell Issa really is determined to end the United States Postal Service as Americans know it—indeed, as Americans have known it for more than 200 years.

Issa, the powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has a long history of attacking the postal service. But, now, he has taken advantage of a manufactured crisis to get his committee to vote twenty-two to seventeen in favor of a “Postal Reform Act of 2013” that American Postal Workers Union president Cliff Guffey warns “will lead to the demise of the Postal Service.”

Dream Deferred: Are We Leaving Black Students Behind?

NEW YORK -- When Dwight Davis, a black educator from Washington, D.C., thinks about his good teachers, he spouts their names in rapid succession. But when he reflects on the bad ones, their identities fade into a nightmarish blur. It's their actions that haunt him.

There was that time one teacher confused him for a special-education student, so she mistakenly told Davis' mother that he would be held back.

Pentagon: Who We're At War With Is Classified

In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”

So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.

At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”

Trudeau scores

Canada's marijuana laws will not decide the outcome of the next federal election in 2015, but Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's sudden embrace of outright legalization shows he sees which way the wind of Canadian public opinion is blowing.

Mr. Trudeau has moved over the years from supporting the status quo, to decriminalization, to legalization of pot so it can be regulated, controlled and taxed.

Siberia Heat: Did The Arctic Region Break A Heat Record?

Did the Arctic region break a heat record?

According to English-language outlet The Siberian Times, temperatures of 32 degrees Celsius, or 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit, were recorded in the Siberian city of Norilsk on July 21. The average temperature in July in the region is 13.6 C, or 56.48 F.

Controversial anti-terror bill passes, allowing preventative arrests, secret hearings

OTTAWA — As passions flared in the wake of a foiled terror plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train, parliamentarians passed a controversial bill Wednesday to give law enforcement additional tools to stop such activities before they escalate.

Though never before been used, a number of the provisions have been on the books before. Critics, who’ve raised concerns about the bill’s impact on civil liberties, say this week’s arrests are proof the measures are not needed, while experts offer mixed reviews.