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, August 16, 2013

Jamie Dimon and the Case of the Dastardly Europeans

On Wednesday afternoon, federal prosecutors unveiled criminal charges against two former traders at J.P. Morgan Chase’s London office, for falsifying records and trying to cover up the multi-billion-dollar losses accumulated by a fellow-employee, Bruno Iksil, the French-born trader known as the London Whale. One of the men indicted, Julien Grout, is also French. The other, Javier Martin-Artajo, is Spanish. Somewhat surprisingly, the bank didn’t have anything to say about the charges. It didn’t offer up any senior executives to be interviewed by the Times or the Journal, and it didn’t put out a press release. So I wrote one myself. It isn’t couched in the language that Dimon’s P.R. flacks would have used, but I think it pretty much summarizes their position: the blame for this mess lies a very, very long way from J.P. Morgan’s Park Avenue headquarters.

Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized "17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants ... native grasses and sunflowers," after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

On the Selling of the Egyptian Coup to Liberals

Immediately after the Egyptian military ousted Mohamed Morsi on July 3, supporters of the army’s actions began circulating a YouTube video of twelve-year-old Ali Ahmed, a well-dressed and articulate young man whose comments they cited as evidence that the overthrow of an elected president wasn’t a coup but a shining example of democracy. The video, which went out under titles like “12 Year Old Egyptian Explains Revolution in Minutes,” “Egypt: The Next President,” and “Brilliant Egyptian Boy Explains What’s Happening in His Country,” had been filmed six months earlier in Cairo by a news outlet called El Wady.

Exclusive: Edward Snowden Says Media Being Misled 'About My Situation'

NEW YORK –- National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden wants to set the record straight after individuals associated with his father have, in his words, "misled" journalists into “printing false claims about my situation.”

In an emailed statement to The Huffington Post, Snowden said that neither his father Lon Snowden, his father’s lawyer Bruce Fein, nor Fein's wife and spokeswoman Mattie Fein “represent me in any way.”

Is The Government Lying About How Much Of Your Metadata It's Using?

On Sunday, former NSA Chief Michael Hayden repeated what has become a familiar Obama administration talking point: While the government may make a record of every single call every American makes, its analysts actually use almost none of that data.

"You've got this metadata," Hayden said, arguing for a further expansion of government surveillance powers in the event of a future terrorist attack. "It's now queried under very, very narrow circumstances."

Kansas Anti-Abortion Activist Says George Tiller's Former Clinic Is 'Trying To Provoke' Gun Violence

The Wichita, Kan., abortion clinic that reopened in April for the first time since the 2009 shooting of Dr. George Tiller is "trying to provoke an incident" of gun violence in order to raise money, a prominent Kansas anti-abortion activist alleged Thursday.

Mark Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said he believes the South Wind Women's Center is allowing volunteers to escort women into the clinic in hopes that they will harass the anti-abortion protesters outside and provoke a shooting. He said Julie Burkhart, the founder and owner of the clinic, would blame the incident on the protesters in order to raise money.

NSA Violated Surveillance Rules Thousands of Times, Intercepted All 202 Area Code Calls By Accident

The Washington Post has revealed the National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008. According to an NSA audit from May 2012 leaked by Edward Snowden, there were 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. In one case, the NSA intercepted a "large number" of calls placed from Washington when a programming error confused the U.S. area code 202 for 20, the international dialing code for Egypt. The audit only counted violations committed at the NSA’s Fort Meade headquarters and other facilities in the Washington area. We speak to Alex Abdo of the American Civil Liberties Union.

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New Human Trafficking Laws Now Passed In 39 U.S. States: Report

Cindy McCain spoke out Wednesday not as a businesswoman or a politician's wife but as a modern-day abolitionist, fighting human trafficking at a time when activists estimate more people are enslaved than at the pinnacle of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

McCain, who co-chairs the Arizona Task Force on Human Trafficking, joined a press call highlighting a newly released report from the Polaris Project. According to the report, 39 states have now passed updated, strong anti-trafficking laws.

Has Multiculturalism in Canada Lost Its Way?

Now that multiculturalism has become a popular concept, it is time for us to add more meat to the bone and expand on what it means to Canada to be a multicultural society.

While most Canadians highlight our multicultural character as a virtue, it continues to mean different things to different people.

Multiculturalism is the recognition that while Canadians share equal rights and responsibilities, they come with diverse cultural backgrounds where each is entitled to practice their faith freely and take pride in their heritage.

Warren Buffett Buys Stake In Calgary's Suncor

Warren Buffett has bought into the Alberta oilsands with a stake in Suncor Energy Inc., according to a Securities Exchange Commission filing released today.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Holdings owned 17.8 million Suncor shares on June 30, a stake valued at more than $500 million in the Calgary-based heavy-oil producer.

AG plans to audit all senators

OTTAWA – Canada’s auditor general plans to review every senator’s expenses amid a firestorm over improper claims.

“We’re still going through our planning phase, but certainly our intention is to look at all the senators,” Michael Ferguson said in an interview Thursday.

Members of the Senate’s internal economy committee voted in June to invite Ferguson’s office to audit senators’ expenses. The call came as the Senate was awash in controversy, after Senators Mac Harb, Patrick Brazeau and Mike Duffy had their living and housing allowances subject to an independent audit.

Auditor general set to probe Senate expenses

OTTAWA — Canada’s auditor general is readying his office for a Senate expense audit that will examine the spending practices of every member of the troubled upper chamber.

Michael Ferguson’s audit could take at least a year to complete, said a source familiar with the plan the auditor laid out earlier this week for the Senate’s internal economy committee.

Massacre in Egypt and the return of the military Pharaohs

The Egyptian state is using a level of deadly force that it has never yet dared to use at any point in the Egyptian revolution. The result has been horrific carnage around the country that has thrown into question the whole revolutionary process.

Hundreds are dead, hundreds more are injured and the killing is not over yet. A month long military curfew is now in place.

Winter warfare centre in High Arctic quietly unveiled by Harper government

OTTAWA - The Harper government says its long-promised army winter warfare centre is finally open for business in Nunavut.

The Resolute Bay facility, first announced in 2007 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is a year-round centre shared with Natural Resources Canada that will serve as the army's command post during operations in the Far North.

The government announcement, issued today with little fanfare, comes as the prime minister prepares to head north for his annual visit to the region.

The U.S. Has The Worst Income Inequality In The Developed World, Thanks To Wall Street: Study

Hey, who says America is in decline? The U.S. is still more awesome than the rest of the world at making at least one thing. And that thing is income inequality.

A new paper by economists Facundo Alvaredo, Anthony B. Atkinson, Thomas Piketty, and Emmanuel Saez lays out just how much better at making inequality the U.S. is than everybody else and tries to explain how it got that way.