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, October 25, 2013

The Far-Right Christian Movement Driving the Debt Default

If the U.S. breaches its debt ceiling this week, bringing with it the global financial panic economists predict, leaders of a little-known far-right movement called Christian Reconstructionism can claim partial responsibility. Their goal: to eradicate the U.S. government so that a theocratic Christian nation emerges to enforce biblical laws.

That's right -- laws out of the Book of Leviticus prohibiting adultery, homosexuality, and abortion, with penalties including death by stoning.

The key leader of this movement is Gary North, founder of the Institute for Christian Economics in Tyler, Texas. He's a long-time associate of Ron Paul, intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement -- the very people responsible for Congressional deadlock over the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate.

NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally

The National Security Agency is harvesting hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world, many of them belonging to Americans, according to senior intelligence officials and top-secret documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The collection program, which has not been disclosed before, intercepts e-mail address books and “buddy lists” from instant messaging services as they move across global data links. Online services often transmit those contacts when a user logs on, composes a message, or synchronizes a computer or mobile device with information stored on remote servers.

Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair Is a Good Start…

Let’s be blunt. Barack Obama is still in denial about the sorry state of the economy, and so are both parties in the stalemated Congress. The government is consumed by wrong arguments about the wrong crisis, while the Federal Reserve keeps pointing out discreetly that the economy is still sick. Prosperity is not just around the corner.

Obama has a way to break out of this mess. Instead of wrangling with know-nothing Republicans over how to cut spending and make things worse, the president should make his “grand bargain” with the Federal Reserve. Together, they can develop an aggressive agenda to stimulate job creation and create the new demand the stagnant economy needs. The president’s explicit support would give the Fed the political cover it needs to use its powers of money creation and directed lending for unusual intervention in the economy. The central bank created $3 trillion in new money to refloat the financial system. It should do something similar, but more modestly, to restore the real economy.

Russia Stabbing Riot: More Than 1,200 People Detained In Moscow

MOSCOW -- MOSCOW (AP) — Police in Moscow rounded up over a thousand employees of a vegetable warehouse on Monday, a day after riots on the Russian capital's southern outskirts.

Police on Sunday arrested hundreds of suspected rioters in the district of Biryulovo after the stabbing death of an ethnic Russian man who allegedly was killed by a native of the North Caucasus, a region in southern Russia. Caucasus natives work at many vegetable markets around the Russian capital.

U.S. Shutdown Could Cut Economic Growth By A FIFTH, Economist Says

In case it wasn’t already painfully obvious, here’s some more evidence the government shutdown is probably hurting the economy.

Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, wrote in a note Friday that the shutdown could shave about 0.5 percent off the next quarter’s GDP growth. Hatzius’ 0.5 prediction may seem small, but if it proves true, it could have a big impact. Initially, Hatzius predicted the economy would grow by 2.5 percent, so cutting the forecast by 0.5 percent marks a 20 percent drop.

Here Are The Sleaziest Things Congress Has Done During The Shutdown

We're now almost two weeks into the government shutdown, and there's been no shortage of outrage over the fact that Congress remains unable to figure out how to end it. Recent polling has shown record levels of support for replacing every member of Congress, and lawmakers are now less popular than witches and dog poop.

This level of unpopularity may not come as a surprise to anyone who's followed the actions of Congress. The shutdown, brought on late last month by House Republicans who insisted that any measure to fund the government must also delay or dismantle Obamacare, has taken a nationwide toll on federal workers and programs. With around 800,000 federal employees furloughed without pay and programs for veterans, women and children increasingly becoming hobbled by the congressional impasse, lawmakers have been more successful at upsetting the people they serve than at ending the shutdown.

Open Season

In 1965, America’s big companies had a hell of a year. The stock market was booming. Sales were rising briskly, profit margins were fat, and corporate profits as a percentage of G.D.P. were at an all-time high. Almost half a century later, some things look much the same: big American companies have had a hell of a year, with the stock market soaring, margins strong, and profits hitting a new all-time high. But there’s one very noticeable difference. In 1965, C.E.O.s at big companies earned, on average, about twenty times as much as their typical employee. These days, C.E.O.s earn about two hundred and seventy times as much.

That huge gap between the top and the middle is the result of a boom in executive compensation, which rose eight hundred and seventy-six per cent between 1978 and 2011, according to a study by the liberal Economic Policy Institute. In response, we’ve had a host of regulatory reforms designed to curb executive pay. The latest of these is a rule, unveiled by the S.E.C. last month, requiring companies to disclose the ratio of the C.E.O.’s pay to that of the median worker. The idea is that, once the disparity is made public, companies will be less likely to award outsized pay packages.

Gaza chokes as Egypt's economic garotte tightens

In Gaza City's main market Mohammed Hilis stood disconsolately among piles of fruit and vegetables, waiting for customers. In the runup to Eid al-Adha, the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar, the market was unusually quiet. Steep price rises, unpaid salaries and layoffs – the consequences of the new Egyptian regime's antipathy towards Hamas – have been painfully felt by the Gaza Strip.

"A kilo of tomatoes used to be one shekel [17p]; now it is five shekels. Most prices have gone up 50 – 60%," said Hilis. "Why? Because of the costs of transportation, because there is no power to pump water to the fields, because there is no water. So people buy less." As a result, his wages have slumped from 30 – 20 shekels a day, playing its small part in propelling the downward spiral of Gaza's economy.

Foreign police chiefs could run forces after government reforms

Foreign police officers could soon be recruited to run forces in England and Wales as long as they are from the US, Canada, or another country with a similar criminal justice system to Britain.

The policing minister, Damian Green, has also confirmed radical plans to open up the recruitment of middle-ranking officers to outsiders with business and leadership skills for the first time.

Snowden leaks: MI5 chief accused of using 'foolish self-serving rhetoric'

A former director of public prosecutions has launched a strident attack on the head of MI5 for using "foolish self-serving rhetoric" to resist legitimate calls for Britain's intelligence agencies to face more scrutiny in the face of revelations about their surveillance capabilities.

Lord Macdonald QC said it was wrong for Andrew Parker and other senior figures in the intelligence community to argue that greater scrutiny and more transparency would affect the ability of MI5, GCHQ and MI6 to do their work.

Obamacare Struggles Even Worse In States That Resisted It

In Washington, D.C., (population 632,000), the drive to enroll the uninsured into health coverage under President Barack Obama's health care reform law is backed by the city government, federal funding and more than 200 local workers helping people apply for benefits.

In Prince William County, Va., (population 430,000), 30 miles south of the U.S. Capitol, there's pretty much just Frank Principi.

Principi is the executive director of the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Woodbridge, a nonprofit clinic. The center is home to 14 doctors, nurses and dentists who care for 10,000 low- and middle-income patients a year, and it charges uninsured people on a sliding scale based on income. It's also the only place in the county where those who want to use the health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act can go for certified, in-person help with their applications.

Vancouver Mental Health Crisis Has Limited Resources, Experts Say

VANCOUVER - A man wielding a knife threatens to kill passersby, another man says he'll burn down an apartment building and kill everyone inside, and a third man is taken to hospital after trying to throw himself off a bridge for the second time in one night.

The incidents happened within one week last month, and Vancouver Police say they're part of the shocking statistics that show a dramatic spike in such scenarios over three years involving the mentally ill and their subsequent contact with law enforcement and the city's hospitals.

Afghanistan less secure than when mission began

As the end-game draws near in Afghanistan, it is already abundantly clear that NATO’s exit strategy is simply to walk away. There are no longer any discussions of achieving objectives or proclaiming victory; it is now a matter of cutting losses and mitigating our defeat.

The most recent pronouncement of NATO’s failure in Afghanistan came last week from none other than President Hamid Karzai, when he told the BBC World News: “On the security front, the entire NATO exercise was one that caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life, and no gains because the country is not secure.”

Longtime resident seeking citizenship hits bureaucratic wall

A retired bank manager who has lived and worked in B.C. since 1965 is going public in frustration over red tape that blocked him from obtaining citizenship and a passport.

“Life is put on hold,” said Gerd Nitzek, 70, who wants to travel during precious retirement years. “It’s a big disappointment. I feel like maybe I am not welcome after all.”

Canadian Agri-Business Linked to Moroccan Conflict Mineral

Steaming towards Vancouver is a freighter holding almost $10 million of phosphate rock from Western Sahara -- a region that has been militarily occupied by Morocco since 1975.

When the load arrives around Oct. 24 at Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver, it could be the first import of conflict minerals coming directly into Canada since the apartheid era in South Africa.

Vets outraged at Fantino shutting nine Veterans Affairs offices, challenge minister to follow a vet with PTSD

War veterans across the country are urging the government to reconsider its decision to shut down nine Veterans Affairs regional district offices that they rely heavily on to get frontline services and are reacting with anger to Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino for asking veterans to make use of mobile apps, such as “PTSD Coach Canada” and “OSI Connect,” to get “customized mental health support.”

“He can kiss my Highland ass,” said Ron Clarke, 73, a retired Army sergeant who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and says that veterans suffering from PTSD need one-on-one service from Veterans Affairs Canada staff workers, not mobile apps, online services, or toll-free phone help, in an interview with The Hill Times last week.

Info commish presses Parliament for tougher Access to Information Act

Canada’s federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault, who recently said Parliament should be covered by the Access to Information Act and that the government is dragging its feet on openness and accountability, is stepping up her calls for stronger access laws and says the biggest issue in the federal government right now is “a lack of respect” for the current legislation’s timelines.

“What I see, which is of primary concern, is a lack of respect for the legal obligations in the act in terms of responding in time under the legislation. That is our biggest issue at the federal level, right now,” Ms. Legault told The Hill Times last week in a phone interview following the release of a consensus resolution by the country’s information and privacy commissioners at the Privacy and Access 20/20 Conference in Vancouver.

Rogue page Brigette DePape still protesting Harper

The most memorable moment in the last throne speech came when a young woman walked into the centre of the plush red Senate chamber filled with dignitaries and elected officials and held up a handmade sign that read "Stop Harper."

Brigette DePape, who had worked as a page in the Senate for a year, was then quickly hauled away by the House of Commons' sergeant-at-arms.

"I remember I was terrified," she said, recalling that moment on June 3, 2011, in an interview with CBC News from Vancouver last week.

Police, coroner investigate death of boy born in Ottawa jail

OTTAWA — The life of Gionni Lee Garlow, the baby born on the floor of an Ottawa jail cell last year, has come to a sudden end.

In the story of this short life, there are parts that have already outraged people across the country: the pregnant, young inmate’s ignored pleas, which led to the birth, and later to the firing of jail staff.

There are also parts of the story that are not yet known: whether the medical problems that killed the 13-month-old boy were related to the circumstances of his birth.

But what is clear at this moment is the part of Gionni’s story that is just deeply sad.

Kellie Leitch Defends Lack Of Abortion Funding For Victims Of War Rape, Forced Marriage

OTTAWA - Status of Women Minister Kellie Leitch is blasting the "abhorrent" practices of rape as a weapon of war and the forced marriage of young children in the developing world.

But she's defending Canada's refusal to fund any aid projects that might help the victims of such barbaric practices obtain abortions.

Steve Pearce Tells Furloughed Workers To Take Out Loans To Pay Bills

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) has a suggestion for any of the hundreds of thousands of furloughed government workers worried about being able to pay their bills: take out a loan!

In a post on his personal Facebook page that was later deleted, Pearce urged government workers to call their banks and take out a short-term loan if money is tight.

Ontario's Ring Of Fire Risks Becoming 'Wild West' Of Mining: Watchdog

Ontario’s Ring of Fire region could devolve into the “wild west” of resource development, if the province doesn’t immediately make environmental risks a priority, warns the government’s environment watchdog.

“We really only have one chance to get things right in the far north,” Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller said in a speech Thursday after presenting his annual report.

The Twilight of Mayor Bloomberg's Billionaires?

Sometimes I wonder, who are these billionaires so terribly terrified by the prospect of paying more in taxes? Well, many of them are Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s people, and as they gathered earlier this week to honor his long-time girlfriend, Diane Taylor, they were more than a little worried about this de Blasio fellow coming down the pike to replace him.

The soiree was held at the home of Christine and Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group, at 740 Park Avenue, the luxury condo housing some of New York’s wealthiest, such as David Koch. (You may recall that the Alex Gibney documentary Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream focused on 740 Park, and that Tea Party and public TV funder Koch was so upset about it that PBS dumped another film, Citizen Koch, that it had already committed to.) Others in attendance included Barry Diller, Barbara Walters, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and a socialite named Muffie Potter Aston.

A Grim Report on Press Freedoms Under Obama

Today the Committee to Protect Journalists unveiled a detailed, sober assessment of press freedom in the United States during President Obama’s tenure. The report concluded that far from fulfilling his campaign promise to improve transparency, the president has instead presided over an unprecedented campaign to contain leaks and to control media coverage of government operations.

The fact that the CPJ issued the report at all underscores how hostile official policy has been to journalists. While the CPJ has reported on press freedoms in countries around the world since the early 1980s, this is its first investigation focused on the United States. Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, wrote the report, with input from several dozen Washington journalists, media advocates and former government officials.

CPSC, Paralyzed By Shutdown, 'Can't Protect People,' Chairwoman Says

WASHINGTON –- Among the federal agencies hit hardest by the government shutdown is the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- an office no one pays much attention to until their kid's toy slices open her hand or their surge protector bursts into flames.

But the shutdown has left only 23 of the commission's 540 staffers on the job. All of the CPSC field investigators and port inspectors have been furloughed, leaving only a skeleton crew to investigate safety concerns for all products on the market in the U.S. As a result, the commission can only investigate complaints it considers an "imminent threat" to human life.

Florida Republican Likens Lesbian Mothers To Drug Abusers

Tuesday a Florida republican equated lesbian mothers and drug abusers, labeling both "dysfunctional" and "atypical" households that get in the way of a child's education.

As part of a panel discussion on how to improve the state's middle schools, Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) lamented the lack of "functional" parents in his own district:

    It's easy to say parents need to get involved, but half these kids are raising themselves. They don't have any parents that are functional. ... I mean I sat an hour and a half with a teacher telling me: 'This child has got serial men coming through the house, this one has two mommies, this one has abusive father whose home, this has alcoholism, this one has drug abuse.' It was a casualty warfare event to hear -- just her classroom -- how many dysfunctional, atypical -- to me -- structures are in the way of a kid having a chance to learn.

Former Navy chief Marom detained at Heathrow

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eli Marom, who served as the commander of the Israeli Navy during Operation Cast Lead and during the raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara vessel, was held for questioning at around noon Monday at London's Heathrow Airport upon his arrival in Britain, Ynet has learned.

Marom was held for a short time, during which he phoned the Justice Ministry in Israel.

Rob Ford Robocalls: Mayor Defends Calling Councillor's Constituents

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he ordered robocalls to east-end residents to make sure they knew their councillor voted against a subway expansion.

Ford says he didn't do anything wrong since he believes it's his "responsibility to the taxpayers" to make sure constituents know how their councillors vote.

Prorogation Just A Ploy To Avoid Ethics Questions, And Tory Motion Proves It: NDP

OTTAWA — The Conservatives’ shutdown of the House of Commons was not aimed at clicking the reset button but rather at avoiding questions over the Prime Minister’s ethical lapses, say the NDP.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen has been negotiating with the Government House Leader Peter Van Loan and says the Tories are trying to reinstate all their old legislation in one sweeping omnibus motion – ensuring their bills remain at the same stages they were at before Prime Minister Stephen Harper pulled the plug on the last session.

Government withheld information at hearings, immigration lawyers say

Immigration lawyers say failed refugee claimants who came to Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea three years ago ought to have their cases reopened following the revelation that government representatives did not disclose at some hearings evidence that the Tamil passengers could face persecution if returned to their native Sri Lanka.

It's just the latest in a string of legal battles that have played out since the arrival of nearly 500 Tamil asylum-seekers on the shores of B.C. in August 2010.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Business Leaders Turn Screws On Obama To Approve Project

TORONTO - A who's who of North America's business leaders are turning the screws on the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

They've sent a letter to Obama urging him to approve the controversial pipeline.

Jason Devine: White Supremacists Likely Behind Latest Attack Against His Home

A short-lived peace for a young Alberta family embroiled in an anti-racist war against white supremacist may have come to an alarming end.

It was an unusually warm night for the end of September when a banging sound around 5 a.m. brought Calgarian Jason Devine out of his sleep. But it was the crash and the sound of shattering glass that jolted him out of bed.

The sound, and the unnerving sensation he felt as he ran downstairs, were frighteningly familiar.

How Harper bungled the Supreme Court appointment: Analysis

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a spectacular mess of filling the latest Quebec seat on the Supreme Court of Canada.

That’s the view of many in Quebec’s broader legal community. It’s the talk of the profession’s social, political and judicial circles, and not just Quebec but beyond.

On Thursday, the mess left the country’s top court one judge shy of a full bench with major cases on its agenda because the appointee has stepped aside. Nobody knows for how long. All because a court challenge has been brought against Harper’s decision to vault over Quebec’s bench and bar, and pick from the federal court bench — a challenge which could in theory go all the way up to the high court itself.

Federal government prepares $24-million oilsands advertising blitz

OTTAWA – The federal Conservatives hope to counter “intense and sustained public relations campaigns” against Alberta’s oilsands with a $24-million international advertising blitz.

The two-year ad campaign will target political and business leaders, as well as media organizations and domestic political advocates in the United States, Europe and Asia.  According to a request for proposals issued by Natural Resources Canada, the government believes domestic and international campaigns against the oilsands are partly to blame for proposed regulations that “unfairly target the oil sands” in the U.S. and Europe.

Letters detail punitive tactics used on Guantánamo hunger strikers

The US military secretly used a variety of tactics to break the resolve of the Guantánamo Bay hunger strikers, including placing them in solitary confinement if they continued to refuse food, newly declassified interviews with detainees reveal.

One prisoner also said that the last British resident held inside the camp, Shaker Aamer, had been targeted and humiliated by the authorities to the point where it became impossible for the 44-year-old to continue his protest.

Labour will be tougher than Tories on benefits, promises new welfare chief

Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill, Rachel Reeves, the new shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted in her first interview since winning promotion in Ed Miliband's frontbench reshuffle.

The 34-year-old Reeves, who is seen by many as a possible future party leader, said that under Labour the long-term unemployed would not be able to "linger on benefits" for long periods but would have to take up a guaranteed job offer or lose their state support.

Tahoma High School Students Wear Confederate Flags In Alleged Anti-Gay Statement

Two 16-year-old students are up in arms because school officials suspended the pair for wearing Confederate flags as clothing on the grounds of their high school.

The students' reasoning? A classmate wore a rainbow flag to school for the past two weeks in honor of LGBT History Month.

School officials at Tahoma High School in Maple Valley, Washington reportedly stated that the boys wore the flags to make an anti-gay statement, KIRO TV is reporting.

10 Myths About Muslim Immigrants in the West

This is adapted from my book The Myth of the Muslim Tide, now available in paperback in Canada, the United States, Germany and Sweden. A version of this list appeared in the Huffington Post.

1. Muslims have a higher birth rate than other religions, and will take over the world by population

Two generations ago, it seemed as if Islamic countries were destined for out-of-control population growth. People spoke of an “Islamic fertility rate” — more than 5 children per family, on average — and predicted minaret spires foresting the Earth.

'Canadian Anti-Pornography Petition' Urges Opt-In Filter On All Porn

A petition on the website is urging Canada’s government to require Internet service providers (ISPs) to create a filter that would block porn by default from all households.

More than 4,500 people have signed the petition since it went online less than a week ago.

It appears to be inspired by Britain’s newly announced opt-in system for porn, which requires internet subscribers to contact their service provider and request that porn be made available to that household. Britain's ISPs are planning to have the filter in place by the end of the year.

The rape victims Canada won’t help

Last week, not long after Foreign Minister John Baird denounced sexual violence in a speech at the United Nations, the Conservative government announced it would not fund overseas projects that help war rape victims and child brides get abortions. The policy, announced by International Development Minister Christian Paradis, flew under the radar, virtually causing no ripples.

The government is absolutely within its rights to decide who gets its aid dollars, but decisions have consequences, and it is important to shine the spotlight on the kind of people our government has decided it is not in our interest to help.

These are essentially victims of sexual violence, and their numbers beggar belief. The World Health Organization estimated that in 2002 alone, 150 million girls and 73 million boys experienced “forced sexual intercourse” or other forms of sexual violence across the globe.

N.S.A. Director Firmly Defends Surveillance Efforts

FORT MEADE, Md. — The director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, said in an interview that to prevent terrorist attacks he saw no effective alternative to the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of telephone and other electronic metadata from Americans. But he acknowledged that his agency now faced an entirely new reality, and the possibility of Congressional restrictions, after revelations about its operations at home and abroad.

While offering a detailed defense of his agency’s work, General Alexander said the broader lesson of the controversy over disclosures of secret N.S.A. surveillance missions was that he and other top officials have to be more open in explaining the agency’s role, especially as it expands its mission into cyberoffense and cyberdefense.

California Community Colleges Can Charge More For In-Demand Classes Under New Law

A controversial new law will allow some California community colleges to charge more for their most popular classes, outraging some students and public education advocates who fear this lays the foundation for a new standard of rewarding wealth over academic standing.

Signed into law on Thursday by California Governor Jerry Brown, the two-tiered tuition law allows for up to six of the state’s community colleges to participate in a pilot program wherein schools can charge a premium price for the most in-demand classes. The option will only apply to summer and winter term extension classes, and the experiment will expire in 2018.

World War II Memorial Barriers Pushed Through By Crowd

WASHINGTON — A crowd converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday, pushing through barriers to protest the memorial's closing under the government shutdown.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were among those gathered Sunday morning. Cruz said President Barack Obama is using veterans as pawns in closing the memorial.

"Let me ask a simple question," Cruz told the crowd. "Why is the federal government spending money to erect barricades to keep veterans out of this memorial?"

Morgan Griffith, GOP Rep, Compares Default To American Revolution

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) compared the looming default to the American Revolution on Saturday after a meeting with House Republicans.

The Hill reports Griffith suggested that even if it resulted in a severely damaging default, the House should reject an unfavorable agreement from the Senate.

“We have to make a decision that’s right long-term for the United States, and what may be distasteful, unpleasant and not appropriate in the short run may be something that has to be done,” Griffith said, according to The Hill. “I will remind you that this group of renegades that decided that they wanted to break from the crown in 1776 did great damage to the economy of the colonies. They created the greatest nation and the best form of government, but they did damage to the economy in the short run.”

Impeach Obama!

By the time that long-obscure, lately apposite sentence became part of the Constitution, on July 9, 1868, the insurrection that occasioned it had been thoroughly, and bloodily, suppressed. Throughout the Civil War and afterward, Republicans in Congress had enacted some of the most forward-looking legislation in American history: a national currency, the Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad, support for higher education, the definitive abolition of slavery—all thanks to the extended absence of delegations from the self-styled Confederate states. Now that era was about to end.

The party of Lincoln, grand but not yet old, feared the mischief that Southern senators and representatives might get up to when their states were readmitted to the Union. The Republicans’ foremost worry was that Congress might somehow be induced to cut funds for Union pensioners or pay off lenders who had gambled on a Confederate victory. But the language of the Fourteenth Amendment’s framers went further. Benjamin Wade, the president pro tem of the Senate, explained that the national debt would be safer once it was “withdrawn from the power of Congress to repudiate it.” He and his colleagues didn’t say just that the debt could not be put off, or left unpaid. They said that it couldn’t even be questioned.

How to Democratize the US Economy

Everyone knows the United States faces enormous challenges: unemployment, poverty, global warming, environmental decay—to say nothing of whole cities that have essentially been thrown away. We know the economic system is dominated by powerful corporate institutions. And we know the political system is dominated by those same institutions. Elections occur and major fiscal debates ensue, but most of the problems are only marginally affected (and often in ways that increase the burdens).

Harper's war on science continues with a vengeance

This week, after another tumultuous summer of scandal and the third prorogation of his tenure as prime minister, Stephen Harper will deliver his throne speech to Parliament to be read by the Governor General. The advance word has it that the focus of the speech and the legislative agenda it ushers in will be the protection of consumers.

The choice of words is telling. This is a government interested mainly in what Canadians use and spend, and only passionate about those parts of Canada it can develop and sell off. It cares little about Canadians as citizens and even less about protecting Canada’s shared public goods and standing on guard for its natural capital.

Philly Stop And Frisk Video Shows How Bad This Tactic Can Be

As the controversy over stop-and-frisk heats up in New York, another battle is playing out in nearby Philadelphia.

A video posted to YouTube at the end of the last month- that attracted attention this weekend- reportedly shows a stop-and-frisk gone wrong.

In the video, two men appear to be stopped by two police officers after saying hello to another man on the street.

"You don't say hi to strangers," the first officer says. "Not in this neighborhood," says the second.

In the 16 minute video, which was reportedly taken on September 27th, the officers also curse, make fun of and threaten the two men.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Police Department is investigating the incident.

Watch the video above and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Original Article
Author: Alana Horowitz

How Sequestration And The Shutdown Dealt A Body Blow To Scientists

WASHINGTON -- As congressional leaders attempt the patch together a last-minute deal to fund the federal government and raise the nation’s debt limit, scientists dependent on federal funds are looking on with concern.

For nearly the past two weeks, many of them have been denied access to work, either because the agencies that employ them have been shut down or because the facilities where they operate have been closed. The Obama administration announced Friday that four of the five Nobel Prize-winning researchers currently working for the federal government were “furloughed and unable to conduct their federal research.”