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.]

Monday, August 21, 2017

Here's The Story Behind The Fighter Pilot Who Made That Viral Campaign Ad

Amy McGrath knew when she was 12 years old that she wanted to fly fighter jets. She also knew that she wasn’t allowed to.

So McGrath launched an aggressive letter-writing campaign to lawmakers in her home state of Kentucky. She wrote to her congressman, who told her “women ought to be protected and not allowed to serve.” She then targeted Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, who never replied. Finally, she wrote to every member of the Armed Services committees in both houses of Congress. Most of them ignored her, so she tried writing letters to the editor for her local newspapers instead.

Inside the Cult of Assange

It is hard to lose your illusions. Especially when they were once embedded with hope for a better world. Such is the case with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

Laura Poitras’s new film Risk follows six years in the life of Assange, the leading figure behind WikiLeaks, the organization that has released hundreds of thousands of secret documents. The film is permeated by a slow, bleak disappointment that seeps through the narrative like dirty water. This does not make for the most electrifying story, but it is a necessary one, an awakening, if you will, from the fantasia of promises to change the world to the plain old boring stuff of betrayal, failure, ego, and blindness.

The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement

As President Trump prepares for yet another attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the ground is shifting under his feet. While Israel’s willingness to offer an acceptable deal is increasingly open to question, with nothing to suggest that its terms are likely to soften with time, the Palestinians are sliding toward the unknown. With the slow but sure decay of the Palestinian political scene, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), represents the last slender chance for a negotiated settlement: he is the sole remaining national leader of his people with sufficient, if dwindling, authority to sign and ratify a deal. For President Trump and his team, as well as for all those seeking to end this century-plus-old conflict, there should be no doubt about the moment’s urgency. After Abbas, there will be no other truly weighty representative and legitimate Palestinian leadership, and no coherent national movement to sustain it for a long time to come.

Meet the Reporter Driving Fox News’s Biggest, Craziest Stories

On May 16, the day after The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had divulged intelligence secrets to two Russian officials in the Oval Office, Sean Hannity devoted much of his show to the murder of 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. Using a report from Fox 5, a Fox News affiliate in Washington, D.C., Hannity relayed the allegation that Rich had been in contact with WikiLeaks prior to his death—the suggestion being that Rich was the source of the hacked DNC emails in the 2016 election, not Russian hackers. Hannity would continue to talk about Rich’s murder for the next week. Breitbart and the Drudge Report also led with the Rich story, not the story about Trump.

Sir Vince Cable Attacks Elderly Brexit ‘Martyrs’ Who Have ‘Shafted The Young’

Sir Vince Cable has lashed out at hardline Brexit “martyrs” who view economic pain as a price worth paying to break away from Brussels.

The Liberal Democrat leader accused them of “masochism” and claimed older Brexit voters with views “coloured by nostalgia from an imperial past” had imposed their will on a younger generation more comfortable with the European Union.

The Myth of Reverse Racism

Contrary to initial indications, the civil-rights division of the Department of Justice won’t be dismantling affirmative action after all. At least, that’s the current word from Trump administration officials, after a New York Times article claimed the department would be using the broad powers of justice to take on universities that it decided had discriminated against white people. The DOJ since clarified that it was gearing up to investigate complaints from dozens of organizations alleging that certain universities used quotas—which are illegal—to limit the number of Asian American enrollees.

It’s 2017, and Most States Still Allow Shackling of Prisoners During Labor and Delivery

A few weeks ago, a group of Democratic senators introduced the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act, which would compel federal prison officials to be more attentive to the unique needs of female inmates when it comes to things like parenting, visitation, and access to health care. Among the bill’s provisions is a federal ban on restraints for pregnant prisoners—who in many states can still be forced to go through labor and delivery while shackled to a bed. As a medical resident, Dr. Carolyn Sufrin—who is now a medical anthropologist and an OB-GYN at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine—delivered the baby of one such prisoner and was appalled by the inhumanity of it. Her recent book, Jailcare: Finding The Safety Net for Women Behind Bars, explores the experiences of pregnant women who gave birth while incarcerated. I reached out to Sufrin to learn more about prison births, the problems of impoverished pregnant women, and how to reform a male-dominated justice system that often fails to attend to women’s concerns.

The Difficult Voyage of Martin Shkreli, the Pharma Bro, Comes to an End

As the deliberations in the Martin Shkreli trial dragged into their fifth day, the possibility that he could end up facing a deadlocked jury, or even an acquittal, started to seem increasingly real. So did the potential for yet another embarrassing setback for the government when it comes to prosecuting white-collar crime. Instead, on Friday afternoon, in Brooklyn, the jury delivered a victory, of sorts, to the government, finding Shkreli guilty on three of the eight counts with which he’d been charged—including the two most serious ones, of securities fraud. After the verdict was read, Shkreli stood outside the courthouse and said that he was “delighted, in many ways” with the result, and that “this was a witch hunt of epic proportions.”

Brexit: Why ‘Project Fear’s’ Predictions Could Be Coming True After All

“Let’s just remember what a shock really means,” David Cameron told factory workers last March. “It means jobs being lost. It means mortgage rates might rise. It means businesses closing. It means hardworking people losing their livelihoods.”

Yet such claims made during the EU referendum about the financial consequence of Brexit did not play out as many Remainers had predicted.

Meet Hatreon, the new favorite website of the alt-right

Finding funding on the internet is hard—especially if your ideas are despised by almost everyone. Just ask members of the alt-right, the pro-Donald Trump white nationalist movement that received considerable attention during the 2016 presidential election. These guys often get barred from online funding platforms like Patreon, GoFundMe and PayPal.

Enter Hatreon, a new crowdfunding service. Like Patreon, Hatreon allows users to donate money to their favorite internet personalities, while the website takes a small cut. But Hatreon doesn’t have any “hate speech” restrictions. Which is perhaps why it’s attracted controversial figures such as alt-right leader Richard Spencer and Andrew Anglin, founder of neo-Nazi news site The Daily Stormer.

Why is the “deep state” on the tip of so many tongues these days?

The politics of the American deep state have grown more explicit in the six months of the Trump presidency.

Rosie Gray of reports that Rich Higgins, an NSC staff director and former Pentagon official, was recently fired for circulating a memo arguing that a “deep state” of leftists, globalists and Islamic sympathizers poses a threat to the Trump administration and to U.S. national security.

    His dismissal marks the latest victory by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster in the ongoing war within Trump’s White House between those who believe that the president is under threat from dark forces plotting to undermine him, and those like McMaster who dismiss this as conspiratorial thinking.

Who’s right?

Black Women Have to Work 7 Months Longer Than White Men to Receive the Same Pay

July 31st is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day that marks how long into 2017 an African American woman would have to work in order to be paid the same wages as her white male counterpart was paid last year. Black women are uniquely positioned to be subjected to both a racial pay gap and a gender pay gap. In fact, on average, black women workers are paid only 67 cents on the dollar relative to white non-Hispanic men, even after controlling for education, years of experience, and location.

Why does this wage gap exist for black women?

It's going to take more than new anchors to fix the drifting CBC

CBC president Hubert Lacroix hit the nail on the head, though his eyes were probably tightly closed at the time: Public broadcasters, he said in a 2015 presentation, “risk being boiled to death.”

Correct. For their greed, mismanagement, badly outdated mandate, second-rate products and terminal arrogance.

Sadly, it didn’t take Hubert long to get back into whine mode. Speaking at an international public broadcaster’s convention in Munich, Lacroix belly-ached that budget cuts could threaten the continued existence of outfits like the CBC.