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Unfit Purpose: Starving Democracy

Not Fit for Purpose  
by William Bowles  
The word Socialism is unfortunately, much-discredited yet and still the idea lives on regardless, as events in the Southern Americas reveal. But what of us in the so-called developed world?

Revolution I hear you cry? In the West? Not likely is it? In fact, both Marx and Lenin, when asked about revolution in the UK were a little more than disparaging about the idea. And what goes for the UK probably goes for the rest of the West.

Then what hope is there for the future?
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Looking At US from "Out There"

LOOKING AT US FROM "OUT THERE" - Last Thoughts From The Glorious Republic; Heading Back To The USSA
by Danny Schechter
When you slip outside the empire, and travel as I try to do when others are kind enough to pay my way, I see the world through other eyes.

Yes, gang, there is more to the world than the overheated passions between the Obama and Clinton camps.

First, you experience the decline of American power right away. Our dollars are a joke in terms of purchasing power. The privileges of being an American, if they every existed, are long gone. Some still admire us, but many, too many, pity us.

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Canada: The Lying Minister of Democratic Reform

The Lying Minister of Democratic Reform
by Democracy Watch
Today, Democracy Watch sent a letter to federal Conservative House Leader and Minister for Democratic Reform Peter Van Loan demanding that he apologize for lying last Wednesday, April 16th in the House of Commons about Democracy Watch's position concerning the Conservatives' TV advertising spending scheme during the 2006 federal election.

In response to a question in the House of Commons on April 16th, Mr. Van Loan stated:

"In terms of our spending practices, I would like to quote Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch, who was on CTV today. He said, "The Conservatives did something in the last election that all parties have done for years. That's legal, and parties can donate as much as they want to a local candidate and often do to candidates that don't have a lot of local support and can't raise money on their own. And then what happens is those candidates use some of that money to buy materials for national headquarters, like pamphlets, signs, platforms to hand out to people. That's all--"

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Famine! What Famine?

Global Famine? Blame the Fed         
by Mike Whitney
The stakes couldn't be higher for Ben Bernanke. If the Fed chief decides to lower rates at the end of April, he could be condemning millions of people to an agonizing death by starvation. The situation is that serious; there's no room for error. Food riots have broken out across the globe destabilizing large parts of the developing world. China is experiencing double-digit inflation. Indonesia, Vietnam and India have imposed controls over rice exports. Wheat, corn and soya are at record highs and threatening to go higher still. Commodities are up across the board. The World Food Program is warning of widespread famine if the West doesn't provide emergency humanitarian relief. The situation is dire.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez summed it up like this;
"It is a massacre of the world's poor. The problem is not the production of food. It is the economic, social and political model of the world. The capitalist model is in crisis."  

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Almost Just: 'Toronto 18' Down to 11

Open Letter on 'Toronto 11' to Authorities from 19 Groups        
by Faisal Kutty
In an open letter, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) in partnership with the Canadian Arab Federation (CAF), Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), Federation of Muslim Women (FMW), Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada, Islamic Circle of North America Canada (ICNA Canada), Islamic Society of North America Canada (ISNA Canada) and Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), along with an additional 11 organizations, today asked authorities to consider reasonable bail terms and re-examine the use of solitary confinement for the "Toronto 11."

In the letter the 19 organizations wrote:

Subject: Authorities asked to consider reasonable bail terms and re-examine solitary confinement for 'Toronto 11'
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British Columbia: Geological Study Pinpoints Quake Zones

British Columbia: Geological Study Pinpoints Quake Zones
by C. L. Cook
Canada's CTV reports on a study recently released by the U. S. Geological Survey placing in the earthquake crosshairs two of Canada's most desirable addresses.
"Two British Columbia fault lines running south of Abbotsford and south of Victoria could potentially cause earthquakes measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, according to a new study released by U.S. seismologists."
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Ivan Apaolaza Sacho: Still in Jail

Ivan Apaolaza Sacho: Still in Jail
by The Freedom for Ivan Committee
In Montreal, Ivan Apaolaza Sancho - a 36 year old Basque refugee claimant and political prisoner - has been in detention for over ten months.

Ivan is accused of having been a member of the ETA (an armed nationalist Basque organization); an accusation that he denies. He has been detained at Rivière des prairies Detention Centre since June 2007 and faces deportation solely on the basis of accusations made by the Spanish state; no actual evidence to support the allegations has been presented.
Moreover, the allegations themselves seem to come from a confession obtained under torture (see below). If the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Commissioner accepts those allegations, Ivan faces deportation to Spain where he expects further arbitrary detention and possible torture.

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Why Making Media The Issue Is Crucial For Saving Democracy

After The ABC News Debacle: How To Change Media - Why Making Media The Issue Is Crucial For Saving Democracy
by Danny Schechter
How ironic that in the same week that the National Association of Broadcasters gave actor Tim Robins a platform to challenge media gatekeepers to open the airwaves to more perspectives ABC NEWS gave us all a classic example of how a network can dumb down a presidential debate and turn it into a disgraceful hit job rather than an enlightening hit.

Rather than advance the political high that so many are having with an exciting campaign, it set a new low in TV coverage and was a blow to our political discourse.

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The Real Pentagon Matrix

The Real Matrix: The Pentagon Invades Your Life
by Nick Turse
Rick is a midlevel manager in a financial services company in New York City. Each day he commutes from Weehawken, New Jersey, a suburb only a stone's throw from the Big Apple, where he lives with his wife, Donna, and his teenage son, Steven.
A late baby boomer, Rick just missed the Vietnam era's antiwar protests, but he's been against the war in Iraq from the beginning. He thinks the Pentagon is out of control and considers the military-industrial complex a danger to the country.
If you asked him, it's a subject on which he would rate himself as knowledgeable. He puts effort into educating himself on such matters. He reads liberal websites, subscribes to progressive-minded magazines, and is a devotee of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

In fact, he has no idea just how deep the Pentagon rabbit hole goes or how far down it his family already is.

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Why Palestinian Unity is Not an Option

Mixed Priorities: Why Palestinian Unity is Not an Option
by Ramzy Baroud
Just days after the Hamas-Fatah clash last June in Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looked firm and composed as he shook hands with members of his new emergency government. He made sure his move appeared as legitimate as possible, issuing decrees that outlawed the armed militias of Hamas, and also suspended consequential clauses in the Palestinian Basic Law, which had thus far served as a constitution.

The Basic Law stipulates that the Palestinian parliament must approve of any government for it to be constitutional. Abbas simply decreed that such a clause was no longer valid, effectively robbing Palestinians of one of their greatest collective achievements — democracy.

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Stolen Moments in the Kitchen with Mickey

Stolen Moments in the Kitchen with Mickey
by Maxwell Black
I manage a restaurant in DC where I'm often baffled by the presence of people like Senator "Joe-mentum" or former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Night after night of making sure the sons and daughters of CEOs and Saudi oil barons get their grilled salmon on time can be a bitter pill to swallow, however, on two nights last week I had a subversive secret: whenever I had a moment I would sneak back to the office and tend to my email interview with my hero, and under-read American mischief maker, Mickey Z.
The following is the result of our somewhat spontaneous interview.

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