Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador more Democratic than USA

Ecuador's capital city has built a sustainable, eco-friendly city that puts most USA cities to shame:
Most taxis and many of the buses in Quito are operated by cooperatives, part of the booming solidarity sector made up of tens of thousands of community banks and credit unions and worker owned enterprises in the manufacturing, housing, agriculture and transport industries. It's important to note that this sector has grown along side, rather than instead of the traditional private and public sectors which have also seen healthy expansion.
People often ride the shared bikes provided by the city, use of which is available for a tiny yearly fee. Every Sunday a north south route through the city, including Avenue Amazonas, one of the city's main arteries, is given over entirely to cyclists and pedestrians, who come out in the thousands. The old airport, having been engulfed by urban expansion and replaced earlier this year, has also been turned over to the public as a park, and is already in use. 
Of course, everything is not perfect outside the city (violence, crime and poverty abound), but Ecuador is still moving in the right direction, expanding opportunities and safe, healthy, affordable living spaces for it's citizens rather than crying "austerity! cut everything!" like most "first world" democracies today:
Almost all this progress has occurred under the leadership of President Rafael Correa, a former economics professor who was made finance minister in 2005 during one of Ecuador's recurrent economic crises, running for the presidency the following year, assuming the office in 2007, and quickly bringing an era of unprecedented stability and prosperity. By the end of of 2012, unemployment had fallen to 4.1 percent, its lowest level on record and the poverty rate to 27.3 percent - that's 27 percent below what it was when Correa took power.
So, USA, care to take some notes?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Goodbye Right to Remain Silent

And today's episode of "Which USA Right is Dying Now?" is...

The right against self-incrimination! (5th Amendment to the US Constitution)

 In this case, Salinas v. Texas, Salinas remained silent when questioned and the judge used that as evidence of his guilt: "He had remained silent, and the Supreme Court had previously made clear that prosecutors can’t bring up a defendant’s refusal to answer the state’s questions. This time around, however, Justice Samuel Alito blithely responded that Salinas was “free to leave” and did not assert his right to remain silent." 

Why? Because Salinas didn't use the correct legal term when deciding to remain silent: "He was silent. But somehow, without a lawyer, and without being told his rights, he should have affirmatively “invoked” his right to not answer questions." 

 And that's not even the worst part..." Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia joined the judgment, but for a different reason; they think Salinas had no rights at all to invoke before his arrest (they also object to Miranda itself)."

I thought the courts were supposed to enforce the US Constitution...not destroy it?