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U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy- Princeton Study

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Princeton Study: U.S. No Longer An Actual Democracy

By Brendan James  April 18, 2014    TPM

A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.

Asking “[w]ho really rules?” researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America’s political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

TPM Interview: Scholar Behind Viral ‘Oligarchy’ Study Tells You What It Means
“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” they write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government—whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first.

The researches note that this is not a new development caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this month’s ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse.

“Ordinary citizens,” they write, “might often be observed to ‘win’ (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail.”

Tell Congress: no more weapons of war for local police

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Sign the petition here to protect Free Speech and De-militarize the Police.

       I suspect even they will appreciate it!

Update:  Police aren’t just using military-issued weapons, they’re LOSING themFusion Investigates

6 Palestinian youths ‘executed’ in Gaza town- and other atrocities

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lady liberty weeps

Israel ‘executed’ 6 Palestinian youths in Gaza town: Witnesses tell Al Jazeera six youths were taken to a bathroom in a house in Khuzaa and were murdered by Israeli forces.

Two Palestinian protesters shot dead in West Bank:  Israeli forces in the West Bank have shot dead two Palestinian men during demonstrations against Israel’s aerial and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip. 

Scientist killed in Israeli shell attack on UN car in Gaza: Dr Bashir al-Hajjar died alongside his younger brother Muneer during the strike in Beer al-Naja in the north of the region. They were travelling in a marked United Nations Relief and Works Agency car when shells landed in front of it and on its bonnet. 

 

Israeli forces ‘open fire at ambulance’ amid clashes near Nablus: –  Israeli forces opened fire at an ambulance as it was bringing injured Palestinians from a site of clashes near Nablus to a nearby hospital, medics told Ma’an. 
 
Gaza – ‘the worst we have ever seen’ says MSF medical adviser:  “There is no safe place inside Gaza right now.”

Written by laudyms

August 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

TPP Investment Map: New Privileges for 30,000 Companies?

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  Public Citizen

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) threatens so much of what we hold dear — this secret agreement will censor our Internet, send jobs overseas, undermine environmental regulations, and remove our most basic democratic rights.

Under previous presidential administrations, the United States signed a number of free trade agreements (FTAs) that grant foreign corporations extraordinary rights and protections beyond the rights of domestic companies. A little-known FTA mechanism called “investor-state” enforcement allows foreign firms to skirt domestic court systems and directly sue governments for cash damages (our tax dollars) over alleged violations of their new rights before UN and World Bank tribunals staffed by private sector attorneys who rotate between serving as “judges” and bringing cases for corporations. Using this extreme system, corporations have sued the U.S. government in foreign trade tribunals for enacting laws or regulations that “interfered” with the corporations’ expected profits.  This “interference” has included essential environmental regulations, health laws, and domestic court decisions. These cases are not just threats to domestic U.S. policies. U.S. corporations have also used FTAs to attack public interest laws abroad.

If a corporation wins its private enforcement case, the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill. Over $380 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in a series of investor-state cases under U.S. FTAs. Of the nearly $14 billion in the 18 pending claims under U.S. FTAs, all relate to environmental, energy, public health, land use and transportation policies – not traditional trade issues.

The Obama administration is currently negotiating a sweeping new FTA called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam — the first FTA negotiated by the Obama administration.  Despite Obama’s many campaign promises to scale down investor-state enforcement in trade agreements, the leaked investment chapter of the TPP reveals that the Obama administration intends to expand even further the extreme investor-state model of past FTAs. If passed, the TPP would grant thousands of corporations these extraordinary rights to sue governments over public interest policies for taxpayer compensation.

Below are the maps of the locations of multinational corporations that would get these new rights if Congress would pass the TPP.  More than 6,000 corporations with nearly 30,000 corporate affiliates would be able to use these rights, including over 300 financial services companies that could challenge essential financial sector regulations through investor-state provisions. These corporations could challenge the local zoning and environmental laws of your community, so zoom in using the “+” button to see which corporations are in your city.  Click on the dots to see the names of the corporations and their industry. The color of the marker indicates the country of the parent company. The red lines on the map are the borders of the districts of the U.S. House of Representatives. Click here for a full list of companies based in TPP countries that operate in the United States, sorted by congressional district.

[read the rest (and see the interactive graphic) here]

Congress defaults, Obama struts, innocents will die

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  Watching the British House of Commons and Prime Minister debate the situation in Syria and decide their course in full public view puts our own withdrawal from any form of democracy in stark contrast.

Congress continues to default on their sworn duty, lazes on vacation and relies on former actions taken to avoid responsibility. Members refuse to take their role in Constitutional government seriously, while the Executive has assumed dictatorial powers.

Any attack on Syria (vile as it may be) without Congressional action  is an act of War, and clearly illegal. The fact that former presidents have made similar moves changes nothing. There is no clear objective in Syria at this time beyond Obama’s face saving, which only makes the situation more craven and self-serving.

NO TO WAR IN SYRIA

Written by laudyms

August 30, 2013 at 6:00 am

You think you have free speech? just try to use it…..

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Bank of America
by jonathanturley      6/26/13

banksters

Jeff Olson, 40, is facing a potential 13-year jail sentence for perhaps the world’s most costly sidewalk art. A former aide to the U.S. Senator from Washington, Olson used water-soluble statements like “Stop big banks,” and “Stop Bank Blight.com” outside Bank of America branches last year to protest the company’s practices. He eventually gave up his protest but prosecutors later brought 13 charges against him. Now a judge has reportedly banned his attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial.” It appears someone associated with Bank of American could finally go to jail, but it will not by the bank officials in the financial scandal. It is the guy writing slogans in chalk in the sidewalk.

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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security

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Unlawful detention suit dismissed in name of national security  

…The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement criticizing the ruling:

“Today is a sad day for the rule of law and for those who believe that the courts should protect American citizens from torture by their own government,” said ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner, who argued the appeal in court. “By dismissing this lawsuit, the appeals court handed the government a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This impunity is not only anathema to a democracy governed by laws, but contrary to history’s lesson that in times of fear our values are a strength, not a hindrance.”……………

Written by laudyms

January 31, 2012 at 8:41 am

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