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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.”

Global Assault on Seed Sovereignty through Trade Deals

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Global Assault on Seed Sovereignty through Trade Deals Is Assault on Human Rights, Protest is Fertile

From Asia to South America, the EU to the Caribbean, the corporate seed industry is using international trade agreements to criminalise farmers for saving seeds

(A fully referenced version of this report is posted on ISIS members website and otherwise available for download here)   Institute of Science in Society     01/12/15

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

The multinational seed industry is continuing its multipronged attack on the most basic of human rights, the access to seed. Lobbyists of the seed industry are using trade agreements to pressure nations into adopting strict measures such as UPOV agreements that ensure the protection and ownership of new plant varieties for plant breeders. On top of this, corporate seed industry lobbyists are proposing revisions to the UPOV convention that promote further monopolisation of the seed industry through ‘harmonisation’ of procedures for registering and testing new plant varieties.

Protests in many regions around the world are putting up much needed resistance against this corporate takeover of the food system, successfully forcing governments to delay and even repeal the agreements. These movements are an inspiration for our continual global struggle against the relentless onslaught of agribusiness whose current biggest targets are the ‘untapped’ markets of the global South, with the spotlight on Africa and other regions where seeds have not yet been commercialized, and are still used in traditional systems that allow seed saving and exchange.  Read the rest of this entry »

2014: The Year Propaganda Came Of Age

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Meijer sums it all up very well (read the whole thing!)

2014: The Year Propaganda Came Of Age

   December 26, 2014    by

……that truly defines 2014 for me. A level of propaganda I don’t recognize, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. 2014 has for me been the year of utter nonsense. To wit, it just finished in fine form with a 5% US GDP growth number, just to name one example. Really, guys? 5%? Really? With all the numbers presented lately, the negative Thanksgiving sales data – minus 11% from what I remember -, the so-so at best Christmas store numbers to date, shrinking durable goods in November and all? Plus 5%?

It really doesn’t matter what I say, does it? You have enough people believing ridiculous numbers like that to make it worth your while. After all, that’s all that counts…..

…..Ukraine defines 2014 as the year western propaganda came into its own. Not just fictional stories about an economic recovery anymore, no, we had our politico-media establishment ram an entire new cold war down our throats. And we swallowed it whole. We may have had a million more years of higher education than our parents and grandparents, but we sure don’t seem to have gotten any smarter than them……

 read entire article here

Congressional report: Did Certain Foreign Governments Facilitate 9/11 ?

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A Congressional report titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters” … has gotten zip coverage by the media. This report can be read only by heads of Senate and House intelligence committees and, with their permission, by Members of Congress who are carefully guarded and not allowed to take notes.

Friday, August 29, 2014 INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE (ICH)

Did Certain Foreign Governments Facilitate the 9/11 Attacks?

By JUSTIN RAIMONDO
…….”One or more foreign governments,” eh? Who in the Middle East – or anywhere else, for that matter – are among “those whom we thought we could trust”? That doesn’t sound like the Saudis to me. Would anyone really be surprised or “disappointed” to learn that they were playing games behind our back?

[Kentucky’s 4th district] Rep. Thomas Massie’s statement is even more revealing: “I had to stop every two or three pages and rearrange my perception of history. And it’s that fundamental – those 28 pages ….It certainly changes your view of the Middle East.”…

read entire article here
 
 

Hilarious Monsanto/Condé Nast Meltdown (UPDATED)

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Last week, Gawker uncovered a hapless tie-up between genetically modified seed/pesticide giant Monsanto and Condé Nast Media—publisher of The New Yorker, Bon Appetit, GQ, Self, Details, and other magazines—to produce “an exciting video series” on the “topics of food, food chains and sustainability.”

Marion Nestle was offered $5,000 to participate for a single afternoon.

Since then, I’ve learned that Condé Nast’s Strategic Partnerships division dangled cash before several high-profile food politics writers, in an unsuccessful attempt to convince them to participate.

Marion Nestle, author of the classic book Food Politics and a professor at New York University, told me she was offered $5,000 to participate for a single afternoon. Nestle almost accepted, because at first she didn’t know Monsanto was involved—the initial email she received only referred to the company in attachments that she didn’t open, she said.

“It wasn’t until we were at the end of the discussion about how much time I would allow (they wanted a full day) that they mentioned the honorarium,” she wrote in an email. “I was so shocked at the amount that I had sense enough to ask who was paying for it. Monsanto. End of discussion.”  …..read entire article here

Israeli Intelligence Eavesdropped on Kerry’s Phone During Gaza Peace Talks

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I am the first English language publication to report his major story.  Der Spiegel publishes in today’s edition that Israeli intelligence (likely Unit 8200) eavesdropped on phone calls John Kerry made to his Palestinian interlocutors during the peace talks he conducted for the past year.  Though Kerry usually talked on encrypted phone lines from his State Department office or Georgetown home, when he was in flight to or from the region he had to use a satellite phone, which was not encrypted.  This allowed the Israelis to listen in on everything he said to the Palestinians.  It allowed them to know what ideas he was floating and prepared for them to counter them in the negotiation process.  When the Israelis really disliked a proposal they knew better how to attack it before Kerry had even brought the subject up….. entire article here

28 years have passed since the EPA’s last chemical risk review

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Tens of thousands of chemicals have not been reviewed by the EPA, and people are starting to ask questions

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.

On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.

But in its press release, the EPA acknowledged there was something wrong — not with the risk assessment itself — but with its timeline: It was the first final risk assessment for a chemical issued by the EPA since 1986.

“The American public shouldn’t have to wait 28 years between … chemical risk assessments,” wrote Jim Jones, EPA assistant administrator of chemical safety….. read full article here

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