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And what kind of mind-boggling corruption -- of the worst kind -- influence peddling by a "foreign power" (as defined by the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to include foreign terrorist groups) -- lies hidden behind the curtain? Could some members of the MEK "foreign terrorist organization," their murderous history magically erased, be sent to a nice suburb somewhere to live as your next door neighbor as happens with the organized crime "witness protection program?" Or will the soon-to-be-legalized "terrorism" of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (or mojahedin-e khalq, usually referred to as MEK) find more utilitarian function in the mode of how U.S. neoconservative officials plotted with and used convicted con artist Ahmad Chalabi and his Iraqi expatriate group to gin up the false "intelligence" that served to launch the unjustified and counter-productive war on Iraq?
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The perplexing predicament confronting Daryl Brooks could confound writers Albert Camus and Franz Kafka, two authors acclaimed for their works about individuals subjected to surreal forms of injustice.
Brooks, a community activist in Trenton, New Jersey, is facing a Kafkaesque return to prison because some NJ state parole personnel charged him with committing a parole violation that top NJ Parole Board officials contend is not actually a violation.
By Dave Lindorff
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to know how moribund the Democratic Party is, how completely owned by Wall Street the president is, and how sick our national politics have become, just consider Social Security.
By John Grant
When we talk about
settling the world’s problems,
we’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.
By Dave Lindorff
We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”
By Dave Lindorff
This article originally appeared on the website of PressTV
By Mike Caddell
Wichita -- One of four Wichita museums is facing a $100,000 cutback in funding which may force its closure. It is called “Cowtown,” a tribute to the glory days of white settler expansion and of cattle. A distant cry is heard from the editorial board of the city’s single daily newspaper, the Wichita Eagle, which ran an opinion piece by Peter Brownlee, titled: “Why pick on Cowtown?”
By Dave Lindorff
Imagine for a moment what would happen if former President George W. Bush were to give an interview on television and declare that his invasion of Iraq, and the ensuing nine years of death and mayhem that resulted from that war, had been the wrong thing to do. Imagine if he were to say of that decision, “Mistakes were made.”
By Linn Washington
London resident Zita Holbourne plans to participate in the Friday July 27th Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games held at the gleaming new stadium located not far from her community of Newham.
However, Holbourne, a trade union activist and poet, is not participating as one of those lucky enough to have secured an expensive ticket to attend the glitzy Opening Ceremony.
The case hinges on Utah citizens' Constitutional right to direct democracy contained in Article 1 section 6 of the Utah Constitution. The high court's decision in the case could widen the direct democracy rights of all Utah citizens.
Hidden Anti-Teacher Agenda: Former DC Schools Chancellor Rhee Still Scamming and Posing as Education ‘Reformer’
By Dave Lindorff
Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington, DC’s public schools, who left under a cloud after the mayor who appointed her, Adrian Fenty, was defeated in a re-election bid in which Rhee’s contentious tenure was the main issue, is at it again.
Wikileaks is releasing what it described as a massive trove of documents related to the conflict in Syria. Speaking at London’s Frontline Club, Wikileaks project analyst Sarah Harrison said the documents consist of more than two million emails from political figures, ministries and companies doing business with the Syrian government.
“The Syria files shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and the economy but they also shine a light on how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another. The range of information extends from the intimate correspondence of the Baath party figures to financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations.”
What does Independence Day mean to you? The holiday can be a time to gather with family, friends and community. But it can also be an opportunity to reassess the direction of the country, the past struggles that secured rights and freedom, the challenges to power that rose up in the face of adversity, and the inequalities that still exist.
Today, voters in Mexico head to the polls in a presidential election that has been shaken up in the last few weeks by student-led protests that are challenging the front-runner status of Enrique Peña Nieto. A victory for Peña Nieto, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, would mark a return to the executive office by the political party that dominated Mexican politics for more than 70 years. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City and candidate in 2006, is also running and, according to polls, is considered the second place contender.
For more, we’re joined by FSRN reporter Shannon Young. She’s been following the race and joins us from Oaxaca.
Listen to FSRN's interview here.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
A new book by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell is another display of this man’s savvy proclivity for self-promotion.
However, irrespective of the monstrous ego of this man known in Philadelphia as "Fast Eddy," Rendell is on target with the alarmingly accurate title of that book: A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great.
Carl Levin Says Cutting 0.05% of a Military Budget That Has Doubled This Decade Will Endanger Us All
Last summer, during the crisis over raising the debt limit, Congress passed the Budget Control Act. That legislation established a so-called "supercommittee" to try to agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years.
Because the supercommittee could not reach agreement, at the beginning of next year, automatic spending cuts called sequestration will kick in, divided equally between defense and domestic spending, cutting programs and activities across the board.
These automatic cuts are large, across-the-board cuts that set no priorities. They will do tremendous harm if we don't avoid them.
As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I'm concerned about the impact sequestration could have on our national security. Men and women in uniform could lose their jobs. Training would be curtailed. Acquisition programs would be disrupted.
But when I look beyond defense, I'm also concerned. These cuts could leave us not just with a hollowed-out military, but a hollowed-out economy.
Sequestration threatens our ability to continue the economic recovery, to educate our children, to care for the sick, to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, to protect the environment, to invest in new technologies.
Our only option to avoid the economic train wreck from sequestration is to produce a balanced, bipartisan deficit reduction package. Balance requires three things. First, we need additional spending cuts -- but prudent, prioritized cuts. Second, we have to consider reforms of our entitlement programs. And third, we must include additional revenue.
Historically, federal tax revenue has been about 19-20 percent of our economic output. Today it's closer to 15 percent. Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all reached deficit deals that got at least one-third of their deficit reduction from revenue.
Our tax code is full of loopholes, including offshore tax havens to help wealthy Americans avoid paying their taxes. Closing them down would restore billions of dollars in revenue.
We also must consider reversing Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, who have prospered in recent years even as middle-class incomes have stagnated.
Most Republicans in Congress have signed a pledge they will oppose any attempt to add new revenue to reduce the deficit and protect vital programs. Those opponents have to choose: Will they continue to defend tax breaks and loopholes that benefit the wealthiest Americans, which is the only group that has done well in the recession? Or will they choose to protect national security, students, seniors, and workers?
Ultimately, I think we will reach a balanced deficit reduction agreement. But if it comes too late -- during the lame duck session in December, for example -- much of the economic damage will already be done.
We know the way out. The way out is compromise. And if we know the path, we shouldn't wait to take it.
As of Monday evening, Charlottesville City Council has joined the list of over 250 localities, several state legislatures, 22 state attorneys general, the Supreme Court of Montana, four Supreme Court justices, dozens of Congress members, countless clubs and organizations and political parties, and -- in poll after poll -- the vast majority of the people of the United States -- all of whom want the U.S. Constitution amended or by other means wish to undo the Citizens United ruling that opened the flood gates on corporate election spending.
A group of local citizens met, one at a time, with four of the five City Council members ahead of time to win their support. Several of us spoke at Monday's meeting. When I spoke I asked people to stand up if they believed that Congress and states and cities should be allowed to limit or ban corporate and private spending on elections.
A delegation of over a dozen Afghans, mostly women, was attending the meeting. I encouraged them to stand up if they thought the model for Afghanistan's future should be democracy rather than corruption.
I didn't spot a single person left seated.
But there probably was one, because a woman had spoken against the resolution. She'd falsely accused those of us speaking in support of not being from Charlottesville and not caring about local people or local issues. We of course had explained the importance of local governments representing their constituents to higher governments on matters of great importance.
The local newspaper, the Daily Progress, had devoted a big front-page story a few days beforehand to the point of view of the one city council member who opposed the resolution on the grounds that it was not a local matter. Following a 4-0 vote in favor of the resolution, the Daily Progress quickly produced a new article about the point of view of that same city council member who had abstained, not the four who had voted yes, not the crowd that supported them, not what it does to Charlottesville to have a Congress that ignores majority opinion and obeys its funders, not the people who had drafted and promoted the resolution, not the impact it might have, not the national trend, not the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, but the one councilwoman who abstained from voting and who -- during the course of Monday's meeting baselessly accused her four colleagues of being "manipulated" -- presumably by us.
City Councilman Dave Norris pointed out that every single locality in Virginia petitions the state goverment every year, and many petititon Congress every year. Councilwoman Kristin Szakos noted that when she and her colleagues devote 30 minutes to an important issue, they don't neglect others but simply extend the meeting 30 minutes.
The resolution text, or very close to it, follows. For exact wording check with Charlottesville City Council.
WHEREAS, We the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect the free speech and other rights of people, not corporations; and
WHEREAS, Corporations are not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations; and
WHEREAS, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate the people’s laws; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, relying on prior decisions, interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending corporate general treasury funds in our elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United purports to invalidate state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of municipalities across the nation are joining together to call for an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that political speech and spending by corporate entities to influence the political process must be regulated and made subservient to the people’s interest in authentic democracy and self-governance; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States previously have used the constitutional amendment process to correct decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that are deemed to be egregious and wrongly decided and which go to the heart of our democracy and self-government.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE CALL UPON THE VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE. By the People of Charlottesville, Va.
First-of-its-kind "Refrain From Political Spending" Resolution to Be Voted on Today at Bank of America Shareholder Meeting
Resolution would ask the corporation to opt out of the unlimited, often secret spending ability afforded to it by the Supreme Court in Citizens United
*UPDATE:* On Tuesday, May 8, at 3M Corp.’s shareholder meeting, investors urged the board to adopt the resolution to refrain from spending the company’s general treasury funds on influencing elections. Despite evidence that political spending can lower stock performance, the board voted down the measure.
Rhode Island has just become the 4th state to officially call for a U.S. constitutional amendment:
"to effectively overturn the holding of Citizens United and it’s [sic] progeny and to permit the governments of the United States and the several states to regulate and restrict independent political expenditures by corporations and wealthy individuals"
Congratulations to the people of Rhode Island, who've made history today, and are now at the leading edge of our nationwide movement to take America back from corporate control and put our democracy back in the hands of we, the people.
By Dave Lindorff
There are two truths about the US that come clearly to the fore in the current diplomatic blow-up between the US and China over the case of people’s lawyer Chen Guangcheng, though neither is really getting stated in the corporate media coverage of the story.
The first is that the US does not, and has not really ever, cared about the issue of human rights abuses in China, and the second is that the Obama administration, including the supposedly “tough” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, doesn’t know squat about how to negotiate -- not when it comes to dealing with Republicans in Congress, and certainly not when it comes to China.
By Dave Lindorff
As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Let me count the ways:
By Dave Lindorff
(This article originally appeared in The Nation online, where it can be read in full)
By John Grant
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (or AIPAC) is having its three-day annual meeting in Washington DC beginning Sunday March 4th. AIPAC is arriving in an atmosphere of beating war drums and rattling sabers against Iran.
Israel preemptively starting a war with Iran would be bad enough, but the assumption that the United States will be part of that war should be very disturbing to Americans -- who are just getting over one misguided, costly war in Iraq and are still involved in another in Afghanistan.
By John Nichols, The Nation
The Constitution of the United States can be amended in two formal ways: from the top down and from the bottom up.
But New Mexico legislators have found a third way and, hopefully, other state legislators around the country will follow their lead.
The US Constitution is traditionally amended via a process that begins with the endorsement of an amendment by the US House and US Senate and then the ratification of that amendment by the requisite three-fourths of state legislatures. That’s the top-down route. The bottom-up route begins when two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments.
By Felix Salmon, Reuters
One of the saddest aspects of the financialization of the US economy is the way in which America’s best and brightest found themselves working on Wall Street, rather than in jobs which improved the state of the world. Proof of this comes from the absolutely astonishing 325-page comment letter on the Volcker Rule which has been put together by Occupy the SEC; it’s pretty clear, from reading the letter, that the people who wrote it are whip-smart and extremely talented.
Occupy the SEC is the wonky finreg arm of Occupy Wall Street, and its main authors are worth naming and celebrating: Akshat Tewary, Alexis Goldstein, Corley Miller, George Bailey, Caitlin Kline, Elizabeth Friedrich, and Eric Taylor. If you can’t read the whole thing, at least read the introductory comments, on pages 3-6, both for their substance and for the panache of their delivery. A taster: