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July 2016

DNC Emails: Entrenched Pay-To-play Culture In Democratic Party

By Branko Marcetic for In These Times. Some of the nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails released by WikiLeaks illustrate a pervasive culture of pay-to-play within the Democratic Party, where wealthy donors are granted the type of unprecedented access to party officials and lawmakers that ordinary citizens can only dream of, all in the hope that doing so will unlock access to their checkbooks. In advance of this week’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the DNC was engaged in a furious scramble for cash. In an April 25 email, one staffer sent Naomi Aberly, a vice chairwoman of the DNC’s national finance committee and major Democratic fundraiser, a list of donors to contact “who have maxed the past few years but have yet to max this year.” Part of this scramble involved selling special “convention packages” to big money donors that promised them ever more impressive perks the more money they gave or raised. One of the documents released by WikiLeaks outlines these packages. The top-tiered package, called “Rittenhouse Square,” promises any individual who either raises $1.25 million or gives $467,600 to the DNC by June 1 a variety of benefits. Along with “priority booking in a premiere hotel,” nightly access to VIP lounges and parties, and an exclusive photo opportunity, the package also tempts donors with seats at “an exclusive roundtable and campaign briefing with high-level Democratic officials,” and participation in various business roundtables and industry panels taking place throughout the event.

Will Detroit Use Funds To Restore Water or Tear Down Homes?

By Sara Jerome for Takepart. Detroit, MI - Aurora Harris is familiar with the way people sound when they first lose water service. “I try not to let it affect me emotionally, but there are some days where it’s heartbreaking to listen to elderly people crying on the phone, begging for water,” said Harris, cofounder of the community group We the People of Detroit. In Detroit, water and sewer bills have doubled in the last decade for thousands of customers living in poverty, according to the advocacy coalition People’s Water Board. Rates continue to rise. In May, the city resumed its practice of shutting off the water of delinquent customers, and as of July 1, nearly 4,000 households were eligible for disconnection, according to Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Israeli Expulsion Law ‘Violates All Rules Of Democracy’

By Jonathan Cook for Al Jazeera. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, awarded itself a draconian new power last week: A three-quarters majority of its members can now expel an elected politician if they do not like his or her views. According to Adalah, a law centre representing the fifth of Israel’s population who are Palestinian citizens, the so-called expulsion law has no parallel in any democratic state. The group noted that it was the latest in a series of laws designed to strictly circumscribe the rights of Israel’s Palestinian minority and curb dissent. Others fear that the measure is designed to empty the Knesset of its Palestinian parties. “This law violates all rules of democracy and the principle that minorities should be represented,” Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth.

Ireland Jails Three Top Bankers Over 2008 Meltdown

By Conor Humphries and Mark Heinrich for Reuters. Three senior Irish bankers were jailed on Friday for up to three-and-a-half years for conspiring to defraud investors in the most prominent prosecution arising from the 2008 banking crisis that crippled the country's economy. The trio will be among the first senior bankers globally to be jailed for their role in the collapse of a bank during the crisis. The lack of convictions until now has angered Irish taxpayers, who had to stump up 64 billion euros - almost 40 percent of annual economic output - after a property collapse forced the biggest state bank rescue in the euro zone. The crash thrust Ireland into a three-year sovereign bailout in 2010 and the finance ministry said last month that it could take another 15 years to recover the funds pumped into the banks still operating.

Letter From Leonard Peltier

By Leonard Peltier for American Indians and Friends. June 26th marks 41 years since the long summer day when three young men were killed at the home of the Jumping Bull family, near Oglala, during a firefight in which I and dozens of others participated. While I did not shoot (and therefore did not kill) FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, I nevertheless have great remorse for the loss of their young lives, the loss of my friend Joe Stuntz, and for the grieving of their loved ones. I would guess that, like me, many of my brothers and sisters who were there that day wish that somehow they could have done something to change what happened and avoid the tragic outcome of the shootout. This is not something I have thought about casually and then moved on. It’s something I think about every day. As I look back, I remember the expressions of both fear and courage on the faces of my brothers and sisters as we were being attacked.

California Fast Tracks Solar Permits

By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News. California cities are leading the nation in eliminating one of the biggest hurdles to the growth of residential solar: lengthy and confusing permitting. Spurred by a recent state law, hundreds of California communities have streamlined their permit process for small residential solar systems over the past year, some bringing it down to a single day. Some cities have also fast-tracked inspections to within a few days of permit approvals. The outcome? The state's biggest cities are now processing and signing off on hundreds of these solar projects each month. San Jose, for example, streamlined its permit review and approval process last August and has since approved more than 4,500 residential rooftop solar permits. That's a nearly 600 percent increase over the previous year, when San Jose, California's third-largest city, permitted a mere 661.

AFRICOM: Ready To Sabotage The Revolution

By Mark P. Fancher for Black Agenda Report. Seay readily acknowledges Africans’ suspicions, noting: “The history of United States policy in Africa is largely its Cold War history, and for Africans in particular, memories of those engagements are not often happy ones. Whether propping up dictators in the name of containment or turning a blind eye to human rights abuses by anti-communist forces, the United States earned a reputation for meddling and causing problems for Africa and its people throughout the Cold War. For many observers, it is hard to see how AFRICOM could be anything other than simply the latest iteration of neo-imperialist engagement by yet another bunch of shady, secretive white men sporting khakis, polo shirts and crew cuts.”

Obama Said Hillary Will Continue His Legacy

By Michael Hudson for Counterpunch. Leading up to Monday’s Democratic Party convention, Hillary chose Blue Dog Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia as her VP. This was followed by the Wikileaks release of Democratic National Committee (DNC) e-mail files showing it acting as the Clinton Campaign Committee even to the point of using the same lawyers as her own campaign to oppose Bernie Sanders. The response across the Democratic neocon spectrum, from Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post to red-baiting Paul Krugman and the Sunday talk shows it was suggested that behind the Wikileaks to release DNC e-mails was a Russian plot to help elect Trump as their agent. Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul lent his tattered reputation to claim that Putin must have sponsored the hackers who exposed the DNC dirty tricks against Bernie.

Newsletter: On To The General Election, Create Surprises

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The make-up of elections are almost complete with only a few primary races and the Green Party National Convention (August 4-7 in Houston), where Jill Stein's running mate will be announced, remaining. Otherwise we know the candidates that will be with us for the next three months and the potential presidents who will almost assuredly be the focus of mobilizations for the next four years. While Bernie Sanders is no longer running for office and has shifted his energy to working to elect Hillary Clinton, many in the Bernie or Bust Movement have shifted to Jill or Bust, with the initial goal to get Jill Stein into the highly restrictive (and anti-democratic) debates.

Up to 28 Civilians Reportedly Killed In US-Led Strike In Syria

By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams - The U.S.-led coalition has been accused of killing as many as 28 civilians, including a woman and seven children, near the northern Syrian city of Manbij on Thursday—the same area where U.S.-led airstrikes last week may have killed scores of civilians. "The Manbij area," as the Associated Press describes, "has seen extensive battles between IS [Islamic State or ISIS] extremists and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters." It is also where UNICEF estimated last week that there are 35,000 children trapped "with nowhere safe to go."

Isis Escalating Violence Against Iraqi Civilians. Why Doesn’t World Care?

By Haider Newmani for The Guardian - US and coalition military forces continue to attack Isis territories in Iraq, while Iraqi ground troops prepare to retake the city of Mosul from the grip of the terrorist group. As Isis loses ground in Iraq, it escalates its violent campaign against civilians. On Sunday, a suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint in my home city, Baghdad, killing at least 14 people. It followed the attacks on 3 July in the same city – the city I fled to become an asylum seeker in America after losing multiple family members and friends.

An Inside Look At How Rio Fell So Far, So Fast

By Lindsay Gibbs for Think Progress - With the Summer Olympics a mere week away, people across the world are turning their attention to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where over 10,000 athletes will compete in 28 sports after the torch is lit on August 5. But there’s a lot more going on in Rio than just a mega-sporting event. Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached in May and has her presidential powers suspended until her Senate trial is complete. Acting Governor Francisco Dornelles declared a “state of emergency” so that they could open up emergency funds and pay the policemen who were greeting tourists with “Welcome to Hell” signs at the airport.

Clinton Emails Reveal Direct US Sabotage Of Venezuela

By Noblehuman for Miniplanet - While Hillary Clinton publicly welcomed improved relations with Venezuela as secretary of state, she privately ridiculed the country and continued to support destabilization efforts, revealed her emails leaked by WikiLeaks. In 2010, Clinton asked Arturo Valenzuela, then assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, how “to rein in Chavez.” Valenzuela responded that, “We need to carefully consider the consequences of publicly confronting him but ought to look at opportunities for others in the region to help.”

‘Comfort Women’ Survivors And Advocates Distraught By ‘Healing Foundation’

By Staff of Zoom in Korea - On July 28, a dozen South Korean university students disrupted the launching of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation – established by the South Korean government to dole out a lump-sum donation by the Japanese government to victims of sexual slavery during WWII. The students staged a protest delaying the foundation’s launch press conference for 30 minutes, after which they were forcibly removed by the police. Outside the launching ceremony, civil society organizations including the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (Jeongdaehyeop) rallied to protest the foundation’s launch.

Sanders Supporters Protests Against Dems Helping Create Local Change

By Molly Knefel for Truthout - Democrats in Philadelphia have spent this week reckoning with powerful divisions within their party, most visibly from Bernie Sanders delegates attempting to push the party to the left. The big question of the week is: what will the movement inspired by Sanders look like now that Hillary Clinton has secured the nomination? On Tuesday, a small group of elected officials from around the country gathered at the Ethical Humanist Society of Philadelphia.
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