Congress Asks Pentagon To Prepare To Intervene In Venezuela

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By Mision Verdad for TeleSur. The importance of the U.S. Congress in the country’s foreign policy matters is well known, just as it is the center of decision-making on finance and trade issues in relation to the corporate sector in general and, specifically, the military-industrial sector. In the U.S. Congress, important actors from outside the political bureaucracy play a decisive role in terms of lobbying and moving things along so as to favor their interests. In earlier articles, we reported how ExxonMobil has spared no expense to affect the focus of U.S. government policy decisions on Venezuela.

The ‘Monopoly Man’ Just Owned The Senate’s Equifax Hearing

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A demonstrator sits in costume behind Richard Smith, former chairman and chief executive officer of Equifax Inc., right, before a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017.

By Jenna Amatulli for The Huffington Post – Rich Uncle Pennybags apparently likes to spend his free time at Senate hearings. A person dressed up like the iconic monocled Monopoly mascot (who, in the game, does not actually wear a monocle) was seen sitting in the audience during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Equifax data breach on Wednesday. Amid former Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s testimony, many photos with the mysterious Rich Uncle Pennybags in the background cropped up on social media. The mascot’s appearance was the work of Public Citizen, a nonprofit advocacy organization that identifies itself as standing up to “corporate power” and holding the government accountable. They took credit for Pennybags’ appearance and tweeted that the intention behind the mascot’s presence was to say that “forced arbitration gives Equifax a monopoly over our justice system.” Additionally, Amanda Werner, a campaign manager for Public Citizen, tweeted a photo of herself as the Monopoly man with the following explanation: “The Monopoly Man is here to raise attention to Equifax’s get-out-of-jail-free card, forced arb.” Attached in that tweet is a press release from Public Citizen that features this quote by the organization’s president, Robert Weissman: “Forced arbitration gives companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax a monopoly over our system of justice by blocking consumers’ access to the courts.

For The Good Of All, Congress Must Ensure Net Neutrality

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By Jimmy Lee for Crains Chicago Business – In less than a generation, the internet has grown from a curiosity—”something cool you gotta see”—to a core requirement of modern life—”something critical you gotta have.” Education, jobs, social connection, entertainment, culture and politics have all moved almost entirely online. Most of the big national employers do not take paper job applications anymore and even the most basic rights like social protest and citizen organizing have gone digital. Black Lives Matters is a movement, but there’s no denying it’s also a hashtag. As an investor in and adviser to socially-minded startups—and as a parent of two young children—I spend a lot of time grappling with the question of how we can build a better world for the next generation. As the digital revolution remakes almost every aspect of our lives, it’s more clear than ever that any forward-looking agenda must focus on expanding digital access and participation. We cannot build a more equal America, or a future with greater opportunity and economic mobility, if large numbers of Americans are stuck on the wrong side of a growing digital divide. The components of such an agenda are relatively straightforward and well understood. We must encourage the broadest possible effort to build new networks and wire unserved communities and give every American an affordable pathway to high-speed internet access.

Assange “Has Absolute Proof” Russia Did Not Meddle In US Elections

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Rohrabacher, who’s been consistent in rejecting the Russia collusion theory on Capitol Hill lashed out at the country’s critics as he prepared to meet with President Donald Trump, Tuesday, April 4, 2017 (AP/Paul Holston)

By Alex Christoforou for Mint Press News – “He’s the one guy that I think the American people and the people in the world need to hear, and he’s the one guy that now our intelligence agencies as well at the powers that be in Washington don’t want anybody to hear….” Last week The Duran reported that if there is one man on the planet that can settle the entire “Russia election meddling”, narrative spun by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, that man is Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange is offering to prove without a shadow of a doubt that Russia did not meddle in the US elections, but for this information, Assange is asking for a pardon from POTUS Trump. The problem is that Trump is not being given this message by his White House team, and the Generals that control his Administration, specifically Chief of Staff General John Kelly. California Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher says he has seen the evidence that will disprove “Russia-Trump” collusion accusations once and for all, but he’s having a hard time getting his message through to the president. In an interview OAN, Rohrabacher was confident that the president will “get behind this” as soon he hears the message.

Lawmakers Demand U.S. Withdrawal From Saudi-Led War In Yemen

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By Dan De Luce for Foreign Policy – Four lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that would halt U.S. military assistance to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen on grounds that Congress has never approved the American role in the war. Two House Republicans and two Democrats submitted the bill on Wednesday evening, but other lawmakers have already conveyed their support for the measure, congressional aides told Foreign Policy. The bill requires “the removal” of U.S. forces from the war in Yemen unless and until Congress votes to authorize the American assistance. For more than two years, the United States military has provided aerial refueling tankers and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition waging war against Houthi rebels backed by Iran. “We aim to restore Congress as the constitutionally mandated branch of government that may declare war and retain oversight over it,” two sponsors, Democrats Rep. Ro Khanna of California and Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, wrote in a letter to colleagues that was obtained by FP. Although the bipartisan bill is unlikely to secure a majority in the House, it underscores growing concerns over Saudi Arabia’s handling of the war that is now at a stalemate on the battlefield. And it reflects growing unease at Congress over the U.S. role there, following previous attempts by lawmakers this year to rein in arms sales or other military assistance to Saudi Arabia…

It’s Time For Congress To Fire The FCC Chairman

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By Gigi Sohn for The Verge – FCC chairman Ajit Pai is genuinely one of the nicest people in Washington. He’s smart, personable, and the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with. But nice guys don’t always make good policy (I’ve been bipartisan on this), and Pai’s record means real danger for American consumers and the internet itself. If you believe communications networks should be fast, fair, open, and affordable, you need ask your senator to vote against Pai’s reconfirmation. Now. The Senate vote on Pai is imminent. When it happens, it will be a stark referendum on the kind of communications networks and consumer protections we want to see in this country. Senators can choose a toothless FCC that will protect huge companies, allow them to further consolidate, charge higher prices with worsening service, and a create bigger disconnect between broadband haves and have-nots. Or, they can vote for what the FCC is supposed to do: protect consumers, promote competition, and ensure access for all Americans, including the most vulnerable. It shouldn’t be a hard decision, and what we’ve seen over the past eight months makes the stakes clear. Below are just a few of the Pai FCC’s most harmful actions, which should help make your decision to contact your senator clear, too.

‘Team Internet’ Mobilizing Thousands Of Net Neutrality Activists Across The Country To Meet With Lawmakers

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By Mark Stanley for Demand Progress – Across the country, Team Internet volunteers like Platt are meeting with lawmakers, turning up at rallies, attending mass calls and coordinating with other activists in ways they’ve never before been able to do. “There are so many crucial issues people are engaging in right now, from healthcare to advocating for racial justice. At the end of the day, folks know if their free speech is curtailed because we don’t have strong Net Neutrality protections, organizing on these issues will be extremely difficult,” said Demand Progress Director of Operations and Communications Mark Stanley. “We’re seeing an unprecedented number of activists take time out of their busy lives to meet with lawmakers and their staff on this issue. Net Neutrality is vital for our civil discourse, our democracy and organizing on issues that impact people’s daily lives, and people are willing to fight for it now more than ever,” said Stanley. “Wherever you go, you can feel the energy and enthusiasm for Net Neutrality. Students, doctors, software engineers, lawyers and more are volunteering their time because they want a free and open internet. They’re gathering at lawmakers’ offices, protesting outside of speeches by FCC Chairman Pai, taking part in conference calls to learn more about the connections between Net Neutrality and racial justice, and connecting online and off to plan their next steps,” said Free Press Field Director Mary Alice Crim.

Latino Officials Arrested In Dream Act Protest Outside Trump Tower

By Ilana Novick / AlterNet

By Ilana Novick for AlterNet – While Donald Trump was threatening to destroy North Korea in his first major speech to the United Nations, Reps. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) along with New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito were being arrested outside Trump Tower, according to a statement from immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road New York. The four elected officials were among the large crowd protesting the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and demanding that Congress pass the Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. A group of 12, including the four officials, blocked traffic in busy midtown Manhattan. Espaillat explained that he participated knowing the risk of arrest. “I do not take civil disobedience lightly,” he explained in a statement. “As a member of Congress who was once formerly undocumented, I believe this cause is too monumental to sit idly by.” Rep. Gutiérrez, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, emphasized the importance of participating in this action as part of a larger grassroots movement.

Fool Me Twice: Trojan Horse Democrats Pile Into The House Of Single-Payer

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By Jim Kavanaugh for The Polemicist – It’s great that more than a third of Democratic senators have signed on to co-sponsor Bernie Sanders’s Medicare-for-All bill. It’s a potentially strong bill that’s been welcomed by single-payer activist organizations like Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) and National Nurses United (NNU), and it represents a victory for the tireless work of single-payer activists and the popular pressure they stoked. It is also, we must recognize, only possible because of Bernie’s insistent promotion of healthcare as a right, in a campaign that widened the field of American political discourse. Above all, it is a result of continuing disgust with American for-profit health insurance system. It marks the exasperation with Obamacare’s half-assed attempt to patch up that system, and the rejection of the even crueler Republican schemes. At the very least, this bill puts single-payer “on the table” of legislative action and public discussion. The “public discussion” part is perhaps the most important. People will now hear about single-payer, and its advocates will not be completely shut out of media coverage from Fox to PBS, as they are now. Even the Democratic Party will have to talk about it. But please, please, do not be fooled. It does not mean that most, or any, of those co-sponsoring Democratic senators actually support single-payer. Most of those Democrats have signed on because they felt politically forced to, because they knew they could not face their constituents if they didn’t.

Demonstrators Shout Down Pelosi At San Francisco DREAM Act Event

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By Staff of CBS – Pelosi unsuccessfully attempted to calm down the chanting students. “You’ve had your say, and it’s beautiful music to our ears,” Pelosi said. But when they interrupted again, she shouted “Just stop it now!” Moments later, she was forced to leave the news conference. Meanwhile in San Francisco federal court, six immigrants brought to the United States as children who became teachers, graduate students and a lawyer sued the Trump administration on over its decision to end a program shielding them from deportation. The lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco alleges the move violated the constitutional rights of immigrants who lack legal status and provided information about themselves to the U.S. government so they could participate in the program. “The consequences are potentially catastrophic,” said Jesse Gabriel, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “These people can very powerfully and very clearly communicate the extent to which they organized their lives around this program.” The lawsuit joins others filed over President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrants to obtain work permits and deportation protection since 2012.

Insurance Industry Pays Senators To Not Support Improved Medicare For All

Supporters of the Medicare for All Act of 2017 hold signs at an event to introduce the bill in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images.

By Andrew Perez for MapLight – Democratic senators who haven’t signed on to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” proposal have received twice as much cash from the insurance industry as the bill’s sponsors, MapLight has found. The insurance industry has donated an average of $23,600 since 2010 to senators who have co-sponsored Sanders’ bill, according to a MapLight review of campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Democratic senators who have not yet supported his legislation, including Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, have received an average of $55,500 from the industry. The independent senator from Vermont has been pitching a government-run, single-payer health care system since 1993. But the idea became popular among progressive voters during his 2016 primary campaign against eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and is picking up support. About one-thirdof American adults polled in June said they now support a single-payer health care system. Sanders, who formally proposed his “Medicare for All” plan on Wednesday, has picked up support from 16 of the Senate’s 46 Democrats. Supporters include potential 2020 presidential contenders, such as Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. A majority of House Democrats are backing a similar proposal introduced in January by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

As Sanders Prepared Medicare Bill, Health Care Lobbyists Bankrolled Senate Democrats

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By David Sirota and Lydia O’Neal for IB Times – As Bernie Sanders worked to finalize his Medicare-for-All Act of 2017, corporate lobbyists representing the traditional opponents of single-payer health care — including the nation’s major private insurers and drug companies — poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Senate Democrats’ fundraising accounts. Now, many of those lawmakers have refused to sign on to the Medicare bill. Sanders has faced questions about whether or not the bill would garner solid support among Senate Democrats. So far, 16 Senate Democrats have said they will sponsor the legislation — which the insurance industry slammed after he announced it. A new study from campaign finance watchdog group MapLight found that since 2010, Democratic senators who have refused to sponsor the bill have, during their careers, raised twice as much insurance industry cash as those who support the legislation. As Republicans took over the White House earlier this year, significant campaign funding for Democratic senators has continued to come from lobbyists. According to federal campaign finance records reviewed by International Business Times, lobbyists, lobbying firms and one other corporate political action committee collectively delivered nearly $2 million in bundled campaign contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the first half of 2017.

Trump Administration Urges Congress To Renew Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

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By Aaron Kesel for Activist Post – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is urging Congress to “promptly” reauthorize section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats also signed the letter, addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Section 702 of FISA “allows the Intelligence Community, under a robust regime of oversight by all three branches of government, to collect vital information about international terrorists, cyber actors, individuals and entities engaged in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other important foreign intelligence targets located outside the United States,” Sessions and Coats wrote. They added: “Reauthorizing this critical authority is the top legislative priority of the Department of Justice and the Intelligence Community. As publicly reported by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, information collected under one particular section of FAA, Section 702, produces significant foreign intelligence that is vital to protect the nation against international terrorism and other threats.”

Senate Debates Billions For Insurers While Public Demands Medicare For All

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Health Over Profit for Everyone – Senators are back from their long summer recess, and they started off with health care back at the top of the agenda. The Senate HELP committee held its first of four hearings on September 6, and Senator Bernie Sanders is preparing to introduce a Medicare for All bill on September 13. The two efforts are a clear example of the underlying dilemma that we have faced in the United States for the past 100 years: Is health care a commodity or a public good? It can’t be both. The failed efforts to repeal and replace the ACA took up a lot of time and energy this year and left the country in no better position to deal with the ongoing healthcare crisis. Now, time is really short because private health insurers are announcing their rates for 2018, and they are, not surprisingly, screaming for more money because they have to (*gasp*) pay for health care. A group of us attended the first Senate HELP committee hearing to convey the message that the people are ready to undertake the serious work of creating a National Improved Medicare for All. Typically, before and sometimes during a hearing, attendees are allowed to hold signs as long as they are not disruptive.

To Sen. Sanders: We Cannot Begin From A Position Of Compromise

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By Margaret Flowers for Health Over Profit for Everyone – At the start of the August congressional recess, Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he will introduce a senate bill this September “to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.” Since the election, the movement for improved Medicare for all, has been urging Sanders to introduce a companion to John Conyers’ HR 676: The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, which currently has a record 117 co-sponsors in the House and is considered the gold standard by the movement. Recent reports are that Sanders’ bill falls far short of HR 676 in fundamental ways. In fact, Sanders’ bill is a multi-payer system not a single payer system. His bill reportedly would allow private insurers to compete with the public system, allow the wealthy to buy their way out of the public system and allow investor-owned health facilities to continue to profit while providing more expensive and lower quality health care. As a leader in the Democratic Party in the Senate, Sanders is trying to walk the line between listening to the concerns of his constituency, which overwhelmingly favors single payer health care, and protecting his fellow Democrats, whose campaigns are financed by the medical industrial complex.