How Media Consolidation Threatens Democracy: 857 Channels (And Nothing On)

Vice President Al Gore speaks as President Bill Clinton looks on during an informal discussion with parents and children in Alexandria, Virginia on Feb. 9, 1996. Clinton had signed the Telecommunications Act the previous day. (Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By John Light for Moyers & Company – Earlier this week, we wrote about a pending deal between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media. Sinclair hopes to buy Tribune, a move that will allow the company to broadcast news to 70 percent of Americans. But the deal has raised eyebrows. The company is notoriously close with Trump, and also favored George W. Bush when he was president. The company’s DC office produces conservative commentary and news segments that paint Republicans in a favorable light, and distributes them to local stations around the country. Some worry that Sinclair hopes to create a competitor to Fox News, operating out of local television stations across America. If the deal does go through — anti-trust regulators and the FCC will have to approve it — it will only have been possible because earlier this year, Trump’s FCC chair Ajit Pai relaxed rules preventing media consolidation. Like much the FCC deals with — net neutrality, internet privacy — media consolidation is a dull-sounding topic that is nonetheless very important. It has a direct hand in the quality of American journalism, and it dictates how accountable that journalism is to its audience.

The Left Radical Who Will Likely Be Jackson, Mississippi’s Next Mayor

Chokwe Antar Lumumba

By Kate Aronoff for In These Times. The city of Jackson, in the heart of staunchly Republican Mississippi, might seem an unlikely place for a municipal revolution. Yet Jackson’s radicalism has been forged in the crucible of massive disinvestment, both by private industry and by a conservative state legislature. Led by the Black nationalist organization Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, organizers in Jackson have backed experiments in everything from worker-owned businesses to participatory, neighborhood-by-neighborhood democracy. A leader of this movement, Jackson Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, helped start people’s assemblies in the city, inviting residents to hash out the kinds of changes they want to see. He was elected mayor in 2013, only to pass away months later. In an effort to carry on his father’s legacy, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, 33, ran to succeed his father and lost. Now, with his second run, he hopes to continue the work his father began.

South Korea’s Likely Next President Warns US Not To Meddle In Nation’s Democracy

Flickr/ Tim Green

By Jason Ditz for Anti-War – The split between Moon and Trump is so dramatic, in fact, that Moon has felt the need to publicly warn the US against “meddling” in the nation’s politics, not just directly in the election itself, but also with policy decisions made in the lead-up to the election. Indeed, Moon and his allies warn that the biggest problem is the US rushing through measures in the lame-duck government ahead of the election, noting that agreements on things like the THAAD anti-missile system, and then hastily putting the system in place before any public hearings or environmental assessments were allowed to take place. Analysts even suggest that President Trump’s talk of making South Korea pay for THAAD might help Moon,, because he is seen as more likely to stand up to the US on the deployment, and doesn’t feel particularly wedded to any agreements on the deployment, which were made in the post-impeachment, pre-election environment specifically to avoid real political debate.

Mass Protests In Venezuela, On Both Sides

Protests against Nicolas Mduro in Caracas April 20, 2017

By Lucas Koerner for Venezueal Analysis. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital Wednesday in massive pro and anti-government rallies marking the country’s independence day. Thousands of red-clad supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mobilized in four separate marches that culminated in a mass rally along Bolivar Avenue in downtown Caracas. “I am here to support the Revolution… because I love my country, I’m a Chavista in the flesh and I support Chavez and Maduro, and I want that to be heard in the US, Europe and the rest of the world so they can’t say this is a show, that we don’t have numbers, that we’re paid to be here. No, this is real,” one marcher told Venezuelanalysis.

Could Proportional Representation Save French And American Democracies?

Storm Crypt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Natasha Hakimi Zapata for Truth Dig – The alternative is called proportional representation (PR). Under a PR system, the electorate casts its votes nationwide for whatever political party they choose, and then seats are distributed by percentage. You don’t have to win the majority of votes in any one geographically-bound district to enter the parliament. This allows for the rapid growth of minority parties, and more political diversity. So, for instance, in PR-using Israel, there are 10 political parties in the Knesset. PR-using Sweden has eight parties represented. … It’s impossible to know exactly what would result from, for instance, converting the U.S. Congress into a proportional system. But we do know that the current system is far from popular, while also very hard to dislodge. In 2016, members of the U.S. House had a 97 percent re-election rate; and yet the latest Gallup poll puts Congress’s approval rating at 24 percent. A shift like the one Mélenchon is proposing in France would also require Constitutional changes, which are very difficult to implement. But the same could be said for many of the ideas Sanders ran on, like a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Get Ready For A 'People's Congress Of Resistance'

It's Our Future

By Staff of the Peoples Congress of Resistance. The United States Congress does not represent the people who live and work in the United States. Given the threat posed by the Trump regime, the people must take matters into our own hands, together, and claim the power we already have. The People demand a new Congress, a fighting Congress of the working class of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, genders and ages. We must create a Congress of communities under attack by the reactionary Trump agenda and fighting back against it, a Congress of the grassroots and the working class, of resisters, organizers, and activists, of everyone who recognizes we can no longer continue as we have. Such a People’s Congress will confront the Congress of the millionaires. It will galvanize the energy of the many groups resisting Trump. It will demonstrate that this is what democracy looks like.

Grassroots Movements Bring Fresh Air To Democracies: Analyst

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By Staff of Tele Sur – According to Bianchi, from the Latin American Network for Political Innovation, the situation in Ecuador is critical, as a right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso faces a political battle against Lenin Moreno, the successor of left-wing President Rafael Correa and part of the so-called Pink Tide of progressive governments in the region. “We can go towards more conservative governments that are implying — and now we know that it’s happening — a reversion of rights,“ said Bianchi, likening the political scenario in Ecuador to the elections in Argentina that brought businessman Mauricio Macri to power, leading to a wave of neoliberal measures.

Government’s Own Data Shows US Interfered In 81 Foreign Elections

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By Claire Bernish for Mint Press News – On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed for the first time publicly that the bureau is officially investigating hotly contentious allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election — but, even if proven true, such geopolitical escapades better characterize the routine behavior of accuser than of accused. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” the director announced, adding the bureau would conduct a probe to discern whether Trump’s associates had contact with Russian officials. Despite that the U.S. has hypocritically exerted influence over foreign elections in all corners of the globe — in fact, it has arrogantly done so a whopping 81 times between 1946 and 2000, alone — with just one-third of those operations undertaken overtly.

Re-Imagining Value: Care Economy, Commons, Cyberspace & Nature

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By David Bollier. What is “value” and how shall we protect it? It’s a simple question for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. Value results when private property and “free markets” condense countless individual preferences and purchases into a single, neutral representation of value: price. That is seen as the equivalent of “wealth.” This theory of value has always been flawed, both theoretically and empirically, because it obviously ignores many types of “value” that cannot be given a price. No matter, it “works,” and so this theory of value generally prevails in political and policy debates. Economic growth (measured as Gross Domestic Product) and value are seen as the same.

Neoliberalism’s Crumbling Democratic Façade

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By Joris Leverink for ROAR Magazine – Years from now, when we look back at the 2010s, what will be the images that come to mind? Will we recall the wealth and prosperity brought to us by free markets and private investment? The freedom and democracy we enjoyed under our neoliberal governments? Or the ways in which we bravely protected our cultural and natural heritage, safeguarding it for future generations? Most likely not. When we think of the 2010s, we will remember the protesters in the streets, the wars ravaging the Middle East, causing entire populations to leave home and hearth behind, and the millions of people across the globe risking their lives just to make a living somewhere else. We will remember the xenophobic attacks, the racist politicians, the gag orders and the crackdowns.

The Vision And Legacy Of Berta Cáceres

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By Beverly Bell for Other Worlds. One year ago today, Berta Cáceres was murdered by the national and local Honduran government and a multinational dam company, with at least the tacit support of the US. Last September, all the evidence Cáceres’ family had collected over many months was stolen, almost certainly by the government. The government has also refused to share information with the family and to allow independent parties like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help with the process. Please contact your US congressperson to urge him or her to endorse the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act, which is being re-introduced today, March 2, 2017. It compels the US government to cut military aid to Honduras until it improves its human rights record.

Building The Commons As An Antidote To Predatory Capitalism

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Moving Beyond Capitalism. We’ve reached a tipping point in awareness of the effects of the current global economy that has erupted in a worldwide revolt as we can see in the Occupy, Arab Spring, Idle No More and Indignado movements. People are searching for alternative ways of structuring the economy and society that are empowering and more just and sustainable. Part of this work includes understanding and building the “commons,” which is the opposite of the predatory market economy. As we will describe below, concentrated wealth is derived by taking from the commons for personal gain in an undemocratic way. We can reverse the current trend toward privatization and wealth inequality by claiming the commons and using it for mutual prosperity. The commons cannot exist without a participatory governance structure. Therefore, building the commons is a fundamental step toward real democracy.

Marta Harnecker: Ideas For The Struggle

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By The Old and New Project. July 2016— When we asked Marta Harnecker whether it would be OK to post her “Ideas for the Struggle” (12 short articles about the left and the challenges it faces) on the Old and New website, with an invitation to revolutionary activists in the USA to discuss it, she said she would be delighted. But she also urged that we write an introduction explaining why a piece that was originally composed in 2004 is being reprinted today, with only a few modifications. That question, however, seems relatively easy: not much has changed on the revolutionary left since 2004 concerning the issues Harnecker is addressing in these notes. They have not been adequately discussed or resolved, far from it. Another question also seems significant: Why do we think a text inspired by and considering the practices of the Latin American left will be helpful to revolutionaries in the USA? This should also be obvious to readers who take even a quick look at the topics Harnecker considers.

A Crackdown On Our Right To Stand Up

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By Nicole Colson for Socialist Worker – Nicole Colson explains how Republican-led legislatures are trying to push through laws to criminalize dissent–in the hopes of stopping the growing fight against the right. LESS THAN three weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump is clearly what George W. Bush once claimed to be: “a uniter, not a divider.” Only he’s been uniting many hundreds of thousands of people in protest and many millions in outrage at his bigoted, right-wing actions since taking office. But Trump’s right-wing admirers around the country have seized on a strategy to push back against mass protest–by criminalizing it. Lawmakers in multiple states are proposing measures explicitly designed to curtail dissent.

Reason, Creativity And Freedom: The Communalist Model

Julien Lagarde

By Eleanor Finley for ROAR Magazine – In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, devastating images and memories of the First and Second World Wars flood our minds. Anti-rationalism, racialized violence, scapegoating, misogyny and homophobia have been unleashed from the margins of society and brought into the political mainstream. Meanwhile, humanity itself runs in a life-or-death race against time. The once-unthinkable turmoil of climate change is now becoming reality, and no serious attempts are being undertaken by powerful actors and institutions to holistically and effectively mitigate the catastrophe. As the tenuous and paradoxical era of American republicanism comes to an end, nature’s experiment in such a creative, self-conscious creature as humanity reaches a perilous brink.