Youngstown Residents Push To Oust Corporations From Election Campaigns

After several attempts to ban fracking in Youngstown, Ohio, the community rights movement is focusing on ending outside industry contributions to local election campaigns.   (Image: protectyoungstown.org)

By Staff of In These Times – Today, a long-standing community rights group in Youngstown, Ohio, submitted over 1,900 signatures to qualify their Youngstown Fair Election Bill of Rights initiative for the November ballot. The measure is the first of its kind in the state, limiting campaign contributions to registered voters within the City, and capping those contributions at $100. The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee drafted the initiative with the support of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF has been assisting Youngstown residents to advance their democratic and environmental rights since 2013, when residents launched their community rights work to protect themselves from fracking activities. Fracking threatens their drinking water and has caused earthquakes in the area. “We have fought to keep fracking projects out of our City for several years, with six ballot measures that asserted our right to clean water and to local community self-government,” says Lynn Anderson, a lead organizer with the Youngstown Committee.

Clinton Lost Because PA, WI, And MI Have High Casualty Rates And Saw Her As Pro-War

Hillary Clinton at a rally last year. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

By Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss – Last fall I winced whenever Hillary Clinton or her surrogates promised regime change in Syria. Don’t these people get it? Americans don’t want to be waging more wars in the Middle East. Now an important new study has come out showing that Clinton paid for this arrogance: professors argue that Clinton lost the battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in last year’s presidential election because they had some of the highest casualty rates during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and voters there saw Clinton as the pro-war candidate. By contrast, her pro-war positions did not hurt her in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, the study says; because those states were relatively unscathed by the Middle East wars. The study is titled “Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars Cost Clinton the White House?” Authors Francis Shen, associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Dougas Kriner, a political science professor at Boston University, strike a populist note: With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election.

The Latest Sneaky Attempt To Increase Corporate Political Power

Mike Pence, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Steve Scalise (R-LA) share a laugh with the media after a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the RNC on Sept. 13, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By John Light for Moyers and Company – “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring,” John Oliver said in 2014 of the tireless efforts of telecomm monopolists to get rid of net neutrality. It’s a tried and true strategy of the wealthy and their legislative allies, and, while Donald Trump’s destructive antics continue to hold America’s attention with the same unyielding grip he uses on foreign dignitaries’ hands, there are a lot of boring things ambling through Congress with corporate favors crammed deep inside. While Donald Trump’s destructive antics continue to hold America’s attention with the same unyielding grip he uses on foreign dignitaries’ hands, there are a lot of boring things ambling through Congress with corporate favors crammed deep inside. And so it is with the House’s appropriations bill, which includes riders that would further pare back campaign finance rules that have already been decimated over the last decade, in large part through Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United and McCutcheon v. FEC. These rulings and a Congress hell-bent on deregulating the campaign finance system has lead to increasingly expensive elections, with the money that helps candidates win often pouring in from anonymous interests. Watchdog groups and journalists call these billions from shadowy sources “dark money.”

Venezuelan Opposition Electoral Stunt Backfires, Shows Their Weakness

Andreas Lehner/ Flickr

By Ricardo Vaz for Counter Punch – The opposition “plebiscite”, or “referendum”, which in reality was nothing more than a non-binding “consultation” without any legal status, was predicted as a major political earthquake that would instantly change the country’s landscape. Maria Corina Machado, one of the most extreme opposition leaders, likened it to the destruction of the Berlin wall, Mandela being elected or the toppling of Saddam Hussein (no subtlety there!). The process would have been laughed into oblivion had it taken place anywhere else. No electoral records were used, expired documents were accepted and there was nothing stopping people from voting more than once. There was no monitoring and in the end all the evidence was burned, so no audit was possible. As for the ballot, it had 3 questions to be answered yes/no: whether people rejected the upcoming Constituent Assembly, whether they called the armed forces to intervene (i.e. a coup) and whether all public powers should be renewed, free and fair elections held, and a national unity government formed to restore order. (1) The final result of 7,186,170 votes falls short of the opposition’s total in the 2015 legislative elections, and unlike what Henrique Capriles says, it would not be enough to recall Maduro, who received 7,587,579 votes in the 2013 presidential election, even with all the manipulation of figures (2).

Venezuela Votes: Will The World’s Media Ever Get It Right?

US AID and Venezuela protest photo Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – International coverage entirely ignores Sunday’s demonstration of support for a Constituent Assembly. Did you hear the one about a practice election in Venezuela, where millions of people lined up from early morning until late at night, just to cast their vote in a dry run poll that meant absolutely nothing at all? Except to express support for another election in two weeks time? Actually, it’s not a joke. It did happen. On Sunday. Video shows them singing and dancing as they waited to test voting machines and see how the election of a new Constituent Assembly on July 30 will work. But you probably never heard about it. Because the world’s media, pretty much without exception, concentrated almost exclusively on the other vote happening in Venezuela on Sunday, an informal plebiscite held by the opposition, with no constitutional status, to oppose that Constituent Assembly. So let’s just look at the quality media. The New York Times for example — you remember: “All the news that’s fit to print.” Well, maybe not ALL of it …

How A Federal Program Is Destroying Public Housing

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By Taya Graham for The Real News. Taya Graham: If there’s a single issue that illustrates Baltimore’s economic divide, it’s housing. While developers continue to reap generous tax breaks to build luxury apartments downtown, other neighborhoods suffer from neglect. In fact, when Under Armour billionaire Kevin Plank received $600 million in tax breaks to build Port Covington, he also won an exemption from the city’s affordable housing law. It’s this dichotomy between rich and poor, the haves and the have not, which the city has failed to address, a lack of balance even more profound in our public housing, which is literally falling apart, which is why we have assembled this panel of people to talk about how to solve this entrenched inequity. Jeff Singer is the former executive director of Health Care for the Homeless and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Lucky Crosby is a former housing employee who was a key whistleblower about the deplorable conditions of public housing. Reverend Annie Chambers was the first Green Party candidate to win a city-wide election to the Citizen Advisory Board of Douglas Homes, a city-run housings facility.

'Democracy Vouchers' Amplify Low-Income Voices

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By Josh Cohen for The Guardian. If money amplifies the voices of wealthy Americans in politics, Seattle is trying something that aims to give low-income and middle-class voters a signal boost. The city’s new “Democracy Voucher” program, the first of its kind in the US, provides every eligible Seattle resident with $100 in taxpayer-funded vouchers to donate to the candidates of their choice. The goal is to incentivize candidates to take heed of a broad range of residents – homeless people, minimum-wage workers, seniors on fixed incomes – as well as the big-dollar donors who often dictate the political conversation. This August’s primary is the trial run for the program. But before Seattle can crow about having re-enfranchised long-overlooked voters, it must contend with conservative opposition.

The Zapatista Indigenous Presidential Candidate’s Vision To Transform Mexico From Below

Spokesperson and presidential candidate María de Jesús Patricio, left, surrounded by members of the Zapatistas. Photo by Violeta Schmidt/Reuters

By Benjamin Dangl for Toward Freedom – The Zapatistas and National Indigenous Congress (CNI) held an assembly in May in which they chose María de Jesús Patricio Martínez, a Nahua indigenous healer, as their spokesperson and presidential candidate for the 2018 elections in Mexico. Patricio’s candidacy and radical vision for Mexico challenges conventional politics and marks a new phase for the Zapatista and indigenous struggle in the country. The 57-year-old traditional Nahua indigenous doctor and mother of three from western Mexico is the first indigenous woman to run for the presidency in Mexico. Patricio joined the struggles related to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in 1996, when she was involved in the formation of the CNI, a network of indigenous communities in the country. She began helping out sick members of her community with herbal remedies when she was 20-years-old. Her skills as a healer were passed down to her from elders in the community, and are based on a close relationship with the local ecosystem. “Back then, there was a shortage of doctors and medicine and the health department had no answers,” Patricio told the Guardian. “But we have so many plants and so much knowledge from our elders. My grandmother would give us special teas to cure stress, coughs or diarrhea, and they worked. So I thought: why not give herbal remedies to those who can’t afford medicine?”

6 Lessons From The UK Election For National Improved Medicare For All

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By Brittany Shannahan for HCHRMD – This is the end of the center-left as we know it. In democracies across the world, we have seen a polarization of politics, with far-right populists and ethnonationalists sparring against a new wave of leftist political activism as the traditional center-left collapses under its own weight. The process has a name, Pasokification, after the Democrat-esque Greek center-left party that went from a major government player into a fringe institution overnight after an election in 2015. Had Labour replaced Jeremy Corbyn with a centrist, Theresa May and the Conservative party would have won by a landslide. We see a leftist coalition built on a visionary plan for a future for the many rather than for the few taking on a highly popular right-wing government and almost beating it entirely after only six weeks of campaigning. Some will bring up Macron in France as an example of a centrist, neoliberal political party holding its own against the far right. But we need to remember that Nazi sympathizers and collaborators founded the Front National. As Naomi Klein has said, the Front National is more David Duke than Donald Trump.

New Study: Artificial Intelligence Will Alter Humankind In 10 Years

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By Lee Camp for Redacted Tonight. Redacted Tonight host Lee Camp has the latest on an impending crisis robots are causing. As jobs are rapidly becoming automated, what will it mean the society of workers made of flesh and blood and not controlled by a processor? Robots are climbing the ladder and will soon take over more mortal jobs. Though it may not be hard to imagine that cashiers will disappear, with self check out already around the corner, there are also white collar jobs at risk. With this imminent job loss, what on Earth can we do as a society to take on skyrocketing unemployment? Lee gets into why the growth of artificial intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world if we harness these changes the right way. Then to Europe.

Mathematicians Want To Save Democracy

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By Carrie Arnold for Nature. Leaning back in his chair, Jonathan Mattingly swings his legs up onto his desk, presses a key on his laptop and changes the results of the 2012 elections in North Carolina. On the screen, flickering lines and dots outline a map of the state’s 13 congressional districts, each of which chooses one person to send to the US House of Representatives. By tweaking the borders of those election districts, but not changing a single vote, Mattingly’s maps show candidates from the Democratic Party winning six, seven or even eight seats in the race. In reality, they won only four — despite earning a majority of votes overall. Mattingly’s election simulations can’t rewrite history, but he hopes they will help to support democracy in the future — in his state and the nation as a whole.

Irrefutable Proof: Russian Election Meddling Documented!

The Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin: Did the Russians hack U.S. election databases? (Yahoo News photo illustration, photos: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters, Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters, AP, AP)

By Fred Gardner for Counter Punch – For months we have all been force-fed a story few of us can digest about the hacking of the Democratic Party’s email servers, presumably by Russians commanded by Vladimir Putin himself. The pundits say, “Nothing like this happens in Russia without Putin’s approval,” as if they actually knew what was done by who. It is unclear how the contents of the DNC emails are supposed to have swayed the US electorate. Was anyone shocked to learn that Mrs. Clinton’s campaign managers were manipulative, lame, and fearful of Bernie Sanders? The current brouhaha is utterly trivial compared to the extreme, direct interference by US government-connected campaign professionals in the election that solidified oligarchy in the former Soviet Union.* Ahoy, out there in the United States of Amnesia… Does anyone remember when Time Magazine was influential? A team of US political consultants operating clandestinely in Moscow was paid $250,000 plus expenses to help a very unpopular Boris Yeltsin get re-elected as Russia’s president in 1996.

After The S Korean Election: The Movement That Ousted Park Cannot Rest

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By Hyun Lee for Zoom In Korea – Front-runner Moon Jae-in, of the main opposition Minjoo Party, is the greatest beneficiary of the mass protests that led to Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. Widespread discontent against Park and the conservative Saenuri party have catapulted Moon to the front of the pack with a significant lead over the other candidates. Moon was Chief of Staff for the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, who served from 2003 to 2008 and continued his predecessor Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy” of engagement and economic cooperation with North Korea. If elected, Moon is expected to reverse South Korea’s policy toward North Korea to one of engagement. He has pledged to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex—the joint inter-Korean economic project that was the last remaining hallmark of peaceful North-South engagement before it was shut down by the Park administration in 2016. The question is: if Moon is elected, will the United States be willing to recalibrate its North Korea strategy to allow Moon to lead? And if not, how much will Moon stand up to the United States to chart an independent path?

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

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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.

Corporate Siege and Trade in the 2018 Elections

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Trade policy is amounting to be an increasinly contentious topic as the Trump administration has clearly showed its intentions to keep major TPP provisions in NAFTA. Corporations are working with the Department of Commerce to eliminate the few but significant labor and environmental protections the government enforces while members of Congress begin to campaign around trade. 2018 promises to put trade policy at the forefront as presidential elections in Mexico and mid-terms in the United States could determine the fate of North American trade agreements to come.