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.

What We Did At The Ukrainian Embassy

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By Phil Wilayto for The Odessa Solidarity Campaign. Washington, DC – When we rang the doorbell at the Ukrainian Embassy to the United States in Washington, D.C., Ray McGovern and I heard a staff person ask “Who is it?” over the intercom. “We’re the Odessa Solidarity Campaign and we have a letter for President Petro Poroshenko,” we said. When the door opened, a bewildered-looking man was confronted by what must have seemed to him like a sea of reporters. Plus Ray and myself, with the letter. “We’re calling on President Poroshenko to release all political prisoners in Ukraine and end the repression against the relatives of the people who died at the House of Trade Unions on May 2, 2014,” we said. The staff member slowly took the letter as the TV cameras filmed. (The text of the letter appears below.)

A Multi-level Analysis Of US Cruise Missile Attack On Syria

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By The Saker. I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Assad or anybody else in the Syrian government really ordered a chemical weapons attack on anybody. To believe that it would require you to find the following sequence logical: first, Assad pretty much wins the war against Daesh which is in full retreat. Then, the US declares that overthrowing Assad is not a priority anymore (up to here this is all factual and true). Then, Assad decides to use weapons he does not have. He decides to bomb a location with no military value, but with lots of kids and cameras. Then, when the Russians demand a full investigation, the Americans strike as fast as they can before this idea gets any support. And now the Americans are probing a possible Russian role in this so-called attack. Frankly, if you believe any of that, you should immediately stop reading and go back to watching TV.

Kim Jong-un Orders Evacuation Of Pyongyang

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By Korea Herald. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered 25 percent of Pyongyang residents to leave the city immediately, according to a Russian news outlet on Friday. The Pravda report said that in accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be urgently evacuated. Experts note that the evacuation will most likely be conducted due to extremely strained tensions in relations with the US. Reportedly, Pyongyang’s bomb shelters will not be able to accommodate the entire population of the North Korean capital. Therefore, 600,000 people – mostly individuals with criminal records – will have to leave Pyongyang to let others use bomb shelters, the report added.

China’s Rise, America’s Fall

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By Ron Unz for The Unz Review – The rise of China surely ranks among the most important world developments of the last 100 years. With America still trapped in its fifth year of economic hardship, and the Chinese economy poised to surpass our own before the end of this decade, China looms very large on the horizon. We are living in the early years of what journalists once dubbed “The Pacific Century,” yet there are worrisome signs it may instead become known as “The Chinese Century.” But does the Chinese giant have feet of clay? In a recently published book, Why Nations Fail, economists Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson characterize China’s ruling elites as “extractive”

China Report On Human Rights Violations In US At Home And Abroad

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By Staff of Tele Sur – The colonial history, enslavement, segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the U.S. remained a serious challenge,” the report noted. On Thursday, China’s State Council Information Office released a human rights report on the U.S., noting that while that country continues to act as “the judge of human rights” it continues to ignore its own “terrible problems.” The report, called “Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016,” cites both international and U.S. academic and NGO sources focussed on that country’s domestic and international human rights record. “Wielding ‘the baton of human rights,’ (the U.S.)

China Proposes N. Korea Halt Nuke Program And US Halt Wargames

We say No to War sign seen at a 2007 anti-war protest. (Photo by Thiago Santos on flickr)

By Jason Ditz for Anti War – Speculation that China is trying to get the US and North Korea to negotiate instead of having these annual escalations of tensions proved true today, with Chinese officials proposing a deal in which the US, North Korea, and South Korea would halt their respective provocative actions. Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed that North Korea would suspend work on both its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, in return for the US and South Korea agreeing to halt their annual wargames, which grow every year, and simulate a joint invasion of North Korea. Wang said the suspension-for-suspension deal would be both a chance to reduce tension on the Korean Peninsula

North Korea And United States: Will Real Aggressor Please Stand Down?

Pyongyang, capitol of North Korea after US bombing.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Truthout – US political leaders and media pundits trumpet North Korea’s recent testing of missiles and nuclear weapons as a great threat. But the US mass media do not tell the whole story. Without the context of history and current events, the actions of North Korea look insane, but when put in context we find that the United States is pushing North Korea on this path. North Korea is really not a significant threat compared to what the United States is doing with nuclear weapons, the Asia Pivot and war games off the Korean coast. In this article, we seek greater understanding by putting ourselves in the place of North Korea. Historical Context: Korea, a Pawn for Big Power, Brutalized by the United States…

It’s Time to Scrap NAFTA, Not ‘Tweak’ It

NAFTA opened the doors for a flood of subsidized agricultural products and large-scale consolidation, eviscerating small farmers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo: Bread for the World / Flickr)

By Victor Suarez and Alejandro Villamar for Foreign Policy in Focus. Some politicians and “experts” still don’t understand — or don’t want to understand — that a great deal of popular discontent in the United States, Mexico, and Canada alike is rooted in undemocratic policies that have produced inequality, unemployment, migration, food dependency, and pollution. NAFTA isn’t the only factor — but it’s one of the most powerful. The reason is that NAFTA was never designed for the development of our peoples through trade, but instead to advance the narrow corporate interests of multi-national firms and the governments that serve them. In the case of Mexico, it was negotiated and signed by an authoritarian government that only served the interests of large Mexican and global corporations, and which turned its back on productive sectors linked to the domestic market.

Trump Right To Criticize NAFTA—But He’s Wrong About Why It’s Bad For America

Border frenemies.	(Reuters/Henry Romero)

By Jeff Faux for Quartz – Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate or tear-up the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement was a major reason why he won the support of working class voters in the Midwestern states that were crucial to his election. It’s also a trap. As US president-elect, Trump quickly scored some points with his Rust Belt constituency after claiming to get the Carrier and Ford corporations to reduce the number of jobs they are sending to Mexico. He also clearly exaggerated the effect of his personal persuasiveness: Carrier was moved by a $7 million tax break from the state of Indiana and Ford might well have made its decision before Trump intervened. In any event, as the Wall Street Journal reports, other companies, such as Rexnord, Caterpillar, and Nucor continue to send jobs south of the border. Renegotiating NAFTA is therefore the first real test of Trump’s pledge to create good new jobs by negotiating better trade deals.

Friends Of Earth Calls For Resistance To Trump & Abe Trade Talks

Flickr/Tim & Selena Middleton

By Erich Pica for The Huffington Post – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe met with Donald Trump for a two-day summit in Washington, D.C. on February 10 and at Mar-a-lago, Trump’s golf resort in Florida, on February 11. They met to iron out the trade and economic relationship between the world’s first and third largest economies. The backdrop was the Trump plan for a bilateral U.S.-Japan trade agreement that would cement the two countries’ economic relationship now that the U.S. has withdrawn from negotiations for a multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal with Japan and eleven other countries. The two right-wing and nationalistic heads of state announced after the conclusion of Friday’s formal talks that they had agreed to establish a formal “bilateral dialogue framework” on trade and related economic and security issues. The “dialogue” negotiations will be co-chaired by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso.

Abby Martin Responds To False Attacks By The NY Times

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By Abby Martin for Media Roots. Desperate to push this US intelligence narrative, The New York Times called the report “damning and surprisingly detailed,” while adding that it includes no actual evidence. The very next day, on Jan. 7, the Times published another piece titled “Russia’s RT, The Network Implicated in U.S. Election Meddling.” In the article, NYT journalist Russell Goldman used two blatantly false statements about my work at RT to support the argument that the network is simply a Putin-dictated propaganda outlet. First, he stated “…two anchors who quit during live broadcasts say the network is a propaganda outlet.” I did not quit during a live broadcast, nor did I say that the network is a propaganda outlet.

Chinese Billionaire Says US Wasted Trillions On Wars And Wall Street

"In the past 30 years, America had 13 wars spending $2 trillion," said Alibaba founder Jack Ma. "What if the money was spent on the Midwest of the United States?" (Photo via CNBC)

By byLauren McCauley for Common Dreams – Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma accused the United States of spending too much money on foreign wars and risky financial speculation and not enough money “on your own people.” The founder of the world’s largest retailer, Alibaba, was addressing a question posed by CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin about the U.S. economy in relation to China. In response, Ma said the U.S. should stop blaming other countries and look at its own spending priorities: “It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys,” Ma said. “It’s your strategy. You did not distribute the money and things in a proper way.”

US Deep State In Deep Trouble

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By Finian Cunningham for Information Clearing House – January 08, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – “Sputnik” -US ruling power is in deep trouble because there are growing signs that the mass of citizens are no longer beholden to the supposed authority residing in Washington. Once the legitimacy of would-be authorities begins to collapse in the eyes of the people, then profound political change is in the offing, as history shows us through countless empires that came and went – often ignominiously. The so-called American Deep State comprising the military-intelligence apparatus and its operatives in the political and media establishment has put its credibility on the line over allegations of Russian interference in the US elections.

Here’s How We Prepare To Be Ungovernable In 2017

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By Sarah Lazare for AlterNet – “We cannot and should not legitimize the transfer of authority to a right-wing populist who has neo-fascist orientations,” Kali Akuno told AlterNet over the phone. “We shouldn’t legitimize that rule in any form or fashion. We need to build a program of being ungovernable.” As the co-director of the Mississippi-based group Cooperation Jackson and an organizer with the nationwide Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Akuno is one of countless people across the country working diligently to build a platform sturdy enough to confront Trump’s America.