President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, on Wednesday, nine years to the day after he kicked off his first presidential campaign there, and, just like in 2007, spoke passionately about his desire to reduce the influence of big money in politics.
In 2007, Obama said, "The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests [have] turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.
They think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back."
On Wednesday, Obama told the Illinois legislature, "We have to reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics that makes people feel like the system is rigged."
What is in the mind of someone who knowingly poisons children and impairs their lives? Why did the politicians, regulators and bureaucrats who knew the water in Flint, Mich., was toxic lie about the danger for months? What does it say about a society that is ruled by, and refuses to punish, those who willfully destroy the lives of children?
The crisis in Flint is far more ominous than lead-contaminated water. It is symptomatic of the collapse of our democracy. Corporate power is not held accountable for its crimes. Everything is up for sale, including children. Our regulatory agencies -- including the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality -- have been defunded, emasculated and handed over to corporate-friendly stooges. Our corrupt courts are part of a mirage of justice. The role of these government agencies and courts, and of the legislatures, is to sanction abuse rather than halt it. read more
A plan by Facebook to deliver free limited Internet access to India's poor and rural communities was delivered a blow this morning after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) declared the plan would violate Net Neutrality and banned it.
TRAI's ruling focused on the fact the proposed plan would only allow customers to access Facebook and other partnered websites the social network elected to let users access over its free service. The regulator declared no service provider in India will be allowed to offer or charge discriminatory rates for data services based on content.
Less than one month after the attacks of Sept. 11, a senior FBI official, Ronald Dick, told the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, "Due to the vital importance of water to all life forms ... the FBI considers all threats to attack the water supply as serious threats." In 2003, a UPI article reported that an al-Qaida operative "(does not rule out) using Sarin gas and poisoning drinking water in U.S. and Western cities.'" Where the terrorists have failed to mount any attack on a water supply, the Michigan state government has succeeded. In the city of Flint, lead-poisoned water has been piped into homes and offices since 2014, causing widespread illness and potentially permanent brain damage among its youngest residents.
Michigan has one of the most severe "emergency manager" laws in the country, allowing the governor to appoint an unelected agent to take over local governments when those locales or institutions have been deemed to be in a "financial emergency."... read more
Larry -- not his real name -- is 38. He is serving a 30-year sentence for murder in a New Jersey prison. He will not be eligible for parole until 2032, when he will be 55. His impoverished and nightmarish childhood mirrors that of nearly all prisoners I have worked with who were convicted of violent crimes. And as governmental austerity and chronic poverty consume the American landscape, as little is done to blunt poverty's disintegration of families, as mass incarceration and indiscriminate police violence continue to have a catastrophic impact on communities, Larry's childhood is becoming the norm for millions of boys and girls. read more