A marijuana plant ready for trimming at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year’s day in Northglenn, Colo. If a vote succeeds, Alaska would join that state and Washington, which have already legalized pot for recreational use. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)
A group of activists in favor of legalizing marijuana say they’ve turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote.
The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana turned over 46,000 signatures on Wednesday—about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed. If the state Division of Elections reviews and approves the signatures ballot language will be prepared, according to a state description of the process. The sponsors of the initiative say the next step for them will be to spread the word and garner support.
“We’ll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways,” says Tim Hinterberger, one of the three sponsors and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s School of Medical Education. “It’s clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy.”
A portrait of Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko is seen during a rally on Independence Square in Kiev on Sunday. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA
Western governments are scrambling to contain the fallout from Ukraine‘s weekend revolution, pledging money, support and possible EU membership, while anxiously eyeing the response of Russia‘s president, Vladimir Putin, whose protege has been ousted.
Seemingly the biggest loser in the three-month drama’s denouement, the Kremlin has the potential to create the most mischief because of Ukraine’s pro-Russian affinities in the east and south, and its dependence on Russian energy supplies.
Acting president Oleksander Turchinov said on Sunday night that Ukraine’s new leaders wanted relations with Russia on a “new, equal and good-neighbourly footing that recognises and takes into account Ukraine’s European choice”.
But the tension between the Kremlin and the interim government was underlined when Russia recalled its ambassador to Ukraine on Sunday for “consultations” and to “analyse the situation from all sides”, the foreign ministry said.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy.
A woman pays her respects at a memorial to killed anti-government protesters in Kiev. Photograph: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images
With the whereabouts of the former president Viktor Yanukovych still uncertain, the Ukrainian parliament legitimised his downfall, giving interim presidential powers to an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former PM who was released from jail on Saturday. Oleksandr Turchinov said the parliament should work to elect a government of national unity by Tuesday, before preparations begin for elections planned for 25 May.
Yanukovych appeared on television from an undisclosed location on Saturday night, claiming he was still president and comparing the protesters to Nazis, but he continued to haemorrhage support on Sunday; even the leader of his parliamentary faction said he had betrayed Ukraine, and given “criminal orders”.
Western leaders, while welcoming the unexpected turn of events in Kiev, are worried about the country fracturing along pro-Russian and pro-western lines. They are certain to push for a new government that is as inclusive as possible to replace the collapsed and discredited administration of Yanukovych, who vanished within hours of signing an EU-mediated settlement with opposition leaders on Friday.
“France, together with its European partners, calls for the preservation of the country’s unity and integrity and for people to refrain from violence,” said Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister.
British chancellor George Osborne said early on Monday that the UK was standing ready to help the country through schemes set up by the IMF and European Union.
“It’s very, very early days, early hours, but the people of Ukraine seem to have demonstrated their wish to take their country into the future, to have stronger links with Europe, and I don’t think we should be repelling that, we should be embracing that,” he said speaking to journalists in Singapore.
“We should be there ready to provide financial assistance through organisations like the IMF, and of course a lot of this will take the form of loans and the like, but there will be good investments in the economy of Ukraine”.
Putin, preoccupied with the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, has not yet commented publicly on the violence of the past week and Yanukovych’s flight from the capital. Angela Merkel phoned him on Sunday to press for assurances on Russia’s reaction. Susan Rice, the national security adviser to Barack Obama, warned that Moscow would be making a “grave mistake” if it sent military aid to Ukraine.
Protesters roam the garden in front of the mansion of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s home in Mezhygirya, near Kiev. Photograph: Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images
“There are many dangers,” said William Hague, the foreign secretary. “We don’t know, of course, what Russia’s next reaction will be. Any external duress on Ukraine, any more than we’ve seen in recent weeks … it really would not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing.”
Applause Erupts As Ukrainian Opposition Leader Freed From Prison
By Erik Ortiz and Maria Stromova
A chief political rival of embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was freed Saturday from prison as the defiant leader struggled to hold on to power as protesters seized control of the presidential palace and the parliament voted to remove him from office.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waved to supporters from a car as she was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city if Kharkiv, where she has been treated for a bad back while serving a seven-year sentence since 2011.
“Our country can from this day on see the sun, because dictatorship fell,” Tymoshenko said.
Parliament members had voted to free her after Yanukovych fled the capital of Kiev a day after announcing a pact with opposition leaders. Yanukovych said he is traveling the country to seek advice and will “do everything to stop the bloodshed” that left at least 77 dead, hundreds injured and nearly collapsed the country into a civil war.
“I am not planning to leave the country,” he said in a video televised on local media. “I am not planning to resign. I am a legitimately elected president. I was given guarantees of safety by all the international mediators I worked with.”
Yanukovych claimed his car was shot at, but that he didn’t fear for his life, denouncing some of the opposition protesters as “bandits.”
“I will not sign anything with the bandits who are terrorizing the whole country and Ukrainian people. They are discrediting the country,” he said on UBR television.
In another strike against the president, the parliament Saturday freed Tymoshenko, who had been imprisoned on charges of abuse of office, which the West had questioned. They also endorsed Oleksandr Turchynov as the new speaker.
The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow’s orbit and closer to Europe.
KIEV, Ukraine — Abandoned by his own guards and reviled across the Ukrainian capital but still determined to recover his shredded authority, President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday to denounce what he called a violent coup, as his official residence, his vast, colonnaded office complex and other once impregnable centers of power fell without a fight to throngs of joyous citizens stunned by their triumph.
While Mr. Yanukovych’s nemesis, former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, was released from a penitentiary hospital, Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised its constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement. But with both Mr. Yanukovych and his Russian patrons speaking of a “coup” carried out by “bandits” and “hooligans,” it was far from clear that the day’s lightning-quick events would be the last act in a struggle that has not just convulsed Ukraine but expanded into an East-West confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War.
At the presidential residence a short distance from the capital, protesters carrying clubs and some wearing masks were in control of the entryways Saturday morning and watched as thousands of citizens strolled through the grounds in wonder. “This commences a new life for Ukraine,” said Roman Dakus, a protester-turned-guard, who was wearing a ski helmet and carrying a length of pipe as he blocked a doorway at the compound. “This is only a start,” he added. “We need now to make a new structure and a new system, a foundation for our future, with rights for everybody, and we need to investigate who ordered the violence.”
With the riot police they battled for days having disappeared, the protesters claimed to be in charge of security for the city. There was no sign of looting, either in the city proper or in the presidential compound.
A pugnacious Mr. Yanukovych appeared on television Saturday afternoon, apparently from the eastern city of Kharkiv, near Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, saying he had been forced to leave the capital because of a “coup,” and that he had not resigned, and had no plans to. He said indignantly that his car had been fired upon as he drove away.
“I don’t plan to leave the country. I don’t plan to resign,” he said, speaking in Russian rather than Ukrainian, the country’s official language. “I am a legitimately elected president.” He added: “What is happening today, mostly, it is vandalism, banditism and a coup d’état. This is my assessment and I am deeply convinced of this. I will remain on the territory of Ukraine.” He also complained of “traitors” among his own former supporters but he declined to name them.
Regional governors from eastern Ukraine met in Kharkiv and adopted a resolution resisting the authority of Parliament. They said that until matters were resolved, “we have decided to take responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens’ rights and their security on our territories.”
One of the few institutions still taking orders from the president was the official trilingual website of the Ukrainian presidency, which posted a transcript of his defiant television address. But, by evening, the text had appeared only in Ukrainian and Russian, suggesting that his English translator had perhaps jumped ship.
The former nerve center of Mr. Yanukovych’s power, the huge compound of the presidential administration, just a few hundred yards from Independence Square in Kiev, was empty Saturday aside from protesters who patrolled its courtyard and blocked off a nearby street to prevent residents swarming into the building. Ukrainian flags flying outside had all been lowered to half-mast, in honor of those killed by police officers and snipers on Thursday.
Mr. Yanukovych said in his television appearance that he would be traveling to the southeastern part of Ukraine to talk to his supporters — a plan that carried potentially ominous overtones, in that the southeast is the location of the Crimea, the historically Russian section of the country that is the site of a Russian naval base.
The president’s departure from Kiev, just a day after a peace deal with the opposition that he had hoped would keep him in office until at least December, capped three months of streets protests and a week of frenzied violence in the capital that left more than 75 protesters dead. It turned what began in November as a street protest driven by pro-Europe chants and nationalist songs into a momentous but still ill-defined revolution.
With nobody clearly in charge, other than the so far remarkably disciplined fighting squads, lieutenants of Ms. Tymoshenko moved to fill the power vacuum. With Oleksandr V. Turchynov, a former acting prime minister and close ally of Ms. Tymoshenko, presiding over the Parliament, her Fatherland party seemed to be in charge, at least temporarily.
Given a chance to do it all over again, only 79 percent of those who voted for President Obama would vote for him again and 71 percent of Obama voters now inclined to vote for somebody else “regret” their vote to reelect the president, according to a new poll.
The Economist/YouGov.com poll found that Obama would lose enough votes in a rematch with Mitt Romney that the Republican would win. “90 percent of people who voted for Romney would do it again, compared to only 79 percent of Obama voters who would,” said the poll.
“Clearly Romney fares better, although he had fewer voters to begin with. As a proportion of the voters each of them actually received in 2012 (66 million for Obama and 61 million for Romney), the GOP candidate ends up with 55 million votes retained to Obama’s 52 million. Not exactly a wipeout. It’s also unclear for any poll that hypothetically revisits 2012 how much it says about renewed hope for Mitt Romney – who has notably been liberated from the scrutiny of a presidential campaign Â– rather than about dissatisfaction with an incumbent president who has spent the last year defending his administration over leaks, scandals and Obamacare roll-outs,” added the poll.
It also found that among Obama voters interested in voting for somebody else, 71 percent regret their vote. After Secrets posted a story about that finding, YouGov.com noted that the sample for the question was small and recharacterized the sample as “those who reported voting for Barack Obama in 2012 but would vote for someone else if the election were held again” from “those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012.”
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra urged people to cast their vote in the nation’s general election today, as thousands of protesters seeking her ouster took to the streets in Bangkok to disrupt the poll.
“I want to persuade people to come out to vote to protect democracy,” Yingluck told reporters after voting near her home in Bueng Kum in Bangkok’s north-west. Polling stations nationwide are scheduled to close at 3 p.m.
Voting was abandoned in the northern Bangkok district of Laksi after seven people were injured in a gun-battle yesterday, the Election Commission said. As many as 62 of Thailand’s 77 provinces will be unaffected, including Yingluck’s strongholds in the north and northeast, according to the commission.
In the south, where the main opposition Democrat Party has its power base, “demonstrators are still blocking post offices in Chumporn, Songkhla and Nakhon Si Thammarat,” Election Commission Secretary-General Puchong Nutrawong said. The Democrats are boycotting the election, and poll results may not be certified for months because by-elections must be held in districts where advance voting was disrupted last weekend, as well as areas blockaded by demonstrators today, Puchong said.
A disputed poll will leave Yingluck’s administration in caretaker mode, complicating its efforts to raise funds to pay rice farmers under a state subsidy program. Suthep Thaugsuban, a former Democrat powerbroker who has led a three-month street campaign to oust Yingluck, said the election will be annulled because his group blocked candidates from registering in some provinces and shut down polling stations during advance voting.
A clash yesterday between pro- and anti-government groups at Laksi intersection involved explosive devices and gunfire, according to the Bangkok Emergency Medical Service’s website. Seven people were injured and taken to the hospital, it said.
The army sent personnel to assist the police in Laksi, Winthai Suvaree, the deputy army spokesman, told reporters yesterday, urging “all groups to respect the law.”
Protesters have also occupied several major intersections in the city since Jan. 13 in a bid to prevent Yingluck’s government from functioning. Suthep said protesters won’t block polling stations, while urging all voters to choose a side in the country’s political conflict.
“We will not vote, but we will not criticize anyone for casting their vote,” he told supporters late yesterday. “We will not block anybody who wants to cast their ballot. You can go to vote. We want to know who is on our side.”
Suthep says he speaks for a “silent majority” who don’t want elections until Yingluck is replaced with an appointed council that would erase what they call her family’s corrupting political influence. Yingluck says such a council would be undemocratic and an affront to the almost 16 million people who elected her in 2011.
Yingluck is deploying 10,000 police in Bangkok alone, having declared a state of emergency, as she seeks to avoid a repeat of the violence that obstructed advance voting on Jan. 26 in the south and most of the capital. Ten people have been killed and more than 500 injured since protests began Oct. 31.
PUBLISHED: 12:17 EST, 1 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:18 EST, 1 February 2014
Multiple people were injured today as chaos broke out on the streets of Bangkok the day before a general election which has divided Thailand.
Gunshots rang out while at least two explosions were heard at anti-government protests, with six people wonded in front of a suburban shopping mall in the north of the city.
Sporadic gunfire continued into the evening, with masked men openly firing handguns as security forces used M-16 rifles to fire warning shots into the air.
Warning: graphic content
Gunman: A protester wielding a pistol on the streets of Bangkok ahead of the Thai general election
Masked: Many of the gunmen were wearing balaclavas to hide their identities as they sought to disrupt the election
Hurt: A bloodied man and a woman look around a wall as a gun battle rages in the Bangkok suburbs
Tomorrow’s election is almost certain to return prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to power, despite efforts by some opposition supporters to disrupt the poll.
The violence came amid generally peaceful protests around Bangkok and revived chilling memories of political unrest in 2010, when supporters of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra – Ms Yingluck’s brother – paralysed Bangkok in protest against the Democrat Party.
Today’s attack took place in Bangkok’s Laksi district, close to the Don Muang airport, where Ms Yingluck’s fans gathered in support of the election.
Ten people have died and at least 577 have been wounded in politically related violence since late November.
On the run: An injured protester attempts to get away from the violence after being caught in the crossfire
Agony: The man tries to stanch his wounds as blood covers his face while violence rages
Treatment: An injured protester who was shot by anti-government mobs is carried away by friends
The protests’ leader, opposition boss Suthep Thaugsuban, has called for a peaceful blockade of roads, but has vowed not to stop people voting.
‘The people will not close the polling booths, but will demonstrate on the roads,’ he said yesterday. ‘They will demonstrate calmly, peacefully, without violence. We won’t do anything that will hinder people from going to vote.’
Election Commission secretary-general Puchong Nutrawong said the commission has instructed staff to halt voting if there is rioting or other violence.
Kyodo, Jan. 14, 2014: Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa said Tuesday he will run in the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election with an antinuclear agenda after securing the backing of popular former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [...] The move [...] could have game-changing impact on the race for the helm of the Japanese capital [...] “I have made my decision to run in the Tokyo governor election,” Hosokawa told reporters after meeting Koizumi. “I have a sense of crisis myself that the country’s various problems, especially nuclear power plants, are matters of survival for the country.” [...] Koizumi indicated the main focus of the election will be whether to pursue nuclear power or not, calling the election “a war between the group that says Japan can grow with zero nuclear power plants” and the group that says it cannot. [...]
Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 14, 2014: [...] “I have a sense of crisis that various problems facing Japan today, especially the issue of nuclear power generation, will endanger the existence of our country,” Hosokawa said, explaining the reason for his candidacy. [...] Koizumi said the Tokyo gubernatorial election will be a contest between pro- and anti-nuclear forces. “My belief is that Japan will be able to do without nuclear energy. Hosokawa also has the same belief. That is the biggest reason for my support of him,” he said. [...] Koizumi told reporters, “I expressed my respects to Hosokawa from the heart. I will do my utmost so that Hosokawa wins the election.” Koizumi said the Tokyo gubernatorial election could have “the biggest influence ever on national politics.” “If the Tokyo metropolitan government shows that it can go without nuclear power generation, it will certainly be able to change Japan,” he said. Koizumi also said, “If Hosokawa becomes Tokyo governor, he will have a major influence that could shake national politics on the issues of energy and nuclear power generation.” [...]
Wall St. Journal, Jan. 14, 2014: [Former Prime Ministers Hosokawa and Koizumi] are expected to stir up the gubernatorial race and bring the energy debate back into the national spotlight. That will likely dismay of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which would rather not have the divisive issue become an election focal point. [...] Mr. Hosokawa said [...] “I have a sense of crisis that our nation’s survival is at stake over nuclear power.”
http://www.democracynow.org – Recent moves by the Japanese government to restart the country’s nuclear power plant facilities have been met by growing protests “I think this is a problem of the world, not just of Japan,” Kato Kaiko told Democracy Now! at a protest outside the Prime Minister’s private residence in Tokyo. She describes how there is increasing expectation that voters will decide which candidate to choose in the upcoming election based on their position on nuclear power.
In this image made from video broadcast on Egyptian State Television, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour speaks at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.
January 26, 2014
CAIRO — Egypt’s interim president has announced a change in the country’s political road map, placing presidential elections as the next step in the transition after the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last year.
The plan was unveiled one day after clashes between police and protesters left 49 people killed, hundreds wounded and more than 1,000 arrested.
Interim President Adly Mansour’s decision to hold the presidential election next was widely expected.
While last year’s road map placed parliamentary elections first, the newly approved constitution allows Mansour to decide which comes first.
A popular groundswell and government-organized support for Defense Minister Abdel Fatah el-Sissi, who ousted the country’s first freely-elected civilian president after mass protests against his rule, to run as president have been building in recent months.
Other candidates who have expressed interest in running have qualified their bids, saying they would not take part if General Sissi campaigns.
Posters, masks and signs heralding Sissi’s leadership were at the center of celebrations of the third anniversary of Egypt’s revolution Saturday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
But just off the square, as well as across Cairo and the country, opponents to the general and the military-backed interim government turned out for rallies and marches. Clashes between police and Muslim Brotherhood supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, as well as secular activists, were the deadliest this year.
Early presidential election is called in Egypt day after killing of 49 protesters
By REUTERS 01/26/2014
Change to the post-Morsi political timetable could pave way for swift election of Sisi.
Egypt women Brotherhood protesting 370 Photo: REUTERS
CAIRO- Egypt will hold a presidential vote before parliamentary polls, President Adly Mansour said on Sunday, in a change to a political roadmap that could pave the way for the swift election of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Parliamentary elections were supposed to be held first under the timetable drawn up after the army overthrew President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July following mass protests against his rule.
“I have taken my decision to amend the roadmap for the future in that we will start by holding presidential elections first followed by the parliamentary elections,” interim leader Mansour said in a televised speech.
Critics have campaigned for a change of the roadmap, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before potentially divisive parliamentary elections.
Sisi is expected to announce his candidacy for the presidency within days and win by a landslide. His supporters see him as a strong, decisive figure able to stabilize Egypt.
The Brotherhood accuses him of masterminding a coup and holds him responsible for widespread human rights abuses in a crackdown against the movement which has killed up to 1,000 Islamists and put top leaders behind bars.
While tough measures against the Brotherhood have nearly crippled it, security forces have failed to contain an Islamist insurgency. Militant attacks have raised fears for the stability of Egypt, of great strategic importance because of its peace treaty with Israel and control over the Suez Canal.
A new constitution voted in earlier this month cleared the way for a change in the order of the elections by leaving open the question of which should come first.
“It was an expected move amid the growing signs that Sisi is being groomed to become the next president,” said Khaled Dawoud, a well-known liberal activist.
Mansour did not announce a date for the presidential vote. The constitution says steps towards holding the first of the elections should be begin no later than 90 days from the ratification of the document in mid-January.
Egypt’s new constitution strengthens the country’s military, the police and the judiciary, as well as giving more rights to women. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
Over 98% of participants in the first Egyptian vote of the post-Morsi era voted in favour of approving a new constitution, the country’s electoral commission officially announced on Saturday.
Egypt‘s government hailed the result as a resounding show of support for the direction the country has taken since the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last July.
“This is a wonderful day for Egypt, Egyptians and for democracy, despite the extraordinary circumstances,” a spokesman for Egypt’s interim presidency, Ehab Badawi, said in a statement ahead of the official announcement. “This vote represents a resounding rejection of terrorism and a clear endorsement of the roadmap to democracy, as well as economic development and stability.”
After a campaign in which several no-campaigners were arrested and the government said participation was a patriotic duty, the poll’s turnout is also seen as a significant indicator of the level of public support for the process.
According to officials, the turnout was a respectable 38.6% – higher than the 33% who voted in a referendum during Morsi’s tenure, but lower than the 41.9% who turned out in a similar poll following Egypt’s 2011 uprising.
Egypt’s new constitution strengthens the country’s three key institutions – the military, the police and the judiciary. It also gives more rights to women and disabled people, and removes certain Islamist-leaning clauses inserted under Morsi, while maintaining the principles of Islamic sharia as the main source of legislation.
If you’ve heard the phrase “class war” in twenty-first-century America, the odds are that it’s been a curse spat from the mouths of Republican warriors castigating Democrats for engaging in high crimes and misdemeanors like trying to tax the rich. Back in 2011, for example, President Obama’s modest proposal of a “millionaire tax” was typically labeled “class warfare” and he was accused by Congressman Paul Ryan, among others, of heading down the “class warfare path.” Similarly, in 2012, Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls blasted the president for encouraging “class warfare” by attacking entrepreneurial success. In the face of such charges, Democrats invariably go on the defensive, denying that they are in any way inciters of class warfare. In the meantime, unions and the poor are blasted by the same right-wing crew for having the devastatingly bad taste to act in a manner that supposedly might lead to such conflict.
In our own time, to adapt a classic line slightly, how the mighty have risen! And that story could be told in terms of the fate of the phrase “class war,” which deserves its Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart moment. After all, for at least a century, it was a commonplace in an all-American lexicon in which “class struggle,” “working class,” and “plutocrat” were typical everyday words and it was used not to indict those on the bottom but the rich of whatever gilded age we were passing into or out of. It was essentially purged from the national vocabulary in the economic good times (and rabidly anti-communist years) after World War II, only to resurface with the Republican resurgence of the 1980s as a way to dismiss anyone challenging those who controlled ever more of the wealth and power in America.
It was a phrase, that is, impounded by Republicans in the name of, and in the defense of, those who were already impounding so much else in American life. All you have to do is take a look at recent figures on income and wealth inequality, on where the money’s really going in this society, to recognize the truth of Warren Buffet’s famed comment: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Recently, Bill Moyers (who needs no introduction) gave a speech at the Brennan Center in New York City in which he laid out what class warfare really means in this society. The first appearance of the host of Moyers & Company at TomDispatch is a full-throated call to save what’s left of American democracy from — another of those banned words that should come back into use — the plutocrats. Tom
The Great American Class War Plutocracy Versus Democracy
By Bill Moyers
I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and — in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular — the defense of a free press.
Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country. He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him. He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, “Why can’t you do it the same way?” His answer: “We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be.”
Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating “a Frankenstein,” I asked, “How so?” He looked around his chambers and replied, “The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about.”
That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration. How I wish he were here now — and still on the Court!
My interview with him was one of 12 episodes in that series on the Constitution. Another concerned a case he had heard back in 1967. It involved a teacher named Harry Keyishian who had been fired because he would not sign a New York State loyalty oath. Justice Brennan ruled that the loyalty oath and other anti-subversive state statutes of that era violated First Amendment protections of academic freedom.
I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him. Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision. The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, “He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him.” Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, “It was the first time I had seen him. Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way.”
Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known — the Framers knew — that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up.” And he didn’t.
The Donor Class and Streams of Dark Money
The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”
We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.
We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, “Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes.”
We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of “dark money” unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.
We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.
Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,
“So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics… When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?”
Anthony Gucciardi of Storyleak and NaturalSociety breaks down how Monsanto’s propaganda has killed the GMO labeling initiative in Washington and the company is becoming even more desperate than ever in this report with Infowars studios.
Anthony Gucciardi is the acting Editor and Founder of alternative news website Storyleak.com, as well as the Founder of the third largest natural health website in the world, NaturalSociety.com. He is also a news media personality and analyst who has been featured on top news, radio, and television organizations including Drudge Report, Michael Savage’s Savage Nation, Coast to Coast AM, and RT.
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Due to the social nature of this site, it may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit, to those who have expressed a prior interest in participating in this community for educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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