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Tag: American politics

Mailman Faces Felony Charges For Delivering Protest Letters Via Gyrocopter To Congress

Posted in Archive, Journalism, and MintPress News

Doug Hughes made international headlines in April, when he landed a gyrocopter, a miniature personal helicopter he’s described as barely larger than a “flying bicycle,” on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Government officials considered the action a threat to national security, but Hughes argues he was simply trying to deliver the mail.

Hughes has been a Florida Postal Service employee in good standing for the past 11 years (up until his direct action, that is), but April 15 was no ordinary day on his rounds. Hughes chose Tax Day to deliver a message to Congress that corporate corruption of politics must stop, because the same corporations spending millions to control U.S. legislators are using that power to prevent themselves from paying their fair share of taxes. He also hoped to highlight efforts by corporate lobbyists to privatize the post office.

With his personal aerial vehicle carrying 435 copies of a fiery letter about corruption, Hughes landed at Congress’s front door and was promptly arrested. Coming months after a series of security violations at the White House, the incident set off a renewed debate in the media about the safety of the Capitol.

The Obama Legacy: Inequality, Corporate Trade Deals, Worldwide War

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

An undocumented transgender woman interrupted the White House LGBT Pride celebrations last week, highlighting a rift between those who praise President Barack Obama’s accomplishments after two terms in office, and those who see a decline in freedoms and a rise in inequality as the real legacy he’ll be leaving behind.

The division between the perception of Obama’s achievements and the reality extends far beyond immigration and the LGBT community. Obama’s presidency has seen destructive Bush-era policies grow more entrenched, and new forms of repression have been added to American life.

With the Supreme Court legalizing marriage for all regardless of gender, many perceive an increase in equality for LGBT people as one of the main legacies of Obama’s presidency. But last Wednesday, Jennicet Gutiérrez interrupted Obama at one of the White House’s annual Pride Month festivities to demand better treatment for an overlooked portion of the community.

“President Obama, stop the torture and abuse of trans women in detention centers!” shouted Gutiérrez, who is an undocumented transgender Latina immigrant, before continuing: “President Obama, I am a trans woman. I’m tired of the abuse.”

John McCain And Endless War: Best Friends Forever

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Modern American politicians are often criticized for their willingness to bow to popular opinion, changing their professed beliefs from moment to moment based on what they think the public wants to hear. Yet one senator rises above all that through his unabashed love of war — a stance that’s remained consistent regardless of what party sits in the White House and how many civilian lives could hang in the balance.

That senator is John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, who currently leads the Senate Armed Services Committee. In February, as the White House asked for authorization to use military force against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), McCain appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in support of the idea that there should be no limits on the president’s ability to make war.

“I think we should not restrain the president of the United States,” he said on the show, explaining that to do so would be “unconstitutional and frankly leads to 535 commander-in-chiefs.”

McCain has ensured U.S. support for all sides of the conflict in the Middle East. In 2012, he joined South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in calling on America to arm the Syrian rebels, many of whom later joined ISIS. Years after helping arm the Syrian rebels, he admitted to Sean Hannity that he’d met ISIS and knew them “intimately.”

Corruption Bird Dogs Accuse Candidates of ‘Governing Under The Influence’

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

During the build up to every presidential election, the eyes of the world turn to two states: Iowa and New Hampshire. Home to the Iowa Caucus, and the first primary elections, respectively, they’ve become key campaign stops for every presidential candidate. This time, a group of Quaker-trained “bird dogs” is making these carefully managed publicity tours more challenging.

Created by the American Friends Service Committee, “Governing Under the Influence” is a campaign to challenge presidential candidates to own up to the power of corporate influence in modern American politics. The AFSC is a nonprofit organization created by the Quakers, and in keeping with that religion’s strong anti-war beliefs, the Governing Under the Influence campaign specifically targets military spending, the militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico, and the country’s out-of-control prison population.

In both states, the campaign is tracking the candidates’ every public appearance and sending teams of trained volunteers, called “bird dogs” in reference to their stubbornness and persistence, to ask difficult questions about campaign financing and the future of democracy. The campaign is deliberately nonpartisan, ensuring that all candidates are challenged on their stance on these key issues.

Koch, Exxon And Other Big Oil Spend $141 Million Lobbying Washington For More War

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

As of April, the oil and gas industry had already spent over $34 million to influence American politics this year. Fossil fuel companies are one of the top sources of funding for Washington lobbying firms, and their deep pockets allow them to far outspend those who seek to protect the environment and the earth’s resources from exploitation.

The figures come from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization working “to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more transparent and responsive government.” According to their data, lobbying from the energy sector topped $141 million last year. The top single corporate spender was Koch Industries, Inc., which spent $13.8 million in lobbying, followed by Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum, one of the country’s top oil producers.

The center’s overview of oil and gas funding suggests that while both parties receive funding from the oil and gas industry, that money has increasingly flowed to the GOP for the last two decades, with 90 percent going toward Republicans during the 2012 election cycle.

Nevada Governor OKs Industrial Hemp Research As US Eases Cannabis Restrictions

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Last week, Nevada became the latest state to pass a bill supporting the cultivation of industrial hemp, a valuable cash crop that became illegal thanks to the American war on drugs.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Tick Segerblom, unanimously passed both chambers of the Nevada Legislature before reaching the governor’s desk.

“The bill will allow colleges, universities, and the state Department of Agriculture to [cultivate] industrial hemp for research purposes under an agricultural pilot program,” Thomas H. Clarke writes in The Daily Chronic, a website dedicated to cannabis law reform.

Federal regulations had banned domestic hemp cultivation until an amendment to the 2014 Farm Bill allowed limited research into the crop. Under the new regulations, large-scale cultivation is still illegal but research by state agricultural boards and universities is now allowed. The move was hailed as a limited victory by advocates for cannabis law reform.