Jeff Connaughton The Payoff Justice Department And Wall Street US democracy: The power of money - Empire The US presidential elections in November 2012 are expected to become the most expensive in history. One estimate by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) goes as high as $11bn. The vast majority of this political money has come from a handful of super-rich supporters of the Republican Party dwarfing the attempts by citizens, associations or labour unions to do the same. Many on the right claim deregulating campaign financing as a victory for free speech whilst most on the left fear the changes are corrupting democracy. Controversial campaign funding rule changes brought in after a Supreme Court ruling in 2010 have opened the floodgates to billionaire donors with the potential to buy influence all the way to the White House. The new system is rarely challenged in the mainstream media. But more fundamentally, in a free market society where the richest 400 people have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, Empire asks if money transforms or distorts the whole political process.
Activists warned to watch what they say as social media monitoring becomes 'next big thing in law enforcement' - Crime - UK John Cooper QC said that police are monitoring key activists online and that officers and the courts are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to social media. But, speaking to The Independent, he added that he also expected that to drive an increase in the number of criminals being brought to justice in the coming months. "People involved in public protest should use social media to their strengths, like getting their message across. But they should not use them for things like discussing tactics. They might as well be having a tactical meeting with their opponents sitting in and listening. "For example, if antifascist organisers were discussing their plans on social media, they can assume that a fascist organisation will be watching. Mr Cooper QC's warning comes after a New York court ordered Twitter to hand over messages posted on the site by a demonstrator belonging to the Occupy Wall Street movement in America. Mr Cooper QC added: "activists are putting themselves at more risk.
Green Party candidate: Police handcuffed me to a chair for eight hours By Arturo GarciaWednesday, October 17, 2012 12:47 EDT Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein said Wednesday police handcuffed her to a chair during her eight-hour imprisonment following her arrest outside the second presidential debate. “For most of the time it was just [running mate] Cheri Honkala and myself,” Stein told Democracy Now anchor Amy Goodman. Stein and Honkala were arrested Tuesday while sitting in the street to protest their exclusion from this year’s presidential debates between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. During her arrest, Stein criticized the group that organized the event, the Commission on Presidential Debates, which was put together as a joint effort by Democrats and Republicans to administer the debates after the League of Women Voters stepped out of that role in 1987. Stein also said she and Honkala were not released until about 30 minutes after the Obama-Romney debate, when they were told “their car” was waiting for them.
Jill Stein Arrested Before Hofstra Debate, Campaign Reports Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was arrested outside of Hofstra University on Tuesday after she attempted to enter the debate grounds. According to Stein's campaign press statement, Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala joined supporters outside the Hofstra campus at 2 p.m., where Stein declared: "We are here to bring the courage of those excluded from our politics to this mock debate, this mockery of democracy." When they started to walk onto the debate grounds, they were stopped by police officers, and then the two women sat down on the ground. Student-run news organization Long Island Report posted a video of Stein and Honkala sitting, with an officer arguing, "You're blocking traffic." According to the campaign, Stein and Honkala were then arrested. Earlier in the day, Stein told Philadelphia Weekly that despite some butterflies in the stomach, "We are prepared to be arrested in the service of democracy and a future that serves us all.” Also on HuffPost:
The lame rules for presidential debates: a pefect microcosm of US democracy | Glenn Greenwald President Barack Obama walks past Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the first presidential debate. Photograph: AP The way the two major parties control the presidential debates is a perfect microcosm of how political debates are restricted in general. Though typically shrouded in secrecy, several facts about this process have recently come to light and they are quite instructive. I was on Democracy Now this morning along with George Farah discussing the ways these debates, designed to cast the appearance of fostering vibrant exchanges, are actually intended to constrict the range of debated views as much as possible. He described how the two political parties in the 1990s joined forces to wrest control over the presidential debates away from the independent League of Women Voters, which had long resisted the parties' efforts to shield their presidential candidates from genuine surprise or challenge. Gawker's John Cook has an excellent breakdown of the 21-page memo.
Stemmen in de VS geen gemakkelijke opgave: de obstakels op een rij - Buitenland 01/11/12, 13:00 − bron: ANP © reuters. Romney op campagne De Amerikaanse verkiezingen op 6 november worden door de staten afzonderlijk georganiseerd. Die hebben ieder hun eigen regels. Ook binnen de staten kunnen de procedures variëren. - Kiezersregistratie: In een aantal staten kunnen kiezers zich op de dag van de stembusgang inschrijven, terwijl in de meeste staten de registratie eerder eindigt. - Identificatie: Volgens de federale wet moeten kiezers die voor de eerste keer hun stem willen uitbrengen eerst een geldig identiteitsbewijs overleggen. - Problemen bij stembureaus: die kunnen variëren van stemmachines die niet werken, een ongewoon hoge opkomst, een gebrek aan stembureaumedewerkers tot een tekort aan stembiljetten. - Stemmentelling: kleine verschillen kunnen tot hertellingen leiden. - Stemtechnieken: in veel staten worden elektronische stemmachines gebruikt die gevoelig kunnen zijn voor fouten, storingen, onveilige software en zelfs verlies aan stemmen.
Lawrence Lessig explains how money corrupts Congress | Harvard Magazine Jul-Aug 2012 For a decade, Lawrence Lessig, a mild-seeming legal scholar, pursued the intricacies of updating American copyright law to reflect the rise of the digital era, the Internet, and new means of producing and disseminating texts, music, images, and software. Based first at Harvard, then Stanford, he co-founded organizations such as Creative Commons, a nonprofit that gives people legal tools to control use of their creative output, and argued that mashups (of songs or YouTube videos, for example) are culturally important products that (in some circumstances) can be legal under the principle of fair use. He felt he was making progress: “The public was getting it. As long as Congress remains in the thrall of “the economy of influence”—its members dependent on money to fund reelection campaigns—“no progress would be made on copyright or any other public-policy question,” he explains. “A Republic, if You Can Keep It” Do gifts of money really change recipients’ behavior? In the Hands of the People
An Interactive Map of the Dark-Money Universe Tracking the flow and impact of money in politics has long been one of Mother Jones' main beats. Since the 2010 Citizens United decision paved the way for a new era of bottomless election spending, we've been focused on what we call "dark money"—the hundreds of millions of dollars being dropped by outside groups, much of it without full disclosure of where it's coming from. The key players in this new world are super-PACs, which may raise and spend unlimited sums of money for or against candidates; and 501(c) nonprofit groups, which may make political ads and give money to super-PACs without disclosing their donors. We wanted to visualize the major super-PACs and 501(c)s in a way that would provide both a good overview of outside spending in this election cycle as well as detailed information about each group. The current version of this chart shows just one slice of the dark-money universe: There are hundreds of smaller super-PACs and 501(c)s that are not included in this version.
Cameron family fortune made in tax havens | Politics David Cameron's father ran a network of offshore investment funds to help build the family fortune that paid for the prime minister's inheritance, the Guardian can reveal. Though entirely legal, the funds were set up in tax havens such as Panama City and Geneva, and explicitly boasted of their ability to remain outside UK tax jurisdiction. At the time of his death in late 2010, Ian Cameron left a fortune of £2.74m in his will, from which David Cameron received the sum of £300,000. Cameron and other cabinet members have recently suggested that they would be willing to disclose their personal tax filings amid growing scrutiny following the budget, but this would only shed light on annual sources of income rather than accumulated wealth or inheritance. The structure employed by Cameron senior is now commonplace among modern hedge funds, which argue that offshore status can help attract international investors.