The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

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“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

By JC Sevcik   |   April 16, 2014 at 5:47 PM
The American Flag seen behind a sign for Wall Street near the New York Stock Exchange. UPI/John Angelillo

| License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 16 (UPI) — Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population.A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.

“Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” analyzed extensive data, comparing nearly 1,800 U.S. policies enacted between 1981 and 2002 with the expressed preferences of average and affluent Americans as well as special interest groups.

The resulting data empirically verifies that U.S. policies are determined by the economic elite.

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” says the peer-reviewed study.

The 42-page study analyzes U.S. politics through the framework of four major theoretical traditions — Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic Elite Domination, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism — concluding that U.S. political policies rarely align with the majority of citizens.

What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

The report consoles that “Americans do enjoy many features
central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association” but goes on to warn that “we believe that if policymaking is dominated
by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2014/04/16/The-US-is-not-a-democracy-but-an-oligarchy-study-concludes/2761397680051/#ixzz2zDse9tIq

Fence Separate Rich from Poor in LA

“Los Angeles is building a tall steel (not mere mesh) Berlin type razor wire topped security wall around the poor (i.e. black and latino) sections of the city. This will make it easier to corral them and kill them when they riot. And they will riot when the government goes broke, and stops sending out all those welfare checks. Go to this short video to see the actual wall they are building and you will be shocked.” – economicrant.com

“L’arba Sicula” – The ongoing crisis in Sicily -

Video translation: (both in Sicilian & Italian)
“‘nnipinnenza – Isula sugnu, e Isula vogghju ristari” – Independence – An island, I am – An island I want to remain”(Sic.)

“Dal 1945, al giorni nostri – un solo grido” – Since 1945, to our present day – one single cry” (Ital.)

 

The Austerity crisis – spreading beyond Sicily to the rest of South Italy and other locations -

Most likely this news will eventually spread to the mass media in the times to come – but i wanted to share some world news that has been making headlines overseas….and is something that I have been watching closely since it began and affects me deeply as it is a part of my heritage, as one of part Sicilian descent -

Since as long as i can remember, the little island of Sicily, a nation-island in the heart of the Mediterranean – has been plagued for many centuries under oppression from foreign rule – lending it to its unique and distinctive culture, as well as its very own history (which could fill an entire book on its own) and its own language (La Lingua Sicula) – from the ancient Greeks, to the Sarecens, Arabs, and Normans – each civilization has left its mark on the island…..and overtime has shaped a culture and a people that are at once, passionate of their own identity and together – with strong roots and blood….it is not uncommon for many to claim “Sicilian” ethnicity, instead of “Italian” — and in fact….are indeed a distinct ethnic group (closely related in many ways to the “Maltese” in the South – Malta is considered, “the mirror of Sicily’s past”) -

It is no wonder why, for so many times over….the Sicilian people continue to fight arduously for an island that has essentially belonged to every civilization that has passed through it except for its own native inhabitants – an island that is, since the “Risorgimento” era of Giuseppe Garibaldi (the unification of modern Italy) – and officially since 1945…has become a region of Italy, an autonomous region….But as some come to know….Sicily has never been exactly Italy…..the flavors of North Africa and Greece still echoes in in the Sicilian air……and still to this day – That has always remained…..pumping in the hearts of “Li Siculi” ~

Right now – there is a very significant political and cultural revolution going on in present-day Sicily….that has sent waves of uprising across the island…..which recently has even begun to spread beyond Sicily itself, into South Italy and into the very heart of the Italian govt. itself, “Rome”

The Sicilian uprising, in short, began last January. -  as the Italian govt (w/ president Giorgio Napoletano and controversial Prime Minister, Mario Monti) – decided to place pressure on Sicily’s own economy by rising prices on its exports (primarily its petrol, which makes up almost half of Sicily’s economy…and much of it is taken from Sicily to much of the profit, North of Italy) – and raise the price of gas to excessive levels…..(as part of the overall sovereign debt crisis in Europe) — Already striken by long-term widespread poverty for many many years…..taking it as a direct insult, the Sicilian people decided that “enough was enough” – and took matters into its own hands, which began the revolt against the Italian state, dubbed, “The New Sicilian Vespers 2012″

Named after the Sicilian Vespers, which was a major rebellion that took place against French Angevin rule in the 13th century…..the people of Sicily took it to the streets and for five days, essentially blocked all the major ports and roads (esp. in Messina…considered the entry point into Sicily) – a major political organization, called…“Shock Force” – organized the “Pitchforks Movement” – “Il Movimento dei Forconi” – which represented all the poor sheepherders and farmer unions…..and protested against the unfair rise in costs – As each day went by, more local support came from trucker unions and even including the fishing industry….small businesses….as well as school students…..local citizens, learning about what was going on….angrily protested alongside – Which then continued well beyond the 5-day blockade into what is going on currently ~

Evoking its long history of past oppression under foreign rule….Sicilian outrage began to cry throughout the island…..as continued poverty and homelessness increased…..blaming the Italian state for its, “failed promises and political lies” – and essentially treating the island unfairly as a “colony” of sorts….failing to fully instate the “Sicilian Statute” which was promised to Sicily when it became a part of Italy under the Italian constitution in 1945…..hence, the continuing poverty and prejudice that exists today -

(In short, The special “Sicilian Statute” – grants Sicily, full autonomy and its benefits of a self-ruled government and economy within Italy…as well as equal fairness towards Sicilians under the eyes of the govt)

Shouts of “Per lo Statuto” (for the statute) started to ring through the streets as things became more heated…..focusing on not just politics, but on the very core identity of the Sicilian people…..Since 1945, waves of independence movements have emerged, most most notably the M.I.S. (Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano) – and once again, calls for independence from Italy have become more stronger and passionate than ever…..As marching protests spread across the entire island, from the capital of Palermo, to Catania in the East, the 2nd largest city…..raising the flag of Sicily, the ancient “Trinacria” – the three-legged ancient symbol – and wearing the “Red and Yellow” (the Sicilian colors) – with pride…..and shouting, in Sicilian, “vogghjamu ‘nnipinnenza! – Nuatri Semmu Siculi ‘nzemmula pi sempri” (We want independence! We are Sicilians together forever)

Thankfully, much of the protests….although full of passion and earnest determination….have been peaceful….but it is only a matter of time before, things start to churn and burn ~ (in the past month or so….people started fighting back against police, sent by the Italian state, from evicting them from their homes…unable to pay the rising costs in living as well….forcing residents to live in more homeless and poverty….violence against the police has sprung….with people getting injured, to some self-immolating themselves as a last resort)

Going on currently:

With local Sicilian presidential elections coming up in the next 2 weeks (yes, they do have their own president) – things have begun to heat up…..as the people of Sicily decide on their future – many want a change….from the old….into the the new — so it will be very interesting to see what will happen! (One of the candidates is Mariano Ferro, who strongly supports the spirit of the Trinacria and the liberation of its people…..)

– Ahead of the elections, I just learned that even school students….just yesterday….protested in the streets, about 5,000 students in Palermo, burning their school I.D’s in unison while shouting cries against Italian prime minister Monti’s austerity cuts also affecting school tuition fees……

http://www.demotix.com/news/1502669/5000-students-palermo-set-fire-their-voting-cards-protest#media-1502612

Also, with the Austerity cuts continuing, the situation is also beginning to spread beyond Sicily’s borders (the hardest hit area) – into the also poverty-stricken Southern Italy and some places in the North (such as Turin) — students there also protesting against the exorbitant fee increases….

Will be watching this closely as things progress…..but It’s quite sad though….that what is going on in my ancestral island….isnt being given much attention in the news or major humanitarian organizations…..(it is difficult, in fact, to find all this information i’ve shared) – I feel it’s a situation that must not be ignored and should be known to others……by raising awareness and educating others ~
May the undying spirit live strong……”Trinacria” -

“One of the protests from Catania”

The unofficial Sicilian National Anthem – “L’innu Nazzjunali ra Sicilia” (translated into Italian subtitles)

 

House passes Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill

THIS JUST IN: – a few hours ago…..I just stumbled across this article discussing the bill proposed by Ron Paul….the “Audit the Fed” bill, has passed the vote in the House of Reps -

Here’s the article -

House passes Ron Paul’s ‘Audit the Fed’ bill

Published: 25 July, 2012, 23:14

Ron Paul (T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images / AFP)

Ron Paul (T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty Images / AFP)

TAGS: Law, Corruption, USA, Banking

 

A bill introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) to audit America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, passed the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly Wednesday afternoon by a 327-98 vote.

Paul’s ongoing efforts to call for increased transparency in the Federal Reserve have become a hallmark of his tenure in Congress and of his current campaign for the presidency.

Rep. Paul is still vying for the GOP nomination and intends to speak at the Republican National Convention in Florida next month. And although Paul has as recently as this week refused to endorse presumptive party nominee Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor has supported the congressman’s proposal to audit the Fed.

“Ron Paul’s ‘Audit The Fed’ bill is a reminder of his tireless efforts to promote sound money and a more transparent Federal Reserve,” Romney writes on his official Twitter page.

During the Wednesday afternoon vote in Washington, D.C., Paul received backing from all House Republicans but one, as well as support from 89 congressional Democrats.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), was among those on the opposing party of Paul’s that still saw reason to support the bill. “The Fed creates trillions of dollars out of nothing and gives it to banks,” Rep. Kucinich said before Wednesday’s vote. “Congress is in the dark. The Fed sets the stage for the subprime meltdown. Congress is in the dark. The Fed takes a dive on LIBOR. Congress is in the dark. The Fed doesn’t tell regulators what is going on. Congress is in the dark.”

“It is time for us to bring the Fed into the sunshine of accountability,” the democratic congressman continued.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was one of those opposed to the bill, saying that passing it “increases the likelihood that the Fed will make decisions based on political rather than economic considerations, and that is not a recipe for sound monetary policy.”

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve has said that, although the Fed is “quite transparent and accountable on monetary policy,” there was room for improvement. Speaking to the House Financial Service Committee last week, Bernanke said the agency still “needs to be transparent and it needs to be accountable,” even though he believes that his quarterly projections and press conferences already allow the central bank to be relatively open with Americans.

Although Wednesday’s vote was a success for the congressman’s efforts to bring added transparency to the Fed, his fight for an audit doesn’t end here. Next the bill will be brought to the Senate for a vote, wheer it is not expected to pass. If it does clear both sides of Congress, however, it will then be sent to the desk of President Barack Obama for him to sign into law.

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Would be quite remarkable if this bill where to make it out….for it would signify the first time that the “Federal Reserve” would be subject full audits amidst calls for more transparency of the controversial central banking system of the U.S. -

Although, it would have to clear the Senate as well….which could be a challenge…let’s just hope that something indeed changes here for the better -

 

Greece vote this weekend – could result in leaving the euro and return to the drachma ~

As you Greek watchers know – a critical vote is taking place in Greece this weekend ~ Depending on the outcome - Greece could possibly leave the euro and return to the drachma – This has the 17 united european nations on watch of this significant election that reaches world wide ~

http://news.sky.com/home/world-news/article/16247897

Ocean water to drinking water ~ Local desalination project controversy

Soon I may be drinking sea water ~ In my neighboring town of Carlsbad, California, a huge water project is underway ~ Along the coast of  Carlsbad – the plan is to build the largest ocean water desalination plant in the United States - the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere ~

Sounds wonderful on the surface .. the oceans are our greatest water source but only if we can find ways to convert the water for safe drinking water and for use on landscapes and farms ~ Well, we now have that technology but here is the controversy ~

Two environmental groups in San Diego, Surfrider and Coast Keeper, have challenged the Carlsbad desalination project in court for they see the proposed method in the cooling systems do not do enough to protect marine life in the intake of sea water ~ There are better ways that are less harmful to fish and crustaceans such as  sub-sea floor intakes, an environmentally superior technology, but it seems is more costly ~

Here are some related links ~

http://sandiego.surfrider.org/legal-battle-over-ocean-desalination-continues

http://www.sdcoastkeeper.org/learn/san-diegos-water-supply/desalination.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlsbad_desalination_plant

Whole Foods Sells out to Monsanto

Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and “seed purity,” gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the “conditional deregulation” of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa.

Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as “natural.”

Whole Foods and UNFI are maximizing their profits by selling quasi-natural products at premium organic prices. Organic consumers are increasingly left without certified organic choices while genuine organic farmers and ranchers continue to lose market share to “natural” imposters. It’s no wonder that less than 1% of American farmland is certified organic, while well-intentioned but misled consumers have boosted organic and “natural” purchases to $80 billion annually-approximately 12% of all grocery store sales.

http://rickthehealthsleuth.blogspot.com/2011/01/whole-foods-sells-out-to-monsanto.html