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

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

“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   |   49 Comments
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.”

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Plans for manned missions to Mars ~ Elon Musk

Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and founder of Tesla Motors, is the man behind the project to send manned missions and colonize Mars within our lifetime ~ He is quoted to say he wants to die and be buried on Mars~ Here is an article and video with more details on the 41 year old – It seems the consensus is split on Musk as nut or visionary ~

Musk made his mark by co-founding PayPal, which transformed e-commerce, in 1999. He sold it three years later to eBay for $1.5bn. When, armed with this fortune, he turned to space exploration, the consensus said he was nuts. Building and launching rockets was the preserve of states – big states, because small states tended to spend a fortune trying and still fail.

He is also the founder/creator of Tesla Motors ~ His company is working on creating a more affordable Tesla car ~ The current version of the all electric Tesla has caught the public interest and is selling well but the expensive price tag has limited the Tesla sales to upper income car consumers ~

The plan, says Elon Musk, is to minimize climate change – and colonize the red planet ~

“The key thing for me,” he begins, “is to develop the technology to transport large numbers of people and cargo to Mars. That’s the ultimate awesome thing.” Musk envisages a colony with 80,000 people on the red planet. “But of course we must pay the bills along the way. So that means serving important customers like Nasa, launching commercial broadcasting communication satellites, GPS satellites, mapping, science experiments. “There’s no rush in the sense that humanity’s doom is imminent; I don’t think the end is nigh. But I do think we face some small risk of calamitous events. It’s sort of like why you buy car or life insurance. It’s not because you think you’ll die tomorrow, but because you might.”


A follow up to Sevaji’s wisdom quote on Loss and Grieving ~

Sevaji ~ Johannes’s quote on Loss and Grieving is a very beautiful perspective and deeply felt expression of loss and death ~ With gratitude to Johannes/Sevaji for his enlightening meditation that reflects upon the many questions, fears and confusion that arise when a loved one passes away ~ His words are an offering and blessing to the soul ~

Here is the link to some other related wisdom quotes on the subject of death ~


John Pisciotta’s Life in Palermo (Sicily) – “A true story”

HERE IS A “MUST WATCH” VID – that i wanted to share – in response to the still growing conditions of poverty and human rights violations in the land of my paternal heritage – the island of “Sicily” – Sicilia -

As i’ve shared before in a previous post – I’ve discussed about the many economic and political hardships (as well as cultural) Sicilians have been faced with for many many years – The island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean….(located between Southern Italy to the Northeast and across the sea from Tunisia to the West) – has been a land that has seen it all – from thousands of years of ancient history, invasion after invasion from many different tribes and ethnic groups that have conquered and occupied the island (from the ancient Greeks, to the Arabs, Normans, Spanish, Phoenicians….and such) – and as a result: creating the very essence of the ethnic Sicilian identity – a land that, while currently annexed to Italy politically and administratively, is quite a distinct entity to itself – a land  that is unique and rich in its own culture, history and even its traditions, cuisine, flag, and language (Sicilian being its own separate Romance tongue… fact, many Sicilians are bilingual in both standard Italian and native Sicilian)

An island that was its own nation-island, as a Kingdom for centuries (Kingdom of Sicily) – which at one point enjoyed a period of flourishing success and wealth during its rule….(since the Hellenistic period….Sicily saw places such as the city-state of Syracuse – “Siracusa” – rival that of Athens itself)

Today though – sadly is quite the opposite picture – While still a land that holds onto its natural picturesque beauty which attracts many visitors on vacation (blessed by its sunny Mediterranean climate) – remains one of the poorest and least developed “regions” of Italy…..Ever since Sicily became a part of the Italian state in 1946 (and even earlier, “unofficially” during the “Risorgimento” [Ressurgence] Era of the 18th century led by Giuseppe Garibaldi) – it has faced such extreme conditions of poverty and hardship, further aggravated by local crime and corruption – especially back in the day when the Mafia held control of much property by its illegal doings – and also, the Italian government’s continued neglect and failed promises to improve conditions for the Sicilian people – (despite making Sicily an autonomous region….it still fails to recognize and implement the full laws of the “Sicilian Statue” – of autonomy within govt) – and has led to the mistreatment of Sicilians [along with the still prevalent discrimination & prejudice against the people] – lack of resources, practically no welfare service and poor health care…etc…forcing folks to do whatever is necessary to survive – including sometimes violent protesting against the state – and living illegally in the local impoverished areas of the main cities, called ironically, “ZEN” (in Italian, stands for: “Zona Espansione Nord – Northern Zone Expansion” -


Below is a video that was created by John Pisciotta – a local street vendor (a friend whom i’ve been in contact with for about a year or so now…) – who lives in one of the impoverished ZEN’s of Palermo (Zen di San Filippo Neri) – a real life true story personal tale of life in today’s Sicily – and showing the truly terrible conditions that exist right now….what many people are largely ignorant about – A Human Rights issue that direly needs to be addressed -

In the the vid – John talks about his own personal story and shows the grounds of San Filippo Neri – as well as clips of the brutal protests against the Italian state and police (much of the protests which he has also orchestrated as well…) – and lastly, of the community project that would help benefit the people….little by little – [i just heard recently....sadly the grounds have been abandoned and became a "lost cause" - which just totally breaks my heart - I've been supporting such great things like this!]

The vid is narrated in Sicilian, Italian and English – (the part in the very beginning with video footage of the protest – is John shouting out loud at the government police in the Palermo dialect of Sicilian) – the rest is conducted in Italian and lastly…in English – (translation provided)

:interesting note: Printed on John’s shirt is one of the banners that were used at the protests – representing the Italian gov’t holding Sicily captive (symbolized as an octopus holding the head of Medusa which is at the center of the “Trinacria” symbol, the ancient symbol of Sicily) – and in Sicilian it says: “L’amu a tagghjari ‘sti granfi” – which literally means, “We’re going to chop off these clutches/claws” -

PLEASE SHARE IF YOU CAN! – it’s a message

that needs to be heard………

Chris Spheeris – “It’s Really That Simple”


~ Magnificent words by multi-instrumentalist, composer, artist and peacelover – “Chris Spheeris” -
A true inspiration – words of truth that radiate within our inner being – “We Are All Connected” ~

Pandit Ravi Shankar wins two posthumous Grammys, accepted by daughters

Pandit Ravi Shankar wins two posthumous Grammys, accepted by daughters
Written by: Gitanjali Roy | Mon, 11 Feb 2013 09:27:05 (New Delhi)

Anoushka attended the pre-Grammy ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre to accept the awards for her father

Exactly 60 days after his death, sitar legend Pandit Ravi Shankar received the Lifetime Achievement Grammy award, which was jointly accepted by his daughters, sitarist Anoushka Shankar and singer-songwriter Norah Jones.

Pt Ravi Shankar also won the Best World Music Album award for The Living Room Sessions Part 1, beating daughter Anoushka who was nominated in the same category for her album Traveller.

Anoushka and Norah attended the pre-Grammy ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre to accept the awards for their father, who passed away on December 11, 2012 at the age of 92. “We know he was very excited to be receiving this award. We really miss him. He lived and breathed music. he was tapping out rhythms on the breakfast table and making me do five over seven… I am still trying to get it. We are very happy to accept the award for him,” said nine-time Grammy winner Norah, 33.

“It was 60 days ago today that he passed away. It’s kind of difficult to be standing up here, like Norah said, I am thrilled that he knew about this award before he passed away at least. But I wish we weren’t standing up here for him,” said Anoushka, 31, who has accompanied her father at concerts all around the world.

“I want to say thanks to my mom… He did his last performance just a few weeks before he died and I believe she was the reason he was able to be as healthy and strong as he was. I am eternally grateful to her for that. “My father always said that music could create world peace because it had the potential to raise the consciousness of people… When I watched him play what moved me was this incredible meditative state where he could take people,” she added.

Anoushka signed off with an anecdote about how Pt Ravi Shankar once forgot his Grammy at a friends place and couldn’t find it. His wife Sukanya called up the Recording Academy to find out if they could make a copy and was asked which one she wanted a copy of.

“She said ‘What do you mean which Grammy?’. It turns out he had won two and just didn’t know it. That was the kind of musician he was. He went on to win a third, and today he gets this incredible honour. Music was the be all and end all of his life and I am very grateful to the Academy for recognising that,” she said.

Three-time Grammy winner Pt Ravi Shankar is credited with introducing Indian classical music to the West. He was a profound influence on The Beatles, The Byrds and numerous other rock artists.

Pt Ravi Shankar, along with George Harrison, organised the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, which paved the way for many other fundraising charity concerts.



The Radius of Your Divine Light ~


Sharing the beautiful wisdom of Johannes/Sevaji ~ Divinely with love ~ Coralina ~

The Radius of Your Divine Light

Sages, gurus, yogis, and many religions throughout the ages have spoken about the existence of the soul within each human being. You may not have seen or felt this soul within you, or you may only sense it in an abstract way, or you may even deem the concept of the soul as utterly irrational. In any case, the concept of the soul serves as a means to deepen the inquiry into your own consciousness, for reflection and contemplation lead to expanded awareness. Eventually, if you penetrate deep enough into this inquiry, there is a point where you consciousness crosses over a threshold and peeks into the realm of the infinite.

Until you have crossed this threshold, you as a finite being may not know your soul on the conscious level but nonetheless your soul knows you for it is you and contains you just as the universe contains all things.

Some of you may have had glimpses that this spark exists when your heart felt illumined with love and at peace with joy. Some of you may have felt that this spark has long since burned out, but know that just as a candle can be extinguished by the blowing wind it can be relit again by the light of another flame. So it is when you feel your light has become dim or darkened or smothered completely by the sorrows of the world. By seeking, listening and hearing the highest truths your connection to the Divine can be reestablished and your inner light illumined once again.

I can think of no better way to spend the few days we have on this earth than helping each other for we all share the same conditions: moments of joy, moments of sadness, and myriad emotions in between. We are all seeking more moments of joy, more moments of contentment, more moments of inspiration, more moments of passion, and more moments of love so let us give these simple gifts to each other.

More often than not when you smile at someone, a friend, a stranger, a smile is given back. When we give anger, hatred and violence, do we not get the same in return? When we give others love do we not receive it in return? Would you rather have love or hate, cruelty or kindness, happiness or sadness? Know that whatever you8 give will come back to you. This is the law of Karma.

It is so simple yet so overlooked this ability we have to subtly change the world around us, even if it is only a radius of a few feet. But imagine if your presence changed for the better the world world around you – even if it was just a few feet radius…everywhere you went. Imagine if your smile, your kind words, your warm heart, your radiance, the divine light of your soul subtly uplifted and healed all those you encountered. The miracle is that they do and you can have this effect if you truly desire it.


Johannes ~ Sevaji

Gentle soul ~ Ravi Shankar rest in peace


Indian music legend Ravi Shankar, the man former Beatle George Harrison hailed as “the godfather of world music,” died Tuesday night in San Diego’s Scripps Memorial Hospital.. He was 92 and had been a resident of Encinitas, a suburb north of San Diego, since 1992.


According to a statement issued Tuesday night by the Ravi Shankar Foundation, last Thursday he underwent heart-valve replacement surgery, which – while successful – he was unable to recover from, his family said in a statement.


Shankar’s death comes just six days after he earned his most recent Grammy Award nomination for Best World Music Album, a category in which his daughter and protégé, Anoushka, 31, is also nominated. His other singer-songwriter daughter, Norah Jones, is a multiple Grammy Award-winner in her own right. Anoushka and her mother, Sukanya Shankar, were at Ravi Shankar’s bedside when he died Tuesday night.

“It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today,” said a family statement. “We were at his side when he passed away.”

 The office of India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also confirmed the death, calling Shankar a “national treasure.”