Bernie Sanders Explains His Plan to Fix a Broken Democratic Party

(COMMON DREAMS) Jake Johnson, November 13, 2017 — Following a massive wave of progressive victories in elections throughout the U.S. earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) argued in a Politico op-ed on Friday that the Democratic Party must embrace “fundamental reforms” and “welcome into its ranks millions of working people and young people” if it is to build on this grassroots momentum and overcome the “unprecedented crisis” posed by the Trump administration.

“Do you believe in open primaries, or do you not? Do you believe in transparency or not? Do you believe in keeping 700-plus superdelegates or not? Do you believe in letting people vote in caucuses who currently cannot?”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sanders’ plea for systemic change within the party that has been decimated at nearly every level of government over the past eight years comes just ahead of the final meeting of the DNC’s “Unity Reform Commission,” a group formed in the aftermath of the 2016 Democratic primary with the stated goal of “ensur[ing] that inclusivity is upheld in all things that we do.”

Some of the reforms Sanders says the commission “desperately” needs to consider during its December meeting if it is to have any hope of defeating Trump’s “agenda of the billionaire class” include:

  • Reducing the power of superdelegates, which currently have “the power to control the nominating process and ignore the will of voters”;
  • “Making voting easier, and not harder” by “ending the absurdity of closed primary systems” that lock out independent voters and fully embracing “universal and same-day voter registration”;
  • Developing a process that makes it easier for working people and students to participate in the voting process in states that use caucuses “even if they are not physically able to attend a caucus”; and
  • “Fully appreciat[ing] Donna Brazile’s revelations and understand the need for far more transparency in the financial and policy workings of the Democratic Party.” Brazile, Sanders wrote, “exposed the rot.”

The Democratic Party, Sanders argues, “cannot remain an institution largely dominated by the wealthy and inside-the-Beltway consultants” if it is to defeat Trump’s “reactionary agenda”—which includes massive tax breaks for the wealthy coupled with enormous cuts to life-saving social programs.

It is “not acceptable” that “hundreds of millions of dollars flow in and out of the DNC with little to no accountability,” Sanders writes. “At a time when we have a Republican president and Republican Party whose leadership and agenda are strongly opposed by the American people, now is the time for real change. It is critical that we come together and reform the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will win local, state, and national elections and transform our country.”

In addition to pressuring the Democrats to support his proposed reforms in op-eds and interviews with major news outlets, Sanders also began circulating a petition Thursdaycalling on DNC chair Tom Perez to work toward making the party “as open, as inclusive, and as progressive as it can possibly be.”

Sanders told the Washington Post that the petition had already garnered tens of thousands of signatures just hours after going live.

Source: Bernie Sanders Explains His Plan to Fix a Broken Democratic Party | Common Dreams

Countries agree on Pacific trade pact that excludes U.S. – POLITICO

(POLITICO)  Michael Tatarski, November 13, 2017 — DA NANG, Vietnam — Top trade officials from the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed on a bare-bones plan to bring the pact into force without the United States, according to a joint statement provided to POLITICO by the Chilean government.

The move came one day after President Donald Trump sharply criticized large multilateral trade deals during his keynote speech at the annual APEC leaders summit here.

“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),” the statement said.

About 20 provisions that were once part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been “suspended.” Notably, no agricultural commitment appears on the list.

Source: Countries agree on Pacific trade pact that excludes U.S. – POLITICO

Was Democratic Primary Rigged Against Sanders? Warren Says Definitively ‘Yes’

(COMMON DREAMS)  Jake Johnson, November 5, 2017 — When asked by CNN‘s Jake Tapper in an interview on Thursday if she believes the 2016 Democratic primary was “rigged” in favor of Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) gave a definitive one-word answer: “Yes.”

Tapper’s question came in response to the bombshell piece by former interim Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile, which detailed the party organization’s “unethical” fundraising agreement with former Secretary of State Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Source: Was Democratic Primary Rigged Against Sanders? Warren Says Definitively ‘Yes’ | Common Dreams

America since 9/11: timeline of attacks linked to the ‘war on terror’

(THE GUARDIAN) Ben Jacobs, November 3, 2017 — The attack on Tuesday in Lower Manhattan is one of a number of major terrorist attack on US soil that has been carried out by those who have claimed inspiration from Islamist terror groups like al-Qaida or Isis. It is the latest attack of its kind since the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 that left nearly 3000 people dead and prompted president George W Bush to launch military action against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Here is a timeline of other major terror attacks in the US:

Source: America since 9/11: timeline of attacks linked to the ‘war on terror’ | US news | The Guardian

Poll: Sanders defends title as ‘most popular’ senator 

(THE HILL) Avery Anapol, October 31, 2017 — Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) continues to hold the title as the nation’s most popular senator, according to the latest Morning Consult poll.

Sanders’s 71 percent approval rating among home state voters is the highest out of any senator, but slightly less than his 75 percent approval rating in July’s poll.

According to the survey, approval ratings for nearly all senators have gone down during the third quarter, when Republicans failed to repeal ObamaCare.

Source: Poll: Sanders defends title as ‘most popular’ senator | TheHill

Vance Faces Write-In Challenger as Weinstein Scandal Mounts

(DNAINF))  Noah Horowitz | October 12, 2017 — A failed candidate for Brooklyn District Attorney has tossed his hat into the ring as a write-in candidate against Manhattan DA Cy Vance, who has come under withering fire this week for declining to prosecute disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Marc Fliedner, a left-wing former prosecutor who was knocked out of the running in the Brooklyn Democratic primary in September, announced Wednesday that he hopes to unseat Vance, who will appear on the ballot unopposed on Nov. 7.

“No one should run unopposed, especially as it relates to the district attorney, which has no term limits and a long history of becoming entrenched for decades,” Fliedner told DNAinfo New York.

“When a district attorney runs unopposed there becomes a real danger of developing a culture of either overt corruption or a corruption of complacency,” the challenger added.

Source: Vance Faces Write-In Challenger as Weinstein Scandal Mounts – Civic Center – New York – DNAinfo

The Airport Bomber From Last Week You Never Heard About

(INTERCEPT) Shaun King, October 14, 2017 — IT’S STRANGE HOW some things really catch on and go viral and others don’t. These days, nothing quite makes a story blow up — no pun intended — like the president’s fixation with it. That’s why it’s so peculiar that what sure looks like an attempted terrorist attack was narrowly thwarted at an American airport this past Friday without so much as a peep from Donald Trump about it. No tweets. No nicknames for the alleged would-be-terrorist. Nothing. You’ll see why in a minute.

This past Friday morning, at 12:39 a.m., security footage from the Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina showed a man walking through the front doors wearing black clothing and a black cap, while carrying a bag. “Based on a review of the video, the individual walked near the entrance to the terminal, went out of sight momentarily, and was then seen departing the area without the bag,” according to the criminal complaint.

Source: The Airport Bomber From Last Week You Never Heard About

Online Petitions Take Citizen Participation to New Levels. But Do They Work?

(NY TIMES) CHRISTOPHER MELE, October 9, 2017 — Online petitions are all over the place.

Some are political (like one asking members of the Electoral College to vote for Hillary Clinton as president instead of Donald J. Trump); others are unearthly (like one asking that “Star Wars: The Old Republic” series be shown on Netflix).

That first petition drew 4.9 million signatures on Change.org. Nonetheless, members of the Electoral College voted for Mr. Trump on Dec. 19. The second petition drew over 123,000 names.

There has been a proliferation of these petitions — Change.org has more than 100 million users in 196 countries — but are they effective? Do the intended recipients, often policy makers or elected leaders, pay attention?

Worldwide, Change.org users claim one victory per hour, A.J. Walton, a spokesman for the online petition forum, said in an interview.

Source: Online Petitions Take Citizen Participation to New Levels. But Do They Work? – The New York Times

‘From heroes to villains’: tech industry faces bipartisan backlash in Washington

(THE GUARDIAN) Sabrina Siddiqui, September 28, 2017 — As political polarization continues to plague Washington, a rare consensus is emerging between the left and the right that America’s largest technology companies must be subject to greater scrutiny.

US lawmakers are escalating their rhetoric against Silicon Valley, an industry that has long trafficked in its reputation as a leading source of innovation but is now under fire for what critics see as vast, unchecked power.

Source: ‘From heroes to villains’: tech industry faces bipartisan backlash in Washington | US news | The Guardian

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says Effects Of Partisan Gerrymandering Aren’t Good For Democracy

(HUFFINGTON POST)  Sam Levine, September 28, 2017 — A week before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a landmark case on how officials can draw electoral maps, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said people felt discouraged from voting because of the way districts were redrawn, something that was bad for democracy.

On Oct. 3, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a Wisconsin case in which the plaintiffs allege that Republican lawmakers violated the U.S. Constitution with redistricting that benefited their party in 2011. The Supreme Court has never said if that process, called partisan gerrymandering, violates the Constitution, but Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have joined in asking it to say it does. The court has treated gerrymandering based on race as a separate category and has struck down maps that have taken race into account too much when they were drawn and diminished the influence of certain groups of voters.

“It’s drawing a map so people think ‘Why bother voting? This is a secure Republican district or this is a secure Democratic district, so my vote doesn’t count.’ That’s not a good thing for democracy,” Ginsburg told CBS host Charlie Rose during an appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on Tuesday.

Source: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says Effects Of Partisan Gerrymandering Aren’t Good For Democracy | HuffPost