We begin with one from United Press International, offering proof of what we all know:
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.”
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.
UPDATE: Link fixed. Read it all here [PDF].
From The Guardian, Bubba’s bankster buddies:
Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal
- Previously restricted papers reveal attempts to rush president to support act, later blamed for deepening banking crisis
Wall Street deregulation, blamed for deepening the banking crisis, was aggressively pushed by advisers to Bill Clinton who have also been at the heart of current White House policy-making, according to newly disclosed documents from his presidential library.
The previously restricted papers reveal two separate attempts, in 1995 and 1997, to hurry Clinton into supporting a repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act and allow investment banks, insurers and retail banks to merge.
And from USA Today, high anxiety:
Nerves fray as anniversaries of April attacks arrive
As most Americans this week enjoy mid-April’s well-deserved warm weather, educators, law enforcement and civil rights groups are perhaps understandably a bit on edge with the approach of several dates that bring bad memories.
Saturday marks the anniversary of the 1995 terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, as well as the 1993 FBI attack of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, which killed cult leader David Koresh and 75 followers.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh called his attack payback for the deaths at Waco at the hands of the FBI, calling the siege “first blood.” The Oklahoma City bombing killed killed 168 people.
Six years later, Colorado teenager Eric Harris would boast in his journal that he planned to outdo McVeigh’s body count in an attack on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. The 15th anniversary of that attack falls on Sunday. Harris, along with Dylan Klebold, killed 13 in a siege that was actually a failed bombing, police say. The Columbine attacks took place on the 110th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth.
From the London Daily Mail, justice American style:
Judge rules that Texas inmate still behind bars 34 years after his conviction was overturned is at fault because he NEVER asked for a new trial
- Jerry Hartfield was sentenced to death row in 1976 but his conviction was overturned four years later
- He has an IQ of 51 and maintains police used a false confession in his case
- Judge ruled that his right to a speedy trial had not been violated, even though the state was negligent in failing to retry him
Another potential unemployment casualty in France from RFI:
President Hollande won’t run for re-election if unemployment remains high
French President François Hollande made a shock announcement on Friday during a lunch with employees of the Michelin company: if unemployment continues to plummet between now and 2017, he will have “no reason to be a candidate” for a second mandate.
Hollande said that employment, particularly for young people, was a priority for him. “We’re going to put all our energy into this issue because there’s no other challenge [this important],” said the president.
From El País, the Iron Chancellor reneges on a promise:
Germany cancels scheme designed to attract young jobless from abroad
- Spaniards made up half of all applicants for The Job of My Life
- The program offered funding for language studies and help finding work
- “I thought the Germans were serious”
The German government has announced that it is closing its The Job of My Life program, set up at the beginning of last year to attract young people from some of Europe’s hardest-hit economies – such as Greece and Spain – to work in Germany.
The €400-million program, which was aimed at 18- to 35-year-olds, was initially scheduled to run until 2018. This year’s budget, €48 million, has already been spent. The aim was to provide financial aid to young people in their own countries while they learned German, help them with interviews and then assist with the move to Germany to look for work.
From United Press International, giving the boot on The Boot:
Venice secession vote underscores autonomist movements
“We are now experiencing a strong return of little nations, small and prosperous countries, able to interact with each other in the global world,” Paolo Bernardini, European history professor at Italy’s University of Insubria, commented.
A vote in Italy’s Veneto region, which includes the city of Venice, indicating widespread support for secession from Italy, underscores the rise of nationalism in the world.
Considering the recent referendum in Crimea, the legitimacy of which was questioned, and prior to a September referendum in Scotland, whose approval could mean independence from England as early as 2016, the Venice vote in March was more like a survey. Online and without official status, it nonetheless indicated 89 percent of two million voters approved of formally separating themselves from Italy.
A blow to partisan plutocrats from the New York Times:
China Signals a Change as it Investigates a Family’s Riches
A corruption inquiry targeting the retired Communist Party leader Zhou Yongkang and his family could challenge a tacit rule that has allowed elite clans to accumulate vast wealth.
DVICE eyeballs a spooky development:
Forget Glass, Google wants to put a camera on your eyeball
Google Glass has been getting a lot of time in the spotlight lately, but if the boffins from Mountain View have their way, that fancy Google Glass rig may soon look about as cutting edge as having a Motorola Razr phone attached to your hip.
A recently published patent shows that Google has been looking at ways to build a camera directly into a contact lens on the surface of your eye. That would certainly make it more discreet than the clunky looking Glass, perfect for when you don’t want people to know that you’re using it. But it also means that the camera will be able to follow the direction of your vision, opening new possibilities for how it could be used.
From the Miami Herald, a rare chance to look inside the black box:
Guantánamo judge to CIA: Disclose ‘black site’ details to USS Cole defense lawyers
The military judge in the USS Cole bombing case has ordered the CIA to give defense lawyers details — names, dates and places — of its secret overseas detention and interrogation of the man accused of planning the bombing, two people who have read the still-secret order said Thursday.
Army Col. James L. Pohl issued the five-page order Monday. It was sealed as document 120C on the war court website Thursday morning and, according to those who have read it, orders the agency to provide a chronology of the overseas odyssey of Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, 49, from his capture in Dubai in 2002 to his arrival at Guantánamo four years later.
The Usual Suspects, cashin’ in — via Wired:
How Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis.
For the science and technology set, it’s a classic opportunity to disrupt an industry historically run by hippies and gangsters. And the entire tech-industrial complex is getting in on the action: investors, entrepreneurs, biotechnologists, scientists, industrial designers, electrical engineers, data analysts, software developers. Industry types with experience at Apple and Juniper and Silicon Valley Bank and Zynga and all manner of other companies are flocking to cannabis with the hopes of creating a breakout product for a burgeoning legitimate industry. Maybe it’s the Firefly. Maybe it’s something still being developed in someone’s living room. There’s a truism about the gold rush days of San Francisco: It wasn’t the miners who got rich; it was the people selling picks and shovels. As the legalization trend picks up steam, Silicon Valley thinks it can make a better shovel.
From the Los Angeles Times, stiffing Californians to collect on high out-of-state tuitions:
California students feel UC admission squeeze
- Most campuses take a lesser number of state students even as more get in from elsewhere.
California high school seniors faced a tougher time winning a freshman spot at most of the UC campuses for the fall, with their chances at UCLA and UC Berkeley now fewer than one in five, according to a report released Friday.
Six of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses accepted a smaller number of California students than last year even though the number of applicants rose. Competition was fiercest at UCLA, where only 16.3% of state students were admitted, down from 17.4% last year, and at UC Berkeley, where 18.8% were accepted, compared with 21.4% last year.
Increased competition is part of a national trend this year at the most elite level of higher education. Even though the population of American high school graduates dropped a bit, students are applying to more colleges, and schools are recruiting more overseas, especially in Asia. In the most extreme example, Stanford University accepted only 5% of applicants; many other highly selective campuses reported record low rates.
From Al Jazeera America, nostalgic for blasts from the past:
Boom town: Atomic tourism blooms in a western desert
- As nuclear age approaches eighth decade, visitors flock to historic bomb craters at New Mexico test sites
Standing a few yards from the spot where the world’s first atomic bomb detonated with a blast so powerful that it turned the desert sand to glass and shattered windows more than 100 miles away, tourist Chris Cashel explained what drew him here.
“You don’t get to go to very many places that changed the entire world in a single moment,” said Cashel as he glanced around the windswept, desolate Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert packed with tourists. “The world was never going to be the same after that.”
The military veteran was among thousands of visitors who piled into cars and buses to drive out to the secluded site about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, where Manhattan Project scientists split the atom shortly before dawn on July 16, 1945, ushering in the atomic age. The successful test of the nuclear “gadget” unleashed a blast equivalent to 19 kilotons of high explosive, and led to the devastation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki weeks later.
And for our final item, worrisome corona virus censorship from Avian Flu Diary:
Saudi Govt. Prohibits ‘Unauthorized’ Media Coverage Of MERS
As you might expect, this announcement is making quite a stir on the twitter feed from Saudi Arabia, with many people clearly not pleased with this edict.