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What’s at Stake This Election Year? Ending the Vicious Cycle of Wealth and Power

By Robert Reich

What’s at stake this election year? Let me put as directly as I can.

America has succumbed to a vicious cycle in which great wealth translates into political power, which generates even more wealth, and even more power.

This spiral is most apparent is declining tax rates on corporations and on top personal incomes (much in the form of wider tax loopholes), along with a profusion of government bailouts and subsidies (to Wall Street bankers, hedge-fund partners, oil companies, casino tycoons, and giant agribusiness owners, among others).

The vicious cycle of wealth and power is less apparent, but even more significant, in economic rules that now favor the wealthy.

Billionaires like Donald Trump can use bankruptcy to escape debts but average people can’t get relief from burdensome mortgage or student debt payments.

Giant corporations can amass market power without facing antitrust lawsuits (think Internet cable companies, Monsanto, Big Pharma, consolidations of health insurers and of health care corporations, Dow and DuPont, and the growing dominance of Amazon, Apple, and Google, for example).

But average workers have lost the market power that came from joining together in unions.



And yes, he does get to Bernie...

CNN to host President Obama town hall on guns in America

Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama is mounting a final-year push to make gun control part of his legacy despite Republican opposition and is expected to announce unilateral action soon.

He will join CNN's Anderson Cooper Thursday for an exclusive one-hour live town hall on gun control in hopes of mounting a final pitch to the public.

It's an issue he has had zero success on so far in his presidency, despite his repeated, emotional appeals for change. Congress has remained a roadblock even in the face of widespread public support for Obama's past calls for universal background checks or bolstered mental health support, with near uniform opposition from Republicans and a split on the issue among Democrats.

Obama will sit down with Cooper at 8 p.m. ET for the event, titled "Guns in America." The event's timing coincides with the fifth anniversary, next Friday, of the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, in a rampage that left six dead and 13 others wounded.


Double standards cited amid armed protest in Oregon

Social media mocks light treatment of group which occupied a US federal building in protest of judge ruling.

Anealla Safdar

When the occupation started, many decried the lack of coverage across the media...
jeremy scahill ✔@jeremyscahill
Not a single cable network is covering this Oregon militia situation
11:34 PM - 2 Jan 2016

Sahand @Sahand_1
150 domestic terrorists take over a fed building. Can only assume there's wall-to-wall cable news coverage, right? Oh. #OregonUnderAttack
11:41 PM - 2 Jan 2016

and later on, social media users lashed out at what they called double standards in the media's narrative and characterisation of the armed protest compared to other recent events.

Kim Kane @KimKane1
Pay close attention to what mass media decides to cover - and "how" they cover it. It matters #OregonUnderAttack
1:38 AM - 3 Jan 2016

TariqTouré @TariqToure
Hey @ABC I fixed that typo for you #OregonStandoff #OregonUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/9gcTDUCVjh


In Chicago, distrust toward mayor has turned ‘personal’

By William Wan and Mark Guarino

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut short a family vacation this past week and returned to a city in crisis: On the North Side, more than a dozen people stood outside his house, hurling insults. On the West Side, a close aide was punched and kicked while attending a prayer vigil for a police shooting victim. And all week long, there were protesters, haunting one of Emanuel’s biggest political donors, haranguing his police force, beating a papier-mâché likeness of his face at City Hall.

More than a month has passed since a judge forced Emanuel (D) and other city officials to release a graphic video of a white Chicago police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.But public anger over the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in October 2014 has not dissipated. Instead, it has grown bitter and more personal.

“Oh, it’s personal, all right. We’re making it personal,” yelled Ja’Mal Green, 20, a former Emanuel supporter who spent hours in bone-cold weather on the sidewalk outside the mayor’s spacious Ravenswood home, mocking him and urging him to resign.

The protests reflect frustration with chronic problems Emanuel inherited in Chicago, a city long plagued by police brutality, failing schools, rampant gang violence and dire ­finances. But as Emanuel enters his second term, critics say he has deepened distrust in City Hall through a string of scandals affecting his administration, a lack of transparency and his abrasive personal style.

More anger may be on the way.



Poll: Whites and Republicans Rank as Angriest Americans

Nearly half of Americans are angry, and no groups are angrier than whites and Republicans, according to a new NBC News/Survey Monkey/Esquire online poll about outrage in the country.

Overall, 49 percent of Americans said they find themselves feeling angrier now about current events than they were one year ago. Whites are the angriest, with 54 percent saying they have grown more outraged over the past year. That's more than Latinos (43 percent) and African-Americans (33 percent).

Seventy-three percent of whites said they get angry at least once per day, compared with 66 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of blacks.

The poll also found Republicans are angrier than Democrats. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say current events irk them more today than a year ago, compared to 42 percent of Democrats.


Toon: We Have a Problem

Sunday's Doonesbury- From the Trump Tweet Desk

Wyoming Makes It Illegal To Collect Evidence Of Pollution On Public Property

By John Vibes

The state of Wyoming recently passed Senate Bill 12, the Data Trespass Bill, which will prevent people from collecting evidence of pollution, even on public lands. The bill prohibits the “collecting of information” on property that the person does not own, even public and federal land.

According to the text of the bill, it is now illegal to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.”

Simply taking a picture or collecting trash from a polluted stream could lead to $5,000 in fines and a year in prison.

Justin Pidot, an assistant professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law recently told Think Progress that, “People on the ground, who have been engaged in this kind of data collection in the past, now have to face the worry about being potentially prosecuted. The chilling effect on citizen participation is huge.”

“This is sort of a new tactic we’re seeing, where state governments are trying to build legal rules that prevent people from uncovering information about favored industrial groups. I think it’s very concerning as a phenomenon,” he added.




Bernie Sanders's new fundraising numbers are really amazing

by Andrew Prokop

When 2015 began, few would have expected that a "democratic socialist" could seriously compete on fundraising with Hillary Clinton, the near-unanimous choice of the Democratic Party establishment.

But that's just what Bernie Sanders has managed to do.

The Vermont senator's campaign announced on Saturday that he had raised $33.2 million in the most recent fundraising period — and $73 million for his campaign overall. This is a huge sum that ensures that his campaign won't lack for cash as the first caucuses and primaries near.

Now, Hillary Clinton did raise a good deal more than Sanders overall ($112 million to $72.8 million). But she's already spent a ton of the money she brought in — as you can see here, the $38 million she has left in the bank (her "cash on hand") isn't all that much higher than Sanders's $28.4 million.



Sanders Schools Trump Troll

"I say to Mr. Trump and his supporters that the billionaires in this country will not continue to rule this nation," said Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Bernie Sanders says the rich won't 'rule this nation' after Trump supporter interrupts speech

By KYLE FELDSCHER • 1/2/16 2:34 PM

A Donald Trump fan interrupted a rally in Massachusetts as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders railed against billionaires Saturday.

Sanders, speaking at a campaign stop at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was making his usual campaign pitch about the disparity of wealth in the American economy when a large, bald man in a black shirt began shouting at him.

Sanders tried to raise his voice over the man multiple times, before addressing him directly.

"Here's a supporter worried about Mr. Trump's money," Sanders said.


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