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Updated: 36 min 15 sec ago

Chinese police video of rights lawyer’s arrest raises questions

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 13:47

Chinese authorities appear to be mounting a smear campaign against a detained human rights lawyer by releasing a seemingly edited police video which shows him resisting arrest and then swinging at an officer, campaigners say. Yu Wensheng was seized Friday by roughly a dozen police, including a SWAT team, as he left his Beijing apartment to…

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Brazil’s former President Lula in crisis following conviction

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 13:44

A former shoeshine boy and steelworker, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rose to become one of Brazil’s most popular presidents, but his hopes of a comeback appeared to be in tatters Wednesday after a court confirmed his conviction for corruption. Judges hearing his appeal against a 9.5 year jail sentence for corruption not only confirmed it…

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Russia’s Navalny Takes Putin to European Rights Court

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 13:41

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has taken his feud with President Vladimir Putin to Europe’s highest rights court. Navalny appeared before the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday to complain that his repeated arrests by Russian authorities are politically motivated and a violation of his basic rights. “Over the past years I have been jailed…

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Influential Chilean ‘anti-poet’ Nicanor Parra dies

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 13:20

Influential Chilean poet Nicanor Parra died Tuesday aged 103, leaving a legacy of “anti-poetry” with which he revolutionized Latin American literature and won the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor. Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet called Parra “one of the greatest authors in the history of our literature, and a unique voice in Western culture.” Parra died early…

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Internet Access is Booming in World’s Poorest Countries

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 15:15

The International Telecommunication Union reports hundreds of millions of people in the world’s poorest countries now have access to the Internet and mobile devices. It is increasingly difficult to function in this modern digital world without access to the Internet, a smart phone or other digital device. A new report by the International Telecommunication Union finds…

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People of South Sudan Suffer on Bottom of World Freedom Index

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 14:58

Once again, South Sudan is ranked among the least democratic countries in the world, according to Freedom House’s annual report on freedom around the world. The report, released last week, attributes the dismal ranking to the collapse of a 2015 peace deal, resumption of the country’s conflict in 2016, and egregious human rights abuses committed against…

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Florida Felons Could Get Back Their Right to Vote

Wed, 01/24/2018 - 14:45

Floridians in November will have a chance to decide whether felons should have the right to vote in their state. Floridians for a Fair Democracy, the group behind the ballot measure, called the Second Chances Voting Restoration Amendment, obtained 799,000 certified signatures, enough to put the question before voters. The campaigners are aiming to give voting…

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Yale Study Shows Voting Does Not Reduce Crime

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 10:22

A study conducted by Yale University during the 2010 United States election cycle, has shown that people participating in elections do not necessarily make good citizens. While the study shows that there are some who vote that remain law abiding, the rest of the population does not.

The study published in the journal, ‘Political Behavior‘, conducted a controlled test of 550,000 potential voters during the mid-term elections of 2010 in the U.S. Of those tested a majority of them were nonwhite voters and were between the ages of 18 and 20 years old. Those who voted however, were 55 percent less likely to be involved in criminal activity or under some sort of law enforcement supervision.

“While voting is a worthy activity, it does not appear to prevent people from committing crimes or set them on a virtuous path toward good citizenship,” Yale Political Science professor Gregory A. Huber said regarding the study.

Despite the beliefs of the political thinkers like Rousseau, de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill, all of whom believed that citizens would become contributing members of society if they participated political, the study however has proven that not to be the case.

“Our findings have important policy implications,” Hubert continued. “For example, if voting prevented criminal behavior, then the measures encouraging people to vote would be a cost-effective way to reduce incarceration. Unfortunately, our study shows this kind of intervention is unlikely to succeed.”

Along with the study, studying crime, the study also shows that those who receive campaign or reading material vote at a 19 percent higher rate than those who didn’t.

In the United States those behind bars automatically get their voting rights taken away from them. Only Maine and Vermont allow prison inmates and felons the right to vote. In the United States there are 1.5 million behind bars.

“It’s a basic American right to be able to vote for your elected officials,” Maine’s Prison’s warden Randall A. Liberty said in an interview with Al= Jazeera.

Other states in the United States have tougher laws regarding the felon voting. Florida, Iowa, and Virginia have the toughest laws when it comes to felons and voting. In those three states, felons permanently lose their right to vote.  In Alabama if you are a convicted felon, your right to vote is permanently removed.

With 2012 being the latest states available, there are 1,511,497 felons incarcerated in U.S state and federal prisons. 744,500 are behind bars in U.S County jails.

At the time of the study, 47.7 percent of those in jail were in for violent offenses, while 21.7 percent were in for drug related offenses.

In conclusion, the right to vote is an important one that should be taken seriously even though it may not reduce crime in society. We as a society should provide every opportunity for law abiding citizens to practice their constitutional right to vote. For in the constitution says “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Links to sources:

1) www.springer.com: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-016-9385-1

2) Al-Jazeera Link: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/09/2016-election-america-prison-voters-160906085936094.html

3) Yale News Link: https://news.yale.edu/2017/10/31/study-shows-voting-does-not-reduce-crime

4) Felonvoting.procon.org link: https://felonvoting.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=004339

 

The $1.5 Trillion Tax Con

Thu, 11/23/2017 - 12:43

The Republican Party once stood for fiscal conservatism, but those days are long gone when you look at the current tax reform bill that they are in the midst of passing.   Instead of muddling through the details, the takeaway is this:  Corporations win and the 99 percenters lose.  Without real spending cuts to offset the proposed tax cuts, their plan will add $1.5 trillion1 to the already existing $20 trillion deficit.2  It will slash taxes on the wealthy while raising taxes on those earning $10,000-$75,0003 and even raise taxes on graduate students.4  Why aren’t we all outraged at this?  Because we’re not paying attention.

The ruling party has not passed any real legislation since the election, and they need to accomplish something for their wealthy donors, or their campaign contributions will run dry.5  If they can con their voters into thinking that they are looking out for them while they’re trying to take away their healthcare, then they can certainly get away with increasing their taxes so that the wealthy can save a few extra bucks that they don’t even need.

This latest scam further proves a need to limit and provide public funding for election campaigns.  Get big money and special interest groups out of government once and for all.  Shorten and limit the amount of time and money candidates could spend campaigning, since, currently, elected officials are expected to devote four hours a day on fundraising activities alone,6 four hours they should be spending on governing.

You think that special interest groups don’t have any sort of negative impact on Americans?  “60 Minutes” recently aired a startlingly expose7 about how the pharmaceutical industry used its influence over Congress to contribute to the “worst drug epidemic in American history.”  Drug companies’ lust for profit has resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and has been aided by our own government.  And how are they attempting to treat the opioid crisis?  With more drugs of course.  The NIH has proposed to allow drug companies to profit even further from a drug problem that they helped create by allowing federal funding to help improve and create new drugs that would treat opioid addiction.8  It isn’t as if pharma desperately needs funding from taxpayer money.

Historically, taxes have been an important issue when it comes to deciding on whom to vote for. Remember when President George H.W. Bush uttered “Read my lips:  no new taxes?”  With a Democratic-controlled Congress, he was forced to raise taxes anyway which resulted in his losing the ’92 election.  Today, we have fallen asleep at the wheel and our senators and representatives know it.  When the majority of Americans that voted for our current government are also the very people that would be hurt the most by the repeal of the ACA and the new tax plan proposal, it’s time to wake up and take our country back.

  1. http://www.crfb.org/blogs/tax-cut-and-jobs-act-will-cost-15-trillion
  2. http://www.usdebtclock.org/
  3. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/16/senate-tax-bill-cuts-taxes-of-wealthy-and-hikes-taxes-of-families-earning-under-75000-over-a-decade/?utm_term=.afc0079d821c
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/16/house-gop-tax-plan-could-increase-taxes-for-grad-students-by-400-percent.html
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/house-tax-panel-adopts-gop-changes-after-day-of-bickering/2017/11/06/e2f88a9e-c35d-11e7-9922-4151f5ca6168_story.html?utm_term=.8def5506febc
  6. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/call-time-congressional-fundraising_n_2427291.html
  7. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-dea-agent-opioid-crisis-fueled-by-drug-industry-and-congress/
  8. http://www.chronicle.com/article/To-Counter-Opioid-Crisis-NIH/240219?cid=wcontentlist_hp_latest