How to Get Our Democracy Back: Lawrence Lessig Says “If We Want to Change, We Have to Change Congress”
In a cover story of The Nation magazine, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig writes, “At the center of our government lies a bankrupt institution: Congress. Not financially bankrupt, at least not yet, but politically bankrupt.” He goes on to argue that, “Congress is the core of the problem with American democracy today. In a single line: There will be no change until we change Congress.”
Lawrence Lessig, professor of law at Harvard Law School. Co-founder of the nonprofit Change Congress. His cover story in The Nation is titled, How to Get Our Democracy Back
JUAN GONZALEZ: President Obama issued a rare rebuke to the Supreme Court during his State of the Union address last month over its decision in the Citizens United case. The Court’s landmark ruling allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates.
- PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections. I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I’d urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.
Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters Speaks Out in Support of Gaza Freedom March, Blasts Israeli-Egyptian “Siege” of Gaza
Hat tip: Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the world famous British musician Roger Waters. He’s best known as a founding member, bassist, singer, songwriter for the iconic rock band called Pink Floyd. The band is perhaps best known for their record The Wall.
Well, Roger Waters is also a supporter of the Gaza Freedom March and an outspoken critic of Israel’s separation wall with the West Bank and the underground wall Egypt’s building with Gaza that Ali Abunimah was just talking about.
Democracy Now!’s Miguel Nogueira spoke with Roger Waters this weekend and asked him about Gaza.
ROGER WATERS: We implore the Egyptian government to allow this peaceful, nonviolent protest at the siege of this country to proceed. I have a feeling they will. This again points to the power, or the potential power, of this demonstration. I think the Egyptian government may find that if they deny this due process of the rights of human beings to peacefully protest when they see a crime being committed, then they will find themselves on very dangerous shifting sands and put into a very difficult position themselves. So this again speaks to the fact that the organizing committee of the Freedom March on Gaza have already achieved—even before they start, they’ve achieved, to some extent, their aim, because this is becoming big news around the world, and it will become bigger and bigger news.
hat tip: Opednews.com
By mike ferner
No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of “crowd control munitions,” including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week’s G-20 protests.
Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (most transported on Port Authority buses displaying “PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD”), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreacting”and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.
Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
Mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), I saw the LRAD in action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians, merchants and journalists and drove residents into their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie you didn’t want to be in.
As intimidating as this massive show of armed force and technology was, the good burghers of Pittsburgh and their fellow citizens in the Land of the Brave and Home of the Free ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Tear gas and pepper spray are nothing to sniff at and, indeed, have proven fatal a surprising number of times, but they have now become the old standbys compared to the list below that’s already at or coming soon to a police station or National Guard headquarters near you. Proving that “what goes around, comes around,” some of the new Property Protection Devices were developed by a network of federally-funded, university-based research institutes like one in Pittsburgh itself, Penn State’s Institute for Non-Lethal Defense Technologies.
Raytheon Corp.’s Active Denial System, designed for crowd control in combat zones, uses an energy beam to induce an intolerable heating sensation, like a hot iron placed on the skin. It is effective beyond the range of small arms, in excess of 400 meters. Company officials have been advised they could expand the market by selling a smaller, tripod-mounted version for police forces.
Hat tip: Democracy Now!
Jeremy Scahill reports the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes and dousing them with chemicals. This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal.
Guest: Jeremy Scahill, award-winning investigative journalist and author of the bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com. His latest article written for Alternet is titled ‘Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama’
AMY GOODMAN: A coalition of advocacy groups have launched a campaign to disbar twelve former Bush administration attorneys connected to the administration’s torture program. The coalition, called the Velvet Revolution, filed legal ethics complaints with state bar associations Monday, saying the twelve attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by approving interrogation methods, including waterboarding, that constituted torture.
While there’s been a lot of focus on torture under the Bush administration, what about under President Obama? In a new article, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill writes the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, including gang-beating them, breaking their bones, gouging their eyes, dousing them with chemicals.
This force, officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force, has been labeled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Guantanamo prisoners, and human rights lawyers call their actions illegal, Jeremy writes.
Jeremy Scahill is an award-winning investigative journalist, author of the bestselling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. His writing and reporting is available at RebelReports.com.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Jeremy.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Thanks, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, describe what you call as this “little known military thug squad.”
JEREMY SCAHILL: When the Bush administration established the US prison camp at Guantanamo, of course, we know well that they set up a system where detainees were going to be systematically tortured. And, of course, Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats were briefed on this program, despite what they’re saying right now.
And while much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantanamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force that was torturing prisoners in a variety of ways, including waterboarding them, and that is this riot squad of sorts that you referred to called the Immediate Reaction Force. The prisoners and their lawyers at Guantanamo call it the “Extreme Repression Force.”