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Maine House of Representatives votes merger with Senate

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Is the bicameral legislature a legacy of the era of wealthy landowners?
clipped from freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com
Freakonomics - New York Times Blog

Consolidate That Government!

[…] Maine’s House of Representatives voted this week to merge itself with the state Senate, creating one unicameral body, potentially saving taxpayers $11 million each two-year legislative session. But the cost savings are secondary, supporters of the plan say, to the real goal of bringing state government into line with modern times. Maine state representative Joseph Wagner called the state Senate a “colonial legacy” of the state’s early days, in which the upper chamber was “a council of [the state’s] wealthiest landowners.” […]

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That’s a pile of money saved for other things.  Wonder how the new body would be elected—like a Senate or a House—for that decision will shape who holds the power.

How does it strike you?

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Written by Monte

June 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

Posted in Politics

Senator Grassley, give us a choice

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Here’s the ad that Health Care for America has begun running across the nation. This is the Iowa version.

Multiple polls from news organizations and even anti-reform groups unanimously agree that nearly three of every four Americans want a public option to compete with insurance companies.  Even among Republicans, 50% favor it.

Our own Sen. Grassley, unfortunately, may be the most influential opponent of the public option in the Senate.  Insurance companies stand to make billions off the Grassley approach.

But ordinary Iowans want a choice.  Care to write Sen. Grassley (or another Senator or Representative) a note?  Click in the contact box in the right sidebar.

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Amnesty USA volunteers help stop anti-Palestinian amendment

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Bad news to good news!

Last Friday, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the budget bill prohibiting use of any of its funds for assistance to refugees who resettle in the USA—if they happen to be from Gaza.  When I heard of it, I thought, “What on earth?  Why would he …?” And then, “Ohhh, no.”

Yesterday, it became clear that the amendment was heading for a vote.  Amnesty USA emailed its network, of which I am proud to be a part.  Here’s what we learned:

clipped from blog.amnestyusa.org

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home, March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip , March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians: Keep out?

Middle East, Refugees, United States | Posted by: Christoph Koettl, March 9, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Should Palestinians from Gaza be treated differently under US refugee law? According to Senator Jon Kyl (R – AZ), the answer is yes.

Last Friday, Senator Kyl introduced an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which adds the following line:

“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available to resettle Palestinians from Gaza into the United States.” […]

Contrary to a policy of 30 years, which extends protection to refugees on the basis of need, this amendment seeks to discriminate against an entire group based on nationality alone

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Now the good stuff. Today, I (along with many others) received this email message:

Hi,

We wanted to send you a quick update on last night’s Gaza refugee vote. Thanks to your quick mobilization in which over 16,000 of you faxed letters in a span of just two hours, Senator Kyl withdrew his discriminatory amendment.

A bipartisan group of several Senators including Leahy (VT), Kerry (MA) and Gregg (NH) stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke out against the amendment. Your faxes together with our champions on this issue applied enough political pressure for Senator Kyl to just withdraw the amendment completely.

Again, this was one of those moments when together we really made the difference. Thanks again.

— Sarnata, Steve, Zahir, Edie and the rest of the team here at AIUSA

Ya – hoo!

Yes! We can make a difference!

Check out AmnestyUSA if you’d like to add your voice.  Let’s make a nation that treats its neighbors the way we’d want them to treat us, were we in their shoes.


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Written by Monte

March 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture: US “has a clear obligation” to prosecute Bush, Rumsfeld

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Apparently, international law (which is, in this case, US law as well) is pretty clear.
clipped from thinkprogress.org
In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:

bushrummyweb.jpg

Rumsfeld, Bush

“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it. […]

Indeed, a bipartisan Senate report released last month found that Rumsfeld “bore major responsibility” for abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers […]

[L]ast week, a Bush administration official overseeing Gitmo trials said Rumsfeld approved the torture of one particular detainee.

Bush himself said last year that […] he personally authorized waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammad […]

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I wonder how the USA could demand compliance by any nation to any treaty obligation if it doesn’t fulfill its own solemn obligations in this case.

If we can look away when torture suits the leaders of the moment, can’t everyone? If we can find lawyers who’ll write opinions excusing our leaders when they feel torture appropriate, can’t everyone?

Robert Mugabe will see himself and the USA as birds of a feather.


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UN inspector: US on brink of war with Iran

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“Like flicking matches” at gasoline: Scott Ritter, UN weapons inspector who opposed the Iraq invasion (and was correct about the absence of WMD), believes Bush is prepping for another war. Click through on the link for details.
clipped from www.commondreams.org
0120 05 1Scott Ritter, one of the former United Nations inspectors who didn’t find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, denounced the Bush administration for going to war with WMDs as the primary rationale in March 2003. Now he fears the United States is on the brink of war with Iran.Ritter points to a military buildup in the region, the so-called threats to the U.S. Navy from Iranian speed boats last week and a U.S. Senate resolution that labels elements of Iran as a terrorist organization.“It’s like filling up a house with gasoline and flicking matches at the door,” Ritter said. “Sooner or later it will connect.”. . .

His conclusion: “What’s really going on is a road map for global domination. The war in Iraq initiated a long-term strategy neo conservatives have been formulating to divide the world into spheres of influence and dominate them economically, militarily and diplomatically.”
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Written by Monte

January 20, 2008 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics