25 Jul 2014

Pass the 28th Amendment to Ensure Corporations Are Not People

James Madison and the founding generation of Americans viewed the concentration of wealth and power as the greatest threat to constitutional self-government. Today, their fear is our reality. As a result, we see a broken government responsive only to the largest corporations and privileged few. We see ordinary Americans sidelined as spectators to a big money political game. We see formidable national and global challenges exacerbated by politicians operating in a systemically corrupted system.
The Supreme Court’s series of misguided 5-4 rulings such as Citizens United v. FEC has created special rights for “things,”such as money and corporations, while constricting the right of all people to be heard, to an equal vote, to representation and participation in self-government. And while billions of dollars of special interest money, often secret, flood our political process and corrupt our government, corporations from Hobby Lobby to Monsanto to Peabody Energy increasingly deploy the new “corporate veto” in the courts to skirt even the most basic public laws.
We can despair and give up on a government of, for and by the people. Or we can do what virtually every generation of Americans before us has done when we fall short of our promise of self-government – we can renew democracy with our power to amend the Constitution. 
Constitutional amendments have always come in waves, beginning immediately after the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The convention was only able to win approval of the Constitution by the exercise of the amendment power of the people and the states. In the first four years of our new republic, Americans deployed the process required by Article V – approval by two-thirds of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states – to add the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights, to the Constitution. For good measure, Americans added the 11th Amendment in 1795, overturning a Supreme Court decision empowering private bondholders to haul states into federal court.
The next wave of Article V amendments came amid the tumult of the Civil War, with the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to end slavery, and to ensure equal protection, due process and voting rights for all, regardless of race. Three amendments in five years, and the broken promise of the American republic renewed.
At the turn of the 20th century, when concentrations of wealth and corporate power threatened liberty and self-government, Americans turned again to Article V. Three amendments between 1913 and 1920 (the 16th, 17th and 19th) reversed the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the federal income tax, ended the appointment of senators in favor of election by the people in the states, and secured the right to vote and participate in government, regardless of gender.

Canadian group brings 1,000 litres of Canadian water to citizens in bankrupt Detroit, as part of protest

A caravan of Canadians bringing jugs with 1,000 litres of water arrived in Detroit on Thursday afternoon in a symbolic protest against the bankrupt city shutting off water to residents who haven’t paid their bills.
Eleven vehicles passed through the Detroit Windsor Tunnel under the Detroit River. The Canadians rallied outside City Hall before heading for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to deliver the water. 
The water will be stored behind the church’s sanctuary for people needing water after city shutoffs, said the Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman.
Once the Canadian water is all distributed, “we’ll be filling gallon jugs from our tap,” he said.
Wylie-Kellerman said his church will be a water station and said there will be several more like it in the city.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has stepped up collection efforts for residential and business water service, and water shutoffs rose from 500 in March to 7,200 in June. People lose water if they’re more than 60 days behind or owe $150. The average overdue bill is $540.
Through June, more than 90,000 residential and business customers owed nearly $90 million.
The city suspended shutoffs Monday for 15 days to allow more time to educate customers on payment plans to catch up on their bills.
Human rights groups have appealed the shutoffs to the United Nations, and the judge in Detroit’s bankruptcy case said the shutoffs were hurting the city’s image.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Unitarian Universalist Service Committee delivered national petitions opposing the shutoffs to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, emergency manager Kevyn Orr and the water department’s executive director.

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