Political Economy

Obama: Drug Enforcement Wrongly Targets 'Select Few

In interview, US president echoes national call for marijuana legalization

- Lauren McCauley, CommonDreams staff writer

(Photo: Mardi_grass 2010/ cc via Flickr)

As proof that the growing consensus against the War on Drugs and the criminalization of marijuana use has reached the upper echelon's of influence, President Barack Obama said in an interview published Sunday that current drug enforcement wrongly punishes "a select few."

Tuition-Free Public College Education Is Possible. Demand It.

by Richard Long

Banner hung by students at Cooper Union College after it was announced tuition would be demanded for the first time in the school's history. (Photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr)


Obama's NSA 'Reforms' Are Little More Than a PR Attempt to Mollify the Public

Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place

by Glenn Greenwald

In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America's most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama's much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for "reforming" the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.

The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are "serious questions that have been raised". They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic "reforms" so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge.

An Occupy Wall Street Offshoot Has Its Day

by Simon Johnson

There is a tendency in recent American political discourse to use the term “populism” as a form of putdown. The implication is that that while populists may have some legitimate grievances, they are rebelling in a disorganized and ill-informed way. As President Obama implied in early 2009, the populists have pitchforks, while his administration represented the responsible mainstream.

This is an inaccurate portrayal of populism in America, both historically and today. Occupy Wall Street is a perfect example. To be sure, part of that 2011 movement was purely about expressing frustration – justified frustration – at how very powerful people in the finance sector had behaved and continue to behave. But the movement also led to an important offshoot or related development, Occupy the S.E.C., which focused on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Drugs, alcohol, crashes

by Pete Guither

There has been so much hype over concerns regarding “all the drugged drivers on the road” once marijuana is legalized, and it has been just plain dishonest. Sure, driving impaired is a bad idea regardless of the impairment. But there are many kinds of impairment and many degrees of impairment, and it’s important to know where on the risk scale this lies in order to craft useful public policy.

Driving angry is a terrible impairment, yet we are unlikely to develop a national policy of enforcing a zero-tolerance no-drive rule after getting in an argument.

We know that heavy alcohol use results in some of the highest risks of driving impairment, so it is fitting that we focus efforts on reducing drunk driving and enforcing drunk driving laws. It would be irresponsible to pull resources away from that clear danger toward a much lower risk factor.

And yet, that’s exactly what we’re doing by pushing for zero-tolerance per se laws for cannabis.

This latest study from the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs once again points out quite clearly this fact.

Net Neutrality Is Dead—Here's How to Get It Back

by Craig Aaron

(Image: FreePress.net)

An appeals court just dealt the latest blow to the open Internet. Three judges in D.C. just killed Net Neutrality.

This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn't have to be.

America Is Still a Deeply Racist Country

Gone is the overt, violent, and legal racism of my childhood in the 1960s. It's been replaced by a subtler, still ugly version

by Chris Arnade

A week after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, I walked into my old hometown bar in central Florida to hear, "Well if a nigger can be president, then I can have another drink. Give me a whiskey straight up."

Only one day in the town and I thought, "Damn the south."

I had returned home to bury my father, who had spent much of the 1950s and '60s fighting for civil rights in the south. Consequently, my childhood was defined by race. It was why our car was shot at, why threats were made to burn our house down, why some neighbors forbid me to play on their lawn, why I was taunted at school as a "nigger lover".

It was nothing compared to what the blacks in town had to endure. I was just residing in the seam of something much uglier.

Coming Soon: February 11, 2014, The Day We Fight Back Against NSA Surveillance

by Rainey Reitman

In January 2006, EFF filed our first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of NSA mass surveillance.

In January 2012, the Internet rose up to protest and defeat SOPA, legislation that sought to censor the Internet in the name of copyright enforcement.

And in January of last year, we lost a dear friend and fierce digital rights advocate, Aaron Swartz. We vowed to defend the rights of Internet users everywhere in his memory.

Now we have a new challenge: ending mass surveillance by the NSA.

Chomsky Describes US Domestic Policy in Two Words: 'Pure Savagery'

Cuts to food stamps and jobless benefits predictable result of 'neoliberal assault' on American people

- Jacob Chamberlain, CommonDreams staff writer

(Photo via Flickr / tr.robinson / Creative Commons License)

As Congress decides this week whether to re-institute emergency jobless benefits for millions of Americans and closes in on negotiations for a Farm Bill that could see billions of dollars cut out of food stamp programs, renowned activist and intellectual Noam Chomsky summed up the state of American politics in an interview Thursday in two words: "pure savagery."

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