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Democracy in Crisis: The indictment of journalist Aaron Cantú portends grim future for First Amendment

Dozens of defendants, each sitting with their own lawyer, fill a Washington, D.C. courtroom, looking like college students wearing their nicest clothes for a job interview. It is far more serious than that. They are all facing charges of felony rioting, conspiracy to riot and destruction of property on the morning of Donald Trump’s inauguration, when they were scooped up en masse by police with a controversial crowd-control technique which corrals protesters in a “kettle.” […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Reinventing the underground part 1 — A countercultural exorcism

Standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, poet and provocateur Ed Sanders shouts “Out demons, out!,” his arms raised in clenched fists above his head, a computer bag hanging from the shoulder of his powder-blue sports coat. With a wild halo of white hair exploding from his balding pate, small glasses perched upon his crinkled button nose and a drooping mustache, Sanders looks like a wild elder statesmen, the Benjamin Franklin of an alternate United States. […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Whose autocracy is it anyway?

I.
FBI Director James Comey was speaking to federal agents when news of his firing flashed across the television behind him.

The regime blamed new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and cited Comey’s treatment of the Clinton email investigation — as if daring us to pretend they are telling the truth.

II.
More than 200 people arrested en masse on Inauguration Day are now facing decades in jail. Authorities issued search warrants and slapped others, like Dylan Petrohilos, with conspiracy charges after the fact. “Prosecuting people based on participation in a public protest,” Petrohilos said, “seems like something that would happen in an authoritarian society.” […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Populism, belonging and inside jokes at Trump’s reality show rally

It’s hard to know what to make of these post-election Trump rallies. The latest one, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was intended to celebrate his first 100 days in office. It also served as a distraction from the People’s Climate March, which brought hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to D.C., and the White House correspondents’ dinner, which […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Which science were we marching for, exactly?

Twenty years ago I was arrested for occupying the office of Sen. Pete Domenici in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The senator and one-time segregationist Dixiecrat presidential candidate Strom Thurmond had threatened to defund the Environmental Protection Agency if it did not approve the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

The idea was that if you put nuclear waste in a big hole in the ground, it could be contained, sealed and isolated for thousands of years. Some studies showed it would work, but the EPA wanted additional studies. The senators wanted to move forward sending waste in trucks through our cities and then burying it deep in salt caverns in New Mexico, where some at the EPA worried it could leak. […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Roger Stone on the failed war on drugs and his Nixon-shaped bongs

Roger Stone has two bongs shaped like his hero, Richard Nixon. “One’s in the shape of his head, the other is kind of more artsy,” he said. “They’re both very cool but they’re a symbol to me that the war on drugs, as waged by Nixon, was a failure. Is a failure.”

Stone, the famous Republican dirty-trickster dandy who first came to public attention when a stunt to discredit a Nixon opponent came to light in the Watergate hearings, is as responsible for Trump’s ascent to the presidency as anyone. He has been urging Trump to run since the late 1980s and was an early manager of last year’s campaign. He saw Nixon’s anti-elitism as key to a future Republican victory — and was proven right when he helped a billionaire ride to the White House on the back of resentment against “the establishment.” He has a long history of racist and sexist remarks and founded an organization — Citizens United Not Timid — so he could call Hillary Clinton a “cunt.” […]

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Democracy in Crisis: Trump, Putin and propaganda

The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned three experts on Russian active measures, or propaganda, campaigns Thursday morning. One of them, Clint Watts, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute and George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, made it clear that the propaganda campaign was successful because of Trump’s use of similar tactics. When asked […]

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