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Isocracy Newsletter #12, March 30, 2010

Isocracy Newsletter #12, March 30, 2010

"I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law."
Martin Luther King, Jnr.

Changes in Government

Votes and allocation of seats according to provincial votes in Iraq have been concluded with the Ayad Allawi (former interim Prime Minister during the handover of sovereignty). Allawi's secular Iraqi National Movement or Iraqiya List received 25.87% of the vote and 91 seats. In second place was incumbent Prime Minister's Nouri al-Maliki's Shi'ite influenced State of Law coalition, receiving 25.76% of the vote and 70 seats. In third place Ibrahim al-Jaafari's largely Islamist National Iraqi Alliance received 19.43% and 70 seats. In fourth place the Kurdistan List, a Kurdish nationalist and centre-left "brotherhood" received 14.37% of the vote and 43 seats. Turnout for the election was 62.4%.

In Colombia on March 14, the coalition led by the Party of the U (led by incumbent President Alvaro Uribe) have won large majorities in both chambers of the National Congress. The two major parties supporting Uribe, the Party of the U (25.17%) and the Conservative Party (20.6%), won 27 and 23 seats, respectively in the Senate. The opposition Liberals (15.8%) won 18 seats. In fourth place the National Integration Party, also allied to Uribe, won 8 seats (8.13%). In the Chamber, the Uribist coalition won 48 deputies (38 to the Conservative Party); the Liberal opposition won 39 deats.

In Europe, bars have been put in place blocking Wall Street banks from the highly lucrative selling of government bonds, resulting in only one US bank (Morgan Stanley) appearing in the top ten among sovereign bond bookrunners. European governments apparently do not trust the risk-taking Wall Street banks with issues of financial stability. In addition, the European Union is considering establishing its own monetary fund in competition to the U.S. IMF and as a response to the Greek financial crisis.

With 20% unemployment and a GDP of -18%, the Latvian government has collapsed as the centre-right People's Party, the largest member of a five-party coalition, walked out of the government over debate on how to manage the economic problems. Remaining members of the coalition include other centre-right parties; the New Era Party, the Civic Union, the Union of Greens and Farmers, and the For Fatherland and Freedom Party.

International News

Twice this month Israel has announced expansions in the occupied territories in Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, the first announced during a visit by U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden. The Palestinian authority is skeptical that the U.S. can, or will, do anything about this despite criticism - and the signing of an arms deal; almost 300 members of the U.S. congress have argued that "an unbreakable bond" exists between the United States and Israel.

Health Care reform has been passed in the United States, following many months of bitter debate. The bill passed with only three votes to spare, 219-212, with 34 Democrats voting against it. The bill creates access for some 32 million Americans without health care insurance, thus making it the closest example of universal health care that the U.S. has seen. The bill does not include a public insurance option, nor does it include a single-payer system for medications and federal funding for abortion has been removed by executive order. Members of congress who supported the bill were faced with racial and other abuse, and death threats when it was passed.

There has been an upsurge in violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the last fortnight. The Pakistani government organised military airstrike which they claimed killed 61 alleged Taliban militants near the Aghanistan border. Another 11 alleged militants were killed by U.S. drones in NW Pakistan. Further, a roadside bomb has killed six in Afghanistan. U.S. casulties in Afghanistan have doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to 2009. Meanwhile, Afghanistan continues to suffer with one of the worst levels of maternal mortality.

Violence has continued in Somalia with 17 killed in the Mudug region over dispute over land and water rights. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, over thirty thousand have fled Mogadishu due to conflict between government forces and the Al-Shabaab militia. Although an accord has been signed with more moderate forces led by the Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca (ASWJ) faction, heavy fighting continues throughout the capital.

Article: How defenders of slavery mothballed a constitutional right

When it comes to complexity, The First Amendment is rivaled perhaps only by the 14th Amendment. There are voluminous bodies of law attached to a number of brief clauses; non-establishment of religion by law, free exercise of religion, free speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom of assembly. Any one of those clauses have been the subject of many important court rulings.

Then there is this odd clause at the very end - to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It’s rarely discussed in legal treatises and there are precious few cases where the “Petition Clause” is at issue.

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