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The Commission on Presidential Debates, controlled by members of the Democratic and Republican parties, took over the work of organizing televised debates in 1987, when they effectively pushed out the League of Women Voters. The Commission, funded by multi-national corporations, unabashedly represents the interests of the two major political parties, a fact which is evident in their setting a 15 percent threshold of support in selected national opinion polls to qualify third party candidates to participate in this year's debates.
This 15 percent litmus test has not always been part of the debate rules. Reform party candidate Ross Perot was included in the 1992 presidential debates although he had less than 15 percent support. Perot went on to win 19 percent of the popular vote. Former pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura was included in Minnesota's 1998 gubernatorial debates with only 10 percent support. He was elected governor. In the view of many observers, inclusion in televised debates is critical for lesser-known and underfunded candidates to get their message out to voters.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Jeff Milchen, director of Reclaim Democracy.org, who discusses why he believes there is an urgent need to establish a truly nonpartisan and publicly accountable debate commission.
Contact the ReclaimDemocracy.org by calling (303) 402-0105 or visit the their Web site at www.reclaimdemocracy.org.
Close to 400 demonstrators were arrested during the actions in Philadelphia, including 75 who were picked up in the puppet warehouse raid. The police infiltrators had stated that protesters in the warehouse were constructing devices to block traffic, an allegation denied by the activists who say they were only making puppets for demonstrations in an art studio. Court documents also state that police believed that funding for the protests came from "Communist and leftist parties," some allied with groups connected to the former Soviet Union. Police set unprecedented amounts of bail for many of those arrested on misdemeanor charges. Some identified as leaders were held on as much as $1 million bond until the court ordered reductions. Additionally, law enforcement was engaged in monitoring telephones and e-mail communication.
Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Bradley Bridge, an attorney with Philadelphia's Public Defenders office representing some of those arrested, who condemns the use of police infiltrators and Cold War era propaganda to disrupt and discredit the activities of social justice activists.
Contact Philadelphia's Public Defenders office by calling (215) 568-3190. To offer support contact the R2K Legal Collective at (215) 704-0911.
See www.philly.com for Philadelphia Inquirer stories (Note: Search by writer's last name in their archive if these links are not still active:
In New York to attend the Millennium Summit at the United Nations, Fidel Castro was accompanied by his translator and Cuba's National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon. The U.S. originally denied a visa to Alarcon but he was allowed entry at the last moment.
The Cuban leader spoke for almost four hours about the urgent need to abolish world hunger, curable childhood diseases -- particularly in sub-Saharan Africa -- and the hypocrisy of world powers that reap the benefits from developing nations but do little to assist the downtrodden.
Castro even mentioned the infamous handshake between himself and President Clinton, noting that the press focused on that and not the substance of his Millennium Speech. In closing, Castro spoke about Elian Gonzalez, who he said is back in his modest home with his family in Cardenas. Here we present an excerpt of the speech focusing on world trade.
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