Rachel's Democracy & Health News #868
Thursday, August 17, 2006
From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #868 ..........[This story printer-friendly]
August 16, 2006
BUSINESS AS USUAL, PART 1
[Rachel's introduction: "Species-area relationships lead to projections of the loss of fully two-thirds of all species on Earth by the end of this century.... And these projections do not include the inevitably negative effects of climate change, widespread pollution, and the destruction caused by alien species worldwide, among other factors."]
By Peter Montague
Peter H. Raven, a well-known biologist, was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) during 2002. With 10 million members and affiliates, the AAAS is the largest scientific organization in the U.S.; it publishes Science magazine.
Dr. Raven's presidential address to the academy in 2002 is a succinct statement of where business as usual has carried us. In 2003, Dr. Raven presented a companion paper to the Natural History Museum in London, England. Here we summarize what he had to say in those two papers. [I have added a few comments in the text, inside square brackets. --P.M.]
[As you read through this description of the world we are handing to our children, ask yourself, "If the environmental movement got everything it is seeking, would it make a real difference in the problems described here? Have we set our sights high enough? Have we focused our minds on the real root causes?"]
In 1950, the human population of Earth was 2.5 billion. A mere 50 years later it had grown to 6 billion. The human population is expected to level off at 9 billion some time during this century. [This will require 50% more of everything that we enjoy today -- 50% more cities, hospitals, roads, parks, prisons, parking lots, trucks, sewage treatment plants, farms and factories. If the human standard of living rises during that time, even more will be needed.]
[How will things look when the human population has grown 50% larger?]
To support 6 billion people, each year we are dousing our crops with 3 million metric tonnes (6.6 billion pounds) of pesticidal chemicals (1.1 billion pounds in the U.S. alone). Another byproduct of our industrial agricultural system, Dr. Raven says, is that "We also are poisoning the environment with the nitrogen we fix, our output now exceeding the total derived from natural processes." [This deserves a brief explanation: We "fix" nitrogen gas from the atmosphere, turning it into a solid, and mix it into soils as fertilizer to stimulate plant growth. Much of this nitrogen washes out of the soil and enters streams, eventually reaching the oceans, where it stimulates growth of algae, disrupting near-shore ecosystems with "red tides" and "brown tides," and contributes to the death of corals, among other disruptions. Humans are now putting more nitrogen into soils and water than all non-human natural processes combined. By this measure we humans are now more powerful than all the rest of nature -- quite an astonishing accomplishment for a single species among the 10 million (or more) species on earth.]
Human crops now require cultivated lands the size of South America. "Most of the land used for agriculture and grazing, especially in the tropics and subtropics, is being degraded by these activities and is therefore becoming less sustainable and productive in the face of increasing worldwide demand for high-quality food." Furthermore, "only limited potential remains for expanding the area of land under cultivation."
And, says Dr. Raven, "The rangelands on which some 180 million of us graze 3.3 billion cattle, sheep, and goats occupy about a fifth of the world's land surface; although there is a rapidly increasing demand for animal protein, "in almost every case, the lands on which they are being grazed are being progressively degraded to such an extent that they are unlikely to be able to maintain their present levels of productivity, much less of biodiversity, in the future," says Dr. Raven.
...[A]bout 20% of the arable land in 1950 has been lost subsequently, to salinization [from salt left in the soil by irrigation], desertification, urban sprawl, erosion, and other factors, so that we are feeding 6.3 billion people today on about four-fifths of the land on which we were feeding 2.5 billion people in 1950....
In sum, says Dr. Raven, "Over the past half century, we have lost about a fifth of the world's topsoil, a fifth of its agricultural land, and a third of its forests." By the middle of the present century, 95% of tropical moist forests are expected to be lost. Furthermore, "habitats throughout the world have [already] been decimated, with populations of alien plants and animals exploding and causing enormous damage throughout the world."
"About two-thirds of the world's fisheries are being harvested beyond sustainability," says Dr. Raven. And, "Almost all major fisheries are under severe pressure...."
"We have changed the composition of the atmosphere profoundly, first by adding about one sixth to the carbon dioxide that is contributing substantially to driving global temperatures upward and second, by depleting the stratospheric ozone layer by about 8 per cent."
...[W]e [humans] are consuming more than half of the total renewable supplies of fresh water in the world, our use of water growing at about twice the rate of our population growth. Our demands for water are growing rapidly, while water tables across north China, India, and other critical, densely populated regions are dropping rapidly.
Agriculture accounts for about 90% of the total water actually consumed for human purposes, and it is not clear how we shall be able to find water for a human population 50% larger than at present, one with greatly increased demands for affluence. As it is, about half the human population, some 3.5 billion people, will be living in regions facing severe water shortages by 2025.
"The most troublesome environmental change of all, in that it is irreversible, is the loss of biodiversity." Historically, extinction has occurred naturally at the rate of about one species lost per million species each year. "Historical records over the past few centuries demonstrate that it has now risen by approximately three orders of magnitude, to perhaps 1,000 species per million per year (0.1 per cent of all species per year), and it continues to rise sharply, with the accelerating destruction of habitats throughout the world," Dr. Raven says.
"Species-area relationships, taken worldwide, lead to projections of the loss of fully two-thirds of all species on Earth by the end of this century.... And these projections do not include the inevitably negative effects of climate change, widespread pollution, and the destruction caused by alien species worldwide, among other factors."
[Did you get that? Two-thirds of all species on Earth may disappear during this century -- and this projection does not take into consideration the effects of climate change, widespread pollution, and the destruction caused by alient species worldwide.]
"The significance of such a loss for global stability as well as human progress is staggering," says Dr. Raven.
He goes on: "Striking is the fact that we are likely never to have seen, or to be aware of, the existence of most of the species we are driving to extinction. In tropical moist forest, we have catalogued so far probably fewer than one in twenty of the species present -- which is one reason that the losses are so tragic. The loss of so many species clearly will have a negative impact on future human prospects. We derive all of our food; most of our medicines; a major proportion of our building materials, clothing, chemical feedstocks; and other useful products from the living world."
In addition, the communities and ecosystems that it comprises protect our watersheds, stabilize our soils, determine our climates and provide the insects that pollinate our crops, among many other ecosystem services.
And finally, says Dr. Raven, these organisms are simply beautiful, enriching our lives in many ways and inspiring us every day. By any moral or ethical standard, we simply do not have the right to destroy them, and yet we are doing it savagely, relentlessly, and at a rapidly increasing rate, every day. Many believe, and I agree with them, that we simply do not have the right to destroy what is such a high proportion of the species on Earth. They are, as far as we know, our only living companions in the universe, Dr. Raven says.
"Summarizing, we can see that the world has been converted in an instant of time from a wild, natural one to one in which human beings, one of an estimated 10 million species of organisms (possibly many more), are consuming, wasting, or diverting an estimated 45 percent of the total net biological productivity on land and using more than half of the renewable fresh water."
Dr. Raven says, "The scales and kinds of changes in the Earth's life support systems are so different from what they have ever been before that we cannot base our predictions of the future, much less chart our future courses of action, on the basis of what has happened in the past."
[Continued next week.]
From: The Associated Press State & Local Wire ........[This story printer-friendly]
August 15, 2006
STUDY: PEOPLE NEAR DOW CHEMICAL PLANT HAVE HIGHER DIOXIN LEVELS
[Rachel's introduction: A new study shows that people living near Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland, Michigan are contaminated with dioxin, one of the two or three most potent poisons known to science.]
By John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer
Residents of some areas near the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland, Mich., have higher levels of dioxins in their bodies than people studied elsewhere, a University of Michigan study found [13 Mbytes PDF]. [The study has its own web site.]
The report, released Tuesday, is "the first major study to show exactly how much exposure to dioxin people have in this area and how the dioxins get into their bodies," said David Garabrant, an epidemiologist and specialist in occupational and emergency medicine, who led the inquiry.
Dow funded the study, which focused on sections of Midland and Saginaw counties near its plant. Dioxins, a group of toxins, were generated by company processes over several decades. One of the chemicals is known to cause cancer.
The study found that people in one of the areas studied, the Tittabawassee River floodplain, had 28 percent higher median levels of "dioxin-like chemicals" in their blood than members of a comparison group in Jackson and Calhoun counties.
Those counties were chosen because they are near the Midland-Saginaw area but more than 100 miles from the plant.
Older people tended to have higher dioxin levels, the study found.
It also linked the elevated levels with eating foods such as fish from tainted waters and living where the soil is contaminated.
From: Congressional Quarterly ............................[This story printer-friendly]
August 2, 2006
EPA CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
Testimony before U.S. Senate Committee on Senate Environment and Public Works
[Rachel's introduction: "The U.S. private sector is simply not investing vigorously enough in cleaner technologies, such as green chemistry, that are likely to mark the next era of innovation and growth in the global chemicals market. With very few exceptions one can still earn a Ph.D. in chemistry at U.S. universities without demonstrating even a rudimentary understanding of how chemicals affect human health and the environment."]
By Michael P. Wilson
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you very much for inviting me to the hearing today on chemicals policy and the Toxic Substances Control Act. I am Michael Wilson, an assistant research scientist with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of California (UC), Berkeley and the lead author of a report regarding chemical problems in California and the steps the California Legislature can take to respond to those problems.
I will speak briefly about the report, entitled Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation, which was published by the University of California in March of this year. I would like to acknowledge co-authors Daniel Chia and Bryan Ehlers and the Advisory Committee of experts that provided technical guidance and rigorous review of the document over a two-year period.
The report responds to three questions posed to the University by the California Legislature:
--What are the key chemical challenges facing California?
--What are the causes of those challenges?
--How might the Legislature respond to those challenges?
In answering these questions, we found that California, like other U.S. states, is facing an array of problems with chemicals. These problems are experienced in different ways by the businesses in our state that purchase and use chemicals, by our government agencies, and by consumers and workers. But three themes emerged out of our investigation. First, there is insufficient information in the marketplace to make informed decisions abut chemicals.
Second, government is overly constrained in its capacity to protect public and environmental health from chemicals.
And third, more needs to be done to motivate investment in safer chemical technologies, known as "green chemistry." While the focus of the report is on the challenges that exist in California, the report finds that the root cause of these challenges can be traced to longstanding deficiencies in federal regulation, particularly with the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. The report illustrates that the weaknesses of TSCA have produced a Data Gap, a Safety Gap, and a Technology Gap in the U.S. chemicals market. I would like to briefly explain these three Gaps and their relevance to chemicals policy in the U.S.
The first of these, the Data Gap, is perhaps the most fundamental. As you have heard from other witnesses, TSCA does not require chemical producers (U.S. or foreign) to generate and disclose robust information on the toxicity of the vast majority of chemicals in commercial circulation. Markets cannot function without good information, and the chemicals market is no different. We found that California businesses that use chemicals are unable to identify and choose the safest chemicals for their needs. This leaves them with uncertainties and liabilities arising from the potential effects of these chemicals on their workers, on their customers, and in the environment. Even large firms, such as those in California's electronics industry, are finding it very difficult and expensive to identify and replace hazardous chemicals in their supply chains. These firms simply do not have the right kind information to identify safer chemical alternatives. Of course, small business owners, workers, and consumers are affected even more acutely by the lack of appropriate information in the chemicals market.
This pervasive lack of information also poses a barrier to the competitive advantage of innovative companies that are investing in green chemistry. In the current chemicals market, customers, investors and others are unable to efficiently differentiate between conventional chemicals and safer alternatives. The report finds that green chemistry will become commercially viable only when the market allows these entities to make informed purchasing decisions. It is one of the proper roles of government to ensure that the market has sufficient information to function properly, and in this regard, TSCA has come up short.
The second challenge recognized in the report is the Safety Gap. It is also a proper function of government to ensure that the production and use of goods does not come at the expense of public and environmental health. Here again, TSCA has fallen short. It is well recognized that U.S. EPA has been greatly constrained in it ability to assess the hazards of chemicals in commercial circulation and to control those of greatest concern. This has allowed hazardous chemicals to remain competitive in the market, and it has unnecessarily put the public at risk. It is also costly. For example, the EPA expects that if production and regulatory practices remain the same, 600 new hazardous waste sites will appear in the U.S. each month of every year over the next 25 years; clean-up costs are estimated at over $250 billion. The CDC reports that about half of the top 50 chemicals at existing waste sites can cause birth defects; others are toxic to the human nervous system.
Other social costs of chemical exposures are more subtle. There is evidence that hundreds of chemicals are accumulating in the human body. Some of these -- including flame retardants, wood preservatives, and stain repellants -- have been identified in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Of course, the effects of chemical exposures during the uniquely sensitive period of human development are of great concern. Furthermore, chemical exposures in the workplace continue to produce a substantial burden of occupational disease in the U.S. In California, about 23,000 workers each year are diagnosed with chronic diseases that are attributable to chemical exposures on the job. The Safety Gap created by TSCA is allowing real problems to continue unchecked, problems that will likely expand as global chemical production doubles over the next 25 years.
Together, the Data Gap and Safety Gap are contributing to stagnant conditions in the U.S. chemicals market. This is producing what we characterize in the report as a U.S. chemical Technology Gap. Only 248 new chemicals introduced since 1979 have reached High Production Volume status in the U.S., about 8% of the High Production Volume chemicals in commercial circulation today. In its 1996 Vision 2020 report, the U.S.-based Council for Chemical Research, together with the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemistry Council, and the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, wrote that the vast majority of chemical products are manufactured in the U.S. using technologies developed 40 to 50 years ago and that new technologies are needed that incorporate economical and environmentally safer processes, use less energy, and produce fewer harmful byproducts. Ten years after the Vision 2020 report, the websites of the 50 largest U.S. chemical companies all contain a statement of commitment to achieving sustainability goals, but their spending on research and development has decreased or remained flat since 2000, according to the National Science Foundation.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the Committee on Grand Challenges for Sustainability in the Chemical Industry, convened by the National Academy of Sciences, concluded in its December 2005 report that in "going forward, the chemical industry is faced with a major conundrum the need to be sustainable (balanced economically, environmentally, and socially in order to not undermine the natural systems on which it depends) and a lack of a more coordinated effort to generate the science and technology to make it all possible." The committee included academic scientists as well as representatives of Dow, PPG Industries, ConocoPhillips, and Agraquest.
The U.S. private sector is simply not investing vigorously enough in cleaner technologies, such as green chemistry, that are likely to mark the next era of innovation and growth in the global chemicals market. It is a reflection of the current state of the chemicals market (and the Technology Gap in particular) that with very few exceptions one can still earn a Ph.D. in chemistry at U.S. universities without demonstrating even a rudimentary understanding of how chemicals affect human health and the environment. U.S. chemistry graduate students are not required to gain an understanding of the principles of toxicology. This is a serious problem not only for public and environmental health but for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. chemical industry itself, as noted last year by the NAS Grand Challenges committee.
So what is to be done? First, our report acknowledges that the U.S. chemical industry generates important benefits for society in the form of an extraordinary array of substances serving all sectors of the economy. At the same time, our report finds increasing evidence that many of these substances can adversely affect human health and disrupt the biological systems on which life itself depends. This is precisely what makes chemicals policy so difficult. Some of the properties that make chemicals useful to society also make them hazardous to people. Once we acknowledge this paradox, however, we can begin to think about how to re-design the production and regulatory systems so that they amplify the positive contributions of chemicals to society while steadily reducing their negative impacts. This represents a system that is founded on the principles of green chemistry. It essentially introduces the toxicity of chemicals into the market on an equal footing with price and function, and in doing so it moves the market steadily toward the design, production, and use of chemicals that are inherently safer for people and ecological systems.
In short, a fundamental overhaul of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act is needed. A modern U.S. chemicals policy will need to put in place the market conditions that advance the technical and commercial viability of green chemistry. These new market conditions will begin to motivate the chemical industry to focus its enormous talent and technical capacity on innovating green chemistry at a level commensurate with the scale and pace of chemical production. It will open new market opportunities for green chemistry entrepreneurs. It will not, however, be achieved through voluntary initiatives by the industry, nor will it be achieved by piecemeal approaches to chemicals policy, or by providing occasional funding to universities to conduct green chemistry research. While these can help identify best practices, for example, they are not sufficient -- even collectively -- to correct the uneven playing field in the chemicals market that has been engendered by TSCA.
The UC report recommends that correcting these market flaws will require a comprehensive approach to chemicals policy that closes the Data Gap, the Safety Gap and the Technology Gap. This is the key challenge of chemicals policy for California and the nation, and I think it is reasonable to conclude that it is a fairly formidable challenge. Meeting this challenge, however, will deliver real value to the American people. It will build the foundation for an economically and environmentally sustainable chemical industry in the U.S; it will solve a host of costly chemical problems that are affecting public health, businesses, and government; and it will support our industry leaders in becoming globally competitive in green chemistry and other cleaner technologies. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you very much for your attention today, and thank you again for inviting me to this important hearing. I would be pleased to answer any question you might have.
From: WorkingForChange ....................................[This story printer-friendly]
August 10, 2006
FOIA AT FORTY: PUBLIC SERVICE OR POTENTIAL THREAT?
[Rachel's introduction: The Bush administration has awarded $1 million for a study aimed at limiting information available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act. Those of us who value freedom of information had better take steps to defend it.]
By Bill Berkowitz
Although the Air Force Research Laboratory million dollar grant given to Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, to devise new ways to limit making information available to the public via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), is not likely to destroy the act completely, if adopted it could further weaken the forty year-old act.
According to an early-July report in USA Today, Addicott said he will use the research grant "to produce a national 'model statute' that state legislatures and Congress could adopt to ensure that potentially dangerous information 'stays out of the hands of the bad guys.'"
The grant, the USA Today report acknowledged, is for "research aimed at rolling back the amount of sensitive data available to the press and public through freedom-of-information requests."
"There's the public's right to know, but how much?" Addicott, a former legal adviser in the Army's Special Forces, told the newspaper. "There's a strong feeling that the law needs to balance that with the need to protect the well-being of the nation.... There's too much stuff that's easy to get that shouldn't be," he said.
"It's a little peculiar that Jeffrey Addicott received the grant given that the Air Force has a wide range of urgent needs," Steven Aftergood, the Director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy and editor of Secrecy News, told me in a telephone interview from his Washington D.C. office.
"We are after all at war. I would have thought they it had more compelling uses for a million dollars than an academic study of how to limit the FOIA. While I'm interested in the fact that the grant was made, there's a long distance between someone writing a report and proposing legislation and actually having that legislation enacted.
The announcement of the Air Force's grant came around the 40th anniversary -- July 4, 1966 -- of President Lyndon Johnson's signing the Freedom of Information Act into law.
Documents from that year, discovered at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas, by the National Security Archive at George Washington University -- a group whose researchers make more than 1,500 requests for government records on U.S. national security and foreign policy under the FOIA every year -- revealed that President Johnson had serious doubts about how much and what types of information should be made available through the FOIA.
According to the AP's Ted Bridis, Johnson "submitted a signing statement [along with the bill] that some researchers believe was intended to undercut the measure's purpose of forcing government to disclose records except in narrow cases. Draft language from Johnson's statement arguing that 'democracy works best when the people know what their government is doing,' was changed with a handwritten scrawl to read: 'Democracy works best when the people have all the info that the security of the nation will permit.'
"This sentence was eliminated entirely with the same handwritten markings: 'Government officials should not be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions which can be revealed without injury to the public interest.'
"Another scratched sentence on the document said the decisions, policies and mistakes of public officials 'are always subjected to the scrutiny and judgment of the people.'"
"The law's staunchest advocates think its principles are imperiled, threatened by what they describe as the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy and concerns about revealing strategies to terrorists," the Associated Press recently pointed out.
"This is the worst of times for the Freedom of Information Act in many ways," Paul McMasters of the First Amendment Center, which studies issues of free speech, press and religion, told the AP.
In an op-ed piece for the Baltimore Sun, David O. Stewart, president of the Freedom to Write Fund of the Washington Independent Writers, wrote that "The problems with the FOIA could not be more current as radio talk shows thump The New York Times for having the temerity to inform Americans about what their government is doing."
Stewart pointed out how difficult it is to "strike" a "balance between disclosure and secrecy .¦ particularly when more than 4 million FOIA requests are submitted every year. The Defense Department alone has 500 FOIA offices. Yet there are many symptoms that the current policies fundamentally skew toward secrecy in a manner that can only injure the public interest."
According to Stewart, a "secret" federally-run "program... ha[s] spirited out of the National Archives more than 25,000 previously disclosed records and reclassified them as 'secret.' These included a 1951 assessment of agrarian reform in Guatemala and a 1948 memo on balloon drops of leaflets into Communist countries."
In addition, "The CIA has demanded that the National Security Archive... pay the search costs for more than 40 requests, which would run into hundreds of thousands of dollars." And, Stewart pointed out, "The entire government continues to function under former Attorney General John Ashcroft's 2001 directive that encouraged agencies to deny information requested under the FOIA, assuring them of Justice Department support in defending such denials."
"The government ignores almost all FOIA requests coming from activists such as myself," Scott Silver, the executive director of Wild Wilderness, an Oregon-based grassroots environmental group, told me in a recent email. "They do not even acknowledge receipt -- not of the original request or of follow up requests asking why the first request was never acted upon. Those who sue the government when it breaks the law may get a little bit better cooperation --- but even that seems to be changing."
A new book by Stephen Gidiere entitled "The Federal Information Manual: How the Federal Government Collects, Manages and Discloses Information Under FOIA and other statutes," published this spring by the American Bar Association, documented the up-tick in government secrecy. According to The Birmingham News, "in 2005 alone, the executive branch decided 14.2 million times to classify information as secret, nearly double the number of secrets created in 1998."
Gidiere, an environmental and public records lawyer for Balch & Bingham, acknowledged that in the post-9/11 climate it is understandable that the Bush Administration would be more vigilant about information accessible through the FOIA, but, he told The Birmingham News, "Good government requires a balance between secrecy and openness."
"The federal government spent $7.2 billion on designating and protecting its secrets in 2004, up from $5.6 billion in 2002. In contrast, the federal government spent only $300 million on issues related to the FOIA," Gidiere said. "Much of this increase can understandably be attributed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and our increased military and intelligence operations since 9/11," Gidiere added. "However, Congress and the federal courts should not give the president an automatic free pass anytime he mentions national security."
Gidiere also pointed out that "In 1998, the government classified information 7.2 million times. By 2005, it was 14.2 million. The war on terror is about protecting our freedom. But we are giving up some of our privacy and freedom to win the war -- most notably, the freedom of information."
"People want information from the federal government, and they want it fast -- instantaneously, in some cases," said Gidiere, who spent years researching and 18 months writing his book. "But now, there are more hurdles to cross that prevent or delay local officials, journalists, corporations and individuals from getting the information they want. It's easy to understand why the public and many in Congress are calling for reforms."
"Overall, the Freedom of Information Act remains a vital tool but a troubled one: vital because it is not merely a policy, it is a law that gives individuals access to government information," Secrecy News' Steven Aftergood pointed out. "It is troubled because backlogs are growing, secrecy claims are rising, and response times are getting longer -- when you can get them."
The Air Force grant to Jeffrey Addicott "tells us what we essentially already knew; that at this time, this administration views the FOIA not as a public service, but as a potential threat. Those of us who value freedom of information had better take steps to defend it."
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement. His WorkingForChange column Conservative Watch documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories and defeats of the American Right.
Copyright 2006 Working Assets.
Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment & Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are often considered separately or not at all.
The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy, intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and therefore ruled by the few.
In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who gets to decide?" And, "How DO the few control the many, and what might be done about it?"
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