News January 30

Senator Sanders

Saving Democracy Some 40 Vermont communities will decide at town meetings whether to demand a constitutional amendment to limit corporate political contributions. Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that let corporations spend unrestricted amounts on campaigns, the Times Argus and Rutland Herald reported. LINK

Citizens United The Newport City Council turned down a request to endorse an item on Town Meeting Day that would say corporations are not people. Newport City Resident Pam Ladds said Sen. Sanders introduced a constitutional amendment. Ald. Richard Baraw said the policy of the council has been to not put political statements on the ballot, the Newport Daily Express reported. LINK

State of the Union Burr and Burton Academy senior Karolina Souwelewska was one of four Vermont high school students named as runner up in Sen. Sanders' State of the Union essay contest. Her essay will be entered into the Congressional Record, the Manchester Journal reported. LINK

Letters Saying that "we must defeat Citizens United," Barry Ulman wrote a letter to the editor of the Bellingham (Wash.) Herald supporting Sanders' amendment. Patrick Cashman wrote to the Times Argus that Sanders should treat unions the same as corporations. LINK, LINK

Letters "Bernie Sanders is in the U.S. Senate pushing, prodding, leading the discussion on income inequality, authoring legislation to expose the lending practices of the Federal Reserve, and generally shining a light on moneyed interests that are corrupting our government," Jerry Skapof wrote to the Manchester Journal. LINK

Letters Writing to the Carroll County (Md.) Times about income inequality, Stephen Stahley said Sanders "framed the issue perfectly." And fellow independent James Hodgkinson wrote to the Belleville (Ill.) News Democrat: "Long live Bernie Sanders."  LINK

World

Syrian Uprising Reaches Damascus Security forces on Sunday launched a major assault to reclaim suburbs that had fallen under the sway of rebel soldiers fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Drones Outrage Iraq A month after the last American troops left Iraq, the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones here to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel. Some senior Iraqi officials expressed outrage at the affront to Iraqi sovereignty, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Disability Claims Overwhelming VA The number of pending claims before the VA stood at 853,831 on Friday, an increase of nearly 100,000 from last year and nearly 500,000 from three years ago. "Nearly 1 million veterans today are stuck in the backlog and more than half wait at least half a year to find out if their claim has been processed," said Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told The Washington Post. LINK

Vermont

Smart Meter Foes Opponents of smart meters have started an advertising campaign to force the state's largest electric utility to back off on plans to install the wireless meters on homes, businesses and public buildings. They allege the radio frequency emissions are potentially harmful and also raise privacy and security concerns, the Rutland Herald reported.

Irene Tax Holiday Vermont lawmakers are considering a bipartisan plan to give tax breaks to residents affected by Tropical Storm Irene. The Brattleboro Reformer said the bill would declare a statewide tax holiday this summer to assist with the recovery from Irene. LINK