Last week marked the sixth anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on our elections. Thinking about the widespread impact of this ruling, it’s easy to get pretty down on the state of our democracy. In addition to the immediate wreckage Citizens United caused in our democracy, there was a simultaneous attack on voting rights, leaving people in this country with less access to the polls than in 1965.
For instance, in this election cycle alone, employees from oil and gas companies have contributed nearly a million dollars on just three candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Jeb Bush and Sec. Hillary Clinton, respectively.
Yeah, that can be pretty disheartening.
The good news is the American people are not putting up with any of this. People from Florida to Washington are determined to build a democracy in which everyone has equal voice and can rest assured that their vote won’t be immediately squashed by corporate money.
The best part is they’re winning.
There is still a lot to be done to fix our democracy. Feast your eyes on these six beautiful reasons that solutions are possible.
6. In Tallahassee, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported a sweeping set of ethics and campaign finance laws in 2014. The reforms included the creation of an ethics board, public campaign financing and a lower cap on individual contributions to candidates.
5. A unanimous state court in Texas ruled that a voter ID law that discriminated against African-American and Hispanic voters was unconstitutional. This law had disenfranchised more than 500,000 voters.
4. Maine voters showed their support for clean elections by passing campaign finance reforms that would strengthen public financing for legislative and gubernatorial races, increase fines for violators of campaign finance laws and require groups to disclose political ad spending.
3. Meanwhile, voters in Seattle passed by a vote of 60 to 40 percent public financing of the city’s elections. This will initiate new system in which voters can distribute up to four $25 “democracy vouchers” to candidates. Who wouldn’t want a democracy voucher?
2. Hawaii typically has the lowest voter turnout nationwide. State legislators recently passed a much-needed bill that will allow residents to register and vote on the same day starting this year. This bill should increase voter participation with easier access to the polls.
1. If you listened to President Obama’s State of the Union address last week, you may have heard his tough talk on fixing democracy—“fixing our politics” to be exact. The White House reassured us this week that his strong rhetoric was not just lip service when officials said the president is seriously considering a “dark money” executive order that would require companies with government contracts to disclose their political contributions. If passed, the law would be a major step forward in increased transparency in political spending.
Now it’s time for the 2016 candidates to follow the lead of our current president by proposing real solutions to our broken, but fixable, democracy.
[email protected] took the pledge to #fixdemocracy. Will @HillaryClinton come on board? https://t.co/P3MqFbx4gy https://t.co/ufWDz5LV45— Greenpeace USA (@Greenpeace USA)1452946039.0
Citizens United certainly damaged our democracy, but by working together and challenging our lawmakers across the country, we can fix it.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
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Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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