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Civic Ed

A gift to you for Constitution Day: a reader-friendly version of our founding document

A website launched Monday gives the public access to the government's own searchable, user-friendly annotated version of the Constitution.

The site is the work of the Library of Congress and fulfills a longtime desire of lawmakers, open government advocates and proponents of better civic education. It's launch comes on the eve of the 232nd anniversary of the day the Constitution's drafters signed their work and sent it to the states for ratification.

The resource is known as "Constitution Annotated" because each section is accompanied by both "Plain English" commentary explaining relevant Supreme Court rulings and footnotes for further readings that provide modern context.

The new, public site is similar to that which the Library of Congress has long made available to members of Congress and staff.

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Image courtesy: Alexander J. Stewart and Joshua B. Plotkin

Information gerrymandering occurs when there is asymmetry in how bubbles collide. In the example shown at the bottom, the blue party has split its influence, so that some members are open to persuasion from the red party.

Here’s what happens when political bubbles collide

Stewart is an assistant professor of Mathematical Biology at the University of Houston. Plotkin is a professor of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Social media has transformed how people talk to each other. But social media platforms are not shaping up to be the utopian spaces for human connection their founders hoped.

Instead, the internet has introduced phenomena that can influence national elections and maybe even threaten democracy.

Echo chambers or "bubbles" – in which people interact mainly with others who share their political views – arise from the way communities organize themselves online.

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"Like many of us, young people have been politically silenced by the power of big money in politics," writes Adonal Foyle (center).

Students know democracy matters

Foyle is the founder and president of Democracy Matters, a nonpartisan student organization mentoring the next generation of leaders dedicated to strengthening our democracy.

When I was drafted by the NBA's Golden State Warriors in 1987, a dream came true. But I had another dream during the 13 years that I played in the NBA. That was to help students throughout the country have a voice in their democracy. I wanted to give back to those who had helped make me become politically aware in college. So along with my adopted parents who were professors at Colgate University, I founded Democracy Matters. I knew that students cared about the environment, health care, women's and LGBTQ rights, gun violence, mass incarceration and more. I knew they wanted to make a difference by being politically effective, but they often didn't know how to go about it.

Like many of us, young people have been politically silenced by the power of big money in politics. Big money campaign donors dominate our elections with their ability to overwhelmingly determine who runs for office, who wins and how they vote when elected. The use of restrictive rules to deny young people and others the right to vote has made them feel they don't have a voice — that politicians don't care what they think.

Democracy Matters' college and high school chapters are pushing back against apathy and cynicism by becoming organizers on their campuses. As a nonprofit and nonpartisan national student organization, DM mentors and mobilizes high school and college students to become political activists. By emphasizing the necessity of a strong and inclusive democracy, DM engages young people in the struggle for reforms that will make their voices heard and respected in the political process.

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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks about the dysfunctional political climate in Washington during a stop at Miami Dade College in Florida in March.

Schultz will spend a fortune on democracy reform instead of a presidential run

Billionaire Howard Schultz will spend more than $100 million fixing democracy instead of waging a presidential campaign, he announced Friday.

If the former Starbucks CEO follows through on the vow, it would represent one of the biggest and potentially most transformative infusions of cash ever to flow into efforts to improve American governance to good working order.

In January, Schultz announced he was considering a campaign for the presidency as an independent, on a platform nearly exclusively focused on addressing government gridlock and dysfunction. But the potential run was also seen as a threat to an eventual Democratic president nominee, who might lose enough votes to Schultz to assure the re-election of President Trump.

On Friday, Schultz announced he would abandon the idea of running and would instead redirect his efforts on "supporting bold and creative initiatives to transform our broken system and address the disparity of opportunity that plagues our nation," he wrote on his website.

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