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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

The Secret Lists that Swiped the Senate

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

d64d30c9-e93b-4769-a1e0-ab828f77295cBy Greg Palast
Tuesday, 18. November, 2014

Statistics guru Nate Silver simply can’t understand why every single legitimate poll indicated that Democrats should have gotten 4% more votes in the midterm elections than appeared in the final count.

The answer, Nate, is “Crosscheck.”

No question, Republicans trounced Democrats in the Midterm elections. But, if not for the boost of this voter-roll purge system used in 23 Republican-controlled states, the GOP could not have taken the US Senate.

It took the Palast investigations team six months to get our hands on the raw files, fighting against every official trick to keep them hidden.

The Secret Lists that Swiped the Senate.

GOP-led Purge Threat to 3.5 Million Voters

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Zach D RobertsBy Greg Palast for Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voter rolls, especially targeting minority voters.

Al Jazeera America has obtained 2.1 million names from the target lists, kept confidential until now. Experts reviewing the lists conclude it is suspiciously over-weighted with Black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters.

The targeted voters have been tagged as “potential duplicate voters,” suspected of voting twice in the same election, in two different states, a felony crime punishable by 2-10 years in prison.

Until now, state officials conducting the purge have refused to turn over their lists on grounds that these voters are all subjects of a criminal investigation.

…So far, no case has been made against a single one of the accused double-voters on the lists, though tens of thousands have already lost their right to vote based on inclusion in the lists.

Read the full exposé
Watch the Trailer for the 2-part TV report
on Al Jazeera America Tonight,
tonight & Thursday night at 9pm ET
(check your local channel guide)

Greg Palast | Investigative Reporter.

Fight Back Against Dark Money- Letter From Common Cause

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Fight Back Against Dark Mone

Dear Common Cause Member,

$1 billion. That’s what dark money groups are on target to spend in this election.

They want to trick ordinary citizens out of exercising their voting rights and change election outcomes to favor their bottom line. One county official in Virginia said of AFP, “It’s outrageous what they do. Most of their information is wrong. They know it’s wrong, and they don’t care.”

It’s an astonishing sum, made more so because the shadowy groups spending all that money aren’t required to disclose where any of it came from.

The Koch Brothers Don't Own Our DemocracyCommon Cause is fighting the influence of big money in elections, and working to make sure voting remains accessible and convenient for every eligible voter. But with the midterm election just three weeks away, we need your contribution of today to combat the influence of wealthy, secretive donors seeking to rig the game in their favor. The billionaire Koch brothers are behind a vast network of the biggest-spending groups. By Labor Day, Koch-backed groups had financed a mind-blowing 44,000 ads. And since most campaign spending takes place after Labor Day, that’s just a fraction of the final tally. In addition to flooding the airwaves, Koch-backed groups are engaging in a sinister campaign to block our votes. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), their flagship group, is under investigation in North Carolina for sending misleading mailers with false information designed to confuse and discourage voters from participating in this year’s election.

Read More Common Cause.

Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror –

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Mustafa Akyol Author…The Kurds were not angry at Turkey because they were innately prone to violence. They were angry because Turkey had done something grievously wrong to them. And a peace agreement became possible only when the Turkish public and the state acknowledged this fact.

If Israel is ever going to achieve peace, Israelis will have to overcome their own self-righteous hawkishness as well — and abandon the intellectually lazy reflex that explains Palestinian militancy as the natural product of Arab and Islamic culture’s supposedly violent nature.

It’s true that Hamas is a violent group and that it must stop firing rockets into Israel and calling for the destruction of the Jewish state. The ugliness of anti-Semitism in Palestine and the Arab world (and even in Turkey) must also be confronted. But these phenomena didn’t occur in a vacuum. They were created — and are kept alive — in part by Israel’s continued oppression of Palestinians….

via Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror –

Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

koch-industries“The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with “business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society.” The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri….

Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum, directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. The goal, the group said flatly, was to turn young people into “liberty-advancing agents” before they went to college, where they might learn “harmful” liberal ideas.

…In recent years, through private charitable foundations, the Koch brothers have funneled tens of millions of dollars to colleges and universities — most recently, a $25 million donation to the United Negro College Fund. They are also funding advocacy groups that are waging a widespread campaign to fight the Common Core State Standards, a set of benchmarks for public K-12 education adopted by most states. But YE is the most direct example of their growing imprint on American classrooms.

…Koch-funded think tanks provide many of YE’s course materials. Teachers are trained at Koch Industries headquarters and are required to read Charles Koch’s book The Science of Success.
The focus on high school students is a key part of the Kochs’ long-term effort to create a libertarian-minded society from the ground up.
…platform proposed a drastic revision of the American education system: “We advocate the complete separation of education and state. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be”

via Koch High: How The Koch Brothers Are Buying Their Way Into The Minds Of Public School Students.

Key Supreme Court Decisions in 2014 –

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Supreme Court Justices 2014Key Supreme Court Decisions in 2014

The Supreme Court on Thursday released two key decisions—one on abortion protests, and one on presidential recess appointments. Below, how the justices decided on these and other major cases this term and the implications of their decisions. UPDATED June 26, 2014…


A More Nuanced Breakdown of the Supreme Court –

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Supreme Court Liberal to ConservativeThere is no dispute that the court has a four-member liberal wing and a four-member conservative wing, with Justice Anthony Kennedy somewhere in the middle.

But not every liberal is liberal in the same measure….

What’s liberal and what’s conservative? Our conclusions are drawn from the Supreme Court Database, which codes decisions as liberal or conservative. Examples of liberal decisions are ones favoring criminal defendants, unions, people claiming discrimination or violations of their civil rights. Decisions striking down economic regulations and favoring prosecutors, employers and the government are said to be conservative.

via A More Nuanced Breakdown of the Supreme Court –

Lap Dancers, the CIA, Pay-offs, and BP’s Deepwater Horizon

Friday, April 18th, 2014



Earlier this month, the Obama Administration officially OK’d BP’s right to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And two weeks ago, just to assure the company that all is forgiven, the U.S. Department of the Interior gave BP a new contract to drill in the Gulf of Mexico––right next to where the Deepwater Horizon went down. At the same time, the forgive-and-forget U.S. Justice Department has put the trial of David Rainey, the only BP big-shot charged with a felony crime in the disaster, on indefinite hold. [more]

Rural Americans have inferior Internet access — High Country News

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Does it matter that broadband quality varies so widely?

“As the Internet becomes a more integral part of daily life, people with shoddy connections are at an economic disadvantage. Fast Internet is necessary to take video-based online classes and to sign up for health care. (Imagine the horror of trying to navigate with dial-up.) Rural hospitals use it to video-conference with urban medical specialists, and schoolteachers increasingly record lectures that students can watch at home.”

via Rural Americans have inferior Internet access — High Country News.

.:Middle East Online::Hypocritical Righteousness on Syria:.

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 11.49.40 AMHypocritical Righteousness on Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry waxed eloquent about the need to punish national leaders who violate international law. He meant Syria’s Bashar al-Assad but his lecture could have applied to American officials who enabled the invasion of Iraq, including himself, just one of many US hypocrisies, as Lawrence Davidson notes.

Middle East Online

President Barack Obama sidestepped the political hole he had dug for himself (what we might call the “red line” hole) over his proposed attack on Syria. Having insisted there must be “consequences” for a breach of international law, specifically the alleged use of banned chemical weapons by the Syrian government, he was faced with both popular American reluctance to support military action and congressional pique over not being included in the decision process.

As a consequence President Obama announced on Aug. 31 that he now supports a congressional debate and vote on the issue of attacking Syria. Then he told us how he sees the situation, “This [Syrian chemical] attack is an assault on human dignity. … It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. … Ultimately this is not about who occupies this [White House] office at any given time, it’s about who we are as a country.”

For all I know, the President really believes his own words, but I am pretty sure his implied question of “who we are as a country” is meant to be rhetorical. If one was to give an evidence-based answer to that inquiry, as it relates to chemical weapons, it would be embarrassing in the extreme.

Lest we forget, the US. defoliated parts of Vietnam with a chemical weapon called Agent Orange and by its use killed a lot more than large swaths of jungle. Agent Orange killed and maimed an estimated 400,000 Vietnamese and an estimated half a million children have subsequently been born deformed. It also did a fatal job on many of the American troops that handled the stuff.

Later, the US. sold chemical and biological weapons-grade material to Saddam Hussein and followed up by helping his army aim the stuff accurately at Iranian troops. Saddam also used it on the Iraqi Kurds. Then there is the fact that our “very special friend,” Israel, used phosphorous bombs (a banned chemical weapon) on the civilians of Gaza. At the time Israel did this, President Obama occupied the Oval Office.

I don’t remember him displaying any moral angst or positioning US. ships in the eastern Mediterranean with cruise missiles aimed at Israeli airbases. The truth is that during all of these episodes no one in the government worried (at least publicly) about what our actions or lack thereof, said about what sort of country this is.

However, this question does deserve a direct answer. What sort of country is the US. in relation to the use of chemical weapons? The kindest answer one can give is it is a bloody hypocritical nation.

Back to Congress

Nonetheless, sending the issue of a possible attack on Syria to Congress is a timely political move for the President. It puts off having to face the dilemma of taking military action that cannot both constitute meaningful punishment for the violation of international law and, at the same time, keep the US. from becoming ever more deeply embroiled in the Syrian civil war.

It also could be a good political move for the US. as a whole because it creates a good precedent. Having Congress debate and vote on the issue of military action against Syria could help resuscitate the moribund War Powers Act. Although Obama claims he has the authority to launch an attack no matter what Congress decides, he would be politically hard pressed to do so if the legislators said don’t do it.

Thus the maneuver might narrow the otherwise rapidly expanding powers of the imperial presidency. Of course, none of this means that Congress can’t be scared or otherwise bamboozled into giving the President the power to do something militarily stupid. Vietnam and Iraq stand as powerful precedents in that regard.

There is another very interesting potential consequence of the President’s going to Congress. It might create a situation where there is a publicly noticeable difference between the express desires of a majority of the voting population and the special interests now encouraging military action against Syria.

In my last analysis, I laid out the idea that in the interim between elections, influential special interests have much more to say about policy than do the voters, most of whom pay little attention to foreign policy. Now, however, we have a rare moment when the populace is paying attention and polls indicate that a healthy majority do not want further intervention in the Middle East.

Who will the Congress respond to in the upcoming debate and vote, their special interest constituents or the voting kind?

Of course, the notion that the President of the United States, with or without congressional approval, has the authority to act as the world’s “policeman” and punish violators of international laws, that it itself flaunts, is offensive and dangerous.

There are international institutions in place such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) that, imperfect as they are, can be used to prosecute violations such as the use of banned weapons. (It is to be noted that the cause of “human dignity” would be greatly advanced if the US. would stop refusing to ratify the treaty empowering the ICC).

How do you characterize a situation where one or a small number of community members takes it upon themselves to go outside the law to punish alleged wrongdoers? Here in the US. this is known as “vigilante justice.” Most often this sort of behavior results is a “lynching” based on little or no reliable evidence.

President Obama’s going to Congress will not change the vigilante nature of US intentions. Let’s just hope that Congress listens to the people this time around and tells the President to keep his cruise missiles to himself. And then, let’s hope he does just that.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest;America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions fromBalfour to Israeli Statehood; andIslamicFundamentalism.


From: .:Middle East Online::Hypocritical Righteousness on Syria:..