Saturday, July 30, 2016

Black and White Voter Suppression: Mike Pence and Indiana's Voter ID Laws

Mike Pence walks 10 Nuns out of the Voting Booth

by Greg Palast with Dennis J Bernstein for Reader Supported News

July 30, 2016

Mike Pence is the poster boy for voter ID laws. No one has benefited more from this legalized form of vote theft than the Republican nominee for VP.

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last Wednesday, Pence said he “wants every American to succeed and prosper” — however he certainly doesn’t want every American to vote. Indeed it was thanks to Indiana’s voter ID laws — the first of their kind in the nation — that he squeaked into the governor’s office.

These seemingly benign laws, requiring voters to show approved photo ID, have a sinister and very deliberate effect: they suppress black, brown, young, old, poor — and, above all, blue votes.

In this week’s Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Election Crimes Bulletin, Flashpoints’ Dennis J. Bernstein gets the lowdown on the sleazy practice of vote-rigging-by-ID-law from political hanky-panky expert Greg Palast. They also discuss how these racist-by-design laws tap dance around voting rights and discrimination protections, and could ultimately help Pence and Trump waltz into the White House.

TRANSCRIPT (Originally broadcast on July 20, 2016)

Dennis J. Bernstein: Today Mike Pence is front and center. He’s out there on his proverbial knees to greet the Trump helicopter. He’s getting ready to accept his party’s nomination. But also, as you point out, he’s a vote bandit… Tell us the joke about the nuns trying to vote.

Greg Palast: Ten nuns walk into a voting booth. I know that Mike Pence says he’s a Christian, but he also stopped 10 nuns from voting — and that’s very important. Mike Pence would not be governor of Indiana if he didn’t figure out a way to knock out black voters, nun voters, student voters, and poor voters.

DB: You are serious about the nuns?

Palast: Yes. Here’s the story:

In 2008, 10 nuns walked into a voting station, a place where they had been voting for decades, and they were told “Scram sisters” because Indiana had just passed its voter ID law. It was the first state in the nation that said you had to have a photo voter ID. So the nuns proudly showed their drivers licenses, except that the licenses had expired because they were all in their eighties and nineties. But they hadn’t expired.

Nevertheless, they were told they couldn’t vote because they needed a current state ID, even though there’s no reason why.

09 Oct 1962, Akron, Ohio, USA - Sister John Bosco of St. Sebastian School - Image by © Bettmann/ Corbis

There’s no logic for any voter ID because in the 100 years in which records have been kept, not one single person in a 100 year history of voting in Indiana — not one — was found to have used someone else’s identity.

In other words, using identify theft to cast a vote. Because you are going to the hoosegow for a very long time, at least 5 years under federal law and more under state law. But, nevertheless, this was the first voter ID law. This is the voter ID law that Justice Scalia provided the fifth and deadly vote in favor of, saying that it was constitutional and okay under the Voting Rights Act. Now, the Voting Rights Act itself has been killed by the former Scalia court.


But here’s where Mike Pence comes into the story: we wouldn’t have a Governor Pence except for this. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU hired Matt Barreto, who’s a great statistician. He calculated that about 72,000 black people in Indiana would be barred from voting by this ID law. Furthermore, students would be barred from voting. You can’t use a student ID. You can use a gun ID, but not a University of Indiana ID. Students would be barred, and obviously people who don’t drive tend to be poor people, whether they are white or black.

Poor people tend to vote Democratic. Black people vote Democratic. Hispanic people vote Democratic — we’re not even counting those yet. Students vote Democratic. So if you add a few more of the blocked voters to the 72,000 African-Americans who are blocked from voting in Indiana, that more than accounts for Mike Pence’s very, very slim 80,000 vote margin when he ran for governor of Indiana. So Pence just sneaked by the Democrat, congressman John Gregg, and he sneaked by simply by blocking voters through this racist ID law.

DB: And the lower courts found it to be a real problem. Justice Terence Evans was not all that impressed was he?

Palast: No. His ruling was that this was just a clear, bold attempt at partisan manipulation of voter rolls by the Republican Party, knowing that they are knocking out their adversaries. But Scalia, being the 5th vote, said, “I don’t care.” Scalia famously said, “You can always get a non-voter ID.” Well, it’s kind of a catch 22 — you need ID to get a non-voter ID. But even if you do, it’s an average three bus, all day trip back and forth from a county office — on average a 17 mile trip. And, as Scalia infamously said, “Seventeen miles is 17 miles, whether you are black or white.”

But, of course, he had a black Beemer, for which he got a speeding ticket. But whether it’s a black Beemer or a white Beemer, 17 miles is nothing for him. But if you actually have to take a bus, and most people who don’t have licenses have to take a bus, it’s a major hardship. He knew that.

And while it’s racist, that’s only secondary to their plan. It’s partisan, and the interesting thing is that the Republicans in the court say a plan which knocks out your opponents, that’s perfectly fine. It just can’t be clearly and overtly intended to be racist. Now there was a glimmer of hope, because the devil needed his advocate early and took Scalia from us. And the Texas court of appeals is changing and the Texas ID law, which is also a nasty piece of work, that ruling just came out yesterday.

DB: That was not thrown out. It’s thrown back to the lower court, so that could show its ugly face again. Now, Karl Rove thinks it’s a good idea. He thinks, if you gotta go get groceries, they check your ID, so if you gotta go to vote, they check your ID too.

Palast: Yeah, can you imagine Karl Rove trying to cash a check at the grocery store? But the difference is that cashing a check at a grocery store is not the key to American democracy, but we like to think of voting as part of it. By the way, most Americans don’t realize voting is not a constitutional right. I want to repeat that: There is nothing in the Constitution which gives you the right to vote. That silence in the Constitution was what allowed the Supreme Court to pick George Bush as our president in Bush v. Gore. There is no right to vote in the Constitution. The one thing the Constitution has is the 14th Amendment that says if you allow the people to vote, you can’t stop them from voting because they were once slaves or their great-grandparents were slaves. And, of course, the 19th Amendment said if you allow people to vote, you can’t stop them from voting based on their genitals. That was the suffrage amendment. But you don’t have a right to vote — that’s what makes it possible to have these nasty laws.

DB: Mike Pence, you said, was a recipient of this kind of draconian, and I guess we can call it racist, on its face, behavior?

Palast: There’s this big back and forth — and we see this in Texas — about whether something is racist by intent or racist in effect. Those have two different meanings under the law. If it’s racist in intent, then the law has to be thrown out. In fact, in places like Wisconsin, one of the Republicans confessed that when the voter ID law was passed there was absolute jubilation among the Republicans. And Charlie Crist said that in Florida. He was the Republican governor and he said the Republican party specifically did that to knock out black voters. When he revealed that, he was basically tossed out of the Republican Party. But even if it’s not intended, if it has a racial effect, the law must be modified. That’s what’s happening in Texas. They have to modify the law to try to remove some of the overt racial effects. I don’t know how they’re going to do that though.

DB: The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has weighed in on this as well, haven’t they?

Palast: Yes. Here’s a breakdown from the Brennan Center: 6 million senior citizens don’t have their legal ID, mostly poor senior citizens.

DB: 6 million?

Palast: 6 million. 5.5 million African-Americans, 4.5 million 18 to 24 year olds, and 15% of voters with household incomes under $35,000 a year — that is the poor… If you’re on food stamps these days, what they now call SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, in most states you get an official government ID card with your photo on it. Well, Texas allows you to use your gun permit with your photo on it, but does not allow you to use your food stamp card with your photo ID on it. That’s one thing that the court did latch onto.

By the way, they are saying that’s not racist. And you know what? They may be right. It’s really class war. I want to emphasize this. In all my research, while we see that most of the victims of election thefts are voters of color, it’s really class war by other means. Upper-middle class, wealthy Hispanics and wealthy African-Americans tend not to have trouble voting. They have passports. Vernon Jordan and Andy Young had no problem at all with the voter ID law. They said, “That’s a good idea. People should have ID.” Well, of course, they’ve got passports — and their chauffeurs to vouch for them!

But a lot of white people are caught up in these things too. Elderly, poor white people who are barely getting by on social security. Because 15% of the voters are under the poverty line, and that’s white and black. Most poor people in America, remember, are white. People tend to forget that because of the way things are portrayed on TV. Most people who are poor are white, and they don’t stand much of a chance if all they have to show is their food stamp cards. It’s really class war.

DB: Broaden this out at the national level. We’ve been talking about Mike Pence because he’s going to accept the Republican nomination tonight and he was an offender in Indiana. But this is a national program.

Palast: Understand the republic lasted two centuries without photo ID. We founded the republic before there were photographs without any problem. We haven’t had hoards of identify thieves voting. But it’s been marvelously excellent at knocking out literally hundreds of thousands of poor people, especially voters of color.

We’ve gone from one state having a photo voter ID program in 2000 — Pence was the beneficiary. He would not be governor if it weren’t for that law. Since Indiana, it’s gone like a virus. Once the Supreme Court said Indiana was okay, it was both constitutional and not violating the Voting Rights Act, 20 states adopted some type of ID requirement. And there’s no case in which it doesn’t have a very smelly racial aroma.

* * * * * * *

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestseller, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, which will be released as a feature documentary movie this fall. Get your name in the movie credits! The deadline has been extended to July 30, 2016.

Palast’s film will screen in Philadelphia this Wednesday

Subscribe to Palast's mailing list and Podcast to receive regular updates on this issue.

Visit the Palast Investigative Fund store or simply make a tax-deductible contribution to keep our work alive!

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Dennis J. Bernstein is the executive producer of Flashpoints, syndicated on Pacifica Radio, and is the recipient of a 2015 Pillar Award for his work as a journalist whistleblower. He is most recently the author of Special Ed: Voices from a Hidden Classroom.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.


Trump's GOP Hitman Who's Stealing Your Vote – The Best Democracy Money Can Buy Podcast
May 8, 2016 In "Articles"

Myth Underlies America's New Cold War Policy

Rep. Rick Larsen Bases Russia Policy on Myths

by David Swanson - Let's Try Democracy

July 24, 2016

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government.

She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and an occasional writer at which has covered recent U.S. propaganda re Russia as well as any media outlet out there.

Murray has recently returned from a trip to Russia organized by the Center for Citizen Initiatives which has resumed the sort of U.S.-Russia cultural exchanges that it organized during a previous peak in the cold war.

Murray was invited by Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (WPSR) to attend and speak at a small meeting in Everett, Washington, with Congressman Rick Larsen on Friday, July 22nd. Here is an account from Murray of how it went:

"I mentioned to Rep. Larsen that I had just returned from Russia with a U.S. delegation, and that all the people in Russia I had spoken with — including teachers, students, journalists, medical doctors, entrepreneurs and war veterans — had no desire for a nuclear war with the United States, but instead expressed the wish for peaceful, normalized relations...
During our time in Yalta, I had organized a 'swim for peace' with Americans and Russian war vets swimming together in the Black Sea, which had caused quite a stir in local Russian language media.
 I explained to Rep. Larsen my understanding of why the Russian public is suspicious about U.S. moves in the region (based on what I heard from people there), and why they would expect the United States to be the first to make a unilateral confidence-building measure in the direction of nuclear disarmament.

Russians were savvy to the Nuland 'Yats' youtube recording (in which Victoria Nuland is distinctly heard telling U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that 'Yats is the guy' just prior to the regime change in which Arseniy Yatsenyuk became prime minister, and which directly implicated the U.S. in the Ukrainian coup), felt threatened by the recent NATO/Operation Anakonda maneuvers that took place during our delegation's visit, and were extremely concerned about other provocative U.S. moves in the region, including economic sanctions on Russia and Crimea, the latter enacted after a majority of Crimeans voted to rejoin Russia in response to what they saw as outside interference in the affairs of Ukraine."

How did Larsen respond to learning such significant and generally unknown information? 

"Larsen immediately responded with rebuttals, stating flat-out he didn't believe there was a U.S. role in the Ukrainian events — that what I'd just told him was 'not what I've been hearing' - and he went on to talk about how the Baltic states felt threatened by Russia, etc. He didn't know what 'Operation Anakonda' was and seemed unaware that the largest-ever NATO military maneuvers since WWII had just taken place on Russia's borders. I offered to send his office additional information about that and the Ukrainian events - an offer he ignored."

Let's be clear. The conflict in the Ukrainian government was between an EU/IMF economic alliance and a Russian one. Robert Parry describes what happened:

"[U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton ally Victoria] Nuland saw her big chance on Feb. 20, 2014, when a mysterious sniper apparently firing from a building controlled by the Right Sektor shot and killed both police and protesters, escalating the crisis. On Feb. 21, in a desperate bid to avert more violence, Yanukovych agreed to a European-guaranteed plan in which he accepted reduced powers and called for early elections so he could be voted out of office. But that wasn't enough for the anti-Yanukovych forces who led by Right Sektor and neo-Nazi militias overran government buildings on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives. With armed thugs patrolling the corridors of power, the final path to 'regime change' was clear.
 Instead of trying to salvage the Feb. 21 agreement, Nuland and European officials arranged for an unconstitutional procedure to strip Yanukovych of the presidency and declared the new regime 'legitimate.' Nuland’s 'guy' Yatsenyuk became prime minister. While Nuland and her neocon cohorts celebrated, their 'regime change' prompted an obvious reaction from Putin, who recognized the strategic threat that this hostile new regime posed to the historic Russian naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea. On Feb. 23, he began to take steps to protect those Russian interests."

That Yatsenyuk was Nuland's "guy" is a reference to a phone call in which, pre-coup, she designated him as her chosen future leader of Ukraine. Here's the audio of the call. Not only does Nuland not dispute the authenticity of the audio, but she has apologized for cursing the European Union in it.

You can also watch a video of Nuland in front of Chevron and ExxonMobil banners stating that the United States invested $5 billion over some period of years in democratizing / Europeanizing Ukraine. In fact, at the time of the coup, the National Endowment for Democracy had 65 projects in Ukraine, training activists, journalists, and others to advance a European alliance, not counting Nuland's handing out cookies to protesters in the square. The U.S. role was discussed in Ukraine's parliament pre-coup.

The United States Congress has officially acknowledged what is beyond dispute: the role of neo-Nazis in the coup government. According to widespread allegations, coup snipers were trained in Poland on behalf of the United States.

President Obama took credit for the U.S. role in the regime change on CNN:

"And since Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine - not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine - since that time, this improvisation that he's been doing has getting - has gotten him deeper and deeper into a situation that is a violation of international law, that violates the integrity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine." 

As if facilitating a neo-Nazi coup doesn't do that!

Renee Parsons adds this:

"What Nuland did not reveal on December 13 was that her meetings with ‘key Ukrainian stakeholders’ included neo-Nazi Svoboda party leader Oleh Tyahnybok and prime minister wannabe Arsenly Yatsenyuk of the Fatherland Party. At about the same time Nuland was wooing fascist extremists, Sen. John McCain (R-Az) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D- Conn) shared the stage in Kiev with Tyahnybok offering their support and opposition to the sitting government. The Svoboda party which has roots with extreme vigilante and anti-Semitic groups has since received at least three high level cabinet posts in the interim government including deputy prime minister. There is no doubt that the progenies of west Ukraine's historic neo-fascist thugs that fought with Hitler are now aligned with the U.S. as represented by Victoria Nuland...
"... January 30, 2014 – The State Department's website Media Note announced Nuland's upcoming travel plans that 'In Kyiv, Assistant Secretary Nuland will meet with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action.' In other words, almost a month before President Yanukovych was ousted, the U.S. was planning to rid the world of another independently elected President."

Here's some background to put this incident into historical context.

Even imagining that the United States did not play a role in the coup, the fact of the coup would still render what Crimea and Russia did in response very different from the "aggression" alleged by U.S. media, the resulting myth permeating U.S. understanding, and the worldview of Congress members acting on that mythical basis.

Destroying Worlds to Save Them for Oneself

The Neo-Con "West" and Global Destruction: A New World Order of Globalized Despair

by Mark Taliano - Global Research

July 29, 2016

The neo-con “West” and its allies want to destroy the Middle East so that they can control the Middle East.

Under the auspices of their imperial “New Middle East” project, the criminals (U.S–led NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Israel) are targeting everything that they falsely profess to cherish.

All of the “values” that the politicians falsely parade as important, even sacrosanct, are instrumentalized as false fronts that belie the dark undercurrents dragging humanity towards a barren “New World Order” of globalized degeneracy and despair.

Nation-state self-determination, sovereignty, territorial integrity – all vital components of world peace, prosperity, and democracy are meaningless to the elites, except for their propaganda value.

A meta-national project of top down control, enforced by anonymous elites, controls how we think, feel, and live.

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, author of America’s “War on Terrorism” identifies the largely hidden “powers” behind the system as

those of the global banks and financial institutions, the military-industrial complex, the oil and energy giants, the biotech and pharmaceutical conglomerates and the powerful media and communications giants, which fabricate the news and overtly influence the course of world.

This dystopian present has rendered political choices moot. Choices are non-choices, puppet shows sold by empty words and conflicting narratives — all bereft of substance.

The real agenda is unspeakable. The real agenda must be unspeakable, because it is poison, a dark distillate of degenerate barbarism, mostly hidden from view.

This real agenda, masked beneath the Big Lies, and the stories told by scripted “politicians”, bares its sanguine teeth, and imposes its dark will with barely a whimper. There are no “mistakes”. It’s all by design.

War planners knew full well that the sanctions imposed prior to the invasion of Iraq were targeting children. They accurately predicted when the plants would fail, and how many lives would be lost.

A Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) document accurately predicted that,




The end result? Over 500,000 children under the age of five were killed, with intent (murder), in addition to over one million other people, none of whom who had committed a crime.

The “West” regularly targets innocent people, including children, with a view to weakening the morale of countries about to be conquered. Madeleine Albright infamously intoned that the “price (murdering 500,000 children) … is worth it”, in one of the rare moments when dark truths and media messaging intersect.

War planners also knew that they were supporting al Qaeda ground troops in Libya when they exploited the Responsibility To Protect (R2P) clause to bomb the sovereign state of Libya, to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi, to destroy water infrastructure, to loot, to plunder, to commit genocide, and to set up an ISIS strongehold. Prior to the invasion, Libya’s standard of living was the highest in Africa. There were no mistakes.

The weapons ratline from Libya to Syria was not a mistake either. The West intentionally funded its terrorist proxies so that they would be well provisioned to invade Syria. The weaponization and training of its terrorist foot soldiers supplements the terrorists’ now dwindling additional sources of income such as funding from illicit drugs, the plunder of historical Syrian artifacts, the theft of Syrian oil resources, and so on. All planned by the West. Again, no mistakes.

Equally degenerate is the fact that the Western intelligence agencies, allied with Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan’s ISIS, perpetuate the degeneracy by raising new recruits into the culture of the un-islamic, Wahhabi ideology. Chossudovsky explains,

In 1979, the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in Afghanistan: With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan Jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan’s fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually, more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad.

Just as the CIA, through the Pakistani ISI, creates “radicals” by indoctrinating children in “madrasah” schools, so too ISIS indoctrinates Syrian children in the ways of the degenerate Wahhabi ideology in ISIS occupied areas of Syria.

Samuel Westrop writes in “U.K: Jihadists as Charity Workers”, 

ISIS has supplemented its violence with dawa’h programs – a system of social provision, or ‘soft-power outreach’ – in areas under its control. A key component of this dawa’h … is providing educational outreach initiatives ‘as part of its wider strategy to foster a new generation of Syrians in support of its ideological agenda.’

The cancer of this un-islamic ideology is intentionally promoted in occupied areas of secular, pluralist, democratic Syria with a view to “weaponizing” children, and to destroying the country with an internalized cancer of Wahhabism and violence.

None of this is accidental. All of it is the fruit of considerable forethought and pre-planning by the imperial “West”, its allies, and their intelligence agencies.

Whereas the West proclaims that it is spreading democracy, it is spreading terrorism, Wahhabism, death and destruction on each and every one of its pre-planned imperial invasions.

Syria’s stand against the Western agencies of death and destruction is a stand for all of humanity against the dark forces that fester beneath our politician’s empty words and the courtesan media’s toxic lies.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Mark Taliano, Global Research, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hillary's Con: Running from the Record

Hillary’s Convention Con

by Ralph Nader - Dissident Voice

July 29th, 2016

The 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia was a multi-layered, raucous display of political theater. A host of delegates loyal to Senator Bernie Sanders were inside in large numbers exclaiming “No more war” during former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s speech and raising all kinds of progressive, rebellious signs and banners against the Hillary crowd.

Although Hillary addressed them directly in her acceptance speech, “Your cause is my cause,” those dissatisfied delegates in the hall saw her rhetoric for what it was: insincere and opportunistic.

She said she’d tax the wealthy for public necessities, but declined to mention a sales tax on Wall Street speculation that could bring in as much as $300 billion a year to support such initiatives. She opposed “unfair trade agreements,” but remarkably omitted saying she was against the TPP (the notorious pending Trans Pacific Trade Agreement backed by Obama that is receiving wide left/right opposition).

She paid lip service to a “living wage” but avoided endorsing a $15 an hour minimum wage, which would help single moms and their children – people she wants us to believe have been her enduring cause. Few people know that it took until the spring of 2014 before candidate Clinton would come out for even a $10.10 minimum wage. News reports noted that Clinton, a former member of Walmart’s board of directors and Arkansas corporate lawyer, was wrestling with how to support $10.10 per hour without alienating her Wall Street friends.

“Caring for kids” doesn’t extend to encircled Gaza’s defenseless children, hundreds of whom were killed by American-made weapons wielded by the all powerful Israeli military. Gaza is the the world’s largest open air prison and under illegal blockade. Remember, as Secretary of State, Hillary fully backed war crimes, condemned by almost all countries in the world. On the stage in Philadelphia, she spoke of backing Israel’s security without any mention of Palestinian rights or the need to end Israel’s illegal occupation of the territories.

It is true, as numerous speakers repeated, Clinton is “most qualified and experienced,” but her record shows those qualities have led to belligerent, unlawful military actions that are now boomeranging against U.S. interests. The intervention she insistently called for in Libya, with Obama’s foolish consent, over-rode the wiser counsel of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (and his generals), who warned of the chaos that would follow. He was proven right, with chaotic violence now all over Libya spilling into other African countries. This is but one example of what Bernie Sanders meant during the debates when he referenced her “poor judgement.”

The media coverage of political conventions tends to sink to the level of the circus. The PBS/NPR coverage with some half dozen reporters and two commentators proved to be thin, light, soft and superficial. Otherwise smart media communicators were reduced to very heavy focus on exactly what the Party’s manipulators wanted. “What is Hillary really like?” Of course the stage was filled with frothy admiration, awe and acclamation. But why didn’t the media point out some of the factual omissions, the contradictions to the endless sugarcoating of the nominee?

To her credit, NPR/PBS reporter, Susan Davis, did blurt out that the Convention program was mostly about personality and character with little policy. Reporters did, however, point out that unlike all other candidates, Hillary Clinton has not had a news conference since last December to showcase her supposed experience, qualifications and knowledge!

Why wouldn’t Hillary Clinton, in her attack on Donald Trump, demand the release of his tax returns? Hillary and Bill have regularly released their tax returns. Maybe because Trump would demand Hillary release her secret Wall Street transcripts of her $5,000-a-minute paid speeches to big bankers and other businesses.

To her verbal credit, Hillary Clinton raised the “unpatriotic” charge against too many U.S. corporations (not all she added) when it comes to our country. Born in the U.S.A, grown to profit on the backs of American workers, bailed out by American taxpayers and occasionally by the U.S. Marines overseas, these giant companies have no allegiance to country or community. They are, with trade agreements and other inducements, abandoning America’s workers and escaping America’s laws and taxes.

Hearing the word “unpatriotic” applied to those companies I could imagine these firms’ executives and P.R. flacks shuddering for the only time during her 55-minute address. The stigma of being “unpatriotic” to their enabling native country can have consequential legs for turning public opinion even more deeply against these monetized corporate Goliaths.

Stung by the consistently high “untrustworthy” ratings since polling started asking that question (only Trump exceeds her in most polls), she declared again that no one achieves greatness alone, that it takes us working together, that it “Takes a Village,” alluding to her earlier book. If that is true, then Together must have more power than the Few. “Together” should include workers, consumers, small taxpayers, voters and communities who are excluded from power, from the tools of democracy – electoral reforms and clean elections, more unions and cooperatives, access to justice for wrongful injuries and against crony capitalism and corporate crime and greater citizen empowerment. Does she have an agenda for a devolution of power from the few to the many so that we can be “stronger together,” (her slogan for 2016)? No way. Mum’s the word!

This immense gap has been the Clinton duo’s con job on America for many years. Sugarcoating phrases, populist flattery, getting the election over with and jumping back into the fold of the plutocracy is their customary M.O.

An anti-Hillary campaign button sums it up. Imagine a nice picture of Hillary with the words “More Wall Street” above her head and the words “More War” below her head.

Alert voters could see it coming at the Convention: the militarism for Hillary the Hawk on day four in Philadelphia and the arrival of the corporate fat cats. Or, as the New York Times headlined: “Top Donors Leave Sidelines, Checkbooks in Hand.”

The best thing Hillary Clinton has going for her is the self-destructive, unstable, unorganized, fact and truth-starved, egomaniacal, cheating, plutocratic, Donald Trump (See my column “Cheating Donald”).

That’s where our nation’s two-party political leadership is today. When will the vast left/right majority rise to take over and reverse the eviscerating policies and practices of this political duopoly?

Ralph Nader is a leading consumer advocate, the author of Unstoppable The Emerging Left Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State (2014), among many other books, and a four-time candidate for US President. Read other articles by Ralph, or visit Ralph's website.

The Democrat/Republican Switcheroo

The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places

by David Rovics - CounterPunch

July 29, 2016

Very simply: all of the changes to the DNC platform are meaningless words until they become laws. And most of them can’t become laws because implementing them would run right up against the goals of the TPP/TTIP — “barriers to trade” in neoliberal speak — which the current president and his party leadership actively support.

These politicians — whatever gender or color — are bought and sold.

(Yes, I agree that both Barack and Michelle give great speeches. Speeches, however, are not policy.) The proof is in their voting records.

For them to support secretive, corporate-driven trade negotiations and pretend to be progressive is to render the term “progressive” completely meaningless. WTF is a “pragmatic progressive”?

What I seem to be witnessing is the two parties completing a 100-year process of mutual inversion, or whatever the term may be. For a century, the Democrats were the party of white supremacy and white labor — the party of the white working class. That’s how they sold themselves, essentially, for a century. The Republicans were the party of capitalism and freedom.

If that seems like a strange mix of values to you, well, it is, but I didn’t make it up. And now look at the party leadership today. Of course what they do and what they say are two different things, but how are they positioning themselves in terms of rhetoric?

Trump wants to end taxation for people who earn less than $50,000 a year, close military bases around the world and use the savings in the military budget for domestic purposes. He wants to heavily tax imports in order to keep jobs in the US, and he opposes TPP and other neoliberal trade policies that he accurately says are bad for the US working class. He talks about the working people as if they exist. Every day. He positions himself as critical of the elites with which he is intimately familiar, while also blaming nonwhite people for all the world’s ills in many different forms.

That is to say, in short, he has adopted the kind of rhetoric which was the backbone of the Democratic Party for the century or so before, during and after the US Civil War.

And the Democratic Party establishment? They talk pro-immigrant bullshit while deporting millions, they talk about peace while making war, they talk about civil rights while administering over a nation at war with its black and brown populations, they talk about working families without even mentioning the idea of rent control ever — which is banned statewide in 48 out of 50 states, many of which are usually controlled almost completely by Democrats.

And they talk of prosperity and American “greatness” while supporting neoliberal trade deals that have and will continue to impoverish most Americans even further, along with so many others in the world, as the rich get even richer. They don’t even pretend to oppose the TPP — at least now that Sanders has been defeated and has declared his support for a proven neoliberal war-maker.

Trump is now the Democrat, and Clinton the Republican.

Can a guy who speaks out against empire-building, in favor of protectionist trade policies, and who routinely denigrates people of color get elected president in the US Well, minus the racism and xenophobia, the one candidate on the Democratic ticket who spoke out (at least somewhat convincingly) against empire-building and (much more convincingly) against neoliberalism has just told us to vote for the empire-building neoliberal.

And the one candidate remaining who makes a fairly clear case against “free trade” and empire is the Republican. Is his blatant racism and xenophobia enough to stop him from being elected, when he is seen by many as the only candidate willing to stand up to the banks?

Ask Woodrow Wilson. He served two terms. Oh, but maybe American democracy has evolved since then. If it has, it’s a hard thing to measure objectively. What can be measured is the stratification of wealth, which is greater than it has ever been since the 19th century (just before Wilson got elected), and the only (major party) candidate now talking about what to do about that situation with any easily-understood, concrete proposals that don’t sound like window-dressing is Trump.

I’m so tired of hearing people talk about the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany with every new US election in my lifetime involving a racist Republican (which is all of the elections in my lifetime) that I’m not even going to address that historical parallel, although there are always relevant comparisons to be made with lots of different periods of history. But what I find interesting is the election of the quintessential Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, in 1913.

Wilson ran for president in the wake of empire-building wars that the US led in Cuba, the Philippines and elsewhere that were very costly in terms of money and lives, during a time when the US was severely stratified economically and was experiencing a massive wave of emigration — both people coming into the US from Europe, and people moving within the US. Reacting to the situation as a typical Democratic politician would at the time, Wilson spoke out against empire-building, capitalist oligarchs, and any nonwhite people wanting any kind of recognition or resolution of their particular negative circumstances.

He got elected, and of course proceeded to decimate the entire working class, white and otherwise, forming the US’s first national police force (called the FBI), employing thugs to burn down union halls across the country, arresting and killing many union organizers. And he sent hundreds of thousands of American workers to their deaths in the “war to end all wars,” which was a very deadly and very successful empire-building exercise that saw the dissolution and western take-over of the vast Ottoman Empire — setting the stage for a century of war and conflict unparalleled in world history.

Back then, if you opposed war, capitalism and racism, you would not have a candidate to vote for. You’d have had to choose between the anti-war and anti-capitalist racist, or the pro-war and pro-capitalist guy who was supposedly more sympathetic to immigrants and people of color.

We know what happened after Wilson got elected. His opponents, people like Theodore Roosevelt, were the ones who had just made war against a lot of different countries a few years earlier. Would the US have stayed out of World War 1 if Roosevelt had won another round instead? Would you have been telling me to vote for Roosevelt back then because he was supposedly less of a racist than Wilson?

I think I’m going to start looking into getting a Hungarian passport. I’m so glad I’m going to be on tour in Europe in September or October. I just wish I were getting out sooner.
David Rovics is a singer/songwriter based in Portland, Oregon.

More articles by:David Rovics

State of Fools: Reflections on a Clinton Presidency

My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools

by Margot Kidder - CounterPunch

July 29, 2016

There is something I am going to try and explain here after watching the Democratic National Convention this evening that will invite the scorn of many of my friends. But the words are gagging my throat and my stomach is twisted and sick and I have to vomit this out. The anti-americanism in me is about to explode and land god knows where as my rage is well beyond reason. And I, by heritage, half American in a way that makes me “more” American than almost anyone else in this country except for the true Americans, the American Indians, am in utter denial tonight that I am, as you are, American as well.

I am half Canadian, I was brought up there, with very different values than you Americans hold, and tonight — after the endless spit ups and boasts and rants about the greatness of American militarism, and praise for American military strength, and boasts about wiping out ISIS, and America being the strongest country on earth, and an utterly inane story from a woman whose son died in Obama’s war, about how she got to cry in gratitude on Obama’s shoulder — tonight I feel deeply Canadian. Every subtle lesson I was ever subliminally given about the bullies across the border and their rudeness and their lack of education and their self-given right to bomb whoever they wanted in the world for no reason other than that they wanted something the people in the other country had, and their greed, came oozing to the surface of my psyche.

I just got back from a rather fierce walk beside the Yellowstone River here in Montana, trying to let the mountains in the distance reconnect me to some place of goodness in my soul, but I couldn’t find it. The scenery was as exquisite as ever, but it just couldn’t touch the rage in my heart. The visions of all the dead children in Syria that Hillary Clinton helped to kill; the children bombed to bits in Afghanistan and Pakistan from Obama’s drones, the grisly chaos of Libya, the utter wasteland of Iraq, the death and destruction everywhere caused by American military intervention. Ukraine, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, you name it — your country has bombed it or destroyed its civilian life in some basic way.

When I heard all the Americans cheering for the military and the pronouncements of might coming from the speakers in the Wells Fargo Centre, I loathed you. I loathed every single one of you. I knew in my gut that what I was taught as a child was true, which is that YOU are the enemy. YOU are the country to be feared. YOU are the country to be disgusted by. YOU are ignorant. And your greed and self-satisfaction and unearned pride knows no bounds.

I am not an American tonight. I reject my Puritan ancestors who landed in this country in 1648. I reject the words I voiced at my citizenship ceremony. I reject every moment of thrilling discovery I ever had in this country.

You people have no idea what it is like for people from other countries to hear you boast and cheer for your guns and your bombs and your soldiers and your murderous military leaders and your war criminals and your murdering and conscienceless Commander in Chief. All those soaring words are received by the rest of us, by us non-Americans, by all the cells in our body, as absolutely repugnant and obscene.

And there you all are tonight, glued to your TVs and your computers, your hearts swelled with pride because you belong to the strongest country on Earth, cheering on your Murderer President. Ignorant of the entire world’s repulsion. You kill and you kill and you kill, and still you remain proud.

We are fools.

Margot Kidder is an actress and activist in Montana.
More articles by:Margot Kidder

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Putin and the Wolf: Clinton Doctrine Previews with 'Reality Inversion' on E-Mail Leaks

Trump and Those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Russians

by Finian Cunningham - Sputnik

July 26, 2016

In an amazing feat of American reality-inversion, this week saw revelations about how the US electoral system is rigged by the rich and powerful. Yet the story is flipped to outlandish allegations that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is a villain out to destroy Western democracy.

US media outlets from the august New York Times to various others were saturated with claims that Putin is trying to determine the forthcoming American presidential elections by damaging Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in favor of Republican nominee Donald Trump. In an article in Slate magazine, we are told: “Putin plan for destroying the West – and it looks a lot like Donald Trump”.

The billionaire property magnate is now being labelled as “Putin’s puppet” and the “Kremlin’s candidate”.

This is a re-run of American establishment paranoia that dominated the Cold War decades, when any political challenger for high office in the US could be blackballed by mere assertion that he was a fellow-traveller of the Soviet Union. Today, “communism” is replaced with allegations of being friends with Moscow “tyranny”.

But let’s deal with the facts here. What we know is that a huge leak of emails from the Democrat National Committee was released last week by Western-based whistleblower organization, Wikileaks, run by Australian journalist Julian Assange. The emails are a devastating indictment of how the Democrat party leadership has from the outset sought to make sure Hillary Clinton becomes the presidential nominee by crushing her populist rival Bernie Sanders. Clinton is backed by big business, Wall Street and the Pentagon.

The Wikileaks email revelations on the eve of the Democrat convention this week in Philadelphia is proof that what passes for American democracy is a rigged system, ordained by the rich and powerful to elect their candidate to do their bidding when in office.

Sanders acknowledged how the political system was unfairly stacked against him and his supporters. Nevertheless, the Vermont senator has gone on to endorse Clinton, to the disgust of many of his supporters.

Rather than focusing on what is a teachable moment of corporate control of politics, the US media performed mental gymnastics by shifting this real story on to wild speculation that the Democrat email leaks were masterminded by Russian intelligence. The allegation was flatly denied by Wikileaks.

So now, instead of the public examining how powerful American interest prevail on their democratic choice, the narrative becomes one of accusing Vladimir Putin of subverting the US presidential elections. The slander against Russia is only afforded a semblance of credibility because it is piled on a heap of previous slander, in which Moscow is accused of annexing and invading Ukrainian territory, posing a threat to Eastern Europe, assassinating political opponents, shooting down civilian airliners and sponsoring illicit drugs in Olympic sports.

One again, rumor, insinuation and vilification triumph over facts in the Western media’s so-called news services.

The story of Russian state-sponsored hackers breaking into the Democrat party’s email system first surfaced more than a month ago. As pointed out previously, the source of claims that it was Russian cyber-espionage was a private US security firm, CrowdStrike, which is closely linked to the Washington DC-based think tank Atlantic Council. The Atlantic Council is, in turn, tightly aligned with the US-led NATO military alliance.

The claims made against Russian state hackers are unverifiable. They are simply assertions from a partisan source, which are then amplified into seeming fact by the dutiful Western media.

Incredibly, this anti-Russian smear is then parlayed into a smear against Clinton’s Republican rival, Donald Trump.

Using stilted reasoning and scant regard for facts, the US media are charging that the Kremlin’s “hack” is “an effort to elect Donald Trump”. The brash business mogul is now being portrayed as a Russian “fifth columnist” orchestrated by Vladimir Putin to undermine American world power.

This is a refrain of much-vaunted allegations that Putin is trying to wreck the European Union by financing anti-EU political parties; that Putin engineered Britain’s Brexit vote to quit the EU last month; or that the Russian leader is working a dastardly policy of sowing division among NATO members.

Trump has derided the “Putin puppet” allegations as ludicrous. It is true that Trump has previously spoken favorably about Putin, and that he has promised to improve relations between the US and Russia if elected in November.

As for Moscow, the Russian government has been careful not to make any public comments on the US elections that could be construed as favoring one candidate over another. Moscow has scrupulously kept out of US election affairs. Putin did refer once to Trump as being a “bright” and “talented” person. So what?

Underneath the mountain of hype and disinformation, one suspects that Trump’s comments last week dismissing NATO are the real bone of contention. Trump told the New York Times that he wouldn’t order US forces automatically to defend Eastern European NATO members if they were attacked.

The Republican candidate “overturned a cornerstone of US foreign policy since the Second World War” noted various Western media outlets. In a refreshing use of independent reasoning, Trump in fell swoop rejected the whole Washington-led narrative of NATO defending Europe from Russian aggression. This narrative has been recklessly contrived and pushed by Washington over the last two years, which has heightened the danger of an all-out nuclear war with Russia.

Donald Trump may turn out a huge disappointment if elected to the White House. But at this stage, one has to acknowledge that his views, at least in regard to Russia, are significantly more welcome than Hillary Clinton’s, who is a Pentagon hawk in liberal clothing.

Trump’s refusal to sing from the same Pentagon hymn sheet of panning Russia as a global threat and calling for increased NATO militarism on Russia’s border is sheer anathema to the Washington establishment.

That is why the US powers-that-be are moving to discredit Trump as “a Russian puppet”.

And recall, the source of the Russian email hacker claims is a security firm linked with the Atlantic Council/NATO nexus.

Trump’s indifferent views on NATO and alleged Russian aggression in Europe are in total discord with the geopolitical interests of Washington and its drive for hegemony.

Since the Republican candidate gave his tepid views on NATO last week, there has been a parade of Western security pundits lambasting him as a patsy for Putin.

It is a disturbing sign of how brainwashed Western public discourse is that when someone questions Washington’s reckless war beat towards Moscow, then that person is summarily dismissed as a Kremlin tool. This is the practice of a totalitarian system, ironically under the illusion of a free-thinking, independent media.

The real story here is how American democracy is bought and paid for by powerful elite interests within the country. The email hacking issue on how Clinton is being selected as the next president by powerful corporations and the military industrial complex should be focus.

But no. The public’s attention is diverted by fantasies over villainous Vlad and his comrade Trump.

American politics has long been scoffed at by international observers as a joke version of democracy. Now we know it is a joke, and it’s not funny.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

DNC Inside Outside: Mass Sanders' Delegate Walk-Outs Merge with Black Lives Matter Demo in Philly

Moving beyond the Sanders campaign: 750 Sanders Delegates in Convention Walk-Out as Green Party's Jill Stein Joins Anti-Hillary Protests Outside

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

July 27, 2016

Philadelphia - While former president Bill Clinton last night spun a web of fabrications [1] about his wife Hillary's progressive "accomplishments" as First Lady, senator and secretary of state in a featured speech to an embarrassingly depleted audience in the Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic Convention was being held, an impromptu demonstration outside on Broad Street by protesters from Bernie or Bust and Black Lives Matter was listening to Dr. Jill Stein, the likely presidential candidate of the Green Party, calling for them to continue their movement by backing her third party bid.

Bernie or Bust protesters, Sanders delegates who had walked out of the
Convention in protest, and Black Lives Matter protesters marched together 
(photos offered by Akhil Kalepu)

The protest action really began in the late afternoon when, at the end of a roll-call vote of delegates from all 57 primary states and territories which formally nominated Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. As Bernie Sanders was completing his surrender to Clinton by having his Vermont delegation offer their votes to Clinton, some 750 of his nearly 1850 delegates were staging a walkout from the convention hall. Several hundred occupied the convention press tent. [2] Others went out on the street, with most heading up to City Hall, where many of them joined Bernie or Bust activists to announce that they were not supporting Clinton.

The corporate media couldn't seem to get its story straight on the walk-out, which caught many lazy reporters by surprise, though anyone talking with Sanders delegates on Monday would have known the idea was being worked out of a mass walkout. The NY Times and other pro-Hillary news organizations talked of "dozens" of delegates walking out [3], though hundreds filled the press tent alone [4] and hundreds more just left the convention "green zone" altogether [5].

Some of the walk-out delegates then drifted back down toward the Wells Fargo Center and FDR Park, where a loud, energetic protest was held outside the fenced-in and heavily guarded convention site. There was reportedly some police use of teargas to break up the protest outside the gate to the convention, and a few incidents of people trying to climb the fence -- part of a four-mile exclusion perimeter set up by convention organizers, the city and the Secret Service -- the protest morphed into a march up the wide Broad Street roadway towards a waiting line of Philadelphia Police. The cops had been arrayed so as to block marchers from moving further uptown. As the protesters, bearing home-made signs that said things like "Jill not Hill" and "DNC Corrupt," pressed in towards the massed cops, and the scene started becoming increasingly tense, suddenly a second large march, this featuring the Black Lives Matter movement, appeared, marching down Broad street from the north.

The police, finding themselves effectively surrounded by converging marchers coming from in front of and behind their suddenly thin-looking line, fell back, allowing the two groups to merge. After a brief moment of confusion and indecision, the whole combined march opted to proceed in the direction of the Black Lives Matter protesters, heading back down to the outside of the Wells Fargo Center.

When we all arrived back where we had started, blocked by the convention's security fencing (how ironic that Democrats, who have been decrying Donald Trump's call for a "beautiful wall" at the Mexican border, chose to wall off their convention from the public!), we found Green Party presidential hopeful Jill Stein at the entrance giving a press interview. Cries of "Jill Stein is here!" spread through the length of the march, causing people to press forward in an attempt to hear the Green Party's likely presidential candidate (the Green Party's nominating convention is set for next week in Houston).

On learning of her presence, people began excitedly shouting :Jill not Hill!" and "We love you Jill!" so loudly that she could not be heard. People began shouting for silence but to no avail. Then one woman, harking back to the days of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement, yelled out "Mike Check!" Immediately others picked up the cry, and within less than a minute there was silence. Some marcher with a large battery-powered megaphone passed it up over the heads of the crowd to Stein, who was accompanied by anti-poverty and Green Party activist Cheri Honkala, and Stein gave an impromptu speech.

The Green leader repeatedly thanked the assembled Sanders delegates and backers for "starting this revolution and refusing to let it die." She called on them to move to the Green Party to continue their struggle, saying, "We're standing up to say we demand living-wage jobs. We deserve an emergency jobs program and a Green New Deal to create 20 million new jobs and give the US 100% renewable energy by 2030." She also called for free public higher education for all and added, to loud cheering, "We need to bail out the students like we did for the crooked Wall Street banks!"

Moving beyond the Sanders campaign, which sidestepped the issue of military spending, Stein said, "Foreign policy should be based on international law," adding that current US foreign policy, based upon wars and threats of wars, is "nothing more than a marketing strategy for the weapons industry." She said the hundreds of billions of dollars a year wasted on military spending should be instead "spent at home" on meeting human needs, including erasing the $1.3 trillion in outstanding student debt for higher education. Stein noted that 42 million Americans are saddled with debt for college and that if they all voted for the Green Party and its debt forgiveness program, "We would win this election."

 Anti-Hillary protesters, angry Sanders backers and Black Lives Matter 
activists mass at convention gate facing riot police arrayed inside the 
convention 'green zone'

She concluded, "We should not allow Donald Trump to win the election, but we should not allow Hillary Clinton to win it either. Democracy needs a moral compass. Enough of lesser-evil voting. Fight for the greater good!: Don't let them tell you for a minute that we are an irrelevant footnote! We have the votes to win!"

Stein and Honkala joined the mass of protesters and Bernie delegate walk-outs as the march moved up to the main gate to the fenced-in sports arena district containing the Wells Fargo Center convention. Although the short, slightly-built Stein was almost lost in the crush of the crowd, she seemed remarkably at ease in the mass of protesters, taking time to converse with those she passed and shaking hands. At the gate, behind which stood a menacing-looking line of Pennsylvania State Police all decked out in full black riot gear with face plates and gas masks and carrying big batons, Stein gave another version of her speech.

Drifting back uptown as Bill Clinton's speech to the remaining delegates in the convention center dragged on, some Bernie Sanders delegates heading back to their hotels announced that they would be switching their support to Stein, and said they had tossed their delegate passes, apparently having no more interest in attending the final two days of the Democratic Convention, which will feature Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech.

"I got to cast my vote for Bernie for president," said one Bernie delegate from Florida. 
"That was all I wanted to be able to do. I tossed my delegate credentials over the fence. I'm done."


Refuge: Journey from Izmir to Greece

Farewell to Yarmouk: A Palestinian Refugee’s Journey from Izmir to Greece

by Ramzy Baroud  -

July 27, 2016

(Based on interviews with Palestinian refugees from Syria.)

The refugee camp of Yarmouk was ever present in his being, pulling him in and out of an abyss of persistent fears that urged him to never return. But what was this refugee without Yarmouk, his first haven, his last earth?

How could any other spot in this unwelcoming universe ever be a ‘home’ when he had learned that only Palestine, which he had never visited, can ever be a home? When questioned, he always answered without hesitation: “I am from the village of so and so in Palestine.” Yet the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria was all that remained of Palestine, as the Palestine he knew only existed in books or the tattered map in his family’s living room. But at least he had her along to share his grief; without her he would have never embarked on his quest. His name was Khaled al-Lubani and her name was Maysam.

Their first attempt at crossing the sea was doomed to fail. The one thousand American dollars that Khaled’s father had given him in Yarmouk was almost depleted, and the money promised to him by his aunt in the UAE was still nowhere to be seen. By then, they had settled in Izmir at Turkey’s farthest western corner, and the closest in proximity to Greece. Wanting opportunities and a chance at a real life, they knew this was just a temporary stopover in their long-term plans.

After a short stay at a cheap hotel, they sought an even cheaper accommodation, a small flat that cost them 400 Turkish liras each month. But with money running out, and Maysam’s anxieties increasingly suffocating her every thought, Khaled felt the pressure mounting. As he waited and waited for his aunt’s money, he felt as if she were dangling him off the side of a cliff.

When the Syrian war started, Khaled cared little for the politics of war. He had reached the conclusion a long time ago that nothing good came out of politics and that anyone wearing a government or militia uniform could not be trusted. However, the war inched closer to Yarmouk, despite the pleas of the refugees to the warring parties to spare them more agony.

And when Yarmouk was roundly destroyed, Khaled, pressured by the tears and pleas of his parents, fled. A long, costly and agonizing journey landed them both in Izmir.

Their first attempt to cross the sea was with Abu Dandi. There was something about his shady looks and face that suggested he lacked honor and could not be trusted. In his fifties, he was heavy, with a large, protruding belly, and short white hair. He was addicted to overcooked black tea, and spent most of his time at the ‘Syrian Club’ playing backgammon, oozing the crude confidence of an unatoned gambler.

Other Palestinian refugees pledged all of their faith to finding a new life via this no-guarantees trip. But an hour after their journey began, the dinghy’s small engine came to a complete halt.

In one single, heavy choke, without any sign or introduction, it completely expired. As alarm permeated Khaled from head to toe, he knew going back was just not an option. Adding to the acute drama, Maysam’s fears and anxieties were culminating into unintelligible mumbles about the scary sea below.

Left without any options, Abu Dandi called the Turkish coast guard, who eventually showed up and hauled them back to an Izmir prison.

They had met the captain of the second dinghy, Abu Salma, while in prison. Captured freshly after his own failed expedition, Abu Salma promised them deliverance or their money back, guaranteed. Sadly, their original payment was never refunded by the miserable smuggler with the protruding belly.

The second expedition was not successful, either, although, this time, the smugglers managed to take the boat much further. The engine did not abruptly stop, but nervously made a ticking sound before it quickly began to hemorrhage a line of dark diesel fuel into the crisp, blue Mediterranean Sea. The pathetic dinghy then suddenly stalled, immediately on reaching Greek waters. When the coast guard intercepted them, they threw out a rope from their large boat so that they could haul the unwelcome passengers to safety.

Trying to circumvent the Greek boat, the passengers rowed frantically and with all their remaining energy. It was as if this was their final task in their epic struggle to feel human again. But the dinghy was brought to a forced halt as the crushing emotions of defeat weighed heavy on their slouched backs.

With little interest in bringing the refugees to their side of the sea, the Greek coast guard robotically tuned out their chronicles of death and disgrace, and quickly telephoned the Turkish gendarmes who hauled the dinghy back to square one, holding its passengers prisoner for two more days.

Swearing in the name of his three-year-old daughter once more, Abu Salma insisted he was still the best smuggler in the business, and if it were not for their cursed luck, they would have already reached Greece and would have been dining like kings while the Greek gods watched from above. Promising the group a bigger and faster engine for their fourth try, Abu Salma, once again, led the passengers back to the same old designated spot where the dinghy was supposedly tucked away; but the boat was nowhere to be found.

Emotionally drained and tired, they walked back to the main road, only to find the gendarmes waiting for them.

When they attempted again, the group of nine had materialized into twenty, and included other war refugees, longing for the safety they were denied at home. This dinghy was slightly larger than the last one, but the engine was even smaller than their first. Heated reactions by the men ensued as they yelled and roared in anger. The women cried out in pain, some grabbing their hearts, some dropping to their knees. Maysam broke down and buried her sopping wet face into the sand.

Most of the passengers just walked away and stood in the sand trying to conjure up a plan that no one had envisioned prior. But the Palestinians, along with Khaled and Maysam, stayed. Their will was just too strong to give up after all they had gone through. Assuming the role of leader, they were urged on by Khaled, yet again.

“Just go this way,” the smuggler pointed his stubby fingers into some direction in the dark. And that is just what Khaled did. He challenged the darkness and what he saw as the final push towards freedom. For the entire journey, Maysam quietly sobbed and held onto his arm for dear life.

Then, finally, the much awaited lights of the Island of Mytilene glittered in the distance. “Ya Allah, Ya Allah, Ya Allah,” muttered Maysam in a final attempt to cram in as many prayers as she possibly could so that the dinghy would reach the shores, bringing an end to the Syrian and Turkish nightmares, and freeing them from the abyss of the condemned.

A small jar of crunchy peanut better was all that Khaled and Maysam had left in their small duffel bag when their feet first touched the sand of Mytilene late one night. The exhilaration of their success blasted up their spines as they cried and jumped for joy.

But as they tried to process the unbelievable comfort the white sand offered them, it was quickly overshadowed by a haunting, unforeseen and unexpected fear of the future. The water soaking through their trainers suddenly felt like a cold omen.

Dr Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm With Jill: Burning Bernie

I’m with Jill Stein! No crooked sociopaths in the White House

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

July 26, 2016 

Philadelphia - Dr. Jill Stein, the presumptive presidential nominee of the Green Party, which holds its own nominating convention next week, Aug. 4-6, in Houston, had it right when earlier this year she offered to step aside and let Bernie Sanders, after failing to win the Democratic nomination, come in and head the Green Party ticket, running against Clinton and Trump in the general election.

Forget Trump's wall. Hillary and the
DNC, fearing protesters, had a 4-mile
fence erected around the convention
center, creating an exclusionary
'Green Zone' for party honchos and delegates.

Had Sanders taken her up on her surprising offer, instead of bowing to the corrupt powers that be in the Democratic National Committee and the oligarchic corporations that are backing Hillary Clinton, and ultimately endorsing Clinton, he could well have out-polled both Clinton and Trump and ended up winning the presidency as a Green partisan. He had a chance, even if he didn’t win, to upend the stifling Democratic/Republican duopoly that has been crushing progressive movements and gutting what’s left of New Deal and Great Society programs for generations, and to create the foundation for a new politics in the US -- to give American voters a true choice finally between one or two sclerotic pro-capitalist parties, and, at long last, a genuine people’s party.

Instead of that Hail Mary, Sanders decided to forfeit the game.

Some of his nearly 1900 pledged delegates, either after Tuesday’s roll call voting or on Thursday, when Clinton is nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, will likely stage a walk-out from the Convention Center. Hopefully they, and hundreds of thousands of Sanders activists or the millions of Sanders backers who voted for him in the primaries, or who supported his campaign but were barred from voting in the many closed primaries and caucuses, will decide to walk right into the welcoming arms of the Green Party.

Bob Nelson, a Sanders delegate from Pasadena who is at the convention, says that the California delegation, which includes factions of people including those who say they will in the end stay in the Democratic Party and ultimately will back Clinton (as Sanders is asking them to do, often to loud boos), those who will stay in the Party but who will only support down-ticket candidates but not Clinton, those who will quit the party -- perhaps as part of a public walk-out from the convention hall -- but who will still vote for Clinton in November so as not to allow Trump to win the state in a close contest, and those who will quit the party entirely, and probably support the Green Party.

He predicts that the Green Party and its presidential candidate, and possibly candidates for other state offices, could fare very well in California this year as long as polls show the race Clinton-Trump to be not even close. He notes that the state is overwhelmingly Democratic, and also that more than half the state is people of color and either immigrants or the descendants of recent immigrants, meaning Trump is unlikely to do well there. “You could see a significant vote for the Green Party in California this year,” he says. Certainly the level of anger among Sanders delegates at the convention and outside on the street, especially after the Wikileaks release of 20,000 emails showing the blatant, coordinated efforts by the DNC and the Hillary campaign to undermine and destroy Sanders’ primary chances and to manipulate media coverage of his campaign, is unprecedented, and is not likely to go away after the convention is over.

At a breakfast Monday morning of the Florida delegation, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Florida Congresswoman and Democratic Party Chair outed as an anti-Sanders saboteur by Wikileaks but still scheduled to gavel open the convention that day, was booed so severely by both Clinton and Sanders delegates that she had to leave the room, after which the DNC hastily cancelled her appearance as convention convener, handing it off to a minister (who herself was booed loudly when she ended her ecumenical prayer with a word for Hillary Clinton).

I have no illusions that Stein or another Green candidate will win the election in November, absent the hugely popular Sanders as the standard bearer. There are just too many obstacles to that happening, ranging from a corporate media that will violate all standards of journalistic integrity to avoid reporting at all on the Green campaign and its political positions (which include such radical stances as a slashing the US military budget, self-determination for Palestinians and suspension of foreign aid, including military aid, to Israel as long as it continues occupying Palestinian land, replacement of Obamacare with a single-payer health system like Canada’s, college debt forgiveness, 90% reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2050, etc.), an electorate habituated to thinking only in terms of voting for the “lesser evil,” or for a candidate who meets some single standard (black, white, a woman, a “believer,” or some other identity-politics category), and of course money. Sanders as a Green could have probably counted on continuing to garner tens of millions of dollars a month in small donations from his backers as during the primaries, but without him, that is hard to imagine any Green candidate managing to do.

Although it must be noted that since Sanders threw in the towel, Stein’s campaign has reported that donations have jumped an astonishing 1000%, with many contributors giving $27, the symbolic amount favored by the Sanders campaign during the primaries. As of mid-July, the Stein campaign has reported raised over $650,000. That’s a far cry from the tens of millions raised by Sanders in month after month of campaigning, but it’s miles beyond what the Green Party has managed to collect in years past, and will likely continue to climb after the Green Party’s campaign starts in earnest after their convention.

At this point, the Democratic Convention is mostly denouement, with Clinton’s nomination a foregone conclusion, barring a panicky stampede to Sanders by the 500 convention super delegates fearful of a Trump victory over a badly wounded Clinton (highly unlikely). The only other excitement this week would be either some colossal blunder by hubby Bill who is the final speaker Tuesday evening -- something that would further inflame Sanders delegates or scandalize more voters (always possible), or a surprisingly large walkout by Sanders delegates (possible too) either Wednesday or Thursday.

What’s needed now is maximum support for the Green Party which needs to rise from 3% to 15% in the polls in order for its candidate -- probably Jill Stein -- to land a spot in the presidential debates this fall -- the one way that her campaign could really become a challenge to the two tottering major parties.

Here in Philadelphia, where we have our own temporary version of Baghdad’s “Green Zone,” with an impenetrable four-mile fence barricading the aptly names Wells Fargo Convention Center and the delegate hotels, and an army of police enforcing separation from the masses -- a good indication of the current popularity of what was once considered to be the party of the people, we will celebrate the departure of the corrupt power elite and their latest White House wannabe Hillary Clinton, leaving behind just our own city’s and state’s small-time political con-artists and crooks.

Our city delivered George W. Bush to the country in 2000. Now we’re bequeathing it Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Dave Lindorff, Peter Lee, Janine Bandcroft July 27, 2016

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

July 27, 2016

It may be America's most fractious elections ever; not so much because of the bitterness accrued during the gridlocked Obama years by both Republicans and Democrats, but more due to toxic levels of acrimony within each of the parties between grassroots activists and a ruling elite seen as hopelessly corrupt.

As we go to air, president Obama is preparing to address Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and award-winning print journalist, broadcaster, and founder of the web news site, This Can’t Be, Dave Lindorff is there, on the streets of his native Philly covering the extravaganza.

Dave Lindorff is also the author of: ‘This Can’t Be Happening! Resisting the Disintegration of American Democracy,’ ‘Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For Profit Hospital Chains,’ and ‘Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.’

Listen. Hear.

Dave Lindorff in the first half.
And; poor old Hillary is getting it from all quarters; now Vlad the E-mail Impaler is jumping on the dog pile.

Yes, the latest out of the embattled Clinton camp has Russian president, Vladmir Putin teaming up with cybervillian Julian Assange and Wikileaks hacking into the former first lady's privates in order to make their secret agent, fifth columnist, Donald -codename "The Donald"- Trump 45th president of the United States of America.

It may make for a thin film plot, but that's the script Hill's people are shopping around.

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US global policy. He is the moving force behind the Asian affairs website China Matters which provides continuing critical updates on China and Asia-Pacific policies. His articles to appear at Asia Times, and, among other internet news sites, and his latest takes a look at the latest scream meme coming from the Clinton camp.

Peter Lee and 'Trumputin! And the Leak(s)' in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of some of what's good going on in the coming week for the streets of our town, and beyond. But first, Dave Lindorff and a questionable amount of brotherly and sisterly love among Democrats in Philadelphia at the DNC.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Leaving Home: Running Away from Hillary (and the Democrats)

A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!

by Kshama Sawant - CounterPunch

July 26, 2016

A serious and wide-ranging debate has been taking place among Sandernistas in the two weeks since Bernie endorsed Hillary. And now with the Democratic Convention underway, the unresolved questions become more pressing by the day.

The central issue is whether we should follow Bernie’s lead in supporting Hillary’s corporate politics, or continue the political revolution by building our movement independent of the DNC. While I supported Bernie’s primary campaign, spoke at Bernie rallies, and initiated Movement4Bernie, I believe we simply cannot follow him in his decision to back Hillary. Our political revolution now risks being turned into its opposite, and funnelled into support for the DNC’s neoliberal agenda.

Backing corrupt establishment politicians is no way to defeat the right-wing – it will only embolden them and allow the political agenda to continue to be pushed further rightward. This failed strategy of lesser evilism is what has brought the 99% to this point.

And now genuine outrage at the corporate politics of the establishment has allowed a right-wing populist within striking distance of the presidency.

We cannot continue down this dead end.

As Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine for her running mate shows, she and the DNC have not in any significant way been “pushed to the left” over the course of the primary, in spite of some limited concessions being made with the non-binding platform and in minor reforms to superdelegate rules.

With Kaine, Clinton has chosen her neoliberal political twin, and earned Wall Street’s emphatic seal of approval. As if to underscore the political meaning of her VP choice, and perhaps as a signal to Corporate America, in the days before the announcement Kaine made clear his full commitment to both the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and to further bank deregulation. And now Donald Trump is set to use both Clinton’s and Kaine’s pro-corporate, “free trade,” anti-worker policies against them in the general election – and in this the Democratic ticket has provided him a near perfect target.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks’ exposure of the DNC has made crystal clear how rigged the (un)Democratic primary was from start to finish, with thousands of emails showing the absolute non-neutrality of a corrupt party leadership who made the primary into utterly hostile terrain for the democratic socialist challenger.

The leaks also completely exposed the hypocrisy of the Democratic Party leadership, which claims that its key priority is to defeat Trump. Yet they have fiercely and undemocratically backed Clinton in spite of the fact that the polls have shown Sanders to be the far stronger candidate in every matchup.

With the attention of the country and world focused on Philadelphia we now have some serious choices to make, as well as some powerful opportunities. The actions of Bernie delegates and activists both inside and outside the convention have the potential to make history this week.

Thousands are joining protests and rallies on the streets of Philadelphia. There are also many protest actions taking place inside the convention such as the tremendous anti-TPP action that took place yesterday, which temporarily halted the proceedings.

But the most powerful protest of all will be for delegates and activists to reject the neoliberal Democratic establishment altogether, and walk out of the convention in the largest possible numbers later this week.

Delegates have been organizing for just such a walkout action, and there is the potential for several hundred delegates to collectively walk out. This will take real courage. The convention is a huge, scripted spectacle with a carefully chosen procession of Democratic nobility, including people like Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren. But this year, perhaps in recognition of the political uprising that has taken place, the Democratic leadership has gone so far as to give the event a populist veneer, with some workers and activists also speaking. The scale and intimidating character of the 50,000 person event will no doubt have a psychological impact.

But for those who do take the bold step of walking out on the DNC and its neoliberal politics, there will be a rally with media, livestreamers, and fellow activists ready to greet them on the other side of the walls of the so-called “free speech zone.” Mass media have already been contacting Movement4Bernie in anticipation of the event. I hope I will see you there.

Delegates have had to organize underground, with a campaign of fear by party leaders being directed at any delegates advocating for strong protest actions or third party candidates, with the specific threat of having their delegate status revoked (called “de-credentialing”). But last week the organizing came above ground to some degree, with Occupy Wall Street coming out in favor of the walkout on their Facebook page and in Twitter, along with Bernie or Bust and Movement4Bernie. For updates on the walkout action you should follow all three twitter feeds. To help out, see the Q&A created by the organizers.

One of the most common arguments being made against the walkout is that delegates will somehow abandon their chance to fight for Bernie’s politics and lose their voice by leaving. But the walkout will happen well after the platform and nomination votes are over. After the nomination roll call, the convention becomes ever more purely ceremonial, undemocratic, and scripted: The Hillary Show™

As genuine reactions to the horror show of last week’s Republican National Convention already suggest, fear of Donald Trump will drive many votes in November. The danger of right-wing populism is all too real, but also for that reason it would be completely counterproductive to support Clinton and the DNC.

Over the past decades, effectively unchallenged by the left, the Democratic establishment has joined the Republicans in carrying out the neoliberal project, differing more in degree than direction.

If the 99% continues to support neoliberal politicians on a lesser-evil basis, it will only create more space for right-wing populism, as we have seen in other countries. This year, failure to stand up to the DNC would mean the anti-establishment space would be thrown wide open to right-wing candidates like Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson. Already, Johnson has received 9% in some polls. This would be a disaster, and millions of anti-establishment votes for Trump and Johnson could help create an ongoing base for right-populism and potential for a new right-wing party, like the National Front in France. The danger was already shown after 2009 by the rise of the Tea Party, when the right exploited the genuine fury at the Wall Street bailouts to build a new political force, while the left was busy making excuses for Obama.

We absolutely need to defeat the right but this requires a serious strategy. To succeed we will need to build the strongest possible movements completely independent of both parties of Wall Street. We will need to build our own mass political party of the 99%, that will work alongside those movements, rather than against them. Concretely, right now, we need to build the broadest possible support for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, whose campaign is the clear continuation of our political revolution.

A new mass party of the 99% will need to reject all corporate money and influence, and fight unambiguously for our interests. This is what Bernie began to do in the primary, and it is why he had broad and genuine appeal not only for Democratic voters, but also for independents and even some Republicans. There is no “secret” as to why he fares much better in the polls against Trump than Hillary does. Hillary’s support for “free trade,” pro-corporate, anti-worker policies is clear for all to see. Bernie was able to bring a historic challenge to the DNC, despite all the undemocratic attacks on his campaign, precisely because he called for a political revolution against the billionaire class, advocated for bold policies in the interests of the 99%, and welcomed Wall Street’s contempt.

Unfortunately, Bernie has now walked out on that strategy, and called for a vote for the very establishment we have been fighting against.

Now it is left to us. To win the things we have been fighting for, our movement will need to stand on its own feet, go beyond Bernie, and begin laying the basis to build our own party, a mass party of the 99%.

And to do this we cannot afford to let moments like this one pass us by. A walkout of hundreds of delegates from the convention, combined with the mass protests already happening on the streets of Philadelphia, will be a bold stand pointing towards political independence for working people and youth.

Enough is enough. Join me in supporting the brave delegates walking out on this rigged process and the (un)Democratic National Convention.
Kshama Sawant is Seattle City Council Woman and member of Socialist Alternative.
More articles by:Kshama Sawant