All posts filed under: democracy

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United States: Regime change comes home

James Petras writes in 99GetSmart: The norms of US capitalist democracy include the election of presidential candidates through competitive elections, unimpeded by force and violence by the permanent institutions of the state. Voter manipulation has occurred during the recent elections, as in the case of the John F. Kennedy victory in 1960 and the George W. Bush victory over ‘Al’ Gore in 2000. But despite the dubious electoral outcomes in these cases, the ‘defeated’ candidate conceded and sought via legislation, judicial rulings, lobbying and peaceful protests to register their opposition. These norms are no longer operative. During the election process, and in the run-up to the inauguration of US President-Elect Donald Trump, fundamental electoral institutions were challenged and coercive institutions were activated to disqualify the elected president and desperate overt public pronouncements threatened the entire electoral order. We will proceed by outlining the process that is used to undermine the constitutional order, including the electoral process and the transition to the inauguration of the elected president. Regime Change in America In recent times, elected officials in the US and their …

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Chile: Anger After Pinochet-Era Human Rights Violators Ask For Pardon

by Tihomir Gligorevic for InSerbia Anger has been stoked in Chile after ten people convicted of grave human rights abuses during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) asked for ‘pardon’ through an ecumenical act at the prison in which they are being held. The group of men, held at the military prison of Punta Peuco on the northern edge of Santiago, said their pleas for forgiveness are out of the goodness (and guilt) of their hearts. The family members of victims, however, suspect that the actions of the prisoners are simply maneuvers for special benefits in prison with an eye on eventual parole, complete pardons and releases. They point out that the action for forgiveness was only planned after several prominent convicted human rights abusers saw their pleas for release on grounds of old age or poor health denied. Among those that participated in the ‘pardon’ gesture include Raúl Iturriaga Neumann, the former second-in-command of the dictatorship-era secret police known as the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA). The notorious organization is thought to have ordered at least …

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Report on the Referendum in Italy

by Massimo D´Antoni, via Defend Democracy Press December 4th was a great day in Italy.  We hoped for such an outcome, but did not expect it.  When we saw so much turnout by voters we were not sure how to interpret it, because the media and the government had claimed that more voters would result in a higher percentage of “yes” to the constitutional reform.  Well, it was the other way round.  An unprecedented (for a referendum) participation rate brought to a clear rejection of the reform proposal, and of the government. Let me remind you of the line-ups: against the reform were the populist Five Stars movement, the xenophobic North League, Berlusconi’s right and the Left, plus the minority of the Democratic Party lead by former leaders Bersani and D’Alema. In favour of the reform was the government, i.e. Renzi’s Democratic Party (except the former leaders Bersani and D’Alema, who campaigned for the No) with its center-right allied party NCD. However, the actual support for the reform was expected to be a bit larger than …

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Washington Post reporter spreads blacklist of independent journalist sites

by Pam Martens and Russ Martens, December 1, 2016, via Wall Street on Parade Craig Timberg, a Washington Post reporter with an interesting history (which we’ll get to shortly), doubled down last night with a new article suggesting that Congressional legislation may be coming to further crack down on independent journalists not properly adhering to the dogma of Washington.    Craig Timberg (right) of the Washington Post Interviews Google’s Eric Schmidt at the Koch Brothers’ Financed Cato Institute. Timberg has become the deserving piñata of writers like Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, Ben Norton and Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, Max Blumenthal of AlterNet, Robert Parry at Common Dreams and numerous other writers at alternative media. Timberg and the Washington Post, which is owned by the billionaire CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, are being stridently called out as McCarthyites for an article published on Thanksgiving Day that cited unnamed “experts” at a shadowy group called PropOrNot to smear 200 alternative media sites as tools of Russia. The blacklist included some of the most informed and …

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Red-Baiting, Putin-Scaremongering Democrats Are Now Suddenly Worried About Offending China

by Caitlin Johnstone, via Newslogue It’s weird to see Democrats suddenly freaking out about diplomacy when they’ve spent the last five months screaming that we need to attack the Russians at every turn. The Democrats, who have spent the latter half of this year loudly blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for everything from the DNC leaks to Hillary Clinton’s defeat to Arrested Development’s mediocre fourth season, have all of a sudden transformed from a mob of screaming, frenzied Joseph McCarthys into a bunch of tender-hearted grandmotherly diplomats now that Donald Trump has broken with executive tradition and accepted a phone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. Why is such a phone call so outrageous, you may ask? Why, because that might offend the Chinese, and we can’t just go around offending the leaders of large, powerful Asiatic nations now, can we? The very idea! Type the word “Taiwan” into Google and then click News and you’ll see what I mean; article after article, editorial after editorial about “China’s wrath” and what a colossal “gaffe” and “blunder” …

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Statement for a Standing Plan B in Europe

by Internationalist Summit for a Plan B in Europe! Here is the final declaration of the Plan B Summit, which took place on 19-20 November 2016 in Copenhagen. We, the undersigned, elected representatives, academics, trade unionists, social movements, party organisations, commit ourselves to a standing Plan B for Europe as a force of opposition and alternative to the European institutions. We refuse a Europe of permanent austerity, attack on social and labour rights and devaluation of labour. We deplore the erosion of financial stability on our continent. We contest the shift from public to private which redirects common resources and public finances to service debt owned by banks. The steamrolling of the Greek left wing experiment in 2015 has shown the need for a platform that specifically addresses the blackmail and the attempt to impose neoliberal policies via the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). An alternative is needed urgently, as the EMU is set to become even more dangerous in the coming years. By imposing austerity, the political and financial oligarchy has created insecurity and …

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Jill Stein for Hillary

by Stephen Lendman Shameful! What’s going on? Why did her campaign announce its “intent to file for a recount of votes in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, leading a multi-partisan effort to check the accuracy of the machine-counted vote tallies in these states in order to ensure the integrity of our election?” Did she forget Hillary criticizing Trump’s possible refusal to accept electoral results when asked, calling it “a direct threat to our democracy?” Does she support what war goddess, racketeer, perjurer Hillary stands for? Does she oppose Trump wanting normalized relations with Russia – crucial to prevent the threat of possible nuclear war with Hillary empowered as US military commander-in-chief. I supported Stein, believed in her, wrote glowing articles about her campaign, her advocacy for world peace, equity and justice. Was I wrong? Did I misjudge her? Is she against what she claims to stand for? Many times in articles I called Hillary the most ruthlessly dangerous presidential aspirant in US history. Does Stein support her? Want the election reversed in …

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Open Letter to American Liberals

by Thomas S. Harrington, via Common Dreams I would love to share, my liberal friend, in your sense of incredulity about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of United States. I would love to stand with you in the sense of woundedness that, while certainly painful up front, carries with it the secondary compensation of a warm and nurturing solidarity. I would love to sit with you and fulminate in righteous anger about the unparalleled vulgarity and cruelty of Trump and his followers. As much as I’d like to do these things, I won’t.  Why? Because I know you, perhaps better than you even dare to know yourself. I know you well because I have watched you with great and detailed care over the last three decades and have learned, sadly, that you are as much if not more about image and self-regard as any of the laudable values you claim to represent. I have watched as you accommodated yourself to most of the retrograde social forces you claim to abhor.  I have …

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A View From Afar: Trumped! It was the economy, stupid

by Dennis Broe Everyone, meaning mostly the neoliberal elite, is searching for answers at the moment for why the billionaire Trump beat the corporate candidate Clinton. Was it his xenophobic rhetoric which drew angry white Americans, his macho humiliation of women in the face of which his supporters had to hold their noses to vote for him, or was it the (Trumped-up) charges of “Crooked Hilary” aided and abetted by the FBI “October Surprise” of a new treasure trove of (probably mostly irrelevant) emails that are now being “investigated.” A revealing article here in Paris in Le Monde on the eve of the election seems instead to contain the answer for why solidly union and industrial states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania would abandon the Democratic party and vote for Trump, who after all was not the choice of the Republican elite. For decades now, politicians have looked to the October economic, labor and jobs report, released last week, to boost their status just prior to the elections. And indeed, the report showed the creation …

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The Path to Total Dictatorship: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup

by John W. Whitehead, October 24, 2016, The Rutherford Institute “Today the path to total dictatorship in the U.S. can be laid by strictly legal means, unseen and unheard by Congress, the President, or the people. Outwardly we have a Constitutional government. We have operating within our government and political system … a well-organized political-action group in this country, determined to destroy our Constitution and establish a one-party state…. The important point to remember about this group is not its ideology but its organization… It operates secretly, silently, continuously to transform our Government…. This group … is answerable neither to the President, the Congress, nor the courts. It is practically irremovable.” Senator William Jenner, 1954 speech Unaffected by elections. Unaltered by populist movements. Beyond the reach of the law. Say hello to America’s shadow government. A corporatized, militarized, entrenched bureaucracy that is fully operational and staffed by unelected officials who are, in essence, running the country, this shadow government represents the hidden face of a government that has no respect for the freedom of its …

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Hillary Clinton Is Playing With Thermonuclear Fire, And You Will Be Glowing

by Joe Clifford, via Global Research I would never vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and therefore have no dog in this fight.  That said, I am an interested spectator, and clearly see that Ms. Clinton is playing a very dangerous game by using the Russians as an election issue and blaming them for everything. When asked about her leaked e-mails in the last debate, she skillfully avoided the damaging content of the e-mails, and turned the table on the Russians, claiming they are the danger.  She argued we should all be alarmed at the attempt by Russia to manipulate our election, a charge which is totally untrue, and without any evidence.   The leaked DNC e-mails clearly show that she and the DNC, not Russia, were successful in manipulating the election to defraud Sanders. Ms. Clinton lied about US intelligence agencies. She lectured Trump, saying 17 intelligence agencies said the Russians were behind the WikiLeaks release of DNC emails. That is a lie on several counts. First, 15 agencies never said a …

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), (L), and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) look at each other during the opening of The Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas January 29, 2007. The Center for the Intrepid will provide injured service members with occupational and physical therapy to help with their rehabilitation. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES) - RTR1LRXI

List of Republicans opposing Trump

The following is a reprint (excluding the footnotes) of the Wikipedia article List of Republicans opposing Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2016.   It’s a veritable who’s-who of the neocon establishment.  Our thanks to Eric Zeusse for bringing it to our attention. PUBLIC OFFICIALS Former Presidents George H. W. Bush, President of the United States (1989–93); Vice President of the United States (1981–89) (sources say he will vote for Hillary Clinton)[1][2] Former 2016 Republican presidential primary candidates All candidates signed a pledge to eventually support the party nominee. The following have refused to honor it. Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida (1999–2007)[3] Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett-Packard (1999–2005); 2010 nominee for U.S. Senator from California (withdrew endorsement, called on Trump to withdraw his candidacy)[4][5] Lindsey Graham, United States Senator from South Carolina (2003–present)[6] John Kasich, Governor of Ohio (2011–present); U.S. Representative from Ohio (1983–2001)[7] (wrote in John McCain) [8] George Pataki, Governor of New York (1995–2006)[9] Former federal cabinet-level officials William Bennett, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (1989–90); United States Secretary of Education (1985–99) …

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Neocon Democrats’ Smear Against Trump as ‘Putin’s Puppet’

by Eric Zuesse On November 1st, The Intercept headlined  “Here’s the problem with the story connecting Russia to Donald Trump’s email server”, and the reporting team of Sam Biddle, Lee Fang, Micah Lee, and Morgan Marquis-Boire, revealed that: Slate’s Franklin Foer published a story that’s been circulating through the dark web and various newsrooms since summertime, an enormous, eyebrow-raising claim that Donald Trump uses a secret server to communicate with Russia. That claim resulted in an explosive night of Twitter confusion and misinformation. The gist of the Slate article is dramatic — incredible, even: Cybersecurity researchers found that the Trump Organization used a secret box configured to communicate exclusively with Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest commercial bank. This is a story that any reporter in our election cycle would drool over, and drool Foer did.” The Intercept team concluded their detailed analysis of the evidence by saying: Could it be that Donald Trump used one of his shoddy empire’s spam marketing machines, one with his last name built right into the domain name, to secretly collaborate with a Moscow bank? Sure. At this moment, there’s literally no way to disprove that. …

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Whether to Go to War Against Russia Is Top Issue in U.S. Presidential Race

by Eric Zuesse, via strategic-culture.org The United States government has already declared that in regards to what it alleges to be a Russian cyberattack against the U.S. Democratic Party, the U.S. reserves the right to go to war against Russia. NATO has accordingly changed its policy so as to assert that a cyberattack (in this case actually cyber-espionage, such as the U.S. government itself perpetrates against even its own allies such as Angela Merkel by tapping her phone) constitutes an act of war by the alleged cyberattacker, and so requires all NATO member nations to join any cyberattacked NATO nation in war against its alleged (cyber)attacker, if the cyberattacked member declares war against its alleged cyberattacker. Excuses are being sought for a war against Russia; and expanding the definition of “invasion,” to include mere espionage, is one such excuse. But it’s not the only one that the Obama Administration has cooked up. U.S. Senator Mike Lee has asserted that President Barack Obama must obtain a declaration of war against Syria — which is allied with …

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A Measure of Fascism in America

by Marcus Aurealeus, Facebook Note, August 23, 2015 The word “fascism” is generally used today as a pejorative to attack any idea that a speaker happens to dislike. But this word has a specific meaning and a specific historical context. It refers to an authoritarian, nationalistic system of government and social organization that is usually considered to be far right-wing. Historically, it was most popular in the 1930s, when the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were in their primes. Later examples include Indonesia under Suharto, Bolivia under Banzer, and Chile under Pinochet. In practice, fascism combines the ideas of collectivism, mercantilism, nationalism, (statist) syndicalism, and uniculturalism into a system where business leaders and political rulers work together to create public policies that benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else. To what extent is the United States of America in 2015 a fascist nation? In order to determine this, a means of measurement is needed. Lawrence Britt has studied fascist regimes and found that there are 14 characteristics which all of them have in common to some degree. Matthew …

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Media Silent as Anti-Corporate Trade Deal Protests Take Europe by Storm

by Carey Wendler, via Antimedia, Oct 17, 2016 Over the weekend [October 15-16], thousands of protesters across multiple countries condemned impending trade deals promoted by governments and their corporate partners. Though the protests received little coverage from mainstream media, they stretched from Paris to Warsaw. The demonstrations came amid the Commission on International Trade of the European Parliament’s plans to finalize the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) this week. The policy has been likened to so-called “free trade” deals pushed by President Barack Obama and other Western governments. CETA, which has been in the works for seven years, would eliminate tariffs between Canada and European nations, which proponents argue would foster increased trade and create jobs.  Nevertheless, the deal has been criticized for granting too much power to multinational corporations, the Guardian reports. Though the European Commission recently drafted a statement claiming “environmental and health standards will not be diluted,” not all policymakers are convinced. Passage of CETA hit a roadblock after the parliament of the Wallonia region of Belgium rejected it.  Wallonia’s minister-president, Paul Magnette, vowed …

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Pentagon video warns of “unavoidable” dystopian future for megacities

from Nick Turse’s October 13, 2016 piece in the Intercept According to a startling Pentagon video obtained by The Intercept, the future of global cities will be an amalgam of the settings of “Escape from New York” and “Robocop” — with dashes of the “Warriors” and “Divergent” thrown in. It will be a world of Robert Kaplan-esque urban hellscapes — brutal and anarchic supercities filled with gangs of youth-gone-wild, a restive underclass, criminal syndicates, and bands of malicious hackers. At least that’s the scenario outlined in “Megacities: Urban Future, the Emerging Complexity,” a five-minute video that has been used at the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University. All that stands between the coming chaos and the good people of Lagos and Dhaka (or maybe even New York City) is the U.S. Army, according to the video, which The Intercept obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. [….]  The video was used as part of an “Advanced Special Operations Combating Terrorism” course offered at JSOU earlier this year, for a lesson on “The Emerging Terrorism Threat.” JSOU …

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West is Gunning for Russian Media Ban

by Finian Cunningham, via Strategic Culture It would be monumental, but Western states seem to be moving, ineluctably, towards banning Russian news media channels from satellite platforms and the internet. That outcome – albeit with enormous ethical and political implications – seems to be a logical conclusion of the increasingly frenzied transatlantic campaign to demonize Russia. Washington, London and Paris appear to be coordinating an unprecedented media onslaught that is vilifying Russia for almost every conceivable malfeasance, from alleged war crimes in Syria to threatening the security of Europe, to shooting down civilian airliners, to subverting American presidential elections. And that’s only a sample. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson declared this week that Russia is in danger of becoming a «pariah state». Ironically, that fate has less to do with Russia’s actual conduct and more to do with the desired objective driving Western policy towards Moscow – to isolate and portray Russia as an international reprobate. If Russia can be sufficiently demonized in the eyes of the Western public by their governments, then the political context is …

Heavily armed police continue to patrol the neighborhoods of Watertown, Mass. Friday, April 19, 2013, as they continue a massive search for one of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. A second suspect died in the early morning hours after an encounter with law enforcement. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

by James Petras and Robin Eastman Abaya, 2012 Introduction: One of the most significant political developments in recent US history has been the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state.  Despite the vast expansion of the police powers of the Executive Branch of government, the extraordinary growth of an entire panoply of repressive agencies, with hundreds of thousands of personnel, and enormous public and secret budgets and the vast scope of police state surveillance, including the acknowledged monitoring of over 40 million US citizens and residents, no mass pro-democracy movement has emerged to confront the powers and prerogatives or even protest the investigations of the police state. In the early fifties, when the McCarthyite purges were accompanied by restrictions on free speech, compulsory loyalty oaths and congressional ‘witch hunt’ investigations of public officials, cultural figures , intellectuals, academics and trade unionists, such police state measures provoked widespread public debate and protests and even institutional resistance.  By the end of the 1950’s mass demonstrations were held at the sites of the public hearings of the House …

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Hillary Clinton’s Record: An American Horror Story

by Timothy Scott, Mythos This essay documents Hillary Clinton’s history and record as an agent of Wall Street, war, racial violence and inequity, economic inequality and conservative ideology. While Clinton’s early Republican Party history is well documented, it is unfair to judge her (or anyone) based on the political views of her youth. Like Clinton, all people are heavily influenced by the beliefs and values of their parents, local communities, religion, cultural and social identities as well as US dominant culture. Based on various factors, many people with conservative backgrounds are able to develop progressive and humanistic world views over time based on personal struggle, a capacity for empathy, and an expanded sense of consciousness through education and life experience. None of this appears to have happened for Hillary Clinton. Instead, she stayed the course as she and her husband pioneered the “New Democrat” (Centrist Democrats) movement and steered the party toward a neoliberal “Third Way” (dogmatic free-market and moderately liberal social policies). Yet, when it comes to the Clintons, many of their social policy …