McGovern is a former CIA analyst whose responsibilities included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and conducting early morning briefings of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He recently wrote the piece “CIA’s Torturous Maneuvers on Torture.” He said today: “It is bizarre; the Executive and Congress both live in fear of the thugs of the CIA, who have now been joined by Secretary of State John Kerry (probably after checking with the White House) issuing spurious warnings regarding the dangers of releasing the report — as if the ‘bad guys’ have not yet heard of CIA torture! No one — Democrat or Republican — wants the truth to get out about torture techniques authorized by the Bush/Cheney administration, techniques actually demonstrated multiple times in the White House itself to the administration’s most senior national security and justice officials, and then implemented by CIA thugs.
“Far too many ‘notables’ approved the torture or, at least, had guilty knowledge — House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, for example. Likely, an eviscerated (‘redacted’ is the euphemism) Senate report on CIA torture is all we will be permitted to read. At that point, the ball will be squarely in lame-duck Sen. Mark Udall’s court. Will he feel bound by the Omerta-style oath of silence typical of Establishment Washington, or will he have the courage to get the truth out, using his Constitutionally protected right to do so without legal jeopardy?” (McGovern was recently arrested while trying to question retired Gen. and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus, see: “Stifling Dissent on the Upper East Side.” His trial date in New York city criminal court isFeb. 4.)
Carle was a career CIA field officer, who retired in 2007 as the Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats. His book, The Interrogator, details his involvement in the “enhanced interrogation program.” He recently wrote the piece “Torture is Wrong,” which states: “The ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario rests on the flawed assumption that, somehow, torture would provide desperately needed information not otherwise obtainable in enough time to stop the threat. But when people are tortured, they will say anything to try to stop the pain.” See from March in the Guardian: “No proof torture helped U.S. find Osama bin Laden, Senate report concludes.”
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She blogs at emptywheel.net and writes the “Right to Know” column for ExposeFacts.org, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy.
She just wrote “Some Torture Facts” which highlights critical information, including: “Torture was authorized by the same Finding that authorized drone killing, heavily subsidizing the intelligence services of countries like Jordan and Egypt, cooperating with Syria and Libya, and the training of Afghan special forces. …
“In late 2002, then SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] Chair Bob Graham made initial efforts to conduct oversight over torture (asking, for example, to send a staffer to observe interrogations). CIA got Pat Roberts, who became chair in 2003, to quash these efforts, though even he claims CIA lied about how he did so. …
“[Former CIA director] John Brennan has admitted to using information from the torture program in declarations he wrote for the FISA Court. This means that information derived from torture was used to scare [FISA judge] Colleen Kollar-Kotelly into approving the Internet dragnet in 2004.”
Other related pieces by Wheeler include “CIA’s Own Records of CIA’s Lies to Congress.”
Communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini wrote the piece “How Colin Powell Showed That Torture Works.” He said today: “Many presumably well-meaning people say that torture doesn’t work. But that’s not true. Torture does work, just not in the way its defenders claim. It’s great at producing false but useful information — like when the U.S. turned Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi over to the Egyptian dictatorship, which tortured him into saying that Iraq was cooperating with al-Qaeda. That figured prominently in Colin Powell’s war speech at the UN, helping provide propaganda for a pretext for war. So torture can actually work quite well.”
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
As war escalates in the Middle East, the Obama administration’s policies toward transparency and disclosure of key information are taking on heightened importance. Such issues will come into sharp focus later this week when Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg speaks at a rare news conference in Washington.
Praised as a “patriot” by Secretary of State John Kerry on national TV last spring, Ellsberg remains an outspoken critic of government actions that suppress information and punish whistleblowing. His news conference is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 18, at the National Press Club (1 p.m., Murrow Room). For background on Ellsberg, click here.
Binney is a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement after 30 years, blew the whistle on NSA surveillance programs. He said today: “The pattern with Ellsberg is remarkably similar to how virtually all whistleblowers are treated: They expose something that is illegal, criminal or just plain stupid. They get attacked. The problem isn’t fixed, it just gets perpetuated because there’s an entire complex that defends itself at all cost. You have so many culpable people in the executive, in Congress, in the courts that basically defend each other because they know if one goes down, they’ll all go. And they should all go down. One great irony is that under Executive Order 13526, sec 1.7 — this is the executive order that governs classification for the U.S. government — you cannot use classification to cover up an illegality or abuse in any form.”
Binney’s outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007. Even before Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 to 20 trillion communications. The Snowden disclosures confirmed many of the surveillance dangers Binney — without the benefit of documents — had been warning about under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He said today: “We’re at a pivotal historic moment, bringing to mind the comment that history doesn’t exactly repeat itself but it tends to rhyme an awful lot. Fifty years ago, the suppression of accurate information and the intimidation of would-be whistleblowers were integral to the escalation of the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. Today, such suppression and intimidation are integral to the escalation of the U.S. war effort in the Middle East. Obama is not Johnson or Bush, but fundamental and grim patterns are rhyming.”
The Ellsberg news conference is sponsored by ExposeFacts.org, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Ellsberg is a founding member of the ExposeFacts advisory board.
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Sidestepping Ukraine’s ‘N-Word’ for Nazi
07 September 14
he New York Times, in its ceaseless anti-Russian bias over the Ukraine crisis, now wants everyone to use the “I-word” – for “invasion” – when describing Russia’s interference in Ukraine despite the flimsy supporting evidence for the charge presented by Kiev and NATO.
The evidence, including commercial satellite photos lacking coordinates, was so unpersuasive that former U.S. intelligence analysts compared the case to the Iraq-WMD deception of last decade. Yet, while ignoring concerns about the quality of the proof, the Times ran a front-page story on Friday mocking Western political leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama, for not uttering the “I-word.”
The Times’ article by Andrew Higgins essentially baited Merkel and Obama to adopt the most hyperbolic phrasing on the crisis or risk being denounced as weak. The Times couched its criticism of their “circumspect” language – or what it called “terminological fudges” – as a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But the Times and other U.S. mainstream news outlets have engaged in their own “terminological fudges” regarding Ukraine’s “N-word” – for Nazi – by hiding or burying the fact that the Kiev regime has knowingly deployed neo-Nazi militias to wage bloody street fighting against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
This grim reality has become one of the most sensitive facts that U.S. State Department propaganda and MSM coverage have sought to keep from the American people who surely would recoil at the notion of siding with modern-day Nazis. Yet, to fully understand the role of these neo-Nazi extremists, Americans would need a translator for the circumlocutions used by the Times and other U.S. news outlets.
Typically, in the U.S. press, Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are called “nationalists,” a term with a rather patriotic and positive ring to it. Left out is the fact that these “nationalists” carry Nazi banners and trace their ideological lineage back to Adolf Hitler’s Ukrainian auxiliary, the Galician SS, and to Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose paramilitary forces slaughtered thousands upon thousands of Poles and Jews.
Other MSM references to the Nazis are even more obscure. For instance, the neo-Nazi militias are sometimes called “volunteer” brigades, which makes them sound like the Boy Scouts or the Rotary Club. But usually there is just the simple omission of the Nazi “N-word.”
On Thursday, the Times published a contentious article critical of Putin’s plan for resolving the Ukraine crisis while also noting that the peace talks faced obstacles from elements of both sides: “Moscow does not fully control the separatists; nor is it clear that Kiev can automatically rein in the armed militias it has unleashed alongside its military in the east.”
Filtered out of that sentence was the “N-word.” The reason that those “armed militias” might resist peace is because they consist of neo-Nazi ideologues who want a racially pure Ukraine. They are not reasonable people who favor living with ethnically diverse neighbors
Ukraine’s militias include openly neo-Nazi battalions such as the Azov brigade, which flies the “wolfangel” banner that was favored by the Nazi SS. Azov leaders espouse theories of racial supremacy deeming ethnic Russians to be “Untermenschen” or subhumans.
Sidestepping the N-word
But the Times sidesteps the Nazi “N-word” because otherwise readers might start doubting the “white hat/black hat” narrative that the Times has spun since the beginning of the crisis last winter. Usually whenever Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are mentioned, it is the context of the Times dismissing their presence as a myth or as simply “Russian propaganda.”
Other times, the reality is buried so deep in articles that very few readers will get that far. For instance, an Aug. 10 Times article by Andrew E. Kramer mentioned the emerging neo-Nazi paramilitary role in the final three paragraphs of a long story on another topic.
Given how extraordinary it is that armed Nazi storm troopers are being unleashed on a European population for the first time since World War II, you might have thought that the Times missed the lede. But the placement of this juicy tidbit fit with the newspaper’s profoundly unprofessional treatment of the Ukraine crisis throughout.
You had to get to the third-to-the-last paragraph to learn: “The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat.”
Then, the next-to-the-last paragraph told you: “Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]
The conservative London Telegraph provided more details about the Azov battalion in an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “In Marinka, on the western outskirts [of Donetsk], the [Azov] battalion was sent forward ahead of tanks and armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian army’s 51st Mechanised Brigade. …
“But Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
In interviews, some of the fighters questioned the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis, a fact known by Kiev authorities, the Telegraph reported.
Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a recent commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]
Russian Claims ‘Essentially True’
Recently at the port city of Mariupol, Foreign Policy’s reporter Alec Luhn also encountered the neo-Nazis of the Azov and other Ukrainian government militias. He wrote: “Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fly over Mariupol’s burned-out city administration building and at military checkpoints around the city, but at a sport school near a huge metallurgical plant, another symbol is just as prominent: the wolfsangel (‘wolf trap’) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups. …
“Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and ‘fascists’ in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true.”
But this inconvenient truth is not something that the U.S. State Department and the mainstream U.S. press want you to know. Instead they have spun a false narrative that blames the entire Ukraine crisis on Russia’s President Putin and his diabolical design to reclaim countries to his west for a revival of the Soviet Union.
The actual reality was that Putin wanted to maintain the status quo in Ukraine by supporting elected President Viktor Yanukovych. It was the West that stirred up trouble in Ukraine with neocon U.S. officials like Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain actively supporting a coup – spearheaded by neo-Nazi street fighters – that overthrew Yanukovych on Feb. 22.
After the coup, in recognition of the crucial role played by the neo-Nazis, they were given several ministries and their militias were later incorporated into the Ukrainian military for the offensive into eastern Ukraine to crush the uprising of ethnic Russians who had supported Yanukovych and favored closer economic ties to Russia. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ukraine’s ‘Dr. Strangelove’ Reality.”]
But that more nuanced narrative – recognizing the complicated reality of Ukraine’s history and politics – would destroy the white hat/black hat storyline favored by the New York Times and the MSM, making the coup regime in Kiev the “good guys” and making Putin and the ethnic Russians the “bad guys.”
To protect that narrative, everyone has to go silent on Ukraine’s “N-word.”
By Stephen Zunes, June 5, 2014.
In a sign of how absurd U.S. Middle East policy has become, the White House has characterized Palestine’s membership in international human rights conventions–which would entail new human rights obligations for the Palestinian Authority–as a “threat to Israel.”
The Obama administration deserves much of the blame for the failure of the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
It had originally been hoped that the United States would present a binding framework along the lines of what moderate Israeli and Palestinian political leaders had agreed to in unofficial talks in Geneva in 2003: Israel would recognize a Palestinian state based roughly on the pre-1967 borders with mutual territorial swaps, which would leave the Palestinians with 22 percent of historic Palestine and allow Israel to keep the remaining 78 percent; the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and all irregular militias disarmed; illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory near the Israeli border—encompassing close to 80 percent of the settlers—would be incorporated into Israel while settlers in the more remote settlements would be required to return to Israel; there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel, but there would be international assistance in helping them resettle in the new Palestinian state; and some Israeli troops would remain along border crossings between the Palestinian state and its Arab neighbors, eventually to be replaced by international forces.
The Palestinian government agreed to these terms. Israel rejected them. Rather than make public this framework, and thereby hope the Israeli public would pressure its right-wing government to compromise, the Obama administration instead insisted that “both sides” had shown a lack of will to compromise.
An interview with an anonymous U.S. official close to the peace talks in an Israeli publication confirmed numerous other reports that, despite the Obama administration’s claims to the contrary, the Palestinian side made major concessions while the Israeli side essentially refused to make any, generally refusing to talk about any substantive issues.
A host of Democratic and Republican former officials—including a former national security adviser, secretary of defense, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, trade representative, and undersecretary of state for political affairs—went on record arguing that the Obama administration would have to challenge the Israeli government’s hard line towards the Palestinians in order for the peace process to be successful. Unfortunately, the White House apparently had no interest in doing so.
Instead, Washington has focused on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to give in to U.S. and Israeli demands that he recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” While the Palestinian government, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the ruling Fatah party have all recognized the state of Israel for more than 20 years, the Obama administration has effectively moved the goalposts by declaring that recognizing the Israeli government, acknowledging its right to exist, and providing security guarantees is not enough, insisting that the Palestinians explicitly recognize the state of Israel’s ethno-religious identity as well. No previous administration has put forward such a requirement. President Carter never made such demands on Egypt, nor did President Clinton require this of Jordan as a condition for their peace treaties with Israel. Abbas has said that Israel can identify itself however it wants, but—given that 20 percent of the Israeli population is ethnically Palestinian Arab—it would be politically impossible to agree to something that would acknowledge second-class status for other Palestinians.
Never in history has any country been required to recognize the ethnic or religious identity of another state as a condition for peace. It appears, then, that the Obama administration’s demand may have been an effort to destroy any chance of a peace agreement and leave an opening to blame the Palestinians—despite their agreement to virtually every other issue—for the failure of the peace process.
The failure may also come from President Obama’s trusting Secretary of State John Kerry, a longtime supporter of the Israeli right, to play such a key role in the peace talks. In 2004, Kerry unconditionally endorsed an Israeli plan to unilaterally and illegally annex large areas of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with only a series of small non-contiguous cantons surrounded by Israel as their “state,” a proposal denounced worldwide as a violation of the UN Charter, a series of UN Security Council resolutions, and basic principles of international law. Indeed, Kerry has long insisted that it was “unrealistic” to demand an Israeli withdrawal from its occupied territories. (By contrast, Kerry has demanded that Russia withdraw completely from Crimea, citing the illegality of any country acquiring “part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force.”)
Recognizing the failure of the United States to be an honest broker, the Palestinian government has been seeking to enhance its diplomatic leverage by redoubling its efforts to be recognized as a full state and acceding to a series of international conventions. The Obama administration and Congress have strongly condemned these moves, insisting that while Israel is free to join various international conventions addressing human rights and international law (despite the current right-wing government’s failure to uphold many of its required obligations), Palestine has no right to join these same conventions. In early April, Kerry cancelled scheduled peace talks with Abbas in protest of the Palestinian government’s efforts to join the Geneva and Vienna Conventions and UN agencies dealing with women’s and children’s rights.
As an indication of just how extreme U.S. Middle East policy has become, the administration has described Palestine’s efforts to join these 15 international conventions addressing human rights and international law as “a threat to Israel.” In reality, none of conventions impact Israel in any way. The Obama administration insists that allowing for any application of international humanitarian law—even Palestinian ratification of human rights treaties that would help end torture or attacks on civilians by Palestinians—would somehow interfere with the peace negotiations. As Bill van Esveld of Human Rights Watch observed, “By blocking accountability in the name of advancing the peace process, the U.S. has facilitated the settlements and other war crimes that are undermining the prospects for peace.”
The contempt the administration has for human rights could not be better illustrated than in a recent speech by Martin Indyk, Obama’s special envoy for Israeli–Palestinian negotiations, in which he criticized the Palestinian government’s “supposed pursuit of ‘justice’ and their ‘rights,’” in an apparent effort to ridicule the very notion. The words “justice” and “rights” are in quotation marks in the official transcript, and a video shows him making quote marks with his fingers.
In another move decried by U.S. officials, Fatah and Hamas announced the formation of a unity government in order to prepare for elections next year. Though no Hamas officials will serve in any cabinet posts and President Abbas has reiterated Palestine’s commitment to a two-state solution and to all previous agreements, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki defended Israel’s decision to suspend the talks by saying, “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”
Ironically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party still rejects a two-state solution, and his cabinet includes parties even further to the right—including HaBayit HaYehudi, or “Jewish Home,” which essentially mirrors Hamas in rejecting previous disengagement agreements, refusing to accept Palestine’s right to exist, and supporting attacks against Palestinian civilians. However, the Obama administration apparently believes that while anti-Israel extremism in unacceptable, anti-Palestinian extremism can be tolerated.
Meanwhile, a broad bipartisan effort is growing in the Congress to blame the failure of the peace talks exclusively on the Palestinians and to force the administration to cut all ties with the Palestine Authority.
Unless and until the Obama administration decides to end its support for the Israeli right and support Israeli and Palestinian moderates, there will be no hope for peace.
Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.
Issues: Human Rights, War & Peace
Regions: Israel, Middle East & North Africa, Palestinian Territories, United States
Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel-Palestinian peace talks, Israeli settlements, jewish state, John Kerry, likud, mahmoud abbas, Middle East peace, Obama administration, palestinian statehood
Thursday, May 8, 2014
The New York Times reports: “A Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission called Wednesday on the agency’s chairman to delay a proposal for new net neutrality rules, throwing into doubt whether the chairman will be able to muster enough votes at an F.C.C. meeting next week to issue proposed rules.
“Jessica Rosenworcel, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission, said in a speech Wednesday that a delay was warranted because of a ‘torrent of public response’ to the idea that the commission’s rules might create a fast lane on the Internet for companies willing to pay for it.”
MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D.
Flowers and Zeese are organizers of PopularResistance.org and are occupying the FCC until the 15th when the FCC votes on proposed Net Neutrality rules. Today Zeese said, “The divisions on the FCC Commission show that the people are having an impact. Now that these fissures are developing we need to increase the pressure. This is a critical moment and an opportunity for the people to set the agenda. We want the Internet reclassified as a common carrier so it can be regulated in the public interest. And, we want Net Neutrality to be required by law. There should be no fee-based discrimination of the First Amendment.
“The other division is — we’re seeing this today — that 100 Internet providers from small startups to Google and Facebook are coming out against tiered system so that’s division on the big business side. …
“We’re feeling momentum online — a coalition of groups has had more than a million people sending emails and petitions and thousands are making phone calls in this last week. … We got a call from the Chairman’s office asking what’s going on, what are you doing, how long are you going to be here, what’s your issues and maybe we should have a meeting. We didn’t bring [the meeting] up, they brought it up. We get the sense the FCC isn’t used to protest. …
“We want this next phase shaped by the public and put forward the public’s proposal rather than a corporate proposal that really undermines the Internet.
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Avram Reisman, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Supreme Court Establishing “Plutocrat Rights”
USA Today reports: “The Supreme Court took another step Wednesday toward giving wealthy donors more freedom to influence federal elections. The justices ruled 5-4, in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, that limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties are unconstitutional. The decision leaves in place the base limits on what can be given to each individual campaign.”
Bonifaz is president of Free Speech For People, a group that has sought to overturn the Citizens United decision.
Milchen is co-founder of the Montana-based American Independent Business Alliance, which was party to briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. He said today: “This decision, expanding the Supreme Court’s ‘money equals free speech’ doctrine has made the democratic republic, promised to us by our Constitution, impossible. Citizens’ votes are stripped of power when the wealthiest few have pre-determined which candidates and parties are acceptable for the rest of us to choose among.
“The Court majority also does immense harm to America’s independent businesses. Their ruling allows corporate executives and lobbyists to easily convert their economic power into countless political favors. These favors consistently harm our small business constituents by extracting subsidies for the largest corporations, stifling enforcement of anti-trust laws, and systematically giving anti-competitive advantages to the largest donors.”
Deputy executive director at Public Campaign Action Fund, Epting said today: “The Supreme Court once again sided with the wealthiest among us at the expense of ordinary Americans. … This makes it more important than ever that Congress moves forward on legislation like the Government By the People Act to ensure people unable to write big checks have a voice in the political process.”
Weissman is president of Public Citizen, which notes in a statement: “Today, in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down limits on the aggregate amounts people can donate to candidates, political parties and political committees. Demonstrations that Public Citizen helped organize are scheduled to take place throughout the country in response.” For more information, visit: citizen.org/mccutcheon and moneyout-votersin.org.
Weissman said today: “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission strikes a devastating blow at the very foundation of our democracy.
“This is truly a decision establishing plutocrat rights. The Supreme Court today holds that the purported right of a few hundred superrich individuals to spend outrageously large sums on campaign contributions outweighs the national interest in political equality and a government free of corruption.
“In practical terms, the decision means that one individual can write a single check for $5.9 million to be spent by candidates, political parties and political committees.
“Even after Citizens United, this case is absolutely stunning. It is sure to go down as one of the worst decisions in the history of American jurisprudence.
“Until today, nobody could contribute more than $123,000 total in each two-year election cycle to political candidates and parties.
“Citizens United allowed Big Business to spend literally as much as it wants – predominantly in undisclosed contributions filtered through the likes of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – distorting our elections. But Citizens United money can go only to outside groups.
“Now McCutcheon removes meaningful limits on the total amount an individual can directly contribute to candidates, political parties and political committees. …
“There are literally only a few hundred people who can and will take advantage of this horrendous ruling. But those are exactly the people our elected officials will now be answering to.
“That is not democracy.
“It is plutocracy.
“Today’s reckless Supreme Court ruling threatens so many of the things we love about our country.
“No matter what five Supreme Court justices say, the First Amendment was never intended to provide a giant megaphone for the wealthiest to use to shout down the rest of us.
“Our only hope of overturning this McCutcheon travesty — along with Citizens United — is if millions of Americans band together in saying ‘Enough!’ to plutocracy.
“We couldn’t face a starker choice: Accept rule by the few, based on wealth. Or join together to protect and reclaim our democracy – the notion that We, the People decide.
“Today, people across the nation will be responding with protests to this outrageous decision. We, the People insist that our government and our country remain of, by and for the people – all the people, not just those few who have amassed billions in wealth.
“A vibrant movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and reclaim our democracy has emerged since the 2010 issuance of that fateful decision. The demonstrations today – unprecedented as a same-day response to a Supreme Court decision – are just the latest manifestation of how that movement is now exploding across the country.
“We refuse to cede control of our country and our government to amoral multinationals and morally comprised plutocrats.”
Friday, April 25, 2014
Action to Preserve Open Internet
The New York Times is reporting: “In the nine weeks since the Federal Communications Commission said it would try, for a third time, to write new rules to secure an open Internet, at least 69 companies, interest groups and trade associations — over one a day — have met with or otherwise lobbied commission officials on what the rules should specify.
A petition sponsored by Demand Progress and RootsAction.org demanding commitment to “the principle of equal access to the Internet” has resulted in nearly 40,000 people sending protest emails to each of the FCC commissioners in the 24 hours that began Thursday morning.
A former Rhode Island state representative, Segal is now executive director of Demand Progress. He said today, “In order to get the FCC to save net neutrality, we need to bring a lot of public and political pressure to bear right away. That means making our voices heard by the FCC and urging lawmakers to pressure the FCC to reclassify Internet as a ‘telecommunications service.’ Demand Progress and RootsAction and many other organizations are working towards those ends — to win, we’ll need to enlist the help of hundreds of thousands of Americans over the next couple of weeks.”JEFF COHEN
Cohen is co-founder of RootsAction.org and the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He is available for a limited number of interviews. He said today, “People are right to be outraged that Obama’s FCC is moving to extinguish an open Internet, especially since then-candidate Obama promised in 2008: ‘I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality.’ We must not allow net neutrality to be just another broken promise. Let’s organize like mad to save the Internet, as if democracy and press freedom both depend on it…because they do. If we lose net neutrality, that will subvert today’s booming independent media — now much stronger than in many decades, thanks largely to an open Internet.”
Institute for Public Accuracy
980 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * http://www.accuracy.org * firstname.lastname@example.org
AP is reporting: “Japan ordered thousands of residents near a northeastern nuclear power plant to evacuate today following a massive earthquake that caused a problem in the plant’s cooling system.”
KEVIN KAMPS, http://www.beyondnuclear.org
Kamps is a specialist in nuclear waste at Beyond Nuclear. Last year he was in Japan assessing the state of nuclear facilities there. He said today: “The electrical grid is down. The emergency diesel generators have been damaged. The multi-reactor Fukushima atomic power plant is now relying on battery power, which will only last around eight hours. The danger is, the very thermally hot reactor cores at the plant must be continuously cooled for 24 to 48 hours. Without any electricity, the pumps won’t be able to pump water through the hot reactor cores to cool them. Once electricity is lost, the irradiated nuclear fuel could begin to melt down. If the containment systems fail, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur.
“In addition to the reactor cores, the storage pool for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel is also at risk. The pool cooling water must be continuously circulated. Without circulation, the still thermally hot irradiated nuclear fuel in the storage pools will begin to boil off the cooling water. Within a day or two, the pool’s water could completely boil away. Without cooling water, the irradiated nuclear fuel could spontaneously combust in an exothermic reaction. Since the storage pools are not located within containment, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur. Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances. Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”
ROBERT ALVAREZ, http://www.ips-dc.org/staff/robert, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-alvarez
Alvarez is a former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.
HARVEY WASSERMAN, http://www.solartopia.org
Wasserman is author of “Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, AD 2030” (which includes an introduction by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.).
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167