Pres. Obama on America’s perfect voting system

“There is no serious person out there who would somehow suggest that you could … rig America’s elections—in part because they’re so decentralized, and the numbers of votes involved.

“There’s no evidence that that has happened in the past, or that there are instances in which that will happen this time.”

Thus spake Pres. Obama, prior to Election Day, 2016—evidently unaware that there’s a ton of evidence that “that has happened in the past.”

Here’s a little video about US election theft, made by my friends John Kirby and Libby Handros, about exactly how US elections have been stolen time and time again. (We made the video just before Election Day, 2016, in response to Trump’s loud charges that that race just might be stolen.)

 

One (very scary) reason why they keep on screaming “RUSSIA!!!”

From George Klees:

I’m wondering if you’d even seen this before. A former Cincinnati Bell employee, Leonard Gates, claimed that he was involved in wiretapping countywide vote tabulators for Bell on behalf of the FBI. This supplements what the Colliers found in _Votescam_, offering the technological means for the CIA-controlled media to remotely manipulate vote counts across the nation. A grand jury filed to indict and a civil suit jury ruled against Gates, but other whistleblowers and witnesses confirmed pieces of his story 

 

Privacy Died Long Ago

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart of Cincinnati swears in George H. W. Bush as director of the CIA as President Gerald Ford watches. REUTERS/George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

The great forgotten Cincinnati wiretap scandal

By Gregory Flannery

Americans no longer assume their communications are free from government spying. Many believe widespread monitoring is a recent change, a response to terrorism.  They are wrong. Fair warning came in 1988 in Cincinnati, Ohio, when evidence showed that wiretapping was already both common and easy.

Twenty-five years ago state and federal courtrooms in Cincinnati were abuzz with allegations of illegal wiretaps on federal judges, members of Cincinnati City Council, local congressional representatives, political dissidents and business leaders.

Two federal judges in Cincinnati told 60 Minutes they believed there was strong evidence that they had been wiretapped. Retired Cincinnati Police officers, including a former chief, admitted to illegal wiretapping.

Even some of the most outrageous claims – for example, that the president of the United States was wiretapped while staying in a Cincinnati hotel – were supported by independent witnesses.

National media coverage of the lawsuits, grand jury hearings and investigations by city council and the FBI attracted the attention of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.).

As Americans wonder about the extent to which their e-mails, cell-phones and text messages are being monitored, they would do well to look back at a time before any of those existed. Judging by what was revealed in Cincinnati, privacy died long before anyone had ever heard of Osama bin Laden or al Q’aeda.

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Some reading to protect the Bill of Rights, and Planet Earth

For those who might be hungering for some truth about Bob Mueller’s (ludicrous) indictments—which, uncontested, could well lead to World War III—I offer this quick list of pieces that you may not otherwise discover. 

Here, first, are two typical examples of the US/UK press response:

“Stop Letting the Russians Get Away With It, Mr. Trump,” New York Times (editorial), Feb. 16, 2018;

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/16/opinion/trump-russians-indictments-elections.html?mtrref=www.google.com&gwh=F8881FA85A1FA87DF30313387C4492EA&gwt=pay&assetType=opinion

“The Observer view on Donald Trump’s Russia connections,” The Guardian, Feb.18,2018;

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/18/observer-view-investigation-donald-trump-russian-connections  

A point-by-point rebuttal of that take: 

Kit, “Mueller Indictments: truth v. lie in ‘The Observer View,'” Offguardian, Feb. 18, 2018; 

https://off-guardian.org/2018/02/18/mueller-indictments-truth-v-liespin-the-observer-view/

On the commercial purpose of those Russian efforts:

“Mueller Indictment: The ‘Russian Influence’ Is a Commercial Marketing Scheme,” Moon of Alabama, Feb. 17, 2018; http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/02/mueller-indictement-the-russian-influence-is-a-commercial-marketing-scheme.html

On the double standard in the media’s treatment of the Russian trolls, and those employed by Hillary Clinton’s campaign:

Elizabeth Vos, “Mueller’s Investigation a Farce: Files Joke Indictment Against Russian Trolls,” Disobedient Media, Feb. 16, 2018; https://disobedientmedia.com/2018/02/muellers-investigation-a-farce-files-joke-indictment-against-russian-trolls/

On the repressive impact of the indictment:  

Andrew Damon, “Indictment of Russian nationals used to campaign for censorship and war,” World Socialist Web Site, Feb. 17, 2018;

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/17/russ-f17.html

The Intercept is rotting from the head

Opinion: Fearless Adversarial Journalism Doesn’t Work When You Are Funded By A Billionaire

February 18, 2018

By Elizabeth Vos

Disobedient Media previously opined on the dagger-in-the-back publication of a hit piece against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange just one day after a UK magistrate, with blatant conflict of interest in the matter, shot down his legal representatives’ attempt to finally free him from the confines of the Ecuadorian embassy.

What that article did not address was the patently obvious terminal illness suffered by The Intercept. That is, the outlet claims to publish “fearless, adversarial” reporting, while it is funded by a billionaire. Ken Silverstein, formerly employed at The Intercept and by Omidyar’s First Look Media, has described endemic problems at the outlet that have risen directly out of Omidyar’s leadership or lack thereof.

The fundamental problem facing The Intercept is not ultimately about how or why the outlet published a smear specifically timed to cut support away from Assange, even though that is in and of itself despicable. It’s that doing so acts in support of the very deep state and moneyed, military interests that The Intercept purports to critique “fearlessly.”

Adding to a sense of betrayal of The Intercept’s principles in the wake of the outlet’s hit-piece is the fact that a number of writers at the publication are by all accounts on good terms with Assange, and have worked with mutual supporters including the superb Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi. Maurizi has been a media partner of Wikileaks since 2009, having worked on all of the organization’s releases. Maurizi also worked with Glenn Greenwald on preparation for the disclosure of the Snowden files, in addition to her participation in a large number of projects of huge significance.

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What “our free press” is NOT reporting about Donald Trump

So here’s the latest (as you may not know):
 

President Trump’s 2019 budget seeks to cut all funding from a program that provides heating assistance subsidies to low-income families in cold-weather states. The administration’s argument: the program is marred by fraud and unnecessary, the AP reports. 

https://www.axios.com/trump-seeks-to-cut-heating-assistance-program–64f551d2-a72a-4914-b26f-cfcda993882d.html

I keep NOT seeing such stories in the New York Times, which mostly screams about what Trump just SAID (and how he’s failing to stand up to Russia); while Trump just keeps on torturing the poor, and further poisoning the planet, and whatever else he’s DOING that the Democrats —and Our Free Press—are pretty much ignoring.

About that memo…

Suppose the RNC, and Trump’s campaign team, hired a former spook (or Secret Service agent) to contrive a dirty “dossier” on Hillary Clinton—a rehash of stuff on Whitewater, “bimbo eruptions,” Travelgate, Benghazi, Pizzagate, “the Clinton death list,” etc.—and that the FBI then used it to get a FISA warrant to spy on Huma Abedin, because of her apparent links to Saudi-backed Islamist terrorism: a warrant that the FBI secured by carefully neglecting to inform the court that that disgusting “dossier” was a stroke of campaign propaganda, conceived by Roger Stone, and paid for by the Republicans.

And then suppose that that whole sordid plot was detailed in a memo drafted by the staff of Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking (Democratic) member of the House Intelligence Committee; and that the Democrats on the committee noisily released the memo, calling for a full investigation of its evidence that the FBI misused the FISA warrant process to sink HILLARY’S campaign.

And in THAT case, of course, the DEMOCRATS would all be saying what the REPUBLICANS are saying now, and THEY’D be absolutely right; while the REPUBLICANS would be the ones insisting that that memo is (somehow) at once a “nothingburger” and an existential threat to the Republic—and THEY’D be absolutely WRONG.

All partisans are moral imbeciles.

Sad news—and a devastating take on where we are today—from the great Robert Parry

An Apology and Explanation

December 31, 2017

From Editor Robert Parry: For readers who have come to see Consortiumnews as a daily news source, I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days. On Christmas Eve, I suffered a stroke that has affected my eyesight (especially my reading and thus my writing) although apparently not much else. The doctors have also been working to figure out exactly what happened since I have never had high blood pressure, I never smoked, and my recent physical found nothing out of the ordinary. Perhaps my personal slogan that “every day’s a work day” had something to do with this.

Perhaps, too, the unrelenting ugliness that has become Official Washington and national journalism was a factor. It seems that since I arrived in Washington in 1977 as a correspondent for The Associated Press, the nastiness of American democracy and journalism has gone from bad to worse. In some ways, the Republicans escalated the vicious propaganda warfare following Watergate, refusing to accept that Richard Nixon was guilty of some extraordinary malfeasance (including the 1968 sabotage of President Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks to gain an edge in the election and then the later political dirty tricks and cover-ups that came to include Watergate). Rather than accept the reality of Nixon’s guilt, many Republicans simply built up their capability to wage information warfare, including the creation of ideological news organizations to protect the party and its leaders from “another Watergate.”

So, when Democrat Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election, the Republicans used their news media and their control of the special prosecutor apparatus (through Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle) to unleash a wave of investigations to challenge Clinton’s legitimacy, eventually uncovering his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

The idea had developed that the way to defeat your political opponent was not just to make a better argument or rouse popular support but to dredge up some “crime” that could be pinned on him or her. The GOP success in damaging Bill Clinton made possible George W. Bush’s disputed “victory” in 2000 in which Bush took the presidency despite losing the popular vote and almost certainly losing the key state of Florida if all ballots legal under state law were counted. Increasingly, America – even at the apex of its uni-power status – was taking on the look of a banana republic except with much higher stakes for the world.

Though I don’t like the word “weaponized,” it began to apply to how “information” was used in America. The point of Consortiumnews, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean. The trend of using journalism as just another front in no-holds-barred political warfare continued – with Democrats and liberals adapting to the successful techniques pioneered mostly by Republicans and by well-heeled conservatives.

Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was another turning point as Republicans again challenged his legitimacy with bogus claims about his “Kenyan birth,” a racist slur popularized by “reality” TV star Donald Trump. Facts and logic no longer mattered. It was a case of using whatever you had to diminish and destroy your opponent.

We saw similar patterns with the U.S. government’s propaganda agencies developing themes to demonize foreign adversaries and then to smear Americans who questioned the facts or challenged the exaggerations as “apologists.” This approach was embraced not only by Republicans (think of President George W. Bush distorting the reality in Iraq in 2003 to justify the invasion of that country under false pretenses) but also by Democrats who pushed dubious or downright false depictions of the conflict in Syria (including blaming the Syrian government for chemical weapons attacks despite strong evidence that the events were staged by Al Qaeda and other militants who had become the tip of the spear in the neocon/liberal interventionist goal of removing the Assad dynasty and installing a new regime more acceptable to the West and to Israel.

More and more I would encounter policymakers, activists and, yes, journalists who cared less about a careful evaluation of the facts and logic and more about achieving a pre-ordained geopolitical result – and this loss of objective standards reached deeply into the most prestigious halls of American media. This perversion of principles – twisting information to fit a desired conclusion – became the modus vivendi of American politics and journalism. And those of us who insisted on defending the journalistic principles of skepticism and evenhandedness were increasingly shunned by our colleagues, a hostility that first emerged on the Right and among neoconservatives but eventually sucked in the progressive world as well. Everything became “information warfare.”

snip>

What’s in today’s New York Times? “All the news that’s really not”

Here are the two TOP “international” stories in today’s NYTimes (1/6/18):

“Long Before Video, Japanese Fought Suicide in the ‘Sea of Trees'” (on the “bleak reputation” of Aokigahara Forest “as one of Japan’s top suicide destinations”).

“Would Bronte Mind if a Model Hosted Her Party?” (on the Bronte Society’s hiring “former model Lily Cole … as a creative partner for Emily Bronte’s 200th birthday party”).

And here are the last three pieces in that section of the paper:

“Scottish Soda Is Shedding Some Sugar, Irking Fans”

“French President Opens Year With Scolding for Journalists”

“Britain Considers a ‘Latte Levy’ to Try to Cut the Use of Coffee Cops”

The paper’s other international news includes one piece on Israel’s drift toward a 1-state solution; one on the growing Turkish opposition to Erdogan; one on the two Koreas’ “Agree[ment] to Begin High-Level Talks Next Week”; one on Catalonia (whose “Leaders, Despite Jail and Exile, Make Claims on Power”); one noting that “Peru’s Voters Remain Split As Ex-Leader [Fujimori] Is Released”; two short anti-Venezuelan items; “A Voracious Starfish Is Destroying the Great Barrier Reef” (18 short paragraphs at the bottom of p. A9); and, from the vast theater of the US “war on terror,” two articles—”U.S. Cuts Off Pakistan, Gambling in Afghan War” and (more obliquely) “American Held by U.S. Military in Iraq Tells A.C.L.U. He Wants to Sue.”

And finally, at the bottom of p. A7 (beside a larger ad for the New York Times Travel Show), there’s also “Russia and U.S. Joust at U.N. Over Iran Protests”—a headline that’s misleading, since what this piece reports is not a Cold-War-style “joust” between “Russia and U.S.,” but the US standing almost by itself in the Security Council, where a “mini-revolt” is “brewing” over the US line on Iran, with Russia, China, France and Sweden speaking out against the “‘instrumentalization’ of the protests ‘from the outside'” (quoting Francis Delattre, French ambassador to the UN).

Meanwhile, there is NOTHING in this paper on what’s happening IN Iran itself—and that’s just one of several weird lacunae in this day’s edition of “America’s Newspaper of Record.”

There’s also—and as usual—NOTHING on the genocidal war in Yemen: a horror that the Times itself has, several times (including a few days ago), described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. (This blackout extends throughout the Western press.)

And, as well, there’s NOTHING on the ever-tightening repression in Saudi Arabia, where the regime lately swept up over 337,000 people in a “crackdown on illegal foreigners” (as the Hindustan Times reported two days ago); and, moreover, NOTHING on Trump’s blithe boast that “We put our man on top” in Saudi Arabia—a boast reported (or alleged) in Michael Wolf’s new book, which the Times is very busily promoting. (This blackout extends throughout the Western press.)

And while the Times (along with Trump) keeps going on about the “political repression and public corruption” in Venezuela (to quote today’s paper), it says NOTHING on the mass uprising in Honduras, where a 19-year-old woman, searching for her brother at a protest, was shot dead by the military police (as reported by the Miami Herald). While this great nationwide assertion of democracy HAS been covered by outlets like TeleSur, America Magazine and the National Catholic Reporter, the Times (along with nearly all the other US “liberal media”) has simply blacked it out.

Thus those who read the New York Times, and think they’re getting “all the news that’s fit to print,” aren’t getting anything but fluff and (mainly) propaganda—and so it is with the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, CBS, MSNBC, and all the rest of them submerging us, day after day, in fluff and propaganda.

Seymour Hersh is scared to tell us what he knows about Seth Rich

The great investigative journalist has, in public, said two very different things about the Seth Rich mystery; and, when urged to fess up what he really knows about it (in a private conversation that, unbeknownst to him, was being recorded), said he certainly will not, because he lives in “the real world”—meaning that he knows better than to take so grave a risk.
This “real world” is one where US journalists had better stick the official line on story after story—a line that tends to be dictated by US intelligence —or else.

For more on this unfortunate reality, see this eye-opining piece that Paste ran not so long ago:

MCM  

Seymour Hersh Owes The World An Explanation For His Seth Rich Comments
by Caitlin Johnstone

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has given two radically different accounts of how much he knows about the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich last year, and he owes the whole world a full clarification.

On Tuesday NPR released an exclusive report titled “Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale”. The centerpiece of the viral article is a legal complaint against Fox by one of its commentators, which contains among other things a very interesting quote by Hersh that the notoriously pro-establishment NPR conveniently omitted from its report. Luckily for us, the complaint is now publicly available, and the quote can be read by all:

55. During his conversation with Butowsky, Mr. Hersh claimed that he had received information from an “FBI report.” Mr. Hersh had not seen the report himself, but explained: “I have somebody on the inside who will go and read a file for me. And I know this person is unbelievably accurate and careful. He’s a very high level guy.”

56. According to Mr. Hersh, his source told him that the FBI report states that, shortly after Seth Rich’s murder, the D.C. police obtained a warrant to search his home. When they arrived at the home, the D.C. police found Seth Rich’s computer, but were unable to access it.The computer was then provided to the D.C. police Cyber Unit, who also were unable to access the computer. At that point, the D.C. police contacted the Cyber Unit at the FBI’s Washington D.C. field office. Again, according to the supposed FBI report, the Washington D.C. field office was able to get into the computer and found that in “late spring early summer [2016], [Seth Rich][made] contact with Wikileaks.” “They found what he had done. He had submitted a series of documents, of emails. Some juicy emails from the DNC.” Mr. Hersh told Butowsky that Seth Rich “offered a sample [to WikiLeaks][,] an extensive sample, you know I’m sure dozens, of emails, and said I want money.”

Wow.

NPR mentioned these massive allegations only briefly and in the abstract, without quoting any of it for mainstream American consumption. What it did do, however, is provide a quote of Hersh denying the whole thing when asked for comment:

In an interview this week, Hersh sounded unconvinced.

“I hear gossip,” Hersh tells NPR on Monday. “[Butowsky] took two and two and made 45 out of it.”

So there you go. Neither the plaintiff Rod Wheeler nor Ed Butowsky (the Republican surrogate named in the lawsuit) have the most sterling reputations at this point, and Sy Hersh himself denies the whole thing. It’d make perfect sense to dismiss this wacky conspiracy theory entirely, right?

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Google goes Chinese on 13 leftist (and quasi-leftist) websites

From Raju Das (via Bertell Ollman):

Technology has always been a tool in the hands of the capitalist class (even if it is not just that). The information technology is no exception.  

Many people rely on google searches to access information from progressive sources. Recent changes to Google’s algorithm have negatively impacted the volume of traffic to the progressive and Marxist websites. Google has said that its update of its search engine will block access to what it considers “offensive” sites, while working to surface more “authoritative content.”

The sites adversely affected, and the percent decline in the traffic during the three month period since May 2017, are as follows:

wsws.org fell by 67 percent

alternet.org fell by 63 percent

globalresearch.ca fell by 62 percent

consortiumnews.com fell by 47 percent

socialistworker.org fell by 47 percent

mediamatters.org fell by 42 percent

commondreams.org fell by 37 percent

internationalviewpoint.org fell by 36 percent

democracynow.org fell by 36 percent

wikileaks.org fell by 30 percent

truth-out.org fell by 25 percent

counterpunch.org fell by 21 percent

theintercept.com fell by 19 percent

 

source: wsws.org