Wednesday / August 24, 2016

(www.nndb.com)

“Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.”

– Rollo May

(See “We Have Become Like Fish In Water”, below.)

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Third Parties Aren’t ‘Spoilers’. They’re Reformers At The Cutting Edge Leading America To Greter Democracy

A vote for the Republicans or Democrats is a vote for the status quo. Pressure from the radical left could be the beginning of a transformational change.

By Kevin Zeese
The Guardian (8/21/16)

NBC News recently projected that Hillary Clinton has surpassed the 270 electoral college votes she needs to be elected president. Based on polls, which have been surprisingly accurate this year, Politico reports that if you include states where Clinton leads by 5%, she has 302 electoral college votes. There may be no swing states in 2016. Indeed, no one with her lead at this stage of the campaign has lost the popular vote in 16 elections, since modern polling began.

Thomas Frank wrote in the Guardian that with Clinton certain to win, she will ignore populist movements and govern to the right. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report writes that Clinton is stuffing the entire US ruling class into her campaign: neocons and neoliberals, Wall Street and big business, military and intelligence – they are all there, with progressives, blacks and Latinos pushed to the side.

The formula for reform

Though two establishment big business parties are the tradition in the United States, history shows people’s voices have still impacted the direction of the country. The formula has been: mass movement + independent electoral party = transformational change.

By forcing their issues onto the political agenda, people have broken up banking and energy monopolies, won the right to form unions and an eight-hour work day, ended child labor and won the vote for women. The entire New Deal came from the Progressive and Socialist parties. All of these changes occurred without a third party winning the presidency. They won their issues by showing enough political support to impact the outcome of an election, which the two parties call “spoiling”. This forced one of the two parties to adopt the issue of the era, or become the Whigs and disappear.

 

Clinton is stuffing the entire US ruling class into her campaign: neocons and neoliberals, Wall Street and big business, military and intelligence – they are all there, with progressives, blacks and Latinos pushed to the side.

 

There is one example of a third party winning a presidential election. The first political party, the Democrats, was a party of slave plantation owners. The second long-lasting political grouping was the Whig party, northern industrialists who profited from slavery. By the mid-1800s slavery was more valuable than manufacturing, banking and railroads combined. There had been an abolition movement since before the founding of the nation, but it was stalled, even going backward. Abolitionists decided to force their issue onto the agenda by running for office. They lost repeatedly, but over nearly two decades they weakened the Whigs and divided the Democrats. Abraham Lincoln, a former Whig, won a four-way race in 1860 for the Republicans with less than 40% of the vote.

The abolitionist spoilers were hated because they were blamed for the Mexican war by giving the greater-evil Democrats the presidency. But, we should be eternally grateful to those who voted in those losing elections to end slavery. They were democracy heroes, using the tools available to force an end to slavery.

We face a similar issue today when the issue is corporate power, especially the power of Wall Street and transnational corporations controlling government. Two parties take hundreds of millions from big business and do their bidding.

The lie of the Nader Florida myth

Independent challengers have no chance in these manipulated presidential elections. The hubris of two parties allows them to create a corporation, call it a commission and keep challengers out of the debates. They use fear to manipulate voters. For example, they push the Nader myth – despite Gore losing 308,000 Democratic votes and 191,000 liberal votes in Florida to Bush, and Nader only winning about 30,000 of each. They trump up Trump fear despite the reality that he cannot win.

Establishment parties nominated two very unpopular candidates. Since we know who will win, why throw away your vote on either? Use your vote to challenge corporate power.

Only the Greens, Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, are challenging corporate power. The movement, already planning “#NoHoneymoon for Hillary” protests, has been growing rapidly since 2011, getting stronger and winning battles. Every vote for Stein makes the movement stronger by forcing Clinton to look over her left shoulder, worried that the Greens will have enough votes to impact her re-election.

To end corporate power, we must vote against it. Just as the US needed democracy heroes to end slavery, we need democracy heroes to end plutocracy.

Link to Story

 

Image result for jill stein logo

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More Than Half Of Clinton’s Non-Govt Visitors At State Dept. Gave To Family Foundation

By Stephen Braun & Eileen Sullivan
Associated Press (8/23/16)

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half the people outside the government who met with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state gave money — either personally or through companies or groups — to the Clinton Foundation. It’s an extraordinary proportion indicating her possible ethics challenges if elected president.

At least 85 of 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs, according to a review of State Department calendars released so far to The Associated Press. Combined, the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

Donors who were granted time with Clinton included an internationally known economist who asked for her help as the Bangladesh government pressured him to resign from a nonprofit bank he ran; a Wall Street executive who sought Clinton’s help with a visa problem; and Estee Lauder executives who were listed as meeting with Clinton while her department worked with the firm’s corporate charity to counter gender-based violence in South Africa.

The meetings between the Democratic presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlaps shows the intermingling of access and donations, and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and emails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors.

Clink, Clank, Clinton

Selectively Blind Date

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

 

The AP’s findings represent the first systematic effort to calculate the scope of the intersecting interests of Clinton Foundation donors and people who met personally with Clinton or spoke to her by phone about their needs.

The 154 did not include U.S. federal employees or foreign government representatives. Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton charity, but they were not included in AP’s calculations because such meetings would presumably have been part of her diplomatic duties.

Clinton’s campaign said the AP analysis was flawed because it did not include in its calculations meetings with foreign diplomats or U.S. government officials, and the meetings AP examined covered only the first half of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

“It is outrageous to misrepresent Secretary Clinton’s basis for meeting with these individuals,” spokesman Brian Fallon said. He called it “a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fiercely criticized the links between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, saying his general election opponent had delivered “lie after lie after lie.”

“Hillary Clinton is totally unfit to hold public office,” he said at a rally Tuesday night in Austin, Texas. “It is impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins. It is now abundantly clear that the Clintons set up a business to profit from public office.”

Last week, the Clinton Foundation moved to head off ethics concerns about future donations by announcing changes planned if Clinton is elected.

On Monday, Bill Clinton said in a statement that if his wife were to win, he would step down from the foundation’s board and stop all fundraising for it. The foundation would also accept donations only from U.S. citizens and what it described as independent philanthropies, while no longer taking gifts from foreign groups, U.S. companies or corporate charities. Clinton said the foundation would no longer hold annual meetings of its international aid program, the Clinton Global Initiative, and it would spin off its foreign-based programs to other charities.

Those planned changes would not affect more than 6,000 donors who have already provided the Clinton charity with more than $2 billion in funding since its creation in 2000.

“There’s a lot of potential conflicts and a lot of potential problems,” said Douglas White, an expert on nonprofits who previously directed Columbia University’s graduate fundraising management program. “The point is, she can’t just walk away from these 6,000 donors.”

Former senior White House ethics officials said a Clinton administration would have to take careful steps to ensure that past foundation donors would not have the same access as she allowed at the State Department.

“If Secretary Clinton puts the right people in and she’s tough about it and has the right procedures in place and sends a message consistent with a strong commitment to ethics, it can be done,” said Norman L. Eisen, who was President Barack Obama’s top ethics counsel and later worked for Clinton as ambassador to the Czech Republic.

Eisen, now a governance studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that at a minimum, Clinton should retain the Obama administration’s current ethics commitments and oversight, which include lobbying restrictions and other rules. Richard Painter, a former ethics adviser to President George W. Bush and currently a University of Minnesota law school professor, said Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton should remove themselves completely from foundation leadership roles, but he added that potential conflicts would shadow any policy decision affecting past donors.

Fallon did not respond to the AP’s questions about Clinton transition plans regarding ethics, but said in a statement the standard set by the Clinton Foundation’s ethics restrictions was “unprecedented, even if it may never satisfy some critics.”

State Department officials have said they are not aware of any agency actions influenced by the Clinton Foundation. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday night that there are no prohibitions against agency contacts with “political campaigns, nonprofits or foundations — including the Clinton Foundation.” He added that “meeting requests, recommendations and proposals come to the department through a variety of channels, both formal and informal.”

Some of Clinton’s most influential visitors donated millions to the Clinton Foundation and to her and her husband’s political coffers. They are among scores of Clinton visitors and phone contacts in her official calendar turned over by the State Department to AP last year and in more-detailed planning schedules that so far have covered about half her four-year tenure. The AP sought Clinton’s calendar and schedules three years ago, but delays led the AP to sue the State Department last year in federal court for those materials and other records.

S. Daniel Abraham, whose name also was included in emails released by the State Department as part of another lawsuit, is a Clinton fundraising bundler who was listed in Clinton’s planners for eight meetings with her at various times. A billionaire behind the Slim-Fast diet and founder of the Center for Middle East Peace, Abraham told the AP last year his talks with Clinton concerned Mideast issues.

Big Clinton Foundation donors with no history of political giving to the Clintons also met or talked by phone with Hillary Clinton and top aides, AP’s review showed.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering low-interest “microcredit” for poor business owners, met with Clinton three times and talked with her by phone during a period when Bangladeshi government authorities investigated his oversight of a nonprofit bank and ultimately pressured him to resign from the bank’s board. Throughout the process, he pleaded for help in messages routed to Clinton, and she ordered aides to find ways to assist him.

American affiliates of his nonprofit Grameen Bank had been working with the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative programs as early as 2005, pledging millions of dollars in microloans for the poor. Grameen America, the bank’s nonprofit U.S. flagship, which Yunus chairs, has given between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation — a figure that bank spokeswoman Becky Asch said reflects the institution’s annual fees to attend CGI meetings. Another Grameen arm chaired by Yunus, Grameen Research, has donated between $25,000 and $50,000.

As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton, as well as then-Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and two other senators in 2007 sponsored a bill to award a congressional gold medal to Yunus. He got one but not until 2010, a year after Obama awarded him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. …

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TONIGHT! Amplify Your Voice – Workshop For Writing Letters To The Editor

If you agree that this Fall election is extremely important, then from now until November 8th we need to send a lot of letters to the editor for publication in area newspapers.  We have found that the local weekly newspapers are increasingly reluctant to print stories about local campaigns.  One avenue still open for communicating with the voting public is a letter to the editor.

If you have things you want to say concerning the candidates and issues in the upcoming election, and would like some help putting them on paper, the Vernon County Democratic Party invites you to a “Letter Writing Workshop” TONIGHT, Aug. 24th. It will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Vernon County Democratic headquarters in the former Hotel Fortney, 100 N. Main St., Viroqua. Three wordsmiths will be there to provide guidance on writing an effective letter and to help you turn your ideas into letters to the editor.  We are fortunate to have the experienced  Mark Taylor, Dan Peak and Joan Kent, to lead this workshop.

Following the workshop, participants can walk down the block to the Vernon County Broadcaster, where editor Matt Johnson will meet with us to discuss the specifics of letters to the editor for the Broadcaster, such as accepted letter lengths and deadlines.

You can help.  Please join us.

We prefer an RSVP to Joan Kent at donjoan@mwt.net or 625-2339 so we know how many people to expect at the workshop. Or, just show up at 5 pm onWednesday, August 24th at the Vernon Dems HQ in Viroqua.  All are invited.

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Let Our Senators Know They Need To Act To Save Honeybees From Insecticide Poisoning Dieoff

Save the Bees

(Greenpeace USA)

Honeybees pollinate many of the nuts, fruits and vegetables we love. But beekeepers like me keep discovering our honeybees — whole hives of them — gone or dead.

Just in the last year, the United States lost 44% of honey bee colonies — a significant jump from the year before.

We can’t let dangerous pesticides continue to devastate bee populations for another year.

Luckily, there is hope. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon has drafted a new bill that will help decrease bee-killing pesticide use and increase pollinator habitat.

Send a message to your Senators and ask them to save the bees by supporting the Pollinator Recovery Act of 2016.

The bill doesn’t only take steps to end the die-offs. It goes on the offensive for the bees:

  • It will give farmers incentives for reducing the use of bee killing pesticides and increase more ecologically friendly ways to control weeds and pests.
  • It will help farmers develop planting strategies that benefit pollinators and the crops they pollinate.
  • It will require federal agencies to expand habitat that benefits pollinators by 3 million acres!

Basically, the bill is a huge win for both bees and farmers. That’s something your Senators should be able to get behind — even in this politically charged time.

There is not a moment to lose.

To ensure the bill passes, Senator Merkley needs co-sponsors before introducing the bill on the floor of the Senate. That could happen in just a couple of weeks when the Senate is back from its August recess.

Bees need our support right now to give this bill a chance at succeeding from the outset.

Our movement to protect the bees has already accomplished so much.

Hundreds of thousands of people are challenging bee killing pesticides — like neonicotinoids — in the EPA. In March, the state of Maryland banned the consumer use of neonicotinoids. And the entire country of France is banning all use of neonicotinoids!

And saving the bees is just one part of the growing movement to fix our broken food system.

Together we can ensure the food we eat everyday is not grown with dangerous pesticides and instead works for farmers, eaters (that’s YOU!), and bees.

Let’s make the Pollinator Recovery Act part of that change.

Thanks for all you do,

Mark Floegel
Research Director and Beekeeper, Greenpeace USA

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TONIGHT! Vernon County Our Revolution Organizing Kickoff

On August 24th, 2016, Bernie Sanders is launching  “Our Revolution” with a big Organizing Kickoff to get to work fighting for the political revolution—through November and beyond. Bernie will speak via livestream at 8 pm–Central Time, and lay out the path forward for our movement.   Doors will open at 7 pm with introductions starting at 7:30 pm.

Host: Vernon Forward

Location: Vernon County Democratic Party Headquarters (VIROQUA, WI)

Vernon Democrats HQ at Fortney Hotel
100 N. Main Street,
VIROQUA, WI 54665

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Sea Shepherd Will Continue Harassing Japanese Whaling Boats Despite US Court Ruling

Conservation group says it is committed to upholding Australian federal court ruling banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian sanctuary.

Australian Associated Press (8/23/16)

A United States court ruling preventing conservationists from attacking Japanese whaling boats will not stop the annual protection campaign in the Southern Ocean.

The Japanese Times newspaper reported on Tuesday that a settlement declaring the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was “permanently enjoined from physically attacking the [Japanese] research vessels and crew and from navigating in a manner that is likely to endanger their safe navigation”. [Note, these ships are no more about “research” than a slaughter house is about veterinary medicine. They claim the ships are engaged in research to squeeze through a legal loophole usually used to permit limited hunting. DC Editor]

In response, Sea Shepherd Australia’s boss, Jeff Hansen, said his organisation remained “committed to upholding the Australian federal court ruling banning the slaughter of whales in the Australian whale sanctuary. We are not concerned about the US court settlement as it does not have any effect on Australian law.”

Japan’s Institute of Cetacean Research had sought an injunction in 2011 in a US court to stop Sea Shepherd hindering its whaling program.

Japan officially halted commercial whaling in 1987 in response to an international moratorium declared one year previously.

However, it has used a loophole to continue whaling under the premise of scientific research, despite international criticism.

Japanese whalers captured 333 minke whales in the Antarctic in the most recent season, which ended in March, but did not face any obstructive activities from the anti-whaling group.

The hunt was the first since the international court of justice ruled in 2014 that Japan’s “research whaling” program in the Southern Ocean contravened the moratorium.

Link to Story

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We Have Become Like Fish In Water

Image result for allep bombing

A dead child in Aleppo. (www.dailymail.co.uk)

“We are currently in the midst of the greatest epidemic sickness known to humanity. Like a fish in water who doesn’t recognize water because it is everywhere, both outside and within the fish itself, many of us don’t realize the collective insanity in our midst, as our madness is so pervasive that it has become normalized. We have become conditioned to accept as normal the fact that we are in an endless war, and innumerable of our brothers and sisters all over the planet are impoverished and dying of starvation every day.

“It is important to realize that in a psychic epidemic, the majority of people can appear entirely “normal”. The fact that the underlying psychic roots of the collective psychosis are not even part of our planetary dialogue is itself a telling expression of the depth of the unconsciousness induced by this psychic epidemic.”

Paul Levy, “Dispelling Weitko: Breaking the Curse of Evil” (p.48).

 

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In The Midst Of Good Work, Private Lives Are Needlessly Exposed As WikiLeaks Spills Secrets Of Govt. Abuse

In the past year alone, the radical transparency group has published medical files belonging to scores of ordinary citizens while many hundreds more have had sensitive family, financial or identity records posted to the web. In two particularly egregious cases, WikiLeaks named teenage rape victims. In a third case, the site published the name of a Saudi citizen arrested for being gay, an extraordinary move given that homosexuality is punishable by death in the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom.

“They published everything: my phone, address, name, details,” said a Saudi man who told AP he was bewildered that WikiLeaks had revealed the details of a paternity dispute with a former partner. “If the family of my wife saw this … Publishing personal stuff like that could destroy people.”

WikiLeaks’ mass publication of personal data is at odds with the site’s claim to have championed privacy even as it laid bare the workings of international statecraft, and has drawn criticism from the site’s allies.

Attempts to reach WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange were unsuccessful; a set of questions left with his site wasn’t immediately answered Tuesday. WikiLeaks’ stated mission is to bring censored or restricted material “involving war, spying and corruption” into the public eye, describing the trove amassed thus far as a “giant library of the world’s most persecuted documents.”

The library is growing quickly, with half a million files from the U.S. Democratic National Committee, Turkey’s governing party and the Saudi Foreign Ministry added in the last year or so. But the library is also filling with rogue data, including computer viruses, spam, and a compendium of personal records.

The Saudi diplomatic cables alone hold at least 124 medical files, according to a sample analyzed by AP. Some described patients with psychiatric conditions, seriously ill children or refugees.

“This has nothing to do with politics or corruption,” said Dr. Nayef al-Fayez, a consultant in the Jordanian capital of Amman who confirmed that a brain cancer patient of his was among those whose details were published to the web. Dr. Adnan Salhab, a retired practitioner in Jordan who also had a patient named in the files, expressed anger when shown the document.

“This is illegal what has happened,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is illegal!”

The AP, which is withholding identifying details of most of those affected, reached 23 people — most in Saudi Arabia — whose personal information was exposed. Some were unaware their data had been published; WikiLeaks is censored in the country. Others shrugged at the news. Several were horrified.

One, a partially disabled Saudi woman who’d secretly gone into debt to support a sick relative, said she was devastated. She’d kept her plight from members of her own family.

“This is a disaster,” she said in a phone call. “What if my brothers, neighbors, people I know or even don’t know have seen it? What is the use of publishing my story?”

Medical records are widely counted among a person’s most private information. But the AP found that WikiLeaks also routinely publishes identity records, phone numbers and other information easily exploited by criminals.

The DNC files published last month carried more than two dozen Social Security and credit card numbers, according to an AP analysis assisted by New Hampshire-based compliance firm DataGravity. Two of the people named in the files told AP they were targeted by identity thieves following the leak, including a retired U.S. diplomat who said he also had to change his number after being bombarded by threatening messages.

The number of people affected easily reaches into the hundreds. Paul Dietrich, a transparency activist, said a partial scan of the Saudi cables alone turned up more than 500 passport, identity, academic or employment files.

The AP independently found three dozen records pertaining to family issues in the cables — including messages about marriages, divorces, missing children, elopements and custody battles. Many are very personal, like the marital certificates which reveal whether the bride was a virgin. Others deal with Saudis who are deeply in debt, including one man who says his wife stole his money. One divorce document details a male partner’s infertility. Others identify the partners of women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C.

Lisa Lynch, who teaches media and communications at Drew University and has followed WikiLeaks for years, said Assange may not have had the staff or the resources to properly vet what he published. Or maybe he felt that the urgency of his mission trumped privacy concerns.

“For him the ends justify the means,” she said.

*****

Initially conceived as a Wikipedia-style platform for leakers, WikiLeaks’ initial plan was for a “worldwide community of informed users” to curate the material it released wholesale, according to the site’s now defunct question-and-answer page. Prominent transparency advocate Steven Aftergood privately warned Assange a few days before the site’s debut that the publish-everything approach was problematic.

“Publication of information is not always an act of freedom,” Aftergood said in an email sent in late 2006. “It can also be an act of aggression or oppression.”

Those concerns were heightened after WikiLeaks published a series of documents leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, now known as Chelsea, in 2010. The publication provided explosive evidence of human rights abuses in Iraq and Pakistani cooperation with the Taliban in Afghanistan — among many other revelations — but it also led to allegations that civilians in war zones had been endangered.

Assange insisted WikiLeaks had a system to keep ordinary people’s information safe.

“We have a harm minimization policy,” the Australian told an audience in Oxford, England in July of 2010. “There are legitimate secrets. Your records with your doctor, that’s a legitimate secret.”

Assange initially leaned on cooperating journalists, who flagged sensitive material to WikiLeaks which then held them back for closer scrutiny. But Assange was impatient with the process, describing it as time-consuming and expensive.

“We can’t sit on material like this for three years with one person to go through the whole lot, line-by-line, to redact,” he told London’s Frontline Club the month after his talk in Oxford. “We have to take the best road that we can.”

Assange’s attitude has hardened since. A brief experiment with automatic redactions was aborted. The journalist-led redactions were abandoned too after Assange’s relationship with the London press corps turned toxic. By 2013 WikiLeaks had written off the redaction efforts as a wrong move.

Withholding any data at all “legitimizes the false propaganda of ‘information is dangerous,'” the group argued on Twitter.

But some private information genuinely is dangerous, courting serious consequences for the people involved.

Three Saudi cables published by the WikiLeaks identified domestic workers who’d been tortured or sexually abused by their employers, giving the women’s full names and passport numbers. One cable named a male teenager who was raped by a man while abroad; a second identified another male teenager who was so violently raped his legs were broken; a third outlined the details of a Saudi man detained for “sexual deviation” — a derogatory term for homosexuality.

Scott Long, an LGBT rights activist who has worked in the Middle East, said the names of rape victims were off-limits. And he worried that releasing the names of people persecuted for their sexuality only risked magnifying the harm caused by oppressive officials.

“You’re legitimizing their surveillance, not combating it,” Long said. …

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PBS Frontline: Putin’s Way

Image result for putin

(thefederalist.com)

PBS Frontline 

FRONTLINE investigates the accusations of criminality and corruption that have surrounded Vladimir Putin’s reign in Russia. The film is a FRONTLINE production with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Link to 54-Minute Video

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United Way Loses Its Way Endorsing New Mexico Sniper Rifle Charity Auction

The fundraiser will distribute over a hundred deadly firearms into New Mexican communities already ravaged by gun violence.

By Valarie Plame Wilson
Huffington Post (8/20/16)

When is the highly respected United Way’s mission to “improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good” incompatible with their actions? When they allow a United Way chapter in New Mexico to auction off firearms – including military assault style weapons as a means to fundraise. Yes, you read that right.

United Way Worldwide is officially sanctioning a yearlong raffle in rural Otero County, New Mexico — with full knowledge that this fundraiser will distribute over a hundred deadly firearms into New Mexican communities already ravaged by gun violence.

We are being pressured by the international headquarters of the United Way not to talk to the press about this event. But, silencing of voices that urge peace and reason is not an effective means of stopping violence in our communities. Our collective conscience demands that we speak out. In 2012, after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School a group of concerned citizens founded a grassroots local organization called New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence. Like so many Americans, we could not stand by and do nothing after twenty innocent young children were killed by one of the firearms labeled “Grand Prizes” in the upcoming United Way raffle.

With over 33,000 people killed every year by gun violence in the US (and many more injured), the time for silence has long passed. We believe that a vast majority of Americans will find the United distributing weapons like the AR-15 assault rifle into one of our communities to be as morally repugnant as we do. In fact, the first weapon to be raffled off in January will be a military grade Barret m95.50 BMG sniper rifle, designed to kill a person up to a mile away. This is not for killing a rabbit. The sniper rifle is valued at $8,999 on the United Way website. That’s a lot of money in rural New Mexico. The United Way Worldwide is fully aware of laws that allow the raffle “winner” to turn around and immediately sell that military grade sniper rifle to absolutely anyone. No background check or questions of any kind are required in a personal gun sale in New Mexico. The raffle winner can then sell that deadly sniper rifle to the highest bidder, whether that person is a drug cartel member or gang member, a terrorist, a felon, or a medical patient with a history of violence. A full list of the 100+ weapons that the United Way will introduce into our community can be found on the Otero County United Way website, complete with pictures of the “Grand Prizes.”

United in bowing to NRA bullies

When we first approached the United Way Worldwide in early August about the firearm raffle, it appeared that they were going to do the right thing. They told us that “United Way of Otero County has removed references to the firearms raffle from their website” and that “we are still following up to ensure the event is not happening at all.” The Alamogordo Daily News even printed an article about the Raffle being cancelled. Not surprisingly, gun groups began targeting both the United Way and New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence with their usual bullying tactics.

We just learned that the raffle is back on and that United Way Worldwide is fine with that.

We understand that NRA bullies can be intimidating. In fact, we have been experiencing their ire for some time now. But, it is the cowardice of people who know better that makes violence epidemic in our country. It is unfortunate (and stupid, frankly) that the Worldwide Board of Directors were not willing to stay true to their mission in the face of misplaced pressure from local and national gun groups.

Many of us who have supported the United Way for years are deeply embarrassed by and for the organization. And, we pray that these violent weapons being unleashed on our communities by the United Way will not become instruments of mayhem in the 91 deaths that occur as a result of gun violence in our county every day. Do we really need the money from this raffle so badly that we are willing to pay the price of innocent lives lost?

Link to Story

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Dept. Of Much Needed Humor – Ten Reasons Why Don’t People Like Hillary Clinton

 

Image result for hillary clinton

(www.wnd.com)

The Onion (8/23/16)

Although she’s secured the Democratic presidential nomination, many voters across all demographics are still hesitant to vote for Hillary Clinton. The Onion breaks down the reasons Clinton is having a hard time luring reluctant voters.

  • Iraq War – A large number of voters are unable to forgive Clinton’s support for the invasion of Iraq, even though she’s explained over and over again that 2003 was a long time ago

  • Ties To Big Banks – Many perceive Clinton as having a cozy relationship with the financial sector, a criticism she’s spent millions in untraceable donations trying to fight against

  • Policy-Driven Campaigning – Dry, wonkish speeches irritate the public by reminding them there are a wide variety of issues they should be paying attention to

  • Looks – Clinton’s image is dogged by the unrealistic aesthetic standard set by her 43 predecessors

  • Trustworthiness – Voters prefer a candidate whose backpedaling and flip-flopping on issues seems less calculated and strategic

  • Garrison Keillor – Still holding a grudge about losing that 1997 Spoken Word Grammy

  • Personal History –Clinton would be the first U.S. president who has had sex with a U.S. president, and that’s weird

  • Oratory Skill – Suffers from unfortunate speech impediment of sounding like a capable, self-possessed woman

  • Statistics – Studies have shown that it is at least 35 percent more fun to dislike Clinton than it is to support her

  • Sincerely Wants To Be President – Always a red flag

    Link to Story

Posted in 2016-08-24, Newsletter | Comments Off on Dept. Of Much Needed Humor – Ten Reasons Why Don’t People Like Hillary Clinton

For True Progressives, Jill Stein Is Now The Only Choice

In a CNN town hall, Green party candidate Jill Stein showed that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign.

By Marc Lamont Hill
The Guardian (11/18/16)

he stakes of Wednesday night’s CNN Green party town hall were high – third-party candidates are rarely allowed entry into the corporate media universe, which thrives on the false narrative that only two parties exist here in the United States.

This was perhaps the only opportunity the presidential candidate I have endorsed – Jill Stein – and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka, to have the ear of a large portion of the mainstream American electorate. There was little room for error.

They spent little time directly criticizing Donald Trump. This was a wise move, since virtually no one among Stein’s potential base of support is considering Trump as a viable option. Instead, she focused on Hillary Clinton.

At a moment where the Clinton campaign is still attempting to secure the support of frustrated Bernie Sanders primary voters, Stein demonstrated that Clinton’s brand of liberalism does not represent the tone or spirit of the Sanders campaign. By highlighting Clinton’s pro-corporate politics and active role in hawkish foreign policy, Stein raised considerable doubt about Clinton’s leftist bona fides.

“I will have trouble sleeping at night if Donald Trump is elected,” Stein said. “I will also have trouble sleeping at night if Hillary Clinton is elected.”

Throughout the event, both Stein and Baraka rightly refuted the idea that superficial identity politics are enough to constitute a progressive movement. Stein destroyed the notion that a vote for Clinton is a feminist move, as Clinton’s pro-war stances and neoliberal economic policies have compromised the lives and prosperity of women and families around the globe. Baraka drew from Barack Obama’s presidential record to show that electing a black president has not signaled a turn away from anti-black racism at the systemic or interpersonal levels.

 

The two-party system, when underwritten by endless corporate money, does not offer the “lesser of two evils” but a fundamental threat to democracy itself.

 

Stein also raised doubts about Clinton’s trustworthiness. While these arguments are not new, they carried a different level of veracity when separated from the hypocritical and sexist “crooked Hillary” rhetoric of the Trump campaign. Drawing from Clinton’s own anti-Trump playbook, Stein used Clinton’s email scandal and missteps abroad as a springboard to question Clinton’s judgment.

Of course, such critiques would have been more effective if the possibility of a nuclear armed Trump weren’t lingering in the back of voter’s minds, but they nonetheless focused appropriate scrutiny to the secretary’s actions.

But Stein and Baraka did not merely tell voters what to vote against, they also gave them something to vote for.

Throughout the night, the candidates used their time to articulate the Green party’s vision for the future. Specifically, Stein talked about workable plans to create peace in the Middle East, a plan that includes nuclear disarmament, a call to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a loosening of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization’s economic strangleholds on the globe’s most vulnerable nations.

Baraka offered a workable vision of a nation without state violence, inner cities without police as occupying forces and vulnerable citizens not viewed as enemy combatants. For the first time since Bernie Sanders stepped out of the Democratic race, the American public was given an opportunity to dream out loud for a few hours about freedom, justice and true democracy.

Despite the town hall’s success, the Green party has a long way to go to snag a significant slice of undecided, Independent and Clinton-leaning voters. The challenge of the Stein-Baraka campaign will be to convince voters of a long-term political vision, one that isn’t prisoner to our collective obsession with individual elections or hyperbolic fear of particular candidates.

They will have to persuade voters to believe that the two-party system, when underwritten by endless corporate money, does not offer the “lesser of two evils” but a fundamental threat to democracy itself. Surely, they have a long way to go to achieve these goals. But they’ve made an incredible start.

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Posted in 2016-08-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on For True Progressives, Jill Stein Is Now The Only Choice

Cheek-To-Jowl & Bought! As She Rakes In The Cash, Clinton Fundraisers Still Shrouded In Secrecy

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Clinton has refused to open her fundraisers to journalists, reversing nearly a decade of greater transparency in presidential campaigns and leaving the public guessing.

 

(Editor’s Note: C’mon, Hill Bots, wake up and smell the fetid brew of Clinton neoliberal corruption and Wall Street corporate cash. Why will liberals raise holy hell when a George Bush or Mitt Romney does stuff like this then then fall silent when Hillary does the exact same thing?  Pinciple over party! – Mark L. Taylor)

By Naida Prupis
Common Dreams (8/22/16)

Hillary Clinton spent the weekend fundraising in affluent New England communities, speaking to more than 2,200 donors at private brunches and gatherings in Nantucket and Cape Cod—but what she told them “remains a mystery,” the Associated Press reported Monday.

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The fundraising effort—which follows her campaign’s most lucrative month so far with a $63 million gain in July—underscores Clinton’s continued evasion of transparency over her ties to wealthy elites. In fact, of the roughly 300 fundraising events she has held since announcing her White House run in April 2015, only five have allowed any press coverage, and Clinton has attempted to ban the use of social media among guests, according to theAP.

The AP writes:

Clinton has refused to open her fundraisers to journalists, reversing nearly a decade of greater transparency in presidential campaigns and leaving the public guessing at what she’s saying to some of her most powerful supporters.

It’s an approach that differs from the Democratic president she hopes to succeed. Since his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama has allowed reporters traveling with him into the backyards and homes of wealthy donors to witness his some of his remarks.

It has even incurred criticism from some of her Democratic allies, who “privately acknowledge” that Clinton’s aversion to transparency could be a liability considering herissues with appearing “trustworthy” to voters.

The AP notes that reporters who huddled at the perimeters of chain-link fences to cover one event in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Sunday—where tickets ran from $45 to $500 for general admission and in some cases sold as high as $27,000—caught fragments of a typical stump speech.

But much of the other weekend events remains shrouded in secrecy.

In addition to her private fundraising efforts, Clinton has gone months without a “full-fledged press conference,” the AP continues, while her Republican opponent Donald Trump has held several.

Trump brought in significant contributions in July. In a donation pitch sent out earlier this month, her campaign manager Robby Mook warned that “We have to take seriously the threat that Donald Trump could outraise us.”

Still, some observers think Trump’s pervasive media presence could end up helping Clinton more than hurting her.

“Quite frankly, if I’m her, it may not be a bad thing to let Donald Trump be the only candidate making news on any given day,” former Mitt Romney campaign aide Ryan Williams told the AP. “She can stay dark for five straight days and let Trump trip all over himself.”

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License .)

(Daily Call cartoons by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

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Posted in 2016-08-23, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off on Cheek-To-Jowl & Bought! As She Rakes In The Cash, Clinton Fundraisers Still Shrouded In Secrecy

John Oliver Has A Foolproof Plan To Transform Donnie From National Fool To Patriotic Legend

 

By Ed Mazza
Huffington Post (8/22/16)

There’s still a way for Donald Trump to salvage some of his reputation ― and maybe even save American politics.

According to John Oliver, all the Republican presidential candidate has to do is quit the race and claim the entire campaign was a ruse to expose the flaws in our system.

“Just think about how triumphant it would feel to say on national television: ‘I openly ran on a platform of impossibly ignorant proposals steeped in racial bigotry and nobody stopped me,’” Oliver said on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” on Sunday night. “In fact, you embraced me for it. What the fuck was that about?”

John Oliver points out the parallels between Donnie’s campaign and a Scholastic Books kids book, which not only explains Donnie’s campaign but provides him with the way out of the embarrassing mess he has put himself into. Truly, there is a way for Donnie to rocket from national joke to national hero!

 

Oliver predicted it “would be one of the most powerful political speeches of all time.”

Staying in the race, however, could lead to the one thing Trump hates more than anything: losing.

But dropping out?

“If you drop out in order to teach America a lesson, you would not be a loser,” Oliver said. “You would be a legend. There’d be a federal holiday in your honor.”

Oliver even found a guide to help Trump drop out ― right down to the final speech ― and shared it, with a little help from comedian Will Arnett.

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Posted in 2016-08-23, Newsletter | Comments Off on John Oliver Has A Foolproof Plan To Transform Donnie From National Fool To Patriotic Legend