Saturday, November 17, 2018

Rotten Peach: Georgia's Tainted Governor

What We Must Do Now: Abrams, Georgia & Something Extraordinary

by Greg Palast - Palast Investigative Fund

November 16, 2018

Days ago, I received a call from Stacey Abrams’ lead attorneys. Our investigative team had “gold,” as they put it, for litigating the election: Expert analysis proving 340,134 voters were wrongly purged.

Plus, we had, on camera, victims of the purge, including the 92-year-old cousin of Martin Luther King. But I’m a journalist, not a campaign operative. I could only offer my reports and my affidavit filed in federal court in Common Cause v. Brian Kemp.

Stacey Abrams, Palast review Georgia
Purge list 2014 – Photo Zach D Roberts

With Stacey Abrams no longer in the race for Governor, we are now free to open our files to her new voting rights group, Fair Fight Georgia.

Did you note that Abrams cited our story of 92-year-old Christine Jordan purged from the voter rolls? That should give “Governor-elect” Kemp pause. Because that’s the signal that this heartbreaking story will become the hammer to smash the Kemp-created Jim Crow machine.

(And Ms. Jordan is up to the task, telling me she’s willing to take the fight into federal court, “If somebody will help me walk there.”)

The immediate weapon will be litigation against the State of Georgia to show that the election was hopelessly tainted, which, under Georgia statute, could result in a court throwing out the whole rotting dung-heap of an election. That is why Abrams technically did not concede, but rather dropped her claim to office. (Lawyers will understand that she has to maintain “standing.”)

Abrams vocally took up the issue of the massive purge of voters – and intends to defend those purged. This is what’s really historic about her candidacy. Yes, Abrams is the first African-American woman nominated for governor by the Democratic Party. More revolutionary is that she is the first Democratic candidate to demand an end to racist ethnic cleansing of the voter rolls. (If Al Gore had taken that stance in 2000, maybe Stacey would be Governor today – and, hey Al, they’d be calling you Mr. President.)

Our investigation produced the facts – and the names and addresses of the 340,134 voters wrongly purged for supposedly moving out of Georgia or out of their congressional districts – but never moved an inch.

We are now free to hand over those lists to the Abrams litigation team, the NAACP, the SCLC, ACLU and others who are opening courtroom fronts. We are talking with them all.

“It’s Jim Crow all over again.”

 Co-Plaintiffs Palast and Helen Butler are suing Brian Kemp
Photo by Zach D Roberts

And my own suit against Kemp and his successors continues in Atlanta federal court with my co-plaintiff, Helen Butler, Executive Director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda. That group was founded by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, now 97. When I described to him the details of Brian Kemp’s voter-roll trickery, he said, “It’s Jim Crow all over again.”

There was no despair in Lowery’s voice about America’s new backsliding on civil rights. Rather, he and Helen are up for the fight.

If Rev. Lowery and Christine Jordan are up for it, can we do anything but join?

And the battlefront is wide. While we’re suing in Georgia, attorneys for the Palast Investigative Fund have also filed notices of suit in 25 other states that employ the Kemp-Kobach voter-erasing games. (Yes, Kris Kobach is the man in Kemp’s shadow. Kobach provided Kemp with 106,000 of the names Kemp wrongly purged. Surprised?)

Kemp’s “Getaway” Scheme

Why did Stacey Abrams have to end the fight over the count? Because Kemp not only planned his crime carefully – and make no mistake, knowingly preventing citizens from voting is a crime – Kemp also had a brilliant “getaway” scheme.

I saw it firsthand in DeKalb County on Election Day. I knew that some portion of the 340,134 voters wrongly purged would attempt to vote anyway as is their right under federal law. Any American that signs a statement that he or she is a citizen and provides a local address has the right to vote “provisionally.”

This was Abrams’ hope. If courts would order the counting of provisional ballots of those wrongly purged, she’d be governor. The GOP clearly thought of that. So, to being with, they simply refused to count the provisional ballots.

But worse — and this is as brilliant as it is evil and illegal – officials simply refused to give voters provisional ballots.

So, you have to hand it to the Kemp forces: you can’t have a court order the counting of ballots that were never cast: Like the ballot never cast by Yasmin Bakhtiari of Atlanta—illegally refused a provisional ballot though she wouldn’t leave the polling station for two hours – until her third plea for a ballot was rejected.

And this is where our work is also helpful to rights litigants: we have gathered the names of victims and their stories. We even have an official caught on camera refusing a legitimate request for a provisional ballot.)

I have been investigating Brian Kemp for five years. And I remember in 2014 shocking a Legislator, Stacey Abrams, with Kemp’s purge lists. She told my al Jazeera audience that she was furious that “our Secretary of State” was spending his time attacking the voter rolls.

Little did I imagine they’d be squaring off years later, and Kemp’s voter-roll monkey business would be decisive in the ugliest way.

Back in 2014, Abrams was most concerned that Kemp was operating vampire-style, “stealthily” purging voters in a secretive operation.

And that’s where investigative reporting comes in – and I’m not talking about insider gossip and leaks – but the years of work to extract the secret purge files, and to analyze reams of data that can tell a story. And today is when it pays off… not whether it helps this candidate or that, but whether the facts – those brave bits of truth – can speak.

I know a lot of my Democratic friends will be unhappy that their candidate lost. But don’t miss the power of this moment: you can say, you were here when the new rights movement was born.

Greg Palast has written four New York Times bestsellers, including Armed Madhouse, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, now a major non-fiction movie, available on Amazon — and can be streamed for FREE by Prime members!

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Letting Truth Slip: Federal Charges Always Awaited WikiLeaks' Assange

The Empire Keeps Proving Assange Right About Everything

by Caitlin Johnstone - Rogue Journalist

November 17, 2018

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal by the Trump administration.

This has been revealed by a purportedly accidental copy-paste error in an unrelated court document which used Assange’s name, interestingly not long after it was reported to the Wall Street Journal that federal prosecutors “have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy because a detailed explanation of the evidence could give Ecuadorean authorities reason to turn Assange over.”

Insider sources have reportedly confirmed to the Washington Post that Assange has been charged. Because those charges are sealed, it’s impossible to know what they are or how they’re being justified.

If you ask #Resistance Twitter, it’s because it’s #MuellerTime and Assange is about to be arrested under some mysterious charges involving WikiLeaks’ publication of non-government, non-classified emails in 2016.

If you ask QAnon cultists, it’s because Donald Trump is planning to extradite Assange so as to rescue him and deal a fatal blow to the Deep State.

If you ask people who actually know what they’re talking about, however, it’s most likely for WikiLeaks’ Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and/or last year’s CIA leak publications, and most likely using the Espionage Act. This would constitute a deadly blow to press freedoms, and arguably a greater leap in the direction of Orwellian dystopia than the Patriot Act.

It also proves once again that Julian Assange was completely right.

I’ve had so, so many arguments with people this year about Assange’s publicly stated rationale for remaining in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he was granted political asylum by Ecuador’s previous government on the basis that the US was seeking his extradition. The refrain that he can “leave whenever he wants” is extremely common, with Assange’s detractors insisting that he’d never be arrested and extradited to the United States, and that he is instead hiding from (non-existent) Swedish rape charges.

The narrative that Assange couldn’t possibly be hiding from the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning has been aggressively promulgated by mainstream outlets like the The Guardian, as in this article by James Ball from earlier this year titled “The only barrier to Julian Assange leaving Ecuador’s embassy is pride”, claiming that “The WikiLeaks founder is unlikely to face prosecution in the US.”

Ball’s article includes the following galaxy-brained excerpts:

“Visitors, like fish, stink in three days.”

“There is no public criminal case against Assange or WikiLeaks in the US, though Assange frequently says there is evidence of sealed indictments against him and his associates, and there have been publicly disclosed surveillance warrants against WikiLeaks staff, as well as FBI interest in Assange and his current and former co-workers (including me, as I worked with WikiLeaks for a few months in 2010 and 2011). There is no real reason to believe anything has changed with Assange’s situation in the US.”

“The problem for both sides is that neither wants to lose face: Assange wants to be a symbol of resistance against an overreaching US state, and does not want to admit his asylum was about his personal actions and not those of WikiLeaks. Ecuador does not want to suggest it made a mistake in granting Assange asylum.”

Ball was at best completely wrong, and at worst knowingly lying about the very real possibility of secret US charges. We know that the charges are from the US government, so they’ve got nothing to do with any rape or bail violation allegations. But the narrative that Assange is a stinky, stinky weirdo hiding in a cupboard has been so aggressively promulgated by imperial propagandists like Ball it’s (for me at least) literally impossible to talk about Assange’s plight on social media without some stranger coming up and spewing it all over the conversation.

And it’s no mystery why that is. The alternative to making Assange the creepy rapist hiding from justice would be to acknowledge the possibility of what we now know for certain: that a vast, sprawling superpower, with so many extremely tight alliances that it is effectively the center of a globe-spanning empire, is working to extradite an Australian journalist from an Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom so that it can punish him for publishing facts. Much, much easier to have him be the stinky cupboard man than the center of an assault on speech with implications stretching to all future generations and every corner of the globe.

Julian Assange founded an innovative leak outlet on the premise that corrupt power can be fought with truth and transparency. Corrupt power responded by silencing, persecuting and smearing him. In so doing they succeeded in slowing down the leaks, minimizing the impact of publications, and nullifying Assange’s ability to defend himself, and in exchange they have publicly proved that his thesis was, and is, absolutely correct.

There is a power establishment which uses lies and secrecy to manipulate and deceive us, and it hates having the light of truth shone upon it more than anything. We know that for certain now. There is no doubt whatsoever.

Julian Assange was never hiding from justice. Julian Assange is, and always has been, hiding from injustice. He has been proven right about his reasons for seeking political asylum from Ecuador, as he has been proven right about so very much before.

Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal,buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

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The Boys In Brazil (and beyond): IMF Taking Latin America Back to the Future

IMF is Back in Business in Latin America – Just as Neoliberal as Always


November 16, 2018

Argentina’s legislature approved a drastic austerity budget for fiscal year 2019 on Thursday which will cut social spending by as much as 35 percent and increase debt service payments by 50 percent. The budget is expected to cause a further contraction of Argentina’s economy. The austerity budget is being implemented to a large extent. At the urging of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, which has given Argentina alone a $56 billion dollars, one of its largest loans ever.

Meanwhile, the president-elect of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the leftist party Morena, is facing IMF problems of his own. Last week the IMF released a special country report on Mexico in which it basically let Lopez Obrador know that he shouldn’t engage in any structural changes with regard to Mexico’s economy. Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, as he is often known. Will be inaugurated as president of Mexico in a few weeks, on December 1.

Following a prolonged loss of influence in Latin America in the first decade of the 2000’s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is back again, flexing its muscle in Argentina and Mexico, pushing the neoliberal Washington Consensus, says Vijay Prashad.

Poroshenko's Donbass Dilemma

The Donbass Dilemma

by Christopher Black - NEO

November 16, 2018

The November 11th elections of the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics along with the members of their People’s Councils has again underlined the dilemma facing Ukraine, its NATO masters, and Russia for, as Tass reported, the result makes it very clear that there is a high level of support among the peoples of the Donbass for integration with Russia.

It is a dilemma for the NATO puppet regime in Kiev since the political solidity of the Republics remains even in the face of the assassinations of Donbass leaders that have taken place since 2014 including that of Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko (left) in August of this year and in the face of the constant state of siege under which the peoples of the republics live as they resist the attempts to break them.

The regime in Kiev is once again forced to recognise that it rules a divided country that is a direct result of the NATO backed putsch that put them in power and the attempts to suppress the Russian language, culture and influence in Ukraine that immediately followed that putsch.

The Russian government on Tuesday the 13th stated as much, ever hopeful, at the OSCE in Vienna,

“Russia believes that Sunday’s elections …represent a major step towards dialogue between Donbass and Kiev on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

That belief can only be based on the fact that the elections confirm the political integrity and will of the peoples of the Donbass republics and confirm the failure of the Kiev state of siege to break them. This should, hope the Russians, force NATO and Kiev back to the Minsk agreements and a compromise political solution. But there is little chance of that when the immediate response of the US government was to condemn the elections.

Their State Department spokesperson said on the 12th,

“The United States joins our European Allies and partners in condemning the November 11th, sham elections in Russia controlled eastern Ukraine. Yesterday’s illegitimate processes were an attempt by Moscow to institutionalise its Donbass proxies, the so-called …Republics.
“These entities have no place within the Minsk agreements or within Ukraine’s constitutional government, and they should be dismantled along with their armed formations.

It is in fact a declaration of war, founded on lies. One of them is that Russia has already annexed the territories of the republics when it has not, the other that the peoples governments are just Russian stage sets when they have proven that they are truly representative of the peoples of the Donbass and often have conflicting views with Russia on how to move forward. The third lie is that the Republics have no place in the agreements when in fact the agreements were all about the special status of the republics, or “regions” and the nature of their “interim self-government.”

The Americans finished by stating they regard the elections as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that they will continue their illegal economic warfare against Russia, under the quasi-legal guise of “sanctions,” adding in for good measure, until Russia surrenders “its control of Crimea to Ukraine”.

The fact that this is the same United States that, as it spoke, was in illegal occupation of Afghanistan, and Syria, had bombed and occupied Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, set up the illegal status of the Serbian province of Kosovo as its puppet state under a confessed war criminal, Hashim Thaci, constantly violates the territorial integrity of China and threatens the DPRK and Iran with imminent attack.

This is the same government that was involved in the overthrow of the legitimate government of Ukraine in 2014, revealing the other lie in the American statement because Ukraine does not have a legitimate, constitutional government representative of the people but one riddled with Nazis and ultra reactionary forces willing to sell their country to the Americans and Germans. The evidence of members of the present Kiev regime being involved, along with foreign snipers, including US Army snipers, in the killings in the Maidan in Kiev in 2014 is strong evidence that the shootings, chaos and final putsch were an organised NATO operation to install a puppet regime.

It is a dilemma for NATO because with the putsch they had hoped to secure control of the big naval base at Sevastopol and place their battle formations directly on Russia’s border. Russia’s quick action of acceding to the request of the Crimean people to have a referendum on Crimea’s integration with Russia saved both the Russians living there from the nightmare of rule by the Nazi infected regime of Poroshenko and saved their strategic base from falling into NATO’s hands.

Instead of the quick victory they had hoped for NATO are faced with a determined opposition from two buffer states that are closely allied to and supported by Russia while stuck with a corrupt and incompetent cabal in Kiev that cannot deliver what they want, complete control of Ukraine.

For Russia the dilemma is whether to absorb the republics into Russia or maintain the very messy status quo of stalemate and siege and the danger of being dragged into a larger war in Ukraine.

Integration would have a number of advantages, including bringing under Russian control the mining and industrial strength of those republics, the loyalty of their people, their military experience and resources, and a resolution of the stalemate. On the other the Russian leadership fears that integration will be deemed by the NATO gang as an “invasion and annexation” of Ukraine and would be used as a pretext for a wider war against Russia.

A wider war can lead to a nuclear war something that Russia, unlike the United States, wants to avoid. But as we see they are already accused of annexing those territories, and that propaganda narrative is not going to change.

And so, the stalemate remains. The dilemma remains. The peoples of the Donbass have expressed their wish. They have shown their courage and their determination, their resilience. They cannot be ignored. But neither can the real concerns of the Russian government. The Minsk Accords of 2015 provide a workable framework for a political resolution that requires compromises to be made. The Donbass republics and Russia have tried to adhere to the agreements consistently while Kiev and NATO violate them at every turn and maintain a state of siege against civilian populations and cities, with daily bombardments, small but deadly engagements, always the threat of larger ones, assassinations, committing war crimes on a daily basis, all supported by the NATO democracies who, as they spent November commemorating the war dead of the past, at the same time celebrated the large scale military exercises they are holding in Norway; practise for an attack on Russia.

The United States, unpleasant as it is to tell you, seizes every opportunity for bloodshed, like a raven flying to the stink of carrion. One day its unbounded greed will deliver the fate it deserves, but its leadership is not interested in political solutions that involve compromise. They want everything. In the case of Ukraine it is clear with the assassination of Zakharchenko that their intention is to resolve the problem with war. Their reaction to the elections confirms it.

Everything the American government does points to war. Not that the world is not already at war. When has it not been, and when has he United States and it allies not been behind them? But the very quick build up of economic warfare on Iran, China, Russia, the DPRK, the rejection of nuclear arms treaties under pretexts, the continuous series of military exercises surrounding Russia, Iran, China, the occupation of Afghanistan, the reactivation of the US 2nd Fleet, the ever hysterical anti Russian, and now beginning to build, anti-Chinese propaganda, are signs they have a military solution in mind in order to solve their problems.

For Russia and the Republics the way out of the dilemma is good will, negotiations and a peaceful resolution. For the US and its allies the way out is more hostility, diktats and violence. Is there an answer?

Clausewitz gives us a clue when he says,

“Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of the object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration. Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow.”

Russia is saying simply, “your war, your siege, your assassinations, your “sanctions” have failed. The elections are a statement of strength and determination to resist. You cannot subdue them. You must abandon the effort and restore the peace. To continue is illogical, an act of stupidity, a danger to the world. The risks are not worth the object.”

Unfortunately, we all know the NATO leadership is locked into their self created fantasies and delusions and so cannot perceive reality or comprehend it when they do, any more than the captain and officers of the NATO Norwegian frigate that, despite all its high tech gear, were unable to see what was right in front of them and collided with a slow moving oil tanker and then sank after returning from the NATO exercise in the area; because they believed in their own infallibility. But this is how all wars start, with delusions, with insanity.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”

Friday, November 16, 2018

Broadening "Anti-Semitism" Definitions

Boston Billboard Honoring Gaza First Responders Removed over Claims of Anti-Semitism

by IMEMC News

via MintPress News

The billboard included a photo of deceased Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, and text reading: “Honoring the First Responders of Gaza. Saving Lives. Rescuing Hope.”

Billboard honoring Palestinian nurse Razan Najjar in Boston. 
Razan was shot and killed while treating injured protesters 
in occupied Gaza. [Photo - Palestine Advocacy Project]

Nearly 3 weeks into its planned 4-week run, an electronic billboard honoring first responders in the Gaza Strip was pulled on November 13th when the billboard company received phone calls and email complaints labeling their staff as terrorists and anti-Semites and threatening a boycott.

The Palestine Advocacy Project sponsored the billboard on Interstate 93, near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, to highlight the desperate situation in the Gaza Strip, and to emphasize the humanity and agency of the people of Gaza, who are often portrayed as terrorists or victims.

The billboard included a photo of deceased Palestinian medic Razan al-Najjar, and text reading: “Honoring the First Responders of Gaza. Saving Lives. Rescuing Hope.” It was estimated to be viewed by over a half million motorists each week of its planned 4-week run, beginning 24 October. The billboard was met with positive media coverage.

This week, a coordinated, aggressive campaign was launched against the billboard company with accusations of anti-Semitism, intended to damage the company for hosting this billboard. Sarah Gold, a volunteer with the Palestine Advocacy Project, said:

“This campaign is neither engaging us nor our perspective. Instead, it is attempting through intimidation to eradicate the avenues of free speech we have endeavored to use; to silence us.”

The billboard is another casualty in an ongoing attack on free speech. Palestine Legal states in their 2017 report, “The Israeli state and its proxy organizations in the U.S. are investing heavily in punitive measures to intimidate and chill the free speech of those who wish to express criticism of Israeli policies.” The report documents 308 attacks on U.S.-based Palestine-related free speech in 2017 alone, according to the PNN.

Razan al-Najjar and other Gazan first responders were doing their best to attend to wounded civilians; yet celebrating them is construed as an act of “hate & anti-Semitism.” One complaint reads in part:

“A billboard glorifying those who try to kill and destroy our People and Homeland! Anti Semitism is as old as time itself, Hate of Israel is hate of Jews, completely unacceptable!” 

This negative campaign appears to be based on the erroneous notions that all Gazans are anti-Semites intent on murdering Jews, that Gazans are not entitled to basic human rights, and that any display of solidarity with them equates to a call for the destruction of Israel.

Richard Colbath-Hess, founder of the Palestine Advocacy Project, remarked,

“The billboard was extremely positive and does not even mention Israel. Instead it was a celebration of Palestinian heroes. Apparently, there cannot be Palestinian heroes without some advocates of Israel feeling attacked.”

Source | IMEMC

Republish our stories! MintPress News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License. 

Running with Wolves: Republican's Bizarre Bill Shifts Yemen War Focus

As Campaign to End US-Saudi War on Yemen Grows, Republicans Derail it with Bizarre Wolves Bill


November 16, 2018

The campaign is growing to end U.S. support for the Saudi war on Yemen, which has unleashed the largest humanitarian catastrophe on the planet and pushed millions to the brink of famine.

But Republican members of Congress have resorted to bizarre tactics to try to maintain U.S. support for this devastating war and derail any attempts to stop it.

A Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes on average due to the crisis caused by the war, and specifically due to Saudi Arabia using famine as a weapon–intentionally destroying food production and preventing imports into the poorest country in the Middle East.

A House bill that would end the catastrophic US-Saudi war on Yemen is gaining support, but Republicans bizarrely blocked a vote using unrelated legislation on gray wolves and the endangered species list

The U.S. government has played the key role in helping Saudi Arabia carry out this war, providing substantial military, economic, and political assistance. In response, some lawmakers in Congress have been taking action to try to force the U.S. military to withdraw its support, which would effectively end the war. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat from California, has been building support for a bill that cites the 1973 law the War Powers Resolution, which puts a check on the power of the president and gives Congress the authority to vote for or against a U.S. war. This bill has some bipartisan support, although it is mostly backed by progressive Democrats, and Republicans have been taking steps to try to undermine this legislation.

On Wednesday, November 14, House Republicans employed one of the strangest tactics imaginable. They used a totally unrelated bill involving wolves and the endangered species list in order to block a vote on the Yemen bill. Republicans have been trying to pass the Manage Our Wolves Act; legislation that would remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened or endangered species and end the U.S. government federal protection for gray wolves, allowing Americans to hunt and kill the animal.

So Republicans in the House introduced a one line rule change into the Manage Our Wolves Act that is about a totally unrelated bill, the Yemen War Bill. This line removed the privilege that the Yemen War Bill had, which means House Republicans could prevent a vote on the Yemen Bill. And that is exactly what they did.

Before the vote, Wisconsin Representative Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, condemned this strange Republican strategy to block the vote, and called on Congress to exercise its constitutional responsibility over war.

In Yemen, Trump Sides with Saudis

Kathy Kelly: Trump Sides with Saudis & U.S. Defense Contractors While Yemeni Children Face Famine

by DemocracyNow!

November 14, 2018

Yemeni and international organizations have called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” in Yemen, warning that 14 million people are now “on the brink of famine.” UNICEF is warning that the Saudi assault and blockade on Hodeidah is increasing shortages of food, drinking water and medicine.

The group says a Yemeni child now dies from a preventable disease every 10 minutes.

In a web exclusive conversation, we interview Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Glyphosate Study Questioned: Health Canada Has Second Thoughts on RoundUp

Tainted science used to justify continued use of pesticide linked to cancer


November 12, 2018

‘Monsanto papers’ suggest some studies Canada used to okay glyphosate use were biased

OTTAWA With the recent revelation that Monsanto allegedly manipulated studies on glyphosate, health and environmental groups are calling on the federal government to carefully consider the notorious ‘Monsanto papers’ as it deliberates the future of the chemical’s use in Canada.

“Some of the studies and publications Health Canada relied on to approve the continued use of glyphosate in Canada have been implicated in alleged misconduct by the chemical giant, Monsanto,” said Dr. Elaine MacDonald, Healthy Communities director at Ecojustice.

“The question now is whether Canada will choose to turn a blind eye to this fact and continue to rely on this research to justify exposing Canadians to products that could cause cancer.” 

In August 2018, a California jury found that glyphosate contributed to an American citizen’s cancer. Lawyers for the man suing Monsanto released internal Monsanto documents — known as the Monsanto papers — which they claim show that Monsanto knowingly manipulated scientific research and publications, and downplayed the cancer risks of its glyphosate based products for years.

Health Canada relied on this research in 2017 when it re-evaluated and approved the continued use of glyphosate in Canada for another 15 years — a decision that has been challenged by Ecojustice lawyers,
acting on behalf of Canadian Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), the David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Équiterre and Prevent Cancer Now.

Ecojustice lawyers submitted a letter to the Minister of Health, urging her to consider the documents from the ‘Monsanto papers’ and to strike an independent review panel to re-consider its decision to continue to allow the widespread use of glyphosate based products.

Glyphosate has been categorized as a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

In addition to human health impacts, scientist have also linked heavy glyphosate in genetically modified corn and soybean fields to decrease availability of flowering plants and milkweed, the primary food source for Monarch larvae. Less flowers and less milkweed means fewer Monarch butterflies and pollinators.

“You don’t have to look very far to find glyphosate. It can be found in our food, our drinking water and in playgrounds in many parts of Canada,” said Muhannad Malas, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence.

“The fact that it appears that Health Canada has relied on research manipulated by Monsanto undermines the credibility of its scientific assessment and the public confidence in its decision to continue allowing the use of this highly controversial pesticide.”

Additional quotes:

Dr. Warren Bell, CAPE Board Member, said:

"It appears that Monsanto has acted to suppress evidence about the harm associated with glyphosate and Roundup, which makes it imperative that the PMRA re-examines, openly and transparently, its recent regulatory decision. The health of Canadians cannot be adequately protected without such a re-examination."

Louise Hénault-Ethier, Science Projects Manager at the David Suzuki Foundation, said:

“The reason for filing a notice of objection on the registration of glyphosate was initially justified by the fact that the PMRA had unfortunately overlooked recent scientific evidence on glyphosate environmental and health toxicity. However, some conclusions of the PMRA are in direct contradiction with scientific consensus. It is now simply shocking to learn that the PMRA may have relied on allegedly manipulated scientific evidence.”

Meg Sears, Chair of Prevent Cancer Now, notes:

“An independent working group for the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate probably causes cancer, yet Health Canada concluded the opposite.

“The Monsanto Papers show how the chemical giant mayhave played a part in the PMRA's rejection of  IARC’s conclusion. This illustrates the need for Canadian regulators to consider more carefully the scientific evidence they rely on, to register chemicals for use in Canada.”


The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a physician directed non-profit organization that seeks to improve human health by protecting the planet. Founded in 1990, the David Suzuki Foundation is a national, bilingual non-profit organization working with evidence-based research, education and policy analysis, to conserve and protect the natural environment, and help create a sustainable Canada.

Ecojustice, Canada’s largest environmental law charity, goes to court to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment for all.

Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

Prevent Cancer Now works to stop cancer before it starts, by addressing contributors to cancer, with strong science, advocacy and public education.

New Democrats, Old Logging Practices: Cut-Blocks Still the Issue in BC Forests

Clear-cut logging underway in Schmidt Creek, near globally-renowned orca rubbing beaches

by Wilderness Committee

November 15, 2018

Environmental groups and Indigenous leaders condemn logging of rare Vancouver Island old-growth rainforest by B.C. government

The Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC have visited Schmidt Creek and confirmed logging has begun in BC Timber Sales (BCTS) cut blocks in the valley.

The blocks, all located on steep slopes, were auctioned off this spring, sparking concern over the potential for landslides so close to important orca rubbing beaches at nearby Robson Bight.

Schmidt Creek is located in Tlowitsis-Ma’amtagila territories, draining into Johnstone Strait between Sayward and Telegraph Cove on northeastern Vancouver Island.

“This type of logging does not have the blessing of the title holders and rightful stewards of these valleys,” said Rande Cook, Head Chief Makwala, Hamatam (Seagull) House, Ma’amtagila.

“Non-Indigenous governments and institutions like BCTS need to understand that this type of reckless logging is not sustainable or respectful.”

BCTS is a stand-alone agency of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development that manages around 20 per cent of the annual cut on provincial land.

“The clear-cutting underway right now is happening on steep slopes where there was evidence of heavy erosion and landslides even before any logging and road building,” said Vancouver Island Campaigner Torrance Coste, for the Wilderness Committee.

“The B.C. government is putting water quality, orcas and sensitive ecosystems at risk with through its logging operation and that’s something everyone in B.C. needs to be aware of.”

Past logging elsewhere in Schmidt Creek by Lemare Lake Logging has had significant impacts in the watershed and the risk of more serious landslides so close to orca-rubbing beaches has local whale experts worried. Lemare is the prime contractor for the current round of BCTS cut blocks.

“Lemare Lake Logging is doing this logging for BCTS and they have one of the worst environmental and safety reputations on the coast,” said Mark Worthing, Conservation and Climate Campaigner for Sierra Club BC.

“Premier Horgan and Minister Donaldson have a duty to ensure the environment and the public interest are protected and we’re not seeing that in Schmidt Creek and neighbouring valleys with remaining old growth.”

Less than 10 per cent of productive, low-elevation old-growth rainforests remain on Vancouver Island and the species, Indigenous cultural practices and sustainable tourism activities that depend on them are at risk.

In its 2017 election platform, the BC NDP promised to, “apply an evidence-based scientific approach to land-use planning, using the ecosystem-based management of the Great Bear Rainforest as a model for managing old-growth forests.” The B.C. government has not yet made any progress toward implementing this election commitment.

Sierra Club BC, Wilderness Committee and the Ancient Forest Alliance, along with thousands of citizens, have called on Premier John Horgan and forests minister Doug Donaldson to protect remaining old-growth rainforests in areas like Schmidt, the Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni and the Manning Park Donut Hole on the mainland. The B.C. government has ignored these calls to date.

Wilderness Committee and Sierra Club BC activists weren’t able to document most of the recent cutblocks in Schmidt Creek as logging is still underway, but the groups plan to return to the valley in coming weeks.


For Immediate Release - Click here for more photos of Schmidt Creek.

For more information, please contact:

Torrance Coste | Vancouver Island Campaigner, Wilderness Committee

I'll Take Brazil: Bolsonaro's Creeping Coup

Brazil’s ‘Slow Motion Coup’ – General Admits Intimidating Court into Imprisoning Lula da Silva


November 14, 2018

Was Brazil’s presidential election of right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro last October all part of a slow-moving coup to stamp out Brazil’s left? Recent developments would indicate that this could be the case.

It has been little over three weeks since Brazilians elected Jair Bolsonaro as their president with 55 percent of the vote. Since then, Bolsonaro has appointed several generals to various ministries, such as those of transportation and defense. He also appointed judge Sergio Moro as his minister of justice. Moro is the judge who was behind the imprisonment of Lula da Silva, who at the time was the frontrunner in this year’s presidential race.

Last weekend, a high ranking general of Brazil’s military, General Villas Boas, admitted in an interview to the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo that he threatened Brazil’s Supreme Court so that it would rule in favor of Lula’s imprisonment.

The latest revelation about Brazil’s slow motion coup, designed to ensure that the center-left remains out of power and the far-right takes control, involves a general who admitted that he threatened the Supreme Court so it would imprison presidential front-runner Lula da Silva. We discuss the development with Brian Mier

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Embers of Empire: Hummingbirds & Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets 

by John Eskow - CounterPunch

November 12, 2018

If you’ve never read or seen Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, it’s amazing—a 46-minute aria of thunderous power—but I’m not sure I’d recommend it. Pinter’s plays, when well-acted, braid together moments of existential terror and electric comedy, but his Nobel speech is not a bundle of laughs.

It begins with an intriguing but much too long rumination on his creative process, but just when you think he’s going to call it a wrap, he suddenly pivots from the inward to the outward and begins a furious condemnation of the United States government that kicks so hard and hurts so deeply that it makes you ashamed not to be an outright leftist revolutionary.

He forces us to look at what the great William Burroughs called the “naked lunch”—calmly but viciously indicting us for our crimes in South America and all around the world.

And though he delivered the speech in 2005, it could run as an op-ed piece today, with only a few minor details changed.

Watching the speech is exponentially scarier than reading it. Pinter couldn’t travel to Stockholm to accept the prize in person because he was hospitalized with some God-awful kind of cancer, so he sent a video which shows him sitting in a chair with a blanket on his knees, obviously ill, but methodically building his indictment as he stares at the camera, as if daring you to look away. And you want to look away. You don’t want to be a silent partner in all the murders we commit, all the rapes we encourage, all the torture we teach and practice, all the money we steal, all the air and water and creatures we poison, all the stupidity manufactured by our media, all the—well, you get the picture. To wit: “the United States has supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths.”

Pinter asks: “Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy?” Then he answers his own question: “The answer is yes, they did take place, and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.”

Pinter, ever the changeling, suddenly becomes a character in one of his plays, slipping into the mesmerizing speech-rhythms that make his work so seductive as he describes America’s vision of history:

“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Take a bow, Barack Obama.

“I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.’”

Pinter, the genius of ludicrous menace, dreamed President Donald Trump into existence thirteen years ago! Donald fucking Trump, not only a criminal but a sloppy and incompetent criminal, a “total loser” in any meaningful sense—since the real game is compassion, generosity of spirit, and creativity, and people like Donald Trump don’t even know where the game is being played.

Perhaps we all joined together with Pinter and co-wrote Trump into the White House. Perhaps we needed to see the naked lunch up close, writhing on the tines of our fork.

And here’s what’s on the menu: two political parties engaged in idiotic bickering on TV, a bloated moron president who walks around with toilet paper stuck to his shoe—a clearly unhealthy slob who shows clear signs of dementia and who wasn’t that bright to begin with, a waddling nitwit who not only fails to cover up his petty crimes but is so dumb that he scatters clues wherever he goes.

But he’s a “winner!”

But, of course, he’s also an easy target, and he stops a lot of bullets that ought to penetrate much deeper into the battlefield. Following Pinter’s logic, why doesn’t MSNBC, for example, provide even the merest wisp of historical context when covering all their Breaking News? Let’s take a quick look at the big stories of the past few weeks and look for America’s role in them.

Story: the “caravan” of asylum seekers from Honduras, reported so breathlessly right up to election night and then dropped completely the next day. Needless to say, these fellow human beings are fleeing a fascist dystopia that we created through decades of imposing hideous dictatorships, funded by Clintons and Bushes alike, and supported by top-notch death squads. Imagine: we have turned the Honduran world into such a hell that all they can do is grab their babies and walk into the far distance, without food or water, refugees from the misery we created.

None of this, of course, is ever mentioned on MSNBC. (Maybe it’s just coincidence, but Hillary Clinton is actually proud of the role we played down there.)

Story: wildfires all over my adopted state of California. Exciting TV footage—high drama, replete with irony, as Paradise, California burns down—but it’s as if all these fires are burning in a vacuum, in a world of deafening silence, where America’s creation of a never-ending drought has brought another kind of hell into being.

Story: one more traumatized veteran enacts the ultimate American male-bonding ritual of murdering his brothers and sisters, a young man who was troubled from childhood and should never have been sent to fight in a never-ending war in Afghanistan that never should have started and will seemingly never end. But no mention of what he saw and did in that endless war, what nightmarish images burned themselves into the fragile tissue of his brain. Again: a scene ripped out of context, just the big action sequence with the Glock and the smoke bombs and the blood and the dead, but none of the backstory that might stimulate our thinking or give us any insight into war-trauma and its effect on troubled soldiers, who continue to kill themselves in horrifying numbers.

On and on. But, as Pinter points out so eloquently, America is never to blame. Not for the hideous torture and murder of Khashoggi; not for the creation of violent gangs throughout South America, not for any of it—“America is great because America is good,” as Hillary Clinton so inanely claimed.

As if replying to Hillary, here’s Pinter:

“It’s a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words ‘the American people’ provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don’t need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it’s very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.”

So: what to do?

Like you, I grapple with this riddle every day. Yesterday the local LA news showed a man wearing a surgical mask to minimize his smoke inhalation, using a garden hose in a feeble and pathetic attempt to water down the embers of his house, which was completely burned down. When the camera pulled back, you could see that his car and his SUV had also been burned into twisted gray sculptures, barely recognizable as vehicles any more. It looked like Iraq after our magical Shock and Awe attack.

The TV reporter didn’t even try to hide her bewilderment as she watched this lonely figure at work: the area was under an evacuation order, little snake-like flames were flicking up out of nowhere as embers drifted on the Santa Anna wind, the man’s surgical mask was useless against the billows of toxic smoke, and his house was completely gone. But still he stood there at the edge of the wreckage, aiming his slender green garden hose against the leaping embers, a dribble of water against the all-powerful fire.

I became somewhat obsessed by this guy. He was obviously, in that moment, completely insane, not to put too fine a point on it. The fight was over. Fire had won; human beings had lost. And yet there was a poignant kind of courage in the man that I couldn’t help but admire.

If all you have to fight with is a garden hose, then I guess you fight with a garden hose. Maybe you can salvage one single keepsake—one photograph of your grandfather; one set of earrings you bought for your wife twenty years ago…

It’s better than nothing. Anything is better than nothing.

So even as I watch the infernos burning across America–the visible fires, and the hidden ones that Pinter described with Biblical power—I hold my garden hose aloft. Last week I talked with a Lyft driver from El Salvador, a 60-year-old man who told me how, when he was a child, the American-supported death squads came to his village and murdered every person and animal without mercy or passion, as if simply doing a job; he survived by hiding, but the rest of his family was killed. And yet it meant something to him—something important—that one of his passengers actually knew about his story, and cared about his story. In the emotion of the moment I apologized to him, as an American citizen, for my inability to stop my government from murdering his family.

I guess that apology was my garden hose. A feeble, even laughable stream of water against all those flying embers. Tomorrow my garden hose might be a conversation with my son about some other aspect of our history and culture that he needs to question for himself. Or to stop and talk to a homeless veteran.

Or to write a piece for Counterpunch. Harold Pinter, wracked by cancer, insisted on bearing witness to the truth about America. I can’t approach his eloquence, but as a citizen of the United States I can do no less.
John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. He can be reached at:
More articles by:John Eskow 

Germany's Political Quickening

Germany on a Political Seesaw 

by Victor Grossman - CounterPunch

November 13, 2018

While Americans teetered, arguing which side gained more in the elections, Germans are balancing on a seesaw of their own – one which can have decisive consequences. Seated precariously on the descending side, the ruling parties of the Grand Coalition – GroKo in German journalese.

When on October 14th the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, the “unique one-state subsidiary of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU),” got the worst result anyone could recall in a state election, the blow sent shock waves through the whole country.

Photo: European People’s Party | CC BY 2.0

It was still the strongest party in this biggest German state but must now share cabinet seats with an equally conservative local breakaway party.

All exertions of its fading king-pin, Horst Seehofer, who tried to win points by attacking and insulting his ally Angela Merkel from the right, failed miserably. So did his attempts – he’s still Federal Interior Minister – to save the head of the Bureau to Protect the Constitution (like the FBI), who had become all too openly pro-fascist. It looks as if the amused-smiling Seehofer will soon follow his appointee into involuntary retirement and right-wing Bavarian loud-voiced pride – recalling old Texas in a way – was reduced to a rather hoarse croak.

Two weeks later came the next blow. The wealthy state of Hesse, with its center in Frankfurt/Main, was a stronghold of the Social Democrats (SPD) for decades. Then they were pushed out by the Christian Democrats, often using racist stereotyping propaganda. The state elections on October 28th shocked them both. The SPD was reduced to a pitiful relic, under 20 %, while the CDU got its worst result in 50 years.

These state-level shocks were no less staggering at the federal level. Merkel, seeing her personal aura dwindle like a fading rainbow, took a step fully unthinkable just a few years ago. She has always been both chancellor and head of the CDU, an indispensable tie she always claimed. But at its congress next month she will step down as party leader. She can remain “queen mother” of the national government until 2021, if it stays in power, but the odds against it and her are grating downward. With its current rating of 27 % the CDU-CSU is still the strongest but not by much.

Three main rivals are pushing to succeed her as party leader – and maybe even more? Jens Spahn, 38, currently Minister of Health, has always been a major right-wing opponent of Merkel. Never popular despite all his efforts, the public has spurned him in the polls.

Annegret Kamp-Karrenbauer, 56, from Saarland, is the party’s general secretary and closest to Merkel’s center-leaning position on many issues. (Her name makes her no favorite with headline writers – the end part was added with her husband – it’s his name. They often call her AKK.

She is running neck and neck with Friedrich Merz (62). Back in 2002 Merkel jockeyed him out of his leadership hopes and he switched from politics to business, where he did far better.

He is chairman of the board of the German section of BlackRock, Inc., the global investment management corporation, the world’s largest asset manager with $6.29 trillion in assets in 30 countries. It’s called the world’s largest shadow bank. Its German section faces charges of covering up millions – or billions of tax frauds.

But Mertz is backed by powerful men in finance, politics, the media. Criticised too:

“If he wins out there needn’t be any more lobbyists – he’s Mr. Lobbyist in person.” 

He’s also on the board of HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, which has had more scandals than it can count – in Mexico, South Africa, South Asia, the USA. It paid a $1.9b fine for a drug scandal in 2012 (about five weeks of its annual profit) but Obama’s Attorney General Holder saved the culprits from jail cells.

Friedrich Merz as the knight in shining armor rescuing Germany’s slithering economy while strengthening its armed forces; what a frightening nightmare!

On state and federal levels the other partner in the Grand Coalition, the SPD, is sinking so quickly it threatens to fall off my metaphor see-saw entirely. After barely reaching 20 % in last year’s election it now stands at 14 %. And though the membership of Germany’s oldest party – who haven’t yet quit – are desperately calling for a change in policy if not in leadership, the latter, headed by Andrea Nahles, 48, stubbornly orders them, like the captain in Pete Seeger’s song, “to push on!” But quitting the coalition, as they demand, could mean new elections – and new dangers.

If the ruling parties, CDU, CSU and SPD, are losing so rapidly, who is on the upward-swing? The bigger menace is the Alternative for Germany (AfD), now with representatives in every state legislature after its gains in Bavaria and Hesse. They were not as big as the AfD hoped and most people feared – but there were no big Hurrahs! In national polls it is surpassing the Social Democrats. While some of its leaders try to sound civilized and win points in the all too generous media, others betray again and again its fascist nature; ranting against Muslims and immigrants but promoting big business goals like lower estate taxes or more weaponry and soldiers. If people like Merz take over the CDU and the economy falters, they could form a coalition with the AfD in a frightening parody of 1931-33 events.

But the main winners in the shift of voters in Bavaria, Hesse or nationally have amazingly been the Greens. Readers in the USA or elsewhere should not see them as an almost radical group, well to the left. They started off like that, but that was decades ago, before seven years in the government with the SPD tamed them fully, with both passing some of the worst anti-working class legislation in years and taking Germany into its first post-unification war – against Serbia. It has not been in the government since 2005, but it has not changed much in those past fifteen years.

The Greens stress environment above all, but have decided that this does not require conflict with big business, which must simply be convinced that ecology and profits can be combined. One need not look over to the Koch Brothers to question this; Volkswagen-Daimler-BMW emission cheating and the merger of Monsanto and Bayer, two of the world’s worst killers of butterflies, salamanders and songbirds (and both companies once among the world’s worst murderers of human beings – from Auschwitz to Danang in Vietnam) – should give rise to a few doubts.

True, the Greens are for women’s and LGTSB rights, usually good on immigrant questions – at least until they lead governments, as in their happy bond with Daimler in Stuttgart and with the forest-axing RWE energy giant near Aachen. They have proved quite willing to join on state level with the right-wing CDU, as in Hesse, and can no longer claim a description as leftwing.

The cause for their sudden upward swing in popularity is because millions do not feel represented by the present government, but rather betrayed by both Merkel and the SPD. Right-wing protest leads then to the AfD. Others, for better or worse, turn in protest to the Greens.

A genuine alternative should really be the LINKE, the Left. The two state elections brought an increase in voters, but only a small increase, especially in Bavaria, where they again failed to reach the 5 % minimum for membership in the legislature.

A problem in western Germany rests in decade-old prejudices against any party connected with the East German GDR, a form of anti-Communism regenerated almost every evening by the media.

In eastern Germany there are two special obstacles.

Millions had high hopes that unification would bring the “blossoming landscapes” promised by Helmut Kohl. But for many the blossoms are thistles and poison ivy. If any jobs then too often insecure, low-paid, part-time, and speed-up jobs plus worries about pension levels and their children’s future.

Some are led to believe that alleged “advantages” for refugees and immigrants mean losses for themselves and their monolithic white German culture. All too few see the LINKE as a fighter for their rights and needs but, often in state governments or eager to join them, rather as just another part of the “establishment”.

The correct answer to this, it would seem, would be a tough fight by the LINKE against the powers-that-be, the gentrifiers, exploiters, giant tax-cheaters and – indeed –their whole system.

A possible move in this direction was launched by a top LINKE leader, Sahra Wagenknecht, with a collective movement, Aufstehen (Stand Up) aimed at winning angry, dissatisfied people from all parties or no party. But instead of complementing the LINKE, it is currently facing a split, partly based on personalities, which threatens to break up the LINKE, leaving the national stage to the rightists. I, too, have been worried and skeptical.

Last Friday “Sahra” made a magnificent speech to a thousand adherents next the Brandenburg Gate. It was an amazingly important date in German history. One hundred years ago German sailors, then shipyard workers, then soldiers joined and, braving all odds and weapons, launched the German revolution which ended the rule of the Kaiser and World War One, but which was soon betrayed and beaten.

In the years that followed the same forces which had beaten them back, the giant industrial and financial concerns, the 1 %, built up Hitler and his Nazis. 80 years ago, on November 9th 1938, they began the violent extermination of the Jewish population; a few years later they went on to kill up to 27 million people in the Soviet Union– plus tragic numbers of Roma people, Poles, Yugoslavs, Italians… and Americans.

On that same date 29 years ago, East Germans cheered as they poured through the Berlin Wall and rejoiced at unification. Their jubilation was fully understandable. Only a minority feared that new freedoms, far more commodities and travel chances also opened the barriers for the return of those same business interests they had ejected after 1945. Now back with greater strength than ever, they began again, slicing at working people’s rights and spreading eastwards, building armies, training parachutists and drone experts.

And, while looking slightly askance at their crudity, as in earlier years, they allowed murderous bands of stiff-armed, Hitler-tattooed thugs to open the path to new rounds of killing. This see-saw game can find a very terribly finale.
Victor Grossman writes the Berlin Bulletin, which you can subscribe to for free by sending an email to:
More articles by:Victor Grossman

Voting Made Easy: Georgia Edition

Voting in Georgia in 21 Easy Steps

by Greg Palast

November 13, 2018

Watch this one-minute video of Ashlee Jones on the 21 “easy” steps required of a voter of color to cast a ballot in Georgia.

Spoiler alert: Step 21 is “Sue Brian Kemp in federal court.”

Black Lives Matter, Georgia Busted for Protest Balloons

by Greg Palast 

November 13, 2018

Georgia state police have arrested 12 Black Lives Matter protesters for hoisting balloons in front of the capital that spell out “340,134” — the number of voters the Palast team uncovered as wrongly purged from voter rolls by Brian Kemp.

Kemp was the Georgia Secretary of State and currently remains the Republican candidate for Governor.

Black Lives Matter activists were told not to protest in front of the capital, so they thought balloons would not be a threat to the state.

Obviously, they were wrong. Those arrested include Mary Hooks, who took the picture.

Support their bail fund

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Stats Can't!" - Senate Committee Blasts Stats Canada Attempt to Prise Bank Records

Senate committee to probe Statistics Canada’s request for Canadians’ banking data

by Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce

November 6, 2018

 OttawaFollowing confirmation that Statistics Canada intends to compel major financial institutions to provide detailed customer banking information, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce announced Monday that it will hold at least one hearing to hear views on whether such information should be required by Statistics Canada.

A recent Global News report revealed that Statistics Canada is seeking full details of every banking transaction made by 500,000 Canadians over a designated period, without their consent. Statistics Canada told Global that responses to its surveys are low; the agency said the data will be used to track household spending and consumer trends, and that the data collected will be made anonymous.

Former Chief Statistician Wayne Smith told media he believes the agency may have overreached.

The committee intends to invite the minister responsible for Statistics Canada, Navdeep Bains, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien, Statistics Canada Chief Statistician Anil Arora, and representatives from the Canadian Bankers Association, among others, to answer the committee’s questions.

The revelation of Statistics Canada’s request comes as the committee completed its cyber security study, cyber.assault: it should keep you up at night. The report delves into issues pertaining to the protection of personal information. It also made recommendations to give greater powers to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to ensure that businesses comply with relevant privacy legislation, and that federal departments and agencies be required to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner.

The committee’s first hearing on this matter is expected to take place on November 8, 2018. 

Quick Facts 

According to the Global News story, Statistics Canada is asking for banks to provide 500,000 Canadians’ financial transaction data, with a new sample of Canadians to be chosen every year. 

In that story, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada revealed it had already been in contact with Statistics Canada after businesses expressed concerns over its request for customer data. In a statement released on October 31, Statistics Canada said it has invited the Privacy Commissioner to provide “additional suggestions” to protect Canadians’ personal information. 

Section 13 of the Statistics Act says the person in charge of records “in any department … corporation, business or organization” must provide access to that information to a person authorized by the Chief Statistician.

“It makes me uncomfortable to think that banks may be forced to turn over every single financial transaction a person makes. While I don’t question the good intentions of the dedicated professionals at Statistics Canada, I would like to have more than just assurances that the intimate, personal details of Canadians’ lives will be protected.”

– Senator Doug Black, QC, Chair of the committee.

“Our latest report on cyber security shows just how vulnerable we can be to data theft. I want to know more about the rationale for Statistics Canada’s request and what security measures will be put in place to protect Canadians’ data and privacy.”

– Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen, Deputy Chair of the committee.

News Release

Associated Links

Read the committee’s report on cyber security: cyber.assault: it should keep you up at night.
Follow the committee on social media using the hashtag #BANC.
Sign up for the Senate’s eNewsletter.

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