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As his Last Act in Office, President Obama Should Right a Terrible Wrong and Free Leonard Peltier

Demand clemency NOW! Time's running out

Leonard Peltier, Native American political prisoner for 40 years and countingLeonard Peltier, Native American political prisoner for 40 years and counting
 

If, as reported in the Washington Post, President Obama decided to grant clemency to military whistleblower Chelsea Manning because he felt that the 35-year sentence handed down by a military judge was “nuts,” then what does he think of the life sentence that Native American activist Leonard Peltier is serving?

Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20

What could have been

 

Washington, DC -- Standing before a sea of humanity -- people of all ages and races, stretching out from the Lincoln Monument back as far as the Capitol building-- a sea vaster than any demonstration in the history of the nation’s capital, the unkempt white-haired senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, a self-described independent socialist maverick who decided to take his oath of office on the steps where Martin Luther King once spoke, instead of the traditional spot at the Capitol building, called out to the American people to join him in “taking back our country from the smug, self-satisfied rich and the corporations that have been pretending to be persons!”

“We are engaged in a struggle to undo decades of government policies that were designed to benefit the one percent,” said the man who has upended centuries of two-party duopoly by winning the presidency in a landslide on the Green Party ticket in a sweep that handed control of both House and Senate to a Democratic Party that was at the same time relegated to a humiliating third place finish in the presidential race.

“The election is over,” President Sanders declared. “But the American people’s fight is just beginning! I call on all those who voted for my opponents, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, to join with the 75 million who elected me in taking back this country from the special interests, from the wealthy for whom nothing is ever enough, from the corporations that see themselves as global enterprises, not as part of the fabric of this nation and its society, and from those who would trample on the weak in order to raise themselves a notch above the rest.”

Imagine a Bernie Sanders presidential inauguration on Jan. 20Imagine a Bernie Sanders presidential inauguration on Jan. 20
 

Sanders went on to announce a list of priority measures he intends to present to the new Congress on this, his first day in office, the first being a bill to establish a new Department of Peace, whose secretary, he said, would henceforth sit in on all discussions of foreign affairs in order to “insure that peaceful options for resolving differences will always be put on the table.” Other measures going to Congress on day one of Sanders‘ presidency, he said, would include:

* Establishment of a commission, headed up by his nominee for Secretary of Health and Welfare Jill Stein, charged with drawing up, over the next six months, a plan for replacing the costly and complex Affordable Care Act with an expanded and enhanced Medicare program that would cover all Americans, not just the elderly. The new president, a long-time advocate of a national single-payer health care system similar to Canada’s, said his plan would cost less than health care does now because it would do away with the need for Medicaid for the poor, with the need for employer-funded insurance plans and their huge premiums, and with the Veterans administration hospital system, since everyone would be receiving Medicare. He promised that such a system would allow the federal government to bargain for lower prices for all health care and medicines. “We are declaring that as of today, health care in America is a right of citizenship, and we are saying if every other developed country in the world can deliver affordable healthcare to all its citizens, then so can America!” said the new president to thunderous applause.

* Establishment of a $15/hr federal minimum wage, linked to the consumer price index, to become effective as soon as a bill reaches his desk, and a “card-check” measure giving unions the right to demand recognition by an employer after simply turning in to the National Labor Relations Board cards signed by a majority of workers, without having to go through a lengthy and endlessly delayed formal election process. Sanders said that bill would also make labor law violations by employers subject to triple damages, similar to insider trading violations, instead of simply requiring payment of back wages. Said Sanders, “A person who works full-time at a job should be able to earn enough to support a family. It’s that simple," he said. "Companies should not be subsidizing their payroll costs by forcing their workers to rely on taxpayer-funded assistance programs like welfare and food stamps! No more!”

The Whatsapp Scandal

The house with the built-in backdoor

Since adding the feature in April, 2016, the Whatsapp app (or really its parent, Facebook) has paraded its "end to end encryption" as the reason to use it above all other smartphone message applications. It can handle calls, messages, video, files and just about everything any computer can and, because it's encrypted end to end, nobody can read, see or hear any of it unless you want them to.

The pitch has worked; over a billion people now use the app and it is particularly prominent among people who need encryption -- the computer protocol that makes reading your message impossible for anyone but the person you're sending it to.

Activists, particularly, use Whatsapp to communicate everything from places for emergency demonstrations to important announcements to the latest information about their personal lives. Whatsapp is, in effect, a universe of communications for a billion people. It does everything and everything it does is encrypted. With Whatsapp, they've been saying, you are safe from intrusion and spying.

 safety or vulnerability?Whatsapp: safety or vulnerability?

The problem is, you're not safe at all; the encryption can easily be broken. That news, first made public in the Guardian, has provoked a public gasp and a joust between developers and activists covered by journalists who, anxious to provide both "sides", cloud the issue more than clarify.

Unlike many other debates, there aren't two sides to this story. Whatsapp is not safe because its encryption has a huge exploit (or weakness): a product of what the company says is an attempt to make life a lot simpler for its users. Basically, it rewrites the keys used for encryption without telling you and that means a third party (like the government) can decrypt what you've written.

Liberal Dems Claiming a Russian Election Hack and Putin Control Over Trump are the New ‘Birthers’

Democratic hysteria

 

It felt like I had stumbled into some weird kind of time warp yesterday morning as I was making coffee and listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition.” There was Cokie Roberts being interviewed about the current mass media obsession -- the alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee server by Russia, and President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to accept the evidence-free claims of the Democratic political appointees heading the nation’s intel agencies that the the hack “definitely” happened.

Cokie bemoaned Trump’s dissing of the intel agencies and also his stated desire to develop friendly relations with Russia, saying, “This country has had a consistent policy for 70 years towards the Soviet Union and Russia, and Trump is trying to undo that.”

Think about that for a moment. On one level, the long-time NPR commentator is right: US policy towards the government in Moscow has been remarkably consistent -- and hostile -- for 70 years, albeit with a few brief periods of at least relative friendliness, as during the early and mid 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But that gets to the other point: There was, recall, a fundamental change that happened in 1989-90, when the Communist state founded in the Russian Revolution of 1917 collapsed, and the Soviet Union splintered into Russia and a bunch of smaller countries -- former Soviets in the old empire -- including Byelorussia, Ukraine, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and a bunch of stans in Central Asia.

The real question is, once the USSR ceased to exist and Russia, a rump country that, while geographically the largest in the world, is less than half the size of the US in population, found itself struggling to restructure it’s centralized state-owned economy into a modern capitalist one, shouldn’t the US have changed it’s “consistent policy” of hostility towards what remained of the old Soviet Union -- particularly as Russia was no longer communist?

Instead of actively helping Russia recover, the US urged on President Boris Yeltsin a destructive “economic shock therapy” program of balanced budgets, open borders for imports and investment and, most importantly, a sell-off of state assets that quickly enabled corrupt former commissars to transform themselves into insanely wealthy new capitalist oligarchs.

While Russians struggled to survive through a period of rampant inflation, economic collapse and epic corruption, the US, instead of lending a helping hand as it had to the collapsed countries of Europe and after World War II (including our former bitter enemies, Germany and also Japan in Asia,), Washington under the Clinton administration began a program of aggressively and threateningly expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (a Cold War relic of an outdated containment policy which should have, like the Warsaw Pact, been mercifully disbanded), forcing an economically strapped Russia to respond by still spending precious resources on restoring its hollowed out military.

The widespread belief among liberal Dems that Trump is a Putin puppet resembles the Republican's 'birther' mania about ObamaThe widespread belief among liberal Dems that Trump is a Putin puppet resembles the Republican's 'birther' mania about Obama
 

Yes, there has been a 70-year consistent policy of hostility towards Russia, not to mention unremitting anti-Russian propaganda in the US, as Roberts says, but that’s because foreign policy in the US has been in the grip of a Republican-Democrat bi-partisan consensus that argues that the US must work to maintain absolute military superiority over all real and potential rivals, forever. And that consensus views Russia as a major potential threat to that superiority.

That’s why we have a military budget of $600 billion, nearly three times as much China ($215 billion, much of that for domestic control purposes), another country that poses no threat to the US, and as all the rest of the world spends, while Russia’s budget is just 11 percent of that amount at $66 billion, ranking it behind third-ranked Saudi Arabia ($87 billion).

Poet's Notebook: My poem, "From the land of giants" followed by a reflection

From the land of giants
 
 
Who wants to take on some giants?
Heal the poison river?
Grieve the broken mountain?
Release the waterfall?
Learn the hundred names for rain?

 
When I was here the other day
And asked you to come out and play,
The grass was still dewy,
And the birds were cheerful.
It was Spring just yesterday!
 
It was Summer when I saw my mother
Weeding in the garden,
Wearing a kerchief.
She was no taller than the tomato vines,
Singing to herself, singing to the garden.
 
And when she stood up to see where I was
I was hiding in the chard.
Their ruby stems were trunks of trees
Of a forest that hid me well
Until I was bigger than a mouse
 
And could steal among the giants:
Mountain Destroyer, Elephant Killer,
He-who-kicks-sand-in-the-eyes-of-stars,
Blue Giant, Twister, One-Eye, Fracker,
Missile Tosser, War Maker, Water-fouler . . .
 
My mother never dreamed of a world like this!
She never quested on a mountain of chalk.
She never saw a mountain of stone
Disappear for a mountain of coal.
Always her son, I befriended the hermit
 

Senate Hearing on Russian Election Mischief Again Fails to Prove Anything

Clapp-trap crap

 

The Russian hacking hysteria in the US media, and among parts of the public -- especially liberal Democrats -- is becoming increasingly embarrassing.

Over and over we have been told that the government, whether in the form of the departing President Obama or unidentified “intelligence sources” cited in news reports, or statements by private security contractors with their vested interest in trying to show how vulnerable America’s (and the Democratic Party’s!) servers are, that they have solid evidence that the Russians hacked DNC emails and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, only for it to turn out to be more of the same innuendos, circumstantial “evidence,” suspicions, and inevitably ridiculous and embarrassing errors (like the Washington Post’s breathless and false story that the Russians had hacked the Vermont power grid and could shut off the heat during a cold snap).

The latest example is yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, which featured the Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who is the boss of the CIA, the NSA and the rest of the whole vast US intelligence apparatus. Clapper told the committee that he stands “more resolutely” than ever behind the CIA’s initial assessment of Oct. 7 that Russian leaders at the “senior-most levels” had orchestrated a campaign of interference in the presidential election.

Clapper testified ominously about a vast campaign of interference which he claimed involved everything from hacking the DNC to spreading disinformation and what he called “fake news.” He said, “Whatever crack, fissure, they could find in our tapestry...they would exploit.” Why, he said in outrage, their state-owned English-language television station RT-TV (available in about 15% of American home cable packages) even “disparaged our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights.”

Gee, how evil can an empire be? (And worse yet, Clapper disclosed that the NSA had recorded Russian officials cheering and laughing when they realized Trump had defeated Clinton! My god! We should retalliate!)

Seriously, if an American citizen is ignorant enough not to at least be skeptical about a report about American politics that is being aired by a news organization called Russia TV, we’re in serious trouble. But I guess that’s another issue for another day. And as for that annoying glee heard in the Kremlin election night, can't we assume there was the same glee in the White House when Boris Yeltsin narrowly defeated Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov in a run-off to win a second term as Russian president? So gloating counts as election interference now?

 Would you trust this man to house sit your home (or fix your computer)?National Security Director James Clapper: Would you trust this man to house sit your home (or fix your computer)?
 

Federal Judge Orders Pennsylvania to Provide Anti-Viral Hep-C Treatment to Mumia Abu-Jamal

Big win for Hep-C infected inmates

 

In a stunning conclusion to a year-and-a-half legal drama, a federal judge in Scranton, on late Tuesday ordered the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to quit stalling and to begin treating prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal with the latest available and highly effective anti-viral drugs for curing him of a raging and life-threatening case of Hepatitis C.

Abu-Jamal, back in early 2015, fell into a diabetic coma, the result of an undiagnosed case of active Hepatitis C which he contracted sometime during his 36 years as a prisoner in the Pennsylvania prison system.

Convicted and sentenced to death back in 1982 for the 1981 murder of a white police officer at what was a highly controversial trial fraught with perjured prosecution testimony, withheld evidence and under the control of a clearly biased judge, Abu-Jamal, at the time a prominent Philadelphia journalist, in 2001 had his death sentence overturned on constitutional grounds and was instead given a sentence of life in prison without parole. But prison authorities, aided by the state’s judicial and law-enforcement establishment, have continued to torment him and harm him in any way possible, for example keeping him in solitary on death row for several years of appeals after a federal judge had already tossed out his death sentence, and even then keeping him in solitary as long as possible before finally transferring him to the general prison population after his death sentence was finally confirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

When it became clear that Abu-Jamal was seriously ill with Hepatitis C -- an epidemic in prisons across America and in the Pennsylvania prison system where at least 7000 prisoners are known to have active cases of the deadly disease -- efforts by his supporters, family and legal team to get him treatment began immediately. But these efforts have been stymied at every turn by a prison bureaucracy loathe to offer medication that reportedly can cost $80,000 or more for one full course of treatment. (Of course, unmentioned is the reality that the cost of Abu-Jamal’s two hospitalizations for the serious conditions caused by non-treatment of the disease have already cost taxpayers $170,000, as will also be the case for other infected inmates who are left untreated).

Bret Grote, legal director of the Abolition Law Center, a Pittsburgh-based Pennsylvania prison advocacy organization, says that the preliminary injunction issued by Federal District Judge Robert Mariani, the first such order nationwide demanding state-of-the-art anti-viral treatment for a prison inmate with Hep-C, while subject to almost certain appeal by the state DOC, stands as a powerful condemnation of the “Nazi-like” medical neglect of state inmates suffering with Hepatitis C, if not stayed during any subsequent appeal, could lead to treatment beginning soon for one of the world’s most prominent prisoners.

Mumia Abu-Jamal as he looked before and after his untreated Hep-C caused diabetic crisis, during which he lost over 50 lbs.Mumia Abu-Jamal as he looked before and after his untreated Hep-C caused diabetic crisis, during which he lost over 50 lbs.
 

Poet's Notebook: My poem, "Endless war" followed by commentary

Endless war
 
 
my mother
my child
green clay
my way
remarkable
endless war
 
storm of gannets
red pine
coated paper
symbolic
prickly pear
endless war
 
no words
under the surface
systematists and mountain folk
industries do not require
every kindness
endless war
 
nightingale
the sea-unicorn
stretch out your hands
i followed them
everything but the bones
endless war
 
curtain down
indifferent
trudging
the back way closed
to sting or sooth
endless war
 
friends forever
turning the sheet down
what i remember
helping a fly recover
that is why
endless war
 
let me tell you
here it comes
did you insist?
how many died?
try the door
endless war
 
moving out
upon the wind
make a difference
let me know
when i was you
endless war
 
left her crying
right at the sign
no charge
jumped at the chance
serves them right
endless war
 

Likudist Israel Damned For Pursuing Its Version Of Manifest Destiny

Obama and Kerry Get It Right at the Last Minute

 
Hallelujah!

As President Obama is about to fade from the White House forever to make way for the Twitter King’s juggernaut of furniture wreckers, his abstaining vote on a United Nations Security Counsel resolution to condemn Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement policies in the West Bank and Jerusalem as “illegal” has rocked the leadership of that tiny nation. Naturally, Netanyahu and others in the Likudist pro-settlement camp went ballistic, since they’ve written Obama off as a loser and know what a coup the condemnation resolution is. To be so condemned as an outlaw faction will encourage further opposition to Likudist Israel in Europe, as it will put an international stain on products made in West Bank settlements. Many of those products are being exported illegally, a situation that will now be in the public eye.

President Obama, John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power and an angry Benjamin NetanyahuPresident Obama, John Kerry, UN Ambassador Samantha Power and an angry Benjamin Netanyahu

One of the brightest spots in all this is that, in the last three yards of his two-term run, President Obama assumed some backbone vis-à-vis Netanyahu, a leader who dis’ed and humiliated him publicly on several occasions. The same with Secretary of State John Kerry, whose 70 minute speech at the State Department Wednesday showed glimmers of the young Vietnam veteran John Kerry who publicly wondered, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? ... [W]e have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.”

To Netanyahu’s remark that “Friends do not take friends to the Security Counsel,” Kerry replied with the equivalent of the well-known public service line: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” The runaway arrogance of the Israeli right can easily be seen as akin to being drunk at the wheel on one’s own exceptionalism and entitlement.

John Kerry has been a longtime insider in the very same American government that “used him in the worst fashion” as a young man. So for me, his remarks come not from a “friend” of Israel, but from the equivalent of a parent who birthed Israel in 1948 under President Harry Truman. That post-WWII moment in history, of course, was rich with profound Washington decisions that Americans were forced to live with in the years that followed. Some of those decisions went completely off the rails. This has a compelling poignancy for me, since as a “baby boomer” born in 1947, my life spans the same years. Some might say I've gone off the rails. I presume Kerry must feel some of this, too; he was born in 1943. In 1947, Truman and Congress established the National Security State; the CIA was officially born out of the OSS that year. President Truman and “the buck stops here” was ground zero. For the Vietnam War, 1945 was the fateful year. It’s when Truman decided to betray our WWII ally, the Viet Minh, and support the French desire to re-colonize Vietnam, a decision that led to 30 years of grotesque, unnecessary war on the people of Vietnam.

So, Mr. Kerry, welcome home, brother. If you follow the lead of your better-late-than-never, straight-talk censure of the Israel Likudists and don’t slip back into shameless, toad-eating political expediency I’m going to consider you in this case again part of the Peace Movement, a movement that has been slandered and marginalized for the entire 20th century and into this century. (Among reluctant Republicans in Washington, we’re told that toad is the gourmet meal-de-jour as the city prepares for the gala arrival of the Twitter King. Neo-con editor of The Atlantic David Frum reported it was "Toad for breakfast, toad for lunch and two toads for dinner.")

With independent news organizations under attack, it’s time to support TCBH!

Dangerous times call for courageous truth-telling

Over the past few weeks since Trump’s election victory, a dangerous campaign has begun -- initiated by the Democratic Party leaders and Hillary Clinton campaign hacks who lost this election by corruptly denying the nomination to Bernie Sanders (who would have defeated Trump handily), and backed by Obama-appointed leaders in the CIA and other intel agencies. This campaign seeks to shift blame for Trump’s win from the Party establishment onto independent online news sites, which these corrupted losers claim (on the basis on no evidence) acted in support of an alleged vast Russian conspiracy to subvert the US election.

Thanks to corporate media -- itself also culpable for the Clinton nomination and the Trump victory -- happy to promote this same fraudulent conspiracy theory of “false news” and of an internet filled with news sites allegedly working hand-in-glove with Russian propagandists, we’ve now seen Congress pass, and President Obama sign into law (over the holiday weekend) a new Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act. This act sets up a new commission tasked with ferreting out so-called “false news” and “propaganda sites,” which, acting as a revivified House Un-American Activities Committee, will precipitate a new McCarthy era once Trump and the Republicans take over Washington. The basis for this new McCarthyism will be a list published by an anonymous website, PropOrNot, elevated to authoritative status by the Washington Post -- a list that includes as alleged propaganda organs such important independent news organizations as TruthDig, Consortium News, Truthout, Counterpunch, Antiwar.com, etc.

While our site, ThisCantBeHappening!, was not on this list, one of our articles, published Sept. 29, and republished on Counterpunch, was cited as a justification for including Counterpunch on the enemies list or propaganda sites. The article’s “crime”: honestly reporting that the report released a day earlier by a Dutch agency investigating the 2013 shoot-down of a Malaysian jumbo jet was a biased probe that only looked at evidence provided by Ukrainian intelligence and military sources, rejecting evidence offered by Russia, and not even asking for US satellite imagery and NSA telecom and internet monitoring evidence. That article, by TCBH! founder Dave Lindorff, despite being based entirely upon the report itself and western news reports, was labeled “absurdly pro-Russian propaganda” by PropOrNot’s “analysts.”

These are clearly dangerous times we are heading into. Now more than ever, independent sources of honest news are going to be critically important. Please contribute whatever you can to support our work to keep providng you with that news.

To make a (non tax-deductible) donation of support please go to our home page and use the convenient Paypal button at the top right corner of the home page. Or if you prefer, send cash or a check made out to: David Lindorff/TCBH at PO Box 846, Ambler, PA 19002

And please, if your finances don't permit a donation, we understand. But you can also help by telling friends about our site, and by using the email button at the bottom of stories you find important to send them on to people who you think should read them, and who may not know about us yet.

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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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by Dr. Radut