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What is the Big Lesson of the UK 'Brexit' Vote for Americans? It Was Done With Paper Ballots

Beating Establishment Power Requires an Honest Election System

 

The decision by a majority of UK voters to reject membership in the European Union in Wednesday's hotly-contested referendum has been a devastating defeat for the corporatist domination of the European political and economic scene. It throws the corporate duopoly in the UK into turmoil, and also has the EU bureaucrats and the banking elite in Brussels and the financial capitals of Europe in a panic, lest other countries' voters, as in Spain and Italy, or even France and the Netherlands, decide to follow suit. (Spain has a national election tomorrow which could be heavily influenced by the British referendum outcome, since if the united left wins, it could eventually lead to Spain's exit from the EU.)

But for the US, which is not a party to the EU, there is also a huge lesson: 'Brexit,' despite being opposed by the political establishment -- Conservative and Labor -- and by the corporate elite of London's City, the financial capital of Europe, won this vote. And the reason the opponents of UK membership in the EU were able to win against all that powerful opposition, has, in no small part, to do with the fact that all the voting was done on paper ballots.

Compare that to the US, where voting, for the vast majority of people, is done on machines, in many cases electronic machines that leave no paper trail of individual votes, or even of vote totals per machine. We are always hearing reports of faulty -- or hacked -- machines that are "flipping" votes, so that someone can cast a vote for a Democratic candidate or party slate and see it switched to Republican, reports of entire tallies for a day's voting being simply lost, machines that don't work, forcing would be voters to wait for hours to vote on a limited number of machines that supposedly are working, limited polling places because county or city governments claim they can't afford to buy an adequate number of machines, a shortage of paper ballots when machines fail, etc.

The list of excuses goes on and on. And why, one might ask, does America vote by electronic machines instead of on readily verifiable paper ballots? The only possible official reason for doing our voting in a way that is costlier, more complicated for voters, and less reliable and trustworthy into the bargain has to be pressure from the corporate media, whose sole interest in our elections is the "horse race" leading to a meaningless competition to get the results out first. Why should it matter though, how fast results are available? If you think about it, whether we learn the results of an election an hour or two after the voting ends, or the next day, or even several days after the voting, so what? Why, in fact, do we allow news organizations like AP or the New York Times to "call" elections based on faulty algorithms that make extrapolations of early counts in specific targeted voting districts based upon prior years' experience?

Voting in the UK is done on paper ballots, as her in the 'Brexit' referendum. In the US many vote on easily hacked computers that leave no paper trail.Voting in the UK is done on paper ballots, as her in the 'Brexit' referendum. In the US many vote on easily hacked computers that leave no paper trail.
 

Omar Mateen: The Answers Are All Around Us

Complexity vs. "Radical Islam!"

 

The spontaneous, day-long “sit-in” initiated by Congressman John Lewis and others in the House of Representatives echoed Fannie Lou Hamer: “I’m sick ‘n tired of bein’ sick ‘n tired.” At one point Wednesday evening, a Republican House member stood off and shook his fist at an insurgent Democratic speaker focused on reasonable gun legislation. The man simply hollered, “Radical Islam! Radical Islam!” The next morning, Chris Cuomo on CNN debated Republican House member Sean Duffy from Wisconsin on the stand-off. Duffy’s response was this: “The threat is not guns; it’s radical Islamic terrorism!” It has to be one or the other; it can’t be a little of both with a host of other things mixed in.

Fox News studio warriors Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly -- and let’s not forget the king of hate sleaze, Donald Trump -- work this absolutist line hard. It feels like a matter of life and death for them that they jam someone like Omar Mateen into a box labeled RADICAL ISLAM. The term itself has become magical. If one shuts out everything else but these magical words, we’re led to believe the solution will appear as clear as Jesus rising on the third day. We need to re-invade, re-occupy and re-bomb-the-crap-out-of Sunni Anbar Province in western Iraq and reaching into Syria.

I was in Falluja as a peace activist in December 2003. A blond-haired westerner slunk down in the backseat of a blue Opal with a cracked windshield, I soaked up what I could of normal, on-going life in Falluja. My Iraqi guides were looking for the forward operations base where the son of the man in the front seat drove a fuel truck. While all this arguing goes on, I can’t help seeing that tragic Anbar Province city’s fate hanging in the balance.

Falluja destroyed and a tranquil scene from Lake HabbaniyahFalluja destroyed and a tranquil scene from Lake Habbaniyah
 

Most people don’t know it, but before Falluja became a famous US invasion battle-zone, it was a resort town around the large Lake Habbaniyah. The city was famous for the tastiest kabobs in Iraq. Whenever I hear the militarist right intone their magic words RADICAL ISLAM all I can think of is the famous line from Vietnam, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Some 65 percent of the homes in Falluja were destroyed; we lost 95 Americans; many thousands of Iraqis were killed and maimed. The iconic quote from The Battle of Falluja came from a Lt. Col. Gary Brandl: "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Falluja. And we're going to destroy him." Today, Falluja is a basket-case of pain and desperation.

An Emancipation Proclamation for the Digital Age

The problematic relationship of Black people and the Internet persists

 

We just celebrated "Juneteenth" (the start of the end of slavery in the U.S.) amid tumultuous and sometimes confusing politics and what appears to be an increase in racist mobilization. For internet activists the situation begs the question: what, at this moment in our history, is the relationship between technology and black people?

It's a critical issue for us all.

Regular readers of this site have read it many times: with expanding globalization and the information economy, the internet has become a major, if not the major, communications technology in today's world. In the United States, it's the most popular tool for direct and group communications, study, research, diversion, journalism, intellectual collaboration and news consumption.

Most people reading this would agree that black people must be a part of that. But that truth is not a function only of a commitment to equality or justice. It's a necessity if we are to preserve the Internet's freedom and functionality and build a truly just and democratic society.

The use of the Internet by Black people has grown...and so have the problems.The use of the Internet by Black people has grown...and so have the problems.
 

That kind of society requires that Black people "sit at the table" of equality in this country and, to do that, they must enjoy a full, robust relationship with the internet that is equal to all other groups of people.

That, today, is simply not the case.

Total Recall

 

(Prefacing remarks: My dealer writes to thank me
for letting them fix the airbag on my Suby Outback.
Apparently I was driving my car for many years with
a defective airbag that was a potentially lethal weapon.
In the event of deployment
it would have malfunctioned,
perforating a body
with little projectiles of shrapnel.
Good thing my car was "made with love.")

 

Total Recall
 
6 billion recalled for defective wiring.
Official notice:
Global Crisis Sensor and Reactive Systems failure.
Read on:
During any global crisis,
(such as catastrophic climate events
or flagrant acts of terror)
if you were born after 1945,
your body, regardless of model,
will go into sleep-mode,
shut down entirely
or self-destruct.
Cause: Global Crisis Sensor overload and
total back-up systems failure.
90% of models will fail
due to design error.
Retro-repair adjustment and upgrade
will begin ASAP at your licensed dealership.
Date to be announced.
In the meantime,
DO NOT RESPOND TO ANY GLOBAL CRISIS.
BACK OFF AND STOKE BARBECUE
HAVE A FEW DRINKS
TAKE A WALK
WATCH TV
SHOP
TAKE A NAP
ATTEND A WORKSHOP.
REPEAT: DO NOT RESPOND TO ANY GLOBAL CRISIS
DUE TO PREDICTABLE SYSTEMS OVERLOAD.
WATCH FOR FUTURE UPDATES.
 
 
--Gary Lindorff

Ban Assault Weapons, But for Police Too, Not Just Civilians

What about cops?

 

A few years ago, I contacted my local police department asking them to send an officer over to put down a doe that had been hit by a car on the street in front of my house. She had suffered a left front and right rear leg break but had somehow flopped herself well into the yard and was on the ground suffering. When a cop arrived, and began to approach her with his pistol I warned him off, saying the deer would hurt herself more trying to get away.

"Oh," he replied. "Okay, I'll get a rifle." He returned to his SUV, and pulled out, to my astonishment, an AR-4, a military-style assault rifle, which he then used to shoot the deer with a clean shot between the eyes.

When I asked him about having that weapon available in his patrol vehicle, he replied matter-of-factly that all police in almost all departments in the country have them readily available.

Now for the record, I live in a suburban community where the only crimes we have are fights in or outside of bars, and the occasional breaking-and-entering burglary. Yet when a friend of mine whose late brother, a Vietnam veteran with serious PTSD mental issues and drug problems, while visiting his home here, called 911 and said he was going to kill himself with a pistol, my friend came home to find his house blocked off by a swarm of police vehicles, and surrounded by cops armed with assault rifles, and with snipers in position in four spots around the home. Informing the police that he had already removed the bullets and magazine from his brother's licensed pistol, and that as well his disabled, wheelchair-bound wife was inside that home, he convinced them to allow him to enter the home and bring out his brother out with him, and the incident ended peacefully.

Get assault rifles out of the hands of the public...and of the policeGet assault rifles out of the hands of the public...and of the police
 

But it demonstrates to me that this country's police have completely lost any sense that they are supposed to be "peace officers," as we once called them (when's the last time you've heard that old-fashioned term?).

After the latest bloody slaugher of dozens of people by a whacko with an assault rifle in Orlando, there are the usual calls to ban assault weapons in the US. That makes perfect sense to me. Assault rifles are not appropriate to hunting, unless you are trying to eliminate some species the way we nearly exterminated the Plains Bison in the late 19th century. I've heard hunters claim that an assault rifle is "more humane" because it's rapid fire capability allows the hunter who has wounded some poor animal to finish it off before it runs off to die some miserable death elsewhere in the woods. But that's absurd logic. If the hunter cares that much about the welfare of his target, he should wait for a cleaner shot. In fact, thinking that way probably encourages more hunters to take wild shots earlier, knowing that they can get off more as needed. The other argument made by gun advocates is that assault weapons are needed by fearful homeowners who want to protect themselves, their families and their property from would be home invaders. But assault weapons are a very poor choice for that job, as they are far more likely to cause what the military calls "collateral damage," injuring family members while trying to hit any of the invaders.

U.S. HIgh Court Ruling Opens Door to New Appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal of His 1982 Conviction

Supreme Hypocrisy in Pennsylvania

 

One unintended consequence of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a death penalty case that rebuked actions of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and prosecutors in Philadelphia for conflict of interest was to possibly open a new avenue for activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal to appeal his own 1982 murder conviction because his appellate proceedings were tainted by alarmingly similar conflict of interest, involving the same appellate jurist who was a former DA.

That ruling by America’s highest court sharply criticized former Chief Justice of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Ronald Castille for his participation in a 2014 death penalty deliberation because that justice had approved seeking that ultimate penalty when he served as the District Attorney of Philadelphia before becoming a state supreme court member.

That U.S. Supreme Court rebuke cited judicial conduct rules in Pennsylvania applicable to judges who had previously worked for a governmental agency like a District Attorney. Those conduct rules urged judges to remove themselves from “a proceeding if [their] impartiality might reasonably be questioned” because of their former position with such a governmental agency.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the recent 5-3 ruling that rebuked Castille, stated that an “unconstitutional potential for bias exists when the same person serves as both accuser and adjudicator in a case.”

Paris Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW PhotoParis Protest For Abu-Jamal. Jacques Lederer (left) and Abu-Jamal Collectif head Jacky Hortaut (right) - LBW Photo
 

Paris protestors for 21 years have held demonstrations monthly to criticize the lack of impartiality by judges in Pennsylvania, particularly judges once employed as prosecutors and/or in law enforcement. Those protestors have also condemned misconduct by prosecutors in Philadelphia like prosecutors unlawfully withholding evidence favorable to defendants.

State Dept. IG Report on Private Server has Clinton Resembling Gen. MacArthur on Luzon

A campaign death march?:

 

Few people thought, back in 1941, that the Japanese military could defeat or pose a serious threat to the US military. Yet, by April 8, 1942, only five months into the war, United States’ forces stationed on Luzon, our Philippine colony, had surrendered to a upstart Asian colonial power, the empire of Japan. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the US commander in the Far East, had fled in ignominous defeat from the colony to Australia a month before. The remaining Filipino and American prisoners of war were left behind and forced in a death march of 65 miles to move to POW camps, where they remained under brutal conditions for the rest of the war. The name “Bataan” has since come to symbolize the depths of depravity following defeat.

Bataan was invoked again by journalists to describe the conditions at the Brooklyn campaign headquarters of then-Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the wake of an improbable and unexpectedly harsh finding by the inspector general (IG) of the State Department. The State Department’s own watchdog found its former boss, Secretary Clinton, to have clearly violated the rules and procedures of her own agency and the legal requirements of the National Freedom of Information Act. Clinton, the IG’s report said, posed “significant security risks” through her decision to use a private email server for professional business while she was secretary of state.

The IG’s report promises to be the centerpiece of the Republican attack on the Democrats in the fall election if Secretary Clinton grabs the party’s presidential nomination.

Like Gen. MacArthur fleeing capture by advancing  Japanese forces in the Philippines, Hillary's campaign, after the IG's report, is waiting for the FBI probe shoe to dropLike Gen. MacArthur fleeing capture by advancing Japanese forces in the Philippines, Hillary's campaign, after the IG's report, is waiting for the FBI probe shoe to drop
 

While her damage-control operation -- a fixture in the Clinton political machine through decades of scandals -- has gone into full gear, and a largely supportive corporate media has predictably tried to play down the import of the IG’s report, there is still a major FBI investigation underway of the same misconduct by former Secretary Clinton, which has included granting immunity from at least one key member of her staff who handled her home communications system -- a staffer who already took the Fifth over the issue at a House hearing. If the FBI were to indict Clinton, her situation would start to resemble General MacArthur’s in the spring of 1942 -- surrounded with no way out but to flee the scene.

Some of Clinton’s mass media friends have attempted, predictably, to link these developments to the continuing assault by what she once called, “ … a vast right wing conspiracy.” The problem with this defense lies in the very nature of the IG process.

Most agencies of the Unites States government have inspector general offices. The IGs operate independently within each agency to investigate waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse of federal resources. IGs have wide investigative latitude. The State Department IG is a direct appointment of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, hardly part of a vast right wing conspiracy. (FBI Director James Comey, while a former Republican-appointed federal prosecutor, was also appointed to his current post in 2013 by Obama.)

Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen's Mental Health Likely to Overshadow Gun Control

Democrats use mental health to avoid taking stand on gun control

 

I could talk about the sanctity of queer nightclubs. Queer nightclubs are to queer civil rights as black southern churches are to black civil rights.

I could point out that Donald Trump’s asinine statements about Muslims and a radicalizing second generation are exactly the kind of ignorant bigotry that spurs these sorts of hate crimes to begin with.

I won’t though, because we all know that this has already been done and will continue to be done until this devastating event’s emotional significance is reduced to meaningless babble on repeat.

However, what has yet to come is the inevitable discussion about the mental state of Omar Mateen and the role that might have played in the shooting. Already, there is foreshadowing of this discussion as journalists report those around him describing him as “bipolar” or “erratic.”

I’m nipping it in the bud. We cannot go down that path. It’s distracting and unproductive because mass shootings are not just about mental health. Of course, mental health plays a role, but guess what plays an even larger role? GUNS.

Liberal and conservative politicians alike focus on mental health as a strategy to avoid discussing the true heart of the gun control debate. 

Dear Bernie,

A call to ignore the pressures for you to surrender

 

Hear Lindorff and Green activist and former 2004 Ralph Nader presidential campaign press spokesman Kevin Zeese discuss the political implications of a possible Sanders general election campaign for president as the Green Party's candidate, To play this interview, which took place on Wednesday afternoon on the Progressive Radio Network's "This Can't Be Happening!" program, click HERE
 

You ran a great race, achieving something that most of us thought would be impossible, running as an "avowed" socialist in today's United States of America, against one of the most hardened and tested political machines in the country, the Clintons, and winning 22 primaries and caucuses with a total of over 12 million votes. And while Hillary and her minions threw everything they had at you, including voter suppression efforts, lies about your voting record in the Senate, unfair assistance from the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic officials, and manipulation of the media, you came excruciatingly close to knocking her off and winning the nomination.

Okay, you didn't make it to the finish line.

Now the pressure is on you, from the corporate media that originally ignored you, then attacked you and finally resorted to outright corruption the night before the June 7 primary by prematurely calling the race for Clinton in hopes of depressing your turnout in the last six primaries, and now to a meeting tomorrow with President Obama, who will try and convince you to give up, and to endorse Hillary Clinton.

But while it's true that way back at the start of your seemingly Quixotic campaign, you did promise to endorse her if you lost, that campaign has since evolved beyond even your imagination into a powerful movement for "political revolution," with millions of people behind it. Also over the intervening months, you have both seen how unprincipled your opponent can be, and have also done a masterful job of highlighting just how corrupted she has become as a person and politician. You've pointed out how she has been bought by the too-big-to-fail bankers, who have paid her legal bribes totaling millions of dollars, euphemistically calling them "speaking fees." You've denounced her acceptance of hundreds of millions of dollars of legal bribes in the form of campaign contributions from key industries like the drug companies, the military contractors, the oil giants and even the for-profit prison industry. While you graciously declined early on and waited, in my view, way too long to go after Hillary for her improper and illegal use, for years, of a private email server during her four-year tenure as Secretary of State, late in the primary battle you finally did point out that she was acting in an illegal way (one that now has her as the first presumptive presidential candidate in memory running while being actively investigated by the FBI). You also intimated -- correctly in my humble view as an investigative reporter -- that this move of hers to avoid the Freedom of Information Act was linked to her efforts to peddle influence to US corporate executives and foreign leaders in return for cash going into the Clinton Foundation coffers -- a sordid arrangement reeking of corruption and self-dealing.

You've been right in all of this campaign criticism, and you have successfully exposed Hillary Clinton as the bought-and-paid candidate of big money, a woman who will say whatever she thinks it takes to get herself elected but who, in the end, will be serving the interests of those who paid for her election, not of the American people.

How could you now even think about turning around and doing what you originally said you would do and endorsing her? How could you, after exposing Clinton as the candidate of big banks, big pharma, big military and rich people, ask your millions of supporters -- including people who dropped their hard-earned $27 into your campaign, often multiple times, to the tune, I believe, of over $200 million -- suddenly turn around and ask them to back her in the general election?

If you were to endorse Hillary Clinton at this point, you would be destroying everything you have accomplished in this amazing campaign. Many people -- especially the young people for whom your movement may have been a first-ever experience at political action -- would surely become cynical about politics. Others would just write you off as just another self-serving politician accepting a deal. Most would ignore any call for unity anyhow, making it doubly pointless and destructive for you to make it. So what would you accomplish then, except perhaps to be repaid for your submission with some offer of a plum post on an important Senate Committee (assuming that the Republicans, in a race against Clinton, don't end up staying in control of the Senate, making such a promised plum into a prune)?

Fortunately there is another path, and I'm sure you've been at least thinking about it. That is to run in the general election, this time going up against both Hillary and Trump (as well as the Libertarians and the Conservatives, who will be vying with Trump for the country's right-leaning voters).

A Sanders/Stein Green Party presidential ticket could win, and could institutionalize Bernie's 'political revollution'A Sanders/Stein Green Party presidential ticket could win, and could institutionalize Bernie's 'political revolution'
 

Let’s Stop Google from Gobbling Up Our Schools

It's happening right under our noses!

 

(The following article was co-written by Dr. Jackie Smith -- of the International Network of Scholar Activsts -- and TCBH writer Alfredo Lopez. It is being published here and in other places.)
 

In October of 2006, Google launched its Apps for Education, with Arizona State University being its first client. Today there are more than 25 million individual users in both K-12 and higher ed institutions, and 74 of the top 100 universities use Google apps for their university communications and software applications.

Victor Alhadeff, CEO of Boost eLearning, a Google for Work and Google for Education partner, cites projected figures exceeding 110 million users by 2020. He notes that the current user base represents only about 4.5% of the potential market, and that there is tremendous potential for growth—mainly in developing countries.

Google’s educational packages include things like the google calendar, Google docs, Google classroom, gmail, and most recently it has added the Chromebook. Chromebooks are low-cost and easy-to-use notebooks that come with support and built-in access to Google Apps. They are offered to schools participating in Google for Education for $149. Google reports that it sold more than 1 million Chromebooks in just the second quarter of 2014. In November of 2014, the New York City School Department of Education adopted Chromebook as part of its approved and supported tools in its 1800 schools.

Schools across the U.S. and around the world are now “going Google,” as the companies marketers like to say.

Google Drive in Our CollegesGoogle Drive in Our Colleges

Why should we worry?

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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.

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by Dr. Radut