News Releases

Israel’s Racism and Harboring Suspected Assassins Who Fled from U.S.

The Hill reports: “Sanders won’t attend AIPAC conference, accuses it of providing platform for ‘bigotry.’

DAVID SHEEN, [in Haifa] realdavidsheen at gmail.com, @davidsheen
Sheen has written extensively on Israel. He recently wrote an in-depth investigation for The Intercept about the assignation of Arab American activist Alex Odeh, whose office was bombed in California in 1985, and the whereabouts of his suspected killers, Baruch Ben Yosef and Keith Israel Fuchs, who are extremist racists: “Decades After a Palestinian American Activist Was Assassinated in California, Two Suspects in His Killing Are Living Openly in Israel.”

He added today: “An additional extraordinary thing is that the Trump ‘Peace’/Apartheid plan gives Jews the rights to pray on Haram al-Sharif, which is the very issue that Baruch Ben Yosef (one of the suspected assassins of Arab-American activist Alex Odeh) has been singularly focused on for the last 30 years. That’s how bonkers the plan is, it rewards the extremist demands of Alex Odeh’s alleged assassin.”

His other recent pieces include “Netanyahu has long run cover for Israel’s biggest racists,” “Israel’s homophobic education minister Rafi Peretz peddles a vile doctrine, racist to its core” and “Don’t let my reports on racism get deleted forever.”

Also see Sheen’s data-driven analysis of the upcoming Israeli election at: DavidSheen.com/elections.

Goodale on Assange Case: “Wake up, American Press!”

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, [currently in London] kevin at shadowproof.com, @kgosztola
Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola is in London and covering the extradition hearing for Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange which began today. See his latest Twitter thread. Gosztola’s recent pieces include: “Interview With James Goodale: Stunning How Few In U.S. Care About Threat Posed By Assange’s Case” (see below) and “The DNC May Have Paved The Way For Julian Assange’s Acquittal.” His prior pieces include “The Prosecution Against Julian Assange: Where Presidential Candidates Stand.” Gosztola noted: “There are [members of parliament] from European countries, who will be there as observers, but there isn’t a single person from [the U.S.] Congress who is going over to watch proceedings.”

JAMES C. GOODALE, jcgoodal at debevoise.com
Goodale represented The New York Times in several U.S. Supreme Court cases, perhaps most notably leading the effort in the famed Pentagon Papers case. His books include Fighting for the Press: the Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles. 

He said in his interview with Gosztola (with posted audio) that Assange is “performing for all practical purposes, and particularly for all legal purposes, all the functions of a journalist. So come on. Wake up, American press! This guy is doing enough of what you’re doing so that, when he’s penalized for what he’s doing, the penalties are going to come back and get you. Wake up! …

“And what’s really bad is the United States is going to end up with an Official Secrets Act, by which leaking not only is criminalized but receiving leaks in the capacity of a leakee is also going to be criminalized. And that is really bad because you’re just inviting governments, particularly authoritarian governments, to control their information.”

Consortium News — which just awarded Julian Assange their Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award — is providing video and other coverage of the legal proceedings and protests in London.

Should Employees Sit on Corporate Boards? What is a Corporation?

At the recent Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders said: “You know what, Mr. Bloomberg, it wasn’t you who made all that money. Maybe your workers played some role in that, as well. … I want workers to be able to sit on corporate boards, as well, so they can have some say over what happens to their lives.” (See Sanders’ proposals on corporate accountability and democracy.)

In 2018, Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed the “Accountable Capitalism Act“: “Borrowing from the successful approach in Germany and other developed economies, a United States corporation must ensure that no fewer than 40 percent of its directors are selected by the corporation’s employees.” Her proposed legislation builds on Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s “Reward Work Act,” which Warren has co-sponsored, and which would effectively ban stock buybacks while placing representatives of workers on corporate boards.

WILLIAM LAZONICK, william.lazonick at gmail.com
Lazonick is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts and president of the Academic-Industry Research Network.

He was profiled last year in The New Yorker in “The Economist Who Put Stock Buybacks in Washington’s Crosshairs.” Lazonick “noted that both Merck and Pfizer, two of the largest pharmaceutical companies, had been spending heavily on buybacks, but had struggled to develop successful new drugs.”

His latest book (cowritten with Jang-Sup Shin) is Predatory Value Extraction: How the Looting of the Business Corporation Became the U.S. Norm and How Sustainable Prosperity Can Be Restored (Oxford University Press).

His most recent writing is at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Lazonick said today: “The stock market is an institution that enables owner-entrepreneurs to stop being owner-entrepreneurs, passing the control over management of the company to employees. Public shareholders who hold shares for a yield and who can easily sell those shares at any moment on a liquid stock market should not have ownership rights. Workers have a far stronger claim to call the company theirs, although workers can come and go. I would go for a trusteeship model of governance of publicly listed companies rather than a stakeholder model. That raises the questions of the purpose of the corporation as a public trust, how the trustees would be chosen, and how they would be held accountable.”

Is Public Actually Behind a Ban on Fracking?

Almost 600 groups signed a letter to Congress Thursday in support of The Fracking Ban Act. The bills, sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are the first efforts to institute a national ban on oil and gas drilling.

MITCH JONES, mjones at fwwatch.org, @fwaction
Jones is policy director at Food & Water Action, a lead organizer of the letter. He said today: “The reality is that the fight against climate catastrophe requires a ban on fracking. When we properly account for the leaks of methane and carbon dioxide at every stage of the drilling process, we see that gas-fired power — touted so often for being a ‘bridge fuel’ — is barely an improvement over coal. We need to move much faster on clean energy. Fracking has not been a part of that transition; it has undermined it.

“Unfortunately, much of the media narrative pushes the notion that presidential candidates who call for a ban on fracking will lose swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is absolutely no evidence that voters actually feel strongly about supporting the fossil fuel industry; in fact, in Pennsylvania, strong anti-fracking candidates are winning elections. There is no doubt that voters want to support candidates who offer bold solutions. The media discussions of the campaign should welcome this discussion, instead of declaring it a liability.”

See piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Pundits say Democrats who want to ban fracking can’t win Pa. Here’s why they’re wrong” by Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Action, a national advocacy organization.

Establishment Media’s Attempted Takedowns of Sanders

ROBIN ANDERSEN, andersen at fordham.edu, @FAIRmediawatch
Andersen is professor and director of graduate studies in the department of communication and media studies at Fordham University. She just wrote the piece “Factchecking NPR’s Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders,” part of the media watch group FAIR’s focus on the 2020 election.

Andersen writes that on NPR, Mara Liasson “claimed that the main issue for the Democratic Party is ‘electability’ — a fraught term often used to signal ideological orthodoxy rather than empirical chances of winning elections (FAIR.org, 10/25/19). She asserted that Democrats are ‘confused,’ and ‘for good reason,’ because Trump remains an ‘existential threat,’ and not only are none of the candidates ‘a sure thing,’ none even ‘seem likely to defeat’ Trump.

“Such handwringing is, again, not founded in facts or data. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll published the day before this broadcast — one day ahead of the Iowa caucuses — found that Trump was trailing all the leading 2020 Democratic candidates, with the top four candidates ahead of Trump in theoretical head-to-head matchups. Looking more broadly at polling, the two candidates who were then leading the Democratic field, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, had beaten Trump in 69 of 73 and 63 of 68 matchups, respectively.”

NBC is the main corporate media outlet determining the issues and questions at the Nevada debate tonight, organized by the Democratic National Committee.

A picket line was formed outside ABC following the last debate, organized by Accuracy2020, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy, noting: “while the DNC and corporate-media-coproduced debates have excluded serious candidates at times, they have just changed their own rules to include billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Last night, ABC injected him into the debate. Not the words of candidates of color who have been forced out of the debates — Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker or Julián Castro — but Bloomberg.” See report on The Real News: “Activists Demand Public Control of Presidential Debates.”

See from Salon: “MSNBC’s Chuck Todd under fire for reciting quote comparing Sanders supporters to Nazis.”

FAIR noted in their critique of a prior NBC debate: “‘Government-Run Healthcare’ Is a Product of Health Industry-Run Media,” writing: “At the first of two Democratic debates (6/26/19), MSNBC host and moderator Lester Holt asked the presidential hopefuls, ‘Who here would abolish their private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan?’ He asked the same question the next night (6/27/19), and prefaced another question to Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘You basically want to scrap the private health insurance system as we know it and replace it with a government-run plan.’ The question at the first debate, however, was asked just a day after a new report came out from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI). The report, ‘Parroting the Right: How the Media, Pollsters Adoption of Insurance Industry Spin Warps Democracy,’ demonstrates how power brokers in the for-profit health industry have worked to make this exact language (‘government-run healthcare’) the boilerplate description for a national health system in major media outlets.”

Also from FAIR from 2016: “Lester Holt Asks Zero Questions About Poverty, Abortion, Climate Change.”

Biden and Bloomberg Falsehoods on Iraq Invasion

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes at usfca.edu, @SZunes
Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco. He is among several prominent analysts featured in a just-released mini-doc narrated by Danny Glover, “WORTH THE PRICE? Joe Biden and the Launch of the Iraq War” and produced by Mark Weisbrot. The documentary traces the central role that Biden — who was then chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee — played in ensuring the Iraq invasion was executed in 2003. 

Biden has continued making misleading claims at many of the debates so far with minimal scrutiny. On ABC earlier this month, Biden claimed “I trusted George Bush to keep his word. He said he was not going to go into Iraq. He said he was only using this to unite the United Nations to insist we get inspectors in to see what Saddam was doing.”

Zunes debunked this false narrative, which Biden has repeated over and over, in a piece last year, “Biden Is Doubling Down on Iraq War Lies,” in which he notes: “More than three months after U.N. inspectors returned, Biden defended the imminent launch of the invasion by saying, ‘I support the president. Diplomacy over avoiding war is dead. … I do not see any alternative. It is not as if we can back away now.” He added, ‘Let loose the dogs of war. I’m confident we will win.’ He then co-sponsored a resolution supporting Bush and the invasion.’

For more: Sam Husseini, senior analyst with accuracy.org on Intercepted: “Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and the Rewriting of Iraq War History” with journalist Jeremy Scahill. Also see Husseini’s piece from last month on Salon: “Joe Biden won’t tell the truth about his Iraq war record — and he hasn’t for years” and relevant past accuracy.org news releases.

Zunes said today: “Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the former Republican mayor of New York, was a staunch supporter of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. As recently as last month, Bloomberg stated that he has no regrets over supporting the illegal conquest. Though he acknowledges that it was a ‘mistake,’ he insists that Bush, Cheney and others who pushed the country to war based on false claims that Iraq possessed dangerous weapons, weapons programs, and weapons systems ‘did it honestly.’ In the aftermath of the invasion when no such weapons were found, Bloomberg then tried to justify it by making the bizarre claim that the secular Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks by the Islamist Al-Qaeda network. As the war dragged on four years after the invasion and Congressional Democrats proposed legislation to set up timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, he blasted the proposed legislation as irresponsible and ‘untenable.’ Like Biden, Bloomberg is a dangerous militarist who as president could very well get the United States involved in other illegal, unnecessary, and disastrous wars.”

Bloomberg (Still) Wants to Cut Social Security

NANCY ALTMAN, LINDA BENESCH, lbenesch at socialsecurityworks.org, @ssworks
Altman is president of Social Security Works; Benesch is the communications director for the group, which fights to “address our nation’s retirement income crisis by protecting and expanding Social Security.”

They just wrote the piece “Bloomberg (Still) Wants to Cut Social Security,” which states: “Of all the Democrats contending for the presidential nomination, Michael Bloomberg is the worst choice to debate Donald Trump on an overwhelmingly important issue: Social Security’s future. Bloomberg’s position on Social Security is to the right of Trump’s stated position — and widely out of step with even Republican voters, let alone Democrats.

“Bloomberg has a long history of supporting cuts to Social Security, including raising the retirement age. He’s disparaged Social Security, one of the most popular and successful government programs in history, by comparing it to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Bowles-Simpson austerity commission, which tried to jam through huge Social Security cuts behind closed doors.

“Now, Bloomberg is running to be the Democratic nominee for President — even though he was a Republican for years, and only became a Democrat in 2018. For months, Bloomberg was the only major candidate without a Social Security plan. Now, he’s finally released one.

“Bloomberg’s Social Security plan is very carefully worded. Unlike Bloomberg’s past statements, the plan does not overtly endorse Social Security cuts. That’s no surprise, since cutting Social Security is incredibly unpopular with voters across the political spectrum. But a close read reveals that Bloomberg hasn’t changed his views. He’s just gotten smarter about hiding them. …

“For those who have followed the Social Security debate closely, Bloomberg’s words about ‘options’ are a clear signal. His language is insider speak, a wink and a nod to the donor class that he, like them, favors cutting Social Security. His promises to ‘strengthen’ and ‘preserve’ Social Security are meaningless. Those words are frequently used by billionaire elites like Bloomberg as code for ‘cut Social Security to save it.’ Nor does Bloomberg’s support of targeted Social Security increases inspire confidence. Bowles-Simpson also included targeted benefit increases, alongside huge cuts to overall benefits. So did Paul Ryan’s plans.”

Bloomberg: Buying Up Airwaves; Why Isn’t he Running as a Republican?

Ryan Grim of The Intercept noted at end of January: “Just before jumping into the race, @MikeBloomberg gave $325,000 to the DNC [Democratic National Committee], on top of the gobs he spent on ads this month. Totally normal system.” And contrary to popular belief, Bloomberg is courting high-dollar donors. He’s just directing them to give money to the DNC, instead of his campaign. This was followed by the DNC changing its debate rules to help Bloomberg. He is thus expected to take part in the NBC organized debate on Wednesday.

A picket was formed outside ABC following the last debate, organized by Accuracy2020, a project of the Institute for Public Accuracy, noting: “while the DNC and corporate-media-coproduced debates have excluded serious candidates at times, they have just changed their own rules to include billionaire Bloomberg. Last night, ABC injected him into the debate. Not the words of candidates of color who have been forced out of the debates — Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker or Julián Castro — but Bloomberg.” See report on The Real News: “Activists Demand Public Control of Presidential Debates.”

ROBERT McCHESNEY, rwmcchesney at gmail.com
McChesney is research professor at the Institute of Communications Research and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His books include Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America and Rich Media, Poor Democracy, The Political Economy of the Media. He is also co-founder of the media reform group Free Press.

McChesney just wrote the piece “If Bloomberg Wants to Buy an Election, He Should Run as a Republican Against Trump — Not Sabotage Democrats,” which states: “Bloomberg could spend $100 million every single day on his presidential campaign between now and election day in November … and he would still have a net worth greater than $30 billion. He would remain one of the 30 richest people in the world. …

“Bloomberg may well be successful. He has already made media corporations hugely profitable by flooding the airwaves with his expensive and slick advertising — he has shown something corporate America knows well: carpet-bombing advertisements works if you can afford it — and this is just the beginning. … He has a large chunk of the political class on his payroll, with many more to come. He will accordingly get terrific mainstream press coverage, the type any other candidate would like, and Bernie Sanders can’t even begin to imagine.”

McChesney added that Bloomberg “could have done everything possible to expose Trump and to locate and encourage anti-Trump Republicans. He could have supported primary challengers on the Republican side to defeat Trump’s allies and enablers. He could have built up a parallel party apparatus employing thousands of Republican operatives at big salaries. He probably would have lost, but you never know for sure until you try. Bloomberg could outspend Trump 20 to 1. He would have been able to force public attention to this issue, and keep it there. He might have made Trump completely crack up. At any rate, he would have had an enormous impact that might have helped to slow and begin to reverse the Trumpian drift.”

Is Bloomberg Out to Stop Trump — Or Sanders?

MARGARET KIMBERLEY, margaretkimberley at gmail.com, @freedomrideblog
Kimberley is author of the just-released book Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents, a “concise, authoritative exploration of America’s relationship with race and black Americans through the lens of the presidents.”

She is editor and senior columnist with Black Agenda Report. She wrote last November: “In 2002 Michael Bloomberg was sworn in as mayor of New York City. In that same year the men known as the Central Park Five had their sentences vacated. They all served between 6 and 13 years in prison for a rape they did not commit. They sued New York City for the wrongful convictions but the Bloomberg administration refused to pay. They had to wait until he left office in 2014 to receive their $40 million settlement.

“Michael Bloomberg recently announced that he will seek the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2020. Unlike latecomers such as Deval Patrick, he actually has a chance to win the nomination or to play a role in choosing someone else. His weapon is not in any of his policy provisions but in his bank account. Bloomberg has an estimated net worth of $55 billion, a figure which makes him among the richest people on the planet. Like the old joke about the 900-pound gorilla, he can do whatever he wants, including prevent a progressive from getting the nomination.

“Bloomberg says he is ‘Running for president to stop Donald Trump and rebuild America.’ In reality he is running to stop Bernie Sanders because he knows that given a level playing field Sanders would emerge triumphant. Bloomberg’s strategy is to skip the early states and focus on Super Tuesday in March. This plan is a sign that he is more interested in being a spoiler than in actually being president himself.”

Kimberley said today: “Black ‘leaders’ — including mayors of several major cities — have capitulated and endorsed Bloomberg despite his legacy of racist policies. This is obviously connected to his funding vast networks of interest groups including the Democratic National Committee itself.

“Meanwhile, black voters remain incredibly loyal to the Democratic Party. Their fears of Republicans are justifiable but in the absence of a black political agenda, their efforts at self protection have led to dangerous passivity. The support for Biden indicated by polling was a result of being convinced that he was more electable against Trump. It was the same thing that was said about Hillary Clinton in 2016, yet Trump is the president. The notion of electability is a canard that has led to failure.”

How DNC Manipulated 2016 Presidential Race: A Timeline

MICHAEL BRENNAN, mryanbrennan at gmail.com
Brennan is a graduate student in public policy at the University of Maryland and a past intern at the Institute for Public Accuracy. He just wrote “Timeline: How DNC Manipulated 2016 Presidential Race.” Here’s a summary:

* April 7, 2015: Clinton campaign memo to the DNC articulates “Pied Piper” strategy to elevate the most extreme Republican candidates: “Our hope is that the goal of a potential HRC campaign and the DNC would be one-in-the-same: to make whomever the Republicans nominate unpalatable to a majority of the electorate.” (Salon)

* August 27, 2015: DNC announces “Hillary Victory Fund” joint fundraising agreement with Hillary Clinton’s campaign with a maximum possible individual contribution of $356,100 ($2,700 to Hillary for America, $33,400 to the DNC, and $10,000 to 32 of the state parties).

* November 13, 2015: Associated Press releases a widely-cited survey of superdelegates’ public support: 359 for Clinton, 8 for Bernie Sanders, 2 for Martin O’Malley, and 210 uncommitted.

* February 21, 2016: New York Times publishes front-page story proclaiming Sanders faces “steep climb” in delegates, despite trailing Clinton by only one pledged delegate following the Nevada caucus.

* March 5, 2016: DNC vice-chair Donna Brazile provides Clinton with a debate question on the Flint water crisis the day prior (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 10/11/16).

* March 12, 2016: Brazile shares question with Clinton on the death penalty the day before a CNN town hall (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 10/11/16). (Washington Post)

* April 26, 2016: DNC staffer shares messaging preparing for when Sanders ends his campaign (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 7/22/16). (The Intercept)

* May 2, 2016: Politico reports bombshell on how the Hillary Victory Fund was being utilized to circumvent campaign contribution limits by the Clinton campaign and DNC.

* May 5, 2016: DNC CFO Brad Marshall conspires “atheist” smear against Sanders: “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist,” (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 7/22/16). (Washington Post)

* May 14, 2016: The Nevada Democratic convention unfolds chaotically. Despite no evidence suggesting violence, major outlets uncritically repeat the myth of “pro-Sanders violence and chair throwing.“

* May 17, 2016: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz calls Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver a “damn liar” in DNC internal emails (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 7/22/16).

* May 18, 2016: Wasserman-Schultz promotes “pro-Sanders violence at Nevada convention” myth on MSNBC.

* May 21, 2016: DNC national press secretary pitches an anti-Sanders story to DNC comms director: “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” (as disclosed by Wikileaks on 7/22/16). (The Intercept)

* June 6, 2016: On eve of the second biggest primary day (California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, and South Dakota), Associated Press publishes major story calling the primary for Clinton: “Clinton has delegates to win Democratic nomination”. This count includes public superdelegate commitments who will not vote until July 25.

* April 25, 2017: In class action lawsuit alleging DNC fraud, DNC attorney argues the party has the right to ignore primary voters: “The party could have favored a candidate… We could have voluntarily decided that, ‘Look, we’re gonna go into back rooms like they used to and smoke cigars and pick the candidate that way.’” (See Newsweek: “Was the Election Rigged Against Bernie Sanders? DNC Lawsuit Demands Repayment for Campaign Donors.“)

* November 2, 2017: Brazile reveals Hillary Victory Fund agreement “specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised.” (Vox)

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