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McCain “Obit Omit”: In His Own Words

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Today on the program “Democracy Now,” Institute for Public Accuracy Executive Director Norman Solomon criticized coverage of the death of John McCain as taking part in an “obit omit.”

Following are some parts of McCain’s record that have been ignored or underplayed.

Making the case for the Iraq invasion:

“We can make the case that it is obvious that Saddam Hussein continues this buildup of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. But we are not the ones who are forcing this issue. The President of the United States in this resolution is not forcing the issue. It is Saddam Hussein who is forcing this issue.” (Oct. 8, 2002, textvideo)

On the Iraq invasion:

“I believe that success will be fairly easy.” (Sept. 24, 2002, CNN)

“I don’t think it’s, quote, ‘easy,’ but I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time.” (Nov. 29, 2002, CNN)

“The American people … were led to believe that this would be some kind of a day at the beach which many of us, uh, fully understood from the very beginning would be a very, very difficult undertaking.” (Aug. 22, 2006, CNN)

“I knew it was probably going to be long and hard and tough. And those that voted for it and thought that somehow it was going to be some kind of an easy task, then I’m sorry they were mistaken. Maybe they didn’t know what they were voting for.” (Jan. 4, 2007, MSNBC)

McCain’s top career political funders (from OpenSecrets.org) :

Merrill Lynch
JPMorgan Chase & Co
Citigroup Inc
AT&T Inc
Goldman Sachs

Democratic Convention Delegate Fasting for Superdelegate Reform

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The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is meeting in Chicago this week, 50 years after the gavel fell at the 1968 Democratic convention in that city. On the DNC’s agenda is a decisive vote on what to do about the party’s “superdelegates.”

SELINA VICKERS, (304) 663-3037, emailtheselina at gmail.com, @SelinaVickers
West Virginia activist Selina Vickers, a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, is at the DNC meeting in Chicago to advocate for superdelegate reform. She has been fasting since last Saturday.

She said today: “This isn’t a hunger strike. It isn’t a religious or health fast. It isn’t even a protest. My decision to not eat is a physical expression of the hunger that I feel for change. I hope and expect to have my hunger sated by the passing of the superdelegate reform on Saturday… I’ve traveled, advocated, educated, started a blog, live-streamed — all I can think to do to push the end of superdelegates.  Now, I had my last meal last Saturday and I won’t eat until after the superdelegate vote this Saturday. It’s all I can think to do to boldly underscore the importance of this critical issue.

“I’ve been waiting for the DNC meeting this Saturday since July 2016. That’s when the DNC (Democratic National Convention) delegates, of which I was one, unanimously passed a resolution to make major reforms within the DNC, most importantly to me, superdelegate reform. Many voters in the 2016 Democratic primary had their vote eliminated by a few very powerful superdelegates. My personal example, the West Virginia Superdelegate Disaster, is that even though Sen. Sanders won all 55 counties in the West Virginia primary, after the superdelegates weighed in, Clinton won West Virginia with only 36 percent of the vote.”

Nationwide Strike to “End Prison Slavery”

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USA Today reports: “‘You can’t just treat people like animals’: U.S. prison strike prompts solidarity rallies.”

Newsweek reports in “U.S. Inmates Launching Nationwide Strike to ‘End Prison Slavery‘” that: “The strike, which is supposed to last until September 9 — the anniversary of the 1971 Attica Prison uprising in upstate New York — calls for an ‘end to prison slavery’ and for a number of prison reforms.

“For 19 days, inmates across at least 17 states plan to refuse to work, with some also refusing to eat, to draw attention to poor conditions and what advocates have called exploitative labor practices in the prison system.”

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee states: “Rebels incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives when prison officials turned their backs on a riot they provoked. We are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.”

ED MEAD, ed.mead71 at gmail.com
Mead is former director of the Prison Art Project, former co-editor of Prison Focus and a former prisoner. He writes that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution that is commonly viewed as having ended slavery actually simply constricted it by giving an exception to the ban. The Amendment stated that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States” — but explicitly stated: “except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Mead writes: “It is this exception that has resulted in the enslavement of some 2.2 million Americans behind bars and restricted the rights of 14 million formerly convicted citizens.”

He adds that this violates the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 4 of which states: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery … shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

Mead is author of Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead.

See 2016 piece from Shaun King in the New York Daily News: “How the 13th Amendment didn’t really abolish slavery, but let it live on in U.S. prisons.”

See video excerpt from the Netflix documentary “13th” of Michele Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, on the path from “plantation to prison.”

Amazon and Pentagon

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MAY JEONG, may.s.jeong at gmail.com, @mayjeong
Jeong recently wrote the piece “’Everybody Immediately Knew That It Was for Amazon’: Has Bezos Become More Powerful In D.C. Than Trump?” for Vanity Fair.

Jeong writes: “There’s a new scandal quietly unfolding in Washington. It’s far bigger than Housing Secretary Ben Carson buying a $31,000 dinette set for his office, or former EPA chief Scott Pruitt deploying an aide to hunt for a deal on a used mattress. It involves the world’s richest man, President Trump’s favorite general, and a $10 billion defense contract. And it may be a sign of how tech giants and Silicon Valley tycoons will dominate Washington for generations to come.

“The controversy involves a plan to move all of the Defense Department’s data — classified and unclassified — on to the cloud. The information is currently strewn across some 400 centers, and the Pentagon’s top brass believes that consolidating it into one cloud-based system, the way the CIA did in 2013, will make it more secure and accessible. That’s why, on July 26, the Defense Department issued a request for proposals called JEDI, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. Whoever winds up landing the winner-take-all contract will be awarded $10 billion — instantly becoming one of America’s biggest federal contractors.

“But when JEDI was issued, on the day Congress recessed for the summer, the deal appeared to be rigged in favor of a single provider: Amazon. According to insiders familiar with the 1,375-page request for proposal, the language contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet, making it hard for other leading cloud-services providers to win — or even apply for — the contract. One provision, for instance, stipulates that bidders must already generate more than $2 billion a year in commercial cloud revenues — a ‘bigger is better’ requirement that rules out all but a few of Amazon’s rivals. …

“In a larger sense, the JEDI contract represents the growing clout that technology companies are wielding in Washington — and how they are increasingly wiring the swamp for their own benefit. Amazon has spent $67 million on lobbying since 2000 — including more this year than Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo combined.”

Jeong is an award-winning magazine writer and investigative reporter. She is best known for her months-long investigation into the MSF hospital bombing in Kunduz, Afghanistan for The Intercept. This won her the 2017  South Asian Journalists Association’s Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Report on South Asia. She is also a visiting scholar at the New York University Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.See IPA news release from 2013: “CIA Cloud Over Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post.”

Trump Overrides Minimal Protections in Yemen War

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SHIREEN AL-ADEIMI, aladeimi@msu.edu@shireen818
Originally from Yemen, Al-Adeimi is an assistant professor of education at Michigan State University.

She just co-wrote the piece “Trump Quietly Overrides What Little Civilian Protections Remain in Yemen War,” which states: “With little public attention, President Donald Trump used his August 13 signing statement for the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to override restrictions aimed at minimizing civilian deaths in the U.S.-Saudi war on Yemen. The move came just days after the Saudi-led coalition struck a school bus in Yemen’s northern Saada province with a U.S.-supplied and manufactured bomb, killing 54 people, 44 of them children.
The signing statement is the latest evidence that, after three years and tens of thousands killed, the Trump administration has no intention of curbing its role in the bloody war it inherited from Obama. The United States supplies arms, intelligence and aerial refueling of Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) warplanes — and gives political cover to the war. …

“Even before it reached Trump’s desk, the NDAA was a giveaway to the president, handing him a historically high military budget, which earmarks $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons, despite the president’s proven willingness to threaten nuclear annihilation on a whim. The bill sailed through Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, backed by key Democrats purportedly leading the #Resistance — even as they claim the president is unhinged and dangerous, and publicly criticize the war in Yemen. Among the yes votes was Ted Lieu, a vocal Trump critic who — when news of the school bus bombing hit — expressed concern that the U.S. role in Yemen ‘could qualify as aiding and abetting these potential war crimes.'”

Al-Adeimi’s past pieces for In These Times magazine include “Fine Print in Defense Bill Acknowledges U.S.-Backed War in Yemen Will Go On Indefinitely” and “Attack on Yemen Port Shows U.S.-Backed Coalition Willing To Use Starvation as a Weapon.” She recently appeared on “Worldview” on WBEZ and the program “Democracy Now!

 

50 Years After Chicago Convention, a Crossroads for Democrats

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The Democratic National Committee will convene in Chicago later this week, 50 years after the gavel fell at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in that city. On the DNC’s agenda is a decisive vote on what to do about the party’s “superdelegates.”

In an article for HuffPost, “Democrats Should Finally Put Superdelegates Behind Them,” Norman Solomon writes: “The schedulers for this coming week’s Democratic National Committee meeting either have a sly sense of irony or a touch of historical amnesia. Why else would they set the DNC’s most important vote in many years for Chicago on the day before the 50th anniversary of the start of the party’s disastrous convention in that city?”

Solomon notes that “much of the mayhem in the streets and the angry dissent inside the amphitheater a half-century ago stemmed from the well-grounded belief that the Democratic establishment had rigged the nominating process for its candidate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey.”

Drawing a parallel with present-day concerns about unfairness in the party’s presidential nominating process, Solomon writes: “Widely unpopular at the grassroots, the superdelegate system remains a burr in the donkey’s saddle, threatening to further undermine party unity in the quest to regain the White House.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Solomon co-founded RootsAction.org, which is coordinating an informational picket line outside of the DNC meeting in Chicago, August 23-25. He was a coauthor of “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis.” He will be in Chicago from Wednesday morning through Saturday.

Solomon writes in his HuffPost piece that despite support for superdelegate reform from grassroots Democrats and DNC Chair Tom Perez, “significant pushback is underway from sectors of the party establishment. Some Democrats in Congress and a number of officials in state parties are now vocally making clear that they do not want to lose their superdelegate voting privileges.

“A historic showdown is again looming in Chicago. And for the long term, the stakes could turn out to be just as momentous as they were in August 1968. Fifty years later, the national Democratic Party can take a big step toward becoming worthy of its name.”

Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

“Trump-Media Logrolling”

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SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini at gmail.com, @samhusseini
Husseini is senior analyst with the Institute for Public Accuracy. He just wrote the piece “Trump-Media Logrolling.”

He writes: “Today, hundreds of newspapers, at the initiative of the Boston Globe, are purporting to stand up for a free press against Trump’s rhetoric.

“Today also marks exactly one month since I was forced out of the July 16 Trump-Putin news conference in Helsinki and locked up until the middle of the night. [See “I Came as a Journalist to Ask Important Questions” for The Nation.]

“As laid in my cell, I chuckled at the notion that the city was full of billboards proclaiming Finland was the ‘land of free press.’

“We should scrutinize both thuggish behavior toward journalists trying to ask tough questions — and to those professing to defend a free press when they are engaging in more of a marketing campaign.

“As some have noted, the editorials today will likely help Trump whip up support among his base against a seemingly monolithic media. But, just as clearly, the establishment media can draw attention away from their own failures, corruptions and falsehoods simply by focusing on some of Trump’s.

“Big media outlets need not actually report news that affects your life and point to serious solutions for social ills. They can just bad-mouth Trump. And Trump need not deliver on campaign promises that tapped into populist and isolationist tendencies in the U.S. public that have grown in reaction to years of elite rule. He need only deride the major media.”

Husseini is also founder of VotePact.org.

Democrats at Crossroads Next Week: Party of Elites or Grassroots?

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A decisive meeting of the full Democratic National Committee next week will make historic decisions on the future direction of the party.

“Even in the face of a horrific menace like Trump, efforts to defeat the right at the polls are undermined by a Democratic leadership lacking in vision, values, and commitment to democracy,” activist Jeff Cohen wrote in a new article, “Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?

JEFF COHEN, jcohen at ithaca.edu
Cohen co-founded RootsAction.org, which is coordinating an informational picket line set for the DNC meeting in Chicago, August 23-25. He was an editor of “Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis.”

A severe lack of democracy in the party was embodied in a DNC committee’s recent vote to rescind a short-lived ban on taking contributions from the fossil fuel industry, Cohen wrote. “The latest slap in the face to the Democratic Party’s base came Friday when the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee – behind closed doors – reversed its ban on accepting political donations from fossil fuel companies.” He added: “In the face of an energized activist base crying out for a party that will put forward bold social/economic and environmental proposals, the Democratic leadership dithers and grovels for donations from the Republican-allied fossil fuel industry that threatens our planet’s future.”

Cohen noted that “an alliance of progressive activists will be setting up informational picket lines” at the upcoming DNC meeting. “The alliance, led by groups such as RootsAction.org (which I co-founded) and Progressive Democrats of America, is supporting vital reforms to democratize the party. One reform to be debated in Chicago – one that activists believe is winnable – harks back to the calamitous Democratic loss to Trump in 2016. The reform would restrict the undemocratic voting power of ‘superdelegates’: party insiders who have exerted an outsized influence in choosing the presidential nominee. …

“It’s bad enough that our country’s governing party denies climate science while believing Exxon and Chevron are persons. It makes matters much worse when the opposition party’s leadership wants donations from Mr. Exxon and Ms. Chevron while tacitly denying that climate science demands drastic action – way far beyond the wishes of those donors. This country needs a serious opposition party that can defeat both corporate power and the GOP. Only democratic participation by the grassroots will make possible that kind of a winning party.”

Following Assassination Attempt, Facebook Pulled Venezuela Content

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CNN reported last week: “Authorities have identified the masterminds of the apparent [Aug. 4] drone assassination attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, as well as the people who assisted them, Attorney General Tarek William Saab said Monday. …

“‘The preliminary investigation indicates that many of those responsible for the attack, the financiers and planners, live in the United States in the state of Florida,’ Maduro said, adding that he hopes the White House is ‘willing to fight terrorist groups that commit attacks in peaceful countries.'”

Also recently, Facebook has suspended and then restored, apparently without explanation, two critical websites associated with Venezuela: The group Venezuela Analysis (which just reported that “Maduro Encourages FBI to Investigate Drone Attack Suspect“) and the network Telesur, which just had its Facebook page restored Wednesday morning.

CBS News recently reported: “Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have agreed to testify sometime in September before the Senate Intelligence Committee, a source familiar with the matter confirms to CBS News.”

See the recent interview with journalist Max Blumenthal on The Real News network: “Facebook Taps Militarist Think Tank Atlantic Council to Police its Content.” Also see by Glenn Greenwald from 2017: “Facebook Says It Is Deleting Accounts at the Direction of the U.S. and Israeli Governments.”

TATIANA ROJAS, trojas at telesurtv.net, @telesurenglish
Rojas is with Telesur — see the website for their content, including statements on the suspension of the network’s Facebook page.

JEANETTE CHARLES, jcharles913 at gmail.com, @venanalysis
Charles is with VenezuelAnalysis.com — see the website for their content, including statements on the suspension of the group’s Facebook page.

Turning Space Into a War Zone

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KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman at hamptons.com
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, Grossman is author of The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet.His new piece “Turning Space Into a War Zone” was just published by Counterpunch.

Grossman writes: “The Trump administration is pushing hard on its scheme to create a Space Force.  Last week Vice President Pence, chairman of a newly reconstituted National Space Council, in a speech at the Pentagon declared: ‘The time has come to write the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield.’

“Pence claimed — falsely: ‘Our adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain already and the United States will not shrink from the challenge.’ …

“Beyond the intent of the Outer Space Treaty and its setting space aside as a global commons, neither Russia nor China have been interested in bringing war into space for economic reasons. I’ve been researching — writing books and articles and doing television programs — on the space warfare issue for more than 30 years and have made numerous trips to Russia and gone to China, too.” See 2008 piece from Reuters: “China, Russia to offer treaty to ban arms in space.”

Grossman continued: “Fielding space weaponry would be hugely expensive. It is no comparison to, let’s say, the tank-like Bradley Fighting Vehicle costing $3.1 million. Billions and billions would need to be expended. But the situation changes if the U.S. deploys weaponry in space with a Space Force and with the intention of dominating the Earth from this high ground.”

Grossman notes that the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is planning protests in October. The group just put out a video on the Space Force.

Also see Grossman’s “Star Wars Returns” video from 2008, which features Craig Eisendrath, who had been a U.S. State Department official handling outer space relations and would go on to co-author the 2007 book War in Heaven: Stopping an Arms Race in Outer Space Before It Is Too Late.

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