Tag Archives: Michigan

Russian hacking is a silly smokescreen, so what’s behind it…?

This is one of the daftest stories I’ve heard in a long while, but since the Guardian, Washington Post and even President Obama are still trying to persuade us that this evidence-free allegation of Russian hacking is serious and worthy of the world’s attention then here is definitive debunking courtesy of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), whose combined expertise includes William Binney and Ray McGovern. They write:

The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any “hacked” emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network. This process can sometimes require a closer look into the routing to sort out intermediate clients, but in the end sender and recipient can be traced across the network.

The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate” etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been “hacked” cannot be traced across the network. Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.

The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods. Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider – as was the case with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone in a government department or agency with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.

Concluding:

As for the comments to the media as to what the CIA believes, the reality is that CIA is almost totally dependent on NSA for ground truth in the communications arena. Thus, it remains something of a mystery why the media is being fed strange stories about hacking that have no basis in fact. In sum, given what we know of NSA’s existing capabilities, it beggars belief that NSA would be unable to identify anyone – Russian or not – attempting to interfere in a U.S. election by hacking. 1

Click here to read the full and very detailed analysis.

Furthermore, Craig Murray has testified that he actually KNOWS who is behind the leak (and be assured that Murray is no friend of Putin):

Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, called the CIA claims “bullshit”, adding: “They are absolutely making it up.”

I know who leaked them,” Murray said. “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things. 2 [bold emphasis added]

The extract was taken from an article credited to “Damien Gayle and [ahem] agencies” (with éminence grise ‘and agencies’ printed appropriately in a faint grey) published by the Guardian and with Murray’s statement buried deep within the paragraphs of spurious CIA hype. And that was that. Nobody has since cross-examined Murray’s assertion or otherwise acknowledged his testimony and rather than following it up in any fashion, the mainstream media has simply ignored it altogether.

Murray fleshes out his thoughts in an article on his blog on Sunday 11th:

I have watched incredulous as the CIA’s blatant lie has grown and grown as a media story – blatant because the CIA has made no attempt whatsoever to substantiate it. There is no Russian involvement in the leaks of emails showing Clinton’s corruption. Yes this rubbish has been the lead today in the Washington Post in the US and the Guardian here, and was the lead item on the BBC main news. I suspect it is leading the American broadcasts also.

A little simple logic demolishes the CIA’s claims. The CIA claim they “know the individuals” involved. Yet under Obama the USA has been absolutely ruthless in its persecution of whistleblowers, and its pursuit of foreign hackers through extradition. We are supposed to believe that in the most vital instance imaginable, an attempt by a foreign power to destabilise a US election, even though the CIA knows who the individuals are, nobody is going to be arrested or extradited, or (if in Russia) made subject to yet more banking and other restrictions against Russian individuals? Plainly it stinks. The anonymous source claims of “We know who it was, it was the Russians” are beneath contempt.

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two. And it should be said again and again, that if Hillary Clinton had not connived with the DNC to fix the primary schedule to disadvantage Bernie, if she had not received advance notice of live debate questions to use against Bernie, if she had not accepted massive donations to the Clinton foundation and family members in return for foreign policy influence, if she had not failed to distance herself from some very weird and troubling people, then none of this would have happened.

The continued ability of the mainstream media to claim the leaks lost Clinton the election because of “Russia”, while still never acknowledging the truths the leaks reveal, is Kafkaesque.

Click here to read Murray’s full article

Meanwhile, as the media obsesses over this ‘fake news’ story of zero substance, it simultaneously misdirects the public from a related scandal that is founded on perfectly solid and assiduously gathered evidence. For the US electoral system is indeed deeply flawed, as Trump has repeatedly told us. However, the significant question is who benefited from its many built-in flaws and did this impact on the final election result?

Election rigging is Greg Palast’s specialism. He has previously investigated the serious irregularities that ensured Bush’s victories in the 2000 and 2004 US elections (read my previous post). As on both past occasions, when votes were either suppressed or lost, Palast has once again discovered that those affected in this election were overwhelmingly voters from ethnic minority districts:

Officially, Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes. But a record 75,335 votes were never counted. Most of these votes that went missing were in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, majority-black cities.

How could this happen? Did the Russians do it? Nyet. You don’t need Russians to help the Michigan GOP. How exactly do you disappear 75,000 votes? They call them spoiled votes. How do you spoil votes? Not by leaving them out of the fridge. Most are lost because of the bubbles. Thousands of bubbles couldn’t be read by the optical scanning machines.

This is taken from Greg Palast’s latest report. It serves as just a single example of a plethora of irregularities that eventually led Green candidate Jill Stein to call for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – states where Donald Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton. But, as Palast explained on Democracy Now!, the recounts in turn are just another travesty:

Instead of allowing that eyeball count of the votes that are supposedly blank, they said, “Oh, we’ll just run them back through the machines.” It’s like betting on an instant replay. It’s the same game. They just put them through the bad machines again. This is not just a bad way to count the ballots; it’s a way to not count African-American ballots.

And as Palast’s investigation reveals, Black voters already most affected by faults in the machines have been further disenfranchised by methods of voter suppression including, most notably, a system called Crosscheck:

After reading my report on the Kobach/Koch/Trump operation, which has removed tens of thousands of minority voters from the rolls in the swing states that surprisingly shifted to Trump, former federal judge (and now Congressman) Alcee Hastings told me Crosscheck is a criminal violation of federal law. Hastings has called for criminal indictments and written an official Congressional member letter to ask for investigation. 3

As Palast said on Democracy Now!:

Well, you know, people are looking for Russians, but what we had is a real Jim Crow election. Trump, for example, in Michigan, won by less than 11,000 votes. It looks like we had about 55,000 voters, mostly minorities, removed by this racist system called Crosscheck. In addition, you had a stoppage—even before the courts ordered the complete stop of the vote in Michigan, you had the Republican state officials completely sabotage the recount. […]

There were 87 machines in Detroit that were—that didn’t function. They were supposed to count about a thousand ballots each. You’re talking about a massive blockade of the black vote in Detroit and Flint, enough votes, undoubtedly, to overturn that election.

And you saw a mirror of this in Wisconsin, where, for example, there were many, many votes, thousands of votes, lost in the Milwaukee area, another African-American-heavy area.

But the question is: Where are these ballots not counted? They are not counted in African-American areas, in Dearborn, where there’s a heavy Arab-American community, in Latino communities. So, while we’re discussing hacking the machines, a lot of this was old-fashioned Jim Crow tactics, you know, from way back. And by the way, a lot of this is the result of the destruction and the gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which this is the first election post the Voting Rights Act. So, we saw—and Jill Stein said it correct—she expected to see a lot of hacking. What she found was, as she said, a Jim Crow election.

It is rather unsurprising, of course, that the Republicans and Trump have very actively opposed the recounts, whereas the behaviour of Obama and the liberal media, not to mention Clinton herself, is odder. For rather than backing Jill Stein’s efforts – the only action that could have successfully challenged the final election result – they instead chose to distract the public by demonising Russia with this nonsensical CIA concoction about hacking.

Palast is now calling for a full investigation and encouraging people to stand up for their voting rights:

Well, we need to have kind of a Standing Rock for voting. We need to restart the voting rights movement, because with Jeff Sessions coming in as attorney general, we have to start investigations now. I’m in Washington because 18 Million Rising, the Asian-American group, and the Congressional Black Caucus Representative Hastings, they have presented 50,000 signatures to the Justice Department, begging Justice, please, open an investigation of this racist Crosscheck system created by Donald Trump’s operatives, operating in 30 states, knocking off Asian-American, African-American, Latino voters. Please open the investigation now, before it becomes a new Justice Department—or maybe it’s in an Injustice Department.

Click here to read a full transcript and to watch the report and follow-up interview on the Democracy Now! website.

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Update:

I am about twenty four hours behind on debunking the “evidence” of Russian hacking of the DNC because I have only just stopped laughing. I was sent last night the “crowdstrike” report, paid for by the Democratic National Committee, which is supposed to convince us. The New York Times today made this “evidence” its front page story.

It appears from this document that, despite himself being a former extremely competent KGB chief, Vladimir Putin has put Inspector Clouseau in charge of Russian security and left him to get on with it. The Russian Bear has been the symbol of the country since the 16th century. So we have to believe that the Russian security services set up top secret hacking groups identifying themselves as “Cozy Bear” and “Fancy Bear”. Whereas no doubt the NSA fronts its hacking operations by a group brilliantly disguised as “The Flaming Bald Eagles”, GCHQ doubtless hides behind “Three Lions on a Keyboard” and the French use “Marianne Snoops”.

writes Craig Murray in a follow-up piece published on December 14th. He continues:

What is more, the Russian disguised hackers work Moscow hours and are directly traceable to Moscow IP addresses. This is plain and obvious nonsense. If crowdstrike were tracing me just now they would think I am in Denmark. Yesterday it was the Netherlands. I use Tunnel Bear, one of scores of easily available VPN’s and believe me, the Russian FSB have much better resources. We are also supposed to believe that Russia’s hidden hacking operation uses the name of the famous founder of the Communist Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, as a marker and an identify of “Guccifer2” (get the references – Russian oligarchs and their Gucci bling and Lucifer) – to post pointless and vainglorious boasts about its hacking operations, and in doing so accidentally leave bits of Russian language script to be found.

The Keystone Cops portrayal of one of the world’s most clinically efficient intelligence services is of a piece with the anti-Russian racism which has permeated the Democratic Party rhetoric for quite some time. Frankly nobody in what is vaguely their right mind would believe this narrative.

It is not that “Cozy Bear”, “Fancy Bear” and “Guccifer2” do not exist. It is that they are not agents of the Russian government and not the source of the DNC documents. Guccifer2 is understood in London to be the fairly well known amusing bearded Serbian who turns up at parties around Camden under the (assumed) name of Gavrilo Princip.

Click here to read Craig Murray’s full article.

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On December 13th, Greg Palast was interviewed by Thom Hartmann on RT’s The Big Picture about evidence he has uncovered of vote rigging and the role of Kris Kobach, “Crosscheck” and the Koch Brothers in alleged voter suppression:

Palast said: This is a criminal conspiracy – that’s what Hastings said – by Republican operatives for Trump, particularly Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State of Kansas, and his cronies, the Secretaries of State in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Arizona too.

I spoke to Jill Stein about this the other night. She says, “Okay, if there is, like you say, evidence that the Russians picked our president for us, we want to know it – show the evidence, let’s stop getting distracted by it.” She’s worried that people are going to forget that in fact what happened here is what she calls ‘a Jim Crow election’. And that’s what happened, we had a Jim Crow election. […]

Well, what we did find through a series of cutouts $100,000 came from the Brothers Koch to Mr Kobach. Look, vote heist is not cheap! You need billionaires behind it. And they have their agenda and like you said – a fossil fuel agenda is a big part of it: pipelines. There was the standoff at Standing Rock. But let me tell you that we’re now looking at a President who’s already kind of pre-approved the XL pipeline, says he’s going to reverse the decision at Standing Rock. And let me tell you right now, you have to look at the money behind Trump.

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Further Update:

On the day of Trump’s inauguration (Friday 20th) Greg Palast released his latest documentary The Best Democracy Money Can Buy for free viewing on Facebook. The documentary provides details of the methods of voter suppression Palast uncovered as well as evidence of a financial trail that leads directly to the Koch Brothers. The upload should be accessible for two days by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/bestdemocracymovie/

You do NOT need a Facebook account to watch it.

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1 From an article entitled “US Intel Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims” published by consortiumnews.com on December 12, 2016. https://consortiumnews.com/2016/12/12/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-hacking-claims/ 

2 From an article entitled “CIA concludes Russia interfered to help Trump win election, say reports” written by Damien Gayle and agencies, published in the Guardian on December 10, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/10/cia-concludes-russia-interfered-to-help-trump-win-election-report?CMP=share_btn_tw

3 From an article entitled “Crosscheck Is Not Just Crooked, It’s Criminal” written by Greg Palast, published on December 5, 2016. http://www.gregpalast.com/crosscheck-not-just-crooked-criminal/  

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Filed under Craig Murray, election fraud, Greg Palast, USA

did the Republicans steal the election? Greg Palast and Mark Crispin Miller present proof they did…

Donald Trump warned the world of election fraud throughout his campaign. Here’s what he said during an interview on Fox News on the actual day of the election:

“It’s largely a rigged system. And you see it at the polling booths, too… There are reports that when people vote for Republicans the entire ticket switches over to Democrats. You’ve seen that. It’s happening at various places today. It’s been reported. In other words, the machines, you put down a Republican and it registers as a Democrat. They’ve had a lot of complaints about that today.”

And here’s what tweeted:

In fairness, he had well-founded reasons to say so. US presidential elections have been rigged on at least two recent occasions: Bush’s ‘hanging chads’ victory against Gore in 2000 was demonstrably stolen and his win over Kerry in 2004 was likewise manipulated. The proof of voter suppression and other forms of rigging on these occasions was uncovered by investigative journalist Greg Palast who even ran his reports on BBC Newsnight.  One technique Palast failed to mention, however, concerns methods of hacking or otherwise tampering with voting machines, but others better qualified looked into this too and likewise raised the alarm. Gore Vidal was one of the most vocal of mainstream voices calling for investigations in the wake of both election results. All of this is covered in an earlier post.

But Trump is Trump. The insinuations of a loudmouthed pantomime villain who spews vitriolic hatred, spouts arrant nonsense and dabbles in “conspiracy theory” were easily dismissed by a hostile media. Eager to cover up deficiencies, flaws, and criminal fraudulence inherent in contemporary American electoral procedures and processes, rather than investigate his claims, Trump was simply laughed off.  But what if, just perhaps, like the proverbial stopped clock, Trump was telling the truth for a change? Or telling half of the truth…? To paraphrase Hamlet, the Donald doth protest too much, methinks…

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Exit polls are the standard by which the US State Department measures the honesty of foreign elections. Exit polling is, historically, deadly accurate. The bane of pre-election polling is that pollsters must adjust for the likelihood of a person voting. Exit polls solve the problem.

But three times in US history, pollsters have had to publicly flagellate themselves for their “errors.”  In 2000, exit polls gave Al Gore the win in Florida; in 2004, exit polls gave Kerry the win in Ohio, and now, in swing states, exit polls gave the presidency to Hillary Clinton.

writes Greg Palast in his latest article which is entitled “The Election was Stolen – Here’s How…” He continues:

So how could these multi-million-dollar Ph.d-directed statisticians with decades of experience get exit polls so wrong?

Answer:  they didn’t.  The polls in Florida in 2000 were accurate.  That’s because exit pollsters can only ask, “How did you vote?”  What they don’t ask, and can’t, is, “Was your vote counted.”

In 2000, in Florida, GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris officially rejected 181,173 ballots, as “spoiled” because their chads were hung and other nonsense excuses.  Those ballots overwhelmingly were marked for Al Gore.  The exit polls included those 181,173 people who thought they had voted – but their vote didn’t count.  In other words, the exit polls accurately reflected whom the voters chose, not what Katherine Harris chose.

In 2004, a similar number of votes were invalidated (including an enormous pile of “provisional” ballots) by Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell.  Again, the polls reflected that Kerry was the choice of 51% of the voters.  But the exit polls were “wrong” because they didn’t reflect the ballots invalidated by Blackwell.

Notably, two weeks after the 2004 US election, the US State Department refused the recognize the Ukraine election results because the official polls contradicted the exit polls.

And here we go again. 2016: Hillary wins among those queried as they exit the polling station—yet Trump is declared winner in GOP-controlled swings states. And, once again, the expert pollsters are forced to apologize—when they should be screaming, “Fraud!  Here’s the evidence the vote was fixed!”

Click here to read Palast’s full article.

The nightly anti-Trump vigil beneath Trump Tower is valiant but futile. Likewise, the alienated thousands across America with placards reading “love trumps hate” and “not my president” or else venting spleen in more riotous fashion represent no serious challenge or threat without a cause greater than such a loosely configured fear and loathing of Trump to rally around — as understandable and justifiable as that fear and loathing is. On the other hand, proof of election fraud would serve not only to validate the widespread sense of grievance, but might also be used to focus it.

So once the dust as settled, there has to be a change of political strategy. In the meantime consider the thoughtful analysis of Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at New York, author of “Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform” and “Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy.” His latest article is “An open plea to Michael Moore (and all our other lefty stars): Dude, where are our votes? WAKE UP!”

There is also Greg Palast’s newly released documentary, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and this companion piece. For the evidence is beginning to stack up and it appears to validate their contention that Trump is not by rights President-Elect of the United States, as indeed, by similar account, Clinton, whose DNC team quite overtly stole the nomination from Sanders, was never by rights the Democrat candidate. Both elections were a travesty. In all likelihood, both were a crime too.

As a taster, I recommend the latest episode of comedian Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight, which features interviews with Greg Palast and Mark Crispin Miller and is embedded below:

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Update:

On November 30th Democracy Now! spoke with leading cybersecurity and privacy researcher Bruce Schneier on evidence of hacking of the voting machines and of voter suppression. Schneier says voter suppression “has probably caused a lot more discrepancy in the vote versus the will of the people than machines, even though machines can be a disaster”:

[But] something else is brought up in this that’s real important, that we can’t lose sight of, I think, the real issue here, which is not the hacking in those three states [Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan], but the voter suppression everywhere. And whether it is voter ID requirements or closing polling places in poor neighborhoods or reducing early voting or purging voter rolls, there’s a concerted effort in the United States to deny people the right to vote. I think that’s the real issue.

Click here to read the full transcript and to watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

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Additional:

Here are Palast’s BBC Newsnight reports on the US election in 2000:

And on the US election in 2004:

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Filed under election fraud, Greg Palast, USA

free Edward Pinkney, an American prisoner of conscience

Why is Rev. Pinkney in prison? Too many reasons to count. The timeline below hits some highlights, but still doesn’t paint a full picture of what he does that makes his resistance and leadership so dangerous to the master planners of the establishment.

So writes Jackie Miller in a thoroughgoing review of the case entitled “Why is Rev. Edward Pinkney in Prison? Another Case of Political Persecution”.

Miller continues:

For over a decade, he spent nearly every day that Berrien County court was in session court-watching, taking notes, and helping defendants understand their rights. Each week for years he led a group of community activists from Benton Harbor to march on the courthouse in St. Joseph wearing the famous “Berrien County’s Most Wanted” T-shirts, listing the most corrupt and racist judges and other county officials. 1

Benton Harbor is one of the poorest cities in America. It is 94% black, 90% poor, and 70% unemployed (figures as of 2007 2). A place where “the criminal justice system operates to arrest, imprison, intimidate, control and marginalize” the citizens and where “governmental and educational institutions are characterized by infighting and petty corruption”:

In the fall of 2003, in a notorious incident, the Benton Harbor Chief of Police (who was not a certified law enforcement officer nor licensed to carry a gun), fired into the air in order to disperse a group of black youths who had gathered on a corner. Despite the fact that both the possession and the use of the gun were illegal under state and local law, nothing was done. 3

In this struggle for political and social justice, Edward Pinkney, in cooperation with his wife, Dorothy, founded the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO). But this was a battle that also meant locking horns with powerful Fortune 500 corporation Whirlpool – the largest manufacturer of home appliances in the world – which is headquartered in the city, and their “yes-man”, Mayor James Hightower:

Instead of supporting a tax that would make Whirlpool pay its fair share for city services and employees, the mayor signed a $3.2 million loan that the residents of Benton Harbor, one of the poorest cities per capita in the United States, would now have to pay. Meanwhile, Whirlpool pays absolutely no income taxes to the federal government or to Michigan. 4

In response, Pinkney organised a petition to unseat Hightower. The new Benton Harbor authority’s retaliation was as swift as it was high-handed:

On December 15 [2014], Rev. Edward Pinkney, a leader in the struggle for social and economic justice for the residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was sentenced to serve up to 10 years in prison, on the basis of thin circumstantial evidence that a few dates had been altered on a recall petition against the city’s mayor, James Hightower. The recall was prompted by the mayor’s continued support for tax evasion by the Whirlpool Corporation, the Fortune 500 company and $19 billion global appliance manufacturer, headquartered in Benton Harbor.

Click here to read the full article published by truthout back in December 2014.

Pinkney’s imprisonment for this misdemeanour is manifestly politically motivated and has since been legally challenged by the ACLU (further details below). Pinkney’s case is also supported by Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy and a leading prosecutor in a number of high profile cases against the Mafia. Imposimato writes:

Whirlpool represents the largest appliance company in the Western world. Pinkney was indicted with the accusation of having forged the dates of a few signatures on petitions circulated to recall Mayor Hightower, a Whirlpool ally, and force him to justify his behavior in office before the voters through the device of calling an early election. Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years’ imprisonment, despite the absolute absence of any proof against him. Normally, according to Michigan law, this entire matter would have been considered a misdemeanor, but in order to take down Pinkney, the head of the opposition in the city, this charge was inflated to the level of being an extremely serious felony. In addition, Pinkney’s trial was polluted by so many intrigues among the judge, the sheriff, the county officials, and a member of the jury who committed perjury, all of which makes Pinkney’s conviction invalid, and requires that it be struck down, in my opinion.

And Imposimato draws attention to the similarly “arrogant” approach taken by Whirlpool after it expanded its operations into Italy:

In recent years, Whirlpool has bought up large chunks of our splendid Italian appliance industry, including especially the appliance manufacturer Indesit. Now, Whirlpool executives have issued a proclamation from Benton Harbor announcing with absolute arrogance that they intend to wipe out about 2,000 jobs, which means more than a third of the current personnel of the Italian branch of Whirlpool. This mass firing would be a devastating blow for Varese, Caserta, Turin, Naples, Siena, and the other Italian cities which Whirlpool is targeting.

We have to ask ourselves if Whirlpool is trying to drive these Italian cities down to the same level of plantations of despair which we observe today in Benton Harbor. God forbid!

Click here to read Ferdinando Imposimato’s full statement made in June.

So why is Pinkney in prison? Well, to better understand the current situation in Benton Harbor we need to go back a few years to the introduction of so-called Financial Emergency Managers:

There is no place in the United States that more cruelly illustrates the intensifying conflict between corporate power and democracy than Benton Harbor, Mich., the first city to be placed under what some Michiganders call “financial martial law.”

In March [2011], Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder won approval of Public Act 4 (i.e., the Emergency Manager law), which permits him to declare that a city is in fiscal crisis and then to appoint an overseer with unlimited powers including the elimination of existing union contracts. Significantly, chief sponsors of Public Act 4 were State Rep. Al Pscholka, who was a former aide to Whirlpool heir U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, and also “a former vice president for one of the major entities involved in building the luxury golf development,” The Rachel Maddow Show reported last week.

That comes from an article written by Roger Bybee published nearly half a decade ago in April 2011. Bybee continues:

This month Harris [the Emergency Financial Manager appointed in early 2010] used the new powers granted to him by the newly passed law, declaring that elected bodies like the Benton Harbor City Council and School Board can meet but cannot make any decisions. The votes of elected bodies and Benton Harbor voters no longer count; the sole decider is Harris, who makes all decisions unilaterally.

State Rep. Fred Dunhal, interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, views the takeover legislation as part of a national drive by a new crop of fiercely right-wing governors, exemplified by Snyder, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich.

Their goal is to virtually eliminate any forces that counter corporate domination of state and local government. “This is part of a national agenda,” said Rep. Dunhal. “It involves breaking the contracts of unions and interfering with the ability of cities to make their own decisions.” 5

Click here to read Roger Bybee’s full article.

To read more about the appointment of Financial Emergency Managers and the role of far-right governors, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Ohio’s John Kasich and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker – who is a current candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for 2016 – I direct readers to an earlier post on the same topic also published nearly five years ago and entitled “the corporate take-over of America – state by state”

You can also hear more about the scandal surrounding Michigan’s Emergency Managers, Mayor James Hightower and Whirlpool, as well as further details in the case of Rev. Pinkney from this interview with Pinkney’s spokesperson Larry Pinkney (no relation) on Abby Martin’s RT show Breaking the Set broadcast last January:

Today as Edward Pinkney languishes inside Lakeland Correctional Facility located in the well-named city of Coldwater, Michigan, he refuses to be silenced. Indeed, he is determined to turn his own incarceration to the advantage of others, using it as a platform to speak out against the inhuman conditions he and fellow inmates face on a daily basis.

And for how long will Pinkney remain imprisoned?

On August 5, a three-judge panel of the Third District Court of Appeals in Grand Rapids ruled 2-1 against Pinkney’s motion for bond pending appeal. Perhaps most insulting, the prosecution argued that Pinkney’s release would “undermine public confidence not only in the electoral process…but also in the justice system itself.” Of course, the truth is that the “justice system itself” is being used to subvert the electoral process. Interpreting the prosecution and judge’s arguments becomes an Orwellian word game.

ACLU of Michigan filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the bond motion stating that the conviction is “almost certain” to be reversed. Pinkney has already spent over seven months removed from his family and community. It could be many months more by the time the appeal is heard and decided. Pinkney will have “paid a debt to society he didn’t owe.” 6

Click here to read a copy of the ACLU’s amicus brief in support of the motion for bond.

As his friend Jackie Miller sums up at the end of his piece  in Counterpunch:

We owe a debt to Pinkney. His courage and leadership have slowed, though not yet prevented, the wholesale destruction of a community of 11,000. The people of Benton Harbor need him back, and we need him out of prison where he can remain healthy and continue his warrior work.

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The timeline and links are all reprinted from Jackie Miller’s Counterpunch article:

Free Rev. Pinkney Petition

Boycott: Whirlpool, Maytag, Amana, and Kitchen Aid

Send letters: Rev. Edward Pinkney, No. 294671, Lakeland C.F., 141 First St., Coldwater, MI 49036

Donations: BANCO

Timeline of the Pinkney Case

2001: Pinkney begins court watching, leading weekly marches on Berrien County courthouse, and speaking out against police brutality and wrongful arrests.

June 2003: Benton Harbor uprising, after police break up a peaceful vigil for Terrance Shurn, killed in a police chase. BANCO organizes marches and protests.

Fall 2004 – 2005: Pinkney leads successful campaign to recall pro-Whirlpool city commissioner Glen Yarbrough. Boycott Whirlpool campaign begins.

April 2005: Prosecutor sues City Clerk Jean Nesbitt to set aside the recall. Nesbitt loses her job and Pinkney is arrested, charged with improperly possessing four absentee ballots (a felony). A second recall election is held and Yarbrough wins.

2006: Trial with mixed-race jury results in a mistrial due to hung jury.

2007: Pinkney retried, this time with an all-white jury, found guilty, sentenced to house arrest and probation. Key prosecution witness avoids prosecution on unrelated criminal charges. Pinkney begins appeal.

2008: Pinkney criticizes the trial judge in an article, quoting Deuteronomy; another judge rules that he threatened the trial judge by virtue of his special relationship with God and violated probation; Pinkney sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.

2008: From prison, Pinkney runs for U.S. Congress on the Green Party ticket, challenging Republican Rep. Fred Upton, heir to the Whirlpool dynasty.

June 2009: ACLU helps secure his release on bond, but he is prohibited from attending his own appeal hearing when unable to immediately raise $10,000 and Judge Wiley keeps him under house arrest. Pinkney’s parole violation conviction is overturned on appeal, but he is denied a new trial for the election fraud charges and completes his probation on electronic tether at a personal cost of $105/week.

March 2010: Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm appoints Michigan’s first Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) to rule Benton Harbor.

2008-2010: Whirlpool’s front group takes Benton Harbor’s lakefront Jean Klock Park for a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, part of the Harbor Shores multi-million dollar development. Planning for the takeover began as early as 1992. Harbor Shores also steals water without permit while EFM raises household water rates.

May 2012: BANCO organizes “Occupy the PGA” protest at Harbor Shores Senior PGA Championship.

November 2013: Pinkney and another petitioner turn in signatures in favor of holding an election to recall Mayor James Hightower. Hightower opposed a city income tax which would have brought in much-needed revenue from Whirlpool, Inc., to Benton Harbor. Whirlpool pays no federal or state tax, instead receives federal tax credits.

April 2014: SWAT team and 30 officers surround Pinkney’s home to deliver arrest warrant.

May 2014: Protest of Harbor Shores Senior PGA Championship carries on, despite Pinkney under house arrest on $105/wk electronic tether, prohibited from computer use.

April-Sep. 2014: Court stays the vote to recall Mayor Hightower due to questions about signatures. Later another judge allows the vote to proceed as there are sufficient signatures. Then Michigan Court of Appeals and Supreme Court stay the election anyway.

Aug. 2014: Pinkney files to recall County Clerk Sharon Tyler who illegally turned over petitions to sheriff’s deputy.

Oct. 2014: Pinkney convicted by an all-white jury on charges of altering dates on the Hightower recall petition. No evidence, direct or circumstantial, that a crime was committed was presented, much less that Pinkney committed any. (Defense request for a venue other than the one Pinkney has protested since 2001 denied.)

Dec. 2014: Judge Schrock sentences Pinkney to 2½ to 10 years. Over 130 letters of support are ignored. For 30 days, Pinkney is quarantined in deplorable conditions.

Feb. and April 2015: Schrock twice denies bond pending appeal and orders Pinkney to pay $1,736.17 in restitution to Mayor Hightower for “economic and psychological damage.”

Aug. 2015: Court of Appeals rules 2-1 against motion for bond pending appeal. Decision will be appealed to Michigan Supreme Court.

Additional reading:

Benton Harbor BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization) Blog.

Travesties of Justice in a Black City in Michigan,” by BANCO, April 2007.

Whirlpool — The Gentrifier Of Benton Harbor,” by Dorothy Pinkney, March 2009.

Democracy vs. Profit is Central Issue in Takeover of Benton Harbor, Mich.,” by Roger Bybee, April 2011.

Rev. Pinkney: Why I’m charged with election fraud,” by Rev. Edward Pinkney, Oct. 2014.

Legacy of Racism and National Oppression in Michigan,” by Abayomi Azikiwe, November 2014.

Rev. Edward Pinkney Imprisoned for Fighting the Whirlpool Corporation,” by Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Dec. 2014.

National defense campaign building for Rev. Edward Pinkney,” by Abayomi Azikiwe, Dec. 2014.

Free Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney, Convicted with no evidence by an All White Jury,” by Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, Feb. 2015.

Civil rights activist denied appeal bond,” by Abayome Azikiwe, March 2015.

Racism and Police Misconduct: African-American Michigan Community Leader Rev. Pinkney Denied Appeal Bond,” by Abayomi Azikiwe, March 2015.

Berrien County Court Continues Racist Campaign Against Rev. Edward Pinkney,” by Abayomi Azikiwe, April 2015.

From Varese, Italy to Benton Harbor, Michigan: The Same Struggle Against Whirlpool,” by Webster G. Tarpley, June 2015.

Letter From Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney,” by Rev. Edward Pinkney, July 2015

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1 From an article entitled “Why is Rev. Edward Pinkney in Prison? Another case of Political Persecution” written by Jackie Miller, published in Counterpunch on August 13, 2015. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/13/why-is-rev-edward-pinkney-in-prison-another-case-of-political-persecution/ 

2 Figures taken from an article entitled “Travesties of Justice in a Black City in Michigan” written by BANCO, published in Counterpunch on April 21, 2007. http://www.counterpunch.org/2007/04/21/travesties-of-justice-in-a-black-city-in-michigan/  

3 Ibid.

4 From an article entitled “Rev. Edward Pinkney Imprisoned for Fighting the Whirlpool Corporation” written by Victoria Collier and Ben-Zion Ptashnik, published in Truthout on Decmeber 16, 2014. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/28050-whirlpool-corporation-sentences-edward-pinkney-to-prison-with-no-evidence

5 From an article entitled “Democracy vs. Profit is Central Issue in Takeover of Benton Harbor, Mich.” Written by Roger Bybee, published in InTheseTimes.com on April 26, 2011. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/7237/democracy_vs._profit_central_issue_in_benton_harbor_takeover

6 From an article entitled “Why is Rev. Edward Pinkney in Prison? Another case of Political Persecution” written by Jackie Miller, published in Counterpunch on August 13, 2015. http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/13/why-is-rev-edward-pinkney-in-prison-another-case-of-political-persecution/

 

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Kurt Haskell runs for Congress in 2012

If you have been following the story surrounding Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell and his wife, and fellow attorney, Lori, then you will already know them as passengers who were on board the Northwest Airlines Christmas Day Flight 253, and eyewitnesses to “the underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up the plane. Ever since their terrifying ordeal, the Haskells have been trying to pressure the US administration to make a full disclosure of what really took place that day. In particular, they have tried to establish the reason Abdulmutallab, who was already known to the CIA as an al-Qaeda sympathiser, had been escorted through passport and security checks at Amsterdam airport. Having personally witnessed this, and behaving as good citizens are supposed to behave, they immediately reported what they had seen to the authorities. To their astonishment, the authorities didn’t want to hear from them. So began their campaign for truth and justice; a campaign that the mainstream media has almost entirely ignored.

To find out more about the details of the case, there are two previous articles that offer a summary of the Haskells’ two year long battle for justice. Click on the tag at the bottom. Or better, listen to this extended radio interview (there are a few advert breaks) with Kurt Haskell giving his own account of both the failed attack and his subsequent part in Abdulmutallab’s trial:

Unsurprisingly, what happened to Kurt and Lori Haskell has radically shaken the trust they’d formerly held in their government, as well as in the process of American justice. When Obama signed the indefinite detention bill NDAA 2012 into law, just before the stroke of midnight New Years’ Day, they both decided they’d had enough. It was time to pull up sticks and emigrate to Costa Rica. But then something else happened that changed their minds.

In January, the boundaries of the local district for Congress were redrawn, the consequence being that Congressman John Dingell, a Democrat who had been in office for 56 years, was moved out of the district, and in his place, the “very vulnerable incumbent” Republican Tim Walberg, faced no challenge from any Democrat candidate. Kurt Haskell says that although he’d had no desire to run for office before, it was this unexpected circumstance that caused him to reconsider his position. And, as he also says, who better to speak out against the Patriot Act, the NDAA, CISPA and the increasing attack on basic human rights and the American Constitution than someone such as himself.

Click here to reach Kurt Haskell’s own campaign website for election to Congress in Michigan’s 7th District.

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Update:

Unfortunately the embedded radio interview had been removed from youtube and I cannot find a freshly uploaded version. Here instead is an interview Kurt Haskell gave on Infowars a few months earlier in February.

At the time, he was preparing to deliver his victim impact statement at the close of Abdulmutallab’s trial. He also talks about why he has decided not to pursue a civil case, and the reasons his family are planning to exit the United States.

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