Tag Archives: Wisconsin

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

the corporate take-over of America — state by state

As the government at home begins exploiting our own budget deficit, using it as a pretext to raise taxes on lower and middle-income groups, whilst at the same time making drastic cuts to public services, still more stringent “austerity measures” are already underway across America. A few states, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, run by Republican governors Rick Snyder, Scott Walker and John Kasich respectively, are now using the financial crisis not merely to slash spending and raise taxes on the poor and middle classes, but also to abolish union rights and, with new laws in place, to supplant locally elected officials by bringing in appointed corporate “Emergency Financial Managers”.

As The Michigan Messenger reported on 24th February:

“Reinventing Michigan could mean voiding labor contracts, removing elected officials from office, and even dissolving whole cities, according to legislation that is moving quickly through the legislature.

On Wednesday the state House approved a sweeping expansion of powers for the officials who will be appointed by the governor to take over towns and school districts that can’t pay their bills.

Under current law the state can appoint Emergency Financial Managers to temporarily take over the finances of local governments that have become insolvent…

The new law, which was requested by the governor, redefines these officials as Emergency Managers and gives them the power to end existing contracts, take over pension plans, reorganize departments, enter into agreements to restructure debt and dissolve or consolidate fiscally troubled towns and schools. ” 1

To read full article click here.

Then on 3rd March, The Michigan Messenger reported:

“Because the bill establishes no process for how appointees can carry out their new powers and specifically lays out that Emergency Managers need not consult with a community’s elected representatives, some worry that corporate managers, appointed by the governor, could liquidate community assets to cover debt and leave towns no better off than they were. What values will guide these individuals or firms as they work to balance budgets? How will a manager decide whether to sell off an ice rink or a library?

The Treasury Dept. is in the process of training potential Emergency Managers, so the Messenger asked for some details of the training in hopes of better understanding the motivations and priorities of the folks who may soon take over our schools and towns.

It turns out the training itself was mostly outsourced to the law and accounting firms — Plante & Moran, Plunkett & Cooney, Miller Canfield, Foley & Lardner — already involved in emergency financial management of Michigan towns.

The training was not conducted by Treasury, spokesman Terry Stanton explained. ‘It was administered by Dr. Eric Scorsone at Michigan State University, in conjunction with the MI chapter of the Turnaround Management Association, with support from the department.’”

Eric Scorsone, who coordinated the event, and also gave a presentation on the basic roles and responsibilities of an Emergency Financial Manager, is a former senior economist with the state Senate Fiscal Agency. As it happens, he is also working on a Mott and Ford Foundation-sponsored research project about chronic fiscal stress in shrinking cities.

With regards to such potentially extreme measures as dissolving a town, Scorsone said:

“It’s unclear to me how that would actually work. How services will be provided. Unlike in a corporate liquidation, the citizens don’t just go away…

In April or May we may get into questions like how does one dissolve a town.” 2

To read full article click here.

Rachel Maddow explained on her MSNBC show, how Governor Rick Snyder’s new regulations are stripping local communities of their union rights, and dismantling local democracy on the grounds of its inefficiency. She said “your elected local government can be dismissed at will” and replaced by an Emergency Manager who is empowered to “disincorporate or dissolve entire city governments”:

“Republicans in Michigan want to be able to unilaterally abolish your town and disincorporate it – regardless of what you as a resident of that city think about it. You don’t even have the right to express an opinion about it through your locally elected officials, who represent you, because the Republicans of Michigan say they reserve the right to dismiss your measly elected officials, and to do what they want instead, because they know best…

You still want your town to exist?” she asks, “[well] take it up with your board of directors of this corporation that will be overseeing your future now. Or rather, don’t take it up with them – frankly they’re not interested.”

Meanwhile, Governor Scott Walker passed a bill to end the collective bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin. Here is Ed Schultz reporting for MSNBC on March 9th. He speaks to some of the fourteen Democrat senators who had fled from Wisconsin in a last ditch attempt to leave the Senate one vote short of the number needed to pass Walker’s proposed budget: 3

Film-maker Michael Moore has also joined the protests in Wisconsin. He spoke with Rachel Maddow about Republican attempts to usurp democracy in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere. He told her:

“This is a class war… and at some point people are just going to have to stand up and say, non-violently, this is enough — we’re not taking it any more!”

Moore said that the protests and strikes were already beginning to change public opinion, claiming that “the American people have woken up”:

And then there’s the story in Ohio where Governor John Kasich is also undermining union rights. Ed Schultz spoke to State Senator Joe Schiavoni about protests taking place against the bill:

The fights in these three states are still very much on-going. Here are three of the headline stories from Democracy Now! for Monday 18thApril:

Report: Walker to Propose Emergency Management Bill

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is reportedly preparing a new effort to further weaken the public sector in his state. According to Forbes magazine, Walker’s camp is drafting legislation that would allow for a takeover of local municipalities that fail a financial stress test. Walker could then appoint emergency managers empowered to cancel union contracts, dismiss elected officials and school board members, and take control of entire cities and towns. Walker would also have unchecked authority to cancel government services, including safety net assistance. A high-powered Wisconsin law firm is said to be drafting the plan. The plan would mirror a law enacted in Michigan last month.

Michigan Emergency Managers Target Elected Officials, Teachers

Last week in Michigan, an emergency financial manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder issued an order taking away all powers of elected officials in the town of Benton Harbor. Meanwhile, the financial manager for Detroit’s public school system has sent layoff notices to all the city’s teachers—more than 5,000 people.

Bid to Repeal Ohio Anti-Worker Law Approved

Organizers in Ohio have won approval to begin an effort to bring the state’s new anti-labor law to a referendum. The Republican-backed measure bars strikes and limits collective bargaining for more than 350,000 public sector workers. The group “We Are Ohio” has been certified to begin collecting the 231,000 signatures needed to put repeal of the law on the November ballot.

And yesterday’s Democracy Now! headlines included this:

Michigan City Takeover Plan Criticized as Attack on Democracy

Residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, voiced outrage Monday night after the city’s elected mayor and city commissioners were stripped of all power by an unelected emergency financial manager appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Last week, the emergency manager issued an order saying the city commissioners have no power beyond calling meetings to order, approving minutes and adjourning meetings. City Commissioner Dennis Knowles compared Benton Harbor to a dictatorship. He said, “For the people we represent, they are truly being disenfranchised.” Meanwhile, Rev. Jesse Jackson toured Michigan on Monday to help build a coalition against Gov. Snyder. Jackson said, “We don’t like one-man rule, except in Benton Harbor. We are setting up here what we are fighting there. Your vote for elected officials doesn’t count, and that is decimating democracy.”

So the big question is really this: if the protests fail in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, then what will prevent the rest of America also falling into a corporate dictatorship?

1 From article entitled “Constitutionality of emergency manager powers questioned: Critics say new law gives dictatorial powers to appointees” by Eartha Jane Melzer, published in The Michigan Messenger, February 24th.

2 From article entitled “Bill offers few guidelines for use of emergency managers’ powers” by Eartha Jane Melzer, published in The Michigan Messenger, March 3rd.

3 For a report on the “Wisconsin 14” published in The Washington Post click here.

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Filed under austerity measures, campaigns & events, Uncategorized, USA

just another US election scandal

It all started with the notorious “hanging chad” fiasco of Florida that saw Bush beat off Al Gore’s presidential challenge in 2000. Here is Greg Palast investigating for BBC Newsnight:

Then there were the serious accusations of election fraud during the Bush versus Kerry race of 2004. Here is Palast again reporting for BBC Newsnight, this time on how changes made to the electoral system in Florida would potentially exclude African-American voters for a second time:

And the problems didn’t stop at Florida. In the state of Ohio, the election was also riddled with problems, ranging from breakdowns in electronic voting machines to further accusations of voter disenfranchisement.

On the eve of the 2008 election, Democracy Now! interviewed Democrat Secretary of State of Ohio, Jennifer Brunner, to ask what had gone wrong during the previous election, and what safeguards were now in place (the full interview is in two parts: to hear Brunner’s review of the previous election failures skip to 3:00 minutes in part one):

Then, during the 2008 election there were continuing allegations of irregularities in the state of Ohio. A month after Election Day, filmmaker Sanford Lewis produced a video report profiling the problems that numerous Cleveland area voters had casting their ballot:

Serious criticisms have also been made regarding the lack of adequate security built into the electronic voting system. For instance, CNN has reported on how the Diebold voting machines might be quickly and easily rigged simply by uploading of a software virus:

And we are now in the midst of yet another US election scandal, this time for the Supreme Court election in Wisconsin. The problem on this occasion apparently being due to wrongly input data.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that:

“Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said [on] Thursday that she failed to save on her computer and then report 14,315 votes in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial total she released after Tuesday’s election.”

“The Brookfield bombshell was the biggest – but hardly the only – change as counties across the state checked their election results Tuesday. Here’s a sample:
• In Winnebago County, officials now say Prosser received 20,701 votes to Kloppenburg’s 18,887. On Wednesday, The Associated Press – which gathers the votes for most of the media in Wisconsin – had 19,991 for Prosser to Kloppenburg’s 18,421.
• In Kenosha, Prosser picked up 33 votes in the Town of Randall and 27 votes in the Town of Bristol, and the canvass is still going on.
• In Waukesha County, Prosser also picked up 200 votes in New Berlin after a clerical error was discovered.
• In Grant County, Prosser lost 116 votes when officials completed their canvass Thursday. The count was off in part because the Town of Smelser incorrectly reported the count for paper ballots that voters cast after the regular ballots ran out, County Clerk Linda Gebhardt said. The town reported 294 votes for Prosser, but later corrected the figure to 194.”1

Here is Kathy Nickolaus, two days after the election was held, explaining how “human error”, including “a typing error”, along with missing votes on her personal computer, had swung the originally tight election by an additional margin of 7000 votes in favour of David Prosser:

To add the controversy, Nickolaus has previously worked for a Republican (Grand Old Party or GOP) caucus that was under the control of Justice David Prosser. The report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explaining that:

“Nickolaus has had a long career in Republican politics.
In the 1990s, she worked as a staffer for the Assembly Republican caucus, one of four GOP and Democratic legislative groups that were shut down following a criminal investigation into state staffers doing campaign work on state time.
Prosser led Assembly Republicans as minority leader in that House from 1989 to 1994 and then as speaker in 1995 and 1996, giving him oversight of the GOP caucus in that House.
“To my knowledge (Prosser) has not had any contact with Kathy since she left the caucus,” Prosser campaign manager Brian Nemoir said.
The caucus investigation eventually led to the resignations and criminal convictions of leaders in the Senate and Assembly for directing caucus and staff employees to engage in illegal political activity during their state employment.
Nickolaus, who earned $54,000 a year as a data analyst and computer specialist for Assembly Republicans, was granted immunity in 2001 by authorities conducting the investigation.
In a criminal complaint issued in 2002 against then-Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and others, prosecutors claimed Nickolaus developed a computer software program that was used by state officials to track donations. According to a Journal Sentinel report, Nickolaus said she developed the software on her own time because she wanted to sell it to the state elections agency for use in automating state-required campaign reports. She left the caucus around that time.”

1 “Corrected Brookfield tally puts Prosser ahead after 7,500-vote gain” by Jason Stein, Laurel Walker & Bill Glauber, published in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday 7th April. To read full article click here.

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