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Peace Patriot

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National Lawyers Guild thumbs up on Venezuela April 14 election

Report of the National Lawyers Guild Delegation on the April 14, 2013 Presidential Election and Expanded May-June Audit in Venezuela

By NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD (US), August 28th 2013

National Lawyers Guild (NLG) election monitors from the United States issued their report today, concluding that the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election process was fair, transparent, participatory, and well-organized.

A five-member NLG delegation formed part of a larger delegation of over 130 parliamentarians, two former presidents, electoral commission members, journalists, and representatives of human rights NGOs from across the world. Election monitors traveled to polling places throughout the country on Election Day.

The NLG report describes a system that strives to encourage voter registration and participation as well as the use of advanced technology – including fingerprint identification and issuance of paper receipts by voting machines – to ensure accuracy and preclude fraud. Active participation by party witnesses and national and international observers provide further assurances. In addition, the observers found a reliable system in which 54 percent of all receipts were randomly audited after the polls close on Election Day to ensure that paper receipts matched the electronic vote recorded by the machines.

A second NLG delegation traveled to Venezuela after the election to observe the expanded audit that had been requested by the opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, and approved by the National Electoral Council (CNE). The expanded audit was designed and conducted under the purview of a technical team of 30 professors and other professionals from the Central University of Venezuela. The expanded audit found that of “the voting slips audited, 4,596,432 showed no discrepancies whatsoever in relation to the polling booth record of total votes cast, which represents 99.98% of the total.”

The report also contains a review of the legal process pursued by the opposition, noting a lack of evidentiary support. Citing a failure to provide “sufficient proof,” Magistrate Gladys Gutierrez announced that the court had reached a unanimous decision, rejecting the petition and fining the opposition for what was effectively abuse of process.

Describing the independent nature of the CNE, the report concludes: “We have found the CNE’s President, Tibisay Lucena, and the other members of the CNE and its staff to be consistently concerned with perfecting the electoral process to ensure that every Venezuelan adult has access to the polls and every single vote is counted, regardless of party affiliation or candidate.”

The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections,” said NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani. “Holding elections on Sundays would facilitate access for working people and utilizing machines that issue receipts would increase credibility and permit the verification of results.”

The margin of victory for Nicolas Murduro, while small, was comparable to close elections in the U.S., such as the margins of victory for Kennedy in 1960 and for Bush in 2000 and 2004. The National Lawyers Guild calls upon the U.S. to honor the Venezuelan election as nations of the world have unquestionably honored ours. As Jimmy Carter recognized, Venezuela’s electronic voting system backed by paper ballots is “the best in the world,” and therefore deserves at least as much respect as our own.

Daniel Kovalik, a member of both delegations who teaches International Human Rights law said: “As this report shows, the Venezuelan elections on April 14 were free and fair, and the CNE continues to take great pains to ensure the integrity and reliability of the Venezuelan electoral system.”

To access the full report, visit http://www.nlg.org/resource/reports/delegation-to-venezuela.

Source: National Lawyers Guild
This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license

(My emphasis.)


In HALF the states in the U.S., NO VERIFICATION OF THE VOTE COUNT IS POSSIBLE, because they have NO receipt or ballot! They do ZERO audit. And the other half do only a miserably inadequate 1% audit. Venezuela does a routine 54% audit!

And the U.S. dares to criticize Venezuela and question its election?

FURTHERMORE, all U.S. elections are tallied by privately owned 'TRADE SECRET' code, with one, private, far rightwing-connected corporation (ES&S, which bought out Diebold) now having a 75% monopoly over U.S. voting systems! Venezuela's electronic voting programming code is OWNED BY THE PUBLIC, is available for public review and is divided up and held by all parties.

And this doesn't begin to exhaust the number of things wrong with U.S. elections, that Venezuela is doing right. The National Lawyers Guild points out some of them. There are many more. Two of the most important ones, in my view, are the government encouragement of public participation and the high voter turnouts. Here, we have ES&S/Diebold s/elected legislators and governors trying to PREVENT public participation and high voter turnouts, trying to RESTRICT the votes of the poor, the elderly and minorities! Is there any better indicator of the sickness in our democracy, and of the rigged nature of our elections, than this?

Venezuela's presidency, national assembly, governorships and provincial legislatures are representative of the Venezuelan people. Ours are not. (And I'm sorry but, though I do think that Barack Obama was the choice of most voters here--given the choices--neither I nor you, nor anybody, including Obama himself, can prove it. The proof is not there. Our system has been privatized. And you really gotta wonder, given some of the things that President Obama has done (and not done), who is really calling the shots at ES&S besides its far rightwing-connected owners.**)

Jimmy Carter recently said that "America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time."**** I agree. That is our lamentable situation. That is why we are being dragged from war to war to war, though we are bankrupt--robbed a thousandfold by the war profiteers and the banksters--and our people are suffering in every way. Venezuela, though far from perfect, has a functioning democracy--a good democracy, with numerous positive indicators, and some rather dramatic achievements by its government and its people, including poverty reduction, access to education and health care, labor rights, high employment, good jobs with decent wages, fair taxation, strong regulation of the banks and other aspects of "organized money" (as FDR put it) and vigorous public debate.

Our U.S. "military-industrial-fake democracy complex" hates Venezuela for these reasons--for Venezuelans having created a real democracy, for Venezuelans having started the trend toward real democracy in Latin America, and, of course, for using its oil profits for education, health care and other social needs, rather than giving it to Exxon Mobil fatcats. I can hardly express my dismay at President Obama refusing to recognize Venezuela's April election--an election that has been recognized worldwide--for his bowing to this corporate/war machine hatred of Venezuela's democracy and Venezuela's social progress. Martin Luther King would be appalled!


** Our current Sec of Defense, Chuck Hagel, was one of the founders of ES&S, which 'counted' his first s/election for U.S. Senate, with, of course, its private code and no audit.

**** http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/16043-jimmy-carter-defends-snowden-says-u-s-has-no-functioning-democracy
Posted by Peace Patriot | Sat Aug 31, 2013, 07:25 AM (23 replies)

Deja vu all over again.

Source: Foreign Policy

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.


And, by deja vu all over again, I don't just mean yet another drumbeat for war. I mean all the lies and dirty tricks that the U.S. war machine commits to serve itself--the war machine--and corporate/1%-er interests. These go all the way back to the Vietnam War--a war created by the CIA to profit the war machine, and foisted on the American people and the Vietnamese by a goddamned lie called "the Gulf of Tonkin"--and forward to every U.S. war since then, including, of course, the most blatant example, the war on Iraq, created to serve the oil interests that grease the war machine. And it includes, a) helping a regime (Saddam Hussein/Iraq) to use chemical weapons, and b) then invading Iraq, and slaughtering a hundred thousand innocent people over WMDS that their government DIDN'T POSSESS.

Lies and dirty tricks.

My opinion: The CIA and/or Mossad did the chem weapons attack in Syria.


Hope? It's hard to come by, these days. But, in my opinion, it starts with REALIZING what occurred between 2002 and 2004, with the plague of private, corporate-run, 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines, all over the USA. US vote counting is now monopolized by ONE, PRIVATE, FAR RIGHTWING-CONNECTED corporation--ES&S (which bought out Diebold). ES&S was started by our current Sec of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and 'counted' his first 'election' to the US Senate. When we understand what that means, we might begin to understand everything else. The very votes that we think we cast are now controlled by the war machine itself.

We cannot NOT have war. We don't have that choice any more. And, though there are many aspects to this war machine control of our government, there are none more important than this, and none more amenable to citizen action, than the 'TRADE SECRET' voting machines. We need to start there. We need to restore vote counting to the PUBLIC VENUE, conducted by us citizens in the light of day, with our eyes on every ballot.

And, once we do that, and start putting REAL representatives of the people into office, then, and only then, will we be able to do everything else that needs to be done, to restore our democracy. We have a lot to do, God knows. We can't do any of it while ES&S is 'counting' the votes with 'TRADE SECRET' code, and, in half the states, NO AUDIT AT ALL (and a miserable 1% audit in the other half).

It's so basic! You want a peaceful country? You want a fair country? You want good government? It starts with the vote counting.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Mon Aug 26, 2013, 12:41 AM (0 replies)

The OP is not properly attributed. It is an Associated Pukes (AP) job...

...with a by-line by Jorge Rueda, and further attribution at the bottom, "Associated Press writer Frank Bajak in Lima, Peru, contributed to this report."

I don't call AP the "Associated Pukes" for nothing. They have repeatedly misreported events in Venezuela with extreme bias against Chavez, the Chavez-Maduro government and the Bolivarian Revolution--i.e., the leftist democracy movement started by the people of Venezuela that has sparked a political revolution all over the region. AP has committed every journalistic trick in the books to slander this New Deal-like movement and to contribute to the rightwing/corporate campaign to destroy it, including reporting ONLY negative 'news' stories--especially as to Venezuela--NEVER reporting ANY of the significant achievements of the Chavez-Maduro government, and extreme bias across the board, in EVERY 'news' story, and including outright lying. Frank Bajak is one the worst AP scribblers, in this respect.

This vile anti-Chavez media campaign has included falsely portraying Chavez as anti-Semitic, falsely portraying Chavez as a "dictator," falsely portraying Venezuela's election system as rigged (an election system that Jimmy Carter has called "the best in the world" and that is provably one of the best in the world on objective criteria), falsely portraying the Chavez-Maduro government as anti-free speech (and ignoring the fascist activity of corporate media moguls in Venezuela, including their active participation in the 2002 rightwing coup attempt, and including banning all Chavez government members from the public airwaves during that coup attempt), and innumerable other falsehoods, misrepresentations and black-holes where information should be.

I urge all thoughtful people to take Associated Pukes (AP) so-called 'news' stories about Venezuela with a grain of salt, and to question every statement they make, including every alleged quotation by a leftist. AP's monopoly over the 'news' makes it extremely difficult to verify or debunk their notoriously unreliable, so-called reporting. One of their chief propaganda methods is to create IMPRESSIONS on hot-button issues (such as anti-Semitism and "free speech" and, by the time the facts catch up with these impressions, the damage is done, the lie has gone worldwide and there is no way for reasonable people with the facts to correct it. This is REAL tyranny--the tyranny of corporate 'news' monopoly.

We've seen this phenomenon time and again, about Venezuela--those of us who are paying attention. AP is one of the worst offenders. And the importance to AP, and to those whom they serve, of smearing the Bolivarian Revolution as anti-gay can be gaged, here at DU, by all of DU LatAm forum's rightwing posters chiming in, in this thread, to say how much they hate and revile the Maduro government.

Believe me, the real issue is MONEY--and who gets it and who doesn't. That is ALL that matters to rightwing/1%er/corporate propagandists, and they will use ANYTHING to ensure that the rich get richer and the poor get kicked off the island--including scurrilous use of social justice/democracy issues to destroy social justice and democracy.
Posted by Peace Patriot | Fri Aug 16, 2013, 06:38 AM (3 replies)

We need a bigger word (or acronym) than "CIA" to describe the controlled country...

...that the U.S.A. has become. Eisenhower (of all people) gave us the phrase "military-industrial complex" (MIC) and warned, in his last speech in office, that the MIC would destroy our democracy. It's become a handy phrase for the vipers' nest of war profiteers who run things now, but the phrase itself (great as it is) doesn't adequately describe the consequences to civil society and to allegedly civilian-run government of a country run by, skillfully propagandized by and massively looted by immensely powerful, transnational, anti-democratic corporations, war profiteers and banksters.

When we learn of something like this--that the "CIA" was tracking Noam Chomsky--we, in a sense, dismiss it. We are used to stories about "CIA" violations of their alleged legal constraints on domestic activity (let alone the horrors they commit elsewhere). They may even release such stories as a sort of inoculation process, to induce a "ho-hum" attitude in the controlled populace. Nothing ever comes of these news items. Whatever the "CIA" offense, it just gets swallowed up in the great corporate news monopoly river of forgetfulness. We need to ask WHY THIS HAPPENS. Why and how does this 'out-of-control' agency just keep on keeping on, from one generation to the next, from one outrage to the next, even in the face of 'investigations' (rare to non-existent these days) and big 'scandals' and 'controversies'?

The "CIA" would not and could not keep violating the law, time and again, decade after decade, unless they were deeply rooted in the "MIC"--in the system of war profiteering and massive looting that has transformed our country from a democracy into a militocracy (there's a word!). But, more than this, there is a massive root system sucking nutrients out of the populace, feeding a big branching tree above ground--the visible part of the system--that we can't see. We can't see the whole structure. We see its visible parts, its effects. We can't follow the underground veins in this system that suck our lifeblood into the "tree"--that, say, connect the Senator to the Pentagon 'contractor' to the controls on the Senator in a file somewhere in Langley, or to, say, ES&S (monopoly over U.S. voting machines, all run on 'TRADE SECRET' code*) or the Miami mafia's or the Bush Cartel's use of the "war on drugs" to eliminate their rivals.

There are all these subterranean connections that GIVE the "CIA"--and now, every U.S. agency (the NSA, the FBI, the DEA, et al, entertwined with private, transglobal corporations)--the PROTECTION to do WHATEVER is deemed necessary to perpetuate the power, the looting and the farce that 'our government' has become. Vast domestic spying, natch. That goes without saying. And that very reaction--that it "goes without saying"--is a DESIRED reaction. (Talk about "Catch 22." Nothing will be done about this, nor about the PURPOSES of the vast domestic spying. We are helpless before it. There is NO HOPE that anything will be done.

I hate to insult Nature by comparing what I'm trying to describe to a big, spreading oak tree, with a big spreading underground root system. Others have called it an "octopus." But neither image is fair to innocent trees or wild life. This gigantic war machine is our own human creation. We are all part of it, in one way another. But we, as a people, do NOT have ANY control over it. Each of us is just one cell in the roots or the trunk, carrying nutrients (our money, our work, our families, our communities) from the part of the system we can't see into the part of the system we can see, to our dismay--the wars that nobody wants, the vast imprisonment of the poor, the vast disenfranchisement of the poor, insurance corp-run health care, the wreckage of our educational system, a billion dollars to run for 'president,' etc., etc.

We can't seem to do anything about any of these things. Why? WHY?

There is no adequate name for this that I know of. The "police state." The "surveillance state." The "military-industrial complex." The United States of American Fascism? "Fascism" seems an antique word that calls up visions of strutting, military-clad dictators. This is much, much harder to see--much bigger, much more devious and much harder to fight. How do you fight a 'tree'--an entity with a vast, unseeable, only guessable, entrenched root system?

To continue the insult to Nature: You can cut down the tree, but the root system remains, making the land untillable. Worse, though, cutting down the tree is catastrophic--because we are all living cells in this system. Even the crazy jihadists, who would whack it down if they could, are part of the 'tree' they would fell. They may not want to be, but they are. This is a world problem, not just a domestic problem. (Just one for instance: The "CIA" CREATED Al Qaeda, in the '80s, to evict the Soviet Union from Afghanistan! 'WE' CREATED Al Qaeda!). The underground root system of this 'fascist' 'tree' feeds on conflict and CREATES the conflict that it feeds on.

How could the disaster of the U.S. war on Iraq have occurred? And another important question: What was the nature of the internal war between Pentagon and the CIA that Rumsfeld/Cheney started (and that I think was ended by Leon Panetta, under commission from Bush Sr.)? (Panetta was a member of Bush Sr.'s "Iraq Study Group," i.e., "old CIA." Both things are hidden, deep down in the root system of this evil tree. (Sorry, Mother Nature!) We will NEVER see anything about either question in the corporate press. But these are among the most important questions, because they lead to the root system from which visible things--like Snowden's NSA spying revelations--emerge.**

As for naming what our country has become, there is no historical precedent that is adequate. We see aspects of the Roman Empire here, chilling hints of Nazi Germany there, resemblance to prior Oligarchies, to the "Robber Baron" era, to the British Empire and the East India Company, to Early and Medieval Europe (the Church's international power and propaganda machine), to Bourbon rule in France, and more. If you read and understand history, you have to be very, very worried that the U.S. is simply repeating the ills of the past inflicted by the rich and powerful on everybody else.

But I think that what we are seeing is something new, by way of governmental ills. It is bigger and scarier than anything that has happened before, because it is so hard to see, and because it has been so clever at maintaining an illusion of consent (as Chomsky has, of course, pointed out); also, because of its sheer power--military/nuclear and economic/political--on a global scale.

For me, the ES&S monopoly over vote counting is the most egregious (and obvious--to me, anyway) example of "how to manufacture consent." You make it SEEM LIKE people voted that way. Wow! What evil brilliance! You CAN'T SEE IT. The vote counting is invisible ('TRADE SECRET' code). And the entire subject has been 'black-holed' in the corporate press (who, if they were a real press corps, would have have exposed this long ago--would have screamed it from the rooftops!)

I'm going to propose a name for what I'm trying to describe: The Unspeakable.

I recommend James Douglass' book, "JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters." I think we need to begin, back then, in the modern era, understand what happened THEN (and Douglass really does understand it--I'd put him right up there with Daniel Ellsberg, among the most reliable truthtellers we have), to understand what's happening now and what our country has become NOW. Why. It. Matters.

The Unspeakable Empire.


*(Another interesting root trail: Chuck Hagel, current Sec of Defense, was one of the founders of the original ES&S--e-voting with no paper trail--which did the so-called 'counting' of votes in his first Senate election. ES&S (which bought out Diebold) now has a 75% monopoly over U.S. voting systems, all run on 'TRADE SECRET' code. Half the states do NO AUDIT AT ALL (comparison of actual ballots to machine totals) and the other half do only an extremely inadequate 1% audit. So, the guy who helped invent/install all this--privatized vote 'counting'--and who first benefited from it, has now been elevated to front man for the "military-industrial complex," i.e., the Pentagon. Where did he come from? Who groomed him for this role? I'm thinking, vaguely, "CIA," but I don't really know. WHO can do this? CREATE candidates, put them in office, elevate them, write the 'narrative' of their successes, and send all the connections into the river of forgetfulness? The "CIA" is a convenient umbrella word. But I don't think that it, or the "MIC," is adequate.

(I had to laugh the other day when Hillary Clinton called for election reform. NOT included: getting rid of Hagel's 'TRADE SECRET' voting systems!) (See for yourself: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014563686. The vote suppression tactics she's talking about would not be possible if ES&S was not installing fascist Pukes into high state offices. She DOESN'T attack the root--she attacks the branch. There is a part we can see and a part we can't see--the unspeakable part. Our Democratic leaders don't dare attack the root problem, because THAT root problem is connected to all the other root problems, in the unseeable system of control. If she DID strike at the root, she would be quickly smeared and removed from the corporate news gabble they call "politics" or--subtler yet--allow her to exhaust herself running for president and easily--EASILY!--fix the 'vote' to defeat her.)


**(I am currently thinking through the possibility that the Snowden revelations are actually an "inoculation" project of the "CIA." Reveal the worst (or some of the worst), get people used to it, induce despair over ever changing it, and keep on keeping on, with this outrage and the next, and all the ones we don't know about. I think it is a POSSIBILITY. That's all I'm saying. I want to stress this, because, a) Daniel Ellsberg has endorsed Snowden, and Daniel Ellsberg is one of THE most reliable truthtellers on this planet, and b) the FAR GREATER POSSIBILITY is that Snowden is simply one of our most courageous people and acted on his conscience--that is, he is exactly who he seems to be. There is a third possibility, that Snowden is exactly who he seems to be, but this entity I've been trying to describe--the root of all our problems, the unspeakable system of which the "CIA" is only one manifestation--PERMITTED him to do what he's done, for its own reasons ("inoculation" being one possible reason; controlling Obama and installing Jeb/Bush Junta II, next up, is another). We need to be very wary of public controversies conducted in the corporate media. We need to constantly question them--deeply question them--as Noam Chomsky and other great educators have taught us to do. There is the highly manipulated "play" that is presented to us, and there is the truth. We may grasp or infer bits and pieces of the truth from the "play" but the "play's" main narrative is grossly false--antithetical to our interests, anti-democratic, disempowering and wholly in service to the richest few, the Unspeakable cabal that is running things.)

Posted by Peace Patriot | Wed Aug 14, 2013, 01:06 PM (1 replies)
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