Where The Voters Meet The Democracy Road.

Posted on October 29, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

aaa-26With United States midterm elections only days away, election reform seemed a timely topic. It’s surprising that in the United States the standardization of voting systems/processes has yet to become implemented which leads to nearly perfect symmetry between voters’ true intentions and the final results. Many writers and activists concerned about clean elections point to Canada, where apparently paper and pencil ballots, hand counted across the country, results in final tallies after 5 hours.

In voting and elections, simplest is best. Paper and pencil ballots are as close as one can get to total transparency and confidence that the people’s votes/intentions became accurately expressed, and the men and women elected were the ones which the democratic majority of citizens thought best qualified for public service. Other election reform measures worthy of consideration include the banning of all money – down to the last penny – from the process, banning all advertising in lieu of debates on radio, television, and the internet, Sunday and/or weekend voting instead of Tuesdays, and strong enforcement of election laws related to political corruption.

Paper ballots filled out with a pencil offers the chance for accurate recounts with a paper trail, while eliminating any opportunity for criminal hacking of votes through either electronic voting machines or counting scanners. Banning all money from elections benefits citizens who will become much more informed on the issues and more apt to vote for the candidates whose positions reflect their own. Elections should be all about whose ideas make it better possible to improve the health and well-being of citizens, not about whose advertising consultants have the best marketing tricks up their sleeves.

Banning money from elections eliminates the need for elected representatives to spend too much time raising money, to cast their votes with prejudice toward their largest contributors, and allows that time to become spent on solving problems. Voting on the weekend would result in higher voter participation as most people have Sundays or Saturdays off from work, and Tuesday voting makes many voters not bother because of the pull between work and voting.

Of course, media corporations may hold a much different view about eliminating $multi-billions of spending on advertising during elections, as well as providing free primetime airspace for debates. Very large-money, billionaire election donors may have an even more intense opposition to removing every last red cent from elections, and/or could have a problem with citizens becoming more greatly informed about real issues affecting their family, neighbors, and friends’ lives. All these reform measures and more could come into existence after the United States held a Constitutional Convention.

Perhaps after viewing the following video clips from the Emmy-nominated HBO documentary “Hacking Democracy” the idea of a United States Constitutional Convention will seem like a very wise idea. Perhaps some major reforming is in order.

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For more information, please visit: http://www.hackingdemocracy.com and http://www.blackboxvoting.org

(Thank you to Hacking Democracy at YouTube)

First ten minutes of the film:

Troubling, saddening demonstration of touchscreen vote count manipulation:

Don’t forget to vote.

Israel, Palestine, The Middle East And The Peacemakers.

 

Posted on October 28, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“If Christ should appear on Earth he would on all hands be denounced as a mistaken, misguided man, insane and crazed.”

- HENRY DAVID THOREAU (1817-1862) American writer

aaa-37For weeks since the 2nd International New Horizon Conference of Independent Thinkers was held at the end of September 2014 in Tehran, the search for videos of the speakers there has been ongoing. The following video was recently posted on YouTube from the conference, and it’s of Dr./Reverend Stephen Sizer’s short speech. While listening to Mr. Sizer’s fascinating thoughts on Christian Zionism, thankfully the video’s producers included a web address where people can go to read many insightful articles about the nearly cancelled event, where scholars, journalists, filmmakers and experts on the Middle East gathered together from around the Earth.

More speaker videos are probably forthcoming and will become posted here as they become available. It is important that people become informed about major issues in the Middle East, where decades of violence and wars have caused human suffering for millions of the people there. Only from the foundation of truth can the misunderstandings be overcome and peace finally come to those lands.

The following article by retired United States military officer Ann Wright is an example of the kind of information found at the website. Dr./Reverend Stephen Sizer’s message at the conference directly contradicts the spiritual philosophy of Christian Zionist “Apocalyptic” adherents who overlook Israel’s outright mass-murder of Palestinian civilians during July-August in “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in clear violation of international law, and silence in the face of Israel’s ongoing, decades-old, anti-Christian treatment of the Palestinian people.

Unfortunately, Christian Zionist adherents have become turned away from Christ’s message “blessed are the peacemakers” when it comes to Israel-Palestine and the Middle East region. Perhaps Stephen Sizer’s message will be effective in eliminating delusional “end times”, apocalypse thinking wherever it exists, while at the same time – as he mentions – more people shall become true peacemakers – the children of God.

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Summary of Ann Wright’s Speech for the New Horizon Conference – Ann Wright

Over the past decade, spanning two different presidencies, the U.S. government and its individual employees have faced extraordinarily important issues at the intersection of national security, law and conscience. Major American policies promulgated in the name of national security regarding war, invasion and occupation, kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, torture, indefinite detention, curtailment of civil liberties, extrajudicial killings, targeted assassinations and eavesdropping have all been called into legal question.

For women and men in the United States government, these ethical issues should create crises of conscience. Public servants face the dilemma of how, within the system, to challenge policies that are ill-considered at best, or illegal at worst. Can one continue working for a government carrying out policies it claims are critical to national security, if one believes those policies constitute moral, ethical or legal failures?

These issues transcend administrations. Despite the urging of President Barack Obama to “look forward, not backward” in terms of transparency and accountability for governmental actions, I firmly believe it is imperative to take a look back over the policies of the past 10 years. That is the only way to evaluate how to approach ethical, moral and legal challenges in the future.

Ten years ago, I faced such a dilemma myself. I had been a federal government employee for more than 35 years, first in the U.S. military and then at the Department of State, serving eight presidents going back to Lyndon Johnson. Many of those administrations, of both parties, espoused controversial policies that I did not agree with. But like many other public servants, I sought to carry out programs and policies with which I concurred, morally and ethically.

The Road to War

In late 2002 and early 2003, I became increasingly concerned about the George W. Bush administration’s march to war in Iraq. I had just returned from Afghanistan—having been on the small team that reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul in December 2001 and remained there until the first permanent embassy staff arrived in April 2002..

On March 19, 2003—the eve of the U.S invasion of Iraq, I sent my letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell. I became one of only three U.S. government employees, all Foreign Service officers, to resign over the issue. Several other FSOs apparently resigned later for the same reason, but did not make their resignations public. In addition, an unknown number of FSOs retired from the Service much earlier than they had planned because of their opposition to the war.

However, neither dissent within the government, nor elsewhere, affected the Bush administration’s decision to wage war on Iraq.

“Dissent Is Difficult”

A decade later, I still wonder whether the resignation of a senior policymaker might have had an effect on that decision. In a 2006 interview, Sec. Powell’s chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, reflected: “My participation in that presentation at the U.N. constitutes the lowest point in my professional life. I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council.”

Wilkerson went even further in 2011, when he said that his role in preparing the presentation was “probably the biggest mistake of my life.” He regrets both his participation and his decisionnot to resign over it.

Six years after the Iraq War began, Richard Haass—who had delivered the official response to my Dissent Channel message—described his own reservations about the decision to go to war in a 2009.

Newsweek article, “The Dilemma of Dissent.”  In it Haass, now chair of the Council on Foreign Relations, says: “Had I known then what I know now—namely, that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the intervention would be carried out with a marked absence of good judgment and competence—I would have been inalterably opposed. Still, even then, I leaned against proceeding.”

Haass added: “Dissent is difficult…No matter how good the advice, however, there will be times when it is resented or rejected,”  Haass concluded. “It may be rebuffed on the merits, or because of politics or personalities. Sometimes, smart people just see things differently. It doesn’t matter.”

But in issues of war and peace, it does matter—to the thousands who will kill and be killed, or spend the rest of their lives maimed physically or emotionally, due to the decisions of those in power.

It also matters to the rest of the world, symbolically and practically, when the country with the strongest military in the world decides to attack and occupy a small, oil-rich country that had been under extreme sanctions and inspections for 10 years.

And it matters that even a handful of U.S. government employees resigned in opposition to that policy. We became symbols to the rest of the world that not everyone in the U.S. government waswilling to go along with a war opposed by the member-states of the United Nations, and by the people who voiced their concerns in the largest stop-the-war marches in history.

The Lessons of History

We now know the lengths to which Bush administration officials went to ensure the silence of those who opposed their policies, by classifying controversial and illegal policies and operations. As a result, anyone trying to challenge those policies in public automatically risked being charged with revealing classified information.

Those brave souls who challenge such policies anyway have seldom fared well. Here is just a partial list of U.S. government employees who have experienced retaliation, either for trying to work within the system to end these practices or becoming whistleblowers: Peter Van Buren and Matt Hoh (State); Jesselyn Radack and Thomas Tamm (Justice); Mike Gorman, Coleen Rowley and Sibel Edmonds (FBI); Bunnatine Greenhouse, Commander Matthew Diaz, Specialist Joe Darby and Specialist Samuel Provence (Defense); John Kiriakou (CIA); and Russell Tice and Thomas Drake (National Security Agency).

One can add to this list Katharine Gun and Craig Murray, both British whistleblowers, and Danish Major Frank Grevil, all of whom were accused of criminal acts. Murray was fired from his job, Grevil was court-martialed, and Gun was threatened with prosecution in civilian court, though the British government dropped the charges against her the night before the trial.

In addition, Private First Class Bradley Manning was court-martialed in June, 2013 for releasing classified cables from both Defense and State that have rounded out our knowledge of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other countries. While I recognize that many Journal readers may be extremely concerned about his disclosure of a large volume of classified information, and do not see him as a dissenter, I see Manning’s actions as similar to those of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, who believed Americans had the right to know the secret history of their government’s involvement in Vietnam.

We know the pervasive untruths told by senior government officials to take the nation into war, as well as the protection of criminal acts committed by government officials: kidnapping, torture, eavesdropping and assassination. Whether such measures were authorized via secret memoranda or by legislation that attempted to retroactively legalize previously illegal acts, the truth has now been exposed.

Yet whistleblowers who revealed the torture program years earlier have lost their jobs and even gone to jail.

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

That, of course, is the great dilemma inherent in confronting policies that one disagrees with—particularly when the policies concern life and death. There is no doubt that dissent may cut short your government career. But living dishonestly may cause you a lifetime of anxiety and grief.

Ultimately, the nagging feeling you have in your stomach that something is profoundly wrong is a much better guide than the comments of senior government officials on whether policies are right or wrong, legal or illegal.

Extract take from Ann Wright’s article “The Role of Dissent in National Security, Law and Conscience” featured in The Foreign Service Journal, July/August, 2013

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For information on the 2nd International New Horizon Conference, please visit:

http://www.newhorizon.ir

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(Thank you to Hamedhamed109 Hamed at YouTube)

Israel’s Illegal Settlements Resume Despite Worldwide Condemnation.

Posted on October 27, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

368-1German journalist Martin Lejeune revealed to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine 2014 that in 2007 the Israeli parliament passed a law which let Israel’s government off the hook for paying reparations on damages to property and businesses of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank from Israeli Defense Forces’ attacks. So, since 2007, Israel’s military has conducted “Operation Cast Lead” and “Operation Protective Edge” while knowing the financial responsibility to pay for reconstruction doesn’t legally exist.

While the 2007 law’s passage allowed any destruction of property and businesses to occur with financial impunity, it is uncertain whether Israeli laws include the same financial impunity for wrongful deaths and injuries to the tens of thousands of men, women and children greatly harmed during recent Israeli massacres. Continuous illegal confiscation of occupied territory through the years until today by Israel has occurred to prevent, then make impossible, a two-state solution with Palestinian statehood.

As Israeli illegal – repeat illegal – settlement construction has continued to gobble up Palestinian lands which would become part of their sovereign nation, the chances for that outcome diminish precisely because of the land robbery and construction of homes, placing the two-state solution further from implementation in the minds of more experts on the Israel-Palestine conflict. To those who’ve studied the Israel-Palestine conflict, using the term “fair and just resolution” moving forward unfortunately has become a near impossibility considering the non-action and complicity of the United States’ leadership and lawmakers.

It is not certain whether any studies have been conducted to ascertain the total financial destruction that Israel’s military assaults in recent years has caused, but the total can safely be estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. Israel’s expenditures for rebuilding Gaza multiple times after the three most recent military massacres and property destruction have come nowhere near the dollar amount they morally owe Palestinians – that is, a “fair and just resolution”. What would be the result of studies which compared the total dollar amount of both human and property destruction over recent years to Palestinians – to the dollar amount of buildings, apartments, homes, infrastructure, etc. built during the same time period?

Would Israeli relinquishment of all stolen Palestinian land and settlements back to the Palestinians for eventual inclusion in the new State of Palestine, where Israel pays the claims of those who lose money in the relinquished settlements, represent a “fair and just resolution” to the over-60-year Israel-Palestine conflict? The Palestinian people have the moral right – and duty – to bring Israeli leaders responsible for obvious war crimes during Operation Protective Edge before the International Criminal Court. It seems equally obvious that Israel’s illegal taking of occupied territory through the years – and still occurring today – are criminal offenses coming under jurisdiction of the same International Criminal Court.

A comparison could be made by imagining the United States government stealing/taking land from one or more of the sovereign American Indian reservations. The affected tribe(s) would first take legal actions in state or county courts, then to the United States Supreme Court if justice hadn’t prevailed. Apparently, Palestinians have no legal recourse in Israeli courts regarding the continuous stealing of occupied territory lands and settlements construction. There is glaring deficiency in international law when Israel steals land for years with impunity and Palestinians have no legal recourse or court of jurisdiction where they can present their clear case of harm.

Men and women with academic credentials and real world experience in International Law have surely looked at the problem of illegal Israeli settlements in the context of Palestinians’ legal options. Naming the International Criminal Court as the most likely court of jurisdiction is something one who doesn’t have deep knowledge of international law concerning this particular kind of situation would do. People who’ve done a moderate amount of research into the Israel-Palestine conflict are aware that Palestinians are considering war crimes legal actions against Israelis for Operation Protective Edge, but little is found regarding possible legal options on stolen lands and illegal settlements construction.

In a “fair and just” world highest-court legal proceedings which result in Israel’s relinquishment of all stolen Palestinian lands back to the Palestinians – including the buildings and infrastructure, in lieu of monetary reparations for Israel’s historic, chronic, devastating, destructive criminal actions – would represent a path making possible what the world’s people unanimously believe is the moral and ethical one: an independent Palestinian state.

A few weeks ago in Cairo, Egypt an estimated $5.4 billion became pledged by nations to go toward reconstruction of Gaza. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told the people gathered there that he hoped it would be the last Gaza Reconstruction Conference. From a logical legal perspective, the world community is not responsible financially for rebuilding Gaza time and again: Israel’s actions make Israel responsible for paying reparations. A “fair and just resolution” option goes as follows: Israel returns all stolen property, the two-state solution becomes worked out, then Israel and Palestine live side-by-side as independent nations in peace for all time.

If the Israeli government and people have objections to using tax revenues for reimbursing those who become financially harmed from the return of lands and settlements to the Palestinian people, perhaps one of their more fortunate multi-billionaire resident families – the Rothschilds – are capable of carrying out some creative financing, including solicitation of funds from their circle of equally fortunate friends around the world.

And, if anyone in the Rothschild family and/or their circle of multi-billionaire friends around the world happen to come across these words – the men, women, and children of Ukraine could use a little cash to pay a gas bill. You’ve been the recipients of extremely fortunate financial blessings, so perhaps it’s time to cut some checks and give back to your fellow brothers and sisters in their time of truly serious and urgent need.

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(Thank you to PressTV News Videos at YouTube)

Benjamin Netanyahu: Guilty Of Palestinian Genocide.

Posted on October 25, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

- GEORGE ORWELL (1903-1950) Writer

ocean55Genocide n. 1. planned extermination of national or racial group 2. the systematic killing or extermination of a whole people or nation. Any man or woman on Earth, after learning the horrific facts about what occurred during the Israeli 51-day military assault “Operation Protective Edge” carried out in July and August of 2014, can only logically conclude that Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is guilty of genocide.

To learn those extremely disturbing facts, every man or woman on Earth with access to the internet would be strongly advised to visit the YouTube channel “Frank Barat”, where the Russell Tribunal on Palestine 2014 is seen in its entirety. The Russell Tribunal took place in September 2014, and is available for viewing around the world in 17 videos at Frank Barat’s YouTube channel. For those who are unaware of the real details and who are determined in learning the truth about Israel’s military operation, please be advised that watching and listening to the testimonies and addresses at the Russell Tribunal will be an extremely uncomfortable, disturbing experience.

In other words, men and women whose awareness of the July-August Israeli attacks on Gaza consists only of what they’ve seen and heard on mainstream/corporate media – and who then listen to the Russell Tribunal – will experience an intense series of emotional reactions ranging from shock, astonishment, sadness, perplexity, to righteous indignation over what actually occurred in Gaza.

To some extent, the same could be said to even those who consider themselves somewhat or more-than-average knowledgeable and informed about the latest Israeli massacre of Palestinians called “Operation Protective Edge”. All aspects of the 51-day brutal, barbaric attack of Gaza and its 1.8 million imprisoned population become articulated, including:

  • Ending Israeli impunity and the role of civil society
  • European Union accountability and complicity in Israel’s violation of International Law
  • Israeli war crimes committed during Operation Protective Edge
  • Use of young Palestinians as human shields by the Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • Intentional attacks on health personnel committed by Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • Examples of executions by Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • Bombing and attacks on health facilities by Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • Incitement for genocide in Israeli society discourse during Operation Protective Edge
  • Munitions deployed by Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • Framework of International Law in Israel-Palestine
  • Requirements for prosecuting genocide
  • Widespread destruction of Palestinian factories, farms, and economic infrastructure by Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge
  • plus statements by members of the jury, and more…

In the following testimony by German journalist Martin Lejeune, he reports to the Russell Tribunal what he observed and learned from Gazans after traveling to Gaza upon cessation of Operation Protective Edge. Mr. Lejeune provides shocking evidence of the Israeli-planned, malicious goal of destroying the factories, farms, and economy of Palestinians living in Gaza. As profoundly disturbing as Martin Lejeune’s testimony is, please be aware that no western media has reported on this genocide-related, major war crime.

Please be aware as well that the testimonies of each witness at the Russell Tribunal is equal in power to Martin Lejeune’s, and the combined power of those various truthful testimonies on all criminal aspects of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge demands that urgent, necessary, immediate, and deterrent legal actions begin by the international community.

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(Thank you to Frank Barat at YouTube)

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To view the Russell Tribunal 2014 in its entirety please visit:

http://www.youtube.com/user/russelltribunaluk/feed

To find out how people around the world can help, please visit:

http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/

It is extremely urgent this powerful information becomes disseminated to humanity. Please share the links with everyone you know and urge your family and friends to do the same while sparing no creative thinking in getting this vital information to all the world’s people. Envision the point where awareness of truth about Palestine has built to such a magnitude that world leaders and corporate media will find it impossible to continue ignoring their responsibility to speak the truth and act for moral justice. Know and believe that by doing so you – along with many others around the world who become aware of the very real and serious dangers of inaction on Palestine – will be helping to simultaneously prevent an even more devastating human catastrophe and create a new, peaceful, and more just world.

Thank you.

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