The passing scene: November 5, 2014

Voting rights groups challenge electoral purges by Greg Palast by Al Jazeera America.

One of the techniques for depriving black people and other minorities of the right to vote is by means of the interstate Crosscheck program, in which voters are removed from the rolls if a voter of that name is recorded as voting in two different states in the same election.

The problem is there are many people of the same name.  “Phil Ebersole” is not so common a name as “John Smith,” but a Google search turns up the names of more than half a dozen Phil Ebersoles in different states, most or all of whom presumably voted in the same election.

Crosscheck assumes “double voting” even if the voters have different Social Security numbers, different middle initials or one is “Jr.” and the other is “Sr.”   Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who’s been writing about voter suppression and election fraud for more than 10 years, said millions of voters, mostly Democrats and mostly minorities, were disqualified during the current election.

Israel’s desire to remake the Middle East challenges the Obama presidency by Geoffrey Aronson for Al Jazeera America.

Geoffrey Aronson, a former adviser to the World Bank and European Union on Palestinian issues, wrote that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a long range goal to reshape the Middle East in ways that enhance Israel’s power and weaken the surrounding Arab states.

Netanyahu believes that the boundaries of existing Arab states, which were drawn by Britain and France following World War One, are unnatural, Aronson wrote; Israel’s leader would like to see an independent Kurdistan, a breakup of Syria and many small states reflecting the ethnic divisions among Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and other groups.

This is compatible with the goals of the Islamic State (ISIS), which wants to unite Sunni Arabs in Syria and Iraq.  It does not fit the desire of President Obama for a united and stable Iraq.

Pipe Dreams: the CIA, Drugs and the Media by Daniel Brandt and Steve Badrich for Public Information Research (1997)

Kill the Messenger: How the Media Destroyed Gary Webb by Ryan Grim for Huffington Post.

Gary Webb was no journalism hero, despite what ‘Kill the Messenger’ says by Jeff Leen for the Washington Post.

WPost’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb by Robert Parry for Consortium News.

The movie, Kill the Messenger (which I haven’t seen yet), tells the story of Gary Webb, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, who told how the CIA-backed Contra rebels in Nicaragua financed their operations by supplying cocaine to drug gangs in Los Angeles.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times published articles attacking Webb, mainly on the grounds that what he was reporting was so horrible it couldn’t possibly be true.  But it was true.  And this raises the question of what kinds of alliances are being made by the current CIA, which still operates as much outside the law and without accountability as it did then.

Cyberlibertarianism: the Extremist Foundations of ‘Digital Freedom’ by David Golumbia of Virginia Commonwealth University.  (Hat tip to Daniel Brandt)

I admire libertarians such as Radley Balko who stand up for basic constitutional rights.  But there are other versions of libertarianism that say abuse of power is all right if done by corporations or property-owners.

Vanishing Act: You’ve probably never heard of Martin J. Sklar, but you should have by James Livingston for The Nation (Hat tips to Steve Badrich and Bill Harvey).



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