News Release Archive - 2017

UN Vote on Jerusalem: U.S. as “Capo dei Capi”

C-SPAN has been covering the UN General Assembly debate on a resolution demanding that countries abide by Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem. The representative of Venezuela spoke on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was backed by the South African delegation and other speakers. The final vote was 128-9-35, achieving the two-thirds required under the “Uniting for Peace” procedure.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, served as legal adviser to the PLO. His books include the Palestinian Right of Return under International Law. He recently wrote the piece “Trump’s National Security Strategy: More unlimited imperialism.”

He noted that the General Assembly resolution being voted on today at the United Nations is under a special “Uniting for Peace” procedure, giving it greater legal force. He advocates greater use of Uniting for Peace by UN member states (including admission of Palestine to the United Nations) and said today: “In its Certain Expenses Advisory Opinion (1962) the International Court of Justice upheld the legality of the Uniting for Peace Resolution. As a matter of fact, it was originally introduced and first used by the United States government in order to overcome the veto by the former Soviet Union at the United Nations Security Council. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

“Recognition of Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem violates the U.S. government’s own longstanding Stimson Doctrine (1932), which forbids recognition of any legal consequences as a result of the use of force.”

JIM PAUL, james.paul.nyc at gmail.com
Paul is author of the just-released book Of Foxes and Chickens: Oligarchy and Global Power in the UN Security Council. He said today: “Coverage of the UN Security Council does not disclose what is really going on in this secretive and despotic institution. Washington causes a stir when it casts a public veto such as the one on Jerusalem, but in fact it uses its veto power daily in private sessions and it regularly dictates Council action (or inaction) in line with U.S. ‘interests.’ The Council is a mafia-like body in which a single member imposes itself on all the rest. In contrast to Britain, France, Russia and China, the U.S. is the capo dei capi — the boss of all the bosses.

“The Trump administration is openly threatening to withhold U.S. foreign aid to other states if they do not follow U.S. dictates. That threat is less hollow than some think. After a key vote in the Security Council targeting Iraq in 1990, the U.S. punished Yemen (one of the world’s poorest countries) by openly cutting off all U.S. aid. “That was the most expensive vote you ever cast,’ said the U.S. ambassador to his Yemeni counterpart in the Council chamber.

“Washington uses punishments and rewards constantly to get its way. It has even forced some countries to withdraw their ambassadors, as it did with envoys from Canada, Chile, and Guinea, among others. Mexican Ambassador, Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, was forced out in 2003 around the invasion of Iraq, and he caused a stir when he wrote a public letter to the press on the matter. The U.S. has also conducted illegal surveillance against other missions to the UN, as the Katharine Gun case highlighted.”

Evidence of Honduran Election Being Stolen

Al Jazeera reports: “Honduras’ beleaguered elections commission officially declared incumbent Juan Orlando Hernandez as president-elect on Sunday amid ongoing opposition cries of fraud three weeks after election day.” See Twitter list on Honduras for updates.

SILVIO CARRILLO, silvio.carrillo at gmail.com, @justiceforberta
Carrillo just wrote the New York Times op-ed “America’s Blind Eye to Honduras’s Tyrant.” He is a film and news producer and the nephew of Berta Cáceres, a Honduran activist who was assassinated there last year after being awarded the Goldman Prize for her environmental activism.

SUYAPA PORTILLO, lavidagris at gmail.com, @SuyapaPV, Skype: solentiname74
Portillo observed the election in Honduras. She is an assistant professor at Pitzer College and organized “An Open Letter to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa on the Crisis in Honduras” — just published by CounterPunch and signed by over 200 academics.

MARK WEISBROT, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net, @ceprdc
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He said in a statement: “It is now clear to the experts who have looked at the results that there is no statistically plausible explanation for the sudden and drastic shift in the vote count that took place after the majority of votes were counted. This election has little credibility, either among most Hondurans, or internationally at this point.”

The group elaborated: “The TSE’s [Tribunal Supremo Electoral] initial count of 57 percent of tally sheets on election night showed a five-point lead for opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. The TSE system then mysteriously went offline for over 30 hours, and when it returned, the voting trends sharply reversed, eroding Nasralla’s lead until Hernández ended up with a 1.7-percentage-point lead over Nasralla, with all tally sheets counted. The results contradicted earlier public statements by one of the TSE magistrates, Marcos Ramiro Lobo Rosales, that 70 percent of tallies had been counted, and that Nasralla had an insurmountable lead.

“An analysis of the vote tabulation by Dr. Irfan Nooruddin of Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, prepared for the OAS, found that the sharp change in voting trends following the TSE’s mysterious system failure was improbable.”

KAREN SPRING, [in Honduras] spring.kj at gmail.com, @hondurassol
Spring is the Honduras-based coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network, a network of over 30 organizations from the U.S. and Canada. She said today: “International media attention has glossed over the popular resistance in the streets of Honduras and the ensuing violent crackdowns and human rights violations committed by [government] forces. The voices of people and grassroots groups involved in the road blocks, protests, and resistance all over the country are being ignored.”

Tax Bill: Senators’ Special Tax Breaks, Duping Public

DAVID SIROTA, d.sirota at newsweekgroup.com, @davidsirota
Along with other journalists at International Business Times, Sirota has broken a series of stories about the tax package that have gotten picked up by major media.

In the latest piece — “Republican Senators Will Save Millions With Special Real-Estate Tax Break” they report: “More than a quarter of all GOP senators will be voting on a bill that includes a special provision that could give them a new tax cut through their real estate shell companies, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times.

“The provision was not in the original bill passed by the Senate on Dec. 1. It was embedded in the final bill by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who is among the lawmakers that stand to personally benefit from the provision.

“In response to Democratic lawmakers who have slammed the provision as a lobbyist-sculpted giveaway to the rich, Republican Majority Whip John Cornyn promoted on Twitter a column by Ryan Ellis, a registered bank lobbyist who has been working to influence the tax legislation and who has defended the provision.”

ERICA PAYNE, MARY ALLEN LINDEMANN, epayne at patrioticmillionaires.org, @PatrioticMills
Payne is founder of Patriotic Millionaires. Mary Allen Lindemann is the owner of Coffee By Design which operates four coffeehouses in Portland, Maine and recently wrote the piece “Senator Collins, which one of us is being duped?” which states: “Senator Collins, in all of your years in politics, all your years of being an educated, intelligent woman, have you honestly still not figured out how to tell when you are being lied to?

“The idea that Mitch McConnell and your colleagues in the Senate are going to address your concerns with the tax bill in future health care legislation is absurd. GOP leaders started reneging on their so-called promises to you almost as soon as they were made. Even if your “fixes” make it through the Senate — which would be a miracle in and of itself – they would still have to make it through the House, and Speaker Paul Ryan has already stated publicly that he won’t stand by your deal.

“So have you been duped? Or have we?

“All these years, we have watched you thread the political needle. You’re a moderate and a conservative! A Washington insider who is true to her Maine roots! Reasonable and principled and sensible. That image got you re-elected in 2014 with 40 percent of the vote. It earned you a national platform. But Senator, hear me when I say, the smoke and mirrors are long gone. Now it’s just you, your values and your vote.”

Is the National Security Strategy Military Dominance?

Today, the Trump administration released its National Security Strategy.

MATTHEW HOH, [in D.C. area] matthew_hoh at riseup.net, @MatthewPHoh
Available for a limited number of interviews, Matthew Hoh is a member of the advisory boards of Expose Facts, Veterans For Peace and World Beyond War. In 2009 he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration. He previously had been in Iraq with a State Department team and with the U.S. Marines. He is a senior fellow with the Center for International Policy.

He said today: “There are two ways to look at Trump’s remarks on national security, noting, of course, that his language is both more Orwellian, and less polished than we have seen before from the White House.

“The first is that getting past his words, Trumps’ actions on people overseas have not been much different than any of his predecessors. His actions have been a military first, interventionist and hypocritical foreign policy not based on cooperation between nations and a respect for human rights and dignity, but rather a preservation of American hegemony and primacy that results in mass suffering and death for millions and millions of people outside of the United States.

“Secondly, Trump’s major concern is his domestic political base and keeping with their narrative and understanding of American Exceptionalism as well as a religious worldview that views the United States as inherently good and moral, despite the reality of the United States’ actions. This second part needs to be recognized as well to include that of the financial donor base of his political support, which applies as well to his predecessors, and includes foreign donors and backers such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.”

Sexual Harassment and Low-Wage Women

JANE SLAUGHTER, jane at labornotes.org, @labornotes
Journalist Slaughter recently wrote the piece “No Casting Couch for Low-Wage Women, But Lots of Sexual Harassment” for Labor Notes.

She writes: “Sexual harassment doesn’t happen just to glamorous women in glamorous industries. Since sexual harassment is about power, not sex, it’s not surprising that low-wage women in lousy jobs get a lot of it.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says the restaurant industry is the largest source of sexual harassment claims. In a national survey of 4,300 restaurant workers by the worker center Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, more than one in 10 workers reported that they or a co-worker had experienced sexual harassment. ROC says even this creepy figure is likely an undercount.

“Focus groups and interviews ROC conducted nationwide found sexual harassment an ‘accepted — part of the culture.’ One worker said, ‘It’s inevitable. If it’s not verbal assault, someone wants to rub up against you.’

“ROC reviewed four years of EEOC sexual harassment settlements and verdicts in the restaurant industry and found that cases were filed primarily against well-known chains, including McDonald’s (the worst, with 16 percent of the cases), KFC, Sonic, IHOP, Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel, Ruby Tuesday, and Denny’s.

“Most often, workers were abused and harassed daily and faced some form of retaliation for complaining.”

Documents Show U.S. Violated Assurances to Moscow About Limiting NATO

The National Security Archives this week released documents relating to assurances the USSR was given regarding NATO expansion.

The group states in “NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard“: “U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’ assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.”

NATO has expanded in the years since to include ten more countries, including Poland, Hungary, the Baltic states, and others. NATO now reaches the Russian border.

JOSHUA SHIFRINSON, jrishifrinson at tamu.edu, @shifrinson
Shifrinson is assistant professor at the Bush School of Government, Texas A&M University.

He wrote the award-winning academic article “Deal or No Deal? The End of the Cold War and the U.S. Offer to Limit NATO Expansion.” He also wrote the Los Angeles Times op-ed “Russia’s got a point: The U.S. broke a NATO promise.” See here.

He said today: “The National Security Archive materials reinforce the point that Soviet — and subsequent Russian — leaders had major reasons to believe NATO expansion was not going to occur in the post-Cold War era. The bargaining surrounding German reunification involved not just diplomatic reassurances, on the American side, but a series of seemingly-significant steps to make these pledges appear credible. There are also reasons to think the U.S. privately intended to be able to expand NATO in the post-Cold War power vacuum if and when leaders wanted — leveraging U.S. dominance after the Cold War — but this was not (of course) communicated to the Soviets.”

Shifrinson’s forthcoming book is Rising Titans, Falling Giants: Rising States and the Fate of Declining Great Powers (Cornell University Press).

Killing Net Neutrality: “Regulatory Capture by Commercial Interests”

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write: “Trump’s FCC Wants to Kill a Free and Open Internet.

“VICTOR PICKARD, vpickard at asc.upenn.edu, @VWPickard
Pickard is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of the book America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform. He also recently wrote the piece “The Misinformation Society” and was interviewed about net neutrality by Jacobin, ”

Net Neutrality Is Just the Beginning.”He said today: “Today’s FCC decision to kill net neutrality marks the triumph of a deeply undemocratic agenda. By allowing internet service providers to slow down or block content, charge discriminatory prices, and create a tiered internet of fast and slow lanes, the FCC has privileged corporate power over democracy. The FCC’s decision will hurt everyone except large cable and telecommunication companies like Comcast and Verizon. Throughout the process, Chairman Pai shirked his duty to protect the public interest by ignoring the will of the American people to preserve an open internet. Polls show that even a majority of Republicans support net neutrality, yet Chairman Pai refused to consider any alternative to his ideological mission. He even refused to investigate proven irregularities in the process such as fraudulent comments. This decision is consistent with much of the FCC’s recent behavior, which demonstrates a text book example of regulatory capture by commercial interests. Pai has displayed an utter disregard toward all voices other than those he values most: the very industries the FCC purportedly regulates. This isn’t deregulation; it is reregulation by giving internet service monopolies the power to censor online content and limit our access to the internet. History will not look kindly on this FCC.”

JOSEPH TORRES, MARY ALICE CRIM, CRAIG AARON, via Tim Karr, tkarr at freepress.net, @freepress
Torres is senior adviser for government and external affairs for Free Press and just appeared on “Democracy Now.” Mary Alice Crim is the Free Press Action Fund’s field director. Aaron is president and CEO of the group. He said today: “Ajit Pai’s bad ideas and worse actions have sparked unprecedented public awareness of net neutrality and created a new generation of internet-freedom activists. People who never before joined a protest are taking to the streets in red states and blue states, big cities and small towns. They’re discussing net neutrality in Teen Vogue, NASCAR fan forums, Black Lives Matter meetings and church on Sunday. Eighty-three percent of Americans support real net neutrality and oppose this plan. The rest are either lobbyists or just haven’t yet realized that Ajit Pai is lying to them.”

Nobel Peace Prize: Threats to Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Guardian reports: “The destruction of humankind is one ‘impulsive tantrum away,’ the Australian-founded winner of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, warned overnight on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing regime.

“‘Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?’ the ICAN head, Beatrice Fihn, said in Oslo after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear [weapons] group.”

GREG MELLO, gmello @ lasg.org, @TrishABQ
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group. He said today: “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a truly historic achievement and well deserves this weekend’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“ICAN’s superb citizen diplomats, drawn from civil society in every part of the world, has done outstanding work. The work was led by a tiny staff and core leadership team whose constant professionalism quickly won — and kept — the trust of all parties involved. It was and still is a global partnership of diplomats and civil society, of young activists and seasoned oldsters. The clarity of ICAN’s mission, and the humility of its approach, succeeded where so many others had failed.

“It is the first true multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty ever successfully negotiated. All prior multilateral nuclear treaties aim at preventing proliferation, leaving current arsenals untouched.

“The Treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. The Treaty requires each signatory state to develop ‘legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress’ these prohibited activities.

“The Treaty will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it. The Treaty can be amended at regular or extraordinary meetings of signatories by a two-thirds majority.

“Recognition by the Nobel Committee is wonderful, and the financial award is very useful. Much has been achieved; we know the hard part still lies ahead. The new Treaty is not yet in force, and nuclear weapon states are putting pressure on countries not to sign. Even within the ICAN coalition there is some excessive optimism as to what the Treaty can achieve within current security structures. Make no mistake, nuclear abolition will entail deep challenges to current conceptions of security and world order. These challenges are already upon us.

“With fame comes danger. Many parties want to bask in this moment of glory and to ‘help’ — meaning, to tame — ICAN by subverting the meaning of our joint achievement, to subtly neuter disarmament activism by guiding it in directions that conform to the security prerogatives of nuclear weapon states. Prestige and funding will be on offer to achieve this ‘domestication.’ ICAN must remain as vigilant as it is energetic, faithful to its core insight that possession of nuclear weapons, and threats with them — including, I would say, participating in military alliances that threaten nuclear use — can never be justified.”

Why to be Wary of Fox News’ Reinvention of Exit Polling Tonight

DAVID W. MOORE,  dmoore62 at comcast.net
Moore is a senior fellow with the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. He is a former vice president of the Gallup Organization and managing editor of the Gallup Poll, where he worked from 1993 until 2006. His books include How to Steal an Election: The Inside Story of How George Bush’s Brother and FOX Network Miscalled the 2000 Election and Changed the Course of History.

Moore is now polling director at iMediaEthics, where he recently wrote the piece “Why Fox News is reinventing the exit poll for Tuesday’s election — and why we should be wary,” which states: “Last Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Fox News Network has decided to conduct its own exit polls for Tuesday’s election contests. This does not sound like good news.

“Since 1998, the network has relied on exit poll data provided by a media consortium, which today goes by the name of the National Election Pool (NEP). It includes ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, the Associated Press — and Fox, until this year. But now the network believes it has developed a ‘superior’ system. …

“As the Post article notes, ‘The project, dubbed the Fox News Voter Analysis, was born from the network’s frustration at having underestimated Donald Trump’s chance of victory until late on Election Day in 2016.’

“Let’s get this straight: It’s not that NEP made predictions that were incorrect, but that it made the predictions ‘late’ on Election Day. And Fox wants to make the predictions earlier.

“Why? Who is served by a rush to judgment? After all, the election winners will be announced as soon as all the votes are counted. So, how important is it to predict the winners earlier in the evening? The answer: Not important at all. At least to the citizenry.

“So, why the rush? …

“The last time Fox decided to make a similar rush to judgment was in the 2000 Election, when — at 2:30 in the morning after Election Day — it projected George W. Bush the winner in Florida. This projection caused all the other networks to follow suit, only to rescind the projection two hours later.

“The miscall and resulting confusion caused Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO of Fox News Network, to admit, ‘In my heart I do believe that democracy was harmed by my network and others on November 7, 2000.'”

Bangladeshi Community in NYC

CHAUMTOLI HUQ, lawatthemargins at gmail.com, @lawatmargins
Huq is a Bangladeshi-American lawyer with Law@theMargins in New York City, a nonprofit that addresses human rights issues in the U.S. and globally.

She posted on her Facebook page: “I ask [the] Bangladeshi community to remain safe and vigilant. Since the bomber is identified as Bangladeshi, we may experience increased surveillance and scrutiny especially [at] our Bangladeshi community mosques. Know your rights.” She advises the community to “see legal counsel before speaking to law enforcement.”

She tweeted: “Appreciate the brave first responders of #NYC who rushed into Port Authority, not knowing the real danger of this attack. #ILoveNYC” and “I ask media professionals to be sensitive to #Bangladeshi #NYC community safety concerns and pulling people to speak on camera if they know the #PortAuthority suspect. This may expose them to increased surveillance and scrutiny.”

She said today: “The Bangladeshi community in New York City is now the largest growing Asian community. It’s also dispersed, with clusters of people in every borough; most other immigrant groups tend to be centered in just one or two areas in New York City.

“Obviously we need to be careful about the veracity of any information now and what the government chooses to leak and not leak about this horrible attack. But the suspect — Akayed Ullah — is apparently from Bangladesh and anonymous government sources are apparently stating that he claimed allegiance to ISIS.

“I’m following the Bangladeshi media as well and it’s important to see how this will play out there. There are certainly Islamic groups that support ISIS in Bangladesh, but the government there has used that as a pretext to clamp down on people they claim are part of the opposition.

“There are some young Bangladeshis who are seeking political asylum here due to persecution, and we should be careful that they do not suffer here.

“Much of my work as a lawyer is with the Bangladeshi working class community — drivers, food vendors, retail workers — all of whom are particularly vulnerable.”