Former CIA Intelligence Analyst Says Whistleblowers Are Vital To A Transparent Democracy

Without whistleblowers, investigative journalism is not possible, says ex-CIA analyst and author Melvin Goodman. (Image: wildpixel / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

By Mark Karlin for Truthout – Melvin A. Goodman: I spent 24 years at the CIA as a Soviet analyst in the directorate of intelligence. I was not drawn to the agency by idealism, but by a fascination with the incredible repository of intelligence that is held within the entire community. I received an early introduction to this collection as a US Army cryptographer in the 1950s. There have been many intelligence failures over the past 70 years since the creation of the CIA, but virtually all of them have been due to analytical failures, either politicization of intelligence from above (e.g., missing the decline of the Soviet Union; Iraqi weapons of mass destruction) or simply poor analytic tradecraft (e.g., October War of 1973; 9/11 attacks; Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968). These failures were not due to inadequate collection. In fact, the collection of intelligence was sufficient to prevent every one of these failures, including 9/11. If I had been more idealistic then, perhaps I would have paid more attention to the CIA’s role in the conduct of covert action, particularly the illegal and immoral activities prior to my entry into the CIA, including the overthrow of the Mossadegh government in Iran, the attempt to assassinate Lumumba in the Congo, and the efforts to overthrow Castro in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Building The Networked City From The Ground Up With Citizens

From magazine.ouishare.net

By Bianca Pick for Oui Share Magazine – One key point is access to housing. The government is not only tracking down big banks that leave apartments empty but also confronting platforms like Airbnb whose business model has a negative impact on affordable housing. Another big theme is energy transition and renewable energy. Barcelona wants to create a municipal energy company to fight the current monopoly. We are also looking into more distributed energy models, like smart grids, models that are more affordable and which allow citizens to be in control of their data. We are also rethinking urban planning with projects like the SuperBlocks (Superilles). Aimed at giving back public spaces to citizens, they were created in a very innovative process with a digital democracy platform for large-scale citizen participation. Opening the debate brought many great ideas, but it also showed us the complicated aspect of participation. There were many conflicting interests and it was learning by doing in an iterative way. Finally, instead of working only with big companies as governments typically do, we are also rethinking the economic model to support new economies like the solidarity, collaborative and digital economy.

Democracy Protests Continue In Hong Kong

Protesters carry a large image of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo as they march during the annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 1, 2017 AP

By Sarah Karacs for Independent – Storm clouds loomed over Hong Kong as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets, giving way to a downpour as the day wore on that deterred many from joining the throngs of dissent. With last year’s protest at 110,000, as estimated by organisers Civil Rights Fronts, this year saw a reported 60,000 take to the streets, on a day that coincided with the end of the contentious three-day visit of China’s state leader Xi Jinping. Police calculate the number as being significantly lower, at a paltry 14,500. The protest, which saw participants of all ages march through the bustling streets of a city campaigning for universal suffrage and against the degradation of civil liberties, comes as Hong Kong marks its 20th anniversary since it was returned to China from British colonial rule. It has also coincided with the inauguration of new chief executive Carrie Lam, who is seen by detractors as a puppet to Beijing. The news that Nobel prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is terminally ill and has only recently been granted medical parole has been another source of discontent. The bad weather, and – according to organisers – anxiety around safety in an increasingly fraught political climate, meant turnout here on Saturday was much lower than the hundreds of thousands in previous years.

Authoritarianism Is Making A Comeback

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By Maria J. Stephan and Timothy Snyder for The Guardian. It is time for those who support democracy to remember what activists from around the world have paid a price to learn: how to win. Modern authoritarians rely on repression, intimidation, corruption and co-optation to consolidate their power. The dictator’s handbook mastered by Orban in Hungary, Erdogan in Turkey, Maduro in Venezuela, Zuma in South Africa, Duterte in the Philippines and Trump here provides the traditional tactics: attack journalists, blame dissent on foreigners and “paid protestors,” scapegoat minorities and vulnerable groups, weaken checks on power, reward loyalists, use paramilitaries, and generally try to reduce politics to a question of friends and enemies, us and them.

Head Of National Nurses Encourages Sanders To Start A People’s Party

Sanders speaking at People's Summit

By Medea Benjamin for CODE PINK. NNU’s RoseAnn DeMoro looked directly at the Draft Bernie people in the audience of the Peoples Summit and grinned. “We’re going to take a few questions but I want to thank all the Draft Bernie people here,” she said. Then came the zinger. “I’m with you,” she added, as she turned around to look at Bernie and his wife. Then she pivoted back to the audience, “Nurses, are we with them?” As they roared their approval, DeMoro turned to Sanders again. “I always say: ‘heroes aren’t made, they’re cornered.” I don’t think most people in the audience realized the potential significance of the DeMoro’s endorsement. Her union has about 150,000 members and spent about $1 million on the Sanders campaign. It’s one of only six national unions that backed Bernie Sanders for president. Under DeMoro’s leadership, the nurses have become heavyweights in the progressive world, championing everything from universal single payer healthcare to a Wall Street tax to pay for free college education. Just imagine if DeMoro could get her whole union to back a new party, and leverage that to get other unions and progressive institutions on board.

Newsletter: Corbyn Teaches To Embrace Change We Need

Corbyn For the Many Not the Few

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The shocking election result in the United Kingdom – the Conservatives losing their majority and the creation of a hung Parliament; and Jeremy Corbyn being more successful than any recent Labor candidate – cutting a 20 point Theresa May lead down to a near tie – gives hope to many that the global shift to the right, fueled by the failures of governments to meet the basic needs of their population and growing economic insecurity, may be ending. Corbyn is a lifelong activist (as you will see in the photos below), whose message and actions have been consistent. He presented a platform directed at ending austerity and the wealth divide and was openly anti-war. There are a lot of lessons for the Labor Party in the UK from this election but there are also lessons for people in the United States. We review what happened and consider the possibilities for creating transformative change in the United States.

How Media Consolidation Threatens Democracy: 857 Channels (And Nothing On)

Vice President Al Gore speaks as President Bill Clinton looks on during an informal discussion with parents and children in Alexandria, Virginia on Feb. 9, 1996. Clinton had signed the Telecommunications Act the previous day. (Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By John Light for Moyers & Company – Earlier this week, we wrote about a pending deal between Sinclair Broadcasting and Tribune Media. Sinclair hopes to buy Tribune, a move that will allow the company to broadcast news to 70 percent of Americans. But the deal has raised eyebrows. The company is notoriously close with Trump, and also favored George W. Bush when he was president. The company’s DC office produces conservative commentary and news segments that paint Republicans in a favorable light, and distributes them to local stations around the country. Some worry that Sinclair hopes to create a competitor to Fox News, operating out of local television stations across America. If the deal does go through — anti-trust regulators and the FCC will have to approve it — it will only have been possible because earlier this year, Trump’s FCC chair Ajit Pai relaxed rules preventing media consolidation. Like much the FCC deals with — net neutrality, internet privacy — media consolidation is a dull-sounding topic that is nonetheless very important. It has a direct hand in the quality of American journalism, and it dictates how accountable that journalism is to its audience.

The Left Radical Who Will Likely Be Jackson, Mississippi’s Next Mayor

Chokwe Antar Lumumba

By Kate Aronoff for In These Times. The city of Jackson, in the heart of staunchly Republican Mississippi, might seem an unlikely place for a municipal revolution. Yet Jackson’s radicalism has been forged in the crucible of massive disinvestment, both by private industry and by a conservative state legislature. Led by the Black nationalist organization Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, organizers in Jackson have backed experiments in everything from worker-owned businesses to participatory, neighborhood-by-neighborhood democracy. A leader of this movement, Jackson Councilman Chokwe Lumumba, helped start people’s assemblies in the city, inviting residents to hash out the kinds of changes they want to see. He was elected mayor in 2013, only to pass away months later. In an effort to carry on his father’s legacy, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, 33, ran to succeed his father and lost. Now, with his second run, he hopes to continue the work his father began.

South Korea’s Likely Next President Warns US Not To Meddle In Nation’s Democracy

Flickr/ Tim Green

By Jason Ditz for Anti-War – The split between Moon and Trump is so dramatic, in fact, that Moon has felt the need to publicly warn the US against “meddling” in the nation’s politics, not just directly in the election itself, but also with policy decisions made in the lead-up to the election. Indeed, Moon and his allies warn that the biggest problem is the US rushing through measures in the lame-duck government ahead of the election, noting that agreements on things like the THAAD anti-missile system, and then hastily putting the system in place before any public hearings or environmental assessments were allowed to take place. Analysts even suggest that President Trump’s talk of making South Korea pay for THAAD might help Moon,, because he is seen as more likely to stand up to the US on the deployment, and doesn’t feel particularly wedded to any agreements on the deployment, which were made in the post-impeachment, pre-election environment specifically to avoid real political debate.

Mass Protests In Venezuela, On Both Sides

Protests against Nicolas Mduro in Caracas April 20, 2017

By Lucas Koerner for Venezueal Analysis. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of the capital Wednesday in massive pro and anti-government rallies marking the country’s independence day. Thousands of red-clad supporters of President Nicolas Maduro mobilized in four separate marches that culminated in a mass rally along Bolivar Avenue in downtown Caracas. “I am here to support the Revolution… because I love my country, I’m a Chavista in the flesh and I support Chavez and Maduro, and I want that to be heard in the US, Europe and the rest of the world so they can’t say this is a show, that we don’t have numbers, that we’re paid to be here. No, this is real,” one marcher told Venezuelanalysis.

Could Proportional Representation Save French And American Democracies?

Storm Crypt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Natasha Hakimi Zapata for Truth Dig – The alternative is called proportional representation (PR). Under a PR system, the electorate casts its votes nationwide for whatever political party they choose, and then seats are distributed by percentage. You don’t have to win the majority of votes in any one geographically-bound district to enter the parliament. This allows for the rapid growth of minority parties, and more political diversity. So, for instance, in PR-using Israel, there are 10 political parties in the Knesset. PR-using Sweden has eight parties represented. … It’s impossible to know exactly what would result from, for instance, converting the U.S. Congress into a proportional system. But we do know that the current system is far from popular, while also very hard to dislodge. In 2016, members of the U.S. House had a 97 percent re-election rate; and yet the latest Gallup poll puts Congress’s approval rating at 24 percent. A shift like the one Mélenchon is proposing in France would also require Constitutional changes, which are very difficult to implement. But the same could be said for many of the ideas Sanders ran on, like a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

Get Ready For A 'People's Congress Of Resistance'

It's Our Future

By Staff of the Peoples Congress of Resistance. The United States Congress does not represent the people who live and work in the United States. Given the threat posed by the Trump regime, the people must take matters into our own hands, together, and claim the power we already have. The People demand a new Congress, a fighting Congress of the working class of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, genders and ages. We must create a Congress of communities under attack by the reactionary Trump agenda and fighting back against it, a Congress of the grassroots and the working class, of resisters, organizers, and activists, of everyone who recognizes we can no longer continue as we have. Such a People’s Congress will confront the Congress of the millionaires. It will galvanize the energy of the many groups resisting Trump. It will demonstrate that this is what democracy looks like.

Grassroots Movements Bring Fresh Air To Democracies: Analyst

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By Staff of Tele Sur – According to Bianchi, from the Latin American Network for Political Innovation, the situation in Ecuador is critical, as a right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso faces a political battle against Lenin Moreno, the successor of left-wing President Rafael Correa and part of the so-called Pink Tide of progressive governments in the region. “We can go towards more conservative governments that are implying — and now we know that it’s happening — a reversion of rights,“ said Bianchi, likening the political scenario in Ecuador to the elections in Argentina that brought businessman Mauricio Macri to power, leading to a wave of neoliberal measures.

Government’s Own Data Shows US Interfered In 81 Foreign Elections

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By Claire Bernish for Mint Press News – On Monday, FBI Director James Comey confirmed for the first time publicly that the bureau is officially investigating hotly contentious allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election — but, even if proven true, such geopolitical escapades better characterize the routine behavior of accuser than of accused. “The F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence effort, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 president election,” the director announced, adding the bureau would conduct a probe to discern whether Trump’s associates had contact with Russian officials. Despite that the U.S. has hypocritically exerted influence over foreign elections in all corners of the globe — in fact, it has arrogantly done so a whopping 81 times between 1946 and 2000, alone — with just one-third of those operations undertaken overtly.

Re-Imagining Value: Care Economy, Commons, Cyberspace & Nature

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By David Bollier. What is “value” and how shall we protect it? It’s a simple question for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. Value results when private property and “free markets” condense countless individual preferences and purchases into a single, neutral representation of value: price. That is seen as the equivalent of “wealth.” This theory of value has always been flawed, both theoretically and empirically, because it obviously ignores many types of “value” that cannot be given a price. No matter, it “works,” and so this theory of value generally prevails in political and policy debates. Economic growth (measured as Gross Domestic Product) and value are seen as the same.