By Jonathan Watts for The Guardian – Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election. In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.” That possibility is still some way off. In the most recent poll, Lasso is seven points behind the ruling party candidate Lenín Moreno, but the former banker has been gaining ground ahead of the first round of voting on 19 February and is widely tipped to force a runoff.
By Richard Moser for Be Freedom – The scale of our problems are far too great. There is far too much at stake. The problems we face are dangerous, deeply embedded, institutionalized. There is no clever, cunning or purely tactical way of addressing them. Inside baseball and palace politics have failed. We are approaching a shift in the equation of risk. The dangers we face in making the big political changes are becoming less threatening than the dangers we face in continuing on the current course. Perhaps we are already there. Let’s consider the core issues of power and social control in the US today: The Corporate Power is vast wealth wedded to political control. And, it rules America.
By Shane Dixon Kavanaugh for Vocativ – Russia’s attempt to sway the 2016 election continues to consume American politics as the Obama administration struck back with a series of punishments targeting Russia’s spy agencies and diplomats. The White House on Thursday moved to expel 35 suspected Russian intelligence operatives from the U.S. and impose sanctions on the Kremlin’s two leading intelligence services in response for what the U.S. says were a series of cyberattacks conducted by Russia during the presidential campaign. For the time being, Russian President Vladamir Putin has indicated that he won’t immediately retaliate, though that could change. The simmering tit for tat has kept the issue of election meddling burning bright in the national spotlight…
By Jon Rappoport for Jon Rappoport’s Blog – This is a coup. This is equivalent to declaring a national state of emergency, including martial law: the DHS, if it deemed it necessary, could utilize armed agents to enforce the new directive and take over states’ offices that resist. Election-processes belong to the states. But not anymore. And of course, with this awesome new power, the DHS could intercede, behind the scenes, in the voting process and rig elections. There is an additional aligned factor at work in this op: the proposed elimination of the Electoral College—yet another measure designed to “federalize” the election process. Most people are entirely ignorant of the fact that the Constitution was a pact among states.
By Kim Brown for The Real News Network. During the past week, protests took place throughout Mexico in reaction to a 20% price increase for gasoline. The protests have so far resulted in four deaths and the arrests of over 700 people. Also, over 300 stores are said to have been looted throughout the country. The gasoline price increase is part of a plan by President Enrique Peña Nieto to eliminate subsidies in the wake of the partial privatization of the country’s oil industry. On Wednesday, President Peña Nieto vowed to continue with the price increases despite the protests. Well, joining us today from Mexico City to analyze the situation in Mexico, we’re joined by John Ackerman. John is a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He’s also Editor-in-Chief of the Mexican Law Review and a columnist with both La Jornada newspaper and Proceso magazine.
By David Swanson for Let’s Try Democracy. The U.S. government has now generated numerous news stories and released multiple “reports” aimed at persuading us that Vladimir Putin is to blame for Donald Trump becoming president. U.S. media has dutifully informed us that the case has been made. What has been made is the case for writing your own news coverage. The “reports” from the “intelligence community” are no lengthier than the New York Times and Washington Post articles about them. Why not just read the reports and cut out the middle-person? The New York Times calls the latest report “damning and surprisingly detailed” before later admitting in the same “news” article that the report “contained no information about how the agencies had collected their data or had come to their conclusions.”
By Maud Jullien for BBC – Political opponents and activists say that everything is in place for President Joseph Kabila to extend his stay in power, thus violating the constitution and potentially precipitating the continent-sized central African country into chaos. “What we need is to have a specific action plan for the elections,” says Serge Syvia, a doctor and activist. “Because theirs (the government’s) is already being implemented.” In a small wooden house that was built, like much of the eastern city of Goma, on dried lava rocks, members of a youth group called Lucha (struggle for change) are holding a meeting.
By Rob Richie for Cato Unbound – American democracy today is working more poorly than it has in generations. Even as the toxic 2016 presidential campaign featured the two most unpopular major party candidates in modern history and Congress has historic lows in approval, minor party presidential challengers were marginalized, and nearly 98% of congressional incumbents won re-election. New voices are demeaned as spoilers, which suppresses debate about innovative ideas and shoehorns our diverse political views into two fiercely partisan camps. With the overwhelming majority of elections predictably going to a district or state’s partisan majority, most voters lack meaningful choice even among two candidates.
By Jacob Hoffman-Andrews for EFF – Election security experts concerned about voting machines are calling for an audit of ballots in the three states where the presidential election was very close: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. We agree. This is an important election safety measure and should happen in all elections, not just those that have a razor-thin margin. Voting machines, especially those that have digital components, are intrinsically susceptible to being hacked. The main protection against hacking is for voting machines to provide an auditable paper trail.
By Kasia Anderson for Truth Dig – Austrian voters have sent a message that they are unwilling to allow their country to be swept up in the populist wave that has boosted far-right politicians to powerful positions in the U.S. and Europe. On Sunday, one such politician, 45-year-old Freedom Party presidential nominee Norbert Hofer, was defeated by independent challenger Alexander Van der Bellen in Austria’s national election. The 72-year-old Van der Bellen was backed by the country’s Green Party, of which he is a former leader. Now he will be Austria’s president. Bloomberg reported that Van der Bellen bested Hofer by 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent.
By Steve Early for Popular Resistance. Jill Stein reported that the Greens are finally “exploring the idea of being a membership party where members are expected to support the party with dues” so its candidates can be more competitive in local races and “participate in social movements with real organizational and financial resources.” That sounds like the right kind of Stein campaign follow-up. But if Greens really want to go beyond “protest vote” campaigns and actually win more elections to help build progressive movements locally and nationally, they should consider the more ecumenical approach adopted by their Richmond counter-parts more than a decade ago. To counter the political weight of organized labor’s conservative wing, it helps to have other unions on your side. That’s been a challenge that few Green candidates, at any level, have met. At the local level, Green candidates are more likely to receive union support.
By William Hartung for Tom Dispatch. War, what is it good for? In America, the answer is that, much of the time, you’ll probably never know what it’s good for — or, in some cases, even notice that we’re at war. Right now, the U.S. is ever more deeply involved in significant conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and increasingly Yemen — at least five ongoing wars in the Greater Middle East. Yet, in the midst of Election 2016, with the single exception of the long-proclaimed, long-awaited Iraqi-Kurdish offensive against Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul (with U.S. advisers on the frontlines and U.S. Apache helicopter crews in the air), the rest of our spreading military actions might as well be taking place on Mars.
By Staff of Aljazeera – Electoral officials in Venezuela have suspended a recall referendum campaign against President Nicolas Maduro, a move that further challenges opposition efforts to oust the socialist leader in the wake of a deepening econonomic crisis. Thursday’s decision by the electoral council came after several regional courts voided the results of an earlier signature drive against Maduro due to fraud allegations.
By Lee Fang for The Intercept – When it comes to presidential debates, the United States does not practice what it preaches: When advising debate organizers in foreign countries, government officials advise them to include minor party candidates. USAID, the government agency charged with promoting foreign development, funded a guide for “organizers around the globe seeking to hold candidate debates for elected offices.” The guide, published in 2014, recommends that debates be as inclusive as possible.
By Claude Brodesser-Akner for NJ – NEWARK — Former Wall Street executive turned 2017 Democratic candidate for governor Phil Murphy on Thursday unveiled a radical proposal for reviving New Jersey’s economy and saving its pension system millions in fees: A public bank, owned by taxpayers. Daring New Jersey to “put our money where our mouth is” Murphy unveiled his idea for a “Bank of New Jersey” as the cornerstone of his economic platform during a speech at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.