Category Archives: Elections

Half a Million March in Massive Uprising Against Spanish Plan to Overtake Catalonia

Catalans poured into the streets of Barcelona Saturday following the Spanish prime minister announcement that he would move to take control of their region

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-21-2017

Catalans did not take the news that Spanish Prime Minister will move to impose direct rule on their region quietly on Saturday. Nearly half a million people marched in Barcelona soon after the prime minister’s press conference.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia, joined the demonstration before a planned speech responding to Mariano Rajoy’s statement that pending the approval of the senate, which his party controls, he would remove the Catalan government from power and call for a special election in the coming months.

The protesters chanted, “Freedom!” and “Rajoy, Rajoy, so you know we are leaving!” Continue reading

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Bolstering Case for Impeachment, Study Concludes Trump ‘Likely Obstructed Justice’

A detailed analysis finds “substantial” evidence to support claims that Trump attempted to undermine an ongoing investigation by firing former FBI director James Comey

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Image via CNN Twitter

In a new study aimed at collecting and analyzing all of the relevant facts surrounding President Donald Trump’s legally questionable conduct in office—particularly his firing of former FBI director James Comey—three lawyers conclude it is “likely” that Trump has obstructed justice, and that whether he is held accountable for his actions “will have significant consequences for the functioning of our democracy.”

“We do not yet know all the relevant facts, and any final determination must await further investigation, including by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” concludes the Brookings Institute report—authored by Norm Eisen and Noah Bookbinder of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) and Barry Berke of the law firm Kramer Levin.

Nonetheless, the lawyers argue that the facts currently in the public record amount to “substantial evidence that President Trump attempted to obstruct the investigations into Michael Flynn and Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election through various actions, including the termination of James Comey.”

“Demanding the loyalty of an individual involved in an investigation, requesting that individual’s help to end the investigation, and then ultimately firing that person to accomplish that goal are the types of acts that have frequently resulted in obstruction convictions,” the analysis notes, citing the impeachment proceedings against former presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, as well as Judges Samuel Kent and Harry Claiborne.

In all of these cases, the lawyers observe, “Congress has…considered obstruction, conspiracy, and conviction of a federal crime to be valid reasons to remove a duly elected president from office.”

The study goes on to highlight several pieces of evidence that could form a cumulative case that Trump obstructed an ongoing investigation, including:

  • Trump’s “fabrication” of his initial reason for firing Comey (which was that Comey poorly handled the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server);
  • Trump’s role in crafting his son Donald Trump Jr.’s “inaccurate statements about the purpose of his meeting with a Russian lawyer” during the 2016 presidential campaign;
  • Trump’s threat to Comey that he “better hope there are no ‘tapes'” of their conversations; and
  • Trump’s repeated denunciations of the investigation into his conduct, which he has called a “fake” scandal drummed up by Democrats angry that they lost the election.

While the authors conclude by noting that the “appropriateness of impeaching the president on the grounds discussed” is “ultimately a matter of congressional discretion,” the relevant precedents, as well as the large body of evidence, indicate that Congress would have sufficient justification if it chose to do so.

As recent polling data demonstrates, such a move would likely be applauded by a large portion of the American public.

According to a Public Religion Research Institute survey in August, 40 percent of Americans believe Trump should be impeached—up 10 percentage points over a period of six months.

Most Americans also side with Eisen, Bookbinder, and Berke on the matter of obstruction of justice. A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 49 percent of Americans believe Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey.

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Iraqi Kurdistan: the fight for a seat at the table of nations

The result of Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum was never in doubt, but the budding state’s future is.

By Charles Glass. Published 10-6-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: Twitter

Of the 72 percent of registered voters who turned up at the polls, a little more than 93 percent opted to separate their homeland from Iraq. Independence, however, is fraught with the dangers of disputed borders, ferocious opposition from its neighbors and internal dissent.

As a longtime “friend of the Kurds” who made his first illegal attempt to enter Iraqi Kurdistan from Iran in 1974 with ABC News’ Peter Jennings but succeeded many times thereafter, I want to see them free and secure. More than that, my wish is to see them avoid the destruction and displacement of the kind that Saddam Hussein inflicted on them in 1975, 1988 and 1991, when the United States abandoned them to their fate. Their leaders would be well advised to proceed with caution. The Iraqi Kurds’ antagonistic leaders are Massoud Barzani in Arbil and Hero Ibrahim Ahmad, a formidable woman who acts as a kind of regent while her husband, former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, languishes in a semi-coma. The Barzanis and Talabanis, though rivals, guided their people through the dark years of genocide by the Iraqi government and brought them to the semi-independent status they enjoy today. For that, they deserve our respect. They probably do not deserve my advice, but I’ll offer it anyway. Continue reading

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#FairMaps: Pro-Democracy Rally as Supreme Court Hears ‘Most Significant’ Voting Rights Case in Decades

“Make no mistake about it: Extreme partisan gerrymandering is corruption. It’s a cancer on democracy. End it now!”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-3-2017

“Gerrymandering has no value in our democracy,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil and Human Rights. (Photo: Janai Nelson/Twitter)

Wielding signs that read “hands off our districts” and “you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your voters,” hundreds of civil rights advocates, lawyers, and lawmakers rallied in the nation’s capital Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments in a landmark redistricting case that poses “the most serious challenge to gerrymandering in modern times.”

The case under consideration—Gill v. Whitford—is the result of a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin voters and the Campaign Legal Center in 2015 alleging that Republican-drawn state district lines violated the rights of Democratic voters. In 2016, a federal court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, arguing that the GOP’s district maps amounted to “an aggressive partisan gerrymander” and ordered the lines redrawn.  Continue reading

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More Than 700 Injured as Spanish Police Try to Prevent Catalan Independence Vote

The Spanish government’s “unjustified use of violence,” says regional leader Carles Puigdemont, “will not stop the will of the Catalan people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-1-2017

Police beating firemen in Girona. Photo: Gerry Lynch/Twitter

Update:

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 760 people were injured in Catalonia after Spanish police clashed with voters who attempted to cast votes for the region’s independence referendum, which Madrid has deemed unconstitutional, Reuters reports.

Despite the reports of violence, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy praised the police force for its actions in Catalonia Sunday.

Alarming photos and videos continued to circulate on social media into the evening:

Earlier:

Catalan officials say Spanish police have injured more than 330 people who tried to vote during Catalonia’s independence referendum on Sunday.

Madrid has declared the vote unconstitutional, but Catalan citizens and members of the regional government have vowed to move forward with it. In recent days they have protested by the thousands, and even occupied more than 160 local schools that were set to serve as polling stations, in attempts to avoid the national police’s promise to prevent voting.

The BBC reports:

Police officers are preventing people from voting, and seizing ballot papers and boxes at polling stations. In the regional capital Barcelona, police used batons and fired rubber bullets during pro-referendum protests.

Catalan emergency services said they had treated 38 people who were injured when police pushed back crowds of voters and forced their way into polling stations. The Spanish interior ministry said 11 police officers had been injured.

Catalan firefighters even battled with police officers on Sunday, trying to protect voters from the national police. Videos of their exchanges quickly circulated on Twitter:

As police continue to seize ballot materials, Catalan government officials are allowing voters to print their own ballot papers and use any open polling station if theirs is shut down. Ballot papers simply as voters “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?” and instruct them to check a box for “Yes” or “No.”

The regional government leader Carles Puigdemont condemned violence by the national police and Guardia Civil, who were sent to Catalonia to help with Madrid’s effort to stop the vote.

“The unjustified use of violence,” Puigdemont said, “by the Spanish state will not stop the will of the Catalan people.”

Several public figures outside of Spain turned to social media on Sunday to condemn the violence:

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Southern Kurdistan’s Referendum: Self-Destiny doesn’t need Permission

Every flower that sprouts in the mountains had to first break through a rock.

By. Dr. Thoreau Redcrow. Published 9-22-2017 by the Region

Rallies and celebrations take place throughout Kurdistan as the referendum vote approaches Monday’s date.. Photo: Al Arabiya/Twitter

 

In a few days on September 25th the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Southern Kurdistan / Bashur (i.e. northern “Iraq”) is set to hold a non-binding aspirational referendum on their region’s independence. For many of the 6+ million Kurds of Bashur it is undoubtedly a day they have dreamt of or longed for; perhaps even a chance which seemed all but a fantasy through the billowing smoke of chemical bombs in Hełebce, or Saddam’s mass graves of the 1980’s.

Moreover, although this referendum is only related to one of the four regions of Greater Kurdistan—leaving those 20+ million Kurds of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), 12 million Kurds of northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and 2-3 million Kurds of northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) awaiting their own eventual ‘independence day’—I have still anecdotally witnessed a surge in Kurdish patriotism and excitement throughout wider Kurdistan and the diaspora at the possibility that the first of the four dominoes may finally fall. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday CIA: 7 Truly Terrible Things the Agency Has Done in 70 Years

By Carey Wedler. Published 9-18-2017 by The Anti-Media

The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency inlaid in the floor of the main lobby of the Original Headquarters Building. Photo by user:Duffman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, President Trump tweeted birthday wishes to the Air Force and the CIA. Both became official organizations 70 years ago on September 18, 1947, with the implementation of the National Security Act of 1947.

After spending years as a wartime intelligence agency called the Office of Strategic Services, the agency was solidified as a key player in the federal government’s operations with then-President Harry Truman’s authorization. Continue reading

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Ahead of Meeting, Trump Election Commission Ripped as ‘Stain on Democracy’

The so-called Election Integrity Commission is little more than a “platform for the extremist views of those who support voter suppression,” rights groups say

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-11-2017

Screenshot: CNN

As President Donald Trump’s so-called Election Integrity Commission is set to meet for the second time on Tuesday in New Hampshire, voting rights groups are slamming the panel as a “stain on democracy” and urging resistance to any attempt by the Trump administration to “restrict access to the ballot under the guise of eliminating voter fraud.”

“Our election process must be secure, fair, and transparent,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, but Trump is using his “sham commission to spread the lie of rampant fraud as a Trojan Horse for voter suppression.” Continue reading

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“Vindictive”: CODEPINK Activist Who Laughed During Jeff Sessions’ Hearing to Face New Trial

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this,” said Desiree Fairooz

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-2-2017

Desiree Fairooz (left), seen on May 10, 2017, just days after she was convicted of disorderly and disruptive conduct during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing. (Photo: Susan Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

CODEPINK activist Desiree Fairooz, who was arrested after laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ confirmation hearing, will face a second trial this fall after she rejected a plea deal on Friday.

“I still cannot believe the government refuses to drop this. Vindictive!” she wrote on Twitter, while CODEPINK called it “ridiculous.”

As Common Dreams reported, she was convicted in May of disorderly and disruptive conduct during the hearing. While Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) argued that Sessions’ record of “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented,” Fairooz, who was in the hearing room, laughed. She held up a sign that read “Support Civil Rights; Stop Sessions” as she was placed under arrest and taken out of the room. Continue reading

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As Tech Giants Threaten Democracy, Calls Grow for New Anti-Monopoly Movement

“It is time for citizens in America and all over the world to stand up to the bullies in our society, the monopolists.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-1-2017

“Americans are fed up with monopolies rigging our economy and politics,” said Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). (Photo: takomabibelot/Flickr/cc)

A major Washington-based think tank’s decision to fire a prominent Google critic earlier this week brought to the surface the massive and “disturbing” influence large tech companies have on political debate in the U.S., leading many analysts and lawmakers to call for the creation of an anti-monopoly movement to take on the threat consolidated corporate power poses to the democratic process.

As Brian Fund and Hamza Shaban note in an analysis for the Washington Post, “funding of think tanks is just one way Silicon Valley is expanding its influence in Washington.” Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are also “regularly setting records in their spending on lobbying and are pushing as many as 100 issues—or more—every year.” Continue reading

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