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Tue, 04 Oct 2022
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Koch Brothers send pro-Romney mailing to 45,000 employees, stifle workplace political speech

Koch brothers

The billionaire Koch brothers have found a new way to influence the 2012 election—preaching to employees
No longer is it good enough for the Kochs to spend unlimited money influencing elections. They are also touting candidates to employees while creating policies that have a chilling effect on employees' freedom of speech.

Much has been written about the owners of Koch Industries, brothers David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, trying to control the political process through hundreds of millions of dollars in donations to right-wing causes and candidates. Now, an In These Times investigation reveals that the billionaires have broken out another tactic to influence the 2012 elections: attempting to control their workers' votes.

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The guide was similar to one the company distributed before the 2010 midterm elections, which Mark Ames and I reported on in The Nation last year.

The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month. The cover letter, by Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson, read:

While we are typically told before each Presidential election that it is important and historic, I believe the upcoming election will determine what kind of America future generations will inherit.

Control Panel

Will e-voting machines give Romney the White House?

e-voting machine
Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney's business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O'Donnell reported for NBC's Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio's Hamilton County is "ground zero" for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O'Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has EVER won the White House without Ohio's electoral votes.

As we document in the e-book Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election, George W. Bush got a second term in 2004 thanks to the manipulation of the electronic vote count by Ohio's then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell served as the co-chair of the state's committee to re-elect Bush/Cheney while simultaneously administering the election.

Bad Guys

Engineering the Collapse: Portugal sees third year of recession in 2013 budget

Lisbon budget
© Reuters/Jose Manuel Ribeiro
A man sits on the steps of the Parliament in front of the riot police officers, protesting against new 2013 state budget in Lisbon October 15, 2012.
Portugal's centre-right government on Monday announced sweeping tax rises and spending cuts in its 2013 budget, which promises a third year of recession and hardship under the strict conditions of a 78-billion-euro (62.2 billion pounds) bailout.

Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar warned that failure to continue on the path of austerity could be catastrophic as about 2,000 protesters gathered outside parliament to demand the resignation of the government.


Propaganda Alert! Iranians plan oil spill to block Hormuz strait -- German weekly

write what you're told propaganda poster
Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief has drafted a plan to cause an environmental disaster in the Strait of Hormuz to block seaborne oil exports with the goal of removing economic sanctions imposed on Tehran, the weekly Der Spiegel said in an unsourced report.

There was no independent confirmation of the report.

The German newsmagazine reported that Mohammad Ali Jafari's plan, codenamed "Muddy Water", envisages the Iranians steering a tanker onto the rocks in the Strait, the world's most important oil shipping waterway.


Propaganda War: Undercounting civilian deaths in U.S. drone strikes on Pakistan

A new study from Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute finds that the number of Pakistani civilians killed in drone strikes are "significantly and consistently underestimated" by tracking organizations which are trying to take the place of government estimates on casualties, which the Obama administration won't comment on because the drone war is technically secret.

The study "warns that low civilian casualty estimates may provide false assurance to the public and policymakers that drone strikes do not harm civilians." Many low-ball estimates - like those from Long War Journal and New America Foundation - are due to reliance on news reports, which "suffer from common flaws" like trusting "anonymous Pakistani government officials or unnamed witnesses for the claim that 'militants' - rather than civilians - were killed."


Lies are the new truth: Brookings Institution attacks NY Times editor, demands servile journalism

Hillary Clinton Brookings Institution
© Jim Young/Reuters
Hillary Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institution
The New York Times public editor is attacked for suggesting the paper should "aggressively challenge" government claims on drones

As I noted on Sunday, the New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan devoted her weekly Sunday column to an excellent critique of her paper's coverage of US drone attacks. While noting that the Times has done some good work in attempting to bring transparency to the Obama administration's secret killings - in particular its May "kill list" article revealing that Obama adopted a ludicrously broad definition of "militant" that skews the "data" on civilian deaths - she then wrote:
"Since the article in May, its reporting has not aggressively challenged the administration's description of those killed as 'militants' - itself an undefined term. And it has been criticized for giving administration officials the cover of anonymity when they suggest that critics of drones are terrorist sympathizers."
There are, to put it mildly, numerous reasons for serious skepticism when it comes to administration claims about its drone program and civilian deaths. For one, Obama's chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, was conclusively proven to be spouting outright lies about civilian deaths from US drones.


The 2012 U.S. Presidential "Non-election": Which brand of "fascism" this time?

US Empire
© Duncan Long
No matter who "wins", humanity loses.

Every four years, the deck chairs of the political
Titanic that is the American empire get rearranged in the choreographed spectacle of another presidential "election". The 2012 charade is particularly disgusting; the lies more blatant and shrill, as the world continues to burn.

It is critical to focus on the cold, ugly reality facing the world with either prospective White House occupant.

On one side, the Obama administration, and the traditional brand of neoliberal imperialism and international consensus, and false domestic populism. On the other side with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, militant right-wing extremism, an apocalyptic war agenda and the politics of sadism at home.

The interests of the elite (Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberger, etc.) is dutifully served with either Obama or Romney in the White House. The question for the elite is purely over style and execution.

Obama has been a servile facilitator and protector of the political establishment; an insidious capitulator and "consensus man". For Wall Street's billionaires, the Pentagon's warmongers, and Washington's most shamelessly corrupt, there has been no greater gift than Obama and his presidency. But with Romney and Ryan, the agenda simply speeds up and destroys faster, more violently, with true theocratic maniacal fervor.

The final choice will not be made by voters (who will be disenfranchised again, via electronic vote fraud and other manipulations), but by the criminal elements who seize final control of the apparatus over the final month of the "contest".

The "children" are being allowed to fight it out amongst themselves. The side with ultimate command of the corporate media propaganda, the most effective back door deals, and the most effective dirty tricks and election night shenanigans, will prevail, the pre-determined result promptly encrypted into the software of controlled Diebold voting machines.


EU blocks Iranian TV channels from broadcasting inside Europe

European satellite provider Eutelsat SA says it has stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels following an order by the European Commission, Press TV reports.

The company ordered media services company, Arqiva, to take the Iranian satellite channels off one of its Hot Bird frequencies on Monday.

In a separate statement emailed to Press TV, Arqiva said that the decision was made by the EU Council.

"We terminated the contracts because it was the order of the European Commission. We have to follow it," Karen Badalov, area management of Eutelsat SA told Press TV.

Comment: A prelude to an attack on Iran? After all, the Western media has sanitized every Western war of aggression for the past 50 years. It looks like the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize winner is gearing up for another war...


Economic collapse: European sanctions against Iran -- EU Peace Prize


EU 'High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy' aka Foreign Minister, Catherine Ashton, has fully supported US imperial intervention in numerous war theaters, including economic sanctions (considered an act of war under international law) against Iran.
For those individuals on the planet with their eyes open, with fear in their hearts and a deep pain that has numbed their souls, today is not beautiful. The light at the end of the tunnel is awful in its vivid portrayal of the horror that awaits all of us, and we have no one to blame for the situations that we find ourselves in other than ourselves.
EU moves closer to new Iran sanctions

The European Union provisionally approved new economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program on Friday, with senior diplomats giving their backing to measures against Tehran's banking sector, industry and shipping.
How refreshing. For the Iranians who are currently watching as their economy is destroyed by sanctions, as they are threatened with war on a daily basis by those in America and Israel, the now Nobel-Laureate EU champions the rights of the people to watch their children starve, all while the president of the parliament has "overwhelming emotion for awarding of Nobel Prize to EU." It must be terribly difficult to live comfortable lives, gut the economies of member states, and war-monger. I can just see historians' confusion: "so did peace actually mean malicious cruelty to the 'people' of the 21st century?" Yes, yes it did. No one could make up the unimaginable evil that we are party to.


War Is Peace: European Union Wins 2012 Nobel Peace Prize

When I first saw the headline in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, I thought it was a joke and wondered if the WSJ had started publishing satirical pieces. But when it appeared to be genuine that the EU was this year's recipient of the Nobel peace prize, I checked to see which other mainstream propaganda outlets were carrying the story. To my surprise it was real and I was immediately reminded of the absurdity of the US government's war commander-in-chief (assassination 'kill list' to boot) receiving the prize in 2009.

My second reaction was to write a satirical piece, putting forward an equally unlikely candidate organisation for a peace prize such as the Federal Reserve or U.S. Congress. But it would have been too easy to mock the Nobel committee and, in any event, like many others, I really wanted to know the reason behind the choice. Reading some of the comments on The Telegraph and The Guardian, it's clear there is an overwhelming sense of bewilderment and frustration at what a farce the Nobel peace prize has become.

Now, It's pretty clear that the European Union is no Mother Teresa! But what on earth is the reason behind the EU winning the (formerly) preeminent international peace prize? Here are some ideas I've come up with so far:

1. The committee has been corrupted by political and corporate influences
2. The committee has been tasked with extending the limits of Orwellian double-speak
3. A publicity stunt
4. A smokescreen
5. An insiders' joke