500 International Monitors to check integrity of US election


Larry Marano/Rex/Shutterstock

The democracy and human rights arm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has issued an assessment of election conditions in the run-up to presidential and congressional elections on 3 November…

A week-long needs assessment mission by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) beginning on 29 May found there was widespread concern that “election officials will face serious challenges prior to and on election day, due to new measures in response to Covid-19 pandemic, and expressed concerns over their ability to overcome them.”…

Most of the officials and experts the mission talked to said they would welcome the presence of foreign election observers

In many US states there is no guarantee that international observers will be allowed in polling stations.

The tone of the 2020 ODIHR report reflects far more alarm than in 2016, and notes that only some of its recommendations for improvements in the US electoral system have been acted on.

Americans love to believe “we’re #1” at anything we do. Please don’t forget that includes serious fraud, organized crime – including the flavor with names of political parties on the stationery.

Net neutrality gets a big win in federal court


Just the beginning, folks

An appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules…requiring internet providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision is another victory for consumer advocates, the regulator and the Obama administration who have campaigned for years to protect an open internet.

While it is a major setback for the cable companies and other internet service providers that lined up to oppose the rule-making, it is unlikely to be the last time the rules are challenged; both sides expect the case to eventually land before the supreme court.

What? Did anyone expect these greedy bastards to accept any ruling that limits the number of zeros they already lie about on their tax returns.

The rules, which change the FCC’s classification of internet service providers by treating them like a public utility, attempt to prevent companies that provide internet connections from privileging traffic from one source over another.

An army of internet activists fought for the net neutrality rules passed by the FCC in 2015…

The FCC recorded over 4 million comments from ordinary human beings. Consumers. Folks who pay the bill.

The FCC argued that the rules are crucial for allowing customers to go anywhere on the internet without a provider favoring its own service over that of other competitors.

The FCC’s move to reclassify broadband came after Barack Obama publicly urged the commission to protect consumers by regulating internet service as it does other public utilities.

For all the claptrap from politicians and corporate pimps about capitalist competition a great many Americans have little or no choice when it comes to accessing the Web. I have two. I get a decent speed from my cable provider – for way too much money. One friend in San Francisco gets four times my download speed for less than my monthly charge.

Like most rural Americans [and Canadians] there are friends of this blog still dealing with not much more than dial-up speeds even though copper is capable of a lot more.

The United States isn’t in the Top Ten for average internet speeds.

Texas judge switches parties for principle, for progress

Judge Key made his points pretty clearly. Any commentary I can make would echo what he’s said.

Regular readers know I hold no brief for the 2-party system we’re saddled with or the history of both parties doing everything they can to inhibit truly independent political action. Still, when someone stands up against bigotry, sophistry and hypocrisy while running for office in the United States – and, notably, in Texas – he deserves the applause of all progressive Americans. And votes from Texans.

About half of Americans trust the White House, hardly anyone trusts Congress — how many trust the Supreme Court?

An overwhelming majority of Americans think that the Supreme Court justices’ political views will influence how they vote on the Obama health care reform cases…

Respondents were asked “The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide the constitutionality of the health care reform law signed by President Obama in 2010. Do you expect the Court will make this decision based solely on legal merits, or do you expect politics will influence how some justices vote? ”

The poll found 75 percent of Americans think politics will influence the justice’s votes, while 17 percent think they will vote solely on the legal merits, and 8 percent aren’t sure.

Respondents who described themselves as politically independent were most skeptical of the justices’ ability to keep politics out of their decision making process; 80 percent of independents thought politics would influence the justices. Of Republicans, 74 percent thought politics would play a factor, while just 65 percent of Democrats thought politics would influence the outcome.

This is the result of decades of Republicans making revision of the Supreme Court a central task of every Republican presidency – and Democrats lacking the backbone to fight for an independent judiciary. While we’ve seen dry academic polls lay out this change starting with the Reagan years — till now, there was some conviction that the conservatives on the bench would continue to spell the word with a small “c”. This poll demonstrates that the American people have no belief in that being true at all.

We all know the level of contempt felt for the corruption factory that is Congress. And the nation – divided as it is in response to the ideologues of the Right and Religion who preach division – stays divided over the residents of the White House. But, it is a new state of affairs when the third branch of our tripartite government has plunged to the same depths of perceived crony corruption as the rest of government.

I guess we can give special thanks to the Republican Party, once again, for the reintroduction of class warfare to the United States.

CEO of JPMorgan/Chase — Wall Street a disgrace

The chief executive of JPMorgan says he can understand some of the grievances of the Occupy movement, describing some of Wall Street’s actions as “a total disgrace.”

Speaking with CNN’s Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon was asked if he was worried about growing antagonism towards the rich.

“It’s becoming an entrenched view, but here’s the parts I agree with,” he said. “People are angry because a lot of people in Wall Street made a lot of money as companies went down the tubes, and I agree with them. That’s a total disgrace.”

He stressed his firm had acted responsibly. “We never had special severance packages and stuff like that… So a lot of new rules being promulgated, we were always doing them.”

Dimon said he was concerned about the gap between rich and poor. “I do think we’re all better off if society gets increasingly equitable. The question we’ve got to deal with is, how do you do that?”

He advocated progressive taxation, and a focus on “giving people better opportunities.”

“In the United States, half the kids in inner city schools don’t graduate — that’s the biggest sin we make in our country right there.”

Jamie Dimon must drive most of his competitors round the bend. He’s never reticent to tell the truth as he sees it.

That doesn’t mean he’s right more often than his peers; but, he certainly doesn’t consider diplomacy a priority over banking analysis.

Click through to the article and watch the video. His remarks on an equitable society are about halfway through. It’s all interesting.

Canada’s election rules challenge Tweets

A ban on early broadcasting of election results that dates from the 1930s puts Canada on a collision course with social media like Twitter and Facebook, making a scofflaw of anyone who tweets too soon.

Canada goes to the polls on May 2 and critics say the ban — which was introduced in the days when radio was king — is totally unenforceable in an age when millions of people have access to the Internet.

As the law stands, nobody can even tweet election results from Eastern Canada before polls close in the Pacific province of British Columbia up to three hours later. Canada has six time zones…

Newspapers cannot update their websites with early results, broadcasters must stagger their reporting to be sure results go only to parts of the country where the polls have already closed and violators face fines of up to C$25,000.

This will be unenforceable by Elections Canada, and if they intend to fine everyone on Twitter who breaks the rules they will have a good financial year,” said Eric Grenier of the popular ThreeHundredEight.com political website.

Grenier told Reuters he would play it safe and not start issuing results until the final poll had closed, although it’s not clear whether U.S.-based bloggers will do the same.

RTFA. Have fun on Election Day. I don’t know anyone voting for either wing of the stodgy, corrupt establishment.

Team praised for letting opponents score


Ian Allison when he played for Arsenal

Boreham Wood FC have been praised for their immaculate sportsmanship after allowing an opposing team to score against them during a league match.

The Blue Square South team were playing away to Havant on Saturday when with nine minutes left the home side kicked the ball off the field so Boreham Wood’s injured player Sam Pearce could receive treatment.

The Wood’s Mario Noto received the ball from the resulting throw-in and kicked it back to the opposing goalkeeper from around the halfway line. But there was a problem: Noto made contact a little too well, and his ‘pass-back’ flew straight into the goal.

The strike had levelled the scores, so Boreham Wood manager Ian Allinson – a former Arsenal star – decided that for justice to be done he must order his men to let the opposition score unopposed from the kick-off.

Wes Fogden was the lucky Havant player who was able to walk the ball upfield and kick it into the net as Boreham Wood’s players stood by.

Havant finished 2-1 winners thanks to what their manager Shaun Gale called “a great gesture”, and Boreham Wood’s boss had no regrets about his decision.

I’d rather lose the correct way,” said Allinson, whose honourable actions have been hailed throughout the world of football.

Bravo!

Any sports/teams in your neck of the prairie where you could conceive of this happening?

Thanks, honorarynewfie

How did Quakers conquer the British sweet tooth?

Cadbury, which [looks as if it] has been sold to US firm Kraft, is one of several great British firms founded by Quakers. But how did they gain such a stranglehold on the chocolate industry and why were they so successful in business?

For a religious sect more interested in championing social reform than industry, the Quakers have established an impressive roll call of household business names.

Barclays and Lloyds banks, Clarks shoes, Bryant & May matches and the biscuit firms Huntley & Palmers and Carrs are just a few of the companies founded by members of the pacifist group.

But when it comes to confectionery, there has been a virtual monopoly for more than a century, led by Cadbury of Birmingham, Fry’s of Bristol and Rowntree’s and Terrys of York…

This achievement is all the more remarkable given the tiny numbers of Quakers. In 1851 they only accounted for about one in 1,400 of the population of 21 million in England, Scotland and Wales – less than 0.1%.

The move into chocolate began with cocoa drinks in the 19th Century as a reaction against the perceived misery and deprivation caused by alcohol, says Quaker historian Helen Rowlands.

“Quakers and other non-conformists at the time were concerned about levels of alcohol misuse in the population at large, they were part of the temperance movement.

“Cocoa was a way of providing cheap and available drink. It was healthy because you had to boil the water to make it when they didn’t have good water supplies…”

Another advantage was their reputation for honesty and reliability running parallel with their quest for justice, equality and social reform.

“They were amongst the first to set a firm price for goods. There was a lot of bartering before, but the Quakers said ‘no, we’ll state the price for goods and a fair price’,” says Ms Rowlands.

“People appreciated that, they knew where they stood with Quaker businessmen – they were in it to make a livelihood but not at the expense of customers or employees…”

RTFA. Lots of interesting history. There are parallels in many nations, many lands.