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Jul 22nd
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"Gravely Concerned That Egypt's Democracy Has Faltered," Jimmy Carter
May 18, 2014

The Carter Center is concerned about the restrictive political and legal context surrounding Egypt's electoral process, the lack of a genuinely competitive campaign environment, and the deep political polarization that threatens the country's transition as May 26-27 presidential elections quickly approach.

Although a significant part of the Egyptian population appears to support the military-backed transition, the period following the July 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has been marked by severe and escalating political conflict, polarization, and the failure to advance national reconciliation.  In addition to the oppression and exclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, there has been a crackdown on opposition and media across the political spectrum and expanding limitations on fundamental political freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly. There also has been a sharp rise in the incidence of militant attacks against the military and police. While a new constitution was approved in January 2014, the document itself was drafted quickly and without an inclusive process, failing to build broad consensus on a shared vision for a democratic society.

As a result, Egypt's political transition has stalled and stands on the precipice of total reversal.  While it is important for Egypt's leaders to improve the political climate before the presidential elections, the immediate post-election environment will be even more critical if Egypt's transition is to result in a democratic outcome. The new president will hold not only executive authority, but also sole legislative powers until a new parliament is elected, thus greatly strengthening the president's ability to shape the course of political events.

"I am gravely concerned that Egypt's democratic transition has faltered. Egypt's next president should take immediate steps to foster dialogue and political accommodation to ensure that the full spectrum of Egyptian society can participate meaningfully in politics," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. "Constitutional reforms, based on inclusive dialogue and consensus-building efforts, also would help to create a shared vision for Egyptian society. These and other steps forward will be possible only if all Egyptians renounce violence and commit to peaceful political dialogue and reconciliation."

The Carter Center deployed a small expert mission to assess the political and legal context surrounding the May 2014 presidential electoral process.  Based on the mission's analysis, and in a spirit of respect and support, The Carter Center recommends the following steps to open political space before the presidential elections and to advance political accommodation in the post-election period ahead of parliamentary elections:

  • End the government crackdown on peaceful dissenting forces, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters as well as opposition activists and movements such as the April 6th movement and others.   

  • Immediately rescind the Protest Law, which severely restricts public gatherings and rallies, including for electoral campaigning, and release persons imprisoned under the law. Ensure key rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial.

  • Ease restrictions on media outlets to enable a more open political debate during the electoral process.  Going forward, put in place a media code of ethics.

  • Ensure that the forthcoming parliamentary election law is developed with broad political inclusion, protects core political rights enshrined in the constitution, and serves to promote strong parties and a vibrant legislative branch.

  • Pursue dialogue and national reconciliation efforts, including independent judicial investigation into wrongful deaths and allegations of torture.
  • Consider new constitutional amendments to ensure protection of core human rights and political freedoms. 

  • Ensure maximum access for elections observers throughout the rest of the presidential election process, including during the aggregation of results.

  • Establish new regulations on election observation for future elections to ensure that observer groups, especially national citizen observers, can be accredited early enough to assess and have adequate access to the entire electoral process.
The Carter Center has observed most of Egypt's recent electoral processes, including the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections and the 2012 presidential elections.  For the recent constitutional referendum process and the upcoming presidential elections, the Center deployed smaller expert missions focusing on the broader legal and political context on the transition.

The Center's expert mission for the May 26-27 presidential elections requested and the Presidential Election Commission approved accreditations for 10 people to carry out this work. Given its size, the Center's limited mission will not deploy to observe election day procedures. The Carter Center's electoral assessment and observation activities around the world are implemented in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which establishes guidelines for professional and impartial election observation.

The Left by Uri Avnery

Ultimately, Israeli leftism is based on one’s view of the occupation

To the left, peace isn’t merely a formal political framework but a profound process of reconciliation that requires each side to show respect for the culture, tradition and history of the other side.



I’ve been asked what the concept of the left means in Israel. I thought I could answer this question easily, then I realized it was a tough job.

It’s easy to say what the left isn’t. The left is the opposite of fascism — the doctrine that the nation is the most important thing and people are merely cells in the national body. The left is also the opposite of Orthodox Jewish religious law, which states that one does not save the life of a non-Jew on the Sabbath. The left is also the opposite of communism in its Soviet form, which turned people into cogs in a destructive machine.

The left is human. The left believes that human beings are the most important thing. The state is based on an agreement among all its citizens, and the state has no mystical, national or religious significance. To the left, nationality is a cultural and political setting that gives people a feeling of belonging, according to their own free will.

The difference between the left and the right is mainly the difference between spiritual and emotional, from which the practical differences stem. Leftism is a worldview that encompasses all areas of life.

In Israel, because of the special circumstances under which the state was established and exists, the difference between left and right isn’t the same as in other countries. In the broader world, the concepts of left and right are largely defined according to differences in social perception. In Israel they are defined first of all by one’s relation to peace and occupation. A person cannot be a leftist if he supports a regime of occupation and repression.

The left desires peace. It sees Israel’s second nation — the Palestinian Arab nation — as a brother nation. It utterly rejects the occupation, which is inhuman by its very nature. The left strives for Israeli-Palestinian peace. To it, peace isn’t merely a formal political framework but a profound process of reconciliation that requires each side to show respect for the culture, tradition, history and desires of the other side. This will be the rule in the comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace that follows.

Since the left believes in every nation’s right to freedom and independence, it strives for coexistence between Israel’s two nations, each in a state that expresses its political and cultural essence. To the left, the settlement movement is a moral and political disaster because its main goal is to take control of the entire country, prevent peace and carry out ethnic cleansing. The left believes that the border between the two states should be open, in the hope that relations between them will strengthen.

The left wants Israel to be a member of the family of nations, faithful to international law and a full partner in the fight for a world order that prevents war and civil war, saves the planet and ends disease, hunger, suffering and ignorance.

The left also supports social justice and mutual responsibility. Every person has the right to use his or her abilities to the fullest. Below is a safety net that ensures a respectable standard of living for the weak, the poor, the handicapped and the unfortunate.

A leftist society is based on equality between men and women, Jews and Arabs, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, members of all religions and members of none, with no discrimination based on sexual preference. A leftist society ensures all children the possibility to live under equitable conditions; every child has the right to a modern, egalitarian education open to the world. A leftist society treats refugees and labor migrants compassionately, integrates them into the job market and allows them to live as human beings.

A leftist society is based on the complete separation of religion and state. It has civil marriage and divorce, with every person possessing the right to join or leave any religion. All men and women live according to their own faith. Every person who shares in the fulfillment of this ideal in spirit and action, every single day, belongs to the Israeli left.

This column originally appeared in Haaretz, and the author kindly granted permission for its publication on Planetary.


Top Ten Examples of Legislation that Exacerbate Racial & Class Disparities by Rev. William J. Barber
June 21, 2012
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1) They want less people to vote. They passed one of the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the country which was vetoed by Gov. Perdue, though lawmakers are still threatening another try at overriding her veto. In a baffling and audacious move of regression, this legislature has frozen $4 million dollars from the federal Help America Vote Act, also known as HAVA, that would be used to help our elections run smoothly by training poll workers, upgrading voting equipment and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. Republican leaders refused to include $660,000 for the State Board of Elections that would trigger the release the funds. The $4 million remains in a North Carolina bank unable to be used! They also passed the most race-based redistricting maps since the 19th Century, which we are challenging in court right now.
2) Ultra-Conservative lawmakers aggressively advanced the far right's cherished objective of marginalizing and privatizing public education. They slashed essential funding, which will further demoralize and lower confidence in the public schools. Right wing conservatives pushed through specific bills to introduce school vouchers. This gives corporations the ability to send their tax dollars to other corporations and private schools, thereby reducing funds available to struggling public schools. They dramatically expand the state's unproven experiment with charter schools, including for-profit virtual charters.  This is part of their efforts to transfer schools from centers of learning for children to centers of profit for corporations. They also pounced on an opportunity to override a veto when certain Democratic members of the House were absent, ensuring they had enough votes. The legislation denies affordable loans to needy community college students and slashes need-based scholarships to public universities, including HBCUs.  
3) Maybe most disturbing of all, they passed punitive budgets that fire teachers and teacher assistants, lock at-risk kids out of Pre-K and Smart Start, slash services to people with mental illness. etc., all while giving that tax break to the wealthiest lawyers and doctors in the state.
4) They are punishing workers. This includes the month-and-half long "hostage crisis" that legislators instigated last spring in which deserving unemployed workers were denied essential benefits for weeks in order to abet the Republicans' budget negotiating strategy and the current push to slash worker benefits to repay a federal loan while ignoring the cuts in the unemployment taxes businesses pay that caused the problem.
5) Instead of getting North Carolinians back to work and addressing the fact that 1.6 million people live in stark poverty in our state, they are pushing regressive tax policies that help the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the majority. At the heart of much of the damage inflicted during the session was the majority's rigid and nonsensical push to cut state taxes at a time of severe budget shortfalls and in which a large majority of the public opposed the idea. Not only that, they then voted to give millionaires a tax cut that was supposed to be targeted at small businesses, even defeating an amendment on the Senate floor that would have limited the tax cut and used the savings to prevent teacher layoffs and to fund compensation for eugenics victims.
6) The final budget tragically removed a provision to address the utter violation of human dignity and human bodies through forcible sterilization by the North Carolina Eugenics Board of mostly poor and disproportionally African American women. This was passed with bi-partisan support in the House and was not even allowed to go before the Senate for a full discussion with a trick legislative move that removed it from the agenda. This is unconscionable and a slap in the face to victims and their families.
7) They voted to repeal the Racial Justice Act, not once but twice. The most recent bill that was shamefully passed this week goes beyond just repealing the Racial Justice Act. The right wing bill writers snuck other provisions into the bill to make it easier to kill people. They took power from the Council of State to control the method of killing defendants. They made sure a jury and judge cannot consider the race of the victim in a capital trial, which every study has proven is a significant factor in whether someone is given the death penalty. If we do use the death penalty, we demand that race has nothing to with it. They don't care if race has anything to do with someone's death. If we do use the death penalty, we demand it is as humane as possible. They don't care how the State murders the convicts. If we do use the death penalty, we demand we are absolutely sure they are guilty. In North Carolina alone, seven men have been exonerated from death row, five of them African American and one of them Latino. They would be dead if the system worked faster and protections like the ones the right wing is trying to destroy were not in place.
8) They voted to prevent Planned Parenthood from using state funds to provide health screenings and family planning services to low-income women and families.

9) They expanded the spread and use of guns. Anxious to kowtow to the powerful gun lobby, conservative lawmakers pushed through a bill that includes twelve pages of new changes to liberalize state firearm laws. Among the most notable provisions: changes to state law that would encourage home and vehicle owners to shoot those who they believe to be intruders and an expansion of the places to which gun owners with "concealed carry" permits may take firearms - including public parks. A bill to allow guns in bars and restaurants is still pending.
10) They are poisoning our rivers and our land. Lawmakers passed a bevy of bills at the request of polluters and other corporate special interests, including slashing regulations that protect local communities and voting to legalize fracking. They did so after admitting that the oil and gas industry may fund the people who will be charged with regulating the environment and safety protections put in place for fracking companies.

Recent Illegal Voting Charges in Iredell County, North Carolina by Rev. William Barber
March 9, 2012
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While the NAACP never relishes when citizens are charged with criminal offenses, recent indictments regarding possible voting fraud violations have proven that the current laws to protect against fraud are working well in Iredell County and North Carolina. No matter how these cases are finally adjudicated, it is clear that the laws that we already have on the books are sufficient. There is no need to politicize this incident or try to justify the adoption of voter ID laws because of this incident. The truth is a voter ID law will result in the disenfranchisement of almost 500,000 North Carolinians, significantly impacting African-Americans, Latinos, poor people, students, the elderly and other minorities.
We currently use signature attestation to certify voters are who they claim to be. Violations of our voting laws carry a felony penalty and the court system adjudicates those who violate the law.  The tried and true methods of candidates and their representatives watching the polls, and examining the addresses of those who voted worked well.  These procedures for protecting the dignity and integrity of the voting process have worked for hundreds of years. This is a situation that would not have been prevented by a voter ID requirement.
Guilt or innocence is not a matter for us to decide but for the courts to determine. We respect that all accused parties are innocent until proven guilty. We also respect the right for this case to proceed through the court system based on its merits. We are pleased that the system that protects the integrity of our elections worked.  The laws against voter fraud are tough.  While respecting the rights of all who are involved in this matter, the criminal justice system will now seek to determine the guilt or innocence of those citizens who have been charged, and then determine the appropriate punishment for anyone found guilty.
The Statesville NAACP respects the rights of all people who have been charged with a criminal offense.   And the Statesville NAACP also respects the work of the investigators and prosecutors that proved once again we have strong protections in place to prevent voter fraud.   
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
It's here - Global centralization of elections, privatized By Bev Harris
January 13, 2012
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In a major step towards global centralization of election processes, the world's dominant Internet voting company has purchased the USA's dominant election results reporting company.

When you view your local or state election results on the Internet, on portals which often appear to be owned by the county elections division, in over 525 US jurisdictions you are actually redirected to a private corporate site controlled by SOE software, which operates under the name ClarityElections.com.

The good news is that this firm promptly reports precinct-level detail in downloadable spreadsheet format. As reported by BlackBoxVoting.org in 2008, the bad news is that this centralizes one middleman access point for over 525 jurisdictions in AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, KY, MI, KS, IL, IN, NC, NM, MN, NY, SC, TX, UT, WA. And growing.

As local election results funnel through SOE's servers (typically before they reach the public elsewhere), those who run the computer servers for SOE essentially get "first look" at results and the ability to immediately and privately examine vote details throughout the USA.

In 2004, many Americans were justifiably concerned when, days before the presidential election, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell redirected Ohio election night results through the Tennessee-based server for several national Republican Party operations.

This is worse: This redirects results reporting to a centralized privately held server which is not just for Ohio, but national; not just USA-based, but global.

A mitigation against fraud by SOE insiders has been the separation of voting machine systems from the SOE results reports. Because most US jurisdictions require posting evidence of results from each voting machine at the precinct, public citizens can organize to examine these results to compare with SOE results. Black Box Voting spearheaded a national citizen action to videotape / photograph these poll tapes in 2008.

With the merger of SOE and SCYTL, that won't work (if SCYTL's voting system is used). When there are two truly independent sources of information, the public can perform its own "audit" by matching one number against the other.

These two independent sources, however, will now be merged into one single source: an Internet voting system controlled by SCYTL, with a results reporting system also controlled by SCYTL.

With SCYTL internet voting, there will be no ballots. No physical evidence. No chain of custody. No way for the public to authenticate who actually cast the votes, chain of custody, or the count.

SCYTL is moving into or already running elections in: the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India and Australia.

SCYTL is based in Barcelona; its funding comes from international venture capital funds including Nauta Capital, Balderton Capital and Spinnaker.

Here is the link to the press release regarding SYCTL's acquisition of SOE:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/scytl-acquires-soe-software-becoming-the-leadin g-election-software-provider-2012-01-11
Systemic Election Fraud: A Conspiracy Fact - not a Theory by Richard Charnin
December 27, 2011
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Election Fraud is systemic. Numerical and anecdotal evidence shows that it has resulted in four stolen presidential elections since 1968.
Does the US want a back door into other nation's elections? by Bev Harris
Someone had to say it. So I will.
Arc of Darkness by Michael Carmichael

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November 4, 2008

For eight years, the American people have been held hostage on a roller-coaster ride from Hell commandeered by their rogue Commander-In-Chief, “W.”, and his senior sidekick, Dick Cheney. 

Careening from the chaos of the Florida fiasco of 2000, when the winner of the presidential election was shunted aside and the loser was inaugurated following a controversial finding by the Supreme Court under William Rehnquist, the American roller-coaster has taken its captive passengers and the rest of the world through a series of dizzying loop-the-loops.  Half-way through the eight-year ride an interim election took place, and its results were just as troubling. 

If democracy is denied by Michael Carmichael

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The sheer momentum of the Obama-Biden ticket has triggered  frantic and massive Republican vote-rigging operations in key battleground states designed to manufacture a counterfeit majority in the Electoral College. 

Tactical operations now stemming from the McCain-Palin campaign and its surrogates are designed to lead to litigation in the Supreme Court now under the direction of Chief Justice John Roberts who capably served under James Baker and George W. Bush as the primary architect of the legal maneuvers that decided the presidential election of 2000 by a party line vote in the Rehnquist Court.
GOP Endgame: Vote Suppression by Michael Carmichael

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Facing the political failure of the McCain-Palin ticket, official GOP strategy has shifted from futile attempts to win the popular vote by demonizing Barack Obama to a reversion to American voting standards of the 18th and 19th centuries.  The GOP campaign  is a blatant attempt to effect a surgical manipulation of the Electoral College that will overturn the popular vote.
Kingdom of Darkness by Michael Carmichael

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It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy. With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida.
  Jimmy Carter, 2004

BBC reports the stealing of the election 2008 by Michael Carmichael

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Last Friday on the BBC's premier news program, Newsnight, Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. warned that massive voter fraud will decide the US presidential election in favor of John McCain.

Bush calls Mugabe, 'Undemocratic' by Michael Carmichael

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As a former advisor to Morgan Tsvangirai, I am compelled to offer the following observations 
on the recent attempt by President George W. Bush to appear less despotic than the reviled 
president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

In the midst of the sham election rigged to give Robert Mugabe the impression that he is still the 

most popular leader of his teeming masses, George W. Bush outdid himself in a realm where he 
deserves a special distinction for excellence:  hypocrisy.

Mugabe Rigs Election Results by Michael Carmichael

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Copying a page from the Karl Rove playbook, Robert Mugabe ordered the Electoral Commission of Zimbabwe to rig the results of last weekend’s presidential election.

Morgan Tsvangiri - Zimbabwe on a Razor's Edge
As a core policy in our pro-democracy mission, Planetary monitors situations involving the denial of democracy. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is one of the world’s most despotic tyrants. In 2002, Mugabe rigged the presidential election and prosecuted Tsvangirai on false charges of treason that carried the death penalty.  International outrage helped to protect Tsvangirai from the hangman’s noose, and he was awarded the coveted Democracy Medal by the International Association of Political Consultants.