After Downing Street

Robocops Employ Scary Crowd-Stopping Technology at Pittsburgh Protests

No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one that reportedly made its debut in the U.S., was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.

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Why Are Two Top Torture Lawyers Working for Obama?

We've heard of John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales, and maybe even Jay Bybee. Some of us recall John Ashcroft, Michael Mukasey, and even David Addington. William Haynes, Stephen Bradbury, and Douglas Feith occasionally make the news. If I had any say about it all 40 of these facilitators of torture would be universally known -- plus the eight more that readers of this article will call to my attention and angrily accuse me of trying to cover for by only being aware of 40. I would also make universally known the fact that two of the worst now work for President Barack Obama.

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Three Reasons Why Single-Payer Health Care Has Become Possible

While a Democratic polling firm has just found, as pollsters always do, dramatic public support for public health coverage, Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill appear divided, as they have always been, over whether to take a comprehensive approach to health care.

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Halliburton Gang Rape Victim Continues to Be Denied Justice

What does one say to a young woman gang raped by men paid by us to work for a company from which our vice president profits, men who have yet to be charged with any crime, a company yet to make amends in any way, and a presidential administration effectively granted immunity by our representatives in Congress?

I'm going to interview Jamie Leigh Jones on Tuesday evening, January 15th (8 to 9 p.m. ET), and she'll take questions from the audience. You can listen and participate at http://www.thepeoplespeakradio.net and I certainly hope you will, because I have absolutely no idea myself what I can say to her. What excuse can any of us offer? What words can convey the depth of our shame? What can we commit to doing to help her and others like her?

Jones was hired at age 19 to work for Halliburton in Houston, Texas, and the next year was sent to Iraq to work for Halliburton. She says that she was drugged and raped by numerous coworkers in Baghdad, and was then confined by Halliburton armed guards to a shipping container, denied food, water, or medical help.

Jones used a borrowed cell phone to contact her father, who in turn contacted Representative Ted Poe (R, TX) who contacted the State Department, which freed Jones from Halliburton's shipping container. U.S. Army doctors performed an examination that discovered evidence of vaginal and anal rape, but the sexual assault kit disappeared after being turned over to Halliburton and was later recovered missing some pieces of evidence, including doctor's notes and photographs of Jones' bruises.

Make Your Primary Vote Mean Something

1. Virtually nobody votes in primaries (or caucuses) compared to general elections. Therefore, each individual primary vote is worth many times what it is in the general election. And, it's more likely to be counted, since there's typically less fraud and abuse of the system in primaries. So, if you vote in general elections, you pretty much have to vote in primaries in order to not be an idiot. Bring a few friends to vote too, and you're practically a genius.

2. If you have to join a party that you don't support in order to vote in a primary, you can always unjoin again immediately after the primary. In the meantime, maybe you'll have helped to create a party you can support. You can even vote in a primary without planning to vote in the general election. If the 50% of Americans who don't vote at all (or even a small fraction of them) voted in primaries, they would determine the candidates in the general elections, in which they might then choose to vote as well.

3. If there's no candidate you like in a primary, you can write one in. A relatively very small amount of organizing can even lead to a victory for that candidate. (Or some signature gathering could place your candidate's name on the ballot.)

4. If there is a good candidate on the ballot, then an extremely small amount of organizing can lead to a victory for that candidate. And something short of a victory can still mean some number of delegates for your candidate going to the party's convention from your state, or momentum for your candidate in future states. Primaries, unlike general elections, are not winner-take-all. (You can even become a delegate for your candidate and get a trip to a convention out of this.)

5. In most presidential elections, the party's nominee is decided before many states hold their primaries. So, for most people, the point of voting is not to choose the nominee. (And therefore almost nobody votes, opening the door to effective action by non-idiots.) The point is also not to "show support and loyalty" for a nominee already chosen (democracies have no need for such displays, which are best suited to another type of regime). Rather, the point is to elect as many delegates as possible for the candidate whose positions you most favor, so that those delegates can influence the party's platform and the nominee's positions at the convention, or even make your candidate the vice presidential nominee.

6. In early states, surprise underdog candidates can build momentum, and voting for such a candidate does not entail spoiling the primary for a mediocre candidate who you believe has a better chance of defeating the worst candidate. This is because it takes several states over a period of days or weeks for one candidate to lock down a victory. A surprising showing for an underdog candidate with dramatically distinct positions can put that candidate into the running in the minds of future voters, and can very quickly move the mediocre candidates to become better than mediocre, and therefore better able to compete in future states.

7. Swing voters almost do not exist. Fewer than 4% of voters in 2004 ever planned to vote for Kerry and switched to Bush or vice versa. So, appealing to one's own base and turning those people out to vote is key to winning the general election. Therefore, Democrats who want to win the general election, for example, should nominate the most Democratic, not the most Republican, candidate in the primaries. (Republicans already know this.)

8. Pre-primary corporate polls that purport to tell us who is most "viable" and "electable" are primarily a product of corporate media coverage and spin, much of which is "coverage" of the previous polls. The way to determine which candidate is most viable begins by canceling your newspaper subscriptions and recycling your television.

9. In a democracy, the most electable candidate is the candidate whom the most people actually like. The most reliable gauge available to any of us of whom people will like is whom we ourselves personally and honestly most like. Therefore, there can be no distinction between whom you like and whom you consider "viable." The candidate you most like, honestly, in your own considered private opinion, is the most viable candidate. And you can make that even more so if you lead by example. Don't just vote, but campaign, promote, and contribute, as much and as early as you can. "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men [and women], -- that is genius." - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

10. The following are majority positions among Americans, and overwhelmingly majority positions among Democrats: end the occupation of Iraq, impeach the vice president, create single-payer not-for-profit universal health coverage, withdraw from corporate trade agreements like NAFTA, and slash the Pentagon budget in order to invest in diplomacy, foreign aid, education, jobs, and green energy. Only one presidential candidate supports this platform: Dennis Kucinich. Read the full version of this article here.

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