Voices from Russia

Monday, 5 November 2012

As John Robles Sees It… USA Bans OSCE Observers: What are They Trying to Hide?


The American states of Texas and Iowa {both have undemocratic Republicans as Governors: editor} openly stated that OSCE Election Observers will face criminal prosecution if they come anywhere near election polling locations. What hypocrisy! The country that lectures the world on “democracy” is afraid to allow international observers to view its election process. That speaks volumes and brings into question the very fundamental legitimacy of that power. The world superpower that natters to every country on earth about democracy, transparency, and the rule of law, the country which attempts to justify aggressive invasions and the assassination of leaders of countries it doesn’t care for, for one reason or the other, by throwing around the word “democracy”, whilst it launches invasions and arms terrorists to remove rightful leaders, looks absolutely absurd and hypocritical in light of the fact that it’s attempting to intimidate and bar international elections observers from observing its “democratic” presidential election process.

Once again, the USA violates another international treaty or agreement it has signed or is bound to. This isn’t unusual and is more the rule for the USA than the exception, examples includes the Geneva Conventions, the Vienna Conventions, international anti-racism agreements, agreements regarding the treatment of indigenous peoples, prisoners of war, and scores of other agreements. Other areas where the USA does as it pleases include international standards and laws regarding the declaration of war, international arrests, territorial and sovereign integrity, pollution, labour practices, extra-judicial executions, and the list goes on. This time however, the double standards and absolute hypocrisy couldn’t be clearer.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) plans to deploy up to 100 elections observers all around the USA on Election Day to monitor polling and other associated processes. This comes after a warning, according to the web site thehill.com was issued to OSCE official Daan Everts earlier this month by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans, particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities”. Rather than welcoming international observers, as one would logically assume any country would do which claims to be the world leader in “democracy”, rightwing and “conservative” groups, include the supposed anti-election fraud group “True the Vote”, have come out screaming against international observers.

For those not blinded by the constant rhetoric and aware of the racist agendas of the far-right, this isn’t surprising. It’s one thing to suppress minority voters and throw up every barrier one can think of to keep them from the polls, and have them disgruntled and screaming racism, it’s yet another when that’s documented and observed by respected members of a respected and solid international inter-governmental body like the OSCE. After the election débâcle of 2000, when George W Bush’s brother Jeb Bush suppressed minority votes in Florida leading to George Bush’s winning the presidency in the Supreme Court, raised the interest of the international community as to the fairness of the American system, the OSCE was invited to observe American elections by George Bush himself in 2004, after UN observers were refused, although they’d been doing so since 2002.

The states in question, which threatened OSCE observers with arrest and imprisonment, currently include Texas and Iowa, with others likely to follow. Iowa has stated that it will arrest OSCE observers who come within 300 feet of polling locations with Texas issuing similar threats. The USA, as one of 56 OSCE members is supposedly committed, as are other member countries, to allow its elections to be observed, this has been true since 1990. Although the USA is supposed to allow observers, the OSCE agreement isn’t legally binding, and includes wording that calls for domestic laws to be followed, which allows individual US states and local authorities almost carte-blanche to do as they see fit.

According to the web site the Axis of Logic the head of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarčič, wrote a letter to the US State Department of State and Hillary Clinton denouncing threats made against OSCE observers. He wrote, “The threat of criminal sanctions against international observers is unacceptable. The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite observers to observe its elections. Our observers are requested to remain strictly impartial and not to intervene in the voting process in any way. They are in the USA to observe the elections, not to interfere in them”. The USA has a lot to hide when it comes to elections, much more than most of the international community realises. The fact that domestic American human rights organisations have requested international observers should be triggering alarm bells worldwide.

The problems with the American election process are many. Starting with the actual voting process, the USA has shown that there are problems with electronic voting machines, such as the Diebold machines, which caused widespread scandals during the Bush elections, including counting votes for Bush, when the other candidate was selected, which are known to be easily manipulated. Then, there’s the fact that there are locations where there are no paper ballots and, hence, no reliable way to verify votes. Another problem is that observers aren’t allowed in many polling stations in many locations where there are paper ballots; to observe that the actual ballots are placed in the boxes and that they’re sealed and not tampered with. There are scores of other suppression and illegal tactics taking place in the steps leading up to the actual voting booth. Amongst these are limiting who’s allowed to vote, and actions taken by right-wing “conservative” racist groups to keep segments of the population away from the polls, as a rule, black and minority voters, along with the poor and the elderly, that is, voters who generally vote for Democratic or third party candidates.

Such tactics include varied and widespread voter purges which have been manipulated all over the USA, including those supposedly purging felons, voter ID laws that target the poor and elderly, and an array of activities designed to intimidate and otherwise keep minorities, the poor, and the elderly away from the voting booth. For example, there are reports in areas with large concentrations of Spanish speaking voters of leaflets distributed by rightwing groups with the wrong date of voting printed on them. There are also widespread reports of billboard campaigns stating that improper voting or mistakes in the voting booth may be felony offenses, a clever move to frighten people into thinking if they make some little mistake then they may go to prison. There are also rightwing groups deploying millions of “observers” who may intimidate “selected” voters by making them provide proof of their identities before allowing them into polling stations.

According to the site CNSNEWS.com, “The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others urged OSCE observers to deploy in states where they allege there is ‘a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans’, especially minorities and low-income groups”. Of all of the problems there are also complaints about the arcane and archaic Electoral College system, the re-zoning of electoral districts in many states such as Texas, where votes are taken away from minority and poor areas and moved to “white” areas, and even claims that there are only 32 counties in the US that’ll decide the vote, and 41 out of 50 states are being ignored because they are either red “Republican” or blue “Democratic”.

Another problem in the USA is access to the media, only available to candidates with millions, if not billions of dollars, effectively making it impossible for third party candidates to compete. Then, there’s the entire presidential debate process, which is decided by private corporations, and third party candidates are effectively banned from participation. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only problems. There are also a slew of problems making it almost impossible for many third party candidates to get on the ballots in many states. Add to that, unfair federal funding practises and impossible thresholds that are supposed to be met, and you have a system that only benefits the wealthy and is completely controlled by those who are already in power.

Perhaps, the USA could take lessons from Russia on democracy and running fair elections? Russia, for example, has web cameras in the polling stations allowing anyone to observe, transparent voting boxes with an observable secure process from start to finish, hundreds of thousands of observers, nine parties, all with equal television air-time, inclusive debates, and the right of every citizen to vote. That’s unlikely, the USA has a fine-tuned system to keep the wealthy white class in power and keep everyone else as subjects. “Everyone else” includes all “minorities” (who are, in fact, not minorities in many states), American Indians, the poor, the disabled, the young, students, migrant workers, displaced people, the elderly, and everyone else not fitting the wealthy white ideal.

Lastly, the USA has become a country controlled by corporations and big money, they control the government and the political processes, this is a fact few would argue with. The system is designed to suppress a huge segment of the population on racist and other lines. According to any dictionary, by definition, the USA has slipped into a state of Fascism, or neo-Fascism, if you prefer. Of course, such a system wouldn’t welcome election observers. They can’t allow the “secret” to get out of the bag.

6 November 2012 (MSK)

John Robles

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

Most real ethnic Orthodox are Democrats, as the Republican bosses treated them badly (and cheated them horribly) when they came to this country. Quite often, this persists even if they become affluent, as they remember the base cruelty, greed, and racism of most Republicans.

The konvertsy are mostly Hard Right anti-government loon Republicans. They have nothing in common with us socially or politically. They’ve made common cause with the remnants of the Hard Right anti-commie loons in the ROCOR… for now. You see, the ROCOR anti-commies will come around to reason… their ethnos/narod will trump their politics. Then, the konvertsy will stand alone…

Be patient, God IS sorting things out…




Saturday, 28 January 2012

RF Gosduma Approves Life Sentences and Chemical Castration for Paedophiles


On Friday, a bill introducing life sentences and mandatory chemical castration for paedophiles passed the crucial second reading in the RF Gosduma. The Kremlin introduced the draft bill in October, which generated much debate and amendment before the Friday reading; it tightens punishments for most kinds of sex crimes against minors. The most widely discussed innovation is chemical castration, introduced in Russia for the first time. The bill in its current form only speaks about “mandatory medical treatment” without elaborating, but officials who worked on the draft said it includes both chemical castration and psychiatric drug treatment. Garri Minkh, the Kremlin envoy to the Gosduma, said that mandatory chemical castration would be one possible punishment for molesters who abuse children under 14. Judges would have to consult medical professionals before giving out this punishment, he added.

Convicts in other types of sex crimes involving minors will have the option of voluntarily seeking chemical castration when pleading for parole, the bill said. Dodging “mandatory medical treatment” after release on parole will be punishable with one year in jail. The Gosduma also introduced life in prison as the maximum penalty for gang-raping a minor, currently punishable with four to 10 years behind bars. The bill has to pass one more hearing, and gain approval by the Federation Council, the parliament’s upper chamber, before President Dmitri Medvedev can sign it into law. The date for the third hearing was not set on Friday.

In 2010, Ombudsman for Children Pavel Astakhov said that 98 percent of convicted paedophiles commit new sex crimes upon release, but for those who undergo chemical castration the figure is only 3 percent. He also spoke, prior to the Kremlin bill’s introduction in the Duma, about a “paedophile lobby” stalling legislation on the matter in the parliament, but never named any names. Child abuse skyrocketed in 2010, increasing several times year-on-year for most type of sex crimes, Astakhov said last year. The dismal situation prompted activists to start vigilante groups tracking down paedophiles to report them to police or, in some cases, beat them up without involving law enforcement.

Countries that currently practice chemical castration for child molesters include Australia, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, and South Korea, as well as several US states, most notably Florida and California. However, several human rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have protested its use over dire health side effects. In the past, the other countries used this method, but it wasn’t limited to sex offenders. Its most famous victim was British scientist Alan Turing, one of the fathers of computer science, who underwent chemical castration for being gay in 1952. He committed suicide two years later.

27 January 2012



Thursday, 29 September 2011

Big Brother is Watching You: FBI Monitors Innocent People



The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has the right to monitor innocent people using the pretext of terrorism. The New York Times reported that, according to newly released official documents, the government allows the FBI to include people on its terrorist watch list even if they are acquitted of terrorism-related offences or if the charges are dropped. The disclosed files set up a number of rules the police and security officials should follow if they should encounter someone on the list of suspects. In particular, these regulations allow the authorities to remove passengers off planes, block non-citizens from entering the country, and subject listed people to greater delays and scrutiny at airports, border crossings, and traffic stops. Police have the right to arrest suspects; others are to be questioned whilst officers check with the Department of Homeland Security {literal translation of the Russian is “Ministry of Internal Security”… rather close to KGB, no?: editor} to see whether it has or will issue a “detainer” request; if there’s no such order, the suspect would be allowed to proceed without delay. It’s strictly forbidden for the cops to inform the person that they’re on the watch list. Moreover, the watch list itself may include people who’ve been found not guilty by the courts or the charges against whom have been dropped, if a government bureau has “reasonable suspicion” that the person might have ties with terrorism. What is termed “reasonable suspicion” wasn’t specified.

Immediately, the published papers provoked a strong reaction from human rights activists. Ginger McCall, a counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said, “In the United States, you’re supposed to be assumed innocent. But on the watch list, you may be assumed guilty, even after the court dismisses your case”. In fact, the American justice system is based on the presumption of innocence. Moreover, once you’re found “not guilty”, the prosecution has no right to appeal, even if there were any new evidence or proof found of your guilt. Indeed, the presumption of innocence is a basic principle of all legal systems in states that claim to adhere to the rule of law. Of course, the disclosed files contain certain provisions against indiscriminate inclusion of this or that person on the list. For instance, any information that a person has terrorist contacts must receive confirmation from at least two sources. The papers emphasise, “mere guesswork or ‘hunches’ aren’t enough and one needs firm evidence”. However, even with such provisions, there are already at least 420,000 names on the database, including 8,000 Americans. Of these, 16,000 people are barred from flying, including 500 US citizens.

One of civil rights advocates, Chris Calabrese, a counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, called the watch list system a “Star Chamber”, saying it’s “a secret determination, that you have no input into, that you’re a terrorist. Once that determination’s made, it can ripple through your entire life and you have no way to challenge it”. People thought that George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was a satire about communist-ruled countries, with pervasive surveillance over everyone and everybody. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the communists never had the capability to adopt such surveillance. To make such a system work, you need advanced new technologies combined with peculiar interpretations of “human rights” and “civil liberties”. If one looks at the specious practises found in the contemporary USA, it seems that much of modern America bears a close resemblance to Orwell’s Oceania. What’s even more hazardous is the fact that the US “lawlessness enforcement agencies” try to spread their principles globally and impose them on everyone else. For now, Big Brother is only watching his fellow citizens and all those who enter the USA. However, it seems to be only a matter of time until a global FBI-like structure emerges and Big Brother becomes omnipresent.

28 September 2011

Boris Volkhonsky

Voice of Russia World Service



Editor’s Note:

In the USA, “free speech” is now muzzled by two disparate “Gestapos”. On the left, the PC crowd shouts down everyone that they find “offensive”. On the right, it’s more blatant. Bush used the Department of Homeland Security to bludgeon his opponents (and those perceived as being “socialist” or “progressive”). So, people feel squeezed from both ends, and they hate both sets of oppressors. They hate the PC crowd for its juvenile tantrums, and they hate the Tea Party/rightwing for its reliance on naked force. That’s why most Americans have lost faith in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Reflect on this… the leadership of the “Pro-Life” and “Family Values” crowds slobbers over and approves of right-wing oppression, and they hope for the imposition of a far-right dictatorship a là The Handmaid’s Tale (that’s why Orthodox Christians have to fight the konvertsy… they’re mostly rightwing lunatics).

We need a better world than that… but shall we pay the cost?


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