02 May 2022

Disinformation Governance Board: Transparency vs Political Nepotism?

How can we not consider the problem of transparency at all levels of government to not be based on political nepotism?  Numerous instances illustrate it is - especially at the more local levels where all oversight, if any is claimed to exist, often is determined by a network of family nepotism that expands to become political nepotism.  Does the Department of Homeland Security's new misinformation board, verify the political corruption that has long been in play, has now institutionalized corrupt political nepotism?  It would behoove us to concern ourselves with the possibility.  This article: "DHS secretary says disinformation board won’t infringe on free speech: We’re not opinion police" expresses concern about free speech.  Perhaps it is more pressing to be concerned about the board institutionalizing an increased lack of government transparency.

Will the Disinformation Governance Board infringe on free speech?  I don't know. I agree that propaganda disinformation is used to create conflict, that it originates with a self-declared enemy we must consider to at least be a threat in specific ways.  However, it has been proven many times over that we can learn facts about our own government from outside sources when transparency is lacking in our own media. I am not referring to the myriad of Russian propaganda internet sites that have become so prolific online in the past years.  I am referring primarily to facts that we can sometimes verify as accurate when people file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about information from sources outside our nation - and/or Pulitzer worthy investigative journalism.  It seems that a practical concern is more about the possibility of government efforts to institute less transparency rather than curtail our personal freedom of speech.
This does no mean freedom of speech is not always under attack in some way or another.  However, it is difficult to understand why disinformation is considered a freedom of speech issue when it is a libel and/or slander legal problem.  Banning what people and processes of a misinformation board might consider to be damaging misleading disinformation harmful to supposed public naiveté, likely could interfere with prosecuting those who originate disinformation for their libel and/or slander.  When we consider any information to be  propaganda we don't look further but instead make a choice to believe or not believe what could be ill-intended libel and/or slander that needs to be prosecuted at any level - from personal to international.

Of course the board is concerned with disinformation about our government.  But overreach into interfering with exercising our freedoms is easy especially when there is a lack of transparency about such a board. What is perplexing is that misinformation is not being responded to with prosecution for libel and/or slander - or at least not denied when government at any level is the target.  Instead it is ignored by government.  Yet, we see social sites cracking the whip with one-sided "fact checking" designed to set us straight by telling what to think, about what is or is not accurate.  It is  probably at their advertisers' bidding, and to some extent government's too - when government threatens to lower the boom based on the small print in the ways applicable regulations are interpreted.  Also, our media offers too much useless "news" coverage that instead focuses on anything about which conflict can be encouraged, since conflict seems to be what is assumed will draw the interest of viewers and readers.  But libel and slander are legal issues and when prosecuted are usually not broadcast about, during the process.  So the focus of news programs and publications on what is often deemed to be disinformation, suggests prosecuting for libel and/or slander is not occurring.  What does that suggest to us about supposed disinformation? 

Those who investigate
through FOIA what may or may not be misinformation, in the event that actual sources are provided, sometimes are able to verify whether or not the information is factual.  However, we also need to keep in mind that our news has been controlled for a very long time.  This does not refer to what is broadcast obsessively instead of news, which may be more driven by corporate advertising than by government.  In this case the concern about control is what government does not want on the news.  Corporate advertisers have likely been government's hand-maidens in that way by driving what news reports obsess about to redirect interest as a way to avoid reporting actual news.  A misinformation governance board seems destined, on the surface at least, to be direct manipulation of news from government - social media fact checking style  on a larger scale.  In effect that would be little different than the way dictatorships control what is not allowed to be broadcast and published. 

Considering the problem of
a lack of transparency because of political nepotism, is advisable.  There are many instances indicating exactly that. Many of us recall coming to this abrupt realization about controlled news when news of Viet-Nam was not being broadcast honestly because of a lack of transparency.  The American public needed to know because we were and continue to be a collectively self-governing citizenry whose responsibility is to educate ourselves enough about issues to be able to do our jobs of advising those who are elected and appointed government officials.  I also want to mention one particular personal experience that illustrates transparency based on political nepotism which I encountered within the past decade when asking about "real id".

The only information available about real id is what is needed to apply for it. 
Try asking exactly what information is conveyed via "real id" and see what happens.  Stonewalled.  Try telling the "powers that be" you need to verify the accuracy of the information being conveyed via real id,- and see what happens!  Again - stonewalled.  As individual we should never be prevented from the right to verify and/or correct information used by real id to profile us - which, denied, becomes unacceptable overreach on an individual basis that is an unacceptable lack of government transparency.  Credit Bureaus exemplify the serious problems that can occur because of financial profiling errors.  Any collection of data about us, to profile us financially or any other way, needs to be freely subject to our perusal so we are able to correct what is not accurate. Try telling that to information dealers online, used for background checking. Stonewalled.  No doubt not only info gathered from online social sites, but also official records about us actually need to actually be fact-checked by us for errors!

I asked about real id years ago via e-mail - about the information that is provided through real id, and how we can access it to be sure it is accurate.  A response was not forthcoming. Is it only coincidental that unwarranted, harassment has increased exponentially since that time in my own life - prior to covid since there is more occurring because of covid?  I finally requested a birth certificate last year to use for my real id drivers license, and received a notarized piece of paper with a few facts.  Then covid happened so I still have not applied for my real id drivers license.  I had a problem with the limits of what was sent, and the only way possible to acquire it.  When I had requested a copy of my birth certificate in summer 1970, I was sent a faxed copy of my birth record - which is exactly what I needed. Was that considered to be a "birth certificate" at the time, or was the notarized copy in use today considered the birth certificate then too?  Of course that is also considered a pesky question to ask people who should know the answer.  Uh huh - stonewalled.

Of course the photosensitive paper used in fax machines in the early 70s eventually became a blank sheet of worthless photosensitive fax paper. Once again I need a copy of my birth record which is what I expected the birth certificate to be. One need not be a genius to realize that a notarized stable copy of the actual birth record is far more trustworthy for real id than a notarized copy that extracts a few facts.  I found nowhere online to ask for my birth record which I still need.  What comes up in a search is ONLY the option to pay a company to serve as a middle man to request and sends the birth certificate, which I reluctantly did having no other choice.  No search produces anything other than middle-man services which says states use that service for birth certificate requests. Looking at state websites, only the costly middle-man service is used for birth certificate requests.  I have enjoyed doing genealogy research for decades and know it has been possible to request birth records.  I still need my own birth record - the same document genealogists request and are sent. As verification for real id - I repeat - a notarized stable copy of the actual birth record as a birth certificate, is far more trustworthy for real id than a notarized copy that extracts a few facts.

The point being?  Without transparency about who is serving on the board, how the board is selected, and the processes that govern what the board actually does and how. we would do well to be concerned about what otherwise
seems to be further institutionalization of  corrupt political nepotism that has already been increasingly limiting transparency in government - possibly as long as governments have existed.  No doubt the extent of corrupt political nepotism has always vacillated - dependent on the governed and the use of the freedoms with which they are empowered to maintain their freedoms.  Knowing all that does not insure the misinformation governance board is not already rife with the problems of political nepotism.  The extent of resistance to transparency about requests for details and clarity - needed information about the disinformation board, will suggest in what ways we need to productively direct our concern.

14 April 2022

Acceptable Candidates and Supportable Party Platforms

Biden’s approval rating hits its lowest with 33 per cent in new poll by Eric Garcia in UK's Independent.

Although the message I take away from this article is likely not the primary message most people will take away from it, the message being conveyed which I consider to be most important, is that we need to do a much better job of offering up qualified acceptable candidates and party platform policy recommendations so that we are not electing people through the process of voting against "the lesser of the evils".

I wish numerous people would write articles that actually state this clearly and plainly, to hammer home a message it is vital for all to understand. Not everyone is willing to become an expat for however long it may be necessary, otherwise, when they do not consider either candidate to be acceptable.  And of course not everyone can afford the luxury of choosing to be an expat for an extended time.

Many consider the lack of acceptable candidates, and supportable party platforms, to be due to a lack of participation.  However,the lack of participation problem at the grassroots level is not necessarily reflective of what people want to do, or prefer to do.  I have made a successful effort to participate in other places I have lived.  That is not how it is where I currently live.  If inquiries about attending a local meeting do generate a response, they are met only with a response  about "pay to play" meetings and cost requirements for party membership.  What!?  I was astounded to be presented with "pay to play".  I honestly thought it was illegal.

It has never been mandatory, elsewhere, to pay dues to be a party member before being participating in discussions at local caucus meetings.  I do wonder how widespread the problem is, nationwide.  Not only can I not afford the "required" cost, more importantly, in principle, I am unwilling to pay a required cost to participate!  Of course a pay to play response discourages many people - and is obviously intended to do so.  It is no wonder people increasingly truly believe that elections and election processes are being bought.

Note that I use the term "caucus" to indicate local meetings, although other folks may use other terms.  I use "caucus" according to the inclusive definition (rather than the limited exclusive definition), that being: "any political group or meeting organized to further a special interest or cause"

Participating in local caucus meetings where platform policies and potential candidates are discussed and eventually agreed upon, should be freely open to everyone who selects a party when registering to vote, and wants to attend local meetings.  In other places I have lived caucus meetings are organized at the local community level, like the the radius of a neighborhood of many blocks.  The grassroots participation I refer to here, is not city, sector, county, or state wide - but on a much smaller neighborhood scale .  Each of the smaller local meetings then sends representative to the less frequent next larger consolidated meeting -  be it sector, city, county, or state wide.  And no one registered for  the party of the meeting they wish to attend and participate in, is prevented from attending those either - even though each local area selects representatives to speak for the group.

Local neighborhood caucus meetings really are the way for grassroots participation to be as diverse and as representative in all ways as the local areas in which folks live.  As such it is a way to develop a more acceptable slate of candidates and policy recommendations.  That is why "pay to play", in every form, should be illegal.  

Allow me to once more emphasize that in too many elections, too many people have no other choice than to vote against candidates instead of for candidates.  And this is simply an unacceptable situation. 

Ultimately, taken to the extreme, when there are no acceptable choices - and this holds true universally, not only with political candidates and party platforms - then no matter the situation it precipitates insurmountable problems.  Worse, when there are repeatedly no acceptable choices and instead only damaging choices - then depending on the scale of the collusion that limits choices to all being unacceptable (and it will always be a collusion limiting choices in that way), the repetitive problem of unacceptable choices eventually leads to conflict, armed combat - the atrocities of war.

12 April 2022

ethically reprehensible egregious hypocrisy

"Coalition of Holocaust Museums Condemn Russian ‘War Crimes’ in Ukraine" is an article about "An open letter signed by 17 Holocaust museums worldwide equates Russian violence to 'Holocaust by Bullets,' when Jewish people were 'shot and buried in shallow grave' in Ukraine in WWII"

Ethically Reprehensible

It truly is an ethically reprehensible attack.  It is surely reminiscent of WWII in Ukraine, and of the holocaust of the pogroms targeting Jewish people in the 18th and 19th centuries in Ukraine.  That earlier genocidal holocaust, as a reflection of anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe at the time, resulted in a huge influx of Jewish refugees from Ukraine being allowed by the Ottoman Empire to settle in Palestine which was part of that Empire at the time, even though the Ottoman's were at war with Russia part of that time.

Notice how the term "genocide" is carefully avoided in the article.  It was used days ago, in an earlier article.  Someone commented that to be considered a genocide requires more time.  That is not necessarily the case according to the internationally agreed upon definiition of genocide. That previous comment draws attention to the change in the current newer narrative from an Israeli news paper, even though the inference is genocide.  The intention is for others to claim it is genocide, instead.

Let's Be Clear

War is not necessarily genocide, even though it is almost always a holocaust.  

A holocaust that occurs during an armed conflict,is sometimes also a genocidal attack because of intent, without the armed conflict being a series of armed conflicts like war is.

Intention looms large in the agreed upon international definition of genocide:  "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group"

WWII was a genocidal holocaust.  So were the earlier pogroms in the "southern and western provinces of the Russian Empire" i.e. Ukraine with a large Jewish population then and now. (see "Pogroms")

Egregious Hypocrisy

As many are rightfully pointing out, the coverage of the attacks is also egregious hypocrisy, regarding the ongoing slow, long-term genocide of Palestinians in Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPT); moreso because of the extension of sympathy of the Israeli government to the Jewish folks in Ukraine, although this particular article does not exclusively focus on only Jewish folks in Ukraine.

Many are asking where the coverage is of the genocide and holocaust in oPT - ongoing for over 70 years.  I am not expressing an opinion, one way or another, in referring to what continues to be oPT until or unless the genocide succeeds and/or all of oPT (with or without Palestinian people) is annexed and one nation is recognized.  I am pointing out the hypocrisy of media coverage about oPT which magnifies the egregiousness of the holocaust attacks everywhere - pertinent to the media bias being pointed out here, in oPT and in Ukraine.

For over 70 years the Palestinian people in oPT have been  targeted with a genocidal intent, as defined by the five acts specified in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Article II.  Intent and actions recognized as genocide have been openly and arrogantly stated many time throughout the past 70+ years and mirrored by actions. 

Because of being slow but consistent for over 70 years, the genocidal (because of openly stated intent) attacks and violence perpetrated on Palestinians in oPT, are not necessarily recognized as a  holocaust, although the devastating military attacks in Gaza during the ongoing long-term genocide of Palestinians in oPT have all been genocidal holocaust attacks - as part of a series of genocidal attacks.  So too was the rampage of 9 April 1948, 74 years ago, known as the Deir Yassin Massacre at the start of the war that was intended to claim all of Palestine, only ~four months after the recent, at that time, partition of Palestine 29 November 1947 

It is way past time for media coverage, after 74 years, about the long-term series of ethically reprehensible genocidal attacks on Palestinians in oPT.


Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide

Article II

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

    a.  Killing members of the group;
    b.  Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    c.  Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its
        physical destruction in whole or in part;
    d.  Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    e.  Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

08 March 2022

Loopholes in Our Laws That Do Not Prevent Torture

We are not responsible citizens as long as we allow loopholes in the imprecise ways some of our laws are written, so they do not actually support the spirit of the protection we want to believe has been enacted by laws that are being enforced.

Our nation has to stop doing, through creating loophole laws, what we collectively want to believe has been made illegal for our nation - for good reasons.  In this case, a problem that has recently been reported is one of many schemes throughout the years that has found our nation, once again, to be financing what we believe is illegal and being enforced - like extraditing people to other nations to torture them with our own people participating in the torture, or managing those who do the torturing; like financing animal experiments in other nations that torture animals.  We need to make the financing and participation in torture of people and animals, anywhere, illegal for citizens and permanent residents of our nation - and of course within our nation also for people who are not here legally, since the extent of that problem continues to loom large and laws apply to all living in our nation.

Clearly, our laws do not cover all the bases.  Unfortunately, what they do is create loopholes that, as too many laws are intended to do in some way or another, allow ways to violate because of not being precisely articulated to prevent the abuse.  Of course the result fools our own people as our nation slides further into the abyss of double-standard hypocrisy because of loophole laws designed to hide the hypocrisy of violations.  People in other nations are not fooled as easily.  They increasingly connect our nation to becoming more and more hypocritical and untrustworthy in contradiction to our nation's stated values, principles, ideals, because they experience our hypocrisy in their own nations to which so many of us seem oblivious.  We continue to believe are laws do what we assume they do, and are being adequately enforced.  People in other nations are often aghast that we allow this to happen when we are collectively empowered to self-govern - that is to actively participate in advising those who are elected and appointed to do what we need them to do for the benefit of our nation and other people also.  Truth be told our only effective laws are win-win, not win-lose at the expense of some in our nation or other nations.

Decent law abiding people in our own nation, do not expect loopholes to be built into our laws - in this case laws that make torturing people and animals illegal.  People do not expect imprecise laws to allow our nation to be financing the torture of people it chooses to torture, or to finance the torturing of animals in nations where those violations are not illegal.  People do not expect loopholes in the laws that allow us to pay people of other nations to torture people and animals we ask them to, on our behalf; nor do we expect our own people to be used - contractors and/or military folks - to engage in torture in other nations where torture is legal; nor where it may be illegal, but is overlooked and allowed - for profit that is extended by our nation, or any organization our nation is part of that fiances and participates in the violating abuse of torture.

We can not allow what has become the stress of well orchestrated and well timed perpetual crises, one after the other, to be obstacles that redirect us in ways that  prevent us from doing what must be done.  Laws must be revised so they are not misleading because of  built-in loopholes that do not precisely prevent abuse of the laws we believe exist - which we also want to assume are being enforced.  In this case the laws sound good but apparently do not precisely cover the ways in which people intent on refusing to say "no" to the evil of torture, are allowed to abuse the spirit of the law. 

The reality of the problem is more horrifying for folks who have recently recognized the loophole problem.  However, it is nothing new under the sun in humanities history so why is it a problem and how can it be prevented?  More precisely, how can we prevent it, because it is our collective responsibility to speak up about imprecise laws that allow violations by our nation we can not imagine - can not believe are occurring - until we know otherwise. 

Imprecisely written laws are so common it is near to impossible for some of us to believe that loopholes in laws are unintended by the people representing our wishes who write the laws on our behalves.  Enough of these folks are highly educated and skilled enough in the law and in being articulate, to avoid making space for the built-in loopholes we find in a myriad of laws that allow them to be violated in ways that do not more  precisely outlaw the violations it is in the spirit of we, the people, to want to prevent.


A few sources which suggest there is little or no effort to outlaw torture.  Although it all sounds civil enough and is better than nothing, there appears to be little or no effort to outlaw U.S.A. from financing, supporting, and/or causing the torture of people and animals in other nations.  After at least 9000 years of history recorded in writing which is accessible, "civil enough" and "better than nothing" is not enough and has not been for a very long time:

  We can not be assured of Wikipedia accuracy but the article provides a big picture view:
Wikipedia article:
  Animal rights by country or territory

  Recent information from the animal protection group White Coat Waste Project:
White Coat Waste Blog 3 March 2022:
Breaking: WCW Discovers NIH Pays For Cruel Kitten Experiments…In Russia!

  Also investigations from White Coat Waste Project from July 2012:
"The top recipients of NIH funds in 2020 were institutions in wealthy countries, with German and Canadian institutes receiving the most taxpayer dollars sent abroad for animal testing that year. Other major grant recipients included entities in Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Taiwan and Ghana."
Newsweek article: 
Zebrafish on Ecstasy and Feeding Mice Human Feces: NIH Hikes Funding for Animal Testing

4. Clearly this bill does not go far enough to stop torturing of animals which it is not intended to do.  It seems primarily intended to manage who does not make decisions and in which nations torturous research can not be carried out that is financed by our nation:
117th Congress (2021-2022) text of H.R.5527:
Accountability in Foreign Animal Research Act
"To prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health from conducting or supporting research on animals in certain foreign countries, and for other purposes."

Three links about extradition which only seem to dance around the issue of torture without intention to outlaw it:

Carmichael Ellis & Brock law firm
provides a brief synopsis of extradition, to and from our nation, including U.S. Citizens, none of which seems intent on preventing torture by U.S.A. of anyone, anywhere to include U.S.A. citizens:
Extradition from the US

ACLU from 2008:

Documents Reveal U.S. Knowingly Transfers Detainees To Countries That Torture

From CSR Reports, as much detail as anyone might want within the time frame of September 30, 2003 – October 4, 2016:
Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the Law and Contemporary Treaties (downloadable)

6. Department of Justice website which may be the current Law and Treaties - but is not stated as such.  Reading the entirety of the 9-15.000, provisions may or may not specifically address an intention to outlaw torture:
9-15.000 - International Extradition And Related Matters