Category: political struggle
Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race

Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race

Communists in talks with ‘patriotic forces’ to propose single candidate for 2018 presidential race
A senior figure in Russia’s largest opposition party – the Communists – has taken part in a conference of ‘national-patriotic forces’ seeking to find new allies and possibly agree on a single presidential candidate for next year’s election.

The conference was attended by representatives from a broad group of parties and movements that share a leftist-nationalist agenda. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) was represented by Deputy Chair of its Central Committee Yuri Afonin.

We are interested in forming a broad, patriotic coalition around the KPRF. We are working with a variety of ideologies,” he told the daily newspaper, Kommersant.

There were some of our ‘antipodes’ at this conference, such as monarchists, but we build our relations on the basis of a common economic program.”

Regardless of the outcome of talks, the KPRF will be selecting a presidential candidate at its party convention in late December, Afonin told reporters.

Last February, representatives of the leftist-nationalist coalition Council of the Popular Patriotic Forces asked KPRF leader Gennadiy Zyuganov to run for the presidency in 2018, and to take personal responsibility if his performance in the race was poor.

Zyuganov rejected the proposal, asking his colleagues “not to predetermine” who the party would select to contest the election.

On this occasion, some of the Communists’ allies bluntly rejected the idea of Zyuganov running on behalf of their parties and movements. Head of the Novorossiya movement Igor Strelkov told Kommersant that he and his comrades would refuse to support the Communists if they nominated Zyuganov as a candidate.

In March, Izvestia quoted unnamed sources in the Russian presidential administration when it reported that Zyuganov did not want to run in 2018 because he would prefer to be remembered as a relatively successful politician, rather than finishing second again, as he did in 2012.

Zyuganov has not commented on the report, but the Secretary of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, Sergey Obukhov, called the rumors “a form of external pressure on the party.”

Few major figures have announced their intention to run for the presidency in 2018 to date. The most prominent of those who have are Liberal-Democratic Party leader, Vladimir Zhirinovsky; Yabloko Party founder, Grigory Yavlinsky; and anti-corruption blogger-turned opposition politician, Aleksey Navalny.

Under Russian law, Navalny technically cannot run because he is currently serving a five-year sentence that will not expire before the next election, but the activist has vowed to contest this rule in the Constitutional Court.

Earlier this week, Russian journalist and celebrity, Kseniya Sobchak, announced that she planned to contest the presidential election but said that her purpose would not be to win, but to replace the ‘none of the above’ line on ballots, which she personally favors.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy
| October 10, 2017 | 8:40 pm | political struggle, Russia | No comments
People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014.

Absurd Russian Ads Hype as US Corporations Buy Democracy

© REUTERS/ Dado Ruvic

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Finian Cunningham
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Google is the latest US internet company to claim it found “Russia-linked” advertisements on its network – allegedly posted to influence the US presidential election last year.

Twitter and Facebook have already made similar claims and all three are now facing more scrutiny in the coming weeks before Congressional committees.

What is truly astounding about this hysteria over alleged Russian interference in US democracy is that American citizens are being distracted from what is, by far, the much more alarming issue of how their government and Congress is bought by US Big Business.

Bloomberg reported this week that: “Google identifies Russian election interference network”. It said the internet giant found political ads worth $4,700 which it believes are “tied to the Russian government”. These ads, it is claimed, carried political articles which were meant to influence which way American citizens would vote in the presidential contest between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump last November.Google has reportedly said that another $53,000 worth of ads are “under review” for suspicion of being “linked” to the Russian government. This follows claims made by Facebook that it had earlier identified $100,000 spent on ads by Russian sources, while Twitter said it had located $274,000 worth of such ads.

The Russian government has repeatedly rejected accusations that it tried to meddle in the US election. Moscow rightly highlights the dearth of any evidence and total lack of due legal process. The American allegations have also whipped up a toxic climate to curb the legitimate media activities of Russian news channels.

It is understood that Russia’s state-owned news channel RT promoted some of its content through social media like Facebook and Twitter. But as RT editor Margarita Simonyan pointed out such promotion is entirely normal for all news media companies. She estimated that US-based outlets probably spent much more than RT promoting their content through the Russian section of Twitter.

Several issues about this “Russian meddling” trope are patently dodgy, yet are bizarrely overlooked.The first is that, as with other claims of Russian interference in the US election, no evidence is ever presented. Facebook, Twitter and Google are making vague claims of “accounts believed to be tied to the Russian government”. And the US news media simply repeat these nebulous claims without further question.

A second anomaly is that Congressional committees that have been investigating allegations of Russian interference have also not presented any evidence – after nearly nine months of intensive probing.

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who are heading up a select intelligence committee, made a “big presentation” last week in Washington on their findings. The “findings” turned out to be an embarrassing anti-climax. The Congressmen admitted they found no evidence of “Russia collusion” in the election and baldly asserted that Moscow’s “influence campaign continues” which they will continue to investigate – no doubt at a huge cost to American taxpayers.

So, Russia is being accused of interfering in the presidential elections on the basis of the allegation alone, and yet American politicians are also contradicting themselves by saying that the alleged interference did not alter the vote outcome.

But here is the biggest absurdity. The sums of money claimed to have been used by Russia to destabilize US democracy are ridiculously minuscule.

For argument sake, let’s go along with the claims that somehow “Russian agents” took out ads on social media to influence the US election. Between Facebook, Twitter, and Google the expenditure amounts to about $300,000.That figure is a pittance compared with the avalanche of money that US corporations doled out to bankroll the election campaigns of the two candidates.

According to Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton’s election bid was leveraged with $1.2 billion from “Super-PACs” (Political Action Campaigns). Trump received less corporate money, raising a total of $647 million – or about half of what Clinton’s coffers received.

Now put those figures into perspective. The alleged Russian influence ads costing around $300,000 represent some 0.01 percent of what US corporations actually spent ($1.8 billion total) in promoting either Clinton or Trump for the White House. In other words, the much speculated – and highly dubious – financial outlay that Russian sources allocated to allegedly upset the American democratic process is negligible compared with the actual money spent by major American companies to determine the 2016 election outcome.

While American media and politicians are endeavoring to get citizens all worked up about “Kremlin meddling” the glaring fact is that their democratic process is subject to enormous US corporate influence. And not just the 2016 election. Every presidential cycle.

Note too that this is only taking into consideration the corporate lobbying in the presidential contest. Every year, it is calculated that US companies spend about $3 billion lobbying federal government and Congress.

That is, every year, year after year, Big Business in America spends 10,000-fold on influencing lawmakers and government policy compared with the alleged ad campaign that Russia supposedly engaged in.Another source of major influence on American politicians are the lobby groups funded separately by the Israeli and Saudi government interests. Each year, these foreign states spend an estimated $5-7 million on lobbying members of the US Congress and the federal government. This is real money with real impact on US democracy as opposed to alleged Russian interference.

Getting back to “lobbying” by US companies – some might call it bribery – among the biggest donors are the military manufacturing firms. According to American publication, The Hill, included in the top 50 corporate lobbies plying Congress with campaign funds are Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman.

Another major lobby – although not in the top 50 – is the National Rifle Association (NRA) which promotes gun ownership for private citizens by donating to Congress members.

Three recent events show how corporate money effectively buys American government policy.

President Trump is pushing for an overhaul of tax policy which will result in the biggest ever tax benefit to corporate America.

Secondly, with regard to the US military budget, the Congress is due to pass a record increase amounting to $700 billion annually. This largesse to Pentagon-connected manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Boeing is no doubt fueled by Trump using reckless bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea, threatening war instead of a diplomatic solution.Thirdly, in the aftermath of the latest mass shooting in Las Vegas – the worst ever in modern US history – in which 58 people were mowed down by a 64-year-old male shooter armed with an arsenal of assault rifles in his hotel room, both the White House and Congress are adamant that “now is not the time to talk about gun control laws”. Congressional Republicans, in particular, are big recipients of NRA funding. Trump’s election campaign also reportedly received $30 million from the NRA.

In the gargantuan scale of corporate funding and influence on US democracy, it is patently absurd for US media and politicians to chase after Russia for alleged meddling.

There again, maybe not so absurd, if such a travesty serves to distract American citizens from the much more pressing issue of how their democracy is bought and sold by elite American interests.

Why I support the Sanders Institute
| October 6, 2017 | 9:22 am | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | No comments


The present state of our country and of our world beckons to all of us. As we confront climate change, multiple refugee crises, the threat of global conflict, and a disturbing normalization of fascism, our collective future mandates that we unite around calls for justice with a sense of urgency – justice for women, justice for LGBTQ communities, justice for immigrants, justice for racial and ethnic minorities, justice for religious minorities, justice for the economically disenfranchised, justice for our environment. We are called to defend the self-evident truths upon which democracy is built – equality, freedom, and the ability to pursue personal fulfilment – from forces rooted in falsehood, manipulation, and demagoguery. To do so, we must inform ourselves thoroughly and organize effectively. It is in this spirit that I support the Sanders Institute in actively engaging citizens and media in the pursuit of progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial, and social justice issues.

The Sanders Institute’s focus on individuals and media speaks directly to the terrain of the digital age. Its emphasis on progressive solutions speaks to our collective need to defend our highest ideals by effecting positive change. While mendacity can be a shortcut to power, that power is ultimately unsustainable. We must speak powerful truths to power; truths rooted in our diversity and interconnectedness. In recognizing the ways in which we all have something to contribute and the ways in which we all depend on one another, we harness the value of our differences to establish powerful coalitions; coalitions that can effectively counter the rigidity and isolation of illiberalism. As a Fellow of the Sanders Institute, I offer my experience in supporting social justice movements around the world on issues like environmental justice, labor, economic inequality, and racism, and I hope to inspire a new generation of socially engaged citizens in fighting for justice and equality for all.

Danny Glover, Sanders Institute Founding Fellow, 2017

Was Theresa May’s Speech Her Political Epitaph?
| October 5, 2017 | 8:04 pm | Analysis, political struggle, UK | No comments

A member of the audience hands a P45 form (termination of employment tax form) to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May as she addresses the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, October 4, 2017.

Was Theresa May’s Speech Her Political Epitaph?

© REUTERS/ Phil Noble

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Neil Clark

Before this week’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester it looked likely that Prime Minister Theresa May would stay in her job until at least 2019. But after a calamitous speech to the party faithful, in which just about everything that could go wrong, did, May’s days at Number Ten now appear to be numbered.

May’s big message was ‘The British Dream’ but sadly for her, her address turned into a ruddy nightmare.

Her delivery was nervous. Struggling with a cold all week, she had coughing fits and her voice was weak and croaky throughout. She had to  stop several times to drink water and at one point was given a lozenge. She got her words mixed up- at one point saying that Labour was preparing for a ‘a run on the ground’ instead of ‘a ‘run on the pound- conjuring up images of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in jogging pants.

It didn’t help that a comedy prankster interrupted her speech to hand her a P45 (the traditional form given to employees leaving their jobs) which he said he’d been asked to do by Boris Johnson. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, unbeknown to May, letters began to fall off from the backdrop- so that in the end the message behind her read ‘Building a country that works or everyon’.

May’s speech  was- literally- a case of ‘F off’- and ‘dropping ‘E’. Piers Morgan called it ‘the biggest speech fiasco in political history’- and  he probably wasn’t exaggerating.

How relieved May must have been to get off the podium at the end.  You didn’t have to be a supporter to feel sorry for her. Anyone who engages in regular public speaking will dread days like this. To her credit, May did battle on and finish her address. Conservative Minister Penny Morduant had a point when she tweeted
Quite unintentionally the PM is demonstrating that she’s got the balls, stamina, SOH & warmth for the task ahead. Speech not needed!

But politics is a dirty old game and the Tories have historically been ruthless in getting rid of leaders who they believe are past their sell-by date. Margaret Thatcher won three elections in a row but was still ditched when it looked like she might lose the fourth. Iain Duncan Smith didn’t even get the chance of fighting one general election- he was given his P45 just a few weeks after his excruciating ‘The Quiet Man is here to stay and he’s turning up the volume’ speech at the party  conference in 2003.

What’s been holding the Tories back from moving against May up to now is the fact that a new leader would be expected to go to the country — within a reasonable timeframe — to get a democratic mandate.

And with Labour showing a consistent lead in the polls that would be fraught with danger.

Even so, after Manchester, May looks to be fatally wounded. Like predators stalking a wounded beast, her ambitious rivals will now be moving in for the kill. They’re probably ready to take the risk that they could be Prime Minister for just a few months — and hope that in an election campaign — and with the majority of the mainstream media behind them,  they’d be able to get the better of Jeremy Corbyn.Boris Johnson’s odds of becoming the next PM have shortened from 9-2 to 4-1. David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, is second favourite at 13-2, while Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and Jacob Rees-Mogg are all 8-1. Ruth Davidson (at 14-1) has support from some influential people. And don’t rule out Priti Patel, currently a 20-1 shot.

How things have changed from April! Back then Theresa May’s position looked absolutely secure- and it was Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn who looked threatened. But now May is 1-12 to be the first leader to resign, while Jezza, whose position has never been stronger, is 6-1. It’s because of Corbyn’s advance that May has had to shift ‘left’ and adopt some Labour policies. She pledged to an energy bills price cap today- a policy that was derided as being ‘Marxist’ and ‘hard-left’ when ‘Red Ed’ Miliband put it forward in 2013. And —breaking from Thatcherism still further- she also announced plans for a ‘rebirth’ of council house building.

In the end though, unfortunately for Mrs May, it probably won’t be the policies announced in her speech for which it will be remembered.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter 

Bannon-backed judge trounces Trump’s pick in Alabama GOP Senate primary
| September 27, 2017 | 8:27 pm | Donald Trump, political struggle | 1 Comment

Bannon-backed judge trounces Trump’s pick in Alabama GOP Senate primary

Bannon-backed judge trounces Trump’s pick in Alabama GOP Senate primary
Firebrand judge Roy Moore has defeated incumbent Senator “Big Luther” Strange in the runoff Republican primary for a Senate seat from Alabama. While President Donald Trump campaigned for Strange, many of his advisers have stumped for Moore instead.

Strange has served in the Senate since February, appointed by Governor Robert Bentley to fill the seat vacated when Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the US attorney general. In April, however, Bentley stepped down amidst a corruption scandal. The new governor called for a special election on December 12.

READ MORE: Trump threatens ‘Little Rocket Man’ in Alabama campaign rally for Sen. Strange

In addition to support from Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, Strange received over $9 million dollars from the SuperPAC called the Senate Leadership Fund, aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).

Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court judge, had the backing of former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon and his news outlet Breitbart, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, ousted White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, and many other outspoken Trump partisans who argued the judge would be a better champion of the president’s agenda..

With over 90 percent of precincts reporting, Moore received 237,935 votes (54.8 percent) to Strange’s 196,402, or 45.2 percent.

This was the first defeat for a Congressional candidate who was openly endorsed by the president. Trump did not seem too upset, however, congratulating Strange on a “good race” and Moore on his victory, and endorsing him in the December election.

Moore, 70, has been ousted from his state Supreme Court position twice. In 2003, he was dismissed for hanging a copy of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, Thirteen years later, he defied the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

At a campaign rally in Fairhope, Alabama on Monday, Moore sported a cowboy hat and at one point drew a gun waved it in the air, trying to illustrate his commitment to the Second Amendment.

Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in the special election.

First they laughed, then he was dangerous… now Jeremy Corbyn is ‘favorite for PM’
| September 27, 2017 | 8:23 pm | Jeremy Corbyn, political struggle, UK | No comments

First they laughed, then he was dangerous… now Jeremy Corbyn is ‘favorite for PM’

First they laughed, then he was dangerous... now Jeremy Corbyn is ‘favorite for PM’
Jeremy Corbyn has a spring in his step at this year’s Labour Party Conference. He’s gone from fighting for his political survival to preparing to walk into Downing Street. At least that’s what his former critics are saying.

In six months the Labour leader has gone from being outrageous outsider to prime minister-in-waiting.

Corbyn will address party delegates in Brighton this week to launch his battle for Downing Street, as tottering Tory Theresa May fends off leadership challenges from within her own cabinet.

And while Brexit goes badly, Labour has every opportunity to seize power.

“Six months ago the opposition was in a battle for survival. Now it is preparing for government,” the latest edition of the Economist crows.

Just six months ago, the exact same publication deemed Corbyn unfit to even oppose the PM in an election.

The Economist, an influential weekly magazine, said Corbyn was a “danger” who would take Britain, and Labour, “to the loony left.”

Headlines slated Corbyn, calling him an outsider who “will badly disappoint his young supporters.”

Then, a week before June’s snap election, the same publication accused Corbyn of oppression.

“No economic liberal, Mr. Corbyn does not much value personal freedom either,” the Economist said.

“An avowed human-rights campaigner, he has embraced left-wing tyrants such as Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro (a ‘champion of social justice’), who locked up opponents and muzzled the press.

“Mr. Corbyn has spent a career claiming to stand for the oppressed while backing oppressors.”

But the tune has changed significantly.

Days ago, the Economist reported the bookies are now backing Corbyn.

“NOT even Jeremy Corbyn could quite picture himself as leader … Bookmakers have him as favourite to be Britain’s next prime minister,” it reported.

In June, Corbyn’s odds of becoming Britain’s next Prime Minister were at 9-4. Now they have been cut to 4-1 with UK bookmakers like Paddy Power.

Meanwhile, May’s address in Florence appears to have had little effect in Brussels.

It came a week after the PM saw off a challenge from her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who had his own vision for Brexit printed in a British newspaper.

That move alone propelled Corbyn’s crusade for Number 10, a senior source told the Telegraph.

“A lot of the party is fine with what [Boris] has done with Brexit but not if we end up with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister,” the source said.

“It [The Tory government] could fall in six months.”

‘Coalition of Conservative chaos’: Corbyn savages May government at conference (VIDEO)
| September 27, 2017 | 8:14 pm | Jeremy Corbyn, political struggle, UK | No comments

‘Coalition of Conservative chaos’: Corbyn savages May government at conference (VIDEO)

‘Coalition of Conservative chaos’: Corbyn savages May government at conference (VIDEO)
Jeremy Corbyn has insisted it is time for Prime Minister Theresa May to stand down as her “chaotic” cabinet fails to get Brexit on track and Labour support swells.

The Labour leader who was met with raucous applause and cheering told delegates in Brighton the days of the Tory Government are numbered.

“We meet here as a united party – advancing in every part of Britain,” he said.

Thousands have gathered in Brighton for the annual Labour Party Conference, just as cracks begin to spread in the Conservative cabinet.

Desperate to get Brexit back on track, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May appeared in Florence last week, asking the European Union for a two-year transition deal.

As Corbyn critics turn towards the left-wing leader, labeling him the ‘next prime minister,’ a powerful speech could push more support his way.

Six months into negotiations, Corbyn will stand before Labour supporters and call for May to buck up or back away from the negotiating table.

“The Tories are more interested in posturing for personal advantage than in getting the best deal for Britain,” he said.

“Never has the national interest been so ill-served on such a vital issue. If there were no other reason for the Tories to go, their self-interested Brexit bungling would be reason enough.

“So I have a simple message to the cabinet: for Britain’s sake pull yourself together or make way.”

During the conference Labour has unveiled its plans to nationalize mail, rail and other public services, as well as calling for an end to Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) in Britain.

Corbyn vowed to put an end to inequalities in Britain.

“Let the next Labour government transform Britain by genuinely placing power in the hands of the people – the creative, compassionate and committed people of our country,” he said.

“The disregard for rampant inequality, the hollowing out of our public services, the disdain for the powerless and the poor have made our society more brutal and less caring.

“Now that graded regime has a tragic monument – the chilling wreckage of Grenfell Tower, a horrifying fire in which dozens perished. An entirely avoidable human disaster.

“Grenfell is not just the result of bad political decisions. It stands for a failed and broken system, which Labour must and will replace.”

Corbyn vowed to regenerate parts of Britain for communities, not wealthy developers with Labour policies.

“We will control rents when the younger generations housing costs are three times more than those of their grandparents,” he said.

“Rent controls exist in many cities across the world and I want out cities to have those powers too.

“We also need to a tax for undeveloped land held by developers.”

“Councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and lease holders before redevelopment can take place. Real regeneration, for the many, not the few.”

The Labour leader said he believes there is a real chance of a Labour Government.

“We meet here as a united party – advancing in every part of Britain,” he said.

“In June, we won the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945

“Labour’s best vote for a generation.

“It has put the Tories on notice and Labour on the threshold of power.

“We have become a Government in waiting.”

Corbyn said Britain is locked in a situation where “big decisions (are) left to the elite”.

“People are consumers first and citizens second,” he said.

“The kind of democracy that we should be aiming for is one where people have a continuing say in how society is run, how their workplace is run, how their local schools or hospitals are run.

“That means increasing the public accountability and democratization of local services that Andrew Gwynne was talking about on Monday.

“It means democratically accountable public ownership for the natural monopolies, with new participatory forms of management, as Rebecca Long-Bailey has been setting out.”

Corbyn also addressed the multibillion-pound technology industry, insisting he will ensure machines do not replace humans in the workplace.

He will also pledged to bring about “an education and training system from the cradle