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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Will Distribute Gas in “Frackistan”

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Truth Against the Machine reporter Kevin Gilbert interviews fracking expert on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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Calling On All Maryland Progressives To Overturn Citizens United

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Truth Against The Machine reporter, Samuel Conver gives a brief overview of what Citizens United is, why it’s so bad and what you can do to overturn it.

LINKS: Get Money Out Maryland website.
http://www.getmoneyoutmd.org

Maryland General Assembly http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/…

House Speaker
http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/…

Senate President
http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/…

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Justice Democrats Draft Cori Bush For Missouri US Representatives

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Truth Against The Machine reporter Graceanne Parks interviews Cori Bush, who is the first person to be drafted by the brand new Justice Democrats founded by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk, and several former Bernie Sanders campaign staff. She will be running for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.

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Democrats Make a Critical Mistake in Letting the GOP Distance Itself from Trump

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One of the key mistakes of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic establishment during the 2016 race was to attempt a divide and conquer strategy on the Republican base.

They pushed the narrative that Trump is somehow categorically different from the “standard” Republican (e.g. Jeb Bush), under the belief that they could shave off Republican votes in purple states. Obviously, this strategy was completely unsuccessful, but it appears that the Democrats have not learned their lesson and are attempting this strategy again.

During the campaign, Hillary touted support from establishment and elite Republicans (e.g. Henry Kissinger and Colin Powell) in order to bolster her case that Trump isn’t a “real” representative of right wing values. She made the entire race into a personality contest rather than one focused on policy (a recent study indicates that her TV advertisements had the lowest policy content in history) and invited Republicans to draw personality distinctions between themselves and Trump, without any regard to whether they agreed with him on policy.

This narrative that Trump is worse than the rest of the GOP is simply incorrect—he shares essentially all of the core policy positions of the GOP base, but simply lacks the intelligence or willpower to cloak his policies in more palatable rhetoric; he uses a megaphone and a fog-horn to declare his extremist policy agenda while the GOP establishment prefers to sell the same toxic agenda with a dog-whistle and a wink.

Trump is in absolute lockstep with the GOP on issues of taxation (cuts for the rich), austerity (bootstraps for the poor), war (massive increases in military spending), immigration (reactionary xenophobia), and privatization/profitization (every function of government that doesn’t involve bombing or arresting a person with a darker skin tone). The only appreciable issue where Trump breaks from the right wing orthodoxy is trade, and I have serious doubts that he will keep his word on this issue in the long term.  

Unfortunately, the Democratic establishment doesn’t appear to have learned its lesson from Hillary’s 2016 loss and has begun to utilize the same strategy against President Trump’s administration. They are inviting Republicans to break with Trump and declare him apart from the rest of the GOP, oftentimes using his lack of hostility with Russia as a wedge, no matter how reprehensible the Republicans in question are. Democrats are finding common ground with anti-Trump Republicans like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and even George W. Bush, with no introspection or concern about who they are legitimizing.

Letting—even inviting—Republicans to declare their separation from Trump on rhetoric and delivery in order to marginalize him politically gives the rest of the Republican Party the perfect insulation from criticism for when they implement their longstanding agenda.

If this is allowed, Republicans can push their agenda through and slap Trump’s name on it, turning him into a scapegoat for the chaos and pain that ensues. Come election time, the Republicans who voted for Trump’s agenda, while distancing themselves from him rhetorically, will be able to call upon quotes from their Democratic opposition to bolster their case that Trump isn’t a “real” Republican and that they shouldn’t be tarred by his failures.

A secondary problem with this strategy is that it helps normalize any Republican who is able to speak even slightly less radically than Trump. The perfect example of this is Mike Pence, who is now considered by many Democratic leaders to be the more “moderate” person in the White House. This “moderate” title is completely unearned and not based upon policy.

In fact, I see no evidence which indicates that Pence would implement policies even slightly different than Trump, other than the fact that Pence would almost certainly have approved the TPP.

If a Republican wants to take a principled stand against Trump on policy grounds, Democrats should support them doing so (e.g. Republicans who don’t want the Medicaid expansion in the ACA scrapped), but they cannot let Republicans distance themselves from Trump rhetorically if they agree with him on policy. The Republicans must be forced to own their agenda rather than pawn it off on Trump and blame him for its inevitable failure.

Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird 

New Video of Michael Brown Raises Questions About the Robbery Prior to His Death

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A previously unseen security tape reveals that Michael Brown—in the early morning hours on the day of his death—had been in the same convenience store he would be accused of robbing nearly twelve hours later. The video is featured in a new documentary titled “Stranger Fruit” which premiered Saturday at South by Southwest.

In the footage, which takes place a little after 1 a.m. on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown is seen placing an object that appears to be a tiny bag on the counter. The bag is quickly scooped up by one of the store’s clerks, and subsequently passed around between the employees, each one them lifting it to their nose. One of the employees then places two boxes of cigarillos in a bag and gives it to Brown, who proceeds to leave. However, before making his way through the door, Brown turns around and gives the bag filled with the boxes back to the clerks who place it on the ground behind the counter.

The video raises questions about the claim made by the Ferguson Police Department that Brown was committing a robbery. The story received national attention and the police department only released the security footage of the incident that took place minutes before Brown’s death. That infamous video shows Brown pushing the store clerk aside as he walked off with a package of cigarillos.

Jason Pollock, the documentary filmmaker who obtained the new video, believes that Brown passed the store clerks a bag of marijuana in exchange for the cigarillos, calling into question the narrative that Brown was committing a robbery.

However, the lawyer for the convenience store and its employees, Jay Kanzler, says that Pollock’s take on the footage is false and irrelevant to Brown’s visit to the store hours later.

“There was no transaction,” Mr. Kanzler told the New York Times. “There was no understanding. No agreement. Those folks didn’t sell him cigarillos for pot. The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back.”

While the video doesn’t seem to provide many answers, it certainly raises new questions about the controversial shooting of a black unarmed 18-year-old at the hands of a white police officer who, at the time, was employed by a police department that is now notorious for its long history of racism and abuse. It’s important to note that Brown’s death was often justified by some, because of the original footage that was released by the Ferguson Police Department. Why were both videos not released to the public?

Although the new footage does little to clear up questions surrounding the fatal altercation between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, it does raise suspicions that the Ferguson Police Department believed it would be easy to characterize Brown as violent, in order to help defend their officer.

Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird 

The CIA’s Price Tag for “Security”

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The U.S. Government contends that securing the country from terrorist attacks, both physical and cyber, is imperative to the nation’s well-being. But this so-called security comes at the expense of our privacy.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are the foundations on which the United States was established. To have liberty means to be in “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” However, the metadata gathering and mass-surveillance techniques that have been implemented through policy and practice are not aligned with the definition of liberty. Now more than ever it is clear that big brother is always watching.  

A recent article discusses how the United States government is able to collect metadata through programs such as NSA’s Prism by monitoring the data flow between telecommunication and internet services providers, nationally and internationally. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 makes NSA data collection completely legal. The CIA’s clandestine collecting of information from specific platforms through hacking, however, is not covered by any law.

On Wednesday, WikiLeaks released 934 documents from the total number of 9,761 “Year Zero” files. These documents were leaked from CIA under the codename “Vault 7”. Based on the material published, it is clear the United States government is able to track and collect data from iOS, Android, Samsung TV, and other platforms, or in other words, illegally hack its own citizens’ devices.

To some, the recent developments are not surprising. However, they should be alarming to anyone who uses technology in their daily lives. There are many people who argue that if these programs are intended to be used for “public interest”, it should not matter if the government knows what you are doing. However, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to reasonable privacy. It is unlawful to be monitored without probable cause or a warrant issued by a court.

There are those who come to the defense of the CIA with the justification that the U.S. Government is using these programs to spy on other countries and not U.S. citizens. The CIA’s programs go beyond just monitoring and collecting data; they also have the capability to take complete control of electronic devices. One of which is the Samsung SmartTV. Documents reveal program that can cause the television set to appear to have been turned off with the led indicator light suppressed when surrounding audio is actually  being captured using the microphone, unbeknownst to the user.

The leaked documents also detail that various malware, software, and embedded technologies based on Internet of Things (IoT) tools and programs developed by the Engineering Development Group are used to monitor and manipulate Operating Systems, (including Windows, OSX, and Linux), and on smart phones like Android and the iPhone. Communication through these smartphone’s applications such as Telegram, WhatsApp, Confide, and Cloakman, touted to be secure channels because all messages sent through these apps undergo encryption, can be intercepted before the message is encrypted.

The government is unable to decrypt encrypted communication between two devices using such apps. However, the CIA has the ability to record and log the words we type into a keyboard before they are encrypted and sent. This kind of malware have been around since the 1970s and it is speculated that if old technologies like “keyloggers” exist, malware that captures keystrokes on a smartphone is also possible.

According to WikiLeaks, the majority of CIA’s hacking arsenal, including “malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized ‘zero day’ exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation” were recently compromised through circulation amongst U.S. government hackers and contractors.  Thus, WikiLeaks was able to get ahold of several hundred million lines of code. If this code were to get into the wrong hands, say a nefarious hacking group or another country’s intelligence agency, cyber warfare could break out in a matter of seconds.

Whether such claim is true or not, there is no technology or system that cannot be hacked, it is just a matter of when and how, not to mention who will do the hacking. In the event that these tools used by the CIA are compromised, the impacts would be catastrophic. Wait! They were.

Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird and Samuel McMullen

West Virginian Chooses The Safety Of His Land Over Pipeline Money

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Truth Against The Machine reporter Kevin Gilbert interviews a local land owner in West Virginia who will be directly affected by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and how he refused to ever be compliant in the construction of said pipeline.

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Corporate Democrats Blame Misogyny for Clinton Loss and Fail to Realize Being a Woman Doesn’t Make You A Feminist 

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Progressive feminists are still reeling from the 2016 election cycle, when corporate democrats failed at being champions of women’s rights. They elected one of the most unpopular political candidates in history to represent their party, and lost to a man who openly admitted to sexually assaulting women.

The Democratic National Committee set Bernie Sanders up for failure, even though he was the better feminist in the race. Why? Simple—he didn’t represent the interests of wealthy donors, and he wasn’t a woman. Does that sound pro-feminist to you?

Feminism, at its core, is the belief that every person should have equal rights, regardless of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. It’s the belief that you can accomplish anything, regardless of gender. It’s the belief that doing what’s right for one gender, or one race, or one class, will benefit all people. Our global society is a complicated, intricate place, and feminism is a multi-faceted issue that should always encompass every aspect of a woman’s life. It is intersectional.

At the core of Senator Sanders’ platform was one common issue: unequal opportunity. The poor and middle-class citizens of this country no longer have the opportunity to “work their way to the top” and live the American Dream—the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and middle class jobs are disappearing; Bernie was a champion for a $15/hour minimum wage long before Secretary Clinton.

Children born into poor families can study just as hard as children born into rich families, but they do not have an equal opportunity to receive a quality college education; Bernie had a feasible plan to make public college tuition-free, and Secretary Clinton could not say the same.

The impoverished don’t have the opportunity to receive the same high-quality healthcare as a wealthy CEO; Bernie wanted universal healthcare, instead of fixing a broken Obamacare system.

The LGBT community does not have the opportunity to exist in peace and happiness without discrimination; Bernie never floundered on his support for the LGBT community in his three decades in public office, while Clinton openly opposed gay marriage until 2013.

We don’t have the opportunity, as American citizens, to decide an election without the influence of corporate interests; Bernie was stronger on Wall Street. He can hardly make it through a five-minute television interview without mentioning the influence of money in politics and how it is causing more socioeconomic inequality.

Those same corporate interests, by the way, are what makes some democrats neoliberal—faux progressives who are socially liberal, out of convenience, but are heavily influenced by money. That money buys votes to benefit entities like Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton and many other democrats fall into this category, and legitimizes conservative accusations of corruption among the Democrats. So, independents who supported Bernie jumped ship.

To me, the feminist choice seemed clear, so I was shocked and disappointed to find out just how hypocritical some feminists became during the primary. Renowned feminists Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright were quick to bash Bernie and his young female supporters, blaming raging hormones and saying, “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” respectively. I heard, “I like Bernie’s policies, but I really want to see the first woman elected into office,” at least a dozen times.

As it turned out, unfortunately, the woman in the race was not the person best suited to represent the Democratic Party. Many liberals are blaming her loss on misogynists in general, but to say that is the only reason would be a lie. Her voting record, questionable progressivism, flip-flops, and campaign littered in controversies lost her the election in the end. She never gained the trust of some feminists for not being consistent, and we shouldn’t lend our trust to other neoliberals of any gender.

When will some self-proclaimed feminists realize that endorsing a woman, for the sake of being a woman, is anti-feminist? When will they realize that this feeds into the stigma that feminism is about man-bashing and female superiority?

As Democrats look toward 2018 and 2020 to regain control of Congress and the White House, feminists need to stand behind the best feminist in the race, and acknowledge some of those feminists might be men. Voters need to look at each candidate’s record of supporting progressive policies on education, income inequality, money in politics, and combating institutional racism. We need to embrace those topics as feminist issues, as they impact all women, in addition to supporting women-centric issues like reproductive healthcare. Not all feminists are women, and feminists don’t exist to only help women. With a consistent platform of embracing equality for all genders, the feminist movement will fuel itself.

Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird 

Corporations Use “Eminent Domain” To Build Pipeline On Private Property

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Truth Against The Machine reporter Kevin Gilbert interviews oil and gas attorney Kyle Nuttall about the legalities of The Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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Maryland Progressives Are Ready To End Citizens United

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Truth Against The Machine reporter Sam Conver is at The Maryland State House where a resolution is being heard that if passed would weed money out of politics.

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