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Health Care & Environment
06.19 Engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% [Trump fires scientist. It would be far better to enable their good work.]
06.19 We’ll Never Solve Immigration If We Don’t Solve Climate Change [Why is our President so willfully stupid?]
06.18 The Worst Patients in the World [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.17 Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia [Governments must subsidize very rapid installation of renewable energy to displace all fossil energy—aka DEATH ENERGY—power plants that must be made illegal ASAP]
06.17 Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows [Obscene!]
06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]
06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]
06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.19 America has never gone this long without hiking the federal minimum wage [The poor would spend every penny and help the economy and decrease health costs. Only dummies don't understand the costly effects of penury.]
06.19 When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms [A good example for us all: This is the way we must respond to human suffering]
06.18 It's A Horrible Idea To Privatize The Tennessee Valley Authority And Other Public Energy Assets [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell [His immorality is in complete control]
06.17 Climate change leadership would create a new 'American century' [We must incentivize the strategic good, again, before it's too late.]
06.17 Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate [A better role-model than Trump or Kushner!]
06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]
06.18 As promised, Trump slashes aid to Central America over migrants [Is THIS the cruelest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war [If you act psychopathic you are psychopathic; 3:40 Video: Where have all the flowers (and morals and young men) gone, long time passing, sung by Marlene Dietreich]
06.17 'Blatant Theft': Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named 'Trump Heights' in Occupied Syrian Territory [Great deal: the U.S. gives Israel $Billions every year, and they name an illegal settlement—to be built on Palestinian land—after Trump]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]
International & Futurism
06.19 Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala [Trump and other mafia-dons cause refugees and migrants as much as global warming]
06.19 Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
06.19 Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader [America's reputation has plummeted more speedily since Trump's dubious election, with professionals willfully replaced with less competent appointees or left unfilled in many federal government agencies]
06.18 'If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized': UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning 'Massive' Bombing Campaign in Iran [Never underestimate the stupidity of the Trump Administration]
06.18 Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani [Economic sanctions are cruel punishment to innocent civilians causing hate for generations. We will reap what Trump sows.]
06.17 Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 [America's “best ally” is psychopathically insane]
06.17 Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time [Powerful, clear writing!]
U.S. quasi-government agencies invested $50 million to significantly help right-wing candidates.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Election results affirmed approval for Bolivarian social reforms. But without a continuing super-majority in parliament, it remains to be seen whether opposition obstructionism will change the ruling-equation enough to matter.
On September 26, Venezuelans again voted, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC - vicuk.org) saying to elect members to the 165-seat National Assembly. It happens every five years, and it's the 16th national election or referendum since Chavez's 1998 victory, taking office as President for first time on February 2, 1999.
Bolivarianism is always at stake, represented by his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). They were pitted against the opposition's Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), an alliance hoping to deny Chavez a two-thirds super-majority. It was PSUV's goal, campaign head Aristobulo Isrutiz saying pre-election:
How it works is explained here.
However, organic laws or amendments pertaining to public powers, constitutional rights, or a framework for other laws require a two-thirds majority before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice rules on their constitutional status. For example, Chavez needs a super-majority to appoint public officials like Supreme Court justices and the attorney general.
In contrast, most enabling laws pertain to economic or fiscal regulation, support and control of enterprises, natural resources, and politically related issues, unrelated to foreign policy. They avoid bureaucratic red tape and facilitate greater citizen participation, but don't grant dictatorial powers. They're constitutionally allowed, run for 18 months, and four previous presidents had them under the 1961 Constitution.
Venezuelan polls are always conflicting, varying according to the takers' bias, yet public opinion suggested a close vote.
The near-final results were good, but not enough for a super-majority as hoped. Having sat out the 2005 election, opposition gains were assured, though Chavez supporters hoped not enough to restrict PSUV control.
Results were as follows:
With three seats so far undecided, PSUV won 95 of the 165 legislative positions, a 58% majority that may increase, what US Democrats or Republicans call a landslide, aside from the popular vote little mentioned in presidential races. Only America's Electoral College one counts, so it's possible to win popular approval and still lose.
Indigenous Venezuelan communities always have three assured seats. One went to the Fundation for Integration and Dignfication, another to the Autonomous Movement of Zulia, and final one to CONIVE.
MUD won 62 seats, a 38% minority. The center-left Fatherland for All Party (PPT) won two seats. Unofficial popular vote totals suggest it was split about evenly between PSUV and MUD, but confirmation will have to await an official National Electoral Council (CNE) announcement.
PSUV won most seats in 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, PSUV Vice President Elias Jaua saying:
Both PSUV and MUD got five posts in the Latin American Parliament. CONIVE got one.
Despite heavy rain in parts of the country, turnout was high at 66.45%, below the expected 70% likely in good weather. Orderly voting proceeded with no major incidents, besides one voting center forced to relocate because of rain. It was done easily and trouble-free.
At a post-election press conference, PSUV's Isturiz declared a "convincing victory and majority," pledging new Bolarivarian reforms. On his Twitter site, Chavez declared a "new victory for the people," though not what was hoped. Post-election, supporters were subdued, knowing they face a hostile parliamentary minority. Chavez, however, was upbeat, saying:
In a Monday night press conference he added:
So far, even at a time of recession, Chavez's approval rating remains high at between 55 - 60% - not shared by the corporate media.
Since first elected, Western media always treated him harshly, especially in America, notably (among others) by New York Times correspondent Simon Romero. Reporting post-election, he headlined, "Chavez Allies Win Legislative Majority, but Foes Make Gains," saying:
The result "may open a new phase of negotiation and debate within Venezuela's political system, (and) set(s) the stage for a potentially vibrant challenge by the opposition for the presidency in 2012," when Chavez's six-year term expires.
Though he admitted his popularity remains high, Romero accused him and his government of having "used various methods to weaken opponents, including purging the Supreme Court of critical justices and stripping resources from elected opposition officials at the state and municipal level."
Both charges are bogus. Chavez, in fact, reformed the high court by replacing corrupt judges with honest ones, doing it within the law democratically.
In the past, Romero equated him with Libya's Muammar el-Qaddafi, accused him of anti-semitism, and said Venezuelans elected him "because (they) wanted a dictatorship." He also slandered him in other ways, including this time by quoting political analyst Oscar Schemel, saying he's "supported by an extraordinary propaganda apparatus never seen before in Latin America, with the exception of Cuba." An astonishing misstatement given the dominance of Venezuela's corporate media, denigrating him far more harshly than Romero or most other US critics.
Electoral Stakes According to Latin American Expert James Petras
Petras knows Latin America as well as anyone, for decades writing honestly and incisively on the region. In his August 20 article titled, "Brazil and Venezuela: Two Turning Point Elections this Fall," he explained the stakes, saying:
Given their large numbers, this year's outcome hung on undecided voter choices, many among the poor and trade unionists. A decisive PSUV victory depended on whether "worker managed factory committees and communal councils" swayed them their way, despite "disenchantment with some (PSUV) candidates."
VSC explained that Assembly members "have power to pass legislation and also to block (some of) the president's" initiatives if their opposition coalition exceeds one-third. The Constitution's Article 187 also affords other powers, including:
Last August, Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) officially opened electoral campaigning. Since 1999, the CNE conducted a national information initiative so voters know "every detail of a key aspect of exerting their (voting) rights...." As the Bolivarian Constitution's Article 56 mandates:
"All persons have the right to be registered (to vote) free of charge with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public documents constituting evidence of the(ir) biological identity, in accordance with the law." All citizens 18 or older may participate.
Included are eligible citizens located abroad. Once registered, none may be purged, obstructed, or prevented from voting or having their choices counted, unlike under America's corrupted one-party state two wings system. Controlled by big money, it's the best "democracy" deep pockets can buy, subverting populist interests for privileged ones.
In Venezuela, in contrast, enfranchisement is cherished under a system respected as the world's fairest. As a result, over 11 million turned out to elect National Assembly and Latin American Parliament members. Though voting isn't mandatory, turnout, under Chavez, has been impressive, compared to America where half the electorate often abstains, knowing the futility of changing policy without a total systemic makeover. No referendum provision, however, allows it.
Washington Supports Chavez Opposition
Throughout most of Chavez's tenure, quasi-government agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Institute Republican Institute (ISI), USAID, and other US organizations have funneled millions to Venezuelan opposition candidates, the 2010 election no exception.
On September 9, Eva Golinger headlined, "US Interference in Venezuelan Elections," saying:
In contrast, the US Federal Election Commission's Foreign (FEC) Nationals Brochure states:
Foreign nationals are defined as the following individuals or groups:
A Final Comment
Venezuelans spoke and sent a message. Though mixed because of the divergence between the seat and popular vote totals, it affirmed approval for Bolivarian social reforms. Without a super-majority, however, it remains to be seen whether opposition obstructionism will change the equation enough to matter, and gain more strength against Chavez in 2012. Today he'd win easily, for sure also in 2012 against a hard-right opponent for privilege over anyone for beneficial social change.
Petras is right. Venezuelans now and ahead have a choice. They can go back to the bad old days or "vot(e) for the greater good" and keep their hard won social gains. Most Americans can't even imagine them under a government serving everyone, not just society's privileged the way imperial Washington does it for corporatists and militarists alone.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 28, 2010.