Threats to Democracy

NAACP Takes On ‘Prison Gerrymandering’

Protecting Out Vote 2020Counting prisoners as residents where they are incarcerated — rather than where they lived before — often results in districts with prisons receiving more federal resources than those that need it more.

Into the Weeds of Roundup: Monsanto and the Public’s Right To Know

Reading Time: 5 minutesWhat do Sense About Science, the Science Media Center, the Center for Food Integrity and the International Food Information Council have in common?They were all groups paid by Monsanto to undermine investigations into the safety of its pesticides.

Will Anti-Abortion Rhetoric Spark Violence Against Actual Humans?

Reading Time: 11 minutesWe begin our story with a small collection of quotes that captures the right-wing, evangelical attitude in the US toward women who choose to have abortions, and toward the people who make them possible.

James Baker’s FBI Redemption Tour

Reading Time: 7 minutesFormer FBI general counsel James Baker said he is “tremendously worried” about Russian attempts to disrupt the 2020 election, adding that “our systems are highly vulnerable” to such interference. Baker argued that the diverse and “not well-connected” 8,800 jurisdictions “that conduct voting every presidential election [are] a lot of attack surface for the bad guys to go after.”

Why Most of Us Are Not Reading the Mueller Report

When he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, Attorney General William Barr likely was comforted by one fact: it appears that most Americans have not read the actual Mueller report.

Soros, DHS Whistleblowers Urge More Truth-Telling

For whistleblowers, it&;s the Emmys, the Grammys, and the Oscars rolled into one. The Ridenhour Prizes mark the one time each year that they and their supporters are celebrated for their important and often dangerous work.The ceremony, founded in 2003 and held in Washington at the National Press Club, also honors journalists — but is rarely covered by the media.

Russia’s Secret Tools for Killing, Torturing, Spying

Manhattan is the kind of place where you can find just about anything. But it seems like the most improbable location in the world for a KGB Espionage Museum. Yet such a place has opened in a storefront at 245 West 14th Street, Manhattan — right in the heart of former enemy territory. (At least I hope it’s “former.”)

Red Flag Laws and the Consequences of Good Intentions

Something&;s wrong with your uncle across the street. He&;s always been a strange guy, but he&;s been acting more strangely than usual since he lost his job last month.

Surveillance Capitalism: Threat to Democracy?

The rule of Big Brother has begun, and we are all enabling this new authoritative regime, critics charge. We are empowering “surveillance capitalists” by revealing our every thought, word, and deed through our networked devices — our cars, cell phones, laptops, notepads, sensors, and voice-activated speakers (which do as much listening as speaking) such as Google’s Alexa and Amazon’s Echo.

In 2019, Active Shooter Drills Are the New Fire Drills in Schools

Announced over the public address system in a suburban Philadelphia middle school: The school is now on lockdown. This is just a drill. Run! Immediately search for a way out, any way out. Run through the classroom door. Climb out the window. Sprint through the football field. Run in a zig-zag or swirly line — a shooter is more likely to hit you when you run in a straight line. Hide in a neighbor’s garage until you know you’re safe. Hide!

Trying to See Through the Trump Fog

It was in Washington on Friday, but the members of Congress, journalists, and transparency advocates who gathered at the Newseum seemed well aware of the irony of celebrating openness in the era of Trump.The passage in 2016 of a bipartisan law strengthening the 1967 FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) was a victory for transparency activis

Study: US Grew More Corrupt From 2017 to 2018

The United States is more corrupt than it used to be. The country has sunk to No. 22 on the list of least corrupt countries in a global study that looks at the health of democratic institutions. The US now ranks below Estonia, Ireland, Japan, and France and just above the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Barbados, and Bhutan. The United States joined the Czech Republic and Brazil as “countries to watch.”The US fell from No.

The Modest Start of a People’s Climate Rebellion?

Climate change is so impossibly, depressingly big, so out of control, that most of us feel powerless to do anything about it. Thus we turn away and do nothing. That’s human nature. Fortunately, there are people who are willing to step up and speak out for the tough choices that must be made…now.

Baby Boomers Are the Biggest Suckers for Fake News

A common trope from baby boomers is that young people today live entirely online. That social media has created an apathetic generation more interested in sharing memes than contributing to the real world.

The Deep State vs. Democracy: Can We Now Handle the Truth?

Sixty prominent Americans have signed a letter calling on Congress to reopen the investigations into the 1960s assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The letter, signed by historians, journalists, lawyers, and other experts on the four political murders, is an effort to create a national truth and reconciliation commission to begin a reversal of disastrous social and cultural divisions fueled by decades of government sanctioned lies.

Kennedy, King Families to Congress: Reopen Probes

After five decades, the mysteries behind the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X may finally get the scrutiny they deserve. A group consisting of relatives of the Kennedy and King families, as well as their confidantes and other prominent voices, is calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to get to the bottom of these tragic murders.

Have We All Lost Touch With Reality?

Everyday we look at unfolding news and events through the lens of politics. Suppose we tried to understand it all instead through the lens of psychology? Suppose we got beyond the zero-sum political construct, and into how we have been and are still being manipulated.What if we realized that President Donald Trump is just a symptom of the deeper crumbling psychological infrastructure of our country? One that makes us so vulnerable to divisive political tactics?

Trump Shutdown Compounds Threat to Public Safety and Protection

As the partial government shutdown lurches into its fourth week, there is a lot of collateral damage to go around, affecting everyone from communities waiting for cleanups of toxic Superfund sites, to new parents buying baby toys and even some victims of sexual assault.

A Rule Fit for a King

President Donald Trump, who hates being constrained by pesky things like laws, the separation of powers, or the Constitution, seems poised to invoke a national emergency to get his taxpayer-funded wall built along the southern border.   To save face after triggering a government shutdown over this issue, it is believed that Trump would use this move to seize land along the border and reallocate funds designated for real emergencies to deal with this made-up crisis.

Recognition of Ukrainian Church Increases Risk of War With Russia

This past weekend marked a new escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine — from a surprising quarter. As much of the Eastern Orthodox world celebrated Christmas, the world head of the Orthodox Church officially recognized the independence of the Ukrainian church from Russia. And Russia is not happy about it.

The Silver Lining of Trump’s Syria Withdrawal

The Syrian government, having perpetrated numerous over the past six years of civil war, is likely the biggest winner of President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to pull US troops out of Syria.

Timely Quotes on Fascism Then and Now

Do you live near a hate group? Would you know it if you did? To find out more, click on this amazing , and you will discover a wide variety of fascist hate groups all over the country — whom they hate, what they’ve been up to, and where they are. There’s one for nearly every taste.  

Mueller Investigation Shows the Rich Deserve Much More Scrutiny

While the twin breaking news of Paul Manafort’s guilty verdict and Michael Cohen’s guilty plea made for great television, neither outcome was particularly shocking. When you are palling around with dubious international political figures or when your job description is “fixer” for a shady real estate mogul, then chances are you have done some things that weren’t entirely on the up and up.

Whistleblower Gets Long Sentence for Leaking Evidence of Russian Election Interference

Reality Winner, an Air Force veteran and former NSA contractor, was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison Thursday after to violating the Espionage Act of 1917.Whistleblower advocates condemned the sentence and its length as “shameful,” while President Donald Trump used the case to take a swipe at his political rival, Hillary Clinton, and Attorney

JFK’s War Heroism Speaks Louder Than Rhetoric of War-Dodging Chicken Hawks

Talking tough about military action and being tough are not one and the same. That’s worth remembering in the Trump era, when potential conflicts always seem just a tweet away. While many politicians, including President Donald Trump, have been quick to threaten military action, few have seen the horrors of war up close.

We Got Hit by a Russian Spambot Attack — Here’s What They Targeted

WhoWhatWhy was recently hit by a major spambot attack that we have traced back to a network operating from Russia. The fact that they went after us is not particularly surprising &; that comes with the territory of covering politics in the US these days.

US, Turkey Declare Economic War

Relations between the US and Turkey a key American ally and home to NATO&;s second-largest army hit a new low on Friday, with the presidents of both countries rhetorically declaring economic war on each other.

Could Donald Trump Launch Another War to Save His Skin?

A few days ago, the Trump administration moved to on Iran. This decision was hardly unexpected after Trump pulled the US out of the multinational nuclear deal with Iran in May.

1943 Harlem Race Riot: What the Hell Happened?

Seventy-five years ago in Harlem, an argument started over a dollar bill. It ended up in a riot the lives of six people (five shot by police), 495 injured, over 500 arrested, and an estimated five million dollars ($75 million in 2018 dollars) in damages to property — white-owned property.

Child Separation Crisis Background: Who Caused the Misery South of the Border?

In our interconnected world, nothing happens in a vacuum — certainly not in the backyard of the United States. So while the eyes of the world are on the Trump administration’s inhumane policies regarding migrants and their children, it is worth taking a step back to figure out why so many people from Central American countries are risking their lives to seek refuge and a better future in the US.

Trump Sets Stage for Federal Worker Purges

Over the past 15 months, hundreds of news stories have tracked the steps the Trump administration has taken to weaken federal agencies, defer to industry interests on a variety of issues, and undo or delay more than in the rulemaking pipeline.

Big Brother at Work: Employee Monitoring in the Analytics Age

Orwellian technology, capable of monitoring your every message and conversation, may be coming to your office soon.In keeping with the management adage, “What you can’t measure, you can’t manage,” new employee monitoring methods called are hitting the corporate market.From small startups to global giants such as IBM, tech vendors are offering employers the promise of q

Time’s Up: Trump to Decide If JFK Records Remain Hidden

Nearly 55 years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the drama and mystery surrounding that dark day in Dallas is still unfolding in large part because the government has for many years refused to release all relevant documents. That was supposed to change last year. The John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 gave the US government 25 years to release most of the documents that had either not been seen by the public or had been heavily redacted. The original deadline was October 26, 2017.

Facebook Fury: Why Yelling at Zuckerberg Isn’t Enough

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be grilled this week by members of Congress about his company’s failure to ensure the privacy of Facebook users. While experts debate the details, people who log onto Facebook want to know what can be done to keep their personal information secure.

Sinclair’s Pro-Trump Script Shows Danger of Media Consolidation

That news outfits are mere conveyors of unbiased information is a conceit almost no one entertains, particularly with regard to developments in Washington. But still, it’s rare to see such an orchestrated endorsement of a president’s message from a network other than Fox News.The Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owner of 193 television stations, has managed to operate in relative anonymity until last Saturday, when a 90-second clip revealed that news anchors were told to recite a series of scripted promos lambasting what they considered the biased, fake news-touting liberal media.

Case Against Pulse Nightclub Shooter’s Wife Falls Apart

Back in a January 2017 article, we asked: “” It turns out the answer to that question is: probably. It’s either that or the FBI is trying to silence her. Either way, the case against Noor Salman, wife of Pulse nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, is falling apart due to prosecutorial misconduct.

Trump White House Silences and Suppresses

And the winner of the 2018 Black Hole Award is … the Trump White House. Since 2011, the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has yearly bestowed what it terms its “dishonor” on a government agency or institution that shows “outright contempt for the public’s right to know.” This is the first time a president and his administration have received the award.

Has Organized Labor Found New Life in Trump Heartland?

A strike that could blaze a trail for a new labor movement ended in West Virginia last week. The teachers went back to work after the state legislature agreed to give all state employees a five percent raise and set up a task force to recommend changes to their health insurance program. With organized labor facing a crucial Supreme Court decision later this year, the successful tactics used by the West Virginia teachers could point the way for a comeback by labor nationwide.

Uncle Sam Is Looking for a Fight in All the Wrong Places

The United States spends a staggering amount of money each year on a military unrivaled in history. But twice already during this century, its enemies — with apparent ease and tiny budgets — have succeeded in showing that the US is much more fragile and vulnerable than people think. And that should worry Americans and their allies alike.

Ignored Warnings in Florida Shooting Just the Latest FBI Screw-up

The FBI is one of the few institutions that, no matter how often it screws up in major ways, no matter that there is something deeply wrong with the place, never seems to be held accountable. WhoWhatWhy often covers situations where the FBI knew something in advance before heinous crimes were committed — and then apparently did nothing. Many of those are so extremely weird that no one knows what to make of the phenomenon, and, frankly, people just don’t want to contemplate whether we are looking at gross incompetence, misplaced priorities, or something worse.

Major Powers Mingle in Syria in an Explosive Mix

The US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Israel are all on a collision course with each other in Syria as each maneuvers aggressively to get the most from the endgame of the brutal Syrian civil war, now approaching its seventh anniversary. The danger of a big-power conflict starting by accident rather than intention has not been so high in decades.All five regional and global powers, except the US, have had an aircraft shot down inside (or from inside) Syria in the space of about a week.

How ‘Dirty’ Budget Bills Hurt Women, the Environment, and Your Health

The budget drama has become a long-running soap opera. Since last October, when the 2018 federal fiscal year began, federal agencies have been like heroines tied to the railroad tracks, waiting for deliverance from Congress before the money runs out and shuts them down. Each time, at the brink, lawmakers have gotten together to stop the train. However, they never resolve the problem, and instead agree to short-term measures, called Continuing Resolutions (CR), to keep the money running for a few more days or weeks.

Deutsche Bank: A Global Bank for Oligarchs — American & Russian, Part 2

Editor’s Note: Part II of this in-depth, technical piece by a former IRS investigator raises more questions than it answers. But WhoWhatWhy believes this is a very useful service, particularly in relation to a complex topic of considerable public import — one that may be a key component for special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. We hope in the coming weeks to explore many more of these questions in greater depth. And we welcome reader comments. Martin J. Sheil is a retired branch chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation division.