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A Dem who keeps her promise

It’s nice to know that there are still Progressive Dems out there who actually do live up to their 2006 campaign promises.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has filed suit against Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) for nearly $15 million after a four-month investigation revealed the company had repeatedly violated state law.

Bowen, who unseated incumbent Bruce McPherson in 2006 by a narrow 3% (officially), campaigned on a Progressive platform whose centerpiece called for cleaning up the California voting system.  True to her word, she is now aggressively pursuing claims of eVote fraud.

Secretary Bowen is suing ES&S for $9.72 million in penalties for selling 972 machines that contained hardware changes that were never submitted to, or reviewed by, the Secretary of State. Furthermore, she is seeking nearly $5 million to reimburse the five counties that bought the machines believing they were buying certified voting equipment.

“ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught,” said Bowen, the state’s top elections officer. “California law is very clear on this issue. I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into this state, ignore the laws, and make millions of dollars from California’s taxpayers in the process.”

Bowen claims ES&S fraudulently substituted almost a thousand rigged boxes in five northern California counties, including San Francisco County:      

The sales in question involve ES&S’s AutoMARK ballot-marking devices that 14 California counties use to comply with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirement that voters with disabilities have a way to cast ballots privately and independently. Unlike direct recording electronic (DRE) devices, the AutoMARK prints a voted ballot that is counted by an optical scanner along with other paper ballots.

   In July 2007, Secretary Bowen learned that ES&S had sold AutoMARK A200s – a version of the AutoMARK A100 that had been altered without authorization from the Secretary of State – to five counties in 2006. The counties collectively spent about $5 million for the equipment: Colusa bought 20 machines, Marin bought 130, Merced bought 104, San Francisco bought 558, and Solano bought 160. Elections officials in the five counties believed they were purchasing the certified AutoMARK A100s when, in fact, they had purchased AutoMARK A200s.

Bowen has also gone after ES&S in Los Angeles, where she decertified the company’s InkaVote boxes that had been scheduled for use in February’s Presidential primary/electoral college referendum:

Both of these actions have come as a result of an an unprecedented top to bottom review of California voting systems.

This is exactly what she promised to do as Secretary of State and she is delivering in a big way. Echoing language she used on the campaign trail last year, she said in a statement (PDF):


California voters are entitled to have their votes counted exactly as they were cast. This top-to-bottom review is designed with one goal in mind: to ensure that California’s voters cast their ballots on voting systems that are secure, accurate, reliable, and accessible.

Thank you, Secretary Bowen, for keeping your promise.

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Anybody Feel the Earthquake?

I know there are at least a few Bay Area dwellers ’round here.

USGS says 5.6 with an epicenter at alum rock (just north of San Jose).  See link for past week’s activity also.

My story:

I’m in Marin sitting in my rocking recliner with rocking foot stool and petting the dog.

I don’t feel a thing.

Mrs. Night Owl, who is sitting next to me in her four on the floor comfy chair, is just about to say again what an idiot Tweety is when all of a sudden she asks if I feel the place shaking.

I say no, and go back to petting the dog.

I guess I have an earthquake absorbing recliner.

The Three-fer

It’s only been three years since the New York Times publicly apologized for promoting Bush Administration fairy tales about Iraqi WMD, and still the Grey Lady continues to carry heavy water for the Bush Administration, this time regurgitating Neocon lies claims that the target of the Israeli bombing strike in Syria was a nuclear facility.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 – Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

Many details remain unclear, most notably how much progress the Syrians had made in construction before the Israelis struck, the role of any assistance provided by North Korea, and whether the Syrians could make a plausible case that the reactor was intended to produce electricity. In Washington and Israel, information about the raid has been wrapped in extraordinary secrecy and restricted to just a handful of officials, while the Israeli press has been prohibited from publishing information about the attack.

See how easy it is to make a news story seem credible?  Just quote some unnamed Administration officials with access to reports they can’t otherwise talk about, and Voila!

Instant nukes, ready for framing!

Of course, you might expect professional (or at least competent) journalists to make some attempt to corroborate these bombastic reports, especially considering the Times’ embarrassing track record when it comes to the topic of WMD in Middle Eastern countries. Right?


My Morning with Louisa

Yesterday, I spent a fun and very worthwhile morning collecting voter signatures with Louisa, the 6th District (Marin and Sonoma Counties) volunteer coordinator for the campaign to place Al Gore on the California Democratic primary ballot.*

This drive is part of a larger grass roots effort to convince Al Gore that we need him as our next President.  Today was our first day collecting signatures.

Later that afternoon, Louisa emailed a fantastic account of the morning’s events.  Louisa’s words were so inspiring that I asked her if I could repost them.  Louisa, who is nearly eighty (you’d never know it), has graciously agreed:

Chief Gitmo Prosecutor Quits

Air Force Col. Morris Davis, the Chief Prosecutor for Guantanamo Bay military tribunals has resigned:

MIAMI — The chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo military commissions has resigned, raising the prospect of further delays in the Bush administration’s six-year effort to bring prisoners in the war on terrorism to trial.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that Air Force Col. Morris Davis, a steadfast supporter of the controversial detention and judicial processes at the U.S. Naval Base in southern Cuba, had asked to be relieved of his duties. Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said a successor has yet to be named.

Davis’ resignation reportedly stems from a dispute with Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann over Hartman’s authority to control Davis’ prosecutorial decisions.

Davis, a veteran military lawyer who had served in the position for at least two years, lately had chafed under the second-guessing and micromanaging of Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, who this summer became legal advisor to the tribunal convening authority, an attorney general-like post.

Hartmann has urged the prosecution to move forward with trials of the “high-value” detainees rather than try smaller fish in the pool for whom prosecutors have more convincing evidence and better-prepared cases. The prosecution was prodded to proceed on those cases before all the commissions’ procedural codes were adopted and legal challenges had been worked out.

The 16 “high-value” suspects, including accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, were transferred there from secret CIA prisons a year ago.

The only ‘conviction’ the Gitmo star chamber has managed to procure so far has been the embarrassing plea agreement last March with Australian Thomas Hicks.  Davis, who recommended a long sentence for Hicks, was reportedly unhappy about Hartman’s politically motivated intervention that forced Hick’s early release. (Hicks remains under a gag order about his treatment at Gitmo, an order conveniently timed to expire after the Aussie Federal elections.)

On the heels of the Hicks embarrassment, as well as continuing legal challenges to the Constitutionality of the whole sordid enterprise, the Bushies know they need a big win to salvage the viability of their extraterritorial star chamber. Yet the only defendant currently awaiting trial is 21 year old Canadian, Omar Khadr, accused of fragging a US Army medic in Afganistan in 2002 when he was 15.

While true believer Col. Davis may have thought he was doing God’s work in prosecuting this ‘small fry’ for alleged crimes committed as a teenager, Gen. Hartman understands the Rovian reality that the Gitmo tribunals are strictly exercises in political expediency, and that prosecuting a 9/11 patsy has far more propaganda value than prosecuting a lowly child grunt.  If Davis doesn’t get that, reasons Hartman, then Davis obviously isn’t the right man for the Chief Prosecutor’s job.

Bottom line: With Davis now out of the way, expect Khadr’s trial to be put on the back burner while the new prosecutor (yet to be named) gears up for a big, Gitmo show trial of the alleged 9/11 ‘mastermind’.  Assuming the Bushies remain true to form, expect this new ‘Terror Trial’ to begin somewhere around the time of the Democratic National Convention.

Largest US burger meat processor out of business after E.coli recall

Another addition of Sign of the Times…

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) — Topps Meat Co. LLC, the meat company responsible for the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history, said Friday it will close its plant in Elizabeth, N.J., and go out of business, effective immediately.

Topps on Sept. 25 began a recall of its frozen hamburger meat that was expanded to comprise 21.7 million pounds of the meat, which may be contaminated with E. coli after federal inspectors discovered inadequate safety measures at its plant.

“In one week we have gone from the largest U.S. manufacturer of frozen hamburgers to a company that cannot overcome the economic reality of a recall this large,” he said.

Here is the USDA recall page.

Countdown ’til some clueless Gooper argues that meddling big government agencies are bad for the economy. 

In 3…2…1….

Topps Meat Company, LLC, a privately held company, is apparently not the same firm as Topps Company, Inc., a public company (NASDAQ NM: Topp) that makes sports trading cards.

New revelations on the Israeli bombing of Syria

The indispensable Laura Rozen quotes Intelligence Online, which says the targets were Korean SCUD missile parts: 

In attacking Dair el Zor in Syria on Sept. 6, the Israeli air force wasn’t targeting a nuclear site but rather one of the main arms depots in the country.

  Dair el Zor houses a huge underground base where the Syrian army stores the long and medium-range missiles it mostly buys from Iran and North Korea. The attack by the Israeli air force coincided with the arrival of a stock of parts for Syria’s 200 Scud B and 60 Scud C weapons.

  The parts were shipped from North Korea aboard a container ship flying the Panamanian flag. The U.S. Navy wanted to board the ship in Morocco’s territorial waters but Rabat vetoed the operation. The parts were loaded aboard six trucks in the Syrian port of Tartus on Sept. 3 and took three days to reach Dair el Zor. The trucks and their loads were destroyed the moment they arrived at the underground base. A unit of military police that escorted the convoy was also wiped out in the attack.

The really interesting part is below the fold:

US Senate Goes Long on Iraq

While most of the sturm and drang about yesterday’s seemingly senseless Senate resolution has focused on implications for war with Iran, a closer look at the text reveals the other agenda of our Parliamentary Putzes – the codification of a long term US military presence in Iraq.

First the text: 

(b) Sense of Senate.–It is the sense of the Senate–

  (1) that the manner in which the United States transitions and structures its military presence in Iraq will have critical long-term consequences for the future of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, in particular with regard to the capability of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to pose a threat to the security of the region, the prospects for democracy for the people of the region, and the health of the global economy;

  (2) that it is a vital national interest of the United States to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi’a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force that could serve its interests inside Iraq, including by overwhelming, subverting, or co-opting institutions of the legitimate Government of Iraq;

  (3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

  (4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;

  (5) that the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists, as established under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and initiated under Executive Order 13224; and

  (6) that the Department of the Treasury should act with all possible expediency to complete the listing of those entities targeted under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747 adopted unanimously on December 23, 2006 and March 24, 2007, respectively.

Not just simply a tantrum against Iran, the Senate resolution is, more importantly, a formal recognition of what many US legislators have long known would be the eventual fallback plan once the Surge inevitably failed: permanent occupation of Iraq.

Thank you buhdy

My heartfelt appreciation for providing a forum to discuss the events surrounding 9/11.  For too long, too many have been afraid to confront the glaring holes in the official account, and I for one am happy that in a place with so many thoughtful and intelligent people, we might begin to have an honest and open discussion about this vitally important topic.

“Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us — and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.” ~ Carl Sagan

Other Great Moments in Tasing (Warning: Many Videos)

Political Protests

Miami Bike cops tase demonstrators at Free Trade Area of the Americas protests.

Police in Pittsburgh tase woman lying on the ground

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