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Our Georgia Supreme Court case is picking up some national attention and as a result, several people have asked for a brief history of the case and its status so here it is: In 2002, Georgia became the first (and now only) state to conduct statewide elections with unverifiable voting equipment that has no means to the audit vote recording of actual ballots cast on Election Day.
Unbeknownst to us, the law at the time required that any new voting machines "shall have an independent audit trail of each vote cast". None of the voting machines procured, piloted, allegedly certified, and acquired with $54 million of tax money had any form of audit trails that are independent of the vote recording process such as standard Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails that were available even at that time.
Prior to the acquisition, the need for audit capabilities, voter verification and recount retention had already been documented in Senate meetings, by the Fulton County Elections chief, in the state's 21st Century Voting Commission report, by the general public and in plaintiff Emails that were authenticated under oath by the former Assistant Elections Director. Therefore, the acquisition could not have been a mistake. Read more.
The Obama administration will largely preserve Bush-era procedures allowing the government to search -- without suspicion of wrongdoing -- the contents of a traveler's laptop computer, cellphone or other electronic device, although officials said new policies would expand oversight of such inspections.
The policy, disclosed Thursday in a pair of Department of Homeland Security directives, describes more fully than did the Bush administration the procedures by which travelers' laptops, iPods, cameras and other digital devices can be searched and seized when they cross a U.S. border. And it sets time limits for completing searches.
But representatives of civil liberties and travelers groups say they see little substantive difference between the Bush-era policy, which prompted controversy, and this one.
"It's a disappointing ratification of the suspicionless search policy put in place by the Bush administration," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It provides a lot of procedural safeguards, but it doesn't deal with the fundamental problem, which is that under the policy, government officials are free to search people's laptops and cellphones for any reason whatsoever." Read more.
Bill would give president emergency control of Internet
by Declan McCullagh | CNET
Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.
They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.
The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license. Read more.
Prosecutors argue against new trial for Siegelman, Scrushy
By Kim Chandler | Birmingham News
MONTGOMERY - Federal prosecutors on Thursday asked a judge to deny former Gov. Don Siegelman's and HealthSouth founder Richard Scrushy's request for a new trial, arguing that the men's 2006 trial was fair.
Defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller to grant a new trial arguing, among other things, that newly discovered evidence showed the 2006 case was tainted by prosecutor misconduct. Siegelman's lawyers said that prosecutors scripted the testimony of their star witness, former Siegelman aide Nick Bailey, and failed to turn over Bailey's notes to defense lawyers.
Prosecutors denied both claims in their filing and said defense claims were based on hearsay.
"What is remarkable here is that defendants' new evidence claims do not rest on even a foundation as shaky as recantation testimony from a trial witness ... While the government did meet with Bailey prior to trial, preparing a witness to testify is not misconduct," prosecutors wrote.
Defense lawyers in their request for a new trial quoted Bailey's statements to others that the prosecutors were so frustrated that they made him write his testimony to get his story straight. Read more.
Blurring the Lines: How I was Jailed by the U.S. Army and Why it Matters
By Brian Terrell
On August 9, the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, I was one of more than 50 participants of the “Walk for Peace,” a three day, thirty mile march calling for the end of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing home all National Guard troops and the abolition of nuclear weapons, that ended at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center in Wisconsin from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine of us carried our protest onto the base after being warned by the US Army Police not to enter. If our plea for peace was deemed by the Army an “unlawful activity,” we explained, we respectfully could not comply with their order.
ATLANTA, Georgia, Aug 25 (IPS) - A case brought by election integrity advocates in Georgia claiming that unverifiable electronic voting, or E-voting, is unconstitutional could spell trouble for the controversial practice, as it heads to the Georgia Supreme Court for a ruling.
E-voting first started in Georgia. In 2002, the state became the first to use the Diebold AccuVote TS-R6 machines statewide after then-Secretary of State Cathy Cox entered into a 54-million-dollar agreement with Diebold.
About 50 million U.S. citizens used some kind of E-voting technology in the 2008 election cycle.
Today, Georgia remains the last state slated to use E-voting equipment statewide in the 2010 elections, unless the Georgia Supreme Court intervenes.
Other states like California, Maryland, Ohio initially followed in Georgia's footsteps. Since then, "California received a 2.5-million-dollar settlement from Diebold and de-certified them three times. Maryland filed an 8.5-million-dollar lawsuit. And Ohio filed for punitive damages after they found accumulation discrepancies and Diebold admitted to a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped," Garland Favorito, founder and lead plaintiff for VoterGA, an elections integrity group, told IPS.
"They were all using Diebold Accu-vote TS voting machines," he said. Read more.
Over the past century, our nation has triumphed over two sets of aspiring global tyrants: the axis powers in WWII, and the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Our victories over these foes were, in each case, world-historical in scale and importance. Yet within less than a century, we now flirt with losing the principles those successes established.
First, our recent record on torture, and more recent failure to prosecute all officials involved in enabling it, undermines the legacy of international human rights we established after the Second World War. Second, after vindicating freedom, liberty, and individual privacy in the Cold War, we now dutifully submit to a surveillance state more intrusive than any that has ever existed in human history.
By Jonathan S. Landay and Carol Rosenberg | McClatchy Newspapers
KABUL, Afghanistan — A young Afghan whose six-year detention at Guantanamo came to symbolize many of the problems of the Bush administration's war on terror detention policies arrived in his home country today, less than a month after a federal judge in Washington ordered his release.
On August 1st Democracy Unlimited filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging "corporate personhood," the illegitimate and undemocratic legal doctrine which allows courts to overturn democratically elected laws that attempt to control corporate harm and abuse.
Democracy Unlimited joined the Program on Corporations Law & Democracy, the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, Shays2: The Western Massachusetts Committee on Corporations & Democracy, and the Clements Foundation in making the legal argument. The brief was drafted and filed by attorney Jeff Clements, who represented all five organizations in the matter.
By Linda Milazzo
The photo below was taken on Friday, August 21, 2009 in El Segundo, California, outside the office of Congresswoman Jane Harman (36th CD). It shows three adorable children wearing stickers with the word fascism below a supposed image of the President of the United States, fashioned as Batman's malevolent Joker:
All photos by Mike Chickey
According to the BBC.
By Ann Wright, former U.S. Diplomat
Less than a month ago, in late July, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire (http://www.peacepeople.com/) was travelling from Dublin, Ireland to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Peace Laureate Jody Williams to participate in peace events there. As she arrived at Dulles airport near Washington, DC, from Ireland on July 30, 2009, she passed through the regular immigration line, but then was detained in a special processing area over two hours causing her to miss her connecting flight to Albuquerque.
Justice Department Memo Reportedly Addresses Legal Rights Of Detainees And Admissibility Of Coerced Evidence
NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit today demanding disclosure of a legal memo from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that reportedly addresses the constitutional rights that Guantánamo detainees could legally claim during military commission proceedings in the U.S. The memo, drafted in May 2009, also reportedly addresses the admissibility of statements obtained through coercion in those proceedings. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
What is a Voting Bloc?
A voting bloc is a group of people who vote together in support of a specific issue or common concern.
Gain national single payer health care for all citizens. Demand that your elected officials support H.R. 676 & S.703 the national single payer health care reform bills. Read more.
Pelosi Is an Expert at 'Drowning Out Opposing Views'
by Jodie Evans | Common Dreams
Disruption of the health care town hall meetings has triggered some rich debate about free speech in the U.S. In these discussions, CODEPINK has been referenced several times as the group that has most often tested the boundaries of free speech. Over the years, we've been chided and insulted by the media, Members of Congress, former Press Secretaries, and even President Bush himself. However, when Nancy Pelosi weighed in recently on the town hall "mobs," saying that "drowning out opposing views is un-American," I was compelled to respond.
While the frequent mentions of CODEPINK in these discussions do not surprise me, it saddens me that there are so few groups from the past decade to reference when talking about pushing the edge of healthy debate. Congress has been failing the people in so many ways for so long that there should have been be a non-stop primal scream from the people to wake the our representatives up from their corporate-funded stupor.
But who would have heard them? For far too long, the American people have been cut off from and out of the political process without any real avenues of letting their voices be heard. So when Speaker Pelosi -- no stranger to drowning out opposing views -- talks about "drowning out opposing views is un-American," the statement is steeped in irony.
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT WISCONSIN’S FORT MCCOY CLAIM FALSE IMPRISONMENT AND POSSE COMITATUS VIOLATIONS BY ARMY POLICE - “A VIRTUAL KIDNAPPING,” SAYS ATTORNEY...
For Immediate Release | August 18, 2009
Four peace activists who were arrested and jailed by Department of the Army Police at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin at an antiwar protest on August 9, are consulting with attorneys working for the Mass Defense Committee of the National Lawyers Guild to explore possible legal responses to what they charge is their false imprisonment and various violations of posse comitatus laws that restrict the military from acting as civilian police.
The nonviolent protest occurred on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki as more than 50 participants of the “Walk for Peace” a three day thirty mile march calling for the end of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing home all National Guard troops and the abolition of nuclear weapons ended their journey at the gates of Fort McCoy. Fort McCoy is a military training center from which National Guard units from around the United States are deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Walk for Peace was sponsored by several regional and national organizations, including Nukewatch, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Madison Pledge of Resistance, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.
Nine activists who carried their protest onto the base were issued citations for a federal petty offense requiring them to appear in court at a later date. Usually one charged with a minor offense and issued a citation is immediately released pending a later court appearance but in this case, military authorities released five of the nine but continued to detain Bonnie Urfer of Luck, Wisconsin, Alice Gerard of Grand Island, New York, Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa and Joy First of Madison, Wisconsin, explaining to them that they were going to be jailed because they had each been apprehended at previous protests at the Fort.
"Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union," by David Swanson is due in stores September 1st, but the publisher has it now and you can get it straight from Seven Stories Press.
By Dave Lindorff
Let me state from the get-go that I'm no opponent of gun ownership (got my first rifle at the age of 12 and am still a crack shot). But something weird is going on when you have guys wandering around a political rally or protest site with pistols strapped to their thighs, or semi-automatic assault rifles strapped brazenly to their backs, as has been happening outside of venues where President Obama is speaking.
Before we get to the legal issues here, I just want to paint you a mental picture:
By Dave Lindorff
Bill Clinton was the worst thing to happen to the Democratic Party and to progressives since that racist warmonger Woodrow Wilson won the presidency and dragged the US into the utterly pointless and incredibly bloody First World War.
Clinton, by posing as a progressive, confused and undermined, and ultimately betrayed the liberal/progressive wing of the party, shattering what was left of the New Deal coalition and leaving the American left adrift and riven by the conflict between those who thought the Democratic Party was the only viable vehicle for progressive reform and those who thought it was hopelessly in the grip of corporate interests.
Barack Obama offers the hope of bringing that era of debilitating confusion to an end.
Fear for Obama's Safety Grows as Hate Groups Thrive on Racial Backlash
Violent Signs, Gun, Standoff Latest in Emerging Anger Towards the President
By Brian Ross, Anna Schecter and Megan Chuchmach | ABCNews
Experts who track hate groups across the U.S. are growing increasingly concerned over violent rhetoric targeted at President Obama, especially as the debate over health care intensifies and a pattern of threats emerges.
The Secret Service is investigating a Maryland man who held a sign reading "Death to Obama" and "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids" outside a town hall meeting this week. And in New Hampshire, another man stood across the street from a Presidential town hall with his gun on full display. Read more.
Whitehall Officers Subdue Elderly Woman With Knife
By Donna Willis | Columbus NBC4
An elderly woman with a weapon was taken to the ground by a Whitehall officer, and witnesses questioned the force used.
Virginia Dotson was wandering the Walmart parking lot at 3657 E. Main St. Saturday evening with a steak knife. She was telling strangers she would cut them and already had cut herself.
Whitehall officers were called to the scene, but some witnesses said officers used too much force in subduing the woman.
Dotson’s daughter said Dotson found a steak knife in the vehicle, cut herself out of her seat belt and took the knife with her while searching for her daughter.
“There was some kids out there talking to this old lady, and they said something about the old lady hitting them or something,” Stan Brown said.
Brown shot the incident on his cell phone.
Another witness called 911.
Whitehall officer Tammy Scott was the first out of the cruiser.
“She didn’t even ask her to drop the knife. The woman told her when the cop came charging at her. She said, ‘I’m not going to cut you. I’m not going to cut you. She was just calling her daughter’s name out,’ ” witness Tomya Beatty said.
The video told a different story, though: “Ma’am: Can you put the knife down? Put the knife down for me,” Scott said. Read more.
The GOP is willing to disrupt the health care debate if they can't win it. Yesterday in Tampa, a mob of Glenn Beck supporters nearly caused a riot.
The Republican Old Guard are in the fix an atheist would be in if Jesus showed up and raised his mother from the dead: Their world view has just been shattered. Obama's election has driven them over the edge. Consider Former Congressman Dick Armey. Several far right foundations and the multitrillion dollar health-insurance industry have teamed up with him to organize the far right foot soldiers of the Republican Party to intimidate people speaking on behalf of health-care reform. They are using my old shock troops -- given many of these folks were first energized by the Evangelical pro-life movement that my late father and I started in the 1970s. What we did to clinics they are now doing to congressmen and others speaking out for health care reform.
Having failed at the ballot box, having watched their Fox News-organized "tea parties" fizzle the intimidation tactics which the Republicans have embraced are being used in a well-financed, top-down orchestrated fake grass roots campaign by corporate interests to try and protect the profits of the insurance business. Armey's FreedomWorks is organizing against health care reform. Armey's lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Armey's lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. FreedomWorks is supporting the status quo at all costs. (They are also fans of fossil fuels. Armey's lobbying firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues.)
Last year, the Wall Street Journal exposed FreedomWorks for building "amateur-looking" websites to promote far right interests of Armey. FreedomWorks represents a top-down, corporate-friendly approach that's been the norm for conservative organizations for years. How do I know this is the norm? Because I used to have strategy meetings with the late Jack Kemp and Dick Army and the rest of the Republican gang about using their business ties to help finance the pro-life movement to defeat Democrats. I know this script. I helped write it. Read more.
Charged with the fatal shooting of abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in a church in Wichita, Kansas, last Sunday morning, Scott Philip Roeder is a regular consumer of conservative talk radio, television, and websites. But did Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck—or any other commentator whipping up an audience with overheated demonizing rhetoric—actually help pull the trigger?
It’s not that simple, explains Chip Berlet, senior analyst for the independent think tank Political Research Associates (PRA), in a new study entitled Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization, and Scapegoating. “They are not legally culpable for the assassination of Dr. Tiller, says Berlet, “but they must share some portion of moral responsibility for creating a dangerous environment."
According to Berlet:
"Right-wing pundits demonize scapegoated groups and individuals in our society, implying that it is urgent to stop them from wrecking the nation. Some angry people in the audience already believe conspiracy theories in which the same scapegoats are portrayed as subversive, destructive, or evil. Add in aggressive apocalyptic ideas that suggest time is running out and quick action mandatory and you have a perfect storm of mobilized resentment threatening to rain bigotry and violence across the United States."
A month ago, when the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony on “legal issues regarding military commissions and the trial of detainees for violations of the law of war”, and the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on “Legal Issues Surrounding the Military Commissions System,” the Obama administration’s proposed revival of the much-criticized Military Commission system of trials for “terror suspects” at Guantánamo attracted a decent amount of media attention.
Last week, however, when the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee convened to hear further testimony about the Military Commissions, few media outlets noticed. This was a great shame, as one of the speakers was Lt. Col. (formerly Maj.) David Frakt of the US Air Force Reserves, whose testimony (PDF) was at least as riveting as that of his former adversary in the Military Commissions, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the ex-prosecutor who resigned in September 2008.
By Dave Lindorff
OMG! Those protesters showing up at Democratic “town meetings” to promote the president’s health care “reform” program are being bused in from out of town?
Scandal! Que horrible! (Gasp)
But wait! That’s exactly what we on the left always did when we held demonstrations—at least if we could. Who in the trade union movement hasn’t called on fellow workers in other unions to join them in rallies during struggles with an employer, or asked them to join sparse picket-lines? Who hasn’t pulled out the stops trying to get people from other cities to attend a local protest?
by Linda Milazzo
On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American Evergreen College student and member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was run down by a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer. The American made bulldozer that crushed and killed Rachel Corrie was operated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Rachel died while protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip of Palestine.
Just twenty-three at the time of her death, Rachel was an avid diarist who vividly chronicled her peace and justice actions in Palestine up to the time she died. The play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, sponsored by Winograd For Congress this Saturday, August 8th in Los Angeles, is a powerful rendering of Rachel's writings depicting the plight of Palestinians and Rachel's lifelong passion for peace.
Conservative activists are vowing to keep up their fight against President Barack Obama's health care plans, even as the Democratic Party pushes back hard, accusing Republicans of organizing angry mobs.
Democrats and the White House are claiming that the sometimes rowdy protests that have disrupted Democratic lawmakers' meetings and health care events around the country are largely orchestrated from afar by insurers, lobbyists, Republican Party activists and others.
"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."
Some of the activists who've shown up at town hall meetings held recently by Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., and others are affiliated with loosely connected right-leaning groups, including Conservatives for Patients' Rights and Americans for Prosperity, according to officials at those groups. Some of the activists say they came together during the "Tea Party" anti-big-government protests that happened earlier this year, and they've formed small groups and stayed in touch over e-mail, Facebook and in other ways. Read more.
When you hear that the National Guard has been called in, the first thing that comes to mind is – where’s the natural disaster? Jefferson County, Alabama isn’t facing a natural disaster; it’s facing a fiscal one. Now the sheriff there says he needs help and he’s calling for backup.
Sheriff Mike Hale says there won’t be enough cops to patrol the streets in his county and the National Guard may be needed to protect the community. He spoke to Joe Johns on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
Joe Johns: When you look at this thing, the first thing that comes to mind is the county’s image. And I wonder if people are speaking to you this morning about whether this is a good PR move so to speak.
Mike Hale: It’s not about a PR move. The folks in Jefferson County elected me to keep neighborhoods and communities safe. The only thing I have failed to do is have the local government understand what their first responsibility is – and that’s to keep neighborhoods and communities safe. They’ve broken a contract with the people of Jefferson County and my job and my plan is to make sure that the governor will give us some funds to keep the deputies rolling. And if funds are unavailable, I need some force multipliers to work with my deputy sheriffs to keep this community safe.
Johns: Give us an idea of what would happen on the streets of the county if you didn’t ask for the National Guard and if this whole thing went into effect.
Hale: I think you can take a look at the night before that the court ruled against us. I had a homicide in one sleepy community; I had a homicide in another town. And in a very sleepy town, I had a burglary right there at one of the main businesses. The criminals are looking out and seeing how this county commission is funding law enforcement and I’ve just got a plan to – you know what? If the county commission won’t fund me, and I’ve got to go to the state for help, the Jefferson County deputies and myself, we’re going to get the job done and Jefferson County’s going to be safe. Read more.
By Chris Floyd
We have often talked here about the American gulag -- not the far-flung prisons and "intense interrogation" chambers of the global militarist empire, where tens of thousands of captives languish, often without the slightest pretense of even a modicum of rights or legal process -- but the countless human holding pens that glut the highways and byways of the sacred Homeland itself, where not thousands but literally millions of people are incarcerated in a brutal system of retribution, abuse and moral atrocity: a system increasingly geared to corporate profit; a seedbed and training ground for gangs and extremists; a breaker and stigmatizer of generation after generation of Americans.
Yes, once again, the latest annual rankings of the world's prison population are in, and, once again, 2008 found the good old US of A the winners by a country mile. No other nation in the world comes close to imprisoning more of its own people -- not in terms of raw numbers or by proportion of the population.