After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: One step forward and two steps back for Obama and the Democrats --- the changing political climate of climate change politics.... All that and more in today's SPECIAL Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): No easy solutions for mercury pollution in the Great Salt Lake; Food industry says safety is the responsibility of consumers; Could revolutionary greenhouse design revolutionize Big Ag? ...See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...
In spite of a plethora of reports from experts explaining its inherent insecurity, lack of transparency, and non-auditability, online voting continues to be proposed as a viable method of holding elections. The EAC is holding a public hearing tomorrow on counting the votes of military and overseas voters (where online voting is sure to come up). An Alabama bill to allow such voters to return ballots by email died in the state senate, but only because of some "bad amendments."
And Hawaii is currently in the process of holding its first-ever digital online and telephone election (even though the state has a requirement for a voter-verified paper record and audits). The Chief of Products and Partnerships with the company that got the contract for the online Hawaii election claims, not surprisingly, that the system is "faster, more reliable, and more secure than if they had voted on paper."...
Today, VelvetRevolution.us announced our new campaign calling for the disbarment of 12 of the Bush-era torture lawyers in four states and the District of Columbia. The campaign, whose VR homepage is at DisbarTortureLawyers.com (where you can sign on yourself, read the complaints, etc.), calls for action to be taken by the state bar associations to revoke the law licenses of attorneys John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, Michael Mukasey, Michael Chertoff, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen Bradbury, Douglas Feith, David Addington, William Hayens, and Timothy Flanigan in NY, CA, TX, PA and D.C., following their exceedingly irresponsible and inappropriately liberal interpretation of U.S. law.
My colleague Kevin Zeese, an attorney himself, as well as executive director of VotersForPeace.us and a board member at VR, signed the complaints delivered to the appropriate boards for all 12 Bush attorneys. He announced the launch of the initiative at a press conference in D.C. this morning. His published statement, released today with the press conference, is posted in full here.
So far, the coverage in the corporate mainstream media today has been surprisingly decent and fairly widespread. We've seen reports from NY Times, CNN, LA Times, WaPo, Bloomberg, AP and others.
AP's coverage has been interesting, and instructive, to watch. When they first reported on the initiative early today, the lede on their story was [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two outside groups want Bush administration lawyers linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees to lose their licenses to practice law.
Their updated version, which included a few more details, but the same headline, "Complaint seeks disbarment of Bush lawyers," had this as its lede [emphasis mine]:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A coalition of liberal groups filed petitions Monday seeking disbarment of Bush administration attorneys linked to memos on harsh interrogation techniques of detainees.
Not sure what makes calling for a strict, conservative interpretation of the Rule of Law, versus the wildly liberal interpretations of the Bush Administration (and that's putting it mildly), a "liberal" cause, but that's what I guess we must come to accept from the news organization --- sorry, let me update that --- rightwing house organ that AP has become.
UPDATE: As I've been asked by a number of media folks for a comment on today's initiative, as co-founder of VR, I've been happy to offer them this statement:
"The wildly liberal interpretations of the rule of law by the Bush administration attorneys, in order to justify their torture schemes, should be offensive to the core, to anyone who believes in a strict, conservative interpretation of decades of established U.S. law on the matter, including treaties signed, on behalf of the U.S., by such conservatives as Ronald Reagan."
UPDATE 5/19/09, 8:44pm PT: AP's short video coverage of Kevin Zeese at the presser yesterday is here. But a more complete version of his statement follows below. Also, a big congrats to our Kevin for being honored with the prestigious BuzzFlash "Wings of Justice" award today for his tremendous effort on this campaign!
I'll be speaking on Election Integrity in Orange County, CA, at the Canyon Democrats monthly meeting on Monday, 5/18. (Yes, there are Dems in Orange County, CA!) If you're in the 'hood, please come by and say hello!
Here are the deets: Norman Murray Center, 24932 Veteran's Way, Oso Viejo Park, Mission Viejo, CA. Doors open at 6:30pm, I speak at 7:30pm. More info... | Map...
P.S. I await my invitation to speak to Orange County Republicans, as I'd be delighted to address them as well, anytime!
Today I'd like to introduce you to the two men who leapt forward to assist me (Ellen) in continuing Daily Voting News on an interim basis while we work on getting a permanent plan in place: John Washburn and Dave Klein. Their brief bios, which they wrote, not only tell a bit about them but should also give you a sense of where some of the flavor of the DVN intros are coming from.
John Washburn has been working in the software field since 1985; as a software developer from 1985-1994 and as a software tester from 1994 to the present. He fully slipped down the rabbit hole and into the wonderland of elections and election integrity in December of 2004. At that time he was attempting to reconcile simple elections numbers (for example, number of ballots counted to number of ballots distributed to voters) for the November 2, 2004 general election. The inability to examine election records or reconcile election numbers once he had the records set him on the three paths he has walked since; open records activism, election auditing by citizens, and the testing and certification of voting machines.
Dave Klein dreamt as a child of having some form of involvement with election administration and integrity; however, living in Ohio in 2004 undid years of therapy that had ended those nightmares. In 2006, he applied for a job offering whatever assistance he could provide to new SOS-elect, Jennifer Brunner, and to his great surprise, she accepted. From 2007-2008, he served as Elections Research & Operations Specialist at the Ohio Secretary of the State’s Office directing and leveraging expert scientific, analytic, and technical resources.
The transition to this form of public service was natural given his educational background and his prior private-sector work, which included implementing best practices/systems to support optimal customer-service at Limited Brands. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he received a National Science Foundation Fellowship to attend graduate school at Ohio State University where he studied persuasion, emotion, statistics, psychometrics, experimental methodology, and social neuroscience.
Supporting his wife's pursuit of her dreams, in the fall of 2008 he left the big-stage election drama of Ohio and moved to Minnesota, an election Eden. Or so he thought. He now serves on Minnesota Citizens for Election Integrity Organizing Committee and on the advisory boards of NSF ACCURATE and the Ohio Center for Election Excellence.
For those who have wondered (particularly when looking at the incredible miscarriages of prosecutorial injustices and improprieties in cases like Gov. Siegelman's), no, Obama has yet to replace Bush's partisan U.S. Attorneys, incredibly enough. But he will, says AG Holder, according to Politico...
President Barack Obama plans to replace a "batch" of U.S. Attorneys in the next few weeks and more prosecutors thereafter, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"I expect that we'll have an announcement in the next couple of weeks with regard to our first batch of U.S attorneys," Holder said Thursday during a House Judiciary Committee hearing which stretched out over most of the day due to breaks for members' votes. "One of the things that we didn't want to do was to disrupt the continuity of the offices and pull people out of positions where we thought there might be a danger that that might have on the continuity--the effectiveness of the offices. But...elections matter--it is our intention to have the U.S. Attorneys that are selected by President Obama in place as quickly as they can."
Holder's comments Thursday came in response to a question from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) "Many jurisdictions are waiting desperately to see what is going to be done. As we understand it, the protocol has been that U.S. Attorneys would hand in their resignations and would give the new administration an opportunity to make new appointments, we don't see that happening quite fast enough," she said, pointing to complaints about prosecutors in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
Gosh. Take your time, kids. Although, in fairness (where any may be due here), the following bears keeping in mind...
If the first U.S. Attorney selections from Obama do come in the next few weeks, he will still be ahead of Bush's timetable. He proposed his first U.S. Attorneys on August 1, 2001.
U.S. Attorneys require confirmation by the Senate and are usually proposed with the concurrence of the senators from that state.
Washington State recently enacted a law joining the pact for a National Popular Vote, bringing the total to five (MD, NJ, IL, HI, and WA). Currently, it is also being considered in CT, NV, and MA. While many recent articles are largely favorable toward the NPV, the National Popular Vote is not universally popular: Efforts are underway in MD, NJ, and WA to repeal the pact. See also the second National article below....
Even as House Democrats are celebrating their deal with conservative-leaning colleagues on climate change legislation, the real winners under the compromise have been the coal, electric and auto industries, who are largely the source of the nation’s carbon emissions to begin with.
Details of the compromise are still emerging, but already the chief sponsors of the measure — Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) — have been forced to lower carbon-reduction targets, cut renewable fuel standards and dole out billions of dollars in benefits to the nation’s largest polluting industries. Many environmentalists say the compromise comes at the too-high cost of undermining the bill’s very purpose, which is to slash emissions dramatically enough to prevent a warming planet from heating further. Some are asking Democrats either to bolster the environmental protections or to scrap the proposal altogether.
the concessions from Waxman and Markey to this point have been made to satisfy Democrats representing regions heavy with coal, oil and automaker interests.
Details on some of those "compromises" follow, along with a reminder that it'll get even worse once the Republicans get to water down the legislation further still...
These are said to be among the photos of prisoner abuse/torture whose release Obama has determined to block. Some of them were obtained, and posted several years ago, by The Sydney Morning Herald (who have more here).
Remember, these prisoners were captured in the war on Iraq, so even the disingenuous claims of Geneva Conventions not applying cannot be used here.
As Drudge and Rush have (predictably) taken to ridiculing these latest noticed photos of abuse/torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. captors, I thought it worth running some of them here, so you could similarly see how "ridiculous" it is to be concerned about this sort of treatment of prisoners on our watch. I'm certain that no U.S. military family would ever object, in the slightest way, were their son or daughter treated this way after being captured by an enemy country.
'Security via obscurity' didn't work as a concept during the Bush Administration. It's difficult to fathom how the Obama Administration would believe it'll work any better for them.
Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a bang-up job in detailing/summarizing "our story so far," as we know it, in regard to the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney Regime. Her report goes on to include interviews with Bush's Iraq WMD inspector, Charles Duelfer, and journalist Robert Windrem, who yesterday detailed the push by "the office of Vice President Cheney" to use torture on Saddam Hussein's security goon, who had been talking and cooperating just fine after being captured in the fall of Baghdad. But he had not been saying the things the OVP wanted him to, so waterboarding was recommended.
We've now officially moved from the imaginary bad Hollywood movie realm of the use of illegal torture to stop 'ticking time-bomb' attacks against Americans, to its use in a desperate attempt to stop 'ticking political-bombs' --- such as no Iraqi WMD and no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- against the Bush/Cheney Regime itself.
This video should bring you largely up to date with the latest known-knowns in the torture time line, and the cynical, realpolitik motives thereof...
(And remember, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA detainee who is reported to have just "committed suicide" in a Libyan prison is known to have been tortured into "confessing" a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the precise thing that the OVP reportedly sought from Hussein's captured goon. Al-Libi's forced "confession" was subsequently used over and over again by Bush/Cheney/Powell in the march to war, and thereafter found to have been completely made up by al-Libi to help put an end to his torture. When al-Libi recently turned up dead, he was in the process of being reportedly sought by prosecutors in regard to torture allegations against the Bush/Cheney Regime. Dots connecting yet?)
Today we have post-election reports from Connecticut on the accuracy of the optical scanners. There's an interesting contrast of voting methods between Canada (voting on paper ballots) and India (hauling e-voting machines up the Himalayas)....
In case you missed it, former Navy SEAL and Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) absolutely obliterated 'Worst President' Bush, 'Coward, Chicken Hawk' Cheney, 'Hanoi Hilton' Guantanamo, and the entire torture regime, on Monday's Larry King (via Crooks & Liars)...
VENTURA: In my opinion, George Bush is the worst President in my lifetime. ... So Barack Obama, President Obama inherited something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
I'm bothered over Guantanamo because it seems we have created our own Hanoi Hilton. We can live with that? I have a problem. I will criticize President Obama on this level; it's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. ... I was waterboarded, so I know ... It is torture. ... It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation you are drowning...You give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.
Former top White House official Karl Rove will be interviewed tomorrow as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the firing of U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration, according to two sources familiar with the appointment.
He will be questioned tomorrow by Connecticut prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy, who was named last year to examine whether any former senior Justice Department and White House officials lied or obstructed justice in connection with the dismissal of federal prosecutors in 2006.
The firings were the subject of a lengthy report released last fall by the Justice Department's inspector general and the department's Office of Professional Responsibility. Investigators there uncovered improper political motivations in the firings of several of the nine dismissed federal prosecutors.
But the department's own probe was thwarted in part because the inspector general's agents did not have the authority to compel testimony from Bush White House advisers and lawmakers.
They also add, for those keeping track...
Rove and [former Bush WH Counsel Harriet] Miers are tentatively scheduled to provide closed-door testimony to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and other members of the panel sometime next month.
UPDATE 5/15/09: RAW STORY's Larisa Alexandrovna has a number of questions she'd like to see asked of Rove, in regard to the Siegelman case.
At right is the video from Rove's appearance at his attorney's office this morning to meet federal prosecutors for his questioning (via RAW).
IN TODAY'S AUDIO REPORT: Zombie lies that just won't die (if the rightwing media can help it); EPA bans pesticide in U.S. (sorry, kids in developing countries!); Just whose side is God on in the climate legislation debate?; PLUS: Glenn Beck explains it all for you!.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail, Jesus sprinkles of climate-y goodness? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (links below): Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in Ivory Coast (BBC); Will New Rules for ethanol and biodiesel hurt the alternative fuels industry?; Eco-Marathon racer gets 8,000 mpg; How do you get a Republican to buy a hybrid?; Fighting Texas fire ants with brain-eating flies...seriously...See below for more!
Info/links on stuff we talked about on today's episode, plus MORE green news, all follows below...