Dozens of states are using optical-scan and touch-screen machines to comply with federal laws intended to phase out lever and punch-card machines after the hanging-chads confusion of the 2000 presidential election. Widespread problems were reported with the new technology and among poll workers using the machines this year in primaries in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio and elsewhere.
Local and state officials have expressed concern that the new systems might not be ready to handle increased turnouts. Election experts fear that the lack of a paper trail with most touch-screen machines will leave no way to verify votes in case of fraud or computer failure.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Democrats offer America a new direction in fiscal policy, for the middle class, and in the war in Iraq. We believe that America should work for everyone:.
We will restore honesty in government, starting with the pay-as-you-go discipline in Congress that served Mr. Clinton so well. Balancing the Federal budget will be a high priority with concurrent limitation of spending. We will ease the burdens on middle class Americans and reverse Republican cuts in college tuition aid and health care. We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, including pension reform, and preventing the privatization of social security.
We will dramatically expand support of energy independence in order to generate large numbers of new American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We will have a jobs agenda that includes good jobs that stay in America, a higher minimum wage and trade policies that benefit the global labor force, not just multinational corporations.
We will have a defense policy that is tough and smart, starting with phased redeployment of our troops in Iraq, and shore up our efforts to attack al Qaeda and fight the war on terror. We also will close the gaps in our security here at home by implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations.
We are ready to lead with a thoughtful, fiscally responsible long-term vision. We will reach out to all Americans who value hope over fear and begin moving the country forward again
It's clear that the dems think that by simply saying "we will" do something that should be enough to complete the "landslide" victory in November that they believe they are headed towards. What the dems still have not figured out is they have to actually offer the American people an idea for them to weigh against what the Republicans are offering. Slogans and promises they will do something is not enough and quite frankly reveals how stupid the dems think we all are.
It will cost them in November.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
For most of the past two years, oil prices have risen because the world's oil producers have struggled to keep pace with growing demand, particularly from China and India. Spare oil-production capacity grew so tight that market players feared that any disruption to oil production could create shortages.
Fear of disruption focused on fighting in Nigeria, escalating tensions over Iran's nuclear program, violence between Israel and Lebanon that might spread to oil-producing neighbors, and the prospect that hurricanes might topple oil facilities in the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil traders bet that such worrisome developments would drive up the future price of oil. Oil is traded in contracts for future delivery, and companies that take physical delivery of oil are just a small part of total trading. Large pension and commodities funds are the big traders and they're seeking profits. They've sunk $105 billion or more into oil futures in recent years, according to Verleger. Their bets that oil prices would rise in the future bid up the price of oil.
That, in turn, led users of oil to create stockpiles as cushions against supply disruptions and even higher future prices. Now inventories of oil are approaching 1990 levels.
But many of the conditions that drove investors to bid up oil prices are ebbing. Tensions over Israel, Lebanon and Nigeria are easing. The hurricane season has presented no threat so far to the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. peak summer driving season is over, so gasoline demand is falling.
With fear of supply disruptions ebbing, oil prices began sliding. With oil inventories high, refiners that turn oil into gasoline are expected to cut production. As refiners cut production, oil companies increasingly risk getting stuck with excess oil supplies. There's already anecdotal evidence of oil companies chartering tankers to store excess oil.
All this is turning financial markets increasingly bearish on oil.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Pelosi and Reid Urge Networks to Devote Fair Coverage to House and Senate Democrats
9/12/2006 6:02:00 PM
To: National Desk
Contact: Brendan Daly or Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616, both for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Jim Manley or Rebecca Kirszner, 202-224-2939, both for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid sent the following letter today to the presidents of network news companies calling on them to devote more coverage to House and Senate Democrats if they continue to give extensive coverage to President Bush's national security speeches.
Below is the text of the letter:
September 12, 2006
Steve Capus, President, NBC News, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
Dear Mr. Capus:
No subject is more critical to the American people than our national security. Yet as the press has widely reported, the issue of national security has regularly been politicized and exploited for partisan gain by the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress. The President's recent speaking schedule and his nationally televised prime time speech last night strongly suggest that similar tactics will be employed in the coming weeks leading up to Election Day to heighten public anxiety and promote partisanship.
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that Republicans intend to use a series of national security speeches in what The Times has characterized as a "carefully calibrated strategy" to win the midterm elections. The issue of national security should not be politicized. The security of our nation surely deserves a thorough public discussion, and different viewpoints deserve similar coverage so that the American people hear alternative ideas. We write to you today to request that if you plan to continue to devote extensive live coverage to the President's national security speeches over the next few weeks, you similarly provide substantial coverage to the national security events and statements of House and Senate Democrats.
Until now, there has been a complete absence of balance in the news coverage of national security issues. Over the last month as campaign efforts have begun in earnest, according to Media Matters, there have been 64 percent more conservatives appearing on the Sunday news shows than Democrats. In a speech that was supposed to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, last night President Bush was given almost 20 minutes of primetime coverage on all major networks for a speech that continued to inaccurately link 9/11 to the war in Iraq.
Congressional Democrats have a wealth of experience, authority, and the ideas as to how we could better secure our nation, combat terrorism, and ensure a significant transition in Iraq. House and Senate leaders hold frequent press conferences and briefings on a wide variety of national security issues ranging from Iraq to border security to the state of our military readiness. Most of these receive scant coverage, even when offering specific alternatives to Administration policies.
In order to provide the American people with complete information to make the best choices come Election Day, we ask that you commit your network to providing fair and equitable coverage to the viewpoints of both Republicans and Democrats on these crucial national security debates.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
NANCY PELOSI, House Democratic Leader
HARRY REID, Senate Democratic Leader
cc: David Westin, ABC News, Sean McManus, CBS News, Jim Walton, CNN, Roger Ailes, FOX News Channel
/© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
Rival admits leaking Schwarzenegger tape
By LAURA KURTZMAN, Associated Press Writer
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded — and leaked to the media — a recording of a private meeting in which the governor described a Hispanic legislator as having a "very hot" personality.
But Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor's Web site.
"No one hacked," Calfo said at a news conference to address the role played by the Angelides campaign, first reported by The Sacramento Bee. "They accessed information that was available to the public."
However, Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch, said Monday that the sound files were stored "in a password-protected area of the governor's office network computer system."
ONE ARAB'S APOLOGY
By EMILIO KARIM DABUL
September 12, 2006 -- WELL, here it is, five years late, but here just the same: an apology from an Arab-American for 9/11. No, I didn't help organize the killers or contribute in any way to their terrible cause. However, I was one of millions of Arab-Americans who did the unspeakable on 9/11: nothing.
The only time I raised my voice in protest against these men who killed thousands of innocents in the name of Allah was behind closed doors, among the safety of friends and family. I did at one point write a very vitriolic essay condemning their actions, but fear of becoming another Salman Rushdie kept me from ever trying to publish it.
Well, I'm sick of saying the truth only in private - that Arabs around the world, including Arab-Americans like myself, need to start holding our own culture accountable for the insane, violent actions that our extremists have perpetrated on the world at large.
Yes, our extremists and our culture.
Every single 9/11 hijacker was Arab and a Muslim. The apologists (including President Bush) tried to reassure us that 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam, but was a twisting of a great and noble religion. With all due respect, read the Koran, Mr. President. There's enough there for someone of extreme tendencies to find their way to a global jihad.
Read the whole thing. We need more of this, but its a start.
Theory that U.S. orchestrated Sept. 11 attacks 'not absurd': Venezuela
Sep 12 2:23 PM US/Eastern
Theory that U.S. orchestrated Sept. 11 attacks 'not absurd': Venezuela
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that it's at least plausible that the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
Chavez did not specifically accuse the U.S. government of having a hand in the Sept. 11 attacks, but rather suggested that theories of U.S. involvement bear examination.
The Venezuelan leader, an outspoken critic of U.S. President George W. Bush, was reacting to a television report investigating a theory that the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives after hijacked airplanes crashed into them in 2001.
"The hypothesis is not absurd . . . that those towers could have been dynamited," Chavez said in a speech to supporters. "A building never collapses like that, unless it's with an implosion."
"The hypothesis that is gaining strength . . . is that it was the same U.S. imperial power that planned and carried out this terrible terrorist attack or act against its own people and against citizens of all over the world," Chavez said.
"Why? To justify the aggressions that immediately were unleashed on Afghanistan, on Iraq."
Chavez has said the U.S. launched those wars to ensure its political and economic power.
The U.S. government says al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"A plane supposedly crashed into the Pentagon, but no one ever found a single remnant of that plane," Chavez said, citing a television program he had seen on Venezuela's state television.
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro raised the same theories in an earlier speech Tuesday, and called for an independent investigation.
"It's really worrisome to think that all of that could have been a great conspiracy against humanity," Maduro said. "An independent international investigation must be carried out one day to discover the truth about the events of Sept. 11."
Someone needs to give Hugo a gift subsciption to Popular Mechanics;
CREATING CRAZED '9/11 TRUTH'
By JAMES B. MEIGS
September 12, 2006 -- ON Feb. 7, 2005, I became a member of the Bush/Halliburton/Zionist/CIA/New World Order/Illuminati conspiracy for world domination. That day, Popular Mechanics, the magazine I edit, hit newsstands with a story debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories. Within hours, the online community of 9/11 conspiracy buffs - which calls itself the "9/11 Truth Movement" - was aflame with wild fantasies about me, my staff and the article we had published. Conspiracy Web sites labeled Popular Mechanics a "CIA front organization" and compared us to Nazis and war criminals.
For a 104-year-old magazine about science, technology, home improvement and car maintenance, this was pretty extreme stuff. What had we done to provoke such outrage?
Conspiracy theories alleging that 9/11 was a U.S. government operation are rapidly infiltrating the mainstream. These notions are advanced by hundreds of books, over a million Web pages and even in some college classrooms. The movie "Loose Change," a slick roundup of popular conspiracy claims, has become an Internet sensation.
Worse, these fantasies are gaining influence on the international stage. French author Thierry Meyssan's "The Big Lie," which argues that the U.S. military orchestrated the attacks, was a bestseller in France, and his claims have been widely repeated in European and Middle Eastern media. And recent surveys reveal that, even in moderate Muslim countries such as Turkey and Jordan, majorities of the public believe that no Arab terrorists were involved in the attacks.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion," Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was fond of saying. "He is not entitled to his own facts." Yet conspiracy theorists want to pick and choose which facts to believe.
Rather than grapple with the huge preponderance of evidence in support of the mainstream view of 9/11, they tend to focus on a handful of small anomalies that they believe cast doubt on the conventional account. These anomalies include the claim that the hole in the Pentagon was too small to have been made by a commercial jet (but just right for a cruise missile); that the Twin Towers were too robustly built to have been destroyed by the jet impacts and fires (so they must have been felled by explosives), and more. If true, these and similar assertions would cast serious doubt on the mainstream account of 9/11.
But they're not true. Popular Mechanics has been fact-checking such claims since late 2004, and recently published a book on the topic. We've pored over transcripts, flight logs and blueprints, and interviewed more than 300 sources - including engineers, aviation experts, military officials, eyewitnesses and members of investigative teams.
In every single case, we found that the very facts used by conspiracy theorists to support their fantasies are mistaken, misunderstood or deliberately falsified.
Here's one example: Meyssan and hundreds of Web sites cite an eyewitness who said the craft that hit the Pentagon looked "like a cruise missile with wings." Here's what that witness, a Washington, D.C., broadcaster named Mike Walter, actually told CNN: "I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up. It's really low.' And I saw it. I mean, it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon."
We talked to Walter and, like so many of the experts and witnesses widely quoted by conspiracy theorists, he told us he is heartsick to see the way his words have been twisted: "I struggle with the fact that my comments will forever be taken out of context."
Here's another: An article in the American Free Press claims that a seismograph at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory picked up signals indicating that large bombs were detonated in the towers. The article quotes Columbia geologist Won-Young Kim and certainly looks authoritative. Yet the truth on this issue is not hard to find. A published Lamont-Doherty report on the seismic record of 9/11 says no such thing. Kim told Popular Mechanics that the publication's interpretation of his research was "categorically incorrect." Yet the claim is repeated verbatim on more than 50 Web sites as well as in the film "Loose Change."
Every 9/11 conspiracy theory we investigated was based on similarly shoddy evidence. Most of these falsehoods are easy to refute simply by checking the original source material or talking to experts in the relevant fields. And yet even the flimsiest claims are repeated constantly in conspiracy circles, passed from Web site to book to Web site in an endless daisy chain. And any witness, expert - or publication - that tries to set the record straight is immediately vilified as being part of the conspiracy.
The American public has every right to ask hard questions about 9/11. And informed skepticism about government and media can be healthy. But skepticism needs to be based on facts, not fallacies. Unfortunately, for all too many, conspiratorial fantasies offer a seductive alternative to grappling with the hard realities of a post-9/11 world.