US port security

United Arab Emirates firm to operate six major U.S. ports
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, February 13, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has approved a deal in which a United Arab Emirates company would operate six major ports in the United States.

A U.S. government panel has determined that the UAE firm, DP World, would not endanger national security.

DP World, based in Dubai, has offered $6.8 billion for the purchase of a British firm that operates the ports of Baltimore, Miami, New York, New Jersey, New Orleans and Philadelphia, Middle East Newsline reported.

DP World intends to acquire the London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation [P&O] Co. The sale was expected to be approved on Monday.

“The P&O directors have withdrawn their recommendation of the offer by PSA, which was announced on Jan. 26, 2006, and unanimously recommend that P&O Stockholders vote in favor of the revised proposals at the meetings, which are now scheduled to take place on Feb. 13,” DP World said in a statement.

Read more.

Paul Hackett's farewell address

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Friends,

Today I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the race for United States Senate. I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign.

But there was no quid pro quo. I will not be running in the Second Congressional District nor for any other elective office. This decision is final, and not subject to reconsideration.

I told the voters from the beginning that I am not a career politician and never aspired to be–that I was about leadership, service and commitment.

Similarly, I told party officials that I had given my word to other good Democrats, who will take the fight to the Second District, that I would not run. In reliance on my word they entered the race. I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. At the end of the day, my word is my bond and I will take it to my grave.

Thus ends my 11 month political career. Although it is an overused political clichŽ, I really will be spending more time with my family, something I wasn’t able to do because my service to country in the political realm continued after my return from Iraq. Perhaps my wonderful wife Suzi said it best after we made this decision when she said “Honey, welcome home.” I really did marry up.

To my friends and supporters, I pledge that I will continue to fight and to speak out on the issues I believe in. As long as I have the microphone, I will serve as your voice.

It is with my deepest respect and humility that I thank each and every one of you for the support you extended to our campaign to take back America, and personally to me and my family. Together we made a difference. We changed the debate on the Iraq War, we inspired countless veterans to continue their service by running for office as Democrats and we made people believe again. We must continue to believe.

Remember, we must retool our party. We must do more than simply aspire to deliver greatness; we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country; Peace, prosperity and the freedoms that define our democracy.

Rock on.

Paul Hackett
http://www.hackettforohio.com

Iraq, Katrina veterans march from Mobile to New Orleans

Veterans’ and Survivors’ March from Mobile to New Orleans
March 14-19, 2006

March 19, 2006, is the 3rd anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and hurricane survivors’ organizations are organizing a five-day march along Gulf Coast Highway 90 to demand the immediate return of our troops from Iraq, and to call for U.S. tax dollars to be spent on human priorities and rebuilding of the devastated Gulf Coast, instead of the
illegal occupation of Iraq.

Every bomb dropped in Iraq Explodes from Mobile to New Orleans Justice in Iraq and the Gulf Coast-bring the troops and survivors home NOW!

***ADVISORY: Spring Break corresponds to the march. If you plan to get plane tickets to Mobile and from New Orleans, book them early.

Read more.

Smoke and mirrors don't come cheap!

Bush Administration Spent Over $1.6 Billion on Advertising and Public Relations Contracts Since 2003, GAO Finds
t r u t h o u t | Press Release

Monday 13 February 2006

Washington, DC – Today Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. George Miller, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, and other senior Democrats released a new Government Accountability Office report finding that the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts in a two and a half year span.

“The government is spending over a billion dollars per year on PR and advertising,” said Rep. Waxman. “Careful oversight of this spending is essential given the track record of the Bush Administration, which has used taxpayer dollars to fund covert propaganda within the United States.”

“No amount of money will successfully sell the Bush Administration’s failed policies, from the war in Iraq, to its disastrous energy policy, to its confusing Medicare prescription drug benefits,” said Democratic Leader Pelosi. “The American people know the Bush Administration is on the wrong track and the White House PR machine won’t change that fact.”

Pentagon lists UC protest as a "credible threat"

TO: UC Santa Cruz Colleagues

FROM: Denice D. Denton, Chancellor and David S. Kliger, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor

We are writing to provide an update on the Pentagon’s listing of a UCSC protest as a “credible threat.” (For a complete listing of correspondence and news reports
about this issue, please see http://chancellor.ucsc.edu/pentagon/)

Following correspondence from the campus askingmembers of Congress to investigate the TALON listing, Senator Barbara Boxer convened a meeting in her Washington, D.C. office on Tuesday, January 31. Participants, besides Senator Boxer, were Chancellor Denice Denton; Lt. Col. Gary Tesut, representing the Pentagon; staff representing Senator Dianne Feinstein; staff from Senator Boxer’s office; and UC staff.

Discussion explicitly addressed the unacceptability of a UCSC event being listed – and, in fact, Senator Boxer agreed with Chancellor Denton in expressing great disapproval of the creation and maintenance of any such lists, noting the echoes of McCarthyism in actions of that type. In addition, questions to Lt. Col. Testut probed the reasons why the UCSC event was listed and the methods used to obtain information about the event.

The outcome of that discussion and a subsequent conversation between Chancellor Denton and Senator Feinstein later that same day is summarized in a letter jointly signed by Senators Boxer and Feinstein (http://chancellor.ucsc.edu/pentagon/boxer_feinstein-letter_02-08-06.pdf).

Key points in the letter include the following.

— The April 5, 2005 event at the University has been removed from the TALON database.

— Department of Defense regulations forbid retaining information on Americans engaged in constitutionally-protected activities.

— Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone has initiated a comprehensive review of the TALON program to determine if Department of Defense officials violated any regulations governing domestic counterintelligence efforts.

In closing, we want to reiterate that we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that First Amendment rights are protected on this campus and in our country. We have zero tolerance for violence and incivility, but we vigorously support free expressions of opinions, including dissent. Such expressions are hallmarks of a democratic society and are integral to our vital teaching and learning community.

UC Santa Cruz. Thinking at the Edge.

Elizabeth M. Irwin
Co-Vice Chancellor, University Relations (Interim)

Cheney bags a lawyer

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter
Texas lawyer ‘alert and doing fine’ in Corpus Christi hospital
Sunday, February 12, 2006; Posted: 3:54 p.m. EST (20:54 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

Harry Whittington, 78, was “alert and doing fine” after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Read more.

BREAKING: Cheney Accidentally Shoots Man While Hunting
UPDATE: Incident Occurred Saturday, Not Released Until Moments Ago…
FURTHER UPDATES: Ranch Owner Hired Cheney at Halliburton, Also Tied to Covert FISA Board Under Reagan…

Original AP Report on Shooting…

BRAD BLOG UPDATES: Several sources (Fox, CNN, Reuters) confirming incident, but reporting it took place yesterday (Saturday) at 5:30pm Texas time. Why was the story withheld from the media until now? Almost 24 hours later? The man is reported to be in stable condition, apparently, at this time. Did they wait until they could report that he would be fine before releasing it at all? Would we have found out about it at all, therefore, if the man had died? Did they wait until after it could be discussed on the Sunday News shows?

Just some of the questions I expect we’ll be hearing shortly.

FURTHER UPDATES…

Read more.

I much prefer to catch wild fish or chase wild quail in South Texas…and perfectly happy to adjust as required.

And I also care a lot about gun laws. I worry sometimes that there is a growing antihunting sentiment that I run into with people…people who have no idea what it’s all about…have never done it and don’t like the idea of somebody else doing it.

On the Armstrongs, whose ranch the incident occurred on, and their relation to Cheney et al…From WhiteHouseForSale.org…

“We go out when the dew is still on the grass, and then hunt until we shoot our limit,” Tobin said in 2000 of his ranch outings with Dick Cheney. “Then we pick a fine spot and have a wild game picnic lunch.” True conservatives might choke on their javelina steaks if they knew that Tobin Armstrong dunned the government for $11,336 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2002, according to the Environmental Working Group. Anne Armstrong served as: a close advisor to President Nixon; President Ford’s British Ambassador; and approved covert actions on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under Reagan. A veteran of blue-chip corporate boards, Anne Armstrong was a Halliburton director when that corporation hired Cheney. She is Kay Bailey Hutchison’s best friend…

Sen. Joe "The Mole" Lieberman

REPUBLICANS FOR LIEBERMAN
Robert Novak – Feb. 11, 2006
Two prominent Republican lobbyists, Craig Fuller and H.P. Goldfield, hosted a fund-raising dinner Thursday evening at Goldfield’s Washington home for Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, seeking re-election in Connecticut this year.
Fuller was President Ronald Reagan’s Cabinet secretary and later Vice President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff. Goldfield, a Reagan White House aide and later assistant secretary of Commerce, was a fund-raiser in the two Bush-Quayle campaigns.
While Lieberman is a major voice for lobbyist reform, three of his dinner’s five hosts were registered lobbyists. Fuller represents the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Goldfield lobbies for Airbus and for energy companies (ConcocoPhillips, Dynegy International and Gulfsands Petroleum). Co-host C. Michael Gilliland, a partner in the Hogan & Hartson
law firm, represents a variety of clients.

Can't they plead the Fifth Amendment?

VOTING MACHINE EXAMINERS CHICKENING OUT OF SENATE INVESTIGATION

Key witnesses have notified the California Senate Elections Committee that they will refuse to show up at the hearing on how certification is being done. They don’t want to be questioned.

Shawn Southworth (Ciber) has notified the investigating committee that he will decline to appear. Jim Dearman (Wyle Labs) has notified the committee that he will decline to appear.

No word yet from California voting machine examiner Steve Freeman or California technical advisor David Jefferson, who have accepted at least $150,000 and $50,000, respectively, in Calif. taxpayer money for their roles in testing and certification and recommendation.

The hearing, scheduled for Feb. 16, was called by Calif. Senate Elections Committee chairperson Debra Bowen. Thus far, no subpoenas have been issued. The process for issuing a subpoena takes place in the Senate Rules Committee, which Bowen is also a member of. Without subpoenas, it now seems likely that not a single key witness will show up for questioning.

They won’t show up without a fight, and here’s why:

QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ASKED ABOUT THE BREAKDOWN IN VOTING SYSTEM CERTIFICATION

It is clear by now that the prospect of having to answer how systems like the defective Diebold GEMS central tabulator were recommended for certification is simply a no-win situation for most of the voting machine examiners.

The Diebold system has been recommended for certification over and over, and according to time sheets obtained for the examiners, many hours have been invested in examining its security. Yet two different hacks in projects conducted by http://www.blackboxvoting.org, one by Dr. Herbert Thompson and a different one by Harri Hursti, quickly penetrated the system, altering election results.

It took Hursti only 24 hours to spot the fatal flaw in Diebold’s memory card architecture. Both federal and state certifiers should be asked why they recommended this system for certification. Did they not notice the problem, or did they ignore the problem, or did they think it was not a problem?

It took Dr. Thompson less than five minutes to identify the fatal flaw in the GEMS tabulator. Both federal and state certifiers should be asked why they have repeatedly approved GEMS for certification. Did they not understand that a Visual Basic Script can be used to hack a Microsoft Access application? Did they not know GEMS uses Microsoft Access? Do they believe that using a voting program that is hackable with a simple script is secure?

The Steve Freeman time sheets reveal that he specifically billed the state of California for testing in response to the RABA Technologies report and the CompuWare report. His time sheets show an additional five-hour examination of GEMS security. The August 18, 2004 CompuWare report rates the GEMS risk High, High, High and the RABA report says that GEMS should be rewritten entirely.

Freeman needs to be asked, under oath, why he repeatedly recommended GEMS for certification even after numerous reports detailed its security flaws. As recently as November 2005, Freeman recommended GEMS for certification again, this time admitting that there were defects but saying they were planning to find a way to mitigate them. (However, California has not yet mitigated the defects, but will continue to use GEMS.)

Both federal and state certifiers should also be asked why they approved interpreted code in Diebold machines, contrary to FEC standards. Do they think there is no interpreted code? If so, why is there a program called the “interpreter”? Do they think it is okay to have an interpreter running code in a voting system during an election?

According to documents obtained from the state of California by Black Box Voting, Diebold actually stripped out security measures on its absentee ballot counting machines, removing the only safeguard against GEMS hacking available, short of counting all of the ballots by hand. Both federal and state examiners need to be asked why they approved this. Nearly 40 percent of California votes are mail-in. Given the known risks with GEMS, was it appropriate to remove the voting machine results tapes, leaving mail-in vote security solely up to GEMS? Did the examiners not know this? Did they not consider it to be a problem? (See also: Mail-in ballot risk )

TAXPAYER FUNDS PAYING FOR WHAT?

Here are some of the time logs and payment records for the voting examiners who examined security on GEMS and the optical scan machine, but recommended for certification anyway, saying nothing publicly about the defects:
http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/2197/19300.html

These important documents and many more were obtained by a California citizen, Joan Quinn, as part of an effort to safeguard the 2006 Election by shedding sunlight on the certification and testing process. If you think the documents obtained by Joan Quinn are important, and you’d like to get involved in gathering evidence to protect Election 2006, please write privately to crew (at) blackboxvoting.org – include your location and we’ll send you individualized instructions to obtain strategic documents.

NONDISCLOSURE AGREEMENTS?

While voting machine examiners like Southworth, who examined the GEMS software, and Jim Dearman, who has run the Wyle testing that examined the Diebold optical scan firmware, will be hard-pressed to explain themselves to the California Senate Elections Committee, the other examiners — Steve Freeman and David Jefferson — might be able to explain their silence by pointing to nondisclosure agreements.

http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/1954/17717.html

Black Box Voting has received reports that the nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) signed by state voting system examiners prohibit them from telling what they know.

These NDAs are apparently being executed directly between the state voting system examiner and vendors like Diebold. A response from the Calif. Secretary of State to a BBV records request states that the secretary of state does not have a copy of the NDAs between voting system examiners (paid by the Sec. State’s office) and the voting system vendors.

But there’s another problem: Nondisclosure agreements do not explain why California examiners recommended GEMS and the interpreter and the Diebold memory card design for certification. Even if they withheld what they knew from the public (a questionable practice, when being paid by public funds), they didn’t have to recommend certification.

WHERE R & G AND DID THEY TAKE ANY DOCUMENTS WHEN THEY FOLDED UP SHOP?

To add to the murkiness, the contractor the secretary of state’s office paid for some of Jefferson’s work, R & G Associates LLC, has now vacated its offices, disconnected its phones, and shut down its Web site. The documents obtained by Joan Quinn show invoices to the state of California from R & G for over $1 million. When Black Box Voting investigator Jim March showed up at the R&G office on their most recent corporate filing, they’d vacated the premises. Yet R&G work agreements obtained by Joan Quinn seem to indicate they were contracted with the state of California through 2006.

Next questions: Did R & G have any documents, contracts, invoices, reports, computer files, or anything else related to work done by the voting machine examiners? If so, where are those documents now?

ANOTHER NO-SHOW FOR THE HEARINGS

Documents related to certification, requested by Bowen’s office of Secretary of State Bruce McPherson. As of Friday, she reportedly had not received any response McPherson, and the delay in production of these records violates the time limits in California public records law.

THE LIST OF PEOPLE WHO NEED TO RECEIVE SUBPOENAS:

– Shawn Southworth (Ciber)
– Jim Dearman (Wyle)
– Steve Freeman

(California voting system examiner)
– David Jefferson (California voting system technical advisor)
– Talbot Iredale (Diebold Election Systems chief engineer)
– Ken Clark (Diebold Election Systems GEMS designer)
– Guy Lancaster (Co-Designer of the Diebold optical scan system)
– Jeffrey Dean (worked on the GEMS system and the mail-in voting systems which
interface with GEMS)
– Tom Wilkie (NASED voting systems certification, has moved up to EAC)
– R. Doug Lewis (The Election Center, involved with selecting the ITAs, ran
interference for the ITAs for 10 years)

===================================

Bev Harris
Founder – Black Box Voting
http://www.blackboxvoting.org

This land is your land (for a price)

Posted on Thu, Feb. 09, 2006
Bush administration moves to sell national forest land
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will unveil a proposal Friday to sell up to 200,000 acres of national forest land in “isolated parcels” ranging from a quarter of an acre to 200 acres, much of it in California.

The sale is part of a National Forest Service plan to raise $800 million over the next five years to pay for rural schools in 41 states, offsetting shrinking revenues from sale of timber from national forests. The Bureau of Land Management also plans to sell federal lands to raise an estimated $182 million over five years.

Environmentalists charge that the short-term gain would be more than offset by the loss of public land. Congress would have to approve the land sales, but it has rejected similar recent proposals.

“I am outraged, and I don’t think the public is going to stand for it for one minute,” said Wilderness Society policy analyst Mike Anderson. “It’s a scheme to raise money at the expense of the national forests, the wildlife, recreation and all the other values that Americans hold dear. It’s the ultimate threat to the national forest.”

Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, said the proposed land sales make sense.

Read more.

Nuking the economy

CounterPunch
Weekend Edition, February 11-12, 2006
Forget Iran, Americans Should be Hysterical About This
Nuking the Economy
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001 through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don’t know what worry is.

Job growth over the last five years is the weakest on record. The US economy came up more than 7 million jobs short of keeping up with population growth. That’s one good reason for controlling immigration. An economy that cannot keep up with population growth should not be boosting population with heavy rates of legal and illegal immigration.

Over the past five years the US economy experienced a net job loss in goods producing activities. The entire job growth was in service-providing activities–primarily credit intermediation, health care and social assistance, waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and state and local government.
US manufacturing lost 2.9 million jobs, almost 17% of the manufacturing work force. The wipeout is across the board. Not a single manufacturing payroll classification created a single new job.

Read more.