This is no joke

Lawsuit Alleges Discrimination Against Whites in Mississippi
By Jake Tapper and Avery Miller
ABC News
Wednesday 28 December 2005

For the first time, justice department alleges voting disenfranchisement against whites.

Macon, Miss. – In overwhelmingly black and Democratic Noxubee County, Miss., everybody knows local Democratic Party chairman Ike Brown.

Officials at the U.S. Justice Department know Brown too; they’re suing him. Using the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the government has alleged that Brown and local elections officials discriminated against whites. It is the first time the Justice Department has ever claimed that whites suffered discrimination in voting because of race.

“When I read the letter, it was junk, you know, bogus,” Brown told ABC News.

The Justice Department says Brown and local elections officials disenfranchised whites – challenging their voting status, rejecting their absentee ballots and telling voters to choose candidates according to race.

Brown says he has merely tried to keep white Republicans from voting in Democratic primaries. He says the lawuit is all political – an attempt to discredit him because the Democratic Party in eastern Mississippi has been doing so well at bringing new voters to the polls, which may mean someday soon that Mississippi, a red state, could turn blue.

Read more.

A soldier's mother in the crosshairs

of the US Army.

December 28, 2005

Letter From A Military “Mom”
Domestic Spying and Incident of Intimidation of Military Families
by Robin Vaughan

I am sending this letter to you in hope of finding a source to hear my concerns. It is something that has bothered me since the occurrence, and I know it is not something that should have happened, and I worry for my family’s safety as I step out to speak about this.

During my son’s deployment to Iraq, February 2004 – February 2005, I created a small group website on MSN, for families and friends of our soldiers’ deployed unit. It was a membership only site, and we were a tight group of mostly “Moms” from all over the United States just trying to make it through each day. The support and help we gave one another is a singular experience of grace I will never forget.

During the first few months of our site, the Army decided to call every single family on the site, informing them that the site was not to be used by any of the families. The Department of Defense called families in the middle of the night to notify them to not use the web site. Most of the families were near tears, thinking they were getting “THE” call telling them their child or loved one had been killed or injured.

The information received via the phone call was to inform the families that the base did not condone the site, nor [did] the Army, and that it was not to be used; the gist was, families were not allowed to use the site, or they could get into “trouble”. Some members reported their soldier calling from Iraq, telling them to be careful about using the site as the Army was monitoring it.

As Web Mistress of the site, I needed to respond and qualify this information, as well as to educate this commanding officer as to the rights and liberties of a private web site, which I did. I was told I would have to let a commanding officer onto the site to monitor the messages. I did allow this, but I also informed the officer that this was a courtesy, as there is no such law, or right of the military to monitor, shut down or exclude our web site.

I believe we received this order and treatment for a couple of reasons.

Occasionally we would voice our concerns publicly over what our government was failing to do to help our soldiers, or we would share or argue political opinions as well. The second reason may be the armed services all have a group of their own family type support (FRG); as we were not local to the base our soldiers deployed from, the site was a means to provide that support, as best as we could.

The support group at our base tried to force the site to be given over to them, which I refused. At this time I was told I might want to be careful, as the government was monitoring the site as well. Soldiers in our unit, while in Iraq, were telling their parents to stay off of the site, or to be very careful of what they wrote. This came from a rear detachment officer in charge, and members on the site.

I reminded the Army I am a private citizen, not on base, with a private site making no claims as to having any affiliation with any branch of service, but clearly stating we were family and friends of our unit in support of one another. We were treated with power-by-intimidation. It isn’t hard to make that work, when you have someone’s child in a war zone.

We were a group of 77 families from all over the country, at the time of the call. Every single family was phoned and told not to use the site, and I believe some 150 other families were phoned as well, as it was an official order from a commanding officer.

I have waited to speak of this situation until my son was home safe and sound, and also after his transfer to another base. Yes, I was afraid of repercussions that could have harmed him, one way or another. I called my local senator’s office 4 months ago, following up every 10 days to 2 weeks, and still have no answers or support.

I admit I am not comfortable writing this, as required to, as I am still concerned for my son and the other soldiers and families involved on the site. We didn’t endanger them by means of displaying their photos with their names, giving up information about their location and actions. We were very careful to not breach Intel protocol, learning Ops protocol, as well as respecting and complying with it. We simply were at times, vocal about our displeasure with our president and government for how our military was being treated, or how the presidential election was being handled.

There are literally hundreds of military family, private support groups on the Internet. I truly believe we were singled out because of my refusal to hand the site over to the local F.R.G., as well as [my] outspoken political beliefs.

It’s simply amazing that my son and others risk their lives for “Freedom” in Iraq, when his own mother’s civil liberties are threatened, and families are intimidated into silence by the very same Army he is serving. I am hoping after reading this you may direct me as to where I can at least have this concern heard. Basically, are the following common practice, and legal?

** The Armed services can order families from communicating in a private forum?

** The Armed services can threaten private citizens’ first amendment rights?

I want to make sure this is not happening to other service member’s families. We live in a hell everyday during the deployment of our loved ones; we don’t need the added bullying or stripping away of our means of helping one another.

Any idea or direction you can point me in would be greatly appreciated. Also, this problem can be corroborated by other families if need be.

Why did it take so long for me to step forward?

Originally I contacted my Senators office, with no reply for six months, and have also spoken with the A.C.L.U (with little hope of action due to the length of time that has passed), but until now was not willing to come forward in a public way. It took until September for my son to be safely stationed at another base, and other family’s service members to either be out of the service all together, or be transferred as well.

We were afraid for their safety, our own safety, our relationships with them and their future in the service; all of these things could have been affected, and we couldn’t chance one more problem or pressure being added to the already heavy load the families and soldiers live with. The intimidation worked. Is this just something silly I should let go?

It doesn’t seems trivial to me, but I am learning unless it happens to someone personally, no one seems to care.

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Dec05/Vaughan1228.htm

Cover-up in California

‘All is Well’ Says CA Sec. of State About ES&S Voting Machines (Without Telling Us What Was Wrong in the First Place)
Some Quick Damage Control After Secret Letter Uncovered Threats of Decertification by of Voting Machine Company by SoS in the Golden State

Everything’s fine. Nothing to worry about. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. That was the message out of Sacramento yesterday in regards to the newly exposed concerns about ES&S voting machines in California as recently revealed by a secret letter from California’s Secretary of State. That letter was written and sent five weeks ago privately, but only reported publicly for the first time last week after it was uncovered by an AP reporter.

Of course, CA SoS Bruce McPherson’s office has yet to actually inform the voters (you remember them, don’t you, Mr. McPherson?) of the “problems experienced by counties utilitizing ES&S voting equipment and software” as discovered during the recent November Special Election which “deeply concerned” the SoS enough to threaten ES&S with decertification in the entire state, according to the letter.

But the message out yesterday — which still does not reveal the extent of the discovered “problems” — is that all is well, and no, you pesky voters don’t need to worry your pretty little selves about a thing!…

Read more.

Snapping out of it

Hello Mark & Brad,

You both are my heroes of 2005. I actually have been in a state of shock since 2000 —– I am now much better able to start shaking it off since I heard both of you speaking in Portland this year. Big things are coming — we’ll take our country back from the brink. And it will be in no small part because of the courageous, pioneering work of both of you on election reform.

Your revelations about the crusade against our democracy are chilling but I am really feeling an exhiliration of finally coming out of the dark (after so many years!) and I’d like to express profound gratitude for your courage in finding the truth and informing the public.

Besides thanking you, I wanted to write to send you a blog entry I put together from Professor Miller’s speech during his book tour through Portland in November.

It’s at this link: http://www.oregonvrc.org/SpeakerSeries1

The Q&A portion is not transcribed yet but it is fantastic. I also have recordings of the entire speech and will be posting them on our site (http://www.OregonVRC.org) in 10 minute segments so anyone can listen. I’m happy to make these files available for posting directly on your blogs if you would like. I want to make a DVD as well, since we have some good quality video of the event. Every American needs to hear this information!

Well, Happy non-denominational mid-winter celebration and here’s to getting some democracy back in the ’06 election!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Ginny Ross
Democracy for Oregon
Oregon Voter Rights Coalition

Religious nuts run USAID

This is from a newspaper in Lebanon.

‘By God, another awful Bush appointment’
By William Fisher

Washington is a town where the best and the brightest usually coexist with well-connected political hacks. However, the Bush administration has taken promotion of the latter to embarrassing extremes, selecting unqualified people for posts because of their political loyalty and ideological persuasion. The most recent example of this was the appointment of Paul Bonicelli to be deputy director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is in charge of all programs to promote democracy and good governance overseas.

One would have thought the administration had learned its lesson. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, was forced to resign because of his incompetence in dealing with the consequences of the storm. Soon afterward, President George W. Bush named While House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Her lack of qualifications, and a Republican revolt against the nomination, forced her to withdraw.

Like Brown and Miers, Bonicelli has little experience in the field he has been tapped to supervise. The closest he comes to democracy-promotion or good governance is having worked as a staffer for the Republican Party in the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives.

Read more.

Is Amazon colluding with Bush/Cheney?

From a friend in Oregon:

Late last Friday evening (12/ 23/05) I ordered two books from Amazon.com: Your own Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order, and Justin A. Franks’ Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.

The following Monday morning (12/26/05) I received an e-mail from Amazon.com asking me if I would like to purchase evidence of my intention to commit a federal crime. The e-mail said, “Dear Amazon.com Customer, We’ve noticed that customers who have purchased Gardener’s Latin: A Lexicon by Bill Neal also purchased books by S. T. Oner. For this reason, you might like to know that S. T. Oner’s [i.e., Stoner’s, isn’t that cute?] Marijuana Outdoor Grower’s Guide will be released in paperback soon. You can pre-order your copy at a savings of 32% by following the link below.”

I find it a real stretch that the marketing geniuses at Amazon.com believe that people who want to know the meaning of the Latin terms found on nursery tags and in gardening catalogs will likely want to manufacture a controlled substance classified as a Schedule I drug!

Amazon.com lists one other book authored by S. T. Oner, and that is The Marijuana Chef’s Cookbook. That’s the only book by S. T. Oner that customer’s who bought Gardener’s Latin could have purchased. But, on Amazon’s page for Gardener’s Latin, where it says “Customers who bought this book also bought…” there is a list of books on plant identification and terminology, but none on cooking with pot.

So what is the connection that Amazon.com’s marketing department perceives between botanical taxonomy and pot brownies, or the manufacture of a controlled substance? There is none that I can think of. (Unless they’re thinking that it must be pot-heads who are buying Bill Neal’s book just to find out what the heck Cannabis sativa means.)

My guess is that that Amazon.com’s thoughtful offer is much more related to my interest in knowing about our President’s mental illnesses and his plans for world domination, than to my interest in knowing the meaning of the botanical names of the garden plants I buy.

Since we know that the intelligence agencies are snooping to see who is reading what, this bizarre offer from Amazon.com makes me wonder if the intelligence agencies are also getting booksellers to offer self-incriminating evidence to people who read “forbidden” books. The purchase of a book on how to commit a federal crime can be used in court as evidence of intent to commit that crime. It also tips off the authorities to possible illegal behavior, and in the Age of Bushlaw, it might even be sufficient evidence for the issuance of a search warrant — if anyone still thinks those are necessary.

I curious to know if other people who buy your books get similar off-the-wall offers.

R. Fischer
Bandon, Oregon

Help Mark Manning get the truth out re: Fallujah

From: Tonia Young
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2005 1:41 PM
To: Topanga Peace Alliance
Subject: Fwd: Urgent assistance needed for Mark Manning

Dear Friends,
Filmmaker Mark Manning is not one to ask for help, however he really needs our support. What ever financial support you can give, it will go a long way toward getting the truth out to the American public about how our government ordered the destruction the holy city of Falluja immediately after the ’04 presidential election was claimed by Bush.

With appreciation,
Tonia
Topanga Peace Alliance

—–Original Message—–
From: Mansoor
Sent: Saturday, December 24, 2005 11:58 AM
To:
Subject: Fwd: Urgent assistance needed for Mark Manning

Dear friends,

Holiday greetings to all.

First and foremost, allow me to apologize to you if you are receiving this e-mail twice–it is not meant to be so.

We need your help and financial assistance more than ever.

Our friend, in life and struggle, Mark Manning is in dire need of getting new equipment to continue his work on making his new documentary film, “American Voices,” a journey across the USA on their thoughts on “war on terror” as well as his full-length documentary, “The Road to Fallujah.” As a completely independent filmmaker, he went to Iraq on his own and completed the documentary, “Caught in the Crossfire,” about the destruction of Fallujah by the U.S. forces in 2004-2005–the first seige on Fallujah. For your information, Mark was the guest speaker at the AWARE event in Long Beach, CA on Nov. 12, 2005 to screen his film which brought in a crowd of 200 people. For those who are not familiar with Long Beach, that is a revolution in this city. Mark has been on KPFK many times through our efforts to get the word out on his project. The work Mark has done and continues to do is so important to getting the truth out about what is being done in Iraq in our name. His tools are his video camera and his computer equipment.

On Sunday, November 13th as Mark was taking a much-needed break at the beach, surfing close to Santa Barbara, on his way home, his car was broken into and the only thing that was “stolen” out of his car was his laptop–which had the latest data from Iraq on it. This theft hinders the progress of Mark’s work on his “American Voices” and “Road to Fallujah” documentaries that he is currently trying to get into production.

But it gets worse. Within the last two days we found out that Mark’s home computer with all of his editing software has been hit. For “some odd reason” all of the main components (motherboards, video cards, etc.) got “fried” at the same time, even though he has surge protection hardware in place–and only his computer alone and nothing else in the house was affected. Mark’s work is at a standstill.

We spoke with Mark yesterday, and his spirits are very low, although he is maintaining his typically zen-like spiritual perspective of the situation and taking some time to rest.

We, Jeanne and I, are collecting donations toward the replacement of Mark’s stolen laptop, case, and software, as well as the repair or replacement of his home computer, total value approximately $8,000.

Please send a much-needed donation to help forward the production of the groundbreaking work that Mark is doing. Several generous supporters have already contributed $100 each, and we are requesting as generous a donation as you can give: $100, $50, or any generous amount that you are able to contribute will be greatly appreciated.

It takes your great financial generosity to carry on the struggle that we are part and parcel to. Give a bit more if it is within your means! This is our only hope. It is of utmost importance to fulfill this goal. (If you wish to remain anonymous, you can get a money order and forward it to us without revealing any of your information.)

Please make checks or money orders payable to MARK MANNING.

We will deposit funds directly into his bank account.

Please mail your donations to:

Jeanne Kyle
1718 East Erie Street
Long Beach CA 90802

Attached is text you can print or edit to enclose with a gift card to friends in whose name you may make a donation. You can further help the cause by purchasing the Caught in the Crossfire DVD for $25. To learn more about Mark Manning’s work and get involved, visit his web site at http://conceptionmedia.net/takeaction.php

(Please let us know if you make a donation via Mark Manning’s web site.)

Take part in this struggle to bring Peace and Justice to the front lines,

Peace

Jeanne Kyle
AWARE in Long Beach
awarelbc.com

Mansoor Sabbagh
Global Voice for Justice
globalvoicesforjustice.org

New Yorkers, listen to Bo Lipari on WNYC tomorrow morning!

Hello fellow concerned Citizens,

Tomorrow, December 28th, Bo Lipari Executive Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting will be on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC or 93.9FM, 820 AM from 10:40AM to 11AM. Bo will be discussing the necessity of transparent, auditable elections and the ways HAVA implementation may threaten the integrity of our election system in NY. Please listen in, and if you enjoy the show, please contact WNYC to express how important this issue is, and ask them to place more focus on the issue of election integrity and its citizen activists.

You can contact WNYC at 212 669 3333 or listenerservices@wnyc.org

Thanks,
Susan Greenhalgh
Coordinator New York City and Long Island
New Yorkers for Verified Voting

GOP asunder in New Hampshire

N.H. Republicans drift from national party
Delegation breaks on major issues
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff
December 26, 2005

WASHINGTON — With signs pointing to a resurgent Democratic Party in New Hampshire, the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation is becoming increasingly at odds with the national Republican Party in a state that was long a GOP bellwether, according to an analysis of votes and other actions in Congress over the past year.

Congressmen Jeb Bradley and Charles Bass voted for expanded stem cell research and opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and Bradley notably declined to endorse Bush’s Social Security plan.

Senator John E. Sununu opposed Bush’s plan for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, joined a filibuster to insert civil liberties protections into the USA Patriot Act, and voted against his party leadership on several major spending bills.

Even the state’s senior senator, Judd Gregg, who is a member of the GOP leadership and generally backs the party’s priorities, voted against the transportation bill and the massive energy bill that grew out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.

The senators and congressmen say they are acting in the tradition of the state’s libertarian brand of conservatism, even if the national GOP moves in a different direction. But Democrats and some independent observers, pointing to the fact that Senator John F. Kerry beat President Bush in New Hampshire, and that Governor John Lynch , a Democrat, is the most popular official in the state, say the Republican senators and congressmen are trying to distance themselves from an increasingly unpopular national GOP.

Read more.

Alito is the wrong man for the job

Alito defended government wiretap rights
Reagan-era memo said attorney general should be immune from lawsuits
The Associated Press
Dec. 23, 2005

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito defended the right of government officials to order domestic wiretaps when he worked for the Reagan Justice Department, documents released Friday show.

He advocated a step-by-step approach to strengthening the hand of officials in a 1984 memo to the solicitor general. The strategy is similar to the one that Alito espoused for rolling back abortion rights at the margins.

The release of the memo by the National Archives comes when President Bush is under fire for secretly ordering domestic spying of suspected terrorists without a warrant. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., has promised to question Alito about the administration’s program.

The Associated Press had requested documents related to Alito under the Freedom of Information Act.

The memo dealt with whether government officials should have blanket protection from lawsuits when authorizing wiretaps. “I do not question that the attorney general should have this immunity,” Alito wrote. “But for tactical reasons, I would not raise the issue here.”

Read more.