CA Voting Machine Lawsuit, Kucinich War Protest, Secret Aid to Pakistan
Revealing News Articles
November 25, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the decision by California to bring a lawsuit against a maker of electronic voting machines, the war protest by Dennis Kucinich at the School of the Americas, US secret aid to Pakistan to control its nuclear weapons, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
California suing Nebraska voting machine maker for $15 million
November 20, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen sued a Nebraska voting machine company on Monday, seeking fines and reimbursements of nearly $15 million from the firm for allegedly selling nearly 1,000 uncertified machines to San Francisco and ... Solano, Marin, Merced and Colusa counties. Bowen learned of the possible violation last July and ordered an investigation. "ES&S ignored the law over and over and over again, and it got caught," Bowen said in a statement after filing suit against the company. "I am not going to stand on the sidelines and watch a voting system vendor come into the state, ignore the laws and make millions of dollars from California's taxpayers in the process." Bowen's decision could be a windfall for the affected counties. In the suit, the secretary of state is seeking a $10,000 penalty for each of the uncertified machines sold in the state, with half that fine intended to go to the counties that bought them. ES&S also would have to reimburse the counties for the full cost of the machines, but the counties would be able to keep the AutoMARKs, which are now slated to receive full state certification in early December. The reimbursement rule was added to the state election code in 2004 in an effort to boost the penalties against companies that ignore the state's certification rules. "I was surprised to see this happen," Bowen said in a telephone conference call Monday afternoon. "I hope this will be the last time I have to use (the new penalties)." Bowen said there is no ambiguity in the law. "Changes ... must be submitted to the secretary of state before a voting machine can be sold or used in California," she said. "California law doesn't ask the manufacturer to decide whether the changes are small or large or medium-size." California only learned about the changes when an ES&S representative inadvertently mentioned the new version of the AutoMARK in a telephone conference call with state election officials. The company never even mentioned to the state or the five counties that changes had been made to the machines that were shipped, Bowen said.
Note: For many revealing articles on the serious problems with the new electronic voting machines, click here.
Kucinich protests U.S. army training school
November 19, 2007, MSNBC/Associated Press
Longshot Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich joined thousands of protesters in a demonstration Sunday against a U.S. Army school that opponents accuse of fostering human rights abuses in Latin America. Kucinich used the occasion to emphasize his opposition to the Bush administration for leading the U.S. into war in Iraq and now threatening to attack Iran. "We reject war as an instrument of foreign policy," the Ohio congressman told the crowd, estimated by local police to number about 10,000. Kucinich said one of his first acts if elected president would be to shut down the school at Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains Latin American soldiers, police and government officials. The Army's School of the Americas moved to Fort Benning from Panama in 1984 and was replaced in 2001 by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, under the Defense Department. The annual protests outside the gate to the military installation are timed to commemorate six Jesuit priests who were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador on Nov. 19, 1989. Some of the killers had attended the School of the Americas. The military has acknowledged that some graduates committed abuses after attending the School of the Americas, but has said in the past that no cause-and-effect relationship has ever been established. The new Western Hemisphere Institute has mandatory human rights courses, but the demonstrators contend changes at the school are only cosmetic. Kucinich said in an interview that he will continue lobbying for the closure of the school even if his longshot candidacy for president fails.
U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms
November 18, 2007, New York Times
Over the past six years, the Bush administration has spent almost $100 million on a highly classified program to help Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, secure his country's nuclear weapons. The aid, buried in secret portions of the federal budget, paid for the training of Pakistani personnel in the United States and the construction of a nuclear security training center in Pakistan, a facility that American officials say is nowhere near completion, even though it was supposed to be in operation this year. A raft of equipment – from helicopters to night-vision goggles to nuclear detection equipment – was given to Pakistan to help secure its nuclear material, its warheads, and the laboratories that were the site of the worst known case of nuclear proliferation in the atomic age. While American officials say that they believe the arsenal is safe at the moment, and that they take at face value Pakistani assurances that security is vastly improved, in many cases the Pakistani government has been reluctant to show American officials how or where the gear is actually used. That is because the Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing. In addition, the Pakistanis were suspicious that any American-made technology in their warheads could include a secret "kill switch," enabling the Americans to turn off their weapons. While Pakistan is formally considered a "major non-NATO ally," the program has been hindered by a deep suspicion among Pakistan's military that the secret goal of the United States was to gather intelligence about how to locate and, if necessary, disable Pakistan's arsenal, which is the pride of the country.
Note: Isn't it interesting that the U.S. administration has so fervently attacked Iraq and Iran for developing nuclear weapons, yet they seem unconcerned about Pakistan, which is known to have supported terrorist groups.
FBI's Forensic Test Full of Holes
November 18, 2007, Washington Post
Hundreds of defendants sitting in prisons nationwide have been convicted with the help of an FBI forensic tool that was discarded more than two years ago. But the FBI lab has yet to take steps to alert the affected defendants or courts, even as the window for appealing convictions is closing, a joint investigation by The Washington Post and "60 Minutes" has found. The science, known as comparative bullet-lead analysis, was first used after President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963. The technique used chemistry to link crime-scene bullets to ones possessed by suspects on the theory that each batch of lead had a unique elemental makeup. In 2004, however, the nation's most prestigious scientific body concluded that variations in the manufacturing process rendered the FBI's testimony about the science "unreliable and potentially misleading." Specifically, the National Academy of Sciences said that decades of FBI statements to jurors linking a particular bullet to those found in a suspect's gun or cartridge box were so overstated that such testimony should be considered "misleading under federal rules of evidence." A year later, the bureau abandoned the analysis. But the FBI lab has never gone back to determine how many times its scientists misled jurors. Internal memos show that the bureau's managers were aware by 2004 that testimony had been overstated in a large number of trials. In a smaller number of cases, the experts had made false matches based on a faulty statistical analysis of the elements contained in different lead samples, documents show. The government has fought releasing the list of the estimated 2,500 cases over three decades in which it performed the analysis. For the majority of affected prisoners, the typical two-to-four-year window to appeal their convictions based on new scientific evidence is closing.
Get kids vaccinated or go to jail?
November 17, 2007, USA Today/Associated Press
Scores of grumbling parents facing a threat of jail lined up at a courthouse Saturday to either prove that their school-age kids already had their required vaccinations or see that the youngsters submitted to the needle. The get-tough policy in the Washington suburbs of Prince George's County was one of the strongest efforts made by any U.S. school system to ensure its youngsters receive their required immunizations. Two months into the school year, school officials realized that more than 2,000 students in the county still didn't have the vaccinations they were supposed to have before attending class. So Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols ordered parents in a letter to appear at the courthouse Saturday and either get their children vaccinated on the spot or risk up to 10 days in jail. They could also provide proof of vaccination or an explanation why their kids didn't have them. "It was very heavy handed," [school mom Aloma Martin] said of the county's action. "From that letter, it sounded like they were going to start putting us in jail." Any children who still lack immunizations could be expelled. Their parents could then be brought up on truancy charges, which can result in a 10-day jail sentence for a first offense and 30 days for a second. Maryland, like all states, requires children to be immunized against several childhood illnesses including polio, mumps and measles. In recent years, it also has required that students up to high school age be vaccinated against hepatitis B and chicken pox. Several organizations opposed to mass vaccinations demonstrated outside the courthouse. While the medical consensus is that vaccines are safe and effective, some people blame immunizations for a rise in autism and other medical problems. "People should have a choice" in getting their children immunized, said Charles Frohman, representing a physicians' group opposed to vaccines.
Note: For more revealing major media reports on the complex issues surrounding vaccinations, click here.
Brothers, Bad Blood and the Blackwater Tangle
November 17, 2007, New York Times
They were smart, scrappy brothers who rose from modest circumstances in Baltimore to become lacrosse stars at Princeton, succeed in business and land big government jobs. Now the Krongard brothers – who have carried childhood nicknames, Buzzy and Cookie, through long careers – are tied up in the tangled story of Blackwater, the security contractor accused in the deaths of at least 17 Iraqis while guarding a State Department convoy in Baghdad. The shorthand version boils their involvement down to that Washington catchall conflict of interest. The full story appears more complicated. Alvin [Buzzy] Krongard, 71, ... left a $4 million-a-year job in investment banking to serve in top posts at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1998 to 2004. Buzzy Krongard spoke [to the New York Times] in his 15,000-square-foot Georgian mansion, Torch Hill, north of Baltimore. After rising to the helm of Alex. Brown & Sons, the venerable Baltimore investment banking firm, Buzzy Krongard oversaw its acquisition by Bankers Trust in 1997 and left the next year for the C.I.A., as a counselor to George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence. He became executive director, the No. 3 post, in 2001 and helped design the agency's secret detention program after the Sept. 11 attacks. Buzzy Krongard vigorously defends Blackwater's record in Iraq. "It's very easy to second-guess them when you're sitting back in an air-conditioned office," he said.
Note: Buzzy Krongard took quite a cut in pay to move from Bankers Trust to the comparatively modest salary of even a high-ranking CIA position. Bankers Trust was purchased by the same company that placed the highly unusual and suspicious "put options" on United Airlines stock just days before 9/11. For a powerful summary of similarly strange, unexplained facts related to 9/11, click here.
Chemtrails: Is U.S. Gov't. Secretly Testing Americans 'Again'?
November 9, 2007, KSLA-TV (CBS affiliate in Shreveport, LA)
Could a strange substance found by an Ark-La-Tex man be part of secret government testing program? That's the question at the heart of a phenomenon called "Chemtrails." "It seemed like some mornings it was just criss-crossing the whole sky. It was just like a giant checkerboard," described Bill Nichols. He snapped several photos of the strange clouds from his home in Stamps, in southwest Arkansas. Nichols said these unusual clouds begin as normal contrails from a jet engine. But unlike normal contrails, these do not fade away. Soon after a recent episode he saw particles in the air. "We'd see it drop to the ground in a haze," added Nichols. He then noticed the material collecting on the ground. "This is water and stuff that I collected in bowls," said Nichols as he handed us a mason jar ... after driving down from Arkansas. KSLA News 12 had the sample tested at a lab. The results: A high level of barium, 6.8 parts per million, (ppm). That's more than three times the toxic level set by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. We discovered during our investigation that barium is a hallmark of other chemtrail testing. This phenomenon even attracted the attention of a Los Angeles network affiliate, which aired a report entitled, "Toxic Sky?" There's already no shortage of unclassified weather modification programs by the government. But those who fear chemtrails could be secret biological and chemical testing on the public point to the 1977 U.S. Senate hearings which confirmed 239 populated areas had been contaminated with biological agents between 1949 and 1969. Later, the 1994 Rockefeller Report concluded hundreds of thousands of military personnel were also subjected to secret biological experiments over the last 60-years. But could secret testing be underway yet again?
Note: This report breaks a veritable wall of silence in the major media on this disturbing phenomenon, which has been widely reported on internet sites. To watch this short newscast on YouTube, click here.
Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark's bait
November 8, 2007, MSNBC
Surfer Todd Endris needed a miracle. The shark ... had hit him three times, peeling the skin off his back and mauling his right leg to the bone. That's when a pod of bottlenose dolphins intervened, forming a protective ring around Endris, allowing him to get to shore, where quick first aid provided by a friend saved his life. The attack occurred ... at Marina State Park off Monterey, Calif. "Truly a miracle," Endris [said]. "[It] came out of nowhere. Maybe I saw him a quarter second before it hit me. But no warning. It was just a giant shark." The shark, estimated at 12 to 15 feet long, hit him first as Endris was sitting on his surfboard, but couldn't get its monster jaws around both surfer and surfboard. "The second time, he came down and clamped on my torso – sandwiched my board and my torso in his mouth," Endris said. That attack shredded his back, literally peeling the skin back, he said, "like a banana peel." But because Endris' stomach was pressed to the surfboard, his intestines and internal organs were protected. The third time, the shark tried to swallow Endris' right leg, and he said that was actually a good thing, because the shark's grip anchored him while he kicked the beast in the head and snout with his left leg until it let go. The dolphins, which had been cavorting in the surf all along, showed up then. They circled him, keeping the shark at bay, and enabled Endris to get back on his board and catch a wave to the shore. No one knows why dolphins protect humans, but stories of the marine mammals rescuing humans go back to ancient Greece, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. The shark went on its way, protected inside the waters of the park, which is a marine wildlife refuge. Endris wouldn't want it any other way. "I wouldn't want to go after the shark anyway," he said. "We're in his realm, not the other way around."
Note: For dozens of other inspiring news stories, see our engaging collection available here.
The New Dawn of Solar
December, 2007, Popular Science magazine
Imagine a solar panel without the panel. Just a coating, thin as a layer of paint, that takes light and converts it to electricity. From there, you can picture roof shingles with solar cells built inside and window coatings that seem to suck power from the air. Consider solar-powered buildings stretching not just across sunny Southern California, but through China and India and Kenya as well, because even in those countries, going solar will be cheaper than burning coal. That's the promise of thin-film solar cells: solar power that's ubiquitous because it's cheap. The basic technology has been around for decades, but this year, Silicon Valley–based Nanosolar created the manufacturing technology that could make that promise a reality. The company produces its PowerSheet solar cells with printing-press-style machines that set down a layer of solar-absorbing nano-ink onto metal sheets as thin as aluminum foil, so the panels can be made for about a tenth of what current panels cost and at a rate of several hundred feet per minute. Nanosolar's first commercial cells rolled off the presses this year. Cost has always been one of solar's biggest problems. Traditional solar cells require silicon, and silicon is an expensive commodity. That means even the cheapest solar panels cost about $3 per watt of energy they go on to produce. To compete with coal, that figure has to shrink to just $1 per watt. Nanosolar's cells use no silicon, and the company's manufacturing process allows it to create cells that are as efficient as most commercial cells for as little as 30 cents a watt. "It really is quite a big deal in terms of altering the way we think about solar and in inherently altering the economics of solar," says Dan Kammen, founding director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley.
Note: For exciting reports of other new energy technologies, click here.
A Beloved Professor Delivers the Lecture of a Lifetime
September 20, 2007, Wall Street Journal
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues. They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture ... turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life. Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it." Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. "Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice." Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."
Note: For more on this amazing lecture and links to view it, see the New York Times blog available here.
Danish Island Is Energy Self-Sufficient
March 8, 2007, CBS News
It's a two-hour ferry ride to the Danish island of Samso. To visit Samso is to see the future. Samso is an area about 40 square miles long with a permanent population of about 4,000 – all of them living a green dream. Take farmer Erik Andersen. His tractor runs on oil from rape seed, which he grows. His hot water and power come from his solar panels or wind turbines. There's not a fossil fuel in sight. "It's a very good feeling because the island is a renewable energy island," Anderson says. Ten years ago, Andersen and the people of Samso accepted a challenge from Denmark's government: Could they run their farms; could they power their businesses; could they lead their lives in an entirely energy self-sufficient and carbon-neutral way? Now they have the answer. They can. "Because it's a good idea for the environment," Andersen explains. To harness the wind, of which they have plenty, they built wind turbines. To provide heat, they burn locally grown straw in central plants that produce super hot water and pump it through underground pipes into peoples' homes. It's not only more efficient than running individual furnaces, it's carbon neutral. The net greenhouse gas emissions from these plants? Zero. It's a system that just recycles itself, says Jens Peter Nielson with the Samso Energy Authority. Even after a freezing cold night, the days short and cloudy, the solar-heated hot water is still hot. The Samso scheme has become so successful that the island has installed a string of turbines offshore to make surplus power to sell to the mainland.
Note: For further inspiring examples of developments in new energy technologies, click here.
Key Articles From Years Past
Kenneth Ring: 'You Never Recover Your Original Self'
August 28, 1988, New York Times
Probably the oldest mystery to vex mankind is what, if anything, occurs after death. For a decade, Kenneth Ring, a psychology professor and researcher at the University of Connecticut, has looked into the question through the near-death experiences of others. Mr. Ring ... talked with hundreds of people between the ages of 18 and 84 who have come close to physical death. [His] Life at Death [and] Heading Toward Omega both deal with near-death experiences and how they change people's lives. Q. What is a near-death experience? A. It often happens to individuals who find themselves on the verge of imminent biological death. It involves ... a sense of the most profound peace and well-being that is possible to imagine. It's a sense of being separate from the physical body and sometimes being able to see it as though a spectator off to one side or from up above. These people have a sense of moving through a dark space or tunnel toward a radiantly beautiful white or golden light. They are absorbed in that light, having in some cases a panoramic life review in which virtually everything that they've ever done in their life they're able to see; perhaps meeting the spirits of deceased love ones or friends. And in some cases, they are asked to make a decision as to whether they would like to continue or go back to their body. The most powerful antidote to the fear of death is coming close to death and having and remembering one of these experiences. So, one finding is that people who have a near-death experience almost totally lose their fear of death. After having a near-death experience, people believe the end of life isn't [the end]; they believe in some sort of life after death. Death vanishes for them. There's only life. They are so aware of what life is.
Note: For a short, but breathtaking account of one man's journey into death and back again, click here.
Special note: For a breathtaking documentary showing the infinite power of the human mind, watch Daniel Tammet, "The Boy With the Incredible Mind," learn a difficult foreign language in a week and lots more, and then describe how he does it. Don't miss this incredibly inspiring film given a rare five-star rating available here. On another inspiring note, when Fox news starts going green, you know things are changing. Take a look by clicking here and here.
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CA Voting Machine Lawsuit, Kucinich War Protest, Secret Aid to Pakistan