Sunday, December 30, 2012

Corporations can't have religious beliefs

Rethinking Hobby Lobby - A Legal Argument Against Corporate Religion by Grizzard Daily Kos Dec 30, 2012 ...Hobby Lobby's owners are currently arguing that Hobby Lobby - the corporate entity - should not be required to violate its religious convictions by providing certain forms of contraception in health insurance plans. As I noted in my previous diary, the central problem here is easy to figure out. These people are importing their own religious obligations onto a corporation that is independent of them...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Michele Bachmann denies benefiting from government aid

Michele Bachmann denies benefiting from government aid
As Michele Bachmann kicks off her run for the GOP presidential nomination, she defends herself against allegations surrounding the hundreds of thousands in government funds that went to her family farm and a counseling clinic.
By Richard A. Serrano
LA Times
June 26, 2011

With a new Iowa poll putting her in a dead heat with the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Michele Bachmann deflected allegations that she and her family had benefited from government assistance programs and said that hundreds of thousands of dollars to her family farm and a counseling clinic went instead to her employees and her in-laws.

"My husband and I did not get the money," she said, appearing on Sunday news talk shows as she prepared to officially open her campaign in her original hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota and "tea party" favorite, portrayed herself as a fiscal conservative while also benefiting from government funds and federal farm subsidies. An examination of her record and finances showed that a counseling clinic run by her husband received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, with part of the money coming from the federal government. And a family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received some $260,000 in federal subsidies.

Bachmann and her staff declined to talk to about the government assistance for the L.A. Times article. But asked about the issue on "Fox News Sunday," she insisted that she and her husband had not benefited at the expense of federal and state taxpayers.

"First of all," she said, "the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."

As for the farm, she said it belonged to her father-in-law. "It's not my husband and my farm," Bachmann said. "And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm."

As the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday, however, in financial disclosure forms, Bachmann reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.

Bachmann also repeated her stance that she was opposed to federal earmarks that sponsored pet projects for politicians back home and said she believed "the states have to build roads and bridges," not the federal government.

But asked whether that was an inconsistency given that her family appeared to be benefiting from government aid, she said the clinic money was spent to train employees when they otherwise would have been there working.

Bachmann also was asked about the farm subsidies on CBS' "Face the Nation." She suggested the public instead should be outraged about a sharp increase in government limousines in the two years since President Obama took office.

She also said she had been a Christian since she was 16 and that God often steered her political course....

Friday, November 30, 2012

Maybe Jeffrey MacDonald was innocent after all

Maybe Jeffrey MacDonald went to California to escape the people who killed his wife and children, NOT because he was guilty.

Maybe Jeffrey MacDonald was innocent after all
In a rare interview, co-counsel Wade Smith reflects on the murder case that's long captured America's imagination
By Lynn Parramore, Alternet
Nov 30, 2012

AlterNet Remember the perceptual illusion where you look at a picture and you’re certain that you see the bust of a young woman? Then, if someone draws your attention to certain details, suddenly the picture transforms into the profile of an old woman. It’s a disorienting trick. You think you know what you’re seeing, but then you aren’t so sure.

The Jeffrey MacDonald murder case is one of the most disturbing in living memory. There are only two possible pictures, both nightmares.

Picture No. 1. Jeffrey MacDonald, a Princeton-educated Green Beret doctor with no history of violence and a sterling record, butchered his pregnant wife and two young daughters using a knife, ice pick and club. Then he injured himself and set up the scene to make the crimes appear to be the work of intruders. He claimed they chanted, “Kill the pigs! … Acid is groovy!” and scrawled the word “PIG” on the wall in his wife’s blood.

Picture No. 2. Jeffrey MacDonald, a bright young man with everything in life to look forward to, lost his wife and children to senseless, horrific violence. A military hearing found charges against him “untrue,” but he was convicted nine years later in a civilian trial. He has been imprisoned for three decades for a crime he did not commit.

Two possibilities: MacDonald is a monster, or he is a victim of terrible injustice. Young woman; old woman.

Until recently, most people saw Picture No. 1. So did I. I grew up in Raleigh, N.C., about an hour from the Fort Bragg army base in Fayetteville where the murders occurred on Feb. 17, 1970, in the middle of the night. I was born in May of that year, and would thus be the same age as the child Colette MacDonald was carrying when her life was snuffed out. In the early ’80s, I whipped through a dog-eared copy of “Fatal Vision,” Joe McGinniss’ sensational true-crime novel about the killings. It was almost as scary as ”Helter Skelter” – the story of the Charles Manson murders in California that are said to have inspired Jeffrey MacDonald in the coverup for his homicidal rampage.

In 1984 I was glued to the TV, like millions of other Americans, watching the popular miniseries based on McGinniss’ book. McGinniss made the murders sound like the work of a diabolical genius, a man who could transform in a moment from a loving father to a homicidal maniac, and again, in the blink of an eye, to a calculating con man. I thought of devils that lurked in human flesh, like in “The Exorcist,” another popular based-on-a true-story-book-turned-movie of the period that floated around our house. When the show was over, I retired to the safety of my bed, safe from unpredictable evils.

A Shifting Picture

McGinniss’ stark rendering of Picture No. 1 stuck in my mind until recently when a friend from North Carolina told me that Errol Morris had published a book suggesting MacDonald was innocent. That got my attention: the Oscar-winning Morris, whose film “The Thin Blue Line” exonerated a Texas man wrongfully convicted for murder, is one of the world’s great documentary filmmakers. He is both a careful researcher and a profound investigator of the human condition.

My friend and I sat around in her backyard, tossing up what facts about the case we could recall. I even laughed at the idea of hippie murderers in North Carolina. Of all places! But then I felt uneasy. “You sure Errol Morris wrote the book?” She was sure.

Soon I was reading Morris’ “A Wilderness of Error,” feeling skeptical and wondering why this reputable man would involve himself in a case that everyone and their mother (including mine) knew the truth about.

But it didn’t take long to realize that something was wrong. Enough somethings to fill the long, solitary chapters of a man’s life unfolding behind prison walls.

Morris researched the MacDonald case for 20 years and knows each labyrinthine turn of its progress through the criminal justice system. Even before bureaucratic stalling and federal machinery overtook the search for truth, things were working against Jeffrey MacDonald. A crime scene was left open to bystander traffic. Inexperienced military police failed to pick up a woman near the house who fit MacDonald’s description. Many think this woman could have been Helena Stoeckley, a drug abuser and professed member of a witchcraft cult who repeatedly confessed to having been at the MacDonald house the night of the murders, but recanted her story whenever she seemed to fear prosecution. Now deceased, she remains a pivotal figure in the case.

As I read Morris’ meticulous examination the evidence, the picture in my mind became less clear. I began to see that Joe McGinniss’ creation of Picture No. 1 might be just that: a creation. Some of the “facts” I thought I knew began to look more like ideas conjured by eager prosecutors and a journalist who had dealt so disingenuously with Jeffrey MacDonald in writing ”Fatal Vision” that he was sued after publication. McGinniss’ publisher settled with MacDonald out of court, after the judge called the author a “con man.” (This story, in its own right, became a famous book about journalistic ethics by Janet Malcolm.)

The story many of us think we know tells that MacDonald’s wounds were superficial. But he had multiple bruises and puncture wounds, and two stab wounds, including one that collapsed his lung — a serious injury that left him falling in and out of consciousness. The popular story says there was no evidence of intruders. But there was, including wax drippings (MacDonald insisted that one of the intruders carried a candle), fibers and hairs that did not belong to the household or family members.

McGinniss drew on pop-sociology to render an image of a psychopathic killer in the guise of the friendly doctor-next-door; the kind we know from endless horror movies. He theorized that diet pills caused MacDonald to fly into a fit of rage. McGinniss had to be creative, because the man’s character never fit the crime. MacDonald had no history of violence or temper. When the initial military hearing was conducted in 1970, no one in his life could be found who had a bad thing to say about him. Psychiatric professionals on both sides pronounced him incapable of having committed the crimes. On the evening of the murders, Jeffrey MacDonald had taken his kids to ride the pony he had bought them, fed them dinner while their mother took a night class, and put them to bed. It didn’t make sense.

But did hippie intruders make sense? Maybe more than I would have thought as a teen. Vietnam-era Fayetteville was not sleepy Raleigh in the 1980s. There was violence. Soldiers’ corpses arrived at Fort Bragg stuffed with heroin. In 1970 America was gripped by the horror of the Manson murders – a fact used against MacDonald because he subscribed to Esquire magazine, which had run a story about the dark side of hippie culture. The Esquire story, for all its salaciousness, touched upon real issues that plagued many communities outside of California. In Fayetteville, an Army town, strong tensions existed between Army types like Jeffrey MacDonald on one side of the war, and hippies and protesters on the other. Helena Stoeckley confessed many times that MacDonald’s willingness to turn heroin addicts in to the police infuriated local drug dealers. She knew this world, and was herself a police informant. According to her, they wanted to teach MacDonald a lesson and rough up his family the night of the killings. But things got out of hand.

In October 1970, following an investigation and hearing, the military dropped its case against MacDonald, and he was honorably discharged from the Army. He moved to California to become the director of emergency medicine at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach. But an unfortunate thing happened in the following years. MacDonald’s relationship with his father-in-law, originally a staunch supporter, became strained. Freddy Kassab had inserted himself into the 1970 military hearing and made himself the center of a media circus, holding news conferences and firing off letter to members of Congress. He wanted his son-in-law to stay on the East Coast and pursue the killers. Eventually, he turned on the man he had once so ardently defended. Through his aggressive pursuit of the case, MacDonald was indicted.

MacDonald was tried in a civilian court in 1979. Many felt that his acquittal would be a cinch, but much more was to go wrong. The nine-year lag between the murders and the trial is extremely unusual; experts consider such a lag to pose a great danger of wrongful conviction. Appearances didn’t help MacDonald, either. He looked angry on the stand. Worse still, Judge Franklin Dupree seemed to have his mind made up before the trial began. Some said he should never have taken the case because his former son-in-law was the prosecutor in the original Army hearing. Dupree would not admit overwhelming psychiatric testimony in MacDonald’s favor, nor the testimony of witnesses to whom Helena Stoeckley had confessed her involvement. Bernie Segal, a long-haired Jewish lawyer from Philadelphia, took the lead in the case and managed to alienate the entire courtroom. Segal took up nearly all the time in the critical period for closing remarks and left only a few minutes for co-counsel Wade Smith, an eloquent native Carolinian who understood the jury.

One thing about this case is never in doubt no matter who’s talking: If Wade Smith had been able to lead and give his closing remarks, MacDonald would be a free man today.

The list of misfortunes goes on: exculpatory evidence withheld; possible prosecutorial misconduct; and fallible humans who twisted the MacDonald story to fit their own agendas. MacDonald was convicted twice, both in the courtroom and in the all-important court of public opinion, which was sealed by McGinniss’ book and miniseries.

Since 1979, the MacDonald case has continued to trouble those who delve beneath the surface of the media narrative. The social justice movement is now involved; the Innocence Project, a prestigious nationwide network dedicated to exonerating the wrongfully convicted, has worked strenuously for MacDonald’s conviction to be overturned. In a 2011 press release, the Innocence Project stated:

Since MacDonald was convicted of the murders in 1979, considerable evidence of his innocence has come to light. Most recently, retired US Marshall Jimmy Britt came forward with information that another suspect in the case, Helena Stoeckley, admitted to the prosecutor that she was in the house on the night of MacDonald’s murder and that he treated to indict her for first degree murder if she admitted that in court. In addition, DNA testing on evidence that was recovered from the fingernails scrapings of one of the victims and a hair found under another victim did not match MacDonald. Earlier, evidence came to light that a FBI forensic examiner mislead the jury about synthetic hair evidence. MacDonald claimed the hairs were from the wig of one of the murders, but the forensic examiner incorrectly claimed they were from one of the children’s dolls.

None of this has set MacDonald free. By now, many members of the original hearing and 1979 trial are dead, including Judge Dupree. Judge James Fox, a close friend of Dupree’s and quite elderly himself, has taken over and has dismissed appeals. Recently, the 4th District Court of Appeals ordered Fox to consider new evidence, and to examine all the evidence as a whole. On Sept. 17, 2012, in Wilmington, N.C., a crowd of familiar faces assembled for a new hearing. Jeffrey MacDonald, Joe McGinniss, prosecutor James Blackburn (who went to prison himself for defrauding his clients), Wade Smith and others newer to the case gathered once again to testify.

MacDonald now waits to see if the federal judge will vacate his 33-year-old conviction. He could get an answer by the end of this year...

See interview of Wade Smith...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Hillary Clinton is a bigger help to Netanyahu than his pal Romney

Romney’s Republican Disneyland
by Amy Davidson
The New Yorker
November 21, 2012

Has anyone, this week, been seeking out Mitt Romney’s views on the Gaza crisis? Have there been calls to put him on a plane and have him sit down with Benjamin Netanyahu or Mohamed Morsi, and sort things out? Hillary Clinton handled that instead, and we seem to have a ceasefire, while the urgent questions about Romney have been whether that was really him, photographed blurrily, pumping his own gas, or what he and Ann thought of Jacob imprinting on Renesmee in the new “Twilight” movie—which they saw over the weekend—and which vampire coven reminded them most of the Republican primary field. Last month, Romney was talking about the near-psychic bond he had with Netanyahu; that may have been nice for them, but it hardly seems to matter anymore to anyone else. By the time there was a ceasefire deal, on Wednesday, the Romney radar was alive to his trip to Disneyland with his wife and grandchildren, according to reports sourced back to park visitors who tweeted pictures...

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Machine turns vote for Obama into one for Romney

Machine turns vote for Obama into one for Romney
Zachary Roth

A Pennsylvania electronic voting machine has been taken out of service after being captured on video changing a vote for President Obama into one for Mitt Romney, NBC News has confirmed. Republicans have also said machines have turned Romney votes into Obama ones.

The video was first posted on Youtube by user “centralpavoter.” It shows a voter’s finger repeatedly pressing the button for Obama, but a check mark coming up next to Romney’s name:

NBC News confirmed that the machine has been taken off line.

Underneath the video, the user gave an account of what happened:

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

There is a lot of speculation that the footage is edited. I’m not a video guy, but if it’s possible to prove whether a video has been altered or not, I will GLADLY provide the raw footage to anyone who is willing to do so. The jumping frames are a result of the shitty camera app on my Android phone, nothing more.

Separately, the RNC last week sent a letter (pdf) to elections officials in six other states, including Ohio, Nevada, and Colorado, raising concerns that machines had wrongly counted votes for Romney as ones for Obama, and asking them to address the problem. Late Update, 2:35 pm: A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State told Mother Jones a machine that showed that problem, likely the same one, is back online after being “recalibrated.”

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest

Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest
New York Times
November 1, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, center, and other Republicans raised concerns with an economic report that questions a central tenet of conservative economic theory.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Voting machines tied to the Romneys could decide the election in Ohio

Voting machines tied to the Romneys could decide the election in Ohio
a publication of Working Assets
October 22, 2012

Could a voting machine company with deep financial ties to the Romney family help Republicans steal the presidential election in Ohio?

It could happen. If this year's presidential election comes down to the electoral votes in Ohio, the deciding votes could be cast on electronic voting machines manufactured by Hart Intercivic.

Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines.

A 2007 study conducted by Ohio's Secretary of State showed that Hart Intercivic's touch screen voting machines could be easily corrupted. The New York Times reported:

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.1

Hart Intercivic is majority owned by H.I.G. Capital which controls two of the five seats on the Hart Intercivic board. An investment fund with deep ties to the Romney family and the Mitt Romney for president campaign, H.I.G. Capital was founded by Tony Tamer, a major bundler for the Romney campaign, and it is one of the largest partners of Solamere Capital, an investment fund founded by Tagg Romney and Spencer Zwick, Mitt Romney's chief fundraiser from the 2008 presidential campaign.2 This makes the Romney family part owner of the voting machine company, through it's interest in H.I.G. Capital.

Tell the Department of Justice: Don't let Republicans steal the election in Ohio with Romney-owned voting machines.

What's more, three other H.I.G. Capital directors are major fundraisers for the Romney campaign, and H.I.G. Capital is the 11th largest contributor to the Mitt Romney campaign.3 Two of the company's directors, Douglas Berman and Brian Schwartz, were even in attendance at the Boca Raton fundraiser4 where Romney infamously declared:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what... who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it... These are people who pay no income tax...[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.5

And as if the ties between Tagg Romney's Solamere, Romney contributors at H.I.G. Capital, and Hart Intercivic weren't astonishing enough, two members of Hart Intercivic's 5-member board of directors made direct contributions to the Romney campaign.

That's right. Directors of the company that makes touchscreen voting machines that could decide the presidential election in Ohio, have made contributions to the Mitt Romney for President campaign.

It is disturbing and dangerous that Hart Intercivic, the company that makes the machines that will count many of the votes in Ohio on election night has deep financial ties to family members of Mitt Romney. And that its leadership has been actively involved presidential campaign by donating and bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Mitt Romney. The fact that these machines are easily corruptible touch screen voting machines makes matters even worse.

Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are locked in a tight election race which could very well be decided by Ohio's 18 electoral votes. We must take action now.

Thank you for all you do to protect the integrity of our Democracy.

1. Bob Driehaus, "Ohio Elections Official Calls Machines Flawed," New York Times, December 15, 2007.
2. Rick Ungar, "Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern," Forbes, October 20, 2012.
3. "Mitt Romney (R) Top Contributors." Open Secrets, October 1, 2012.
4. Dave Gilson, Who Was at Romney's "47 Percent" Fundraiser?, Mother Jones, Sept. 18, 2012.
5. MoJo News Team, "Full Transcript of the Mitt Romney Secret Video," Mother Jones, September 19, 2012. Sign the petition

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Song about California Propositions 2012

The Proposition Song 2012 kimalex3331 video
Oct 17, 2012

A nonpartisan, entertaining, three-minute sing-along song produced by the California Voter Foundation,, to help voters sort out the 11 propositions on the November 6, 2012 ballot - "let's all be singing along, cuz the ballot is so darn long!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Professors object to remains over 9,000 years old being given to Kumeyaay

Since the discovery of Kennewick Man, our understanding of the ancestry of indigenous Americans has increased in complexity. Some believed that Kennewick Man was Caucasoid. It was suggested that he might be related to the Ainu people of Japan. And of course, most of the people of the Americas didn't stay in one place for thousands of years. They tended to move around. But it now seems that American Indian ancestry might be more mixed than we once believed.

White et al v. University of California: Motions to Dismiss Granted
UCLA American Indian Studies Center
Oct. 12, 2012

On October 9, 2012, the federal District Court in San Francisco granted the University’s motion to dismiss the White v. UC lawsuit without leave to amend (see PDF below). This lawsuit was filed by three UC professors to prevent UCSD from transferring certain very old remains (estimated to be 9000-10,000 years old) to a local tribe. Among other things, the parties dispute whether such a transfer is required under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). UC moved to dismiss the complaint on procedural grounds, primarily arguing that the tribes are necessary parties to the suit given their interest in the remains and the possibility of inconsistent rulings against the University, but, because they are independent sovereigns, they are immune from suit and therefore the suit must be dismissed. The Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee (KCRC), which was also sued by Plaintiffs, made a similar argument.

UC has agreed to Plaintiffs’ request to maintain the status quo while they decide whether to appeal. Also, the separate case filed by KCRC against the University is still pending in federal court in San Diego and is stayed while the injunction in the White case is in place. Plaintiffs have 30 days to file a notice of appeal.

Koch Brother Facing Federal Lawsuit For Allegedly Imprisoning Employee

Koch Brother Facing Federal Lawsuit For Allegedly Imprisoning Employee
By Justin Acuff
Addicting Info
October 13, 2012

William Koch is facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly and illegally imprisoning and interrogating an employee. Kirby Martenson, a former executive for a number of Koch subsidiary companies, claims that he was fired, imprisoned, and interrogated for an excessive amount of time at the Old West ghost town replica that Koch built recently.

The Huffington Post said that, “John Houston Scott, an attorney for Kirby Martenson, a former executive for a number of Koch subsidiaries, confirmed the story to HuffPost, adding that he guessed the case could go to trial in a year,” which indicates that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a legitimate lawsuit.

Huffpost goes on, explaining,

“Kirby Martensen states in a lawsuit that we investigated him for participating in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud, accepting bribes and diverting business from our company,” Brad Goldstein, director of corporate affairs for Oxbow, a Bill Koch company, said in a statement. “He is right. We absolutely investigated Martensen and determined that he did participate in the fraud against the company. We identified who was defrauding us and are pursuing appropriate action to hold them accountable. In fact, several of the wrongdoers have admitted their involvement and one has directly implicated Mr. Martensen in the scheme.”

Through his privately held companies — Oxbow Carbon and Huron Carbon — Bill Koch has given $3 million to the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC Restore Our Future. His more well-known brothers have given substantially more to the effort to elect the Republican presidential candidate.

“Any allegations of misconduct by Mr. Koch simply are untrue and stem from Martensen’s attempts to divert attention from his own wrongdoing,” said Goldstein.

However, in the lawsuit filed and elsewhere, Martenson disputes those claims. On Courthouse News, you can see the following:

Billionaire William Koch imprisoned and interrogated one of his executives at a secluded Aspen ranch, under a sheriff’s guard, because the executive suspected Koch’s companies of tax evasion, the employee claims in Federal Court.

“Martensen understood that the goal of this assignment was to help legitimize OCM’s Bahamian shell company,” according to the complaint in the Northern District of California. “This included, but was not limited to, discussions and negotiations concerning the sourcing of pet-coke and sales to Asian customers. Plaintiff was informed that the move to Asia was for tax purposes. More than 75 percent of Oxbow’s fuel-grade petroleum coke export profits were derived from its Asian trading business. Plaintiff has information and believes this relocation was part of a plan being implemented to evade paying taxes to the United States on profits in excess of $200,000,000 per year.

The billionaire allegedly used “false pretenses” to lure Martensen and other executives to Bear Ranch, his property near Aspen, in March.

“Following lunch Martensen and others were told by Mr. Koch that they would be interviewed by a compensation specialist as part of a 360 degree peer review. Martensen was then escorted to a small room and interviewed by two agents of Koch. The interview turned into an interrogation that lasted several hours. Martensen was accused of participating in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud Oxbow and Koch of millions of dollars, accepting bribes from competitors and ‘diverting freight to a known competitor.’

If the allegations are true, William Koch should face jail time. We know this won’t happen (since when do rich people go to jail?), but the fact that this case is seeing light is a step in the right direction for America. One must consider, though, to the fact that this is a power vs. power situation and if it had been an employee of lower status there is a good chance we never even would have heard of it.

Another disturbing part of the allegations is the sheriff’s participation in the holding of the ‘prisoners.’ Indeed, if there was no cause, what was the sheriff even doing there? It seems obvious that whether or not William Koch was in the wrong, the sheriff was, because he is obviously on Koch’s payroll. That is a disgusting mark of the all-too-common corruption in America.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Philippines defies church to push family planning

Philippines defies church to push family planning
By Karen Lema
Oct 2, 2012

Philippine President Benigno Aquino is squaring off against his country's powerful Catholic church in a bid to give people free access to the means to limit the size of their families.

The predominately Catholic country has one of Asia's fastest-growing populations together with significant levels of chronic poverty. While neighbours have accelerated towards prosperity, the Philippines has lagged.

Economists say high population growth is a primary factor for that, but the church disagrees. It says population growth is not a cause of poverty and that people need jobs, not contraception.

Aquino, a Catholic like 80 percent of the population, has thrown his support behind a reproductive health bill that will, if passed by the two houses of Congress, guarantee access to free birth control and promote sex education.

That's something that Liza Cabiya-an might have benefited from, if she'd had the opportunity.

Cabiya-an, 39, has 14 children. The oldest is 22, the youngest just 11 months. Their home is a hut in a Manila slum.

"It's tough when you have so many children," said Cabiya-an, a shy smile revealing poor teeth. "I have to count them before I go to sleep to make sure no one's missing."

At one time Cabiya-an had access to contraception but Manila mayor Jose Atienza, a devout Catholic, swept contraceptives from the shelves of city-run clinics in 2000.

After that, Cabiya-an's efforts to limit the size of her family were patchy, restricted by her meager resources. She went on and off the pill and resorted to an illegal abortion more than once.

With income of about 7,600 pesos ($180) a month from doing laundry and her husband's pay as a labourer, Cabiya-an has only been able to send five of her children to school. The others would appear doomed to join the quarter of the country's 95 million people stuck below the poverty line.

Contraceptives are generally available in the Philippines although they are not used as much as elsewhere.

In the Philippines, 45-50 percent of women of reproductive age, or their partners, are using a contraceptive method at any given time. Indonesia's rate is 56 percent and Thailand's 80 percent.

Population growth mirrors that. The Philippines population is increasing by 1.9 percent a year, while Indonesia's is 1.2 percent and Thailand's is 0.9 percent. China's population is growing at an annual rate of 0.6 percent.

"If you increase access to contraceptives for women ... you will have births averted," said Josefina Natividad, director of the University of the Philippines' Population Institute.

Though available in most places, the cost of contraceptives is prohibitive for many people. But that should change if the reproductive health bill is passed.

Aquino's government has promised what it calls inclusive growth and it sees slowing population growth as key to that.

"The president has already, at the risk of alienating the church, declared that the bill is a priority," Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said. "That message is very clear."


But it's a message the church doesn't like.

It says artificial contraception is immoral, and the bill will pave the way to legalizing abortion. The bill does not legalize abortion though it seeks to improve care for women suffering from complications after an illegal abortion.

The church says people should use natural family planning.

It says poverty is a cause, not effect, of a high birth rate. Children are being born into homes without enough food to eat because of the government's failure to end corruption and provide jobs, the bishops say.

"It's our firm belief that contraceptives will never be the answer," said Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.

"They are poor not because they have no access to contraceptives but because they have no work. Give them work and it will be the most effective birth spacing means for them."

Economists say the church's persistent opposition has been the most important factor influencing population policy.

"The state ... has been immobilized from effectively addressing the issue by the Catholic hierarchy's hardline position," a group of 30 economists from the University of the Philippines said in a recent paper.

But despite the arguments of the church and political opponents who decry using state funds to finance contraception, a poll last year showed about 70 percent of people support the bill. Its backers want it passed during the term of this congress, which ends in June.

Economists say if the Philippines is ever to take advantage of a "demographic dividend", when a large, young workforce is generating the savings and investment to give the economy a sustained boost, it will have to bring down the fertility rate.

The median age in the Philippines is only 22.2 compared with 25 in Malaysia, India's 25.1 and Indonesia's 27.8.

Unlike aging countries such as Japan, where the elderly put a burden on the working population, in the Philippines it's the children who command the resources that could otherwise be diverted to savings and investment.

There are 58 dependents for every 100 working-age people in the Philippines, according to World Bank data, compared with 40 in Indonesia and 29 in Thailand.

"The demographic window will only open if fertility rates are going to go down in such a way that the young-age population will grow at a slower rate than the working-age population," said Arsenio Balisacan, socio-economic planning secretary.

Aquino might seem an unlikely champion of free contraception. His late mother, Corazon Aquino, rose to power at the head of a people power revolution, fostered by the church, that swept away old dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

Marcos had made reining in population growth a priority beginning in the 1960s and enshrined family planning in a 1973 constitution. But Corazon Aquino, mindful of the church's help in the democracy movement, scrapped that clause when the charter was rewritten in 1987.

($1 = 42.0300 pesos)

New research states no hope in preventing sea level rise (Video)

Buying land about a mile in from the coast line of all the Earth’s present coastal regions is a sound real estate investment strategy...

New research states no hope in preventing sea level rise (Video)
OCTOBER 2, 2012

More precise predictions of sea level changes published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the Institute of Physics journal, on October 1, 2012, are the first to predict sea levels rise due to climate change that included all potential sources of added fresh water to the world's oceans

The newest model developed includes expansion of ocean volume due to increased temperature for the first time. A more accurate prediction based on present polar ice sheet rates of melting and the inclusion of the melting of the majority of the Earth’s 200 glaciers make this model the most accurate yet devised.

Polar ice and ocean volume are the majority contributors to sea level rise. Glacier melting is a small contributor relative to the other two.

The news is not good.

Shows how much energy is added to the various parts of the climate system due to global warming, according to the 2007 IPCC AR(4) WG1 Sec

Even if the entire world adopted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emissions scenario that appears to be most accepted across the globe, sea levels will rise 22 feet by the year 3000.

The researchers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Université catholique de Louvain are the first climate scientists to admit the inevitability of sea level rise at an ever accelerating rate to due the intransigence of most countries in adopting any form of emissions containment that might make a difference and the impossibility of even the most austere emissions measure to reverse an inevitable result.

Buying land about a mile in from the coast line of all the Earth’s present coastal regions is a sound real estate investment strategy for today’s entrepreneurs plans for their grand children.

The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site on October 1, 2012.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Potential voter registration fraud in Florida: GOP’s own 'ACORN' scandal?

Colo. girl registering ‘only Romney’ voters tied to firm dumped by RNC over fraud
Eli Stokols
FOX 31 Denver
September 28, 2012

The Colorado Republican Party has terminated its contract with a firm hired to run voter registration and get-out-the-vote operations here after allegations of fraud, FOX31 Denver has confirmed.

The move came at the recommendation of the Republican National Committee, leading to the termination of contracts with Strategic Allied Consulting in seven swing states, following an investigation of voter fraud by the company in Florida...

In Colorado, the state GOP has spent $466,643 — roughly half its total budget — with Strategic Allied Consulting, the firm in question.

Already this year, the RNC has funneled more than $3.1 million to the company, just formed in June by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona voting consultant who has run other firms that have been accused of dumping registration forms filled out by Democrats and other improprieties aimed at helping Republican candidates.

And FOX31 Denver has confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company...

Strategic Allied Consulting was hired to do voter registration drives in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada, and had been planning get-out-the-vote drives in Ohio and Wisconsin, Sproul told the Los Angeles Times Thursday.

Reports from the Federal Election Commission show that Sproul’s other company, Lincoln Strategy Group, has been paid more than $80,000 by the Romney campaign to help register voters between November 2011 and March 2012 during the GOP primary season.

Sproul told the Times he formed Strategic Allied Consulting at the request of the RNC for publicity’s sake, given past negative media coverage of Lincoln stemming from past allegations going back to 2004, when employees in Nevada and Oregon signed up Democrats but threw out their forms instead of turning them in.

Sproul has also been linked to signature fraud this election cycle in his home state of Arizona where he was working on a ballot initiative that would allow the state to nullify any federal laws it finds to be unconstitutional.

In Florida, the state GOP fired Strategic Allied Consulting on Tuesday after election workers in Palm Beach County discovered numerous registration forms that appeared to be filled out in the same handwriting, some including wrong addresses and birthdays...

Florida GOP Election Fraud scandal spreads to ten counties
*UPDATED x3 with CO Tie-in*
Daily Kos
SEP 28, 2012

...This is sort of like our ACORN story - except that ACORN actually reported fraudulent or suspicious registrations whereas Strategic Allied Consulting has been systematically trying to engage in voter registration fraud in order to add fictitious and/or redundant GOP voters to the rolls. Disgusting.

...Third Update: As someone downthread has correctly pointed out, the young lady from El Paso County, Colorado (Colorado Springs) who was only registering Republicans was indeed working for this Strategic Alllied group - that is, Nathan Sproul's group.

And FOX31 Denver has confirmed that the young woman seen registering voters outside a Colorado Springs grocery store in a YouTube video, in which she admits to trying to only register voters who support Mitt Romney, was indeed a contract employee of Sproul’s company.

“I’m actually trying to register people for a particular party,” the girl tells a woman in the video, which has been viewed more than 417,000 times. Because we’re out here in support of Romney, actually.”

Potential voter registration fraud in Florida: GOP’s own 'ACORN' scandal?
By Patrik Jonsson
The Christian Science Monitor
September 29, 2012

Saying the party has “zero tolerance” for voter fraud, the GOP also filed complaints against the company with the Florida Secretary of State’s office. The company, run by long-time GOP operative Nathan Sproul, says a single employee was responsible for the forged signatures, though the problem, by Friday, had spread to 10 counties.

"This is an issue we take extremely seriously," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told CBS News. "When allegations were brought to our attention we severed all ties to the firm."

While reasonable, those explanations could have trouble finding traction among the US electorate, which has watched battles erupt in mostly swing states from Florida to Ohio over control of voter rolls, and heated debates about potential disenfranchisement of key Democratic constituencies, poorer, minority, and elderly voters.

Why do Election 2012 swing states matter? 5 resources to explain.

The allegations are particularly poignant in Florida, which decided the presidential race in 2000 after a massive recount was halted by the US Supreme Court in a way that gave the election to the GOP, and where the current Republican state administration has fought with the US Department of Justice over an effort to weed out illegal immigrants from the state’s voter rolls.

Even more to the point of third-party voter registration contractors, the League of Women Voters sued Florida earlier this month after it instituted a new 48-hour deadline for turning in registration forms. The state relented, reinstating a 10-day deadline.

What’s more, the fraudulent registration findings have echoes of the 2008 controversies over the now-disbanded ACORN community activism group, which was accused by Republicans in 2008 of falsifying forms.

Brad Friedman, who runs the electoral watchdog Brad Blog, helped break the story, tying it to other emerging GOP registration controversies in California and Colorado. Other states where Sproul’s firm had been hired to gather registrations have not reported any problems.

“A massive GOP voter registration scheme, which appears to involve the upper-echelons of the national party, [has begun] to emerge,” Mr. Friedman writes.

At the center of the controversy is Mr. Sproul, a long-time GOP campaign operative, whose firm has faced allegations of questionable tactics in the past, including changing or throwing out registration forms filled out by Democrats.

Quoted by Lee Fang of the nonpartisan Republic Report, former Rep. Chris Cannon (R) of Utah, during a voter fraud hearing, admitted that “the difference between ACORN and Sproul is that ACORN doesn't throw away or change registration documents after they have been filled out.”

Mr. Sproul has worked for a string of Republican presidential campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s. He was recommended to the Florida GOP by the National Republican Committee. Until being fired Tuesday, Sproul’s company had received $1.3 million from Republicans, including nearly $700,000 from the Florida Republican Party...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fighting Over God’s Image

American Protestants were once deadly serious about forbidding images of God.

Fighting Over God’s Image
New York Times
September 26, 2012

THE murders of four Americans over an amateurish online video about Muhammad, like the attempted murder of a Danish cartoonist who in 2005 had depicted the prophet with a bomb in his turban, have left many Americans confused, angry and fearful about the rage that some Muslims feel about visual representations of their sacred figures.

The confusion stems, in part, from the ubiquity of sacred images in American culture. God, Jesus, Moses, Buddha and other holy figures are displayed in movies, cartoons and churches and on living room walls. We place them on T-shirts and bumper stickers — and even tattoo them on our skin.

But Americans have had their own history of conflict, some of it deadly, over displays of the sacred. The path toward civil debate over such representation is neither short nor easy.

The United States was settled, in part, by radical Protestant iconoclasts from Britain who considered the creation and use of sacred imagery to be a violation of the Second Commandment against graven images. The anti-Catholic colonists at Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay refused to put images of Jesus in their churches and meetinghouses. They scratched out crosses in books. In the early 1740s, English officials even marched on an Indian community in western Connecticut, where they cross-examined Moravian missionaries who reportedly had a book with “the picture of our Saviour in it.”

The colonists feared Catholic infiltration from British-controlled Canada. Shortly after the Boston Tea Party, a Connecticut pastor warned that if the British succeeded, the colonists would have their Bibles taken from them and be compelled to “pray to the Virgin Mary, worship images, believe the doctrine of Purgatory, and the Pope’s infallibility.”

It was not only Protestants who opposed sacred imagery. In the Southwest, Pueblo Indians who waged war against Spanish colonizers not only burned and dismembered some crucifixes, but even defecated on them.

In the early Republic, many Americans avoided depicting Jesus or God in any form. The painter Washington Allston spoke for many artists of the 1810s when he said, “I think his character too holy and sacred to be attempted by the pencil.” A visiting Russian diplomat, Pavel Svinin, was amazed at the prevalence of a different image: George Washington’s. “Every American considers it his sacred duty to have a likeness of Washington in his home,” he wrote, “just as we have images of God’s saints.”

Only in the late 19th century did images of God and Jesus become commonplace in churches, Sunday school books, Bibles and homes. There were many forces at work: steam printing presses; new canals and railroads; and, not least, the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Catholics who brought with them an array of crucifixes, Madonnas and busts of saints. Protestants began producing their own images — often, to appeal to children — and gradually became more comfortable with holy images. In the 20th century, the United States began exporting such images, most notably Warner Sallman’s 1941 “Head of Christ,” which is one of the most reproduced images in world history.

But there was also resistance. When Hollywood first started portraying Jesus in films, one fundamentalist Christian fumed, “The picturing of the life and sufferings of our Savior by these institutions falls nothing short of blasphemy.” Vernon E. Jordan Jr., an African-American who was later president of the National Urban League and an adviser to President Bill Clinton, recalled that white audience members gasped when he played Jesus as an undergraduate at DePauw University in Indiana in the 1950s...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital
How the GOP presidential candidate and his private equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs – and stuck others with the bill
Rolling Stone Magazine August 29, 2012

The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn't stand for anything. He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn't be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race...

Read more:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Team Obama releases tongue-in-cheek video taking Romney out of context

Team Obama releases tongue-in-cheek video taking Romney out of context
By Justin Sink
The Hill

President Obama's campaign released a new web video Thursday comprised of entirely out-of-context clips of opponent Mitt Romney, intended, they say, to illustrate that Romney's attack on Obama's "redistribution" comment was unfair.

On Wednesday night NBC News posted extended audio of Obama's remarks at a 1998 academic conference, during which he said that he "believes[s] in redistribution." But the following sentence shows Obama arguing the importance of competition and the marketplace for government services.

"In a desperate attempt to distract Americans from another disastrous week for Mitt Romney, his campaign has once again flagrantly taken the president's statements out of context to make a point that simply doesn't exist," said Obama press secretary Adam Fetcher in a statement. "After falsely accusing the president of wanting to redistribute wealth when he was actually talking about reforming government and making it more effective, it’s now come to light that they selectively removed additional context from the 14-year-old remarks in which then-Senator Obama stressed the need for competition, innovation and a strong marketplace in expanding opportunity for all Americans."

The Web video from the Obama campaign opens with on-screen text defining "context" as "the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning."

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What 'rogues and vagabonds' have to do with Pennsylvania voter ID law

Pennsylvania judge supports Republicans who don't want "to place the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities, on a level with the virtuous and good man.”

What 'rogues and vagabonds' have to do with Pennsylvania voter ID law
By Patrik Jonsson
The Christian Science Monitor
September 13, 2012

An 1869 ruling used by a Pennsylvania state judge in August to uphold a tough new voter ID law is providing some new and startling historical context to deliberations by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, as it mulls whether to block the controversial law before the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Looking specifically at the tumult and vagrancy of 19th century city life in Philadelphia, the so-called 1869 Patterson v. Barlow decision, which in part allowed election officials to consider a voter’s “virtue” before being allowed to cast a ballot, formed the backbone of Judge Robert Simpson’s decision last month that the new law was constitutional and could go into effect immediately. The original Patterson ruling was written by state Supreme Court justices, whose legal descendants are now weighing the voter ID law.

The ruling was more of a legal side note in the actual hearing Thursday. But citation of the ruling, which used what today would be considered by many to be bigoted language to justify early curbs on the franchise, has hit a nerve among critics who say Judge Simpson’s reliance on the ruling ties modern day critiques of voter ID laws directly, and shockingly, to a historical narrative of “anachronism and … outright prejudice,” according to one legal brief filed in the case.

The Patterson decision “shows that a majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was once led to rationalize burdensome election procedures based on generalized and biased fears about fraudulent voting. That historic mistake should make the court hesitate to uphold another election law ostensibly aimed at preventing fraud when the state has offered no evidence that any such fraud has actually occurred,” writes Jessie Allen, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Painting a colorful Dickensian view of old Philadelphia, the 1869 court wrote, “Where the population of a locality is constantly changing, and men are often unknown to their next-door neighbors; where a large number is floating upon the rivers and the sea, going and returning and incapable of identification; where low inns, restaurants and boarding-houses constantly afford the means of fraudulent additions to the lists of voters, what rule of sound reason or of constitutional law forbids the legislature from providing a means to distinguish the honest people of Philadelphia from the rogues and vagabonds who would usurp their places and rob them of their rights?"

For emphasis, the court further explained that to deny the tougher voting rules for Philadelphia voters “would be to place the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities, on a level with the virtuous and good man.”...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Evidence piles up that Bush administration got many pre-9-11 warnings

Evidence piles up that Bush administration got many pre-9-11 warnings
By Robert Windrem
NBC News
September 11, 2012

Video: Author Kurt Eichenwald talks about what the White House knew leading up to the attacks and how they used the intelligence information in the months after.

On the 11th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, there is mounting evidence that the Bush administration received more intelligence warnings than previously known prior to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000. Kurt Eichenwald, a former New York Times reporter, wrote in an op-ed piece in Tuesday’s newspaper about a number of previously unknown warnings relayed to the White House by U.S. intelligence in the weeks and months prior to the attacks.

Eichenwald wrote of the warnings in his new book, “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars.”

And former US intelligence officials say there were even more warnings, pointing to a little noticed section of George Tenet’s memoir, “At the Center of the Storm.”

In it, Tenet describes a July 10, 2001, meeting at the White House in the office of Condoleezza Rice, then President George W. Bush’s national security adviser. The meeting was not discussed in the 9-11 Commission’s final report on the attacks, although Tenet wrote that he provided information on it to the commission.

What’s critical to understanding the difference between this meeting and others, says one former senior U.S. intelligence official who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity, is that the intelligence provided that day was fresh, some of it having been collected the previous day. And other intelligence and national security officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, say the briefings make clear that, while Bush administration officials understood the nature of the threat, they didn’t understand its magnitude and urgency.

“This intelligence delivered on July 10 was specific and was generated within 24 hours of the meeting,” said the first official, who pointed out the text in the Tenet memoir.

Tenet wrote about how after being briefed by his counterterrorism team on July 10 -- two months prior to the attacks -- “I picked up the big white secure phone on the left side of my desk -- the one with a direct line to Condi Rice -- and told her that I needed to see her immediately to provide an update on the al-Qaida threat.”

Tenet said he could not recall another time in his seven years as director of the CIA that he sought such an urgent meeting at the White House. Rice agreed to the meeting immediately, and 15 minutes later, he was in Rice’s office.

An analyst handed out the briefing packages Tenet and just seen and began to speak. “His opening line got everyone’s attention,” he wrote, “in part because it left no room for misunderstanding: ‘There will be a significant terrorist attack in the coming weeks or months’!”

The team laid out in a series of slide, the concerns Tenet’s counterterrorism team had based on intelligence that included information “from the past 24 hours.” Citing his notes on the briefing, Tenet wrote, “A chart displayed seven specific pieces of intelligence gathered over the past twenty-four hours, all of them predicting an imminent attack. Among the items: Islamic extremists were traveling to Afghanistan in greater numbers, and there had been significant departures of extremist families from Yemen. Other signs pointed to new threats against U.S. interests in Lebanon, Morocco, and Mauritania.”

A second chart followed, listing a summation of the most chilling comments by al-Qaida. According to Tenet, they were:

• A mid-June statement from Osama bin Laden to trainees that there will be an attack in the near future.

• Information that talked about moving toward decisive acts.

• Late June information that cited a “big event” that was forthcoming.

• “Two separate bits of information collected only a few days before our meeting in which people were predicting a stunning turn of events in the weeks ahead.”

Another slide detailed how Chechen Islamic terrorist leader Ibn Kattab had promised some “very big news” to his troops.

There were more details, as laid out by one of Tenet’s top analysts, known in the book as “Rich B.” Tenet recounts his aide telling Rice and others, “The attack will be ‘spectacular.’ and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities and interests. ‘Attack preparations have been made,’ he said. ‘Multiple and simultaneous attacks are possible, and they will occur with little or no warning. Al-Qaida is waiting us out and looking for vulnerability.”

Rice, Tenet wrote, reacted positively to the briefing and asked her counter terrorism adviser, Richard Clarke, if he agreed with the assessment. Clarke said he did, and Tenet said he and his aides left the meeting feeling that Rice understood the threat. However, he wrote, the White House never followed up on the presidential finding that Tenet had been asking for since March, authorizing broader covert action against al-Qaida. That finding was signed by President Bush on Sept. 17, six days after the attacks.

Roger Cressey, who was Clarke’s deputy and is now an NBC News counter terrorism analyst, says one thing that is missing from Tenet’s description of the events is that the intelligence pointed to overseas attacks. although CIA did tell officials that they couldn’t discount an attack on the US homeland.

“Everything we had (from US intelligence) pointed overseas, specifically to the Gulf,” he said. “There was no actionable intelligence that pointed to the homeland. What we did know, and what we told domestic agencies, was there was "a disturbance in the force” and we were very worried about an attack.

Still, Cressey remains critical of the lack of a response going back to the first week of the administration, saying the counterterrorism team at the National Security Council and experts elsewhere in the government were “butting our heads against the wall” in an effort to get a meaningful response from the White House.

Would action by the White House have helped? Like Eichenwald, Cressey says he isn’t sure, but notes that when similar intelligence pointed to attacks on Jan. 1, 2000, “Sandy Berger (Rice’s predecessor) and (President Bill) Clinton went to battle stations.” Did warnings prior to the millennium help thwart a number of attacks back then? Cressey believes they did.

One intelligence official also noted that after the interception of the July intelligence, there was little conversation on the al-Qaida communications network prior to Sept. 11. It wasn’t until much later U.S. intelligence understood why. “They laid low because they were waiting for Congress to come back in session,” the official said.

The reason, he said: United Flight 93 was headed for the U.S. Capitol when passengers tried to thwart the hijacking and the plane bound for Washington crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa.

Robert Windrem is a senior investigative producer for NBC News.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Family feud eyed in grisly killings in French Alps

Many people are afraid of those who look different, or believe different things. But very often in this world it's brother against brother, especially when an inheritance is involved.

Family feud eyed in grisly killings in French Alps
By Jamey Keaten
Business Week
September 07, 2012

ANNECY, France (AP) — The brother of an Iraqi-born British man shot dead in the French Alps with his wife and two other people came forward to British police on Friday and denied any conflict in the family, while investigators looked into a possible money dispute among the siblings, a French prosecutor said.

Two days after the killings, authorities identified the dead as mechanical design engineer Saad al Hilli and his wife, Ikbal, based partly on the testimony of their 4-year-old daughter Zeena, who survived unhurt by hiding under her mother's skirt as some 25 automatic-handgun rounds were fired.

French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, whom authorities suspect was in the wrong place at the wrong time, was also killed in Wednesday's rampage. Investigators were working to identify a fourth victim, an elderly, Iraqi-born Swedish woman also inside the family's vehicle.

French authorities, cautious about tipping off the culprit or culprits, offered only a trickle of clues about the investigation.

Eric Maillaud, the prosecutor in nearby Annecy, said British police reported that Saad may have feuded with his brother Zaid over money.

On Friday, after learning about media reports that cited authorities' suspicion about a possible family dispute, Zaid went to British police and told them, "I have no conflict with my brother," according to Maillaud.

"This brother came forward spontaneously to investigators, first to ask simply about the state of his brother because he heard through British media that his brother was dead," Maillaud said.

But Mae Faisal El-Wailly, a childhood friend of the brothers, made available a letter written to her by Saad last year that alluded to a possible inheritance dispute. She said the brothers' father had died recently, and she described the family as wealthy and well-traveled.

"Zaid and I do not communicate any more as he is another control freak and tried a lot of underhanded things even when my father was alive," Saad wrote. The letter was dated Sept. 16, 2011.

"He tried to take control of fathers assets and demanded control," the letter says. "(A)nyway it is a long story and now I have just had to wipe him out of my life. Sad but I need to concentrate now on my wife and two lovely girls ..."

Public records show Zaid resigned from Saad's small aeronautics design firm, Shtech Ltd., last year.

Maillaud said he had not heard about any possible inheritance issue and that Zaid remains "a free man."

The prosecutor also said it was a "miracle" that the dead couple's other daughter, 7-year-old Zaina, who was shot in the shoulder and beaten, survived. She remained unconscious Friday in a medically induced coma in a Grenoble hospital, under close police guard...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

World's richest woman says poor should have less fun, work harder

World's richest woman says poor should have less fun, work harder
By David Lazarus
LA Times
August 30, 2012

Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here's the world's wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.

"If you're jealous of those with more money, don't just sit there and complain," she said in a magazine piece. "Do something to make more money yourself -- spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."

Yeah, let them eat cake.

Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: She inherited it.

Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia's wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.

"There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire," she said by way of encouragement.

"Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others."

Boom. Almost too easy.

Why are people poor? Rinehart blamed what she described as "socialist," anti-business government policies, and urged Australian officials to lower the minimum wage and cut taxes.

"The millionaires and billionaires who choose to invest in Australia are actually those who most help the poor and our young," she said. "This secret needs to be spread widely."

And now it's out there.

Thank you, rich people. We're not worthy.

Richest woman: Africans who work for $2 a day are an inspiration
Andy Johnson
Sep. 5, 2012

The world's richest woman isn't backing away from earlier remarks that poor Australians should smoke and drink less, in fact she's issued a new statement praising Africans who are willing to work for just $2 a day.

Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart made the comments in a rare video statement. "We must get realistic, not just promote class warfare. Indeed if we competed at the Olympic Games as sluggishly as we compete economically there would be an outcry," said the woman who inherited her family's iron ore fortune.

She went on to urge her country to look to Africa for inspiration and guidance. "Africans want to work and its workers are willing to work for less than $2 a day. Such statistics make me worry for this country's future," Rinehart said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard quickly dismissed the comments.

"It's not the Australian way to toss people $2, a two-dollar gold coin, and then ask them to work for the day. We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions for Australian people," Gillard told reporters.

Things we learned from Day Two of the DNC

Five things we learned from Day Two of the DNC
By Peter Hamby, Ashley Killough and Paul Steinhauser
September 6, 2012

...[#5]Paul Ryan a bigger thorn in Romney's side than Bain?

Mitt Romney faced a tsunami of attacks this summer over his business background and former private equity firm, Bain Capital. A pro-Obama super PAC particularly hammered Romney, spending $20 million on commercials in crucial swing states painting Romney as a greedy corporate raider.

And while speakers addressed Bain during prime time, Democrats seemed to be more fired up about another target Wednesday night: his running mate.

Fact or fiction? Paul Ryan's RNC speech

Speech after speech dealt several zings at Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan, a proposal widely backed by the GOP and one that favors tax cuts coupled with large entitlement cuts.

Sister Simone Campbell especially hammered home the point. The nun has led other nuns on a nine-state bus tour this summer, campaigning against Ryan's plan as a measure that stands in the way of the church's moral teachings.

"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible. But their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate families," she said. "Rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another."

Her comments were carried further by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who serves on the same House Budget Committee chaired by Ryan. Van Hollen, who's been tapped to play the role of Ryan in debate prep for Vice President Joe Biden, said Romney and Ryan's "obsession with tax breaks for the wealthy is part of a rigid ideology."

"But this theory crashed in the real world. We all lived through the recession when jobs went down and the deficit went up," he said. "So when they say they'll turn around the economy, beware. They mean a U-turn back to this failed theory that lifted the yachts while other boats ran aground."

Wednesday night's program certainly highlighted Romney's time at Bain, especially when three laid-off workers took the stage to blast the GOP nominee as a heartless businessman motivated only by profit.

But a stronger theme threaded throughout the night could be found in Ryan's sweeping budget proposals and Democrats' fervent opposition to it.

Political observers say Romney's pick in Ryan was risky, given the congressman's highly polarizing policy proposals. Watching the convention this week, it seems those attacks fuel plenty of fire against Romney, one that may not die down anytime soon.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Why Do Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Tell Small, Dumb Lies?

Why Do Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Tell Small, Dumb Lies?
Robert Schlesinger
US News and World Report
September 1, 2012

Paul Ryan caught a lot of guff last week—correctly—for delivering a vice presidential acceptance speech which was festooned with lies and false assertions. It was so bad that when the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and his staff scoured the speech looking for truth, lies, and misleading statements—they produced a grand total of two “true” policy items. Two.

But what intrigues me today isn’t the big lies like the ones for which Ryan has been excoriated recently. Right now I’m more interested in the smaller variety of lie whose triviality raises questions about their deployment. I’ll give you two examples.

Ryan caught notice last week when he told the conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt that he had run a sub-three hour marathon. This is apparently an impressive enough figure that Runner’s World wanted to find out more. What they found out was that his actual personal best time was a hair over four hours. I’m no runner (I follow my wife’s dictum: Run only when chased), but even I know that a difference of more than an hour in a marathon time is a big deal.

So why tell the lie?

As James Fallows writes:

You're on a nationwide show. You're one of the handful of people most prominently in the national eye. You know that everything you say is going to be recorded, parsed, and examined. And still -- last week, not at a freshman mixer or in a Jaycees speech somewhere -- you happily reel off a claim that is impressive enough to get people's interest and admiration, and specific enough to be easily testable.

I don't understand this. I can understand, while obviously deploring, why Bill Clinton brazenly said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" on national TV. It was a flat-out lie that to him might have seemed necessary to his survival. I can understand the little embellishments politicians and everyone else make -- especially when these occur in early days of the campaign, or in odd corners where you think no one is listening.

Or I’ll give a more contemporary large-lie example: I understand why Romney has made a fabrication about President Obama’s welfare policy a centerpiece of its campaign; I condemn it, but I can see the anything-to-win reasoning behind it (for more, see Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s blunt explanation).

But if big lies have a purpose, what’s the point of trivial untruths?

Here’s another example, from way back in November. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer opened a GOP presidential debate he was moderating by telling the crowd that “yes, that’s my real name.” Romney in turn introduced himself by saying, “I'm Mitt Romney and yes, Wolf, that's also my first name.” Except that it’s not. His first name is in fact Willard.

So what was the point of claiming otherwise?

This isn’t a partisan thing. I’m not trying to draw conclusions about Ryan’s and Romney’s personal veracity here (though I think there’s an abundance of evidence that their campaign is setting a new standard for political mendacity). I’m just really curious—why tell small, dumb lies?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Cleric held in blasphemy case for adding burned Quran pages to evidence against girl

Cleric held in blasphemy case
02 Sep 2012

A Pakistani cleric who accused a young Christian girl of blasphemy in a case that sparked international concern was remanded in custody Sunday on suspicion of evidence-tampering and desecrating the Quran.

The girl, Rimsha, has been held in prison since being arrested in the poor Islamabad suburb of Mehrabad more than two weeks ago accused of burning papers containing verses from the Koran, in breach of Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws.

A medical report last week said she had a mental age of less than 14 and her case has prompted concern among Western governments and anger from rights groups who say Pakistan's strict blasphemy legislation is often abused to settle personal scores.

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in Rimsha's area, who first gave police the burned papers as evidence against her, was detained by police on Saturday evening.

"The imam was arrested after his deputy Maulvi Zubair and two others told a magistrate he added pages from the Koran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness," police investigator Munir Hussain Jaffri said.

Zubair and the two others, Mohammad Shahzad and Awais Ahmed, said they had urged Chishti not to interfere with the papers, Jaffri said.

"They protested that he should not add something to the evidence and he should give the evidence to the police as he got it and should not do this," Jaffri said.

"But they said Chishti said, 'You know this is the only way to expel the Christians from this area.'"

On August 24 Chishti told AFP he thought Rimsha had burned the pages deliberately as part of a Christian "conspiracy" to insult Muslims, and said action should have been taken sooner to stop what he called their "anti-Islam activities" in Mehrabad.

Jaffri said the cleric was arrested at his home on Saturday under the blasphemy law.

"By putting these pages in the ashes he also committed desecration of the Holy Quran and he is being charged with blasphemy," he said...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Murder charges stun and enrage South African miners


Murder Charges Dropped Against South African Miners
September 2, 2012

JOHANNESBURG – Prosecutors provisionally dropped murder charges against the 270 jailed miners who had been accused under an obscure legal doctrine of killing 34 of their own colleagues when the police opened fire on them while engaged in a wildcat strike.

The police fired live ammunition into a crowd of about 3,000 platinum miners armed with clubs and machetes while trying to disperse the illegal strike on Aug. 16. When the firing stopped, 34 miners were dead and South Africa was outraged by the bloodiest confrontation between police and civilians since the end of apartheid. The police have claimed they acted in self-defense.

The outrage grew when prosecutors announced last week that under a legal doctrine known as “common purpose,” the miners themselves would be charged with murdering their colleagues. Under the doctrine, which was frequently used in the waning days of apartheid to charge members of protesting crowds with serious crimes committed by a few individuals, people in a mob can be charged as accomplices.

In a hastily arranged news conference Sunday, officials from the National Prosecuting Authority said that they would await the outcome of further investigations into the shootings, but did not rule out bringing murder charges again...


Murder charges stun and enrage South African miners
LUANDA — The New York Times News Service
Aug. 30 2012

Two weeks after the police opened fire on a crowd of 3,000 workers engaged in a wildcat strike at a platinum mine near Johannesburg, killing 34 people in the bloodiest labour unrest since the end of apartheid, prosecutors are bringing murder charges against a surprising set of suspects: the miners themselves.

Using an obscure legal doctrine frequently relied upon by the apartheid government in its dying days, prosecutors did not accuse the police officers who shot and killed the strikers as they surged forward, machetes in hand. Instead, officials said Thursday that they were pursuing murder charges against the 270 miners who were arrested after the dust settled and the shooting stopped.

It was the latest astonishing turn in a saga that has gripped South Africa, unleashing a torrent of rage over deepening inequality, poverty and unemployment.

The shootings have fed a growing sense of betrayal at the country’s governing party, the venerable African National Congress, many of whose senior members have joined a wealthy elite a world away from the downtrodden masses whose votes brought them to office at the end of apartheid in 1994. Now the prosecutors’ decision to charge the miners in the killings threatened to intensify that rift.

Mitt Romney comes out as a birther; wants to be birther-in-chief

See also post about Mitt Romney's foreign-born father.

Obama Makes Birther Joke
The Daily Beast
Sept. 8, 2012

First he owned Obamacare, next birther attacks? At a stop on the campaign trail in Orlando on Saturday, Obama poked fun at the birther conspiracy theories that have plagued his presidency.

An adult told the president that a young boy at their table in a local sports bar was born in Hawaii. “You were born in Hawaii? You have a birth certificate?” Obama joked, to laughter from the table.

Mitt Romney recently came under fire after making a birther joke during a rally, which the Obama campaign jumped at, saying, “America doesn’t need a birther in chief.”

Romney's 'birther' line is no joke
By Donna Brazile
August 27, 2012

"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that I was born and raised."

With that comment to a crowd in Michigan, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney officially embraced the "birther" movement and touched off a firestorm of protest across the airwaves and internet...

As I said, we shouldn't be surprised by Romney's remark. Trying to pretend that somehow Obama is not an American-born leader, or questioning his patrioism, or his values by using the Big Lie often speaks in code. But let's decode some of the implications:

-- Show us your birth certificate, but I won't show you my tax returns.

-- You need to prove your identity to vote, but my super PAC allies don't need to identify their donors.

-- I'll lie about Obama's plans, but won't explain my own.

-- I'll blame Obama for the problems he didn't cause, and take credit for his solutions that work.

Romney's birther remark was less a surprise than a confirmation that his moral compass is off center.

Mr. Romney, America's not an aristocracy. It's not where you were born -- in a cabin or a mansion -- or how you were raised -- in poverty by a single parent or with money and privilege -- that matters.

It matters where you go and what you do. It's who you help, what you're willing to sacrifice, and how honest you are.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Veil of Opulence

The Veil of Opulence
The New York Times
August 12, 2012

More than 40 years ago the philosopher John Rawls, in his influential political work “A Theory of Justice,” implored the people of the world to shed themselves of their selfish predispositions and to assume, for the sake of argument, that they were ignorant. He imposed this unwelcome constraint not so that his readers — mostly intellectuals, but also students, politicians and policy makers — would find themselves in a position of moribund stupidity but rather so they could get a grip on fairness.

Rawls saw clearly that principles of justice like the golden rule or mutual benevolence, are subject to distortion.

Rawls charged his readers to design a society from the ground up, from an original position, and he imposed the ignorance constraint so that readers would abandon any foreknowledge of their particular social status — their wealth, their health, their natural talents, their opportunities or any other goodies that the cosmos may have thrown their way.

In doing so, he hoped to identify principles of justice that would best help individuals maximize their potential, fulfill their objectives (whatever they may happen to be) and live a good life. He called this presumption the “veil of ignorance.”

...Meanwhile, we give little thought to how challenging this can be for those who suffer from chronic illnesses or disabling conditions. What Rawls also saw clearly was that other classic principles of justice, like the golden rule or mutual benevolence, are subject to distortion precisely because we tend to do this.

Nowadays, the veil of ignorance is challenged by a powerful but ancient contender: the veil of opulence. While no serious political philosopher actually defends such a device — the term is my own — the veil of opulence runs thick in our political discourse. Where the veil of ignorance offers a test for fairness from an impersonal, universal point of view — “What system would I want if I had no idea who I was going to be, or what talents and resources I was going to have?” — the veil of opulence offers a test for fairness from the first-person, partial point of view: “What system would I want if I were so-and-so?” These two doctrines of fairness — the universal view and the first-person view — are both compelling in their own way, but only one of them offers moral clarity impartial enough to guide our policy decisions.

Those who don the veil of opulence may imagine themselves to be fantastically wealthy movie stars or extremely successful business entrepreneurs. They vote and set policies according to this fantasy. “If I were such and such a wealthy person,” they ask, “how would I feel about giving X percentage of my income, or Y real dollars per year, to pay for services that I will never see nor use?”

We see this repeatedly in our tax policy discussions, and we have just seen the latest instance of it in the Tax Policy Center’s comparison of President Obama’s tax plan versus Mitt Romney’s tax plan. “He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can pay less,” Obama said last week, “so that people like me pay less.” Last Monday he drove the point even harder, saying that Romney’s plan is like “Robin Hood in reverse.” And certainly, Romney’s selection on Saturday of Paul Ryan as his running mate will keep this issue in the forefront of our political discourse.

Of course, the veil of opulence is not limited to tax policy. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia advanced related logic in their oral arguments on the Affordable Care Act in March. “[T]he mandate is forcing these [young] people,” Justice Alito said, “to provide a huge subsidy to the insurance companies … to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else.” By suggesting in this way that the policy was unfair, Alito encouraged the court to assess the injustice themselves. “If you were healthy and young,” Justice Alito implied, “why should you be made to bear the burden of the sick and old?”

The answer to these questions, when posed in this way, is clear. It seems unfair, unjust, to be forced to pay so much more than someone of lesser means. We should all be free to use our money and our resources however we see fit. And so, the opulence argument for fairness gets off the ground.

It is one thing for the very well off to make these arguments. What is curious is that frequently the same people who pose these questions are not themselves wealthy, nor even particularly healthy.

Instead, they ask these questions under the supposition that they are insisting upon fairness. But the veil of opulence operates only under the guise of fairness. It is rather a distortion of fairness, by virtue of the partiality that it smuggles in. It asks not whether a policy is fair given the huge range of advantages or hardships the universe might throw at a person but rather whether it is fair that a very fortunate person should shoulder the burdens of others...

California lawmaker promises fix after Israel flap

California lawmaker promises fix after Israel flap
Associated Press (AP)
August 29, 2012

A state lawmaker on Wednesday promised to introduce a fix to an Assembly resolution that stirred controversy a day earlier because it urged California colleges and universities to crack down on demonstrations against Israel.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal said she would work on a resolution that affirms free speech rights on campus when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

"I'm not sure what all it's going to say, but I think it will boil down to a celebration of the First Amendment," the Long Beach Democrat said in a statement. "And it will make clear in no uncertain terms that students in our universities should feel safe to have differing opinions."

Lowenthal and 66 of the Assembly's 80 lawmakers provoked a storm of criticism after they approved a resolution Tuesday that condemned anti-Semitism but also asked administrators at California's public colleges and universities to combat anti-Israel actions.

Republican Assemblywoman Linda Halderman did not mention Israel when she introduced House Resolution 35, which is symbolic and does not carry policy implications.

Most of the instances of anti-Semitism the resolution cited were related to the Israel-Palestine debate on college campuses. Among other things, it condemned the campaign to pressure the University of California system to divest from Israel and the suggestion by some students that Israel is a "racist" state.

Free-speech advocates and Muslim groups took umbrage because the resolution appeared to label criticism and protest of Israel as anti-Jewish hate speech. On Wednesday, several groups sent letters to lawmakers condemning the resolution, including the Council on American Islamic Relations, the National Lawyers Guild and Jewish Voice for Peace...

Nut-throwers ejected from Republican National Convention

Here's the shocker: it wasn't protesters who threw the nuts.

Nut-throwers ejected from Republican National Convention
29 August 2012

Two attendees were ejected from Republican National Convention on Tuesday for throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman.

The individuals told her "this is how we feed animals" as they threw the nuts, multiple witness said.

Convention security and police removed the two from the convention centre shortly after the incident.

In a statement, convention officials said the attendees had "exhibited deplorable behaviour".

"Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated."

The identities of the two ejected was unclear. News broadcaster CNN confirmed the incident but had no additional comment.

The incident happened on Tuesday in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where delegates officially nominated Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate to face President Barack Obama in the November presidential election.