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, www.calvoter.org, 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.