Thursday, January 05, 2006

Who's next?

We always knew they would do this. Here’s someone telling a tale of being on the “no fly” list most likely for writing critical of Bush.

From James Moore's "Branded" on the Huffington Post. (via America Blog)

"Mam, I'd like to know how I got on the No Fly Watch List."

"I'm not really authorized to tell you that, sir," she explained after taking down my social security and Texas driver's license numbers.

"What can you tell me?"

"All I can tell you is that there is something in your background that in some way is similar to someone they are looking for."

"Well, let me get this straight then," I said. "Our government is looking for a guy who may have a mundane Anglo name, who pays tens of thousands of dollars every year in taxes, has never been arrested or even late on a credit card payment, is more uninteresting than a Tupperware party, and cries after the first two notes of the national anthem? We need to find this guy. He sounds dangerous to me."

"I'm sorry, sir, I've already told you everything I can."

"Oh, wait," I said. "One last thing: this guy they are looking for? Did he write books critical of the Bush administration, too?"

I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.

Fineman calls it for McCain/Lieberman

Howard Fineman thinks disgust at the Abramoff scandals could lead to a successful third party challenge. His dream ticket is headed by McCain and Lieberman. I am speechless; my brain numb at the prospect of these two despicable, self righteous nutbags heading anything.

Fineman is one of the most offensive typists covering politics. His early Newsweek coverage of Bush was teen fan magazine quality and now he’s launched another boat load of horseshit. What does Newsweek pay this guy to do? Sit around and make up childish fantasies to make the adults ooh and ahhh and pat him on his silly but naughty head?

If Sen. John McCain doesn’t win the Republican presidential nomination, I could see him leading an independent effort to “clean up” the capital as a third-party candidate. Having been seared by his own touch with this type of controversy (the Keating case in the '80s, which was as important an experience to him as Vietnam), McCain could team up with a Democrat, say, Sen. Joe Lieberman. If they could assemble a cabinet in waiting—perhaps Wes Clark for Defense, Russ Feingold for Justice, Colin Powell for anything— they could win the 2008 election going away.
via The Raw Story

Burger man

Of all the seasonal homilies about "green" Christmases and "sustainable" new year pledges - an oxymoron if ever I've heard one - only one stuck in my mind: each of us could make a bigger contribution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by becoming a vegan than by converting to an eco-friendly car.

Researchers at the University of Chicago have calculated the relative carbon intensity of a standard vegan diet in comparison to a US-style carnivorous diet, all the way through from production to processing to distribution to cooking and consumption. An average burger man (that is, not the outsize variety) emits the equivalent of 1.5 tonnes more CO2 every year than the standard vegan. By comparison, were you to trade in your conventional gas-guzzler for a state of the art Prius hybrid, your CO2 savings would amount to little more than one tonne per year.

This may come as a bit of a shock to climate change campaigners. "Stop eating meat" is unlikely to be the favourite slogan of the new Stop Climate Chaos coalition. Even "eat less meat" might not go down too well, even though Compassion in World Farming has produced an utterly compelling explanation - in their report, Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat - of why this really is the way forward.

The basic rule of thumb is that it takes 2kg of feed to produce every kilogram of chicken, 4kg for pork, and at least 7kg for beef. The more meat we eat, the more grain, soya and other feedstuffs we need. So when we hear that the total global meat demand is expected to grow from 209m tonnes in 1997 to around 327m tonnes in 2020, what we have to hold in our mind is all the extra hectares of land required, all the extra water consumed, the extra energy burned, and the extra chemicals applied to grow the requisite amount of feed to produce 327m tonnes of meat....
Link via 3 Quarks Daily

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

No Diebold here. Maybe.

Here in NE Pennsylvania at least one county is balking at switching over to computer voting machines. For as long I’ve lived here (20 years) we’ve used lever voting machines. I’m no expert on voting machines (I’m for paper ballots) and I don’t know if these machines are easy to rig. Though they make it tough to cast a write in, they are pretty easy to understand and there's always a volunteer hovering nearby in case you get confused.

The county supervisors balk at the expense of replacing perfectly serviceable lever machines and also cite public opposition to machines that don’t provide a paper record.

The commissioners passed a resolution last month formally accepting $630,000 in federal funds, funneled through the state, as part of the Help America Vote Act. Some estimates place total cost of replacing Monroe's 120 lever machines at $1.2 million, with the county expected to cover nearly half the total.

Voting jurisdictions throughout the U.S. are being told to replace older voting machines with new machines employing computer technology. The legislation was prompted by voting irregularities in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, including confusing punch ballots that resulted in "hanging chads" that were only partially removed by voters.

"I believe it was a knee-jerk reaction to that situation," Monroe County Commissioner Bob Nothstein says of the voting machine replacement mandate. "Our machines work fine."

Monroe County has used the same pull-lever machines for several years. The commissioners announced more than a year ago that they won't allocate any county money for buying the new machines. Monroe is the only county in the state to take such a stand.

The commissioners believe, however, that the $630,000 grant may be sufficient to replace its voting machines without the need for additional funding. One option being explored is to lease the new machines.

"We have no idea if additional money will be needed or not," said Commissioners Chairwoman Donna Asure. "Until we know what a lease option will cost us ..." Link

Asure said many residents have e-mailed the commissioners in opposition to use of new computer voting machines, particularly machines that don't provide a paper receipt acknowledging that each voter's ballot was recorded.
I’m sure Santorum longs for lots of new, Republican favoring Diebold voting machines with preprogrammed outcomes.