redsock link grab-bag

In an attempt to clear up a backlog of links hanging around my inbox, I forwarded the whole thing to Allan... who sat on it for a while... then put together this grab-bag of links. Maybe you will find something useful or interesting among them. - L.

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Here is a round-up of some older stuff (my emphasis throughout):

Back in July, Tim Shorrock of Salon reported on still more illegal activities by the Bush/Cheney cabal.

The last several years have brought a parade of dark revelations about the George W. Bush administration, from the manipulation of intelligence to torture to extrajudicial spying inside the United States. But there are growing indications that these known abuses of power may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Salon has also uncovered further indications of far-reaching and possibly illegal surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency inside the United States under President Bush. ... "If we know this much about torture, rendition, secret prisons and warrantless wiretapping despite the administration's attempts to stonewall, then imagine what we don't know," says a senior Democratic congressional aide who is familiar with the proposal and has been involved in several high-profile congressional investigations.

An article in Radar magazine in May, citing three unnamed former government officials, reported that "8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect" and, in the event of a national emergency, "could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and even detention."

Washington Post, October 7, 2008:
The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

Also from July: Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) said she recently visited a Veterans Affairs hospital in the Los Angeles area, where women told her horror stories of being raped in the military: "My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military."

Here are several stories about the US's broken election system:

Wired, September 17, 2008:
Electronic voting machines have been the focus of much controversy the last few years. But another election technology has received little scrutiny yet could create numerous problems and disenfranchise thousands of voters in November, election experts say.

This year marks the first time that new, statewide, centralized voter-registration databases will be used in a federal election in a number of states. ... But the databases, some created by the same companies that make electronic voting machines, aren't federally tested or certified and some have been plagued by missed deadlines, rushed production schedules, cost overruns, security problems, and design and reliability issues.

After this article was posted at the Democratic Underground message board and one commenter noted that the Social Security Administration has admitted there is a 28.5% error rate between its database and voter-registration records, another poster said:
"That error rate is large on purpose. I'm a database programmer. This is a new way of creating "Purge lists" like they did in Florida. The company (GOP run, of course) would use the vaguest criteria to generate a list of "felons" who were not allowed to vote. Instead of doing an EXACT match on First Name, Middle Name, Last Name and Social Security Number, these clowns would do something like match using Last Name, First 3 Letters of First Name and no Social Security Number. So felon "Joseph J Brown" = citizen "Joseph R Brown" = citizen "Josephine Brown" and neither regular citizen is allowed to vote. Get it? Using SSN alone would have been fairly precise, right? These folks aren't trying to be accurate, they are trying to prevent as many people from voting as possible.

From Wisconsin, September 13, 2008:
A lawsuit filed by the state attorney general Wednesday has the potential to slow down voting lines in what promises to be a staggering turnout for the Nov. 4 election, local voting officials said. "It will disenfranchise voters. That's what we're concerned about," City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, filed the lawsuit Monday in Dane County Circuit Court to get ineligible voters off the rolls. ...

The progressive group One Wisconsin Now called on Van Hollen to recuse himself from any legal action connected to the general election because his role as GOP presidential candidate John McCain's statewide campaign co-chair constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

Wired, October 7, 2008:
A month of primary recounts in the election battleground of Palm Beach County, Florida, has twice flipped the winner in a local judicial race and revealed grave problems in the county's election infrastructure, including thousands of misplaced ballots and vote tabulation machines that are literally unable to produce the same results twice.

New York Times, October 9, 2008:
Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states [Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina] have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times.

Does the Diebold Corporation decide elections?

VR has an exclusive interview with former Diebold contractor Chris Hood that talks about many disturbing actions by Diebold during prior elections, including illegal, uncertified and unreported patches, and improper feeding of tabulation results by Diebold Chief Bob Urosevitch. This interview was prepared for a major news program special that was supposed to air two weeks before the 2006 midterm election. At the last moment, however, the special was killed by the corporate media. Check out this important ten minute interview.

Also: St. Petersburg Times, October 7, 2008:
Constantly under the watchful eyes of security, the media wasn't permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park to talk to Sarah Palin supporters. ... When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn't allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written.

Wal-Mart Mocks, Sues Burn Victim: In 2002, Justin Howerton, 12, suffered third-degree burns over more than half of his body while using a defective gas can his mother had purchased from Wal-Mart. After Lori Howerton sued Wal-Mart and the gas can manufacturer (a device installed on the can's nozzle for less than a dollar could have prevented the accident), Wal-Mart not only filed a countersuit against the Howertons, but company executives were filmed making fun of Justin's accident. (This is business as usual for Wal-Mart: see this and this.)

Progressive Conservative Alberta Senator Elaine McCoy contradicted Stephen Harper's claim that a carbon tax would contribute to a recession. McCoy noted that the 2007 report by Natural Resources Canada (that is, Harper's own government) states that a carbon tax would have minimal negative impact economically, and in fact, would increase the GDP after 2015. [I know this was big news when it came out, but I was pleased to find myself on Elaine McCoy's email list. - L.]

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