Friday, October 31, 2008

In-State Tuition for DREAMers in Texas is under fire again

A Halloween treat from State Representative Leo Berman.  

Mr. Berman is well known as a reactionary anti-immigrationist.  He has proposed a move to repeal Texas' In-State Tuition for DREAMers.

see link to law professors letter below Chronicle article

Texas lawmaker challenges in-state tuition law
Houston Chronicle
October 31, 2008

A state lawmaker has requested an attorney general's opinion on the constitutionality of a Texas law that allows illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates in light of a recent California court ruling.

State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, formally requested the opinion from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on Sept. 18 -- three days after a California appellate court allowed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of California's in-state tuition law to move forward.

"We are not giving in-state tuition to everybody in Texas ... so we're in direct violation of U.S. law," Berman said. "We have a lot of students from around the world going to school here in Texas on student visas who are here legally. They either pay out of-state tuition or international tuition, while if you're here illegally, you pay in-state tuition. We're rewarding people who are violating our laws, and we're penalizing people who are here legally."

Legal experts said the Texas opinion request is premature. Supporters of the state law, passed in 2001, said Berman is playing politics with a case that may never affect Texas.

The California lawsuit was filed in 2005 by a group of out-of-state parents and students who alleged they were being charged higher tuition and fees than illegal immigrants. A lower court dismissed the lawsuit,but an appeals court in Sacramento ruled Sept. 15 that the case could move forward. The state's Supreme Court will now decide whether to hearthe case.

Professors respond

Michael Olivas, a University of Houston law professor who specializes in higher education and immigration law, filed a letter on Thursday with Abbott's office in response to Berman's request. The letter, signed by Olivas and six immigration lawyers and law professors, said the case is still being litigated in California and any opinion would be premature.

The letter also argued that the Texas statute is constitutional under state and federal law.

"I think Representative Berman is simply making mischief," Olivas said. "Texas would never be bound by anything a state court in California did. They're different statutes. They're different states. They have different residency statutes. And in our system, one state is not bound by what another state does in the state court system..."


Piolin is voting

Piolin is the guy who helped organize the gigantic march in Los Angeles in Spring 2006.  The size of his audience is astounding, he has 28 million listeners in 23 states! .....He is now an American citizen and plans to vote-  see this interview by the Washington Post.  AP photo by Damian Dovarganes.
Washington Post - Interactive
October 31, 2008
video haiku:  the campaign in moments

Candidates love to court, and all voters are potential lovers.  Why not some Latino love?  Barack Obama to Latinos:  "You hold this election in your hands."  Sarah Palin to Latinos:  Meet the new Jose the Plumber, Tito el constructor.  John McCain and Obama to Laitnos:  Live interviews with Tweety Bird.

Not the Oscar-winning cartoon character, Tweety Bird.  The Spanish-Language morning radio sensation, Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo.  That Tweety Bird...

The Other Piolin (Piolin means Tweety Bird in Spanish):

link to cartoon image

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Former manager at Iowa slaughterhouse arrested

By NIGEL DUARA, Associated Press Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008
(10-30) 15:15 PDT Cedar Rapids, Iowa (AP) --
San Francisco Chronicle

A former manager of a kosher slaughterhouse that was found to have employed hundreds of illegal immigrants was arrested Thursday by authorities who allege he helped many of the workers get fake documents.

Prosecutors said Sholom Rubashkin, 49-year-old son of Agriprocessors owner Abraham Aaron Rubashkin, is charged with conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants for financial gain, aiding and abetting document fraud, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft.

Immigration agents said in a federal affidavit that one witness said Sholom Rubashkin gave him $4,500 to buy identification documents for illegal-immigrant workers. Another allegedly said Rubashkin saw nothing wrong with hiring a group of workers who had new-looking resident alien cards and might have been fired from the Agriprocessors plant in Postville just two days earlier... more

POISON! High Fructose Corn Syrup

"people who drank two or more sugary sodas a day were at 40 percent higher risk for kidney damage, while the risk for women soda drinkers nearly doubled."  NYT

Just this month, researchers from Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago took a look at the link between kidney disease and high-fructose corn syrup. Using data from nearly 9,400 adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2004, they tracked consumption of sugary soft drinks, a major source of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States, and protein in the urine, a sensitive marker for kidney disease. They found that overall, people who drank two or more sugary sodas a day were at 40 percent higher risk for kidney damage, while the risk for women soda drinkers nearly doubled.

In June, the Journal of Hepatology suggested a link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in sodas and fatty liver disease.

And this summer, a small study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that fructose may make people fatter by bypassing the body’s regulation of sugars, which means it gets more quickly converted to fat than do other sugars.

Many scientists hypothesize that high-fructose corn syrup has contributed to rising obesity rates, although others say there is no solid evidence to support the theory. The corn refiners agree, dedicating a Web site to the “sweet surprise” of high-fructose corn syrup. more
 click here to order the tee-shirt  

Just because you aren't a citizen doesn't mean you don't care about who wins

Unable to vote, noncitizen immigrants volunteer

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 30, 2008; 3:06 PM

-- From Florida to California, they're working hard on the upcoming election _ knocking on doors in ethnic neighborhoods, manning the phones in myriad languages and distributing political flyers. But come Tuesday, they won't vote. They can't: They're not citizens.

The excitement that has made American voter registration numbers soar has trickled deep into the country's immigrant population. But almost two-thirds of the 37.5 million foreign-born people in the United States have not taken the oath of allegiance, and are shut out from casting a ballot.

Non-citizen immigrants, legal or not, are putting their time and their effort where their vote would be.

"There are a lot of people who want to be voters one day, but it can take a lot of time," said Kishan Putta, national director of Indians for McCain. "They do want to get involved. They're calling, wanting to participate."

Voting Machine Problems in 8 Texas Counties

Be careful when you vote straight ticket...

Problems with electronic voting machines in these Texas Counties
Collin, Brazoria, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, and Palo Pinto.

Texas Voters Urged to Avoid Straight-Party Option, After Vote-Flip Complaints
By Kim Zetter October 29, 2008 | 3:21:43 PMCategories: E-Voting, Election '08
A number of voters in several Texas counties have been complaining that voting machines they used to cast early votes flipped their votes from Democratic choices to Republican ones.

Voters have reported that when they tried to vote a straight-party Democratic ticket, the machine flipped their choices to Republican candidates instead. In some cases, voters reported a problem only with the presidential race; in other cases voters reported the entire ballot being marked Republican by the machine.
The counties where the problems were reported use different kinds of voting machines from three of the top voting machine companies -- Election Systems & Software, Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions) and Hart InterCivic...


The Question of Media Bias

Media bias is something that could be written about forever and ever.  For one thing, being that reporters are human, nothing they say, no matter how hard they try could be totally objective.  Even so...  sometimes they could make more effort... like in letting people know that Obama is a Christian, and that it's not a bad thing to be Muslim...

See Why McCain is getting hosed in the press October 29, 2008

Reader Responses Overflow After Story

When Politico editors John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei tackled the subject of media bias Tuesday, they knew they were venturing into controversial territory.

Still, they hadn't predicted the most intense reader response Politico has ever received, with hundreds of e-mails pouring into their inboxes within hours of the story hitting the web.

Some of the messages were downright hostile.

"Keep up the crappy work and your rationalization for it," one reader wrote.

"John," another commenter wrote to Harris, "I bet you['re] glad that the Wellstone Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 passed as it assures you and your associates proper treatment for the delusional state [you] are in regarding media bias and the Obama campaign."

Some readers were more articulate in challenging the article's contention that much of the rough treatment Sen. John McCain's campaign has received has stemmed from his campaign's unsteady performance, rather than ideological bias.

For some readers, that explanation misses the point. It's not just that reporters are relaying McCain's missteps, they say. It's that they're scrutinizing his tactics and policies more carefully than Obama's.

"Politico devotes zero serious investigative reporting or analysis of Obama's relationships with Ayers, Rezko, Wright, et al.; produces half a dozen stories on the personal life of Joe the Plumber," one reader charged, "obsesses over the cost of Palin's wardrobe yet buries Biden's numerous controversial statements including his prediction that Obama's election will produce foreign crises."

Politico has in fact devoted substantial coverage to Obama's controversial associations, and managing editor Bill Nichols just produced an extended analysis of Biden's lack of discipline. Still, this reader wasn't alone in his complaint that the press in general, and Politico in particular, has been more inclined to turn a skeptical eye to the GOP than to the Dems.

"Sometimes not saying something is just as damning as what you do say," one reader wrote. "I am disturbed by the fact that one part[y]'s VP has had more backgrou[n]d reported on them than the opposite party's lead candidate."

"McCain's campaign, especially Palin, has gotten a lot more criticism from the media on these investigative pieces, where they dig into Palin's past," another said. "Despite there being glaring gaps in the biography of Obama regarding his upbringing, his state senate activity, his academic writings and lectures, his legal clients, his tactics, associations, and advocacies as a community organizer, none of this seems to have been investigated by the mainstream media."

This reader added: "I personally think that one of the reasons these fringe, right-wing conspiracies about Obama being a Muslim, socialist, foreigner, etc. are flourishing because the media has not documented Obama's history well enough to disprove the crazy theories."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Harris County Sheriff's Office Moves Ahead and Moves Behind

Turns out that the Harris County Sheriff's Office was using jailers as immigration officers without the permission of the Commissioners Court.  So they stopped, but it was announced that the program could resume within once it is approved.

Most significantly, the Sheriff's office is now the first in the country to be using a state of the art fingerprint system that will give jailers information regarding the suspects citizenship or residency status.  What an honor - or insult.  Lets hope the computer doesn't make mistakes.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office has suspended a program that allowed local jailers to perform the duties of an immigration officer because Commissioners Court never authorized its implementation, a county official said today.

Commissioner Steve Radack said the Sheriff's Office plans to put the matter on the agenda for Tuesday's court meeting and could resume the program immediately after an affirmative vote...

On Monday, ICE announced that the Sheriff's Office had become the first local law enforcement agency in the nation to test an automated fingerprint check system that gives jailers full access to suspects' immigration history.

The new program provides a seamless and simultaneous check of immigration and criminal history by linking the FBI's database with DHS's database, known as IDENT (the Automated Biometric Identification System), officials said Monday.

Commissioners Court did not have to sign off on the implementation of that program, and it will continue, Martin said.

Senator Cornyn and the Arab Invasion

These days I'm working on an essay about U.S. Bill 4437, the very nasty anti-immigration bill that was passed in the Congress in late 2005.  

As the Republicans were preparing for their fight on the floor - they were holding press conferences and secret meetings.  One of the more interesting events was a press conference held by Senator Cornyn on November 21, 2005.  He told Human Events Online that he had found evidence of Al Qaeda's presence near Laredo, Texas.  

Must have been an exciting day for him.
Human Events Online

November 21, 2005 Monday 5:09 PM EST

Exclusive Tex. Senator Shown Evidence of Arab Personal Effects at Mexican Border

Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.), chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizen-ship, told HUMAN EVENTS he has seen anecdotal evidence of Arabic belongings--including juice boxes with Arabic writing and an image of a plane hitting a building--that were discovered in Larado, Tex., near the Mexican bor-der.Cornyn, one of the key players in the ongoing debate over immigration reform, said he learned of the discoveries when he was shown pictures of them by a government official.When asked why the White House wouldn't make such information publicly available--particularly in light of the threat of al Qaeda--Cornyn said it's a matter of intelligence...

link to photo

About Voting Problems

For Immediate Release
October 28, 2008
Contact: Jonathan Godfrey
Lillian German

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Brady, and respective Subcommittee Chairs Jerrold Nadler and Zoe Lofgren today sent correspondence to each state’s secretary of state regarding voting issues. Below is an exerpt. Entire text of the letter is linked by a Scribd file.

"Several voting issues have surfaced across the country ranging from schemes to challenge voters based on their home foreclosure status to allegations of illegal purges of tens of thousands of eligible voters based on undeliverable mail and conflicting database information." House Judiciary Committee, October 28, 2008

click arrow pointing down for options such as enlarging text

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The men on the cruise ships fell in love with Sarah Palin

The New Yorker has a great article on how Sarah Palin met some real insider Washington pundits long before she was nominated for Vice President. The names are familiar....Dick Morris, Bill Kristol, Michael Gerson.

Two cruise ships brought these journalists to Alaska... They met Palin, and fell in love with her! Interesting that there seemed to be no women journalists on the trip.

Below are excerpts from the article...

...Fred Barnes [magazine’s executive editor and the co-host of “The Beltway Boys,” a political talk show on Fox News] recalled being “struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.” It didn’t escape his notice, too, that she was “exceptionally pretty.”

...Jay Nordlinger, a senior editor at National Review, had a more elemental response. In an online column, he described Palin as “a former beauty-pageant contestant, and a real honey, too. Am I allowed to say that? Probably not, but too bad.”

...[Dick] Morris wrote, “I will always remember taking her aside and telling her that she might one day be tapped to be Vice-President, given her record and the shortage of female political talent in the Republican Party. She will make one hell of a candidate, and hats off to McCain for picking her.”Fred Barnes recalled being “struck by how smart Palin was, and how unusually confident. Maybe because she had been a beauty queen, and a star athlete, and succeeded at almost everything she had done.”Michael Gerson called her “a mix between Annie Oakley and Joan of Arc.”

...[Bill] Kristol predicted on “Fox News Sunday” that “McCain’s going to put Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, on the ticket.” He described her as “fantastic,” saying that she could go one-on-one against Obama in basketball, and possibly siphon off Hillary Clinton’s supporters. He pointed out that she was a “mother of five” and a reformer. “Go for the gold here with Sarah Palin,” he said...

...On July 22nd, ...on Fox, Kristol referred to Palin as “my heartthrob.” He declared, “I don’t know if I can make it through the next three months without her on the ticket.”As Jack Fowler, National Reviews publisher... said, “This lady is something special. She connects. She’s genuine... more

link to photo

U.S. says attack on Syria was to kill Syrian Smuggler

US admits raiding Syria to kill terrorist leader

By Patrick Cockburn
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
London Independent

Senior US officials claimed last night that the head of a Syrian network responsible for smuggling foreign fighters, weapons and cash into Iraq had been killed in Syria during a raid by US special forces that sparked strong condemnation from Damascus.

The Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Moualem said the raid had killed eight civilians and was an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression." Speaking at a news conference in London, he warned that Damascus would defend itself against any such future attack...


Immigration is a secret in the presidential election

Why don't McCain and Obama Talk about the Working Class

link to mp3

excerpt of transcript:

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you about another part of the working class, the other part of the working class that’s gotten no attention: immigrants, the undocumented immigrants in the country. It seems that there’s been almost an unwritten agreement among both candidates and the media not to ask Obama or McCain about their immigration policies since the primaries. Once the primaries were over, the debate is over, in terms of the national debate. Your sense?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: It’s really quite interesting that that’s true. I didn’t expect that. I thought that the immigration question would be really a much larger one. Of course, McCain has a fairly liberal view towards immigration in the sense that he doesn’t want to just expel everybody and lock them all up.

AMY GOODMAN: So much so that Lou Dobbs of Fox, they were calling him “Juan McCain.”

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Is that right? Well, you know, you have a situation there where maybe there’s not that big of a difference, and these candidates have decided and their campaigns have decided that that’s just too much of a third rail, and it’s too emotional, and it’s too crazy, and they’re just not going to get into it.

JUAN GONZALEZ: For both campaigns.

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Yeah. They don’t need to get into it. And each has enough in them in their backgrounds and in their programs that Lou Dobbs and that whole militant anti-immigrant crowd is going to be dissatisfied with both of them, so why get into it?

JUAN GONZALEZ: But there is the issue of, will they continue to build a wall? Will they continue to prosecute, to have the raids that they’re—the massive raids that are going on?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Yeah, but you can’t get into those questions with them without opening the whole question of immigration. I think what they’ve done is they’ve decided they’re just not going to talk about the whole question of immigration, and then we can only be left to guess what will they actually do.

You know, I will say that in the immigration situation, whatever happens, we want to make sure that there isn’t a two-tier labor force that we have in this country, where the immigrants, in whatever form they’re here, as guest workers or in whatever guise we sort of allow them to come into America, that they are some second-class labor citizen. That, I think we really have to be very careful about.

And I will say, about the Employee Free Choice Act that Steve Early was talking about before, it’s a very, very important thing. On the other hand, I’m concerned that a Democratic administration in Congress is going to give the labor movement an Employee Free Choice Act—

AMY GOODMAN: Which means…?

MICHAEL ZWEIG: Which means that the principal legislative agenda item for the labor movement, to make it easier to organize unions, will be enacted, probably quite early. And then, the labor movement is going to be told, “You go organize your workers, and don’t bother us anymore with any other questions, because now we have serious business to attend to and all the rest of the agenda of the government.” And labor is going to be cut out in issues of the war in Iraq or in Afghanistan, in issues of the reconstruction of the banking regulations, in issues of housing and all the other items that are so very important to working people in this country. The labor movement is going to get its piece in the Employee Free Choice Act, and in much the same way that the Clinton administration gave labor the employee Family Leave Act—unpaid, but still a Family Leave Act in 1993. It was a very important thing. But that was pretty much the end of labor’s agenda in the Clinton years. And the rest of it was devoted to deregulating the financial industry and ending welfare as we know it. And so, I’m a little concerned that we are going to be in a situation where we put so much weight on the Employee Free Choice Act that we are going to be left aside in the other deliberations.

STEVEN GREENHOUSE: I see something—

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Greenhouse?

STEVEN GREENHOUSE: —things somewhat differently from Mike. I think the unions are playing their hand pretty well this election. They are going all out to help Obama, and clearly, you know, if Obama is elected, they’re going to expect him to implement some of the things they’re pushing for. And they’re pushing for three things at once. One is this Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to unionize. Second, they’re pushing very, very, very hard for economic stimulus, which dovetails with what a lot of liberal Democrats want anyway. And third, they’re pushing very, very hard for universal health coverage, and that’s something Obama has promised. So I think they’ll feel very, very angry if Obama says, “We gave you Employee Free Choice Act, and we’re going to ignore you on other things.” The other things they’re pushing for are the very things that many, many Democrats are pushing for.

AMY GOODMAN: Last word. You have thirty seconds, Steve Early.

STEVE EARLY: I think it’s overly optimistic to assume that the Employee Free Choice Act, expanding the right to organize in this country, is going to sail through the new Congress. You look back at the history of labor law reform efforts over the last thirty years, under Clinton and Carter, a lot of disappointment and a record of failure. It’s going to take a tremendous grassroots movement, now and then, by organized workers to keep the pressure on Obama and the Democrats to make this long overdue change so that workers can organize more freely without management interference. It’s not a done deal. And I think Obama would prefer to avoid a knockdown, drag-out fight with corporate America over this issue right out of the box.

AMY GOODMAN: Steve Early, I want to thank you for being with us. Steve Early, Boston-based labor journalist. Steven Greenhouse with the New York Times, his book, The Big Squeeze. And Michael Zweig, joining us from State University of New York, Stony Brook, he is the head of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life at SUNY, Stony Brook, his book, What’s Class Got to Do with It?


Monday, October 27, 2008

A personal report on early voting

Those machines....

It sort of reminds me of using an ATM, but much more confusing.  When I saw all I the buttons I had to push, I became rather uncomfortable.  All I could remember was those stories of switched votes, I thought for a minute I would just vote straight ticket.  I decided against that because I don't like to blanket vote for people I never heard of.  But I found out later that my husband chose the easy route when he voted later in the day, I certainly don't blame him.

I voted in a Latino neighborhood that is heavily immigrant.  There were no lines, but then I went at 10 am.  The people were friendly and helpful.  There weren't any campaign workers outside to bother me.

It is very bothersome that there is no paper trail on my vote.  I can't imagine why it would be so difficult for the designer of the machines to have added that on.  After all, ATMs give receipts, those new digital parking meters, and cash registers...  I held on to my number, 6001, but then, what good will it do, the number doesn't say who I voted for, just in case my vote gets lost.

For those who have attention deficit, are dyslexic, and are not technologically minded, these little machines could be a nightmare.   

Plot uncovered in Tennessee - had planned to kill Obama

Just a reminder that some white people do hate black people.

US election: Youths' plot to kill 102 black people and Obama uncovered

* Elana Schor in Washington
* Monday October 27 2008 21.25 GMT

Law enforcement officers have foiled a plot by two neo-Nazis who aimed to assassinate Barack Obama before killing 102 other black people, according to court records unsealed today.

The disrupted plot involved robbing a gun store to obtain weapons that the two skinheads would use against Obama and black students in the state of Tennessee, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), a US law enforcement agency.

ATF agents confiscated five guns from the two perpetrators, 20-year-old Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tennessee, and 18-year-old Paul Schlesselman of West Helena, Arkansas. Both are being held without bail by authorities.

"They said that would be their last, final act, that they would attempt to kill Senator Obama," Jim Cavanaugh, the special agent in charge of the ATF's Nashville office, told the Associated Press.

"They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."

Although the perpetrators were doubtful of their ability to carry out their grisly plans, the plot risks stoking the simmering cauldron of racial uncertainty that Obama has faced in rural areas of the US.

Even as polls show his support among white voters reaching a record high for a Democratic candidate, workers for the Obama campaign have confronted the legacy of prejudice in the south and Appalachian areas.

Obama campaign offices in several states have been defaced with racist graffiti, and door-to-door canvassers have shared reports of voters making prejudiced remarks about the candidate.

Three men were detained two months ago during the Democratic convention in Denver after discussing a plot to kill Obama, but prosecutors did not deem that incident a credible threat.

The two neo-Nazis chose 102 as the number of victims for their plot based on numerology that is significant to white supremacists. They are facing charges of unregistered firearm possession, conspiracy to steal firearms from a licensed gun dealer, and making threats to a candidate for president.

Do Not Eat A Cheeseburger to Have Healthy Hair

This article from CNN states that cheeseburgers have ingredients that are good for your hair. I wonder if they were paid by McDonalds.  Eating cheeseburgers is one reason so many Americans now have diabetes (or will have it in their lifetime) and why so many of us are obese.  Find another way to make your hair healthy.

Calories in Big Mac Cheeseburger
from Calorie Count

Serving Size 1 sandwich (258.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories  704
Calories from Fat 393

Total Fat 43.7g
based on a 2000 calorie per day diet
among other tips, CNN gives this one!

Grab a cheeseburger

Here's a reason to enjoy eating a burger even more: your hair! This cheeseburger is loaded with just-right nutrients: iron, zinc, B vitamins (in the meat), calcium (the cheese), the antioxidant lycopene (the tomato), biotin (the lettuce), and niacin (the bun)

On Wasted Talent

It is like the more that some of us do not want to question our motivation, midterm times and late night papers pushes one to question that motivation. We have all been there... where does all this study time go to? What am I going to do with it?

Well, it is going somewhere I tell you, and so will many other DREAMers.

Until the US Government truly acknowledges that by not passing the DREAM Act, there is a high number of WASTED TALENT, the Migration Policy Institute published a Great Report on Brain Waste. This reports gives statistics on educated immigrants living in the United States currently performing unskilled jobs; that is, wasted talent.

In the meantime, a few words of encouragement from Jeff Duncan Andrade on the definite dozen: BE RELENTLESS, never, ever give up!

More on the definite dozen, a twelve step encouragement program from Duncan Andrade:

1. Be responsible (To yourself, to your family, to your community, to our world)
2. Be respected, be respectful (Respect yourself, Demand that others respect you. Respect others.)
3. Be honest (Leaders don't make excuses, they make improvements)
4. Be loyal (Stand alongside those who have the least)
To discipline your Revolutionary State of Mind:
5. Work (Everyday, everywhere)
6. Study (To study is a revolutionary duty)
7. Character over reputation (Character is who you are when no one else is looking. Reputation is who other people say you are)
8. Believe (Doubters never win, revolutionaries never doubt)
To build a successful revolution:
9. Be self-critical (No revolution is complete without a culture of self-improvement. There is no culture of self-improvement without a culture of self-reflection)
10. Acknowledge the knowledge (Teach and be teachable)
11. Build with allies, Influence the enemy (Execute the 5 phases: identify, analyze, plan, implement, evaluate)
12. Be relentless (Never, ever give up)

U.S. attack in Syria

link to video

Democracy Now
October 27, 2008

US Troops Carry Out Deadly Attack in Syria

US forces attacked a farm in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border on Sunday, reportedly killing eight civilians. Syria’s official news agency said four US helicopters crossed into Syria carrying the US troops. The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned what it described as as act of aggression. The attack is believed to mark the first time that US troops have launched an attack inside Syria since the start of the Iraq war. The Bush administration has accused Syria of not doing enough to stop anti-American forces from crossing the border into Iraq.

London Guardian
October 27, 2008

Eight killed in US raid on Syria

Damascus reacts with fury to what it says was a helicopter and special forces strike on its territory
The Syrian foreign minister today condemned the killing of eight civilians in a US raid as an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression".

Speaking at a press conference during a visit to London, Walid al-Moallem demanded a US investigation into the attack, which was launched from Iraq.

Moualem said eight unarmed civilians including three children were killed. But at the funerals of the victims today, an Associated Press photographer saw the bodies of seven men.

Moualem warned of military retaliation if there were future cross-border raids, saying: "If they do it again, we will defend our territory."

Washington has said it targeted foreign fighters in the raid.

Moualem said: "They [the US] know we stand against al-Qaida. We condemn their attacks against the Iraqi people."

"The Americans do it in the daylight … this means it is not a mistake, it's by blunt determination. For that, we consider this criminal and terrorist aggression."
for complete Guardian article click here

Too much salt= High Blood Pressure= Stroke= People die,0,5717753.story

Salt and high blood pressure: New concerns raised
Los Angeles Times

For years, Americans have heard, and largely ignored, urgings to cut salt intake to lower blood pressure. Some experts say it's time to get tough.
By Emily Sohn
October 27, 2008

Ah, salt. It gives personality to chips, balance to bread and flavor to scrambled eggs, guacamole, tomato sauce and just about everything else that comes in a can, jar or squeeze bottle. Salt is such a mealtime staple it can be hard to imagine life without a shaker on the table.

But as far back as the 1960s, physicians linked salt to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Today, more than 65 million Americans have hypertension -- repeatedly high blood pressure -- according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, and 59 million more have pre-hypertension, a level higher than normal that can also lead to health problems...more

link to photo

Take your video camera to the polls

In response to the ongoing reports of "vote switching" where our very reliable voting machines switch to McCain after many people have pressed Obama...

Take your video camera to the polls, and film yourself voting...

October 28, 2008

008.10.27 • 06:00 EDT
Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far
I noted in passing last week that West Virginia has had the distinct honor of being the first state in the union to report problems (surprise! surprise!) with its electronic voting systems. There are now also reports that similar problems have been happening in Tennessee and Texas as well. No doubt these won't be the last.

So what exactly has happened? Largely, the problem has been what's been dubbed "vote flipping" or "vote switching" -- which is exactly what it sounds like. According to a report by my buddy Scott Finn over at West Virginia Public Broadcasting from late last week:

Voters in at least two West Virginia counties -- Jackson and Putnam -- say electronic voting machines are switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

The two county clerks, both Republicans, say they don't think there's a problem. But these voting problems have gotten the attention of everyone from CNN to liberal website The Huffington Post.

So far, eight voters from Jackson and Putnam counties have come forward to say their electronic voting machines kept changing their votes from Democrats to Republicans -- usually, from Obama to McCain....

Sunday, October 26, 2008

White People Don't All Look Alike

In today's NYT's Frank Rich published an interesting piece about how not all white people are racists.  He believes the McCain campaign has been promoting this idea (along with the media).  Well there are lots of folks that believe white people wouldn't vote for a Black man- my Dad told me that early on.  But now he has an Obama sign in his front yard... so I guess he worked things out and thinks his white friends have too.

While many of us say that America is still very racist (which in many ways is true) - there are actually white people out there who really try not to be that way.  Of course we all have our prejudices - none of us are Mother Teresa.  But things are in no way similar to how they were 30 years ago.  Of course there are still lots of white people who mistrust Black people (or any group of color for that matter)- if that wasn't true, the KKK wouldn't exist anymore.

But believe it or not there are some white people that at least make an effort.  Over the years I have learned that many times people say things out of ignorance.  They simply have the wrong information - we can thank the media for that.

And then there are all sorts of gradations of prejudice.  Some white people get along great with Black people, but couldn't imagine their kids marrying anyone of color.  Some white people don't think they have any prejudice in their bones but still say that "Mexicans are sneaking across the border" or use the term "illegal alien" -  (news flash--  the term is highly offensive).

These same people may be the ones who are lobbying Congress to stop the ICE raids.  

Its a confusing and complex world when it comes to race and ethnicity.  But Frank Rich has a point.  Not everybody is the same, and not everyone has the same prejudices.

In Defense of White Americans
New York Times
October 27, 2008
by Frank Rich

the... less noticed lesson of the year has to do with the white people the McCain campaign has been pandering to. As we saw first in the Democratic primary results and see now in the widespread revulsion at the McCain-Palin tactics, white Americans are not remotely the bigots the G.O.P. would have us believe. Just because a campaign trades in racism doesn’t mean that the country is racist. It’s past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America’s defense.

U.S. helicopters attack a Syrian village

The LA Times is saying that the U.S. did not deny the raid occurred.  What a time for this to happen,  nine days before the presidential election.

From the London Guardian
October 27, 2008

American military helicopters have tonight attacked an area along Syria's border with Iraq, causing casualties, according to reports on Syrian state TV and from witnesses.

The Syrian foreign ministry has tonight summoned the US charge d'affaires in Damascus to protest at the raid, which took place near the Syrian border town of Abu Kamal.

Local residents told the Associated Press by telephone that two helicopters carrying US soldiers raided a farm in Hwijeh village, 10 miles (17km) inside Syria's border.

An official Syrian spokesman confirmed eight people were killed in the attack.

Witnesses said five others were wounded; one of the witnesses said five of the dead were from a single family.

The residents refused to allow their names to be given because they feared they would be harassed by authorities.

The US military in Baghdad had no immediate comment...


Obama: the guy for the conservatives?

from the London Independent:

Andrew Keen: Conservative thoughts about Obama
October 27, 2008

Conservatives like the New York Times' David Brooks are thinking about Obama. And their thoughts are both very revealing and reassuringly confused. What Brooks - an authority on bourgeois bohemianism and a skilled archeologist of the human soul - isn't able to unearth is the slightest weakness, not even a chink in Obama's mental armor...

read more

Friday, October 24, 2008

More on violence during San Francisco ICE Raid

reports on violence during ICE raids has not made it to the media.  Reports of ICE raids in an effort to arrest gang members has made it to the papers, but no one else has mentioned that ICE officers destroyed a family's home.

see dreamacttexas post
"San Francisco ICE Raids - please distribute," October 24, 2008

Quezada, Community Leaders, Blast ICE Raids

From the campaign to elect Eric Quezada to District 9 Supervisor

October 22, 2008

A San Francisco immigrant family, reportedly all U.S. citizens, was raided and harassed at gunpoint Wednesday by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

By day’s end, as many as 17 Bay Area residences had been raided. Several people have been detained.

At 4:30 a.m., ICE officials broke down doors, tossed around family belongings, pointed their pistol at Julio Cesar Hernandez from just a meter away, and handcuffed the adults. Hernandez’ two children, aged 4 years and 7 months old, were traumatized by the raid.

In response, District 9 Supervisorial candidate Eric Quezada is teaming up with immigrant community leaders to mobilize legal and social resources for families victimized by the raids.

“Everybody has rights, whether they’re documented or not,” said Quezada, who has helped immigrant families with housing, legal, and employment assistance for years. “This harassment of families is shameful and must be strongly condemned by local leaders.”

Quezada called for swift implementation of a Municipal ID program to protect immigrants from violence and harassment and greater funding for legal and education services to help stabilize families.

“We need to strengthen the sanctuary ordinance,” Quezada said, “and we need to see some political courage from the mayor in these moments, to stand up for what’s right.”

“We need leaders who aren’t afraid of political fallout, to stand up for immigrant communities. We need city leaders who have consistently stood by immigrant communities, which are a lifeblood of our city’s culture and economy,” Quezada added.

“I have trembling in my heart,” Hernandez told immigrant rights attorney Mark Silverman. “I told them that I am a U.S. citizen. There were about 20 law enforcement people in the house. When I talked about my civil rights, one of them laughed.”

San Francisco Raids, Please Distribute

DREAM Act Texas received this message today and we felt the great need to translate part of it and make a stand that we are not going to tolerate this anymore!

On October 22nd of 2008, ICE raided 17 cities of San Francisco; in Bay View city, Tenderloin, and Mission.

The same day, El Movimiento por Una Ammistía Incondicional (MUA) and
ALDI, launched a meeting for a Rally for the next day, Octber 23rd, @ 430 PM.

This is the recording of Mr. Miguel Pérez de MUA

According to the preliminary reports, ICE agents acted in a brutal manner destroying at least a home and taking electronics from the family that lived in this house. Several of these homeowners are US citizens.

There are many questions that need answers as Mr. Perez mentioned. Details at the moment are not clear.

Miguel también habla de como esta clase de operativos, dan paso a
cobertura en los medios, especialmente las personas que tienen una
agenda preconcebida y que parece que se les pegó la aguja, como es
Jaxon Van Derbeken, Chronicle Staff Writer, este 'señor', parece que
se quiere especializar en cubrir noticias que de una forma ú otra
tienen que ver con imigrantes y los encabezados de sus reportes
siempre tienden a ser políticamente inflamatorios, como este ultimo
"MS-13 gang suspects arrested in Bay Area raids", en el mismo
artículo, reporta que también hubo redadas en Richmond y South San
Francisco, además de que Oficiales de la Policía de Richmond
asistieron a los agentes de ICE, la policía de South San Francisco
confirmaron que también hicieron lo mismo y de acuerdo con el vocero
del Alcalde Gavin Newson de SF, Nate Ballard, dijo que el SFPD a
trabajado con las autoridades Federales por años en el caso y que
"Están orgullosos del trabajo investigativo en el que nuestro
departamento de policía ha estado envuelto" (Mi única fuente sobre las
redadas en Richmond y SSF es este artículo - Espero confirmación)

Cabe mencionar, que este 'señor', no hace mencion alguna de los
métodos abusivos usados por Agentes de ICE, que se han descrito como

Estaremos pendientes de los pormenores de este caso, reportandolos en
cuanto sean de nuestro conocimiento, es de nuestra incumbencia y
responsabilidad, el reportar 'el otro lado de la moneda'

For more information please visit our friend at El Rinconcito de Aurora

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More on LOST Vietnam POWs

Democracy Now
link to mp3
October 23, 2008

Report: McCain Suppressed Info on Fellow Vietnam POWs Left Behind

We speak to Pulitzer-winning journalist Sydney Schanberg about how the “war hero” candidate Sen. John McCain buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam. Writing for The Nation magazine, Schanberg reveals that McCain “worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn’t return home.”

John McCain’s time as a POW during the Vietnam war is back at the center of attention with the release of a 1967 interview of him while he is bedridden and imprisoned in Vietnam. The interview by reporter Francois Chalais originally aired on French television in 1968. The French national audiovisual archive posted the interview on its website Wednesday and some of the footage was also picked up by the McCain campaign. The interview shows an emotional McCain describing how his aircraft was shot down while bombing Hanoi in 1967.

John McCain interview from 1967.

McCain’s years as a prisoner of war and his return home as a war hero have been a central part of his political image. But there"s another part of the story thats rarely been told. And that has to do with the POWs who were left behind in Vietnam and never released back to the United States.

An investigation by veteran journalist Sydney Schanberg reveals that McCain “worked very hard to hide from the public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike him, didn”t return home." Schanberg’s report was published in the October 6th issue of the Nation magazine. Its called “Why Has John McCain Blocked Info on MIAs?”

Sydney Schanberg, Veteran journalist who has written extensively on foreign affairs. He has won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for reporting on the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His latest article appeared in the October 6 issue of The Nation magazine. It’s about John McCain and the American prisoners of war left behind in Vietnam. It’s called Why Has John McCain Blocked Info on MIAs? . An expanded version is online at the Nation Institute website.

Serious Danger with new "Constitution free Zone" at US. Border

This is a serious development. Everyone needs to take note.

Expanding Border Powers Creating ‘Constitution-Free Zone’ That Covers Two-Thirds of Americans (10/22/2008)

CONTACT: (202) 675-2312;

WASHINGTON – The extraordinary powers of customs and border agents to invade the privacy of individuals at the U.S. border are spreading inland and creating what amounts to a “Constitution-free Zone” that covers fully two-thirds of the American population, the American Civil Liberties Union said today in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“The authorities can do things at the border that they could never do to citizens and residents inside our country under the Constitution,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Yet the government is asserting that some of these powers extend as far as 100 miles inside the actual border. It is a classic example of law enforcement powers expanding far beyond their proper boundaries – in this case, literally.”

At the press conference, the ACLU released a map showing the 100-mile “border region” claimed by the government, and cities and states that fall within it. The map, which was created using the latest census data, shows that fully two-thirds of the U.S. population, including 9 of the nation’s top 10 largest metro areas, is within the border zone.

“Americans and Washington policymakers may believe that this is a problem confined to the dusty sands of Arizona or Texas, or the San Diego-Tijuana border, but it stretches far inland across the United States,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program. “If allowed to stand, sooner or later a factory worker in southern New Hampshire, a farmer in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, or Joe the plumber outside Toledo, Ohio will find themselves trapped in a Constitution-free Zone.”

Also appearing at the press conference were two individuals who spoke about their personal experience with these overextended powers: San Diego music professor Craig Johnson, and Vince Peppard, a San Diego retiree who with his wife was stopped by the authorities on a road east of San Diego, at least 15 miles from the U.S. border. Peppard and his wife proved they were U.S. citizens but still found themselves subject to demands that they allow a search, interrogated, threatened and harassed.

“Now I’m actually feeling nervous when I’m going to work. . . that I might get pulled over by Border Patrol and asked, ‘where’s your passport?’” said Peppard, who appeared at the event via videotape. “And now – do I have to carry my passport with me when I go to Home Depot or something?”

“In the United States, citizens are not supposed to need an internal passport,” said Steinhardt. “This is our country and we are free to go where we please, without being stopped and interrogated by the authorities, as long as we are not behaving illegally or in a way that is clearly suspicious.”

“Police action is not the only way to fight for freedom,” said Fredrickson. “This is a classic case where Americans need to push back against their government to preserve the core freedoms that we have always enjoyed.”

An interactive version of the “Constitution-free Zone” map, a video of Vince Peppard, and other materials are available at:

# # #

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

$5,000 hairdo and make up for Palin- paid by the GOP!

There are so many more serious things to write about. And I have other things to do, like read the assignment I've given my students for tomorrow...

However, I couldn't resist this one on Palin... after I saw the $5,000....


Sarah Palin's $150,000 Wardrobe Malfunction?

Republican VP candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin at a campaign rally in Carson, California on October 4, 2008. Michael Robinson Chavez/Los Angeles Times. Sarah Palin, small-town hockey mom and everywoman? More like Sarah Palin, pampered princess. Jeanne Cummings at Politico reports that the RNC’s monthly financial disclosure reports reveal that the Republican National Committee has spent tens of thousands of dollars on the vice presidential candidate's wardrobe and accessories since she was nominated, including $150,000 in September alone.

So it seems you can take the girl out of the beauty pageant, but you can’t take the beauty pageant out of the girl.

Palin's clothes came from retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York, and expenses included nearly $5,000 for hair and makeup. Maybe this is actually her one-woman economic stimulus plan. Lord knows the retail sector needs it.

Still, voters must find it unfathomable for Palin, who has been presented as a woman “like us,” to spend that kind of money on clothes in these difficult financial times, to see her speaking so passionately about Joe the Plumber while plumbing campaign coffers for Valentino jackets and pencil skirts. And yet, they’ve eaten it up, tittering on chat sites about Palin’s Kawasaki eyeglass frames and her Naughty Monkey red peep-toe pumps. (See our earlier take on Gov. Palin's style here.)

Palin’s spokewoman is saying this is much ado about nothing, that we should be talking about more important issues. But can you imagine the outcry if it were revealed that Hilary Clinton’s rainbow of pantsuits was paid for by campaign contributions? Or if college kids’ $50 checks to the Biden/Obama campaign were putting those men in $5,000 custom suits? (Obama’s suits are by Hart Schaffner Marx out of Chicago, and cost in the $1,500 range.)

In Palin’s defense, being a woman in the public eye has its own kind of pressures. And it’s unlikely she has been stepping off the campaign trail to join the ladies who lunch for shopping sprees at Neimans. Instead, she is probably working with a wardrobe stylist, who brings her things to try on and choose from. But the issue of clothing and hair expenses has always been a land mine for politicians (John Edwards' $400 haircuts), and someone should have been sensitive to that.

You also have to wonder how it feels, as a woman, to have everyone know that you really have been dressed up and trotted out like a beauty queen for the American public to wag their tongues at. Caribou Barbie indeed.

-- Booth Moore, Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic

Non-European College Educated Immigrants Have a Harder Time

The Washington Post is saying that college educated immigrants (from non-European countries) are having trouble finding work... and the paper is not mentioning all the DREAMers who have degrees that cannot work in their fields.  If you add the DREAMers to the equation, the numbers are really high.

College-Educated Immigrants Struggle to Find Work

By N.C. Aizenman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 22, 2008; 10:36 AM

One out of every five college-educated immigrants in the United States is either unemployed or working in an unskilled job such as a dishwasher, fast food restaurant cashier or security guard, depriving the U.S. economy of the full potential of more than 1.3 million foreign-born workers, according to a study released today.

The plight of such immigrants is familiar to anyone who has gotten a ride from a Washington taxi driver with an engineering degree from Ethiopia or had their car parked by a garage attendant who used to practice law in El Salvador. However, the report by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute is the first to quantify the extent of the problem.

"This shows that immigrant brain waste is a reality -- that the challenge of integration is not restricted to unskilled workers, who have been the focus until now, and that a very high share of highly skilled immigrants are not progressing rapidly in the economy," said researcher Michael Fix, who co-authored the study with Jeanne Batalova.

Of particular concern, added Fix, was the finding that highly educated Latin American and African immigrants fare far worse than Europeans or Asians. Nearly half of recently arrived college-educated Latin Americans hold unskilled jobs. So do more than one-third of those who have been in the country for more than 10 years and have presumably had more time to learn English, make professional contacts and pass U.S. professional certification exams. And the lag persists even when only immigrants who are in the country legally are considered.

By contrast, well-educated European immigrants' employment patterns are virtually indistinguishable from their U.S.-born counterparts regardless of how long they have lived in the United States. Asian immigrants educated abroad do only slightly worse.

Though African immigrants are more likely to hold highly skilled jobs than Latin Americans, they have the highest unemployment rates of all foreign-born groups. During the 2005-2006 period, 6 percent of recently arrived, college-educated Africans and 4.1 percent of Africans with a U.S. degree were unemployed, compared with 2.6 percent of U.S.-born college graduates.

Fix said it's possible that discrimination against Latinos and Africans is a factor but that much of the gap can be explained by the differing language skills and immigration circumstances common to immigrants from each region.

For instance, highly skilled immigrants who can speak only limited English are twice as likely to work in an unskilled job as those who are proficient in English. And 44 percent of Latin Americans educated at foreign colleges speak English poorly or not at all compared with 32 percent of Europeans and 23 percent of Asians.

College-educated Africans have the best language skills of any group: Only 15 percent speak English poorly or not at all. But it appears that this benefit is swamped by a different disadvantage: Only 10 percent of the Africans are sponsored for entry by employers. Instead 42 percent are sponsored by family members and nearly a third come in through a government lottery program. And immigrants entering on such visas often lack the professional networks needed to find a job in their field.

This is also a challenge for college-educated Latin Americans, who are the least likely to be sponsored by employers -- with only 6 percent receiving such visas compared with 16 percent of Europeans and 35 percent of Asians.

"Studies show that up to 80 percent of Americans found their current job through networks formed during their university years or previous jobs," said Jane Leu, executive director of Upwardly Global, a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, San Francisco and Chicago that helps highly educated immigrants find work. "These immigrants just don't have that network -- they can't get introduced to companies."

Cultural barriers also play a role, said Leu, whose group links applicants with mentors in their field and offers interview training and help with resume preparation. Foreign-born job seekers often have difficulty engaging in the "self-promotion" and personal revelation required in many American job interviews, said Leu.

"A typical interview question is, 'Tell me about a time you made a mistake and how you learned from it,' " she said. "That's not a question asked in other countries. You don't talk about mistakes."

Well-educated refugees often face the highest hurdles because they lack even the cushion of family support and have little time to prepare for their move to the United States or look for work once they're arrived.

Vu Dang, director of the International Rescue Committee's Washington area refugee resettlement office, said this obstacle has proved particularly vexing to Iraqi refugees arriving in the region over the last several months. The refugees -- who include physicians, dentists, architects and accountants and who have often risked their lives to work with the U.S. military -- receive a three-month stipend from the U.S. government, at best. Many are given enough to cover expenses for one month.

"They come from successful backgrounds overseas and they have very high expectations about finding a similar job in the United States," said Dang. "So I and my staff members are the ones who have to acclimatize them to the reality that whatever they were in their home country is irrelevant -- they need to find a job right away just to pay their rent and those kind of jobs are going to be jobs in hotels and restaurants that pay a little bit over minimum wage."

While some of the difficulties faced by highly educated immigrants are inevitable, Fix and others suggest that the federal and state governments could do more to ease the way by providing more assistance with English classes, offering loans to offset the cost of studying for professional certification exams, and working to harmonize assessment systems so that foreigners' academic and professional credentials can be more easily recognized when appropriate.

"Unlike many issues in public policy this is a fairly easy problem to remedy," he said. And the benefits to the United States could be enormous. "We're essentially trying to take advantage of the human capacity financed by other countries."

Police getting ready for Election Day

92.5 WESC
Greenville, SC

Police Preparing For Election Day Unrest

"Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes," said Oakland Police Department spokesman Jeff Thomason.
Wednesday October 22, 2008

Campaign 2008: Get the latest news, video, and polls!

(UPI)  Police departments across the United States are beefing up plans to prepare for possible Election Day unrest after the historic presidential contest.

A stronger police presence will be necessary after voting ends with either the first black president -- Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama -- or the first female vice president -- Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- being elected, some police officials told The Hill.

Oakland, Calif., police plan to deploy extra traffic officers and riot-control units, as well as have SWAT teams on standby, the Washington political publication said Wednesday.

"Are we anticipating it will be a riot situation? No. But will we be prepared if it goes awry? Yes," said Oakland Police Department spokesman Jeff Thomason.

Democratic strategists and advocates for black voters say they understand the need for maintaining the peace, but warned that an excessive police presence could intimidate voters.

Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau, said a predicted record voter turnout could tax polling places and raise tensions.

"What are local election officials doing to prepare for what people think will be record turnout at the polls?" Shelton asked, adding that police must maintain order at polling stations without frightening voters.

thanks to D.B-S. for sending this along

Voter Suppression?

Democracy Now
October 22, 2008

link to mp3

Early Voting Sees Reports of Voter Intimidation, Machine Malfunctions

Early voting has begun, and problems are already emerging at the polls. In West Virginia, voters using touchscreen machines have claimed their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican. In North Carolina, a group of McCain supporters heckled a group of mostly black supporters of Barack Obama. In Ohio, Republicans are being accused of trying to scare newly registered voters by filing lawsuits that question their eligibility. We speak to NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller, author of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy. [includes rush transcript–partial]


Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media culture and communication at New York University. He is the author of several books, most recently Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. His previous book is called Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too.
Rush Transcript
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
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AMY GOODMAN: Just days after reports that six early voters in at least two West Virginia counties claimed their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican, a couple in Nashville, Tennessee reported similar problems with paperless voting machines. In West Virginia, one voter said, "I hit Obama, and it switched to McCain. I am really concerned about that. If McCain wins, there was something wrong with the machines.”

In Tennessee, a filmmaker couple also had difficulties casting their vote for the Democratic candidate, the Brad Blog reports. They had to hit the Obama button several times before it actually registered, and in one case it momentarily flipped from Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. Patricia Earnhardt said, “The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button.” The couple in Nashville were using machines made by the same company as those in the counties in West Virginia—by Election Systems and Software.

Meanwhile, there are reports of long lines at early voting sites in several other states, including some counties in Texas, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.

Mark Crispin Miller is a media critic who’s been focused on voter problems and election fraud in this country. He’s a professor at New York University, author of several books. Most recently he edited Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. His previous book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too.

Mark Crispin Miller now joins us in the firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: What are your concerns right now, Mark?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, you’ve referred to a couple of them already. We now see a burst of vote flipping by machines, electronic voting machines in a couple of states. This is something that we saw in at least eleven states in the 2004 election, hundreds and hundreds of people coming forward to say, “I pushed the button for Kerry, and the button for Bush lit up.” So, clearly, this was a systematic programming decision by the people in charge of the machines, which in that case and this one is the Republican Party. We’re also seeing systematic shortages of working voting machines in Democratic precincts only. This is also something that did not happen only in Ohio in 2004, but happened nationwide. That election was, in fact, stolen.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Well, I know because there’s been an audit of the vote in eighteen counties of Ohio by a researcher named Richard Hayes Phillips, who had his team literally scrutinize every single ballot that was warehoused in eighteen Ohio counties. They took over 30,000 digital photographs. This is not speculation, Amy. This is a meticulous, careful, specific and conclusive demonstration that John Kerry actually won some 200,000 votes in those eighteen counties only that were taken away from him. Bush’s official victory margin, you may recall, was about 118,000. So there is no question about it. Ohio was stolen.

AMY GOODMAN: When they—OK, so they have the pictures of all these—

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Pictures, there’s a CD with this book that you can—

AMY GOODMAN: But they have the pictures of the ballots.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Of the variously altered, mutilated ballots, yes. Ballots with stickers placed over the square that people had blacked in for Kerry/Edwards; somebody else blacks in Bush/Cheney. Thousands and thousands of ballots that were pre-marked before they were distributed, so that people would mark different boxes on them, and then they would be invalidated.

Even more chilling is the fact that after Phillips did his research, the boards of elections in fifty-five Ohio counties destroyed all or some of their ballots in defiance of a court order. So we have criminal behavior here of a kind of grand and systematic kind. But the point is—not to engage in what Sarah Palin calls finger-pointing backwards, the point here is to note that we’re dealing with a consistent pattern of subversive behavior by the Republican Party since 2000 and extending all the way up to the present. What we’re seeing now is an especially brazen and diverse range of dirty tricks and tactics that are being used both to suppress the vote and also to enable election fraud.

AMY GOODMAN: Ohio has been very much in the news this past week, not around the issue of voter suppression, but around the issue of fraudulent registration forms, the concern about them being handed in by the organization ACORN.

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah, the whole ACORN thing is a first-class propaganda drive. ACORN has done nothing wrong. ACORN has, however, been guilty of trying to register low-income citizens to vote. Because they’ve been in the sights of the Republican Party for several years now, they’ve always been extremely scrupulous about checking the registration forms that they garner from their volunteers.

You know, they pay people, basically, to register other voters. So, naturally, from time to time, some volunteer who wants the money will fill out a registration form, you know, with Mickey Mouse or the names of the Dallas Cowboys, something like that. Precisely because that is an ever-present possibility, the people at ACORN have always scrupulously checked the forms before submitting them.

And ten days ago, what they did was, in Las Vegas, their office in Las Vegas, they found a number of these suspicious forms, handed them over directly to the Secretary of State in Nevada, and his response was to turn around and say, “Aha! Here is evidence that you’re conspiring to commit voter fraud.” Now, that effort, that drive went from Nevada to Missouri to Ohio, and now we hear that the FBI is investigating ACORN.

The important point here, Amy, is that voter fraud is practically nonexistent. Several studies have taken a close look at this and found that there really is no voter fraud of this kind.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films has put out a new short film about ACORN and the attacks against them. Let me play an excerpt.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.

GOV. SARAH PALIN: John and I are calling on the Obama campaign to release communications it has had with this group and to do so immediately.

CARMEN ARIAS: These attacks on ACORN are part of a pattern of voter suppression that the GOP has been carrying on for a long time.

PAUL WEYRICH: They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been, from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections, quite candidly, goes up as the voting populace goes down.

ANDREW SULLIVAN: The McCain campaign has now two camps. And one of them is already assuming that he’s lost, and he’s aiming for the post-election warfare in the Republican Party, and part of that is the ACORN strategy, which is trying to delegitimize the result in advance, if Obama were to win, by saying it was rigged by minority voters. That’s what this is about.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Someone here keeps yelling “ACORN, ACORN.” Now, let me just say to you, there are serious allegations of voter fraud in the battleground states across America. They must be investigated.

NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: Let’s look at North Carolina. We turned in 28,000 applications in North Carolina, and there are investigations into four of them right now. Over 95 percent of the cards we turned in were error-free. So we’re talking about an extremely small percentage of the overall 1.3 million cards collected. To suggest that this is some kind of widespread criminal conspiracy is just absurd.

MONTAGE OF NEWSCASTERS: ACORN. ACORN. ACORN—is a left-wing—radical—extremist community group.

CARMEN ARIAS: This is hardly the first time that these Rove-style tactics have been used to suppress low-income minorities.

NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: They did it in 2000.

GREG PALAST: Voters were being removed from the registries by the Secretary of State, Katherine Harris.

NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: They did it in 2004.

UNIDENTIFIED: Evidence has emerged that in the last presidential election the Republican Party organized efforts to suppress the votes of active-duty military, low-income and minority voters by challenging their registrations. The Republicans put in motion a plan to hold down the Democratic vote in key battleground states. Many are convinced that Republican officials broke the law.

NATHAN HENDERSON-JAMES: And they’re doing it again right now.

CARMEN ARIAS: Suppressing the low-income minority voters can swing an entire election. A handful of improperly filled-out voter registration cards cannot.

AMY GOODMAN: That, an excerpt of a piece by Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films. Professor Mark Crispin Miller?

MARK CRISPIN MILLER: Yeah, well, I think he hit the nail right on the head. The important point to get here is that the party that is itself engaging in disenfranchisement on a massive scale, the deliberate, systematic disenfranchisement of arguably millions of Americans, is clouding the issue by accusing—essentially accusing its victims of doing the same thing. OK?

Voter fraud—I want to repeat this—is virtually nonexistent. There have been several academic studies of this notion of whether individuals actually stuffed ballot boxes or show up at polling places pretending to be somebody else. There’s actually not a single known case of any such type of voter fraud being prosecuted by the Department of Justice. And yet, that notion of voter fraud is used as the pretext for taking steps that do demonstrably result in tens of thousands of people being unable to vote, you see? It’s a really masterful strategy. And I only wish that the Democratic Party had all this time been aggressive in pointing out that the Republicans are the party engaged in disenfranchisement.

AMY GOODMAN: Mark Crispin Miller, we have to break. When we come back, I want to ask you about a man named Stephen Spoonamore—


AMY GOODMAN: —a prominent expert, supposedly, on computer fraud, and what he has to say. Stay with us.