IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fox 'News' freaks out over The Lorax; Transcanada moves forward on Keystone XL pipeline, and moves against property owners; BP Oil Spill trial on hold; Using the courts to halt air pollution rules; PLUS: Game-changing battery breakthrough for electric cars ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Internal reports show Japan leaders feared "devil's chain reaction", Tokyo evacuation; Monsanto prevails in suit brought by organic growers; Record number of sea otter deaths; Wind Harvester breaks from traditional turbine design; Alliance seeks vast marine reserves in Antarctic; New study maps best/worst places for US renewables ... PLUS: The smoking gun connecting livestock antibiotics and the rise of 'superbugs' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: In our exclusive leaked audio, climate denial kingpin billionaire David Koch calls NJ's Chris Christie "my kind of guy" and reveals they met privately before the Governor pulled out of a major greenhouse gas initiative; Wednesday's GOP debate goes from science to fiction; Gov. Perry's TX is now the hottest state ever on record! PLUS: The planet is still not listening to Republicans ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Skeptical Science Wins Award for Demolishing Denier Myths; Google Details Electricity Usage of Its Data Centers; Bankrupt Solar Company Solyndra Raided by F.B.I.; Solar PV systems to double on Americans homes by 2016; BP removes tar balls in Alabama; Nobel Winners Call On Obama to Reject Keystone XL Pipeline; Attack of the Monsanto Superinsects; Policing Your Power-Hungry Appliances; Is Obama’s reluctance to mention climate change motivated by a false assumption about public opinion?... PLUS: Climate Change: An Issue This Critical Demands at Least 45 Seconds of Real, Concentrated Panic Each Week ...
If you didn't happen to pay close enough attention to Ellen Theisen's guest blog on Friday, now that I'm back on the grid (after a few blissful days in the mountains with family friends on the way to Denver here), let me re-iterate the main points of her article quite directly: Diebold has admitted that their tabulator software, known as GEMS, and used all across the country, in at least 34 states, does not count votes correctly.
In fact, it actually loses votes, by not counting them at all, yet gives the system administrator no indication that the votes were not counted. Instead, it tells them that all votes have been counted correctly. This bug has been in Diebold's software --- where it remains to this day-- for years. Diebold has only admitted it now that it's been found by someone else (a number of counties in Ohio, of all places) and with the 2008 Presidential election less than 80 days away. Washington Post's coverage here.
Coinciding with that startling admission, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s Gracia Hillman, one of the two Democratic-recommended appointees, has gone on public record stating that the federal certification testing process is too stringent.
While all of that was made clear in Ellen's blog item, I found both of the above points so remarkable that I wanted to underscore them now that I've finally made it to Denver (or at least Boulder, for the moment), since I was simply stunned to read it myself after getting back on the grid.
Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
UPDATE: CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight covered the stunning admission by Diebold on their show Friday. Here it is (thanks to Alan Breslauer, as usual!) ...
UPDATE 8:43pm PT:McClatchy's Greg Gordon picks up the ball, and advances it a bit, noting the failure in oversight by the feds which allowed for the failure, as we've been trying to get across here for years. He begins this way...
Warning on voting machines reveals oversight failure
WASHINGTON — Disclosure of an election computer glitch that could drop ballot totals for entire precincts is stirring new worries that an unofficial laboratory testing system failed for years to detect an array of flaws in $1.5 billion worth of voting equipment sold nationwide since 2003.
Texas-based Premier Elections Solutions [Diebold] last week alerted at least 1,750 jurisdictions across the country that special precautions are needed to address the problem in tabulation software affecting all 19 of its models dating back a decade.
Congrats to our friend Ellen Theisen of VotersUnite.org for both her tremendous report on private vendors undermining our public elections (about which she guest blogged here yesterday) and her long-overdue appearance on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight on Wednesday to discuss it (appx 3 mins, video courtesy of Alan Breslauer)...
Great to see Ellen finally recognized for all the tremendous work that she and BRAD BLOG stalwart John Gideon have been doing for so long at the non-partisan election watchdog Voters Unite!
That said, two minor-ish complaints about the Dobbs segment above...
Desperate to Stop the Deal, Sequoia's Owners Frantically Seek Funding, Legal Options, All of Which Have so Far Failed Enough to Lead the Judge Working on the Case to Regard One Such Legal Argument as a 'Conspiracy Theory'
Merger of Two Companies Would Likely Create New E-Voting Powerhouse, Face Federal Scrutiny, Come as Surprise to Sequoia's Current Clients...
In what could well be a major shift on the American election industry landscape --- and certainly on elections themselves in dozens of states across the country --- voting machine company Hart InterCivic informed the current owners of the beleaguered Sequoia of their intention to acquire ownership of the company in a move which could take effect as early as next week.
The attempted hostile takeover --- which, we've learned, has been quietly in the works behind the scenes since mid-February --- has set off a building panic among the senior management and owners at Sequoia, whose money woes had already led them to schedule a shut-down of their Oakland headquarters. That shop is to close within a matter of months, as the operations for the company are to be consolidated at its Denver offices.
The takeover by Hart is made possible in the wake of a deal made by Sequoia's current owners, SVS Holdings, Inc., with its former owners, the off-shore consortium Smartmatic. Smartmatic was forced to give up control of the company after the media and Congress noticed in 2006 that the company had ties to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The officers and owners of SVS are comprised largely of previous Sequoia officials who took over the company after Smartmatic's failed attempt to find an outside buyer in 2006. The deal resulted in an agreement between SVS and Smartmatic for the latter to hold a $2 million note from the purchase. Smartmatic now appears ready to sell that note to Hart as part of a $16 million dollar deal which SVS has a contractual right to match within a 60-day period, ending on April 15th.
Sequoia is believed by election experts to be this country's third largest voting machine company, followed by Hart. The combined operation, should the takeover be completed, could well create a new powerhouse in the industry, displacing #2 Diebold/Premier, and coming up just behind the country's currently largest election vendor, ES&S.
Court documents obtained by The BRAD BLOG reveal that Hart notified SVS of its intention to purchase the $2 million note held by Smartmatic on February 15th, giving the group of owners and share holders of SVS --- including CEO and President Jack Blaine, and VPs Michelle Shafer and Edwin Smith (whose names BRAD BLOG readers may recognize) --- just 60 days to match the offer Hart had given to Smartmatic. As the deadline nears, Due Dilligence processes have begun, and are near the final phases of completion at Sequoia...whether company management likes it or not.
Hart's move has sent Sequoia/SVS executives into a legal and financial tizzy and --- perhaps taking a page from Hillary Clinton's campaign book --- the company seems to be throwing the legal kitchen sink at both Hart and Smartmatic in an attempt to nullify Hart's offer. Court documents reveal arguments that Hart's is not a "bona fide" offer that SVS is legally required to match. So far, however, those legal maneuvers, reflected by a dizzying array of motions and cross-motions, suits and counter-suits --- completely unreported by anyone in the media until now --- have all been summarily and soundly rejected by the Delaware magistrate adjudicating the matter.
Every legal effort by Sequoia and SVS to dispatch with the hostile takeover attempt has failed miserably so far, leading Vice Chancellor Stephen P. Lamb of the Court of Chancery in Delaware to even describe one such legal theory of SVS' as...(big irony alert!)...a "conspiracy theory"!
But while Sequoia faces a plethora of legal liabilities concerning their oft-failed voting systems, Hart InterCivic faces its own share of challenges with a pending --- and damning --- federal fraud/qui tam suit against the company, as unsealed late last month. Moreover, Hart's acquisition plan could face scrutiny from members of Congress and Treasury Department officials, as well as states across the country who thought they had turned over control of their elections to Sequoia, only to soon learn there will be a new owner, not of their choosing, of the secret software and devices which determine the results of their public elections.
While litigation over claims of fraud and failure in both company's voting systems await, so does at least one major prize to the victor of this grudge match: New York state's soon-to-be-completed $100 million deal with Sequoia...or maybe now with Hart...or...whoever...
Following on our report last Saturday of massive voting machine failures that kept voters from voting for hours in Horry County, SC, Kitty Pilgrim, on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight (video at left), reported yesterday on plans for SC to use the same machines again in this Saturday's Democratic primary.
At the same time, the Governor and Legislature in Colorado are finally beginning to get it, and simply override the incompetent SoS there, who can't seem to say "E-Voting machines that don't work should NOT be used in elections." So the Legislature appears ready to do it for him.
We're also happy to see the good John Bonifaz, of VoterAction.org, making an appearance to call for accountability (let's get our money back!) from the voting machine companies that have knowingly defrauded America.
And a NOTE TO KITTY PILGRIM: Your reporting keeps discussing "paperless voting machines" in reference to Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) machines that have no "paper trail." Adding "paper trails" to such machines is meaningless. They cannot be verified as reflecting the voter intent anymore than on a DRE without "paper trails."
If you stop and look carefully at your own reporting on SC last week, you'll note that the machines would not work at all until noon, as folks were scrambling to vote on scraps of paper, paper towels, etc. Had those DREs had "paper trails," they still would not have worked, and voters still would not have been able to vote on them.
References to "paperless voting machines" imply that machines with "paper trails" are somehow a solution. They are not. Only paper ballots are a solution. This is something that even Rep. Rush Holt's latest "Emergency Bill" doesn't seem to understand, incredibly enough. That bill (referenced in the CNN report above) would give money to jurisdictions to move to paper ballots, but only if they use "paperless" DREs. If they have DREs with "paper trails," however, they would not be eligible for that money under Holt's bill as written, incredibly enough.
Let's be careful what we wish for and/or report on, guys!
The Bush administration is hell bent on opening up US highways to Mexican truck drivers without much regard for safety, terrorism, drug smuggling or jobs. In fact, the program seems to be uniting a wide range of groups on the left and the right against the administration which claims it will be good for the economy. Lou Dobbs gives his opinion at the 2:45 mark:
This is the same group of people in the executive branch who think they don't even have to follow the law...and doing this unilaterally without any, I mean this, these people are out of their minds...
These political hacks working in the Bush administration running these important agencies, playing their little petty political games, and treating the rest of the world as if we are all a bunch of idiots and the American people are not attuned to their madness. It's disgusting what they are doing.
Senator Barbara Boxer has a little talk with Senator Exxon, uh, James Inhofe who did not want to let former Vice President Al Gore answer his questions on global warming. It was Gore's first appearance on the Hill since January, 2001. Lou Dobbs covers the entertaining bit (1:32).
Christine Jennings and her lawyer, Kendall Coffey, appeared Wednesday on Lou Dobbs Tonight with guest host Kitty Pilgrim to discuss the latest news concerning Florida's 13th Congressional District. As BRAD BLOG has reported often (most recently here, here and here), Vern Buchanan was declared the winner in Florida's 13th after the disappearance of 18,000 votes left the Republican with a paltry 369 vote lead over his opponent Jennings. Subsequently, a handful of experts including one provided by e-voting manufacturer ES&S, concluded that the inclusion of the missing votes would have propelled Jennings to an easy victory based on an analysis of the Sarasota votes which did not spontaneously combust.
Unfortunately, the will of the people is a foreign concept among those controlling the Florida election apparatus which declared Buchanan the winner after recounting nothing a couple of times. With no paper trail (much less a paper BALLOT, and there is a big difference!), a "recount" merely refers to state election staffers testing whether a few selected machines are working properly and is entirely unrelated to the vote count. By certifying Buchanan the winner, the state forced Jennings to seek relief in the Florida courts.
This did not sit well with Sean Hannity who, with Buchanan on as a guest a few weeks ago, found the entire affair "unbelievable" and further evidence that Democrats are sore losers. Juxtaposing the Hannity clip as well as Tom Feeney's reaction to the election controversy, recounted by Brad here, to Jennings appearance on CNN (clip above right), makes for quite an interesting experiment. While hardly evidence that could be used in a court of law like the damning statistical evidence, the contrast is, nevertheless, telling.
Christine Romans reports for Lou Dobbs Tonight that more than 35 million Americans were struggling with hunger until the USDA relabeled the tracking category "low food security." Thus, close to 12% of Americans now live with "food insecurity" issues. The report is unclear on whether or not more than a tenth of the country is still having problems with hunger.
In addition to the name change, however, the Bush administration also has plans to cut in half the number of Americans living with "low food security" by 2010. Considering that poverty and food insecurity levels have risen throughout Bush's presidency, we assume the administration expects the bulk of the plan to kick in over the latter two years.
Lou Dobbs summed up the situation better than one would think possible: "That is disgusting...These are just abject idiots."
Kitty Pilgrim covers a myriad of e-voting problems pouring in from across the country during early voting. Sequoia gets the lion's share of the coverage with the newly discovered large yellow button that, when pressed, allows voters to vote as many times as they want. Dobbs: "I keep expecting the country to just sort of go into a group scream over these e-voting machines."
The text-transcript of Thursday's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...
This segment of "Democracy at Risk" was a head nod to the activists and it's about damn time too. As Kitty points out, voting activists have had to step up and try to ensure the voters' votes are counted correctly because elections officials have failed, in large part.
The text-transcript of Wednesday's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...
Tuesday's segment of "Democracy at Risk" was about the increasing incidence of problems in Florida during early voting. After discussing the problems encountered by some voters, Gov. Bush was quoted and showed that he is no smarter than his brother:
"We're a model for the rest of the country and we're a model on how we certify equipment as well."
Bush needs to open his eyes and look at what is happening around him. Of course, he might find out there are problems and that would mean doing something to fix them, which would mean making decisions, which would mean....Oh never mind! As Lou said in closing the segment: "Idiotic. Idiotic. Unbelievable. It's just --- it's incredible."
And in the "Hacking Democracy" segment we learn that although Diebold is protesting the fact that HBO is going to air the documentary all month beginning on Nov. 2, Diebold is protesting a different documentary than the one HBO is airing.
It is no wonder that no one from Diebold has agreed to appear on Lou Dobbs. They might have to get the facts right.
The text-transcript of Tuesday's segment on Lou Dobbs Tonight follows in full...