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Forward ... Into the Past

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In 1997 Kevin Costner directed and starred in The Postman, a epic post apocalyptic movie that bombed at the box office.

The film begins with this voice-over narration:

The last of the great cities died when my father was a child. Another victim of yet another war. The plagues followed. And the terrors. The living hid themselves away in tiny hamlets in hopes of surviving whatever new madness conspired to rob them of the little that remained. The Earth itself had fallen prey to chaos. For three years a dirty snow fell that even summer could not erase. The ocean was barren. Poisoned. Near death. Sixteen long years passed before the great lungs started working again. My father said it was as if the ocean breathed a great sigh of relief...

A lone wanderer, leading a mule, treks across a barren landscape. The year is 2013.

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A Place Upstream, if you can find it

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A large sink hole opened in a DC street only blocks from the White House, it turned out to be a washed out sewer line from an improvement project done back in '96, that's 1896. This is not an unusual situation for American cities that are dependent on drainage projects done during during the Progressive Era, or at best during the New Deal. As little as possible has been done to make America work since the Reagan Revolution defined 'government as the problem, not the solution'.

 

The estimated $3 trillion shortfall in maintenance is just public infrastructure like the thousands of bridges waiting to collapse, but doesn't include  privately held assets like high pressure natural gas lines that are nothing but ticking time bombs. There are also the abandoned chemical waste dumps, the overloaded and failing mine waste containment ponds, or those unregulated fertilizer and chemical plants waiting to go off like a small nuke. Then there's the actual nuclear plants and their massive hot fuel containment ponds waiting to do a Chernobyl dead zone on a large swath of North America.

 

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Proposed "Right To Vote" Amendment Transfers State Power To Fed

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By Bev Harris, Founder of Blackboxvoting.org

Section 2 in the proposed new RIGHT TO VOTE U.S. Constitutional amendment switches election controls from state to feds. And it's a lot easier to tilt controls when they are centralized.

Especially this year, I have become wary of how news media portrays proposed legislation, as compared with what is actually in the legislation. So when I saw U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan's proposed Constitutional amendment portrayed simply as a national right to vote bill, I wondered what else was in it.  I'm not saying it isn't well intended, but ...

While Section 1 states a right to vote, Section 2 puts the federal government in position to dictate anything it wants to control local and state elections. And that's a problem, because it alters balance of power. All it will take is a one-vote majority by the party you loathe -- whichever party, not the point -- to wrest control over election systems in all 50 states at once. In other words, the proposed Amendment sounds nice, but because of its Section 2, it is destabilizing.

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I’ve Heard of Denial … But I Don’t Think It Exists

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I did a little light reading over the last weekend. I started with an essay about defeating learned helplessness, then read the latest from Chris Hedges “Rise Up or Die,” and finished with a story with this snappy headline: Human race 'will be extinct within 100 years', claims leading scientist.

Now this last story sounds like one of the screaming headlines from one of the tabloids clogging a supermarket’s checkout counter but no … this wasn’t a variant of “Bat-child Found in Cave!” or “Donnie & Marie are Aliens!” This was a three-year-old article from The Australian, the biggest-selling national newspaper in Australia.

The leading scientist interviewed was Professor Frank Fenner whose Wiki entry reads, “… an Australian scientist with a distinguished career in the field of virology. His two greatest achievements are cited as overseeing the eradication of smallpox, and the control of Australia's rabbit plague.

The article starts out on this happy note, ”Frank Fenner doesn't engage in the skirmishes of the climate wars. To him, the evidence of global warming is in. Our fate is sealed.

"We're going to become extinct," the eminent scientist says. "Whatever we do now is too late."
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Any Future History Must First Be Expressed in Words

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The President made a history defining speech in front of the National Defense University today, this address was I believe on the same level with Eisenhower's 'Cross of Iron' speech that warned us against pointless military spending. Obama called for the end of the 'endless War on Terror'.

 

Obama, late in the speech, said, "So America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us. We have to be mindful of James Madison’s warning that no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. Neither I nor any president can promise the total defeat of terror. We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings nor stamp out every danger to our open society. But what we can do, what we must do, is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all the while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. And to define that strategy, we must make decisions based not on fear but on hard-earned wisdom. And that begins with understanding the current threat that we face."

 

He had gone on and on like this, for a POTUS known for giving a good speech, this was his best one in terms of addressing actual policy. Cynics will cry out that his speech has an obvious disconnect from his actual policies, Medea Benjamin from Code Pink interrupted Obama three times, and he did let her talk for a long stretch. She was finally removed from the auditorium but Obama went off script to acknowledge her concerns as being very real. There were no chants of 'USA USA' to drown her out from being heard by the military audience. They did like the Commander in Chief's comeback, they liked his acknowledgement of the reality of her protest points even more.

 

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Election Integrity in Niagara -- Falls.

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By Bev Harris, founder of Blackboxvoting.org

Whoever controls chain of custody for voting computers can control elections. That is, until more transparent election procedures are enacted (see end of this article). Until that time, election integrity in Niagara, falls. (Groan.)

But for bad puns, I'm afraid the company that owns the voting machine warehouse in Niagara County has me beat. That firm is aptly named "Clear Opportunity."

(See more here, including documentation on this: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/82452.html)

NIAGARA'S PROBLEM


Niagara County, New York Republicans, in a no-bid contract with a company owned by one of their largest contributors, has offered up a crucial link in voting machine chain of custody. Niagara signed a lease to house its voting computers in a warehouse owned by Clear Opportunity Properties, LLC, owned by GOP supporter David Ulrich.

Niagara County Democrats are apparently uncomfortable enough with the sweetheart deal to try to get that contract opened up to competitive bidding.

"Sweetheart deal" may be a gentle term. "Rapaciously gainful" or perhaps "copiously creative" might be more accurate ways to describe it.

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Californians getting hammered on provisional ballots

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by Bev Harris, founder of Blackboxvoting.com

More than one in ten voters who shows up at the polls in California is being given a provisional ballot. While you might think this is due to voters missing from the list, only 10% of rejected provisionals in California are because the voter is not registered. Ninety percent are rejected for other reasons -- calling into question why provisional ballots were issued in the first place.

I did a spreadsheet analysis using a pile of U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data(1) and found that voters who show up to vote in California are getting hit hard with provisional ballots, making it more difficult to vote and expanding disenfranchisement.

In Riverside County, a whopping 14.4 percent of all polling place voters were given a provisional ballot in 2010, and 17 percent of the provisionals were rejected.

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