Tuesday, January 31, 2012
acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults.""
Jimmy Carter, James Baker led panel saying election integrity essential
RALEIGH — Critics of requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls say the practice would disenfranchise minority voters, and some even accuse proponents of being motivated by racism. They don’t mention, however, that a 21-member bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter,advocated just such a policy in 2005.
The commission, also co-chaired by former Secretary of State James Baker, called voter identification one of “five pillars” that would “build confidence” in the integrity of federal elections. Only three of the 21 commission members voted against requiring photo identification of voters.
“The right to vote is a vital component of U.S. citizenship, and all states should use their best efforts to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters,” the commission’s report stated. “In close or disputed elections, and there are many, a small amount of fraud could make the margin of difference.”
Far from seeing a photo ID requirement as a negative, the commission said it could become a path to even greater access to the ballot.
“To prevent the ID from being a barrier to voting, we recommend that states use the registration and ID process to enfranchise more voters than ever,” the executive summary of the commission’s report states. “States should play an affirmative role in reaching out to non-drivers by providing more offices, including mobile ones, to register voters and provide photo IDs free of charge. There is likely to be less discrimination against minorities if there is a single, uniform ID, than if poll workers can apply multiple standards.”
The commission urged “procedural and institutional safeguards” to ensure that citizens’ rights are not abused and that no voters are disenfranchised. It also proposed that voters not in possession of a photo ID be allowed to cast a provisional ballot until they are verified.
The voter ID battle heated up in North Carolina last year when the Republican-led General Assembly passed House Bill 351, a North Carolina voter ID bill. Critics in North Carolina, including Democrats, left-leaning groups, and many media columnists and editorial writers, concluded that the bill could only be intended by Republicans to suppress the votes of minority, elderly, disabled, and low-income residents.
A blog post at the website of the left-leaning Democracy NC group said the provision “would mostly affect voters [Republicans] don’t like” and that the issue was “tinged with racism.”
Along with Democracy NC, organizations opposing the voter ID requirement include the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP, and NC Policy Watch. These and other progressive groups mounted a vigorous campaign to defeat the bill, accusing conservative lawmakers and their supporters of trying to make it harder for people to vote.
The General Assembly attempted to override Perdue’s veto but fell short. The measure was left open for reconsideration, however, and Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, told Carolina Journal that lawmakers could take up the override in this year’s short session.
CJ contacted several groups in North Carolina that oppose the photo ID bill to see if they were aware of the federal commission’s report, and whether they would characterize members who supported its voter ID recommendation as racist or extremist.
Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, admitted that he didn’t think members of the commission were racist for recommending photo ID, but maintained they went along with it only because of the report’s other recommendations, especially those dealing with increasing accessibility for voters.
“Will you mention in your story that the commission supported using the REAL ID card for photo ID, since you conservatives and libertarians opposed that?” he asked. “Are you going to include all the other recommendations, like improving voter registration lists? Are you going to mention the report said there’s been little evidence of voter fraud?”
The commission made a point several times in its report that the level of voter fraud is immaterial to discussions of photo identification for voters. “There is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting, but both occur, and it could affect the outcome of a close election,” the report states. “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters.”
The commission’s members overwhelmingly supported the photo ID provision. Only three of the 21 objected to it: former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota; former president of the National Council of La Raza Raul Yzaguirre; and George Washington University law professor Spencer Overton.
Hall differs with the findings of the commission that photo ID requirements, correctly administered, will not have a detrimental effect on voting. He said that many North Carolinians do not have a government-issued photo ID and cannot afford one, and making voters come back a second time with a photo ID if they show up to vote without one would disenfranchise many honest voters.
Jo Nicholas, president of the League of Women Voters of NC, told CJ her organization opposes photo ID because it would take $25 million to implement in the first three years. She also made the argument, countered by the commission, that such a law is unnecessary because there’s almost no voter fraud in North Carolina.
Moore said cost figures cited by the bill’s opponents for providing free photo IDs to those who don’t have one are inaccurate, and that the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division concluded the cost would be much lower.
Both Hall and Nicholas said the photo ID bill would not prevent the type of voter fraud that occurred in Wake County in 2008. Asked about the video of New Hampshire poll workers handing out ballots in dead people’s names during the GOP primary in January, both said they didn’t think this happens very often.
Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow in the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation and a former federal prosecutor who focused on election fraud, said photo ID laws do not reduce voter turnout but they do help prevent fraudulent voting.
“Georgia and Indiana already have two of the nation’s strictest laws on voter ID,” von Spakovsky said, and “all claims made by opponents of photo ID laws today were made six years ago when Georgia passed its bill and none of those claims has proven true.”
In testimony last September before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, von Spakovsky said actual election results in both Georgia and Indiana confirm that voter ID does not hurt minority turnout, since both Georgia and Indiana experienced record turnout in the first presidential elections held after their photo ID laws went into effect.
More than twice as many as voters turned out in Georgia’s 2008 presidential primary than in 2004 when the photo ID law was not in effect. “The number of African-Americans voting in the 2008 primary also doubled from 2004,” von Spakovsky said.
In the 2008 general election when President Obama was elected, von Spakovsky testified that Georgia had the largest turnout in its history, and “Democratic turnout was up an astonishing 6.1 percentage points.”
In contrast, Mississippi witnessed only an increase of 2.35 percentage points, von Spakovsky said, a nearby state that also has a high percentage of black voters but no voter photo ID requirement.
As for opponents’ claims that photo ID is costly and onerous especially for the poor, von Spakovsky pointed to federal laws that anyone receiving welfare or Social Security benefits must prove citizenship and have a photo ID.
Von Spakovsky also considered the claim that a voter ID mandate would not prevent all fraud a red herring. “Putting in only security measures that are 100 percent effective is not a valid rationale for not requiring a photo ID,” said von Spakovsky. He compared that claim to saying screening passengers at airports or installing computer virus software was useless because they don’t work in all cases.
“Well, we just feel North Carolina’s photo ID bill would disenfranchise voters and there are better places to put the money, like education or reducing the state’s budget deficit,” Nicholas said.
Occupy Pledge of Allegiance: “…and to the plutocracy for which it stands, the privately owned central bank, under the Jews…”
During yesterday’s hours-long rioting at the Occupy Oakland protest, the Occupiers burned a United States flag in front of Oakland City Hall (before later breaking in and smashing up irreplaceable antique museum exhibits in the foyer). Someone posted a video of the flag-burning to YouTube, and then added narration on top of it — his own rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance in an Occupy theme:
Here’s exactly what he says as the Oakland Occupiers burn the flag:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the imperialistic capitalistic dictatorship, and to the plutocracy for which it stands, the privately owned central bank, under the Jews, with inequality and injustice for the 99.“
It’s not clear who made the narration and the video — it could be one of the Occupiers themselves, or a local Occupy sympathizer, or perhaps just some random guy on the Internet getting all excited seeing the Occupiers in action.
(The YouTube channel for the narrator has this self-description: “Combination of Technical analysis, marxism, monetary history, and mainstream economic analysis,” alongside a litany of Bay Area Occupy and “evil Federal Reserve” videos.)
But even if it was just some random guy, you’ve got to ask yourself:
When rank anti-Semites are inspired by your actions to rant about evil Jews controlling the banks, isn’t it time to re-think your message?
Looks like the Occupiers have embraced their leaders’ call to spread hate.
The jobless rate in the 17 countries that use the single currency was 10.4% in December, unchanged from November's figure which was revised up from 10.3%.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Bitter cold records broken in Alaska – all time coldest record nearly broken, but Murphy’s Law intervenes
'You have no place in civilised society': Muslim family jailed for life after 'despicable' honour killing of three teen daughters who dared to date boys
- Father, mother and son found guilty of murdering family's three teenage daughters
- The girls defied strict rules by dating, socialising and going online
- Bodies found submerged in car in canal
Concerned that too many “deniers” are in the meteorology business, global warming activists this month launched a campaign to recruit local weathermen to hop aboard the alarmism bandwagon and expose those who are not fully convinced that the world is facing man-made doom.
the Facts campaign — led by 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters and the Citizen Engagement Lab — is pushing for more of a focus on global warming in weather forecasts, and is highlighting the many meteorologists who do not share their beliefs.
“Our goal is nothing short of changing how the entire profession of meteorology tackles the issue of climate change,” the group explains on their website. “We’ll empower everyday people to make sure meteorologists understand that their viewers are counting on them to get this story right, and that those who continue to shirk their professional responsibility will be held accountable.”
According to the Washington Post, the reason for the campaign can be found in a 2010 George Mason University surveys, which found that 63% of television weathermen think that global warming is a product of natural causes, while 31% believe it is from human activity.
So far, the campaign has identified 55 “deniers” in the meteorologist community and are looking for more. They define “deniers” as “anyone who expressly refutes the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change: that it is real, largely caused by humans, and already having profound impacts on our world.”
“We track the views of meteorologists through their on-air statements, blog posts, social media activity, public appearances, interviews, and interactions with viewers,” the campaign explains.
The Houston Chronicle noted that meteorologists mostly track short periods of weather, not long-term climate trends.
You wouldn’t ask your dentist about your gallbladder and you shouldn’t ask your local TV weatherman about climate change,” Houston’s KTRK Channel 13 , Tim Heller, told The Chronicle.
“Operational meteorologists and forecasters are not climatologists. The background education is somewhat similar, but our area of expertise is different,” he added. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop some TV weather forecasters from spouting off on the subject.”
While some meteorologists question and push back against the campaign, ThinkProgress said that the “deniers” are not doing their audience any favors.
“These climate denier meteorologists are betraying the public’s trust and distorting America’s airwaves with ideological science denial,” the liberal publication reported, listing the names of a majority of the campaign’s identified “deniers.”
“I urge the AMS Council to immediately pass a new information statement that reflects the widespread scientific consensus that climate change is increasingly impacting our planet, and then vigorously promote that statement to AMS members,” the letter reads.
Saturday's daylong protest was the most contentious since authorities dismantled the Occupy Oakland encampment late last year.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
White House wants to turn every other house into a HAZMAT zone
President Obama said in his State of the Union address, "I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury pollution." Of course, no one is asking him to back down. There is no movement in favor of exposing kids to mercury poisoning. It was like boldly proclaiming opposition to organized dog fights.
Mr. Obama was obliquely referring to his support for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule issued late last year by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a December presidential memorandum, Mr. Obama claimed that "by substantially reducing emissions of pollutants that contribute to neurological damage, cancer, respiratory illnesses and other health risks, the MATS Rule will produce major health benefits for millions of Americans - including children, older Americans and other vulnerable populations." MATS is the most expensive EPA rule revision in history, and compliance will cost power plants $10-18 billion a year. These costs will be passed directly to consumers.
Some critics have charged that hyping mercury poisoning in MATS was just a cover for the EPA to ramp up its regulatory assault on the coal industry. Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources. At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs).
The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants. The associated risks are magnified because the toxic vapors and dust from a broken bulb would be contained in a room or enclosed area. The same EPA that is sounding the alarm about mercury emissions from power plants has written a detailed guide explaining how to respond to a broken CFL. It involves, among other things, evacuating the room in which the breakage occurs, shutting down central heating and air conditioning, airing out the room, carefully collecting bulb fragments and dust with rolled up duct tape, and placing all cleanup materials in airtight bags in a protected area outdoors pending proper disposal. Who knew that dropping a light bulb would instantly turn a home into a HAZMAT zone?
If Mr. Obama had his way, fluorescent lights would be in every home and school in America. The administration was set to enforce the ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs that passed in 2007 and was to begin this year, but a provision was included in the budget bill passed in December that would prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money to enforce the light-bulb ban. Energy Secretary David Chu mocked this as "a choice that continues to let people waste their own money." But it might also let them better protect their kids.
Remember when you are handling a CFL that it contains potentially deadly poisons. You can recognize the bulbs because they are twisty, like Mr. Obama's policy logic.
Attorney General Eric Holder’s Department of Justice dumped documents related to Operation Fast and Furious on congressional officials late Friday night. Central to this document dump is a series of emails showing Holder was informed of slain Border Patrol agent Brian Terry’s murder on the day it happened – December 15, 2010.
An email from one official, whose name has been redacted from the document, to now-former Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke reads: “On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot. At this time, the agent is being transported to an area where he can be air lifted to an emergency medical center.”
That email was sent at 2:31 a.m. on the day Terry was shot. One hour later, a follow-up email read: “Our agent has passed away.”
Burke forwarded those two emails to Holder’s then-deputy chief of staff Monty Wilkinson later that morning, adding that the incident was “not good” because it happened “18 miles w/in” the border.
Wilkinson responded to Burke shortly thereafter and said the incident was “tragic.” “I’ve alerted the AG [Holder], the Acting DAG, Lisa, etc.”
Then, later that day, Burke followed up with Wilkinson after Burke discovered from officials whose names are redacted that the guns used to kill Terry were from Fast and Furious. “The guns found in the desert near the murder BP officer connect back to the investigation we were going to talk about – they were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store,” Burke wrote to Wilkinson.
“I’ll call tomorrow,” Wilkinson responded.
Holder has faced difficult questions surrounding the question of when he was first informed of the gunwalking program. He testified in Congress that he had only learned of Fast and Furious a “few weeks” before a May 3, 2011, House Judiciary Committee appearance.
Holder has since walked back that “few weeks” comment, amending it to more of a “couple months.”
“I did say a ‘few weeks,’” Holder said during a November 8 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, responding to a question from its chairman Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. “I probably could’ve said ‘a couple of months.’ I didn’t think the term I said, ‘few weeks,’ was inaccurate based on what happened.”
There have also been a series of documents containing the intimate details of Fast and Furious that were sent to Holder throughout 2010 from several of his senior aides. Holder claims he did not read his memos.
Holder will be appearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform next Thursday, Feb. 2. Though Holder has already testified before Congress three times about matters relating to Fast and Furious — twice before the House Judiciary Committee and once before the Senate Judiciary Committee — this is the first time the House oversight committee will have an opportunity to question Holder himself.
“The Judiciary Committee has multiple issues with the Attorney General,” House oversight committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller last week. “We have one issue: the issue of breaking the law in order to enforce the law.”
“The oversight committee is investigating the Department of Justice, which is very different than his appearances before the Judiciary Committees in which they’re asking how things are going at Justice. What we’ve discovered in our investigations is a pattern of cover-up [and] delay. Ultimately Congress was given false information and now we’ve had people both resign and take the Fifth as we try to get to the basic elements of why and how was Congress lied to.”
A total of 103 members of the House have called for Holder’s resignation or firing, expressed “no confidence” in Holder via a formal House Resolution, or both. Two sitting governors, two U.S. senators and all the major Republican presidential candidates join those 103 congressmen in not trusting Holder. Many of those who have called for Holder’s resignation have pointed out that Holder claiming that he didn’t read his memos is a sign that he’s admitting incompetence to avoid charges of corruption.