Thursday, September 14, 2006

Some great news from Florida

12-13-06: Paper Ballots Gaining Momentum - Court Decision, New Guidelines, New Book

THIS JUST IN: Sarasota (FL) judge rules in favor of group seeking paper ballots.

Also in this article: Democracy for New Hampshire issues new "We're Counting the Votes" booklet which includes accepted protocols for Hand Counted Paper Ballots.

And: A book making the case for hand counted paper ballots has now been published.

Court decision first:

Though it hasn't hit the Web as of the time of this posting, Black Box Voting has received the following report:

quote: - From Sarasota Herald Tribune September 13. 2006, 12:52PM


"Sarasota Association for Fair Elections, a group of activists concerned about the reliability of the county's touch screen voting system, won its case to have voters decide whether the county should have a back-up paper ballot system."

"The group gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot in November, but the county refused, saying the proposal was unconstitutional because it conflicts wit... More

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Start building the gallows

Whistle-blower slams Iraq contractor

By DEBORAH HASTINGS, AP National WriterFri Sep 8, 5:05 PM ET

Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root charged millions to the government for recreational services never provided to U.S. troops in Iraq, including giant tubs of chicken wings and tacos, a widescreen TV, and cheese sticks meant for a military Super Bowl party, according to a federal whistle-blower suit unsealed Friday.

Instead, the suit alleges, KBR used the military's supplies for its own football party.

Filed last year in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by former KBR employee Julie McBride, the lawsuit claims the giant defense contractor billed the government for thousands of meals it never served, inflated the number of soldiers using its fitness and Internet centers, and regularly siphoned off great quantities of supplies destined for American soldiers.

McBride was hired by KBR in 2004 as a "morale, welfare and recreation" coordinator at Camp Fallujah, a Marine installation about 35 miles west of Baghdad. She was fired the next year after making several complaints about KBR's accounting practices, the suit says, and was kept under guard until she was escorted to an airplane and flown out of the country.

Halliburton denied McBride's allegations.

"The claims included in this lawsuit clearly demonstrate a complete misinterpretation of facts as well as a lack of understanding of KBR's contractual agreements with its customer," said company spokeswoman Melissa Norcross in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

The Super Bowl incident occurred in January 2005, the suit said. "McBride witnessed a large amount of food that was ordered specifically for a Super Bowl party for the military" taken instead to the company's lodgings. "About 10 large metal tubs full of tacos, chicken wings, (and) cheese sticks were taken from the military party site to a KBR camp for a KBR Super Bowl Party for KBR employees," according to the complaint. A widescreen TV was also removed.

McBride worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, at Camp Fallujah's recreation center, where the government was billed according to the number of soldiers using the contractor's facilities, which included a weight room, video games, Internet cafe, a library and phone bank, the suit says. She alleges that KBR deliberately overstated the number of military personnel using its services by counting the same person several times. For example, a person who used a computer was counted as one. If that person went on the weight room, another count was added to the list of patrons.

"It wasn't double-dipping, but triple dipping or even quadruple billing," the suit claims.

Attorney Alan Grayson, who represents McBride, said "millions of dollars have been submitted by Halliburton for recreational services" not provided.

The "qui tam" suit, filed under the federal False Claims Act, allows citizens to sue on behalf of the government against contractors who make false claims for payment. The plaintiffs are eligible to receive a percentage of awarded damages, which are tripled in this type of suit.

Such suits are usually sealed for 60 days while the Justice Department investigates the claims and decides whether the U.S. Attorney's office will sign on as a co-plaintiff.

The Justice Department declined comment Friday on why it chose not to participate in McBride's suit.

McBride is not the first Halliburton employee to allege fraudulent billing practices. The company has steadfastly denied wrongdoing.

Rory Mayberry, who worked for KBR in 2004, testified from Iraq via videotape to a group of Democratic members of Congress investigating contractor fraud.

As food manager at another military camp in Iraq, Mayberry said he witnessed KBR employees serving spoiled food to American troops, including food from trucks that had been bombed and shot at. Workers were told to pick out the shrapnel, and then serve the food, Mayberry testified.

He also claimed KBR charged the government for meals it never served.

In July 2004, former KBR planner Marie DeYoung testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. She said she witnessed "significant waste and overpricing" while working for the contractor in Kuwait, including paying a subcontractor $100 per 15 pounds of laundry, costs which were passed on to the government.

Halliburton, which holds more than 50 percent of rebuilding contracts in Iraq, was headed by Dick Cheney before he took office as vice president. He has denied any government favoritism toward his former company.

Found on HuffPo

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fart Jokes?

Headline 2000

In an attempt to pass gas, the Supreme Court of the United States lifted a collective cheek and crapped in the Oval Office. The resulting reek is expected to remain intensively offensive through the campaign season of 2008, and linger thereafter until the crap and corruption has been replaced by a new administration.

Terror Storm

To counter the docu-fairy-tale to be aired by ABC, please take some time to treat yourself to a fact based video from
You deserve a reality based look at the issue of 9/11.

Terror Storm is a little less than two hours long.
View it here.

Team up with some friends, and purchase one of the packages available on

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fourth Estate, or Rove strap-on?

Media Misses the Point On C.I.A. Leak Story

But whatever Mr. Armitage did, or says he did, in no way alters what Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby did in the days that followed, nor does it change their intentions. It’s a simple concept—two people or more can commit a similar act for entirely different reasons—but evidently it has flummoxed the great minds of contemporary journalism.

In this instance, Mr. Armitage says he was merely “gossiping” with Mr. Novak, who seems to have been primed to question him about the Wilson affair. But both Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby sought to undermine Joe Wilson’s credibility—and perhaps to victimize him and his wife—by planting information about Valerie Wilson with two reporters. Mr. Rove gave that information to Time reporter Matt Cooper, who got confirmation from Mr. Libby. And Mr. Libby provided the same poisonous tip to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Almost from the beginning of his investigation in December 2003, Mr. Fitzgerald has known about the blabby Armitage, who at least came clean promptly. But Mr. Fitzgerald, a Bush appointee of impeccable reputation, understood that the Armitage confession was of limited relevance—and it didn’t discourage the special counsel from conducting a thorough probe that uncovered a secretive, high-level effort, emanating from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, to discredit Joe Wilson and to use his wife’s two decades of undercover work for her country as a weapon against him. Indeed, the only reason Mr. Armitage knew about Valerie Wilson was that he had read a negative dossier on Joe Wilson prepared at the behest of Mr. Libby.

Read the entire article

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

See Dick Run

Interesting video…

Some people just can’t figure out how to make life better for the working class in America… or they aren’t really interested in that.

Thanks to for the heads up

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Blackwater: Soldiers Or Contractors?

In connection with the news that Blackwater, the huge private security company, has lost its bid to keep a lawsuit in connection with its Iraq operations out of federal court, take a look at Barry Yeoman's early coverage of the company in Mother Jones. This story, reported before the invasion of Iraq, notes that Blackwater's business has been growing by leaps and bounds because the military increasingly prefers to have contractors do the work of soldiers.

When the companies do screw up, however, their status as private entities often shields them -- and the government -- from public scrutiny. [...] "Under a shroud of secrecy, the United States is carrying out military missions with people who don't have the same level of accountability," says Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a leading congressional critic of privatized war. "We have individuals who are not obligated to follow orders or follow the Military Code of Conduct. Their main obligation is to their employer, not to their country."

Ironically, Blackwater is now citing a program designed to protect the military--the Defense Base Act, which provides benefits to the families of soldiers killed on the battlefield--to argue that it can't be held liable by the families of four of its contractors who were killed in Fallujah in 2003 (after, the families say, being sent into a warzone unprepared and unequipped).