Thursday, September 27, 2012

US Government and Private Sector Invest in Light Rail Systems

Many are upset about the expansion of rail systems across the country because the cost may not be covered by passenger fares. I personally fail to understand why investment in public transportation has to be offset by the income of the rail systems. It seems to me that expansion of rail systems improves our national transportation infrastructure and creates jobs. I'm curious how many of the naysayers would prefer that interstates and dams and bridges had never been built.

Source: Infowars

A report published by Thomas A. Garrett, a senior economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Missouri describes the necessity of light-rail systems throughout the continental US as a sound economic development. Garrett explains that: “the idea that rail transit can promote economic development with the cooperation of city officials and private developers is known as transit-oriented development (TOD). Although TOD is one goal of any public transportation system, officials see light rail as a particularly amenable tool for spurring economic development.”

Using the false reality of job creation, citizen preferences of trains over personal cars, mitigation of air pollution and alleviating traffic congestion are justifications that coerce the general public to support the construction of light-rail systems in their communities. The truth is that these expensive endeavors create solvency of citizens and state governments to the construction and operating costs of light-rail systems.

Florida GOP Fires Romney Consultant's Voter Registration Firm for Fraud

You know how the Republicans are passing all of these laws to fight nonexistent voter fraud? Guess what. They're paying consultants to commit voter registration fraud. The only question is who knew? Does Romney have any complicity in these crimes?

Source: The BRAD BLOG

The Republican Party of Florida's top recipient of 2012 expenditures, a firm by the name of Strategic Allied Consulting, was just fired on Tuesday night, after more than 100 apparently fraudulent voter registration forms were discovered to have been turned in by the group to the Palm Beach County, FL Supervisor of Elections.

According to the FL Election Code, the alteration of a "voter registration application...without the other person's knowledge and consent" is a third degree felony, punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in jail.

Similarly, the willful submission of "any false voter registration information" is also a third degree felony. (Though don't tell fading GOP superstar Ann Coulter that, since she submitted fraudulent information on her own voter registration form --- in Palm Beach County, FL, coincidentally --- back in 2005, before knowingly voting at the wrong precinct illegally, as we have covered in great detail here over the years. See for full documentation.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Obama's Shaky Libya Narrative

Source: The Daily Beast

In the days following the killing of the U.S. ambassador and two ex-Navy SEALs, President Obama and top State Department officials portrayed the attack as a spontaneous reaction to an Internet video depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammad as a lascivious brute. The protests, White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week, were “in response to a video—a film—that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.”

Two U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast that the intelligence community is currently analyzing an intercept between a Libyan politician whose sympathies are with al Qaeda and the Libyan militia known as the February 17 Brigade—which had been charged with providing local security to the consulate. In the intercept, the Libyan politician apparently asks an officer in the brigade to have his men stand down for a pending attack—another piece of evidence implying the violence was planned in advance.

“I think this is a case of an administration saying what they wished to be true before waiting for all the facts to come in,” says one senior retired CIA official.

On the other hand, a U.S. intelligence official stressed that it was still early days for the investigation. “It is important to accept that with events like this it takes time to figure out what happened and determine which data points are relevant and accurate,” this intelligence official said. “That process is happening right now.”

U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High

Source: Gallup

Americans are clearly down on the news media this election year, with a record-high six in 10 expressing little or no trust in the mass media's ability to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. This likely reflects the continuation of the trend seen in recent years, combined with the increased negativity toward the media that election years tend to bring. This is particularly consequential at a time when Americans need to rely on the media to learn about the platforms and perspectives of the two candidates vying to lead the country for the next four years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Richard Branson determined to start a population on Mars

Source: CBS

"In my lifetime, I'm determined to being a part of starting a population on Mars. I think it is absolutely realistic. It will happen." --Richard Branson

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jesus had a wife? Bible scholars question Harvard finding

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Four words in a 1.5-by-3-inch (3.8-by-7.6-centimeter) fragment of papyrus provide the first evidence that some early Christians believed Jesus had been married, King said. Those words, written in a language of ancient Egyptian Christians, translate to "Jesus said to them, my wife," King said in a statement.

King said that in the dialogue the disciples discuss whether Mary is worthy and Jesus says "she can be my disciple."

Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was unmarried even though there was no reliable historical evidence to support that, King said. The new gospel, she said, "tells us that the whole question only came up as part of vociferous debates about sexuality and marriage."

"From the very beginning, Christians disagreed about whether it was better not to marry," she said, "but it was over a century after Jesus's death before they began appealing to Jesus's marital status to support their positions."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rawlemon's Spherical Solar Energy-Generating Globes Can Even Harvest Energy from Moonlight

Source: Inhabitat

The solar energy designers at Rawlemon have created a spherical, sun-tracking glass globe that is able to concentrate sunlight (and moonlight) up to 10,000 times. The company claims that its ß.torics system is 35% more efficient than traditional dual-axis photovoltaic designs, and the fully rotational, weatherproof sphere is even capable of harvesting electricity from moonlight.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Imminent Iran nuclear threat? A timeline of warnings since 1979

Source: Christian Science Monitor

In 1992, Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu told his colleagues that Iran is 3 to 5 years from being able to produce a nuclear weapon –and that the threat had to be "uprooted by an international front headed by the US."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Online rights groups fear backlash amid video protests

Source: The Raw Story

A decision by YouTube parent Google to deny access to the video in Libya and Egypt even though the film’s hateful message isn’t aimed at a particular person was seen by some as a compassionate step onto a slippery slope.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

U.S. judge rule protects reporters, activists in their Middle East work

Source: Reuters

A federal judge made permanent on Wednesday her order blocking enforcement of section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act that authorizes military detention for people deemed to have "substantially supported" al Qaeda, the Taliban or "associated forces."

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan had ruled in May in favor of non-profit groups and reporters whose work relates to conflicts in the Middle East and who said they feared being detained under a section of the law, signed by President Barack Obama in December.

"This court does not disagree with the principle that the president has primacy in foreign affairs," the judge said, but that she was not convinced by government arguments.

"The government has not stated that such conduct - which, by analogy, covers any writing, journalistic and associational activities that involve al Qaeda, the Taliban or whomever is deemed "associated forces" - does not fall within § 1021(b)(2)."

How Buzz Aldrin's communion on the moon was hushed up

Source: The Guardian

After the Apollo 8 crew had read out the Genesis creation account in orbit, Madalyn Murry O'Hair wanted a ban on NASA astronauts practising religion on earth, in space or "around and about the moon" while on duty. She believed it violated the constitutional separation between church and state.

In Magnificent Desolation, Buzz Aldrin explains how astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, told him to tone down his lunar communiqué. "Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general," he advised. Looking back Aldrin writes that the communion was his way of thanking God for the success of the mission. Yet, later he hinted that he could have been more inclusive:

"Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind – be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists."

O'Hair's case against Nasa eventually fizzled out, but it dramatically changed the tone of the Apollo 11 landing. Aldrin had originally intended a much more pioneering Christopher Columbus-style ceremony on the moon. That was never to be.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Obama Finally Talks Drone War, But It's Almost Impossible to Believe Him

Source: Wired Danger Room

CNN’s Jessica Yellin managed to get Obama to open up, just a little, about his criteria for approving drone attacks. His comments may have been the president’s most extensive so far on robot warfare. They were also total baloney, outside experts say.

As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism notes, Obama told CNN that a terror suspect had to pass five tests before the administration would allow him to be taken out by a drone. “Drones are one tool that we use, and our criteria for using them is very tight and very strict,” the president said.

1 “It has to be a target that is authorised by our laws.”

2 “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative.”

3 “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.”

4 “We’ve got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties.”

5 “That while there is a legal justification for us to try and stop [American citizens] from carrying out plots … they are subject to the protections of the Constitution and due process.”


“What I found most striking was his claim that legitimate targets are a ‘threat that is serious and not speculative,’ and engaged in ‘some operational plot against the United States,’ That is simply not true,” emails the Council on Foreign Relations’ Micah Zenko, who has tracked the drone war as closely as any outside analyst. “The claim that the 3,000+ people killed in roughly 375 nonbattlefield targeted killings were all engaged in actual operational plots against the U.S. defies any understanding of the scope of what America has been doing for the past ten years.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

U.S. Attack on Iran Would Take Hundreds of Planes, Ships, and Missiles

Souece Wired's Danger Room

* “Israel does not have the capability to carry out preventive strikes that could do more than delay Iran’s efforts for a year or two.” Despite the increasingly sharp rhetoric coming out of Jerusalem, the idea of Israel launching a unilateral attack is almost as bad as allowing Tehran to continue its nuclear work unchallenged. It would invite wave after wave of Iranian counterattacks — by missile, terrorist, and a boat — jeopardizing countries throughout the region. It would wreak havoc with the world’s oil supply. And that’s if Israel even manages to pull the mission off — something Cordesman very much doubts.

* The U.S. might be able to delay the nuclear program for up to 10 years. But to do so, it’ll be an enormous undertaking. The initial air strike alone will “require a large force allocation [including] the main bomber force, the suppression of enemy air defense system[s], escort aircraft for the protection of the bombers, electronic warfare for detection and jamming purposes, fighter sweep and combat air patrol to counter any air retaliation by Iran.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Congressional Reps Question Feds Over Botched Domain Seizures

Source: Techdirt

Bipartisan Congressional Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Jason Chaffetz and Jared Polis have teamed up to send a letter raising a number of questions about the "Operation in Our Sites" initiative, to both Attorney General Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano.

The letter focuses on the seizure of a web domain belonging to rapper Dajaz1, and points out their concern with the program, and how it appears to violate free speech rights, ignore due process and destroy legitimate businesses.

The letter goes on to ask a series of important questions for both DHS and DOJ, especially regarding the utter failure of both departments in the Dajaz1 situation.

1. What is the process for determining which sites to target? Who is involved in that process? What specific steps do DOJ and ICE take to ensure that affidavits and other material are thoroughly reviewed for accuracy prior to seizing a domain?

2. To what extent are government agents required to evaluate whether the potentially infringing material to which target sites link -- or which they host themselves -- are non-infringing fair uses, impliedly licensed, and/or de minimis uses?

3. Do government agents consider whether a site complies with the DMCA safe harbors? If so, how does this affect the determination to target a site?

4. How many sites have attempted to retrieve their domains, via any process, judicial or informal, and what is the status of those cases?

5. Have you made any changes to your domain seizure policies or their implementation as a result of the issues arising from the Dajaz1 seizure or any other seizure? If so, what were those changes?

6. What specific steps has the DOJ and ICE taken to ensure that domain name seizure cases proceed without unnecessary delays, and that website owners seeking to restore their domain names have swift access to the officials and documents necessary to resolve their cases?

7. How many more seizures do you anticipate occurring in the next six months and year?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

5 National Parks That Could Be Threatened Under The Romney Energy Plan

Source: Alternet

Mitt Romney recently released his energy plan , which focuses extensively on turning energy development on federal public lands over to the states. If states are determined to aggressively push fossil energy development, giving oversight of mining and drilling to them could put some of our special places at risk.