Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Letter to Hawaii Congressional Representatives


Thirty six more American soldiers were killed in Iraq today. Bush's inaugural address indicated that he intends to widen our war in the Middle East, not end it. Democrats must, as individuals and as a group, stand up and call for an end to the horrific carnage in Iraq and the torture and violation of basic human rights which is repeatedly occurring in "Gitmo" and other private prisons around the world.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) today released the following statement on U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq:

"Under false pretenses, the Bush Administration took our nation to war against a country that did not pose imminent threat to our security. In Iraq today, over 1,300 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 100,000 civilians are dead. This war is costing an average of $1.6 billion taxpayer dollars every week, while the mission remains vague, the troops overstretched and under-armored, friendly Iraqis chafe at our presence and unfriendly Iraqis bomb our convoys and enclaves. Neither democracy in Iraq nor security at home has been achieved. Instead, Iraq has become, in a gruesome self-fulfilling prophecy, the ground zero for terrorism that it was not when President Bush chose to invade."

It is imperative that the Democrats in Congress unite and speak as one voice against the horrendous outrages that are taking place in Iraq. The Bush administration's continuing bombing and strafing of homes and businesses, its condoning of torture as evidenced in the Gonzales confirmation hearings is insidiously corrupting our young soldiers and destroying our moral standing in the world.

Every Democratic representative in Congress should be rising to express his/her horror at the torture and other violations of basic human and constitutional rights which are being repeated by the Bush administration on a daily basis.

Our congressional representatives need to stand up on a daily basis and tell Congress and the world that it is wrong to hold any person for years without criminal charges being brought before a neutral magistrate. It is wrong and violative of our eighth amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment to permit anyone in our government to subject any person to near drowning by "water-boarding", to subject anyone to naked exposure to extremes of heat and cold, to deprive anyone of sleep through relentless repetitions of loud music and glaring lights, to subject anyone to sexual humiliations, let alone rape and sodomy. Were these same conditions imposed on captured American soldiers, we would certainly call it torture.

The American Civil Liberties Union has posted numerous documents on their website obtained from government agencies which detail the horrific treatment our government has allowed to occur during our "war against terror". These documents should be read aloud daily in Congress and investigations conducted.

We cannot allow our government to continue these practices or we will be just like the good German people who ignored the vicious practices of the Nazis in the 1930's. The failure of the German people and their elected representatives to actively protest the policies of Hitler and his cult followers facilitated Hitler's invasions of other European countries and directly contributed to the murders of well over six million people in Hitler's extermination camps.

Yesterday there were commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz prison sixty years ago, one of a number of prisons where the Nazis gassed , tortured and exploited the labor of hundreds of thousands of their "detainees".

When will we liberate the detainees in Abu Graib, Gitmo, and all our other prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba, Diego Garcia, and our "secret" prisons elsewhere in the world from the illegal practices of the Bush Administration?"

If every member rose every day that Congress is in session and read from the ACLU documents or from his or her own personal protest of the inhuman and unconstitutional practices of Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Rice and their assorted deputies in the Pentagon, CIA and FBI, perhaps enough of the Republican members of Congress would be sufficiently ashamed to vote to end these practices once and for all.

If enough Republicans did not feel sufficiently ashamed to act, then perhaps, if the proceedings of Congress were daily taken up with recitations against Bush's practices, then the Republicans might be motivated to act against the illegal practices simply in order to get their other legislation passed.

In short, the Democrats, one by one, need to conduct a daily "teach-in" on the evil practices of this administration until those practices are stopped. We should not allow another bill to be passed while the torture and violation of basic rights continues.

Bush has turned our country into a rogue, terrorist nation. We Democrats must unite and speak as one voice to stop Bush's terrorism and restore the rule of law in America.


Say No to Torture, Stop Gonzales Confirmation

It is sad that the first Hispanic nominee for U.S. Attorney General has a documented history of opposing the rule of law in our country. Gonzales believes that Bush can ignore any law that gets in in his way as commander in chief. He believes that it is OK to torture someone provided no major organ is destroyed in the process.

Contact your Senators and tell them that a Yes vote on Gonzales is a Yes vote to torture.

Our Constitution prohibits "cruel and unusal punishment". Our president, Secretary of Defense and attorney general nominee Gonzales are ignoring our Constitution and condoning torture. They must be removed.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Freedom --for Corporations, Not People

Bush used the word "freedom"

27 times in his Inaugural Address.

What he failed to make clear is that his freedom applies only to corporations. The Enrons, Halliburtons, Bechtel's, Monsanto's are free to make outrageous profits, while the poor are free to starve.

But the law in its majesty forbids the rich, as well as the poor, from sleeping under bridges.

When Jerry Bremer, the pro consul, arrived in Iraq he had his "to do" list. He was assigned to privatize everything, dismantle all state ownership of businesses, cut the tax on corporations, end tariffs, allow foreign investors to buy Iraqi businesses, allow all profits to be taken out of the country, and require Iraqi farmers to buy seed from big American corporations, forbiding them to save seed from last year's crops.

Freedom in America means that coal companies, oil companies, gas companies and chemical companies are to be free from safety regulation, workers are to be free from unions, working people are to be free from health insurance, and the Arctic Refuge is to be freed from its burden of oil resources.

Freedom for Americans will truly mean "Nothing Left to Lose".

USA mandates Iraq must open to GM seed multis

by F. William Engdahl

Iraq as not only lost its political sovereignty to foreign occupiers. It has lost its very sovereign right to produce and grow its own essential food crops. Just before arranging the so-called "transfer of authority" in June 2004, US Coalition Provisional Administrator, Paul Bremer III, imposed a list of 100 laws on Iraq which insure that the US dictates every feature of Iraq economic life according to Washington free market wishes. This includes governing of an Iraqi central bank, an essential aspect of national sovereignty. It includes rules on Iraqi trade unions. And most significantly, it mandates the future rules of Iraqi agriculture production to conform to the wishes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Chemical and other US-tied agri-business giants that are aggressively pushing for control of world food production through Gentically-Modified (GM) seeds and plants.

Bremer imposed Order 81 on "Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety." This Order 81 or law, has the status of binding law. The US puppet regime of the hand-picked former CIA asset, Allawi, has made no outcry against this or any other of the 100 laws. What does Order 81 do?

For generations and generations, farmers in Iraq as in most of the world have run an informal, unregulated seed supply system in which they experiment and breed the optimal seeds for essential food crops. Farmers traditionally save a portion of their seeds for the next plantings. Now, that will be forbidden. Monsanto and other foreign corporations now hold an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) which gives them an exclusive monopoly on all GM altered seeds and "similar" plant varieties. Iraqi farmers now not only have to cope with Allied bombing of their fields and streams. They have to pay foreign corporations for the right to plant what they have planted for hundreds of years.

Order 81 is a cleverly written law, with the deceptive title, "protection of new varieties of plants," or PVP. PVP is an Intellectual Property Right such as Washington and other major G7 countries got into the WTO rules, even though Iraq is not a WTO member. The Iraqi PVP law gives Monsanto and other international seed giants patent rights over plant seeds which they claim to have "discovered." The patent, under procedures of GM bio-engineering, is typically for a tiny alteration of the DNA or gene sequence of a given existing seed or plant such as soybean, cotton, rice or potato. Of course to do that alteration, Monsanto and others take the product of Iraqi farmers' own successful breeding and development, and, of course, without paying. There is strong suspicion that Monsanto and the other giant GM firms have secretly tapped the seed bank of Iraq, held in trust for farmers during the recent years by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) in their center in Syria. CGIAR was established with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and World Bank to spread use of GM seeds across the developing sector countries.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Why We Need Howard Dean ...

To Chair the Democratic National Committee

There's More Hope With Howard!

There follows my letter of January 9, 2005 to the leadership of the Hawaii Democratic Party. Your comments or response would be most welcome:

Dear Brickwood, Stephanie and fellow Democrats.
I just got back from Ohio, where I helped with the election fraud litigation there. Last January I was in Iowa working for Dean in the Democratic primary. I'm telling you this so you'll know I care enough about electing Democrats to brave zero degree weather twice in one year!

One of my jobs in Ohio was to review absentee votes in Warren County. Warren was the county that locked out the press and public while they were counting the votes, claiming there was a national security threat. My review showed that there were some 1500 absentee votes that were shown in the voter roster but never counted in the published results. A number of the signatures in the roster clearly did not match the original signatures on file and a number of, provisional votes were rejected improperly for not having a picture ID. And all this in just one county.

In other counties, insufficient numbers of voting machines were delivered to highly Democratic voting precincts. causing impossibly long waits to vote. Many -- the disabled, those with children or old people to care for, those required at work-- could not wait the two to ten hours required, and so they left without voting.
The evidence of fraud and suppression of the Democratic vote across the state was massive, but the official Democratic Party and Senator Kerry did very, very little to fight that fraud. The Green Party and the Libertarian Party took the lead. Many of the Democratic volunteers who were working on the recount and vote fraud case were appalled by the lack of action by the party and by Kerry. In the Ukraine, the opposition party and candidate fought election fraud and won. Why not in the U.S.?
As a result of its failure to lead the fight against the fraud, the Democratic Party is in danger of losing thousands of its most active workers. The only thing that can stop this loss is if the new leadership of the DNC is a respected as a force for change. Howard Dean has that credibility, and he has the energy and ideas to restore the party's credibility.

As I'm sure you know, after Dean lost in the primary, he began traveling all over the country, including Hawaii, to speak and raise money on behalf of John Kerry and local candidates. Dean is a terrific speaker who energizes crowds and energizes local party activists.

We in Hawaii have seen him in action when he came to our 2004 Democratic Party convention. He had us on our feet cheering and clapping repeatedly, then he appeared at a small fund raiser for the benefit of our state party, then he met with local Democratic activists to encourage support for progressive candidates here. He has done the same all over the country, so we know that he is sincerely committed to building a strong grass roots based Democratic Party.

Looking at the national perspective, Dean is very well known across the country. (Thanks, in part, to the endless playing of that misleading Iowa scream tape which left out the roaring sound of Dean's enthusiastic supporters. John Sucich and I were there. The hall was packed with yelling and clapping supporters, so Dean had to yell to be heard over the din, but the media microphone was directed at Dean and didn't pick up the yelling supporters.)

None of the other possible candidates for the Democratic National Committee chair have the national recognition that Dean has, and none of them attract the same media attention. Such media attention will yield wide spread publicity for Party positions.

Dean was the first Democratic primary candidate to denounce Bush's invasion of Iraq, so we know that he has the independence and guts to stand up to the Republican Taliban to expose their lies and hypocrisy.

After the debacle of yet another stolen election, after yet another meek withdrawal from fighting that fraud, we need Howard Dean more than ever. I hope you will do everything possible to see that Dean is elected as the chair of the Democratic National Committee when it votes on its leadership position in February.

Aloha, Justina

P.S. I'd appreciate it if this letter could be sent out to the Democratic Party mailing list.

What I Learned in Ohio,

Thanks to Maui Folks Who Paid the Freight

With the exception of Senator Boxer, Congressman John Conyers and a small group of other congressional representatives, the leadership of the Democratic Party -- Terry McAuliff, John Kerry, John Edwards, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, have abandoned any pretense to leading the party rank and file. While many staunch Democratic voters stood in line for eight to ten hours to cast their vote for Kerry, Senator Kerry betrayed their support by conceding the election to Bush less than 24 hours after the polls closed.

While the Green and, Libertarian parties initiated the campaign for recounts in Ohio and New Mexico, and even Ralph Nader put up money for a recount in New Hampshire, John Kerry's lawyers in Florida were reportedly telling party activists to suppress any evidence they found of vote fraud. The fifty odd millions of dollars that Kerry did not use in the campaign could have funded an extensive investigation of the vote fraud, but Kerry kept it in his pocket as he walked away, leaving rank and file activists with their small individual contributions to keep the heat on in the Ohio and New Mexico recounts and the Ohio election contest suit.

Speaking of individual contributors, my thanks to all those loyal Democrats and enraged independents who contributed to enable me to go to Ohio to work on the Moss-v Bush election contest case. The lawsuit charges that the Ohio Presidential election was replete with fraud and illegal suppression of the Democratic vote.

The suit was brought by thirty-seven Ohio voters, led by Bill Moss, a leader in the Ohio NAACP. Afro-American voters were particularly hard hit by the fraudulent vote practices. People died to get the right to vote, now its been taken away again in Flordia (twice) and Ohio. It's very sad that, in Ohio, the move to suppress the Afro-American vote was led by Afro-American Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell who, like Katherine Harris in Florida, 2000, was also co-chair of the Bush re-election campaign.

The contest complaint alleges that the discrepancy between the exit polls and the officially announced vote totals indicated extreme irregularity in the vote count, and that if the votes had been counted correctly, John Kerry would have won. The exit polls, based on actual votes by voters interviewed as they left the polls, showed that Kerry had won Ohio. Late that night, officially released vote totals contradicted the exist poll figures. The odds of the exit poll figures being wrong were less than 900,000 to 1. By early on the morning of the 3rd, the exit polls had been "fixed" to correspond with the released totals. (Hm...just like Triad "fixed" the counting machines.).

The exit poll discrepancies didn't even reflect the huge number of Democratic voters who were obstructed from voting at all. Democratic precincts were given far fewer voting machines than Republican precincts. Democratic voters, especially those in Afro-American precincts, faced waiting lines of up to 10 hours (Kenyon College precinct), while waits of four to eight hours were not uncommon. There is a great video which shows the problem referenced below.

While I was in Ohio, I investigated vote fraud in Warren County. Warren County was the county that illegally locked out the public and press while the vote was counted, claiming the lock out was justified by a non-existent national security threat. (Warren County was also the site of the Dolly Parton film "Harper Valley PTA", although there is hardly a hill to form a valley there). In Warren, we discovered a 1500 vote discrepancy between the number of absentee voters listed as voting absentee by the vote rosters and the published absentee voting results. My co-worker there, Andy Stephenson, also discovered a number of signatures that our handwriting expert confirmed did not match the signature on the corresponding voter registration application, so I guess Warren County had good reason for locking out potential witnesses during the vote count.

Andy, formerly with BlackBoxVoting, has spent the last two years warning the country of the dangers inherent in the electronic vote counting.. After November, 2004, Andy was one of the main investigators in Florida, where he discovered the illegal trashing of the original poll tapes in Volusa County. I learned a great deal working with him. If you ever need a voting "ghostbuster", call Andy!

Originally, I was asked to go to Ohio to help with taking the depositions of election officials for the Ohio Supreme Court election contest case, Moss v. Bush. Although these officials were duly served with notices of depositions and subpoenas, Secretary of State Blackwell obtained a protective order which stopped the depositions. George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, who were named as defendants in the contest case along with Secretary Blackwell claimed they were never served with notices of their deposition, and so they never showed up to be deposed.

It was the duty of the Ohio Supreme Court to serve those papers on them. As the Ohio Supreme Court is overwhelmingly Republican, one wonders if the Court was sufficiently diligent in seeing that all the Defendants were properly served. Indeed, Chief Justice Moyers, who presides over the Moss v. Bush case, was re-elected to his position on the Republican ticket with Bush and Cheney in the 2004 election. He might be less than zealous about setting aside that election for fraud.,

In Ohio, it wasen't so much the electronic machines at the polls that skewed the votes, but the machines that counted the votes once the punched paper ballots were delivered to the counting centers.

When the recount was demanded, technicians from Triad, which supplied the central tabulating equipment to more than half the Ohio counties, went out to "fix" the machines for the recount, preparing "cheat sheets" for the county election officials to use to make sure the initial hand count of three percent of the votes came out with the same numbers as the machine count so they would not have to recount all the county's votes. Triad's tampering with the machines, without proper authorization or bi-partisan witnesses, was a clear violation of Ohio election law. So the recount may have been as fully erroneous and fraudulent as the original vote count.

Hopefully, despite the Congressional acceptance of Ohio's Bush electors on January 6th, that suit will go on to
document and publicize the many different illegal practices that the Republican Secretary of State and co-chair of the Bush Re-election campaign, Kenneth Blackwell, used "to deliver the vote for Bush". Or so did Blackwell brag in his fund-raising letter of last week. In the letter, Blackwell announced that he will be running for Governor of Ohio on the Republican ticket. He, will undoubtedly get a great deal of help and money from Bush and Bush backers for that race. "I'll scratch your back, if you'll scratch mine" as the monkeys say.

To sum up, what I learned in Ohio: no matter how effective our "get out the vote" efforts are, no matter how good our candidates are, no matter how popular our party platform is, it is all useless unless we can insure an honest election and accurate vote count.

Again, my thanks for your support. I'll keep you posted on the progress of the Moss- V Bush suit.