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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

12 June - Notes from Google Reader

English: 2011 Logo for the Utah Libertarian PartyEnglish: 2011 Logo for the Utah Libertarian Party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This map shows the incorporated areas and unin...This map shows the incorporated areas and unincorporated areas in Pima County, Arizona. Incorporated cities are shown in gray and data for their borders and locations are based on the 2000/2030 PAG Transportation Analysis Zone Map. Information for unincorporated locations and borders are based on the Census 2000 Pima County Tract Outline Index Map (PDF). I created this map in Inkscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Seal of Pima County, ArizonaSeal of Pima County, Arizona (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Image representing Iron Mountain as depicted i...Image via CrunchBase
Arizona Election Fraud: Pima County Superior Court Judge Kyle Bryson Rules in Direct Opposition to the Appellate Courts
by Intercept
Attorney Bill Risner Speaks to Judge Kyle Bryson
After Arizona's Appellate courts ruled in favor of the Libertarian's argument for prospective relief in rigged elections, Judge Kyle Bryson granted Pima County's Motion to Dismiss based on the grounds that the courts do not have jurisdiction in elections.  Sound familiar? 

The goal of the Libertarian Party's suit is to protect the “purity of elections” in the future, starting with this 2012 election season.  As stated in their initial disclosure statement:
“At the present time it is easy to cheat using our election computers and impossible to challenge a rigged election. The ease of cheating when matched with the impossibility of challenging any specific election requires court intervention in order to protect the purity of elections and ensure that we will have free elections.”
The need for prospective relief was first brought up in a counter claim by the Libertarian Party as a means to help prevent Pima County from rigging future elections like what appears to be the case for the RTA election.   The appellate courts already decided that Libertarian party may demonstrate through the courts once and for all that the 2006 Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) election was rigged.  This is a necessary component for justifying prospective relief.  The RTA ballots for this two billion dollar bond measure are being held under a court order to ensure restricted access to their location at the Iron Mountain storage facility.

Currently, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is using every legal means possible to stand in the way of a proper, independent forensic examination of the ballots.  Huckelberry's legal team is blocking this proceeding despite his numerous claims that his elections division would be exonerated by a proper investigation.

Judge Bryson, who replaced Judge Charles Harrington after he erred in his previous ruling,  seems to have cut-and-pasted Judge Harrington's earlier ruling granting the County's Motion to Dismiss.

A key element in this court proceeding was Attorney General Terry Goddard's investigation which is often referenced by the county, yet always proven to be woefully inadequate.  So inadequate that it represents the failure of the executive branch to provide sufficient remedy in a rigged election and was part of the argument for winning the initial appeal for prospective relief from rigged elections.

The issue of jurisdiction and when such jurisdiction applies was discussed in the previous Appellate Court ruling ordering the courts to proceed with the hearing for prospective relief.   Here the argument centered around the failure of the legislative branch, because of the impossible five-day window to challenge elections in the state of Arizona.  The Appellate Court agreed with the Libertarian Party's argument that "the court abused its discretion by not exercising equity jurisdiction to consider the lawsuit."  This same abuse is repeated by Judge Kyle Bryson. 

Bryson's ruling is the strongest evidence that Pima County's court system  should be included in the war of cost and attrition against election integrity.  As Bill Risner observes, "This lawsuit involves only the issue of preventing cheating in the future.  The Pima County Courts do not want to hear it and do not want to consider ways to prevent cheating."

Election integrity advocates had previous indications of Pima County Superior Courts' collusion with its administrators, especially with Harrington's "wash your hands" incident and the refusal of the courts to grant attorney's fees for previous court victories.

Add a recent move reminiscent of Pima County's past shenanigans.  No copy of Bryson's ruling was sent to the attorneys working on behalf of prospective relief for elections.  Although the County received their copy of the May 4th ruling, attorney Bill Risner (along with his co-counsel Ralph Ellington) were left to make the inadvertent discovery of the ruling 15 days later.   Part of the mystery behind the ruling was not only how long it took to decide (snuck out in three months), but what on earth Judge Bryson might have been doing with his time during this period.  It's difficult to make the assumption he was presiding over something more important and therefore could not include a rudimentary analysis involving the subject matter at hand.

Fortunately the 15 day stall tactic was just a stall tactic and did not eat up the 15 day window legally afforded to make an appeal.   An appeal that may not be necessary, because Judge Bryson's ruling seems to have put the cart before the horse.   As Bill Risner states:
"The Libertarian Party's counterclaim had simply requested that the court after 'finding that there was tampering, issue an appropriate permanent injunction to prevent a reoccurrence.'  Judge Bryson said that 'it now appears the Libertarian Party will ask the Court to require Pima County to perform graphic scanning of all ballots case and provide those images to the public in future elections.'  He decided that he couldn't do that so he might as well dismiss the case.  Such a request had not been made.  A motion to dismiss had not been made on that ground by the county.  Such an order would have been lawful.  It was only one of many possible orders that the court could have entered."
Due to this oversight, the county may be looking at a whole new trial.  A trial addressing additional remedies like immediate access to memory cards for election challenges, adjusting auditing procedures for county and bond races and improved chain of custody procedures to prevent further tampering.

Pima County's unique form of nepotism provides a living, breathing model of how monopolies work.  It's a bureaucracy that might as well be one big corporate oligarchy with arms outstretched to its own judiciary, its own public defenders, its own prosecutors, its own elections division, its own treasurer's office, its own court vault and its own law enforcement.  Heads of all these departments have their salaries set by Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, the CEO or chief administrator deeply entrenched in this bureaucracy.  A bureaucracy exclusively funded by taxpayers.

To soften the blow of public outrage for what is eventually becoming obvious in the 2006 RTA elections case (as well as a number of other conflicts), Pima County has engaged in building a P.R. machine by picking up employment slack from failing local newspaper outlets.   For example, Gary Duffy, a reporter for the now defunct Tucson Citizen, co-wrote an award winning article shedding light on one of many RTA security breaches entitled, "Record of votes in ’06 RTA election missing".  Last month you might have spotted Duffy hanging out behind a booth promoting the RTA as part of his job for the county.  Reliable sources include ten reporters making the jump to the county trough.  What are the chances of accurate, critical coverage of Judge Bryson's ruling in the local news outlets?

Despite such adversity, in the decaying "methlab of democracy" known as Arizona, election integrity advocates continue to engage in this battle for clean elections.


1.  Information acquired within the past six years includes specific ways to identify red flags in electronic records that are sufficient to challenge elections.

2.  Testimony is on record from officials all over the country confirming that electronic voting machines and their software are insecure and unreliable.

3.  Despite the stall tactics used by Pima County's giant bureaucracy, this litigation will set a precedent to help others throughout the country pursue and achieve election integrity.

4.  Similarly flawed electronic voting machines and software are currently in use throughout the country.

5.  Prospective relief through this precedent-setting court case could provide a tangible, timely means to improve election transparency nationwide.

"The Psychology of Stupidity"
by noreply@blogger.com (CoyotePrime)
"The Psychology of Stupidity"
by Jonah Lehrer

"Here's a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)

For more than five decades, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton, has been asking questions like this and analyzing our answers. His disarmingly simple experiments have profoundly changed the way we think about thinking. While philosophers, economists, and social scientists had assumed for centuries that human beings are rational agents - reason was our Promethean gift - Kahneman and his scientific partner, the late Amos Tversky, demonstrated that we're not nearly as rational as we like to believe.

When people face an uncertain situation, they don't carefully evaluate the information or look up relevant statistics. Instead, their decisions depend on a long list of mental shortcuts, which often lead them to make foolish decisions. These shortcuts aren't a faster way of doing the math; they're a way of skipping the math altogether. Asked about the bat and the ball, we forget our arithmetic lessons and instead default to the answer that requires the least mental effort.

Although Kahneman is now widely recognized as one of the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century, his work was dismissed for years. Kahneman recounts how one eminent American philosopher, after hearing about his research, quickly turned away, saying, "I am not interested in the psychology of stupidity."

The philosopher, it turns out, got it backward. A new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology led by Richard West at James Madison University and Keith Stanovich at the University of Toronto suggests that, in many instances, smarter people are more vulnerable to these thinking errors. Although we assume that intelligence is a buffer against bias - that's why those with higher S.A.T. scores think they are less prone to these universal thinking mistakes - it can actually be a subtle curse. West and his colleagues began by giving four hundred and eighty-two undergraduates a questionnaire featuring a variety of classic bias problems. Here's a example: "In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?"  Your first response is probably to take a shortcut, and to divide the final answer by half. That leads you to twenty-four days. But that's wrong. The correct solution is forty-seven days.

West also gave a puzzle that measured subjects' vulnerability to something called "anchoring bias," which Kahneman and Tversky had demonstrated in the nineteen-seventies. Subjects were first asked if the tallest redwood tree in the world was more than X feet, with X ranging from eighty-five to a thousand feet. Then the students were asked to estimate the height of the tallest redwood tree in the world. Students exposed to a small "anchor" - like eighty-five feet - guessed, on average, that the tallest tree in the world was only a hundred and eighteen feet. Given an anchor of a thousand feet, their estimates increased seven-fold.

But West and colleagues weren't simply interested in reconfirming the known biases of the human mind. Rather, they wanted to understand how these biases correlated with human intelligence. As a result, they interspersed their tests of bias with various cognitive measurements, including the S.A.T. and the Need for Cognition Scale, which measures "the tendency for an individual to engage in and enjoy thinking."

The results were quite disturbing. For one thing, self-awareness was not particularly useful: as the scientists note, "people who were aware of their own biases were not better able to overcome them." This finding wouldn't surprise Kahneman, who admits in Thinking, Fast and Slow that his decades of groundbreaking research have failed to significantly improve his own mental performance. "My intuitive thinking is just as prone to overconfidence, extreme predictions, and the planning fallacy" - a tendency to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task - "as it was before I made a study of these issues," he writes.

Perhaps our most dangerous bias is that we naturally assume that everyone else is more susceptible to thinking errors, a tendency known as the "bias blind spot." This "meta-bias" is rooted in our ability to spot systematic mistakes in the decisions of others - we excel at noticing the flaws of friends - and inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. Although the bias blind spot itself isn't a new concept, West's latest paper demonstrates that it applies to every single bias under consideration, from anchoring to so-called "framing effects." In each instance, we readily forgive our own minds but look harshly upon the minds of other people.

And here's the upsetting punch line: intelligence seems to make things worse. The scientists gave the students four measures of "cognitive sophistication." As they report in the paper, all four of the measures showed positive correlations, "indicating that more cognitively sophisticated participants showed larger bias blind spots." This trend held for many of the specific biases, indicating that smarter people (at least as measured by S.A.T. scores) and those more likely to engage in deliberation were slightly more vulnerable to common mental mistakes. Education also isn't a savior; as Kahneman and Shane Frederick first noted many years ago, more than fifty per cent of students at Harvard, Princeton, and M.I.T. gave the incorrect answer to the bat-and-ball question.

What explains this result? One provocative hypothesis is that the bias blind spot arises because of a mismatch between how we evaluate others and how we evaluate ourselves. When considering the irrational choices of a stranger, for instance, we are forced to rely on behavioral information; we see their biases from the outside, which allows us to glimpse their systematic thinking errors. However, when assessing our own bad choices, we tend to engage in elaborate introspection. We scrutinize our motivations and search for relevant reasons; we lament our mistakes to therapists and ruminate on the beliefs that led us astray.

The problem with this introspective approach is that the driving forces behind biases - the root causes of our irrationality - are largely unconscious, which means they remain invisible to self-analysis and impermeable to intelligence. In fact, introspection can actually compound the error, blinding us to those primal processes responsible for many of our everyday failings. We spin eloquent stories, but these stories miss the point. The more we attempt to know ourselves, the less we actually understand.”
- http://www.sott.net/
Inmates Running Amok in the Asylum aka A University Degree Doesn't Necessarily Confer Common Sense
by Way Way Up
I hadn't initially planned on blogging about the case of Mr. Lynden Dorval. In case you aren't familiar with the details, Dorval is an Edmonton high school physics teacher who was suspended by the Edmonton Public School Board for (horror of horrors) giving zeros to students. It seems story just keeps getting more interesting and I've been playing it over in my mind the past couple days. At any rate, it is an important issue and one that looks as if it won't drop out of the headlines too quickly.  Because really, it shouldn't.

This issue deserves to be discussed and debated. A healthy education is a valuable thing in a democracy. I'm sure there are many school board officials that would prefer it be quietly swept under the rug. I also wonder where the Alberta Teachers Association is in all this? It seems to me they are little more than a political lobby group. Shouldn't they be defending this guy? After all, assuming he's spent his entire career in Edmonton, he's been paying them union dues all this time. Perhaps I should phone up the ATA and ask them. In all likelihood, I'll just get the standard line of "We are not at liberty to comment on this matter," or some or such nonsense. I do think we have a serious problem here. Education is becoming divorced from reality. Its really one of the reasons I haven't pursued a Masters degree myself. I don't think the average person is all that interested in boring theory and really, do I want to spent a year writing an academic tome that in all likelihood will just sit collecting dust in a university library? In the real world, I've encountered situations similar to Mr. Dorval's. No, I was never disciplined for them but I did find it frustrating. And it wasn't just in Alberta that I've encountered this.

Rather than fix issues and help students achieve a standard, why are education officials taking the easy way out by lowering standards?  Attention, Edmonton Public School Board.....the real world doesn't function like this.  You can produce all the academic tomes, journals, studies and peer-reviewed gobbley-gook you want, but you can't change reality.  In the real world, there are standards and expectations.  If you don't meet them, you fail.  A simple concept, yet one not so easily grasped by education officials in Edmonton.  I can only assume that these people were the slackers that barely made it through the system themselves.  The ones that showed up for class and put some pride and effort into their work must have been the ones that went on to become engineers, doctors and skilled trades people.

One of the criticisms I heard a lot was that the education system doesn't prepare students for the real world.  I don't see how this kind of garbage helps.  Challenge them to meet their potential.  Don't molly-coddle and dote on them.  The real world certainly won't do that.  There is a big difference between encouraging and supporting students and simply letting them "get by".  At my work, if someone doesn't bother to show up or is too lazy to put in effort, they get fired.  At my work, if people take short cuts or lack care or don't pay attention to what they are doing, people get killed.  I don't think I'm over-blowing things here.  Kids have to learn that deadlines and best effort are important things in life and school should ingrain this.

It's always amazed me that the simplest of concepts in life get forgotten or misunderstood once some people get that university degree or that big promotion.  Or in the case of some principals, superintendents or school board officials, once they've been in a position of power for too long and surpassed their "best before" date.

With a little digging, I found the actual suspension letter written to Mr. Dorval by his superintendent. You can find it here. My favorite part was the bottom of the first page....

.....when clear practice expectations and guidelines, also based on accepted philosophical and pedagogical reasoning, have been authorized for mandatory implementation.....blah blah blah.

Pushing  students through the system and not giving them the mark they earned, even if they do no work, is "based on accepted philosophical and pedagogical reasoning"?  Are you kidding me? Who in their right mind accepts this nonsense?   Thankfully, my son won't be attending any Edmonton school and have his mind and character polluted by this crap.

The superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools is a man by the name of Edgar Schmidt.  Public officials are supposed to be accountable.  Obviously, this is beyond you. Sir, you're a moron.

I also found a href="http://www.epsb.ca/board/nov30_10/item06.pdf">survey by this school board, examining all matter of things, from school services to how welcome parents felt in the school.  The part that stuck out for me is found at the bottom of page 5 regarding how useful students in grades 10-12 (which are high school grades in Alberta) found their report card.  According to the numbers, only 71% to 74% of students found their report information useful.  No wonder, when you replace a "0" with  some silly phrase like "unable to assess" or some such.

I could go on but I'm sure I've made my point, if only to call attention to this issue.  Critical thinking skills, common sense and reality have left the building as far as education officials in Edmonton are concerned.

Thank God there are students out there who succeed despite the efforts of education officials to screw them up. This young man gets it, and has begun a petition to support Mr. Dorval.  Good on you, young man.  Shake up the ossified idiots in our education system.

Reporting on ALEC - They Got it Wrong - AGAIN
by 2old2care

The Keystone Progress folks are my heroes at the state level.  They are amazing in the way they research, w rite and take progressive action in the battle against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

So……. When I see someone that is even kinda trashing their effort I need to step up to the plate and correct the wrongs.

Here’s the snips:

May 28, 2012 5:24 pm
By Laura Olson / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG -- A liberal advocacy group is cheering a handful of state lawmakers for disassociating themselves from a conservative policy group, though some of the legislators being congratulated were surprised to find themselves on the list.

Keystone Progress is circulating a list of 18 state legislators -- including 10 Democrats -- who they say are no longer involved with the American Legislative Exchange Council. That right-leaning organization, also known as ALEC, has been the subject of criticism over its corporate donors and closed-door process for drafting model legislation.

State campaign finance reports from 2001 show a dues payment to ALEC from the campaign coffers of Democratic Rep. Harry Readshaw of Carrick. No interactions since then are publicly recorded, and Mr. Readshaw says he did not know he was affiliated with the group until he received emails urging him to quit.

"I have quit something that I never belonged to," he said. "I had no idea what they were talking about."
You paid dues – it is in the report – you belonged/
You know exactly what they are talking about.

Democratic Rep. Nick Kotik of Robinson said he joined the group to hear more business perspectives but lacked the time to attend conferences. He called ALEC to sever his official ties in April, after receiving hundreds of form letters blasting his membership.
Did he tell you he paid a two year membership in 2011?
Did he tell you he was a 2011 MEMBER of the ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force Member – definitely get a business perspective in that ALEC Task Force.
More business perspectives – huh?
Why not talk with your constituents and ask THEM WHAT THEY WANT!

One of the six Republicans on the Keystone Progress list, state Sen. John Pippy of Moon, traveled to ALEC conferences beginning in 2004, according to state reimbursement records. He was last involved with the group in 2006, when the National Guardsman served on a committee that discussed security policy.
Pippy’s involvement goes back to 2001.
Did he tell you he was part of the ALEC Homeland Security Working Group in 2002?
Did he tell you he was Chairman of the ALEC Homeland Security Working Group in 2002?
Did he tell you about his Masters Degree in International Affairs.  A degree offered by a webpage that has no admission page?  A degree that is offered by an organization that is run by three ALEC members? And how he traveled around the world for this masters degree and it has ALL been free – “a scholarship” gift?

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, also was on the list, though a caucus spokesman said Mr. Turzai let his membership lapse several years ago because of time constraints.
Turzai attended a task force meeting in 2007 as documented by ALEC.
Did he tell you he paid two years worth of dues in 2007?
Did he tell you he paid another two year membership in 2009?

House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin defended the group, arguing that lawmakers help draft ALEC's model legislation and that any bills introduced based on those models can be amended by other legislators.
Research has shown over and over again that the legislation is drafted primarily by ALEC Profit Sector Members.
ALEC legislators are just there for the good times and to carry the corporate legislation home.

ALEC spokeswoman Kaitlyn Buss said the criticism "is coming from extreme liberal front groups who are trying to silence the open exchange of ideas and debate on public policy because it does not fit their big-government agenda. ALEC legislators will continue to provide free-market solutions to the problems facing their states."
That appears to be her only talking point right now – the third article where she has said the exact same thing – may as well put this statement on a dumb computer and hook it up to the ALEC press line.

One legislator who recently withdrew, Rep. Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, said that while the group is drawing more scrutiny from lawmakers, he's skeptical that scratching a few names from its membership rolls will change what legislation is being introduced in Pennsylvania.

"I think a lot of the Republican members would put some of that legislation in whether there was ALEC or not," said Mr. Markosek. "Conservative members are going to put up conservative legislation. I think we've given them too much credit."
Did he tell you Pennsylvania paid dues on his behalf?  Doesn’t say much for his fiduciary responsibility.
No – we haven’t taken ALEC seriously enough.
Republican members couldn’t write anything close to ALEC model legislation – mainly cause it does not represent the people of Pennsylvania.  Without the input of fresh ALEC “model” legislation three times a year,  Republicans – would be sitting with their thumbs up their ….

And Mr. Markosek – we are doing more than scratching a few names off the list.
We are doing the job that the Democrats were too lazy to do.
We are doing the job that YOU should have done.
Exposing ALEC

Oh - - - - those ALEC legislators are such superstars to reporters.
Oh - - - - those reporters just eat up all those ALEC misrepresentations and lies.
Oh - - - - when will reporters figure out that ALEC legislators are using them as tools?
Oh - - - - when will reporters start acting like reporters – instead of stenographers?
Russia, Gulf States Arming Sides In Syria
Hilary Clinton says that Russia is sending attack helicopters to the Syrian regime, while the UK's Independent cites a Western diplomatic source in Turkey and FSA members to report that Quatar and Saudi Arabia are sending assault rifles, machine-guns, RPGs and anti-tank missiles to the rebels with Turkish help. As Clinton says, these moves "will escalate the conflict quite dramatically". Well, actually, she was only talking about the Russian weapons - Arab weapons are unescalating, apparently...
The UN is finally saying it's a civil war - something all but the most pedantic observers decided was the case some time ago. The latte-sipping interventionist crowd are still calling for a full-press Western military intervention while pretending that's not what would be needed, and if one unconfirmed report is correct, Russia is preparing troops in case it needs to do an intervention of its own in return. Even if that story is false, the gunship sales alone show Russia isn't about to abandon Assad.
It seems to me that we're on a slippery slope to a major war once again, requiring only time and the inevitable progressing narrative for that war. No Western government has yet openly advocated Western military intervention, but Clinton and others have said clearly that the West's objective now is regime change, which I cannot see happening otherwise. Once intervention begins - Syria is not Libya and is possibly even more of a quagmire in the making than Iraq ever was.
Syria accuses US of encouraging killings‎
by Lynsey
DAMASCUS Syria on Tuesday accused Washington of encouraging more massacres in the strife-torn country and of meddling in its internal affairs even as a top UN official said Syria is now in a full-scale civil war as President Bashar Al Assad’s military loses control of territory around the country.

“The US administration is pushing forth with its flagrant interference in Syria’s internal affairs and its backing of armed terrorist groups,” the foreign ministry said.

“US statements distort the truth and what is happening on the ground while encouraging armed terrorist groups to carry out more massacres... not only in Al Haffe but throughout the country,” it added.

The foreign ministry said US officials had made “exacerbating statements” against Damascus in parallel with “the escalation of violence by terrorists on the ground”.

At the United Nations, asked whether he believed Syria is in a civil war, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said: “Yes I think we can say that.

“Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory, several cities to the opposition, and wants to retake control.”

“I think there is a massive increase in the level of violence, so massive indeed that in a way it indicates some change of nature” in the conflict, added Ladsous.

“Now we have confirmed reports of not only of the use of tanks and artillery but also attack helicopters,” Ladsous said.

“This is becoming large scale because the opposition also resists.” Read More

Tunis declares curfew after 'Islamist' rioting
by Lynsey
Tunisia has declared an overnight curfew on eight regions, including the capital, an interior ministry official says, in the wake of serious rioting.

The eight-hour curfew was introduced after several violent attacks in protest at an art exhibition.

The government has blamed ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafists for the violence, in which police stations were set on fire.

But the Salafists have denied being involved in the rampage. Source

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[fran├žais ci-dessous]



Photo Credit: Drue Oja Jay

VAL D'Or, QC - On June 5 2012, Norman Matchewan, a youth spokesperson for the First Nation of Mitchikanibiko'inik (the Algonquins of Barriere Lake), was acquitted on what community members alleged all along were politically motivated charges. Matchewan was acquitted of mischief and obstruction of justice stemming from a 2009 blockade protecting his people’s territory from illegal logging.

Matchewan was defending the forest from logging that had been unlawfully authorized by Quebec’s Ministry of Natural Resources. The logging was also a violation of a 1991 resource co-management agreement signed in 1991 between Barriere Lake, Quebec and Canada.

“Too many native peoples are criminalized for defending their land,” said Matchewan following the acquittal, “Today is a big victory for our community. We will not be intimidated by trumped up legal charges and court battles. We will always protect our land and custom for our future generations.”

National Politics Toronto British Columbia World Video
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Home » News » National

Oil from a pipeline leak coats a pond near Sundre, Alta., Friday, June 8, 2012.+

Parts of Alberta oil spill may never be cleaned up


DICKSON DAM, ALBERTA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012, 6:23 PM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012, 10:26 PM EDT

47 comments Print /

A sunny break from heavy wind and rain allowed crews to come out in force to
battle an oil spill that has stained one of Alberta’s most important rivers –
one that, environment officials warn, is likely to never be completely cleaned


Searching for answers after Red Deer’s pipeline spill

Give us facts on Alberta oil spill, locals demand

Redford calls Alberta oil spill an ‘exception’ as cleanup continues

Video: Crews work to contain Alberta oil spill

Rough weekend weather and a flooded Red Deer River had impeded efforts to
clean up a spill of 160,000 to 480,000 litres from a Plains Midstream Canada
pipeline. But on Tuesday, a response team of nearly 200 workers set to work
skimming, vacuuming and absorbing the spill.

It was difficult work, made worse by the high water that is hampering access
to the 25 pools of oil that Plains crews have identified in back eddies along
the 30 kilometres of river that stretch between the ruptured pipe and Lake
Gleniffer, a reservoir whose dam has helped contain the spill.

“It’s been very, very difficult to access a lot of these areas because of the
high flows, the very rapid current,” said Martin Bundred, the lead man on the
spill for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources Development. “We have to
use airboats to get in [and there are] lots of sandbars lots of obstacles –
whole trees coming down the river. It’s not a nice place to be.”

In fact, the challenges of cleaning an oil-stained river are so great that
it’s unlikely that all of the oil will be cleaned up. Some will deliberately be
left alone to degrade naturally, an unwelcome prospect for those whose backyards
and pasture lands along the Red Deer have been blackened from the leak.

“There are situations where it does make sense to leave things in place,”
said Mr. Bundred. In this case, “with a very light crude, you’re going to get
degradation very quickly.”

Even light crude can take a long time to disappear, however. Last July,
another pipeline ruptured below a river, spilling 240,000 litres of light oil
into the Yellowstone River from a pipe owned by ExxonMobil, an accident that
carries numerous echoes of the current Alberta situation. At one point, 1,000
people were involved in attempting to clean up the Yellowstone, in an effort
that cost Exxon $135-million (U.S.).

But they could only do so much. In some areas, officials determined that it
would do more harm to get to the oil – through building roads and driving in
heavy equipment – than to simply leave it.

“We call it natural attenuation, which is a technical term for leaving the
damn stuff in place,” said Richard Opper, director of the Montana Department of
Environmental Quality. “We figure it will be gone in probably about three, at
the most five, years.”

The Alberta effort will be aided, however, by the collection of oil in Lake
Gleniffer, which has prevented the crude from spreading further downriver and
tarnishing drinking water supplies for Red Deer, Alberta’s third-largest city.
Plains has tested water at 18 locations twice daily. It says only one test
failed, at one location on the first day. The company also promised
compensation, as it prepared to vacuum any oil remaining from the leaking pipe
below the river, a process that could take a week.

“To the extent we have impacted residents, we are going to make it right,”
said Stephen Bart, vice-president of crude oil operations for Plains.

But the notion that parts of the spill may never be cleaned up is little
solace for those most affected. The province has said the river should flush
away most of the ill effects, and return to a healthy state soon. Those who have
seen the oil aren’t convinced.

“This could kill the Red Deer River,” said Lorraine Mikal, whose family farms
land along the river, and owns 1.5 kilometres of waterfront. She said she
worries about “the long-term health effects.”

Even seeing trucks vacuuming oil from standing water near her house this week
did little to reassure Bonnie Johnston, who has seen oil matted in grasses and
woody debris across her 57-acre property. Worse, her home draws water from a
well that she now fears is contaminated.

“This place is worthless if you have no water,” she said. “I don’t believe it
can ever be used again.”


Cleanup of latest Alberta oil spill could take all summer
DoJ Orders FL to 'Cease Unlawful' Voter Purge, Notifies State of Intention to File Federal Suit
by Brad Friedman
Yesterday morning, we detailed the ACLU's lawsuit against the state of Florida for their attempted, illegal purge of as many as 180,000 "potential non-citizens" from the voter rolls, despite the fact that, to date, almost all of the targeted voters have been shown to be both legal citizens and legal voters. (In his coverage, Ernest Canning also offered a nice summarized round-up of Florida's twelve-year recent history of pulling this crap by illegally removing legal voters from the voting rolls in election after election.)
Later yesterday, Florida filed suit against the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), arguing that the feds are refusing to turn over their database, so that the attempted voter purge might more accurately target actual non-citizens. The state claims they've been trying to gain access to that federal database for months --- since it is supposedly more accurate than the state's drivers license database (which legally includes non-citizens, but fails to note many them have become naturalized citizens since getting their drivers license.) The suit argues that the feds have disallowed them from doing so, for some reason.
Now, the real story becomes a bit easier to understand, thanks to a 5-page letter [PDF] released later in the day yesterday from the Dept. of Justice to the State of Florida in response to their previous refusal to halt the illegal voter roll purge.
The new letter explains why FL is currently being denied access to the federal DHS database; details how FL is blatantly violating several federal laws with their attempted purge; requests the state "immediately cease this unlawful conduct"; and, just in case they don't, notifies them that the DoJ has now "authorized the initiation of an enforcement action against Florida in Federal court."
In other words, the DoJ is going to court to sue the state of Florida to stop the illegal purge.

* * *
I'd go into more details on the above, but I'm scrambling to prepare for tonight's nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show (which I'm guest hosting all week). So hopefully the above will give you the skinny on this maddening attempt at voter suppression by the GOP in the Sunshine State for the moment.
We'll be speaking more about this on the show tonight, with my guest, the legendary Leon County, FL Supervisor of Election Ion Sancho --- the man who was put in charge of the 2000 Presidential Recount (which never happened) in Florida! He's got quite a few thoughts on all of the above. Don't miss it! You'll be able to the show streaming links here at The BRAD BLOG later tonight, if you're not lucky enough to get the Malloy Show on either SiriusXM ch. 127 or an air station near you..
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