Thursday, June 28, 2007

Net Neutrality Update-FCC issues its report:AT&T wins again

(also posted on Michigan Liberal)

Well after holding virtually unannounced hearings across the country for as short a time period as was legally allowed, the FCC, that self-proclaimed protector of the public, that guardian of the average Joe and Jane who use the Internet, announced its decision. The best way to summarize it is to quote the Jamaican philosophy, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”

The Consumer’s Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) has been following the discussion and has a lot to say about the latest decision. Read it here.

Read it and do a bit of teeth-gnashing about how far AT&T has gone with its plan to privatize the Internet. And to think, it began in Michigan when AT&T waved a few jobs in front of Granholm’s eyes, bought the Republican legislature, and heralded a new era of media competition in Michigan (translation: do away with competitors). Michigan was the model for how Verizon and AT&T were going to take over in, lets see, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Georgia. Those are just the ones have given away their media franchising: there are more states under siege.

But fortunately, Granholm said that she would make sure that NN was safe in Michigan. Yep, that would be at the top of her list as soon as she was re-elected... that was in the fall of 2006.

Granted, that was before the newly-elected Repubicans set out to destroy Michigan’s economy and governmental system, and allow CAFOs to pollute our food and water: that would distract anyone from election promises.

But nothing has been done to protect NN in Michigan, and as we have passed the half-way mark in 2007, nothing is in the legislative pipeline. We are facing the possibility that when this crisis is past (it will, indeed, pass one way or another), we in Michigan will have lost the last truly public medium, the Internet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Eric Baerren ponders Cropsey’s nonsense about his CAFO vote

As expected, Cropsey sided with the polluters on the CAFO vote. Read Eric Baerren’s column here as he tries to make sense of Cropsey’s nonsensical rationale of why he cares more for major polluters than the water and air that the citizens of his district drink and breathe.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tell Camp to vote for the Local Community Radio Act of 2007

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that five (count’em, five) media corporations control almost all we see, hear, and read in this country. The same is true for what we see, read, and hear in mid-Michigan.

There are small patches of sunlight that break through the media fog occasionally, and the Local Community Radio Act of 2007 is one of them. This Act will open up our airwaves so there can be more low power FM radio stations in this region. More stations means more noncommercial, locally oriented news and information that is ignored (or suppressed) by the stations that are not locally owned.

Contact Dow’s Representative Dave Camp, and urge him to vote for the bill. He needs to know that the public supports LPFM.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Isabella Democrats Challenge Internet Voting for Presidential Primary

When Michigan Democrats begin choosing their next President one of the methods they may use to vote is the Internet. Isabella County Democrats are now saying that could be a tragic mistake that could embarrass the Michigan Democratic Party.

At a special meeting of the Isabella County Democratic Party on June 13 where Internet Voting was the only topic on the agenda, a resolution in opposition to Internet Voting was adopted. The very detailed resolution claims Internet voting does not meet minimum requirements for safety and transparency and is backed with evidence from the world's best scientists in that area who say Internet voting is not yet a reliable way to vote.

The ICDP approved resolution was prepared by Dr. Charles Novitski, a CMU associate professor, scientist and researcher in many areas including science policy. Novitski cites a 2004 study by computer security experts who were so critical of a Pentagon plan to allow deployed troops to use the Internet to vote that the plan was abandoned. Novitski also cites more recent testimony by some of those same scientists that nothing has changed in three years that would change their earlier conclusions that Internet voting is much too unsafe.

The Isabella Democrats are so concerned about Michigan being the only state using Internet voting they are asking MDP Chairman Mark Brewer to put plans for Internet voting on hold. The ICDP has also asked the national Democratic Party with a letter to national chair, Howard Dean, to convene an independent expert panel similar to the 2004 Pentagon review to look at the issue to see if Internet voting is a viable option that should be deployed in 2008.

Novitski says highly competent political operatives like Mark Brewer are not scientists and should not pretend they are by making claims that Internet voting is safe and reliable. Brewer and other Democrats ignore real science at great risk, the CMU prof added. Novitski has detailed studies showing how Republicans and specifically, the Bush administration, have ignored and even vilified scientific findings on drug safety, global warming and other areas. He says he not surprised when Republicans ignore science but is stunned that Democrats would ignore scientific findings about Internet voting.

Isabella Democrats who know Novitski and his conscientious research and meticulous teachings on science policy have gotten solidly behind the effort to challenge the state party on Internet voting.

What state party officials seem to be doing is akin to believing a used car salesman that the car you are about to buy is just fine, and then refusing to take it to be checked out by your independent mechanic even after neighbors say they sold that car to the dealer and they know it needs very expensive repairs.

Below is an FAQ about the issue as the ICDP sees it and the entire 13-page resolution is available here on the ICDP website.

FAQ (frequently asked questions) about ICDP involvement

in campaign to stop Internet voting

Q1. Why is the ICDP involved in this effort?

A1. Because the ICDP is fortunate to have many members of our organization who are scientists who are employed by CMU. One of the scientists is Dr. Charles Novitski who began researching the science behind Internet voting. Novitski teaches a course on science policy and has done extensive research in that area. After a review of the literature on Internet voting, Dr. Novitski felt compelled to bring this to our attention after his initial efforts to bring the issue to state and national party officials fell on deaf ears.

Q2. What action did ICDP take?

A2. A special meeting to discuss this single issue was announced and held on Wednesday, June 13 where Dr. Novitski presented some of his findings along with a very detailed resolution in opposition to Internet voting. At that meeting the resolution was discussed, questions were asked and answered and many changes were recommended, but the arguments were clear and convincing that our state party is wrong about Internet voting. The vote was overwhelming and unanimous in favor of the Novitski resolution as modified.

Q3. Didn't we already have Internet voting at the 2004 Michigan Democratic Party primary caucus as one of our choices?

A3. Yes, but in 2004 our national candidate had already effectively been selected because Michigan's primary was so late in the year. The few questions about Internet voting were not taken seriously at that time because it really wasn't a very important issue that would have any major impact on the outcome and the MDP took pride in being an innovative early-adopter organization.

Q4. What is the case against Internet voting?

A4. The case is long and detailed and spelled out in the ICDP passed resolution. We recommend that anyone who cares about our state party go through at least part of it to understand why we feel so strongly about this issue. In essence, there has been research and reviews of Internet voting by independent computer security experts who believe that at this time there is no effective way to make Internet voting safe, reliable and transparent. When the Pentagon asked scientists in 2004 to review the SERVE program to allow military families and Americans overseas to use the Internet to vote, the case against Internet voting was so strong, the Pentagon dropped that program and has been trying to come up with another better approach. Those efforts have been unsuccessful thus far. Recent testimony before Congress has also confirmed Internet voting is not ready for prime time yet. It is all spelled out with citations and web links in our resolution thanks to Dr. Novitski.

Q5. What other actions has the ICDP taken since passing the resolution against Internet voting?

A5. The ICDP and its volunteers have been working feverishly on letters to both state and national party officials to convince them that, at the very least, we should conduct a review of our Internet voting procedures by an appointed panel of independent computer security experts, not just an internal review or questioning of vendors. We are also doing our best to inform other party activists around the state.

Q6. What's the hurry? Aren't we many months away from the primary caucus?

A6. A decision to select a vendor could be days away. The MDP has already gotten proposals from several vendors who want to conduct our Internet voting. They are confident they can conduct a safe and secure process even though independent experts say they can't do that and certainly can't make it transparent as required by the policy of our national party. We are convinced our state party is about to make a tragic mistake and we feel compelled to bring all this to their attention.

Q7. What could happen if Internet voting goes ahead?

A7. Hackers have been so successful at various kinds of attacks on the Internet that large organizations spend billions of dollars trying to keep a step ahead of them. Malicious and knowledgeable computer hackers could either prevent Michigan Democrats from voting or could change the results if they are very proficient. The 2008 Democratic Party's Internet voting could turn into a huge embarrassment for the party. We don't want our party or voters to be harmed by a big mistake that can be avoided.

Q8. What can I do to help?

A8. You can contact every serious Democrat you know and inform them about the issue. You can also contact national and state party officials and let them know of your concerns and ask them why they think Internet voting meets the criteria laid out by the national Democratic Party that voting on the Internet can only be done if it is secure, reliable and transparent.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Call Cropsey TODAY: Vote No on the destructive CAFO bill

Michigan environmentalists have been engaged in an uphill fight with Senate Repubs concerning regulation of CAFOs. What, you might ask, are CAFOs? Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Think hundreds or thousands (of small animals) jammed into a confined space doing little but eating and defecating. That’s a CAFO.

Senate Republicans have been working hard to allow CAFOs to pollute at their hearts content. And pollute they do. If you live within a mile of a large CAFO, you are the beneficiary of the stench that rises from animal sewage in holding ponds. Unfortunately, these ponds sometimes leak into nearby streams and lakes, creating health hazards in addition to the already sickening smells.

The Senate will be voting today on whether or not to allow CAFOs to escape environmental laws. Senate Bill 504 would require CAFOs that are 5 times the size of a “large” CAFO (there are about a dozen in Michigan) to have a water permit. All others will be self-policing (“I don’t see any discolored water in the river, do you?).

Once a CAFO escapes such permit requirements, their records of safety, compliance with existing laws, etc., will become secret at the Dept of Agriculture and exempted from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.

The bill also lets CAFOs escape enforcement of animal waste applications that might run off into lakes or streams due to rain or thaws. “Gosh, I’m sorry your property values are gone just because the lake you built next to is now a cess pool. But you can’t do nothin’ about it!” Oh, and those citizen investigations? Forget it: not allowed.

This bill will gut any and all environmental regulations, both state and federal. Call you senator and tell him or her to vote againist this flagrant (fragrant?) disregard to our environment.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Dow Hopes to Do in Thailand What It Has Done in Midland

From a new blog: Below the Radar in Mid-Michigan.

Dow has announced that it is planning to invest in Thailand. In fact, Dow states that it is “committed to turning Thailand into its largest production base in Southeast Asia.” This is going to be an economic and environmental heaven for Dow.

Now the corporation will be able to pollute the environment with the support of the national government. The corporation has been having a more difficult time in Michigan where pesky environmentalists keep suing it for, well, the little things that happen when you are just trying to make a buck. Things like polluting the Tittabawwasse River, or raising the dioxin levels of every living being in the region. Little things like that.

And the only champion poor Dow has is Representative Dave (Rubber Stamp) Camp, who is, among other things, Dow’s shill in Washington. For years, Dave has done everything he can with his limited intellectual skills to cover Dow’s derrière from the lawsuits and environmental studies that might show how badly Dow has debauched the area. Good ol’ Dave. I wonder if he speaks Thai?

Excuse me while I make a personal remark to Andrew Liveris, Dow’s CEO. Andy, when you are in Thailand, watch out for men who look Indian: remember, the Indian government has issued a warrant for your arrest. It’s about that little blowup in...what is the town...oh, yes, Bhopal. Remember Bhopal? Those greedy survivors (there are what, 800,000 of them now?) want to know why Dow insists that no one was responsible for killing 15,000 of their friends and families. Just a friendly caution.

One final request: could you take some pictures of Thailand so we can remember what the country looked like before Dow arrived? That way we can look at the pictures years from now and say, hey, that used to be a beautiful country.


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Saturday, June 16, 2007


A new website has been launched to help Michiganders/Michiganians connect with their government. is the official website of the Granholm Leadership Fund. John VanDeventer tells us more at Michigan Liberal:
The site will allow Michiganders to get involved with important issues through online advocacy tools, make contributions with our secure online form, and discuss the elections and policies that shape Michigan's future on our new blog, The Conversation.

I encourage you all to take a few minutes to check out the new site and would certainly welcome your questions and suggestions. Starting today, we will also be cross-posting all our blog content at and will look into other ways to partner with you all to make the Michigan blogging network as strong as possible. Also, for those of you already eager to make a donation (bless you), our contribution form is now online and ready to go!

We have a lot of exciting stuff in the pipeline as we move forward with our new site - including some cool ideas to get users involved in the 2008 election process. Stay tuned as the site evolves and please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions or comments.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Giant Step Backward: Dow and Coal

John B is absolutely right: this is a giant step back for the environment. It is bad enough that we have an ethanol plant being built in Ithaca that will release 500,000 to 600,000 TONS of CO2 into the atmosphere each year (and use 1200 gallons of water a minute). We don’t need another environmental disaster in this region.

We need to create a dedicated group of activists to work to stop this from happening. I’ll be happy to have my name at the top of the list.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

New Midland Coal-Fired Power Plant : A Giant Step in the Wrong Direction

Michigan desperately needs jobs and will need more energy in the future, but at a time when we now know that fossil fuels are destroying our planet why would anyone even suggest building a huge coal-fired power plant in Central Michigan?

Does Michigan look that stupid and desperate to out-of-staters looking to make some big bucks?

Apparently, it does. While an Irish company is getting ready to build a modern wind farm in Texas that will save hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, here in Central Michigan we are getting ready to dump that many tons and more of greenhouse gases into our already polluted atmosphere.

It is not surprising that our area's largest water and air polluter, the Dow Chemical Company, would have a hand in this fiasco. A good chunk of the land on Midland's south side for the proposed 750MW coal-fired power plant is owned by Dow. A partnership between a New Jersey firm, LS Power Group, and a Texas company, Dynegy, Inc., is planning to build the $1.3 billion project they say would create more than 1,000 construction jobs and another 100 jobs to run the plant. They claim the site is a good one because rail to transport the coal is available and major electric transmission lines to feed the power to the grid are nearby.

But what they don't say is coal-fired power plants are the wrong direction for our state, nation and planet to be heading. Renewable energy from wind and solar makes much more sense if we are really serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving our planet.

Although the new coal-fired power plants will be less polluting than Michigan's existing coal-fired power plants, they will still require huge costs in energy simply to transport the fuel to the site. Midland does not sit atop a coal mine.

Gov. Granholm understands the problem. She has ordered Michigan's coal-fired power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% in nine years.

Her plans call for new investments in Michigan to make the state a magnet for renewable energy technology and development.

A huge coal-fired plant in Midland is not the right direction for Central Michigan or America to be heading.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Film "Energizes" ICDP Meeting: Prompts Mercury in CFL Discussion

A documentary film that suggests America's energy and global warming problems are completely solvable through energy conservation and renewable energy prompted a lively discussion at the ICDP monthly meeting Thursday night. "Killowatt Ours" from documentary film maker Jeff Barrie has an interesting take on national energy policy essentially saying that we should rely on ourselves first to move national policy away from the non-renewable, earth destroying fossil fuels.

Not too surprisingly, most of our local Democrats have already been moving towards energy saving devices like compact fluorescent lamps (CFL's). Dr. Charles Novitski, who led the discussion said he noticed substantial savings on his electric bill when he switched to CFL's in his home.

Some Democrats at the meeting noted they had heard the CFL bulbs have mercury in them, but Novitski noted the amount of mercury is not significant. Free press columnist Susan Ager just addressed the issue in her column on Wednesday.

Canadian officials also offer a more detailed explanation confirming that mercury in CFL's is not a major issue and offers advice on proper disposal.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Ford CEO, Chamber spokeswoman support Democrats' business tax plan

Here's an item from the Detroit Regional Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island:

Blue and white stickers proclaiming "Pass the MBT" began appearing on lapels Thursday afternoon, about the same time that Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, told reporters that the House's Michigan Business Tax plan needed work.

Democrats like the House plan because it's a better deal for manufacturers, especially carmakers. Republicans prefer a plan that offers more incentive for small businesses.

Ford said the Democratic plan would create a more competitive tax structure for Michigan manufacturers, shift more of the tax burden to out-of-state companies that do business in Michigan and encourage research and development in the state.


The Detroit Regional Chamber, which helped write the House plan, weighed in to support it. "We really feel the House approach is better," said Sarah Hubbard, spokeswoman for the chamber.
If the GOP was truly the 'pro-business party,' then why are business leaders flocking to the Democratic plan instead?

If you ask me, most GOP leaders don't care about businesses that are struggling. They just care about those business leaders who support their campaigns: The Lee Raymonds and Dick DeVoses of the world.

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