28.6.11

Michele Bachmann 2012

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Bachmann
http://bachmann.house.gov/
http://www.michelebachmann.com/issues/

She's a woman. Great. Awesome. About time we had a female President and most powerful person on the planet. About time we show the Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia that in our country anyone can succeed and reach the very pinnacle of power. Personally I'd prefer if that person was Black and named Condoleeza Rice, or if not then Latina, but if I can't have that I'll settle for the "woman" part being a net positive gain for the world. You might laugh but stuff like that has an impact on little girls growing up in Iraq, Saudi Arabia or Syria or Afghanistan or Uzbekistan or Pakistan who then compare her story to their own society and realize how f***** up it is that they can't drive or vote or wear what clothes they want to wear or express their opinion or get married to who they want to marry or feel safe and accepted as a LGBT minority.

She's a fiscal conservative. Great. Awesome. Yay some bloody fiscal sense and let's not throw money around like we actually have it. We don't. Let's start cutting back the borrowing.

She's got IRS history. Awesome. I'm guessing she has a more in-depth understanding of tax issues than I do.

She's got legislative history. Great. Awesome.

She's not Sarah Palin. Half-baked half-term completing with a huge lack of experience, there.

Bachmann supports the teaching of intelligent design in public school science classes.
Well, that's bloody stupid.

She's a patriot. Only I'm wondering if she's not a bit more of an Israeli patriot than a US patriot. I suppose you could be both - but then you'd have to disavow the settlers in the West Bank and the whole keeping Gaza under lock and key in a ghetto thing. Not to mention the oodles of money that goes from private donors in the US to settlers and all kinds of nasty territorial grabs in East Jerusalem every year. Kind of like the money that flows to Hamas and Hezbollah from Syria, Jordan, the Gulf States and all that crap. That kind of crap has a direct result in massive US foreign policy issues and dead US soldiers, some of whom are my friends. Longer wars. Easier recruiting for Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba and all that. More trouble in the long term. Easier for the extreme right in Israel to feel that they just have to play out the clock in their conflict with the Palestinians in regards to refugees who want to return, the Barrier and water and land grabs. That crap is not in Israel's best interest, by the way, so easy on the trigger there what with calling me an anti-Semite for writing so.

Bachmann supports both a federal and state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any legal equivalents.
Doesn't bother me, though Yes, it is discrimination in my personal opinion. But I don't really care about it, as long as you leave the door open for civil unions to be recognized. Eventually gay marriage will be recognized universally - you simply can't stop the idea that people should be allowed to marry whomever they want. Eventually polygamy will become legal, as well. Hopefully that's the end of it. Let's not get into the whole marrying your computer or kids or dogs thing. But my position is that the word "marriage" is not the deal breaker, here. You can have a law that says "marriage" is between a man and a woman while protecting the civil right to a civil union with all the same legal and social and financial and fiscal stuff as a marriage. In fact, if the gay agenda activists had gone the way of advocating for "civil rights" instead of "marriage rights" I think the vast majority of average, un-interested, reasonable moderate individuals like myself would have signed a few more petitions. I didn't sign the petition in front of the store the other day since they insisted on the whole "marriage" thing. If it had been for "civil rights" I'd have signed in a heartbeat.

So Bachmann apparently wants to outlaw even civil unions. Bad on her. The whole "marriage" word thing she and her evangelical religious freaks can have. Let's not beat around the Bush here, this whole thing stinks to high heaven of being rooted in religious paternalistic bigotry and prejudice. Leviticus and all that.
"We need to have profound compassion for people who are dealing with the very real issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders."
Umm... what people do in the privacy of their own house or bar or club between consenting adults is none of my business and none of yours. Keep it civil on the street and in public please. What puts people off from sympathizing with gays' civil rights struggles is the leather and outrageous behaviour and obscene dress and in-your-face attitude and appropriating the rainbow as a symbol.

If a person dressed in normal business attire came up to me and said "Hi, I'm lesbian/gay/bi and I just want my civil right to have a civil union with my long-term partner" then I'd say "Hell yeah where do I sign?"

In 2006, Bachmann stated that she would vote to permit abortion in cases of rape and incest. 
Works for me. I personally don't see that the right of an unborn child outweighs a woman's right to decide what goes on in her own body until maybe that child has a decent chance of survival outside the woman's body without a massive amount of medical intervention and costly technology and gear, but abortion is never exactly a good thing, just the least bad outcome - so if people in different states want to legislate against it while still leaving options for rape/incest/mother's life in danger, then I don't have a problem with that. Don't live in that state. Or fight it in the courts. Show the hypocrisy of the people who target abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood and then end up having abortions themselves, or send their daughter in for it while still insisting that their experience is an exception to the rule. Just because she's not 100% on my side of this doesn't mean she can't be a decent President.

http://bachmann.house.gov/Issues/Issue/?IssueID=2860

She completely avoids the issue of Agribusiness subsidies and non-market-decided water prices, both of which need to go away. Let the market settle it. Compete with the outside world or find another business to be in. "Death Tax"? I couldn't care less, though the American tax burden in general falls disproportionately on the lower and middle-income targets and smarter/more successful people can structure their way around a heavy tax burden, so this might help a tiny bit.

http://www.michelebachmann.com/issues/

My top priorities as a constitutional conservative:


  • Restore our economy and create millions of new jobs.
  • Repeal Obamacare and its unconstitutional mandates.
  • Achieve deep cuts in spending to reduce America's debt.
  • Strengthen the family and defend marriage.
  • Rebuild respect for America as the shining city upon a hill.
Nice work to whatever Political Consultant wrote that. State no specifics and appeal to a wide audience. Maximize electability and confuse the spectrum. Fudge as much as possible and avoid any clearcut statements. People are stupid and smoke cigarettes and eat fast food and kill each other with guns and buy drugs from Mexico. That translates to a huge health care and crime problem that costs a ton of money. Obamacare might not be a perfect solution to that, but it might be a start. Honestly I'm not educated enough on the issue to say Yes or No.

"Achieve deep cuts in spending to reduce America's debt." ...Every politician's favourite promise - with no specifics. I suppose that might be necessary, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt on that.


Evangelical Christianity and perceived craziness.
She's a politician. Politicians say stupid things sometimes. Tea Party people even more so. The very leftist Gawker and Jezebel websites seem to be on a bit of a witch-hunt against her due to the anti-gay marriage thing and of course abortion. She's less nuts than Palin, at least. I'm not terribly enthused with the prospect of deeply religious people being in power, but that's what you get in the US - voters tend to like people with strong religious beliefs. Oh well.


All in all not horrible, but the religiosity and the Israeli patriotism and the die-hard anti-gay and anti-abortion things kind of put me off. At least she hasn't condoned or passed along orders to torture people, like Condoleeza Rice did.


Why this post and not one about Jon Huntsman or one of the others? Buzz. Keep seeing the media report her as an early front runner, which will translate into a lot of fund-raising potential, which unfortunately goes to TV advertising which is a major path to getting elected in the US. Yes, it takes a lot of cash to get elected. Which sucks. And turns regular state and federal Congress members into pay-to-play dopes in the pocket of special interest lobbies. Arguably one of the most corrupt systems on the planet, but there's not much better alternatives - we can just hope for a little more transparency over time.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/28/us-usa-campaign-bachmann-idUSTRE75P1G320110628


The newspaper also reported a Bachmann family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received about $260,000 in federal subsidies.
This from a candidate who argues vehemently on the need to cut government spending.
http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/06/29/257646/bachmanns-husband-calls-homosexuals-barbarians-who-need-to-be-educated-and-disciplined/

While we're at it, her husband is a bit of a bigot and wants to re-educate people in their sexuality. How about we just let people do what they want to do in the privacy of their own homes and clubs and bars and churches? Let's not force churches to officiate weddings that they don't want to, and let's not bother the LGBT people about their private lives.

In conclusion: some good things, too many extreme Tea-Party-crazy evangelist-inspired positions for me to get behind. Meh.

19.6.11

Protecting people from themselves. The role of government vs. personal accountability.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-13830017





A lifeboat volunteer says it is "quite bizarre" that tourists continue to try to drive on a tidal causeway outside safe crossing times.
That rescue was the eighth Seahouses RNLI crew has carried out this year.
Ian Clayton, from the Seahouses station said: "It's incredible that people seem to think they can drive their cars into the North Sea."

In the latest rescue on Thursday the couple had to abandon their hire car to the incoming tide and make their way to the causeway's refuge shelter. 
"They all seem to think it's not their fault, but they've totally ignored warning signs on both sides of the road. None of those who are caught out are locals, it's always people who are visiting the area."
Cigarettes cause a huge amount of lost economic revenue to many countries every year - and costs billions and billions of dollars in treatment for various ailments associated with smoking.

Same with alcohol - but we already know how prohibition worked out - it didn't.

I stated in favour of mandatory swim lessons for children in the US in Elementary and Middle School. This is what I got back:

Trust me Pars. Speaking as someone who works for the government the last thing you want is more involvement by us. In anything.
and
I don't know how you just took something that is a parent's responsibility and made it something that should be required by the government, but you did. I don't think it's the School Department's responsibilty to teach swimming, I think it's the parent's to ensure it happens. 
To put it simply - a great deal of people would rather have kids dying because their parents didn't teach them how to swim, than have "Big Government" gain another little piece of individual's freedom. Personally I'd rather have a little less drowning kids and less money spent on responding to frantic people calling the police saying "Help, the kids are drowning and I don't know how to swim!" But I see where people might be very resistant to any change in this. After all - it's still your right to mutilate your child's genitals - excuse me, I meant to write circumcise your child's genitals. Where to draw the line between the "Big Government" nanny-state and individual freedoms so frequently used for nefarious or stupid purposes - is a debate that will go on until the end of time.

Fast food is bad for you and causes no end of financial strain on our society and health care system.

The solution is to inform and educate, and also to install things like railroad crossing barriers to stop people from trying to get their cars across right before an oncoming train - letting the people in the car take inordinate risks will eventually not just kill them and the kids in the backseat, but also cost a whole lot of money in cleanup and lost revenue for the railway system.

Taxing the hell out of cigarettes isn't a bad idea - more money to pay for schools and wars and mass transit and infrastructure - and less people smoking less which leads to savings down the line for health care of said smokers.

The solution to the tidal-covered causeway above might be barriers - or adding signs specifying how many people have died or had to have been rescued for ignoring the danger.


You have to make it real to people - you have to give them something they can relate to. You have to make it in their financial interest to do the right thing. Force a person to drive slowly past a concrete barrier that lists how many rescues have been made at the tidal causeway, and how much a rescue will cost the rescuee. Force them to stop for a barrier or stop and click a button to lift it, with a sign above it saying:

"By clicking this button you accept full financial liability should you need to be rescued."

17.6.11

LGBT & Women's rights will eventually pull the Middle East out of its Dark Ages.

http://beta.news.yahoo.com/un-backs-gay-rights-first-time-ever-193814191.html

 The United Nations endorsed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people for the first time ever Friday, passing a resolution hailed as historic by the U.S. and other backers and decried by some African and Muslim countries.
Following tense negotiations, members of the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council narrowly voted in favor of the declaration put forward by South Africa, with 23 votes in favor and 19 against.
Backers included the U.S., the European Union, Brazil and other Latin American countries. Those against included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Pakistan. China, Burkina Faso and Zambia abstained, Kyrgyzstan didn't vote and Libya was suspended from the rights body earlier. 
Islam will eventually have to reform itself to accomodate the desire of muslims for freedom and tolerance. Muslim kids growing up in the USA and Europe with Facebook and Twitter and whatever the next big internet thing will be - they will not long countenance a woman's testimony being worth half that of a man's in Iran, or a woman having no right to own property or drive a car in Saudi Arabia. Or killing gays and lesbians in Syria or Nigeria or Russia. Or not having the right to leave or choose another religion as you see fit.

Another twenty years and the mullahs and imams and the popes and fanatical religious idiots will have seen the modern world sweep them by. On the way to that there'll be plenty of dead activists and non-traditional people, but that's the way it goes.

16.6.11

Cameron Todd Willingham - a likely innocent man executed in 2004.


INCENDIARY the willingham case (2011 SILVERDOCS U.S. Sterling Feature Competition) from Joe Bailey, Jr. on Vimeo.


I'm not terribly concerned with the death penalty system in the US. Sure, there are innocent people that keep being released after spending years on death row. Sure, it helps to have a lot of money and not be black if you want to avoid the death penalty. But in comparison to the number of people put to death each year in wars and in China this is not that big of a deal. Or compare it to the drug war or the gun violence or the situation on the border to Mexico - this is a more minor issue, except maybe philosophically.

Eventually the death penalty will be repealed in the US, that's inevitable. In the meantime I won't be crying much over the vast majority of those put to death.

But here's a very likely innocent person that was executed not very long ago at all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_Todd_Willingham

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann

He had beaten his wife. They had reconciled. He had a poster of Iron Maiden in his basement. He had a grill on his front porch. He didn't act exactly the way everyone who witnessed the house burning down thought he should have acted. If a parent doesn't die in the fire that kills his kids, then he's automatically guilty, according to some, apparently. He did not rush back into the fire to save his kids. Is that good enough reason to execute someone? I think not.

The major reason he was convicted and eventually executed was perjured testimony from a jailhouse informant that received time off his sentence in exchange for his testimony. He later recanted and asked "The statute of limitations has run out on perjury, right?" The uneducated, unlicensed, uncertified arson investigator was a fan of folklore and pseudo-science - and proud of the 80% of his fire investigations that came out as arson. Nationwide, that figure is more around 20%. His investigation was later debunked, but the scientific investigation did not get to the Governor of Texas at the time of the execution. His aides kept it from him for political reasons, apparently.

It's a bit too late now that our society has already executed him, but it wouldn't hurt to finally officially recognize that a faulty justice system and political process failed to grant this man a fair trial. He was very likely innocent, and at the very least not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Internet has a new hero: Vancouverman stands up to rioter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWLqLeRv5sw

Halfway through. Thugs and idiots taking advantage of lawlessness to do damage to a car. One brave man stands up for what's right.

11.6.11

US provides intel to Pakistanis. It leaks?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/karzai-arrives-in-pakistan-for-reconciliation-talks/2011/06/10/AGzsWPOH_story_1.html

A local security official in North Waziristan confirmed that Pakistani forces had raided the girls’ school after militants had abandoned it. A local tribal official, who, like the security official, spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it is common for insurgent groups to use schools and hospitals to manufacture weapons.
The gist of the article is creating the impression that US officials, with video and other evidence of bomb-making factories in a girl's school and another unspecified location, provide said evidence to Pakistani counterparts due in part to the unsuitability of drone-striking the targets with the expectation of high civilian casualties - but the bad guys are warned and move on.

1. Leaks happen.
2. Bad guys occasionally get spooked and move anyway, you have no idea why they did.
3. The Pakistani military/police/ISI isn't terribly hard to infiltrate, one would think.
4. Military/police/intel in many developing countries will recklessly telegraph their hits.

9.6.11

Hoax/Truth: A Gay Girl in Damascus

UPDATE:
Hoax is most likely over. http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/new-evidence-about-amina-gay-girl-damascus-hoax has rather compelling evidence that "Amina" is a product of husband-wife team Tom MacMaster and Britta Froelicher of Edinburgh, Scotland - formerly of the Atlanta area of Georgia, USA. IP addresses, property records etc. More fun comes in the discovery that the person in charge of one of the websites involved, http://lezgetreal.com/ - is not who she says she is.


http://www.facebook.com/FreeAminaArraf
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/06/09/137071842/gay-girl-in-damascus-a-personal-friend-sifts-through-whats-real?ft=1&f=1001&sc=tw&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
http://damascusgaygirl.blogspot.com/
http://www.tweetdeck.com/twitter/acarvin/~zMjfv
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amina_Abdallah_Araf_al_Omari
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/09/gay-girl-in-damascus-truth-or-hoax

For 106 days Araf, a 35-year-old with a glossy brown bob and a distinctive mole over her left eyebrow, described daily life at home in a large house in the old city of Damascus, where she lived with her father. He knew of her sexuality, she wrote, and was supportive.
As Syria's popular uprising gained momentum, however – and with it the government's violent response – the outspoken activist described an ever more precarious life; eventually, she wrote of being forced into hiding. Her blog was gaining a growing following, and she gave an interview by email to CNN and agreed to talk in person to the Guardian's correspondent in Damascus, though she did not show up to that meeting, as is not uncommon for activists in the city, saying she had seen secret police at the rendezvous cafe.
On Monday a post appeared on the blog signed by Araf's cousin Rania O Ismail, saying the activist had been snatched by security forces from a street, and prompting headlines around the world.
That's when the questions began. Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at the US broadcaster NPR, who has become a key hub of Twitter contacts throughout the Middle East, wrote that he had been contacted, separately, by Syrian sources who said they had doubts about some of the details in the blog. No one in the Syrian lesbian and gay community seemed to have heard of her, and some details – such as when she wrote that secret police who had come to arrest her left after her father stood up to them – did not ring true.
Separately, a young woman from London, Jelena Lecic, had seen the press coverage of Araf's kidnapping, and contacted media organisations to say the pictures published around the world were not of an Arab lesbian, but had been taken from her own social media sites. The Guardian's website removed the photograph, taken from a Facebook page calling for Araf's release, and replaced it with an image that had been emailed directly to the Damascus correspondent by the person claiming to be Araf.
I've spent a fair amount of time following this story as it developed. I was fooled at first and believed her name to be real and her location to be in Damascus, as she said.


1. Consistent failure to speak via skype or phone to her supposed "girlfriend" in Montreal, Sandra Bagaria. 
2. Consistently backing out of plans to meet with someone, always at the last minute.
3. Consistent failure to provide any specifics to verify anything she claims, such as life in Chicago, Atlanta or growing up in Virginia.
4. Claiming to use her real name - very likely false.
5. Prior blog claiming to mix fact and fiction without telling the reader which is which.
6. Online minor profile in her name with "Language" listed as Hebrew. Could be someone else, could be a setup, could be something pulled from somewhere else. Probably meaningless.
7. IP address leading to Edingburgh, Scotland - many activists use proxy servers, though.
8. Phone number leads to a random pharmacy instead of to her home as she claimed it would.
9. The supposed "cousin" that also has writing/moderation privileges on the blog is dead silent in aftermath of online furore post-"abduction".
10. "Girlfriend" in Montreal is text-chat online relationship only.


So where's all that leaves us? Hoaxed, scammed? Sure. Could be a man, or a foreign activist or just someone writing for the hell of it. If so it started before the recent revolution started going.


Lots of details of life in Damascus, but a lot of stuff that smells of overdramatized fiction, as well, in hindsight.


Person living in Damascus or who has lived there who is LGBT-active?


Either case, it really doesn't matter. This isn't me trying to defend my gullibility. I got taken in.


The current Syrian regime is odious and killing its own citizens in the streets, no matter their sexual orientation. If the fake blog brought attention to the situation of LGBT communities in the Middle East, then that's a damn good thing and the start of real change in a very backward, medieval, Dark Ages-type part of the world. So good on her, whomever it was that wrote the blog. May well be the same person as her cousin, that's now still deleting comments on the blog.


The point is, change and protection for vulnerable sexual and religious minorities and women needs to happen in the Middle East. And the regime of President Assad needs to fall. This whole blog conspiracy is really not terribly important in light of people getting shot protesting peacefully.


So where is the writer right now? Probably not in Damascus. Probably the same person as the "cousin". Could be with the name Amina Arraf, though:
http://www.myspace.com/135726767



Or could be that she is detained in Damascus and just didn't want to use her real pictures out of fear, or out of wanting to look like Jelena Jeclic of London, the UK. Which would explain her not wanting to Skype with her new friend in Montreal, since she'd be found out to have deceived her my misrepresenting what she looked like?

UPDATE
Nail in the coffin for her being exactly who she claims to be:
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/06/annotated-guide-questionable-gay-girl-damascus-passages/38678/

...Which still doesn't take away from her writing achievements and gaining attention for a cause that needs attending, or change the fact that thousands of Syrians are in jail or dead for no damn good reason.

Seems  quite possible her name is real, some of her story checks out with a MySpace page from Atlanta in that name, with believable pictures. But many parts of the blog, like kissing/hugging another girl in Damascus airport - seems fabricated and wishful dreaming. Perhaps she's in Damascus and making things up, or living someplace else and making things up.

2: MORE FUN
http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/sifting-syrian-fact-from-syrian-fiction/
One of the pictures from the MySpace page is of a celebrity Palestinian female fighter. It looked inconsistent and out of place to me, which is why I didn't use it above. The other two are as yet unknown.

Even more fun: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/world/middleeast/09ambassador.html

All kinds of weird crap around the Syrian ambassador to France. Looks like France 24 TV channel got taken for a ride by someone with an axe to grind and a wicked sense of humor. TV channel calls the embassy and get a phone number to call the ambassador. They call that number. Woman purporting to be the ambassador claims in both French and English that she's resigning. The next day the (real?) ambassador goes on live TV with video and officially denies it, claims to be about to sue for defamation bla blah.

6.6.11

Some websites that need to happen.

1. POST VIDEO OF BRIBERY, MAKE MONEY

http://www.bribespot.com/ already happened. But we need video and audio of the bribery taking place. We need people getting paid for exposing corruption, with credible evidence to boot. Sure audio and video can be faked, but that takes a lot of work and resources and money to do well. Small cameras that can fit in the fabric of your jacket are already out there, but they need the battery life and ease of operation and field of view to make this work. Another 5 years.

2. VOLUNTARY, TRANSPARENT DNA DATABASE

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_DNA_database DNA databases are maintained on a country-by-country basis in the modern world. Great. Now give me a website where I can credibly prove that I have voluntarily added myself to such databases. No "Big Brother" or "1984" style official coercion to get people to give up their privacy. Just a purely voluntary thing.

Why?

I'd put it on my résumé. I'd start selling that website service to people who want to add some credibility to their online dating profiles.

"Hi. I'd like to marry your daughter, Sir. I can't prove to you that I've never committed a crime or done anything bad, but here's proof that I'm willing to bet the rest of my life and my reputation on the fact that I'm a good guy and I don't leave DNA at crime scenes because I don't commit crimes."

Understood that criminals might be smart enough not to leave such evidence, but it seems quite often they do. A little bit of confidence is better than no confidence. Transparency isn't just releasing your birth certificate - transparency is releasing your tax records and leaving yourself open to criticism with a preponderance of evidence saying "I was born in the United States and here are the documents to prove it, and all the supporting circumstantial evidence." Documents can be faked. Conspiracies do happen, but not often, and if it's not a conspiracy then it's usually fairly easy to gather documents to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were here or there or did this or that. Not always, but most of the time.

DNA can also be faked.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_profiling#Fake_DNA_evidence - In 1992 a doctor raped a sedated patient and left semen behind in her underwear. Faced with giving blood to collect his DNA, he implanted tubes with someone else's blood and anti-coagulants in his arms. He was eventually caught anyway. It's entirely possible that cops have gotten away with planting DNA evidence on crime scenes. If they were successful we wouldn't know about it.
In a study conducted by the life science company Nucleix and published in the journal Forensic Science International, scientists found that an In vitro synthesized sample of DNA matching any desired genetic profile can be constructed using standard molecular biology techniques without obtaining any actual tissue from that person.
So someone could take your DNA profile and manufacture evidence, then plant it, which would seem to run counter to my argument, and it does. Problem with that is that faking things and not getting caught takes people, equipment and money and effort. The more people involved, the greater the chance for transparency. It's not a perfect solution, but it adds to a great deal of other circumstantial evidence that you can use to prove your innocence or someone's guilt.

If you have nothing to hide and you don't expect to commit crimes in the future, why not add your DNA to the national database and be proud that you did? Subject to privacy concerns and the safety of your personal information, but that's a risk we take all the time with giving our personal identification information to all kinds of organizations, because it is worth the risk for us.

3. EASY-ACCESS CONVENIENT LOCAL, STATE AND FEDERAL POLITICAL INFORMATION

Most average voters out there aren't terribly well educated about the people standing for election. It's not always terribly easy to figure out what choices to make of people that you've never heard of. See http://reasonablydoubtingnews.blogspot.com/2010/11/2010-ca-gubernatorial-election_20.html

In the 2010 California election for governor I faced about 98 different names I wish I had known more about. To expect the average voter to spend hours and hours researching every one of those names is simply to expect too much.

Solution: simple, neutral website. No flashy graphics to speed loading time and reliability the night before an election. Plug in your zip code and be directed to a list of all upcoming elections there, with an immediate list of all the people and causes in the next election, with a simple labeling system of Conservative, Liberal, Libertarian, Socialist, Moderate, Fiscal-conservative-social-liberal "tags" chosen by the candidates themselves, with links to their wikipedia entries and their campaign sites for further information.

I have an election tomorrow. I have no time. I go to the website. I know that I'm a fiscal conservative with some liberal social leanings but I want tax reform, death to subsidies, moderately pro-choice and an end to US financial support (private or public) of settlers in the West Bank and Gaza. I plug in "Conservative" in the page and I now have a list of people I'm strongly considering voting for. Not perfect, but it'll work. More information more easily and conveniently available for a majority of uneducated voters without much time or energy to do research. If they have the time, there are the links to click to the relevant wikipedia articles and campaign websites.

4. POST VIDEO/INFORMATION OF FRAUDULENT BOMB DETECTION DEVICES, GET CASH


This one kind of goes hand in hand with the bribery website. Needs a lot less funding, just say $100 per video and in less than a year the whole phenomenon could be stamped out. What am I writing about?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniffex
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADE_651
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/02/AR2010110203290.html

The people who make these fraudulent devices for about $40 sell them for $15000.00 - quite a markup. Authorities are already gunning for them in the UK and elsewhere, but they're still in use in many locations around the world, notably the Middle East and South America.

Citizens sees device being used.
Take picture or video.
Post credible video or set of pictures.
Make $100.

Not allowed to take picture or video - wait, get to a safe location and then record video of what you saw and what happened and where and the frontpage of a local newspaper to sort-of prove that you're legit and not trying to scam us out of money and not uploading something really old. Panel of few people or crowd-sourced people (think Snopes.com, James Randi, respected mainstream journalists etc.) get a chance to weigh in on whether your video is legit or not, examined for video editing and verifiability, then BAM there you go - $100 in cold hard currency which is a fair amount of money in many parts of the world. A whole lot of money for many people in the developing world where superstition and belief in magic is at its strongest.