Poll watcher training by Tea Party calls for breaking the law

A Democratic-leaning political group on Thursday criticized poll-challenger training by an Albuquerque-area Republican official, saying there was misinformation about voter-identification requirements and provisional ballots that could be used to suppress turnout in the general election.

ProgressNow New Mexico released secretly recorded video of the training done last week by Sandoval County GOP vice chairwoman Patricia Morlen, a tea party activist.

“This is a how-to guide to voter suppression, and many of their instructions are in blatant contradiction to state law,” said Pat Davis, executive director of the political group. “People trained by the GOP to ‘protect’ our elections will wreak havoc on our elections and so frustrate voters that many will simply give up and go home.”

Those attending the session were given written materials and were told that voters can be required to show a physical form of identification if that’s requested by two polling place officials from different political parties. Trainees also were told that provisional ballots will be required for the nearly 178,000 registered voters who received mailings from elections officials that could lead to them being purged after the 2014 election.

The training information is incorrect or misleading, however.

New Mexico doesn’t require a photo ID to cast a ballot. Voters need only to state their name, address and birth year at a polling place. A physical ID is required only if someone is a first-time voter and registered by mail without supplying certain identification, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The mailing to voters, including those who haven’t cast ballots in recent elections, doesn’t prevent people from voting with a regular paper ballot this year unless they’ve moved and haven’t updated their registration address. In that instance, an individual would have to use a provisional ballot, according to state elections officials…

The training session also incorrectly stated that provisional ballots will only be counted in tight elections. Provisional ballots are counted if a voter is found to be properly registered.

One of the worst rightwing ideologues in the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican, Congressman Steve Pearce from downstate New Mexico supported all of this crap even though he knows it’s illegal:

“We’re simply saying that we’re going to start, we’re going to take it back it into our hands,” said Pearce. “We should check for ID since you have to show an ID to do anything in America.”

He did, however, admit that doing so would be against the law…

Apparently being a law-abiding citizens only extended to laws Republicans approve of. They are judge and jury unto themselves.

Theologian preaches revolution to end Catholic dictatorship

One of the world’s most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.

Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church’s members.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an “authoritarian system” with parallels to Germany’s Nazi dictatorship…

The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. “The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list.” The result was a church of “yes men”, almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.

The only way for reform is from the bottom up,” said Küng, 84, who is a priest. “The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore,” he added.

Küng…said that inspiration for global change was to be found in his native Switzerland and in Austria, where hundreds of Catholic priests have formed movements advocating policies that openly defy current Vatican practices. The revolts have been described as unprecedented by Vatican observers, who say they are likely to cause deep schisms in the church.

“I’ve always said that if one priest in a diocese is roused, that counts for nothing. Five will create a stir. Fifty are pretty much invincible. In Austria, the figure is well over 300, possibly up to 400 priests; in Switzerland it’s about 150 who have stood up and it will increase.”

Good luck to Kung and those brave souls who dare question some of the most backwards and reactionary theology in the world.

The Catholic Church has advantages in maintaining its ideology from a centralized governance. As long as it rejects advances in knowledge, ethics and understanding, that centralization will provide nothing of value to the church’s membership – or to humanity in the much larger world.

Greatest monthly employment gain since 1983!

The unemployment rate dropped to a near four-year low of 7.8 percent in September, a potential boost to President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.

The Labor Department said on Friday the unemployment rate, a key focus in the race for the White House, dropped by 0.3 percentage point to its lowest point since January 2009.

A survey of households from which the jobless rate is derived showed 873,000 job gains last month, the most since June 1983. The drop in unemployment came even as Americans come back into the labor force to resume the hunt for work. The workforce had shrank in the prior two months.

The household survey is volatile. A survey of business establishments showed employers added 114,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, a touch above economists’ expectations for 113,000 jobs. Employment for July and August was revised to show 86,000 more jobs created than previous reported…

The central bank, which also pledged to keep overnight lending rates near zero until at least mid-2015, hopes the purchases drive down long-term borrowing costs and spur the recovery.

The Fed’s ultra-easy stance has started to free up credit, giving a lift to consumers, economists said. That, in turn, helped lift retail hiring in September…

There will be lots of details, today – even more discussion of the details. The Party-formerly-known-as-Republican will have to decide which of several lies will suit their party line: federal statistics wrong, ADP numbers from earlier in the week must be wrong, the sky is falling?

Good news for working people always seems to upset rightwing pundits and politicians. Think about that sometime.

91 medical “professionals” arrested in $430 million Medicare fraud

Ninety-one people including doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were charged criminally in a new sweep of Medicare fraud involving seven U.S. cities and $430 million in alleged false billing…

It was the government’s second big raid in recent months after a similar effort in May alleged $452 million in fraud in Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled.

The allegations include billing the government for unnecessary ambulance rides in California, writing prescriptions for patients in Dallas who did not qualify for them and paying kickbacks such as food and cigarettes to patients in Houston if they attended programs a hospital could later bill for.

The investigation is part of an effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to find healthcare savings, an issue that also flared during Wednesday’s debate between Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney…

Indictments against the 91 defendants were unsealed on Thursday after a coordinated investigation led by the U.S. departments of Justice and of Health and Human Services, officials said. Most of the 91 surrendered or were arrested.

Those charged were relatively small-time operators who officials said tried to make a living defrauding Medicare and its sibling program, Medicaid, which insures the poor.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a news conference that the sweep should “send a clear message to those perpetrating or contemplating Medicare and Medicaid fraud: It’s time to start looking for another line of work…”

RTFA for details of the range of thievery and fraud these medical “professionals” were involved in. They think Medicare and Medicaid are their own private money-printing machine.

The stiffs who sit on the Director’s Board of places like Riverside Hospital in Houston should be indicted, as well, IMHO. They have a responsibility as board members to assure honesty and fair charges to patients. Instead, they’re defending the hospital president, Earnest Gibson – and will probably pick up the tab for his case. They demean the history of this institution.

Put ’em all in the same cell with one roll of toilet paper and throw away the key.

Feds crack down on tech support scammers

Consumer frauds often make claims that are too good to be true. But a recent one, cited by regulators around the world Wednesday, depended on a pitch that many people found completely believable — that Microsoft or another computer company knows what is on your personal computer.

The Federal Trade Commission announced a multinational crackdown on so-called tech support scams, in which a caller fools a consumer into believing Microsoft or a computer security company has discovered that a PC is infected with harmful software. The caller then offers to fix the computer on the spot for a price. The target would sometimes let the ostensible tech support company gain remote access to his computer, allowing the company to download software to it.

In six cases filed in federal district court in Manhattan, the commission named 17 individuals and 14 companies, most in India, as participants in the operations, including many with legitimate-sounding names like Virtual PC Solutions and Zeal IT Solutions.

At the commission’s request, a federal district judge in Manhattan froze the United States assets of the suspects. The commission also said it had shut down 80 Internet domain names and 130 phone numbers in the United States used in the scheme. Efforts to reach several of the companies and individuals were unsuccessful.

Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the trade commission, said at a news conference that the scheme involved getting a computer user to look at a program that is a standard part of the Windows operating system…

The caller would then warn that those files indicated viruses that could crash the computer or, in at least one case studied by the F.T.C., that the computer could explode…

The suspected fraud occurred in several English-speaking countries. Joining the F.T.C. in the enforcement action were the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency.

David Vladeck, director of the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the commission was working with law enforcement officials in India to catch the perpetrators. The commission has also referred the cases to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution.

If someone contacts you – or you see a tempting advert for someone offering to clean your computer’s software up for you – do yourself a favor and contact the computer’s manufacturer and ask what they think of the offer and the source?