Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Palin calls for new investigation into 9/11

Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin proclaimed that she is a 9/11 truther.

Responding to a question from a We Are Change member at a rally in Ohio last week, she said she would support the victims -- dead, injured and ailing first responders along with their families -- whose lives were impacted by Sept. 11 in regards to their pleas for a new investigation into the events of that chaotic day.

“I do because I think that helps us get to the point of never again," Palin said. "And if anything that we could do could still complete that reminder out there," she added, in a quick rising pitch.

In the past her counterpart, Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain, has spoke out against calls for a new investigation. He even wrote the foreward to a book denouncing anyone who questions the Bush administration's account of the tragic day.

I found this through infowars.com where Paul Joseph Watson pondered into the mentality of the Alaska governor. Watson seems surprised by and suspicious of her candor.

Of course, one would have to be incredibly naive to think that Palin, at best a befuddled Republican poster child and at worst another establishment Neo-Con, would follow through on her support and back a new 9/11 investigation should John McCain snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and take the White House. ... For most people, Palin’s expression of support for a new investigation seems to be borne out of a desperate attempt to say anything to get votes as McCain slips further behind Obama in the polls on a daily basis with the election just five days away. Other politicians who have been confronted on 9/11 by chapters of We Are Change have either ignored the question altogether, or in the case of Bill Clinton, gone on the offensive and verbally scorned 9/11 truth activists.
But I kind of had an inkling -- she's one of these paranoid, proliberty, anti-Fed types at heart -- despite her insistence that the War in Iraq is a "task from God." Those secessionist tend to espouse some pretty radical ideas.

The military-industrial university

In my latest column for the Huntington News, I upset the whole Northeastern community for condemning their close corporate ties with "merchants of death" -- my phrase -- who Eisenhower portended would corrupt our society destroying our ability to ensure that "security and liberty may prosper together."

For your amusement, here's select criticism left on The News comment board.

From Bob: Defense contractors provide good jobs. The person who wrote this is an idiot. The defense companies in the area do a lot of high tech research that do great things for everyone.

Moberg: As soon as I read the title of the article, I knew it was you, Marc.

Bruce Kaufman: Ahhh...liberal idealism at its finest. Maybe we shouldn't build any weapons to defend ourselves and shoot flowers at the terrorists!

Matt: Judging by the picture of this kid in the Huntington News and his general demeanor, perhaps he should work at one of Northeastern's biggest co-op employers--Gillette. Then he could manufacture the very razors he uses to slit his wrists every night.

Liam: I am a veteran of the war in Iraq. The editor conveniently left that crucial bit of info out of the article. For the misinformed guy who commented about needing to defend ourselves from terrorists and therefore justifying raytheon and other war corporations ("defense contractors") as integral to our "safety," I would point out that in the last 10 years it would be VERY generous to say 10,000 Americans were killed by terrorists. In that stat I am including the nearly 5,000 soldiers and Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, let me tell you from experience, are being killed mostly by regular people who don't want their countries occupied by foreign troops, they are not terrorists. Compare that to almost 5 million deaths from heart disease in that timeframe. Hmmm? The U.S. spends over $600 Billion per year for raytheon and companies like it thrive from war, and we spend less than $3 billion per year to address a problem that has killed millions of people? Terrorists do not deserve that much of our tax dollars or attention because they are not even close to a significant threat to us. In 2004 you had a better chance of dying of peanut allergies than from terrorism! The government needs to make you scared by telling you these boogiemen are out there so people will consent to all this money being forked over to the weapons industries while they steal our rights. Fear makes us easily manipulated. Don't let ANYBODY, news anchors, politicians or activists scare you into believing terrorists are the people to worry about. In the Marine Corps they gave us a definition of terroriism: "The use of violence or threatended use of violence to intimidate civilian populations to further political, ideological, religious or financial objectives." Guess what!? That is what the war in Iraq is? Our government is a terrorist organziation by ANY definition. And Raytheon is who these terrorists go to for weapons and advice. How can we tacitly support this as students of this university? It is morally dispicable for an academic instituion to openly marry itself to a war profiteering racket. Does anybody think that Northeastern is inclined to teach political or economic students the critical perspectives of these war profiteers if they have such a cozy relationship with them? They would be crazy to threaten their relationship by teaching their students that these industries help perpetuate war. So... not only does NEU's tie to Raytheon allow them free access toour fellow student's for recruitment and research, but we are in effect paying to be lied to instead of receiving education worth teh name. So, make fun of "liberal idealists" all you want, but please examine your own logic, because your rationale is tantamount to "status quo idealism" which expects that we can keep doing this insane shit which has justified the worlds largest military budget, and blatanly fraudulent and illegal wars in hand with the world's largest debt. Who is being idealistic? Him for thinking it is clearly unsustainable to fight wars based on lies and paying these conmen to do our intellectual dirty work, or you for thinking war solves problems without creating 10 more? And for the guy who called the author of this article an idiot and the one referring to Gillette. That is frustratingly childish to resort to that type of discourse. On top of the ad hominen attacks that do not address the issue at all, your arguments consited of "mercanary firms pay well." Great! So did being a slave owner! So too does being a mafia hitman! If it poivides good pay then it must be good? Does that make your argument sound? If you value money that much, you should be worried that our government has put us in the most debt any nation has ever been in and if we don't do someting about this system you and the next 10 generations will be slaves unable to escape taxes, loans, and gas prices. Peace.

Christopher Knighton: Thank you for writing this article. As an undergraduate engineering student at Northeastern, I was very upset to find that many of the most encouraged coop positions were for these so called "defense contractors." Raytheon is probably the company that is most promoted by this school for engineering coops. At nearly every coop related event there is a spokesperson from Raytheon. It's rather sad. There are crucial problems that exist today and supporting aggression and war profiteering, which Northeastern so promonately does, is disgusting. I have not once heard any discussion in my three years here about whether or not working for these companies is a moral thing to do, but I am certainly told "Raytheon is a good job, it'll be a good experience, you should do it, you'd learn a lot," just about everywhere I look. Even when applying for coops, I specifically told my advisor that I DID NOT want to work for any company involved with the military, but I was still recommended for some of these "defense contractors." I don't think people realize what "defense contractor" really means. Oh and while I was writing this.. I just got another email about a wonderful event brought you us by the likes of GE and Raytheon where they will be displaying the latest in homeland security technology. Don't we have better things to be studying for than war? It's a shame these corporations are on our campus.

Katie: Marc, I appreciate your article. A lot of the employees from Northeastern that work at Raytheon are engineers. I am not an expert of the ethical codes of all the branches of engineering, but I do know that the M.E. code explicitly states that nothing that an engineer works on should cause any known harm to fellow humans. This has seemingly fallen through the cracks, as defense contractors not only hire a lot of Northeastern co-ops, but offer their co-ops permanent positions when they graduate. It would be beneficial to the Northeastern community if instead of taking Raytheon jobs, engineers tried to get into the burgeoning renewable energy sector. I am an alumni of the class of '08 living in California and the solar energy producers cannot keep up with the demand they are receiving (which means jobs!). Biofuels and wind are two sectors that need minds willing to help solve this problem, as well. If only a small percentage of engineers used their brain power to start solving the problem of how America receives and uses energy, we could eliminate many of the problems causing our need for ridiculously large defense contracts. An independent renewable energy sector spells out great success for our economy with the promise of many new and permanent jobs. Unlike the tech bubble, an American-run energy industry is highly sustainable. Hardly "idealism." If you didn't notice, the War on Terror isn't all that sustainable of an economic policy....unless you're Raytheon.

BK: So reading over this, I just want to say while Raytheon is a defense contractor... not everything they do is military related and I suggest people reading their history books as many of today's technology comes from military research (some of it even done at *gasp* University such as NU). Next time you use that microwave to make your mac+cheese, cruise the internet to check your email, or use your cell phone for wireless communication remember one thing, much of the technology that started the basis for alot of that came from military research. Also last note, remember our country was founded by war and not everyone who works at Raytheon is building bombs. I think that needs to be cleared up. I have friends there that are IT people. They fix computers for people. Also, don't blame people for taking money when they can at a defense contractor. Some people have to pay bills, I don't blame them for that. Grow up kids, get out of your dream world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Steve Garfield: The man with a fancy phone that serves as a live news crew

Steve Garfield, video blogger of SteveGarfield.com, came in to class the other day and showed off his citizen journalism skills and gadgetry.

Garfield is renowned throughout the country for his ability to capture news footage without making a big production out of it. It's a one man band for Garfield as he takes advantage of Internet journalism tools: Twitter, Flickr, Myspace, Facebook.

But what I was really intrigued with the cell phone that he showcased. The Nokia N95 is like a video news production crew in your pocket.

When Garfield needs to, like when he was on the streets of New Hampshire during the primary season, he grabs his phone and starts recording to produce news. With the touch of a button he shoots video with the phone that is beamed lived to Qik.com.

For example, he showed us a Qik video produced during the primaries, in which he interviewed Duncan Hunter with the N95 and effectively scooped the mainstream media. Garfield got the Republican presidential hopeful on his way to be interviewed by CNN to lash out against ABC News and Fox News Channel for excluding him from a debate.

Though such Qik access does have a price. The phone is $468. Eek.

(Garfield recently discovered that the $200-dollar iPhone is live-stream enabled.)

But the price is not bad considering the use Garfield gets out of it. He's uploaded 302 videos since Dec., 2007. That earned him 46,805 page views. Pretty impressive.

Garfield uses the videos for other media outlets. He sends them to CNN iReport, the media company's site for citizen journalism. He even got the attention of the BBC for his offhand remarks that were broadcast live from his living room during the recent U.S. presidential debates. I wish I could do that and go of on my own tangent -- a raging one, that is.

He showed use just how it works by pulling out the N95 giving me and my fellow students tips on how to keep the phone steady while recording. It would be great if everyone could learn to use this tool to achieve social justice and fight back against oppressive states.

"I am videoing you as your videoing me," said my teacher, Dan Kennedy, as he filmed Garfield filming. Very meta. Cool!

(Click on the picture of Garfield to see an archived report of him as he's seen in action, below, broadcasting live from our classroom to the Internet.)

Both of the pictures above we're taken at Northeastern University by me using the Lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slideshow: Opportunity to increase worldliness

Northeastern University, a school of 15,339 undergraduates, evolved since it's inception in 1898 as an evening school, through the early- and mid-1900s as a commuter school, to now as a national research university. But it has also added an emphasis on the international community to further students understanding of the world -- which I think is a dire need in this age of War on Terrors and global financial crises.

For Northeastern students interested in getting in on that international experience, they can visit Northeastern's study abroad office to explore opportunities to take a semester overseas or in Mexico, Canada or somewhere South America.

However students may become disoriented when they discover that the study abroad office is not longer at the heart of campus at 301 Ell Hall. Now students must take the T to the Symphony stop or walk a little more than a half a mile to the new location.

At 101 Belvidere Street, in the Christian Science Plaza, I entered the office during walk-in hours to gain some understanding of the program. I was able to talk to Lily Chryssis, coordinator at the study abroad office, about the whole thing. She told me Northeastern has a diverse offering of 33 countries to allow students this experiential education. I'm actually interested in studying in Egypt to immerse myself in an Arabic speaking culture. Her estimate for my prospective study abroad: $20,400 billed to my student account, which is expensive but we'll see what financial aid is available later.

I asked her how many students are involved in the program now that it has blossomed since its inception in the late-80s.

"We're sending around 240 students for the spring of 2009," Chryssis said. "Our semester programs our growing but not as much as our faculty-led [cultural dialogue] programs."

In order to participate in a study abroad program one must attend an info session. At 6 p.m. last night one was led by Andrew Berry, a student who took elementary Arabic along with me. With a Power Point slide show to accompany him, Berry told about 30 students all they needed to know before submitting an application to become a Northeastern student at-large, as well as what they should be prepared for in making such a cultural transition.

"If you're in a conservative Arab-speaking country," Berry said, "don't walk around like a hoochie mama. Use your common sense. Represent Northeastern well."

Speaking of slide shows, I've linked a slide show with some more information on the study abroad program and its new office and some reporting on the info session. Either click on the link in the previous sentence or click the picture above to view the complete production.

Photo of Solomon Laditi raising his hand to Andrew Berry, seen above, as well as all photos featured in the Flickr slideshow that's linked to it were shot by Yours Truly with that lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Internet didn't kill the newsradio star

The world is changing.

People want information faster. They want it at arms reach everywhere. They want a convenient and comfortable exchange.

Tangentially, opulent people achieve to start their car engine in the winter without leaving the house. Right now, there are drive-thru liquor stores all throughout the South. In the future, I predict, we'll all live in an i-Pod house, have an i-Pod car and all of life's activities will be organized by Google. And we'll all be calm and there will be order and smiles will come easier.

New media is all about that. That fluid transfer of info at leisure. That all encompassing and engaging report or story that finds you at the precisely perfect time of your day ushering terror, sympathy, sadness or delight.

For Robin Lubbock it's his day job. He works to provide a more complete platform for WBUR radio to reach news consumers at home and at work -- not just when their on the road.

Of course WBUR.org allows listeners to tune in live and offers its radio content online as audio files, it also allows for interaction. There is a Listener Photo Project they made with flickr encouraging listeners to send in pictures, play with their Twitter and offers a message board to interact with the station about stories.

With the Web, there is much more opportunity to expand on a story that necessitates a visual component, Lubbock says. The station is now able to share photo slide shows and video.

Lubbock explains the management of the radio press corp and how the paradigm modified itself since the induction of the Internet.

"The analogy I give our reporters," Lubbock says, "is in the old days we expect to you to know certain things -- we give you a recorder and a microphone, and we expect you to be able to go out record some audio, get it on your microphone, get it into your recorder, get it on to your computer, cut it up into little segments, decide which bits your want to use for your story -- and then there comes a point in where it gets to complicated. ... At that point we provide what we call a B.R.T., a broadcast radio technician, who's an engineer, basically, and he can take the journalist and sit down at the table with cuts and make it sound beautiful."

Nowadays, the responsibilities are still shared, but are evolving.

"I expect the same on the Web, Lubbock says, "I expect you to be able to write a story. I expect you be able to use the tools, the tools like Wordpress or Blogger. We've all done it cuz' we all have Yahoo mail and Gmail -- we can all fill in a box and get published. I expect them to be able to take a picture and download it onto their machine. I would like them to look at them and decide which pictures are good and which are bad. But somewhere along that line we get to a point, where, for example, putting a slide show together, like the one I showed you, "From Jailhouse To Penthouse," the jail house and the penthouse, that's clearly way beyond the charge for the everyday journalist. So we would add an engineer at that point."

I took the photo of Robin Lubbock with my lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Democracy Now! kicks ass online like a Venezuelan dictactor

Last week in Reinventing the News I introduced democracynow.org to my classmates.

Democracy Now! is this progressive radio show that started in February, 1996, in New York City where it continues to be broadcast from and old converted firehouse building in the Chinatown section of town owned by the Downtown Community TV Center. It's hosted by this lady from Maine, Amy Goodman, along with a dude named Juan Gonzlalez. Since its low budget inception, DN! has gone visual, as well as getting wired into college radio and NPR. Buttressing the over 700 stations that broadcast the show through radio and TV, Democracynow.org, was established in Sept. 1999. "It is definitely one of the major ways people get DN!" said Silky Shah, an outreach organizer for the program. The website offers all different file types for the radio and television version of the show. And DemocracyNow.org boasts that its DN!'s podcast is one of the most popular on the Web.

All the while DN! has prided itself on being "funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations," according to democracynow.org. It continues, "We do not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting, or government funding. This allows us to maintain our independence." Goodman's tagline for the program is, "The Exception to the Rulers" and she often refers to her underlying agenda: "To go where the silence is." So what made me a little apprehensive about selecting this as a source of online news is that the site has zero interactive ability. Goodman maintains a weekly blog but doesn't offer the ability to shoot back with your own info and ideas.

But this doesn't make me skeptical about DN!s ability to remain in tune with silent majority in the world. I figure they probably just don't have the energy to deal with likely inundation of rightwing garbage and FBI COINTELPRO.

Where else can you get the truth about Afghanistan before the MSM really wakes up to it? Where else can you go for exclusive interviews on conspiracies to spy on military members and kill journalists in Iraq? Where else can you get a more objective view of U.S. relations with our Latin American amigos? Where else can you get an interview with a former U.S. president that scarifies with the politics of power to the people?

Photo (cc) of Democracy Now! headquarters, a.k.a. the fire house studio, seen above was taken by Mr. Jordan Lewin, of Vancouver, and republished here under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wired let's me get weird

So I just uploaded three photos to this new social networking website for journalists: Wired Journalists.

First, we have the wacky pack of LaRouche cult members spreading their alarmist propaganda on a corner at Northeastern University across the street from the Marino Center (rhetoric seen above). I like the Google mapping feature that Wired offers for it's photo sharing because we can pinpoint exactly where these crazys are wasting everyone's time trying to convince them -- ehem, scare them, and/or take advantage of their insecurities -- to join them in the creepy PAC and not really contribute anything to the wellbeing of society but instead a lot of cash to a rumply, crazy old white guy who has besmirched my French Canadian heritage. I entered the coordinates so check it out CIA and FBI.

Well, let's be fair. Members of the fringe group, as demonstrable in some YouTube videos, might take umbrage to environmental alarmists also trying to enlist impressionable young college students around the freshman residence halls and leach them for their money.

Nevertheless, I can say with confidence that what is contributing to community is Wired Journalists. It allows me to share information about all these photos.

But it's primary function is to act like a sort of Facebook just for journalists. So if you know a journalist whose on the Web -- and who the heck isn't! -- tell them to get with it and let's share intel.

Ya, I took this picture with my Kodak EasyShare CX7300 digital camera, which can gather 3.2 megapixels or whatever.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Boston blog roundup on the bailout

Just glimpsing into the local blogosphere here:

Hub Blog links to a Slate article that attempts tries to decipher the devilish derivitives -- something called a martindale -- behind the current financial crisis. (The Hub Blog's Technorati Authority: 30.)

Elsewhere, on Tuesday, Kevin at the Pundit Review laid his blame at Wall Street speculators, the Democrats, and, to a lesser extent, at the GOP.

He pointed to Democrats like Barney Frank who a few years ago when Bush called for more regulation deferred.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

In the end, Kevin at the Pundit Review (Technorati Authority: 69) conludes "Everyone is to blame, but some more than others." Oh, boy.

To offset his conservative agenda there we're going to link to the Massachusetts Liberal, who rants and raves about who believes are the culprits: the Gingrich Kamikazes of the Clinton years and the "many in the clique of Minority Leader John Boehner threw the monkey wrenches into the works in the name of John McCain, whose last-second parachuting into the deal caused almost as much havoc"

The Massachusetts Liberal, published at baystateliberal.blogspot.com, has a Technorati authority of 30.

Apparently, there's been a lot of racism going around town on Twitter in regards to the reasons for this financial crisis I guess we're going through. margalit fills us in on the details:

I'm really disappointed to be reading some of the remarks I've seen on Twitter regarding the bailout. I don't quite understand how the bailout became a way to make racist remarks about how "they shouldn't have lied on their loan applications" and "they shouldn't have been allowed to borrow money they can't pay back" and "they couldn't ever have gotten a real mortgage without lying to the banks."

Of course we know who "they" are. It's apparent by reading these comments that the twits are referring to minorities that were caught up in the predatory lending schemes. But the facts are that the predatory lenders went after minority applicants who were TOTALLY prepared to get conventional loans and talked them into getting into the subprime market. And it's also a fact that the vast majority of people caught up in the foreclosure situation are white, middle-class Americans who were lied to by Countrywide Finance and other predatory lenders. They were people who thought they could handle the loans they took out, and then when the payments ballooned unfairly after a couple of years, were unable to meet their mortgages which had doubled or tripled seemingly overnight.

There is no "they". There is us. All of us.

(margalit's "What was I THINKING" blog's Technorati authority: 48).

Lewis Forman says 'Let the Companies Fold.' Forman had pointed to an AP report of a fraud investigation surrounding Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, insurer American International Group Inc., and said, "So our $700 Billion life jacket to the markets would just be a convenient cover up for the way that these companies screwed themselves and the country. Is the government going to come and rescue a little [emphasis mine]company that folded due to poor management? I don't think so... "

Forman (whose blog Webster Street Minutes has a very low Technorati authority of 5) believes that regardless there is an economic recession that the U.S. is going to have to deal with. But he looks to the bailout plan as unsettling and is "sure we'll hear in 6 months that the executives at these companies were given a $10 million severance package while all the lower level people got nothing. Just a box for their belongings and a "good luck" on the way out the door."

I agree that we should let the companies take a hit and reinvest that $700 billion in something positive, like community development or infrastructure rejuvenation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Matt Carroll, database whiz, reporter, comes to class when I'm terribly sick

Well, I've been M.I.A. with a terrible bug that has left torn, battered and confused. Phew! I'm alright though.

I just wish I could have been in my Web journalism class on Monday for a presentation with Matt Carroll, a Globe staff reporter who specializes in computer assisted reporting.

Basically what that means is that he culls information for databases to be used by colleagues and by himself to write stories that tell people the facts they need to know about how their state and municipalities work in relation to their working lives.

Actually, I worked with Matt for about six months. I was the student co-op worker at the City Weekly section. For some reason Matt was sequestered along with the small City Weekly crew in the mezzanine where he'd be plugging away all day and often making phone calls to local officials.

I remember one time I had some cursory participation in this story:

Basically all I did was set up an Excel sheet and plugged in some average incomes from different zip codes in the Greater Boston area, that Matt gave my editor, which she in turn gave to me.

But I appreciated that involvement.

At the end of my stay at City Weekly I remember Matt boasting about his new blog, Mass Facts, to another staff reporter. And here it is.

It seems to be the old resource, Government Center, just reconfigured a bit.

The "Your Town" section provides info on voter registration. It turns out that Randolph has one of the lowest rates of Republican voters in the state. I wonder what it'd be like to be an embattled conservative living amongst liberals. That might make for a good story.

Here we have a link to a lobbyist search. If we ever want to question a major funder a local politician or if we're just wondering what's up with an advisor or friend of a politician, we might want to check if they are a registered lobbyist. And if someone is spending money to to curry favor with politicians they should be registered as a lobbyist and follow the rules. Always important.

And at the bottom of page in the Miscellaneous section we have a link to the state's abandoned property. It turns out that "one person in every ten has abandoned property." I wonder why. This issue may need exploring in a story.

It seems that Matt had our class participate in an excercise to familiarize themselves with code that can be used to manipulate data in an Excel spreadsheet. You can have it conduct operations that involve different columns and rows according to your specifications. Very useful -- but put a decimal point in the wrong place or insert a zero where it's not supposed to be and you're in trouble.

I grabbed the photo of Matt Carroll from his Facebook profile, which he so proudly proclaims has earned him hundreds of friends.

Checking in on fact-checkers

It's a great thing we have some journos trying to keep the boys inside the beltway in line, because as the good Reverend Jeremiah Wright frankly said: "Governments lie."

Although we have a two-party sellout system, it is interesting to see how the pro-war stooges contradicted each other during the Friday, Sept. 26, debate. Here's Factcheck.org and their take on the two corporate candidates for president.

"Obama was out of date in saying the Iraqi government has "79 billion dollars," when he argued that the U.S. should stop spending money on the war in Iraq," Factcheck.org said.

"[T]here was a time when the country could have had as much as $79 billion, but that time has passed. What the Iraqis actually “have” is $29.4 billion in the bank. The Government Accountability Office projected in August that Iraq’s 2008 budget surplus could range anywhere from $38.2 billion to $50.3 billion, depending on oil revenue, price and volume. Then, in early August, the Iraqi legislature passed a $21 billion supplemental spending bill, which was omitted from the GAO’s surplus tally since it was still under consideration. The supplemental will be completely funded by this year’s surplus. So the range of what the Iraqi’s could have at year’s end is actually $47 billion to $59 billion. The $79 billion figure is outdated and incorrect."

Get your math straight Obama!

Also noted at Factcheck.org is that Henry Kissinger, former Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said that negotiations should start in Iran with a meeting at the secretary of state level, without preconditions, as Obama said during Friday's debate. The website confirmed that Obama was right: that Kissinger suggested sending high-level diplomats to negotiate with Iran and without preconditions. Kissinger, at the behest of the McCain campaign, later said the Republican "is right" and that a meeting at the presidential level is unfavorable.

Everyone ignores the fact that Iran has not committed acts of aggresion; that there is actually a secret war being conducted there at the moment; and that Seymour Hersh has uncovered proposals by Bush administration officials to conduct a false-flag operation involving Navy Seals disguised as Iranians, positioning the soldiers on fake Iranian speedboats and shooting at them to stage a provocation to start war with Iran.

The format of Factcheck is easy enough and it looks alrite. It's like a blog with a chronological feed. I just wish it was easier to explore items by issue or category.

Moving on, I like Politifact.com because it can be browsed by category and it looks real glossy with its animation of truth, half-truths and lies. It's chalk-full of YouTube videos, which is good. Not only does it have a "truth-o-meter" to guage the veracity of statements but it also has a "flip-o-meter" to guage whether a candidate has changed their position on an issue. The website also sorts out the facts by attacks and statements.

Hmmm, McCain was right during the debate when saying South Koreans were taller than North Korea ... but I'm not sure Politifact is asserts this but it cites a study that attributes the difference to malnutrition in North Korea.

Wow, Politifact two-party domination fun!.

I'm unsatisfied by the Washington Post's U.S. Congress Votes Database. I find it entirely hard to navigate. It's so difficult to find a vote from a decade ago; but you can choose which Congress (110th, 109th, 108th, etc.). They say they have records back unto 1991.

The next website has not collected information reaching as far back -- it only goes to 1991 -- but at Project Vote Smart, I can just type in the name of any politician that comes to mind into a search and their voting record pops right up. Project Vote Smart is far more navigable for this reason -- you can then browse a politician's votes by category, too.

For instance, I just type in Barack Obama into the search -- the second search result, after the Senator's biography is his voting record. According to Project Vote Smart, when I scroll down Mr. Obama's votes on "National Security Issues," it seems that he voted YES for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Ammendments Act of 2008, which stipulates the release of:

electronic communication providers from liability with regards to civil action that may be brought up in any court due to assistance provided to the government in obtaining electronic surveillance if such assistance was authorized by the President before January 17, 2007 or if such assistance was the subject of written directions from the Attorney General or heads of the intelligence community indicating that the activity was lawful

Thanks, man.

And, sadly, to show you that these two websites aren't enough in this day and age in which there are really old politicians looking to run the country, a key vote by John McCain is unrreachable on either. It was in 1983. It could make most of the country cry. Just try. You can't find it on these two sites.

Googling is required. (So, note: These databases are not wholely comprehensive.)

But the maverick that he was, McCain voted against the creation of a national holiday honoring the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a motion that had large Republican support. He continued to opposed the holiday in his actions and behavior until at least 1994 when he voted to cut funding for a commission that promoted the MLK day.