Thursday, June 29, 2006

Is It Who Votes That Counts, Or Who Counts the Votes?

Bradblog on CNN's Lou DobbsThere has been an explosion recently in coverage by the corporate media of the vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines used in US elections, but the blogs remain relatively silent, with the exception being BradBlog and Bev's Black Box of course. Gathered mostly from Brad's site, I've put together this collage of recent articles and news videos here. *Note, the videos stand by themselves and are not linked except by this topic to the articles they are positioned next to. Just click on any/all of the pics to view the vids.

WaPo: A Single Person Could Swing an Election
Electronic Systems' Weaknesses May Be Countered With Audits, Report Suggests

The report concluded that the three major electronic voting systems in use have significant security and reliability vulnerabilities. But it added that most of these vulnerabilities can be overcome by auditing printed voting records to spot irregularities. And while 26 states require paper records of votes, fewer than half of those require regular audits.

"With electronic voting systems, there are certain attacks that can reach enough voting machines . . . that you could affect the outcome of the statewide election," said Lawrence D. Norden, associate counsel of the Brennan Center.
"It's not a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when,' " Thomas M. Davis III (Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee said of an attempt to manipulate election results
With billions of dollars of support from the federal government, states have replaced outdated voting machines in recent years with optical scan ballot and touch-screen machines. Activists, including prominent computer scientists, have complained for years that these machines are not secure against tampering. But electronic voting machines are also much easier to use for disabled people and those who do not speak English. ...(more)

USA Today: Analysis Finds E-Voting Machines Vulnerable

Most of the electronic voting machines widely adopted since the disputed 2000 presidential election "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections," a report out Tuesday concludes.
There are more than 120 security threats to the three most commonly purchased electronic voting systems, the study by the Brennan Center for Justice says. For what it calls the most comprehensive review of its kind, the New York City-based non-partisan think tank convened a task force of election officials, computer scientists and security experts to study e-voting vulnerabilities.

The study, which took more than a year to complete, examined optical scanners and touch-screen machines with and without paper trails. Together, the three systems account for 80% of the voting machines that will be used in this November's election. ...(more)

NYT: New Fears of Security Risks in Electronic Voting Systems

[O]fficials in Pennsylvania and California issued urgent directives in recent days about a potential security risk in their Diebold Election Systems touch-screen voting machines, while other states with similar equipment hurried to assess the seriousness of the problem.

It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system," said Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University ...(more)

WSJ: Reversing Course on Electronic Voting
Some Former Backers of Technology Seek Return to Paper Ballots, Citing Glitches, Fraud Fears

Some advocates of a 2002 law mandating upgrades of the nation's voting machinery now worry the overhaul is making things worse.

With the 2006 midterm elections approaching, proponents of the Help America Vote Act are filing lawsuits to block some state and election officials' efforts to comply with the act. ...(more)
What Can You Do? Demand a Paper Trail!Horse Sense: Demand a Paper Trail

WaPo: How To Steal an Election

It's easier to rig an electronic voting machine than a Las Vegas slot machine, says University of Pennsylvania visiting professor Steve Freeman. That's because Vegas slots are better monitored and regulated than America's voting machines ...(more)

WaPo: As Elections Near, Officials Challenge Balloting Security
In Controlled Test, Results Are Manipulated in Florida System

As the Leon County supervisor of elections, Ion Sancho's job is to make sure voting is free of fraud. But the most brazen effort lately to manipulate election results in this Florida locality was carried out by Sancho himself.

Four times over the past year Sancho told computer specialists to break in to his voting system. And on all four occasions they did, changing results with what the specialists described as relatively unsophisticated hacking techniques. To Sancho, the results showed the vulnerability of voting equipment manufactured by Ohio-based Diebold Election Systems, which is used by Leon County and many other jurisdictions around the country. ...(more)

WaPo: Sleepover in San Diego? reports that in the special election in California to replace Duke Cunningham, "volunteer pollworkers were allowed to take Diebold voting machines home as much as two weeks before the election." (I am currently waiting for a response to this report from California's elections board. I'll update the moment I have it.

Given the known security vulnerabilities and the concrete problems that fraud and/or malfunctions have caused [see pp. 9-15], how could this be allowed to happen? ...(more)

Sans must ask: Can we PLEASE get the Carter Center to monitor the '06 election?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Why Is the AP Swapping Articles for Bushco Friendly Ones?

This may be a bit hard to follow, but bear with me as I try my best to spell it out. This is not the first time I noticed this going on so I feel the need to address it. In this case it started when I read this post over at Moxiegrrrl's site:

But when I clicked on the linked story, the article that appeared bore the same title but was almost completely different. What I got was this instead:

(Because I have no way to know how long these articles will stay up,
I'm using screengrabs. Click on pic for larger view)

The first article that Moxie quoted was hard on Bush, and rightfully so IMO, but the article she linked to read more like the Whitehouse's response. So I googled the opening sentence to see if I could find the article Moxie quoted from...

...and there the article was, listed over and over with the opening sentence showing in each google snippet. So I clicked on the first AP story at WaPo and again, just like Moxie's post, the opening sentence wasn't there. It was the second Bush-friendly AP article again from the same author as the first. I clicked the second one at Newsweek, and the same thing. The AP has had its carriers replace the earlier article altogether at the same URL as the first. This time, unlike the WaPo and Yahoo articles which I could find no mention of having been edited/updated, Newsweek did have "Updated: 12:55 a.m. ET June 27, 2006" on their site. The next link at USA Today had notice of an update too.

What happened to the earlier version, I wondered. After a few more clicks I found the article still existed in its earlier form at the San Diego Union Tribune:

Ok, props to the SDU Tribune for not playing the bait and switch (yet?) with this article, and some credit to USA Today and Newsweek I suppose is warranted for their at least mentioning the article had been updated. I still have some major problems with the whole thing though. First, the Google grabs of the first sentence show the earlier version existed at the same URLs. The second version is hardly an update. It reads more like the Whitehouse's rebuttal to the first. Second, especially in the case of WaPo and Yahoo, the switcheroo seems to violate AP's own policy statement. (H/T to commenter CC @ Moxiegrrrl)

When we're wrong, we must say so as soon as possible. When we make a correction in the current cycle, we point out the error and its fix in the editor's note. A correction must always be labeled a correction in the editor's note. We do not use euphemisms such as "recasts," "fixes," "clarifies" or "changes" when correcting a factual error.

A corrective corrects a mistake from a previous cycle. The AP asks papers or broadcasters that used the erroneous information to use the corrective, too.

For corrections on live, online stories, we overwrite the previous version. We send separate corrective stories online as warranted. ...(more)
Now, no matter what AP's mission statement says, my real beef is this: If I quote and link to an article, just as Moxie did, I should be able to depend that the AP won't switch the article to one with a completely different viewpoint like they did here. It's one thing to issue a correction, but it's quite another to cave to Whitehouse pressure (which seems pretty evident) and change almost the entire article. If they are going to do that they at least need to not replace the earlier version at the same URL, update notice or not, and give the new article it's own digs.

Is the Whitehouse pressuring the AP to make these changes? I have no way to know, but I suspect so. If anyone has any thoughts or any further info what's going on, please do leave me a comment.

Sen Pat Roberts (R-KS), Hypocrite:

Wants to Prosecute Leakers (Unless They're Republicans).

''I Luv Republican Traitors''Senate Intelligence Chief Blasts Media Over Leaks

(Reuters) - The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday blasted U.S. media for exposing details of highly secretive intelligence programs and asked the Bush administration for a formal damage assessment.

Sen. Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, asked U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte to report particularly on any damage to President George W. Bush's domestic spying program and another secret program by the Treasury Department that tracks private bank records.

"Numerous, recent unauthorized disclosures of sensitive intelligence programs have directly threatened important efforts in the war against terrorism," Roberts, a staunch White House ally, said in a letter to Negroponte. ...(more)
Roberts joins in calls from chimpyco and other repuke hypocrites to prosecute the NYT but not the Wall Street Journal or the LA Times for exposing the government's spying on thousands of people's bank records even though all 3 papers' stories came out on the same day.

This is the same asshole who prevented an Ethics Committee investigation into Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) for leaking "

Witnesses leery of testifying while Roberts stays on leak investigation
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) has refused to recuse himself from the ethics probe.

The witnesses are reluctant to cooperate with the ethics panel because, they said, the FBI’s investigation focused on Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who at the time was the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and because Shelby’s former staff director Bill Duhnke and deputy staff director Jim Hensler now serve as Roberts’s top aides on Intelligence. (...)

Roberts’s role on the Ethics Committee may also be compromised by a slip he made during a speech to a group of newspaper editors March 20, 2003, the day after the U.S. strike on Saddam Hussein’s bunker that kicked off the war in Iraq. Roberts told the group that the military used “what we call human intelligence indicat[ing] the location of Saddam Hussein.” Several intelligence experts considered this a serious breach because it revealed “sources and methods” of intelligence collection. ...(more)
Roberts is also the same asshole who has loyally served chimpyco in preventing any oversight of the whitehouse as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (Remember phase II?).

Think Progress: Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Chairman of the Senate Cover-up Committee


[UPDATE] Now the House Repukes are actually pushing a bill that condemns the NYT (but not the WSJ or the LAT?) for the story. The fact is, and every government ethics class will tell you the same thing, that if the cloak of secrecy is wrongly used to hide government wrongdoing, you have a moral imperative to leak it to the media. The people have a right to know when their government is violating the Constitution. On the other hand, leaking classified information for personal/political gain, like Shelby and Roberts did, or like chimpyco did when they leaked Valerie Plame's identity, is utterly contemptible.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Another 'Cut and Run' Republican

Sorry I've been gone so long. I knew I would be gone a week or so but since getting back I've been unable to post to my blog until now. It's a long story so I'll spare you, but I'm definitely back. Look for plenty more posts later as I try to catch back up....

OK, this is funny: This has to do with the bullshit attempt to blame the NYT for publishing a story about the government spying on thousands of people's bank records without a warrant, nevermind that it was also covered by the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal on the same day. Frank Rich delivered a smackdown to David Frum over the attempt to single out the NYT and not the other papers for running the story.

Video via C&L: Bernie Ward smacks down right wing talk show host: He storms off the set!

Ward, on the left, just kept asking Chris Baker if he would have the Government tell newspapers what they can print, and Baker kept repeating the same GOP fear-mongering non sequitur: 'Time of War! New York Times Treasonous! Bush Haters!' until he short circuited and pulled a page out of Novak's playbook by tearing off his microphone and running home to his mommy in tears.

Thomas Jefferson on Freedom of the Press

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." --Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 1823

"The functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty and property of their constituents. There is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves, nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey

"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785.

"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it." --Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786.

"I am... for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799

"To preserve the freedom of the human mind... and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement." Thomas Jefferson to William Green Munford, 1799.

"No government ought to be without censors, and where the press is free, no one ever will. If virtuous, it need not fear the fair operation of attack and defence. Nature has given to man no other means of sifting out the truth whether in religion, law or politics. I think it as honorable to the government neither to know nor notice its sycophants or censors, as it would be undignified and criminal to pamper the former and persecute the latter." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1792.

"Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light." --Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart. 1799.

"Printing presses shall be subject to no other restraint than liableness to legal prosecution for false facts printed and published." --Thomas Jefferson: Draft of Virginia Constitution, 1783. ...(more)
"Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party." Some things never change.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The History of Oil

Robert Newman has put together this brilliant show that focuses on oil's role in shaping world history over the last century, and where it's headed. It's "a multimedia experience powered by eco-cyclists". Newman's part comedian, part professor, and what you get is the most informative yet very entertaining show I've ever seen.

I'm linking to it through Nate's site as that's where I found it. Nate also includes another video that I too highly recommend watching: Bill Moyers 1987 PBS documentary "A Secret Government." You'll find that a lot of what Newman is talking about is reinforced by Moyers.

Please watch them both, and pass them on. You can also watch them them both on google video here and here, respectively.

Newman pulls no punches and really knows his shit. I fact-checked my way through the movie and compiled this list of links below according to Newman's show's chapters that I hope helps understand his show a bit better. He's British and this show is in the UK, so there may be a joke or two that you might not get. You'll want to know what ASBO means, and who the painter Salvador Dali and the WWI poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are.

Instead of embedded links I've left them full to facilitate anyone who might want to cut & paste them elsewhere. I think this video is all that important, and then some. I totally agree with Nate: "I think if America can get it's mind around something like this. If they can finally stand to view the world outside their ridiculous blinders... They'll be ready to start accepting A LOT more and and willing to start learning more about who their government is and how it works."

Amen to that!

Ch 1 Marching to the Drums (1:39)

Marching to the Drums: Eyewitness Accounts of War from the Kabul Massacre to the Siege of Mafeking Ian Knight (Editor)

“The G8 has today endorsed an American Plan to bring Democracy to the Middle East”

Bush democracy plan

G8 Summit 2004

Ch 2 Bringing a Better Democracy (4:39)

Iran- In 1951, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, "the most popular politician in the country," was elected Prime Minister of Iran. His major election plank was the nationalization of the only oil company operating in Iran at that time – British Petroleum.

The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup - US National Security Archives

Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran by James Risen

14 `enduring bases' set in Iraq: Long-term military presence planned
Chicago Tribune March 23, 2004

Ch 3 World War One: An Invasion of Iraq (10:15)

Berlin-Baghdad Railway

The Capture of Basra, 5-21 November 1914

Ch 4 Thou Shalt Steal Oil (15:41)

November 20, 1945 - Nuremberg War Crime Trials

Ch 5 The Euro Dollar Invasion of Iraq (21:38)

The War To Save The U.S. Dollar
The Americans could live with Saddam until he started selling oil for euros instead of U.S. dollars.

Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,12239,896344,00.html

N. Korea bans U.S. dollars

The End of Dollar HegemonyFeb 06 House floor speech by Congressman Ron Paul TX (R)

Iran seeks euro-denominated oil market

Ch 6 Peak Oil (34:34)

THE PARTY'S OVER Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societiesby Richard Heinberg

Peak Oil primer and links

Zinc Air Fuel Cell Technology

Ch 7 Earth’s New Diet: No Oil, No Wheat, No Dairy (39:09)

The Oil We EatFollowing the food chain back to Iraq

Sustainable Table: The Issues: Fossil Fuel and Energy Use

Who Will Feed China?: Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet (Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series) (Paperback)

U.S., Congress, Committee on International Relations, Special Subcommittee on Investigations, Oil Fields as Military Objectives: A Feasibility Study

Note: I'll be taking a haitus from the blog for the next week or so. I hope in that time you'll find time to watch both of these vids, and pass them along.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Amazon Fishbowl with Bill Maher

Bill MaherNate pointed out Bill Maher's new online show and I thought I ought to share it. While I'm at it he's got another video there too that I'm definitely going to give a post of it's own tomorrow. You can check my comment there to see how much I liked it & where I'll be going with it.

I'm not sure how I feel about Bill Maher doing a regular talkshow format, but I thought he did a really good job with it, and I thought the Chicks were really cool. My only complaint is the long UPS/Goomba commercial that you can't fast forward through. I understand the need for the ads but it was just too long. I almost bailed. I have to say the Dixie Chicks were so worth it though, so there you go.

I just got my Dixie Chicks CD this week. I love it. I'm not really big into country music, and if it hadn't been for the political back-story I can't say I would have ever bought the cd, but I'm glad I did. It's a solid CD. anyone who says it's not country hasn't listened to it. It's country allright, but it's really grown on me already. I'm not sure why exactly but I didn't think I liked "I Hope" the first time I heard it, but now it's one of my faves. My place just about cleaned itself listening to that song today. Damn that's a good song.
. . . .
Cuz our children are watching us
They put their trust in us
They're gonna be like us
So let's learn from our history
And do it differently

[I hope] For more love, more joy and laughter
[I hope] We'll have more than we'll ever need
[I hope] We'll have more happy ever afters
[I hope] We can all live more fearlessly
And we can lose all the pain and misery
[I hope] I hope . . .
If you can spare the $10 bucks this CD's well worth it.
You can order one here.

Order the Dixie Chicks CD Here

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ethical Foul? Reid? Or McCain?

I haven't covered it here yet (I should have. I've been really slack here lately), so in case you aren't already familiar with the latest GOP shill reporting by John Solomon at the AP, I'll bring you up to speed.

Basically, the AP goes with a story with a ton of holes in it trying to make it appear Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV) had done something wrong. It turns out that Reid broke no rules at all. As I will point out, there really isn't much of anything to this supposed scandal of Solomon's, but if there is any impropriety involved, using Solomon's convoluted reasoning I suppose, then McCain is every bit as deep in it, and even more so, than Reid.

In a series of progressively more rediculous fabrications for the AP, John Solomon criticized Reid for accepting tickets to the Oscar De La Hoya-Bernard Hopkins bout, only they weren't tickets. What "Reid and McCain got weren't tickets available to the general public but "credentials" the [Nevada Boxing] commission gives only to public officials hoping to observe the commission's activity."

Solomon repeatedly tries to fault Reid for even accepting the credentials, "only, there is an exception for gifts from governmental agencies (like the Nevada Athletic Commission) in the Senate ethics rules. So there is nothing untoward about Reid having accepted" the credentials, or for McCain having done so either.

Solomon's beef with Reid appears to be that he shouldn't have accepted the gift without paying for it like he claims McCain did, when the Senate had legislation pending that involved the commission. The thing is, it would have been illegal for the commission to accept payment for them.

Recap: There was "nothing untoward" about Reid and McCain accepting the seats because the "credentials are given out to governmental officials and others in order to observe the commission's activity", so, if anything it begs as to how Mrs. McCain was also entitled to such a seat. And since the commission is prevented by law from accepting any money for them at all in any case, McCain's attempted reimbursal, which Solomon apparently feels exhonorate's him completely, actually went to charity because they couldn't accept it...
McCain, who brought his wife to the fight, sent Arum a check for the price of two ringside seats [Bullshit. See below]. Arum said he didn't know what to do with the money.

"Those credentials cannot be sold," he said. "There's no price on them. (They are given to) governors, attorney generals, boxing commissioners of other states. ... It's illegal to accept money for a credential."

Arum said he couldn't accept McCain's money but McCain wouldn't take it back, so Arum donated it to Catholic Charities. ...(more)
Despite Solomon's claim that McCain tried to reimburse the commission for two ringside tickets above, it appears he only tried to reimburse the commission the cost of a single ticket.
Her ticket, but not his?

"Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight," Solomon wrote. (...)

On the value of the tickets, both Ratner and Arum said the seats that Reid and McCain used for the Oscar De La Hoya fight were worth about $1,400 to $1,500 each. That's why McCain insisted on paying that amount. The commission arranged for McCain's check to be sent to Arum, who cashed it and donated the money to charity. ...(more)
For every reason Solomon is going after Reid, there is even more reason to fault McCain. Both Reid and McCain got their seats for free without reimbursing for them. McCain tried to reimburse for the price of one (his wife's) ticket. What's more, Reid went on later to vote against the interests of the commission on that pending legislation, so Solomon's whole story is a quid without a quo in any case.

How did McCain vote on that bill? I don't know yet, I'm just asking.

Also, as John Aravosis points out, Solomon has quite a history of just making shit up to smear Democrats for the Associated Press. ...

He's done it to Reid before...
and to Ambassador Joe Wilson,
and he's done it to Senator Dorgan.

Solomon appears to have a bad case of Gannon/Miller disease. The AP really needs to have this cyst excised before it spreads.

There Are Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane (2006)
For real.
via Laura Rosen's War and Peace.