Score one for the republic!

Washington Post
Senate Roll Call: Patriot Act
Forbes

The 52-47 roll call by which the Senate voted to reject reauthorization of several provisions of the USA Patriot Act. Sixty votes were needed to overcome a filibuster of the bill. On this vote, a “yes” vote …

Critics of Patriot Act Gaining Momentum in Senate Los Angeles Times
Anti-terror Patriot Act renewal blocked in US Senate Reuters.uk
Bloomberg – CNET News.com – ABC News – BBC News – all 1,338 related »

BREAKING: Diebold now dumped in Volusia County, FL!

Volusia County, FL Dumps Diebold Too!
Opts for Transparent, Accountable Elections (Instead of Diebold Elections) After a Protracted Battle…

This just in…After various protracted legal battles (funded by the National Federation for the Blind, which had received a $1 million “donation” from Diebold previously) and along with the news out of Leon County, Florida, Volusia County has now come to their senses and also decided to dump Diebold voting machines!…

Read more.

Free the media!

Dear Mark Crispin Miller:

2005 has been a remarkable year for the media reform movement. Together, we’ve proven to the politicians and industry moguls that people won’t stand idle while powerful interests make policies in our name but without our consent.

Your activism helped save federal funding and thwart partisan attacks on public broadcasting. You exposed fake news and “payola pundits.” You helped protect the right of local communities across the country to bring universal, affordable Internet access to their citizens. Thousands of you put activist toolkits to work in your communities, participated in town meetings on the future of the media, and packed the house in St. Louis at the National Conference for Media Reform.

I’m writing today to ask you to do one more thing in 2005:

Recruit two friends as new Free Press e-activists

This simple action will take only a moment, and it won’t cost you a penny. But it might be the single most important thing you can do to help grow the media reform movement.

Despite the gains we made in the past year, greedy corporate media continue to lead our nation down a perilous path. The narrow range of political debate, the lack of government and corporate accountability, and the obsession with celebrity and sensationalism have left the public dangerously misinformed about the most crucial issues of the day. More and more journalists are being shown the door as their corporate employers opt to “synergize” operations by replacing reporting with “infotainment.”

We need to push back in 2006 with an army of 500,000 activists — ready to sound the alarm when the FCC tries again to rewrite the rules to let Big Media control more local outlets in every city. We must confront the Bush administration’s relentless campaign to silence independent and skeptical journalism. We must make sure Congress passes a new Telecom Act that’s better than the old one – which gave us the Clear Channel colossus while handing Big Media billions of dollars in public assets for free. This time, the future of the Internet is at stake.

I’m sure, like me, you have friends and colleagues who are deeply concerned about the direction our country is heading. Maybe they wonder why they can’t find people like them or the issues they care about on TV. Maybe they’re mad about their cable bill being too high or having no high-speed Internet access. Probably, like so many people I’ve met throughout America, they see the problems of the media but feel helpless to change them.

Bring two new activists into the media reform movement

We started Free Press to give more people a voice in the momentous policy decisions shaping the future of all communications. We need more people to join the debate and build a media system that truly looks like America.

Thanks for all of your help this year and in the year to come.

Onward,

Robert W. McChesney
President
Free Press
www.freepress.net

P.S. We need all of the help we can get. So don’t hesitate to invite three, five, even 10 friends or more to sign up as Free Press e-activists today.

Head Start may lose $80 million

to fund those tax cuts for the billionaires….

Our friends at the National Head Start Association are mobilizing against across-the-board budget cuts to important domestic programs, including Head Start.

Please join this effort and take action today.

To fund tax cuts for millionaires, Congress is poised TODAY to remove 35,000 kids from HeadStart – widely regarded as one of the government’s most successful programs at lifting people out of poverty.

Two years ago, TrueMajorityACTION members swung into action and successfully stopped proposed cuts then. Amazingly, the budgeteers have chosen the Holiday Season to launch yet another attack on Head Start. So our friends at the National Head Start Association are mounting another defense of the kids living in poverty who benefit from this program.

Please take just a minute to check this out and take action. It’s fast, easy and the right thing to do this season.

Duane Peterson
TrueMajorityACTION

Here is a message from the National Head Start Association on this effort:

Congress is considering imposing an across-the-board spending cut to ALL programs. There are any number of bills they may try to slip the cuts onto as Congress works to finish its business and leave town for the year. Our country is better than this — we can’t allow further cuts to the programs that millions of vulnerable Americans count on. Across-the-board budget cuts deserve an “up or down vote” on their own merits – not by trying to slip them in by adding them to popular, “must pass” bills.

Contact your congressspeople and ask them to fight the inclusion of across-the-board cuts in ANY bill. This is NOT the way to cut deficits – on the backs of poor and at-risk Americans!

http://action.truemajority.org/campaign/head_start_cuts

The table below reflects estimates of how many Head Start children will have to be cut as a result of a one percent across-the-board cut in spending. The cuts could be as much as two percent, which would double the number of children and families affected in your state. Please help us fight this injustice! The cuts could be included on any bill that comes to the House and Senate floor today, tomorrow, or over the weekend.

Erika Argersinger
Associate Director, Government Affairs
National Head Start Association

ESTIMATED ENROLLMENT CUTS FROM FY 2005 TO FY 2006 WITH 1% ACROSS-THE-BOARD CUT

ESTIMATED CUTS IN ENROLLMENT FROM STATE/TERRITORY

FY 2005 TO FY 2006
ALABAMA -634
ALASKA -63
ARIZONA -512
ARKANSAS -421
CALIFORNIA -3,832
COLORADO -380
CONNECTICUT -277
DELAWARE -85
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -132
FLORIDA -1,378
GEORGIA -908
HAWAII -119
IDAHO -115
ILLINOIS -1,537
INDIANA -551
IOWA -301
KANSAS -308
KENTUCKY -623
LOUISIANA -851
MAINE -154
MARYLAND -401
MASSACHUSETTS -499
MICHIGAN -1,361
MINNESOTA -400
MISSISSIPPI -1,036
MISSOURI -677
MONTANA -114
NEBRASKA -197
NEVADA -107
NEW HAMPSHIRE -63
NEW JERSEY -586
NEW MEXICO -289
NEW YORK -1,910
NORTH CAROLINA -740
NORTH DAKOTA -91
OHIO -1,473
OKLAHOMA -522
OREGON -338
PENNSYLVANIA -1,196
RHODE ISLAND -122
SOUTH CAROLINA -474
SOUTH DAKOTA -110
TENNESSEE -637
TEXAS -2,626
UTAH -214
VERMONT -61
VIRGINIA -533
WASHINGTON -431
WEST VIRGINIA -296
WISCONSIN -524
WYOMING -69

Here’s the message we’ll send to your Congresspeople:

Dear Congressperson,

The across-the-board spending cuts being debated in Congress don’t differentiate between waste and programs known to deliver strong results. The cuts include programs like Head Start, one of government’s most successful anti-poverty efforts.

America cannot continue to weaken our domestic infrastructure; please vote against any legislation that includes across-the-board spending cuts.

(We’ll put your name and address here.)

Thanks! Please forward this widely or use the following link to spread the word: Tell-A-Friend

On swaying the DNC

I have a strategy suggestion in this regard, Mark. The post-Watergate reforms occurred because so many new people, not beholden to the machines running either political party, were swept in. They caused the leadership absolute fits– and produced campaign finance and intelligence reform that endured.

I am only donating to incumbents who supported voting rights in 2000 and/or 2004. Most of my contributions go to challengers where the incumbent is a Republican. When I send in the contribution, I attach a note in Dutch uncle-ese saying that I expect them to support the right to vote.

If we can get a freshman class of 30 genuinely independent people who owe their victory to election reform activists, it could change the tone in Congress.

Regards, Oliver

Diebold flops in Florida

Posted on Thu, Dec. 15, 2005
ELECTIONS
New tests fuel doubts about vote machines

A top election official and computer experts say computer hackers could easily change election results, after they found numerous flaws with a state-approved voting-machine in Tallahassee.

TALLAHASSEE – A political operative with hacking skills could alter the results of any election on Diebold-made voting machines — and possibly other new voting systems in Florida — according to the state capital’s election supervisor, who said Diebold software has failed repeated tests.

Ion Sancho, Leon County’s election chief, said tests by two computer experts, completed this week, showed that an insider could surreptitiously change vote results and the number of ballots cast on Diebold’s optical-scan machines.

After receiving county commission approval Tuesday, Sancho scrapped Diebold’s system for one made by Elections Systems and Software, the same provider used by Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The difference between the systems: Sancho’s machines use a fill-in-the-blank paper ballot that allows for after-the-fact manual recounts, while Broward and Miami-Dade use ATM-like touchscreens that leave no paper trail.

”That’s kind of scary. If there’s no paper trail, you have to rely solely on electronic results. And now we know that they can be manipulated under the right conditions, without a person even leaving a fingerprint,” said Sancho, who once headed the state’s elections supervisors association.

Read more.

Earle subpoenas Wilkes and others (legible)

This could be the start of something big, or fatal.

Prosecutor Issues Subpoenas in DeLay Case
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 13, 9:36 PM ET

A Texas prosecutor has issued subpoenas for bank records and other information of a defense contractor involved in the bribery case of a California congressman as part of the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

District Attorney Ronnie Earle issued subpoenas late Monday afternoon for California businessmen Brent Wilkes and Max Gelwix, records of Perfect Wave Technologies LLC, Wilkes Corp. and ADCS Inc. in connection with a contribution to a fundraising committee at the center of the investigation that led to DeLay’s indictment on money laundering charges.

Perfect Wave contributed $15,000 in September 20, 2002 to Texans for a Republican Majority, a fundraising committee founded by DeLay, R-Texas.

Read more.

Is Diebold tanking?

From a reader:

agorafinancial.com has just sent out the following alert. you will not find it on their web site- probably because it was sent out privately to their paid customers. I just received it from a trusted friend.

The Emerging Capital Report
December 14, 2005

**Flash Sell Alert**

Voting Machine Scam Offers Windfall Profit Opportunity

Back in 2000, the presidential election was decided based on interpretation of hadwritten ballots. Pundits decreed that never again should we depend on a system that allowed “hanging chads,” “dimples” and other such flaws.

Instead, we were to use electronic voting machines. The rush was on to adopt these across the country.

It now turns out that America traded the frying pan for the fire.

Diebold Inc. (DBD: NYSE) is ready for sale. We don’t own it, but it’s so vulnerable that a short-sale is warranted.

While I generally don’t recommend short-selling (borrowing shares and then selling them), I can’t resist doing this with Diebold.

IMPORTANT: Read and thoroughly understand the “Action to take” instructions below. Short-selling is not for the uninformed.

This is a Special Situation, to be done only with extra money, not in lieu of a regularly scheduled Transformational Technology Portfolio purchase. (You’ll have to keep money in your account to cover the risk of losses if Diebold should rise. That money could instead be used to buy Transformational Technology stocks.)

Why am I making my first-ever short sale in the history of The Emerging Capital Report?

Diebold is a company that’s benefited from its political connections to become the largest supplier of voting machines in America. It’s got a market capitalization of $2.7 billion. All that could melt away.

The company’s leading voting machines have now been proven glaringly vulnerable to “hacks.” Hacks, as you may know, are deliberate interferences with software by a person (aka a “hacker”). Usually, it’s not malicious. When it is, it can be costly.

How about a hack that steals an election? This horrifying scenario strikes at the heart of the American system, and it’s been proven possible. Election commissioners are starting to recognize this and drop Diebold.

This has all been pretty technical. The explanations of how to hack these machines have been hard for the average person to grasp, even when simple to do. (In one case, a monkey was trained to change election results remotely. Visit www.blackboxvoting.org for details.)

A few counties have dropped Diebold already, but there was no “trigger event” to cause mass defections. Until now.

Anyone will understand that a bombshell that has just been dropped. A security expert has shown that Diebold lied to the State Department when it said that votes could not be changed on its memory card.

This is crucial, because the memory card comes loaded with these machines and is available for simple tampering by any election worker. No password is needed. It’s a one-step process that could easily go undetected.

In a test election in Leon County, Fla., on Dec. 13, eight ballots were actually cast. The correct total would have been two “Yes” and six “No” votes.

However, in the test, a memory card preloaded with plus and minus votes was used. This is supposed to be impossible: Diebold claims that such a card would be rejected by the system. (Indeed, its “zero report” at the start of the election showed that zero votes had been cast, despite votes being already loaded into the tally on the card.)

Sure enough, at the end of the mock election, the vote totals were not those actually cast, but rather the pre-engineered total: seven “Yes” and one “No.”

These numbers may seem trivial. But it’s an enormous percentage difference, one that would ensure the swinging of a landslide from Republicrats to Democans, or vice versa.

It also establishes beyond a doubt that elections in America could already have been engineered to give “pre-loaded” results. There is, quite simply, nothing more dangerous to a democratic system.

Upon completion of the above test, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho told www.BlackBoxVoting.org that he would never again use Diebold machines. He has asked the county for funds to replace the abandoned machines. You can be sure the county will ask Diebold for a refund and, if necessary, sue to get it. Others will follow suit (literally and figuratively).

He’ll issue a formal announcement soon. That will be picked up in the mainstream media, in all likelihood provoking a firestorm of controversy and a plunging stock price. I learned about it early because of my contacts inside Black Box Voting.

This devastating discovery comes on the heels of research at the universities of Maryland, Johns Hopkins and Rice, which concluded they are “a threat to democracy.” Such research had shown the machines could be hacked and elections rigged, so election supervisors are already nervous.

The new test — right in front of an election supervisor’s eyes under real-
world conditions — provides them with a solid reason to drop Diebold. It is likely to result in the decertification of Diebold machines across America, as well as criminal prosecutions of its management.

Adding fuel to the fire, a class-action stockholder suit was filed by the law offices of Scott & Scott. While such suits are routinely filed when management fails to meet its projections, and in most such cases the damages to shareholders are not huge, in this case, they could well exceed the value of the whole company.

Every investor who bought stock relying on Diebold’s deceitful promises about the reliability of its technology will be able to claim all losses as damages. There is no defense that I can foresee. Rarely is a class action so timely or cut and dry.

It may lead to the bankruptcy of Diebold. (Should that happen, you’ll never have to buy back the stock you sold and you’ll make the maximum 100% return on your investment.)

Action to take: Sell Diebold (DBD: NYSE) at $34 a share or better. Immediately upon confirmation of sale, place an “open” order to buy back your shares at the sale price plus 25%. (Example: You sell a stock at $60 per share. You would place the buyback order at $75 per share. This limits your losses if the stock rises, rather than falls.) Hold this position until I tell you to buy it back, Diebold goes bankrupt or your open buy order is triggered. (Again, if you do not understand everything I have said, do not make this investment. Your broker can explain short-selling to you.)

Short-selling is risky, even with an open stop loss order. Your risk of loss is unlimited if the stop loss order gets canceled and, unlike Transformational Technology investing, this particular trade depends on public realization that a particular technology is really a Trojan horse. Still, be aware that sometimes the Trojans win.

***** Copyright 2005 Agora Financial, LLC

Agora Financial, LLC expressly forbids its writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to its readers. And all Agora employees and agents must wait 24 hours after an Internet publication prior to following an initial recommendation, and 72 hours after publication is mailed.

Call the DNC, and then geCall the DNC, and then get everyone you know to call themt everyone you know to call them

I called Anna Martinez at the DNC (202 863-8000) who is responsible for voting rights issues. Talked with her for about half and hour. She was receptive but very guarded about what Dean and the DNC would be doing about rigged elections. Of course she cited the party line about the investigations conducted by the DNC and that they have lawyers working on a “message”. She also said it hadn’t been proven that the elections had been stolen and that they were working on fixing “irregularities” through legislation. Of course, she had no alternative but to quote the party line.

I told her so long as they work on “message” without talking with you and Fitrakis and Bev Harris, nothing was going to happen and that Dems would lose 2006 and 2008 not only because of stolen elections but because people would refuse to vote for Democrats.

I think part of the strategy must be for people to call the DNC, Kerry’s office, Reid’s, Pelosi’s, etc. The more phone calls they’re flooded with the more responsive they may become. If it’s clear that money and votes are drying up they’ll have to rethink sitting on their hands. What will they fear more: the GOP attack machine and echo chamber or the indignation of core progressives. If the purse strings are pulled their hands may be forced, unless they go the Denny Hoyer way and start a feeding frenzy again at the corporate trough.

What do you think about putting out the word on your site to encourage people to call the DNC and leading Democrats. The more calls and emails the better. This is only one part of the strategy, but it can be an important part of it.

Robert C.
Richmond CA

He sees clips

President Bush Clarifies His Newspaper Reading Habits, Sort Of
By E&P Staff
Published: December 13, 2005 2:05 PM ET

NEW YORK Reports on President Bush’s reading habits in regard to newspapers have ranged from “almost never” to “six or seven a day.” Some have said he does read the paper every day–but only the sports pages. In one of his several chats with the president on Monday, NBC anchor Brian Williams asked him directly about it.

From the transcript:

WILLIAMS: “Once and for all — and I know you’ve had some fun with members of the press on this subject — how much television news do you watch? How much do you read the morning papers, news magazines? How much do you see in an average week?”

BUSH: “I don’t see a lot of the news. Every morning I look at the newspaper. I can’t say I’ve read every single article in the newspaper. But I definitely know what’s in the news. Occasionally, I watch television. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but it’s occasionally. I’m working at that point, as are you.

Read more.