Bob Herbert cracks the Iron Curtain!

This is major….

June 12, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Those Pesky Voters

I remember fielding telephone calls on Election Day 2004 from friends and colleagues anxious to talk about the exit polls, which seemed to show that John Kerry was beating George W. Bush and would be the next president.

As the afternoon faded into evening, reports started coming in that the Bush camp was dispirited, maybe even despondent, and that the Kerry crowd was set to celebrate. (In an article in the current issue of Rolling Stone, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. writes, “In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.”)

I was skeptical.

The election was bound to be close, and I knew that Kerry couldn’t win Florida. I had been monitoring the efforts to suppress Democratic votes there and had reported on the thuggish practice (by the Jeb Bush administration) of sending armed state police officers into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando to “investigate” allegations of voter fraud.

Read more.

Check out this list!

Also, an important gathering in Dutchess County, NY, this Monday evening.

From Vicky Perry:

NEW! this page has a list of DRE problems just from this year’s primaries so far. Any bets that November elections are far worse?
Monday June 12, at 6PM, and/or at 8:30PM
Important Action to Save the Vote in Dutchess
What: press conference and speak out at the board meeting
Why: the County resolution for reliable scanned ballot voting was pulled of the agenda again – that makes three times. (I believe we have enough votes to pass it, should it ever get voted on.)When: Monday June 12, at 6PM, and/or at 8:30PMWhere: at the County office building (22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, NY)Who: the powerful Minority leader, assistant minority leader, and many county legislators will be speaking out. Won’t you add your voice?
How: First, we will gather for a press conference at 6 pm. Second, we can speak out at the open mic at the end of the Board meeting (this may be late, between 8:30-9PM)

Diebold lobbyist gives Blackwell $10,000

Nothing fishy here….

Diebold Lobbyist Donates $10,000 to Blackwell Campaign
June 9, 2006 08:56 PM

COLUMBUS (AP) — Forty-nine of the 85 people who this year have given Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell the maximum $10,000 allowed an individual donor have done so since May 2. Members of Cincinnati financier Carl Lindner’s family led the way by combining for $90,000. The maximum-donor list also includes Mitch Given, who is a registered lobbyist for Diebold Election Systems, one of the vendors of voting machines for election boards in Ohio.

Blackwell’s office approved Diebold’s selection as a vendor and negotiated the price for the machines, although the counties chose the machines.

Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said the May 15 contribution came well after Diebold signed a contract with the state to provide the machines in February 2004 after bids were submitted by the vendors. LoParo also pointed out that Given lobbies for other companies and is a frequent contributor to GOP campaigns. Given also donated $10,000 to Betty Montgomery’s campaign a week after she dropped out of the governor’s race to run for attorney general.

“It’s important to note that he did not contribute to Secretary Blackwell during the bidding process,” LoParo said.

Read more.

Latest dirt on Busby race

BUSBY/BILBRAY ELECTION IN DOUBT: Uncounted Ballots Reported by Registrar is Decreased by 2000, but Number of Votes in Busby/Bilbray Race Increases by 8000!
I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for this. There always is.

As ever, it underscores the need for verifiable elections, and begins to remind us that the folks who give a damn about this down there in San Diego County better damned well be keeping an eye on the chain of custody for those paper ballots and “paper trails” as they are being theoretically “counted” by the SD County Registrar of Voters.

According to this web page from the SD County’s Registrar of Voters office, as of 5pm last night, the number of uncounted absentee and provisional ballots in the entire county of SD has decreased by 2,000 from the reported 68,500 that were announced as “still to be counted” on election night.

The number of votes in the now-questionable Busby/Bilbray U.S. House (CA-50) special election, however, has been increased by 8,000 votes.

Since the number of votes in the CA-50 race is a smaller subset of the total votes within SD County, one would think that if 2,000 absentee or provisionals were counted for the entire county, the number of votes in CA-50 might go up by a fraction of that number. Instead, they’ve gone up by 8,000, according to the county’s website!

So far, I’ve been unable to get any comments from “quotable sources” at the Registrar’s office on the reported updates. Very few in the office, apparently, are allowed to speak on record to the press for some reason.

As mentioned, no doubt there’s a perfectly good explanation for all of this. Right? It’s just that you and I may never know it. And, if we do, the election officials will likely never have to prove that their explanation — or the veracity of their reported vote counts — is valid. To anybody.

Vermonters call for a recount in San Diego

Vermonters for Democracy,

Our focus is always on elections in Vermont, but I want to let you
know about something going on in California that could affect
elections nationwide.

Yesterday primary elections were held in California, which included a
special election to replace Duke Cunningham, a Republican
Congressaman who you may be aware had to resign due to a bribery
scandal. This election is being closely watched because if the
Democrat wins, it would mean they are one seat closer to taking back
the majority in the House of Representatives.

The special election to replace him was conducted on a variety of
election machines, but the majority of them were on optical scanner
machines, similar to the ones we use in Vermont.

There are some eyebrow-raising and suspicious facts about the way the
election was conducted and the results that have been reported. As
it stands, the Republican has been declared the winner, and
Cunningham’s seat in Congress will remain in Republican control.

However, due to the suspicious nature of the election and results,
there is a concerted effort underway to call for a recount. If the
recount reveals problems, the ripple affects would be tremendous and
reach all the way to Vermont. Please join the nationwide effort to
call for a recount!

A letter has been written by Jonathan Simon, describing the
situation, and how to contact the right people and voice your
concern. Please read the letter and take the actions listed:

A link to this letter can also be found on the Vermonters for Voting
Integrity home page) in the “Action Items” box in the top right

Please spread the word!

Gary Beckwith
Vermonters for Voting Integrity

If you don't even know you're eating it, how can it hurt you?

Government scientists are blowing the whistle on the Environmental Protection Agency’s attempts to allow the continued use of 20 hazardous organophosphate pesticides. Nine thousand EPA scientists have submitted a strongly worded letter to the EPA’s Administrator, Stephen Johnson, protesting that “industry pressure” is compromising the “integrity of the science upon which agency decisions are based.” Research indicates that these specific organophosphate pesticides, similar in composition to bio-warfare nerve gases, pose serious health threats, especially to babies in the womb, infants, and children, yet most of them are contained in common products used by the average consumer. EPA scientists complain that they are being forced to skip key risk assessment tests on these dangerous toxins due to pressure from the chemical industry. This rebellion inside the EPA comes on the heels of the agency’s new controversial regulations that would allow the intentional dosing of pregnant women and children with pesticides.


How does Cheney keep things secret? It's a secret.

Cheney’s Office Declares Exemption from Secrecy Oversight
by Michelle Chen

*A correction was appended to this news article after initial publication.

Thickening the haze of secrecy surrounding the executive branch, the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney has declared itself exempt from a yearly requirement to report how it uses its power to classify secret information.

In its 2005 report to the president released last month, the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), a branch of the National Archives, provides a quantitative overview of hundreds of thousands of pages of classified and declassified documents. But the vice president’s input consists of a single footnote explaining that his office failed to meet its reporting requirements for the third year in a row.

Open-government advocates say Cheney’s refusal to divulge even basic information about classification activities reflects an alarming pattern of broadening executive privilege while narrowing public accountability.

Read more.

"Net neutrality" goes down

Friday, 9 June 2006, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Defeat for net neutrality backers

US politicians have rejected attempts to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation.

Some fear the decision will mean net providers start deciding on behalf of customers which websites and services they can visit and use.

The vote is a defeat for Google, eBay and Amazon which wanted the net neutrality principle protected by law.

All three mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns prior to the vote in the House of Representatives.

During the debate House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said that without the amendment “telecommunications and cable companies will be able to create toll lanes on the information superhighway”.

“This strikes at the heart of the free and equal nature of the internet,” she added.

Lots more really good stuff at

Carolyn Kay

NSA is watching you

Pentagon sets its sights on social networking websites

“I AM continually shocked and appalled at the details people voluntarily post online about themselves.” So says Jon Callas, chief security officer at PGP, a Silicon Valley-based maker of encryption software. He is far from alone in noticing that fast-growing social networking websites such as MySpace and Friendster are a snoop’s dream.

New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology – specifically the forthcoming “semantic web” championed by the web standards organisation W3C – to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

Americans are still reeling from last month’s revelations that the NSA has been logging phone calls since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. The Congressional Research Service, which advises the US legislature, says phone companies that surrendered call records may have acted illegally. However, the White House insists that the terrorist threat makes existing wire-tapping legislation out of date and is urging Congress not to investigate the NSA’s action.

Read more.