Voting Machine Problems, Car Powered by Air, 9/11 Professor Speaks
Revealing News Articles
November 3, 2006
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. These news articles include revealing information on voting machine problems, a car powered by air, a quiet 9/11 professor who speaks with authority, and more. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Can This Machine Be Trusted?
November 6, 2006 Issue, Time Magazine
The U.S.'s new voting systems are only as good as the people who program and use them. In one week, more than 80 million Americans will go to the polls, and a record number of them—90%—will either cast their vote on a computer or have it tabulated that way. There are going to be problems. Some will be machine malfunctions. Some could come from sabotage by poll workers. But in a venture this large, trouble is most likely to come from just plain human error. Four years after Congress passed a law requiring every state to vote by a method more reliable than the punch-card system that paralyzed Florida and the nation in 2000, the 2006 election is shaping up into a contest not just between Democrats and Republicans but also between people who believe in technology and those who fear machines cannot be trusted to count votes in a closely divided democracy. Princeton computer scientist Edward Felten and a couple of graduate students this past summer tested the defenses of a voting machine made by Diebold. They were able to quickly infect the device with a standard memory-access card in which they had installed a preprogrammed chip. Other computer scientists have also breached electronic voting machines. Congressman Vernon Ehlers, a Michigan Republican who has been holding hearings this fall, says manufacturers "have produced machines that are very vulnerable, not very reliable and I suspect fairly easy to hack." Concerns about fraud are heightened by the fact that with some electronic voting machines, there is no such thing as a real recount [i.e. paper trail].
Note: For a highly important 12-minute video of the court witness testimony of a computer expert who was personally involved in the manipulation of votes, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEzY2tnwExs. For more on this, click here. For a three-minute Fox News clip showing how easy it is to infect a voting machine with a virus which secretly changes the elections results: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JESZiLpBLE.
Diebold demands HBO cancel film on voting machines
November 1, 2006, Seattle Times/Bloomberg
Diebold Inc. demanded that cable network HBO cancel a documentary that questions the integrity of its voting machines, calling the program inaccurate and unfair. The program, "Hacking Democracy," is scheduled to debut on Nov. 2, five days before the 2006 U.S. midterm elections. The film claims Diebold voting machines aren't tamper-proof and can be manipulated to change voting results. "Hacking Democracy" is "replete with material examples of inaccurate reporting," Diebold Election System President David Byrd said in a letter to HBO President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Albrecht. "We stand by the film," HBO spokesman Jeff Cusson said in an interview. "We have no intention of withdrawing it from our schedule." This is Diebold's second defense of its system since last month. On Sept. 26, Byrd wrote to Jann Wenner, editor and publisher of Rolling Stone, saying a story written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "Will the Next Election Be Hacked?" was "error- riddled" and that readers "deserve a better researched and reported article." The documentary is based on the work of Bev Harris of Renton, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, which monitors election accuracy. Harris says on the HBO Web site that she found "secret program files" used by Diebold for its electronic voting machines. Harris copied them and distributed the programs to others as a way to show the vulnerability of a system designed to safeguard voting, according to the Web site.
Note: For the revealing story in Rolling Stone, click here.
Multiple Voting Machine Problems
October 31, 2006, CNN News
[CNN News anchor Lou] DOBBS: Florida the scene of one of this country's worst election breakdowns ever. Already a series of e-voting glitches have plagued early voting in the state of Florida. KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Voter activists are warning there have been problems with electronic machines in Florida in early voting. Some of the most populous counties...have reported serious problems. In seven percent of precincts, the number of votes didn't match the tally of registered voters. PAMELA HAENGEL, VOTING INTEGRITY ALLIANCE: In Pinellas County in the primaries we found over 150 calibration errors from precinct workers' logs. That's when a voter goes to touch the screen and it hops to a candidate that they didn't necessarily vote for. PILGRIM: Today, Governor Jeb Bush gave his full vote of confidence to the machine. REGINALD MITCHELL, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Despite all the problems...we have nothing in place for a paper trail in Florida. SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA ELECTION COALITION: The voting started at 8:00. At five minutes before 10:00, the power failed. PILGRIM: That power outage kept the electronic voting machines down for hours and hundreds of voters were turned away. PILGRIM: Another problem, in some places representatives of the voting machines company are in charge of running the software that tabulates the votes. DOBBS: This is one troubling, concerning report on top of another. We are beginning to behave like a Banana Republic. PILGRIM: It's unbelievably shocking this close to the election we're dealing with this. DOBBS: Unbelievable. It's just -- it's incredible.
Backers hail 9/11 theorist's speech
October 30, 2006, Denver Post
The standing ovation has finally died down, and Steven E. Jones, a soft-spoken physics professor, finds himself pinned against the stage by some of the enthusiastic fans who packed a University of Denver auditorium. "Can I just shake your hand?" a woman in a baggy red sweater asks Jones. "You're doing such important work." If anything, Jones appears embarrassed by all the attention. Quiet and self-effacing, he's an unlikely hero for 9/11 conspiracy theorists of every stripe, but that's exactly what he's become. A physicist whose background includes work on nuclear fusion, Jones was put on leave by Brigham Young University in September after publishing a paper saying that the twin towers couldn't have collapsed solely as a result of the planes that rammed the upper floors on Sept. 11. The paper theorizes that explosives planted inside the building must have been involved. Though Jones doesn't specify who he believes planted the charges, he concedes it would have had to be "an inside job" and likely would have included either very powerful figures on the American scene or entities inside the government. Jones and his work reflect the mainstreaming of a movement that has defied the Bush administration's efforts to put it to rest and mystified people who have studied the events of that day closely. A startlingly large percentage of the population simply doesn't believe the official explanation. A national poll by the Scripps Survey Center at Ohio University conducted in the summer found that more than a third of people questioned believed the government either planned the attacks or could have stopped them but didn't.
Anti-secrecy panel called 'puppet'
October 30, 2006, Washington Times/UPI
A panel set up last year to reduce excessive secrecy in government is being labeled toothless after its chairman told lawmakers that he could not act except at the request of the president. "The statute under which we operate provides that [President Bush] must request the board undertake such a review before it can proceed," wrote L. Britt Snider, chairman of the Public Interest Declassification Board. Government transparency advocates say that if the statute is interpreted that way, it makes the board, in the words of Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists, "a White House puppet." The board was established in law in 2000..."to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and...activities." But the administration did not appoint any members until September 2004, and no funds were appropriated for it until last year. Now the board says it is stuck in the middle of a tussle about its authority between lawmakers and the White House. "The White House position is they have to request "any review such as that of the Senate committee report," Mr. Snider said. "The senators believe they can ask independently. ... We're kind of stuck in the middle." Mr. Snider said the board was "waiting for guidance from the White House" about how to proceed.
9/11 theorists are either silly or shrewd
October 29, 2006, Denver Post
They believe the federal government had a hand in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Members of Colorado911Visibility.org include psychologists, lawyers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, an aerospace engineer, physicists and lots of people with doctorates and master's degrees in the sciences. They understand why people want to dismiss them. They say people want to attack them as messengers because it's too disturbing to believe the government that is supposed to protect us would orchestrate the deaths of more than 3,000 Americans. One of the organizers invited three scholars to speak...to "take this out of the realm of conspiracy theory." (Details at denverpostbloghouse.com/rodriguez.) The year-old group has an e-mail list of about 350 people. Among them is Earl Staelin, a 66-year-old civil litigator. He said many of his friends who are engineers didn't believe the official story, that the towers fell because [of] burning fuel from the planes. After he showed films, such as "9-11 Mysteries," they came to the same conclusion: demolition experts must have planned this in advance. Why would the government do it? The explanations are plentiful, as is the evidence that groups such as this one, which exist throughout the nation...share on such websites as 911truth.org. And for those who say these groups are wacko fringe groups, think again: According to a poll by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University taken this August, 36 percent of Americans believe the government was either complicit in the 9/11 attacks or knew about it and didn't try to stop it. 16 percent believe explosives were used to bring down the towers.
U.S. Investigates Voting Machines' Venezuela Ties
October 29, 2006, New York Times
The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. The inquiry is focusing on the Venezuelan owners of the software company, the Smartmatic Corporation...and its subsidiary, Sequoia Voting Systems of Oakland, Calif.. Smartmatic was a little-known firm with no experience in voting technology before it was chosen by the Venezuelan authorities to replace the country's elections machinery ahead of a contentious referendum that confirmed Mr. Chavez as president in August 2004. With a windfall of some $120 million from its first three contracts with Venezuela, Smartmatic then bought the much larger and more established Sequoia Voting Systems, which now has voting equipment installed in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The concern over Smartmatic's purchase of Sequoia comes amid rising unease about the security of touch-screen voting machines and other electronic elections systems. The concerns about possible ties between the owners of Smartmatic and the Chavez government have been well known to United States foreign-policy officials since before the 2004 recall election in which Mr. Chavez...won by an official margin of nearly 20 percent. But after a municipal primary election in Chicago in March, Sequoia voting machines were blamed for a series of delays and irregularities. Smartmatic's new president, Jack A. Blaine, acknowledged in a public hearing that Smartmatic workers had been flown up from Venezuela to help with the vote.
GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms
October 28, 2006, ABC News/Associated Press
David M. Walker...has a job as head of the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress that audits and evaluates the performance of the federal government. That makes Walker the nation's accountant-in-chief. And the accountant-in-chief's professional opinion is that the American public needs to tell Washington it's time to steer the nation off the path to financial ruin. The vast majority of economists and budget analysts agree: The ship of state is on a disastrous course, and will founder on the reefs of economic disaster if nothing is done to correct it. There's a good reason politicians don't like to talk about the nation's long-term fiscal prospects. It reveals serious problems and offers no easy solutions. Anybody who wanted to deal with it seriously would have to talk about raising taxes and cutting benefits. Walker...has committed to touring the nation through the 2008 elections, talking to anybody who will listen about the fiscal black hole Washington has dug itself, the "demographic tsunami" that will come when the baby boom generation begins retiring and the recklessness of borrowing money from foreign lenders to pay for the operation of the U.S. government. To show that the looming fiscal crisis is not a partisan issue, he brings along economists and budget analysts from across the political spectrum. Their basic message is this: If the United States government conducts business as usual over the next few decades, a national debt that is already $8.5 trillion could reach $46 trillion. A hole that big could paralyze the U.S. economy. And every year that nothing is done about it, Walker says, the problem grows by $2 trillion to $3 trillion.
Meet The First Car Powered By Air
October 28, 2006, CBS News
At their factory in southern France, father-and-son team Guy and Cyril Negre insist air power is no joke. Plain old air compressed in the tank, they say, cheap and non-polluting. Sound too good to be true? Says Cyril, "It's a real car. The other thing is it's a very zero emission car. You won't pollute, there won't be emission. You have a very economical car." A car, says the Negres, that will cost just $2 for every 120 miles. The Negres have a long love affair with cars. Guy designed a Formula One race car engine. Cyril worked at Bugati. The technology for their car, they say, is relatively simple and safe. "When you compress the air...inside of the tank, this is like compressing a spring, and then the tank gives you back the energy of the air when it expands," says Cyril. Compressed air in a carbon-fiber tank, something like scuba divers use, drives the pistons and turns the crankshaft. There is no combustion and no gasoline. That's why there's no pollution. You fill it up at an air compressor. It may sound far-fetched, but at his labs on the campus of UCLA, professor Su-Chin Chow is also exploring the power of air. The Negres say after years of delays...they have solved their technical problems. Another year, they say, and they'll be ready for large scale production, with a top speed of 55 miles-an-hour.
Glitches cited in early voting
October 28, 2006, Miami Herald
After a week of early voting, a handful of glitches with electronic voting machines have drawn the ire of voters, reassurances from elections supervisors -- and a caution against the careless casting of ballots. Several South Florida voters say the choices they touched on the electronic screens were not the ones that appeared on the review screen -- the final voting step. In Broward County, for example, they don't know how widespread the machine problems are because there's no process for poll workers to quickly report minor issues and no central database of machine problems. Debra A. Reed voted with her boss on Wednesday at African-American Research Library and Cultural Center near Fort Lauderdale. Her vote went smoothly, but boss Gary Rudolf called her over to look at what was happening on his machine. He touched the screen for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis, a Democrat, but the review screen repeatedly registered the Republican, Charlie Crist. A poll worker then helped Rudolf, but it took three tries to get it right, Reed said. Broward Supervisor of Elections spokeswoman Mary Cooney said it's not uncommon for screens on heavily used machines to slip out of sync, making votes register incorrectly.
Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial
October 27, 2006, ABC News
ExxonMobil should stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view, two senators said today in a letter to the oil company. In their letter to ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., appealed to Exxon's sense of corporate responsibility, asking the company to "come clean about its past denial activities." The two senators called on ExxonMobil to "end any further financial assistance" to groups "whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth." An upcoming study from the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that ExxonMobil funded 29 climate change denial groups in 2004 alone. Since 1990, the report said, the company has spent more than $19 million funding groups that promote their views through publications and Web sites that are not peer reviewed by the scientific community.
Millions for Millions
Oct 20, 2006, The New Yorker
This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner and some high-tech entrepreneurs are competing to provide credit to the world's poor. In November, 2004, [eBay founder Pierre Omidyar,] Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, and other leaders of the high-tech community gathered at the San Francisco home of the venture capitalist John Doerr for a weekend session with Muhammad Yunus, who is considered the godfather of microcredit. Yunus...is a highly gifted interlocutor between the extremely poor in the developing world and the West. This December, he will go to Oslo to receive [the Nobel Peace Prize]. During the famine of 1974 in Bangladesh...Yunus, an economics professor at Chittagong University, found the theories he was teaching maddeningly irrelevant; so he went into a neighboring village and began talking to the poor. He lent twenty-seven dollars to a group of forty-two villagers. Before long he became convinced that he had a remedy for their condition: providing very small individual loans to the impoverished to start activities ranging from making bamboo stools to buying a dairy cow. In 1976, after local banks refused his entreaties to make the loans...he founded the Grameen Bank. In early May, representatives from eight microfinance institutions around the world were invited to a three-day event at the Gates Foundation's headquarters, in Seattle. At one point, the group met with Melinda and Bill Gates, and with Warren Buffett, too.
Note: If you want to be inspired by the amazing microfinance movement, which is transforming the face of poverty in our world, read this highly engaging, informative article. To be a part of this exciting global transformation, see https://www.WantToKnow.info/051023microcredit
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Voting Machine Problems, Car Powered by Air, 9/11 Professor Speaks