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Flawed Voting Machines, Fabricated Terror,
Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes
Revealing News Articles
December 17, 2007

Dear friends,

Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on flawed electronic voting machines in Ohio and California, a fabricated terror group in Egypt, the destroyed CIA torture tapes, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. 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.

With best wishes,
Tod Fletcher and Fred Burks for PEERS and

Ohio Elections Official Calls Machines Flawed
December 15, 2007, New York Times

All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state's top elections official has found. "It was worse than I anticipated," the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. "I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others." At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers. Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state's voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio's 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters. Florida, another swing state with a history of voting problems, is also scrapping touch-screen machines and switching to optical scan ones for the election. Such systems have gained favor because experts say they are more reliable than others and, unlike most touch screens, they provide a paper trail for recounts. The study released Friday found that voting machines and central servers made by Elections Systems and Software; Premier Election Solutions, formerly Diebold; and Hart InterCivic were easily corrupted. The $1.9 million federally financed study assembled corporate and academic teams to conduct parallel assessments. "All of the studied systems possess critical security failures that render their technical controls insufficient to guarantee a trustworthy election," the team wrote.

Note: This article somehow fails to mention the fact that as these machines were used in the 2004 presidential election, the results could easily have been flawed. For a summary of many major media reports on the problems with electronic voting machines, click here.

CIA Destroyed Tapes Despite Court Order
December 12, 2007, New York Times/Associated Press

Federal courts had prohibited the Bush administration from discarding evidence of detainee torture and abuse months before the CIA destroyed videotapes that revealed some of its harshest interrogation tactics. Normally, that would force the government to defend itself against obstruction allegations. But the CIA may have an out: its clandestine network of overseas prisons. While judges focused on the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and tried to guarantee that any evidence of detainee abuse would be preserved, the CIA was performing its toughest questioning half a world away. And by the time President Bush publicly acknowledged the secret prison system, interrogation videos of two terrorism suspects had been destroyed. The CIA destroyed the tapes in November 2005. That June, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. had ordered the Bush administration to safeguard "all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay." U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a nearly identical order that July. At the time, that seemed to cover all detainees in U.S. custody. But Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the terrorism suspects whose interrogations were videotaped and then destroyed, weren't at Guantanamo Bay. They were prisoners that existed off the books -- and apparently beyond the scope of the court's order. Attorneys say that might not matter. David H. Remes, a lawyer for Yemeni citizen Mahmoad Abdah and others, ... said "It is still unlawful for the government to destroy evidence, and it had every reason to believe that these interrogation records would be relevant to pending litigation. It's logical to infer that the documents were destroyed in order to obstruct any inquiry into the means by which statements were obtained."

Was Pelosi aware of CIA's tactics?
December 12, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

When the CIA destroyed those prisoner interrogation videotapes, were they also destroying the truth about Sept. 11, 2001? After all, according to the 9/11 Commission report, the basic narrative of what happened on that day - and the nature of the enemy in this war on terror that Bush launched in response to the tragedy - comes from the CIA's account of what those prisoners told their torturers. The commission was never allowed to interview the prisoners, or speak with those who did, and was forced to rely on what the CIA was willing to relay instead. On the matter of the existence of the tapes, we know the CIA deliberately lied. Why should we believe what we've been told about what may turn out to be the most important transformative event in our nation's history? On the basis of what the CIA claimed the tortured prisoners said, President Bush launched ... an endless war that threatens to bankrupt our society both financially and morally. How important were those "key witnesses" to the 9/11 Commission report? Check out the disclaimer on page 146 about the commission's sourcing of the main elements laid out in its narrative: "Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members ... Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses ... is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but ... were told that our requests might disrupt the sensitive interrogation process." Videos were made of those "sensitive" interrogations, which were accurately described as "torture" by one of the agents involved, John Kiriakou, in an interview with ABC News. Yet when the 9/11 Commission and federal court judges specifically asked for such tapes, they were destroyed by the CIA, which then denied their existence.

Note: Author Robert Scheer goes on to ask what did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other key Congressional Democrats know about the torture techniques used by the CIA, and when did they know it? For a powerful summary of many major-media reports raising questions about what really happened on 9/11, click here.

Egypt 'fabricated terror group'
December 11, 2007, BBC News

A US-based human rights group has accused the Egyptian government of using torture and false confessions in a high-profile anti-terrorism case. Twenty-two alleged members of an unknown Islamist group, the Victorious Sect, were accused of planning attacks on tourism sites and gas pipelines. Human Rights Watch says its research suggests the security forces may have fabricated the group's name. It reports claims the case was used to justify renewing emergency laws. The BBC's Ian Pannell in Cairo says this is just the latest in a run of accusations by human rights organisations against Egypt's police and state security apparatus. The authorities' claims made headlines in April 2006 when they said they had smashed a previously unheard-of terrorist group plotting a series of attacks against soft targets including tourists and Coptic Christian clerics. "Beyond coerced confessions, there appears to be no compelling evidence to support the government's dramatic claims," HRW says. "Indeed, it appears that SSI (state security investigations) may have fabricated the allegations made against at least some and possibly all of them," its report says. Detainees quoted by HRW said they had been beaten and kicked by their interrogators, and some were given electric shocks on their bodies, including their genitals. A spokesperson for the organisation said the case was not unusual, but was part of a pattern of detention and torture by the Egyptian security services in order to obtain false confessions. The "Victorious Sect" arrests came to light shortly before Egypt renewed its enduring and controversial emergency laws, which give sweeping powers of detention to the security forces.

New solar systems
December 11, 2007, CNN

Widespread anxiety about the damaging effects of burning fossil fuels, coupled with a genuine fear that oil and gas will become scarce before the century ends are fueling a renewed interest in renewable energy and, in particular, solar power solutions. Research is increasingly focusing on 'concentrated solar power' systems -- CSP for short. CSP systems focus direct solar radiation through optical devices onto an area where a receiver is located -- much like burning a hole in a piece of paper with a magnifying glass. This solar radiation is then converted into electricity. In practice, the CPS system comprises of four elements - a solar field, solar collector elements, a solar receiver and ... the remaining systems required to operate a power plant. In Europe, a number of solar projects are being rolled out. Germany leads the way with over 10 solar power plants. Located in the Tabernas Desert in southern Spain, however, is the Platforma Solar de Almeria -- a solar power research facility where new solar technologies are being tested. One of the concepts being trialed is the 'central tower' configuration which utilizes a collection of heliostats -- mirrors which automatically track sunlight -- which act as solar collectors. The heliostats then concentrate the solar radiation onto a central receiver located at the top of a tower. Europe's first commercial concentrated solar power plant was officially opened in Seville, Spain in March 2007. The new Planta Solar 10 (PS10) is the first commercial solar thermoelectric power plant in the world. 624 large heliostats focus the sun's rays on to a single solar receiver 115 meters high. With temperatures reaching up to 250 degrees Celsius, the solar receiver then turns water into steam, which in turn powers a turbine. It has a peak capacity of 11 MW ... enough to generate 23 million kWh of electricity per year. That's enough to power 6,000 homes and save 18,000 tons of carbon emissions every year.

Note: For other reports of exciting breakthrough developments in new energy technologies, click here.

Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR
December 10, 2007, ABC News

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident. Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job. "Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told. In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave. Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas. "I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. "We contacted the State Department first," Poe told, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer. The State Department ... dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container. According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally." Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case. Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

Bel Air man writes of UFOs in wartime
December 9, 2007, Baltimore Sun (Baltimore's leading newspaper),0,284181.story

The peculiar red orb hung motionless in the summer sky. A boy at the time, Keith Chester vividly recalls that day in 1966. "The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up," Chester said. "I was so scared that I ran into my neighbor's house. I still think it was a UFO." The incident sparked an interest in unidentified flying objects. In recent years, Chester's interest has grown into a passion that led him to write Strange Company: Military Encounters with UFOs in WWII. The ... book contains descriptions of UFO sightings by American and British service members culled from research that included documents at the National Archives. In 1989 ... he met Leonard Stringfield, who was ... a sergeant in the 5th Air Force during World War II and ... told him about how he was among the first people to fly into mainland Japan after the bombing of Nagasaki. Stringfield said that he was on a plane flying between Le Shima and Iwo Jima, when he looked out the window and saw three luminous, disk-shaped objects flying in formation. "He told me that the objects had no outline, no exhaust, and no wings," Chester said. Stringfield heard a commotion in the cockpit - the engine was malfunctioning. But when the objects disappeared, the plane was able to land safely. In 1999, [Chester] began visiting the National Archives ... to study military records for information about UFO sightings during the war. Throughout almost four years of research, Chester found documents detailing sightings described as objects, lights, flares, strange lights or rockets [including] a silver, cigar-shaped object that looked like an airship. He also found ... information about unexplained objects reported by members of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, a former Army Air Forces fighter squadron that fought during World War II. "Some of the soldiers thought the objects they saw were beyond the realm of conventional technology," Chester said.

Note: To read a powerful summary of evidence on UFOs from highly respected military and government professionals, click here.

A determined voice lost in the wilderness of U.S. mass media
December 7, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

Greg Palast may be the only journalist with a New York office who works, as he says, "in journalistic exile." There, with a team of a half-dozen researchers largely supported by $50 donations from readers, Palast ferrets out documents and smoking-gun-toting insiders from Washington to Ecuador and uses them to gird his bitingly sardonic investigative essays that most American mainstream outlets won't touch. He was one of the first to write about the manipulation of voter [rolls] in the 2000 election, and he used a combination of unnamed sources, leaked documents and gumshoe reporting to critique the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina. Palast says his desire to expose class-warfare stories is rooted in his upbringing in [a poor Los Angeles] neighborhood wedged between a power plant and a dump. Kids in the neighborhood had two choices, he said: go to Vietnam or work in the auto plant. "We were the losers," he said. After graduate school at the University of Chicago ...Palast became an investigator, a "forensic economist," unearthing documents exposing fraud and racketeering on behalf of labor unions and consumer groups. One of the first stories that received widespread attention ... was about the manipulation of the Florida vote count during the disputed 2000 election. Palast predicts the 2008 election won't be stolen by faulty touch-screen voting machines or even through computers at all. It will be done by making it hard for voters - particularly people of color in traditionally Democratic enclaves - to register and vote by a series of challenges to their registration. "What we see is a systematic manipulation of the electoral system." To support his investigative work, three years ago he created a nonprofit fund. It raises more than $100,000 a year - most of it in $50 and $100 donations from individuals. "It's the only thing that's kept us alive," said Palast, who takes no money from the fund.

Note: Greg Palast is one of many brave journalists who have been silenced by the mainstream media. To read our summary of his highly revealing essay on the media cover-up, click here.

Secretary of state casts doubt on future of electronic voting
December 2, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)

Electronic voting systems used throughout California still aren't good enough to be trusted with the state's elections, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said. While Bowen has been putting tough restrictions and new security requirements on the use of the touch screen machines, she admitted having doubts as to whether the electronic voting systems will ever meet the standards she believes are needed in California. "It's a real challenge," she said at a ... conference on voting and elections. What's available now isn't as transparent or auditable as the paper ballot systems they replaced. Earlier this year, Bowen put together a top-to-bottom review of voting systems used in the state and found that most of the voting machines were vulnerable to hackers looking to change results or cause mischief with the systems. Despite loud howls from county voting officials, Bowen decertified almost all the touch screen systems used in California, allowing only their most limited use. "When the government finds a car is unsafe, it orders a recall," she said. "Here we're talking about systems used to cast and tally votes, the most basic tool of democracy." The secretary admitted that she wants to see California's counties use optical scan systems in their polling places, especially because most of them already use the systems to count mail ballots. Optical scan systems, where voters mark their choices on a paper ballot that then gets inserted into a tallying machine, "are old and boring, but cheap and reliable," Bowen said, because the paper ballots make it easy to recount the ballots and ensure the accuracy of the vote. "I want to make sure the votes are secure, auditable and transparent and that every vote is counted as it was cast," she said. Although Bowen's review of the voting systems affected only California, it had a nationwide impact, because the same systems are used in many other states.

Note: For a summary of major media reports on the problems with electronic voting machines, click here.

All his company's profits go to the poor
November 26, 2007, Pocono Record/Associated Press

Travel company operator Hal Taussig buys his clothes from thrift shops, resoles his shoes and reads magazines for free at the public library. The 83-year-old founder of Untours also gives away all of his company's profits to help the poor – more than $5 million since 1999. He is content to live on Social Security. Taussig takes a salary of $6,000 a year from his firm, but doesn't keep it. It goes to a foundation that channels his company's profits to worthy causes in the form of low-interest loans. (About seven years ago, the IRS forced him to take a paycheck, he said, because they thought he was trying to avoid paying taxes by working for free.) If he has money left at the end of the month in his personal bank account, he donates it. At a time of the year when many people are asked to give to the poor, Taussig provides a model for year-round giving. "I could live a very rich life on very little money. My life is richer than most rich people's lives," Taussig said. "I can really do something for humanity." His decision to give away his wealth stems from a moment of clarity and freedom he felt when he wrote a $20,000 check – all of his money back in the 1980s – to a former landlord to buy the house they were renting. It didn't work out, but the exhilaration of not being encumbered by money stuck with him. "It was kind of an epiphany," he said. "This is where my destiny is. This is what I was meant to be." Taussig has his bike for transportation, which he faithfully rides to and from work every day, three miles round trip. He calls consumerism a "social evil" and "corrupting to our humanity" because of what he said is the false notion that having more things leads to a richer life. "Quality of life is not the same as standard of living," he said. "I couldn't afford (to buy) a car but I learned it's more fun and better for your health to ride a bike. I felt I was raising my quality of life while lowering my standard of living."

Not Buying It: the Church of Stop Shopping
November 25, 2007, ABC News

Americans are expected to spend nearly half a trillion dollars this holiday season ... splurging on presents for loved ones and themselves. But as some shoppers drive themselves into debt, maxing out their credit cards and wiping out already slim savings, one man says it's time to stop. Actor and activist Bill Talen, also known as Reverend Billy, heads the self-styled Church of Stop Shopping, which replaces more traditional beliefs with the gospel that consumerism is destroying the American spirit. "I think, in the United States, we are addicted to shopping. Every Christmas ... we're supposed to save the economy by shopping ourselves to death," said Talen, whose persona as Revered Billy is part performance act, part serious protest. "No. There are other ways. There is another way." As Reverend Billy, Talen spends his days preaching on the street or protesting outside large chain stores, like [Macys,] Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Members of the church's "Stop Shopping Choir" and the "Not Buying It Band," dressed in colorful robes and clapping, often accompany his teachings with energetic, anti-consumerist chants. Talen is also the subject of a new documentary, "What Would Jesus Buy?" which tracks the efforts of the church as it tries to prevent what Talen and his followers call "shopocalypse." "We have to slow down our consumption, now," Talen said, gesturing at the hordes of shoppers trampling down Manhattan's 6th Avenue to take advantage of this year's sales. "The real cost is not always the sticker price," he continued. "We have to stop. The Earth is telling us, we're telling each other, we have to stop." Until his message catches on nationwide, Reverend Billy seems content saving one American soul at a time. "We can ask the god that is not a product, the god that is not a multinational corporation ... to come into these wonderful citizens. And give them the power to be careful, conscious shoppers this year. Amen. Hallelujah. Praise be."

Note: To watch the short clip of this fascinating piece, click here.

Key Article From Years Past

Does Deep Earth Host Untapped Fuel?
January 19, 2005, ABC News

Thomas Gold was not your typical radical. Far from being a mad scientist, he was a brilliant professor of astronomy at Cornell University, but he succeeded in driving many others mad with theories that flew in the face of conventional wisdom. His most controversial idea was among his last, and geologists and petroleum experts around the world still rage against Gold for suggesting they were dead wrong in their understanding of how oil and gas are formed in the Earth's crust. Now, a couple of decades after Gold first suggested that hydrocarbons are formed deep underground by geological processes and not just below the surface by biological decay, there is increasing evidence that he may have been on to something. Gold argued that all hydrocarbons are formed in the intense pressure and high heat near the Earth's mantle, around 100 miles under the ground. Oil and gas fields are continually replenished by hydrocarbons manufactured far below the Earth, he argued. Several prestigious organizations have found evidence that methane, the main component of natural gas, can indeed be formed under conditions like those found deep in the Earth. "All we've done is show experimentally that at the pressure at the Earth's mantle and pretty high temperatures you can indeed make methane," says Henry Scott, a physics and geology professor at Indiana University and lead author of a report on the research in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Gold said that when you squeeze things down at very high pressures, the basic chemistry can change," he says. "That's exactly what we are doing." Lawrence Livermore [National Laboratory] picked up at that point and found that methane production was most productive at 900 degrees Fahrenheit and 70,000 atmospheres of pressure. That's still hot, and it's still deep, but it suggests that methane may be abundant throughout the planet.

Note: Thomas Gold has written two books on the "abiotic" origins of oil, Power From the Earth and The Deep Hot Biosphere. His intriguing theories have been unsettling mainstream scientists for decades. He also proposed and advanced the now-accepted explanation of the strange stars called pulsars years ahead of anyone else. Read more about his work by clicking here. Could it be that oil is not as limited as some would have us believe?

Special note:
For an amazing, inspiring video clip of less than one-minute showing how a wild beast can be transformed, click here. And for a most beautiful song about world unity, click here.

Finding Balance: Inspiration Center believes it is important to balance disturbing cover-up information with inspirational writings which call us to be all that we can be and to work together for positive change. For an abundance of uplifting material, please visit our Inspiration Center.

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Flawed Voting Machines, Fabricated Terror, Destroyed CIA Torture Tapes