Friday, November 05, 2004

A bizzare pattern of impossible anomalies

This has long been known : the welter of financial ties of Diebold and ES&S to the radical religious right (with stakeholders currently, it seems, on the secretive CNP) and Bob Fitrakis notes : "Wherever Diebold and ES&S go, irregularities and historic Republican upsets follow." Howard Ahmanson was the original funder for Bob and Todd Urosevich's Data Mark,which became ES&S, Bob later left to head Diebold ,maker of HAVA Act mandated touch screen voting machines used in Ohio and Florida and elsewhere....Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist (a form of Dominionism ) who has talked of imposing Biblical law on the US - including the death penalty for gays and drunkards - and is also a main funder of the Chalcedon Foundation. However, the most bizzare patterns of anomalies in Florida came not from touch-screen but optical scan machines. Florida's central vote tabulator also is Diebold made, raising questions on the a bizzare pattern of anomalies in which a large number of counties in Florida had increases in Republicans votes over expected levels - by an overall average of 50% to 100% and - in one county, as high as 700%. Meanhwhile, here are graphs of variance between exit poll results for battleground states. [from]

Disenchanted Americans flood immigration website

Canada's official immigration website is receiving a record number of visits since Bush won a second term, and most of the hits are from the U.S.
Within hours of Bush's acceptance speech Wednesday, six times more Americans than usual surfed the site.
There were about 179,000 visitors to the site Wednesday, almost twice the previous one-day record set last year. About 64 per cent of those visitors were Americans.
Skilled workers
A spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration said Thursday that the most-visited pages were the ones that let people check if they would qualify to move to Canada as skilled workers.

Melting ice breaks polar food chain

Research has disclosed that numbers of the tiny shrimp-like creatures that prop up the Antarctic marine food chain have fallen by 80 per cent since the 1970s, creating food shortages that are endangering larger animals and birds.
The decline appears to have been caused by the loss of sea-ice around the frozen continent, and that is believed to be an effect of global warming.
Sea ice is critical to the life cycle of krill, as the ice shelters their larvae from predators and is rich in the algae on which they feed. The ocean around the mountainous continuation of the Andes within the Antarctic Circle, known as the Antarctic Peninsula, is an important breeding ground for krill. It is warming at one of the fastest rates of any location on the planet, with a corresponding reduction in the extent of sea-ice around it.

Great Trick or Optical Illusion?

Keep your eye on the dragon. [from]

On Shelves Tuesday: "Selling Women Short" by Liza Featherstone

“SELLING WOMEN SHORT is a bargain even Wal-Mart can’t match. Not only does it tell the story of the amazing women who’ve sued Wal-Mart for sex discrimination, but it offers an unprecedented glimpse into Wal-Mart's pseudo-Christian, ultra-macho, corporate culture.”
-Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Bestselling author of Nickel & Dimed

“Featherstone returns to the women of Wal-Mart what the corporation would steal: their humanity, their insight, their voice. These workers’ fight is our fight. No one in today’s economy is unaffected by their struggle for livable wages and workplace respect.”
-Laura Flanders, author of Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species

“Liza Featherstone has written a women’s rights manifesto for the corporate age and a Fast Food Nation for the retail world – utterly engrossing, sometimes shocking and deeply inspiring. A devastating story, superbly told. This is a breakthrough book.”
-Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

“If Wal-Mart was the great business story of the nineties, its workers may well be the big story of the following decade. SELLING WOMEN SHORT is a vivid primer on this extraordinary empire, the lives of its employees, and the real-world costs of modern business.”
- Jeffrey Toobin, author of A Vast Conspiracy

“Liza Featherstone’s eloquent, unsparing page-turner delivers a sharp poke in the eye to one of America’s worst corporations. Here’s one book I'll bet you can’t buy at Wal-Mart!”
-Jim Hightower, author of Thieves in High Places

Students camp out to protest Bush

About 85 high school students who say they are upset about the direction the nation is heading were camping out in the school library, demanding a visit from Republican Party leaders.
Students began their protest Thursday and school officials said they could stay through Friday when representatives of their Democratic congressman, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, and U.S. Senator-elect Ken Salazar, are expected to visit them.
However the students, who brought sleeping bags and food to last through the weekend, said they also wanted to meet with representatives of school superintendent George Garcia along with Republicans Gov. Bill Owens and U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, who sponsored the failed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Study: Vaccine Protects Against Cancer

Four years after getting the vaccine, 94 percent of women were protected from infection with the virus that causes most cervical cancers and none had developed worrisome precancerous conditions, a study showed.
"We're thrilled about these results. The immune responses seem to be really long-lasting," said Dr. Eliav Barr, who leads development of the vaccine for Merck & Co. The company plans to seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval next year for an expanded version of the vaccine that also could be used to prevent genital warts in both women and men.
The new study was funded by Merck and led by University of Washington researchers who presented results Monday at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Bush News Conference Transcript

BUSH: Now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three questions.
...QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. How will you go about bringing people together? Will you seek a consensus candidate for the Supreme Court if there's an opening? Will you bring some Democrats into your Cabinet?
BUSH: Yes. Again, you violated the one-question rule right off the bat. Obviously, you didn't listen to the will of the people.

Movie Lawsuits on the Way

Dan Glickman, president and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said that its member studios will file lawsuits beginning Nov. 16 and will seek damages and injunctive relief. Knowingly distributing copyright films carries penalties of up to $150,000 per film.
...One P2P expert said the movie industry has learned from the blunders of the music industry, which waited years before cracking down on file traders.
"My impression is that the recording industry is extremely disappointed that file sharing is so persistent and that the legitimate marketplace has not outpaced piracy," said Eric Garland, CEO of BigChampagne, which charts traffic on file-sharing services. "I don't think Hollywood is yet in that position."
Although the Recording Industry Association of America has sued thousands of alleged music sharers -- including many on college campuses -- since September 2003, there's been no noticeable decline in P2P sharing.

Kos Examines Ohio Fraud Questions

So the question becomes, are the curious numbers in Ohio (and Florida) due to the way the electorate voted, or due to the way those votes were summed up in the central office? It is entirely possible that errors might exist which do not affect the outcome of the election, but which are still serious enough to require a serious review.

This is why I, for one believe it is our national interests to have a manual recount of some of the Ohio counties with the most unusual results. But this is not a Kerry issue; this is a democracy issue. Can these machines be trusted? Recounts in selected counties would resolve this: it needs to be done.

High Tea at Tenny Street

acoustic jam & open micSundays 2 - 7 pm
great room with excellent sound delicious food - relaxed atmosphere all performers welcome
or just come down and enjoy the show

ACLU Calls for Redoubled Effort to Counter “Unrelenting Assault” on Civil Liberties

In a full-page advertisement in today’s New York Times, the American Civil Liberties Union called on civil libertarians to redouble their efforts to oppose the Bush Administration’s "unrelenting assault on our civil liberties."
Even before today’s advertisement ran, the group said that within 24 hours of the election it had experienced its largest ever surge in online donations - more than 1,200 unsolicited gifts totaling more than $65,000 (an average of $54 per person).
"Over the past four years, the ACLU and its members have shown that we can successfully defend freedom even in the most inhospitable climate," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Working with both Democrats and Republicans, we intend to build on that success, and we intend to win. The spontaneous outpouring of support we have seen is clearly a sign that the American people are ready, willing and able to fight to preserve our civil liberties."

The Post-Election Selection, on K Street

"After convincing Election Day wins ... Republican leaders can continue to try to repopulate Washington's famous lobbying corridor," K Street, "with their brethren," reports The Hill. Top lobbying slots are open at the American Chemistry Council, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Visa and Freddie Mac. K Street Project co-founder Grover Norquist called hiring Democratic lobbyists "stupid," pointing to "the movie industry's loss of a key tax break" after the Motion Picture Association of America hired Democrat Dan Glickman as its chief lobbyist. [from]

Holes in the Missile Shield

despite the more than $80 billion spent by the U.S. on missile defense since 1985, this system will not provide significant protection for many years, if ever. The political pressure to claim that the U.S. is secure against a rogue nation's attack has led to a defense that will not counter even the earliest threats from the emerging missile powers. The MDA's midcourse system is built to intercept long-range missiles fired thousands of kilometers from the U.S.; it can do nothing to stop a short- or medium-range missile launched from a ship off America's coasts. What is more, the interceptor rockets would most likely prove inadequate against long-range missiles as well, because an enemy could easily equip its ICBMs with fundamentally simple and highly effective countermeasures. [from Scientific American]

"Daily Show" Election Coverage

Web of Influence

Blogs are becoming more influential because they affect the content of international media coverage. Journalism professor Todd Gitlin once noted that media frame reality through “principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters.” Increasingly, journalists and pundits take their cues about “what matters” in the world from weblogs. For salient topics in global affairs, the blogosphere functions as a rare combination of distributed expertise, real-time collective response to breaking news, and public-opinion barometer. What’s more, a hierarchical structure has taken shape within the primordial chaos of cyberspace. A few elite blogs have emerged as aggregators of information and analysis, enabling media commentators to extract meaningful analysis and rely on blogs to help them interpret and predict political developments.

The Election County by County

Using County-by-County election return data from USA Today together with County boundary data from the US Census' Tiger database we produced the following graphic depicting the results. Of course, blue is for the democrats, red is for the republicans, and green is for all other. Each county's color is a mix of these three color components in proportion to the results for that county.
Counties shown in black represent either missing election data or a mismatch between the US Census data and the USA Today data. For example, the New England states' election return data is given for each municipality and/or district rather than for each county. Hence, it couldn't be easily matched with the county boundaries.

2002: A Palindrome Story

2002 demands lore—aside Roman-era eye, non-idyl. Guerilla muse, we call, rig. Yo! Brag us an ode- tale.
elated on a sugar: "Boy ... girl lace!" We sum all: ire, ugly din. One year enamored is aero-LSD named 2002

Florida Voter Approve Minimum Wage Increase

Thousands of Floridians who earn minimum wage will get bigger paychecks because voters overwhelmingly approved a $1 raise in the wage, from $5.15 to $6.15, on Tuesday."This is really a huge victory for Florida's working families," said Meghan Scott, communications director for Floridians For All, the group that sponsored the measure. "Once people heard what Amendment 5 was and what it would do for Florida's working poor, people really got it."

Reason Embattled Secularism in Peril

Scalia then laid out a philosophy in which democracy can never serve as a sufficient basis for governmental authority. “It is easy,” he asserted, “to see the hand of the Almighty behind rulers whose forebears, in the dim mists of history, were supposedly anointed by God, who at least obtained their thrones in awful and unpredictable battles whose outcome was determined by the Lord of Hosts, that is, the Lord of Armies. It is much more difficult to see the hand of God—or any higher moral authority—behind the fools and rogues (as the losers would have it) whom we ourselves elect to do our own will. How can their power to avenge—to vindicate the ‘public order’—be greater than our own?”
...The virtue of Scalia’s extremism is that it lays bare the messianic radicalism at the heart of the current assault on separation of church and state. This is not merely a constitutional or legal argument, though it is that too, but a far more fundamental attack on secularist and nonreligious humanist values. For the warriors of the religious Right, governmental power is not an end in itself but merely one more mechanism, along with institutions of education, communications, and finance, for advancing their values within society.

Presidential Votes Miscast on E-voting Machines Across the Country

Voters from at least half a dozen states reported that touch-screen voting machines had incorrectly recorded their choices, including for president.
Voters discovered the problems when checking the review screen at the end of the voting process. They found, to their surprise, that the machines indicated that they voted for one candidate when they had voted for another. When voters tried to correct the problem, the machine often made the same error several times. While in most cases the situation was reportedly resolved, many voters remain uneasy about whether the proper vote was ultimately cast. Meanwhile, voting experts are concerned that other voters are experiencing the problem, but failing to notice that the machine is indicating the wrong choice on the "summary" screen.
Election observers with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Verified Voting Foundation (VVF) reported today that the problem, which some voting officials initially attributed to fluke "voter error," is evidently widespread and may even be relatively common with touch-screen machines. Incorrectly recorded votes make up roughly 20 percent of the e-voting problems reported through the Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS), an online database in which volunteers with the Election Protection Coalition, a coalition of non-partisan election observers dedicated to preventing voter disenfranchisement, are recording and tracking voting problems.

Presidential Votes Miscast on E-voting Machines Across the Country

Voters from at least half a dozen states reported that touch-screen voting machines had incorrectly recorded their choices, including for president.
Voters discovered the problems when checking the review screen at the end of the voting process. They found, to their surprise, that the machines indicated that they voted for one candidate when they had voted for another. When voters tried to correct the problem, the machine often made the same error several times. While in most cases the situation was reportedly resolved, many voters remain uneasy about whether the proper vote was ultimately cast. Meanwhile, voting experts are concerned that other voters are experiencing the problem, but failing to notice that the machine is indicating the wrong choice on the "summary" screen.
Election observers with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Verified Voting Foundation (VVF) reported today that the problem, which some voting officials initially attributed to fluke "voter error," is evidently widespread and may even be relatively common with touch-screen machines. Incorrectly recorded votes make up roughly 20 percent of the e-voting problems reported through the Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS), an online database in which volunteers with the Election Protection Coalition, a coalition of non-partisan election observers dedicated to preventing voter disenfranchisement, are recording and tracking voting problems.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Selective Service Checking Names Between SS and Department of Education

Authority for conducting the matching: Computerized access tothe Selective Service Registrant Registration Records (SSS 10) enablesED to confirm the registration status of applicants for assistanceunder Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended(20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq.). Section 12(f) of the Military SelectiveService Act, as amended [50 U.S.C. App. 462(f)], denies eligibility forany form of assistance or benefit under Title IV of the HEA to anyperson required to present himself for and submit to registration underSection 3 of the Military Selective Service System Act [50 U.S.C. App.453] who fails to do so in accordance with that section and any rulesand regulations issued under that section. In addition, Section12(f)(2) of the Military Selective Service System Act specifies thatany person required to present himself for and submit to registrationunder Section 3 of the Military Selective Service System Act must filea statement with the institution of higher education where the personintends to attend or is attending that he is in compliance with theMilitary Selective Service System Act. Furthermore, Section 12(f)(3) ofthe Military Selective Service System Act authorizes the Secretary ofEducation, in agreement with the Director of the Selective Service, toprescribe methods for verifying the statements of compliance filed bystudents.

Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech

Following is the full English transcript of Usama bin Ladin's speech in a videotape sent to Aljazeera. In the interests of authenticity, the content of the transcript, which appeared as subtitles at the foot of the screen, has been left unedited.

War Corporatism and the Project for a New American Century

Stark, slick Quicktime presentation opposed to US foreign policy. Take it as you will.

Artist: Bathsheba Grossman

Welcome. I'm an artist exploring the region between art and mathematics, and this is my gallery and storefront. My work is about life in three dimensions: working with symmetry and balance, getting from a zero point to infinity, and always finding beauty in geometry.
Here you'll find my signature designs in metal, along with 3D laser-etched glass designs including Milky Way Galaxy and protein structures.

16 Writers (from across the map) Speculate on Bush's Second Term

The Triumph of Anything Goes David Greenberg
The Plutocrats Go Wild James K. Galbraith
The Democratic Party Is Toast Grover Norquist
The Scandals Finally Break Kevin Drum
The Empire Strikes Out Gideon Rose
Hoover's Court Rides Again Cass R. Sunstein
Vengeance Is His Paul Begala
Bush Becomes a Moderate, Really Mickey Edwards & Nancy Sinnott Dwight
The Left Learns From Goldwater Todd Gitlin
The Deficit Conquers All Sebastian Mallaby
W. Takes On Global Warming Gregg Easterbrook
The Roquefort Cheese Wars Christopher Buckley
Decline of American Greatness Elaine Kamarck
America Gets Privatized E.J. Dionne
The Glorious Revolution: A Look Back Jeff Greenfield

States with electronic voting machines gave Bush mysterious 5% advantage

Exit polls were recently used in Venezuela to ensure the vote was accurate and legitimate.
Perhaps more importantly, while exit polling is unreliable, the odds of President Bush having gaining an advantage from every exit poll in swing states is an extremely improbable coincidence.
Actual voting counts found that Bush trailed by 5 percent, with a 5 percent discrepancy favoring Bush.

From Canada: Marry an American

You can help. Open your heart, and your home. Marry an American. Legions of Canadians have already pledged to sacrifice their singlehood to save our southern neighbours from four more years of cowboy conservatism.

Serious Discrepencies Between Ohio Exit Polls and Results

Kerry won. Here's the facts.
I know you don't want to hear it. You can't face one more hung chad. But I don't have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it's my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.
Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN's exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio's male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state.

Hungary Joins Others in Pulling Troops From Iraq

Speaking at a ceremony for the end of military conscription, the newly appointed prime minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, said Hungary was obliged to stay until the Iraqi elections scheduled for January, but would withdraw the troops by March.
"To stay longer is an impossibility," said Mr. Gyurcsany (pronounced JOR-chahn-ee).
The United States had persuaded 32 countries to provide 22,000 soldiers as part of the multinational force established to stabilize postwar Iraq. But over the last few months, a number of countries have withdrawn, some citing the cost but others concerned about security, and many governments face increasing public opposition to the war.

Politics, Terror and Religion

‘Twas the year of our lord 1605, the King - James the 1st (God save the King!) will be opening parliament tomorrow. But lo! What is this? Conspiracy? Grab that fellow! Following on from last year’s post about Guy Fawkes here is some more edutainment about religion, terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction from nearly 400 years ago. Things just never change do they? (More BritFilter for your delectation – and before you ask "Why not November the 5th?" Fawkes was arrested on the night of the 4th and with recent global events I thought some might be interested in the parallels). [from]

Democracy 2004

Earlier this year, photographer Richard Avedon decided that he would try to capture a sense of the country in the midst of a crucial Presidential election campaign. These are the (unfinished, but wonderful) results.

Post-Election Protests in Portland

A reader’s guide to expatriating on November 3

The most serious barrier to renouncing your citizenship is that the State Department, which oversees expatriation, is reluctant to allow citizens to go “stateless.” Before allowing expatriation, the department will want you to have obtained citizenship or legal asylum in another country—usually a complicated and expensive process, if it can be done at all. Would-be renunciants must also prove that they do not intend to live in the United States afterward. Furthermore, you cannot renounce inside U.S. borders; the declaration must be made at a consul’s office abroad.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Elsewhere in Vote Land

Jim DeMint:
Thinks that unwed pregnant women and gays are unfit to be schoolteachers.
Tom Coburn:
Wants the death penalty for abortion doctors.
John Thune:
Mr. School Prayer Amendment.
Voters in 11 states voted to ban same-sex marriage.
The lowest margin was 57%-43%. The highest (Mississippi) was 86%-14%. Kentucky's also bans civil unions. That one was 75%-25%.The Senate will likely be split 55-45 in favor of Republicans, creeping closer to a filibuster-proof supermajority.
Meanwhile, 89% of these guys are older than 65.
Enjoy your tax cut, America. You're going to need it.

"Nonlethal Weapons: Terms and References"

This 1997 report from the Institute for National Security Studies - part of the US Air Force Academy - lists dozens of "nonlethal weapons," many of which are very obscure. Categories include acoustics, biotechnicals, electromagnetics, entanglers, holograms, and reactants.
It was retrieved from the extensive Defense Technical Information Center website here.
The glossary of nonlethal weapons is reproduced below for easy reading, but the full report also contains a section on "concepts" (including ethical, operational, physiological, and theoretical) and an invaluable bibliography with 644 entries. [from]

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Kyoto Is Too Little to Fix Warming, Says U.N. Climate Chief

"My feeling is that we will probably need to do more than most people are talking about" to combat climate change, said Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He welcomed ratification of the Kyoto pact by Russia's lower house of parliament, paving the way for the long-delayed 1997 accord to enter into force in the 126 nations that approved it, even though the world's greatest polluter, the United States, pulled out in 2001. "This mustn't lull us into thinking that the problem is solved," Pachauri said. "Kyoto is not enough. We now have to look at the problem afresh." Kyoto is a first step towards curbing emissions of gases like carbon dioxide, mainly from burning fossil fuels, that scientists blame for trapping heat in the atmosphere like the panes of glass in a greenhouse.

BBC exec blasts U.S. war coverage

BBC World Service and Global News director Richard Sambrook on Tuesday took the U.S. news nets to task on their own turf for "wrapping themselves in the flag" and not asking the tough questions about the Bush administration's reasons for going to war in Iraq (news - web sites).
Sambrook, speaking at Columbia U.'s Graduate School of Journalism, warned that such perceived partisanship of the news media may be playing a part in exposing journalists covering Iraq and other trouble spots around the globe to danger.
"Journalists are now at a greater risk than they have ever been before. Where once their neutrality was widely recognized and respected, today they are targeted and sought out, seen as high-profile representatives of their countries or cultures," Sambrook said.

Police Shoot Cayenne Paintballs at Protesters

Police in riot gear fired paintballs filled with cayenne pepper Thursday night to disperse a crowd of protesters assembled in this historic gold mining town where President Bush was spending the night after a campaign appearance.
...Richard Swaney, 65, of Central Point, said had joined in a peaceful protest outside the Jackson County fairgrounds where Bush spoke, and then went to Jacksonville to join the protest there.
He said he was walking with the crowd away from the inn when he was hit in the back with three separate bursts, one of which knocked him down. He felt a stinging sensation he thought was rubber bullets and smelled pepper.

Cronkite on bin Laden tape

Cronkite: ...In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign.

Iran lawmakers approve uranium enrichment

"Death to America!" chanted Iranian lawmakers after a unanimous vote Sunday to allow their government to resume uranium enrichment activities.
The legislation doers not specifically force the government to resume uranium enrichment or end snap U.N. inspections of atomic facilities as some of the Iranian lawmakers had wanted, reported al-Jazeera television.
"The message of this bill is that we will not give in to pressure," said Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel. "The Iranian nation is determined to use peaceful nuclear technology."

New missile defense director vows more secrecy

Obering said officials have an obligation to inform U.S. taxpayers about their investment in the multibillion-dollar system, but said the agency seeks to avoid tipping off potential enemies about weaknesses in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.
"Aspects that anyone can glean a vulnerability or a definite determination of capability of the system [are] something that we want to protect," he said.

Compare this summary of Missile Defense by the Union of Concerned Scientists from March 04.
"The system the Bush administration plans to deploy by 2004 will have essentially no defense capability. The technology needed for an effective missile defense system still doesn't exist. All the systems being developed are in early stages of research and development, and will have undergone only rudimentary testing by the time they will be fielded in 2004-2006. Operational testing will not have begun and test conditions will remain far from realistic. None of the X-band radars that are central to the system will be built by 2004."

Frontline: "The Persuaders" airs Nov. 9

FRONTLINE takes an in-depth look at the multibillion-dollar "persuasion industries" of advertising and public relations and how marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages deeper into the fabric of our lives. Through sophisticated market research methods to better understand consumers and by turning to the little-understood techniques of public relations to make sure their messages come from sources we trust, marketers are crafting messages that resonate with an increasingly cynical public. In this documentary essay, correspondent Douglas Rushkoff (correspondent for FRONTLINE's "The Merchants of Cool") also explores how the culture of marketing has come to shape the way Americans understand the world and themselves and how the techniques of the persuasion industries have migrated to politics, shaping the way our leaders formulate policy, influence public opinion, make decisions, and stay in power.
[Douglas Rushkoff, author of "Media Virus," "Playing with the Future" and "Coercion" is doing the Persuaders and he is always worth a listen. -ed.]

Monday, November 01, 2004

Swing Set

This American Life looks at undecided voters.
Act 2 is an excellent and comprehensive look at voter suppression attempts across the country.

9/11 "black box" cover-up at Ground Zero?

This is the more comprehensive version of our story appearing in today's Philadelphia Daily News. [mirrored here ]
Two men who worked extensively in the wreckage of the World Trade Center claim they helped federal agents find three of the four “black boxes” from the jetliners that struck the towers on 9/11 - contradicting the official account.
Both the independent 9/11 Commission and federal authorities continue to insist that none of the four devices - a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) from the two planes - were ever found in the wreckage.
But New York City firefighter Nicholas DeMasi has written in a recent book -- self-published by several Ground Zero workers -- that he escorted federal agents on an all-terrain vehicle in October 2001 and helped them locate three of the four.
His account is supported by a volunteer, Mike Bellone, whose efforts at Ground Zero have been chronicled in the New York Times and elsewhere. Bellone said assisted DeMasi and the agents and that saw a device that resembling a “black box” in the back of the firefighter’s ATV.
Their story raises the question of whether there was a some type of cover-up at Ground Zero. Federal aviation officials - blaming the massive devastation - have said the World Trade Center attacks seem to be the only major jetliner crashes in which the critical devices were never located.

Readers of Politics on Internet More Aware of Competing Views

Overall, they report, Internet users have greater exposure to a variety of political views, and particularly those that challenge their own. This was true even among those with similar age and educational levels. Broadband Internet users have a wider exposure than dial-up customers.
“We were actually a bit surprised,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “Especially with broadband users, who tend to be more sophisticated -- people can increasingly become selective about what they get online. Before we started, we were prepared to say that there’s the start of a bad trend going on here, but we were surprised to find out the opposite, that what’s going on is good for democracy.”

Lawyer to Post List of Accused Priests

A lawyer has compiled a list of 2,600 Roman Catholic priests nationwide who have been accused of sexual misconduct against children and plans to post it online by early next year.
...Demarest said the database of alleged "priest perpetrators" and other Catholic officials who have been accused of sexually abusing children was assembled from public sources, such as court filings and media reports. The entries will list names of those accused and the time, place and nature of the alleged misconduct as well as whether a lawsuit or criminal charges resulted.
It is believed to be the only database of national scope that identifies individual priests. Demarest said she started working on it in 1993 while representing clients molested by a Dallas priest.

Hacker find Security Hole in Gmail

Google's high profile webmail service, Gmail, is vulnerable to a security exploit that might allow hackers full access to a user's email account simply by knowing the user name, according to reports.
The security flaw allows full access to users' accounts, with no need of a password, Israeli news site Nana says . Using a hex-encoded XSS link, the victim's cookie file can be stolen by a hacker, who can later use it to identify himself to Gmail as the original owner of an email account, regardless of whether or not the password is subsequently changed. Following up a tip from an Israeli hacker, journos from the site confirmed the attack and verified the exploit with local security firm Aladdin Knowledge Systems.

Bush Seeks Limit to Suits Over Voting Rights

Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election.
Veteran voting-rights lawyers expressed surprise at the government's action, saying that closing the courthouse door to aspiring voters would reverse decades of precedent.
Since the civil rights era of the 1960s, individuals have gone to federal court to enforce their right to vote, often with the support of groups such as the NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the League of Women Voters or the state parties. And until now, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court had taken the view that individual voters could sue to enforce federal election law.
But in legal briefs filed in connection with cases in Ohio, Michigan and Florida, the administration's lawyers argue that the new law gives Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft the exclusive power to bring lawsuits to enforce its provisions. These include a requirement that states provide "uniform and nondiscriminatory" voting systems, and give provisional ballots to those who say they have registered but whose names do not appear on the rolls.

EPA Plan to Study Pesticides' Effect on Kids Spurs Backlash within Agency

The EPA announced this month that it was beginning a two-year investigation, partially funded by the American Chemical Council, of how 60 children in Duval County, Fla., absorb pesticides and other household chemicals. The chemical industry funding initially prompted some environmentalists to question whether the study would be biased, and some rank- and-file agency scientists are now questioning whether the plan will exploit financially strapped families.
In exchange for participating for two years in the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study, which involves infants and children up to age 3, the EPA will give each family using pesticides in their home $970, some children's clothing and a camcorder that parents can keep.