IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: All hands on deck (if not the corporate media!) for the largest climate rally in U.S. history... but is President Obama all talk and no action?; Secret memo reveals tar sands are poisoning Alberta, Canada; PLUS: Mayor Bloomberg's big plans to greenify NYC ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Secret funding helped build vast network of climate denial thinktanks; BP challenges ‘excessive’ spill claims; GAO: Climate change poses big financial risk to US government; NASA: ‘Alarming’ water loss in Middle East; Study: Global warming will bring more blizzards, less overall snow; Air pollution causes heart attacks; Canadian enviro-activists 'threat to national security'; Tesla v. NYT, round 3; OH accused of dumping fracking wastewater; Did PA lie about fracking water contamination? ... PLUS: GMOs: Nearly half of all US farms now have superweeds ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.
As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...
Well this item from Washington Posts' "The Fix" blog today is rather troubling. It seems the the media consortium which previously ran Exit Polls on Election Day --- the best indicator of fraud and failure in election results (as opposed to pre-election polling which is far less accurate) --- is being scrapped in some 19 states, for the very first time, in the upcoming Presidential Election...
Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning.
Dan Merkle, director of elections for ABC News, and a member of the consortium that runs the exit poll, confirmed the shift Wednesday. The aim, he said, “is to still deliver a quality product in the most important states,” in the face of mounting survey costs.
The decision by the National Election Pool — a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press — is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country.
Here is a list of the states that will be excluded from coverage: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
That would seem to be an invitation to fraud in those states, since Exit Polls have traditionally served as a helpful check and balance against fraudulent or simply inaccurate election results, particularly for the almost 100% unverified election results that the media now count on to report results in all 50 states. Those results come from often-failed, easily-manipulated computer tabulators used across the entire country.
This news is disturbing, as you probably already noticed, for a number of reasons...
Brad Friedman has often compared the task of Election Integrity (EI) advocates to a game of Whac-A-Mole. One moment they expose an "it's the machines transparency, stupid" moment when the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touchscreens announced that the unemployed and virtually unknown Alvin Greene had somehow defeated the respected circuit judge and former state legislator Vic Rawl in the 2010 South Carolina Senate Democratic Primary. The next moment we learned that DC officials had planned a live experiment to use "an untested and unverifiable Internet Voting scheme on real voters, in a real election…" --- an experiment that Friedman described as "insane."
The now-legendary hack was carried out by a team of white-hat hackers, led by Univ. of MI Computer Science Prof. J. Alex Halderman. Within hours after D.C.'s 2010 Internet Voting scheme was opened to the world for a hack test (just days before it was scheduled to go live for the real thing), Halderman and his team of U. of M. students found and exploited a vulnerability which gave his group almost total control of the server software, allowing them to rewrite every single ballot and even take over command of the security cameras inside the D.C. server room. Team Halderman not only acquired the ability to change votes and install the Univ. of MI fight song to be played at the end of every vote cast, but discovered and thwarted an intrusion attempt by Chinese and Iranian computers.
Disturbingly, the new PBS documentary also reveals that, despite the spectacular failure and warnings from virtually every computer science and security expert, election and Pentagon officials are still pressing forward with what MIT Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Ronald L. Rivest describes, as seen in the short PBS report, as an "oxytopian" solution. "'Secure Internet voting,'" Rivest charges, "is a bit like the phrase 'safe cigarettes'"...
The fully-militarized, post-9/11 Big Government Police State in these United States continues unabated, even as we've had to turn our attention here, of late, away from the Occupy Movement to cover the pretend democracy known as the 2012 Presidential Race.
This time, the OPD upped the ante by arresting some six journalists --- in violation of both Quan's previous (apparently pretend) directives, as well as the Department's own supposed procedures --- even as each of the journos claim to have clearly identified themselves as members of the media prior to being detained nonetheless. (At least the OPD didn't shoot at them this time.)
Among those six journalists attempting to do their jobs, was Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen, who has been covering the Occupy movement on the ground in Oakland and San Francisco for months. He is a superb journalist who I had the privilege of working closely with last year in the course of my "Secret Koch Tapes" exclusives that I ran at MoJo in September.
Here's Aronsen's appalling account of what happened before and after his arrest on Saturday in Oakland. It includes this passage near the end for additional context (and for those who pretend to care about the Constitution, who I will get to in a minute):
"The Bay Area Occupy movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement during last night's arrests that made no mention of her police department's lack of regard for journalists' First Amendment protections. Last week, the United States dropped 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index due to police treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. By Josh Stearns's count, more than three dozen reporters have been arrested since the movement began last year in Manhattan.
Oakland isn't the only Occupy hot-spot where police appear to be continuing to abuse their Big Government powers to violently strip private citizens of their Constitutional rights. In Washington D.C., one of the few cities where Occupy encampments, until now, have been allowed to remain in place, police have announced that will be coming to an end as of a Monday deadline. Today.
To prepare for their big day, over the weekend the D.C. Police distributed "eviction notices" and warmed up their Tasers, as seen in this outrageous video shot on Sunday in our nation's capitol...
Had that ever happened to one --- just one --- so-called "Tea Partier", this nation would likely have descended into an all-out shooting civil war by now. Yet similar police abuses have been seen against Occupiers in state after state.
Such that what is seen in the video above, and the other acts mentioned, were done to fellow citizens whose Constitutional Rights the "Tea Party" doesn't give two shits about, their fake "grass roots" "movement", apparently, couldn't care less about any of these clear cases of the very "Big Government Tyranny" and stripping of Constitutional rights that they have long been allowed to pretend they give a damn about. They don't. They care about nothing more than electing Republicans to office. Period. The Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
As you know, just after midnight on Tuesday, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to forcibly evict peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters with NYPD riot police, in order to send them in to the streets in middle of the night, for their "health and safety." As we reported yesterday, one of those cops reportedly threatened a Mother Jones journalist by dragging him behind a truck that was backing up, telling him "you could get hurt."
After the NYPD succeeded in removing the peaceful demonstrators --- or "thugs," as they are often described to propaganda-receptive Fox "News" viewers --- from Zuccotti Park, these are the fine folks (off-duty NYPD officers?) hired by the park's owners, Brookfield Properties, to replace them as it was cleaned...
In very related news...the Occupiers in Washington, D.C., in solidarity with their brethren in New York City, decided to Occupy the headquarters of Brookfield Properties yesterday. Some video of their "People's Mic" session in the lobby follows below...
That'll teach 'em to mess with the Military-Industrial Complex.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Maryland's "Montgomery County Council resolution asking Congress to spend less on wars and redirect the funds to social programs has drawn the scrutiny of one of the county’s largest employers and other lawmakers."
Despite the non-binding resolution's [PDF] 5 to 4 majority support on the Council, it was withdrawn from consideration after "Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin," a giant manufacturer of sophisticated military weapons, "which employs more than 5,000 workers in Montgomery, urged county officials against the resolution."
The Lockheed lobbyists were joined in their efforts to derail the County Council's resolution --- supported by Democratic members of the council --- by Democratic state and county officials concerned about implications of insulting the weapons contractor giant, while officials in neighboring Virginia "gleefully watch[ed] from afar" as the two states are in frequent competition for billions of Pentagon dollars and the jobs that portend to go with them.
But Pentagon dollars are among the least efficient ways to increase jobs and wealth in any given community, as explained by John Feffer, a co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and Jean Athey, a coordinator of Montgomery County Peace Action, a supporter of the now-withdrawn Montgomery resolution:
Spend a billion dollars on the military, economists Robert Pollin and Hedi Garrett-Peltier estimate, and you get about 11,000 jobs (just a little more than what Lockheed Martin employs in all of Maryland). Spend that same billion dollars on clean energy projects and you generate about 17,000 jobs. The same money invested in education produces nearly 30,000 jobs.
Nonetheless, Lockheed and other longtime members of the Military-Industrial Complex continue to work with public officials in exploiting the "jobs scam" in order to pit state against state, county against county and town against town to bilk tax-payers out of billions under the cynical rubrik of "job creation."
And when that doesn't work, there are other, darker methods that can be used to send the "right" message to those members of the public who might have the temerity to oppose their corporate interests...
Douglas Rushkoff's CNN article from where the above was found --- in which he slams his colleague, CNN's Erin Burnett as "condescending and reductionist" --- is well worth the read as well.
We will continue to #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves and cover the uprising on tonight's nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show, which I'm guest hosting through Friday night as Mike emcees at the kick off for today's OccupyWashingtonDC.org.
(Last night's very lively show is now archived, commercial-free, right here, in case you missed any of it!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Bracing for Irene; Hey, how's your infrastructure? Earthquakes and now hurricanes test the East Coast; Fukushima Exclusion Zone to become permanent; Hundreds more tar sands protesters arrested at the White House; PLUS: Did Fox "News" just accidentally acknowledge human-caused climate change?!?! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 'Hockey Stick' climate scientist vindicated again; India & China spar over water; TX record-breaking drought getting 'worse by the day'; BP Oil Spill Fund has paid out $5B; 'Green Scissors' proposal to cut billions oil subsidies; EPA to creates mini-Civilian Conservation Corps for Great Lakes; Van Jones slams misleading NYT article on green jobs; "The Intermittency of Fossil Fuels"; Shell plugs North Sea pipeline spill; Shell’s shoddy safety record in the UK; GOP bashes Obama Admin for refusing to promote oil shale; Since 9/11, Koch Industries has fought tougher rules on chemical plants; National Review twisted in knots over GOP science denial; US natural gas reserve estimates cut by 80% ... PLUS: Climate cycles are driving wars: When El Nino warmth hits, tropical conflicts double: study...
If you missed it this morning, Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear drew at least 150,000 people (a number of reports put it "well over 200,000") to the National Mall in D.C. where they were "PACKED IN!" as our own Jeannie Dean writes via email today. The decidedly un-political rally concluded on a serious-ish note from Stewart, one well worth watching as his closing remarks represented, certainly, the most substantive moment of what looked to be a really fun day...
Much of Stewart's critique of the seemingly dysfunctional state of our nation embedded in his closing remarks was aimed squarely, as usual, at the media...
The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but it’s existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.
If we amplify everything we hear nothing.
He went on to draw the distinction, however, between the mad picture the media paints of our nation, as compared to the relative reasonableness with which most of us still carry out our lives each day. The complete text transcript of Stewart's remarks is now posted here.
A University of Michigan computer scientist and his team were not the only ones attempting to hack the Internet Vote scheme that Washington D.C. had planned to roll out for actual use with military and overseas voters in this November's mid-term election.
According to testimony given to a D.C. City Council committee last Friday by J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electrical engineering and computer science at University of Michigan, hackers from Iran and China were also attempting to access the very same network infrastructure, even as his own team of students had successfully done so, taking over the entirety of the Internet Voting system which had been opened for a first-of-its-kind live test.
[See our report last week on details of what had already been disclosed about Halderman's startling hack prior to last Friday's hearing.]
"While we were in control of these systems we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China," Halderman testified. "These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded."
In his stunning public testimony --- before a single member of the D.C. Board of Ethics and Elections (BoEE), and a nearly empty chamber --- Halderman explained how the team had, by the time they discovered their fellow intruders, already gained complete control of the system, it's encryption key and its passwords. The system was developed as part of an Internet Voting pilot program with the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.
As The BRAD BLOG reported last week, Halderman's team was able to take over the system within 36 hours after it had gone live for testing. After having "found and exploited a vulnerability that gave [them] almost total control of the server software," his team was able to steal the encryption key needed to decode "secret" ballots; overwrite every single ballot cast on the test system; change the votes on those ballots to write-in candidates; discover who had already been voted for and the identities of the voters; install a script that would automatically change all votes cast in the future on the same system; install a backdoor to allow them to come back later; and then leave a "calling card" --- the University of Michigan fight song --- which was programmed to play in the voter's browser 15 seconds after each Internet ballot had been cast.
But the new disclosures offered before the committee on Friday, including the hack attempts by computers in China and Iran, may have been as explosive, if not more so, than the previous revelations. They certainly illustrate and underscore a grave national security threat present in electronic voting systems such as the one D.C. had planned to use, as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories computer scientist and cyber-security expert Dr. David Jefferson told me during an interview last Friday night on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show which I was guest hosting last week.
The hack of the system forced the D.C. election administrators to shut down their plans for the pilot program which was to have gone live in days, as encouraged and partially funded by the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which allocated millions of dollars for such Internet Voting pilot programs.
The revelations of the intrusion attempts from China and Iran, however, would not be the only new, previously unreported bombshells Halderman offered during his Friday testimony...
As we posited in our coverage yesterday of D.C.'s Internet Voting scheme which was hacked with the University of Michigan fight song just days after experts had warned against the entire scheme, J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electronic engineering and computer science at the university, was, indeed, at the heart of the hack.
He details tonight that he and a small team of students were happy to participate in the test that D.C. election officials had announced, with just three days notice, inviting hackers to try and penetrate the system they planned to use this November, as developed with the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.
Within 36 hours of the system going live, our team had found and exploited a vulnerability that gave us almost total control of the server software, including the ability to change votes and reveal voters’ secret ballots.
And if you think that's chilling, Halderman goes on to note that all cast ballots on the system were modified and overwritten with write-in votes, all passwords taken --- including the encryption key, which e-voting supporters constantly suggest will keep such systems safe --- before they went on to install a back door to let them view any votes cast later, after their attack, along with the names of voters and whom they voted for...
Last week we told you about D.C.'s intention of running an insane live experiment on live voters in a live election with an untested, wholly unverifiable, easily-manipulated Internet Voting scheme this November, and about just some of the computer security and election experts who have been desperately trying to warn them against it.
And now we find out that the very short planned pre-election test phase, in which hackers were invited to try to manipulate the system, has been abruptly aborted in the wake of a, um, disturbing (if not wholly unpredictable) development.
The failed system in D.C. was developed with the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation, an outfit that is working with election officials around the country to push Internet Voting everywhere, along with other computerized voting schemes. Simply because a system is "open source" does not mean it's secure, particularly when it relies on concealed vote counting, as all of their e-vote schemes do.
Below, along with our quick list of other recent known e-voting hack events, computer scientist Jeremy Epstein in "The Risks Digest," which describes itself as a "Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems," offers the quick timeline of recent developments in the District of Columbia's plan "against advice from many computer scientists, pursuing a trial of a prototype system for the November election."
The result, as seen below, in this latest assault on citizen-overseeable democracy is, of course, a stunning surprise to absolutely nobody other than perhaps the D.C. election officials interested in this horrific scheme and the profiteers who must have tricked them into believing that it was a secure and/or good idea [emphasis added]...
Along with the madness of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and Vote-by-Mail, Internet Voting is the other scheme/virus that makes my head explode --- as if the existing e-voting system we already use in the U.S. isn't unverifiable, unoverseeable and susceptible enough to malfeasance and malfunction as is.
So with the little patience I can muster to even mention this latest particular nightmare at all today, I'll defer to Washington Post's coverage yesterday --- sure to be ignored until it's too late ("Who could have foreseen it?!") --- of the experts' latest warnings against D.C.'s planned live democracy experiment of using an untested and unverifiable Internet Voting scheme on real voters, in a real election, beginning in just a few weeks.
The WaPo column includes this explanation of two letters sent to D.C. officials this week, urging them to take a different path...
The first missive [PDF] questions whether the digital vote by mail system is "voter-verifiable," as required under the city's new election laws. The voter has no way of confirming that the ballot he or she sent is the same one that is counted by elections officials, the letter argues.
The second letter [PDF] raises sharp concerns over the vulnerability to infiltration by hackers, calling the new system a "poorly conceived experiment" that "imperils the overall accuracy of every election on the ballot."
The letter continues: "Return of marked ballots over the Internet is something we simply don't know how to do safely. Exercises such as this are counterproductive, because they will provide a false sense of security to the [D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics], while the real problems lie undetected."
Four advil and three shots of vodka please.
* * *
UPDATE 10/4/10: Aaaaand...whaddaya know, D.C. Internet Vote scheme --- the one experts above were warning about --- gets hacked. Who could have forseen it?! Details here...