Saturday, September 30, 2006

Rep. Mark Foley (Republican) resigns after emails reveal him hitting on a 16 year old male congressional page

I mean, like, ewwwww!!

This guy is creepy, man. He's 52 years old and he's sending fairly explicit messages to teenaged pages. Pages, as you probably know, work for congresspeople in a sort of intern/gopher role. This particular page did not actually work for Foley, but they struck up a friendship. The page started getting freaked out after he gave his email address to Foley and ended up receiving some pretty sick emails. Raw Story has the emails if you want to check them out.
Foley has long marketed himself as a protector of children from sexual predation. In 2003, he became an outspoken critic of a summer nudist camp for children. An amendment by Foley to change federal sex offender laws became part of the Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act of 2006.
Yeah, Foley loves children. He really, really looooooves children.

Like I said: Eww...

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Rolling Stone and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. return with another look at election fraud

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has uncovered a bombshell in Chris Hood, former Diebold employee, who claims that he personally patched dozens of Diebold electronic voting machines with an unauthorized patch:

Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a "patch," a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. "We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood says. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. "It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way." Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.

Gee, that's not suspicious or anything, is it?

Earlier in the article Hood says that the company was able to operate with unusual freedom since Georgia essentially privatized the election by giving Diebold (the highest bidder) the keys to the kingdom in order to get everything ready in a short timeframe.
Hood says it was "common knowledge" within the company that Diebold also illegally installed uncertified software in machines used in the 2004 presidential primaries - a charge the company denies. Disturbed to see the promise of electronic machines subverted by private companies, Hood left the election consulting business and became a whistle-blower. "What I saw," he says, "was basically a corporate takeover of our voting system."
How do we know we live in a democracy anymore? What proof do any of us have that the system is fair? Certainly, articles like this one don't inspire any faith in me, and I'd bet that that's the case for many folks out there.

So what should we do? Attack the messenger? Cross our fingers? Trust in Big Business?

None of those solutions are acceptable to me. I work with computers; I know what they can do. Hacking an election is trivial for Diebold. There's no receipt or evidence left behind for a manual recount. Once the election is stolen, it's gone for good. No recount is possible.

We need an open source solution, subject to rigid testing and public oversight if we're going to use electionic ballots. Personally, I'm not convinced of the need for an electronic system. But if we do go with e-voting we need to stay away from "blackbox" voting. They call it blackbox because anything could be going on in there. You have no way of knowing if the person you just voted for actually received your vote. It's far too uncertain. I prefer paper ballots for this reason.

The article goes on to deal with the ironically-named Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which actually does more to help Corporate America choose our representatives for us:
The primary author and steward of HAVA was Rep. Bob Ney, the GOP chairman of the powerful U.S. House Administration Committee. Ney had close ties to the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose firm received at least $275,000 from Diebold to lobby for its touch-screen machines. Ney's former chief of staff, David DiStefano, also worked as a registered lobbyist for Diebold, receiving at least $180,000 from the firm to lobby for HAVA and "other election reform issues." Ney - who accepted campaign contributions from DiStefano and counted Diebold's then-CEO O'Dell among his constituents - made sure that HAVA strongly favored the use of the company's machines.

Ney also made sure that Diebold and other companies would not be required to equip their machines with printers to provide paper records that could be verified by voters. In a clever twist, HAVA effectively pressures every precinct to provide at least one voting device that has no paper trail - supposedly so that vision-impaired citizens can vote in secrecy.
This is dirty, dirty business. It won't be easy for Americans to believe that our (illegitimately elected, as it turns out) representatives and business leaders would be so evil to steal elections again and again, but America has a lot of waking up to do. "It can't happen here" seems to be our mantra.

But it can. And it has.

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Resurrecting the Electric Car

Despite oil industry efforts to kill the electric car, it looks like the inevitable will finally happen once the forces of capitalism are firmly lined up behind it. In what sounds a little too good to be true, a company is claiming that their electric car will get you 500 miles for 9 bucks. Can these guys deliver? Well, they've got Business 2.0 along for the ride:

Forget hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles. EEStor, a stealth company in Cedar Park, Texas, is working on an "energy storage" device that could finally give the internal combustion engine a run for its money -- and begin saving us from our oil addiction. "To call it a battery discredits it," says Ian Clifford, the CEO of Toronto-based electric car company Feel Good Cars, which plans to incorporate EEStor's technology in vehicles by 2008.

EEStor's device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.

And we mean power a car. "A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari," Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can't go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.

The cost of the engine itself depends on how much energy it can store; an EEStor-powered engine with a range roughly equivalent to that of a gasoline-powered car would cost about $5,200. That's a slight premium over the cost of the gas engine and the other parts the device would replace -- the gas tank, exhaust system, and drivetrain. But getting rid of the need to buy gas should more than make up for the extra cost of an EEStor-powered car.

Sounds too good to be true, right? But technology is always advancing, even when it appears to be standing still -- as in the case of combustion engines, which haven't gotten much more efficient in the last 20 years. The oil companies are really only succeeding in prolonging their reign for a few more years while simultaneously ensuring their eventual obsolescence. Once the electric/hydrogen/whatever technology matures it will be a no-brainer to switch away from oil-based engines. Would you rather pay $3.50 a gallon or 50 cents a gallon? I'll take the cheaper and more environmentally friendly option, thanks. It could've been a hard decision, but with hybrids and a retardedly obvious cost/benefit ratio, alternative fuel sources are poised to take off, leaving oil companies in the dust.

So, uh, why are we fighting a war for oil in the desert again?

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Weird Al Yankovic -- White and Nerdy

Hilarious music video for Weird Al Yankovic's new cut: White and Nerdy.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

The War on Iran, Treason, and the origins of the Iran-Contra Scandal

October Surprise indeed! Check out this detailed story over at ConsortiumNews:
Having gone through the diplomatic motions with Iran, George W. Bush is shifting toward a military option that carries severe risks for American soldiers in Iraq as well as for long-term U.S. interests around the world. Yet, despite this looming crisis, the Bush Family continues to withhold key historical facts about U.S.-Iranian relations.

Those historical facts – relating to Republican contacts with Iran’s Islamic regime more than a quarter century ago – are relevant today because an underlying theme in Bush’s rationale for war is that direct negotiations with Iran are pointless. But Bush’s own father may know otherwise.

The evidence is now persuasive that George H.W. Bush participated in negotiations with Iran’s radical regime in 1980, behind President Jimmy Carter’s back, with the goal of arranging for 52 American hostages to be released after Bush and Ronald Reagan were sworn in as Vice President and President, respectively.
Keep reading. War-monger Bush isn't done with Iran yet. This is gonna get worse before it gets better.

Do we have what it takes to stop the Bush Regime before it attacks again?

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pentagon: Able Danger unit couldn't stop 9/11... because we wouldn't let them

The Pentagon has finished investigating itself, and it finds itself.... not guilty!!! Yayyy!! What a triumph of democracy and accountability. [/sarcasm]

Let's have Congressman Curt Weldon talk about that:

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The World Can't Wait -- Destroy the Bush Regime before it destroys us

I noticed this full-page ad in the paper today:

The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime

They're calling for a work stoppage and massive protests on October 5th, 2006. BE THERE! Don't go into work/school. It's time to resist!

The protests planned include on in downtown Minneapolis. Details below:

Minneapolis, MN

Federal Building, Minneapolis
Meet at Federal Building. Peaceful migration to Loring Park.
3PM Concert at Loring Park.
Like I said. BE THERE!!!

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FBI forced to triple fraud squads to keep up with rampant corruption on Capitol Hill

Title pretty much says it all. Here's the scoop:
There is so much political corruption on Capitol Hill that the FBI has had to triple the number of squads investigating lobbyists, lawmakers and influence peddlers, the Daily News has learned.

For decades, only one squad in Washington handled corruption cases because the crimes were seen as local offenses handled by FBI field offices in lawmakers' home districts.

But in recent years, the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal and other abuses of power and privilege have prompted the FBI to assign 37 agents full-time to three new squads in an office near Capitol Hill.

FBI Assistant Director Chip Burrus told The News yesterday that he wants to detail even more agents to the Washington field office for a fourth corruption squad because so much wrongdoing is being uncovered.

My advice for the FBI: Keep up the pace. We're gonna need a lot more agents if we want to get all of it. But I fear that the FBI lacks the political will to push too far, especially if the trail of corruption reaches too high up the chain of command. We need squeaky-clean corridors of power, but right now they're covered in filth and decay. Does the FBI have the strength to arrest all of the perpetrators, not just the ones who get hung out to dry by their masters?

Really, if we wanted to stop corruption we'd have to arrest everybody in Washington except the janitors and the maids.

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Scientists Shocked as Arctic Polar Route Revealed

[from a story I wrote for slashdot]:

A route unencumbered by perennial sea ice leading directly to the North Pole has been revealed by recent satellite pictures. European scientists indicated their shock as they noted a ship could sail from Europe's northern-most outpost directly to the pole, something that hasn't been possible during most [all?] of recorded human history. The rapid thawing of the perennial sea ice has political implications as the U.S., Canada, Russia and the EU jockey for control of the newly opened passages."

[additional thoughts]:

This is big news. Our little planet is quickly changing its stripes. In this case, the top of this little globe is thawing out to an extent that it calls for new maps, new trade routes, new cooperation between nations and shipping companies and a new way of thinking about our world. When I was young I was taught that the North Pole was a useless, foribidding desert of ice, wind and snow. Will I teach my children the same thing?

UPDATE: I found an even better story.

UPDATE 2: The story has been posted to Slashdot! It's getting a lot of comments, too.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Been really busy the last few weeks

Sorry that my posting has dropped off to near-zero. I've been so fucking busy at work and with moving stuff that I haven't had time to even think of my blog. I'm hoping that things will calm down a bit soon.

Here's hoping for a slower week, with some more time for posting! It can't still this busy continually, can it?

I fucking hope not.


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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Mainstream press outlet covers 9/11 conspiracy theories

First and foremost, I want to say that my thoughts are with the victims of the attacks of September 11th, 2001. This 5-year anniversery is going to be tough on many of their family members and friends, and I wish the best for those still dealing with their loss.

Secondly, my thoughts are focused on seeing the real terrorists brought to justice, whomever they may be.

Surprisingly, the Minneapolis & St. Paul Star Tribune has actually done a story on the conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
As the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks looms, skepticism about the official version of the atrocities that day has gained traction in the minds of many Americans and among a small, but growing, number of academics.
Yeah, and it's about time you covered it!!

The story doesn't delve into the details at all, however. It just covers the emergence of the alternate theories and what the "experts" have to say about all these "kooks." But it's not a total hatchet job, so I guess that's something.

We have to have a real investigation of 9/11, not the whitewash that was the 9/11 Commission Report. We owe it to the victims and their families to make sure justice is served.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Here's to Steve Irwin, Croc Hunter -- Wrestlin' the big reptile in the sky

I didn't have a chance to post this earlier since I've been so busy moving and shit, but I wanted to give a shout-out to Steve Irwin, the erstwhile Crocodile Hunter who died a few days ago in a freak accident. He was killed by a stingray barb, which is actually a pretty rare way to die. Leave it to Steve to live through hundreds of crocodile encounters only to die from a relatively benign creature. The stingray got him right through the heart.

More than anything, this totally sucks for his family; especially his father, wife and two young kids. He knew that he could die at any moment; it's part of the job. But it's still sad to see him go and leave some rugrats behind. So, rock on Steve. Wrestle that big crocodile in the sky.


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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Telephone Telepathy and the emergence of Paranormal Studies as a legitimate scientific field

For the record, I've experienced "Telephone Telepathy" on many occasions. While I think it could be explained as people using logic and inductive reasoning, there were many times that I didn't use the problem-solving side of my brain at all -- the person just popped into my head as the phone rang.

That said, I find it odd that this story is called "Scientists angered by telephone telepathy study." How do you get angry at a study? Well, I guess it happens when the study reveals something that you'd rather not contend with/believe in.

Many people report experiences in which they were thinking of a friend or relative who happened to phone them at that moment. Most scientists regard this as coincidence, reinforced by forgetting the many times we think of friends who never ring, but Dr Sheldrake has tried to test whether it is actually down to genine telepathy.

He asked 63 volunteers to select four friends, one of whom would then be selected at random to ring them at a pre-arranged time. On picking up the phone, the subject would say who he thought was calling.

By chance alone, people should get the right friend 25 per cent of the time, but Dr Sheldrake found that they actually did much better than this, with a success rate of 40 per cent in 571 tries. Callers were often several miles away, sometimes thousands of miles away, and distance did not affect the outcome.

In a follow-up trial, the participants were videotaped to ensure they were not getting messages from their callers. The four subjects tested in this way did even better, picking the right caller 45 per cent of the time.

Dr Sheldrake claims the results as good evidence for genuine telepathy, at least between some people who know each other well. "The odds of this being a chance effect are 1,000 billion to one," he said.

You'll note that he used people who are friends with each other. This is a good way to tease out a measurable respone. People wishing to sabotage the idea of psychic abilities could easily choose strangers and then point out that nobody was able to indentify who was calling them. I think the ability has something to do with being "on the same wavelength" with certain people. It might not have anything to do with "psychic abilities" -- it could be a subtle vibrational similarity that people are picking up on unconsciously. But words like "paranormal" are grab-bags for all sorts of con-artists as well as legitimate phenomena that haven't been adequately explained/measured.

The so-called "skeptics" out there who casually dismiss anything that gets labelled as "paranormal" are fools. We need rigorous testing before we can logically assess the truth behind the claims. Rejecting something out of hand just because it was labelled a certain way by certain people is not science -- it's bigotry. Look at their pathetic and delusional rationalizations for the results of this study:
It was also possible that people got clues from the time of the call. "If the subject knows four people well, they will know who tends to be on time, who tends to be late and who early," said Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. "If they call me at 11.02 not 11, I'd likely guess it was going to be my late friend."
Um, yeah. Your "late friend" only calls when it's not a round number? What the fuck is he talking about? He's grasping at straws here folks, and it's kind of sad to see. What a loser. Just wake the fuck up and do some tests you idiot! Oh I forgot, he'll be able to sabotage his results using little tricks like I described above.
The second study reported yesterday was led by Peter Fenwick, a consultant neuropsychiatrist who is interested in near-death experiences and "end of life experiences" that occur when people die. He thinks these may provide evidence for an afterlife.

Though his work is not yet published, he has collected data in hospices on apparently paranormal phenomena that occur at death. He says that many dying people experience visions of dead friends and relatives welcoming them to an afterlife, and that the living relatives of dying people are "visited" by them at the moment of death, reporting that they are dying but that all will be well.

Dr Fenwick has also documented uncanny events such as clocks stopping and bright lights at the moment of death. "One of commonest forms is a luminous object, composed of light and love, which hangs above the body. This is often interpreted as the soul leaving the body."

Again, sceptics reject this all as nothing but anecdote, hallucination and pure coincidence.

Again, skeptics reveal themselves as unwilling to accept the idea of an afterlife or of observable phenomena that are not easily explainable in conventional terms. They have stuck their fingers in their ears and they've closed their eyes and they're screaming, "Lalalalalaaaahh!! I can't hear you!"

Of course you can't.... and you seem to have no idea why.


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Friday, September 01, 2006

Photos of missing child Johnny Gosch end up on his mom Noreen Gosch's front step 24 years later

It is a strange and harrowing tale. I don't know that I am ready to write my full thesis on the topic, so let me just start with this recent development in an old, disturbing case.

Johnny Gosch was delivering papers in 1982 when he was kidnapped. Noreen Gosch, his mother, has never stopped searching for what happened to him. In 1997 Johnny returned and revealed that he'd been forced into an elite, criminal pedophilia ring. He didn't stick around to elaborate. After his disappearance, his mother continued on her indepedent investigation (after finding the FBI and local authorities both inept and dismissive she began her own).

Now, someone has sent her photos of her son, reopening old wounds and begging new questions:
The mother of a boy abducted 24 years ago said she's bewildered by two photographs left at her front door, apparently showing her son and two other children bound and gagged.

The old photos appear to show 12-year-old Johnny Gosch with his mouth gagged and his hands and feet tied. The boy is wearing the same sweatpants Johnny was wearing when he disappeared while delivering newspapers on the morning of Sept. 5, 1982, his mother said.

"It's like reliving it," Noreen Gosch told The Associated Press on Thursday night. "But the bigger picture is, 'Why are they doing this?'

"Whoever had these photos had them for 24 years. I don't understand why they would do this now. It must be some kind of message."

Gosch said investigators confirmed the photos were authentic and likely taken within "hours or days" of the abduction. She said they were checking for fingerprints that could lead them to the source and possibly a breakthrough in a case that has long baffled authorities. The other boys in the photo were unidentified.
Curious. Who would want those photos released? Maybe somebody is trying to help her out by shining a little more light on a dark, dark case.

How dark? Well, I guess you'll have to wait. I'll have more on the bizarre connections later.


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Global takeover by the neocons has been in the works since at least 1987

A married couple were approached by Osama bin Laden's brothers in 1987. The brothers revealed the plot to destroy the World Trade Center in order to bring the U.S. into a position to invade the Middle East for its copious oil reserves:

The couple, working in the NASA scientific community, said neither of two brothers looked like Osama, but both emphatically said they were the 'mavericks' of the family, not wanting to participate with others in helping facilitate corrupt U.S. interests in Saudi Arabia.

The two scientists' first encounter with the Saudi aristocratic family members came in 1987 when the bin Ladens and others barged their way into the couple's Sedona Arizona home.

They said the bin Ladens were seeking general information about an advanced brain development project the couple worked on, as well as possibly trying to alert Americans about the U.S. government's intentions to control the Middle East and blow up the WTC in the process.

"I was shocked and didn't know what to make of them when they entered. Remember, back then, no one had an idea about 9/11 so I didn't know what to make of it," said Rachel Welch. 51, of Albuquerque. "Looking back, I think they thought we may have had a way to alert those inside NASA, sympathetic to Saudi interests, about U.S. intentions to takeover precious resources and oil reserves."

It's hard to tell if these people are full of shit or not, but the story it plausible at least. It's clear to me that 9/11 was nothing but a pretext for war in the Middle East. Look, we've got Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran is next on the list. Hell, we'll get Syria too, while we're at it. People don't seem to realize that we're Germany in 1940. This is ridiculous. We've got to stop this imperial madness!

During the first bin Laden encounter, the couple said those showed them sensitive documents and film, revealing the pre-planning for blowing up the WTC and intentions in government for a global takeover.

They said they were told that these sinister and deadly plans included an eventual catastrophic de-population of the world while at the same time taking control of the world's diminishing natural resources.

Eventually it's going to come home to roost. We can't send the world spiraling into suffering and death without reaping our karmic "reward." Every minute the war continues is a travesty. How have we become the empire? How have we become exactly what we defeated in Europe just over 60 years ago? How did people manage to forget so quickly?

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Low-speed blogging

Like I said, slow blogging this week. Luckily things went well at my closing. I now own a house. Scary! I will do some moving this weekend if the weather is decent. There might be long moments of blog-silence as I get everything taken care of. I will be in cable modem limbo for awhile as well. So don't worry -- I'll get back to normal blogging pace in a week or so.


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