This video is not strictly relevant/appropo to anything..... but some of you may be interested to see me on the smallest screen. Its been 8 years now since the long since tombstoned Bev Harris and I broke the story about the hackability of Diebold voting machines right here on DU.
I talked in more detail about how we broke the story open in this video which was produced as part of a History of the New Zealand Internet project called DownToTheWire
Some of you here may recall:
nside A U.S. Election Vote Counting Program
The cache of source code (& the editorial)
Sludge Report #154 – Bigger Than Watergate!
And here on DU... the activism that a bunch of us put together.
The Scoop/Diebold UBERPOST: Ratings and Rantings from the South Pacific
I see (thanks to BradBlog's stirling work - and that of countless activists across your great nation) that your elections are still hackable so everything changes but nothing changes I guess.
Scoop is still publishing US Election Integrity news when we receive it - and we will probably revive http://usacoup.scoop.co.nz for your next presidential election along with another advertising camapaign to support the work of activists in the field.
So how are things around here anyway? It's been a while.
Noting that the exit polls have been consistently wrong since 1998 we can conclude that if they are much improved then...
1. This is the first election since 1996 which has not been subject to widespread election (tabulator/touchscreen) fraud.
2. The Exit Pollsters have changed their methodology - and in that case we want to know what they have changed.
What do you think? Should we have a poll?
To answer this question:
If anyone has any information about how close the exit polls are looking to finals I would be very interested....
We could start by checking these numbers.
Blumenthal (D-CT) +8
Rubio (R-FL) +21
Blunt (R-MO) +10
Boxer (D-CA) +8
Kirk (R-IL) +6
Paul (R-KY) +11,
Bennet (D-CO) +2
Toomey (R-PA) +4
Murray (D-WA) +6
Manchin (D-WV) +7
Johnson (R-WI) +5
Which were posted before polling closed and should be (pre-digested) unless the polsters have have changed their methodology.
Source Huffington Post - But Later Deleted
P.S. I will be at the Airport in Wellington early tomorrow to greet your Secretary of State and will post pictures.. from the look of things the relationship between Aotearoa and the USA is on the improve....
Don’t despair over the DC hacking. Here is a short list of positive news for Internet voting:
Pasadena Star News, Two Sunday editions
“Are you ready for Internet voting? For millions of Americans overseas, it's the only way to ensure their votes are counted”
Also, RE: CA Prop 14 (nonpartisan elections) and the future of CA politics
Both articles have excellent debates in the comments
Op Ed News
“Does the DC Fiasco Damn Internet Voting?”
“Scary Stories Fail to Stop Internet Voting”
Rather than using the results of scientific testing, and probability calculation, opponents of Internet voting have commonly resorted to telling scary stories about what might happen. In 2004 this tactic had spectacular success. The Department of Defense had already spent over $22,000,000 on an Internet voting project. It was ready to be used in the 2004 November election, but well publicized scary stories had it halted.
Since that time, state election officials, the military, and DoD have regained their reason, and Internet voting is coming back.
At, http://ssrn.com/author=1053589 (free download)
William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund, a CA Nonprofit Foundation
Blog: http://internetvotingforall.blogspot.com /
Book in progress: All chapter drafts for my new book can be read/downloaded
(for free) at http://ssrn.com/author=1053589
Seriously there must be some background to this guy? What is it?
Here is Richard Charnin's follow up post to the 25 Questions post made yesterday. It is high time that the guardians of the Democratic process woke up to some of the facts. Truthisall does a great job in this post. For those who don't know Truthisall aka TIA and Richard Charnin is a longtime DU legend and author of "Proving Election Fraud".
Scoop Independent News
An Open Letter to Nate Silver
by Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)
July 12, 2010
Nate, since your recent hiring by the NY Times, the R2K flap and your exchanges with Zogby you have been getting lots of publicity from blogs such as vanity fair and motherjones.com. Your characterization of Zogby’s expertise says more about you then it does about him. Zogby correctly projected the True Vote in 2000 (yes, Gore won Florida, despite what the NY Times said), 2004 and 2008 elections, yet you fail to give him credit. In fact, you rank him at the bottom. Why? Because you go along with the media-perpetuated myth that the recorded vote is sacrosanct. In other words, you discount the fraud factor and fail to distinguish between the True Vote and the recorded vote.
Below, you will see why Gore won by perhaps three million more than his recorded 540,000 vote margin; why Kerry won the True Vote by 10 million; why the Democratic Tsunami was denied in the 2006 midterms; and why Obama won by nearly 22 million votes in 2008, not the 9.5 million recorded.
I hereby challenge you to try and debunk the data, logic and mathematics used in True Vote Model. If you cannot do so, then the underlying premise of your pollster ranking system (that the recorded vote is an appropriate baseline to measure performance) is invalid.
As an Internet blogger who has been posting pre-election and exit poll analyses to prove election fraud since 2004, I have occasionally looked at your postings on fivethirtyeight.com. I will say right here that unlike the bloggers and mainstream media (MSNBC, the NY Times, etc.) who extol your forecasting “expertise”, I do not believe you are quite the polling guru that they claim you are.
I say this as one who has been building quantitative models since 1965 for defense/aerospace manufacturers, Wall Street investment banks and has consulted for many financial and corporate enterprises. I have three degrees in Mathematics, including an MS in Applied Mathematics and an MS in Operations Research.
Your 2008 simulation model win probabilities did not sync with the projected vote shares. The major flaw in your model was to conflate it with your pollster rankings, an ill-conceived methodology. The first rule of model building is KISS (keep it simple stupid). You not only introduced an extraneous variable into your model, but the rankings were incorrect – a double whammy. Now, what do I mean by this, you ask?
You fail to distinguish the True Vote from the Recorded vote by ignoring vote miscounts. The premise on which your models are based (that fraud does not exist) is incorrect from the get-go. In your ranking system, pollsters who come close to the recorded vote (i.e. Rasmussen in 2004) are ranked high, but pollsters who come close to the True Vote (i.e. Zogby) are ranked low. The fact that Zogby is ranked at the bottom is a clear indictment of your approach. Ranking pollsters based on their performance against the recorded vote is a waste of time. Fortunately for you, your fans are unaware of the distinction between the recorded vote and the True Vote. In fact, most are unaware of the extent in which their votes have been compromised by fraud. In your models, election fraud is never a factor.
This is the simple, yet fundamental equation that you seem to be blissfully unaware of: Recorded Vote = True Vote + Fraud.
Since you rank pollsters based on how close their polls match the recorded vote, I assume that exit pollsters Edison-Mitofsky are ranked at the top, since their final state and national exit polls always seem to match the recorded vote. So why don’t they release the unadjusted exit polls as well? These may actually reflect the True Vote. As a Polling Quant, you should be interested in the statistical rationale for the matching.
Check with your new employer, the Grey Lady. The NYT is an important part of the National Exit Pool, the consortium that sponsors the exit polls. The NEP also includes the Washington Post, ABC, CNN, AP and Fox News. That’s plenty of MSM polling power. Ask why they expect transparency from R2K but won’t release the raw, unadjusted precinct exit polls from 2000, 2004 or 2008. That information would be very useful. It might indicate which exit poll precincts show discrepancies to the recorded vote that are virtually impossible mathematically.
What are your thoughts about the 2010 primaries in MA, AR, SC and AL? Does the fact that Coakley won the hand-counts in MA indicate something to you? Does the fact that 40 of 42 SC precincts that favored Halter were closed down indicate something? Or how about the unknown, non-campaigner Greene winning in SC by 59-41% but losing the absentees by 84-16%? The DINOS on the state election commission refused to consider the recommendations of computer scientists to investigate the voting machines that were obviously rigged. In AL on June 8, the attorney general issued an opinion that an automatic recount does not apply in a primary election. Knowing all of this, will you be factoring fraud into your 2010 projections – along with turnout and final polling?
Do you want further confirmation that Kerry won in a landslide? As an “expert” analyst, you should have taken a close look at the 2004 National Exit Poll. If you had, you would have seen that the Final NEP, as is always the case, was forced to match the recorded vote by adjusting the number of returning 2000 voters to an impossible level– as well as the vote shares. According to the NEP, 43% (52.6 million) of 2004 voters were returning Bush 2000 voters. But this was impossible. Bush only had 50.46 million recorded votes. Based on voter mortality tables, 2.5 million Bush 2000 voters died prior to the 2004 election. Therefore at most only 48 million returning Bush voters could have voted in 2004. But if an estimated 98% turned out, 47 million voted. Therefore, the number of returning Bush voters was inflated by at least 5 million. Kerry won the election by 10 million votes. You are welcome to try and refute the True Vote Model.
Do you want to see a proof that Obama won by nearly 22 million votes and not by the recorded 9.5 million? As an “expert” analyst, you should have taken a close look at the 2008 National Exit Poll. If you had, you would have seen that the Final NEP, as is always the case, was forced to match the recorded vote by adjusting the number of returning 2004 voters to an impossible level. According to the NEP, 46% (60 million) of 2008 voters were returning Bush 2004 voters and 37% were returning Kerry voters. That means there were 12 million more returning Bush voters than Kerry voters – and that’s assuming the myth perpetuated by the mainstream media (who you are now going to work for) that Bush won by 3 million votes in 2004. Do you believe it? How could that be?
But it’s much worse than that. If Kerry won by 10 million votes as the True Vote Model indicates (you are welcome to try and refute it) then there were approximately 10 million more returning Kerry voters than Bush voters. Assuming the same NEP vote shares that were used to match the recorded vote, Obama wins by 22 million votes, not the 9.5 million recorded.
The 2008 NEP indicated that 4% (5 million) of the electorate consisted of returning third-party voters. That was clearly impossible; only 1.2 million third-party votes were recorded in 2004. In their zeal to match the recorded vote, the exit pollsters had to create millions of phantom Bush and third-party voters.
In the eleven presidential elections from 1968 to 2008, the Republicans won the popular vote by 49-45%, (6% went to third parties). But the Democrats won the True Vote by 49-45%.
It’s all in my book: Proving Election Fraud: Phantom Voters, Uncounted Votes, and the National Exit Poll.
I was the first election analyst to use Monte Carlo simulation in the 2004 Election Model followed by the 2008 Election Model. I applied extensive exit poll analysis in developing corresponding the post-election True Vote Model. It proves that not only were the 2000 and 2004 elections stolen, it is very likely that 1968 and 1988 were as well. There were at least 6 million uncounted votes in 1968 and 11 million in 1988 – and the majority were Democratic (minority) votes.
The Edison Mitofsky 2004 Evaluation Report provides the exit poll discrepancies (WPE) of 238 state presidential election exit polls from 1988-2004. Of the 66 that exceeded the 3% margin of error, 65 favored the Republican. Was it due to reluctant Bush responders and/or exuberant Democratic responders? No, it was the result of millions of uncounted votes (mostly Democratic) and millions of phantom Bush voters.
The Final 2004 Election Model Projection (Monte Carlo simulation) projected a Kerry win: a 51.3% share and 337 electoral votes. This closely matched the unadjusted aggregate state exit polls (52%) and the 12:22am National Exit Poll (51.2%). The True Vote Model indicated that Kerry had a 53.2% share. Of course Bush won by a bogus 50.7-48.3% recorded vote margin. How did your projections pan out?
In the 2006 midterms, the pre-election Trend Model (based on 120 Generic polls) projected a 56.43% share for the Democrats. The unadjusted National Exit Poll indicated a nearly identical 56.37%. The Final National Exit Poll was forced to match the 52% recorded vote. Nate, which one do you believe was correct? You are aware of documented miscounts in 15 –20 congressional elections, virtually all favoring the GOP (see FL–13, FL-24, OH-1, etc.). How did your projections pan out?
The Final 2008 Election Model Projection (Monte Carlo simulation) exactly matched Obama’s 365 electoral votes and was within 0.2%(53.1%) of his 52.9% share. But it was wrong. Obama did much better than that. The final state pre-election likely voter (LV) polls did not fully capture the late shift to Obama. Had they been registered voter (RV) polls, adjusted for undecided voters, Obama would have had a 57% share. He had 57% and 420 EV in the True Vote Model. As shown below, the final Gallup RV tracking poll gave Obama a 53-40% margin. After allocating undecided voters, he had 57% - matching the True Vote Model. How did your projections pan out?
So what does it all mean?
It means that any and all polling analysis that fails to consider voter mortality, uncounted votes and a feasible voter turnout is doomed to produce the wrong result. The correct result is the True Vote based on total votes cast. The wrong result is the recorded vote that ignores uncounted votes but includes phantom voters.
It means that the recorded vote, the basis for your rankings, never reflects the True Vote!
It exposes your ranking system, which places John Zogby (the only pollster to predict the True Vote in the last three presidential elections) at the bottom of a list of scores of obscure pollsters, as being fatally flawed.
It means that your comments disparaging exit polls, along with your failure to do post-election True Vote analyses, indicate that you are in sync with a moribund mainstream media that perpetuates endemic Election Fraud by withholding raw exit poll data. They accept the recorded vote as Gospel - just as you do in your rankings. You will fit in very well at the NY Times.
When will you incorporate the True Vote into your analysis? Why do you ignore the fact that the mainstream media (i.e. the National Election Pool, which includes the NY Times) is responsible for the impossible adjustments (made by the exit pollsters they employ) to the final 2004, 2006, 2008 state and national exit polls? They had to match the polls to corrupted recorded vote counts, come hell or high water - and will surely do so again in 2010.
You have questioned the R2K Democratic share of the 18-29 age group exceeding the 30-44 group in 20 of 20 races.
Table 1 shows the probabilities for all the age groups.
There was a 33% probability that the Dems would do better in the 18-29 group than the 30-44 group in all 20 races given the average two-party shares. The comparable probabilities were 77% for 45-59 and nearly 100% for 60+.
You have also questioned the apparent lack of volatility in the 2008 R2K tracking polls.
Table 2 displays R2K daily statistics.
The margin of error is 1.96 times the standard deviation (a measure of volatility) at the 95% confidence level.
The standard deviation of Obama’s daily poll shares was 1.83%. It was 1.59% for the 3-day moving average.
Table 3 is a comparison of Gallup vs. R2K.
Gallup was a registered voter (RV) poll. R2K was a likely voter (LV) poll.
The average shares and volatilities (standard deviation) closely match.
There was a strong 0.70 correlation between Obama’s Gallup and R2K shares.
There was a good 0.50 correlation between McCain’s Gallup and R2K shares.
Gallup Change Change R2K Change Change
Obama McCain Obama McCain Obama McCain Obama McCain
Avg 49.65 42.90 0.15 -0.15 50.29 42.21 0.06 -0.02
Stdev 2.02 1.74 0.94 0.89 1.59 1.86 0.70 0.73
Table 4 compares the R2K tracking poll and other polls (including standard, non-tracking polls)
Projections are based on the allocation of undecided voters (UVA).
1) 75% of the undecided vote is allocated to Obama, the de-facto challenger.
2) third parties have 1.5% (the actual recorded share).
The final Gallup projection (57.1%) for Obama is a close match to the True Vote Model (57.5%).
Obamal projected shares:
Gallup: 53 + .75 * 5.5 = 53 + 4.13 = 57.1%
R2K: 51 + .75 * 3.5 = 51 + 2.63 = 53.6%
Just a few months to go to another election without protection. I will be posting again on election protection issues... what follows is the latest from Richard Charnin - AKA TIA or Truthisall longtime DU legend and author of "Proving Election Fraud" .
Scoop Independent News
Twenty-five Questions for Nate Silver
by Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)
July 10, 2010
In December 2009, you posted 20 questions for bill killers. Now I have 25 polling/math questions for you. Most are on election killers, but for variety, I included one about baseball (the 1951 Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff) and another on the JFK assassination.
The questions are in multiple-choice format. Many election activists are interested in your answers. Take your time and respond at your convenience. And it’s open book. You will find most, but not all of the answers in my book Proving Election Fraud: Phantom Voters, Uncounted Votes, and The National Exit Poll.
1) Approximately how many votes have been uncounted in the 11 presidential elections since 1968?
a) 10 million; b) 30 million; c) 80 million
2) According to the Edison-Mitofsky 2004 Evaluation Report, in the five presidential elections from 1988 to 2004, 65 of 238 State Exit Polls had a Within Precinct Discrepancy (WPD) which exceeded 6.0% (i.e. exceeded the 3% margin of error). How many of the 65 favored the Republican?
a) 30; b) 40; c) 64
3) In 2004, at the 12:40am exit poll timeline, the already adjusted state exit polls indicated that 16 states exceeded the state exit poll margin of error in favor of Bush. How would you compute the probability and what was it?
a) 1 in 1000; b) 1 in 1 million; c) 1 in 19 trillion
4) 29 state unadjusted exit polls exceeded the margin of error in favor of Bush. What is the probability?
a) 1 in 10 million; b) 1 in 100 trillion; c) less than 1 in 1000 trillion
5) Kerry’s aggregate unadjusted state exit poll share was
a) 48%; b) 50%; c) 52%
6) In 2000, Al Gore won the recorded vote by 540,000. Gore won Florida easily. But according to the Census, approximately 6 million votes were uncounted. Therefore, a reasonable estimate of Gore’s True Margin is
a) 1 million; b) 2 million; c) 3 million
7) According to the 1992 National Exit Poll, the percentage of living Bush 1988 voters who turned out to vote in 1992 was
a) 95%; b) 98%; c) 119%
8) According to the 2004 National Exit Poll, the percentage of living Bush 2000 voters who turned out to vote in 2004 was
a) 95%; b) 98%; c) 110%
9) Bush had 50.46 million recorded votes in 2000. The Final 2004 National Exit Poll indicated that returning Bush 2000 voters comprised 43% (52.6 million) of the 122.3 million recorded in 2004. Given the 1.25% annual voter mortality rate, 2.5 million Bush 2000 voters died prior to 2004. Assuming that 47 of 48 million living Bush voters turned out in 2004, the National Exit Poll overstated the number of Bush voters by
a) 2 million; b) 4.6 million; c) 5.6 million
10) According to the 2008 National Exit Poll, 46% (60.3 million) of the 131.4 million who voted in 2008 were returning Bush 2004 voters and 37% (48.6 million) were returning Kerry voters. In other words, even assuming that Bush won by the recorded 3 million margin (very unlikely), the NEP required 12 million more returning Bush than Kerry voters in order to match the 2008 recorded vote. That is
a) plausible; b) unlikely; c) virtually impossible
11) The 2008 Election Analysis shows that Obama had 52% of 121 million votes recorded on Election Day. What was his share of the 10 million late votes recorded after Election Day?
a) 52%; b) 54%; c) 59%
12) According to the 2004 Election Incident Reporting System (EIRS), of 88 reported vote-switching incidents, 86 were from Kerry to Bush, 2 from Bush to Kerry. What are the odds of this?
a) 1 in 1 million; b) 1 in 100 million; c) 1 in 79,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
13) In the 2006 midterms, the Final National Exit Poll was forced to match the recorded vote (52-46% in favor of the Democrats). What was the Democratic share in the unadjusted exit poll?
a) 52%; b) 54%; c) 56.4%
14) The 2008 Gallup tracking poll had Obama winning by 53-40%. Giving 1.5% to third-parties and allocating the undecided vote, Obama was projected to get
a) 53%; b) 54%; c) 57%
15) The Census indicates that 110.8 million votes were cast in 2000 and 125.7 million in 2004. Given the 1.25% annual voter mortality rate, an estimated 98% turnout of living 2000 voters in 2004 and the National Exit Poll vote shares, what was the True Vote?
a) Kerry by 67-57 million; b) Kerry by 63-61 million; c) Bush by 63-61 million
16) Final state and national exit polls are always forced to match the recorded vote. Do you believe this is justified statistically?
a) Yes; b) No
17) Given that Bush won the recorded vote by 50.7-48.3 million and John Kerry won the unadjusted aggregate state exit poll (100,000 respondents) by 52-47%. Rasmussen predicted the recorded vote. Zogby closely matched the exit poll. Who was the better pollster?
a) Rasmussen; b) Zogby
18) In the final 2008 tracking polls, Zogby had Obama leading by 54-43%; Gallup 53-40 and Rasmussen 51-46. Which do you believe was the best pollster?
a) Zogby; b) Gallup; c) Rasmussen
19) Comparing the Gallup and Research 2000 volatilities in their respective tracking polls, the Gallup standard deviations were 2.02% for Obama and 1.74% for McCain. The corresponding R2K deviations were 1.59% and 1.86%. Based on these numbers, which poll was the most volatile?
a) Gallup; b) R2K; c) basically equal
20) The final 2004 national pre-election polls were essentially tied at 47%. Since 5% were undecided and given that the undecided vote virtually always goes to the challenger (Gallup allocated 90% to Kerry) what would have been your projection?
a) Kerry by 51-48; b) Bush by 51-48; c) too close to call
21) Do you believe that in 2004 realclearpolitics.com was correct in listing the15 final likely voter (LV) polls but not one registered voter (RV) poll? All indications were that the Democrats registered millions more new voters than the Republicans. In fact, Kerry won 22 million new voters by nearly 60-40%.
a) Yes, b) No
22) Given that 15 witnesses to the JFK murder died unnaturally within one year of the assassination, how would you compute the probability assuming there were 1000, 5000, or 10000 witnesses?
a) 100,000 simulation trials; b) Normal Distribution; c) Poisson Distribution
23) Given that on Aug. 12, 1951 the Brooklyn Dodgers (73W-38L) held a 13.5 game lead over the NY Giants (59-51), what is the probability that the Giants would rally to force a playoff and tie the Dodgers at 96-58?
a) 1 in 1,111,000 b) 1 in 716,000; c) 1 in 587,000
24) Now that you know that Zogby final polls closely matched the True Vote in 2000,2004 and 2008, do you feel that you owe him an apology?
a) Yes; b) No
25) Will you discuss the fact that The National Exit Poll is always forced to match the recorded vote (even if the vote is fraudulent) in the NY Times or when you next appear on Maddow or Olbermann?
a) Yes; b) No
The events yesterday were remarkable. So remarkable and so profitable (if you were short in just about anything anywhere) that you have to wonder who benefitted, and did they know. Was anyone usually short on the market?
You can accept the cockup theory or you might wonder.
The timing was too good.
The action too fast.
The implications for global markets too systemic.
The opportunity to make money and never get caught too convenient.
My guess is that we have just witnessed the biggest financial heist in history....
What do you reckon?
NOTE: If you think these issues are worthy of discussion please rec and kick. And to those of you so inclined please don't unrec.... debate instead.... suppression as a method of response to progressive debate sucks big time.
Alastair's Prescription for Healthy US Elections
US Election Integrity IV with Scoop's Alastair Thompson - Part 4
By Joan Brunwasser
Election Integrity Ed., OpEdNews
First Published at OpEdNews - July 14, 2009
Q: We resume our conversation with Scoop's Alastair Thompson. You may be far away (New Zealand) but you get it about election fraud, stolen elections, and broken election systems. We in America who are working towards meaningful election reform feel like we've essentially been banging our heads against the wall for the last five years. Any advice for us?
A: Having watched this process now for seven years, I have some strong views on this.
Q: Okay, Alastair. Take it away.
A: Firstly, there is the question of what you should be seeking.
Since the beginning of this debate, there have been arguments about what technology is acceptable. In particular voter verified paper ballots
We now know that none of these systems can protect actual election integrity.
Optical scanning machines are hackable - Harri Hursti showed that conclusively.Paper supplements to voting machines simply do not work - the printing machines jam, the paper records get lost and most importantly it is impossible to get a proper recount performed.
For the same reason - the human and legal problem of recounting - I have no confidence in audit systems used around optical scan ballots though this would be much better than what you have now.
Basically, in order to function an election system must deliver a reliable result on the night or shortly thereafter. The result should not be capable of being manipulated except through a massive conspiracy. If you set the bar high for the fraudsters then they will stop.
In terms of understanding the solution to the problem, you need to also consider the problem from a cautionary perspective.meaning, the solution to the problem needs to deter an active criminal conspiracy from its evil ways. If you simply assume that the system is vulnerable but not actually under attack you will find the wrong answer.
On the basis of this analysis, I have come to the conclusion that the only method of voting and vote counting that works is: hand counted paper ballots, counted at the place of voting on the night of voting.
Yes, this requires thousands of poll workers but it works perfectly well everywhere else in the world - why not the USA?
And to make it easier to vote I would also suggest you make election day a public holiday.
So that is where I think you need to go - next question is how to get there. And here is where it gets horribly difficult.
The first problem: Not understanding the enemy.
Because there are so many people who do not believe elections have been hacked, and perhaps simply as a defense mechanism against the enormity of realization that democracy is being attacked at its very core, even staunch election integrity activists sometimes miss the wood for the trees.
The ability to control who is elected at a micro level is the ultimate form of political control. It makes Jim Crow, ballot stuffing intimidation and other forms of election fraud pale into insignificance.
It is an enormously profitable venture and one which will be being extremely well organized and it will have its tentacles into everything. It will be growing more powerful and more sophisticated with every electoral cycle and it will be growing ever harder to detect.
Do not buy into the bullshit about whether this is a real or imaginary threat. If the system is as vulnerable, as we know it to be - and if we have criminal conspiracies of the kind that occurred in Ohio in 2004 preventing recounts then you know that this is real. Act on that knowledge. Assume that everything you do is being actively undermined by sophisticated vested interests - a criminal conspiracy - and be very determined about sticking to your game and ignoring distractions and disruptions. Defeating this enemy will be hard and it will require a massive political will from the grassroots up; the political superstructure is already unreliable.
The second problem: Lack of common purpose
Meanwhile what we actually have is an election reform movement is unfortunately somewhat riven with internal arguments - many of them around the issues raised above. And people have dug themselves into trenches around these points. Hand counted paper ballots are impractical and impossible. Auditing is the answer, etc.
As long as there is no clarity of demand from the public it is astonishingly easy for the politicians and corporate cowards to dodge the issue. Recall what happened with the Holt Bill.
Clearly some kind of unity of purpose is required. This means discipline and compromise.
Hold a national meet-up of election reform outfits and hammer out a consensus - it may not be one everybody agrees to but that's what politics is about. And progress is better than no progress.
The third problem: A cycle of interest
We have all seen what happens in this movement. Around an election, and especially in the weeks immediately after it, everybody gets upset and excited.
Months pass and interest wanes people get frustrated and by the time the next election comes around it is too late to do anything about it.
As a movement, aim for a realistic timetable for change and then pursue that doggedly. 2010 is probably too early for real change to be implemented, so aim for 2012; aim to pass a bill which fixes the 2012 presidential election in 2010. That way, the "there is not enough time" tossers can jump in a lake.
And I have more thoughts, but those are the biggies.
Q: Well, this certainly gives us a lot to think about. When we return for the last installment of our interview, Alastair will talk about the fourth estate, and the role of independent online media.
Part One of my interview with Alastair (also at Scoop here)
Part Two of my interview with Alastair (also at Scoop here)
Part Three of my interview with Alastair (also at Scoop here)
Author's Bio: Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which exists for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. We aim to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Electronic (computerized) voting systems are simply antithetical to democratic principles.
CER set up a lending library to achieve the widespread distribution of the DVD Invisible Ballots: A temptation for electronic vote fraud. Within eighteen months, the project had distributed over 3200 copies across the country and beyond. CER now concentrates on group showings, OpEd pieces, articles, reviews, interviews, discussion sessions, networking, conferences, anything that promotes awareness of this critical problem. Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at RepublicMedia.TV and Scoop.co.nz.
US Election Integrity IV with Scoop's Alastair Thompson - Part 1
By Joan Brunwasser
Election Integrity Ed., OpEdNews
First Published at OpEdNews - July 7, 2009
Welcome to OpEdNews, Alastair. You're an unknown quantity to many of our American readers. Yet your creation, Scoop.co.nz, been around for over ten years. Can you describe what Scoop is and what you do?
Joan, it's a pleasure to be answering questions about Scoop here on OpEdNews. We have watched this site grow over several years to occupy a similar place to that which Scoop started to stake out when we launched in 1999
… snip …
And, (and this will be the bit that your readers are most interested in) we also publish free and frank commentary and some press releases from around the world. In this area of publication, we concentrate on stories which are either being ignored in the mainstream or which are receiveing insufficient attention. Our US coverage for example has concentrated on subjects like: the lies that started the Iraq war, corporate malfeasance and criminality, impeachment, unanswered questions in the official 911 narrative, and the weaknesses in the US election system - particularly in relation to electronic voting machine vulnerablities.
How did you become interested in examining the underbelly of American elections?
Through 2002, we had been following the drumbeats to war and publishing dissident views on the subject. Perhaps because of our coverage of that and issues like Unanswered Questions we were added to the press release distribution list of BlackBoxVoting.org founder and director Bev Harris.
In October 2002, we published a press release "Republicans Make the US Elections Voting Machines" from Bev Harris.
On the eve of the 2002 midterm elections, ES&S demanded removal of the article "Voting Machine Company Demands Removal Of Articles". We did not comply and instead published several more releases from Bev Harris.
On 12 November a week after the midterms, I personally decided to look a bit deeper into the record and published "American Coup: Mid-Term Election Polls vs Actuals" a report which found a pattern of inconsistencies around the critical senate and gubernatorial races which occurred in that election round.
That article, and several of the Bev Harris releases, were picked up by several big US websites - notably by Mark Karlin at Buzzflash.com and achieved very high levels of traffic. Little did we realize what was to come next.
Don't stop there, Alastair.
Well, the first thing that happened is that the story was hard to get traction around. Not only was it hard to get anyone to report anything about the subject, but criticism for us daring to attack the credibility of election results came thick and fast. But there was also considerable support. It was a fun time.
William Rivers Pitt was one of the first off the blocks to touch on the subject and Faun Otter had already written on it. Scoop started following the story closely and publishing anything we could find.
Then, in February 2003, we had a breakthrough - Bev Harris found an open FTP site with all the source code to the Diebold voting machines. These reports were closely followed by a report in the Guardian Newspaper and this fantastic report out of Baltimore. Salon's Farhad Manjoo joined the beat a few days later.
Scoop was rapidly becoming a clearing house for information on this new and fascinating area of inquiry. Bev Harris was telling me she was onto some really big material, (she rang to tell me) but then went a bit quiet. In March, elements of the Democratic Party finally woke up to what was going on.
But the big break was still ahead - it was to do with the breakthrough in February and the cache of Diebold source files.
Let's pause here, Alastair. Our readers are invited to join us shortly for the second part of this interview.
At the end of part one of our interview, you left off with Bev Harris's breakthrough discovery about Diebold. Please don't leave us hanging, Alastair!
In June 2003, (after the war started) Bev contacted me by phone. She had been trying valiantly to get computer scientists to look at the source code she had uncovered with no success. She was also becoming a little concerned for her own safety. Her own inquiries into the source code had confirmed that the machines and tabulators were foolishly hackable but getting someone official on the record to say so was proving impossible. Most scientists were afraid that if they broke the easily cracked zip passwords on some of the files they would be opening themselves up to felony prosecution under the DMCA
We decided to proceed to publish Bev's findings as they stood.
On July 8 2003 we did so in a one-two punch. First up was my commentary on Bev's findings "Bigger Than Watergate" and then, seven minutes later, Bev's expose report "Inside a US Election Vote Counting Program" which explained in detail just how easy it is to hack a US election without being detected, if you have access to the tabulation computer.
In the first story, a link was also published to a copy of the cache of Diebold source files data.
Over the next few days, the story went ballistic. It was linked off of Slashdot.org and copies of both stories were posted on hundreds of websites across the US and the world - including Buzzflash.com and Whatreallyhappened.org. It was even translated into German and Robert Cringely of PBS picked it up.
Meanwhile, the cache of data files was downloaded hundreds of times - often by military computers - but most importantly by a group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University. And on July 25, they published their report, "Analysis of an Electronic Voting System."The source of the files they used is acknowledged in the footnotes.
The academic paper which examined the vulnerabilities of Diebold's touchscreen software was reported in the New York Times, "Computer Voting is Open to Easy Fraud, Experts Say" and suddenly it was game on . (You can see just how widely the NYT story was picked up here.)
I then introduced myself to the election reform crew at the Democratic Underground which was then the clubhouse for the team researching this stuff, and we prepared to do battle to get something done about this mess.
Well, having worked the election integrity beat since 2005, I'm not so confident that we've actually made much progress over the years. Media exposure is an important first step. But we're still working toward getting widespread recognition of the dangers of computerized voting to democratic values. What progress can you point to?
Actually, knowledge is only a small part of the solution, and, since 2002, we have seen three sets of compromised elections.
And probably most sad of all - nothing concrete is being done even now - and given the track record of the election fraudsters, I would fully expect the 2010 midterms to be compromised.
And when you realise that the corrupt election system is also being used to run primary races, you may quickly figure out why even with control of the House and the Senate, Obama is finding it tough going getting his agenda in place.
In the aftermath of the original revelations of 2003, I expected there to be significant and rapid moves to fix the problems. But precisely the opposite happened - election officials dug in and defended their machines - they called the election integrity movement names and attempted to sideline us.
Meanwhile, the media were little better, and even after the 2004 election, they were poking the borax - though at least then they did in fact report the idea of stolen elections on the front pages.
Unfortunately, politicians and naysayers have persistently maintained the view that unless there is a smoking gun they will not believe what they want not to believe.
The tragedy is that there is a smoking gun - one that emerged in the aftermath of the events described above.
After the source code leak, two more sets of leaks followed in the summer of 2003. First, the Diebold memos (made famous by the Swarthmore College civil disobedience action). These memos contained some interesting additional information about the Volusia County incident in the 2000 election.
In October 2003, I published my version of this story "Diebold Memos Disclose Florida 2000 E-Voting Fraud" based on information provided by Bev Harris. Bev's version of the same story can be found in her book on the subject.
This story proves election fraud has happened.
The timing, scale and nature of the discrepancy is such that it unquestionably played a part in the premature award of the 2000 election to George Bush by network news anchors on election night. It cannot be explained by any other credible explanation except computer hacking. It is the smoking gun.
Thank you, Alastair. We'll pause here with the smoking gun. When we come back, we'll talk about the 2004 presidential election, online independents, Scoop's mission statement, and the stable of Americans that write for Scoop. I hope you'll join us.
Interview Continuing at OPED News Over The Next Few Days….
NOTE: The interview has three more parts to come and features a few more well known names from around here and the Election Reform Discussion Forum.
Jubilee - Halve The Debt!
By C.D. Sludge
In this edition:
1 - Jubilee
2 - The Debt Bubble
3 - The Beauty Of Simplicity - Lets Just Halve The Debt
4 - What The Bursting Of A Debt Bubble Means
5 - So Why Not Just Halve The Debt? The Paradox Of Money Supply
6 - How To Halve The Debt
7 - The Folly Of Picking Winners
8 - Resolving The Crisis Of Confidence
9 - The New Zealand Situation - We Don't Really Need This Solution - Yet
10 - The Global Perspective - This Would Need To Be Global
11 - And Finally… A Developing World Perspective On Jubilee
In ancient Babylon the concept of Jubilee involved the regular cancellation of debt - Wikipedia explains it thus:
These Babylonian kings occasionally issued decrees for the cancellation of debts and/or the return of the people to the lands they had sold. Such "clean slate" decrees were intended to redress the tendency of debtors, in ancient societies, to become hopelessly in debt to their creditors, thus accumulating most of the arable land into the control of a wealthy few.
Sound at all familiar?
The Debt Bubble
The current debt crisis is often referred to as a debt bubble. The trouble with bubbles of course being that they burst, as this one has now.
Several thousand years ago they had a solution to this - to burst the bubble regularly in a manner which was predictable. These days however we seem to think that when the bubble builds and then bursts we should just accept that it is now a time for universal suffering. Perhaps we even think that we deserve it.
With the benefit of hindsight clearly this crisis has been caused by a failure of both the system and of human behaviour. Personal greed (particularly by the property owning baby boomers) and a willingness to believe that it will always be jam today (especially in the developed world) are indeed partly to blame.
However we should also not forget that the economic system is a product of human ingenuity. We created it and we are its masters. It ought not be our master. How can something entirely of human construct be so much more destructive than the worst hurricane.
For now however we appear to be completely in its thrall.
All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot stick the banking system together again.
So far as the global crisis is concerned nothing that has been done over the past six months appears to be having any effect.
The Beauty Of Simplicity - Lets Just Halve The Debt
The beauty of the idea of Jubilee debt cancellation is that it is very simple.
And money is also relatively simple - even if not well understood.
Money is created when it is borrowed. Money is then destroyed when it is paid back or when debt is written off.
So if we were to collectively cancel a very large amount of debt - by way of a Jubilee - we would simply destroy a lot of money a great deal faster than the current (very painful and unmanageable) process does.
Importantly we would also do so in a manner which is transparent, fair and comprehensible. These characteristics are of course the opposite of the characteristics of the current machinations of central banks and Government treasuries.
What The Bursting Of A Debt Bubble Means
The problem we face at present with the bursting debt bubble is that the amount of debt owed to our banks now exceeds the value of the assets it has been lent against - our houses, our businesses and our countries.
And in the case of the present crisis - i.e. the bursting of a debt bubble of monumental size - a 50% debt cancellation would effectively just turn back the clock to the 1990s.
Which is not even very far.
Think about your personal situation for a minute.
Many houses and companies and countries are now worth less than 50% of what they were only a few months ago. However many of those same assets are now worth previsely what they were just 10 years ago.
Halving the debt would simply give all of these households, companies and countries a fighting chance again. It would be like turning back the clock.
Personally in the 1990s I had a mortgage of $120,000, now I have a mortgage of $260,000. While I am earning more than I was back then, I am not earning that much more and the minimum wage has barely moved.
The balance sheets of a huge number of households, companies, and countries around the world are exactly the same. Halving the debt would not actually be that big a move.
So what would be the economic effect of such a measure?
Or put another way - is there a reason that this superficially attractive solution is actually a dopey idea with no merit at all?
So Why Not Just Halve The Debt? The Paradox Of Money Supply
In answer to this question the first thing you need to do is be wary of the language of debt.
Currently if you read the newspaper, listen to the radio, listen to politicians on the TV or read the economist everybody is telling you the same paradoxically stupid thing.
UK PM Gordon Brown tells his people that his government should not let its industry crumble - rather the Government should "borrow" to get themselves through the crisis.
In the Economist you read that several Eastern European countries are facing the need to borrow up to 20% of their GDP in order to finance their expected fiscal deficits.
Here in New Zealand Dr Alan Bollard told us only yesterday that New Zealand is an "externally financed country" and hence has to keep international bankers happy.
Of course there is an element of truth to all of this. Banking is international and for some reason we have for most of the past five decades out-sourced much of the credit creation in the world to the Americans, The Japanese, The Chinese and the Germans.
However borrowing when talked about by banks and borrowing when talked about by humans is not the same thing.
And right now when all of the major economies (and all of their banks) are also screwed the idea of "borrowing" more money from them makes not a great deal of sense.
If there is someone out there with a few $trillion to lend us all then how come nobody knows where he lives? Why haven't we asked him to bail us out already?
This is not to say that bank debt creation through lending is a bad thing. Nor that this is not what would immediately start happening again once half the debt gets cancelled. That is precisely what would happen and that is why we would do it.
However lets hope that on the way to understanding how we can halve the debt without making the sky fall on our heads we may more widely understand that it is wrong to think - as many people do - that they have borrowed the money for their overseas trip from some Chinese peasants savings scheme.
The truth is that this is not the way the money system works.
How exactly it does work is a question that everybody should be asking their bankers and not one which is worth explaining right now.
However it is worth explaining how a debt cancellation programme might work and what its effects would be.
How To Halve The Debt
Well for starters you would concentrate on bank created debt and bank created and issued paper.
It would not be desirable to halve the debts owed by banks to their retail depositors nor to halve the debts owed to truly deposit financed institutions like credit unions and finance companies. Some special mechanism might be required for these kinds of debt - however as they are such a tiny fraction of total debt this would not be too difficult.
Superannuation fund owned commercial paper however could be halved as could all bank paper and all debts owed to banks including mortgages, personal loans and credit card balances.
Super funds might think this disastrous but on the flip side while their paper debt holdings would be halved - the likelihood of this paper turning into paper would be a great deal less. And their investments in equities - now completely illiquid and rapidly looking like vapourware - would suddenly have growth potential.
You might also think that halving bank debt would inevitably require a halving of deposits - but it would not do so.
Deposits are not equal to bank lending (hence the reference above to Chinese peasant savings). Under the fractional reserve banking system banks are allowed to lend 10 times (and often even more) what they take in in deposits.
This is why some banks in NZ are currently offering 6% on term deposits while the official cash interest rate is 3%.
Right now deposits are like gold.
And when it comes to a halving of bank debt - maintaining the value of both deposits, bank capital and bank equity is the trump card.
The reason banks are currently falling over like flies and shifting all their risk to us taxpayers is that their "debt financed lending" - i.e. the money they created and lent to the guy in the string vest in the everglades is being written off. And when it is written off bank reserve rations fall and they are prevented from lending new money. And this is precisely what they are currently doing.
This is a vicious cycle which further damages the economy, asset values and ultimately leads to further writeoffs.
However if banks and bank depositors are allowed to keep their deposits and their capital (and their shareholders equity - which is presently heading towards zero) - but have their debt halved instantaneously - then their balance sheets suddenly improve dramatically.
Suddenly the 50% drop in the value of some of the securities they have lent against is manageable. The unimaginable writeoffs that they cannot imagine have been implemented (through the halving of the debt) and they can get back into the business of lending again.
In the meantime there is suddenly no more need for us taxpayers to take both the risk and the responsibility of trying to put the smashed credit machine back together again.
Some banks may still fail. But these will only be the truly stupid ones. Healthy businesses, families and countries will be back in business.
And this leads to one of two particularly attractive aspects around the idea of halving the debt.
The Folly Of Picking Winners
As previously mentioned the current response to the credit crisis is being driven by on the one hand central bankers, and on the other hand Government treasury departments.
These institutions are full of economically literate people who know that one of the worst possible things that can happen in a crisis like this is for them to be given the responsibility for deciding which businesses to support and which to allow to fail.
The reasons for this are well understood.
Adam Smith's invisible hand is obviously not always effective - but it is certainly better than Stalin's or Mao's or Hitler's or Kim Jong Il's, or Pharaoh's.
Central control of investment allocation and decisions carries with it moral hazards which we know from painful historical lessons that we do not want to repeat.
But how can a treasury department spending 3 trillion dollars - like the US Treasury has just done - do so in a way that does not pick winners? How can Barack Obama avoid becoming Pharaoh?
At present the institutions are trying to accomplish this by keeping themselves at arms length.
They talk about creating bad banks, about taking over ownership of banks, but of still allowing them to operate independently. They are trying their best not to take over decision making - but it is very very hard. And also very very frustrating as unsurprisingly many good bankers do not want to lend to anyone in the current situation.
But then there is avarice, greed and opportunity, and rewarding failure.
When faced with a system which effectively involves writing government cheques with lots and lots and lots of zeros on them - how can any government run system possibly stop the money being stolen.
When the US invaded Iraq organised criminals - corporate ones - stole millions from the US Treasury. What do we think is happening now when 10 times the sum of money is up for grabs.
And this aspect of the problem of bailouts has a very nasty twist in its tail.
As taxpayers we are financing a bailout architecture which is inevitably rewarding the very same financial criminals and fraudsters who made so much money as the balloon went up. Now they are making even more as it falls.
Sure some very smart people lost a bundle in all of this - but some even smarter ones are making a fortune as Rome burns. This is how humanity works.
And this is the opposite of Jubilee.
Rather than returning society close to some equilibrium - even more power and wealth is being concentrated into an even smaller number of individuals.
By contrast simply halving the debt as a global response to the crisis would simply eliminate all of the above problem. No real decisions need be made except to proceed. What then happens happens.
Some individuals, businesses, banks and countries would still be too indebted after having their debt halved to survive.
The market would be allowed to go back to doing what it does best, finding the places where resources ought to be invested.
Meanwhile the central bankers and treasurers would get back to what they really need to do after this crisis - establish a new order in banking which prevents the catastrophic misallocation of resources which has occurred over the past decade.
Resolving The Crisis Of Confidence
The second arm to the current crisis, the first being the broken banking system, is a crisis in business and consumer confidence.
Unsurprisingly everyone the world over is feeling like shit. Even if people understand what is going on they see no way out.
How many people really believe that the bankers, politicians and economics boffins know a way out of this crisis? Do you?
Faced with these conditions everybody is choosing to dig in, hunker down. We are all saving our pennies. Putting off the TV, car, fridge, holiday purchase and instead planting vege gardens and scooters.
Now some of this stuff is good - and hopefully we will keep doing it after things improve.
But some of it is not so good - a contracting economy in which nobody is spending will die from lack of oxygen. In addition to putting off TV purchases people are not going to the dentist, not insulating their houses and eating cheap junk food.
In order for this crisis to be resolved we need to fix the banking system and also re-inject confidence into the body politics.
Given the current state of morale something big is required. Something bold. Something which people can understand and something which genuinely will get them out spending again - even if it's just on a new rotary hoe for an urban artichoke farm.
Again speaking personally I can think of nothing more confidence enhancing than having my mortgage payments and credit card bills halved.
The New Zealand Situation - We Don't Really Need This Solution - Yet
NZ;s Reserve Bank Governor Dr Alan Bollard informed us at yesterday's economic briefing that the NZ economy is expected to only spend six quarters in recession.
Since this recession started at the beginning of 2008 - this means NZ could be growing again by June.
Which would be great. And I sincerely hope it is true.
It is true that New Zealand is not suffering this global crisis as hard as most of the rest of the world. Here in godzone we are missing three things that most of our wealthy trading partners possess 1) a manufacturing industry and 2) a financial services industry and 3) any real savings base.
Meanwhile most of our sharemarket is owned offshore so even those punishing losses have not been felt at home.
NZ basically lives off of tourism, the cow's udder and other parts of natures bounty - agricultural exports. At present the one thing which is (so far) surviving the credit crisis intact is commodity prices. NZ in-bound tourism is also holding up remarkably well - so far.
However if we in NZ believe that because everybody needs to eat then they will always want to pay good $$$ for our meat and dairy we may find ourselves mistaken.
In the end it depends how bad things get and prices of food can fall a lot further. And with a catastrophic collapse in global trade, lending and falls in asset values of an order not seen since 1929 we would be very foolish to rest on our laurels.
Ultimately NZ prosperity is dependent on global prosperity and global prosperity is not looking too rosy.
The Global Perspective - This Would Need To Be Global
The idea of halving the debt is not a domestic policy. Clearly the banking system is now global and the solution of halving the debt is one which also - by definition - would have to be global.
It is unlikely however that a solution like this will be embraced by the global financial institutions who are controlled and run by bankers. While this idea is arguably in their interests they may not see it that way.
Rather this is a political solution and if it is to fly then it will need wide dissemination.
So get emailing your friends in foreign places. Twitter the idea. Talk about it around the canteen.
Note also that this article is not copyright and is free to be taken, rehashed, translated, misused and abused in any manner anyone likes anywhere they choose.
And Finally… A Developing World Perspective On Jubilee
The developing world has been calling out for debt forgiveness for decades. The cry of the poor has fallen on deaf ears in the banks of the West and the North.
An obscene proportion of the world's people live on less than one US Dollar a day and that number is now climbing rapidly.
While we in the developed world fear for our jobs and watch our paychecks being cut we at least still have some hope.
Our children may not be able to get jobs, but they can go to school while we all wait for things to get better. For many of us a worst case scenario means fewer fancy electronics, no foreign holidays s and more time in the garden.
And so for us halving the debt may seem a step too far.
But inevitably in an economic crisis of the kind that is currently hitting the world - those who are most affected are those at the bottom of the heap.
Aid agencies are already talking of donations drying up. Government aid budgets are being cut or redirected towards domestic demands - and what is already a catastrophe for half of the world's population is rapidly getting worse.
And ultimately a combination of hungry starving people and climate change will have very unpleasant consequences for us all, deteriorating security, environmental degradation, plague, war.
As the crisis deepens the sense of powerlessness we have begun to feel will take a hold of what remains of our ability to determine our own destiny.
And so for the sake of the weakest among us - as well as for ourselves - we need to find a solution to this crisis, and we need to do so fast.
Please KnR this thread if you agree with these organisations....
Is it time to end the US punishment of Cuba? If it is then let us send President Elect Obama a message.
13 US Organizations Ask President-Elect Obama to Lift Policies Against Cuba
HAVANA, Cuba, Dec 10 (acn) Thirteen organizations including academic, business, humanitarian, and advocacy groups in the United States joined to send a letter to President-elect Obama asking him to lift policies toward Cuba that limit people-to-people exchanges, family travel, and remittances.
A report posted at the Association of International Educators's website (NAFSA), (www.nafsa.org/cubaletter )
Organizaciones Estadounidenses Solicitan Fin de Restricciones de Viajes a Cuba
Cuban News Agency
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
Latin America Working Group
Social Science Research Council
American Friends Service Committee
Latin American Studies Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Church World Service
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
National Foreign Trade Council
Washington Office on Latin America
December 8, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama
233 N. Michigan Avenue, #1720
Chicago, IL 60601
Dear President-elect Obama:
We congratulate you on your historic election victory and look forward to working with you and your administration next year.
We are writing on an issue of great concern to members of our various communities – U.S. policy towards Cuba. We believe that changes made by the Bush administration in 2003 and 2004 have not had their intended effect and have been counterproductive in terms of helping the Cuban people.
In particular we ask you to address at an early date certain executive branch amendments to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and strongly urge you to consider their early repeal. The amendments were published in the Federal Register on March 24, 2003 (FR Doc. 03–6808), and June 16, 2004 (FR Doc. 04-13630). The provisions of concern imposed new restrictions on academic and family travel, and on remittances, to Cuba. Repeal of these regulations would restore travel and remittances to the island and reverse policies that isolate American students and other citizens from the Cuban people.
Specifically, academic and people-to-people exchange with Cuba has been decimated by the prohibition of the following activities. We recommend restoring the availability of licenses for:
- short-term study and teaching in Cuba;
- study in Cuba under third-party programs—i.e., programs other than those of degree-granting higher education institutions;
- study in Cuba under programs other than those of the institution in which the student is enrolled;
- academic travel to Cuba by any bona fide professor or researcher, including adjunct faculty;
- people-to-people, cultural and sports exchanges unrelated to academic coursework; and
- programs of secondary schools for study in Cuba.
As well, we ask that you rescind the 2004 restrictions on family visits to Cuba, on the amount of money that family visitors can spend while in Cuba, on cash remittances to Cuba, and on the personal baggage of travelers to Cuba.
An important parallel move is to again make visas available for Cuban scholars, religious leaders, cultural and sports figures, and others to participate in academic conferences and events, religious and cultural activities, and other forms of people-to-people exchange, and to conduct research in the United States.
In making the above changes, we hope you consider minor amendments to the CACR to permit travel to Cuba by all eligible persons via a general license rather than requiring specific license applications. This would allow the Treasury Department to focus on keeping the United States safe rather than on administering routine licenses to Cuban Americans, academic institutions, church groups, athletes, and members of the press who wish to travel there legally.
Finally, we urge you and your administration to work with Congress to reexamine U.S. policy more broadly. Complete repeal of travel restrictions would allow all U.S. citizens to engage with the Cuban people. Repeal would also take a burden off of the Departments of the Treasury and Homeland Security, which could put the resources that are now used to administer and enforce prohibitions on travel by U.S. citizens toward investigating transactions that actually endanger U.S. security.
By immediately taking steps to rescind the 2003-2004 regulations, you will send a clear and welcome signal of change and reverse actions that have proven counterproductive to our shared goal of assisting the Cuban people. Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
American Association of State Colleges and Universities
Latin America Working Group
Social Science Research Council
American Friends Service Committee
Latin American Studies Association
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Church World Service
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
National Foreign Trade Council
Washington Office on Latin America
He was a great bloke. I spoke to him a couple of times by phone..... was a shame what happened at the end but he has become something of a rallying point for us all and he would be very proud about that.
Posted by althecat in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Fri Oct 31st 2008, 12:29 AM
Dear DU GDP,
Gordon Campbell - Scoop's political editor and a leading NZ political journalist weighs in on the US Vote casting and counting issue in the run up to the NZ election - which is being held November 8th.
We are leading with this on Scoop Independent News now..
This is a story of some significance in the NZ news environment.
p.s. Please Knr this if you like it..... it means a lot....
Posted by althecat in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Oct 25th 2008, 06:29 PM
Posted by althecat in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat Oct 18th 2008, 04:52 AM
Today the greatest list has several entries relating to Greg Palast and RFK Jnrs article with the headline "ITS STOLEN ALREADY". In many of those threads DUers have popped up complaining that Palast has gone too far - that such talk is demoralising - some have even gone so far as to accuse Palast of wanting Obama to lose.
What follows is a response to that sentiment. It is needed because even after six long years of talking about this stuff some people still seem to think this is tinfoil.
Obvioysly it is alarming what Greg Palast and RFK Jnr is saying and I hope everybody is alarmed. It is time to open your eyes.
The very same media that has been telling you that the voting machine story is oveblown since 2003 has also been telling you - since 2003 - that the housing bubble was sustainable and that selling variable rate mortgages to poor people was a good idea. It is high time that people woke up and realised that they are being lied to by the people that they trust.
Palast and RFK Jnrs story is a warning.
It is one which is being delivered as clearly as it possibly can by two of the smartest people in the room in one of the best magazines in the world. They are not just telling people whats going on. They comic is all about empowering people to do something about it.
This story is being told somewhat shrilly perhaps - but it needs to be. And hopefully THIS TIME the election integrity movement has finally got the ear of the US Public. Because this is a message that needs to be heard. In the past the likes of Daily Kos has banned discussion of election fraud, hopefully those days are now over.
ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT ELECTION STEALING IS NOT AN ISSUE THIS ELECTION BECAUSE THE PUBLIC WILL IS CERTAIN TO OVERCOME ANY THEFT EFFORT IS A FOOL
Harsh words. Yes.
Intended to arouse strong emotions. Yes.
THIS MESSAGE IS LOUD BECAUSE IT NEEDS TO BE LOUD
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
What the hell - let's have a post for North Carolina!
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, DU 2!
Any fellow Texans still here?
Getting kinda lonely in these here parts.....
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Would answer your posts but all I get
By Leopolds Ghost
Can't find half the threads on DU2 :P
By Leopolds Ghost
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
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