Sparky: Even More to Ponder — It's critical that even though it looks as if the Red state zombies are giving up we vote the GOP bastards out even if the Diebold Election Systems's polling machines are rigged ...
Please watch the documentary Hacking Democracy on HBO. I just watched it, it was first on two days ago, but I missed it then. It tells the story ... read more
Case in point: DES claims its systems provide strong immunity to ballot tampering and other vote rigging attempts. These claims have been challenged, notably by Bev Harris on her website, Blackboxvoting.org, and book by the same name. Harris and C. D. Sludge, an Internet journalist, both claim there is also evidence that the Diebold systems have been exploited to tamper with American elections — a claim Harris expands in her book Black Box Voting.Votewatch for evidence that suggests a pattern of compromised voting machine exploits throughout the 1990s, and specifically involving the Diebold machines in the 2002 election. DES has also come under fire for the recent discovery that the Diebold voting machines do not and did not in 2004 meet the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) error standard. Sludge further cites
The controversy regarding electronic voting machines is related to a larger debate concerning the relative merits of open source and proprietary security products. Advocates of the open source model say that systems are more secure when anyone can view the underlying software code, identify bugs and make peer-reviewed changes. Advocates of proprietary systems claim that so-called black box systems are more secure because potential weaknesses are hidden.
Avi Rubin, Professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute has analyzed the source code used in these voting machines and reports "this voting system is far below even the most minimal security standards applicable in other contexts."  Following the publication of this paper, the State of Maryland hired Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to perform another analysis of the Diebold voting machines. SAIC concluded “[t]he system, as implemented in policy, procedure, and technology, is at high risk of compromise.” 
In June 2005, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that when given access to Diebold vote-counting computers, Bev Harris- a critic of Diebold's voting machines - was able to make 65,000 votes disappear simply by changing the memory card that stores voting results for one that had been altered. Although the machines are supposed to record changes to data stored in the system, they showed no record of tampering after the memory cards were swapped. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of State said that, "Information on a blog site is not viable or credible." 
In early 2006 the Diebold Election Systems subsidiary came under considerable fire from alternate media sources for creating voting systems without reasonable auditing, no paper trail, security holes, and software bugs. The attention negatively affected Diebold stock (though elections are only a small part of their business) and triggered investigations in several states after insiders revealed irregular practices in Diebold's election division. Diebold was the first major vendor to experience a serious backlash from poor quality, service and preparation in the election industry, and condemnation of Diebold helped to focus attention on other vendors (ES&S). According to Avi Rubin, the Johns Hopkins University computer science professor who first identified flaws in the technology in 2003, the machines are "much, much easier to attack than anything we've previously said... On a scale of one to 10, if the problems we found before were a six, this is a 10. It's a totally different ballgame." According to Rubin, the system is intentionally designed so that anyone with access can update the machine software, without a pass code or other security protocol. Diebold officials said that although any problem can be avoided by keeping a close watch on the machines, they are developing a fix.  Michael I. Shamos, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who is a proponent of electronic voting and the examiner of electronic voting systems for Pennsylvania, stated "It's the most severe security flaw ever discovered in a voting system." Douglas W. Jones, a professor of computer science at the University of Iowa, stated "This is the barn door being wide open, while people were arguing over the lock on the front door." Diebold spokesman David Bear decried the seriousness of the situation, asserting that "For there to be a problem here, you're basically assuming a premise where you have some evil and nefarious election officials who would sneak in and introduce a piece of software. I don't believe these evil elections people exist."
On 31 July 2006 the Open Voting Foundation released a press release which explains, with photographs, how to open the case with a screwdriver and alter the boot configuration of the Diebold TS so as to boot from EPROM, on-board flash memory or external flash memory. The implication is that a previously tested and certified machine could be booted using an unauthorised boot profile, and that such a boot profile could be activated with relatively little technical expertise. 
On November 2, 2006, HBO premiered a documentary entitled "Hacking Democracy", concerning the vulnerability of electronic voting machines (primarily Diebold) to hacking and inaccurate vote totals. The company attempted to block the documentary prior to its broadcast, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Colorado Springs' New Life Church just announced that it has fired Pastor Ted Haggard for his "sexually immoral conduct." The much publicized meth and gay hooker scandal has elicited a little bit of soul searching and a lot hemming and hawing from Haggard's fellow Evangelical leaders, but perhaps the most ridiculous response came yesterday from Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hills mega-church-wannabe.
Writing in his personal blog, Driscoll offers his fellow pastors "some practical suggestions" on how to avoid the type of temptation that consumed Pastor Haggard. And near the top of his list?
"Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors' wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband's sin, but she may not be helping him either."
Uh-huh. Leave it to a fundamentalist Evangelical preacher to have such a profound understanding of human sexuality. Or as the inimitable sex columnist Dan Savage so aptly put it:
"I'm sure Ted Haggard is saying something along these lines to his wife right now: 'Oh, honey... I wouldn't have been having those meth-fueled ass-banging sessions with that gay hooker if you hadn't have let yourself go like that!' "
Of course, using Pastor Driscoll's line of reasoning one would suppose about two-thirds of married, middle-aged Americans -- men and women alike -- to be meth-addicted homosexuals. Hmm. I haven't looked at the statistics recently, but that figure strikes me as just a tad high... at least, outside of Colorado Springs.
But scroll further down Pastor Driscoll's list and you'll find some more useful suggestions on how to avoid temptation. Like a pastor should never travel alone, or freely give out his cell phone number, or hang out at places where he might come in contact with "lonely people"... you know... like at his own church. Pastor Driscoll also advises against keeping "a secondary email account from which to build a secret identity." Personally, it never occurred to me to create a secret identity, but I suppose the prospect must have some appeal to joyless, rigidly moral, puritanical hypocrites like Pastor Driscoll and his colleagues.
But mostly what I've learned from Pastor Driscoll's sage advice is that becoming a pastor is a great way to meet women. (And men, I guess.) Apparently, the ladies think pastors are hot:
"I have, however, seen some very overt opportunities for sin. On one occasion I actually had a young woman put a note into my shirt pocket while I was serving communion with my wife, asking me to have dinner, a massage, and sex with her. On another occasion a young woman emailed me a photo of herself topless and wanted to know if I liked her body. Thankfully, that email was intercepted by an assistant and never got to me."
Pastor Driscoll has been "blessed with a trustworthy heterosexual male assistant," and I'm sure he was equally thankful to intercept that scandalous email. Praise the Lord.
Wow. Mega-church preachers are like rock stars -- there's sexual temptation lying behind every pew. With office perks like that, even a secular Jew like myself might consider becoming an Evangelical preacher, except, unlike Pastor Driscoll, I'm not into all that kinky stuff:
"How can we proclaim that we are new creations in Christ if we continually return to lap up the vomit of our old way of life?"
If I ever find myself alone in a room with Pastor Driscoll, remind me to stay off the meth.
The following is a letter sent out today by New Life Church:
Dear New Lifers and friends of New Life Church,
This is the press release from the Board of Overseers that will be released to the media this afternoon. We want you to know first what the actions of the overseers are going to be.
Please continue to pray for Pastor Ted and his family and let's all continue to stand strong together for the kingdom of God. We will get through this together. Remember, New Life Church has never been a man, or a building or anything else--we are a family.
Pastor Ross (Parsley)
November 4, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Life Church
Colorado Springs, Colorado
We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.
The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has "demonstrated immoral conduct" whether we must "remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary."
In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal. In addition, the Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard's offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.
Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.
That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with full support of the Overseers.
A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life Church.
The gay prostitute at the center of the scandal over Evangelican leader Rev. Ted Haggard appears here in an ad promoting his services.
More pictures can be seen here, on his personal website, which boasts, "I offer a deep tissue and swedish style massage with the pleasure of the man in mind. If you like a strong muscle man to bring pleasure to you then please call me." The personal site also lists Jones' rates at:
"In calls at my place in Capitol Hill of Denver: $70.00 per hour $90.00 1 1/2 hrs.
Out calls start at $100.00."
Ad clip from towleroad.
From The New York Times:
Joe Gaylord, who was the political lieutenant to Newt Gingrich when he led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, said that based on polling he had seen in recent weeks, he expected his party to lose 25 to 30 seats on Tuesday. That general assessment was repeatedly echoed in interviews with Republicans close to the White House.
"It's very grim," Mr. Gaylord said. "Things are dreadful out there."Read entire article here.
On this day...
- 1605 - The Gunpowder Plot: Thomas Knyvet arrested explosives expert Guy Fawkes and foiled Robert Catesby's plot to destroy the Houses of Parliament in London, England.
- 1688 - Glorious Revolution: Protestant Prince William of Orange landed at Brixham in Devon, on his way to depose his father-in-law King James II, the last Catholic monarch of England.
- 1838 - The collapse of the United Provinces of Central America began with Nicaragua seceding from the federation.
- 1872 - Suffragette Susan B. Anthony (pictured) voted in the U.S. presidential election for the first time. She was later fined $100 for her participation.
- 1917 - St. Tikhon of Moscow was elected Patriarch of Moscow and of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Idiots don't get it - violence only invites more violence. Israelis have video of the 'women' shooting their human shields. Ain't that gratitude for you?
November 4, 2006
Three Hamas terrorists, including Luaye al-Burnu, a local official in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, were among over 17 dead as a result of Israeli assaults in Gaza. Two women were gunned down by Israeli soldiers who opened fire on a crowd that had formed in front of a mosque in which the Hamas men had taken refuge. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya praised the women, but the Israelis said they had served as "human shields" for the resistance militia. Palestinian officials have termed the Israeli attacks "massacres".
The incident occured when the local womenfolk were asked, on radio, to intervene in the tense standoff between the Israeli troops and about 15 Hamas fighters in the mosque. One lady, Nahed Abou Harbiya, told the BBC Arabic Service that the men were given womens' clothes so that they could escape.
"All the women headed to the mosque to get the Palestinian resistance men... But the Israeli occupation forces were firing heavily at us with their machine guns and also threw stun grenades at us. "We entered the mosque and indeed we got all the resistance men out and put female attire on them so that the Israeli occupation forces wouldn't arrest them," she said.
The firing began as the women approached the Israeli gunmen, injuring 10 people, including one Palestinian camerman. Hamas radio reported that all 15 men had escaped safely.
Palestinian doctors confirmed that seven people died as a result of Israeli air raids in Beit Hanoun. A spokesman for Israel's military stated that five towns-Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, Jabaliya and Rafah had been targetted. An Israeli official claimed that the attacks were aimed at "suspected Palestinian militants who were planting explosives or who had carried out rocket attacks."
A Hamas official said that the "militants had been involved in manufacturing rockets that were to be fired at Israel." About 30 people, including some gunmen and a four-year-old child have been killed by Israeli attacks in Beit Hanoun. Israeli human rights group B'Tselem says over 300 Palestinians have been killed by attacks carried out by Israel following the capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit on 25 June this year.
- "Israel targets Hamas men in Gaza". BBC News Online, November 4, 2006
- "Hamas fighter killed in air strike". Al-Jazeera, November 4, 2006
- Nidal al-Mughrabi "Palestinian women shot dead in Gaza mosque siege". Reuters, November 4, 2006
It's the worst political environment for Republican candidates since Watergate," said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster working in many of the top races this year. Joe Gaylord, who was the political ... read more
A substantial majority of Americans expect Democrats to reduce or end American military involvement in Iraq if they win control of Congress next Tuesday, and say Republicans would maintain or ... read more
More tomorrow I suspect. - Sparky