Target Centermass

6/6/2005

Looking Around at the News

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:59 pm

Feds: Science paper a terrorist’s road map

The federal government has asked the National Academy of Sciences not to publish a research paper that feds describe as a “road map for terrorists” on how to contaminate the nation’s milk supply.

The research paper on biological terrorism, by Stanford University professor Lawrence M. Wein and graduate student Yifan Liu, provides details on how terrorists might attack the milk supply and offers suggestions on how to safeguard it.

The paper appeared briefly May 30 on a password-protected area of the National Academy of Science’s Web site.

[…]

The paper “is a road map for terrorists and publication is not in the interests of the United States,” HHS Assistant Secretary Stewart Simonson wrote in a letter to the science academy chief Dr. Bruce Alberts.

The paper gives “very detailed information on vulnerability nodes” in the milk supply chain and “includes … very precise information on the dosage of botulinum toxin needed to contaminate the milk supply to kill or injure large numbers of people,” Simonson wrote.

Obviously, more thought is needed by a great many on how not be our own worst enemy. The Information Superhighway needs a few more common sense speedtraps.

Grandmother of 80 accused of running call girls

An 80-year-old woman who shuffles around her home with a zimmer frame and an oxygen tank has been charged with running a prostitution business.

Vera Tursi ran an “escort” business from her two-bedroom flat in Lindenwold, New Jersey – taking telephone calls from clients and sending out girls to meet them.

Police said they suspected Mrs Tursi’s age when they spoke to her on the phone during an undercover operation. She could be heard catching her breath and used old-fashioned language.

In her defense, at least … well … I’ve got nothing. This is just creepy. Maybe it could be used as an argument for Social Security reform.

Election 2004: Election is finally over

Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire now has a full four-year term to finish serving as governor. For Republicans, the 2004 election is over.

For Washington voters, yesterday’s court ruling means a chance to see whether Gregoire can sustain the remarkably strong leadership she displayed during the first legislative session. There’s no reason for overconfidence: Early in his governorship, Gary Locke looked like he might be on his way toward large accomplishments and even national office.

Voters also have an opportunity to demand changes in slipshod election procedures brought to light by the examination of Gregoire’s narrow victory over Republican Dino Rossi. Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges said the “voters of this state are in a position to demand” improvements.

Rossi could have pursued an appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. That was his right, and until now, we have fully supported his exercise of legal avenues to contest the election.

After the clear ruling from a respected jurist, however, it finally came time for Rossi to order an end to the legal expense and arguments. His decision to walk away from a last-ditch fight was right. But he spoiled his moment of grace with a cheap shot, claiming the “political makeup of the Washington state Supreme Court” would not allow him to prevail on appeal.

Old-time Chicago-style pizza — good. Old-time Chicago-style politics in the state of Washington — bad. The state’s election system needs desperate work.

Man Arrested in Ariz. for Ricin Possession

A man was being held Monday on a charge of possessing the deadly poison ricin, but authorities said they do not think he had any connection to terrorism.

Casey Cutler, 25, told authorities he carried the poison in vials around his neck to use as a possible weapon, according to a criminal complaint. He said he had been attacked last year by three men while walking to his apartment, and that he intended to use the ricin in self-defense if attacked again, the complaint said.

Cutler, of Mesa, faces a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the single count of producing and possessing a deadly toxin for use as a weapon.

Might I also suggest a psych eval?

We do not need urgent reforms, says Syrian leader

Ignoring international pressure and rising domestic frustration, Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian President, failed yesterday to announce broad and imminent reforms as he opened an eagerly awaited conference of the ruling Baath party.

In an address lasting barely ten minutes, Mr Assad told the 1,250 delegates: “We are convinced the ideas and precepts of the Baath party are still of relevance and respond to the interests of the people and the nation in its desire for unity, freedom, justice and development.”

For the six Syrian opposition activists — middle-aged businessmen, engineers and former army officers — who had gathered in a smoke-filled office to watch the speech on television, Mr Assad’s address was predictable and disappointing.

“The President has no vision, no programme and said nothing about the suffering of the Syrian people,” one man, who, like his colleagues, declined to be identified, said. “That’s why I’m not optimistic that this congress will produce anything.”

Sometimes one is to close too to the water, too tied to the moment or the past to notice a shift in tides. Events in the Middle East are threatening to flood a Syria hoping to return to its domination of Lebanon and bloodily hold back history in Iraq. A two-front war against the future may well be too much for Assad. At least the terrorists of Hezbollah still like him. Speaking of which …

Hezbollah Ticket Sweeps Elections in Southern Lebanon

In the second stage of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections, a pro-Syrian coalition, led by the militant group, Hezbollah, won all 23 seats at stake in the southern region where voting was held Sunday. The results in the south were in stark contrast to the result of the previous Sunday’s voting in Beirut, where a ticket headed by the anti-Syrian opposition parties swept all the seats at stake in and around the capital.

Unsurprisingly, round two stood directly against the path of the Cedar Revolution.

5/10/2005

Voter Fraud Found in Milwaukee

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:55 pm

When there are more votes than registered voters, I feel quite free to remove the hedging “Possible” from the WaPo’s headline.

About 4,500 more ballots than registered voters were cast in the election last November in Milwaukee, investigators said Tuesday.

Also, more than 200 felons voted improperly in Milwaukee, and more than 100 instances of suspected double-voting were found.

No charges have been filed. Investigators found no widespread conspiracy, just isolated incidents, U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said.

“I don’t think there’s an election in this municipality or this state that would have been decided differently even with those numbers,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat.

Democrat John Kerry received more than 71 percent of the 277,000 ballots cast in Milwaukee in the presidential race, and he took the state of Wisconsin by about 11,000 votes.

The investigation was launched by local and federal authorities after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found, among other things, that more than 1,200 people voted from invalid addresses. The head of the city’s election commission has since resigned.

Wisconsin allows same-day registration, and those who are already registered can simply show up at the polls without ID.

Those lax election laws must certainly seem rather inviting to any wishing to steal an election or pad a few extra votes for insurance of a close victory.

Boots and Sabers‘ Owen, a Wisconsin resident living near Milwaukee, has followed the story diligently for some time now and has today’s news covered here, here and here.

5/2/2005

Repubs win Washington Gov. Election Challenge

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:25 pm

Did you think the 2004 election was over? Think again.

A judge gave Washington state Republicans a victory on Monday that kept alive their legal challenge to last November’s razor-thin election win by Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire.

Gregoire took office in January following a 129-vote margin of victory — the closest in a governor’s race in state history.

Republican candidate Dino Rossi has refused to concede the race, which he won narrowly in the first count only to lose in a later, final recount.

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges has ruled Republicans can use what is known as “proportional analysis” in their legal argument to potentially take votes away from Gregoire.

“That was a very good day in court for us,” said Mary Lane, Rossi’s spokeswoman. “If we had lost this, it would have been impossible to continue.”

The trial in the Republicans’ lawsuit is scheduled for May 23.

With the slim margin out of a total of 2.9 million votes, proportional analysis could tip the vote in either direction, since illegal votes, mostly from felons, would be subtracted from each candidate in the same proportion that votes were cast for them in each precinct.

In the count after the election, illegal votes were disallowed in a way that took an equal number from each candidate.

But in an example of proportional analysis used in court, if 10 improper votes in a precinct were found that went 60 percent for Gregoire and 40 percent for Rossi, she would lose six votes and he would lose four, instead of the votes being subtracted equally.

Paul Berendt, the Democratic Party’s state chairman, said the ruling also helped Democrats, who will be allowed to present evidence in the trial of illegal voting that helped Rossi.

Although I am extremely suspicious of Gregoire’s victory, I think it’s very safe to say that this matter is a long way from over.

1/22/2005

‘Peek’ May Not Be Worth It

Filed under: — Gunner @ 3:53 pm

After back-to-back bunglings on election day polling and state-calling, the media is taking a new look at their practices.

It wasn’t fraud, it was human error. That’s one conclusion Americans should extrapolate from a report on flawed exit polling practices during the Nov. 2 presidential election.

After President Bush’s win, some of his stunned detractors, on Internet sites and fast-circulating e-mails, immediately alleged fraud. The president’s re-election, they incorrectly charged, had to be due to shenanigans, since Election Day exit polls showed challenger John Kerry on his way to victory.

And how could the exit polls be wrong? Well, they were, apparently because many of the surveyors, particularly younger ones, ended up talking to too many Kerry supporters.

[…]

It seems they secured interviews with a disproportionate number of younger voters, who tended to vote for Kerry rather than Bush. This apparently helped to skew the polling results. To their credit, major news organizations did not use the exit polling data to make any predictions.

The exit polls, however, created confusion and skepticism. One “next time” change the research firms recommended is making certain those doing the questioning represent a wider range of ages.

Here’s a better suggestion: Just rethink the use of Election Day exit polling in general.

The 2004 presidential election was a cliffhanger. It’s hard to fault Americans for trying to sneak a “peek” at results, and the news media for trying to offer one. We all want to know who’s winning, and we want to know as soon as possible. Unfortunately, elections don’t conform to score keeping like sporting events do.

At some point, Americans and their news outlets are going to have to ask whether the angst, suspicion and embarrassment at risk are worth it. Now is as good a time as any to address the issue.

Fresh out of the ’04 campaign, I’ll be the first to say I’m sick of exit polls and, for that matter, the overkill of constant poll numbers in the months leading up to the actual voting.

11/18/2004

Study Claims E-Voting Irregularities in Florida

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:46 pm

Hey, guess what? Are you sitting down? Good. It seems some folks at UC-Berkeley apparently have issues with the presidential election results.

Voting irregularities in three Florida counties that used electronic voting machines in this month’s election may have awarded as many as 260,000 votes more to President George W. Bush than were expected, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Berkeley researchers claimed on Thursday that their findings raise questions about the accuracy of voting results in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties, all of which have more voters registered as Democrats than Republicans. According to statistical models, voters in those three counties delivered between 130,000 and 260,000 more votes to Bush than were expected by a post-election analysis, the researchers maintain.

“Something went awry with electronic voting in Florida,” says Michael Hout, a sociology professor, who led the research effort.

Hout says that the odds of the Florida irregularities happening by chance were less than 1 in 1000, and he calls for an examination of the results. “It’s like a smoke alarm and it’s beeping,” he says. “We call upon the voting officials in Florida to determine whether there’s a fire.”

The irregularities do not account for enough votes to give the state to Democratic challenger John F. Kerry, who lost to Bush in Florida by more than 377,000 votes.

The possibility of problems with e-voting was a topic much discussed before the November 2 election.

To obtain their results, the Berkeley researchers analyzed publicly available voting data from all of Florida’s counties using a technique called multiple-regression analysis, which accurately identified butterfly ballot problems in Palm Beach County during the 2000 election, Hout says.

The technique involves building a statistical model to predict voting patterns based on a number of factors, including history of voting, median family income, age, and race. Hout’s team conducted its study using data compiled from the November 2 election.

“We noticed that three counties stood out from those expectations,” Hout says. “These were counties that had a significant departure from what we would expect, statistically, given the patterns in all those other counties.”

Using their statistical model, Hout’s team forecast that Bush should have received 28,000 fewer votes in Broward County than he received there in 2000. However, Bush received 51,000 more votes than he did four years ago. In Palm Beach County, where Bush gained 41,000 votes, the Berkeley research suggested a loss of 8900 votes. For Miami-Dade County the research showed Bush should have gained 18,400 votes. In fact, he gained 37,000 votes.

The counties in question used e-voting machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software and Sequoia Voting Systems.

It seems that the factors the study was based on left out a series of intangibles that the Berkeleyites either couldn’t measure or didn’t want to face, such as 9/11 and Bush’s steady leadership since in the war against Islamist terror, an inept campaign by an irresolute Democratic candidate, and all-too-transparent media hatchet jobs, for starters.

Would their models have me, an atheist who voted for the Libertarian candidate in each of the four general elections I’ve previously been of age to vote in, now casting a ballot for President Bush? I doubt it, and it seems I’m not the only one with questions about this academic piece of work.

A spokesperson for the Information Technology Association of America, an IT vendor group, dismissed the Berkeley results, saying that the study appeared to ignore the political, social, and economic factors that affected the vote. “It is unclear to us that the technology, which is the one factor the authors appear to have focused on for this study, should be viewed as causal above the many other factors that could affect a voter’s decision,” said Charles Greenwald, an ITAA spokesperson, in an e-mail interview.

Greenwald also criticized the study for not being peer reviewed.

The Berkeley research has already been informally reviewed by academics at Harvard University, and will no doubt be scrutinized now that the results are posted on Berkeley’s Web site, Hout says. He declines to provide the names of researchers outside of Berkeley who are familiar with the results, saying they asked not to be identified.

Because there is no paper audit trail for the e-voting machines used in Florida, it may be difficult to ultimately explain the irregularities. “Our statistical approach is just about the only way we have to uncover what went on in Florida or in any other state that uses e-voting as it exists today, except Nevada where there is a paper trail,” Hout says.

The model found an even larger discrepancy when certain factors weighing the data in Bush’s favor were removed, bringing the total possible discrepancy to 260,000 votes, Hout says.

The team did not, however, find this level of irregularity in 12 other Florida counties that used e-voting machines, he says.

Hout is unable to explain why some e-voting counties would experience irregularities while others did not, but he says that the irregularities were more likely to occur in counties that voted for Democratic candidate Al Gore in 2000. “This becomes an important clue that investigators who know something about both the software and the hardware can use,” he says.

Hmmmmm … can’t explain why Bush made gains in Democratic areas? See my above comment.

The Berkeley study also appeared to debunk speculation about voting irregularities in several heavily Democratic counties that voted Republican in the 2004 election. After applying the statistical model to Dixie County and Baker County, both of which bucked party affiliations and voted overwhelmingly for Bush, Hout’s team found nothing amiss. These counties, which used paper ballots that were optically scanned, have historically voted Republican in national elections, Hout says.

Hout’s researchers also examined the election results in the hotly contested state of Ohio and found no irregularities there. “Our results do indicate that Ohio probably did get it right,” Hout says.

Look, they can’t argue the state was stolen, as their study’s questionable numbers are insufficient to alter the Florida vote. They can’t support previous allegations in Ohio. They have no evidence other than their own projections and expectations. In short, they ain’t got diddley.

This is just only another in a series of attempts to try to create an air of illegitimacy over the election, the sanctity of our republic be damned.

11/6/2004

Man Kills Self at Ground Zero

Filed under: — Gunner @ 10:57 pm

Fox News is reporting that a man has offed himself at the site of the WTC, possibly because of George Bush’s re-election.

A 25-year-old university worker from Georgia shot and killed himself at ground zero Saturday morning, authorities said.

The man, Andrew Veal, of Athens, Ga., was found atop the structure housing the 1 and 9 subway lines after a hotel worker spotted what he believed was somebody sleeping inside the site around 8 a.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A shotgun was found near the body, Coleman said. No suicide note was found, he said.

Veal apparently was distraught over President Bush’s re-election, Newsday reported Saturday on its Web site edition, citing an unnamed police source. The newspaper also said the man was a registered Democrat who opposed the war in Iraq.

Coleman said he could not confirm Newsday’s account.

Police were investigating how Veal entered the former World Trade Center site, which is protected by high fences and owned by the Port Authority.

Veal worked in a computer lab at the University of Georgia and was planning to marry, friends said Saturday.

Not meaning to make light of this but, if Veal did indeed take his own life over Tuesday’s decisive election, it seems a wee bit of an over-reaction. At least he didn’t pack on an explosive belt and go for a more serious statement.

11/4/2004

The Post-election Leftists

Filed under: — Gunner @ 8:53 pm

They’re not taking this loss sitting down. No, they’re standing up. With very stupid signs. And firecrackers. Enjoy the lunacy.

11/3/2004

World Leaders React to Four More Years

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:26 pm

Under the headline “Europe Allies Extend Olive Branch to Bush,” the AP has put forth a piece addressing the reactions of several international leaders. The responses seemed to range from “Crap! I guess we have to find a way to deal with you” to “We’re already dealing with you, but try to find a way to deal with the crap from these other countries.”

French President Jacques Chirac:

“We will be unable to find satisfying responses to the numerous challenges that confront us today without a close trans-Atlantic partnership,” wrote Chirac. He addressed the letter to “Dear George.”

Shut up and get back to us when you show a greater willingness to address the radical Islamist movement outside your borders. And when you show a greater desire to have your decisions driven by anything other than setting France up as an alternative to U.S. leadership. Oh yeah, how about you try paying attention to which pieces of crap you deal your weaponry?

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder:

“The world stands before great challenges at the beginning of your second term: international terrorism, the danger of weapons of mass destruction, regional crises — but also poverty, climate change and epidemics threaten our security and stability,” Schroeder wrote. “These challenges can only be mastered together.”

Shut up and let us know when you remove your lips from Chirac’s ass. It’s unseemly. Just break up with him and conquer Paris already; this time we might just let you. Oh, and wave goodbye to our bases.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero:

[His] government wants “a relationship of efficient, constructive cooperation with the U.S. government and with President Bush, respecting the ideas of each side.”

Zapatero, who angered Washington by withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq, stayed up most of the night to watch as Republican red crept across the U.S. electoral map.

How about an “efficient, constructive” shut up, you yellow-bellied, short-sighted socialist piece of crap? Is that good for you?

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer:

“We’ve had a very good relationship with them for the last four years and I’m sure we’ll be able to keep building on that over the next four.”

Much love to the Aussies.

Russian President Vladimir Putin:

“I would feel happy that the American people have not allowed themselves to be scared and made the decision they considered reasonable,” Putin said at a Kremlin news conference

We absolutely have to realize, as a nation and very damn soon, that the Russians are facing the same enemy of Islamist bastards that we face.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair:

“A world that is fractured, divided and uncertain must be brought together to fight this global terrorism in all its forms and to recognize that it will not be defeated by military might alone but also by demonstrating the strength of our common values, by bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq as we have done to Afghanistan, by pursuing with the same energy peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine,” Blair said.

Much love to Blair and the courage and fidelity of the Brits. He has been a stalwart ally since 9/11, and his people should rank him, in time, with the likes of Winston Churchill.

Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka:

“It is not natural to have — maybe not a cold war — but, in any case, a chilling of relations along theses lines …. I hope that European leaders and President Bush will show initiative in this area.”

Poland needs to be rewarded for their valor and friendship. We earned it with Ronald Reagan; we need to repay it under Dubya.

Terrorist Yassir Arafat:

An ailing Yasser Arafat congratulated Bush and expressed hope that a second term would help give a new spark to the Middle East peace process, an aide to the Palestinian leader said.

Arafat’s death may well be the spark needed for peace in the Middle East. That, or it could be the fuse that sets off the powderkeg he played a huge role in concocting. Either way, Bush cannot trust a living Arafat in any peace process.

Election Wrap-Up

Filed under: — Gunner @ 9:11 pm

It was a banner day for the Bush-Cheney administration and the GOP. Bush is the first since his father in 1988 to capture a majority of the popular vote. It looks like a probable 286-252 electoral victory, with Iowa and New Mexico currently leaning to the administration narrowly.

In his concession speech, John Kerry was emotional, something to be expected in a man who had aimed for this election his whole life. His speech was dignified and conciliatory, but his running mate John Edwards struck a poor note when he again spoke of two Americas during his own concession and Kerry introduction.

In declaring his victory, the president reached out Kerry supporters and vowed to reach out to those who opposed him. Some may question his claim of a mandate, but I agree, given his popular majority and Republican gains in both houses of Congress.

Now, let’s go take care of Fallujah.

Target Centermass Declares W the Winner

Filed under: — Gunner @ 2:55 am

CBS gives Nevada to Bush but restrains on Ohio. The nets all seem to be battling on which state to hedge.

Up all their asses. Dubya wins.

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