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Thursday, Nov 27th

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The "Special Relationship": How We Got Spying Wrong

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by Montag

'Have been musing about how the NSA and the GCHQ got so chummy, and this opinion piece also made me wonder about how our own system evolved over time in the way it did.  Based on the anecdotal evidence, it seems that the U.S. has always been dependent in some ways on the British scheme of intelligence, as structured in government.  We forget nowadays that, in the longer view, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA are all fairly recent constructs--the FBI is a little more than 75 years old (although it grew out of the earlier BOI--Bureau of Investigations--created about 25 years previously).  The CIA is only about 65 years old, and the NSA, a mere stripling at 60 years old.

To a considerable degree, we've followed the British model of organization.  The FBI is the analog of MI5, the CIA that of MI6 (thus purportedly separating domestic and foreign intelligence pursuits), with GCHQ originally handling signals intelligence and cryptography for both the military and civilian government, as the NSA has done for much of its existence (the notable exception being that NSA has its mandate as a military operation, with military leadership and funding from military budgets).

We've also followed the British tendency of taking its prime intelligence recruits from elite institutions--Cambridge, Oxford, Eton, Sandhurst, and the like, as our intelligence services are fond of Yale, particularly, and Harvard, and for a time during the Cold War, from elite Catholic universities such as Fordham and Notre Dame, most likely because idealistic young Catholic students might reliably become good Cold Warriors in the fight against godless Communism.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 22:13 Read more...

Nope, this wasn't Zimbabwe, it was Florida.

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by Bev Harris, Founder of BlackBoxVoting.org

Two vaults being used in a special election for the Florida House were stolen last week. Unbeknownst to the burglars, they were caught on videotape. The vaults contained a voting machine, the electronic storage device containing all early votes cast, and 850 blank ballots. The motive isn't immediately clear, but here is what we know so far.

In this report, I've gathered some of the answers needed to examine how the burglary might have affected the election.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office released a portion of the surveillance video; more information, contained in the police report, indicates there is additional footage not yet released to the public.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/SdwjiowLWcY

 

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Proposed "Right To Vote" Amendment Transfers State Power To Fed

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By Bev Harris, Founder of Blackboxvoting.org

Section 2 in the proposed new RIGHT TO VOTE U.S. Constitutional amendment switches election controls from state to feds. And it's a lot easier to tilt controls when they are centralized.

Especially this year, I have become wary of how news media portrays proposed legislation, as compared with what is actually in the legislation. So when I saw U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan's proposed Constitutional amendment portrayed simply as a national right to vote bill, I wondered what else was in it.  I'm not saying it isn't well intended, but ...

While Section 1 states a right to vote, Section 2 puts the federal government in position to dictate anything it wants to control local and state elections. And that's a problem, because it alters balance of power. All it will take is a one-vote majority by the party you loathe -- whichever party, not the point -- to wrest control over election systems in all 50 states at once. In other words, the proposed Amendment sounds nice, but because of its Section 2, it is destabilizing.

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Election Integrity in Niagara -- Falls.

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By Bev Harris, founder of Blackboxvoting.org

Whoever controls chain of custody for voting computers can control elections. That is, until more transparent election procedures are enacted (see end of this article). Until that time, election integrity in Niagara, falls. (Groan.)

But for bad puns, I'm afraid the company that owns the voting machine warehouse in Niagara County has me beat. That firm is aptly named "Clear Opportunity."

(See more here, including documentation on this: http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/82452.html)

NIAGARA'S PROBLEM


Niagara County, New York Republicans, in a no-bid contract with a company owned by one of their largest contributors, has offered up a crucial link in voting machine chain of custody. Niagara signed a lease to house its voting computers in a warehouse owned by Clear Opportunity Properties, LLC, owned by GOP supporter David Ulrich.

Niagara County Democrats are apparently uncomfortable enough with the sweetheart deal to try to get that contract opened up to competitive bidding.

"Sweetheart deal" may be a gentle term. "Rapaciously gainful" or perhaps "copiously creative" might be more accurate ways to describe it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 21:07 Read more...

Californians getting hammered on provisional ballots

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by Bev Harris, founder of Blackboxvoting.com

More than one in ten voters who shows up at the polls in California is being given a provisional ballot. While you might think this is due to voters missing from the list, only 10% of rejected provisionals in California are because the voter is not registered. Ninety percent are rejected for other reasons -- calling into question why provisional ballots were issued in the first place.

I did a spreadsheet analysis using a pile of U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) data(1) and found that voters who show up to vote in California are getting hit hard with provisional ballots, making it more difficult to vote and expanding disenfranchisement.

In Riverside County, a whopping 14.4 percent of all polling place voters were given a provisional ballot in 2010, and 17 percent of the provisionals were rejected.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 15:01 Read more...

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