House votes to end offshore drilling ban
Measure passes by wide margin; bill’s chances in Senate are uncertain
30 June, 2006

WASHINGTON – Congress on Thursday took a major step toward allowing oil and gas drilling in coastal waters that have been off limits for a quarter-century, but a battle looms in the Senate over the issue.

And the Bush administration’s support for the legislation, which was approved by a 232-187 vote in the House, is lukewarm.

The House bill would end an Outer Continental Shelf drilling moratorium that Congress has renewed every year since 1981. It covers 85 percent of the country’s coastal waters — everywhere except the central and western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a leading proponent for lifting the ban, said he believes a majority of the Senate wants to open the protected waters to energy companies.

Asked about White House opposition to some parts of the bill, especially a provision that would give tens of billions of dollars to states that have drilling rigs off their coasts, Pombo said, “I dare them to veto this bill.”

“They don’t like us giving money back to the states. I think it’s right,” Pombo told reporters after the vote. Forty Democrats joined most Republicans in favor of ending the drilling moratorium.

Florida filibuster possible
In the Senate, the measure is likely to face a filibuster from Florida senators and possibly others from coastal states that fear offshore energy development could threaten multibillion-dollar tourist and recreation businesses if there were a spill.

The Senate is considering a limited measure that would open an area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, known as Lease Area 181, that goes within 100 miles of Florida. It is not under the moratorium. Even that is unlikely to pass unless its sponsors get 60 votes to overcome a filibuster from the Floridians.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he would pursue efforts to open the Lease 181 Area. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, also of New Mexico, criticized the House-passed bill, saying it would eventually create “a huge hole in our federal budget and undermine environmental protections on our lands and off our coasts.”

Environmentalists, for their part, turned their focus to the Senate.

“Instead of catering to Big Oil and Gas, the Senate will have a chance to focus on the many faster, cheaper and cleaner ways to meet our energy needs — renewable sources of energy like home-grown biofuels, greater fuel efficiency in our vehicles, smart-growth policies, and wind and solar energy,” said Karen Wayland, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The group said the bill would exempt seismic testing and individual oil and gas lease sales from environmental impact statements; reduce the amount of royalties that oil and gas companies must pay for tar sands and oil shale development; and no longer require companies to remove offshore drilling rigs when they are done drilling.

The House vote was a huge victory for Pombo, two Louisiana lawmakers – Republican Bobby Jindal and Democrat Charlie Melancon – and Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., who spearheaded the drive to lift the moratorium.

Only six weeks ago, a proposal by Peterson to open coastal waters to natural gas development fell 14 votes short.

This time, they included a provision that would allow states to keep the moratorium in place if they opposed drilling and changed the revenue sharing so that states’ share of royalties would soar eventually as much as 75 percent.

The Gulf states where most U.S. offshore energy resources are being tapped, now get less than 5 percent of the royalties. For example, Louisiana’s royalties would go from $32 million last year to a total of $8.6 billion over the next 10 years — and even higher after that.

Loss of federal revenue
The Interior Department estimated that the changes could cost the federal government as much as $69 billion in lost royalties over 15 years and “several hundred billion dollars” over 60 years.

The White House issued a statement saying it favors much of the bill but strongly opposes the changes in royalty revenue sharing, which it said “would have a long-term impact on the federal deficit.”

The Interior Department estimates there are about 19 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 86 trillion cubic feet of natural gas beneath waters under drilling bans from New England to southern Alaska.

Supporters of the drilling moratorium argue there’s four times that amount of oil and gas available in offshore waters open to energy companies, mainly in the central and western Gulf of Mexico and off parts of Alaska. And they say energy companies are only developing a fraction of the government leases they have available to them.

The country uses about 21 million barrels of oil a day.

While critics of the offshore drilling restrictions argue the additional oil and gas is needed if the country is to move toward greater energy independence, supporters or the bill fear energy development could despoil coastal beaches and threatens their recreation and tourism based economies.

“Our beaches and our coastline is what is critical to Floridians,” declared Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla. “We should not be sacrificing our economy, our environment for a little oil and gas.”

Pombo countered that drilling still would be prohibited within 50 miles of shore under the bill and states could extend the ban up to 100 miles. He ridiculed the bill’s critics as “opposing everything” when it comes to increasing domestic energy production.

“You can’t say no on everything,” Pombo proclaimed.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., said states would have to overcome numerous hurdles to continue the drilling restrictions, including having state legislatures and the government seek such protection every five years.

Forest Service Officers Abandon Checkpoint After ‘Hippie’ Run-In
Rainbow Family Gathering Expected To Draw Tens Of Thousands
21 June, 2006

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — U.S. Forest Service officers drew their shotguns but then got into their vehicles and abandoned a checkpoint without firing a shot after about 200 people at the Rainbow Family gathering surrounded the officers, an agency spokeswoman said.

“We’re not going to compromise the safety of our officers,” agency spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano said Tuesday. “We have to reavaluate whether or not we’re going to continue any checkpoints because of what happened.”

At least 500 people have converged in Routt National Forest for the gathering but the Forest Service had been turning away new arrivals from entering because the group hasn’t gotten a permit for large groups. The group’s annual event, often described as a huge gathering of hippies, is expected to draw between 15,000 and 20,000 people to the Routt National Forest for a weeklong July 4th event.

About 60 to 80 people already at the event site approached the officers who had been turning people away and surrounded them in a “hostile manner”, Ottaviano said.

She said more than 100 other people who had been hanging out near the checkpoint because they were not allowed in joined the smaller group, forcing the officers to retreat.

Ottaviano said the checkpoint has been disbanded. No one was stopping people from entering the area but officers will continue their patrols, she said.

The Forest Service began issuing citations on Monday and so far about 60 people have been cited, she said.

Groups of 74 or more are required to get a free permit but no one has responded to the agency’s request to apply for one, she said. The group can still apply for a permit and the Forest Service must issue a response within 48 hours.

In the meantime, the Forest Service has closed two motorized trails near the gathering near Big Red Park to avoid any potential conflict between recreationists and the Rainbow Family, she said. Trails 1204 and 1199 are set to be closed through Aug. 20 because it could take that long for all the participants to leave.

The group gathers each year on public lands. Last year, about 15,000 turned out for the event in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and the 2004 event drew about 19,000 to the Modoc National Forest in California.

Rainbow Family suit filed over closed court hearings
An attorney claims a right to public trials. Meanwhile, forestry officials and the group continue to face off.

An attorney for a Rainbow Family member filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday asserting that closed court hearings being held on dozens of minor infractions associated with the group’s annual gathering violate a constitutional right to public trials.

The annual Rainbow Family gathering, a counterculture bacchanal that federal officials said could attract as many as 20,000 modern-day hippies to the woods about 35 miles north of Steamboat Springs, has stirred controversy since its first adherents arrived this month.

Forest Service officials Wednesday released details of another violent confrontation with the Rainbows that required slightly injured law enforcement officers to retreat in a mist of pepper spray.

Meanwhile, Routt County commissioners and officials of the Routt National Forest enacted a regionwide ban on open fires and smoking because of the high danger of wildfires – just in time for the gathering’s July 4 climax.

Forest officials said the Rainbow Family may get permission to continue using some large fires in “kitchen” areas but campfires are prohibited.

Federal officials contend the gathering is being held illegally, and officers last week began issuing citations to dozens of participants.

The civil case, filed Tuesday by Denver attorney David Lane, argues that closed hearings on those citations being held in a nearby firehouse violate the Sixth Amendment.

The case was filed on behalf of Adam Mayo, a Colorado attorney, and William Randell III of New York, claiming that the makeshift courtroom is too small to accommodate all of those who wanted to attend.

The lawsuit seeks an emergency court order that would force the court to proceed in a way that doesn’t infringe on the plaintiffs’ rights to have a public trial.

A hearing on the case had not been set by Wednesday evening.

Many members of the Rainbow Family have claimed that law enforcement by the Forest Service has been particularly heavy-handed, boiling up into Monday’s confrontation, in which three officers were injured when two men being sought for arrest incited a crowd into an intimidating mob, according to Forest Service spokeswoman Denise Ottaviano.

“They were surrounded by a hostile crowd of approximately 200 people who were verbally abusive and hostile in their behavior,” Ottaviano said. “Individuals assaulted some of the officers and pulled the suspects away and, in one case, piled on top of one of the suspects to prevent his apprehension. The officers were forced to defend themselves with the use of pepper spray and batons.”

It is at least the third physical confrontation reported between Forest Service officers and the Rainbow Family, although accounts have differed between the two sides.


i haven’t written that much about OCF, even though it’s a week away now, but that’s primarily because i’ve been busy with rehearsals for it for about the past 3 weeks. about a week ago i went out and bought a bunch of bird whistles and other noisemakers to re-stock my supply of sound effects. i’ve already got a crash box and two sets of coconut shells, but i needed a ratchet and a bunch of new sounds to make the effect of a forest scene (see 22 June, 2006 for stuff i already wrote about, but forgot. 8/ ) i got the nightengale call to work, after searching out an audio clip of an actual nightengale. it’s a bit more complicated than i figured, but not so much that i can’t teach pam, who is playing it.

i bought a slide whistle last year, and while it makes precisely the sound i want it to when it is in one piece, it is made of a very brittle plastic (not PVC or ABS, but something similar) and it has broken so many times that the mouthpiece is mostly glue, and the stopper at the end is being held together with a hose clamp. it shouldn’t be too difficult to make a similar thing out of one of the many plastic soprano recorders i have lying around, some PVC tubing and a bit of ingenuity.

the Big Bois With Poise are performing at the friday night fire show, which means that i won’t be performing with the philharmonic at the friday late night burlesque, but BBWP takes priority now that RA is gone. the philharmonic has been invited to play at the ritz again “sometime” (we don’t know precise details, and probably won’t until the day it happens), and we’re also sawing a lady in half every day at noon at the morningwood odditorium.


i foresee extremely bad things happening to me, and everybody even remotely like me (which includes everybody on my friends list) if this trend continues… today it’s israel, but who’s to say that tomorrow it may be chicago or new york… or seattle…

Hamas Leaders Arrested; Israeli Executed
June 29, 2006

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces arrested nearly one-third of the Hamas-led Palestinian Cabinet and 20 lawmakers early Thursday and pressed their incursion into Gaza, responding to the abduction of one of its soldiers.

Israeli warplanes also buzzed the summer home of Syria’s president, accused by Israel of harboring the hard-line Hamas leaders its blames for masterminding the kidnapping.

Palestinian witnesses told The Associated Press that Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered northern Gaza before daybreak Thursday, adding a second front to the Israeli action in Gaza that began early Wednesday when thousands of Israeli troops crossed into southern Gaza.

The Israeli military denied it moved into northern Gaza.

Adding to the tension, a Palestinian militant group said it killed an 18-year-old Jewish settler kidnapped in the West Bank. Israeli security officials said Eliahu Asheri’s body was found buried near Ramallah. They said he was shot in the head, apparently soon after he was abducted on Sunday.

Army Radio said the arrested Hamas leaders might be used to trade for the captured soldier. Israel had refused earlier to trade prisoners for the soldier’s release.

Palestinian security officials said seven ministers of the 24-member Hamas-led Cabinet and 20 lawmakers were arrested. Earlier reports that Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Shaer was among them were incorrect, they said.

No deaths or injuries were reported in the Israeli actions. But the warplanes knocked out Gaza’s electric power plant, raising the specter of a humanitarian crisis. The Hamas-led government warned of “epidemics and health disasters” because of damaged water pipes to central Gaza and the lack of power to pump water.

Although the Israeli action was sparked by the abduction of the soldier, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government also is alarmed by the firing of homemade rockets on Israeli communities around Gaza and support for Hamas in the Arab world, especially from Syria.

In a clear warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli airplanes flew ovecr his seaside home near the Mediterranean port city of Latakia in northwestern Syria, military officials confirmed, citing the “direct link” between his government and Hamas. Israeli television reports said four planes were involved in the low-altitude flight, and that Assad was there at the time.

Syria confirmed Israeli warplanes entered its airspace, but said its air defenses forced the Israeli aircraft to flee.

In Gaza late Wednesday, Israeli missiles also hit two empty Hamas training camps, a rocket-building factory and several roads. Warplanes flew low over the coastal strip, rocking it with sonic booms and shattering windows. Troops in Israel backed up the assault with artillery fire.

The area’s normally bustling streets were eerily deserted, with people taking refuge inside their homes.

Witnesses reported heavy shelling around Gaza’s long-closed airport, which Israeli troops took over. Dozens of people living near the airport fled to nearby Rafah.

The militant Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades said it fired a rocket with a chemical warhead at the Israeli town of Sderot Wednesday night, the first such claim. The Israeli military said it did not detect a rocket fired then. Al Aqsa is linked to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction.

In Rafah, Nivine Abu Shbeke, a 23-year-old mother of three, hoarded bags of flour, boxes of vegetables and other supplies. “We’re worried about how long the food will last,” she said. “The children devour everything.”

Prior to the latest incursion into northern Gaza, the Israeli army dropped leaflets warning residents of impending military activity.

Dozens of Palestinian militants – armed with automatic weapons and grenades – took up positions, bracing for the attack.

Anxious Palestinians pondered whether the incursion, the first large-scale ground offensive since Israel withdrew from Gaza last year, was essentially a “shock and awe” display designed to intimidate militants, or the prelude to a full-scale invasion.

Olmert threatened harsher action, though he said there was no plan to reoccupy Gaza. Abbas deplored the incursion as a “crime against humanity.”

The Israeli assault came as diplomatic efforts to free the 19-year-old Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, bogged down with Hamas demanding a prisoner swap and Israel refusing, demanding Shalit’s unconditional release. Shalit was abducted by Hamas-linked militants on Sunday and is believed to be in southern Gaza.

“We won’t hesitate to carry out extreme action to bring Gilad back to his family,” Olmert declared.

Abbas and Egyptian dignitaries urged Assad to use his influence with Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader exiled in Syria, to free Shalit. Assad agreed, but without results, said a senior Abbas aide.

As for Mashaal, Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said the hard-line Hamas leader, who appears to be increasingly at odds with more moderate Hamas politicians in Gaza, is in Israel’s sights for assassination.

“Khaled Mashaal, as someone who is overseeing, actually commanding the terror acts, is definitely a target,” Ramon told Army Radio.

Israel tried to kill Mashaal in a botched assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997. Two Mossad agents injected Mashaal with poison, but were caught. As Mashaal lay in a Jordanian hospital, King Hussein of Jordan forced Israel to provide the antidote in return for the release of the Mossad agents.

The United Nations and European Union on Wednesday urged both Israel and the Palestinians to step back from the brink and, echoing a statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to give diplomacy a chance.

The White House kept up its pressure on Hamas, saying the Palestinian government must “stop all acts of violence and terror.” But the U.S. also urged Israel to show restraint.

“In any actions the government of Israel may undertake, the United States urges that it ensures that innocent civilians are not harmed, and also that it avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure,” said White House press secretary Tony Snow.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged restraint in a phone call to Olmert, saying he had spoken with Assad and Abbas and asked them to do everything possible to release the soldier. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa called on the U.S. to assume its role as “honest broker” and to make the Palestinian-Israeli conflict its top priority in the Middle East.

Hamas’ negotiators’ tentative acceptance Tuesday of a document that Abbas allies claimed implicitly recognizes Israel appeared beside the point a day later, with Israel saying no political agreement can substitute for Shalit’s freedom.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants braced for a major strike, fanning out across neighborhoods, taking up positions behind sand embankments and firing several rockets into Israeli communities bordering Gaza. Civilians stockpiled food, water, batteries and candles after warplanes destroyed the coastal strip’s only power plant, and main roads linking north to south.

Gaza’s economy was already in the doldrums before the Israeli assault, a result of five years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and an international aid boycott that followed Hamas’ parliamentary election victory in January. The Israeli assault threatened to turn a bad situation into a disaster – underscoring the extent to which hopes have been dashed following the optimism that accompanied Israel’s pullout.

Palestinian plans for high-rise apartments, sports complexes and industrial parks in lands evacuated by Israel have given way to despair, with rising poverty, increasingly violent relations with Israel and a looming threat of civil war.

waitaminute… it is happening here at home… against good old american homegrown terrorists hippies!!! that’s it… the first chance i get, i’m outta here, and i’m not coming back.

Rainbow Children Detained in the name of Homeland Security
June 27, 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

I need your help to protect my family, the collective efforts of tens of thousands of citizens known as the “Rainbow Family.” This week, near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service has taken illegal action to stop this annual assembly for expression and prayer, in gross violation of the participants essential Constitutional rights.

The ‘Rainbow’ Gatherings have borne a legacy of spiritual & cultural pilgrimage to the National Forests since 1972, the purest exercise of open consensual assembly in our time. The annual ‘Gathering of the Tribes’ draws thousands over the first week of July, focusing on the 4th as a holy day of prayer for peace and freedom. In recent years small regional events in this mode have emerged, and such gatherings have taken place in many nations around the world.


Some say the “Rainbow” Gathering is the continuation of the idealism of Woodstock. I think of it more as my annual spiritual retreat and family reunion. Since 1980, I have gathered with my family to compare ideas and pray for peace. I arrive loaded with the burdens of my work, depressed about the world situation. Each year I depart with my faith in humankind renewed and with the energy to fight the beast another year.

The rainbow family is not organized in any way; it is an exercise in self-determination and cooperation in the public interest, without need of government controls. We understand that no matter what comes down, it is the respect and care for each other that win in the end. We have no leaders or leadership, we have no offices or officers, we have no treasurer or treasury. We sit in counsel, often for days at a time in order to make mutual decisions, but there is no power to enforce these decisions on any individual. In the end, just like in society, it works because enough responsible people make sure that what needs to be done gets done.

We have been doing rainbow gatherings for over 30 years, each time in a different national forest across the country. We come in and set up a village in the woods. Cooperative kitchens pour out a wide variety of foods. Seminars on just about any topic are run by the hour.

The Rainbow is known as a healing gathering; people with various ailments come for help. Here in one place they can receive healing, from herbalists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and masseuses working with osteopaths and physicians. These healers work as a team and share their knowledge in a holistic approach that teaches all involved a lot about the roots of medicine.

Religious groups, ranging from Christians to Hare Krishnas set up camps. It’s truly a free society. We go pretty far back in the woods to get away from the ills of civilization like alcohol and hard drugs. We have our gathering and then restore any damage we cause to the woods. And we have a perfect record of restoration of the forest.

It’s great to walk through a gathering and see so many people but not a scrap of paper on the ground, not a cigarette butt in sight. Each year we train thousands of newcomers how to get along in the woods without destroying the place. Knowledgeable Forest Servide ‘Resource’ personnel love us; it’s the Federal bureaucrats and police from Washington who are on our case.


The Bush Administration has spent millions of dollars trying to stop the Rainbow Gatherings. They are enforcing a ‘Noncommercial Group Use’ permit regulation that is impossible for unaffiliated individuals to comply with. 36 CFR 251.54 They require that that someone sign as an agent for a fictional group entity named as permit Holder — which then must assume full liability from the Government and bind participants vicariously to its terms.

By the creed of the gatherings, no one can appoint themselves to such a position. More importantly, such an ad hoc gathering has no legal capacity to designate agents or act as a group party in any way. As a result, individuals are denied personal standing in First Amendment exercise and subjected to harsh criminal prosecution for being anywhere near the area

The Forest Service requires that a permit be applied for in advance of the gathering. And they use any excuse possible to deny a permit application when we manage to submit one. This year their denial was based on the fact that a logging company had a permit to log in a nearby parcel of the national forest, even though there is no logging activity present whatsoever. The site is far remote from any inhabitants — but still the Forest Service is all over our case.

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent to block this harmless gathering from taking place. The scariest aspect of all this is how Homeland Security is using these gatherings to perfect their techniques of martial law. Regulations written for the Federal Emergency Management Authority to deal with natural disasters are now being used to crush dissent in this country.

Each year the Rainbow Gathering is declared a “National Incident” and federal military law ensues. A Special Agent is appointed “Incident Commander”, with a Delegation of Authority, a large law enforcement “Team”, and huge budget to control the gathering. Qualified Forest Service administrators lose their power, while the county sheriff and other officials are brought into targeted law enforcement actions by inclusion in the Incident Team and other inter-agency agreements.

Each year Homeland Security gains more power over the individuals involved.


At this writing Forest Service law enforcement has issued over 500 tickets to the early arrivals at the gathering in Colorado. They have blocked the road and have prevented food and water from reaching those who managed to get into the gathering before the police roadblock was set up.

The 500 people with tickets are being herded into trials like none anyone has seen before in America. These pseudo trials are prototypes for what Homeland Security will use in the cases of insurrection or even a plague. Defendants lose the right to a public hearing (this year these hearings are being held behind closed doors in a firehouse garage near the site.

Attorneys and legal observers have been denied the right to even view these trials. The defendants are not explained their rights nor afforded the right to an attorney, the right to summon witnesses, the right to a jury trial, etc. Defendants ordered to appear each day at 9:00 a.m. and sit in the hot sun without water or sanitary facilities until their trials. Some have now been waiting for several days. These abbreviated trials only take a few minutes. Last year I tried to help a string of defendants defend themselves in these trials but felt helpless to do much as the system was clearly stacked against them.

This year is especially frustrating to me as I have to watch this come down from 6000 miles away. Right now I am in Hungary at a medical conference for my employment. I am flying home on Thursday and plan on being in court Saturday, July 1st, to defend some of my best friends who got a ticket for illegally gathering as they drove down a public highway.


The confrontation this year is getting more intense by the minute, which is why I am asking for your help. The only way to stop a massive conflagration in Colorado in the next few days is to get thousands of people to contact their political representatives as well as the responsible administrators at the Forest Service to demand that this repression stop immediately.

Please, even if you can never conceive of yourself at a Rainbow Gathering, you must understand that if these citizens lose their constitutional right to gather, we all lose such rights. This year the Rainbow Gathering is being used to set precedents that will be turned against drug policy, civil liberty, anti-war or other activists in the near future.
Following are some instructions on who to write and/or call

We hope to start flooding the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service with complaints starting Monday morning and not stopping until harassment stops. It is especially important that we get a few Congressional representative and Senators concerned enough to write the Forest Service for an explanation of why so much money is being spent to keep people from camping in the National Forest set aside for exactly that purpose.

Please keep the pressure on these bureaucrats until we are able to spread the word that the government has backed off and that the gathering can proceed unhindered.

If you do not know the contact information for your Congressman or Senator, you can find this here. You can call your representative at 212-224-3121. Besides your representatives in Washington, please call and write the following people to voice your protest to this harsh treatment of people who just want to go on a camping trip in the woods. Keep the calls coming until word is passed around that the government has called off their dogs. Please forward this letter to your friends and feel free to re-post it on any listserv or website you wish. Email me if you have any questions.

Don E Wirtshafter
Attorney at Law
Box 18 Guysville, OH 45735
740 662 5297
don [at] hempery.com

USDA, Natural Resources & Environment
Mark Rey, USDA Undersecretary
1400 Independence Ave. SW, .. 217-E
Washington, DC 20250
202-720-7173 Fax: 202-720-0632
mark.rey [at] usda.gov

Kathleen Gause, Director 202-205-8534
USDA Forest Service
Civil Rights Staff
Stop Code 1142
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington., DC 20250-1142
Tel (202) 205-1585

Office of the Chief
Dale Bosworth, Chief
USDA Forest Service
Yates Federal Building (4NW Yates)
201 14th Street, SW – Washington, DCÊ20250
202-205-1661; Fx: 202-205-1765
Executive Assistant…Karla Hawley, 202 -205-1195

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests,
Mary H. Peterson, Supervisor
2468 Jackson Street — Laramie, WY 82070-6535
307-745-2300 Fax: 307-745-2398

U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region (R-2)
Rick Cables, Regional Forester
Mail: P.O. Box 25127 — Lakewood, CO 80225-0127
Richard Stem, Deputy Regional Forester, Resources: 303-275-5451

Steve Silverman, Office of General Counsel, Regional Attorney: 303-275-5536

Bill Fox, Law Enforcement & Investigations, Special Agent in Charge: 303-275-5253

Jerome Romero, Deputy Director of Civil Rights: 303-275-5340

Some resources to research these issues further:

The best Rainbow website:

A good article written before the feds came down hard:

More recent coverage:
http://www.rockymountainnews.com and http://www.denverpost.com


i wonder how the “christian” right-wing will respond to this, which appears to be more scientific evidence to support the idea that they’re wrong…

Men with older brothers more likely to be gay
Research adds to idea of biological basis for sexual orientation

WASHINGTON – Having several older brothers increases the likelihood of a man being gay, a finding researchers say adds weight to the idea that there is a biological basis for sexual orientation.

“It’s likely to be a prenatal effect,” said Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catharines, Canada, “This and other studies suggest that there is probably a biological basis for” homosexuality.

S. Marc Breedlove of Michigan State University said the finding “absolutely” confirms a physical basis.

“Anybody’s first guess would have been that the older brothers were having an effect socially, but this data doesn’t support that,” Breedlove said in a telephone interview.

The only link between the brothers is the mother and so the effect has to be through the mother, especially since stepbrothers didn’t have the effect, said Breedlove, who was not part of the research.

Bogaert studied four groups of Canadian men, a total of 944 people, analyzing the number of brothers and sisters each had, whether or not they lived with those siblings and whether the siblings were related by blood or adopted.

He reports in a paper appearing in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that having several biological older brothers increased the chance of a man being gay.

It’s an effect that can be detected with one older brother and becomes stronger with three or four or more, Bogaert said in a telephone interview.

‘Some sort of prenatal factor’
But, he added, this needs to be looked at in context of the overall rate of homosexuality in men, which he suggested is about 3 percent. With several older brothers the rate may increase from 3 percent to 5 percent, he said, but that still means 95 percent of men with several older brothers are heterosexual.

The effect of birth order on male homosexuality has been reported previously but Bogaert’s work is the first designed to rule out social or environmental effects.

Bogaert said he concluded the effect was biological by comparing men with biological brothers to those with brothers to whom they were not biologically related.

The increase in the likelihood of being gay was seen only in those whose brothers had the same mothers, whether they were raised together or not, he said.

Men raised with several older step- or adopted brothers do not have an increased chance of being gay.

“So what that means is that the environment a person is raised in really makes not much difference,” he said.

What makes a difference, he said, is having older brothers who shared the same womb and gestational experience, suggesting the difference is because of “some sort of prenatal factor.”

One possibility, he suggests, is a maternal immune response to succeeding male fetuses. The mother may react to a male fetus as foreign but not to a female fetus because the mother is also female.

It might be like the maternal immune response that can occur when a mother has Rh-negative blood but her fetus has Rh-positive blood. Without treatment, the mother can develop antibodies that may attack the fetus during future pregnancies.

Whether that’s what is happening remains to be seen, but it is a provocative hypothesis, said a commentary by Breedlove, David A. Puts and Cynthia L. Jordan, all of Michigan State.

The research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

and then, there’s a public toilet in thailand designed to make you uncomfortable.


Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.
     — President Ronald Reagan

Americans demand top-quality service from the private sector. They should get the same top-quality service from their government.
     — President George W. Bush

it’s really strange for me to be agreeing with the great satan, but at the same time, why isn’t the government doing a better job of protecting our rights? it makes one wonder when they are they are the champions of democracy everywhere but in their own back yard…

Close vote expected on flag-burning amendment
26 June, 2006

WASHINGTON – Culminating emotional debate on patriotism and individual rights in the age of terrorism, the Senate is preparing to vote as early as Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to ban the burning or desecration of the U.S. flag.

It could become the first change to the Constitution approved by Congress in 35 years.

Supporters and opponents said the final result would be a cliffhanger, likely coming within one vote either way of the 67 needed to achieve a two-thirds majority and send the amendment to the states. If the Senate joins the House in approving the amendment, ratification by three-fourths of the states (at least 38) appears likely as many have already passed resolutions saying they would ratify it.

On one level, the debate takes its place among other culturally contentious issues the Republican congressional leadership has introduced in recent weeks, including a proposed ban on same-sex marriage. The issues are designed to appeal to the GOP’s conservative base ahead of the November congressional elections, but unlike some of those proposals, the flag desecration ban is seen as having a chance of passage.

The battle to ban the desecration of the flag has a long history. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that burning an American flag was a form of speech protected by the Constitution. In response to that ruling, Congress passed a law that would have punished anyone who purposefully mutilated, defaced, burned or trampled on the flag, among other actions. However in 1990, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision invalidated that law, once again coming down on the side of free speech.

Congress in response has attempted several times to change the Constitution and ban the activity, falling short each time. But a greater Republican majority and conservative presence in the Senate makes passage more likely this time, as does the emotional resonance of the Sept. 11 attacks. The amendment passed the House for the sixth time in 2005, on a 286-130 vote.

As the debate began Monday, the amendment’s supporters on the Senate floor used patriotic rhetoric to suggest the importance of the flag as representation of patriotism, liberty and the American union.

“I think of the veterans in our society,” said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think of the veterans’ expectation of the sanctity of the flag, I think of the flag as a symbol of what the veterans fought for, what they sustained wounds for, what they sustained loss of limbs for, what they sustained loss of life for.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of the amendment’s chief supporters, said, “The flag is a unique symbol of our nationhood that demands protection. There are few public symbols that we do share as people.”

Hatch along with such organizations as the Citizens Flag Alliance, an umbrella group that favors the amendment, say that the court erred in labeling flag desecration a form of protected speech.

If the amendment becomes part of the Constitution, it would return to Congress the authority to pass federal legislation protecting the American flag.

Those who oppose the amendment suggest that the measure has nothing to do with flag protection, and they are frustrated by Congress’ frequent attempts to amend the Constitution in what they call a political tactic.

“(Republicans) want to exploit America’s patriotism for their gain in November,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., adding, however, that he finds flag burning cruel and contemptible. “The real issue here is not the protection of the flag, it’s the protection of the Republican majority.”

Other organizations opposing the amendment said this debate diverts attention from ongoing issues facing Congress, and contributes to turning the Constitution into a bulletin board for posting the latest slogan.

“The Constitution has served the country well with a limited number of amendments,” said Elliot Mincberg of People for the American Way, a group that has spoken out against the amendment. “I have never seen (an amendment) like this one that would cut away from free speech.”

First Amendment concerns resonated on the Senate floor and elsewhere. Robert Corn-Revere, who wrote a report on the Flag Desecration Amendment for the First Amendment Center, pointed to history, suggesting that attempts to limit using the flag for political protest have only increased instances of flag burning.

Furthermore, the amendment would raise new problems while lawmakers and the courts struggled to define the terms “flag” and “desecration.”

For example, a shirt displaying the image of the flag may fall outside the law, as may a 47-star flag, which has never existed in U.S. history.

Opponents of the measure say the amendment would increase law enforcement’s ability to selectively prosecute people whose political messages were disagreeable.

“(The amendment) will open up a great period of uncertainty in a lot of litigation,” Corn-Revere said. “What it won’t do is increase respect for the flag, because you can’t force what goes on inside another person’s mind, and what it also won’t do is reduce the amount of flag burning and desecration.”

Burning the Bill of Rights

Senate Republicans are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

With the Fourth of July fast approaching, Senate Republicans are holding a barbecue. Unfortunately, instead of grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, they are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

Some things should be out of bounds even in a competitive election year. Messing with the Constitution is one of them.

In reality, of course, the Stars and Stripes are in no urgent need of protection from scruffy match-wielding protesters. The Senate has been debating the flag issue on and off for years – ever since the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision holding, quite properly, that flag-burning, however offensive it may seem, is constitutionally protected free speech. The amendment’s return – just in time to distract voters from G.O.P. failures on more pressing fronts – might be dismissed as a bad joke except for two things: an intense lobbying campaign on its behalf by the American Legion, and the fact that no lawmaker relishes taking a stand that might be portrayed as unpatriotic, especially in an election year.

The last time the full Senate voted on the amendment, in 2000, the measure came up just four votes short of the required two-thirds. Nose counters on both sides say that supporters of the amendment are now just a single vote shy. That means that when the roll call is taken on the amendment later this week, there are no freebies. On this round, every vote counts. The House has already approved the amendment, and its ratification by the states is virtually certain should the Senate go along.

As an alternative to the amendment, two of its opponents, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, have proposed a statute against flag-burning instead. Unquestionably, passing a law to address this nonproblem is preferable to rewriting the Constitution. But in crafting a bill with a comparatively narrow reach, its sponsors have not cured the affront to free speech. For that reason, it deserves to be defeated.

As debate on the amendment proceeds, past supporters like Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader, owe a duty to search their consciences. Each senator must cast a vote as if it is the deciding one. Given the political math, it well could be.


i’ve been feeling overwhelmed recently, so i went from reading community blogs as well as individual blogs, to only reading individual blogs… and this is precisely the reason why:


As we, the American people, approach the anniversary of our independence from tyranny in 1776, it pays to consider the Bill of Rights threatened by the secrecy-obsessed Bush administration.

Freedom of the press and religion, the right to peacefully assembly, freedom from unlawful searches and seizures have all been endangered by this administration’s reckless conduct in the global war on terror.

The Clinton administration brought us the end to welfare as we knew it.

The Bush administration has brought us an end to the Constitution as we knew it.

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, must examine the Bush administration’s excesses, misconduct and unlawful agenda affecting individual liberties and democracy.

To paraphrase Edward R. Murrow, the Bushvolk have defended democracy abroad and denied it at home. They have out-Nixoned Nixon.

In the next few weeks, expect several columns that celebrate our independence by describing our threatened liberties.

Let’s have an open and honest public debate about issues of importance to our national identity.

We should all question why the federal government silenced librarians until after Congress renewed the USA Patriot Act.

Librarians who had wanted to speak publicly or testify before Congress during hearings were prohibited from doing so. They were threatened with federal imprisonment if they did. Once the Patriot Act was renewed, the gag was lifted.

We should question why animal-rights groups, environmental organizations and civil rights interests fall under the label “domestic terrorism.” Since when is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals equal to al-Qaida?

Since when does telling the public about global warming threaten national security? Expect to learn why this White House considers your phone calls and e-mails the government’s business not yours.

This White House has sought to quell debate by invoking such things as “executive privilege,” “state secrets” and “national security.” It has made the U.S. attorney general, sworn to uphold the Constitution, its lapdog.

It has made citizens fearful of writing signed op-eds and letters to newspaper editors that might get them labeled as subversive or “anti-Bush.”

The Bushvolk are goose-stepping their way into history. They’re trampling the Constitution. They have slandered jurists as “activist judges.” They have misinterpreted Congressional intent and bent and/or broken laws.

Through indefinite incarcerations of people not charged with crimes, they have deprived people of the right to outside legal counsel and privileged communications.

With the oversight of an emasculated Congress, the administration has abused its powers to establish an imperial presidency.

We escaped one King George only to have crowned another.

We can keep America safe and free. We must confront terrorism and resist tyranny.

We, the people, must let freedom ring. To do anything less is to lose America.


courtesy of

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

and ‘s questions to me:

1. Apart from the oft-mentioned tuba and the occasionally-mentioned synthesizer, what musical instruments do you play?

earlier in life, i would have said that it would be easier to name the musical instruments i don’t play, but since my injury, the number of instruments that i have actually determined that i can play again is relatively small. before my injury the only instruments that i couldn’t play were ones with strings (although my wife will tell you that i played guitar, i didn’t really play guitar, i just plunked around). since my injury, i play tuba and trombone, sort of… other brass instruments that use 3, 4 or 5 valves are more or less of a possibility, depending on how small their embrochure is, and although i used to play flute, clarinet and saxophone quite well, i’ve lost enough use of my right hand that they are probably a lost cause. i also play keyboards, but not as well as i used to before my injury, which wasn’t as good as i wanted to play keyboards, but good enough that i had done gigs in several bands.

2. How did you become aware of the positive meanings of the swastika?

i have been intrested in swastikas ever since i was first able to draw one, and was reprimanded for drawing something that people made a fuss about. at that time, it was probably more that i was reprimanded for drawing something that people made a fuss about that was attractive to me than the fact that it was a swastika, regardless of what it meant, but once i put the two together, it has always been a source of fascination to me. i first learned about the spiritual significance of the swastika when i was in high school, approximately 30 years ago, which added a new layer of fascination to the whole thing. my next step is to get a swastika tattoo on my scalp.

3. How do those around you generally react when you listen to the music of Arnold Schoenberg? (Yes, I look at peoples’ info pages for question ideas…)

about 95% of people that hear me listening to arnold shönberg have responded with varying degrees of “what the hell are you listening to anyway??”, and about 4% of the remainder (like my mother, for example) have been made physically ill… it’s always impressed me that somebody actually succeeds in doing that and calling it music, but even moreso when it actually is music.

in case you’re interested, the remaining 1% are people who, like me, listen to just about anything with enjoyment.

4. What’s your favorite band/musician, of any genre?

you have to ask?

frank zappa.

5. Why a duck? (I had to slip a silly one in, most people just got serious stuff…)

the tone that is played when you call a radio station and you’re call being recorded for broadcast – a short, repeated tone that does not interfere with the conversation and is repeated at reasonable intervals as long as the recording is taking place – is called a duck, and is required by the federal communications commission unless the person making the recording has a warrant to record your conversation without your knowledge.


my style disappeared again, and, unlike the last time, there doesn’t appear to be any way to fix it. i have re-opened one of my bug reports, but there has been no action on it for a couple of days, so i don’t expect much.

i went out and bought $100 worth of sound effects for “Snow White and The Three Stooges Dwarves“… i bought a ratchet, a frog/creak cuico-like thing (which is my favourite), a duck-call like thing, a samba-whistle “solitary tinamou” bird-call, and a nightengale call which i haven’t yet figured out how to work… i’m assuming that you put water in it, blow it, and it makes a “chirp-chirp-chirp” noise, but when i put water in it and blow, it makes a single-pitched whistle, unless i hold it so that the water comes out the mouthpiece, in which case it makes a single, slow chirp while spraying water all over my face. the phil has a rehearsal this evening, supposedly at hales, but that has yet to be confirmed. we go to OCF in two weeks, so i’d better learn how to make the nightengale call work before then.

it turned out that moe had to work late, so we didn’t get to go to the park we had originally planned on (dash point park) or fly our kites, and instead we went to the park near our house (five mile lake park), and had a picnic while watching the bats flutter about over the lake until the mosquitos drove us inside. i’ve got my wedding anniversary on my calendar now, so presumably i won’t forget it next time.


tomorrow is my 8th wedding anniversary, and i forgot, and scheduled a rehearsal for that day several weeks ago… now i’ve got to cancel the rehearsal at the last minute and think of some way to un-dissapoint moe, who had to remind me. 8P


the parade went well. i got to the site at 8:00 am, and, because of the fact that i was driving an art car, i was able to drive right in and park a block and a half away from the center of the universe, and park without hassle. strangely enough, although the parade and the pageant were higher profile,

2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

i think a lot of this update is going to be about the art car blowout, because having the art car was the main reason why everything else went so smoothly. i didn’t even have to unpack my gear for the parade until 10:00, although i did put a whole bunch of ganesha murtis and a siva murti in the back window, and 5 sivalingams in the front window (no picture, sorry), so i hung around and saw the entire fair before all the crowds, and basically relaxed. jeremy was back from the berklee school, which was the first time in almost a year that i’ve played with him. earlier emails from him said he was going to be at OCF this year, but instead he’s going to greece and italy with two other (female) students for something related to school, but i get the very strong impression that it may be a lot more than that – nudge nudge wink wink… i saw my father, and he looked as though he were pointing his camera right at me (you’d think that i would know by this time), but he didn’t say anything to me and didn’t even acknowledge my presence – admittedly, there were thousands of people, at the same time, he pointed his camera right at me. don’t be too surprised if pictures of me don’t turn up on my father’s photo CDs some day…

after the parade i went back to my car and dropped off my tuba and gear, and picked up my trombone and headed up to gasworks park for the pageant. my call was at 3:00 pm, and we were done with the parade by 2:00, so i was able to relax and take my time. there’s apparently a new hare kṛṣṇa restaurant in the university district which had set up a booth at gasworks, so i got the chance to hang out and talk with the vaisnava devotees who said that most of them actually work at microsoft. they make a really good curry.

i haven’t written much about the pageant, and i’m probably going to make this it, because honestly, i didn’t have a clue what was going on. there was apparently something having to do with the four elements, plus a “techno tribe” that represented æthyr, or something like that, i suppose. apparently brian kooser had been busy, because there were a whole bunch of giant puppets that had his hands all over them, including a whole bunch of giant, deformed baby heads, a puppet that grew from merely giant to truly enormous (which was accomplished with the use of a man-lift, which i could see from “back stage”), and a giant floating bear puppet that transformed into something else, which i was not able to get a clear view of what it was. the trombone choir (which was actually three trombonists, joined for the last song by a fourth, on stilts, who came up from the cast) was directed by mark nichols, who i know from the moisture festival, but all he had us doing was making more or less bizarre noises on cue, and because of the fact that i only saw the performance from back stage, i never really got a good idea of what it was about.

when that was done, i wandered back to my car and packed up my trombone, but it was around 5:00, and there were still crowds of people hanging around, so it was impossible for me to drive anywhere anyway, so i perused the fair again, which was mostly home-crafted stuff, imported stuff, food, and other commercial enterprises with random music acts. i was able to drive out at 8:00, whereupon i went and dropped off orrin’s sax (for which he paid me $120).

2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

sunday, i got to the art car parade staging location, which was the phinney community centre, at 9:30 am, and took a few pictures of the cars as they were showing up. there was one in particular that was tremendously detailed, but totally meaningless. then we drove around greenlake and back to the fair.

i saw three broad groups of people that wandered by ganesha the car: the first were the people who said something along the lines of “i wonder what it says” and then walked on without bothering to find out. of these, there was an interesting sub-group, which said, usually with some authority to the group of people that they were travelling with, that it was some language or another, which was usually wrong. the languages generally were hebrew, and arabic (farsi and persian were the two main variants), but one i heard really boggles my mind: they said “oh, that’s french.”…


the second group of people were the most likely to stop and ask questions, and they ranged from the merely curious but clueless, to the people who actually knew what language it is, and could sound out words. these people were usually discernable by long pauses and thoughtful expressions as they sounded out the words.

2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

the third group were indians or people who are into yoga or hinduism, who knew what the car was without having to say anything. i only talked with a few of them, but they were universally positive in their reactions. they’re the people for whom ganesha the car was made originally, and although there were comparitively few of them, i’m glad to have been there if it was only for them.

art kid
2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

not everybody that walked by was exactly “normal”. this baby has a weird hat… cute, but weird… and what do you suppose his indian parents are looking at?

i talked to a guy who had seen my car in auburn about a month ago. he writes down all of the vanity license plates he sees, and the impressions he has about what kind of people drive the cars they’re attached to. he’s got a whole bunch of information from 3 years of research, and is planning on putting it all in a book soon.

i talked with a couple of teenage girls who were in seattle with a group from their church, to do prison ministry (hah!). i talked with them for about 45 minutes and by the time they walked away, they were thoroughly confused and sincerely questioning the version of reality presented by the prison ministry trip with which they had been brainwashed.

2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

i got a chance to talk with don ehlen, creator of the fish mobile and others. don was the original inspiration for ganesha the car. i met don in 1999, when he and i were in the production of “Rock Opera”, an opera about geology by my friend pliny the weird. i had thought about writing sanskrit on my car for a couple of years, but when i saw the fish mobile i asked don about how he had done it, and from there it was all downhill.

2006 Fremont Art Car Blowout

the owner of ‘VAINVAN’ has had brain surgery as well, as has her husband.

the frog car, rev. bill’s vacation bible camp, and one or two other cars had an mp3 player hooked up to a loudspeaker under the hood. i also saw a couple of cars that had “guest books” attached to them. art cars mean that the owner is an artist, which can mean that when you see one, there’s a possibility that they will be selling their artwork, which may or may not have anything to do with the art on their car. also, there are other “art car blowouts”, those that i know of are in canada, oregon and california, that pay your gas, food and lodging if you bring an art car to their blowout.


my style mysteriously returned. apparently i had “pasted a new layer over” over my layout, which is news to me… of course i was unaware that i was working with “layers”, i thought i was working with “wizards” who are supposed to keep track of the “layers” for me, but apparently i was mistaken because once i reverted to the “layer” that i was familiar with, everything went back to the way it should have been all along… before things on the server end got screwed up to begin with… grumble, mutter… 8/

a whole bunch of stuff surrounding the solstice parade, solstice pageant and art-car blowout will have to wait until tomorrow, because i’m beat.


blah. my style disappeared and there is apparently no way to get it back. i filed what amounts to a bug report, which got responded to a couple of times, but at least one of them was a canned response, and i don’t even think they looked at the replies. the other one hasn’t even been looked at for two days now, and i seriously suspect that they’re ignoring it.


busy. i’ve had a rehearsal every day so far this week: monday and wednesday snow white, tuesday the BSSB, and today is the trombone choir that’s performing for the solstice pageant after the parade. i’ve got two performances saturday, one at the parade and one at the pageant, plus the art car blowout that is saturday and sunday, so i’ve got to wash ganesha the car tomorrow.

another order for $40 worth of incense from someone in denver.

not a workshop update:

i picked up the octave key from orrin last night. so i’ve officially finished the alto sax. i made a new screw for the octave key, put on a new pad and provided a flat spring that wasn’t there, and adjusted the linkage so that it worked correctly. if the octave mechanism on a sax isn’t working correctly, the probabilty is good that the entire horn won’t play right. when you’re playing in the second octave, above the G key, the upper octave key is open and the lower octave key is closed, but as soon as you activate the G key, the mechanism automatically closes the upper octave key and opens the lower octave key at the same time. it’s a pretty sensitive balance between 5 springs, and i got it to work the first time without having to figure out what it was actually supposed to do.

burgewheeze burgewheeze burgewheeze burgewheeze burgewheeze


according to the spam LJ support sent me, my style should be back “in a few hours, once the internal cache is cleared out”… why it takes a few hours to clear an internal cache is beyond me, but apparently my style has been randomly changing for more than a year because of “the internal caches becoming corrupted in some form”… now i understand “internal cache”, and i understand “corrupt”, but what i don’t understand is why it takes so long to clear a corrupt internal cache. admittedly, i’m sure they’re running a whole farm of multi-terrabyte disk arrays, but my impression is that they’d take less time if they just rebooted the machines, and while that doesn’t necessarily produce the most desirable results for us end-users, at the same time, if it would replace information that has become corrupt with the corresponding uncorrupted information, i would do that rather than taking hours to clear out a cache on the off chance of finding something that points to the source of corruption.

i suppose that’s what they get for running a system that is in test off of servers that are in production.


my style changed again, unexpectedly, and unexplained… component to generator, purple to blue, serif to ariel, left to top… and now the customisation page for component is not the same, so there’s no way to change it back.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/przxqgl/39141.html – Mon, 21 Mar 2005

http://www.livejournal.com/users/przxqgl/39442.html – Fri, 25 Mar 2005





Do-It-Yourself Impeachment – this is another one of those quirks that’s still left in our rapidly disappearing government rights that, if carried out in just exactly the right way, by enough people, just might work… it’s worth a try. nothing else has helped… 8/

Congress drops financing for increased port security
Opponents say $648 million proposal too expensive

June 8, 2006

Nearly $650 million to increase scrutiny of containers shipping into Seattle and every other U.S. port was stripped out of a national security funding package moving through Congress this week in a move critics say makes the country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Opponents of the $648 million for port security said it was too expensive and needed to be cut to satisfy President Bush’s request that the supplemental budget for things such as the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina reconstruction be brought under control.

Though the action by Congress was not unexpected, port safety advocates such as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Port of Seattle Chief Executive Mic Dinsmore were dismayed.

“We are not going to have the money we need for screening machines, customs inspectors, Coast Guard inspectors, radiation monitors, gates, fences and more,” Murray said. “The administration keeps talking a good game, but words do not provide security.”

The decision came on the heels of the House passage Tuesday of a separate Department of Homeland Security spending bill. Absent in that bill was a controversial provision requiring that all U.S.-bound containers be scanned at overseas ports, which Democrats had tried to push through after the national uproar over the Dubai Ports World deal this spring.

Currently, about 5 percent of U.S.-bound containers are inspected.

The $648 million in port security funding was supported by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security panel. It would have paid for inspectors to be added at 50 foreign ports, additional Coast Guard inspectors to oversee security abroad and domestically, and 60 cargo container imaging machines.

Byrd’s amendment passed in the Senate but was not included in the House version. Though the final version of the funding package still needs to be voted on by the Senate and the House, the committee that eliminated the amendment early Wednesday took further measures to ensure that it could not be reinstated this year.

“Like many people who have been strong advocates of getting this national security issue right, I am disappointed,” Port of Seattle chief Dinsmore said. “We have not determined what kind of negative impact it will have, but if it takes money away from projects we need, it is going to hurt Seattle, as well as Tacoma and Everett.”

The American Association of Port Authorities said the move was especially inopportune, given the additional costs incurred by ports implementing the government mandate for standardized federal identification for port workers.

Those rules, announced last month, create a national standardized identification procedure for all who have unescorted access to ports: longshore workers, truck drivers, port staff and contractors, and vessel and rail operators. Making that happen could cost from $299 million to $325 million, according to the Department of Homeland Security figures cited by the port association. However, the Homeland Security bill passed by the House contains only $40 million specifically designated for that.

“It’s a grave disappointment that’s not putting money into real port security,” said Herald Ugles, president of Local 19 International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

“They paid money to inspect American workers, but should be spending it more wisely on inspecting cargo.”

Ugles said the government, as part of a nationwide effort, asked for and received a list of the names and birthdates of all Local 19 longshoremen. Their information, he said, will be checked against the terrorist watch list.

“We understand that it has to be done, but they need to be inspecting the containers,” Ugles said.

The Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill passed by the House does include $4.2 billion for port, container and cargo security, but Murray said those funds are “not enough, that is why we asked for more.”

Murray said that ports need the kind of hardened security now present at the airports, and that the cost of doing so far exceeds the bill’s budget for it. The bill will go onto a committee that will resolve the differences between the Senate and the House versions, then pass through a final vote.

It includes $2.1 billion for the Coast Guard port security operations, $1.7 billion for Customs and Border Protection cargo inspection and trade operation, $139 million for a Container Security Initiative, $178 million for radiation portal monitors, $70.1 million for a Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, and $200 million in port security grants.

“You’re talking less then bare bones with those numbers,” said Murray, calling the emergency security funding package “the smallest budget number we’ve seen in a long time.” She is co-writing legislation that would “push the borders back” and have containers inspected in foreign ports, among other things.

The White House had urged Congress to keep to its limit, or risk veto of the emergency funding bill that will send much-needed cash to Iraq and areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

not a workshop update:

it’s as finished as i can make it, but it’s missing the upper octave key (orin’s father has it, for some unknown reason), but it makes all the correct popping noises when i close the keys, and with a piece of tape over the upper octave tone hole, i was able to play all the way down to Bb without any difficulty… and i figure if i can play it, there’s a good chance that an experienced sax player without a brain injury will do just fine.

blerge blerge blerge blerge blerge

i also put a new mouthpiece cork on the neck, but, alas, i will have to wait for orin to get the key from his father before i can actually finish the horn…

blerge blerge


not a workshop update: i finally found my cork and felt cement, and got my leak light set up. finished the lower stack, the C-D# keys, and the D-B-Bb key/G# key combination. mostly pad leveling, regulation, and spring tensioning, although i broke the spring on the C# key twice (doh!). it’s really incredible to be able to do this, because i’m basically running on automatic… if i were to stop and think about what i’m doing, it would never get finished.

burglefum burglefum burglefum

i tried to take a picture of the leak light in action, but it was too dark, and if i use the flash then you can’t see the leak light. i’ll figure out something and post a picture of it later. now i’ve got to go to a ballard sedentary sousa band performance at small faces child development center.


this is to let you spammers know that i have been in contact with the administrators for the following site, which is NOT what it looks like:


they have assured me that the site will be removed without any further hesitation, and those responsible will be put in contact with the appropriate authorities.

the site is a “phishing” site, which fools you into believing that it’s paypal (it’s not, DO NOT try to log in there). i have also reported it to spoof at paypal, the administrator of the place where you originally sent your spam (vi.net), and the FBI.

the last thing the spammer expects to see… IS THE MALLET!


Bush Losing Core Supporters

WASHINGTON, May 11 – President Bush appears to be losing support among a key group of voters who had hitherto stood firmly with the president even as his poll numbers among other groups fell dramatically.

A new Gallup poll shows that, for the first time, Bush’s approval rating has fallen below 50% among total fucking morons, and now stands at 44%. This represents a dramatic drop compared to a poll taken just last December, when 62% of total fucking morons expressed support for the president and his policies.

The current poll, conducted by phone with 1,409 total fucking morons between May 4 and May 8, reveals that only 44% of those polled believe the president is doing a good job, while 27% believe he is doing a poor job and 29% don’t understand the question.

The December poll, conducted by phone with 1,530 total fucking morons, showed 62% approved of the president, 7% disapproved and 31% didn’t understand the question.

Faltering approval ratings for the president among a group once thought to be a reliable source of loyal support gives Republicans one more reason to be nervous about the upcoming mid-term elections. “If we can’t depend on the support of total fucking morons,” says Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), “then we’ve got a big problem. They’re a key factor in our electoral strategy, and an important part of today’s Republican coalition.”

“We’ve taken the total fucking moron vote for granted,” says Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), “and now we’re paying for it. We’ve let the Democrats control the debate lately, and they’ve dragged discourse back into the realm of complex, nuanced issues. So your average total fucking moron turns on his TV and sees his Republican Congressman arguing about Constitutional law or the complexities of state formation in the Middle East, and he tunes out. He wants to hear comforting, pandering, flattering bromides and he doesn’t want to hear a logical argument more complex than what you’d find on a bumper sticker.”

For Feeney, the poll is a dire warning that Republicans can ignore only at their peril. “This should send a signal that we have to regain control of the debate if we want the support of our key constituencies in the coming election and beyond. We need to bring public discourse back into the realm of stupidity and vacuity. We should be talking about homosexual illegal immigrants burning flags. We should be talking about the power of pride. We should be talking about freedom fries. These are the issues that resonate with total fucking morons.”

But some total fucking morons say it’s too late. Bill Snarpel of Enid, Oklahoma is a total fucking moron who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. But he says he won’t be voting for Bush in 2008. “I don’t like it that he was going to sell our ports to the Arabs. If the Arabs own the ports then that means they’ll let all the Arabs in and then we’ll all be riding camels and wearing towels on our heads. I don’t want my children singing the Star Spangled Banner in Muslim.”

Total fucking moron Kurt Meyer of Turlock, California also says his once solid support for Bush has collapsed. “He invaded Iraq and all those soldiers died, and for what? We destroyed all their WMDs, but now their new president is making fun of us and saying he’s going to build nuclear bombs and that we can’t stop him. Well, nuclear bombs are even worse than WMDs, so what did we accomplish?”

Laura McDonald, a total fucking moron from Chandler, Arizona, says she is disappointed that the president hasn’t been a more forceful advocate of Christian values. “This country was founded on Christian values,” she says, “but you’d never know it looking around and seeing all the Mexicans running around. I thought Bush was going to bring Jesus back into the government. Instead, Christians are being persecuted worse than ever before in history, because all these Mexicans come here and tell Christians that we have to respect their religious beliefs. So now it’s illegal for children to pray in school. Soon it will be illegal for them to speak English.”

Not all total fucking morons have turned their backs on the president. Jeb Larkin of Topeka, Kansas says he still fully supports Bush. “He is doing a great job. He is a great president. He is a great decider. I have a puppy. His tail sticks straight up and you can see his butthole.”

And not all Republican lawmakers are concerned about the poll. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), for one, does not find it a cause for anxiety. While he agrees that his party should not take total fucking morons for granted, they “really don’t have anywhere else to go. They’re never going to be able to understand someone like Al Gore or John Kerry or anybody intelligent and articulate who wants to talk about substantive issues. Just try having a conversation with one of them about global warming. They’ll say, ‘Oh, but Rush says volcanoes consume more ozone than humans do.’ I mean, they’re morons! Total fucking morons!”

“They’ve got nowhere else to go,” Alexander reaffirms with a smile, “and they always vote.”

Gay marriage ban defeated in Senate vote
Ban backers still hopeful, citing a few new votes in favor

WASHINGTON – A constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage went down to Senate defeat Wednesday, but supporters said that several new votes for the measure represent progress that gives the GOP’s base reason to vote on Election Day.

The 49-48 vote fell 11 short of the 60 required to send the matter for an up-or-down tally by the full Senate.

Had the amendment survived, a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress would have been required to send it to the states. It then would have had to be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.

But ban supporters took solace in the fact that the idea received several new votes from Republican freshmen elected after the amendment received its last vote in 2004.

“We’re building votes,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., a new supporter, said before the vote. “That’s often what’s required over several years to get there, particularly to a two-thirds vote.”

A majority of Americans define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, as does the amendment, according to a new ABC News poll. But just as many oppose amending the Constitution, the poll found.

Forty-five of the 50 states have acted to define traditional marriage in ways that would ban same-sex marriage — 19 with their own state constitutional amendments and 26 with statutes.

“Most Americans are not yet convinced that their elected representatives or the judiciary are likely to expand decisively the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a possible presidential candidate in 2008. He told the Senate on Tuesday he does not support the federal amendment.

The measure’s defeat in the Senate is by no means its last stand, said its supporters.

“I do not believe the sponsors are going to fall back and cry about it,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “I think they are going to keep bringing it up.”

not a workshop update:

got my bench motor set up and working, and found cork and felt, but not cement for them. got to set up my leak light, because when i got the lower stack steel un-bent and re-tapped (3:48NF), i discovered that the pads needed leveling (naturally), but i don’t know where my leak light is, so locating that and getting it set up will be my next goal.

mundgefurg mundgefurg


orin's sax

in spite of the fact that i don’t have a “real” workshop set up, i took in orin’s buescher alto saxophone because i figured that i could. and so far, i’m doing marginally okay, although i’m going to have to set up my bench motor (the grey box in the lower left), because he’s got three bent steels that need to be straightened, and for that you need to be able to spin the steel laterally. also he has one steel on the lower stack which needs to be re-tapped to the correct size, and to be re-slotted so that the next guy who works on it won’t have to remove it with a pair of pliers, like i did. i’ve already replaced two springs, and i think there’s at least one more. also i have to figure out where my cork cement is so that i can replace most of the key corks, and i’ve got to figure out which box my key felts are in, so that it doesn’t go clank clatter. i didn’t realise this until after i had started taking it apart, but i believe this is the first alto sax that i have repaired since my injury. intellectually, i look at the pile of bits and pieces and wonder how i’m going to get it back together again, but i’m sure that it will come back to me… partially because i was able to take it apart with minimal trouble. orin has another sax, a conn, which also needs help, and i’ll probably take it on as well, but one thing at a time.


But State Department objects to removal of protection from degrading treatment

By Julian E. Barnes
June 5, 2006

Washington — The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that bans “humiliating and degrading treatment,” according to military officials, a step that would mark a potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

The decision culminates a lengthy debate within the Department of Defense, but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed.

However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military’s decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, Defense officials acknowledged.

For more than a year, the Pentagon has been redrawing policies on detainees and interrogation, and intends to issue a new Army Field Manual, which, along with accompanying directives, represents core instructions to U.S. soldiers worldwide.

The process has been beset by debate and controversy, but the decision to omit Geneva Convention protections from a principal directive comes at a time of growing worldwide criticism of U.S. detention practices and the conduct of American forces in Iraq.

The directive on interrogations, a senior Defense official said, is being rewritten to create safeguards so that detainees are treated humanely but can still be questioned effectively.

President Bush’s critics and supporters have debated whether it is possible to prove a direct link between administration declarations that it will not be bound by Geneva and events such as the abuses at Abu Ghraib or the killings of civilians last year at Haditha, Iraq, allegedly by U.S. Marines. But the exclusion of the Geneva provisions may make it more difficult for the administration to portray such incidents as aberrations.

The detainee directive was due to be released in April along with the Army Field Manual on interrogations. But objections from several senators on other Field Manual issues forced a delay. Senators objected to provisions allowing harsher interrogation techniques for unlawful combatants, such as suspected terrorists, as opposed to traditional prisoners of war.

The lawmakers argue that differing standards of treatment allowed by the Field Manual would violate a broadly supported anti-torture measure advanced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain last year pushed Congress to ban torture and cruel treatment and to establish the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for treatment of all detainees. Despite administration opposition, the measure passed and became law.

For decades, it was the official policy of the U.S. military to follow minimum standards for treating detainees as laid out in the Geneva Convention. But, in 2002, President Bush suspended portions of the Geneva Convention for captured al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

Among the directives being rewritten following Bush’s 2002 order is one governing U.S. detention operations. Military lawyers and other Defense officials wanted the redrawn version of the document to again embrace Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. The protections for detainees in Article 3 go beyond the McCain amendment by prohibiting humiliation, treatment that falls short of cruelty or torture. However, the move to restore U.S. adherence to Article 3 was opposed by Vice President Dick Cheney’s office and by the Pentagon’s intelligence arm, government sources said.

Michael Chertoff must be fired

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told New York to drop dead yesterday as he slashed the city’s federal anti-terror funding in a traitorous action that endangers the lives of 8 million people and demands his immediate firing.

Chertoff’s decision to cut the flow of U.S. money by 40% was at the least gross incompetence and at the worst vengeful payback by a petty bureaucrat who tangled last year with the NYPD and wound up humiliated. Either way, President Bush must give Chertoff the boot with a hearty, “Heck of a job, Mikey.”

This city, America’s No. 1 target, had to fight long and hard for federal terror aid while Congress doled out the money as pork rather than based on threat. That was supposed to change this year because Chertoff was given the power to allocate much of the funding based on where it was needed most. Instead, fresh from monumentally bungling the U.S. response to Hurricane Katrina, he went out of his way to whack New York’s slice of the national pie from $208 million to $124 million. The No. 2 target, Washington, also took a huge hit from Chertoff’s team.

Homeland Security’s rationale for stabbing the city in the back, as Rep. Pete King put it, was based on figments of the imagination and outright lies, all recorded in black and white on the score sheet used by the department for determining which cities got funding. By Chertoff’s reckoning, New York has not a single national monument or icon that needs special security. No Ground Zero. No Empire State Building. No New York Stock Exchange. No Federal Reserve Bank. No St. Patrick’s Cathedral. No Statue of Liberty. No nothing.

Even more outrageous, Chertoff concluded that New York’s Police and Fire departments are clueless in the war on terror. In his official estimation, giving them all the money they requested would have been a complete waste. Among the units Chertoff rated as in the bottom 15% nationwide, and requiring special federal baby-sitting, was the NYPD’s globally recognized counterterrorism bureau, the very outfit that shamed him in October when Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly wisely put the city subways on alert for an attack. Coincidence? We think not, and we dare Chertoff to repeat the same despicable libel face to face with Kelly.

He wouldn’t have the nerve. He has got to go.


i got up at 6:00 so that moe could jump start ganesha the car so i could drop it off in burien at 9:00 (which meant a couple of hours of “hanging around” waiting for jack to get there). then i took the bus into downtown seattle and “hung around” until my appointment with ned at 2:00, during which jack called and said that ganesha the car was working again, so i finished up with ned and took the bus back down to burien, picked up the car at around 3:45, and jack only charged me $45, which i actually had!

after 4 hours of “hanging around” in seattle, i realised that i really miss living in the city. living out in the sticks is okay, but it would be a lot better if i had a workshop and/or some way to bring in money. but the lack of a job and/or a workshop wouldn’t matter so much if we were living in the city, because there’s so much to look at, even if i don’t have anything else to do.


according to what ezra tells me, katharyn is back in the state loony bin, because she ran away from managed care facility a few weeks ago instead of taking her medications. she still won’t admit that she’s there involuntarily. she still thinks the state is persecuting her…

i’m so glad that i’m not a part of her life any longer…


When they took the fourth amendment,
     I was quiet because I didn’t deal drugs.
When they took the sixth amendment,
     I was quiet because I was innocent.
When they took the second amendment,
     I was quiet because I didn’t own a gun.
Now they’ve taken the first amendment,
     and I can say nothing about it.

there goes the first amendment…

Brutalized & Arrested in Cleveland for Posting “Bush Step Down” Posters

The following is a first-hand account of police harrassment and brutality against a World Can’t Wait organizer in Cleveland. If anything like this happens to you, let us know asap! Contact [email protected].

My name is Carol Fisher, and I am on the staff of Revolution Books in Cleveland OH. At the bookstore we have been immersed in building and supporting the initiatives of World Cant Wait. Yesterday, 1.28.06, while putting “Bush Step Down” posters on telephone poles along a major thoroughfare on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was brutalized by Cleveland Heights police, charged with 2 counts of felony assault and held incommunicado under police custody in the hospital! This outrage and others like it must be exposed and opposed by all who hate the direction that the Bush regime is taking this country and the world.

Here is what happened:

I had set out from my house with a full agenda, to contact lots of people and get out materials about our upcoming Cleveland event to Drown Out the State of the Union address, and the call to march around the White House on Feb. 4th. My first stop was the an area known for its community of artists and progressives, where I stapled up posters for blocks and was greeted warmly by those who saw and appreciated what World Cant Wait is doing. I talked to an artist, and a Palestinian store owner who took fliers to distribute to customers.

Next stop, to the east side. I drove down a street in Cleveland Heights, another area known for its diversity and progressive history. This street was badly in need of postering too and though i was in a big hurry, I couldnt drive on without getting up a few signs. Before long a cop called from across the street: “Ma’am! Hundred dollar fine for doing that!” Oh really, since when? Another way of keeping us from getting the word out, eh? But not wanting to get arrested, I said ok and put up my staplegun and walked away. But that wasnt the end of it. “Ma’am! Hundred dollar fine unless you take those posters down.” He is pursuing me across the street. Damn! OK fine, I say, I will take them down (not wanting to get into a confrontation, because I have lots to do today!) But this too is not enough for the cop. He wants my ID. I say I dont have my ID. He grabs my arm. I say let go of me, I am not doing anything wrong, I will take the posters down. People are watching to see what happens, are outraged but very afraid. The cop wont let go, he clearly wants more grief from me, and he is in the spotlight. He wants people to be scared. He pushes me against a store window and next thing I know I am face down on the sidewalk with two cops on top of me, one with his knee in my back. I am trying to call out to people, to tell them what the posters are about. They keep pushing my face into the sidewalk. I cant breathe.

I have osteoradionecrosis in my jaw, resulting from radiation treatments for cancer. My jawbone is slowly deteriorating, is very fragile, and doesnt heal well. I am 53 years old, not exactly a spring chicken. A hand comes down again to push my chin against the concrete. By this time there are four cops on the scene. My hands are tightly cuffed behind my back. They lift me up and shove me onto a parkbench and shackle my legs. I am still calling out, telling people what this is about. One of the cops says to me, “Shut up or I will kill you!”, “I am sick of this anti-Bush shit!” “You are definitely going to the psyche ward.” Then somebody calls the EMS, and a fire squad shows up. The cop superviser appears and puts his finger in my face: “I dont like it when people treat my men like this and if you don’t obey the law you will suffer the consequences.”

I am lifted into the EMS truck, hands still cuffed behind my back. I ask to make a call and this is refused, but a fireman offers to make a quick call for me. If not for this, no one would have known where I was or what was happening, a fate shared by many immigrants in this country. At the hospital, I am treated as an arch-criminal. Escorted by four policemen, I shuffle into the emergency room, legs still shackled, covered with leaves and mud. I think to myself, if I was Black, I would not have made it this far. I would probably be dead by now. People in the emergency room are shocked by the scene and by what I am saying happened. I probably do look pretty crazy by now.

They put me on a gurney and pull the curtains around. One female nurse and four male cops. They want me to undress in front of the cops. I refuse. The cops refuse to leave. Finally the nurse shields my body with a gown as I undress and put on hospital clothes. I am cuffed to the bed, and two cops remain guarding me the whole time. They put in an IV. I have no idea what they have in mind. Questions, probes, tests and a tetanus shot, a hint from the nurses that friends are calling to find out whats going on. First they say that one friend is coming in to see me, but that never happens.

After many hours a psychiatrist appears to determine my sanity. I dont want to talk to him, but have no choice. “This information is confidential”, I say. Well yes, he says, but if the police want the information, I don’t know if I can refuse… “This information is confidential”, I repeat, and I tell him, there are times when you have to decide which side you are on. I have told him why I have wound up here and what they did to me, and I tell him, this is a moment in history when people have to stand firm against these repressive measures. He replies, “Fair enough”, and proceeds to write a detailed record of my injuries.

I dont know it at the time, but outside in the waiting room all hell had broken loose. In a very short period of time, over a dozen WCW people showed up at the emergency room to demand that someone be allowed to see me. The WCW people discussed what was happening with the folks waiting in the ER, who were horrified at what was happening, and very supportive when they were shown the posters I had been putting up. The police and hospital staff claimed over and over that the police were in charge of me, and they determine what happens, not the doctors! Another example of a police state.

At one point, there was a big confrontation between the WCW people and the police, right in the ER. My supporters said that we weren’t going to leave until someone saw me. Some of them were sitting in the waiting room holding the big green WCW posters.

The main cop tried to have a “private conversation” with the person with medical power of attorney. ” NO! Come out here in the open where we can all hear!” As people gathered to listen to the conversation, and enter in their own opinions, the police threatened WCW folks with arrest! They argued, stood their ground, called this shameful (both to the police but also to the nurses who did nothing to stand against this shit). The cops kept saying that there was no legal right to see me, but people responded that, in Bush’s America, the law is whatever the police say it is and that there is a moral and ethical right to to check on someone who is in the hospital.

Then a large phalanx of cops came. My friends pushed it as far as they could, then marched out of the ER, followed by the cops, all the way up to the street. 4 more people showed up who’d heard about what was happening and wanted to help.

A lawyer and a doctor, who are endorsers of the WCW Call, persisted in getting what info they could. All the while, people were calling the local media (who never showed up!), calling in complaints to the Cleveland Heights Police Department, and Cleveland Heights City Hall. I was never able to be seen by my own nurse or doctor or communicate by phone with anyone.

Shortly after being released from the hospital, I was released on my own recognizance. The battle is far from over. This is but one example of the attempts that the state, their authorities and spokespeople will make to try to keep us from opposing the crimes of this regime, and especially now, 2 days before the State of the Union address. Our cause is as righteous as it gets, and no attempts to intimidate or suppress, with threats or laws or physical abuse, should stop us but instead strengthen the resolve, build our organization and further demonstrate to the world that this regime is doomed, they are vicious, and they must be stopped.

As it says in the Call, “If we speak the turh, they will try to silence us. If we act, they will try to stop us. But we speak for the majority, here and around the world, and as we get this going we are going to reach out to the people who have been so badly fooled by Sush and we are NOT going to stop…The future is unwritten. Which one we get is up to us.”

There are plans in the works for possibly a press conference, suing the Cleveland Heights Police Department, taking this issue of brutality to the Cleveland Heights City Council Meeting on Feb 6, doing a press conference, and circulating a pledge of medical personnel to not allow medical treatment to be run by the police. We will also be working with lawyers to fight these outrageous charges. If any legal aid could be offered nationally, it would really help.

Call the Cleveland Heights Police at 216-291-3883

Call Cleveland Heights City Hall at 216-291-4444

Please contact us at [email protected] or 216-633-6200

Uppity Cleveland woman carted to psych hospital by police and ordered to a psych unit by judge

For as long as we have had some kind of mental health system, women who “behave incorrectly” have been ordered to undergo its treatments. At one time or another, feminists, suffragists, menopausal women, and women who question authority in any way have been sent to institutions so that they could recieve “help.” The latest woman to get such help is Carol Fisher of Cleveland. Fisher is on the staff of Revolution Books, and on January 28, while she was putting Bush Step Down posters on telephone polls in Cleveland Heights, she was ordered by a police officer to take them down or face a fine. When she complied, she was asked for her ID, which she did not have on her. He then grabbed her by the arm, pushed her against a store window, and knocked her face down onto the sidewalk. He was joined by another officer, and they both pressed their feet against her back until she could not breathe. Her chin was pressed down into the concrete; Fisher has osteoradionecrosis in her jaw from radiation treatments for cancer.

Fisher was handcuffed and shackled. During this time, Fisher yelled out to everyone who passed what the posters were about. One of the police officers then told her, Fisher says, to “Shut up or I will kill you! I am sick of this anti-Bush shit! You are definitely going to the psyche ward.”

She was then threatened some more and taken away in an EMS truck. At the hospital, Fisher was asked to undress in front of the police officers, which she refused to do. The officers refused to leave, so a nurse attempted to shield her while she undressed. Fisher says she was then cuffed to the bed, given an IV of some sort, and made to wait hours for a psychiatrist to interview her. By this time, members of her World Can’t Wait group were in the emergency room having a confrontation with the police, who refused to let them see Fisher. Someone called the news media, who never made an appearance.

Fisher was eventually released and sent home. On May 2, she went to court and was found guilty of two counts of felonious assault of two police officers. The prosecution’s “witnesses” had not seen the alleged assault; rather, they claimed that Fisher lacked respect for authority. It took a jury more than eight hours to find her guilty. According to a letter to the editor of The Free Press, the prosecution misquoted Fisher’s testimony and gave the jury incorrect information about the city’s arrestable offenses. When asked to clarify the law, the judge refused.

As part of the pre-sentencing procedure, the judge, Timothy McGinty, had Fisher undergo a state psychological exam. He had already surmised publicly that Fisher must be mentally unstable to resist arrest. McGinty then declared her “delusional,” and on May 9, ordered her to be incarcerated in a psychiatric unit of the Cuyahoga County Jail in downtown Cleveland, where she now sits and waits; she could face a three-year prison sentence. According to Mark Crispin Miller, who has spoken with Fisher by telephone, Fisher has also been placed on suicide watch, has had her eyeglasses taken from her, and–if she refuses to take the psych exam–she will be sent to North Coast Mental Institute for a 20-day evaluation.


Pilot finds snake stowaway inside cockpit
Sat Jun 3, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Monty Coles was 3,000 feet in the air when he discovered a stowaway peeking out at him from the plane’s instrument panel: a 4½-foot snake.

Coles was taking a leisurely flight over the West Virginia countryside in his Piper Cherokee last weekend and was preparing to land in Ohio when the snake revealed itself.

“Nothing in any of the manuals ever described anything like this,” said the 62-year-old Cross Lanes resident.

But advice given 25 years earlier from his flight instructor sprung to mind: “No matter what happens, fly the plane.”

Coles attempted to swat the snake but it fell to the pilot’s feet, then darted to the other side of the cockpit.

While maintaining control of the single-engine plane with one hand, Coles grabbed the reptile behind its head with his other.

“There was no way I was letting that thing go,” he said. “It coiled all around my arm, and its tail grabbed hold of a lever on the floor and started pulling.”

The next step was to radio for emergency landing clearance.

“They came back and asked what my problem was,” he said. “I told them I had one hand full of snake and the other hand full of plane. They cleared me in.”

After a smooth landing, Coles posed for pictures with the snake, then let it loose.

“That snake resides in Ohio now,” he said.

The perfect female breast – even if you don’t have female breasts, for whatever reason, they can fix you right up…



before the performance yesterday, i couldn’t get the car started.

last year about this time, the car started being intermittent about starting, but i found that if i got a jump, everything worked fine. i thought it might be the battery or the alternator, but i checked both of them and they were working fine, as far as i could tell. it was an intermittent problem, which, of course, meant that it didn’t do it any time when a mechanic was present, and it didn’t do it often enough that carrying jumper cables and hoping that i would be able to find a jump if necessary didn’t solve the problem. and to add to that, it seemed to be a problem that only happened when we had dry weather, because once it started raining regularly, the problem went away.

but this time it was slightly more sinister. i noticed that when i hit the brakes, the tachometer “glitched” – briefly went down to zero, and then back up to running speed. it was subtle enough that the first few times it happened, i either didn’t see it at all, or caught the movement of the needle as it was flying back up to normal running speed, but i wached, and finally figured out what was going on. this was something i had never seen before, but it went along with what i had figured out previously, that either the battery or the alternator was faulty in some way, and when the brake lights went on, it caused an electrical surge in the car.

after my performance, at the seatac mariott hotel, i went out to the car, and it wouldn’t start… no problem, i figure… just roll it backwards so that someone can pull along side it, jump start it, and i’ll be on my way. but no, now i can’t shift it, either. i checked to see if the shift lever was locked because it has a locking steering column, but the steering wheel was moving freely, and i couldn’t have someone pull in beside me because the parking places on both sides of the car were blocked by other people. after about an hour and a half on the phone, finally, monique came up to “rescue” me, and she and i jury-rigged jump starting it by connecting two sets of cables together – which reminded me a lot of a long time ago when ian and i were hitchhiking on whidbey island, and we were picked up by a person who we later realised was very drunk, but not before he had attempted to jump start his car using coat hanger wire, and then just about ran over ian as he was getting his backpack on…

anyway, we got ganesha the car started and rolling home. as i was getting on the freeway, i turned on the lights, and there was a big electrical surge – it was almost as if i had turned the engine off. i was accellerating, and suddenly it shifted down into first, the RPMs went through the roof, all of the accessories, like my ipod, turned off, the “overdrive off” light went out, and there was a definite jerk as the car slowed down, and then sped up again.

and when i got home and turned off the car, it wouldn’t start, and i couldn’t shift it again.


it’s going to see jack on monday, if i can get it started, but god knows how we’re going to pay for it…

and i just painted it. 8(


Man accidentally shot and killed himself after crash
May 31, 2006

SALEM, Ore. – Police say a Salem man accidentally shot and killed himself Tuesday morning while he and his family were trying to climb out of a ravine after a car accident.

According to police, 38-year-old Vladimir Gorkavchenko was driving near Detroit early in the morning when he lost control of his minivan.

The car rolled multiple times, before coming to a rest at the bottom of a rocky embankment.

Gorkavchenko, his wife, and their daughter were uninjured in the crash.

Police say Gorkavchenko then removed a rifle from his van to take it with him as the three started climbing out of the ravine.

According to police, Gorkavchenko was using the rifle as a brace as he climbed and apparently slipped, causing the gun to fire a round that hit him in his thumb and his head.

It appears he died as a result of his injuries.

Detectives are continuing to investigate.

you might think that if pat robertson talks with God as much as he claims, that he might have some advance warning of things like this…

2 dead after Robertson’s plane crashes in Conn.
Religious broadcaster’s Learjet downed half mile from airport; 3 survive

GROTON, Conn. – Authorities in Connecticut say two people died after a plane owned by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson went down in heavy fog today.

Robertson was not aboard.

The bodies were recovered from Long Island Sound.

Three other people were in the Learjet 35 when it went down about a half-mile short of the runway at Groton New London Airport. They were able to escape with minor injuries. They were pulled from the water and taken to a hospital in New London.

The plane is registered to Virginia-based Robertson Asset Management. The company is owned by Robertson and is separate from the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Coast Guard officials said the chartered, twin-engine plane took off from Norfolk, Va., and stopped in Atlantic City, N.J., to drop off two passengers before heading to Connecticut.

Cop drove nude to protect leather car seats

EDISON — After a day of boating and swimming in the summer, Edison police officer Ioannis Mpletsakis said he drove in the nude so he wouldn’t ruin the leather seats in his BMW.

“I was in the Raritan River and a pool with chemicals,” the officer testified in Dunellen Municipal Court yesterday. “I decided, it’s dark out, it’s 10 o’clock at night, and it’s four or five minutes to my house.”

Mpletsakis, 26, took the stand in a trial where he is accused of assault by auto, because a passenger of a truck was injured; hindering apprehension and leaving the scene of an accident.

“It was the most foolish thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve been regretting it for the past 11 months,” Mpletsakis said. “I embarrassed myself, my family and the police department I work for.”

Mpletsakis crashed his 2002 BMW 330is into a box truck on Route 27 near Talmadge Road on July 20.

He testified yesterday that he got out of his car, checked to see the passengers of the truck were OK and ran to conceal his nudity.

Mpletsakis, who was suspended without pay after the July 20 accident, was found by a colleague behind a car in the parking lot of a building about 300 feet away from the scene.

Mpletsakis said he fled because he couldn’t get to a pair of shorts he had stashed on the foot well of the passenger side and didn’t feel safe in the vehicle. He said he ran toward the Pines Manor, where he hoped to get help and use the phone to call police.

“In my state of nakedness, I didn’t want to run down Route 27,” he said. “I didn’t want people to see me like that.”

Mpletsakis said his decision to drive naked was influenced by a love he had for the metallic green BMW, which he said he cared for meticulously.

“Even my family teased me on how I was always out there doing something to it — cleaning it; vacuuming it,” Mpletsakis said.

Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Gillet asked Mpletsakis about the amount of alcohol he drank on July 20.

Mpletsakis testified to drinking three beers, but he said the reason he swerved into the box truck was because a third vehicle struck the left side of his BMW.

“I was going straight home,” Mpletsakis told Gillet. “If it wasn’t for that other vehicle, the accident wouldn’t have ever happened.”

Mpletsakis could not describe the third vehicle, which he said “whizzed by” his peripheral vision.

“Everything happened so fast,” he said.

As to why he left the scene of the accident, Mpletsakis said: “No one appeared to be in distress … no one was crying.”

Mpletsakis added the driver and passenger of the box truck were laughing at him when they saw him naked.

Like his colleagues who testified earlier in the trial, Mpletsakis said he would only charge someone with a summons for leaving the scene of the accident after he had all the facts.

“We try to locate the driver to give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Gillet attempted to question Mpletsakis on the nature of a phone call made to his cell phone on the evening before the crash. But Dunellen Municipal Court Judge Joe Leonard sustained an objection by defense attorney Darren M. Gelber.

Gillet was also forbidden from asking about a prior car accident that left Mpletsakis badly injured in 2004. In that accident, Mpletsakis was driving southbound on Route 1 in a 2000 Honda Prelude when the vehicle left the road near Forest Haven Boulevard and struck a concrete wall near the old Ford plant, police said.

The next phase of the trial — motions and summations — will take place at 1 p.m. Monday. The trial is being held in Dunellen to avoid a conflict of interest in Edison.

Warning: Reading this post may be dangerous to your health. – If you have ever seen the Monty Python skit about the Most Dangerous Joke in the World, you will understand. Engrish at it’s all time best.

Questionable Content


No Icons, No Monuments Worth Protecting
June 01, 2006
by Richard Esposito

New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent–from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation’s most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.

The form ignored that New York City is the capital of the world financial markets and merely stated the city had four significant bank assets.

New York City is home to Chase, JP Morgan, Citi Group, The New York Stock Exchange, The Commodities Exchange, American Express, George Soros funds, Michael Gabelli’s funds, Lazard Frere and Salomon Brothers, to name just a few of the more prominent banking interests located there.

The formula did note a commuter population of more than 16 million around the city twice struck by fundamentalist terrorists and twice more targeted in plots halted in pre-operational stages. It noted the more than eight million residents and the largest rail ridership in the nation – more than five million. It is those commuters and rail riders who are expected to suffer most from the cuts since mass transit is listed on most DHS alerts as the top terror target. (Click here for the Strategic Threat Document obtained by ABC News.)

The report lists as classified “visitors of interest destination city,” immigration cases, suspicious incidents and FBI cases. New York City is home to the largest FBI field office in the country, which actively monitors 24/7 the Iranian Mission. The city has also had the most significant terror trials in the nation and is home to one of the largest air hubs in the nation.

Killer Workout
Are gyms, not mosques, the main breeding ground for Islamic terrorists?
By Brendan O’Neill
June 1, 2006

There have been three major terror attacks in the West over the past five years—9/11, the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, and the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London Underground. For all the talk of a radical Islamist conspiracy to topple Western civilization, there are many differences between the men who executed these attacks. The ringleaders of 9/11 were middle-class students; the organizers of the Madrid bombings were mainly immigrants from North Africa; the 7/7 bombers were British citizens, well-liked and respected in their local communities. And interpretations of Islam also varied wildly from one terror cell to another. Mohammad Atta embraced a mystical (and pretty much made-up) version of Islam. For the Madrid attackers, Islam was a kind of comfort blanket. The men behind 7/7 were into community-based Islam, which emphasized being good and resisting a life of decadence.

The three cells appear to have had at least one thing in common, though—their members’ immersion in gym culture. Often, they met and bonded over a workout. If you’ll forgive the pun, they were fitness fanatics. Is there something about today’s preening and narcissistic gym culture that either nurtures terrorists or massages their self-delusions and desires? Mosques, even radical ones, emphasize Muslims’ relationships with others—whether it be God, the ummah (Islamic world), or the local community. The gym, on the other hand, allows individuals to focus myopically on themselves. Perhaps it was there, among the weightlifting and rowing machines, that these Western-based terror cells really set their course.

The British government recently published its Report of the Official Account of the Bombings in London on 7th July 2005. It reveals that three of the four members of the 7/7 cell seem to have become radicalized in gyms rather than in mosques. Mohammed Sidique Khan, leader of the cell, worked on his protégés in “informal settings,” primarily at a local Islamic bookshop where they watched radical DVDs and at local gyms, some of which were based in rooms below mosques. According to the report, “Khan gave talks [at the gyms], and worked out.” He set up two gyms, one in 2000 with local government money—which means that government officials unwittingly funded one of the settings for his efforts—and another in 2004. Shehzad Tanweer, the 22-year-old who seems to have been the second-in-command of the 7/7 cell, “got to know [Khan] again (having known him a little as a child) through one of the gyms.” Indeed, Tanweer was as much a fitness fanatic as he was a religious one. Shortly after 7/7, one of his former friends told the Guardian: “Shehzad went to a few mosques around here but he was more interested in his jujitsu. I trained with him all the time. He is really fit.” Jermaine Lindsay, another of the 7/7 bombers, has also been described as a “fitness fanatic.” A report published by the Terrorism Monitor at the end of July 2005 said that he “met his fellow bombers while attending one of the gyms set up by Khan.”

According to the British government’s report, one of Khan’s gyms was known locally as “the al-Qaida gym.” Khan also seems to have used outdoor sporting activities to win over and indoctrinate recruits, and the report suggests that other alleged terror cells in the United Kingdom may have done so as well. “Camping, canoeing, white-water rafting, paintballing and other outward bound type activities are of particular interest because they appear common factors for the 7 July bombers and other cells disrupted previously and since.” The report asks if such outings may have been used to “help with bonding between members of cells.”

Khan seemed to view gym and sports activities as more than an opportunity for physical bonding; he also appeared to consider them moral and pure, an alternative to the decadent temptations of contemporary society. Healthy living, as a doctrine, appears to have been close to his radical heart. In Khan’s talks to young Muslims and potential recruits, he reportedly made numerous references to keeping fit. His talks “focused on clean living, staying away from crime and drugs, and the value of sport and outdoor activity,” says the British government’s 7/7 report. Perhaps it was the gym setting that nurtured the 7/7 cell’s combination of arrogance and fury, its seeming belief that they were good and the rest of us were rotten.

One of the chief suspects in the Madrid bombings, Moroccan immigrant Jamal Zougam, was also known for his devotion to keeping fit. Zougam ran a mobile-phone shop in an immigrant quarter in Madrid, and he is thought to have provided the mobile phones for the remote detonators that exploded the bombs and killed 191 commuters in March 2004. According to reports, he was a “gym-loving man.” The French newspaper Le Monde reported that his friends and acquaintances were shocked to discover Zougam’s involvement in the Madrid bombings, because he liked nothing better than attending the “gym or the discotèchque.” The bomb that did not explode, and that subsequently led police to Zougam’s shop, had been planted in a gym bag. It is also reported that Zougam and Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet, the Tunisian ringleader of the Madrid bombings who blew himself up when surrounded by Spanish police a few weeks later, attended gym together and sometimes discussed politics there.

The 9/11 hijackers spent a great deal of time in gyms. Mohammad Atta joined one in Hamburg in 1999. Upon arrival in America in 2000, he and other leaders of his cell—Ziad Jarrah and Marwan al-Shehhi—signed up for gym memberships. When the “muscle hijackers” from Saudi Arabia, whose job was to use physical force on 9/11, joined the ringleaders in the United States, they were encouraged to find housing close to gyms and to get gym memberships. In the first week of September 2001, five of the muscle hijackers—Khalid Almihdhar, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Salem al-Hazmi, Majed Moqed, and Hani Hanjour—were regularly seen training and talking at Gold’s Gym in Greenbelt, Md.

The 9/11 hijackers needed to be reasonably fit for their operation. They had to overpower airline staff and passengers in order to commandeer the jets. Yet there seems to have been more to their interest in gyms than building up muscle. One gym owner said the men seemed to gather for “social reasons.” And it was Atta, Jarrah, and al-Shehhi, the pilots of 9/11 who would spend that fateful morning locked inside the cockpit, who seemed most keen on keeping fit. According to Complete 9/11 Timeline, published by the Center for Cooperative Research, Jarrah “train[ed] intensively” from May to August 2001 and Atta and al-Shehhi “also took exercising very seriously.” The muscle hijackers, meanwhile, tended to “simply cluster around a small circuit of machines, never asking for help and, according to a trainer, never pushing any weights.”

Perhaps the ringleaders of 9/11, like one of the prime suspects in Madrid and three of the four 7/7 bombers, had a penchant for healthy living. Certainly Atta seemed to be obsessed with bodily appearance. He advised his team of hijackers to shave off their pubic hair and to douse themselves in cologne the night before the attacks, to ready themselves for arrival in paradise. Islamic scholars have pointed out that these stipulations have little grounding in Quranic law. But they do reflect our keep-fit age. Bodybuilders, among others, are known to shave off their body hair in order to make the contours of their bodies look more impressive.

Today’s gym culture seems like the perfect vehicle for nurturing the combination of narcissism and loathing of the masses necessary to carry out a terrorist suicide mission. If some of these attackers viewed their own bodies as pure instruments, and everyone else as wasteful and deserving of punishment, they could just as well have come to that conclusion through absorbing the healthy-living agenda of the gym as by reading the Quran. At the gym, Atta, Khan, and the others could focus on perfecting the self, the body, as a pure and righteous thing—and hone their disdain for others.

So, should we shut down all gyms in the name of fighting terrorism? Of course not. It’s a ludicrous idea. But no more ludicrous, perhaps, than the infiltration of Western mosques.

Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted — enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.
Jun 01, 2006

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush — and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush’s victory as nut cases in ”tinfoil hats,” while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ”conspiracy theories,”(1) and The New York Times declared that ”there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.”(2)

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots — or received them too late to vote(4) — after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment — roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush’s victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency. A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.(11)

Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America’s voting system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county and city officials. ”We didn’t have one election for president in 2004,” says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. ”We didn’t have fifty elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities.”

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush. After carefully examining the evidence, I’ve become convinced that the president’s party mounted a massive, coordinated campaign to subvert the will of the people in 2004. Across the country, Republican election officials and party stalwarts employed a wide range of illegal and unethical tactics to fix the election. A review of the available data reveals that in Ohio alone, at least 357,000 voters, the overwhelming majority of them Democratic, were prevented from casting ballots or did not have their votes counted in 2004(12) — more than enough to shift the results of an election decided by 118,601 votes.(13) (See Ohio’s Missing Votes) In what may be the single most astounding fact from the election, one in every four Ohio citizens who registered to vote in 2004 showed up at the polls only to discover that they were not listed on the rolls, thanks to GOP efforts to stem the unprecedented flood of Democrats eager to cast ballots.(14) And that doesn?t even take into account the troubling evidence of outright fraud, which indicates that upwards of 80,000 votes for Kerry were counted instead for Bush. That alone is a swing of more than 160,000 votes — enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.(15)

”It was terrible,” says Sen. Christopher Dodd, who helped craft reforms in 2002 that were supposed to prevent such electoral abuses. ”People waiting in line for twelve hours to cast their ballots, people not being allowed to vote because they were in the wrong precinct — it was an outrage. In Ohio, you had a secretary of state who was determined to guarantee a Republican outcome. I’m terribly disheartened.”

Indeed, the extent of the GOP’s effort to rig the vote shocked even the most experienced observers of American elections. ”Ohio was as dirty an election as America has ever seen,” Lou Harris, the father of modern political polling, told me. ”You look at the turnout and votes in individual precincts, compared to the historic patterns in those counties, and you can tell where the discrepancies are. They stand out like a sore thumb.”

I. The Exit Polls
The first indication that something was gravely amiss on November 2nd, 2004, was the inexplicable discrepancies between exit polls and actual vote counts. Polls in thirty states weren’t just off the mark — they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by their margin of error. In all but four states, the discrepancy favored President Bush.(16)

Over the past decades, exit polling has evolved into an exact science. Indeed, among pollsters and statisticians, such surveys are thought to be the most reliable. Unlike pre-election polls, in which voters are asked to predict their own behavior at some point in the future, exit polls ask voters leaving the voting booth to report an action they just executed. The results are exquisitely accurate: Exit polls in Germany, for example, have never missed the mark by more than three-tenths of one percent.(17) ”Exit polls are almost never wrong,” Dick Morris, a political consultant who has worked for both Republicans and Democrats, noted after the 2004 vote. Such surveys are ”so reliable,” he added, ”that they are used as guides to the relative honesty of elections in Third World countries.”(18) In 2003, vote tampering revealed by exit polling in the Republic of Georgia forced Eduard Shevardnadze to step down.(19) And in November 2004, exit polling in the Ukraine — paid for by the Bush administration — exposed election fraud that denied Viktor Yushchenko the presidency.(20)

But that same month, when exit polls revealed disturbing disparities in the U.S. election, the six media organizations that had commissioned the survey treated its very existence as an embarrassment. Instead of treating the discrepancies as a story meriting investigation, the networks scrubbed the offending results from their Web sites and substituted them with ”corrected” numbers that had been weighted, retroactively, to match the official vote count. Rather than finding fault with the election results, the mainstream media preferred to dismiss the polls as flawed.(21)

”The people who ran the exit polling, and all those of us who were their clients, recognized that it was deeply flawed,” says Tom Brokaw, who served as anchor for NBC News during the 2004 election. ”They were really screwed up — the old models just don’t work anymore. I would not go on the air with them again.”

In fact, the exit poll created for the 2004 election was designed to be the most reliable voter survey in history. The six news organizations — running the ideological gamut from CBS to Fox News — retained Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International,(22) whose principal, Warren Mitofsky, pioneered the exit poll for CBS in 1967(23) and is widely credited with assuring the credibility of Mexico’s elections in 1994.(24) For its nationwide poll, Edison/Mitofsky selected a random subsample of 12,219 voters(25) — approximately six times larger than those normally used in national polls(26) — driving the margin of error down to approximately plus or minus one percent.(27)

On the evening of the vote, reporters at each of the major networks were briefed by pollsters at 7:54 p.m. Kerry, they were informed, had an insurmountable lead and would win by a rout: at least 309 electoral votes to Bush’s 174, with fifty-five too close to call.(28) In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair went to bed contemplating his relationship with President-elect Kerry.(29)

As the last polling stations closed on the West Coast, exit polls showed Kerry ahead in ten of eleven battleground states — including commanding leads in Ohio and Florida — and winning by a million and a half votes nationally. The exit polls even showed Kerry breathing down Bush’s neck in supposed GOP strongholds Virginia and North Carolina.(30) Against these numbers, the statistical likelihood of Bush winning was less than one in 450,000.(31) ”Either the exit polls, by and large, are completely wrong,” a Fox News analyst declared, ”or George Bush loses.”(32)

But as the evening progressed, official tallies began to show implausible disparities — as much as 9.5 percent — with the exit polls. In ten of the eleven battleground states, the tallied margins departed from what the polls had predicted. In every case, the shift favored Bush. Based on exit polls, CNN had predicted Kerry defeating Bush in Ohio by a margin of 4.2 percentage points. Instead, election results showed Bush winning the state by 2.5 percent. Bush also tallied 6.5 percent more than the polls had predicted in Pennsylvania, and 4.9 percent more in Florida.(33)

According to Steven F. Freeman, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania who specializes in research methodology, the odds against all three of those shifts occurring in concert are one in 660,000. ”As much as we can say in sound science that something is impossible,” he says, ”it is impossible that the discrepancies between predicted and actual vote count in the three critical battleground states of the 2004 election could have been due to chance or random error.” (See The Tale of the Exit Polls)

Puzzled by the discrepancies, Freeman laboriously examined the raw polling data released by Edison/Mitofsky in January 2005. ”I’m not even political — I despise the Democrats,” he says. ”I’m a survey expert. I got into this because I was mystified about how the exit polls could have been so wrong.” In his forthcoming book, Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count, Freeman lays out a statistical analysis of the polls that is deeply troubling.

In its official postmortem report issued two months after the election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its methodology — so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd(34) — displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that skewed the polls in Kerry’s favor by a margin of 6.5 percent nationwide.(35)

Industry peers didn’t buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation’s leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky’s ”reluctant responder” hypothesis is ”preposterous.”(36) Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: ”It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.”(37)

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky’s own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters’ questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey — compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds.(38) ”The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,” observes Freeman, ”but actually contradicts it.”

What’s more, Freeman found, the greatest disparities between exit polls and the official vote count came in Republican strongholds. In precincts where Bush received at least eighty percent of the vote, the exit polls were off by an average of ten percent. By contrast, in precincts where Kerry dominated by eighty percent or more, the exit polls were accurate to within three tenths of one percent — a pattern that suggests Republican election officials stuffed the ballot box in Bush country.(39)

”When you look at the numbers, there is a tremendous amount of data that supports the supposition of election fraud,” concludes Freeman. ”The discrepancies are higher in battleground states, higher where there were Republican governors, higher in states with greater proportions of African-American communities and higher in states where there were the most Election Day complaints. All these are strong indicators of fraud — and yet this supposition has been utterly ignored by the press and, oddly, by the Democratic Party.”

The evidence is especially strong in Ohio. In January, a team of mathematicians from the National Election Data Archive, a nonpartisan watchdog group, compared the state’s exit polls against the certified vote count in each of the forty-nine precincts polled by Edison/Mitofsky. In twenty-two of those precincts — nearly half of those polled — they discovered results that differed widely from the official tally. Once again — against all odds — the widespread discrepancies were stacked massively in Bush’s favor: In only two of the suspect twenty-two precincts did the disparity benefit Kerry. The wildest discrepancy came from the precinct Mitofsky numbered ”27,” in order to protect the anonymity of those surveyed. According to the exit poll, Kerry should have received sixty-seven percent of the vote in this precinct. Yet the certified tally gave him only thirty-eight percent. The statistical odds against such a variance are just shy of one in 3 billion.(40)

Such results, according to the archive, provide ”virtually irrefutable evidence of vote miscount.” The discrepancies, the experts add, ”are consistent with the hypothesis that Kerry would have won Ohio’s electoral votes if Ohio’s official vote counts had accurately reflected voter intent.”(41) According to Ron Baiman, vice president of the archive and a public policy analyst at Loyola University in Chicago, ”No rigorous statistical explanation” can explain the ”completely nonrandom” disparities that almost uniformly benefited Bush. The final results, he adds, are ”completely consistent with election fraud — specifically vote shifting.”

II. The Partisan Official
No state was more important in the 2004 election than Ohio. The state has been key to every Republican presidential victory since Abraham Lincoln’s, and both parties overwhelmed the state with television ads, field organizers and volunteers in an effort to register new voters and energize old ones. Bush and Kerry traveled to Ohio a total of forty-nine times during the campaign — more than to any other state.(42)

But in the battle for Ohio, Republicans had a distinct advantage: The man in charge of the counting was Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of President Bush’s re-election committee.(43) As Ohio’s secretary of state, Blackwell had broad powers to interpret and implement state and federal election laws — setting standards for everything from the processing of voter registration to the conduct of official recounts.(44) And as Bush’s re-election chair in Ohio, he had a powerful motivation to rig the rules for his candidate. Blackwell, in fact, served as the ”principal electoral system adviser” for Bush during the 2000 recount in Florida,(45) where he witnessed firsthand the success of his counterpart Katherine Harris, the Florida secretary of state who co-chaired Bush’s campaign there.(46)

Blackwell — now the Republican candidate for governor of Ohio(47) — is well-known in the state as a fierce partisan eager to rise in the GOP. An outspoken leader of Ohio’s right-wing fundamentalists, he opposes abortion even in cases of rape(48) and was the chief cheerleader for the anti-gay-marriage amendment that Republicans employed to spark turnout in rural counties(49). He has openly denounced Kerry as ”an unapologetic liberal Democrat,”(50) and during the 2004 election he used his official powers to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens in Democratic strongholds. In a ruling issued two weeks before the election, a federal judge rebuked Blackwell for seeking to ”accomplish the same result in Ohio in 2004 that occurred in Florida in 2000.”(51)

”The secretary of state is supposed to administer elections — not throw them,” says Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Cleveland who has dealt with Blackwell for years. ”The election in Ohio in 2004 stands out as an example of how, under color of law, a state election official can frustrate the exercise of the right to vote.”

The most extensive investigation of what happened in Ohio was conducted by Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.(52) Frustrated by his party’s failure to follow up on the widespread evidence of voter intimidation and fraud, Conyers and the committee’s minority staff held public hearings in Ohio, where they looked into more than 50,000 complaints from voters.(53) In January 2005, Conyers issued a detailed report that outlined ”massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio.” The problems, the report concludes, were ”caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell.”(54)

”Blackwell made Katherine Harris look like a cupcake,” Conyers told me. ”He saw his role as limiting the participation of Democratic voters. We had hearings in Columbus for two days. We could have stayed two weeks, the level of fury was so high. Thousands of people wanted to testify. Nothing like this had ever happened to them before.”

When ROLLING STONE confronted Blackwell about his overtly partisan attempts to subvert the election, he dismissed any such claim as ”silly on its face.” Ohio, he insisted in a telephone interview, set a ”gold standard” for electoral fairness. In fact, his campaign to subvert the will of the voters had begun long before Election Day. Instead of welcoming the avalanche of citizen involvement sparked by the campaign, Blackwell permitted election officials in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo to conduct a massive purge of their voter rolls, summarily expunging the names of more than 300,000 voters who had failed to cast ballots in the previous two national elections.(55) In Cleveland, which went five-to-one for Kerry, nearly one in four voters were wiped from the rolls between 2000 and 2004.(56)

There were legitimate reasons to clean up voting lists: Many of the names undoubtedly belonged to people who had moved or died. But thousands more were duly registered voters who were deprived of their constitutional right to vote — often without any notification — simply because they had decided not to go to the polls in prior elections.(57) In Cleveland’s precinct 6C, where more than half the voters on the rolls were deleted,(58) turnout was only 7.1 percent(59) — the lowest in the state.

According to the Conyers report, improper purging ”likely disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters statewide.”(60) If only one in ten of the 300,000 purged voters showed up on Election Day — a conservative estimate, according to election scholars — that is 30,000 citizens who were unfairly denied the opportunity to cast ballots.

III. The Strike Force
In the months leading up to the election, Ohio was in the midst of the biggest registration drive in its history. Tens of thousands of volunteers and paid political operatives from both parties canvassed the state, racing to register new voters in advance of the October 4th deadline. To those on the ground, it was clear that Democrats were outpacing their Republican counterparts: A New York Times analysis before the election found that new registrations in traditional Democratic strongholds were up 250 percent, compared to only twenty-five percent in Republican-leaning counties.(61) ”The Democrats have been beating the pants off us in the air and on the ground,” a GOP county official in Columbus confessed to The Washington Times.(62)

To stem the tide of new registrations, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party attempted to knock tens of thousands of predominantly minority and urban voters off the rolls through illegal mailings known in electioneering jargon as ”caging.” During the Eighties, after the GOP used such mailings to disenfranchise nearly 76,000 black voters in New Jersey and Louisiana, it was forced to sign two separate court orders agreeing to abstain from caging.(63) But during the summer of 2004, the GOP targeted minority voters in Ohio by zip code, sending registered letters to more than 200,000 newly registered voters(64) in sixty-five counties.(65) On October 22nd, a mere eleven days before the election, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett — who also chairs the board of elections in Cuyahoga County — sought to invalidate the registrations of 35,427 voters who had refused to sign for the letters or whose mail came back as undeliverable.(66) Almost half of the challenged voters were from Democratic strongholds in and around Cleveland.(67)

There were plenty of valid reasons that voters had failed to respond to the mailings: The list included people who couldn’t sign for the letters because they were serving in the U.S. military, college students whose school and home addresses differed,(68) and more than 1,000 homeless people who had no permanent mailing address.(69) But the undeliverable mail, Bennett claimed, proved the new registrations were fraudulent.

By law, each voter was supposed to receive a hearing before being stricken from the rolls.(70) Instead, in the week before the election, kangaroo courts were rapidly set up across the state at Blackwell’s direction that would inevitably disenfranchise thousands of voters at a time(71) — a process that one Democratic election official in Toledo likened to an ”inquisition.”(72) Not that anyone was given a chance to actually show up and defend their right to vote: Notices to challenged voters were not only sent out impossibly late in the process, they were mailed to the very addresses that the Republicans contended were faulty.(73) Adding to the atmosphere of intimidation, sheriff’s detectives in Sandusky County were dispatched to the homes of challenged voters to investigate the GOP’s claims of fraud.(74)

1) Manual Roig-Franzia and Dan Keating, ”Latest Conspiracy Theory — Kerry Won — Hits the Ether,” The Washington Post, November 11, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41106-2004Nov10.html

2) The New York Times Editorial Desk, ”About Those Election Results,” The New York Times, November 14, 2004. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F70615FA3C5B0C778DDDA80994DC404482&n

3) United States Department of Defense, ”Defense Department Special Briefing on Federal Voting Assistance Program,” August 6, 2004. http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040806-1502.html

4) Overseas Vote Foundation, ”2004 Post Election Survey Results,” June 2005, page 11. http://www.overseasvotefoundation.org/downloads/surveys/ovf_survey_01jun2005_

5) Jennifer Joan Lee, ”Pentagon Blocks Site for Voters Outside U.S.,” International Herald Tribune, September 20, 2004.

6) Meg Landers, ”Librarian Bares Possible Voter Registration Dodge,” Mail Tribune (Jackson County, OR), September 21, 2004. http://www.mailtribune.com/archive/2004/0921/local/stories/02local.htm

7) Mark Brunswick and Pat Doyle, ”Voter Registration; 3 former workers: Firm paid pro-Bush bonuses; One said he was told his job was to bring back cards for GOP voters,” Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), October 27, 2004.

8) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election Results for the U.S. President. http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2004/2004pres.pdf

9) Ellen Theisen and Warren Stewart, Summary Report on New Mexico State Election Data, January 4, 2005, pg. 2. http://www.democracyfornewmexico.com/democracy_for_new_mexico/files/

James W. Bronsan, ”In 2004, New Mexico Worst at Counting Votes,” Scripps Howard News Service, December 22, 2004. 10) ”A Summary of the 2004 Election Day Survey; How We Voted: People, Ballots & Polling Places; A Report to the American People by the United States Election Assistance Commission,” September 2005, pg. 10. http://www.eac.gov/election_survey_2004/pdf/EDS%20exec.%20summary.pdf

11) Facts mentioned in this paragraph are subsequently cited throughout the story.

12) See ”Ohio’s Missing Votes.”

13) Federal Election Commission, Federal Elections 2004: Election Results for the U.S. President. http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2004/2004pres.pdf

14) Democratic National Committee, Voting Rights Institute, “Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio,” June 22, 2005. Page 5 http://a9.g.akamai.net/7/9/8082/v001/www.democrats.org/pdfs/ohvrireport/fullreport.pdf

15) See ”VIII. Rural Counties.”

16) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004 prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofksy International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3 http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/EvaluationJan192005.pdf

17) This refers to data for German national elections in 1994, 1998 and 2002, previously cited by Steven F. Freeman.

18) Dick Morris, “Those Faulty Exit Polls Were Sabotage,” The Hill, November 4, 2004. http://www.hillnews.com/morris/110404.aspx

19) Martin Plissner, “Exit Polls to Protect the Vote,” The New York Times, October 17, 2004.

20) Matt Kelley, “U.S. Money has Helped Opposition in Ukraine,” Associated Press, December 11, 2004. http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20041211/news_1n11usaid.html

Daniel Williams, “Court Rejects Ukraine Vote; Justices Cite Massive Fraud in Runoff, Set New Election,” The Washington Post, December 4, 2004.

21) Steve Freeman and Joel Bleifuss, “Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count,” Seven Stories Press, July 2006, Page 102.

22) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 3. http://www.exit-poll.net/election-night/EvaluationJan192005.pdf

23) Mitofsky International Web site. http://www.mitofskyinternational.com/company.htm

24) Tim Golden, “Election Near, Mexicans Question the Questioners,” The New York Times, August 10, 1994.

25) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 59.

26) Jonathan D. Simon, J.D., and Ron P. Baiman, Ph.D., “The 2004 Presidential Election: Who Won the Popular Vote? An Examination of the Comparative Validity of Exit Poll and Vote Count Data.” FreePress.org, December 29, 2004, P. 9 http://freepress.org/images/departments/PopularVotePaper181_1.pdf

27) Analysis by Steven F. Freeman.

28) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134

29) Jim Rutenberg, ”Report Says Problems Led to Skewing Survey Data,” The New York Times, November 5, 2004.

30) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 134

31) Analysis of the 2004 Presidential Election Exit Poll Discrepancies. U.S. Count Votes. Baiman R, et al. March 31, 2005. Page 3. http://www.electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/Exit_Polls_2004_Edison-Mitofsky.pdf

32) Notes From Campaign Trail, Fox News Network, Live Event, 8:00 p.m. EST, November 2, 2004.

33) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 101-102

34) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.

35) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 120.

36) Interview with John Zogby

37) Evaluation of Edison/Mitofsky Election System 2004; prepared by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the National Election Pool (NEP), January 19, 2005, Page 4.

38) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 128.

39) Freeman and Bleifuss, pg. 130.

40) “The Gun is Smoking: 2004 Ohio Precinct-level Exit Poll Data Show Virtually Irrefutable Evidence of Vote Miscount,” U.S. Count Votes, National Election Data Archive, January 23, 2006. http://uscountvotes.org/ucvAnalysis/OH/Ohio-Exit-Polls-2004.pdf

41) ”The Gun is Smoking,” pg. 16.

42) The Washington Post, “Charting the Campaign: Top Five Most Visited States,” November 2, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/elections/2004/charting.html

43) John McCarthy, “Nearly a Month Later, Ohio Fight Goes On,” Associated Press Online, November 30, 2004.

44) Ohio Revised Code, 3501.04, Chief Election Officer http://onlinedocs.andersonpublishing.com/oh/lpExt.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=PORC

45) Joe Hallett, ”Blackwell Joins GOP?s Spin Team,” The Columbus Dispatch, November 30, 2004.

46) Gary Fineout, ”Records Indicate Harris on Defense,” Ledger (Lakeland, Florida), November 18, 2000.

47) http://www.kenblackwell.com/

48) Joe Hallett, ”Governor; Aggressive First Round Culminates Tuesday,” Columbus Dispatch, April 30, 2006. http://www.dispatch.com/extra/extra.php?story=dispatch/2006/04/30/20060430-B1-02.html

49) Sandy Theis, ”Blackwell Accused of Breaking Law by Pushing Same-Sex Marriage Ban,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), October 29, 2004.

50) Raw Story, “Republican Ohio Secretary of State Boasts About Delivering Ohio to Bush.” http://rawstory.rawprint.com/105/blackwell_campaign_letter2_105.php

51) In the United States District Court For the Northern District of Ohio Northern Division, The Sandusky County Democratic Party et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case No. 3:04CV7582, Page 8. http://electionlawblog.org/archives/10-20%20Order.pdf

52) Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio, Status Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff (Rep. John Conyers, Jr.), January 5, 2005. http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/ohiostatusrept1505.pdf

53) Preserving Democracy, pg. 8.

54) Preserving Democracy, pg. 4.

55) The board of elections in Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton counties.

56) Analysis by Richard Hayes Phillips, a voting rights advocate.

57) Fritz Wenzel, ”Purging of Rolls, Confusion Anger Voters; 41% of Nov. 2 Provisional Ballots Axed in Lucas County,” Toledo Blade, January 9, 2005. http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050109/NEWS09/501090334&SearchID

58) Analysis by Hayes Phillips.

59) Cuyahoga County Board of Elections

60) Preserving Democracy, pg. 6.

61) Ford Fessenden, ”A Big Increase of New Voters in Swing States,” The New York Times, September 26, 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/26/politics/campaign/26vote.html?ex=1254024000&en=

62) Ralph Z. Hallow, ”Republicans Go ?Under the Radar? in Rural Ohio,” The Washington Times, October 28, 2004. http://washtimes.com/national/20041027-115211-1609r.htm

63) Jo Becker, ”GOP Challenging Voter Registrations,” The Washington Post, October 29, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A7422-2004Oct28.html

64) Janet Babin, ”Voter Registrations Challenged in Ohio,” NPR, All Things Considered, October 28, 2004.

65) In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, Amy Miller et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case no. C-1-04-735, Page 2. http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/election2004/mlrblackwell102704ord.pdf

66) Sandy Theis, “Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP?s Blanket Challenge Backfires in a Big Way,” Plain Dealer, October 31, 2004.

67) Daniel Tokaji, “Early Returns on Election Reform,” George Washington Law Review, Vol. 74, 2005, page 1235

68) Sandy Theis, “Fraud-Busters Busted; GOP?s Blanket Challenge Backfires in a Big Way,” Plain Dealer, October 31, 2004.

69) Andrew Welsh-Huggins, ”Out of Country, Off Beaten Path; Reason for Voting Challenges Vary,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), October 27, 2004.

70) Ohio Revised Code; 3505.19

71) Directive No. 2004-44 from J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Sec?y of State, to All County Boards of Elections Members, Directors, and Deputy Directors 1 (Oct. 26, 2004).

72) Fritz Wenzel, ”Challenges Filed Against 931 Lucas County Voters,” Toledo Blade, October 27, 2004. http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041027/

73) In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, Amy Miller et al. v. J. Kenneth Blackwell, Case no. C-1-04-735, Page 4. http://news.corporatecounselcentre.ca/hdocs/docs/election2004/mlrblackwell102704ord.pdf

74) LaRaye Brown, ”Elections Board Plans Hearing For Challenges,” The News Messenger, October 26, 2004.


We’re giving up privacy and getting little in return
Better to put people, not computers, in charge of investigating potential plots.

By Bruce Schneier
May 31, 2006

Collecting information about every American’s phone calls is an example of data mining. The basic idea is to collect as much information as possible on everyone, sift through it with massive computers, and uncover terrorist plots. It’s a compelling idea, and convinces many. But it’s wrong. We’re not going to find terrorist plots through systems like this, and we’re going to waste valuable resources chasing down false alarms. To understand why, we have to look at the economics of the system.

Data mining works best when you’re searching for a well-defined profile, a reasonable number of attacks per year, and a low cost of false alarms. Credit-card fraud is one of data mining’s success stories: All credit-card companies mine their transaction databases for data for spending patterns that indicate a stolen card.

Many credit-card thieves share a pattern — purchase expensive luxury goods, purchase things that can be easily fenced, etc. — and data mining systems can minimize the losses in many cases by shutting down the card. In addition, the cost of false alarms is only a phone call to the cardholder asking him to verify a couple of purchases. The cardholders don’t even resent these phone calls — as long as they’re infrequent — so the cost is just a few minutes of operator time.

Terrorist plots are different; there is no well-defined profile and attacks are very rare. This means that data-mining systems won’t uncover any terrorist plots until they are very accurate, and that even very accurate systems will be so flooded with false alarms that they will be useless.

Just in the United States, there are trillions of connections between people and events — things that the data-mining system will have to “look at” — and very few plots. This rarity makes even accurate identification systems useless.

Let’s look at some numbers. We’ll be optimistic — we’ll assume the system has a one in 100 false-positive rate (99 percent accurate), and a one in 1,000 false-negative rate (99.9 percent accurate). Assume 1 trillion possible indicators to sift through: that’s about 10 events — e-mails, phone calls, purchases, Web destinations, whatever — per person in the United States per day. Also assume that 10 of them actually indicate terrorists plotting.

This unrealistically accurate system will generate 1 billion false alarms for every real terrorist plot it uncovers. Every day, the police will have to investigate 27 million potential plots in order to find the one real terrorist plot per month. Clearly ridiculous.

This isn’t anything new. In statistics, it’s called the “base rate fallacy,” and it applies in other domains as well. And this is exactly the sort of thing we saw with the National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program: The New York Times reported that the computers spat out thousands of tips per month. Every one of them turned out to be a false alarm, at enormous cost in money and civil liberties.

Finding terrorism plots is not a problem that lends itself to data mining. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack problem, and throwing more hay on the pile doesn’t make that problem any easier. We’d be far better off putting people in charge of investigating potential plots and letting them direct the computers, instead of putting the computers in charge and letting them decide who should be investigated.

By allowing the NSA to eavesdrop on us all, we’re not trading privacy for security. We’re giving up privacy without getting any security in return.

Bruce Schneier is the CTO of Counterpane Internet Security and the author of “Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World.”

Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects
NSA’s Hunt for Terrorists Scrutinizes Thousands of Americans, but Most Are Later Cleared

By Barton Gellman, Dafna Linzer and Carol D. Leonnig
February 5, 2006

Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.

Bush has recently described the warrantless operation as “terrorist surveillance” and summed it up by declaring that “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” But officials conversant with the program said a far more common question for eavesdroppers is whether, not why, a terrorist plotter is on either end of the call. The answer, they said, is usually no.

Fewer than 10 U.S. citizens or residents a year, according to an authoritative account, have aroused enough suspicion during warrantless eavesdropping to justify interception of their domestic calls, as well. That step still requires a warrant from a federal judge, for which the government must supply evidence of probable cause.

The Bush administration refuses to say — in public or in closed session of Congress — how many Americans in the past four years have had their conversations recorded or their e-mails read by intelligence analysts without court authority. Two knowledgeable sources placed that number in the thousands; one of them, more specific, said about 5,000.

The program has touched many more Americans than that. Surveillance takes place in several stages, officials said, the earliest by machine. Computer-controlled systems collect and sift basic information about hundreds of thousands of faxes, e-mails and telephone calls into and out of the United States before selecting the ones for scrutiny by human eyes and ears.

Successive stages of filtering grow more intrusive as artificial intelligence systems rank voice and data traffic in order of likeliest interest to human analysts. But intelligence officers, who test the computer judgments by listening initially to brief fragments of conversation, “wash out” most of the leads within days or weeks.

The scale of warrantless surveillance, and the high proportion of bystanders swept in, sheds new light on Bush’s circumvention of the courts. National security lawyers, in and out of government, said the washout rate raised fresh doubts about the program’s lawfulness under the Fourth Amendment, because a search cannot be judged “reasonable” if it is based on evidence that experience shows to be unreliable. Other officials said the disclosures might shift the terms of public debate, altering perceptions about the balance between privacy lost and security gained.

Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the nation’s second-ranking intelligence officer, acknowledged in a news briefing last month that eavesdroppers “have to go down some blind alleys to find the tips that pay off.” Other officials, nearly all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not permitted to discuss the program, said the prevalence of false leads is especially pronounced when U.S. citizens or residents are surveilled. No intelligence agency, they said, believes that “terrorist . . . operatives inside our country,” as Bush described the surveillance targets, number anywhere near the thousands who have been subject to eavesdropping.

The Bush administration declined to address the washout rate or answer any other question for this article about the policies and operations of its warrantless eavesdropping.

Vice President Cheney has made the administration’s strongest claim about the program’s intelligence value, telling CNN in December that eavesdropping without warrants “has saved thousands of lives.” Asked about that Thursday, Hayden told senators he “cannot personally estimate” such a figure but that the program supplied information “that would not otherwise have been available.” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said at the same hearing that the information helped identify “individuals who were providing material support to terrorists.”

Supporters speaking unofficially said the program is designed to warn of unexpected threats, and they argued that success cannot be measured by the number of suspects it confirms. Even unwitting Americans, they said, can take part in communications — arranging a car rental, for example, without knowing its purpose — that supply “indications and warnings” of an attack. Contributors to the technology said it is a triumph for artificial intelligence if a fraction of 1 percent of the computer-flagged conversations guide human analysts to meaningful leads.

Those arguments point to a conflict between the program’s operational aims and the legal and political limits described by the president and his advisers. For purposes of threat detection, officials said, the analysis of a telephone call is indifferent to whether an American is on the line. Since Sept. 11, 2001, a former CIA official said, “there is a lot of discussion” among analysts “that we shouldn’t be dividing Americans and foreigners, but terrorists and non-terrorists.” But under the Constitution, and in the Bush administration’s portrait of its warrantless eavesdropping, the distinction is fundamental.

Valuable information remains valuable even if it comes from one in a thousand intercepts. But government officials and lawyers said the ratio of success to failure matters greatly when eavesdropping subjects are Americans or U.S. visitors with constitutional protection. The minimum legal definition of probable cause, said a government official who has studied the program closely, is that evidence used to support eavesdropping ought to turn out to be “right for one out of every two guys at least.” Those who devised the surveillance plan, the official said, “knew they could never meet that standard — that’s why they didn’t go through” the court that supervises the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Michael J. Woods, who was chief of the FBI’s national security law unit until 2002, said in an e-mail interview that even using the lesser standard of a “reasonable basis” requires evidence “that would lead a prudent, appropriately experienced person” to believe the American is a terrorist agent. If a factor returned “a large number of false positives, I would have to conclude that the factor is not a sufficiently reliable indicator and thus would carry less (or no) weight.”

Bush has said his program covers only overseas calls to or from the United States and stated categorically that “we will not listen inside this country” without a warrant. Hayden said the government goes to the intelligence court when an eavesdropping subject becomes important enough to “drill down,” as he put it, “to the degree that we need all communications.”

Yet a special channel set up for just that purpose four years ago has gone largely unused, according to an authoritative account. Since early 2002, when the presiding judge of the federal intelligence court first learned of Bush’s program, he agreed to a system in which prosecutors may apply for a domestic warrant after warrantless eavesdropping on the same person’s overseas communications. The annual number of such applications, a source said, has been in the single digits.

Many features of the surveillance program remain unknown, including what becomes of the non-threatening U.S. e-mails and conversations that the NSA intercepts. Participants, according to a national security lawyer who represents one of them privately, are growing “uncomfortable with the mountain of data they have now begun to accumulate.” Spokesmen for the Bush administration declined to say whether any are discarded.

New Imperatives
Recent interviews have described the program’s origins after Sept. 11 in what Hayden has called a three-way collision of “operational, technical and legal imperatives.”

Intelligence agencies had an urgent mission to find hidden plotters before they could strike again.

About the same time, advances in technology — involving acoustic engineering, statistical theory and efficient use of computing power to apply them — offered new hope of plucking valuable messages from the vast flow of global voice and data traffic. And rapidly changing commercial trends, which had worked against the NSA in the 1990s as traffic shifted from satellites to fiber-optic cable, now presented the eavesdroppers with a gift. Market forces were steering as much as a third of global communications traffic on routes that passed through the United States.

The Bush administration had incentive and capabilities for a new kind of espionage, but 23 years of law and White House policy stood in the way.

FISA, passed in 1978, was ambiguous about some of the president’s plans, according to current and retired government national security lawyers. But other features of the eavesdropping program fell outside its boundaries.

One thing the NSA wanted was access to the growing fraction of global telecommunications that passed through junctions on U.S. territory. According to former senator Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who chaired the Intelligence Committee at the time, briefers told him in Cheney’s office in October 2002 that Bush had authorized the agency to tap into those junctions. That decision, Graham said in an interview first reported in The Washington Post on Dec. 18, allowed the NSA to intercept “conversations that . . . went through a transit facility inside the United States.”

According to surveys by TeleGeography Inc., nearly all voice and data traffic to and from the United States now travels by fiber-optic cable. About one-third of that volume is in transit from one foreign country to another, traversing U.S. networks along its route. The traffic passes through cable landing stations, where undersea communications lines meet the East and West coasts; warehouse-size gateways where competing international carriers join their networks; and major Internet hubs known as metropolitan area ethernets.

Until Bush secretly changed the rules, the government could not tap into access points on U.S. soil without a warrant to collect the “contents” of any communication “to or from a person in the United States.” But the FISA law was silent on calls and e-mails that began and ended abroad.

Even for U.S. communications, the law was less than clear about whether the NSA could harvest information about that communication that was not part of its “contents.”

“We debated a lot of issues involving the ‘metadata,'” one government lawyer said. Valuable for analyzing calling patterns, the metadata for telephone calls identify their origin, destination, duration and time. E-mail headers carry much the same information, along with the numeric address of each network switch through which a message has passed.

Intelligence lawyers said FISA plainly requires a warrant if the government wants real-time access to that information for any one person at a time. But the FISA court, as some lawyers saw it, had no explicit jurisdiction over wholesale collection of records that do not include the content of communications. One high-ranking intelligence official who argued for a more cautious approach said he found himself pushed aside. Awkward silences began to intrude on meetings that discussed the evolving rules.

“I became aware at some point of things I was not being told about,” the intelligence official said.

‘Subtly Softer Trigger’
Hayden has described a “subtly softer trigger” for eavesdropping, based on a powerful “line of logic,” but no Bush administration official has acknowledged explicitly that automated filters play a role in selecting American targets. But Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, referred in a recent letter to “mechanical surveillance” that is taking place before U.S. citizens and residents are “subject to human surveillance.”

Machine selection would be simple if the typical U.S. eavesdropping subject took part in direct calls to or from the “phone numbers of known al Qaeda” terrorists, the only criterion Bush has mentioned.

That is unusual. The NSA more commonly looks for less-obvious clues in the “terabytes of speech, text, and image data” that its global operations collect each day, according to an unclassified report by the National Science Foundation soliciting research on behalf of U.S. intelligence.

NSA Inspector General Joel F. Brenner said in 2004 that the agency’s intelligence officers have no choice but to rely on “electronic filtering, sorting and dissemination systems of amazing sophistication but that are imperfect.”

One method in use, the NSF report said, is “link analysis.” It takes an established starting point — such as a terrorist just captured or killed — and looks for associated people, places, things and events. Those links can be far more tenuous than they initially appear.

In an unclassified report for the Pentagon’s since-abandoned Total Information Awareness program, consultant Mary DeRosa showed how “degrees of separation” among the Sept. 11 conspirators concealed the significance of clues that linked them.

Khalid Almihdhar, one of the hijackers, was on a government watch list for terrorists and thus a known suspect. Mohamed Atta, another hijacker, was linked to Almihdhar by one degree of separation because he used the same contact address when booking his flight. Wail M. Alshehri, another hijacker, was linked by two degrees of separation because he shared a telephone number with Atta. Satam M.A. Al Suqami, still another hijacker, shared a post office box with Alshehri and, therefore, had three degrees of separation from the original suspect.

‘Look for Patterns’
Those links were not obvious before the identity of the hijackers became known. A major problem for analysts is that a given suspect may have hundreds of links to others with one degree of separation, including high school classmates and former neighbors in a high-rise building who never knew his name. Most people are linked to thousands or tens of thousands of people by two degrees of separation, and hundreds of thousands or millions by three degrees.

Published government reports say the NSA and other data miners use mathematical techniques to form hypotheses about which of the countless theoretical ties are likeliest to represent a real-world relationship.

A more fundamental problem, according to a high-ranking former official with firsthand knowledge, is that “the number of identifiable terrorist entities is decreasing.” There are fewer starting points, he said, for link analysis.

“At that point, your only recourse is to look for patterns,” the official said.

Pattern analysis, also described in the NSF and DeRosa reports, does not depend on ties to a known suspect. It begins with places terrorists go, such as the Pakistani province of Waziristan, and things they do, such as using disposable cell phones and changing them frequently, which U.S. officials have publicly cited as a challenge for counterterrorism.

“These people don’t want to be on the phone too long,” said Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst, offering another example.

Analysts build a model of hypothetical terrorist behavior, and computers look for people who fit the model. Among the drawbacks of this method is that nearly all its selection criteria are innocent on their own. There is little precedent, lawyers said, for using such a model as probable cause to get a court-issued warrant for electronic surveillance.

Jeff Jonas, now chief scientist at IBM Entity Analytics, invented a data-mining technology used widely in the private sector and by the government. He sympathizes, he said, with an analyst facing an unknown threat who gathers enormous volumes of data “and says, ‘There must be a secret in there.’ ”

But pattern matching, he argued, will not find it. Techniques that “look at people’s behavior to predict terrorist intent,” he said, “are so far from reaching the level of accuracy that’s necessary that I see them as nothing but civil liberty infringement engines.”

‘A Lot Better Than Chance’
Even with 38,000 employees, the NSA is incapable of translating, transcribing and analyzing more than a fraction of the conversations it intercepts. For years, including in public testimony by Hayden, the agency has acknowledged use of automated equipment to analyze the contents and guide analysts to the most important ones.

According to one knowledgeable source, the warrantless program also uses those methods. That is significant to the public debate because this kind of filtering intrudes into content, and machines “listen” to more Americans than humans do. NSA rules since the late 1970s, when machine filtering was far less capable, have said “acquisition” of content does not take place until a conversation is intercepted and processed “into an intelligible form intended for human inspection.”

The agency’s filters are capable of comparing spoken language to a “dictionary” of key words, but Roger W. Cressey, a senior White House counterterrorism official until late 2002, said terrorists and other surveillance subjects make frequent changes in their code words. He said, ” ‘Wedding’ was martyrdom day and the ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ were the martyrs.” But al Qaeda has stopped using those codes.

An alternative approach, in which a knowledgeable source said the NSA’s work parallels academic and commercial counterparts, relies on “decomposing an audio signal” to find qualities useful to pattern analysis. Among the fields involved are acoustic engineering, behavioral psychology and computational linguistics.

A published report for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said machines can easily determine the sex, approximate age and social class of a speaker. They are also learning to look for clues to deceptive intent in the words and “paralinguistic” features of a conversation, such as pitch, tone, cadence and latency.

This kind of analysis can predict with results “a hell of a lot better than chance” the likelihood that the speakers are trying to conceal their true meaning, according to James W. Pennebaker, who chairs the psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin.

“Frankly, we’ll probably be wrong 99 percent of the time,” he said, “but 1 percent is far better than 1 in 100 million times if you were just guessing at random. And this is where the culture has to make some decisions.”