Saturday, March 27, 2004

Critter Knitter Progress

Crochet. Crochet. Crochet.

  • One circular double-crochet blanket, using acrylic yarn scraps. Red Heart green and Dazzleaire (or whatever) green ombre, held together. Size N hook. About 22 inches diameter.
  • One white basketweave afghan that had been a baby afghan, lo, those many years ago. About 3 ft by 2 ft.
  • One cat bed in moss stitch (sc, dc, skip, repeat ad infinitum), about 20 inches by 18, in dark blue and dark green Red Heart. Size P hook.
  • And I'm 2/3rds through another cat bed in moss stitch, using two strands held together of something light blue, and whatever other colors I find. So far, maroon, cream, and grey. Size N hook.

I'm going to try to finish the last one by this evening, and then I might whip out a couple towel-quilt-blankets or something.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Critter Knitter Knit-a-thon

Shall I join forces with other Critter Knitters for the Knit-a-thon? Yes! Yes, I think I shall!

I'm going to do a big-hook crochet blankie with Red Heart yarn or something like it -- that stuff's tough. If I crochet, I figure I can finish more than one in a timely manner. Something with a moss stitch I think.

Maybe I should try a quilt or something, too.
ACLU Northern CA releases Recommendations on Electronic Voting

ACLU of Northern California

Read the Report (PDF)

The three California Affiliates of the ACLU have now adopted a joint Report and Recommendations on Electronic Voting. This report, and its attendant recommendations, are the result of months of careful study and deliberation by a special joint committee working on behalf of all three affiliates. The Report and Recommendations were then presented to and adopted by the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California, and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. We hope they will provide a useful guide for others studying this vitally important issue.

The report is also archived here.
Alameda County invokes performance clause in Diebold contract

Requests written plan in 10 days

Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - The oldest West Coast customer of Diebold Election Systems is calling company executives on the carpet today, citing "disappointment and dissatisfaction" with Diebold voting equipment.


  • "the large-scale failure of electronic devices used to produce ballot-access cards for voters -- delayed Super Tuesday voting at 200 polling places in Alameda County and more than 560 in San Diego County. "
  • '"programming problems' in the Democratic and American Independent Party presidential primaries."
  • "a glitch in the Oct. 7 recall election that mysteriously awarded thousands of absentee votes for Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to Southern California Socialist John Burton."
  • "Diebold also has failed to supply certified software and hardware. State elections officials found uncertified voting software running last fall in Alameda and all other counties that Diebold serves."

Bradley Clarke, Alameda County's Registrar of Voters, "has demanded that company executives provide written assurances 'of Diebold's ability and honest commitment to this contract and to a prompt and comprehensive solution to the many problems we have experienced.'"

Monday, March 22, 2004


Alan Dechert 916-791-0456
Jan Kärrman +46 18 509 507 (Sweden, 10a-1p Pac.)
Arthur Keller 650-424-0202
Fred McLain 206-679-2198 (Washington)
Doug Jones 319-335-0740 (Iowa)
David Mertz 413-863-4552 (Massachusetts)
Laird Popkin 917-453-0700 (New York)

all can be reached via email:


Doug Jones's Voting Page:
Alan Dechert's talk at UC Santa Cruz:
Paul Andrew's column today in the Seattle Times:

GRANITE BAY, CALIFORNIA - The Open Voting Consortium will demonstrate a version of its free election software on the 1st of April at 10:00 AM in the Santa Clara County government office building, 70 W. Hedding St., room 157, San Jose. The Open Voting Consortium intends to make free voting software available for use in public elections to begin a process founders hope will transform the voting system from a fraud-prone, blackbox, proprietary, expensive, idiosyncratic, unreliable system to a technically sound, accurate, secure, inexpensive, uniform and open voting system.

An international team of volunteer scientists and engineers developed the demonstration system. Jan Kärrman of Sweden, a senior research engineer at Uppsala University says that the role of the U.S. internationally "makes it important, outside the U.S. as well, that fair elections are being held there." John-Paul Gignac of Canada wrote the software for the graphical user interface. Anand Pillai of Bangalore India, Eron Lloyd of Pennsylvania, and Dr. David Mertz of Massachusetts have been the other main software code contributors. Fred McLain, a noted computer security expert from Washington, has served as the lead developer over the past two months. "I am very pleased with the outstanding contributions of this world wide group of contributers. In a short period of time they have created a ballot system with a paper trail, an outstanding verification system and allow for vision impaired users as well," McLain stated.

A simulation of the poll-site voting machine is available on the Internet. Users can print the same ballot as with the standalone voting machine, or they can view the ballot on the screen. "We're happy to make this available," says Laird Popkin, a software wizard from New York who developed the user interface for the Internet simulation. "This really helps people to get what we're talking about."

"Voters should not be fooled into thinking their vote is secure with paperless electronic voting machines. We need a system like the Open Voting Consortium is developing that produces a paper ballot that voters can see, touch, and verify before placing in the ballot box," according to Dr. Arthur Keller, who teaches computer science at UC Santa Cruz, and serves as Vice President of the Open Voting Consortium. Professor Douglas W. Jones, a University of Iowa computer scientist and often-quoted expert on voting technology, agrees: "It's too easy to fool with a purely electronic record. We need a physical token to represent the vote so that it can be checked by ordinary human beings. We also want a system where all aspects of the system are open to public inspection so we can be sure everything is above board." Dr. Jones is also the Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of the Open Voting Consortium.

"We are not in favor of having a public process run by private companies that want to keep everything a secret," says Alan Dechert, President of the Open Voting Consortium. "It was wise to commit serious funding to modernize the voting system. But it would be foolish to spend all the money on immature technology that will be obsolete in a few years. We advocate spending a small percentage of this money on a comprehensive scientific research and development project that will give us the best possible voting system." The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) earmarks nearly four billion dollars for voting modernization. Over $1.5 billion has been appropriated for this fiscal year. "We are working with universities in several states to get this project launched. Iowa State University and the University of California are leading the way, with strong teams developing in Illinois and Nevada, so far."

The Open Voting Consortium is a Nonprofit California Corporation dedicated to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for use in public elections.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Crossing The Threshold

*Awesome* article.

Crossing the threshold: While we’re all fretting over the Patriot Act, John Ashcroft’s Justice Department is after much bigger game


"...the hue and cry raised over the Patriot Act has distracted most of us from the Bush administration’s far more dangerous assault on another class of liberties, which might be called "threshold rights." After all, the Patriot Act can be rolled back if the people decide that the government has overreached or the emergency has receded, and some provisions of the act have automatic expiration dates. But threshold rights — fair elections, open and publicly accountable government, judicial review of executive action, the right of the accused to a public jury trial, separation of powers among the three branches of government, and the rights to free expression and free association — are structural, and therefore changes to them are more enduring."
"...Attacks on threshold rights supposedly justified by the "war on terrorism" are particularly menacing because this war has no foreseeable end, and the dangers are indisputably real. Nor will the war be contained geographically; as Ashcroft warned the House Judiciary Committee in June 2003, he now considers the streets of the nation to be "a war zone." On Ashcroft’s domestic battlefield, threshold liberties are indeed under grave attack, and none with more alarming success, at least thus far, than the right to judicial oversight of the executive branch, specifically the writ of habeas corpus — the oldest and most fundamental right of free citizens in the Anglo-American legal tradition."
Carter Says War Based On Lies

Jimmy Carter Savages Blair and Bush: 'Their War Was Based on Lies' By Andrew Buncombe, The Independent UK

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Eighteen journalism groups decry HHS's use of fake news reports

Be sure to check out the letter ASNE sent to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, too.

This just came over the wire from the Journalism and Women Symposium:


March 18, 2004

Eighteen journalism groups decry HHS's use of fake news reports

Seventeen journalism organizations ^Ö representing more than 25,000
journalists ^Ö today joined the Association of Health Care Journalists in
asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to stop
using video news releases that have the appearance of authentic news
reports. AHCJ President Andrew Holtz made the request in a telephone call
to HHS spokesman William Pierce on Tuesday.

On Monday the New York Times reported that the Bush administration paid
people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare
law, including expanded coverage of prescription medicines.

In a joint statement, the groups said:

We ask that public agencies stop producing videos that imitate television
news stories or use announcers who identify themselves as reporters.
Viewers expect a reporter to be a journalist employed by a news
organization. In this case, the so-called reporter was working for a
public relations firm hired by a government agency. We find that
misidentification unacceptable.
The groups called on all news organizations to preserve their
journalistic independence by avoiding the use of such video news releases
and warned the public to question the integrity of any such message.

HHS spokesman Pierce told the Association of Health Care Journalists that
the agency sees no distinction between a video news release and a printed
news release. Even though the videos about changes to Medicare were
edited and produced to look like news reports, he said the videos were
meant to simply suggest how television stations might report the Medicare
story and that the agency had ^Óno expectation^Ô the video news releases
would air in full.

AHCJ President Andrew Holtz, an independent journalist in Portland,
Oregon, said:

"I called HHS spokesman Bill Pierce Tuesday and asked him to help put an
end to video news releases that may mislead viewers. This administration
may not be the first to use them, but it should be the last. Government
officials have a duty to communicate to the public, but they should speak
for themselves and not hide behind a paid announcer who is falsely
identified as a ^Ñreporter.^Ò^Ô

Leaders of other journalism organizations voiced similar sentiments.
Deborah Blum, president of the National Association of Science Writers,
said: ^ÓThe National Association of Science Writers objects to the use
of fake reporters and fake interviews in video news releases by the
federal government or any other agency. We have 3,000 members who
believe in honest communication of science and medicine and all of us
believe that such deceptive practices cheat the very people who most
need information provided with integrity.^Ô

Dan Fagin, president of the Society of Environmental Journalists, noted:
^ÓWe've seen a disturbing trend recently of public agencies closing off
access to documents and other important information. Now that the
government is disguising public-relations

messages as phony news reports, the public will be even more in the
dark. A healthy democracy needs open government and credible

And, Ernest R. Sotomayor, president of UNITY, an alliance of the four
major organizations of journalists of color, said: ^ÓIt is a dishonest
practice that erodes already-waning public trust of our government and
damages our ability to operate effectively.^Ô

The groups that joined in this statement are:

Association of Health Care Journalists

Association of Hispanic Journalists

Society of Environmental Journalists

National Association of Science Writers

Society of Professional Journalists

Religion Newswriters Association

National Conference of Editorial Writers

National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Native American Journalists Association

Criminal Justice Journalists

Online News Association

American Society of Journalists and Authors

Society of American Business Editors and Writers

American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors

American Society of Business Publication Editors

National Press Foundation

Journalism and Women Symposium

UNITY, an alliance of the four major organizations of journalists of


Andrew S. Holtz

AHCJ President


Portland, OR

Phone: (503) 292-1699

Fax: (561) 828-7938


Melinda Voss, MPH

AHCJ Executive Director

206 Church St. SE

Minneapolis, MN 55455-0418

Phone: (612) 624-8877

Fax: (612) 626-8251

CA Secretary of State Releases DRE Design, Operation Standards

A bit late, but very welcome.

California Sec of State Kevin Shelley has produced Draft Standards for the design and operation of DREs. He has mandated requiring a AVVPAT, that is an Accessible Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail.

Draft Standards (7 pages, c'mon, you can read that.)

Paper Audit Trail for E-Voting Machines
Welcomes Public Comments on the Draft Proposal Through April 19, 2004

SACRAMENTO --- California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced
today that he is seeking public comment on draft standards for a verified
paper trail feature he has required for electronic voting machines.

In November 2003, Secretary of State Shelley announced that beginning
July 1, 2005, no county or city may purchase a touch screen voting system
that does not include an accessible voter verified paper audit trail
(AVVPAT). As of July 2006, all touch screen voting systems used in
California, regardless of when they were purchased, must have an AVVPAT
that can be used by all voters, including the visually impaired, to
verify that their voting preferences are accurately recorded.

^?These standards will be used by voting system manufacturers to develop
the next generation of California^?s electronic voting machines,^?
Shelley said. ^?In order to be certain that the systems developed ensure
the integrity of the voting process, I encourage the public to submit
their comments, on-line or in writing, for consideration in helping us to
adopt final standards.^?

The Secretary of State^?s staff developed the draft standards with input
from a working group of county elections officials, voting machine
manufacturers, advocacy groups, and others.

The six-page Draft Standards will be available for public comment for 30
days (through April 19 at the Secretary of State^?s website at Comments will be reviewed
and considered by the Secretary in consultation with the working group of
county elections officials.

During this 30-day period the public is encouraged to send written
comments by any of the following methods:
Write to: Secretary of State Kevin Shelley
Attn: AVVPAT Draft Standards
1500 11th Street, 5th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814


Fax: (916) 653-3214