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Editor, The Konformist
Computer Voting Is Open To Easy Fraud
The Year Democracy Ended
By Bob Fitrakis
As the year ends, 2003 will be remembered by future historians as the
year the pretense of democracy in the United States ended.
Since the 1940s, conservatives have accepted the assumption of
economist Joseph Schumpeter that democracy in a mass society existed
of little more than the following: the adult population could vote;
the votes were fairly counted; and the masses could choose between
elites from one of two parties.
With the most recent revelations about the 2000 Bush coup in Florida
disclosed in the shocking stolen Diebold memos, the Bush family has
signaled that an authoritarian right-wing dynasty is the future
course for American politics.
The Sunday, November 12, 2000 Washington Post, buried on page A22,
the smoking gun of the Bush family's CIA-style rigged "demonstration"
election in Florida: "Something very strange happened on election
night to Deborah Tannenbaum, a Democratic Party official of Volusia
County. At 10 p.m., she called the county elections department and
found that Al Gore was leading George W. Bush 83,000 votes to 62,000
votes. But when she checked the county 's Web site for an update half
an hour later, she found a startling development: Gore's count had
dropped by 16,000 votes, while an obscure Socialist candidate had
picked up 10,000 ... all because of a single precinct with only 600
So it should come as no surprise when the New York Times headline on
July 24 of this year read "Computer voting is open to easy fraud."
The work by Alastair Thompson at http://www.scoop.co.nz and Bev
Harris in her essential new book Black Box Voting reveal not only
that computer voting is open to fraud but that massive and widespread
fraud occurred in the 2000 election.
Moreover, the emboldened Bush administration appears to have
continued its fraud in the 2002 and subsequent elections. Why not?
The investigation by Senator Frank Church in the 1970s revealed that
the U.S. CIA routinely rigged elections throughout the world and was
involved in overthrowing democracies and installing dictatorships as
needed during the Cold War. The list is familiar to human rights
advocates: Iran and Guatemala in the 50s; Chile and Greece in the
Four computer scientists at Rice University and a separate study by
the Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University document how easy
it is to hack into the Diebold voting machines. Diebold's CEO Wally
O'Dell is an ardent Bush supporter who recently hosted a $10,000-a-
plate fundraiser for the President in his manor in the affluent
Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington. He is "committed to helping Ohio
deliver its electoral votes to the President next year" while, at the
same time, attempting to contract with the state of Ohio for his
fabulously flawed voting machines.
And it's not just Diebold. The largest seller of computerized voting
systems in the U.S. is ES&S, whose former top exec is now Nebraska's
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who won after ES&S machines reported
an unusual and stunning black vote for him.
The Dallas News reported that early voting in the 2002 election
created ". . . several dozen complaints . . . from people who said
that they selected a Democratic candidate but that their vote
appeared beside the name of a Republican on the screen."
Recall the six major upsets of Democrats by Republicans in Georgia in
the 2002 election. The state's votes were counted on the unreliable
and easily hackable 22,000 Diebold machines. Also during the 2002
election, where over 1000 votes were cast in other races, no votes
were registered for governor as Clinton administration Attorney
General went down to a surprisingly 5000 vote loss.
As a result of these obvious voting irregularities, hackers went into
the Diebold system and stole thousands of documents and internal
memos which expose the 2000 Florida coup. In Harris' book based on
these documents and interviews with Diebold officials, she outlines
how Gore originally conceded the election after somebody used
a "second [computer] card (card #3) that mysteriously appeared,
subtracted 16,022 from Al Gore and still in some undefined way, added
4000 erroneous votes to George W. Bush . . ."
A summary of the 2002 election by scoop.co.nz found that in 14 races,
there was a 3-16 point swing to the Republican Party after the final
poll was taken providing several stunning upsets. By contrast, in
only two races was there a swing toward the Democratic Party, between
2-4 points. In three other races, the pollsters were within the
margin of error.
The American people have been socialized into denial. First about the
ruthless and imperialist nature of their 26 intelligence-gathering
agencies including the CIA and NSA that have been involved in rigging
elections worldwide and the ongoing involvement by these agencies in
American politics. What is obviously evolved is a praetorian guard,
loyal only to the Bush family, that some call the "shadow
Most Americans are intent to stick their heads in the sand on Bush's
vote-rigging and our troops in the sands of Iraq. Future historians
will record that while the facts and documentation of the end of
American republic mounted, many believed the babbling of a low-IQ'ed
well-scripted son of the new aristocracy.
Bob Fitrakis is a Political Science Professor in the Social and
Behavioral Sciences department at Columbus State Community College,
and author of The Idea of Democratic Socialism in America and the
Decline of the Socialist Party (Garland Publishers 1993). He is the
editor of The Free Press, where this article first appeared
The Death of Horatio Alger
By Paul Krugman, The Nation
December 23, 2003
The other day I found myself reading a leftist rag that made
outrageous claims about America. It said that we are becoming a
society in which the poor tend to stay poor, no matter how hard they
work; in which sons are much more likely to inherit the socioeconomic
status of their father than they were a generation ago.
The name of the leftist rag? Business Week, which published an
article titled "Waking Up From the American Dream." The article
summarizes recent research showing that social mobility in the United
States (which was never as high as legend had it) has declined
considerably over the past few decades. If you put that research
together with other research that shows a drastic increase in income
and wealth inequality, you reach an uncomfortable conclusion: America
looks more and more like a class-ridden society.
And guess what? Our political leaders are doing everything they can
to fortify class inequality, while denouncing anyone who complains -
or even points out what is happening - as a practitioner of "class
Let's talk first about the facts on income distribution. Thirty years
ago we were a relatively middle-class nation. It had not always been
thus: Gilded Age America was a highly unequal society, and it stayed
that way through the 1920s. During the 1930s and '40s, however,
America experienced what the economic historians Claudia Goldin and
Robert Margo have dubbed the Great Compression: a drastic narrowing
of income gaps, probably as a result of New Deal policies. And the
new economic order persisted for more than a generation: Strong
unions; taxes on inherited wealth, corporate profits and high
incomes; close public scrutiny of corporate management - all helped
to keep income gaps relatively small. The economy was hardly
egalitarian, but a generation ago the gross inequalities of the 1920s
seemed very distant.
Now they're back. According to estimates by the economists Thomas
Piketty and Emmanuel Saez - confirmed by data from the Congressional
Budget Office - between 1973 and 2000 the average real income of the
bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers actually fell by 7 percent.
Meanwhile, the income of the top 1 percent rose by 148 percent, the
income of the top 0.1 percent rose by 343 percent and the income of
the top 0.01 percent rose 599 percent. (Those numbers exclude capital
gains, so they're not an artifact of the stock-market bubble.) The
distribution of income in the United States has gone right back to
Gilded Age levels of inequality.
Never mind, say the apologists, who churn out papers with titles like
that of a 2001 Heritage Foundation piece, "Income Mobility and the
Fallacy of Class-Warfare Arguments." America, they say, isn't a caste
society - people with high incomes this year may have low incomes
next year and vice versa, and the route to wealth is open to all.
That's where those commies at Business Week come in: As they point
out (and as economists and sociologists have been pointing out for
some time), America actually is more of a caste society than we like
to think. And the caste lines have lately become a lot more rigid.
The myth of income mobility has always exceeded the reality: As a
general rule, once they've reached their 30s, people don't move up
and down the income ladder very much. Conservatives often cite
studies like a 1992 report by Glenn Hubbard, a Treasury official
under the elder Bush who later became chief economic adviser to the
younger Bush, that purport to show large numbers of Americans moving
from low-wage to high-wage jobs during their working lives. But what
these studies measure, as the economist Kevin Murphy put it, is
mainly "the guy who works in the college bookstore and has a real job
by his early 30s." Serious studies that exclude this sort of pseudo-
mobility show that inequality in average incomes over long periods
isn't much smaller than inequality in annual incomes.
It is true, however, that America was once a place of substantial
intergenerational mobility: Sons often did much better than their
fathers. A classic 1978 survey found that among adult men whose
fathers were in the bottom 25 percent of the population as ranked by
social and economic status, 23 percent had made it into the top 25
percent. In other words, during the first thirty years or so after
World War II, the American dream of upward mobility was a real
experience for many people.
Now for the shocker: The Business Week piece cites a new survey of
today's adult men, which finds that this number has dropped to only
10 percent. That is, over the past generation upward mobility has
fallen drastically. Very few children of the lower class are making
their way to even moderate affluence. This goes along with other
studies indicating that rags-to-riches stories have become
vanishingly rare, and that the correlation between fathers' and sons'
incomes has risen in recent decades. In modern America, it seems,
you're quite likely to stay in the social and economic class into
which you were born.
Business Week attributes this to the "Wal-Martization" of the
economy, the proliferation of dead-end, low-wage jobs and the
disappearance of jobs that provide entry to the middle class. That's
surely part of the explanation. But public policy plays a role - and
will, if present trends continue, play an even bigger role in the
Put it this way: Suppose that you actually liked a caste society, and
you were seeking ways to use your control of the government to
further entrench the advantages of the haves against the have-nots.
What would you do?
One thing you would definitely do is get rid of the estate tax, so
that large fortunes can be passed on to the next generation. More
broadly, you would seek to reduce tax rates both on corporate profits
and on unearned income such as dividends and capital gains, so that
those with large accumulated or inherited wealth could more easily
accumulate even more. You'd also try to create tax shelters mainly
useful for the rich. And more broadly still, you'd try to reduce tax
rates on people with high incomes, shifting the burden to the payroll
tax and other revenue sources that bear most heavily on people with
Meanwhile, on the spending side, you'd cut back on healthcare for the
poor, on the quality of public education and on state aid for higher
education. This would make it more difficult for people with low
incomes to climb out of their difficulties and acquire the education
essential to upward mobility in the modern economy.
And just to close off as many routes to upward mobility as possible,
you'd do everything possible to break the power of unions, and you'd
privatize government functions so that well-paid civil servants could
be replaced with poorly paid private employees.
It all sounds sort of familiar, doesn't it?
Where is this taking us? Thomas Piketty, whose work with Saez has
transformed our understanding of income distribution, warns that
current policies will eventually create "a class of rentiers in the
U.S., whereby a small group of wealthy but untalented children
controls vast segments of the US economy and penniless, talented
children simply can't compete." If he's right - and I fear that he
is - we will end up suffering not only from injustice, but from a
vast waste of human potential.
Goodbye, Horatio Alger. And goodbye, American Dream.
Paul Krugman, an economics professor at Princeton and a columnist at
the New York Times, is the author, most recently, of "The Great
Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century" (Norton).
Radio Nederland Wereldomroep
The whispering wheel
by Thijs Westerbeek, 15 december 2003
A new Dutch invention can make cars, busses and other vehicles no
less than 50 percent more efficient and thus more environmentally
friendly. Better still, the technology is already available; it all
comes down to a smart combination of existing systems.
This winter, in the city of Apeldoorn, a city bus will be used to
prove that the claims about the new invention are true. These are
quite bold. E-traction, the company that developed the bus, boasts
fuel savings of up to 60 per cent, with emissions down to only a
fraction of the soot and carbon dioxide an ordinary bus would blow
out of its tailpipe.
In addition, the test bus requires no adaptation, its drivers need no
extra training and there'll be no discomfort for passengers. It will
simply run on diesel, just like all the other buses, and it should be
just as reliable. One thing however will be very different; the
Apeldoorn bus hardly makes a sound, hence its nickname "the
All this is made possible by an `in-wheel' electric engine, in fact
nothing more than a normal electric engine turned inside out.
The outer wall of a traditional electric engine is a cylinder lined
on the inside with copper wire. If electricity is fed into the copper
wire, the current will circle the cylinder on the inside at high
speed. Cylinder and wire together are called the `stator' (because it
To change the electricity running along the inner wall of the
cylinder into movement, another part of the engine comes into
play: `the rotor'. This is in fact an axle, mounted in the centre of
the cylinder, with permanent magnets attached to it. The electrical
current in the stator pulls the rotor magnets along and the axle
starts to turn.
The wheel works precisely the other way around. The fixed part of the
engine - the stator - is now on the inside. The wire is wrapped
The moving part of the engine - the rotor - is no longer an axle
fitted with magnets but a ring running on the outside of the stator.
The magnets are fixed on the inside of this ring. If power is fed
into the engine the magnets will - as before - follow the current,
but now it's the ring on the outside, which will turn.
And that's what makes `the whisperer´revolutionary; a ring
functioning as a wheel. By just putting a tire on it you can drive a
bus, a car, anything with it. Since the wheel is in fact the engine,
no axles or any other friction-producing and therefore energy-wasting
mechanical parts are needed.
Even the transmission is unnecessary; if you want to go faster you
just run more electricity through the engine. And it works really
well while braking, when the in-wheel engine works as a generator,
produces electricity to charge the batteries.
The whispering wheel with and without tyre
Pack of Batteries
The power to drive the Apeldoorn bus is stored in a big battery pack
that sits in a steel drawer under the bus. Changing the batteries
every time they're drained would be impractical, as would be taking
the bus out of service for recharging them for hours on end. Instead,
a small diesel-powered generator built into what used to be the bus's
engine bay continuously charges the whole battery pack.
Since in-wheel engines are so highly efficient, the generator's
diesel engine can be very small, about the size of the compact city
car's engine. Because charging the batteries is all it needs to do,
the tiny engine consumes very little fuel and can run continuously at
a speed of 1700 revs per minute, the most efficient rev count.
Clean and quiet
Passengers will find it more important that the bus is quiet and
clean. No more roaring buses pulling away from the station in a cloud
of diesel fumes. When the whisperer pulls away (and whenever it
drives for that matter), the power comes from the batteries, not the
diesel engine which simply keeps on purring quietly.
Furthermore, the constant rev count makes the catalyser much more
effective, and the small size of the engine makes it possible to
completely fill the rest of the engine bay with sound proofing. Being
90 percent quieter than other buses, the `whisperer' really deserves
In the coming six months the bus has to prove itself in everyday
practice. Come summer, the city of Apeldoorn is set to decide whether
to use whisperers on a larger scale in public transport. Dr Arjan
Heinen, inventor of the whisperer and director of E-traction,
radiates confidence: "This is a practical solution for present-day
public transport. Every bus driver can get behind the wheel and do
his job as before, only now it's quiet, clean and energy-efficient."
The future of the in-wheel electric engine seems bright. At the
recent Tokyo Motor Show, it was the engine of choice in many of the
futuristic hydrogen-powered concept cars.
Court Finds Felon Disenfranchisement Law Discriminatory
Monday December 29, 2003
Kelly Cramer, Miami Daily Business Review
In a Dec. 19 opinion that reviews the history of Sunshine State's
constitution, the 11th Circuit said that there is evidence that the
state's felon disenfranchisement law discriminated against blacks
when it was enacted and that discrimination may persist to this day.
Thomas Johnson, et al. v. Governor of the State of Florida, et al.
A racist boast by a white delegate to the 1868 Constitutional
Convention that he kept blacks from taking over the state helped
convince the federal appeals court that the law violates the U.S.
Constitution's equal protection clause.
By a 2-1 vote, the appeals court partially reversed summary judgment
in favor of Gov. Jeb Bush, his cabinet and the election supervisors
in the state's 67 counties. The class action suit filed by eight ex-
felons could affect more than a half-million people currently denied
the right to vote.
The court affirmed U.S. Southern District of Florida Judge James
Lawrence King's order dismissing claims that denying clemency to ex-
felons who haven't paid court-ordered restitution violates laws
against poll taxes. But it remanded equal protection and voting
rights claims for trial.
"We conclude that an original discriminatory purpose behind Florida's
felon disenfranchisement provision establishes an equal protection
violation that persists with the provision unless it is subsequently
reenacted on the basis of an independent, nondiscriminatory purpose,"
Judge Rosemary Barkett wrote for the majority.
Citing evidence offered by the plaintiffs, Barkett noted that 10.5
percent of voting-age African-Americans cannot vote because they are
ex-felons, while 4.4 percent of voting-age nonblacks are barred
because of felony convictions.
The Sentencing Project, a Washington, D.C., criminal justice think
tank, reports that 13 percent of African-American men are unable to
vote nationally because of felon disenfranchisement laws.
Barkett cited other evidence showing blacks are convicted of felonies
at rates disproportionate to arrest rates that show involvement in
criminal activities is not race-related.
Florida is one of four remaining states to bar first-time felons from
voting unless they receive clemency and have their rights restored.
Three states have loosened or lifted their bans in recent months.
In Florida, felons who have completed their sentences lose the right
to vote, cannot serve on juries, hold public office or qualify for
some state occupational licenses.
To regain these rights, they must apply to the Board of Executive
Clemency, which consists of the governor and his cabinet. The process
can take several years.
In her dissent, Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch said the reversal is wrong
because the 14th Amendment specifically allows states to forbid
convicted felons from voting. She agreed with the majority affirming
King's dismissal of a claim that denying clemency to those ex-felons
who haven't paid their court-ordered restitution violates laws
against poll taxes.