A United States Non-Democratic Process

I found 49 cases of election fraud, corruption, dirty tricks, coercion and deliberate voter misdirection created by the Republican Party over the past 3 Presidential and numerous State Elections in the United States. I found this number of instances to be abhorring. This is not to say the Democrats are in any way, shape or form pure and devoid of similar misdeeds but in this journalist’s research, the ratio was 10/1 in favor of the Republican Party. This is not the way a Democratic society should elect a governing body holding true to the voter and respecting the will of the people. The following examples were a deliberate attempt to defraud the public of their legal rights, infringing on the public’s freedom to vote and willfully did so by creating an aura of contempt and utter dishonesty. Further, I noted (as you will read) most of the subterfuge and deliberate  malfeasance was created by the multi-millionaires their multi-national corporations and implemented by their minions; the politicians for which the American public would be voting for. Here are but a  few instances of what I found very interesting. It’s shameful to say the least.
1) Scott Gessler is a businessman, Republican Party activist and is the Secretary of State of Colorado. In 2011, Gessler filed a controversial order requiring Pueblo and Denver counties not to mail ballots to those who did not vote in 2010, including soldiers serving overseas. Pueblo and Denver are heavily Democratic counties, causing some to accuse Gessler of making the order for political reasons.
2) Ted Stevens was a Republican Senator from the state of Alaska: In 2008, Stevens was embroiled in a federal corruption trial as he ran for re-election to the Senate. He was found guilty, and eight days later was narrowly defeated at the polls. He had been charged in 2008 with seven counts of lying on a Senate disclosure form to conceal $250,000 in gifts — primarily the improvements to his Alaska home — from an Alaska oil executive and other friends.

3) In a recall elections for the Wisconsin State Senate in 2011, ‘Americans for Prosperity’ (a conservative  organization that was supporting Republican candidates and created by the Koch Brothers) sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave an incorrect deadline for absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing would have sent in their ballots too late for them to be counted. The organization said that the mistake was a typographical error. (Yeah, right.)

4) In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal, Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party’s ride-to-the-polls phone lines on election day.

5) Other allegations surfaced in several states that the group called ‘Voters Outreach of America’ had collected and submitted Republican voter registration forms while inappropriately discarding voter registration forms where the new voter had chosen to register with the Democratic Party. Such people would believe they had registered to vote, and would only discover on election day that they were not registered and could not cast a ballot.

6) Prior to the 2008 United States Presidential Election, on September 16, 2008, Obama’s legal counsel announced that they would be seeking an injunction to stop an alleged caging scheme in Michigan wherein the state Republican party would use home foreclosure lists to challenge voters still using their foreclosed home as a primary address at the polls.

7) In October of 2008 the Green Bay Press Gazette reported that the Republican Party attempted to have all 60,000 voters in the heavily Democratic city of Milwaukee who had registered since 1/1/2006 deleted from the voter rolls. 

8) In the 2000 Presidential Election, owner of DBT Online, ChoicePoint, was accused of cooperating with Florida Republican Govenor Jed Bush, Republican Secretary of State of Florida Katherine Harris and Florida Elections Unit Chief Clay Roberts, in voter fraud conspiracy involving the central voter file. It was also accused of having a bias in favor of the Republican Party for knowingly using inaccurate data, and for racial discrimination.

The allegations charge that 57,700 people (15% of the list), primarily Democrats of African-American and Hispanic descent, were incorrectly listed as felons and thus barred from voting.

Additional notes worth mentioning here.

Democratic voters receiving calls incorrectly informing them voting will lead to an arrest.
-Widespread calls fraudulently claiming to be “Democratic Senate candidate Jim) Webb Volunteers”, falsely telling voters their voting location had changed.
-Fliers paid for by the Republican Party, stating “SKIP THIS ELECTION” that allegedly attempted to suppress African-American turnout.


Spreading Paranoia

Spreading Paranoia.

The other day I was shopping for groceries at our local store and stopped to pick a local fresh tomato in the vegetable stands. I looked for a Canadian tomato and locally grown if possible as I refuse to buy foreign products of any kind. I like to support our own grown fruits, vegetables and the like. A woman approximately my age in her mid sixties was also looking for tomatoes and picked an American imported brand. I wondered if she had considered supporting local farmers? But first a short background.

I live in Haliburton County of which is classified by our government as one of the highest rated year round unemployed counties in Canada. Immediately west of Haliburton is the District of Muskoka. Muskoka has one of the highest priced acreage in Canada boasting such names as ‘Millionaires Row’ and ‘Jewels of Muskoka’ with a mean average yearly income of $81,794. Haliburton has a mean income of $53,223. Over 50% of Haliburton’s residents are aged 50 and upwards. And now to the conversation with the tomato woman.

Here basically, is how the conversation went. I started the dialogue.Image

– Have you considered buying locally?
– I look for American produce as you can see. I’m a proud American.
– I see. Are you visiting or on vacation?
– I’m staying at my son’s cottage and I’m on vacation. He is in the US Air Force and flies American F-18s.
– He must lead an exciting life. May I ask you a personal question and you don’t have to answer it if you so decide.
– Of course. Go ahead.
– What party do you support back home? The Democrats or the Republican Party?
– I’m a right leaning Republican and proud to vote Republican.
– As a journalist I would be interested to know if you think Canada should purchase your F-35 5th generation jet for defence as there is some questioning by Canadians as to our buying this aircraft?
– You have to buy the aircraft. You have to defend yourself.
– And what would we be defending ourselves against?
– Terrorist.
– Terrorists?
– You didn’t know? Canada has more terrorists than any other country. And they are right here.
– (What?) And where might ‘right here’ be?
– In Muskoka. Muskoka has more terrorist camps than any where else. You need protection and the United States will help Canada get rid of them for you.
– (Oh my God. Numerous terrorists camps in Muskoka???) Are you sure?
– Everyone in the States knows that. Didn’t you?
– No to be honest with you I didn’t and I have been an investigative journalist for many years. But thank you for that information. I have to get going. It was nice talking to you.
– (Muskoka?)

If I reported on that tidbit of information I would be laughed out of the country and never be published again. Wow. Personally speaking, and in my opinion only, the country we need to concern ourselves with regarding a land or air invasion is to our south. The U.S. of A.

Terminator Machines Are Possible

One afternoon last fall at Fort Benning, Ga., two model-size planes took off, climbed to 800 and 1,000 feet, and began criss-crossing the military base in search of an orange, green and blue tarp.

The automated, unpiloted planes worked on their own, with no human guidance, no hand on any control.

After 20 minutes, one of the aircraft, carrying a computer that processed images from an onboard camera, zeroed in on the tarp and contacted the second plane, which flew nearby and used its own sensors to examine the colorful object. Then one of the aircraft signaled to an unmanned car on the ground so it could take a final, close-up look.

Target confirmed.

This successful exercise in autonomous robotics could presage the future of the American way of war: a day when drones hunt, identify and kill the enemy based on calculations made by software, not decisions made by humans. Imagine aerial “Terminators,” minus beefcake and time travel.

The Fort Benning tarp “is a rather simple target, but think of it as a surrogate,” said Charles E. Pippin, a scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, which developed the software to run the demonstration. “You can imagine real-time scenarios where you have 10 of these things up in the air and something is happening on the ground and you don’t have time for a human to say, ‘I need you to do these tasks.’ It needs to happen faster than that.”

The demonstration laid the groundwork for scientific advances that would allow drones to search for a human target and then make an identification based on facial-recognition or other software. Once a match was made, a drone could launch a missile to kill the target.

Military systems with some degree of autonomy — such as robotic, weaponized sentries — have been deployed in the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea and other potential battle areas. Researchers are uncertain how soon machines capable of collaborating and adapting intelligently in battlefield conditions will come online. It could take one or two decades, or longer. The U.S. military is funding numerous research projects on autonomy to develop machines that will perform some dull or dangerous tasks and to maintain its advantage over potential adversaries who are also working on such systems.

The killing of terrorism suspects and insurgents by armed drones, controlled by pilots sitting in bases thousands of miles away in the western United States, has prompted criticism that the technology makes war too antiseptic. Questions also have been raised about the legality of drone strikes when employed in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, which are not at war with the United States. This debate will only intensify as technological advances enable what experts call lethal autonomy.

The prospect of machines able to perceive, reason and act in unscripted environments presents a challenge to the current understanding of international humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to use discrimination and proportionality, standards that would demand that machines distinguish among enemy combatants, surrendering troops and civilians.

“The deployment of such systems would reflect a paradigm shift and a major qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities,” Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said at a conference in Italy this month. “It would also raise a range of fundamental legal, ethical and societal issues, which need to be considered before such systems are developed or deployed.”

Drones flying over Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen can already move automatically from point to point, and it is unclear what surveillance or other tasks, if any, they perform while in autonomous mode. Even when directly linked to human operators, these machines are producing so much data that processors are sifting the material to suggest targets, or at least objects of interest. That trend toward greater autonomy will only increase as the U.S. military shifts from one pilot remotely flying a drone to one pilot remotely managing several drones at once.

But humans still make the decision to fire, and in the case of CIA strikes in Pakistan, that call rests with the director of the agency. In future operations, if drones are deployed against a sophisticated enemy, there may be much less time for deliberation and a greater need for machines that can function on their own.

The U.S. military has begun to grapple with the implications of emerging technologies.

“Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions,” according to an Air Force treatise called Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047. “These include the appropriateness of machines having this ability, under what circumstances it should be employed, where responsibility for mistakes lies and what limitations should be placed upon the autonomy of such systems.”

In the future, micro-drones will reconnoiter tunnels and buildings, robotic mules will haul equipment and mobile systems will retrieve the wounded while under fire. Technology will save lives. But the trajectory of military research has led to calls for an arms-control regime to forestall any possibility that autonomous systems could target humans.

In Berlin last year, a group of robotic engineers, philosophers and human rights activists formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) and said such technologies might tempt policymakers to think war can be less bloody.

Some experts also worry that hostile states or terrorist organizations could hack robotic systems and redirect them. Malfunctions also are a problem: In South Africa in 2007, a semiautonomous cannon fatally shot nine friendly soldiers.

The ICRAC would like to see an international treaty, such as the one banning antipersonnel mines, that would outlaw some autonomous lethal machines. Such an agreement could still allow automated antimissile systems.

“The question is whether systems are capable of discrimination,” said Peter Asaro, a founder of the ICRAC and a professor at the New School in New York who teaches a course on digital war. “The good technology is far off, but technology that doesn’t work well is already out there. The worry is that these systems are going to be pushed out too soon, and they make a lot of mistakes, and those mistakes are going to be atrocities.”

Link: From the http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/a-future-for-drones-automated-killing/2011/09/15/gIQAVy9mgK_print.html