April 22nd, 2004

Random tidbits.

A collection of random links for the day:
  • First released pictures of KIA from Iraq returning home. From the Washington Post:
    Since the end of the Vietnam War, presidents have worried that their military actions would lose support once the public glimpsed the remains of U.S. soldiers arriving at air bases in flag-draped caskets.

    To this problem, the Bush administration has found a simple solution: It has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases.

    Russ Kick successfully obtained these pictures for The Memory Hole (an archive of suppressed documents) by filing a FOIA request.
  • Ryan Allan, from Kansas City, MO, is a terrorist named Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, according to the US Treasury. Of course, he is no such thing: his Social Security Number was stolen (or mistyped) -- but that doesn't help him. He still can't get a loan, fly a plane -- or correct the government's error.
  • Surprisingly, "Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader raised about $600,000 in the two months since announcing his candidacy, enough money to qualify for federal matching funds and well ahead of the fund-raising pace he set four years ago, his campaign announced Wednesday." This comes via CNN from a piece in the LA Times. I would have guessed that Nader's support is much less this year than in 2000 --- but perhaps I'm out of touch.
  • I confess to being fascinated with the GCC 3.4.0 release notes. I am a compiler geek at heart, I suppose.
  • Speaking of geeky things: Andy Latto's insights on Clark Baker's describition of Hexagon Square Dancing involve "covering spaces of the punctured plane". If only there were one more untouched spot! If music is more your thing, try Rogers and Buchler's article in Music Theory Online, "Square Dance Moves and Twelve-Tone Operators: Isomorphisms and New Transformational Models".

Breaking News: CA Voting Systems Panel votes to decertify Diebold TSx voting machines

Breaking news from the folks at verifiedvoting.org:
California's Voting Systems Panel has just voted unanimously that the Diebold TSx paperless electronic voting system be decertified for use in California. Although the final decision is up to California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, he is expected to follow the recommendation of the board before April 30, 2004.

The Voting Systems Panel did not recommend against continued use of the Diebold TS electronic voting machines or use of optical-scan voting machines. The GEMs software is also not affected by this decision.

Full story available from verifiedvoting.org.

This is good news, but does not (yet) go far enough: the TS machines must work correctly and the GEMS centralized vote-couting software must count properly if the overall election is to be accurate. Either (much!) tougher standards (the current standards are, according to Diebold's lawyers, unenforceable) or else mandatory voter-verified ballots (and spot checks) are needed, in California and the nation at large.