Today's happy fun news comes from bruce_schneier, wired_27b_6, & so_very_doomed:

  • Major Vulnerability Found in Diebold Election Machines:

    Armed with a little basic knowledge of Diebold voting systems and a standard component available at any computer store, someone with a minute or two of access to a Diebold touch screen could load virtually any software into the machine and disable it, redistribute votes or alter its performance in myriad ways. "This one is worse than any of the others I've seen. It's more fundamental." (See also Voting Machines versus Slot Machines.)
  • NSA Creating Massive Phone-Call Database:

    The NSA is collecting a massive traffic-analysis database on Americans' phone calls. This looks like yet another piece of Echelon technology turned against Americans. "The agency's goal is 'to create a database of every call ever made' within the nation's borders." Note that this database does not just contain phone calls that either originate or terminate outside the U.S. This database is mostly domestic calls: calls we all make everyday. AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth are all providing this information to the NSA. Only Quest has refused.
  • Fun With Surveilance:

    It's important to link this up to the broader chain. One thing the Bush administration says it can do with this meta-data is to start tapping your calls and listening in, without getting a warrant from anyone. Having listened in on your calls, the administration asserts that if it doesn't like what it hears, it has the authority to detain you indefinitely without trial or charges, torture you until you confess or implicate others, extradite you to a Third World country to be tortured, ship you to a secret prison facility in Eastern Europe, or all of the above. If, having kidnapped and tortured you, the administration determines you were innocent after all, you'll be dumped without papers somewhere in Albania left to fend for yourself.
  • Domestic spying inquiry killed:

    The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers security clearance. "Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation."
  • US energy research is declining:

    Given the decades-long warnings about a looming world energy crisis - punctuated by the recent spike in crude oil prices - you'd assume the U.S. has been ramping up its research and development spending on energy. Think again. Since 1980, energy research has fallen from 10 percent to 2 percent of total R&D spending. And while the Bush administration lists energy research as a "high priority national need" and points to its recent energy bill as evidence, the 2005 federal budget cuts another 11 percent from energy programs.
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DNA Lounge: Wherein creeps are peeped.

Photos are now up of Creepshow Peepshow. And a fine half-o-ween it was! Among the many things to recommend it were the Lesters of Mercy, a hillbilly gothic jug band; and the opportunity to use the phrase "chicken nipples". I will say it again, because I can: "chicken nipples".