26 October 2005

An encounter with Venezuela's electoral chief Jorge Rodriguez

London 20.10.05 | A friend called my attention a few days ago to a closing keynote speech "Biometric voter authentication - one voter - one vote" that was to be given today by Jorge Rodriguez, President, National Electoral Council (CNE), Venezuela, in the Biometrics 2005 Conference & Exhibition. So I got on the phone and called the organizers of the event to request permission to ask a couple of questions to Jorge Rodriguez in a gag law free environment. They were most cordial and certainly very helpful. After chatting to Mark Lockie I learned that Rodriguez would travel to the UK on Monday, so the agreement was for me to draft a couple of questions to be sent for approval, by both Mark and Cogent System representatives, given the technical nature of the conference. Everything was done according to plan, but then yesterday I saw Jorge Rodriguez on Venezuelan TV. Called the organizers again to communicate the news and not until 2PM today did I receive confirmation that Mr. Rodriguez would attend (his presentation was at 4.45PM).

Jumped on my bicycle and made my way to Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre. I asked one the ladies at the registration booths for Mark; having been told that he was extremely busy I decided to go for a cup of coffee and sort of hover around the entrance to catch Mr. Rodriguez on the way in. Only few minutes had passed when Mark called me and since I was just across the street I got back quickly to meet him. To be frank it gave the impression that he was actually threatened by my presence, not because I could physically harm him or anything but, probably, due to the information that some people may have given about me. One of the things that surprised me was a remark of his along the lines of "oh Cogent Systems knows about you..." I expressed my doubts regarding the feasibility of Rodriguez making it on time, unless traveling in private jet, to which he assured me that he was already in the country practicing his spiel. Anyway I gave him assurances that I was not there to create any problems or disrupt in any manner the conference. On the contrary I only wanted to ask the previously forwarded questions. Luckily he let me in.

Got into the third floor were biometrics latest stuff was in display in different stands. As I walked into one of the corridors I heard a group of Venezuelans saying "hay que estar mosca porque hay un tipo que viene a buscarle peo a Jorge" [we must be watchful for there's guy coming to have problems with Jorge (Rodriguez)]. Quite a fame, eh? I thought about telling them that I was actually the troublemaker but that would have ruined the surprise factor. Anyway as I was talking to a friend Jorge Rodriguez in the flesh approached me, introduced himself very politely and said "Aleksander Boyd? I understand you want to ask me some questions in the Q&A session?" I said indeed. "That's not a problem" he said. "Great, I shall see you in there then" I replied.

The presentation started. Rodriguez gave abundance of technical facts about the way in which the whole electronic voting system was implemented in the country and commented that his background in psychiatry has served him very well to maneuver in the highly polarized political arena of Venezuela. Laughter. The bidding process -to acquire the fingerprints machines- was intense, according to him. Not only had the CNE purchased the machines but in fact the technology behind it, read source codes, software, algorithms, etc. He said that 34% of the votes of the recall referendum were audited. Furthermore the audit process, he argued, was public. By 2006 the CNE shall be completely independent in technological terms, affirmed Rodriguez, by which time the council will have the fingerprints -both thumbs- of the entire electorate (+14 million people).

I reckon the Cogent representatives were not expecting to be informed before an audience comprised by industry peers that there were no more contracts to be had in Venezuela. In any case the Q&A session came and some more technical questions were asked.

My first question was:

1) Given the characteristics of the Olivetti "gaming ware" (game machines model MAEL 205) produced originally for lottery purposes and utilized in various voting processes by Venezuela's Electoral Council, which allow bidirectional communication at all times between terminals and remote servers, and the subsequent findings that the said terminals were in constant communication with servers, how could Mr. Rodriguez guarantee that the results produced in any given process are effectively a true representation of the electorate's will?

Jorge Rodriguez's reply:

We asked Olivetti to design, especially for us, the software and source codes that were to be used by the machines, he replied. Thus 9.200 machines were audited before the political parties and the international observers and no proof of fraud or vote tampering was found. Encryption codes utilized to transmit the data guaranteed the secrecy of the vote.

Unfortunately, owing to time constraints, I did not get to ask the second question, but since Mr. Rodriguez asked me afterwards for it to be sent via email, I shall post it here:

2) Fingerprint reading machines were purchased to Cogent Systems. Reports reveal that the use of these machines introduced abnormal delays in the voting process of the recall referendum of August 15 2004. The fingerprint database that was to be correlated and added to the electoral register has not, to date, being presented to Venezuela. In view of the existence of a publicly accessible database containing the political tendencies of the entire Venezuelan electoral register, would Mr. Rodriguez or Cogent representatives care to explain in what ways has the gathered data been utilized?

I would like to conclude by publicly thanking Mark Lockie, his colleague Allison, Mr. Robert Gailing from Cogent Systems and CNE's director Jorge Rodriguez for having kindly accepted my request and questions.

To be continued...

11 October 2005

Venezuela wants to go nuclear

London 11.10.05 | Forbes reported yesterday "Argentina's foreign minister Rafael Bielsa confirmed that Venezuela is seeking to buy a medium-size nuclear power reactor from Argentina, daily Clarin reported". In the original story from Clarin it is stated that Engineer César Belinco -on behalf of Argentinean Technology Network (Red Tecnológica Argentina, RTA)- and PDVSA's INTEVEP president Alfredo Morales, signed an act formalising Venezuela's intent to purchase the nuclear reactor.

Venezuela's Vice President admitted the reactor's purchase on Monday arguing that the negotiation was between PDVSA and Argentina's Ministry of Science and Technology. Contrastingly Venezuela's Energy Minister and PDVSA CEO Rafael Ramirez declared with respect to the reactor "... there is not a concrete agreement for the acquisition of any element related to the generation of atomic energy" (sic).

Needless to say that neither Rangel's nor Ramirez statements have relevance. For it is the word of warlord Hugo Chavez the one that matters. Now, would Clarin's journalists care to share with the world the letter of intent, which they claimed to have had access to and is allegedly circulating around companies and organisms involved, that Argentinean and Venezuelan officials signed?

Another interesting question would be; for what purpose does the world's fifth largest oil producer need atomic energy? Is it to stick it to the US or to grow bolder as the region's bully? Nah, Argentina's Foreign Secretary Rafael Bielsa gave assurances that the sale of the reactor will be done with "utmost responsibility" (sic) and the possible uses in Venezuela shall be "duly supervised" (sic). Venezuela seems to be destined to continue suffering the pernicious effects of the international community's 'utmost responsibility and due supervision'...

2 October 2005

Dan Burnett: an unregistered Chavez's agent ensconced in Columbia University

London 27.09.05 | Often I have argued that internet is the true revolution. Thanks to the increasing interconnections of advanced societies one can effectively investigate loads of things. My interest, as readers of this site may have come to realize, is to uncover the duplicitous and sometimes outright illegal nature of those who, from afar, pontificate about the benefits of the criminal experiment that Hugo Chavez is forcing on Venezuela. Not one of these armchair revolutionaries would put up for one second with the things they argue Venezuelans must withstand. Richard Gott -a traitor to his own country, Eva Golinger -just as much, Ignacio Ramonet, Greg Wilpert, Justin Delacour, Mark Weisbrot, Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Deborah James, Dawn Gable, Bill Fletcher... all these people share the characteristic of being non-Venezuelan sycophants of a thuggish and gullible ignorant, just because every so often he utters his anti-imperialist nonsense. The prospects of profiting from the Chavez 'revolution' are just too good to let pass.

The newcomer in the gang of brown-nosers is one Dan Burnett (a.k.a. Daniel Burnett). This chap works at Columbia University's Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health in the Center for Community Health and Education. He has a managerial role there as assistant director [1], although a search for "dan burnett" in the directory of Columbia University [2] returns the following details:

Name: Daniel Burnett
Title: Administrator-Family Medicine
Dept: Family Crisis Intervention Ctr, NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare Medical Centers
Mail: Center for Community Hlth & Ed ACNC 180
Phone: +1 212-304-5243
UNI: db341
E-mail: burnett@nyp.org

This Burnett character hides behind a pseudonym known as OW and has his own blog (http://oilwars.blogspot.com), where he feverishly spins the Venezuelan truth and disseminates propaganda, although its reach, as its readership, is very limited. For that reason some of his articles have been reprinted by none other than chavista anglophone spin HQ, otherwise known as Venezuelanalysis.com. What concerns me in this instance is that this individual seems not to be registered with the Foreign Agents Registration Unit -just like la Golinger, perhaps the VIO fillings of this semester will prove differently. However his connections to Venezuelan diplomatic personnel ought not to be taken lightly. On Tuesday, June 28, 2005 in a post entitled "Posada Update XI" [3, I have saved a copy 'OW', no need to delete...] Burnett posted on his blog this two pictures:

The above begs for the question: how come an employee of Columbia University (a family medicine administrator) -in whose job description, one should think, does not figure the spreading of propaganda in favour of a neo communist thug, has got such a close relationship with Venezuelan diplomats either in DC or New York or Chicago, that the latter think worthwhile to share and pass confidential information and pictures regarding matters of State? These two photos never made it to the MSM, how come Burnett not only got them but wrote a post on the topic with the pictures before anyone else?

But it does not stop there. Seeking to dupe readers into the belief that his 'fact based blog' is somewhat more trustworthy than others Burnett has alleged that he is Venezuelan. Furthermore his appalling command of the Spanish language in comment sections of other pro-Chavez blogs took away the fig leaf and when confronted with respect to his fake identity he wrote [4]:

and Boyd (aka T1, aka P2) I should make a proposition. If you figure out who I am I'll buy you a plane ticket to Caracas. Shit from London thats expensive.

Well let us see whether cocky Burnett makes his promise good for I could certainly use a plane ticket to Caracas!! Although being a chavista I doubt he will keep up his word. Oh almost forgot, how do I know that OW is Daniel Burnett? I just wrote him a message entitled "Who do you think you are kidding?" and the thick bastard took the bait [5].

The exchange if readers would care to read is enclosed. Please note that all quoted messages from Burnett have been sent from the same Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center's server (tw112fdale.cpmc.columbia.edu). How's that for misuse of resources?

Subject: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 12:38
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

"Es cierto que VTV no debería ser un canal de promoción del gobierno, porque aunque les duela, esa no era la función de VTV."

y porque no existian los jose mora's del mundo cuando Marta Colomina estaba en VTV?

Y cuando ella estaba botado de televen...

ya que no pueden hablar de la economia o politica enfocan en chismes


By ow, at 7:48 PM

"Mal argumento ese de la Colomina. ¿Por qué la botaron de Televen? No fue por presión gubernamental?"

Mire este, botan sus propria talibanes y echan la culpa al gobierno!!!! Seguramente nos va a decir que los officiales golpistas tenian que irse de Plaza Francia por culpa del gobierno tambien. Increible.

Los oppositores que cerraron a Catia TV y que defenden los mentiras que sale dia tras dia de sus "medios" no teine nada a decirnos.

By ow, at 11:20 PM

If the above were not enough evidence of your non-Venezuelan origin, why you keep lying about it? What's the aim, to counteract the local bloggers pretending you're also local?

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:21
To: A. Boyd

And where have I claimed to be Venezuelan ( except maybe once when I was having a hysterical discussion with someone named just noticing over the originan of some pictures I posted)? Ever think of a non-Venezuelan living in Venezuela? There aren't any of those are there? :lol:
When you surf with the ananymouse it does hide your IP. But when you post comments your true IP comes through. Interesting glitch in that system and thats how I know its you.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 14:40
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

Burnett, as I commented on Luigi's blog the other day, unlike you, I do not need to hide my identity. Everyone knows who I am, where to find me and what do I stand for.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:47
To: A. Boyd

I don't know, Carlos Herrera sure seemed to have you shitting in your pants a little while back.
And, uh, why don't you e-mail this burnett person and ask him if he is running Oil Wars.
Its apparent why others stopped wasting time with you a while ago.

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: A. Boyd
Date: 27.09.05, 15:09
To: petrowars@yahoo.com

Burnett, Carlos Herrera doesn't even exist, it's just a fake identity of Roy Carson pretty much as this OW is of you. Chavistas tend to 'stop wasting time with' me because I have a knack for uncovering their farcical double standards and, more importantly, their source of income. Now will you come clean on it or will I have to investigate you too?

Subject: Re: Who do you think you are kidding?
From: petrowars@yahoo.com
Date: 27.09.05, 14:47
To: A. Boyd

"Carlos Herrera doesn't even exist" never met the guy. But given your cluelessness about me I'm not inclined to take your word for it. Investigate away. Anyways, no more time to waste with this nonsense. I have posts to write.

End of exchange

Now Burnett, you have got my address, haven't you? I would like to visit relatives in Venezuela in the first week of December, so please make necessary arrangements for it. Would you care to tell me who will pay for my ticket; will it be you, Columbia University or Venezuela's Embassies in the USA? One can only hope that Columbia University will deal with this fascist -if in doubt just visit the comments in his blog, the same way as NY's Grievance Committee for the Tenth Judicial District has been dealing with tax fraudster Eva Golinger.