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Thursday, December 30, 2004
- An Ohio electronic voting system gave President Bush an extra 4,000 votes that were never cast
- A North Carolina computer failed to count 22,000 votes cast for John Kerry
- Ohio voters who voted for John Kerry saw their electronic voting machines record votes for President Bush
It won't change the Presidential election's outcome, but it could change the way we cast votes in the future.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
"In order to maximize accuracy of the still pending Washington State gubernatorial contest, please consider using your medium to ask our military troops abroad that are from Washington State to please IMMEDIATELY contact Governor Elect Dino Rossi's office if they did not receive their absentee ballot (or did not receive it in a timely manner), or if they for some reason feel that their vote was somehow compromised.
"It's imperative that action be taken immediately. While the latest count, and the latest court ruling, position Democratic candidate Christine Gregware [sic] as the victor, the two previous (and many believe, more accurate) counts and court hearings give it to the Republican Governor Elect Dino Rossi.
"The latest court ruling allows the Democrats to "expand the universe" of countable ballots to include over 700 ballots recently "found" in the heavily Democratic sector of King County. While the Republican's don't agree with this ruling (declaring it in contrast to the Bush vs. Gore case of 2000), they're prepared to conform to the revised rules. Thus, the Republicans are seeking to have an additional collection of "found" ballots also counted. Republicans are working to solidify their collection, which includes military voters as described above. Thus, your support in communicating this very important message to Washington State troops everywhere is very much appreciated by all Washingtonians.
"Thank you very much for your efforts to help us ensure that every legal vote be counted."
This is from an apparent e-mail campaign designed to squeeze extra votes into the race before Mr Rossi is forced to either concede or contest the entire election.
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
"In 2004, 74 women serve in the U.S. Congress. Fourteen women serve in the Senate, and 60 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 81, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is at 22.4 percent. "
Monday, December 27, 2004
She says it's difficult to see a government respons to "Stories that deal with 'systemic rather than individual wrongdoing.... This is very, very difficult.... Pork barrel, for example, is systemic in the sense that it involves a relationship of patronage between a congressman and his constituents. So although the congressman may make money, the constituents feel that it is something where they can share from the spoils of power.'"
Yeah. But bet they'll still keep reporting on pork in the Philipines. I'll help hold up my end here. (Cyberdyaryo)
The Congressional Budget Office suggests Washington should pressure the private sector to spend more to guard against terrorist threats. A new report calls for increasing taxes or writing new regulations for the chemical and nuclear industries. Some of the report's suggestions include:
- Establishing new regulations for tracking the ownership of hazardous chemicals that could be used as weapons
- Tougher regulations for monitoring for toxic chemical releases or limiting spent nuclear material stored near reactors
- Raising taxes or creating other financial disincentives for businesses or residents to locate in danger zones
- Requiring additional insurance coverage.
"Businesses would be inclined to spend less on security than might be appropriate for the nation as a whole if they faced losses from an attack that would be less than the overall losses for society." (CBO)
- $70 million to expand office space expansion
- $48 million for "unforseen site conditions"
- $350 million for noise deafening windowpanes
The center's supposed to open now in late 2006. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Saturday, December 25, 2004
A Present for True Wonks -- Merry Christmas, all you Red States! Happy Holidays all you Blue States!
Thursday, December 23, 2004
In the wake of the flap over Defense Secretary using such a machine to sign condolences letters to families of troops killed in action, makes you wonder what a life's worth. (Boston Globe -- Opinion)
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
This year's lucky winners:
- Kristan Diane Bullock Akins of, Raleigh, North Carolina. Sentenced in 1990 for embezzlement by a bank employee.
- Ronald William Cauley of East Providence, Rhode Island. Sentenced in 1980 for misapplication of bank funds by an employee.
- Stephen Davis Simmons of Austin, Texas. Sentenced in 1981 for possession of counterfeit obligations.
- Roger Charles Weber of Northridge, California. Sentenced in 1969 for theft from interstate shipment. (CNN)
Again, thousands of claims for Hurricane Frances damage -- in parts of North Carolina where the storm did virtually no damage.
And local emergency coordinators in Detroit were stunned that 30,000 people filed $33.9 million in storm damage claims. They can't believe more than 2,000 really deserved the money. (Sun Sentinel)
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Monday, December 20, 2004
Friday, December 17, 2004
"The crisis is now." -- President Bush, December 16, at an economic conference discussing the future of Social Security.
Since then, scientists haven't been able to figure out how grain shipments would increase enough to justify the construction, either. Repeated studies by the National Research Council (a sister agency to the National Academy of Sciences) say the Corps has not made a good enough case for construction. (BaltSun)
But the Guard isn't just running short on money and equipment. Long and repeated deployments are making it difficult for the Guard and the Reserve to hang onto people -- and attract new ones. The Guard hopes to fix this by tripling bonuses for some recruits. (BaltSun)
Thursday, December 16, 2004
This is Riyadh Rose. While You Americans are Supporting Some Other Peace Plan, Your Girlfriends are Dating Clark Gable.
on foreign sponsored propaganda? The Justice Department is on the case of ads promoting Crown Prince Abdullah's Mideast peace plan. The case could be an embarrasment for both the Saudi government ant the White House. (Newsweek via MSNBC)
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
"They have had a growing understanding that where they can affect us is in the logistics flow," Air Force Lt Gen Lance Smith, deputy chief of the U.S. Central Command, told reporters. (ABC)
America's multi-billion dollar missile defense sheild failed it's first test in two years when the missile that's supposed to defend us from attack -- refused to work. The interceptor, which was supposed to blast a target missile out of the sky -- simply shut itself down on the launch pad.
This was only a test. Had this been an actual emergency -- Seattle would have a nice, green glow this morning. (ABC)
Washington has now spent twice as much on the Iraq War than what the experts first predicted it would cost before the 2003 invasion. Washington has spent $100 billion. The first Gulf War only cost $80 billion. The counter to the right shows roughly $150 billion in war costs. That's based on how much Congress has put aside for the war to date. We haven't spent all that money yet. But the administration plans to ask for $70 - $100 billion more right after the new year.
The higher price is the 1,299 Americans killed in Iraq in the war. More than 1,000 of those are combat deaths. (CBS) [Photo Credit: Washington Monument Reflected In Vietnam Memorial by Terry Turner]
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Tucked away in a Congressional plan to cut down on medical malpractice lawsuits is a provision to protect drug maker Merck & Co. They made Vioxx -- the arthritis pain medicine pulled from the market this year for a link to heart attacks. Merck & Co. failed for four years to find in their own test data that the link was there. Then the FDA brass came down hard on one of their scientists who tried to warn Congress of the danger.
Senate Bill 11 failed in the last Congress. But expect it back next year with a GOP majority friendly to the idea of tort reform. Section 7(c) would let Merck & Co. off the hook for pricey punitive lawsuits that might otherwise teach the drug maker not to ignore the dangers their products could present.
The Patients First Bill would prevent patients from suing companies like Merck that manufacture potentially fatal drugs so long as the FDA approved the product. In other words, if a company -- or the FDA -- ran tests that showed a drug was dangerous, but it still got through the approval process, the company couldn't be punished. Interesting, considering the flap with the FDA reportedly trying to keep reports on the dangers of Vioxx from Congress.
Kinda like saying, "I knew robbing the bank was wrong, but the vault door was wide open and the guard was looking the other way."
The Patients First Bill was sponsored in the last congress by Sen John Ensign (R-NV), a veterinarian before he became a Senator. Doubtful many of his patients took Vioxx. (US Government Printing Office)
The Dallas Morning News found that "maintaining a small herd of cattle, planting a few acres of crops or merely growing native grasses, landowners can keep their taxes low while the market value of their prime real estate grows. An agricultural exemption can reduce a $240,000 annual tax bill, for example, to $300." (Dallas Morning News)
"What happens if this large group of people decides to withdraw billions of dollars from retirement stock accounts and put their money into different investments? And will boomers even be able to retire?
"Some analysts warn investors about a 'market meltdown' as boomers go from making lots of money in their chosen careers, and investing those retirement dollars in stock retirement funds, and begin withdrawing that money and living on interest income and Social Security benefits. " (FedSmith.com)
But former Gen Wesley Clark takes the "not in my backyard strategy." Speaking at an international conference, the former NATO supreme allied commander and Democratic presidential candidate said it'd be in the interest of Arab and Muslim countries to curb Iran's nuke plans.
"Go to your neighbor across the Gulf and say in clear terms: Your efforts to acquire nuclear capabilities are not welcome, they are not appreciated, they won't improve your security and they won't improve our security," Clark said. (MSNBC)
Sounds like great bedtime reading. I'll sleep a lot better. (WashPost)
George Tenet, the former CIA chief who presided over two of the biggest intel failures in the agency's history, will recieve the Medal.
But still no Medal of Freedom for the passengers and crew of Flight 93 -- who gave their lives on 9/11 to save people at the Capitol or White House. (WQAD-TV)
Expect the Federal Reserve to jack up interest rates today -- the fifth time this year. The Fed figures the economy is growing fast enough to support the rate hike. (Reuters) [Photo Credit: Squirrel at the Federal Reserve by Terry Turner]
Monday, December 13, 2004
The death rate in Iraq is one regular Army soldier for every 402 sent there. But National Guardsmen are dying at a rate of one for every 264 guardsmen sent.
Today (December 13) is the 368th birthday of the Army National Guard. The first unit was founded in Massachusetts on this date in 1636. (USA Today)
The UN Office on Drugs & Crime reports that Afghanistan produces 87% of the world's opium. India estimates that Afghanistan's opium production is around $2.8 billion a year -- $500 million bigger than last year. (DoD Press Release)
The former Congressman, with a network of national donors, would be a tough competitor for a likely Democrat seeking the job -- former General and presidential candidate Wesley Clark -- who's also expected to run for Arkansas Governor in 2006. (USA Today)
Forget the lawsuits over unpaid condo fees, the sex scandal involving a relationship in the NYC Correction Department, and the fact he filed for bankruptcy a few years back.
Nope. It was the immigrant nanny that's derailed so many other government nominees that took out Bernie Kerik. (NYT)
Friday, December 10, 2004
More than three years after the 9/11 attacks, Washington has not assessed the risks of attack using general aviation. That includes non-commercial aircraft like private or charter planes -- including full size airliners.
The Government Accountability Office found the Transportation Security Administration has done nothing to assess the threats. That's despite warnings from the FBI that terrorists have looked at general aviation -- as opposed to commercial aviation -- as a way of delivering 9/11 style attacks. The TSA claims it's too costly to do any kind of widespread assessment.
There are 19,000 general aviation airports in the US. Nearly 75% of all aircraft operating in the US fall into this category. General aviation accounts for about $100 billion of the US economy and 1.3 million US jobs. (GAO) [Photo Credit: FAA]
Some of the fired then re-hired workers had sexual relationships with the teenagers they were supposed to protect.
The Palm Beach Post found people rehired after they'd choked, punched, and head-butted teens in their care. (Investigative Reporters and Editors & Palm Beach Post)
The Global Hawk is an amazing piece of hardware. It's a huge, unmanned spy plane that can be programmed to take off, fly across the Atlantic and back, and land -- missing the centerline of the runway by only six inches.
What's more amazing, is that the plane was built using "off the shelf" parts. Engines and landing gear came from business jets. Other parts from other existing airplanes. That meant no expensive research and development. That in turn kept the price to taxpayers low.
All good things come to an end. The price of the program has shot up $900 million since 2001.
Back then, a single Global Hawk was supposed to cost $85.6 million. The price is up to $123.2 million.
The Air Force planned to spend $5.4 billion for 63 of the planes. Now they're spending $6.3 billion, and getting only 51 of them. (WashPost) (Photo Credit: US Navy)
I Know You Chickens Keep Disappearing, But Here's a Promising Report from your Head of Security, Mr. Fox
They say it would only result in $39 billion to $279 billion over the next 75 years. That's still at least a couple billion more than the average American makes over the same lifetime.
Back in September, University of Chicago business school prof Austan Goolsbee predicted the total would be more like $940 billion or more -- amounting to the largest windfall in US financial history. (WashPost)
- 4 seats at the swearing in
- 10 VIP seats at the inaugural parade
- 2 tickets to a luncheon featuring President Bush & Vice President Cheney
- 20 seats at candlelight dinners featuring the President, Vice President, and their wives
Not to mention the eternal gratitude of politicians who could help you get your special interests taken care of over the next four years. (Boston Globe)
Thursday, December 09, 2004
In the past, the loss of three limbs was barely survivable. In the current Iraq War, soldiers are surviving far worse wounds -- but face an uncertain future. The Department of Veteran Affairs is spending $7.2 million to develop new artificial limbs. But the record survival rate may leave the wounded with "invisible" scars -- emotional ones. And what we're missing is that for every soldier killed -- 10 more are wounded. (Boston Globe)
Let's do some quick math:
- The IRS figures it could collect $80 billion of the taxes it's owed.
- The average government worker at the IRS could collect $900,000 a year -- several times his salary.
- Debt collectors would keep 25% of what they collect.
Among the problems: Confusing "trunk strength" -- it means upper body strength. A customer service rep thought it applied to the ability of a car trunk to hold a wheel chair. (Guardian)
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Take this Kentucky example. The City of Louisville and Jefferson County merged their governments -- promising taxpayers the move would save them $700,000 in salaries alone. But the savings are gone. The mayor says they used the savings to hire more expensive workers. (Courier-Journal)
A new report from the Government Accountability Office says the Defense Department has tried for 30 years to fix the problem. But there are still problems because the military's computers that track the stuff, simply can't talk with one another. (GAO)