October 31, 2006 Signs of possible voting trouble are popping up ahead of midterm elections. The reports range from hackers getting into an official registration database to ballots being printed incorrectly.
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October 23, 2006 States around the country are trying to find and train enough poll-workers to staff the Nov. 7 midterm elections. The increasing complexity of voting procedures and equipment makes it harder to recruit. Maryland and Ohio are providing refresher courses after problems in their primaries were attributed in part to poll-workers.
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October 17, 2006 Voters are being encouraged this year to cast absentee ballots, especially if they're worried about electronic voting or problems at the polls. And it appears that many people are taking the advice. Election officials say that requests for absentee ballots are up across the country.
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October 9, 2006 For the first time this year, states are required to have centralized voter registration lists. In Kentucky, a state effort to eliminate duplicate registrations resulted in at least several hundred voters being mistakenly removed from the rolls. Confusion and lawsuits followed.
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September 27, 2006 Lawmakers are attaching several controversial measures to a $35 billion Homeland Security spending bill expected to pass in Congress this week. The bill includes more than $1 billion for fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and would also allow Americans to import a 90-day supply of prescription drugs from Canada.
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September 20, 2006 The Department of Homeland Security says that Boeing Corp. is the winner of a contract for new border-surveillance technology. Boeing proposes to develop a system of video and heat- and motion-sensors that would feed information about border activity into a central database.
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September 15, 2006 Well, that's it for me this week. Your blog host next week will be a professional: JJ Sutherland. And that's a good thing. I've already written about my kids, my husband and my summer vacation. I'd have to talk about my mother-in-law next, if I continued. Thanks for all your great comments. Oh, and on the spinach story? We ended up with a report from correspondent John McChesney on All Things Considered. The message, still, is this: Until officials figure out the source of the problem, don't eat any raw, bagged spinach. Grocery stores across the country are pulling it off the shelves.
September 15, 2006 And speaking of follow-up, my colleague Noah Adams notes an unusually frank admission today by a government bureaucrat in The Washington Post. Paul Valette, who manages election operations for Montgomery County, Md., says it was his fault that computer cards weren't delivered to polling places on time Tuesday morning. That mistake led to big delays, and thousands of primary voters having to cast provisional ballots. It's also led to calls for his bosses to resign. But Valette says his department just forgot to include the cards in the packages delivered to each precinct before the polls opened...
September 15, 2006 A fairly busy day today. President Bush's surprise news conference this morning will provide lots of material, especially after the Republican revolt yesterday in the Senate. The Armed Services Committee rejected the president's plea to give him more powers when dealing with enemy combatants. And that's after he came to Capitol Hill to lobby members personally. Presidents usually don't do that unless they're really worried. There'll be plenty of coverage and analysis on Day to Day and All Things Considered. Another big story is the announcement by Ford Motor Company that it's cutting an additional 10,000 jobs, shutting down more plants and offering buyouts to hourly workers. Look for a number of pieces about that and its impact on Ford workers...
September 15, 2006 You should check out Joseph Shapiro's piece today on Morning Edition about an unusual alliance between disability rights activists and a top Bush administration official. I like the story because it goes back to a raucous demonstration outside the White House four years ago and then tells us what's happened as a result today. Journalists don't do enough of that. We usually cover an event and move on. The other thing I like is that Joe personalizes the story. It's really about how two very different people can work together in Washington to get something done -- in this case, helping disabled people move out of nursing homes. There are more stories like this in the nation's capital than you might think, but they don't often get told. And I just can't resist noting a Morning Edition interview with genealogist Megan Smolenyak. She helped correct a misunderstanding about the first immigrant to land on Ellis Island..
September 14, 2006 You might want to catch Martin Kaste's piece tonight on All Things Considered. It's about all the information you can inadvertently give out about yourself when you use "smart cards" containing RFID (that's Radio Frequency Identification) tags -- which many of us do. Martin starts with a demonstration, using the pass card that gives him access to his office. Even though the card is stored inside his wallet in his pocket, a graduate student is able to use a tag reader to obtain the password to the office door. Privacy advocates have been complaining about this technology for years, and now California is considering a proposal to allow people to turn off such cards if they want.
September 14, 2006 Amid all the partisan bickering this week, Congress did manage to pass a bill -- unanimously, no less! And this bill is sure to make a lot of government-watchers happy. It requires the government to create a searchable database of all contracts and grants worth more than $25,000. We're talking hundreds of billions of dollars a year. The average person should be able to type in something simple – say "FEMA trailers" -- and find out how much money is being spent on them and who's getting it. That kind of spending is almost impossible to track now, unless you have a lot of time, patience and investigative savvy. The new site is supposed to be up and running by the start of 2008.
September 14, 2006 And here are some more words -- ones you can put in your pocket in case you run out of your own and face a rhetoric emergency. NPR producer Muthoni Muturi came back from a six-week stay in New Orleans recently with a souvenir she says is a big item down there. Maybe it's part of the healing process? The keychain gadget is called Da Mayor in Your Pocket, sold by Emanation, Inc. Press one of six white buttons on a blue plastic box and you can hear New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin expressing some of his famous post-Katrina outrage. Such favorites as "This is a national disaster" and "Excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed." Phrases that could come in handy for lots of things -- not just hurricanes.
September 14, 2006 It seems like words are the topic of the day. How about these? "Horrified," "profoundly saddened," "amazed," "ashamed." These were some of the words listeners used this morning after hearing letters aired on Morning Edition about the show's weeklong series on the lives of Muslims in America. The listeners were responding to what I, too, thought were some pretty incredible reactions to the series. One was from a woman who said NPR should be prosecuted for "treason" and "sedition" for interviewing American Muslims. Others complained that the Sept. 11 anniversary was not the time for stories about Muslim tolerance. One woman wrote, "Instead of honoring the fallen heroes, you are broadcasting a story about the people who were dancing in the streets." Wow. Almost immediately, the e-mails started to pour in, almost non-stop. It was pretty overwhelming. "On Sept. 11 we were not attacked by the Muslims... the people that attacked us were Muslims. There's a huge difference," wrote one man...
September 14, 2006 The debate over military tribunals and what to do with terrorism suspects will be a top story tonight on All Things Considered. President Bush went to Capitol Hill this morning to meet with House Republicans behind closed doors to drum up some support for his agenda. He's pushing two proposals, one endorsing his warrantless wiretapping program and the other to allow for the use of tougher interrogations of detainees. But many Republicans, nervous about the upcoming elections, aren't buying. Congressional correspondent David Welna will let us know what happened. All Things Considered will also hear from Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman, who's in Baghdad covering the long-running trial of Saddam Hussein. Some interesting developments there...
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