GAMING ELECTIONS. Researchers have again successfully broken into computerized election systems, this time in California and in Florida. The exercises show that most of the commonly used machines have problems and that it is easy to alter vote totals or to reassign votes.
Reading about the most recent raise in the federal minimum wage rate is not quite as exciting as reading the most recent Harry Potter book, but it has its moments. Example: The passage of the increase must have been done in such a magically sneaky fashion that it totally eluded the Republican senator Jon Kyle, who recently said that the only consistent legislative work Democrats have done in power is "the renaming of post offices." Getting the federal minimum wage raised was one of the central issues on the Democrats' agenda before the 2006 election. One would have thought that Senator Kyle might notice.
FROM MY TINFOIL HAT FILES. Congressman Peter DeFazio recently asked to have a peek at the plans the government has for keeping control under various apocalyptic scenarios. He has the required security clearances. But the White Housewouldn't let him:
Last Wednesday, DeFazio received word that his request had been denied. Through Homeland Security Committee staffers, he learned the White House had initially granted his request, but that it later was rejected. There was no explanation of why - and no word about who made the final decision.
FOOD CHAIN GAMES. The FDA is planning a decisive response to the recent worries about tainted foodstuffs: It's going to get rid of seven of the current thirteen FDA laboratories, including the only one that specializes in detecting radioactive elements in food. Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbachdefends the move as a way to bring the FDA laboratories into the 21st century. Perhaps, but surely this particular announcement was very badly timed, given news like this:
FEAR. Suppose that you get up in the morning, see the wonderful sunrise and amble downstairs to the kitchen for your first cup of hot coffee. You sit down at the kitchen table and start reading the newspaper, and this is what you read:
Nearly six years after the United States set out to crush Al Qaeda, the terrorist network has "regenerated key elements" of its ability to attack targets in America, and is intensifying its efforts to put operatives inside the country, according to a sobering new report released today from U.S. intelligence agencies.