Washington Post - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has made a crackdown on gift-giving to state officials a centerpiece of her ethics reform agenda, has accepted gifts valued at $25,367 from industry executives, municipalities and a cultural center whose board includes officials from some of the largest mining interests in the state, a review of state records shows. The 41 gifts Palin accepted during her 20 months as governor include honorific tributes, expensive artwork and free travel for a family member. They also include more than $2,500 in personal items from Calista, a large Alaska native corporation with a variety of pending state regulatory and budgetary issues, and a gold-nugget pin valued at $1,200 from the city of Nome, which lobbies on municipal, local and capital budget matters, documents show.
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Mercury News, CA - With strong support from Latinos, a slim majority of California voters favor a statewide ballot initiative that would require doctors to notify parents before teenagers have abortions, according to a Field Poll. Similar parental notification measures have failed twice in California in the past four years. But the new poll found a slightly stronger base of support for Proposition 4 than the measures in 2005 and 2006, which also showed early leads in polls. Forty-nine percent of likely California voters favor Proposition 4, while 41 percent oppose it and 10 percent are undecided, according to the Field Poll. Undecided voters who tend to oppose new initiatives could make a crucial difference on Election Day, but Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo sees a significant factor at play this year. "If there's a shift going on, it's coming from the Latino voters," DiCamillo said. "Because this is a presidential election, Latino voters will constitute a larger proportion of the turnout than was true two years ago." Latino voters, who are overwhelmingly Catholic, are expected to be 17 percent of the electorate in November. They appear to be favoring the measure 62 percent to 31 percent - a 31-point margin. In 2006, the margin among Latinos was 22 percentage points, DiCamillo said.
Daniel De Groot, Open Left - More than one person has witnessed Palin asking the librarian about "removing" books from the library. What books did she want to ban? Turns out she was incensed about some gay-positive books. So what do conservatives think about this idea of banning pro-gay books from libraries? Well, if we asked them today, it would be hard to trust the answer given the incentive they have to support Palin. Fortunately, it turns out the GSS has been askin:g this for many years, so conservatives are on record. Survey says [on removing gay books from libraries]
WATCHING THE COUNT
Technology Review - California's secretary of state, Debra Bowen, believes that open-source software should be used in elections involving electronic voting machines, to protect against error and fraud. Speaking in Cambridge, MA, at the Emtech organized by Technology Review, Bowen noted that individual counties are currently responsible for purchasing voting machines. Often the choice is left up to an IT professional who may lack detailed knowledge of cryptography and computer security. But the biggest concern, according to Bowen, is a lack of access to the machines' underlying code. "Many times, a person has no legal right to review the software, even if they could," she said. . . Under Bowen's stewardship, San Francisco will experiment with new software in November. It's one of the few cities already using instant-runoff voting, a system that lets voters rank candidates in order of preference instead of choosing just one. The rankings data can be used to determine a winner if no candidate receives a majority of the vote.
As the election nears, and when it's over, you'll be hearing more about vote counting fraud. Here are some good sources for background on how elections are being stolen.
FUN WAYS TO STEAL ELECTIONS
Daily Camera, CO - Outside the University of Colorado Police Department, cheers erupted from a crowd of marijuana advocates - some of whom were dressed as giant pot leaves - when a student was given back medical marijuana that police took from him in May. "I wish I had a chance to talk to the officers who said I'd never get this back," said CU sophomore Edward Nicholson, 20, who's a medical-marijuana cardholder in Colorado. CU police confiscated about two ounces of marijuana from Nicholson in his residence hall last spring, even though the then-freshman has a card legally certifying him to hold and administer the drug to his brother. Nicholson said his brother suffers from chronic, debilitating pain from football injuries and has been prescribed marijuana to help deal with the discomfort. Nicholson faced criminal charges for drug possession and was suspended from CU over the summer. But, after he hired an attorney and threatened to sue CU, the school has dropped its case against him and changed its rules. CU hasn't changed its policy against campus drug possession, but students living on campus who hold medical-marijuana cards can now request to move off campus to avoid school punishment if they are found with the drug. Someone with a card who is living on campus still will be held to the no-drugs policy at CU.
FURTHERMORE. . . .
WSAZ, WV - As if getting a DUI wasn't enough, a man arrested for driving under the influence got in a lot more trouble at the police station. Police stopped Jose Cruz on Route 60 in South Charleston for driving with his headlights off. Then, he failed sobriety tests and was arrested. When police were trying to get fingerprints, police say Cruz moved closer to the officer and passed gas on him. The investigating officer remarked in the criminal complaint that the odor was very strong. Cruz is now charged with battery on a police officer, as well as DUI and obstruction.
Telegraph, UK - Research by the University of Iowa found applicants - especially women - with a firm handshake are far more likely to get the job than candidates with a limp grip. A solid handshake was found to be more important than dress or physical appearance as it set off the interviewer's impression of that person. . . The study, to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, was conducted with 98 students at a business school participating in mock job interviews with local business representatives. The interviewers graded each student's overall performance and employability while five trained handshake experts also scored students on their handshake. The scores were then compared. Mr Stewart said the researchers found that those students who scored high with the handshake experts were also considered to be the most employable by the interviewers and seen as having more extroverted personalities and greater social skills. . . The key to a good handshake? A complete, firm grip, eye contact and a vigorous up-and-down movement, said Stewart.