Democracy in Action
-- Getting Out the Vote: (1) Just before a primary election in June, Albuquerque, N.M., TV station KOB apparently caught, on camera, a poll worker for two county government candidates offering potential voters miniature bottles of whiskey to sip during free rides to early voting centers. (2) Los Angeles' KCBS-TV reported in October that leaflets sponsored by the Progress and Collaboration Slate for its local candidates in Eagle Rock, Calif., also mentioned an offer of $40 worth of "medical-grade marijuana" as incentive for voting. (3) Carme Cristina Lima, 32, running for town councillor in Itacoatiara, Brazil, was arrested in October for allegedly passing out cocaine packets attached to her campaign leaflets. [KOB-TV, 6-4-2012] [KCBS-TV, 10-19-2012] [TNOnline (Brazil) via Daily Telegraph (London), 10-8-2012]
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LEAD STORY -- Did I Say That Out Loud?
No Do-Overs: By 2009, James Washington believed he had gotten away with a 1995 murder, but then he had a heart attack, and on his deathbed, in a fit of remorse, he confessed to a confidant. ("I have to get something off my conscience," he told a guard in the jailhouse where he was serving time for a lesser, unrelated offense.) However, Washington miraculously recovered from the heart attack and tried to take back his confession, but prosecutors in Nashville, Tenn., were unfazed. They used it to augment the sparse evidence from 1995, and in October 2012 the now-healthier Washington was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 51 more years in prison. [WSMV-TV (Nashville, Tenn.), 10-31-2012]
Government in Action
-- Among the federally funded projects highlighted in the "2012 Waste Book" of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn were a $325,000 grant to develop a "robosquirrel" (to help study the somehow-confusing interaction between squirrels and rattlesnakes) and a $700,000 grant by the National Science Foundation for a New York theater company to create a musical about climate change and biodiversity (which actually opened this year, in Kansas City, and included among its concepts, according to one critic, "flying monkey poop"). Abuses of the food stamp program were also detailed, such as by one exotic dancer who, while earning $85,000, drew food stamps in an amount roughly equivalent to the sum she spent on "cosmetic enhancements." [Fox News, 10-16-2012]
-- While the Department of Veterans Affairs remains under criticism for inadequate funding for personnel disabled in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it spent in 2010 more than $5 million on training conferences just to teach bureaucrats how to administer parts of its latest collective-bargaining contract, according to an October report in the Washington Examiner. In fact, reported the Examiner, $34 million in payroll goes to department officials who work mainly on union-related activities. [Washington Examiner, 10-1-2012]
A skeleton walks into a bar. Orders a beer, and a mop. -anon