Digest

September 07, 2007

House bill would bring back paper ballot trails by Nov. 2008

WASHINGTON -- Legislation pending in the House would require a voter-verified paper ballot for every vote cast in national elections beginning in November 2008. The measure also would require random audits in federal elections.

But state and local election officials and election machine makers contend the timelines are unrealistic, the audit process is difficult and the $1 billion allotted to replace existing systems is insufficient.

The bill's chief sponsor, Democratic Rep. Rush D. Holt of New Jersey, argued that under his bill, only six states - including Maryland - would have to upgrade all their voting machines by 2008; 14 states would require partial changes.

Associated Press

Senate vote defies Bush on abortion

WASHINGTON -- Defying a White House veto threat, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted yesterday to overturn a long-standing ban on U.S. funding for overseas family-planning groups that support abortion. The 53-41 vote was short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a presidential veto on an issue that has been contentious on Capitol Hill since President Ronald Reagan implemented the ban. The Senate bill must be reconciled with a House measure, which does not include a provision to overturn the ban. The House measure includes its own provision that has drawn a presidential veto threat - one that would permit family-planning groups abroad to distribute U.S.-provided contraceptives. Shortly before the Senate vote, the White House budget office issued a statement declaring that if Congress sent the president a measure that "weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, he would veto the bill."

Fundraiser Hsu arrested in Colo.

SAN FRANCISCO --Disgraced Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu was arrested in Colorado late yesterday after a judge issued an arrest warrant when he failed to show up for a court appearance related to a felony theft conviction. FBI agents took Hsu into custody at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., said FBI spokesman Joseph Schadler. Hsu had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to turn over his passport and ask a judge to cut in half the $2 million bail he posted last week when he turned himself in after spending 15 years on the lam from a felony theft conviction. Instead, Hsu failed to show up at the bail reduction hearing and a judge issued a new arrest warrant for him.

Bin Laden video promised by Sept. 11

CAIRO, Egypt --The Department of Homeland Security said it had no information on terrorist threats yesterday after al-Qaida's media arm announced that Osama bin Laden would release a new video days before the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The video would be the first new images of the terror mastermind in nearly three years. Analysts noted that al-Qaida tends to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary with a slew of messages, and the Department of Homeland Security said it had no credible information warning of an imminent threat to the United States. Still, bin Laden's appearance would be significant. The al-Qaida leader has not appeared in new video footage since October 2004, and he has not put out a new audiotape in more than a year, his longest period without a message.

From wire reports

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