USA 2012: the land of poll rigging

AS THE 2012 US presidential election nears, the ugly spectre of poll rigging has reared its head, despite the fact that the last poll saw the Republican candidate, John McCain, being wiped out.

Given that there are cases pending over laws that insist on photo IDs if one wants to vote, the Democrats are now recalling the polls of 2000 and 2004, when the Republicans rigged the polls in Florida and Ohio respectively to get George the younger into the White House.

Voting patterns show that black and Latino voters go for the Democrats to the extent of about 80 per cent, hence it is logical to assume that blocking these categories will strengthen the Republican vote. Many counties in Ohio have black majorities, and the rigging concentrated on these areas.
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In India or in the US, boors are boors

IT’S strange that one has to get far away from one’s own home to think about one’s roots, but that’s what happened to me on Sunday (September 23) night.

Sitting in a theatre in Columbus, Ohio, watching an Indian singer on stage, it came home to me with some force that no matter where in the world they are, expatriate Indians can be very boorish.

The night was obviously not meant for those of no means; everyone at the theatre had paid at least $US30 a seat and those in the seats from where they could focus properly had forked out a hundred big ones.
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US TV channels firmly in one camp or the other

IN THE United States, not only is the nation split in various directions as the presidential election approaches; the media is split as well.

The TV channels are crammed with “analysts” who are clearly either in the Democrat or Republican camp. And neither set holds back when it come to giving a view on anything.

The media is expected to use logic to decide whether one side is right or wrong. But in the US, Fox News cannot find anything wrong with the Republican contender Mitt Romney. And CNN can find nothing wrong with the president, Barack Obama.
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Dallas: home of cowboys and inefficiency

EVERYTHING in the US is said to be big. That is very true of Dallas, the first city I saw in the US of A. But big does not equal efficiency; it only looks grand, it just isn’t so.

Take the system for checking people through immigration; it’s clumsy, and there are a lot of barely educated types in uniforms who do nothing but add to the problems.

The US has a requirement that every non-citizen fill in a form from the Department of Homeland Security, in addition to the regular customs declaration. This form is not given to passengers on airliners that land in the US; only the customs form is given.
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US: lots of technology, poor implementations

AUSTRALIAN nationals do not require a visa to visit the United States as tourists. They merely have to fill in a form on a website, wait for approval and then carry a printout of the resultant permission when they travel.

But any Australian passport holder who visits the US to report on an event has to get a journalist’s visa, what is known as an I category visa.

Going through the process is illuminating because one discovers the level of incompetence in the American system, if nothing else.
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Getting blind drunk and acting stupid is the hallmark of a hero

An Australian rules football player goes on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas with some of his teammates. He gets blind drunk, ends up at a hotel where he is not staying, tries to jump from the balcony of a room onto a palm tree and falls to the ground.

Unfortunately, the man dies as a result of this fall. He is just 22, not anywhere near the age where one thinks of death.

A local paper in Melbourne describes him as a hero.

Which means that many others should aspire to be like him. After all, we all want to be heroes don’t we?
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It’s a bitter pill to swallow: Al Qaeda has won

Today marks 11 years since Al Qaeda flew planes into the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and made the US aware that it was not safe on its own soil. Sad to say, the US has used the attacks down the years to curtail freedoms for its own residents.

All kinds of ridiculous curbs have been put in place; fear has been used time and again to restrict the lives of ordinary citizens, with the government all the while claiming to be doing so in the cause of freedom.

With the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the US has been claiming that it has emerged victorious over the attackers. But is that really the case?
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Destroying the joint?

AUSTRALIA is a a sexist country. There’s that phrase again. And with good reason.

Last Friday, one of the country’s well-known radio broadcasters, let fly a tirade against the prime minister Julia Gillard and women in general.

In the words of shock-jock Alan Jones, known for his sympathies to the conservative cause, the women he cited — he also mentioned Clover Moore, the mayor of Sydney, and a former police commissioner of Victoria, Christine Nixon — were “destroying the joint”.
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