CRITICS SAY VOTE FRAUD PANEL COULD BE TARGET
Officials from both major political parties had a consistent answer last year when asked about the security of voting systems: U.S. elections are so decentralized that it would be impossible for hackers to manipulate ballot counts or voter rolls on a wide scale. But the voter fraud commission established by President Donald Trump could take away that bit of security.
The commission has requested information on voters from every state and recently won a federal court challenge to push ahead with the collection, keeping it in one place.
By compiling a national list of registered voters, the federal government could provide one-stop shopping for hackers and hostile foreign governments seeking to wreak havoc with elections, critics say. “Coordinating a national voter registration system located in the White House is akin to handing a zip drive to Russia,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat who has refused to send data.
Hearing loss of U.S. diplomats in Cuba blamed on covert device.
WASHINGTON» The U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.
Last fall, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack or had some other purpose.
The U.S. officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had “a variety of physical symptoms.”
Australia to hold mail vote on same-sex marriage.
Australia will hold a voluntary mail vote on whether to legalize same-sex marriage that may lead to the issue being resolved by the end of the year, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said. Should a majority of voters indicate support for gay marriage, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government expects it to be legislated “quite quickly” after polling closes on Nov. 15, Cormann told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
Atlantic may spawn as many as 19 storms.
The Atlantic hurricane season probably will end with an above-average 14 to 19 named storms now that it is almost certain a system-deterring Pacific El Nino won’t arrive.
At least five to nine will become hurricanes with two to five becoming major systems with winds of 111 mph or more, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Scaramucci to guest on “Late Show” next week.
Anthony Scaramucci will be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s latenight show next week. The network said Wednesday that Scaramucci will appear on Colbert’s “The Late Show” on Monday. The former White House communications director lost his job with President Donald Trump’s administration July 31, after only 11 days in the job.