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Quick Takes: News You May Have Missed


Klein-Aaron

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Money For Occupy’s DC Office Coming From Union Linked To Obama

A labor union with strong ties to President Obama is paying for Occupy’s Washington DC office space inside a think-tank that is also heavily tied to the White House.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU ) is forking over $4,000 per month for three offices inside the Institute for Policy Studies, or IPS think-tank, whose headquarters are a short distance from the tent city Occupy set up in DC’s McPherson Square in October.

The SEIU is closely tied to Obama and the White House. Scores of SEIU members served on the advisory board to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The union’s recently retired president, Andy Stern, was the most frequent visitor to the White House in 2009, according to official logs. In November 2011, the SEIU gave Obama an early endorsement, with the union’s president, Mary Kay Henry, pledging to spend the next year focusing on get-out-the-vote efforts for the president.

The IPS itself, meanwhile, is closely tied with both the White House and Occupy. The IPS routinely pens joint research and policy papers with the Center for American Progress, which has been described by Time magazine as the White House’s “idea factory.” The center is led by John Podesta, who co-directed Obama’s transition into the White House.

The Future Of Voting?

SCYTL, an internationally headquartered company that recently purchased the leading U.S. electronic voting firm, announced this week the successful implementation of technology that allows ballots to be cast using Google and Apple smartphones and tablet computers.

In the past, the company has faced questions about the security of its electronic voting technologies, which are now set to be deployed in 900 U.S. jurisdictions via its U.S. subsidiary. The firm already provides balloting for overseas U.S. military and civilian voting in nine states along with elections technologies in several districts.

Concerns have also been raised about SCYTL’s ties to the Spanish government and to international venture capital firms.

Now SCYTL has unveiled a platform that it says encrypts each individual ballot on a voter’s Google or Apple mobile device before the ballot is transmitted to an electronic voting system. Using this technology “Scytl is now able to guarantee end-to-end security – from the voter to the final tally – not only for computer-based online voting but also for mobile voting,” stated a press release by the company.

The U.S. does not currently utilize voting platforms using mobile devices. SCYTL sees such methods as the future of electronic voting.

It is unclear what role SCYTL’s U.S. subsidiary, SOE Software, will take during this year’s presidential election. This past January, SCYTL, based in Barcelona, acquired 100 percent of SOE Software, the leading software provider of election management solutions in the United States. With the purchase of SOE Software, SCYTL has increased its involvement in the U.S. elections process. SOE Software boasts a strong U.S. presence, providing results in over 900 jurisdictions. During the midterm elections in November 2010, SCYTL successfully carried out electoral modernization projects in 14 states.

Just prior to the midterm’s however, the new electronic voting system in Washington, D.C., was hacked. As a program security trial, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics reportedly encouraged outside parties to hack and find flaws in its new online balloting system. A group of University of Michigan students then hacked into the site and commanded it to play the school’s fight song upon casting a vote.

This is not the first time SCYTL’S systems have been called into question. Voter Action, an advocacy group that seeks elections integrity in the U.S., sent a lengthy complaint to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission in April 2010 charging the integration of SCYTL systems “raises national security concerns.” Project Vote noted that in 2008, the Florida Department of State commissioned a review of SCYTL’s remote voting software and concluded, in part, that “the system is vulnerable to attack from insiders.”

Immigration Of Bnei Menashe To Israel To Resume

After a five-year immigration halt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has given permission to a community of Indian citizens who believe they are one of the lost tribes of Israel to move to the Jewish state.

“We had a major breakthrough and thank God the aliyah is set to resume this summer, and we hope and pray to bring the first batch of 50 families, or about 250-300 Bnei Menashe immigrants, to Israel by the end of August,” said Michael Freund, chairman of Shavei Israel, which is behind the initiative.

Shavei, based in Jerusalem, hopes to bring to the Jewish state the remaining 7,000 Indian citizens who believe they are the Bnei Menashe, the descendants of Manasseh, one of biblical patriarch Joseph’s two sons and a grandson of Jacob.

Already Freund’s group helped facilitate the immigration of over 1,700 Bnei Menashe, with successive Israeli government’s allowing and then halting the process. In 2007, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s administration put the kibosh on the process, which is now being reopened.

Tribe members live in the two Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, to which they say they were exiled from Israel more than 2,700 years ago by the Assyrian empire. According to Bnei Menashe oral tradition, the tribe was exiled from Israel and pushed to the east, eventually settling in the border regions of China and India where most remain today. Most kept customs similar to Jewish tradition, including observing Shabbat, keeping the laws of kosher, practicing circumcision on the eighth day of a baby boy’s life, and observing laws of family purity.

Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York’s 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 7-9 p.m. His website is KleinOnline.com.

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About the Author: Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief and senior reporter for WorldNetDaily.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 770-WABC Radio, the largest talk radio station in the U.S., every Sunday between 2-4 p.m (CHANGE TO 7-9 p.m.). His website is KleinOnline.com


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