Don't keep your hands off those Idaho, Maine potatoes
Lawmakers from Idaho and Maine are boiling mad over the war they say the Obama administration is waging against their states' signature crop: spuds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, seeking to make subsidized food healthier, wants to ban potatoes from the food approved for purchase under the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which aims to improve nutrition for needy tots and pregnant or breast-feeding women. The department also wants to limit the amount of carb-heavy potatoes served in school lunches. Officials say they don't have anything against the tubers, but want to offer a broader array of fruits and vegetables. House and Senate members from Idaho and Maine say that's a half-baked idea and are appealing to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to squash it. They note that potatoes are economical, packed with more potassium than bananas and more vitamin C than tomatoes, a good source of fiber — and a longtime favorite of U.S. palates.
Online ballot was a free-for-all
Voters in a handful of states had an opportunity this election season to cast online ballots. One of the first experiments was anything but a success. A pilot project in the September primary in the District of Columbia invited anyone to test the supposedly protected voting system's security. Within 36 hours, a team of University of Michigan computer students, sitting in Ann Arbor, not only gained access to the system but were able to change every ballot at will. The "white hat" hackers even "elected" a Star Wars character to head the D.C. City Council and programmed the system to play the university's fight song when a vote was cast. And they made a startling discovery: Hackers in China and Iran trying to break in. The Michigan students strengthened a firewall and changed the passwords to keep the bad guys out.