Mining for votes in the Silver State

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Mining for votes in the Silver State

Al Gore lost Nevada in 2000 by only 21,000 votes perhaps the price he paid for failing to make a single campaign stop in the desert-bound state.

This time, the presidential candidates are taking no chances. President George W. Bush has been to the state three times, with a final trip planned before election day. His wife, Laura, is also planning a visit. The race is still close, with polls putting Mr Bush about five points ahead of John Kerry, the Democratic challenger. That may explain why Mr Bush chose to sneak in an extra appearance via video at MinExpo, the world's largest mining exposition, which opened in Las Vegas on Monday.

The Bush message touting his tax cuts and the importance of mining to the US economy was the surprise backdrop at the event after apparent last-minute manoeuvring by his campaign. The video was only taped at the weekend.

But no mention was made of Yucca Mountain perhaps the issue that divides the candidates most in Nevada.

Mr Bush plans to send spent nuclear waste for storage in the mountain, about 90 miles north-west of Las Vegas. Mr Kerry opposes the move, saying it threatens the security and the economic vitality of Nevadans. The miners were perhaps too busy celebrating the best year in the mining industry's recent history to notice.

Why Florida loses out to Venezuela

Jimmy Carter has a bad feeling about Florida.

In an editorial in Monday's Washington Post, the former president declared the state was lacking “some basic international requirements for a fair election”.

Mr Carter is an expert in this field. His Atlanta-based group, The Carter Center, has monitored more than 50 elections across the globe.

He was on the scene in Venezuela in August, when President Hugo Chávez survived a recall vote. Despite opposition charges of a “gigantic fraud”, Mr Carter declared that vote legitimate.

But down in Florida, where things went so terribly wrong in 2000, Mr Carter says the system is not up to snuff. The state's voting officials are “highly partisan” and some procedural reforms that would make the tally more reliable have been blocked.

Mr Carter called for “maximum public scrutiny” on the state. But his team won't be there to check things. They're off to Mozambique.

At last John Kerry gets animated

Kuma Reality Games is offering a chance to relive (again and again) one of the issues that has so far dominated this presidential election.

Video-game players standing in John Kerry's digital boots will soon be able to lead three Swift boats into enemy fire and re-enact the mission in the Mekong Delta that won him a Silver Star in 1969 during the Vietnam war.

When it becomes available soon, the Silver Star game is unlikely to unleash new accusations by some (think Swift Boat Veterans for Truth) who question the details of the event, especially since background information on the debate accompanies the game.

Its makers say the simulation would provide a unique understanding of the Vietnam encounter.

There is no such luck for those wanting a similar vicarious experience of Mr Bush's military exploits.

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