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Monday, November 20, 2000
_____Note to Users_____
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Questions, Comments.
Knotting the Tie
Page A20
THE COUNTING of votes in Florida's disputed presidential election continued yesterday, and continued to generate escalating disputes of its own. George W. Bush's campaign organization mounted a PR offensive against the slowly progressing hand recounts in three Democratic-majority Florida counties, charging that they were in danger of being rendered useless by error and bias. Spokesmen for Al Gore said the Bush people were mainly hyping hearsay in an effort to undercut a process established by law to provide an accurate count whose results they feared.

Capital Cases in Virginia
Page A20
AROUND THE country, states have begun looking anew at their rules concerning capital punishment. Few are more deserving of close examination than Virginia's. The commonwealth has executed more people in the modern era than any state other than Texas; for the size of its population, Virginia ranks first. Until recently, Virginia's leaders expressed no doubts about the fairness of their death-penalty law. But this week, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, a fact-finding arm of the state legislature, announced a study of capital punishment in the state. The bipartisan state Crime Commission already is examining the death penalty. The state Supreme Court has proposed a significant relaxation of Virginia's rule against admitting new evidence of innocence more than 21 days after a conviction. These are encouraging developments, if belated.

James Russell Wiggins
Page A20
ALMOST THE minute he took over as managing editor of this newspaper in 1947, James Russell Wiggins jolted the city room staff with his passion for rectitude and integrity. No more freebies, he decreed, not even movie passes for copy aides. No more fixing of tickets at police headquarters. These were not the crotchety preachings of a fuddy-duddy; Russ Wiggins, who died yesterday at the age of 96, was a vigorous and engaged editor who cared deeply about ethical standards, old-fashioned honesty and the importance of a free and independent press. During his 21-year stewardship here, his enthusiasm for the competitive pursuit of information was girded by an insistence on fairness.

Counting Votes (Cont'd)
Page A20
With respect to the vote counting in the Florida presidential contest, it is asked, rhetorically, "If you don't accept the current (certified) count, when do you stop counting?"

The Priest and the Bumper Stickers
Page A20
As a Catholic for more than 60 years, I must say that the Arlington priest who scolded the woman for having pro-Democratic bumper stickers [Metro, Nov. 11] was guilty not only of poor judgment and bad manners but of political naivete as well.

Mixing Bowl Mess
Page A20
The "mixing bowl" is a monument to the incompetence of Virginia governors and their transportation departments. It is an eight-year traffic nightmare for already abused Norther Virginia residents.

Elk and Their Ilk
Page A20
Deer are now a major nuisance and roadway danger in suburban areas. Even beavers are a threat to the public safety because they disrupt storm-water-retention management.

No Asteroids Dropped
Page A20
We at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were astonished by the charge that we may be "dropping the ball" in the search for asteroids that may threaten earth [news story, Oct. 16].

The Evocation of Excellence; Russ Wiggins, good steward, farseeing guide of The Post for 21 years.
By Katharine Graham, Page A21
Russ Wiggins's death yesterday leaves a large hole, so great was his embracing personality and a life lived vigorously until five months ago, when his brave heart started to weaken and then gave out.

Will Our Cultural and Political Space Survive?
By Cathy Hughes, Page A21
When the first African American-owned electronic media outlet was acquired, who would have predicted that in 20 years' time the value of the company could rise from zero to nearly $3 billion--especially in light of the fact that African Americans did not achieve substantial media ownership until 60 years after the broadcast industry was put into motion (because they were denied access to credit, broadcast training and broadcast employment).

Bedsheets, Butterflies And Ballots
By Sebastian Mallaby, Page A21
Over at the International Foundation for Election Systems in Washington, they can tell you about ballots. They've got a "bedsheet ballot" from Ecuador: In order to display photos of some 250 candidates, it's got to be bed-sized. They've got Peru's notorious multiple-preference ballot: It's so complicated that in one parliamentary election, nearly a third of the votes were disqualified as spoiled. They've got Benin's crazy slips of colored paper, each one representing a different party: The voter was supposed to take a set of 35 slips into the voting booth and destroy all except one.

. . . Ready for Gore to Go
By William Raspberry, Page A21
Just so you'll know, I voted for Al Gore.

Not in Our Front Yard
By Jonathan Yardley, Page C02
Lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Some of my best friends and all that, et cetera et cetera, but come on now: How long has it been since you've seen anything more bizarre and distasteful than the battalions of lawyers fleeing their accustomed prowling grounds and invading Florida in the transparent hope of jiggering the electoral process to suit the convenience of the candidates and/or parties that are paying their ludicrously inflated bills?

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