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Florida's nation-leading epidemic of mortgage fraud was facilitated by state regulators who permitted 2,200 people with finance-crime records to become professional "loan originators," part of the total of 10,000 with rap sheets allowed to work in the industry over an eight-year period, according to a July investigation by The Miami Herald. At least 20 registered brokers kept their licenses after fraud convictions. A 2006 state law required criminal background checks for broker licensing, but fewer than half were ever done, reported the Herald. And the crisis continues, according to a Virginia research firm, which found in August that almost one-fourth of new mortgage fraud in the U.S. emanates from Florida (mostly on scams exploiting people who face foreclosure).

A cautionary note about "early voting" was registered in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, Texas, in May, when Mayor Becky Miller built a nine-point lead in early balloting before a Dallas Morning News report on fanciful parts of her biography caused election-day voters to cast her out. In her campaign, she had emotionally referred to a brother killed in the Vietnam War, but her father said her only brother is still alive and was never in the military (which Miller "explained" by alleging that dad has Alzheimer's). She later gave a name for her brother, but the Morning News found that that soldier, unlike Miller, is black. Miller also claimed to be a backup singer for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne (and once engaged to the Eagles' Don Henley), but spokesmen for each said they never heard of her (which she "explained" by saying she was earlier known as "Pinky").

An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety spokesman said in July that "billions" of dollars are unnecessarily spent annually because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration still fails to regard SUVs and light trucks as "passenger" vehicles. One result, according to an MSNBC report, is that otherwise-benign bumper-to-bumper nudges (harmless because passenger-car bumpers are required to be of standard height) turn into major repair jobs when higher-bumpered SUVs crush the headlight assemblies of lower-bumpered passenger cars. 

Two Cheers for Democracy: Angela Tuttle was elected constable in Hancock County, Tenn., in August, simply because she showed up and voted. There were no candidates on the ballot, and thus her own write-in vote for herself carried the election, 1-0.

After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's party retained control in India in the July elections, supporter (and Assam state legislator) Kishor Samrite decided to give traditional Hindu thanks for the victory. He sacrificed 200 goats and four buffaloes at a temple in Gauhati.

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