Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Labor Coalition to Launch Fight Against GOP Budget Plans at NPC Newsmaker Dec. 12

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor
Contact: Jodi Sakol, 202-429-1134
News Advisory:
Labor Coalition to Launch Fight Against GOP Budget Plans
WHAT: National Press Club "Newsmaker"
WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday, Dec. 12
WHERE: National Press Club, National Press Building (13th floor), 14th & F streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.
The Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities (ECAP), a coalition of labor and advocacy groups, kicks off a week of grass-roots efforts to halt Republican Party efforts to cut taxes and trim spending on public services. The coalition is led by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Gerald McEntee. Efforts will consist of sit-ins, vigils and direct-mail campaigns.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Democrats Win a Five Election Sweep in Mississippi

To: National Desk
Contact: Amaya Smith of the Democratic National Committee, 202-863-8148
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Yesterday, Angela Cokerham the Democratic candidate for a southwest Mississippi House seat, received 68.5 percent of the vote in a special election, easily winning the District 96 seat. Cockerham's win is the fifth Democratic victory in a Mississippi special election this year. Cockerham has a bright future with the Democratic Party and was highly praised by her predecessor who is now retired.
"These Democratic victories in Mississippi demonstrate that when Democrats show up and talk about what they believe in, even in a state which Bush carried by 60 percent in 2004, they can win elections," said Democratic National Committee Spokesperson Amaya Smith. "Across the country from Virginia, to New Jersey, to California, and in Mississippi the Democratic message continues to resonate with voters. We are not giving up any ground or taking a single vote for granted, and we are organizing in all 50 states. Mississippi has helped to show what we've known all along that the values and priorities of Democrats are the values and priorities of the American people."
Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

DNC: Republicans Play Semantic Games as President Bush's Credibility Sinks

To: National Desk, Political Reporter
Contact: Karen Finney of Democratic National Committee, 202-863-8148
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Washington Post reported today that Republicans in Washington are hiding behind semantics to distort the fact that-despite their denials before Congress last week-oil company executives shaped Vice President Cheney's energy task force report. According to the Post, the Republican majority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is arguing that the question of who participated in the task force's deliberations depends on the definition of "participation." (Washington Post, 11/23/05)
These semantic games help explain the American people's declining confidence in President Bush's honesty. According to latest Harris Interactive poll, 64 percent of Americans -- including 73 percent of independents-believe the Bush Administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." The same poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the indictment of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff for perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements is evidence of "a larger problem in the Bush administration." (Wall Street Journal, 11/23/05)
Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney today issued the following statement on the Bush Administration's diminishing credibility:
"The American people are sending a clear message. They are tired of a Republican-led Congress and an Administration that ignores the American people's values and priorities, that ignores the real issues confronting our hardworking families, and that continues to mislead and distort the truth to hide a radical special interest-driven agenda.
"Democrats believe that together, America can do better. It is time for President Bush to do what's right for the American people by rejecting the politics of spin and distortion and joining Democrats in fighting for an agenda that restores honesty in government and puts the American people ahead of the special interests."
Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, . This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

ADL: Michael Jackson Has 'An Anti-Semitic Streak'; Tape Shows He Hasn't Learned from Past Mistakes

To: National Desk
Contact: Myrna Shinbaum, 212-885-7747 or Todd Gutnick, 212-885-7755, Both of Anti-Defamation League
NEW YORK, Nov. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Reacting to revelations that Michael Jackson referred to Jews as "leeches" in a voicemail to a former business manager, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today said the pop music icon "has an anti-Semitic streak" and hasn't learned from his past mistakes, including the use of anti- Semitic epithets in a 1995 song he wrote.
In tapes aired yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Jackson was heard saying of Jews, "They suck...They're like leeches... I'm so tired of it...It is a conspiracy. The Jews do it on purpose."
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
"Michael Jackson has an anti-Semitic streak, and hasn't learned from his past mistakes. It seems every time he has a problem in his life, he blames it on Jews. It is sad that Jackson is infected with classically stereotypical ideas of Jews as all-powerful, money-grubbing and manipulative.
"We had hoped that Jackson would have learned from his mistakes. While he apologized for, and later removed the anti- Jewish lyrics in 'They Don't Care About Us,' it is clear now that he never was able to completely remove the bigotry from his own heart.
"It is important now for Mr. Jackson to stand up and acknowledge that his words are hurtful and hateful. He needs to show his fans that he rejects bigotry and is truly serious about stamping out, in his words, 'the ugliness of racism, anti- Semitism and stereotyping.' This can only begin with an apology to Jews everywhere, especially those fans who have been deeply hurt and offended by his words."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

NARAL Pro-Choice America to Hold Conference Call on the Eve of Oral Arguments for Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor
Contact: NARAL Pro-Choice America Press Office, 202-973-3032 or
News Advisory:
-- NARAL Pro-Choice America to Hold Conference Call on the Eve of Oral Arguments for Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
-- What's at stake for the states if the Court sides with the position backed by the Bush administration?
NARAL Pro-Choice America will host a conference call for the media on Tuesday, Nov. 29, one day before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments for Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
NARAL Pro-Choice America, NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire and 24 other state-based affiliates filed a "friend of the court" brief in the in the Ayotte case. Building on years of research and lobbying on state legislation, NARAL Pro-Choice America and its affiliate network argues that the Court should not allow a dangerous precedent that would open the floodgates for legislatures to enact abortion restrictions without exceptions to protect women's health.
The Bush administration voluntarily filed a legal brief in support of the state's position -- which undermines the core protections of Roe that the Court has upheld for more than 30 years.
WHO: Nancy Keenan, president, NARAL Pro-Choice America
WHEN: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 11 a.m. EST
Access Information: Please contact the press office at 202-973-3032 or send a message to to receive the call-in information.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Environmental Educators Praise Congressional Leaders for Restoring Funding for Environmental Literacy; Bush Signs Funding Bill Into Law

To: National Desk, Environment Reporter
Contact: James L. Elder, 978-526-7768; or Marialanna Lee, 202-478-6187; both for the Campaign for Environmental Literacy
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Environmental educators today praised Congressional leaders from both parties for restoring $5 million in FY 2006 funding for environmental literacy programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The funds will provide grants for teachers, schools, students, and community groups to improve awareness and knowledge about the environment.
"This funding means that environmental education programs in schools will continue to thrive and teach students about the natural world that they inhabit," said James L. Elder, director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy. "We thank those in Congress who continue to support a program that benefits both children and their environment."
This funding is intended to support existing environmental literacy programs throughout the nation, and to encourage the development of new projects and partnerships-with a specific emphasis on kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. Its ultimate goal is to create an informed society armed with the environmental knowledge necessary for making complex social and economic decisions.
The Bush Administration's FY 2006 budget initially cut funding for this environmental literacy program. Fortunately, leaders from both parties in the Senate and House of Representatives worked to restore it. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), the chair and ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, were instrumental in restoring funding in the Senate Appropriations bill. In the House, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the chair and ranking member of the Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, worked together to secure funding in the House.
In September 2005, Congress also approved $9 million in funding for environmental education programs under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That puts the total amount of FY 2006 appropriations specified for environmental literacy at $14 million, matching last year's funding levels.
"These programs have proven to be effective, and their overwhelming support by citizens shows how well they work," Elder said. "We urge Congress to build on this momentum by passing a comprehensive environmental education program in 2006."
The Campaign for Environmental Literacy exists solely to empower individuals and organizations to advocate for significantly increasing the amount of federal funding dedicated to environmental literacy.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Katrina Survivors Win Stay of Evictions

To: National Desk
Contact: Sabrina Williams 240-463-6875 or 202-728-9557
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Today Advancement Project, on behalf of several New Orleans renters, ACORN, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, UNITE HERE and SEIU, obtained a very favorable settlement in a lawsuit (Sylvester v. Bossiere, et al.) challenging evictions of tenants from rental properties in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The parties agreed to a stay of all evictions for renters in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, pending mail notification to addresses provided by FEMA and hearings 45 days later.
"The residents of New Orleans and survivors have won basic fairness," said Judith Browne, co-director of Advancement Project, a national racial justice organization that helped bring the case. "Our plaintiffs and thousands of other tenants were being thrown out of their homes, and their possessions tossed into the street, without their knowledge, and without any means of protecting themselves. It was adding injury to injury."
The suit was brought by individual plaintiffs, organizations, and unions against the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Clerks of the courts, Justices of the Peace and Constables in response to a wave of evictions proceeding without notice to the tenants. Louisiana law requires only that lessees whose whereabouts are unknown receive notice by tacking it to the door of the premises; yet most of the tenants have been evacuated and dispersed throughout the country, with no way of knowing that the eviction process is underway. Furthermore, although most evacuees have registered with FEMA, the agency had previously refused to divulge the addresses, citing privacy concerns. Louisiana law also permits quick evictions with trials to occur three days after this tacking.
"All of the parties worked hard to protect the rights of the people of Orleans and Jefferson parishes," said Ishmael Muhammad, staff attorney for Advancement Project. "This is clearly a step in the right direction, FEMA and the state defendants moved quickly to right this wrong."
The agreement requires FEMA to turn over to the courts in Orleans and Jefferson parishes the addresses of tenants facing evictions, and requires that hearings be scheduled no sooner than 45 days after notice is mailed to the evacuees. In the past, FEMA has refused all requests to provide the addresses of evacuees, even to the State of Louisiana.
Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who served as co-counsel in the suit expressed satisfaction at the ruling. "The renters of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes were facing a serious injustice, where no real effort was being made to contact them. And they had no means of redress. This stay, and the notification requirement, gives residents an opportunity to be heard, to rescue their possessions, and decide whether they wish to return to their homes."
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Husband and Wife Plead Guilty to Fraudulently Misrepresenting Authority From Former Presidential Candidate

To: National Desk
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2008 or 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today that William and Blanchi Dugatkin have pled guilty to making fraudulent misrepresentations for the purpose of soliciting campaign contributions, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Without any authority to do so, the Dugatkins attempted to plan and carry out a bogus fundraiser for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Congressman Richard A. Gephardt. As a result of today's plea, each defendant faces to up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
On June 29, 2005, the defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on charges of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud in connection with their scheme to defraud the 2004 presidential campaign of former Congressman Gephardt and potential donors to the Gephardt campaign. Subsequently, on September 26, 2005, the Dugatkins were charged by information with making fraudulent misrepresentations, and conspiring to make such misrepresentations, in violation of the FECA.
Today, the defendants pled guilty in the District of Columbia to the first count of the information, which charged them with making fraudulent misrepresentations for the purpose of soliciting contributions. It alleges that, from June through August 2003, the Dugatkins, acting under the aliases Bill Baulding and Jade Newhart and through a company they controlled called "Never Stop Dreaming, Inc.," fraudulently misrepresented themselves as speaking, writing, and acting for Congressman Gephardt for the purpose of soliciting contributions that would aggregate $2,000 or more. The Dugatkins made these misrepresentations in planning a fake Gephardt fundraiser at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. As part of their scheme, the Dugatkins met with officials from the Museum and others and said that they were close personal friends of the Gephardt family, that they had been authorized by the Gephardt campaign to hold the fundraiser, and that they were working directly with the candidate and his wife on the particulars of the fundraising event. In fact, the Gephardts had never heard of the defendants or their company. Moreover, neither Gephardt nor anyone on his campaign staff had authorized the fundraiser. The fundraiser ultimately did not take place.
The Gephardt campaign initially provided allegations regarding the defendants' civil conduct to both the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which shares jurisdiction with the Department over violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. At the request of the FEC and the defendants, the plea agreement reflects a global settlement of both the criminal and civil campaign violations. As part of the settlement, the defendants will cease and desist from misrepresenting their authority from federal candidates, and the FEC will not seek a civil penalty.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by John P. Pearson and Nancy L. Simmons of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice, headed by Section Chief Noel L. Hillman.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Justice Department Sues Missouri for Alleged Violations of Voter Rights

To: National Desk
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, 202-514-2007
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the State of Missouri and the Missouri Secretary of State for violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, alleges that the state has failed to meet its legal responsibilities to conduct a general program to maintain its voter registration list for federal elections as required under Section 8 of the NVRA. It alleges that, in some parts of Missouri, voters have been removed from registration lists without notification in direct violation of mandatory NVRA procedural protections,and that,in other areas, ineligible voters have not been removed from registration lists. The complaint further alleges that the state's failure to comply with the voter registration list maintenance provisions of the NVRA has resulted in registration lists that provide inaccurate voting information, including one county where the number of registered voters is over 150% of its voting age population.
"The National Voter Registration Act requires that states protect the rights of all voters by notifying them before removal from a voter registration list. It also requires states to remove ineligible voters," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "With this lawsuit, the Department of Justice will ensure that all Missouri voters are able to go to the polls and cast ballots in free and fair elections."
To file complaints about discriminatory voting practices, voters may call the Voting Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931. More information about the National Voter Registration Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Notorious Tax Protestor Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

To: National and State Desks
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2007 or 202-514-1888 (TDD), Web:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Notorious tax protestor Larken Rose of Hollywood, Pa., was sentenced in federal district court to 15 months imprisonment for failing to file tax returns for the years 1998 - 2002, the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today. In compliance with Judge Michael M. Baylson's admonition following Rose's conviction in August, Rose submitted delinquent tax returns for the years 1997 - 2004 and paid a substantial deposit to the IRS toward his outstanding tax liability. The court sentenced Rose to one year of supervised release following his prison term and ordered Rose to pay a fine of $10,000 and all taxes, interest, and penalties he owes to the IRS.
"People who intentionally fail to file returns or pay taxes as required by law can expect to face criminal prosecution, conviction and imprisonment," said Eileen J. O'Connor, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Tax Division. "And they will still be required to pay the taxes they tried to avoid, plus interest and penalties."
Rose, a former co-owner of a medical transcription business, was convicted by a jury in August 2005 of five counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns. The evidence at trial established that Rose did not file returns for 1998 - 2002 despite earning $500,000 in income during those years. Rose claimed that he did not file returns for those five years because he believed that income he earned in the U.S. was not taxable according to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 861. The evidence, however, showed that Rose received more than a dozen notices from the IRS rejecting his Section 861 argument and that he received more than ten letters from members of Congress notifying him that his Section 861 argument was invalid. In addition, Rose admitted that he was aware of two court cases rejecting his Section 861 argument.
Courts have consistently held that IRC Section 861 does not excuse U.S. citizens from filing tax returns and reporting income they earn in the U.S. At trial, Judge Baylson instructed the jury that Rose's Section 861 argument was incorrect as a matter of law. In convicting Rose, the jury rejected Rose's claim that he held a good faith belief that he was not required to file federal income tax returns or pay federal income tax.
"The conviction of individuals who intentionally conceal income and evade taxes is a vital element in maintaining public confidence in our tax system," stated Nancy Jardini, chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "Mr. Rose's sentencing today reminds us that fulfilling individual tax obligations is a legal requirement and those who willfully evade that responsibility will be prosecuted."
"It's simply not fair to honest taxpayers if we don't hold those who refuse to pay their fair share accountable," said Pat Meehan, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. "This sentence is a reminder that every citizen must pay what he or she owes. Honest, hard-working people who pay their taxes have no time for those who scheme to evade their responsibilities and neither does the law."
On Nov. 9, in a separate trial, a jury found Rose's wife and business partner, Tessa David, guilty of willfully failing to file tax returns for 1998 -2002. David's sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2006.
Assistant Attorney General O'Connor and U.S. Attorney Meehan thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Floyd J. Miller, and Tax Division Trial Attorney, Shawn T. Noud, who prosecuted the case. They also thanked the special agents of the IRS, whose assistance was essential to the successful investigation and prosecution of the case.
Additional information about the Justice Department's Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found at
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

U.S. Department of Justice Statement on Guilty Verdicts in Abu Ali Case

To: National and State Desks
Contact: Sam Dibbley of the U.S. Department of Justice, 703-842-4050
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- United States Attorney Paul J. McNulty announced that defendant Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted today by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia on all counts of a Superseding Indictment charging him with terrorism offenses. The jury unanimously found Abu Ali, age 24 of Falls Church, Va., guilty of (1) conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization (al-Qaeda); (2) providing material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization (al-Qaeda); (3) conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; (4) providing material support to terrorists; (5) contribution of services to al-Qaeda; (6) receipt of funds and services from al-Qaeda; (7) conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States; (8) conspiracy to commit air piracy; and (9) conspiracy to destroy aircraft.
The evidence at trial included evidence that Abu Ali had joined an al-Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia; that he received training from members of the cell in weapons, explosives, and document forgery from an al-Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia; plotted with senior al-Qaeda operatives to personally carry out the assassination of the President; engaged in a conspiracy to hijack and destroy civilian airliners in a scheme substantially similar to the September 11, 2001, attacks; and researched nuclear power facilities in the United States at the behest of a senior al-Qaeda operative.
United States Attorney McNulty stated: "The evidence presented in this case firmly established Abu Ali as a dangerous terrorist who posed a grave threat to our national security. This conviction is the result of extraordinary law enforcement work and international cooperation. It serves as a clear warning to all that terrorists can and will be brought to the bar of justice."
The defendant faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 17, 2006.
Assistant United States Attorneys David H. Laufman and Stephen M. Campbell, Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jerry R. DeMaio, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Mala Tusk prosecuted the case for the United States. The case was investigated by agents of the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Democracy 21 Calls for Ethics Investigations Concerning Jack Abramoff and Intervention by Members of Congress at Interior Department

To: National Desk
Contact: Elenia Saloutsi of Democracy 21, 202-429-2008 or
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In a letter sent today to the House Ethics Committee, Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer called on the Ethics Committee to conduct an investigation ''to determine whether a number of House Members engaged in official acts to influence a case-specific regulatory matter at the Interior Department that benefited lobbyist Jack Abramoff's clients, and received contributions and financial favors from Abramoff and these clients, in violation of House ethics rules.''
A similar letter was sent to the Senate Ethics Committee concerning Abramoff's clients and official acts taken by a number of Senators.
Copies of both letters are available at
The letters followed an Associated Press story published on November 17, 2005, which reported that numerous Representatives and Senators intervened in a case-specific regulatory matter with Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to urge the Interior Department to reject a request from the Jena tribe of Choctaw Indians for a new casino in Louisiana.
''According to the AP story, 'Nearly three dozen members of Congress, including leaders from both parties, pressed the government to block a Louisiana Indian tribe from opening a casino while the lawmakers collected large donations from rival tribes and their lobbyist, Jack Abramoff,''' the letter states.
''Many intervened with letters to Interior Secretary Gale Norton within days of receiving money from tribes represented by Abramoff or using the lobbyist's restaurant for fundraising, an Associated Press review of campaign records, IRS records and congressional correspondence found,'' the AP story further stated.
According to the Democracy 21 letter, ''the House Ethics Committee must investigate and determine whether the intervention by House Members in a case-specific Executive Branch regulatory matter was a scheme organized by Jack Abramoff and his agents; whether House Members or House staff were involved with Abramoff in organizing such an intervention scheme; and whether contributions and financial favors were provided to House Members by Abramoff, his associates and his clients as part of such an intervention scheme.''
Democracy 21 called for a similar investigation and determination to be made by the Senate Ethics Committee regarding the intervention by Senators.
The Democracy 21 letter was accompanied by the AP article and a chart released by AP, which listed 24 House members ''who wrote letters urging the Bush administration to reject a Louisiana Indian casino as they collected political money from rival tribes, their lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates between 2001 and 2004.''
According to the letter, ''These 24 House members received total contributions of $454,225 during the period, according to the information in the AP chart.''
The Democracy 21 letter states, ''Top recipients of these contributions during the period, included Representatives Dennis Hastert (R-IL), $103,500; John Doolittle (R-CA), $64,500; Tom DeLay (R-TX), $57,000; Chris John (D-LA), $56,625; Jim McCrery (R-LA), $36,250; Eric Cantor (R-VA), $31,500; Ernest Istook (R- OK), $29,000; Pete Sessions (R-TX), $22,500; and Roger Wicker (R- MS), $20,100.''
''The stonewalling by the House Ethics Committee of an investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his activities with various House Members, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), must come to an end,'' according to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer.
During the past year, Democracy 21 has written on three previous occasions to the House Ethics Committee calling for an investigation of Jack Abramoff's activities with various House members. Copies of the three previous letters sent by Democracy 21 to the Ethics Committee, on December 28, 2004, February 16, 2005 and March 1, 2005, are available at
''In the 1970s and 1980s when the Tongsun Park and ABSCAM scandals engulfed the House, the House Ethics Committee met its institutional responsibilities and investigated these scandals,'' Wertheimer stated.
''During 2005, with the Abramoff scandal engulfing the House, the House Ethics Committee has done nothing to investigate the scandal, and has failed the House and the American people by abrogating its responsibilities,'' according to Wertheimer.
The Democracy 21 letter sent today to the Senate Ethics Committee also was accompanied by the AP article and a chart released by AP, which listed nine Senators "who wrote letters urging the Bush administration to reject a Louisiana Indian casino as they collected political money from rival tribes, their lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates between 2001 and 2004."
According to the letter sent to the Senate Committee, ''These nine Senators received total contributions of $388,984 during the period, according to the information in the AP chart.''
The Senate Ethics committee letter states, ''Top recipients of these contributions during the period included Senators Trent Lott (R-MS), $92,000; Thad Cochran (R-MS), $82,500; Harry Reid (D-NV), $67,441; Charles Grassley (R-IA), $62,500; and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), $32,000.''
The Democracy 21 letters conclude by strongly urging the House and Senate Ethics Committee to exercise their inherent jurisdiction, explicitly granted by the Committees' rules, to investigate the serious ethics issues raised in the AP story.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Remarks by the President at Pardoning of National Thanksgiving Turkey

To: National Desk
Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush at the pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey:
Presidential Hall
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1:11 p.m. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Welcome to the White House. Thank you for coming this afternoon. It's a pleasure to be able to introduce you, soon, to the National Thanksgiving Turkey. His name is Marshmallow. (Laughter.) The alternative turkey's name is Yam. (Laughter.) He's around here somewhere. He's not going to be in this room. He's in a pickup truck hanging out by the South Lawn. (Laughter.)
This is what we call -- the White House is called the people's house, and we're going to call Marshmallow and Yam the people's turkeys. They made it here through a democratic process. There was a nationwide election on the White House website. In the end, the voters made the choice, and it was a close election. You might say it was neck and neck. (Laughter.)
I'm going to grant a pardon this afternoon, and the pardon I grant comes with a new measure of responsibility and fame for Marshmallow and Yam. In the past years, the turkeys I spared went on to lead lives of leisure at Frying Pan Park in the state of Virginia. This year is going to be a little different. Marshmallow and Yam were a little skeptical about going to a place called "Frying Pan Park." I don't blame them. So I'm proud to announce that Marshmallow and Yam will serve as honorary grand marshals at Disneyland's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And they'll go on to spend the rest of their natural lives at Disneyland.
The granting of the turkey pardon is not a responsibility that I take lightly, and I want to thank all of those who helped plan today's event. I appreciate the efforts of those of you from the National Turkey Federation, especially Chairman Pete Rothfork and President Alice Johnson. Welcome. Glad you all are here. I want to thank James and Vicki Trites from Trites Farm in Henning, Minnesota. Where are they, the Trites? There they are, right there. Welcome. Thanks for coming. I know that Marshmallow and Yam are going to feel pretty good strutting around sunny California, remembering the cold days of Minnesota. (Laughter.) Glad you all are here.
We've also got some other special guests in the audience who exemplify the spirit of Thanksgiving. And those are the students from Clarksville Elementary School, from Clarksville, Maryland. Anybody here from Clarksville Elementary? Welcome. We're glad you're here. Thanks for coming. These students raised more than $17,000 for the Red Cross fund to benefit Hurricane Katrina victims. Thanks a lot for your hard work in helping somebody else.
They're here with the assistant principal, Amy Green. I suspect some teachers and parents are here with them. Thank you all for teaching. Thanks for being good parents. Their compassion and dedication show the good heart of our country. And I'm proud you all are here at the White House.
Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in the American spirit of gratitude and sharing. We see this spirit in America today. When the communities along the Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Americans came together to provide help for their neighbors in need. It was a remarkable outpouring of compassion and generosity. That outpouring of compassion demonstrated once again that the great strength of our country lies in the hearts and souls of our citizens.
We also give thanks on Thanksgiving for our many blessings, and we thank those who are far away from home who protect our freedoms. It's through the courage and skill of our Armed Forces that we're safe as a nation, and we're very proud of their service.
We think of our military families who will have an empty seat at the table this Thanksgiving. The American people are thankful for the sacrifice of the American military families, as well. America's men and women in uniform and their families have our gratitude -- not only on Thanksgiving, but on every day.
Our guest of honor seems about ready to come on in and say hello. So without further ado, I grant Marshmallow and Yam a presidential pardon. In the meantime, may God bless you all and your families during this Thanksgiving season.
1:17 p.m. EST
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Monday, November 21, 2005

Southfield, Mich., Computer Staffing Firm to Pay $2.65 Million in Back Wages and Penalties for Immigration Law Violations

To: National Desk
Contact: Brad Mitchell of the U.S. Department of Labor, 312-353-6976
DETROIT, Nov. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Computech Inc., a Southfield, Mich., firm that places computer professionals at locations throughout the United States has agreed to pay $2,250,000 in back wages to 232 computer professionals and a $400,000 fine to settle immigration law violations, the U.S. Labor Department announced today.
An investigation by the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division found that Computech brought non-immigrant H-1B workers into the U.S., but failed to pay them the minimum required wage rates in the areas where they were employed. The investigation also disclosed that Computech frequently "benched" the workers without compensation contrary to the rules of the H-1B program.
"The Department of Labor aggressively enforces the law to ensure that temporary foreign workers are compensated fully and fairly," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "Abuse of the temporary foreign worker program is not tolerated and violators, as this case shows, are vigorously pursued."
The settlement, approved by a U.S. Labor Department administrative law judge, orders the company to pay $2,250,000 to 232 foreign workers and a $400,000 fine in addition to the back wages. The company is also prohibited from participation in the H- 1B visa program for 18 months.
The H-1B visa program allows foreign workers to enter and work temporarily in the United States in professional level jobs such as computer programmers, engineers, medical doctors and teachers. H-1B workers must be paid at least the same wage rates and benefits as those paid to U.S. workers already doing the same job in the same area.
Computech contracts with other firms to supply computer professionals who work on the premises of those firms. It has customers across the U.S., with the largest numbers of its workers in Michigan, Illinois, California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Minnesota.
The Wage and Hour Division enforces the H-1B wage provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, in addition to other federal laws pertaining to wage payments. For more information please visit or call toll free 866-4-USA-DOL.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

New Study Offers Analysis of China's Growing Economy and Military Power, Implications for U.S. National Security

To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor
Contact: Maria Farkas of the Hudson Institute, 202-974-6447; Web:
News Advisory:
On the heels of President Bush's tour of Asia, on Tuesday, November 22, Hudson Institute will release its analysis of China's growing economy and military power. The study, CHINA'S NEW GREAT LEAP FORWARD: HIGH TECHNOLOGY AND MILITARY POWER IN THE NEXT HALF-CENTURY, addresses the growing scientific and technological sophistication of China's economy and military and, accordingly, the implications for broad U.S. national security interests.
Journalists may dial in to an exclusive teleconference with the study's authors at 2 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 22. The telephone number for the teleconference is: 719-457-2634 or 800- 967-7185.
As U.S. foreign policy has shifted in focus since September 11 overwhelmingly toward the war against terror and in support of democratization in the Greater Middle East and Central Asia, the prospect of China's emergence as a peer competitor to long- standing U.S. technological leadership, though widely discussed, has not been adequately analyzed. CHINA'S NEW GREAT LEAP FORWARD seeks to encourage serious discussion among both the general public and policymakers about the challenges of China's anticipated development of weapons of greater complexity and power.
Interviews with the study's authors may be arranged by contacting Maria Farkas at 202-974-6447 or
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole Report: The Newspaper Classifieds -- Marketplace for Illegal Gun Transfers

To: National Desk
Contact: John Johnson of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, 319-743-7823 or
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, Nov. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The newspaper industry is operating a marketplace for illegal gun transfers according to a report released today by the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole. A copy of the report "The Newspaper Classifieds - Marketplace for Illegal Gun Transfers" is posted online at
Unlike licensed firearms dealers, private individuals who sell guns through classified ads in newspapers are not required to conduct criminal background checks on their buyers or keep records of their transactions. Thus, the classifieds provide opportunities for felons, domestic abusers, minors and other persons who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms to evade a background check and unlawfully buy guns, according to the report. The classifieds also provide a venue for gun traffickers to illegally "engage in the business" of dealing in firearms without a license to do so.
Several anecdotes in which a prohibited purchaser bought a gun through a classified ad in a newspaper and then committed a crime with the gun, including murder, are provided in the report.
Between April - November 2005 the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole surveyed most daily newspapers published in the U.S. to determine each newspaper's firearms advertising policy. Of 1,449 newspapers surveyed, 1,030 newspapers (71 percent) accept classified ads for all guns -- rifles, shotguns, and handguns -- from unlicensed sellers; 145 newspapers (10 percent) accept classified ads for rifles and shotguns, but not handguns; and 274 newspapers (19 percent) do not take classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers.
Said John Johnson, executive director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence and coordinator for the Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole, "There is a demand for guns by persons who cannot buy them from licensed firearms dealers because they are either too young or have a criminal record and cannot pass the mandatory criminal background check required on all dealer sales. Thus, it is difficult to defend a newspaper's role in the private sale of firearms by unlicensed sellers without a background check. The potential risks to the general public (and the newspaper) from the unregulated sale of firearms through the classifieds far outweigh the benefits (revenues) generated by these ads."
The Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole asks newspapers across the country to restrict firearms advertisements to licensed firearms dealers only, and to not take classified ads for guns from unlicensed sellers.
Since the campaign was launched, at least 69 newspapers with a combined circulation of 7.9 million have changed their firearms advertising policy after being contacted by the campaign. At least 53 newspapers have changed their policy in 2005. A list of newspapers that have changed their policy is provided in the report and includes some of the nation's largest newspapers: Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Houston Chronicle, The Dallas Morning News, and The Indianapolis Star.
"We commend the publishers of these newspapers for taking reasonable steps to prevent their newspaper from being used as a marketplace for illegal gun purchases," said Johnson. "Although the classifieds represent only one segment of the unregulated secondary gun market, by changing its policy, a newspaper becomes part of the solution rather than part of the problem."
The Campaign to Close the Newspaper Loophole is a project of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence ( ).
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Today in History: November 21

North Carolina

On November 21, 1789, North Carolina ratified the Constitution to become the twelfth state in the Union. The vote came approximately two hundred years after the first white settlers arrived on the fertile Atlantic coastal plain.
Originally inhabited by a number of native tribes, including the Cherokee, North Carolina was the first American territory the English attempted to colonize. Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom the state capital is named, chartered two colonies on the North Carolina coast in the late 1580s, both ending in failure. The demise of one, the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island, remains one of the great mysteries of American history.
By the late seventeenth century, several permanent settlements had taken hold in the Carolina territory, which encompassed present-day South Carolina and Tennessee as well. In 1712, North Carolina became a separate colony. It reverted to a royal colony seventeen years later. In April 1776, the colony became the first to instruct its delegates to the Continental Congress to vote for independence from the British crown.
Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, North Carolina worked to establish its state and local governments. In 1840, it completed the state capitol building in Raleigh, still standing today. In mid-century the state's rural and commercial areas were further connected by construction of a 129 mile wooden plank road, known as a "farmer's railroad," from Fayetteville in the east to Bethania (northwest of Winston-Salem).
Divided on whether to support the North or the South in the Civil War, North Carolina reluctantly seceded from the Union in 1861. To learn more about North Carolina's role during the war, see the Today in History feature on Union General William T. Sherman's victory at Fayetteville.
In the 1930s the Farm Security Administration (FSA) sent some of the nation's finest photographers to North Carolina to document rural life and the adverse effects of the Great Depression.
Man picking cotton
Picking Cotton, Statesville, North Carolina, Marion Post Wolcott, photographer, October 1939.
FSA/OWI Photographs, 1935-1945
FSA/OWI Photographs, 1935-1945 contains hundreds of these images. Search the collection on North Carolina and Vachon to see John Vachon's series on farm life. For Marion Post Wolcott's photographs of cotton and tobacco growers, search on North Carolina and Wolcott. For Jack Delano's images of migrant workers, search on North Carolina and Delano. Browse the state and county index to find more photographs, including Ben Shahn's portrait of Fiddlin' Bill Henseley of Asheville.
Over the past century, North Carolina has grown to become a leader in agriculture and industry. The state's industrial output—mainly textiles, chemicals, electrical equipment, paper and paper products—ranked eighth in the nation in the early 1990s. Tobacco, one of North Carolina's earliest sources of revenue, remains vital to the local economy.

The Alaskan Frontier

Mt. McKinley
Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range, Mt. McKinley National Park, Alaska, 1958.
Taking the Long View, 1851-1991
On November 21, 1942, U.S. Army engineers, working closely with their Canadian counterparts, completed an emergency war measure with the opening of the Alcan Highway, an overland military supply route to the Territory of Alaska. Passing through the Yukon, the more than 1,500-mile roadway connected Dawson Creek, British Columbia with Fairbanks, Alaska and provided Americans and Canadians with an increased sense of security at a time of hostile Japanese activities during World War II.
By June of the following year the Army Signal Corps also completed an aerial version of the Alcan Highway. The Army's weekly publication Yank cited the new 2,000 mile long radio-telephone line, which helped link Washington, D.C. to Alaska, as the longest communication system of its type in the world.
In the 1780s, Russian fur traders became the first European settlers of this land across the Bering Strait from Siberia. Russian influence on native Alaskans is explored in the Library of Congress exhibition In the Beginning Was the Word: The Russian Church and Native Alaskan Cultures.
The Russian-American Company administered Alaska from 1799 until 1867, when Secretary of State William H. Seward negotiated the purchase of Alaska for the United States. Congress established The Territory of Alaska in 1912, prompted by the significant gold discoveries of the 1880s and 1890s. California As I Saw It: First Person Narratives, 1849-1900 contains accounts of those seeking fortune and adventure in Alaska. In Wonderland, a travel account published in 1894, New Jersey newspaperman Edward S. Parkinson recorded his impressions of Muir Glacier.
Image of a newspaper photograph of Muir Glacier
Landing at Muir Glacier.
There it was, an immense mountain of ice, moving forward at the rate of about forty feet per day. It looked as if the immense waves of an angry ocean had suddenly become frozen and were waiting for the warm rays of the sun to restore them to life again. At intervals immense pieces would break off and fall into the water, accompanied with a rumbling noise like that of distant thunder. The glacier extends from shore to shore, a distance of four miles, and lifts its pinnacles four hundred feet above the muddy river. It was my fortune to see one of the tallest of these break off and plunge into the river. When it struck, the spray was thrown far above the highest point of the glacier. The roar that accompanied the fall was terrific.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman Addresses AIPAC; Says 'We Must Not Revert to the Old Ways That Emboldened The Terrorists'

To: National Desk
Contact: Tracey Schmitt of the Republican National Committee Press Office, 202-863-8614; Web:
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will address AIPAC's (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) "Salute to Congress" tonight in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The following are excerpts of Chairman Mehlman's remarks as prepared for delivery.
"For almost a generation, terrorists have declared war on free nations.
"At the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes. Israel responded by bombing PLO bases. Soon after, the UN Security Council condemned the Israeli response, but not the terrorist slaughter of 11 civilians.
"What did the terrorists learn?
"Less than two months after that attack, a Lufthansa airliner was seized and Germany gave in to the hijacker's demands by releasing the three surviving Munich terrorists.
"What did the terrorists learn?
"In 1979, Islamic fundamentalists took almost 70 Americans hostage in Iran and held them for 444 days. There was a single undermanned and under-planned rescue attempt that ended in failure.
"What did the terrorists learn?
"In April 1983, a van filled with explosives exploded underneath the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, 17 of whom were Americans. Six months later, a terrorist smiled as he drove a Mercedes truck filled with explosives into the Marine barracks in Beirut. The explosion destroyed the building and killed 241 American servicemen. The U.S. planned attacks on terrorist barracks in response, but they never occurred.
"What did the terrorists learn?
"The 1986 West German nightclub bombing ... Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 ...
"The first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 ... Riyadh in 1995 ... Khobar Towers in 1996 ... the embassy attacks in 1998 ... and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000 ...
"We know what the terrorists learned. They learned that people paid attention to spectacular attacks ... and responded to the threat of more. They learned that they could declare war on democracy without fearing war in return.
"That war came to America on September 11, 2001.
"And on September 12, under the leadership of George W. Bush, the terrorists got war in return."
"...While we pursue Democracy, the terrorists' strategy is clear: American forces recently intercepted a letter from Osama bin Laden's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, saying that al Qaeda is waiting for America to pull out of Iraq, just as we pulled out of Vietnam.
"A Vietnam-like pullout would not be a stalemate or an 'exit strategy' - it would be an unambiguous victory for the terrorists.
"9/11 taught us that we cannot permit a failed state, particularly in the heart of the Middle East between Syria and Iran.
"We cannot not leave Iraq at the mercy of murderers.
"We cannot allow the terrorists to seize control of a nation with the resources of Iraq - land, water, oil ... and the intellectual capital of the people.
"We cannot once again reinforce the message that the terrorists heard in Beirut, in Mogadishu and Madrid: that the reward for violence is capitulation.
"Not in Iraq, not anywhere."
Paid for by the Republican National Committee; Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Union for Reform Judaism Opposes Alito Nomination as Threat to Fundamental Rights

To: National Desk
Contact: Emily Grotta, 914-772-7657 or; Alexis Rice, 202-841-2360 or, both of Union For Reform Judaism
HOUSTON, Nov. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Representatives of the 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America voted overwhelmingly today to oppose the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court of the United States because it "would threaten protection of the most fundamental rights" that the Reform Movement supports.
"On choice, women's rights, civil rights and the scope of federal power," Alito would "shift the ideological balance of the Supreme Court on matters of core concern to the Reform Movement," according to the resolution adopted by the more than 2,000 voting delegates from more than 500 congregations in all 50 states. The vote came at the closing session of the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial Convention, which met in Houston Nov. 16-20. The Union represents the largest branch of Judaism in North America.
Before the vote, convention delegates heard an argument in favor of the nomination from Jeff Wasserstein, a former clerk for Judge Alito and a self-described "liberal Democrat," and against it from Elliot Mincberg, vice president of the People for the American Way.
"We respect Judge Alito's intelligence, competence, integrity and judicial temperament," said Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism in Washington, DC. "Nevertheless, we are alarmed by the threat to the fundamental freedoms we hold dear if Judge Alito is confirmed. We cannot remain on the sidelines during this crucial debate, one that carries implications for virtually every issue of core concern to our Movement," Saperstein said.
Jordyn Jacobs, a college freshman from San Diego and the Social Action Vice President of NFTY, the Reform Movement's youth program, urged delegates to vote against the nomination. "Our tradition teaches us that we must not be silent," Jacobs said. If Alito is confirmed, she noted, he could be on the court for 35 years, affecting her generation and their children throughout their lives.
Earlier in the convention, delegates voted to oppose the War in Iraq and called for some troop withdrawals to begin after the December 15 elections.
Delegates also voted on resolutions to
-- Denounce the use of torture and demand the US Government enforce laws that make torture illegal
-- Oppose efforts to impose economic sanctions on Israel or on companies doing business with Israel
-- Require that governmental scientific data not be colored by ideology and that appointments to governmental bodies be made on the basis of the appointee's scientific experience
-- Endorse the Millennium Development Goals to end global poverty
-- Support voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia
-- Support the rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively
The full text of the resolutions are available at .
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/