Saturday, December 17, 2005

Congress Completes Work on Violence Against Women Act, Funding Initiatives to Prevent Domestic & Sexual Violence and Providing More Help for Victims

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a statement by Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, on the Violence Against Women Act:
This afternoon, when the House of Representatives passed the Violence Against Women Act of 2005, Congress completed its work on this critical legislation. We eagerly await the President's signature. This is a giant step forward, and offers real hope that our nation will significantly improve its response to domestic, sexual and dating violence, and stalking. We have repeatedly asked Congress to make our homes safer before heading to their homes for the holidays. With the Senate vote yesterday and the House vote today, generations of Americans can now benefit from the groundbreaking initiatives in this legislation.
VAWA 2005 is landmark legislation that funds initiatives to help children exposed to violence, train health care providers to support victims of abuse, work with men as allies to help teach the next generation that violence is wrong, and provide crisis services for victims of rape and sexual assault. It also continues longstanding efforts to improve the law enforcement response to violence against women and provide supportive services, such as transitional housing, to women and children forced to leave their homes because of violence.
We thank Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (R- PA), and Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for their strong, unwavering leadership on this bill. And we thank Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for championing the prevention initiative, and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) the health provisions.
The Violence Against Women Act of 2000 expired on September 30. This reauthorization is long overdue. We urge President Bush to waste no time in signing it into law, so that Americans can reap the benefits, and our families and communities will grow stronger and safer.
The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because every person has the right to live free of violence. More information is available at

Walmart fact sheets.

After posting the last story concerning walmart I decided to post their facts sheets as well.
The following contents are the copyrighted property of Walmart and all rights are reserved.

At A Glance

Fact: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the world’s largest retailer, with $285.2 billion in sales in the fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2005. The company employs 1.6 million associates worldwide through more than 3,700 facilities in the United States and more than 2,400 units in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. More than 138 million customers per week visit Wal-Mart stores worldwide.
Retail Divisions -- Guided by founder Sam Walton’s passion for customer satisfaction and “Every Day Low Prices,” Wal-Mart‘s four retail divisions -- Wal-Mart Supercenters, Discount Stores, Neighborhood Markets and SAM’S CLUB warehouses -- offer a wide variety of quality merchandise to consumers around the world.
Wal-Mart Milestones -- 1962: first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Ark., opens. 1969: company incorporated as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. 1970: first distribution center and home office in Bentonville, Ark. open; Wal-Mart goes public on the New York Stock Exchange. 1979: annual sales top $1 billion. 1983: SAM’S CLUB warehouse concept introduced. 1988: first Supercenter opens. 1991: first international unit opens in Mexico City.
By the turn of the century Wal-Mart had been named “Retailer of the Century” by Discount Store News; made FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies To Work For;” and was ranked on Financial Times’ “Most Respected in the World” list. In 2002, Wal-Mart became No. 1 on the FORTUNE 500 list. In 2003 and 2004, Wal-Mart was named "Most Admired Company in America" by FORTUNE magazine. In addition, Wal-Mart was presented with the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership, a presidential award that recognizes companies for outstanding achievement in employee relations and community initiatives.
Wal-Mart Involvement -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. empowers its associates to serve the needs of their communities through its Good Works initiative. In 2005, Wal-Mart will donate more than $200 million to help charities and organizations throughout the U.S.
More information about Wal-Mart, Inc. can be located online at, and Wal-Mart stock trades on the New York and Pacific Stock Exchanges under the ticker symbol WMT.
“We’re all working together; that’s the secret. And we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone, not just in America, but we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better lifestyle, a better life for all. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished; we’ve just begun.” – Sam Walton (1918-1992).


Fact: Wal-Mart offers affordable health care coverage to both its full and part-time associates. We work hard to offer good, affordable coverage to our people. Historically, Wal-Mart has paid about two-thirds of the cost of the Associates' Medical Plan. As of today, 620,000 associates have signed up for health insurance coverage in a Wal-Mart sponsored plan. In January, Wal-Mart will provide insurance to more than 1 million people and offer up to 18 different plans. Coverage will be available for as little as $11 per month for individuals and 30 cents per day for children - no matter how many children an associate has.
Unlike many plans, after the first year, the Wal-Mart medical plan has no lifetime maximum for most expenses, protecting our associates against catastrophic loss and financial ruin. We have different deductibles to meet individual needs.
Associates also have access to world class healthcare at the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University Hospital, Johns Hopkins University Hospital and many other leading health care facilities without insurance approval.
In recent years, Wal-Mart has contributed 4 percent of an associate's eligible pay to the combined Profit Sharing & 401(k) plan. Our hourly associates, just like our management and executive associates, receive bonuses and other incentives for helping the company achieve its goals. In FYE 2005, we spent $4.2 billion on benefits for our associates.

Community Impact

Fact: Wal-Mart supports communities financially and provides hundreds of jobs. Our property taxes, sales tax revenue and community giving help fund basic services like police and fire departments and schools, and support for invaluable charities. The typical Supercenter raises or gives $30,000 to $50,000 a year to local charitable needs ranging from youth programs to literacy councils. In fact, Wal-Mart is the largest corporate cash contributor in America. In 2005, Wal-Mart will donate more than $200 million to help charities and organizations throughout the U.S. More than 90 percent of cash donations from Wal-Mart Stores and the Wal-Mart & SAM'S CLUB Foundation target local communities. That’s $18,000 an hour or $5 a second. In 2004, Wal-Mart collected more than $11.2 billion in state and local sales taxes and paid millions in property taxes.
A UBS Warburg study found that Wal-Mart grocery prices are 17 to 20 percent lower than other supermarkets, which has the greatest benefit for a community’s low-income families. A recent independent economic study by Global Insight, Inc. demonstrated the net positive impact Wal-Mart has on communities. The study showed Wal-Mart saved working families over $2,300 per household, per year.
Studies show that new businesses spring up near Wal-Marts and existing stores flourish as they take advantage of the increased customer flow to and from our stores. Drive by any Wal-Mart store and count the number of businesses operating nearby, many are independent local businesses or locally owned franchises. The most definitive look at this issue, by Dr. Emek Basker at the University of Missouri, showed average increases of 50 retail jobs in communities five years after the entry of Wal-Mart.

Contractor Standards

Fact: We require our contractors and subcontractors to follow all laws. We require companies that do business with our company to comply with all laws and regulations. These requirements are memorialized in contracts we sign with our contractors. To reinforce our expectations, we are also developing monitoring systems to ensure contractors that do business with our company comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
At Wal-Mart we believe in "doing the right thing." We expect contractors that provide services to our company to also do the right thing for their employees and communities.

Diversity Fact Sheet

Fact: Wal-Mart’s commitment to diversity starts with our board of directors and extends throughout the organization. Our 14-member board of directors includes two females, two African Americans and two Hispanics. Wal-Mart is a leading employer of Hispanics in the U.S. with more 139,000 Hispanic associates; a leading employer of African Americans with more than 208,000 African Americans; an employer of more than 775,000 females; and an employer of more than 220,000 seniors who are 55 and older.
We know that attracting diverse customers, associates, and suppliers is critical to our success.
In establishing the Office of Diversity in 2003, we appointed a chief diversity officer. Her team serves as the company’s focal point for diversity initiatives that place Wal-Mart among corporate leaders in this regard. Wal-Mart actively recruits talent from colleges and universities with significant populations of diverse students, including many women’s colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and colleges with a high Hispanic representation. Additionally, Wal-Mart recruited at more than 59 diversity career fairs in 2004.
We have put specific programs in place to make sure we have a talent pool of women and minorities who are well prepared for management jobs. In 2003, Wal-Mart expanded its offering of leadership seminars designed specifically for women; in 2004, we added leadership seminars designed specifically for people of color. All of the seminars are designed to enhance the leadership skills of these members of management in an effort to advance their careers. Initial measurements of participant retention have been positive.
Wal-Mart has been heralded for its legal diversity program, which has led to a larger, more effective and more diverse legal department and encourages diversity among its outside counsel.
We provide diversity training to all levels of management and hourly associates.
Officer compensation is now linked to diversity goals. If company officers do not meet their individual diversity goals, bonuses are reduced up to 15 percent.
Wal-Mart’s senior leaders are actively engaged in our diversity initiatives, and, in some cases, serve as external board members for diversity-related organizations. Among the organizations receiving support are the National Council of LaRaza, the Business Women’s Network/Diversity Best Practices, the Congressional Black Caucus, the International Women’s Forum, the National Urban League, NAACP, National Association of Female Executives, the Organization of Chinese Americans, Gathering of Nations, National Council on Aging, the National Organization on Disability, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Black Retail Action Group.
Our multicultural merchandise mix reflects our respect for our diverse customer base and we are committed to communicating effectively through our advertising and shopping environment.
In 2005, Wal-Mart was named on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies For Diversity list.

Employment Overview

Fact: 1.3 million Associates work at Wal-Mart in the U.S. The majority of Wal-Mart's hourly store associates in the U.S. work full-time. That's well above the 20 - 40 percent typically found in the retail industry. We are a leading employer of Hispanic Americans, with more than 139,000 Hispanic associates. Wal-Mart is one of the leading employers of African Americans, with more than 208,000 African-American associates. More than 220,000 of our associates are 55 or older. We employ more than 775,000 women.

Former Properties

Fact: Wal-Mart recycles unused stores to benefit our communities. We have a full-time team of real estate professionals, backed by an entire department dedicated solely to making sure available Wal-Mart properties are sold or leased to benefit our communities. Our stores have been converted to other retailers including Hobby Lobby, Big Lots and Burlington Coat Factory. They’ve also been turned into schools, churches, call centers and automobile dealerships. Last year, we sold, leased or sub-leased more than 15 million square feet of space for our communities. It’s our responsibility to recycle our unused stores and we take it very seriously.
Wal-Mart donated the use of more than 25 vacant facilities in hurricane-impacted states for relief efforts. Uses included evacuee shelters, supply depots, food pantry, a tent city for utility crews and even a dialysis clinic. The company paid the utility costs on these facilities while in use.

Health Care Coverage

Fact: Our health care plan insures full-time and part-time associates once eligible. As of today, 620,000 associates have signed up for health insurance coverage in a Wal-Mart sponsored plan. In January, Wal-Mart will provide insurance to more than 1 million people and offer up to 18 different plans. Coverage will be available for as little as $11 per month for individuals and 30 cents per day for children - no matter how many children an associate has.
Unlike many plans, after the first year, the Wal-Mart medical plan has no lifetime maximum for most expenses, protecting our associates against catastrophic loss and financial ruin.
Associates enrolled in the Associates’ Medical Plan also have access to world class health care at the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University Hospital, Johns Hopkins University Hospital and many other health care facilities, all without insurance approval.

International Operations

Fact: Wal-Mart serves people around the world. Today, millions of people worldwide enjoy the rewards of shopping with Wal-Mart. From our first international store in Mexico in 1991 we have grown to more than 2,400 stores in 15 markets outside the United States. Wal-Mart International currently includes many different store formats, membership clubs and restaurants employing more than 400,000 associates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Wal-Mart's overseas stores provide American businesses the opportunity to sell their goods in these markets.
We’ve experienced international success through our ability to adapt Wal-Mart’s unique concepts to each new country. Our Associates are involved in local communities and cultures. They respond to customer needs, merchandise preferences and local suppliers. By serving each local market in its own unique way, Wal-Mart International has realized significant growth with potential for much greater development worldwide.
Our global expansion was achieved through a combination of new store construction and acquisitions. This strategy has given us excellent market penetration and opportunities for future development. We view Wal-Mart’s operations throughout North America, Latin America, Asia and Europe as a solid foundation with many promising areas for further growth.
International sales reached $56.3 billion in fiscal year ending 2005, an 18.3 percent increase over the previous year, and operating profits rose to nearly $3.0 billion, $2.3 billion, an increase of 26.1 percent. In 2005, Wal-Mart International plans to open 155 to 165 new stores in existing markets.

Military Support

Fact: In 2004, more than 38,000 Wal-Mart associates told us they have served in the military. Currently, approximately 4,000 associates are on military leave. Wal-Mart is a loyal supporter of men and women in the armed forces. Specifically, we support our Associates who perform military service. For example, we proudly offer continuation of many benefits, including health benefits, for the duration of an Associate’s military leave. We also offer supplemental pay, for the duration of military leave, to Associates called to active duty in an area that is subject to “hostile fire” or “imminent danger,” as defined by Presidential Executive Order.
Last year, Wal-Mart partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation (VFW) to provide more than 900,000 Communications Kits that included free phone cards, writing paper, envelopes, and more so that servicemen and women could stay in touch with loved ones. The Company also made it possible for customers nationwide to send messages through in-store kiosks to support our military men and women. We have provided millions of dollars in financial aid to military family-support organizations and worked with manufacturers to supply clothing for the wounded and special-need items for the troops.
Wal-Mart donated $6 million to help build the World War II memorial in Washington D.C. while associates and customers raised an additional $8.5 million. In 2003, Wal-Mart was honored with the prestigious "Corporate Patriotism Award" sponsored by the Employer Support for Guard & Reserve (ESGR) and in 2004 honored with the Secretary of Defense “Employer Supports Freedom Award,” also sponsored by ESGR.
Wal-Mart is a proud recipient of the Freedom Award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Promoting From Within

Fact: Seventy-six percent of our store management started in hourly positions. We believe in promoting from within and we walk the talk. We provide career opportunities for people who may never have dreamed of one day supervising a multi-million dollar department or a $100 million Supercenter.
Many associates will advance to careers in retail, but also to careers which support our core business: real estate, public policy, merchandising, logistics, information technology, marketing, advertising and more. We project we will create more than 100,000 new jobs this year in the United States.

Public Assistance Health Care Coverage

Fact: Wal-Mart does not encourage our associates to apply for public assistance. We will be the first to acknowledge that health care is a tough issue... for us and for the country. Wal-Mart has helped 160,000 Americans leave the ranks of the uninsured. A survey of Wal-Mart associates showed more than 30% did not have health insurance before coming to work at Wal-Mart.
We work hard to keep our associate premiums affordable and think we are doing a pretty good job. In January, Wal-Mart will provide insurance to more than 1 million people and offer up to 18 different plans. Coverage is available for individuals for as little as $11 per month and 30 cents per day for children - no matter how many children an associate has.


Fact: Wal-Mart buys merchandise and services from more than 61,000 U.S suppliers and supports over 3 million supplier jobs in the United States. Last year, Wal-Mart purchased over $150 billion in goods from its 61,000 U.S. suppliers ranging from products on our shelves to the concrete it takes to build our buildings. We buy billions of dollars worth of goods in the United States, from large suppliers and from “mom and pops,” including small farmers, and minority and women-owned businesses. Many Wal-Mart Stores participate in our “Store of the Community,” which showcases local products from local producers. We buy apples in Washington, pumpkins in Illinois, bacon in Minnesota, barbecue in Missouri, and many other products from every corner of the country.
As Wal-Mart’s U.S. customer base continues to grow in diversity and as we expand our retail stores internationally, we must offer a mix of products to these customers around the world. We source from the global market to offer our customers who live paycheck to paycheck the greatest value for their money on many essential products. To do this, we buy, in addition to the U.S., from many regions, such as Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.
Also, we try to offer our customers what they are used to buying. For example, we offer some Mexico food brands in our stores that are in high Hispanic population areas. However, our import trade with the U.S. is “two-way.” We have set up a Wal-Mart USA export office that helps small and medium sized businesses export their American-made products. For instance, we now export Washington apples to our Wal-Mart Mexico stores; Illinois peanuts to our stores in Japan and Korea; and fruit juices from California and New York to Wal-Mart Argentina.
As an expression of respect for those who produce the merchandise we sell, we are committed to utilizing our Factory Certification Program to make a difference in the quality of life for workers, their families and communities.


Fact: The majority of Wal-Mart’s hourly store associates in the United States work full-time. That is well above the 20 - 40 percent typically found in the retail industry. Our average hourly wage for regular full-time associates in the U.S. is $9.68 an hour, almost double the federal minimum wage. Wal-Mart’s average full-time wage in urban areas is slightly higher than the national average. For example: Chicago, $10.69; Austin, TX, $10.69; Washington D.C./Baltimore, $10.08; Atlanta, $10.80; and in Los Angeles, $9.99. vs. Who is lying?

The following is a press release that was sent out today by Following it is a response from Read them both and decide for yourself who is credible and who is lying.
Witnesses Respond to Wal-Mart's Lies - Florida Incident; Statement by Paul Blank, Campaign Director, on Incident at N. Lauderdale Wal-Mart
12/16/2005 6:43:00 PM

To: National and State Desk
Contact: Chris Kofinis, 202-486-6422; Paul Blank, 202-466-1503
NORTH LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Paul Blank, campaign director, on incident at N. Lauderdale Wal-Mart:
" has sponsored thousands of peaceful events across the country to raise public awareness about the terrible effects Wal-Mart has on America. This is the first time Wal-Mart decided to cause an unnecessary incident and then target two African-Americans for arrest who were not even in the store, let alone did anything wrong.
Statements from four witnesses at the event, including a Reverend and Professor, confirm what actually occurred and are included below.
Here are the facts.
The group was at the Wal-Mart store as part of a nationwide campaign - "All I Want For Christmas Is Health Care For My Mommy" - to highlight the fact that 46 percent of children of Wal-Mart workers have no health care or are forced to rely on a public program.
Contrary to the myths put out by Bob McAdam, a former Tobacco spokesman, what actually occurred, based on over 10 witnesses in and out of the store, was that four of our supporters, one of whom was a 13 year-old child dressed in an elf costume, entered the Wal-Mart to make the manager aware of Wal-Mart's terrible health care record.
According to all who entered the Wal-Mart store, at no time did a single customer react negatively to our group, nor did any child cry. Wal-Mart statements to the contrary are false and manufactured lies. At all times, our supporters were respectful and polite to all. In fact, the truth is that many customers were shocked to learn about Wal-Mart's poor health care record.
The manager then said he did not care about our health care concerns and asked the group to leave. The group said to the manager they would leave immediately - and did.
As the four supporters exited the Wal-Mart, the manager and his security personnel became hostile to the outside group and then pushed two of our supporters. In fact, contrary to misstatements by Wal-Mart's Bob McAdam, our supporters were peaceful and respectful inside and outside the store. In contrast, the Wal-Mart manager and security personnel not only unfairly targeted two of the group, but the manager became hostile, aggressive, and Wal-Mart personnel actually were the ones to push and shove the two African-American supporters.
Again, all who witnessed the event, including a Reverend and professor, state the event and actions by our supporters were peaceful - both inside and outside the store.
We wonder why Wal-Mart's personnel would accost and single out two peaceful African-Americans (only 2 of the 15 people at the event were detained). Wal-Mart owes our supporters, the American people, and the two African Americans who had to spend a needless night in jail, a profound apology for its misstatements and lies.
Above all, it seems that Wal-Mart will say and do anything because it is afraid the American people will learn the truth that over six hundred thousand Wal-Mart workers and their families will face another holiday season without affordable health care.
One can only hope CEO Lee Scott will personally apologize for the misdeeds of another Wal-Mart manager in Florida. It's time for Wal-Mart to finally wake up and realize the power they have to make the lives of millions of hard-working Wal-Mart workers better, instead of thinking about new ways to use a former Tobacco spokesman who only specializes in misleading the American people.
Statements from supporters at the event.
Statement from Alyce Gowdy-Wright, Campaign Director, South Florida Jobs with Justice
"I proudly took part in an effort to inform the American people about the terrible price we all pay because Wal-Mart fails to provide health care to its workers. We were all peaceful and respectful to everyone.
The real facts are these - I did not at anytime push or shove anyone. A Wal-Mart security guard grabbed my right arm and pushed me. When the police officers arrived after the security personnel pushed me, my question was 'why are you not arresting this Wal-Mart security guard?' If anyone did anything unlawful in this case, it was Wal-Mart and the Wal-Mart security personnel.
Wal-Mart owes me and the American people an explanation as to why I was charged for doing nothing wrong but trying to make Wal- Mart a better company."
Professor Bruce Nissen, Florida International University
"We were peacefully handing out literature to customers. There was not one displeased customer, not one angry customer. There was absolutely no violence, no pushing, no shoving, from any of us who were there to talk with customers about Wal-Mart's health care crisis. The only violent actions came from Wal-Mart management. They were cursing at us inappropriately. Wal-Mart should apologize for treating peaceful citizens in this way. The simple fact remains that Wal-Mart does not provide health care for one out of every two children of their employees. Customers have the right to know that reality."
Alex Lopera, senior student at Miami-Dade College
"Four of us went inside the store to present the manager with our flyer representing the health care that employees and their children will not receive this Holiday. There were no angry customers in the store. No one was crying. We spoke with the manager and presented him with a box and flyer. He refused and told us to leave. When he asked us to leave, we did so immediately. There was no argument. Outside, the store, the Wal-Mart management unfairly targeted two African Americans who were not even in the store. It is outrageous that they would make up these lies and then go to the extent of arresting peaceful protestors."
Reverend Dr. Lucy Hitchcock Seck, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Miami
"A group of us were taking part in's 'All I Want for Christmas is Health Care for Mommy' campaign. We were peacefully informing local citizens and shoppers about Wal-Mart's failure to provide company health care to its workers. We were peaceful and singing Christmas songs.
We were leaving the Wal-Mart when two African Americans among our group were targeted by Wal-Mart personnel. Rather than allow customers to know the truth, Wal-Mart falsely created an incident. The two peaceful citizens were taken away by police even though they did nothing - nothing wrong at all.
Wal-Mart must explain why they targeted two African Americans out of a group of fifteen of us - it is morally outrageous. I can only hope Wal-Mart will acknowledge its profound mistake and explain why two citizens were apparently racially profiled by Wal-Mart."

Statement on Union Leader Santa and Elf Demonstration at Florida Wal-Mart Store

Union Leader Santa and Elf Demonstration at Florida Wal-Mart Store
“Unfortunately, this union leader campaign stunt went too far,” said Bob McAdam, vice president for corporate communications at Wal-Mart. “Union demonstrators dressed as Santa and his elves entered a Wal-Mart and began presenting some of the children in the store with wrapped boxes. The children became excited and started saying things like, ‘Let me have the big one.’ But when the children opened the boxes, they found that the boxes were empty. Needless to say, the children were upset and some began crying.
“When asked to leave, the demonstrators became argumentative. They claimed that they had permission from the Wal-Mart home office to demonstrate, but, in fact, they did not. Soon the demonstrators began pushing and shoving Wal-Mart associates. The Broward County Sheriff’s office was alerted and deputies arrested two demonstrators for battery and gave fifteen other demonstrators trespassing warnings.
“This just goes to show that the union leadership will stop at nothing – even upsetting children with fake Christmas gifts and resorting to physical confrontation with our associates. We have tolerated numerous union demonstrations and disruptions in our stores, but we cannot tolerate attacks that become physical. We ask for the union leadership to publicly apologize to our associates, these children, their parents and the customers who were in our store and pledge that any future demonstrations will be peaceful and non-violent.
“The Washington, D.C.-union leader campaign is failing. With sales up 4.3% last month and 10 million people visiting our stores in just the first six hours of Black Friday, the union leadership is resorting to desperate and divisive attacks. The American people are becoming increasingly incensed by the nature of this campaign and are still wondering why the union leadership is obsessed with attacking a company that creates jobs and provides affordable health insurance to working families.”

CBPP Report: The Application of the Expected Across-the-Board Appropriations Cut to Defense is Likely to be Purely Cosmetic

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Application of an anticipated one percent across-the-board appropriations cut to the Defense Department in the next few days is likely to be illusory, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Defense funds that are reduced through the across- the board cut now are likely to be fully restored next spring, when a supplemental appropriation for Iraq is enacted. Based on past Iraq supplementals, the supplemental is likely to be structured in a way that allows the Pentagon to move funds around and undo the across-the-board cut.
The Congressional leadership is likely to apply an across-the- board cut in the next few days to funding for almost all annually appropriated or "discretionary" programs, including both defense and domestic programs. (Certain programs, such as medical care for veterans, will likely be exempted from the cut.) The across- the-board cut is likely to be attached to the pending defense appropriations bill, but the cut's scope will extend to all of the other 2006 appropriations bills. If the cut is set at one percent, it will reduce 2006 funding by approximately $8.6 billion. (1)
Including defense in any across-the-board cut of discretionary programs seems fair and sensible. (The cut will likely exclude $50 billion in funds needed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.) Defense, along with international and homeland security funding, has accounted for most or all of the growth in discretionary programs since 2001. (2)
-- Adjusting for inflation and the growth of the U.S. population, funding for defense, international affairs, and homeland security has grown at an average rate of 9.5 percent per year since 2001, while funding for domestic programs has grown at an average rate of 1.9 percent per year.
-- Funding for defense, international affairs, and homeland security has grown from 3.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2001 to 4.6 percent in 2005. By contrast, funding for domestic discretionary programs stood at 3.4 percent of GDP in both 2001 and 2005; as a share of GDP, it has not grown at all.
Yet the across-the-board cut that is being planned is likely to have little or no effect on the actual level of funding that defense programs ultimately receive in 2006. There inevitably will be a large supplemental appropriations bill next year to fund ongoing operations in Iraq (in addition to the $50 billion for Iraq that is likely to be included in the pending Defense appropriations bill). Next year's Iraq supplemental bill almost certainly will include additional funds that could effectively be used to restore any reductions in funding that result from applying an across-the-board cut to defense programs now, even if the supplemental bill does not specifically state that the funds being provided can or should be used for that purpose.
-- Such supplemental funding is generally provided to a wide range of Department of Defense accounts, with the extra funds available for any obligations incurred by that account.
-- In addition, the Defense Department has authority to transfer significant amounts from one account to another.
-- As a result, some supplemental funds ostensibly intended for operations in Iraq could be used to backfill shortages in routine DoD activities.
Applying an across-the-board cut to defense as well as domestic programs is politically useful now for the House Republican leadership -- it permits the Leadership to speak of a larger total cut (between $8 billion and $9 billion) when talking with very conservative members of its caucus who are looking for the largest possible reduction. It also enables the Leadership to reassure moderates in the caucus that domestic programs are not being singled out for cuts.
In reality, however, the President and Congress will likely reverse the reduction when they provide supplemental funding for Iraq in coming months. When designing a supplemental appropriations bill next spring, the Administration is sure to request whatever funds it believes it needs for all defense purposes, whether for operations in Iraq or other Pentagon activities. Congress has shown little or no inclination in the past to reduce military funding below the Administration's request.
This full analysis can be found at:
For additional information on the proposed across-the-board cut to discretionary programs, visit:
EDITOR'S NOTE: Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will be available for comment over the weekend.
(1) Our estimate that a one percent across-the-board funding cut would amount to $8.6 billion assumes that "obligation limits" in transportation programs are subject to the cut (as they have been in all prior instances) and are counted as funding for this purpose. It also assumes that emergency funding of about $50 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to be included in the defense appropriations bill, and funding for veterans' medical care and research of about $28 billion will be exempt from the cut.
(2) See Have Domestic Appropriations Exploded? CBPP, December 8, 2005, available at

Statement by Craig Obey, Vice President for Government Affairs, National Parks Conservation Association

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Craig Obey, vice president for government affairs, National Parks Conservation Association:
The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is thrilled to announce the defeat of the damaging last-minute provision in the National Defense Authorization bill that would have carved up part of Channel Islands National Park for military use, despite no such request from the Department of Defense. The proposal would also have closed all or part of Santa Rosa Island to the public, and undermined a court-agreed settlement.
"Congress and the American public effectively rebuked this outrageous effort to chop up a national park and deny the public full access," Obey said. "Channel Islands belongs to all Americans and to future generations; it is not a playground for a select few."
"America's heritage is safe, at least for the moment, because of the efforts of Sen. John Warner (R-VA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), and others, who stood up for Channel Islands."
In 1996, NPCA sued the National Park Service for illegally permitting a private hunting operation on Santa Rosa Island, which closes the park to the public several months each year and negatively affected native wildlife. By court-agreed settlement, the hunting operation is slated to phase out by 2011.

New Website Seeks to Heat Up America, Says Geothermal Energy Association

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) announced today the launch of a new website with updated and expanded information about using heat from inside the earth -- geothermal energy -- to produce power and energy. The new site provides information about where geothermal electricity is produced today in the US, new tax incentives for the renewable resource, and more. The site is accessible at
"We've been working to bring our new website online for the past few months," notes GEA's Executive Director Karl Gawell. "The new site provides a wide range of information to the public in a more comprehensive and user friendly manner than ever before."
In addition to providing information about GEA and the geothermal industry's annual trade show, the site now provides:
-- a "Geothermal Basics" section, with questions and answers about a variety of topics from environmental impacts to common myths;
-- a "Public Policy" section (accessible through the "GEA Publications" tab) with information about current policy issues, including tax incentives, leasing, and research provisions recently passed by Congress; and
-- a "Major Companies" section with profiles about the six geothermal companies that represent over 90 percent of geothermal operations in the United States.
Besides these new items, several parts of the website have been significantly expanded, including:
-- links to workbooks, student information, and state and local contacts;
-- the electronic database with information about US geothermal companies;
-- state-by-state listings of existing geothermal power plants with updated information about each one;
-- information about new projects under development and nearly one hundred new sites under examination for future geothermal power production; and
-- GEA publications including reports on the environment, geothermal power costs, employment, and GEA's bi-monthy updates on current events.
"We are providing more information to the public free of charge to encourage a greater understanding of this resource at an important time for the geothermal industry," notes Gawell. "This largely untapped energy resource can provide substantial clean, reliable, domestic energy for America, and with federal and state support many new facilities are under development across the West from Alaska to Arizona."
The new GEA website can be found at

Thursday, December 15, 2005

FBI Grills Calif. Muslim High Schooler about 'PLO' Doodle; Civil Rights Groups Demand School Board Hearing, Disciplinary Action

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San
Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) and the Sacramento Valley
office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
(CAIR-SV) today questioned why Elk Grove School
District officials allegedly allowed FBI agents to
interrogate a 16-year-old student without first
notifying his parents.

The FBI interview concerned a doodle of the word "PLO"
(referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization)
that the student had scribbled on a binder two years

Administrators at Calvine High School apparently
violated a school board policy that requires a
student's parents be informed whenever a law
enforcement officer requests an interview on school
premises. The boy's family suspects that the teacher
who had initially confronted the student about the
drawing reported him to the FBI, chilling his right to
freedom of speech at school.

On Sept. 27, the student was pulled out of class and
taken to a room in which two men identifying
themselves as FBI agents were waiting to speak with
him. The agents asked the student to recount an
incident that had occurred two years earlier in a math
class. He told the agents that his teacher had
reprimanded him for having scrawled the letters "PLO"
on his binder. The teacher said that anyone who
supported the PLO was a terrorist.

The FBI allegedly asked how the student knew about the
PLO, whether he was familiar with the investigation of
several Muslims in Lodi, whether he had ever traveled
to Palestine, and whether he had pictures of
terrorists on his cell phone. (In fact, the student
had only a picture of a mosque as his phone's
background display.) The entire experience left the
student badly shaken, and he has since been hesitant
about expressing his political views in any context.

"It's outrageous that the FBI dragged this student out
of class to interrogate him about a two-year-old
doodle on a notebook," said Shirin Sinnar, an attorney
at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. "The FBI
should not be interviewing kids about their political
views, and schools should not be short-circuiting the
involvement of parents in such a frightening

"The practice of interrogating minors, without their
parents present, is totally unacceptable and stresses
the importance of better training for agents," said
CAIR-SV Executive Director Basim Elkarra.
"Unfortunately, this disturbing incident will only
serve to undermine efforts to build better relations
between law enforcement agencies and the Muslim

Elkarra asked that those responsible for the incident
be disciplined.

To obtain a copy of the letter that LCCR and CAIR sent
to the Elk Grove School Board, contact Alexandra
Gross, LCCR Communications Coordinator, at
415-543-9444. Contact Basim Elkarra at 916-441-6269,
or e-mail:

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group,
has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam,
encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower
American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote
justice and mutual understanding.


NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a
journalist's window to the American Muslim community.

Hastert Comments on the Iraqi Elections

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- House Speaker
Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) released the following
statement in response to today's parliamentary
elections in Iraq:

"These elections were a victory for freedom and
democracy and a sign of the accomplishments of U.S.
forces in Iraq. The Iraqi people are free of the
dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces are
battling terrorists and protecting our citizens. And
now, the Iraqi people have a democratically elected

"To those who would argue that the United States
should immediately retreat from Iraq, I would urge
them to look at the faces of the once oppressed Iraqi
people. They are optimistic, and they finally have a
voice in their future. We are making progress.
American vigilance and resolve are the reasons for
these gains. Now more than ever, we must remain on the
offensive in this War on Terror."

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Discontinues Use of Oral HIV Test, Loses Confidence in Reliability

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The L.A. Gay &
Lesbian Center has discontinued use of the oral
version of the rapid OraQuick HIV test over growing
concerns regarding its reliability. In November, 13
people who took the OraQuick oral test at the Center
falsely registered as HIV-positive. Clinics in San
Francisco and New York have also reported large
numbers of false-positives with the popular test.

The Center provides an average of 800 free HIV tests
each month and has offered clients two options for
rapid testing: the OraQuick oral test and the OraQuick
fingerstick test. Clients also have the option of
taking the OraSure oral test and the traditional blood
test, both of which deliver results in seven days.
Since the rapid oral test is the least invasive and
delivers results in about 20 minutes, it is the
favorite of about 80 percent of those who test at the
Center. HIV testing counselors will now suggest the
OraQuick fingerstick test, which tests a drop of blood
rather than oral material, but also delivers results
in 20 minutes.

Those who registered as HIV-positive with the oral
test were immediately re-tested with a different
diagnostic, as is the case with all preliminary HIV
tests, to determine their actual status. The wait for
the results from a confirmatory test, however, can be

"If the public loses confidence in the reliability of
HIV tests, they're just going to stop testing," said
Quentin O'Brien, director of health and mental health
services at the Center, "and we can't allow that to
happen. Fortunately, we've noticed no irregularities
with the rapid fingerstick test and have already been
successful in convincing clients to opt for that test

In Los Angeles there are an estimated 15,000 people
who are unaware they are HIV-infected.

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center offers free HIV testing
to everyone at its McDonald/Wright building in
Hollywood and at The Spot in West Hollywood. For hours
of operation and location addresses visit:

About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center provides a broad array
of services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender community, welcoming nearly a
quarter-million client visits from ethnically diverse
youth and adults each year. Through its Jeffrey
Goodman Special Care Clinic and on-site pharmacy, the
Center offers free and low-cost health, mental health,
HIV/AIDS medical care and HIV/STD testing and
prevention. The Center also offers legal, social,
cultural, and educational services, with unique
programs for seniors, families and youth, including a
24-bed transitional living program for homeless youth.
Information about the Center is available on the Web

Statement of CAMR President Daniel Perry on Hwang/Schatten Cloning Paper Published in Science magazine, June 2005

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following
is a statement by Daniel Perry, president of Coalition
for the Advancement of Medical Research, on the
Hwang/Schatten Cloning Paper Published in Science
magazine, June 2005:

December 15, 2005

"The validity of a paper, published in the journal
Science, that demonstrated the extraction of stem
cells from cloned human embryos has now been called
into question. We fully support an investigation into
these allegations and support the scientific community
in calling on the authors to cooperate with them in
conducting independent tests of the cell lines.

"Despite this apparent setback, the field of embryonic
stem cell research and therapeutic cloning remains
incredibly promising as demonstrated by some of our
nation's leading scientists.

"This is just another reason that this field of
research should be allowed to be conducted in the U.S.
under the strict supervision of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) and its stringent
peer-review system.


The Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research
-- (CAMR)-the leading pro-cures coalition -- is
comprised of nationally-recognized patient
organizations, universities, scientific societies,
foundations, and individuals with life-threatening
illnesses and disorders, advocating for the
advancement of breakthrough research and technologies
in regenerative medicine -- including stem cell
research and somatic cell nuclear transfer -- in order
to cure disease and alleviate suffering. For more
information on CAMR, visit the website:


Mr. Perry's two-year term as President of CAMR ends
January 1, 2006. Sean Tipton was elected today as
incoming President at CAMR's annual meeting in
Washington, D.C.

Justice Department Seeks to Stop Alleged Washington State Tax Scam

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Justice
Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit
asking a federal court to bar a Gig Harbor, Washington
woman from marketing an alleged tax-fraud scheme. The
complaint in the civil injunction case-filed in the
U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Washington-alleges that Rita I. Johnson, conducting
business as Estate Preservation Association, falsely
advises customers that they can use a so-called
"corporation sole" to avoid paying federal income

According to the government's complaint, more than 100
persons have purchased or participated in Johnson's
corporation sole program, each paying Johnson between
$2,500 and $3,500. The suit asks the court to bar
Johnson from continuing the promotion and to provide
the Justice Department with a list of all her
customers' names, mailing and e-mail addresses,
telephone numbers, and Social Security numbers. The
complaint states that some states authorize
corporations sole as a means of enabling religious
leaders to hold property and conduct business, but
that tax benefits are available to a corporation sole,
or to any other organization, only if it qualifies as
a religious or charitable organization under the
Internal Revenue Code.

"People who promote tax evasion harm us all," said
Eileen J. O'Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the
Justice Department's Tax Division. "Not only do they
shift the tax burden onto the shoulders of law-abiding
taxpayers, but they also diminish public confidence in
the Nation's tax system."

Corporation sole scams are listed in the IRS's annual
list of the "Dirty Dozen" tax scams,,id=136337,00.html.

More information about the Justice Department's
efforts against tax-scam promoters can be found at Information
about the Justice Department's Tax Division can be
found at

Former Labor Department Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing Government Laptop Computers

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- A former
Supervisory Program Manager for the Employment and
Training Administration (ETA) of the U.S. Department
of Labor has pleaded guilty to the theft of government
laptop computers, Assistant Attorney General Alice S.
Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today.

Basit Chaudhary pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal
information this morning at U.S. District Court in the
District of Columbia. The information, filed on Nov.
2, 2005, charged Chaudhary with felony theft of
government property for stealing and converting to his
own use a total of 12 laptop computers belonging to
ETA. The computers were valued at approximately

At the time of his thefts, the defendant's official
responsibilities included supervising the purchase and
evaluation of computers and other information
technology goods and services for ETA and ensuring
that ETA's purchases and expenditures were used only
for official purposes.

As part of his plea agreement, Chaudhary admitted that
he stole a total of 12 laptop computers from ETA
during 2003 and that he sold six of these computers to
private parties. The defendant further admitted that
he subsequently purchased six laptop computers using
his personal credit card and had them shipped to ETA,
and that he then called one his ETA subordinates and
told him that these six laptop computers were the same
laptop computers that the defendant had removed from
ETA previously. As part of his plea, the defendant has
agreed to provide restitution to ETA for the remaining
six laptops.

The case was investigated by the Office of Inspector
General of the Department of Labor. The case is being
handled by Nancy L. Simmons of the Public Integrity
Section of the Department of Justice, headed by
Section Chief Noel L. Hillman.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Century Council Supports Underage Drinking Bills Recently Proposed In Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Century
Council, a national not-for-profit organization funded
by America's leading distilled spirits producers and
dedicated to fighting drunk driving and underage
drinking, supports effective and enforceable penalties
such as those proposed in S.B. 620, S.B. 781, H.B.
959, and S.B. 969 for adults who provide alcohol to
underage persons or allow underage persons to use an
adult's identification to purchase alcohol and for
people under the age of 21 who are in violation of the
Commonwealth's underage drinking laws. In addition,
The Council supports comprehensive enforcement and
increased publicity of underage drinking laws and
penalties, responsible retailing efforts, evaluation
of federal and state funded programs, and
comprehensive policies at institutions of higher
education to reduce underage drinking that include
enforcement and awareness programs.

Despite the nation's significant progress over the
past 20 years, underage drinking is an on-going
concern for communities across the nation. In
Pennsylvania last year 7,273 youth under the age of 18
were arrested for liquor law violations and 583 were
arrested for driving under the influence.

The Century Council believes collective community
action combined with strong and effective legislation
can have a greater impact than individual efforts and
applauds the members of the Senate Law and Justice
Committee and the House Liquor Control Committee
especially Sen. John Rafferty (R-44), Sen. Sean Logan
(D-45), Rep. Ron Raymond (R-162) and Rep. Robert
Donatucci (D- 185) for their leadership to reduce
underage drinking. The Century Council stands ready to
assist the Pennsylvania General Assembly in this
important endeavor that will ultimately save lives.
For more information on the Council's efforts to fight
underage drinking please visit or

Public Lands Sell-Off Pulled From House Budget; Statement of Velma Smith, National Environmental Trust

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a
statement of Velma Smith, mining campaign director,
National Environmental Trust:

"America's treasured public lands got an early holiday
present today when Congressman Gibbons announced that
he would retract his land giveaway plan from the
House's budget bill.

"Much-needed reform to the nation's 1872 mining law
should occur in full public view. The stakes are
simply too high to propose sweeping sales of national
treasures behind closed doors and with no debate. The
outpouring of support on both sides of the aisle and
among diverse interests showed the public's high
regard for its national parks, national forests and
other public lands."


This afternoon, Rep. Jim Gibbons announced he was
withdrawing his bid to overhaul the nation's mining
law as part of the House's budget reconciliation bill.
His statement can be seen on the Internet at pr.asp?id=1800

Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and a broad
coalition of interests had announced opposition to
mining title in the House bill, saying it amounted to
a fire sale of millions of acres of public lands.

For more information, visit .

U.S. State Department, Aspen Institute and Six U.S. Journalism Schools to Launch New International Journalism Program

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 /U.S. Newswire/ -- US Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice today announced the launch of a
new international journalism program, in partnership
with the Aspen Institute and six leading US schools of
journalism. Joining Secretary Rice for remarks were
Geoffrey Cowan, dean of the USC Annenberg School for
Communication and Aspen Institute President and CEO
Walter Isaacson.

The Edward R. Murrow Journalism Program-a partnership
among the State Department's Bureau of Educational and
Cultural Affairs, the Aspen Institute, and six
American universities-will invite up to 100
international media professionals to spend time at
leading journalism schools in the United States,
honing their skills, sharing ideas, and gaining
first-hand understanding of American society and
democratic institutions. The goal is not only to
inform the journalists about the United States, but
also to promote journalistic freedom and excellence
around the world.

The Edward R. Murrow program will culminate in April
2006 with an international symposium to be organized
by the Aspen Institute, through its Communications and
Society Program.

"The Department of State is determined to forge
partnerships with our private sector so that Americans
of all stripes, all traditions, all ethnic groups and
also all walks of life might be able to help to carry
the story of democratic progress and the progress of
liberty," said Secretary Rice. "We especially look
forward to working with our partners."

"Sixty years ago, the US was faced with a wholly new
global challenge to freedom: the spread of communism,"
said Walter Isaacson. "Our nation's leaders responded
with a new doctrine and a set of innovative
institutions that wove together America's interests
with its ideals, such as the Marshall Plan, the World
Bank, NATO and the UN. Now, we are faced with a new
and serious challenge in the 21st century, that of
fanatical terrorism. Once again, it requires a
doctrine that weaves together our idealism and our
realism. I hope this journalism program we are
launching today can become part of this historic

"Democracy cannot work without the free flow of
information and ideas that is made possible through an
independent and effective press," said Geoffrey Cowan.
"The Murrow Program adds an exciting and important new
component to those that the USIA and State Department
have offered in the past. It harnesses the resources
of American journalism schools. All of our schools
expect the international journalists to learn from our
courses -- and we all expect our students to learn
from our visitors."

The six journalism schools involved in the new program
are the University of Kentucky, University of
Minnesota, University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill, University of Oklahoma, University of Southern
California and University of Texas at Austin.

Named after the renowned journalist and former
director of the United States Information Agency
Edward R. Murrow, this program will emphasize many of
the democratic principles that guided Murrow's
practice of his craft: integrity, ethics, courage, and
social responsibility.

This new journalism program is an innovative
public-private partnership, led by the State
Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.
Leading the initiative for the State Department are
Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of State for Public
Diplomacy, and Dina Habib Powell, Assistant Secretary
of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The journalism schools are designing specialized
curricula for the international journalists
highlighting journalistic standards in the US. On the
university campuses, the program participants will
take part in intensive seminars and field activities
with faculty and students. The State Department will
not fund the seminars, nor will it be involved in
shaping the curricula.

The Aspen Institute-led symposium in April will
feature prominent working reporters, commentators,
editors and columnists discussing practical and
ethical issues inherent in the journalistic process.
It will also include key government spokespeople, who
will discuss the relationship between media and
government. Among the themes of the symposium will be
the importance of diversity of opinion, an informed
public, and challenges facing journalists around the

The project emanates from a variety of suggestions for
interaction between world journalists and their
colleagues in the United States. Among those are the
reports of the Aspen Institute conferences on
international freedom of expression and sustainability
of independent press and the Aspen Institute Arab- US
Media Forum.


The Aspen Institute, founded in 1950, is an
international nonprofit dedicated to fostering
enlightened leadership and open- minded dialogue.
Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and
leadership development initiatives, the Institute and
its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan
inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The
Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has
campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on
Maryland's Eastern Shore. Its international network
includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome,
Lyon, Tokyo, and New Delhi, and leadership programs in
Africa and Central America.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Statement by Ralph Nader on the Passing of Sen. Eugene McCarthy

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement by Ralph Nader on the passing of Sen. Eugene McCarthy:
Independent candidates and the American people are indebted to former United States senator and five-time presidential candidate, Eugene McCarthy, for his many attempts to make the election process for both candidates and voters more free and open. He was a pioneer in bringing litigation to challenge the absence of ballot access laws for Independent candidates in multiple states that still had no procedure in the mid-1970s, much less fair ones. As a result, he was only on the ballot in 29 states in the 1976 presidential election. Sen. McCarthy was also a principled voice against the Vietnam War at a time when neither major party, including his own, could manage to condemn that war. He will be remembered and respected for his efforts against the two-party tyranny in our electoral process.

Group Charges Stanley 'Tookie' Williams Refuses Even to Utter Names of Women and Men He Killed

KENSINGTON, Md., Dec. 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Throw Away The Key, a group that works to reduce violent crime, this morning wrote California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger again, this time pointing his attention to a new Newsweek online interview with unrepentant, four-time killer Stanley "Tookie" Williams in which the killer refuses even to utter the names of the women and men he murdered in cold blood, causing his attorney to swear in disgust at the reporter for exposing the reality of Williams. Also in the interview, Williams reiterates his evil vow never to help authorities solve past crimes by the Crips or prevent ongoing crimes by the violent gang.
"It would have been a disgrace for the Governor to have rewarded this unrepentant killer with clemency before this interview," said Michael Paranzino, president of Throw Away The Key. "Now it would be a scandal. Tookie Williams has chosen to protect his fellow killers and thugs, at the expense of the Black and Latino teens who continue to die because of his handiwork as mastermind of the violent Crips gang. The question is: whose side is Governor Schwarzenegger on?"
Interview excerpts can be accessed from the group's website: