Saturday, December 31, 2005

Jim and Sarah Brady Have No Immediate Plans to Comment on Judge's Decision on Hinkley

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Peter Hamm,
communications director for the Brady Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence, released the following

"We have received news media inquiries about a
judicial decision today to grant extended home visits
to John Hinkley Jr. At this time, Jim and Sarah Brady
have indicated they have no comment to make on the
decision. They appreciate the offer from journalists
to offer thoughts on this matter, but would prefer to
keep their thoughts private at this time, and beg the
indulgence of the news media in that regard.

"Sarah has made the thoughts of the Bradys on Mr.
Hinkley's requests clear in correspondence with the
judge in this case in the past.

"Jim and Sarah wish all Americans a happy and safe New

USW Condemns President Bush's Refusal to Implement Quota on Surging Standard Pipe Imports from China

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Leo W. Gerard,
international president of the United Steelworkers
(USW), issued the following react statement on today's
decision by President Bush to not implement the
requested quota on surging imports of China standard

"Our pipe workers and their families were delivered a
stunning blow by President Bush in his refusal to
enforce America's trade laws following our
government's own investigation that showed China
imports are unfairly surging into the U.S. market.

"It's clear that President Bush has told American
workers that he's not on their side when it comes to
advocating a message of fair trade with China.

"Congress passed the Section 421 provision of our
trade law in 2000 in direct response to the accession
of China to the World Trade Organization as a message
that America expects all member countries to play by
the rules.

"Today's refusal to implement a reasonable quota on a
tidal wave of standard pipe imports from China
reinforces the Administration's lack of response to
China's currency manipulation and the record trade

"USW members are not going to accept this presidential
determination. We will be raising our voices in the
2006 election to send the message that America's fair
trade laws must be enforced. We cannot afford the loss
of family-supportive jobs to unfair trade by China."

The USW represents most of the 2,500 pipe workers
employed at the affected companies who filed the
petition: Allied Tube & Conduit Corp.; IPSCO Tubulars
Inc.; Maruichi American Corp.; Maverick Tube Corp.;
Sharon Tube Co.; Western Tube & Conduit Corp.; and
Wheatland Tube Co. These companies operate plants in
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio,
Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

AJC Launches International Campaign to Stop a Nuclear Iran

NEW YORK, Dec. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The American
Jewish Committee is urging world leaders to unite in a
vigorous international effort to defuse the Iranian
nuclear threat now.

"President Ahmadinejad has made crystal clear his
determination to ignore the international community,
to develop nuclear weapons, and to use the threat of a
nuclear arsenal to advance his regime's extremist
agenda," said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris.
"The time for complacency is long past. Urgent action
is needed to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear

U.S. and other experts have projected that Iran will
be able to produce nuclear weapons within several
years and to master the technology to convert and
enrich uranium for that purpose as early as this
spring. While any nation in the range of Iranian
ballistic missiles is a potential target, the Iranian
leader in recent weeks has repeated several times his
intention to annihilate Israel.

"The world must not allow itself to be in the position
of relying on President Ahmadinejad's, or the reigning
mullahs', self-restraint or good judgment to avoid a
nuclear calamity," said Harris. "The possibility of
Iranian nuclear weapons falling into the hands of
Iran's terrorist proxies -- particularly Hezbollah --
is horrifying." According to the U.S. State
Department, Iran is the leading state sponsor of
terrorism, and even without nuclear weapons, has
proven to be a menace.

In advocacy efforts with governments around the world,
and with the UN, AJC is seeking implementation of a
range of measures to halt Iran's progress toward
nuclear weapons capability.

"Most importantly, states should cease providing any
assistance to Iran's nuclear and military programs,
and should bring the issue of Iran's violation of
non-proliferation agreements in its development of
nuclear weapons capability before the UN Security
Council," stated an AJC policy statement released this
week. For a full copy of the statement, visit

Among the steps AJC proposes are that governments
recall their envoys to Iran and expel Iranian
diplomats from their respective countries, suspend
Iran from a range of international organizations, and
impose economic sanctions.

"Until Iran desists from a nuclear program it sought
to conceal from the world for the last two decades,
and which poses a grave threat to regional and world
peace, it cannot be permitted to benefit from business
as usual in bilateral or multilateral relations,"
Harris said.

As part of an accelerated public education effort, AJC
this week cosponsored a Chanukah vigil outside the
Iranian interests section in Washington, D.C., where
candles on a menorah were lit as protestors spoke out
against the Iranian threat and President Ahmadinejad's
recent reckless statements on Israel and the

MSHA Publishes Final Rules for Shaft, Slope Construction Workers and Diesel-Powered Electrical Generators

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The U.S.
Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health
Administration (MSHA) today published a final rule in
the Federal Register requiring safety and health
training for shaft and slope construction workers at
mines nationwide. In another final rule published
today, MSHA will allow the use of low- and
medium-voltage diesel-powered electrical generators as
an alternative means of powering electrical equipment
in underground coal mines.

MSHA's review of mine accident and fatality records
from 1982 through 2003 showed that miners performing
shaft and slope construction work were exposed to the
same types of hazards as other underground and surface
miners. This final rule removes the training exclusion
for shaft and slope construction workers who, in the
future, will receive the same type of safety and
health training afforded other miners under Title 30,
Part 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Shaft and
slope construction workers will now receive training
for new miners, training for experienced miners, task
training, annual refresher training and hazard

Additionally, a final rule today updates MSHA's
electrical safety standards to allow using low- and
medium-voltage diesel-powered electrical generators as
an alternative for powering electrical equipment in
underground coal mines. The final rule eliminates the
need for mine operators to file petitions for
modification to use these portable generators to power
electrical equipment.

MSHA's primary mission as a federal agency is to
ensure worker safety and health in the nation's mines.


EDITOR'S NOTE: The full text of MSHA's final rules can
be accessed at the Federal Register Web site by
clicking on the following links:
(diesel-powered electrical generators)
(shaft and slope construction mine workers)


U.S. Labor Department (DOL) releases are accessible on
the Internet at . The information
in this news release will be made available in
alternate format upon request (large print, Braille,
audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please
specify which news release when placing your request.
Call 202-693-7765 or TTY 202-693-7755. DOL is
committed to providing America's employers and
employees with easy access to understandable
information on how to comply with its laws and
regulations. For more information, please visit .

Coalition Against Terrorist Media Removes Hezbollah's Al-Manar Television from Satellite Broadcasting into North and South America

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Coalition
Against Terrorist Media (CATM) today praised satellite
company Hispamar for removing the terrorist group
Hezbollah's al-Manar television station from broadcast
into North and South America. This marks the second
time that CATM has taken al-Manar off the airwaves in
the United States and throughout the Americas.

"Al-Manar runs graphic videos encouraging viewers,
even children, to become suicide bombers and calls for
acts of terrorism against civilians," said Mark
Dubowitz, COO of the Foundation for the Defense of
Democracies, which organized CATM. "Al-Manar is an
operational weapon in the hands of one of the world's
most dangerous terrorist organizations."

"We applaud Hispamar for quickly ending al-Manar
broadcasts over its Amazonas satellite after we
alerted them to its incitement to violence and support
for terrorism," Dubowitz continued. "By removing
al-Manar, Hispamar is ending a very real threat.
Hezbollah is known to have terror cells in more than
14 major American cities. It conducts illegal
operations, including drug smuggling, throughout the
Americas. And it demonstrated its ability and
willingness to strike on this side of the Atlantic
when its terrorists killed more than 100 innocent
civilians in two bombings in Argentina."

With Hispamar's decision, CATM and its allies have now
been instrumental in removing al-Manar from eight
satellites around the world, including two other
satellites broadcasting into the United States and
Latin America.

In December 2004, at CATM's urging, the U.S. State
Department designated al-Manar as a terrorist
organization. The same day, the Intelsat satellite
company dropped al-Manar from broadcast in the United
States and Canada.

On June 23, 2005, following intensive consultations
with CATM and its allies, the government of Spain
issued a press release denouncing al-Manar's terrorist
messages and removed al-Manar from broadcast over
Hispasat, which reached all of Latin America.

Hispamar is a Brazilian company and branch of
Hispasat. Its Amazonas satellite had broadcast
al-Manar until being alerted by CATM about the
station's support for terrorism.

Al-Manar is still broadcast to the Middle East, Europe
and North Africa by Nilesat, whose major shareholder
is the government of Egypt, and Arabsat, which is
owned in part by the government of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Manar's broadcasts include commercials glorifying
suicide bombers and encouraging others to join their
ranks; viciously anti-American and anti-Semitic
material, including the infamous and false "blood
libel" depicting Jews killing a child to make Passover
Matzah; and music videos calling for suicide bombers
to attack coalition soldiers in Iraq.

CATM is a project of the non-partisan Foundation for
the Defense of Democracies
(, a policy institute
that focuses on defeating terrorism and promoting

For more information on al-Manar and CATM's efforts to
remove it from worldwide broadcast, please visit

Local Governments Turn Thumbs-Down Over Telecom Provisions in Streamline Tax Bills

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- National
organizations representing local governments today
voiced their opposition to federal legislation that
would essentially require them to sacrifice local
telecommunications taxes in return for the ability to
collect taxes on Internet sales.

"Congress is asking us to support a proposal that
would provide states and localities additional sales
tax revenue in exchange for preempting numerous local
telecommunications taxes," said Long Beach Mayor
Beverly O'Neill, president of the U.S. Conference of
Mayors (USCM). She further commented that "our loss in
telecommunications revenue will far outweigh the
little gain local governments may achieve in sales tax
revenue. Anyone can see this is not a balanced quid
pro quo and is, therefore, unacceptable."

S. 2152 and S. 2153, introduced by Sens. Mike Enzi
(R-Wyo.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), respectively,
would provide congressional support for the
Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), a
multi-state agreement that provides for the
simplification of sales and use tax laws in return for
allowing states and local governments to collect sales
taxes on all transactions, including sales over the

Both pieces of legislation would also require states
and localities to simplify telecommunications taxes in
order to be authorized to collect the Internet sales
taxes. Local officials are concerned that the
legislation could open the door for the telecom
industry to push for an all-out ban on cities'
abilities to impose fees on a range of
telecommunication services, including rights-of-way
fees, per-line subscriber charges and franchise fees.
Revenues from these fees are a major source of funding
for critical local government services.

"Local governments strongly support working with
Congress and the telecommunications industry to
simplify telecommunications taxes so that all
providers can operate efficiently within local
jurisdictions," said James C. Hunt, president of the
National League of Cities (NLC) and Clarksburg, W.Va.,
councilman. "However, we cannot allow
telecommunications companies to dig up city streets
and disrupt the lives of our constituents -- and their
customers --without just compensation for their

Telecommunications companies as well as retailers will
reap significant financial benefits as a result of the
tax simplification effort. But local officials are
concerned that the telecom industry will push for a
complete exemption from any local telecommunications
taxes and are asking the question: Why give
telecommunications companies more benefits than anyone

Representatives from USCM, NLC and the Government
Finance Officers Association (GFOA) have been working
closely with the telecommunications industry to find a
solution to the difficulties faced by the industry as
it responds to various tax rates and jurisdictional
issues. Although significant progress in reaching
agreement in several areas has been made, local
government officials are now concerned that they have
reached a point where the telecommunications companies
are refusing to compromise on language in these bills,
which is unacceptable.

Although officials commended the efforts by Sens. Enzi
and Dorgan to resolve this issue, they expressed
disappointment that a compromise could not be reached
prior to the end of this year's legislative session.

NLC's President Hunt said, "We regret having no choice
but to oppose these two bills. We applaud the senators
for their hard work on this legislation and appreciate
their willingness to broker negotiations on this
language. We look forward to supporting a compromise
bill that takes the concerns and finances of local
government into consideration in the New Year."

Collectively, the three organizations represent tens
of thousands of city and county officials throughout
the United States.