Wednesday, June 28, 2006

God and Science Collide

by Hugh Ross

I decided to become an astrophysicist at the age of eight. I set to work reading all the physics and astronomy books in the children's section of my library. My family supported my voracious appetite for knowledge. However, my teachers worried that I was becoming overspecialized. They assigned me lots of extra-curricular projects in the social sciences, which eventually sparked my spiritual quest.

In my last year of high school, I studied the Thirty Years' War for one of those extra projects.Why would Catholics and Protestants shed so much blood over trivial doctrine? I wondered. I posed tough questions to my teacher, who ducked them in his usual way, and sent me off to the library to read books on comparative religions.

I quickly discovered that all the major world religions are based on holy books, supposedly from God. However, I was a skeptic. Like the astronomers of my time, I upheld the "Big Bang" creation theory. I felt God must be impersonal and unconcerned for trivial human beings. Therefore, these holy books must be frauds, products of man's imagination. Energized by youthful pride, I decided to prove it. My yardstick would be the facts of history and science.

I went after each holy book, one by one. I searched for statements about nature and history, then tested them to see if they were accurate. First I tackled the 3,000-year-old Hindu Vedas. They claimed civilizations living on the back side of the moon and cities on the sun. After finding a couple dozen such absurdities, I confidently concluded the Vedas were a human product.

The way I saw it, God created the natural world where we see consistency and no contradiction. If this same God was communicating to us in written form, then it must be likewise: consistent and free of contradiction.

I moved on to the Buddhist writings, then to Islam's Koran and on through all the religions of the world. In each case, after several hours of study, I collected enough scientific and historical misstatements to convince me that each was of human origin.

I had a gut feeling the Bible would be the most difficult, so I saved it for last. After reading just two chapters, I saw that the Bible was different from the esoteric poetry of the other books. The Bible was direct and specific. It gave names, dates and places. My struggle with the other books was to find things to test. But every page of the Bible gave several things to be tested. The Koran had a dozen predictions; the Bible had 3,500! My notebook with historical and scientific statements that I tested and found accurate grew fat. But after two years, my notebook reserved for established errors lay empty.

I'll admit I found lots of unsolved problems, things I still can't understand today. But that didn't bother me, because that's exactly what we see in nature!

The Bible alone correctly predicted the birth and deeds of people by name-King Sirus, King Josiah, and the Messiah-sometimes hundreds of years before they were born. More than 200 predictions detail the return of the Jews to Israel, which I verified with articles in the London Times and the Jerusalem Post.

If we consider just 13 of the Bible's predictions, what's the probability that all 13 were coincidence? The answer is less than one chance in 10 to the 138th power. My friend, that number is so large that it means the Bible is more accurate than our most trusted laws of physics! This shocked me and sent me to my knees.

At 1:07 one morning, I turned my life over to Jesus Christ. I knew I had offended God with my pride, and I accepted the pardon made available through Christ. I gave Him control of my life, knowing it meant sharing it with my lab partner the next day. Funny thing: once I made my commitment, I eagerly anticipated that conversation. Pretty soon I was having more fun talking to people about Jesus Christ than discovering quasars at the edge of the universe.

God has given much evidence to our generation. Better yet, He says three times in the Bible, 'Put Me to the test, and I'll prove it to you!' This scientist did. And I'm convinced that science proves, and proves conclusively, that we're interacting with the God of the Bible.Living with hope

Have you been searching for truth? Hope? If you've been looking for truth and facts, the Bible is clear that there is hope. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here's a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Here's a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised.

courtesy of  The Life

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An 'F' For Antiterrorism


Foreign Policy and The Center For American Progress

June 26, 2006


Center for American Progress and the Foreign Policy are co-authors of this article, which is based on their recent report.

In the face of persisting threats, including a growing number of terrorist attacks around the world, numerous reports show that Americans are losing faith in their government’s ability to successfully wage the global war on terror as well as to protect them from the terrorists’ next attack. Barely half of Americans today approve of the way in which the war on terror is being handled, and more than one third believe the United States is less safe today than it was before 9/11.

These pessimistic public perceptions could easily be attributed to the high cost, in both treasure and lives, of counterterrorism efforts. After all, Americans are constantly being told by their elected leaders that their pessimism is wrong, that the war is being won. But they’re also told that another attack is inevitable. Which is it? To find out, Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress teamed up to survey more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike. The Foreign Policy/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the first comprehensive effort to mine the highest echelons of America’s foreign-policy establishment for their assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.

Despite today’s highly politicized national security environment, the index results show striking consensus across political party lines. A bipartisan majority (84 percent) of the index’s experts say the United States is not winning the war on terror. Eighty-six percent of the index’s experts see a world today that is growing more dangerous for Americans. Overall, they agree that the U.S. government is falling short in its homeland security efforts. More than eight in 10 expect an attack on the scale of 9/11 within a decade. These dark conclusions appear to stem from the experts’ belief that the U.S. national security apparatus is in serious disrepair.

Respondents sharply criticized U.S. efforts in a number of key areas of national security, including public diplomacy, intelligence, and homeland security. Nearly all of the departments and agencies responsible for fighting the war on terror received poor marks. Only the National Security Agency received an above-average score of 5.2, on a 0 to 10 scale, where 0 represents the worst possible job of guarding the United States. Every other agency received below-average marks. Experts gave the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the worst grade; its average score was just 2.9. In fact, 36 percent of the experts indicated that the newly created DHS has had a negative impact on America’s national security, and nearly one in five thought the department’s funding should be slashed. In addition, more than half of the index’s experts said that creating the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has had no positive impact in the war against terror.

The index’s experts were similarly critical of most of the policy initiatives put forward by the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush since 9/11. Majorities believe that the war in Iraq (87 percent), the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay (81 percent), U.S. energy policy (64 percent), and U.S. policy toward Iran (60 percent) have a negative impact on our national security. The index’s experts also disapprove of how America is handling its relations with European allies, how it is controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction and its dealings with failing states, just to name a few.

These conclusions about the United States’ performance in the war thus far are all the more troubling considering that the index’s experts appear to believe that the battle has just begun. A majority of experts agree that the war requires more emphasis on a victory of ideas and not just guns. That is hardly surprising considering that nearly 80 percent believe a widespread rejection of radical ideologies in the Islamic world is a critical element to victory. Yet the experts simultaneously rated America’s public diplomacy efforts the lowest of any policy initiative, with a median score of just 1.8. Clearly, few believe that the United States is doing its best to win friends and influence people.

To win the battle of ideas, the respondents say, America must place a much higher emphasis on its nonmilitary tools. More than two-thirds say that U.S. policymakers must strengthen the United Nations and other multilateral institutions. At the same time, the experts indicate that the U.S. government must think more creatively about threats. Asked what presents the single greatest danger to U.S. national security, nearly half said loose nukes and other weapons of mass destruction, while just one-third said al-Qaida and terrorism, and a mere four percent said Iran. Five years after the attacks of September 11, it’s a reminder that the greatest challenges may still lie ahead.

Complete results and a list of participants taking part in the index are available at and

Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy 155 (July/August 2006), where a longer version appears.

Tackling Global Warming

A Talking Point from The American Progress Action Fund

June 27, 2006


Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider a case that "could be one of the court's most important ever on the environment." Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency emerged in 2003 after the EPA rejected a petition calling for the federal government to restrict emissions of greenhouse gases — most notably, carbon dioxide. Ultimately, the Supreme Court's ruling "could determine how the nation addresses global warming." Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-VT) is optimistic about the court's decision. "It is encouraging that the high court feels this case needs to be reviewed," said Jeffords, a supporter of carbon dioxide regulation. "It is high time to stop relying on technicalities and finger pointing to avoid action on climate change."

To visit the Talking Points archives, please click here.

Help Put An End To Puppy Mills

Hi Friends,
I have just read and signed the following petition: "Thank PA Governor for cracking down on puppy mills"
Pamela Lyn
Today, thousands of dogs suffer a miserable existence in what are known as "puppy mills." These mass dog-breeding "factories" frequently house dogs in shockingly poor conditions: overcrowded, unsanitary, lacking in adequate shelter, food, water and human companionship. Pennsylvania Governor Rendell is working hard to change this. Show your support!

Inside puppy mills, the health of the dogs is disregarded in order to maximize profit. They are caged their entire lives and bred at every opportunity until they are no longer physically able to reproduce. After the dogs are no longer profitable they are commonly killed or abandoned.

Recently, members of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory Board received pink slips from Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, in what he called the first step toward addressing inhumane conditions at the growing number of commercial dog breeding operations. Send your thanks.

Pennsylvania is often referred to as the puppy mill capital of the east with Lancaster County having the highest concentration of puppy mills of any county in the country.

Governor Rendell made an important step in transforming this industry that deserves to be recognized. Please join the ASPCA in sending a message of support to Governor Rendell to let him know that his efforts are not going unnoticed! Perhaps with our encouragement, other leaders will follow in his footsteps.

Thank you for making a difference today,

Agata Gussmann
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Help lower the cost of your prescription drugs

I just took action to urge Congress to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and I hope you will too. Did you know that your $50 prescription may only cost $15 if you bought that drug in Canada? It's true! Pharmaceutical companies charge Americans 40-70% more than Canadians.
These are the exact same prescription drugs you and I are buying, but we are paying more, twice as much in some cases.  Congress is currently debating whether or not to allow Americans to buy affordable drugs from other countries. The Senate and the House are considering bills that will lower the costs of prescription drugs by allowing individuals and pharmacists to bring legal, safe and cheaper prescription drugs from other countries to the U.S. 
To send an email just like I did, please go to Consumers Union's take-action page at

Democracy 21 Endorses New Bill to Replace FEC with Real Enforcement Agency


Democracy 21 Press Release, June 26, 2006,

Statement by Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer
Endorsing Legislation Introduced by Senators McCain and
Feingold and Representatives Shays and Meehan to Replace
Federal Election Commission with a Real Enforcement Agency

Democracy 21 strongly endorses the legislation introduced in the Senate by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Russell Feingold (D-WI) and in the House by Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) to replace the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with a new agency to enforce the nation's campaign finance laws. The bill was introduced last Thursday.

A summary of the legislation and a summary of the principal differences between the proposed new agency and the FEC are set forth below.

The FEC is a failed agency.

It also is a captive agency.

Washington Post columnist David Broder has described the FEC as an agency ''whose six members are famously responsive to the members of Congress who put them in their jobs.''

The failure of the FEC to do its job is illustrated by the agency's central role in creating the soft money system, which turned into a $500 million national scandal ended by Congress in 2002 when it banned soft money; in issuing flawed regulations that opened new soft money loopholes in the 2002 law banning soft money, which were overturned by the courts; and in allowing 527 groups to become a vehicle for circumventing the soft money ban, an FEC decision which has been challenged by a court decision.

The Supreme Court in upholding the 2002 law banning soft money strongly admonished the FEC for having ''subverted'' and ''invited widespread circumvention'' of the 1974 campaign finance laws by creating the soft money system in the first place.

This did not stop the FEC, however, from repeating history by adopting a number of regulations that opened new soft money loopholes in the 2002 law banning soft money.

As a Washington Post editorial said about the FEC's implementation of the soft money ban:

QUESTION: WHEN is a ban on federal officeholders raising huge soft-money checks not a ban? Answer: When it's enforced by the Federal Election Commission.

It took rulings by a federal district court judge and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the numerous loophole-opening regulations issued by the FEC to implement the soft money ban.

Federal district court judge Kollar-Kotelly found, for example, in striking fifteen FEC soft money regulations as contrary to law, that one of the FEC regulations ''runs completely afoul'' of basic campaign finance law and ''would create an immense loophole,'' that another ''severely undermines FECA'' and would ''foster corruption,'' that another ''would render the statute largely meaningless'' and that yet another has ''no rational basis.''

Judge Kollar-Kotelly also rebuked the FEC for acting as a ''super-legislature disregarding congressional intent.''

The D.C. Circuit Court found that the Commission's regulations in one area ''fly in the face of [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act's (BCRA)] purpose because they reopen the very loophole the terms were designed to close,'' and called one of the FEC's regulations an ''absurdity.'' The Circuit Court further stated, ''Whereas BCRA aims to shut down the soft money system, the Commission's rules allow parties and politicians to perpetuate it. . .''

Regarding another FEC regulation, the D.C. Circuit Court found that the FEC rule ''far exceeds any exemption BCRA would permit'' and that ''it runs roughshod over express limitations on the Commission's power....'' Another regulation, according to the Circuit Court, ''appears particularly irrational'' and ''makes no sense.'' With regard to yet another FEC regulation, the Circuit Court said the record presents ''no coherent justification'' for the rule.

The case against the FEC for failing to properly enforce the laws is overwhelming.

The need for a new enforcement body is equally clear.

The legislation introduced last week by Senators McCain and Feingold and by Representatives Shays and Meehan, and previously introduced in the last Congress, would establish a new, effective agency to enforce the nation's campaign finance laws.

The bill would create a new independent agency, the Federal Election Administration (FEA), to replace the FEC. The new enforcement agency would include a Chairman with strong powers and two other members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Chairman would serve for 10 years and have broad powers to manage and administer the agency. The other two members would serve for six year terms. No two members of the new FEA could be from the same political party.

The FEC consists of six Commissioners, three from each political party. The position of FEC Chairman rotates on an annual basis among the Commissioners and does not have the authority to manage and administer the agency.

The new agency would use impartial administrative law judges to hear and decide campaign finance enforcement proceedings, an approach currently used by a number of other oversight and enforcement agencies to provide for independent, impartial decisions, but not used by the FEC.

The new agency would have real enforcement powers, including the power to find that violations of law have occurred, to directly impose civil penalties and to issue cease and desist orders. These are enforcement powers available to other federal agencies but not available to the FEC.

On May 15, 2002, Democracy 21 released NO BARK, NO BITE, NO POINT, a comprehensive 142-page report prepared by a blue ribbon task force that detailed the failures of the FEC and made recommendations for the creation of a new agency to enforce the nation's campaign finance laws.

The Democracy 21 task force report found that among the major reasons for the failure of the FEC are the ineffectual structure and cumbersome procedures of the Commission, the politicization of the appointment of commissioners, the lack of effective enforcement powers, the denial of adequate resources and congressional interference with the agency.

The Federal Election Administration Act of 2006

Structure of the FEA

- The Federal Election Administration Act of 2006 (Act) creates a new independent agency, the Federal Election Administration (FEA), to replace the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The three-member FEA will consist of a chairman and two other members, all of whom are to be appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Act provides that individuals who are or have been members of the FEC subject to a term limit are not eligible to be appointed to the new agency.

- The FEA chairman will serve a term of ten years and will have broad powers to manage and administer the agency. The two other members will serve staggered six year terms. No two members of the agency can be from the same political party. Members of the FEA are not eligible for reappointment (unless originally appointed to fill a vacancy for less than half of an unexpired term) and may be removed from office by the President only for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

Enforcement Functions

- Enforcement actions will be initiated by a majority vote of the three-member FEA, based on either information available to the FEA or on a complaint filed by any person. Prior to initiating an enforcement action, the FEA is required to give any person under investigation notice and the opportunity to make the case that there are no reasonable grounds to believe a violation has occurred or is about to occur.

- Once an enforcement action is initiated by the FEA, the case will be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The FEA general counsel will represent the agency in such a proceeding. The ALJ will have the authority to make findings of fact and reach conclusions of law. The ALJ also will have the authority to find that violations of law have occurred, and to impose civil penalties and issue cease and desist orders, subject to an appeal to the FEA.

- The general counsel and any respondent in an enforcement proceeding will have the right to appeal a decision made by an ALJ to the three-member FEA. The decision of the FEA regarding such an appeal will constitute final agency action and be subject to judicial review. If a decision by an ALJ is not appealed it will constitute final agency action.

- A party aggrieved by a decision of the FEA in an enforcement proceeding will have the right to obtain judicial review in federal court. A complainant may seek judicial review in federal court of the dismissal of a complaint or the failure to act on a complaint by the FEA.

- The FEA will have the authority to apply to a federal district court for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to prevent violations of law that would result in substantial harm to the public interest.

- A majority vote of the three-member FEA will be required for the FEA to initiate enforcement actions before an ALJ, find that campaign finance violations have occurred, impose penalties and sanctions, apply for restraining orders and injunctions, and issue regulations and advisory opinions.

Other Functions

- The FEA will have the responsibilities, previously held by the FEC, to administer the campaign finance disclosure laws and the presidential public financing system, and to issue regulations and advisory opinions. The FEA also will have the authority to conduct a limited number of random audits of campaign committees.

- The budget of the FEA will be established by Congress based on a budget request prepared by the FEA chairman and submitted directly to Congress. The GAO will conduct periodic studies of the funding for FEA and submit recommendations to Congress on the level of funding necessary to provide adequate resources for the FEA to fulfill its statutory responsibilities.

Principal Differences Between Proposed Federal Election Administration And Current Federal Election Commission

1. Composition of the Agency

Current: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is composed of six Commissioners, no more than three of whom can come from one political party. This has resulted, as a practical matter, in an FEC composed of three Democrats and three Republicans. The Commissioners are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The position of FEC Chairman rotates on an annual basis among the six Commissioners and does not have the authority to manage the agency.

Proposed: The Federal Election Administration (FEA) will consist of a Chairman and two additional members, all of whom are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Chairman will serve a term of ten years and will have broad powers to manage and administer the agency. The two other members will each serve staggered six year terms. No two members of the FEA can come from the same political party.

2. Use of Administrative Law Judges

Current: All decisions on enforcement matters are made by a majority vote of the six commissioners. The FEC does not make use of administrative law judges.

Proposed: Enforcement proceedings for violations of campaign finance laws will be conducted before impartial administrative law judges, similar to other agencies (such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board).

An administrative law judge (ALJ) will conduct an enforcement proceeding after the three-member FEA, by majority vote, makes an initial determination to pursue an enforcement action. The FEA general counsel will represent the FEA in enforcement proceedings. The ALJ will have the authority to make findings of fact and reach conclusions of law. The general counsel and any respondent will have the right to appeal an ALJ decision to the three-member FEA. The decision of the FEA regarding such an appeal will constitute final agency action and be subject to judicial review.

3. Powers

Current: The FEC, unlike a number of other agencies, has no power to find that violations of law have occurred or to impose penalties or other sanctions. After conducting an investigation and reaching a conclusion that ''probable cause'' exists to believe a violation has occurred, the FEC can resolve the matter only by reaching a conciliation agreement with the alleged violator or by bringing a lawsuit to obtain a court decision that a violation has occurred and seek court-imposed civil penalties and sanctions.

Proposed: An ALJ will have the authority to find that violations of law have occurred, and to impose civil penalties and issue cease and desist orders, subject to an appeal to the FEA. The decision by the FEA regarding such an appeal will constitute final agency action and be subject to judicial review. If a decision by an ALJ is not appealed it will constitute final agency action. The FEA will have the authority to apply to a federal district court for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to prevent violations of law that would result in substantial harm to the public interest.

4. Funding

Current: The budget of the FEC is established by Congress based on a budget request submitted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A copy of the budget proposal submitted by the FEC to OMB is authorized to be sent by the FEC to Congress.

Proposed: The budget of the FEA will be established by Congress based on a budget request prepared by the FEA chairman and submitted directly to Congress. The GAO will conduct periodic studies of the funding of FEA and submit recommendations to Congress on the level of funding necessary to provide adequate resources for the FEA to fulfill its statutory responsibilities.

5. Other Responsibilities

Current: The FEC has the responsibilities to administer the campaign finance disclosure laws and the presidential public financing system, and to issue regulations and advisory opinions.

Proposed: The FEA will have the same responsibilities to administer the campaign finance disclosure laws and the presidential public financing system, and to issue regulations and advisory opinions. The FEA also will have the authority to conduct a limited number of random audits of campaign committees.

# # #

Capital Bits and Pieces Vol. VI , No. 63 Released: Monday, June 26, 2006

Contact: Elenia Saloutsi

For the latest reform news and to access previous reports, releases, and analysis from Democracy 21, visit

Friday, June 23, 2006

Seize Today

by Paul Faulkner

Have you noticed in your life that when you put things off it always gets better?

That’s a lie, isn't it? Almost every time you put something off it gets worse, not better!

I know, sometimes you have to wait, and waiting makes you impatient. But plain old procrastination is just putting off what needs to be done.

And Jesus knew that this is a common tendency for every one of us. In Luke 9, he said "First things first! Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent! Announce God’s kingdom!" (Luke 9:60 The Message)

To the man who said, "Oh, excuse me, first I've got to get things straightened out at home," Jesus warned "No procrastination. No backward looks. Seize today!" (Luke 9:62)

How 'bout you? Join me and seize today right now. Do the things we need to get done today!


(c) 2006 Paul Faulkner.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Voting Outcome on the Kerry-Feingold Proposal

A Letter from Senator John Kerry

Just hours ago, the Senate voted on the Kerry-Feingold proposal to redeploy American combat troops out of Iraq by July 1, 2007. Thirteen Senators voted for it.

It was an important step towards ending the administration's aimless, open-ended course in Iraq and having Iraqis stand up for Iraq.

When Jack Murtha stepped up to the challenge of leadership in the House on Iraq, he was alone. Last week, 140 House members voted to support his leadership.

When we in the Senate began the fight to change course in Iraq, we too were almost alone. Today our numbers grew -- and that is progress you made happen.

First and foremost, Russ and I thank you for your support. Over the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of you have joined our effort to bring our combat troops home. Once again, the community has shown its deep commitment to fighting for a better course for America.

We ask you to join us now in honoring the strength and leadership of the Senators who stood with you:

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), co-sponsor
Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), co-sponsor
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Please call, write, or email these Senators and acknowledge their leadership on Iraq.

Let me be absolutely clear. Russ Feingold and I would have forced this vote even if the outcome were going to be 98 to 2. Ending the Bush administration's disastrous approach to this war isn't about counting votes. It isn't about legislative strategy or electoral calculation. It's about applying constant pressure to change a broken course.

It's about utterly rejecting the desperate tactics of cowardly political operatives like Karl Rove who, as John Murtha pointed out, have no qualms about telling our soldiers to "stay the course" from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices at the White House.

It's about doing what's right.

Karl Rove may worry about losing votes. It's our job to worry about young Americans losing their lives. It's our job to provide a new vision that offers real security for America while giving the Iraqis their best chance for a stable Iraq.

I will keep doing what's right on Iraq, and I won't stop until our troops are home and the future of Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqi people.

I know you'll keep working right alongside me.


John Kerry

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bill Gates's World of Possibility

"Where there is no vision, the people perish" -- Proverbs 29:18, KJV

If you take just one thing away from this article don't let it be a focus on Bill Gates' wealth but rather focus on his vision.   You don't have to be a billionaire to make a difference in the world but you do have to have a vision that things can and should be better.   Catch the vision.   plk
Philanthropist's Vision, Energy and Capital Could Force Global Change

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 21, 2006; Page D01

Melinda Moree met plenty of naysayers who dismissed the prospects of a malaria vaccine.

No one had developed a human vaccine against a parasite like malaria before, and the monetary incentives simply did not exist for pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs targeted at poor children.

Development would require cooperation among scientists, drug companies, health groups and international governments -- an alliance so large it didn't seem possible, she recalled someone telling Gates.

"Of course it is," Gates countered, according to Moree, now director of the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative in Seattle, which along with other groups has received nearly $500 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop, test, manufacture and eventually distribute a malarial vaccine.

People in the nonprofit world say Gates, 50, could fundamentally alter the methodology of philanthropy with his announcement last week that he will quit his day-to-day role at Microsoft Corp. in two years to spend more time on his foundation.

The foundation has not been able to carry many of its projects through to completion because of the enormous logistical, political and commercial barriers inherent in distributing malarial vaccine to Africa, for example, and developing a vaccine against HIV and AIDS.

Decisions about operational controls and investment are not new to Gates, Oster said, adding, "There are also more complicated governmental issues, and certainly Microsoft has dealt with those."

The most frustrating problem with vaccine delivery is the lack of political will and social infrastructure in some countries whose people need the medicines, said Adel Mahmoud, incoming chief executive of the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, another group sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

By helping to fund drug development and trials for diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and acute diarrheal disease, which usually affect poorer populations, the Gates Foundation has essentially created a new market for drug companies.

"Mr. Gates is someone who has built his entire career and business and worldview on the application of technology -- and having the right technology and application of that technology in user-friendly ways," he said.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


World Refugee Day

Back on the subject of  the United Nations.   While in fact the organization may be dysfunctional on many levels,  it is important to not overlook the good that UN still does and the tireless efforts of  the men and women who do the frontline work.   
Yesterday the UN used its World Refugee Day activities to raise awareness and focus attention to problems that receive little or no coverage in mainstream media.   It is my prayer that this event touched the hearts of thousands of men and women who care and have the ability to make a difference.   Where UNHCR may be dropping the ball there are other organizations, ( i.e, CARE,  Doctor w/o Borders,  UNICEF etc.),  that are picking it up and running to the frontlines to meet the needs.  plk
  (20 jun 2006) From remote camps to big cities, from the steaming  lowlands of Liberia to the high plateau of Afghanistan, from floodlit  fountains to fashion shows and soccer matches, the United Nations   today celebrated World Refugee Day with a message of hope.
20 June 2006 -- From remote camps to big cities, from the steaming lowlands of Liberia to the high plateaux of Afghanistan, from floodlit fountains to fashion shows and soccer matches, the United Nations today celebrated World Refugee Day with a message of "Hope" broadcast around the globe by leaders, film stars and refugees themselves.

"For the thousands of people forced to flee their homes each year, escaping with their lives and a few belongings, is often just the start of a long struggle.

The theme of hope was chosen to highlight the continuing efforts of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its partners to find lasting solutions for millions of refugees and displaced people worldwide.

"If there is one common trait among the tens of millions of refugees that we at the UN refugee agency have helped over the past 55 years, it's the fact that despite losing everything, they never give up hope," said High Commissioner António Guterres, who marked the Day on the ground at the Bo Waterside area near the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, meeting returning refugees and displaced people.

There are currently 20.8 million people of concern toUNHCR, including 8.4 million refugees, more than 5 million of whom have been in exile for five years or longer.

In a message picked up by TV stations around the world, United States actress Angelina Jolie, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, urged people to remember those forced to flee their homes.

In Buta in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a simple man who had not seen his homeland in four decades since he was taken by his fleeing family to Sudan as a four-month old infant, symbolized UNHCR's work and the Day's theme.

"Mbira, mbira" (palm tree) Mr. Imangilikuwa and his companions shouted on arrival, overjoyed at the sight of the thick forest surrounding Buta airport.

For their entire exile in Sudan, they had never seen the beloved palm trees from which their favourite cooking oil is extracted.

A world away in Afghanistan, UNHCR marked the Day with a documentary film and visits to aid centres in a country that has produced the largest group among the Agency's total global populations of concern.

Other activities showcased refugee cuisine, music, dances, arts and crafts.

In Geneva, UNHCR's home base, the city's iconic 140-metre-high jet d'eau fountain and public buildings around the country were set to be bathed in blue, the UN colour, and World Refugee Day banners were to line the Mont Blanc bridge.

Other countries were hosting a wide range of activities, including film festivals, photo exhibitions, food bazaars, fashion shows, concerts and sports, including lots of soccer in a nod to the World Cup in Germany, with games being played from Côte d'Ivoire to Nepal and from Ecuador to Turkmenistan.

Across the Atlantic in the Americas, refugees were set to paint a mural on a wall in the Ecuadorean city of Ibarra, just one of many celebrations in the hemisphere, while in Asia a free Refugee Film Week is under way in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and refugee art is on auction in Bangkok, Thailand, again just two of many continent-wide events.

"The international community owes returning refugees more than just a cooking pot and a handshake when they cross the border," High Commissioner Guterres said, summing up the day.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Jesus' Peace Is in You


Today's Scripture

"Cast your burdens on the Lord, releasing the weight of them and He will sustain you." (Psalm 55:22)


Today's Word from Joel and Victoria

When you're at peace, you are in a position of power! When you go through adversities, the enemy fully expects you to get upset, lose your joy, complain, and host your own "pity party." He's devised a plan to keep you in an attitude of defeat. When you choose to obey God's Word and refuse to get upset, you break the forces of darkness and defeat the enemy in your life.

Jesus said in John 14:27, "I'm leaving you My peace. I'm giving it unto you." The Amplified version says, "Now stop allowing yourself to be agitated and disturbed. And do not permit yourselves to become unsettled." God has done His part to give you His peace. As a child of God, His peace is on the inside of you right now. You've got to do your part and make the decision to live in peace.

When negative circumstances arise, and you make the choice to stay calm and live in peace, you are showing that you have faith and trust in God. Today, choose to keep peace in your life. When you cast your burdens on Him, He promises to sustain you–that's a place of true peace, a place of lasting power!

A Prayer for Today

God, I know that You are in control, I know that You're going to see me through; I trust You. I know that no weapon formed against me is going to prosper. Today, I will focus on the peace inside of me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Joel Osteen Ministries, 3700 Southwest Freeway, Houston TX 77027

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Tax Cuts Yes -- Minumum Wage No

Ok, the majority party in Congress believes that taxes should be cut for the wealthy.  They don't support an increase in the minumum wage. And the Congress, as a whole just voted themselves a pay raise.
Do you really need more reasons to vote the majority of them out in November ?   plk
Pay Raise Politics
by Jared Bernstein,

     How is it that Republicans claim tax cuts are fine yet a moderate minimum wage increase will 'cripple' the economy?
An increase in the minimum wage is once again on the congressional agenda, as Democrats try to wedge it into various bills while Republicans try to sink it.

And once again, as reliable as clockwork, defenders and opponents are snapping into action, dusting off briefs and arguments, updating the analysis for inflation and generally doing the same dance we always do (I'm a defender: see

There's got to be a better way.

Facts matter, so I'm not for a second saying that progressives should ignore the superior research, summarized below, that supports an increase.

But I think we should also fight this one on basic fairness.

It's simply shameful, in an era of sharply increasing economic inequality, for Congress to incessantly cut rich people's taxes yet refuse to help low-wage workers.

First, a bit of context regarding the minimum wage.

As Isaac Shapiro and I report in a study coming out today (go to, the buying power of today's minimum wage is at its lowest since 1955.

Remember, unlike most other government programs, the wage floor is not adjusted for inflation.

Since the last increase in 1997 alone, inflation has eroded 25 percent of the minimum wage's value.

Second, the federal minimum wage has often been set with the level of other workers in mind, reflecting the principle that minimum-wage workers should share in economic gains and not fall far behind other workers.

During the 1950s and the 1960s, the minimum wage was typically about half the average wage of workers in nonsupervisory positions.

Today, the minimum wage has fallen to 31 percent of the average wage earned by other workers---its lowest share since economists began tracking it in 1947.

So what about the usual pushback against the increase: that it will hurt low-wage workers, whose employers would have to fire them when the wage mandate priced them out of the labor market?

Not to be snarky, but this concern doesn't seem to come up when Congress mandates their own pay hikes; since the last minimum wage increase in 1997, to $5.15, they've raise their pay by about $32,000.

Just last week, the House gave itself a $3,300 raise.

That "disemployment" argument would be plausible, were it not for the fact that tons of careful research has disproved it.

The federal minimum wage has been raised 19 times by Congress since its introduction in 1938.

These experiments allow us to compare before and after, or, even better, compare nearby places that face similar economic conditions but have different minimum wage laws.

The main thing about this research is that the evidence of job loss is weak.

And the fact that the evidence is weak suggests that the impact on jobs is small.

Instead, low-wage workers experienced the strongest job market in 30 years.

Well, they've been busy passing $70 billion worth of new tax cuts, mostly by extending earlier Bush cuts on dividends and capital gains.

These cuts reduce millionaire's tax payments by $43,000, middle-income payment by $20, and low-income payments by $0.

Oh, and they got awfully close to repealing the estate tax, a gift to the Paris Hiltons of the world that would have cost $1 trillion over 10 years.


Comment on How to Lose Friends and Negatively Influence People

I felt that this response to one of my recent posts was some noteworthy that I didn't want it to be overlooked in the comments section.  plk. 
----- Original Message -----

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "How to Lose Friends and Negatively Influence People":

The Utter Dysfunction of the United Nations

It will take five minutes to read this and another five minutes to take action, proposed below. Please don’t ignore this, and please send it to friends and family. Your action could literally change the world.

Recently Mark Malloch Brown, deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, said that "Middle America" did not know how the US is constructively engaged with the UN because of UN detractors and too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping over too many years. Friends, the UN deserves to be bashed and bashed hard.

Please allow us to give you a glimpse into how the United Nations is run:

Hirings and promotions routinely violate UN rules (and are illegal under most national laws) and revolve around patronage and whom one knows rather than professional qualifications. Poorly performing managers are simply moved into different management slots while others are placed in senior positions solely because of their nationality, or because of favors owed to them by their supervisors or colleagues.

Salaries for UN employees are free of taxes and come with six weeks vacation, 11 holidays, 10 sick days that are often used as vacation, plus 4 weeks of “home leave”, rental and housing grants to supplement an already generous salary (we all make an average of $7,000-$10,000 a month tax free), a pension at 8% of salary times years of service that can be cashed out tax free at any time, and educational subsidies for children of UN employees. Many also participate in an "alternative work schedule" in which they get every other Friday off. But don't even try to apply. Your application will not be acknowledged nor will you ever get invited for a job interview. You must know someone to work at the UN (or worse, sleep with them).

Several of us have advanced degrees in management and have been trained to manage large public organizations, yet we are blocked from advancing by bureaucrats in their 50s with no management training, education, or experience - only sitting in their chairs because they are friends with someone in a higher position. We threaten them because they know they are there based only on their connections.

And there is a profound lack of accountability within the UN regarding budget and resource allocation, resulting in loss of millions upon millions each year through skimming, graft and corruption. Simple procurement that would normally take five minutes using modern technology systems takes 2-3 months in the UN. And many United Nations Development Program country offices pay "local experts" outrageously high sums of money for products of dubious quality. Such contracts would never be made by other international aid agencies such as USAID that have much stronger internal controls and oversight.

We are all familiar with outrageous examples of scandals within the UN system, and yet time and again the scandal is covered up. In fact, a recent article on internal management in the Financial Times cited a UN-commissioned report released in 1994 that was remarkably damning and yet, as the article noted, nothing has changed which has led to this present crisis of credibility at the UN.

Despite its dysfunction, if the UN were actually making a difference, many would mutter to themselves but the UN deserves its strongest bashing because of its profound inability to respond to genocide, war, famine, natural disasters, and corruption.

Kofi Annan, current head of the United Nations who ironically lives in a mansion in New York worth about $10 million, was head of peacekeeping operations in 1994 in Rwanda when 800,000 people died. In 2004, he said "I believed at that time that I was doing my best" despite the fact that he held back UN troops from intervening to settle the conflict and declined to provide more logistic and material support to stop the slaughter.

And don't forget that ten years ago thousands of Bosnian Muslims were murdered by the Serb militias who were in a UN protected “safe haven” with hundreds of UN soldiers assigned to defend them. Yet the UN stood by while the entire adult and teenage male population was systematically butchered.

Kofi Annan was unable to stop mismanagement of the Oil-for-Food Program that allowed Saddam Hussein's regime to embezzle $4.4 billion through pricing irregularities and an additional $5.7 billion through illegal oil smuggling. And for several years Kofi's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna (while not even working there!), which won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil for Food program.

Kofi Annan protected Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, against a report that found him guilty of sexual harassment by declaring him innocent. This created a global protest against Annan, resulting in Lubbers being eventually forced to resign, not because of his own egregious actions, but because he was starting to adversely impact Annan’s public image. By the way, Annan’s image is propped up around the world thanks to an $85 million dollar annual “communications” budget. What other modern corporation has two directors of communication like the UN doe - one for the UN “Secretariat” and one for the Secretary General.

Kofi Annan accepted a $500,000 prize from the ruler of Dubai, courtesy of a judges' panel full of U.N. cronies, one member of which Annan then appointed to a high U.N. job! By the way, Annan was advised to take the prize money by Malloch Brown who rents a home in Westchester County from his friend George Soros for $12,000 a month with a $287,087 annual salary.

Kofi Annan remains in power despite continuing sexual abuse scandals by UN peacekeepers. A 2005 internal UN investigation found that sexual abuse and forced pregnancies has been reported in at least five countries where UN peacekeepers have been deployed including the Congo, Haiti, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire, and Liberia.

And Kofi Annan remains in power while genocide continues in Darfur, while Zimbabwe tailspins into despotism, while up to a third of the population of some African countries will die from AIDS, while government corruption keeps the poorest countries in starkest poverty, and while the U.N. Human Rights Council includes repressive non-democratic states such as Cuba, China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Kofi Annan and Mark Malloch Brown arrogantly ignore the fact that the quality of life of several of us has come close to being destroyed because of the mismanagement, abuse, fraud and corruption.

Most who work for the UN are so used to its dysfunctionality that they have NO idea how sick the organization is or they are unwilling to come forward because UN labor laws and protections are abysmal. Coming forward to a kangaroo court will only result in firing or worse. Please refer to the recent report prepared by UK Barrister and Human Rights QC Geoffrey Robertson on behalf of UN Staff, which highlights the gross deficiencies of worker protections at the UN at - and read about so many more abuses at

Adding insult to injury, the newly created OIOS (the new "independent" internal oversight panel established to "reform" the UN) has been strong-armed by Malloch Brown and is not independent because its meager budget comes directly from the UN, equal to about one-half of Annan’s annual PR budget! Thus all are dissuaded from within the UN from coming forward.

And what really happened at UNDP, the organization that Malloch Brown used to “lead”? Why would Malloch Brown leave his influential post as head of UNDP to spend a year defending the scandals swirling around Kofi Annan and then announce that he would resign when Kofi leaves at the end of this year? Because he royally mismanaged UNDP. Everyone at UNDP knows this but is too scared to share the details of what happened for fear of retaliation by Brown. But ask UNDP Country Directors and UNDP Practice Managers what happened under King Mark's reign and you will get a completely different picture of his mismanagement skills and bombastic ways.

Another example, in order to uphold their political neutrality, UN employees are expressly barred from political participation and yet UNDP employee Justin Leites was allowed to campaign for U.S. Presidential candidate John Kerry - with MMB's approval!

As the walls literally crumble down around them, those who work for the UN and citizens who believe in the founding principles of the UN have no understanding how bad it really is. Unfortunately, we encourage young people who are seeking a career in international affairs to avoid the United Nations at all costs. We wish there would come a day when we would no longer make this recommendation.

Of course the senior leadership of the UN try to hide the profound problems of the UN but shame on them for saying that Americans don't know or understand how the US is engaged with the UN. If you and everyone in Middle America truly understood what ails the UN, the US, which funds $3.3 billion annually or 22% of the entire UN budget, would shut off the money spigot yesterday.

And remember - the talk of “reforming the UN” has gone on for over a DECADE. In sum, the UN should be shuttered, allowing a brand new organization to emerge because the current UN is broken beyond repair.

Not much has changed since the UN was founded 60 years ago. The UN could have done much, much better in making the word a better place.

Make no mistake. This is about the future of YOUR world – a world of some 191 countries desperate for a better life for all their citizens. Don't let self-interested, incompetent middle-aged bureaucrat hacks – most raised and educated under dictatorships - determine the future of OUR world.

Please contact your two Senators and your representative to the House of Representatives by clicking here: Ask your Senators and Congressman to stop discussing "reform" of the UN. Ask your Senators and Congressman to create a NEW organization that can lead the world well into the 21st Century.

This is NOT a Democrats vs. Republicans debate. All Democrats and all Republicans should be able to easily agree that if deep, deep reform is not possible, the UN should be closed and a new organization should be created to truly make the world a better place.

This is a non-partisan issue! Please share this with family and friends and post it on your favorite blogs.

For more information, please contact Edward Patrick Flaherty at who represents UN employees including our views here.

Written by a concerned group of current and former UN employees.

Posted by Anonymous to Get the Facts & Get Involved at 6/20/2006 07:44:31 PM

Monday, June 19, 2006

Rice calls N. Korea missile threat "provocative" on Yahoo! News

"Provocative" you say! 
The United States and Japan warned North Korea on Monday against a missile launch that experts say could reach as far as Alaska and threatened harsh action if the test flight goes ahead.

The warning coincided with the assessment by some officials that Pyongyang may have finished fueling for the launch of its long-range Taepodong-2 missile.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said a missile launch by North Korea would be viewed as a very serious matter and "provocative act" that would further isolate Pyongyang.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has twice met North Korean leader Kim Jong-il since taking office in 2001, said Tokyo, Washington and Seoul were all urging Pyongyang to act rationally and with restraint.

The United States has found itself blocked by veto-wielding council members China and Russia in past attempts to raise North Korea's nuclear-weapons program in the Security Council.

"I will not get into or discuss any specific alert status or capabilities," Whitman told reporters.

Tension over North Korea added to downward pressure on the Japanese yen, Korean won and Taiwan dollar on Monday, although currency markets were more focused on rising U.S. interest rates.

U.S. officials said Washington had warned Pyongyang against a missile launch through a message passed to North Korean diplomats at the United Nations, but it had had no response.

U.S. officials said Pyongyang could still decide to scrap the launch, but that was unlikely given the complexity of siphoning fuel back out of a missile prepared for launch.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Think Fast

an excerpt from The American Progress Report  a publication of The American Progress Action Fund

Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that the Iraq war was "in part responsible" for the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States since the September 11, 2001 strikes. The State Department reported in April that the number of terrorist attacks worldwide increased nearly fourfold in 2005.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the flag-burning amendment yesterday. The
11-7 vote "was supported by all committee Republicans and opposed by all but one Democrat -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California."

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education yesterday "voted to eliminate $115 million in federal funding for public broadcasting" like NPR and PBS, representing "a
23 percent decrease in the previously-approved 2007 appropriation."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) is upset that he has not received a response to his request that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testify before his committee on the NSA's warrantless spying programs. Specter said yesterday, "
I will ask for authorization for a subpoena if we do not get an adequate response."

59: Percentage of Americans who say climate change warrants "some action" or "immediate" steps,
up from 51 percent in 1999, according to a WSJ/NBC poll.

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor has
documented in a U.N. report “thousands of alleged direct killings of civilians” and “a significant number of large scale massacres” in Darfur. The ICC “also registered hundreds of alleged cases of rape.”

The Smithsonian has removed an exhibit featuring a "rare surviving example" of the battery-powered car that is the focus of the new film "
Who Killed the Electric Car?" The movie shows how General Motors (GM) "created a dynamic battery-powered auto that drivers loved, only to crush it to smithereens." GM is one of the Smithsonian's "biggest contributors."

A new Congressional Research Service report finds that since World War II, “the government has typically used emergency supplemental appropriations bills to fund ongoing military operations
only sparingly, switching to regular annual budget submissions as soon as a better picture of costs were known.” In related news, the Senate passed the ninth emergency supplemental bill since 9/11.

74-page Pentagon briefing book with talking points on Iraq may be illegal. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld complaining that his office had spent "taxpayer dollars to produce partisan political documents," possibly in violation of laws prohibiting the Executive Branch from using taxpayer dollars for lobbying and propaganda activities.

And finally: Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) may be "one of the stalwart votes for 'kid-friendly' regulation in entertainment," but that doesn't mean he can't enjoy a good video game. "I'll have to confess, Mr. Chairman, that
I am also a video game player. I have worked my way up to Civilization IV. I haven't yet been able to beat it but I at least understand the fundamentals of it."

In Case You Missed It

If you live near a drilling site you better start checking your well water on a regular basis.  plk



Published on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times


EPA Rule Loosened After Oil Chief's Letter to Rove


The White House says the executive's appeal had no role in changing a measure to protect groundwater. Critics call it a political payoff.


by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten



WASHINGTON — A rule designed by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep groundwater clean near oil drilling sites and other construction zones was loosened after White House officials rejected it amid complaints by energy companies that it was too restrictive and after a well-connected Texas oil executive appealed to White House senior advisor Karl Rove.


The new rule, which took effect Monday, came after years of intense industry pressure, including court battles and behind-the-scenes agency lobbying. But environmentalists vowed Monday that the fight was not over, distributing internal White House documents that they said portrayed the new rule as a political payoff to an industry long aligned with the Republican Party and President Bush.


In 2002, a Texas oilman and longtime Republican activist, Ernest Angelo, wrote a letter to Rove complaining that an early version of the rule was causing many in the oil industry to "openly express doubt as to the merit of electing Republicans when we wind up with this type of stupidity."


Rove responded by forwarding the letter to top White House environmental advisors and scrawling a handwritten note directing an aide to talk to those advisors and "get a response ASAP."


Rove later wrote to Angelo, assuring him that there was a "keen awareness" within the administration of addressing not only environmental issues but also the "economic, energy and small business impacts" of the rule.


Environmentalists pointed to the Rove correspondence as evidence that the Bush White House, more than others, has mixed politics with policy decisions that are traditionally left to scientists and career regulators. At the time, Rove oversaw the White House political office and was directing strategy for the 2002 midterm elections.


Angelo had been mayor of Midland, Texas, when Bush ran an oil firm there. He is also a longtime hunting partner of Rove's. The two men first worked together when Angelo managed Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign in Texas.


In an interview Monday, Angelo welcomed the new groundwater rule and said his letter might have made a difference in how it was written. But he waved off environmentalists' questions about Rove's involvement.


"I'm sure that his forwarding my letter to people that were in charge of it might have had some impression on them," Angelo said. "It seems to me that it was a totally proper thing to do. I can't see why anybody's upset about it, except of course that it was effective."


Asked why he wrote to Rove and not the Environmental Protection Agency or to some other official more directly associated with the matter, Angelo replied: "Karl and I have been close friends for 25 years. So, why wouldn't I write to him? He's the guy I know best in the administration."


White House spokesmen said Monday that the rule was revised as part of the federal government's standard rule-making process. They said the EPA was simply directed by White House budget officials to make the rule comply with requirements laid out by Congress in a sweeping new energy law passed last year.


The issue has been a focus of lobbying by the oil and gas industry for years, ever since Clinton administration regulators first announced their intent to require special EPA permits for construction sites smaller than five acres, including oil and gas drilling sites, as a way to discourage water pollution.


Energy executives, who have long complained of being stifled by federal regulations limiting drilling and exploration, sought and received a delay in that permit requirement in 2003. Eventually, Congress granted a permanent exemption that was written into the 2005 energy legislation.


The EPA rule issued Monday adds fine print to that broad exception in ways that critics, including six members of the Senate, say exceeds what Congress intended.


For example, the new rule generally exempts sediment — pieces of dirt and other particles that can gum up otherwise clear streams — from regulations governing runoff that may flow from oil and gas production or construction sites.


Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.), who joined five Democrats in objecting to the rule, wrote in March that there was nothing in the energy law suggesting that such an exclusion of sediment "had even entered the mind of any member of Congress as it considered the Energy Policy Act of 2005." Moreover, Jeffords wrote, the rule violated the intentions of Congress when it passed the Clean Water Act 19 years ago.


White House and administration officials disagreed.


At the EPA, Assistant Administrator Benjamin H. Grumbles said the rule responded directly to congressional action. He cited a letter from Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, endorsing it. He added that the rule still allows states to regulate pollution, and that it continues to regulate sediment that contains "toxic" ingredients.


Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman for another senior lawmaker, Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Monday that the rule was designed to hold oil companies accountable for putting toxic substances in the soil, but not for dirt that results from storms.


"When it rains, storm water gets muddy, regardless of whether there's an oil well in the neighborhood," Miller said. "Congress told EPA to do this, and now they have. If there's oil in the water, a producer has to clean it up. If it's nature, they don't."


The change in the rule occurred last year when staffers in the White House Office of Management and Budget began editing an early version drafted by EPA technical staff. The Office of Management and Budget oversees another division, the Office of Information and Regulatory Policy, which critics complain has served as a central hub in the Bush White House for making government regulations more business-friendly.


A spokesman for the White House budget office, Scott Milburn, said Monday that the White House's involvement in making rules was intended to "ensure that agencies issue regulations that follow the law."


White House spokeswoman Dana Perino rejected the suggestion that Rove was involved in the rule change. Rove frequently receives requests, she said, and that he tries to reply and direct those requests to the appropriate people. She said that for environmentalists to accuse Rove of manipulating the EPA rule was a "typical overreach" by administration critics.


"That is quite an overreach, when it was the United States Congress that passed the Energy Act in a bipartisan way to ask the EPA to undertake this rulemaking," she said.


In their March letter, Jeffords and his Democratic colleagues asked EPA officials whether the correspondence with Rove influenced the final rule.


A response written by Grumbles did not directly address the Rove question. But the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups assert that they know the answer.


"We can't say that Karl Rove walked over to OMB and demanded these changes," said Sharon Buccino, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's land program. "But it is clear that there was direction coming from the top of the White House, and this was a result of the thinking of the White House as opposed to environmental experts at EPA."


Buccino called the rule "yet another example of the Bush administration rewarding their friends in the oil and gas industry at the expense of the environment and the public's health."


In his letter to Rove, Angelo did not hide his political feelings. He thanked Rove for "all you do," and added words of encouragement on another topic: "The president has the opposition on the run on the Iraq issue."


His letter appeared to gain notice at the highest levels of the administration. Three months after Angelo sent it, a top EPA official wrote to tell him that the agency had decided to impose the temporary delay on the construction permitting rule for oil and gas companies.


The letter was copied to Rove, White House environmental advisor James L. Connaughton and then-EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.


Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times