Thursday, May 05, 2005

Runaway Bride Denies Having Cold Feet

Runaway Bride Denies Having Cold Feet

By DANIEL YEE, Associated Press Writer


GAINESVILLE, Ga. - Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks apologized Thursday for disappearing just before her wedding day, and insisted cryptically that her flight was prompted not by cold feet, but by "a host of compelling issues, which seemed out of control."

Wilbanks, whose three-day disappearance led to a nationwide search, initially told investigators she had been abducted by a Hispanic male and white woman with a handgun, a story that quickly unraveled. Albuquerque, N.M., police said Thursday that Wilbanks also claimed she had been sexually assaulted, but recanted with the rest of her story.

In a statement read by her father's pastor, the Rev. Tom Smiley, Wilbanks said she was "truly sorry for the troubles I caused."

Wilbanks said her flight by bus to Las Vegas and eventually to Albuquerque was not in response to her pending wedding, which had been scheduled four days after she vanished.

"Those who know me know how excited I've been, and how excited I was about the spectacular wedding we planned, and how I could not wait to be Mrs. John Mason," the statement said.

"In my mind, it was never about the timing, however unfortunate. I was simply running from myself and from certain fears controlling my life."

Wilbanks said she has asked for the forgiveness of her fiance, their families, friends, churches and communities "and any others I may have offended unintentionally," adding that she was "deeply grateful and appreciative to everyone who responded on my behalf."

Many of those in the community expressed disgust when they learned that she had run off without telling anyone.

"Each day I am understanding more about who I am and the issues that influenced me to respond inappropriately," Wilbanks' statement said.

Smiley, who has been counseling Wilbanks, said she "poured her heart and her soul into this statement. These are her words and these are her feelings."

Wilbanks' attorney Lydia Sartain has said her client is seeking professional help for her problems and is in no condition to publicly answer questions. Wilbanks has been in seclusion with her family since her return to Georgia late Saturday.

Her statement did not address Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter's request that she repay the city for the costs of the search. Lasseter had also wanted Wilbanks to commit to perform community service in the town.

The city is considering a lawsuit to recoup its costs, while Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is investigating possible criminal charges against Wilbanks for falsely reporting a crime. Porter said Thursday night he had not seen any information on the sexual assault claim and was awaiting an FBI report on Wilbanks' statements to authorities in Albuquerque.

Her statement also did not specifically address her false claim that a Hispanic man had abducted her. But the president of the group Hispanics Across America backed down from his threat to protest outside her home.

The group's president, Fernando Mateo, said members were satisfied with her general apology.

"Our purpose was not to crucify this woman but just to let the nation know they can't freely use the name 'Hispanic' in a stereotyping manner where Hispanics are perceived to be thugs and criminals," he said.

Bill's Comment: Ms. Wilbanks definitely has issues. How long before she has a meeting with Dr. Phil?

FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules

FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

NEW YORK - To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor.

The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.

"Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he's been celibate for five years," said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors.

Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.

Although there is disagreement over whether the FDA guideline regarding gay men will have the force of law, most doctors and clinics are expected to observe it.

The practical effect of the provision — part of a broader set of cell and tissue donation regulations that take effect May 25 — is hard to gauge. It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and prefer to use a gay man's sperm for artificial insemination.

But it is the provision's symbolic aspect that particularly troubles gay-rights groups. Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, has called it "policy based on bigotry."

"The part I find most offensive — and a little frightening — is that it isn't based on good science," Cathcart said. "There's a steadily increasing trend of heterosexual transmission of HIV, and yet the FDA still has this notion that you protect people by putting gay men out of the pool."

In a letter to the FDA, Lambda Legal has suggested a screening procedure based on sexual behavior, not sexual orientation. Prospective donors — gay or straight — would be rejected if they had engaged in unprotected sex in the previous 12 months with an HIV-positive person, an illegal drug user, or "an individual of unknown HIV status outside of a monogamous relationship."

But an FDA spokeswoman cited FDA documents suggesting that officials felt the broader exclusion was prudent even if it affected gay men who practice safe sex.

"The FDA is very much aware that strict exclusion policies eliminate some safe donors," said one document.

Many doctors and fertility clinics already have been rejecting gay sperm donors, citing the pending FDA rules or existing regulations of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"With an anonymous sperm donor, you can't be too careful," said a society spokeswoman, Eleanor Nicoll. "Our concern is for the health of the recipient, not to let more and more people be sperm donors."

However, some sperm banks, notably in California, have welcomed gay donors. The director of one of them, Alice Ruby of the Oakland-based Sperm Bank of California, said her staff had developed procedures for identifying gay men with an acceptably low risk of HIV.

Gay men are a major donor source at Traiman's Rainbow Flag sperm bank, and he said that practice would continue despite the new rules.

"We're going to continue to follow judicious, careful testing procedures for our clients that even experts within the FDA say is safe," said Traiman, referring to the six-month quarantine.

The FDA rules do not prohibit gay men from serving as "directed" sperm donors. If a woman wishing to become pregnant knows a gay man and asks that he provide sperm for artificial insemination, a clinic could provide that service even if the man had engaged in sex with other men within five years.

However, Traiman said some lesbian couples do not have a gay friend they know and trust well enough to be the biological father of their child, and would thus prefer an anonymous donor.

Dr. Deborah Cohan, an obstetrics and gynecology instructor at the University of California, San Francisco, said some lesbians prefer to receive sperm from a gay donor because they feel such a man would be more receptive to the concept of a family headed by a same-sex couple.

"This rule will make things legally more difficult for them," she said. "I can't think of a scientifically valid reason — it has to be an issue of discrimination."


On the Net:

FDA site:

Bill's Comment: Poor former New Jersey governor James E. McGreevey. On a serious, can they include pedophiles?

Band Banned From Performing 'Louie Louie'

Band Banned From Performing 'Louie Louie'

Thu May 5, 4:18 PM ET

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - A pop culture controversy that has simmered for decades came to a head when a middle school marching band was told not to perform "Louie Louie."

Benton Harbor Superintendent Paula Dawning cited the song's allegedly raunchy lyrics in ordering the McCord Middle School band not to perform it in Saturday's Grand Floral Parade, held as part of the Blossomtime Festival.

In a letter sent home with McCord students, Dawning said "Louie Louie" was not appropriate for Benton Harbor students to play while representing the district — even though the marching band wasn't going to sing it.

Band members and parents complained to the Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting that it was too late to learn another song, The Herald-Palladium of St. Joseph reported.

"It's very stressful for us to try to come up with new songs for the band," eighth-grader Laurice Martin told the board. "We're trying to learn the songs from last year, but some of us weren't in the band last year."

Dawning said that if a majority of parents supports their children playing the song, she will reconsider her decision.

"It was not that I knew at the beginning and said nothing," Dawning said. "I normally count on the staff to make reliable decisions. I found out because a parent called, concerned about the song being played."

"Louie Louie," written by Richard Berry in 1956, is one of the most recorded songs in history. The best-known, most notorious version was a hit in 1963 for the Kingsmen; the FBI spent two years investigating the lyrics before declaring they not only were not obscene but also were "unintelligible at any speed."


On the Net:

The Louie Louie Pages:



Information from: The Herald-Palladium,

Bill's Comment: I have a suggestion- "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King

S&P Cuts GM, Ford Credit Ratings to 'Junk'

S&P Cuts GM, Ford Credit Ratings to 'Junk'


DETROIT - A New York rating agency declared billions of dollars of debt owed by General Motors and Ford to be "junk" on Thursday, a significant blow that will increase borrowing costs and limit fund-raising options for the nation's two biggest automakers.

Shares of GM fell almost 6 percent and Ford shares declined 4.5 percent after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services downgraded the debt to below investment grade, which is commonly known as junk or high-yield status.

Both companies responded by saying they face no cash crunch and that they disagreed with the decision by S&P analysts.

Still, it amounts to one more hit for two automakers that are losing market share at home to Asian competitors, seeing sales soften for their most profitable models and facing enormous health care and post-retirement liabilities. GM's U.S. sales fell nearly 5 percent in the first four months of the year and Ford's sales declined 4.2 percent.

In particular, S&P said No. 1 General Motors Corp. and No. 2 Ford Motor Co. can no longer count on generating enormous profits from their sport utility vehicle lineups. Besides higher gas prices, a key factor in slumping SUV sales is the proliferation of smaller, car-based utility vehicles called crossovers — models that are available from most major automakers today.

"GM's financial performance has been heavily dependent on the profit contribution of its SUVs," said S&P credit analyst Scott Sprinzen. "Recently, though, sales of its midsize and large SUVs have plummeted, and industrywide demand has evidently stalled."

GM and Ford bonds also fell in value Thursday, and while the companies say they have no immediate need for large new debt sales, analysts said they can expect to pay substantially higher interest rates on funds they borrow in the future.

The numbers involved already are enormous: GM paid about $12 billion in interest on debt last year and Ford's tab totaled about $7.1 billion. GM's consolidated debt as of March 31 was $291.8 billion and Ford's totaled $161.3 billion, S&P said.

The two other major debt rating agencies, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, still rate the debt of both GM and Ford as investment grade.

Even though it acted alone, the move by S&P will force many institutional investors to reshuffle their portfolios, causing massive selling of GM and Ford bonds at a lesser value. That's because some institutions are banned from dealing in high-yield bonds, an asset class known to trade with more volatility and greater risk of default than investment-grade securities.

S&P said its downgrade of GM's long-term debt reflects its conclusion that the current strategies of GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and his management team may not be effective in dealing with the automaker's competitive disadvantages. S&P also cited as concerns GM's European operations, which have been unprofitable since 1999, and weaker demand in what had been a sizzling Chinese market.

However, S&P noted GM should have no difficulty accommodating "near-term cash requirements." It also said GM's highly profitable GMAC finance arm still likely has "sufficient funding flexibility" to support GM even without an investment-grade rating.

In a statement, GM said it was disappointed with S&P's decision but that it and its finance arm have adequate cash and liquidity to fund their operations "for the foreseeable future."

GM said it had $19.8 billion in cash at the end of the first quarter, and GMAC had $18.5 billion in cash and securities. "Clearly, GM has many challenges in North America, but the company is moving aggressively to address these challenges," the company said.

S&P said Ford could be hurt financially by increasing competition from GM and Toyota Motor Corp. in the pickup category. Ford's best-selling vehicles are its F-Series lineup, most notable the full-size F-150 pickup.

Another hindrance for Ford is its relationship with its struggling former parts subsidiary, Visteon Corp. "We assume Ford will have to subsidize in some fashion a radical restructuring of Visteon's operations, at a cost that could well be greater than all the direct support it has already extended," S&P said.

Last month, Ford posted earnings of $1.2 billion, down from $1.95 billion the year before. The company also predicted a tough second quarter, with earnings break-even at best.

Don Leclair, Ford's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement the company disagreed with S&P's action. "We're disappointed that it discounts our considerable liquidity and our access to diverse funding sources, as well as the recent successes of our new products," Leclair said.

The announcement came only a day after billionaire Kirk Kerkorian jolted GM shares to their largest one-day percentage increase in more than 40 years by offering to invest nearly $870 million in the automaker to boost his stake to about 9 percent.

GM shares dropped $1.94, or 5.9 percent, to $30.86 while Ford shares fell 46 cents, or 4.5 percent, to $9.70 in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.


Bill's Comment: We can thank the politicians, environmentalists, and the UAW for being so self-centered. We have the technoly and knowledge to compete with the foreign competition, but resiliance to change will always come back to bite you in the behind.

Country Hall of Fame to Induct 4 Members

Country Hall of Fame to Induct 4 Members

Thu May 5, 8:26 AM ET

CARTHAGE, Texas - Jimmy Dean, who wrote and recorded "Big Bad John," and Grammy-winning fiddler Johnny Gimble will be inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in August.

Singer/songwriters Glenn Sutton and Roger Miller also were selected for induction by an advisory board of previous honorees, said Hall of Fame President Tommie Ritter Smith.

Dean, Gimble and Sutton will perform at the Aug. 20 induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame Theater in Carthage. Dean Miller, Roger Miller's son, also will take the stage.


On the Net:

Gore to Get Lifetime Award for Internet

Gore to Get Lifetime Award for Internet

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer
Thu May 5, 8:28 AM ET

NEW YORK - Al Gore may have been lampooned for taking credit in the Internet's development, but organizers of the Webby Awards for online achievements don't find it funny at all.

In part to "set the record straight," they will give Gore a lifetime achievement award for three decades of contributions to the Internet, said Tiffany Shlain, the awards' founder and chairwoman.

"It's just one of those instances someone did amazing work for three decades as congressman, senator and vice president and it got spun around into this political mess," Shlain said.

Vint Cerf, undisputedly one of the Internet's key inventors, will give Gore the award at a June 6 ceremony in New York.

"He is indeed due some thanks and consideration for his early contributions," Cerf said.

Gore, who boasted in a CNN interview he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," was only 21 when the Internet was born out of a Pentagon project.

But after joining Congress eight years later, he promoted high-speed telecommunications for economic growth and supported funding increases for the then-fledging network, according to the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which presents the annual awards.

He popularized the term "information superhighway" as vice president.

Bill's Comment: I hope that he is clean-shaven and doesn't scream.

Officer Stops Class on Drugs; Arrests Teen

Officer Stops Class on Drugs; Arrests Teen

Thu May 5, 8:41 AM ET

MUNCIE, Ind. - A state police trooper stopped a high school drug-awareness presentation to arrest a student in another part of the school on a charge of trying to sell marijuana.

Detective Darrell Thornburg was speaking Tuesday to a Delta High School health class when administrators alerted him about possible drug dealing in the school. Students told school administrators about the 16-year-old selling the drug, Sgt. Rod Russell said.

Thornburg found marijuana in the boy's pockets, packaged in bags for distribution, Russell said.

The student was taken to a juvenile detention facility and faces charges of possession of marijuana and juvenile delinquency.

He was suspended from school for 10 days and could eventually face expulsion, said Pat Mapes, assistant superintendent of the Delaware Community Schools.


Information from: The Star Press,

Bill's Comment: It goes to show the lack of common sense of today's yutes, I mean, youths.

Sinatra biography cites new claim of Mafia ties

Sinatra biography cites new claim of Mafia ties

Wed May 4,10:45 AM ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Frank Sinatra once served as a Mafia courier and narrowly escaped arrest with a briefcase containing $3.5 million in cash, entertainer Jerry Lewis told authors of a new book excerpted on Tuesday in Vanity Fair magazine.

The anecdote attributed to Lewis is one of several accounts linking the legendary singer to organized crime in the unauthorized biography "Sinatra: The Life," by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan and due for release May 16 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Sinatra always denied any connection to the Mafia, though FBI files released in December 1998, seven months after his death, portrayed the singer-actor as a close friend of reputed Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.

FBI documents also suggested he had contact with mobster Lucky Luciano during a 1947 trip to Cuba and alleged that his early singing career was backed by a New Jersey-based racketeer named Willie Moretti.

The book recounts a claim the authors attribute to Lewis, one of Sinatra's "Rat Pack" compatriots from the 1960s, that Sinatra once carried money for the Mafia.

"He volunteered to be a messenger for them," Lewis is quoted as telling the authors. "And he almost got caught once ... in New York."

Lewis is quoted as saying Sinatra was going through customs with a briefcase containing "three and a half million in fifties" and that customs officials opened the case. But due to crowds jostling for a glimpse of the star, officials aborted their search.

Otherwise, Lewis said, "We would never have heard of him again."

According to Vanity Fair, the authors do not claim that Lewis witnessed the customs incident but rather related the account "as a fact of which he had knowledge."

Lewis said the incident occurred shortly after Luciano was deported from the United States to Italy in 1946.



Bill's Comment: Tell us something we already did not know.

Judge Throws Out England's Guilty Plea

Judge Throws Out England's Guilty Plea

By T.A. BADGER, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 4, 7:11 PM ET

FORT HOOD, Texas - A military judge Wednesday threw out Pfc. Lynndie England's guilty plea to abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison, saying he was not convinced the Army reservist who appeared in some of the most notorious photos in the scandal knew her actions were wrong at the time.

The mistrial marks a stunning turn in the case and sends it back to square one.

The case will be reviewed again by Fort Hood's commander, Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, who will decide what charges, if any, England should face. If she is charged, the case would go back to a military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, an Article 32 proceeding, prosecution spokesman Capt. Cullen Sheppard said.

The military judge, Col. James Pohl, entered a plea of not guilty for England on a charge of conspiring with Pvt. Charles Graner Jr. to maltreat detainees at the Baghdad-area prison and a related charge.

The mistrial came after Graner, the reputed ringleader of the abuse, testified as a defense witness at England's sentencing hearing that pictures he took of England holding a naked prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib were meant to be used as a legitimate training aid for other guards.

Other photos showed England smiling while standing next to nude prisoners stacked in a pyramid and pointing at a prisoner's genitals.

England maintained the same stoic look she has had throughout the proceeding. During a recess before the plea deal was thrown out, England peeked at a sketch artist's drawing of Graner on the stand. "Don't forget the horns and the goatee," she said.

When England pleaded guilty Monday, she told the judge she knew that the pictures were being taken purely for the amusement of the guards.

Pohl said her statement and Graner's could not be reconciled.

"You can't have a one-person conspiracy," the judge said before he declared the mistrial and dismissed the sentencing jury.

Under military law, the judge could formally accept her guilty plea only if he was convinced that she knew at the time that what she was doing was illegal.

By rejecting the plea to the conspiracy charge, Pohl canceled the entire plea agreement. The agreement had carried a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, but the prosecution and defense had a deal that capped the sentence at a lesser punishment; the length was not released.

Neither prosecution nor defense lawyers would speak to reporters after the deal was discarded. England, shielded by her defense team, would not comment outside the courtroom.

Allen Rudy, a Dallas attorney, said Wednesday he could not recall a military plea being scrapped under such circumstances during his 25 years as a Navy lawyer and judge.

"That is a shocker," Rudy said. "But (Pohl) has to protect the defendant in that situation. ... He has to make sure (England) wasn't talked into it by her lawyer or her parents or someone else."

During defense questioning, Graner said he looped the leash around the prisoner's shoulders as a way to coax him out of a cell, and that it slipped up around his neck. He said he asked England to hold the strap while he took photos that he could show to other guards later to teach them this prisoner-handling technique.

At that point Pohl halted Graner's testimony and admonished the defense for admitting evidence that ran counter to England's plea on the conspiracy charge and one count of maltreating detainees.

The judge did not discuss the other five counts to which England had pleaded guilty.

Graner, who is said to be the father of England's infant son, was found guilty in January and is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in the scandal.

In a handwritten note given to reporters Tuesday, Graner had said he wanted England to fight the charges.

"Knowing what happened in Iraq, it was very upsetting to see Lynn plead guilty to her charges," he wrote. "I would hope that by doing so she will have a better chance at a good sentence."

Graner maintains that he and the other Abu Ghraib guards were following orders from higher-ranking interrogators when they abused the detainees.

Treasury says may reintroduce 30-yr bond

Treasury says may reintroduce 30-yr bond

Wed May 4, 6:10 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury, faced with large budget deficits, said in a surprise move on Wednesday it is considering regular sales of 30-year bonds, which were suspended in 2001.

Markets, which had clamored for the bond's return, were nevertheless caught off guard. Long-term debt prices tumbled on the prospect of an increased supply of longer-dated securities, as Bush administration officials had said until recently they believed U.S. debt issuance was varied enough to satisfy appetite for longer-dated securities.

The 30-year bond slipped almost 2 points to yield 4.59 percent. The 10-year Treasury note lost 5/32, lifting yields to 4.19 percent.

Long-dated British gilts and gilt futures tumbled and June German Bund futures also slipped.

"It's a complete shock," said Sadakichi Robbins, head of global fixed income trading at Bank Julius Baer in New York.


But the Treasury Department said the timing was appropriate because it would give the government the ability to borrow across a range of maturities to help prepare for an anticipated maturing of short- and medium-term debt.

The share of 10-year or longer securities in the overall debt stock fell to 31 percent last year from 40 percent in 2001, according to a study by economists Nouriel Roubini of New York University and Brad Setser of University College, Oxford.

"We're doing this, really, because times have changed," Treasury Assistant Secretary Timothy Bitsberger told reporters. "Our debt portfolio has changed and we believe now we have the flexibility to issue bonds and maintain liquid issuance in all our other securities."

The Bond Market Association's Treasury borrowing advisory committee told Treasury Secretary John Snow in a report released on Wednesday they believed issuing the longer-dated security would help cushion risks associated with the large number of securities maturing in coming years.


Analysts said the record $412 billion budget deficit in fiscal 2004 and ambitious plans to overhaul the Social Security program must have played a role in the administration's decision.

"In order to fund the deficit more readily and a little more easily, they have to extend the duration of the debt that they issue," said Gemma Wright a market strategist, at Barclays Capital in New York. "You compound that with both pension fund reform and potential Social Security reform, the demand for long duration assets really would rise fairly dramatically."

But Bitsberger denied the deficit was behind the contemplated move.

"This is about more prudent management of our debt liabilities," he said. "This is a decision independent of what our deficits are."

At the same time, he acknowledged the growth in U.S. debt makes the move possible.

"We have more debt outstanding than we did in 2001," he said. "We're not here to rewrite three years of history but we do face that we have seen average maturity of our debt shorten up."

Bitsberger also defended the surprise announcement, saying the Treasury's quarterly refunding is a widely known venue for the government to declare borrowing plans. Treasury will unveil its decision on the 30-year bond at its next refunding announcement on Aug. 3.

Long-term debt prices tumbled after the Treasury said it was considering twice-annual auctions of between $10 billion to $15 billion in a 30-year nominal security, beginning February 2006. Bond prices also slid in Europe, where many countries have or are considering longer-dated debt.

The Bush administration scrapped the long-dated security in late 2001 as a cost-saving move, saying it no longer needed the bond for the government's borrowing needs. The move also came during the fourth consecutive year of budget surpluses.

Many bond dealers were stunned by that decision, which some viewed as a move to lower long-term interest rates, although Treasury officials said that was not the case.

But after years of mounting budget deficits -- fueled by recession, a stock market collapse, the costs of war and tax cuts -- bond dealers began lobbying for reintroduction of the security to support the long end of the market.

Bitsberger acknowledged that Treasury knows some investors, such as pension funds, want longer debt maturities to match the duration of their liabilities, but said that was not directly behind the government's decision.

"We're always in consultation with the marketplace and we're aware that there are some changes going on structurally in the demand for Treasury securities," he said.

"But we would be considering this regardless of pension reform," he added.

Chicago Mayor Embarrassed Over Corruption

Chicago Mayor Embarrassed Over Corruption

By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press Writer
Wed May 4, 5:16 PM ET

CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said Wednesday that new disclosures of corruption in city government, including allegations that payoff money found its way into his campaign fund, have left him "hurt, embarrassed, disappointed."

"Clearly, I'm not proud or pleased," Daley told a news conference, his first since a former city water official pleaded guilty to taking payoffs from trucking companies and said some of the money went to campaign funds, including Daley's.

It was the first time Daley's name surfaced in the yearlong investigation of the city's corruption-riddled, $38 million Hired Truck Program, which outsourced work to private trucking companies, some with mob ties.

Daley has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but said federal prosecutors had asked him not to go into detail about the ongoing investigation. In the past week, federal agents have carted off documents from several agencies in City Hall.

A number of city officials, including the former head of the Hired Truck Program, have already pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Others are awaiting trial.

Daley said it was important to "build on the reforms that were put into place after the first evidence of wrongdoing." Among other things, Daley has barred contractors who do business with the city from contributing to his campaign fund.

In his plea agreement Monday, former water official Gerald Wesolowski said "city officials" directed payoff money from the Hired Truck Program into various campaign funds. Daley said if any of that money reached his campaign, he is considering returning it.

When asked which city officials may have directed the money, however, Daley ended the news conference, saying: "Everybody supported my campaign. Everybody knows that. I won last time with 80 percent" of the vote.
Bill's Comment: I am not buying this one second. The nerve he has to say such a thing.

Detroit Mayor Ran Up $210K on Credit Card

Detroit Mayor Ran Up $210K on Credit Card

By DAVID GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 3, 7:52 PM ET

DETROIT - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose city is struggling with a projected $230 million deficit, has charged at least $210,000 for travel, meals, a bottle of pricey champagne and other items on his city-issued credit card over nearly three years, public records show.

The charges cover the first 33 months of Kilpatrick's four-year term that began in January 2002. The Detroit Free Press said Tuesday that it obtained the records last month through a Michigan Freedom of Information Act request.

The purchases include 78 charges for meals over the 33 months, including a $283 bill at Danny's Grand Sea Palace in New York in January 2002 and a $456 bill at the Capital Grille in Washington in September 2003.

The 34-year-old former state House Democratic leader also spent more than $600 at two upscale restaurants in January 2002 while attending a U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in Washington. In March 2002, he charged a $194 dinner, including an $85 bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne, at an Atlanta restaurant owned by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.

Kilpatrick spokesman Howard Hughey told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the mayor's travels and entertainment have been part of his effort to attract business to the city, which has struggled with a steep population decline since the 1950s and the resulting erosion of the tax base.

"As indicative of any first-term mayor, he has done so to meet with several potential public and private investors," Hughey said.

Meals make up less than a tenth of the charges to the city credit card, with travel accounting for most of it, Hughey said. He said there is no city policy preventing the mayor from charging alcohol but said Kilpatrick generally has not done so.

Kilpatrick's immediate predecessor, Dennis Archer, said he never billed taxpayers for alcohol and normally paid out of his own pocket or from other funds for meals above $40. "The city really had no funds to entertain anybody," he said.

Kilpatrick has cultivated an image as a fun-loving leader with a hip-hop lifestyle, but has been dogged by complaints about wild parties, lavish entertainment and use of city vehicles for personal family travel.

"He just does not get it," said City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail, who is running to unseat Kilpatrick in what is expected to be a tough re-election fight this year. "These are very immature, irresponsible actions ... charging lobster and crab legs and champagne."

Kilpatrick's salary was about $176,000 before he said he would cut it by 10 percent, or $17,600, to help close the shortfall in Detroit's $1.6 billion budget.

The mayor's proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 calls for 754 layoffs and assumes unions will agree to a 10 percent pay cut, as well as changes in health benefits.

An April telephone poll of 402 likely voters showed Kilpatrick running neck-and-neck with McPhail and former Deputy Mayor Freman Hendrix in the Sept. 13 primary.

Ark. Governor Writes Book on Weight Loss

Ark. Governor Writes Book on Weight Loss

Tue May 3,11:52 AM ET

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The once hefty Gov. Mike Huckabee, who lost more than 100 pounds and made the fight against obesity a personal crusade, has written a book to help others step back from the buffet.

"Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork" offers a 12-step program to end bad habits and start a healthy lifestyle. Key points include getting off the couch, knowing what's in your food, and ignoring destructive criticism. "You can do it, and for your life to be fun again you must do it," writes Huckabee, who once weighed more than 280 pounds. At 5 feet 11, that would put him on the cusp of being morbidly obese.

His book goes on sale May 10, according to publishing house Center Street, a division of Time Warner.

Two events caused Huckabee to change his life: He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, and a close friend, the overweight former Gov. Frank White, dropped dead from a heart attack at age 69.

Huckabee writes that once, in a meeting with 53 agency heads, he shattered an antique chair because of his weight.

"I was inclined to cry, but instead said, 'Boy, they sure don't build 'em like they used to,'" Huckabee writes in the book. "Deep down, I knew ... it was me that needed a major overhaul."

Clinton Announces Childhood Obesity Plan

Clinton Announces Childhood Obesity Plan

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 3, 4:27 PM ET

NEW YORK - At a school in Harlem, two men from Arkansas who know a thing or two about dieting declared war on childhood obesity, which they said could doom youngsters to heart disease, diabetes and shortened life spans.

Former President Bill Clinton, whose heart disease and love of burgers and barbecue have been well-chronicled, and the once obese Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who's pushing a new book about his weight-loss success, joined with the American Heart Association in announcing their health campaign Tuesday.

"The truth is that children born today could become part of the first generation in American history to live shorter lives than their parents because so many are eating too much of the wrong things and not exercising enough," Clinton said.

Huckabee, Clinton's fellow Arkansan, said he himself lost 110 pounds after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

"Two years ago I would not have been asked to be here today to speak to this issue, for the simple reason that I would have been about the worst role model you could have had," he said. "My doctor sat me down and said if you don't change your lifestyle you're in the last decade of your life."

Estimates are that 16 percent of U.S. children are obese and up to a third are overweight or obese.

Clinton and Huckabee announced the effort with heart association officials at a school gym around the corner from the hospital where Clinton had heart bypass surgery last year.

While they described few specific measures, they said they would work with schools, communities, the restaurant and food industry and the media to develop programs and policies designed to encourage healthier food choices and more exercise.

"We're going to give this our best shot because we want all these children to live to be 90 years old and to be healthy doing it," Clinton said.

Robert Eckel, president-elect of the heart association, said that "even more disturbing than the actual prevalence of obesity in children is the startling rate at which obesity is rising. The rate has doubled in children and tripled in teens in just the last 25 years."

He said that overweight children have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight adults.

No dollar figure was provided for the campaign, which is a joint project of the heart association and the William J. Clinton Foundation.

Experts in the field of fighting childhood obesity said having prominent names associated with the issue can only help, but the food industry and the government must play a role.

"You have to get industry involved," said Lisa Altshuler, director of the Kids Weight Down Program at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. "They're such a major part of the problem they have to be part of the solution."

Clinton has previously devoted his foundation's resources to fighting AIDS in the developing world, but said he was drawn to the issue of childhood obesity after his heart surgery.

"When the American Heart Association approached me about working together to combat heart disease," he said, "I wanted to do more than just tape a public service announcement because of what had been done for me and because I had frankly dodged a very big bullet."



By Ann Coulter
Thu Apr 28, 6:41 PM ET

Democrats are in an incomprehensible rage over the filibuster. DON'T STOP READING! I AM NOT GOING TO DISCUSS THE HISTORY OF THE FILIBUSTER! Republicans have got to learn to stop getting into technicalities with the Democrats. They win in the dark; we win in the light. And it doesn't get much darker than a discussion of the Senate filibuster.

It's no excuse that the Democrats are lying. They do that all the time. Republicans have got to learn to let it go.

In one sentence Republicans should state that the so-called "nuclear option" means: "Majority vote wins." (This is as opposed to the Democrats' mantra, which is "Our side always wins.")

I am sublimely confident that normal Americans will not be shocked to learn that a Republican Senate plans to confirm the judicial nominees of a Republican president -- despite the objections of radical elements of a party that is the minority in the Senate, the minority in the House, the loser in the last two presidential races, the minority in state governorships, and the minority in all but a tiny number of very small but densely populated enclaves in this country that need to tax Rush Limbaugh, even though he lives in another state, just to keep all their little socialist programs afloat.

The question Republicans need to ask is: Why do the Democrats want to keep judicial nominees like Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen off the federal bench?

As I understand it, the reason Democrats are in a blind rage about Priscilla Owen is that, as a state court judge in Texas, Owen interpreted a law passed by the Texas Legislature requiring parental consent for 14-year-old girls to have abortions to mean that parental consent was required for 14-year-old girls to have abortions.

I think Americans need to hear Democrats explain that.

Democrats oppose Janice Rogers Brown because she's black. One cartoon on shows President Bush introducing Brown to Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, with Bush saying, "Welcome to the bench, Ms. Clarence -- I mean, Ms. Rogers Brown. You'll fit right in!"

Let's see, what do those four have in common? Two secretaries of state, a former general, a former professor and a Supreme Court justice ... What's the common thread? I know there's something -- but what is it?

There's a whole array of groups opposed to Brown: People for the American Way, the National Women's Law Center, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Feminist Majority, the Aryan Nation and so on.

But their actual objections to Brown are somewhat opaque. The Web page of "People for a Small Slice of the Upper West Side Way" contains a lengthy diatribe on Brown's nightmarish extremism while managing never, ever to give one specific example. In fact, if you take out "Janice Rogers Brown" and replace it with "Tom DeLay," it makes just as much sense when you read it.

This is what we get by way of explanation on the horror show that is Janice Rogers Brown:

"ideological extremism"

"aggressive judicial activism"

"even further to the right than the most far-right justices"

"prone to inserting conservative political views into her appellate opinions"

"many disturbing dissents"

"a disturbing tendency to try to remake the law"

"extreme states' rights and anti-federal-government positions"

"working to push the law far to the right"

"doesn't hate America and all that it stands for"
OK, I made up that last one.

Conservatives never attack liberal judges this way. We simply say: He found the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional ... He found a right to gay marriage in a state constitution written in 1780 by John Adams ... He ruled that smelly homeless people have a constitutional right to stink up public libraries and scare patrons ... He excluded 80 pounds of cocaine found in the defendant's car on the grounds that it was reasonable to run from the police when the police are viewed as "corrupt, violent and abusive."

Democrats want to terrify people by claiming Bush's judicial nominees are nutcase extremists hell-bent on shredding the Constitution -- as opposed to liberals' preferred method of simply rewriting it on a daily basis -- but they're terrified that someone might ask them what they mean by "extremist." So let's ask!

If the details helped liberals, I promise you we'd be hearing the details. Most important, if liberals could win in the court of public opinion, they wouldn't need the federal courts to hand them their victories in the first place. The reason liberals refuse to elaborate on "extremist right-wing ideologue" is that they need liberal courts to give them gay marriage, a godless Pledge of Allegiance, abortion on demand, nude dancing, rights for pederasts, and everything else they could never win in America if it were put to a vote.

Republicans are letting them get away with it by allowing the debate on judges to consist of mind-numbing arguments about the history of the filibuster. Note to Republicans: Of your six minutes on TV, use 30 seconds to point out the Democrats are abusing the filibuster and the other 5 1/2 minutes to ask liberals to explain why they think Bush's judicial nominees are "extreme."

Study: Only Broiled, Baked Fish Help Heart

Study: Only Broiled, Baked Fish Help Heart

Tue May 3, 7:37 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Trying to eat more fish for a healthy heart? Fish sticks don't count. So says a study suggesting only fish that's broiled or baked actually protects against heart disease.

Most fish served fried are types that contain only small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, the healthy fat that can improve cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors, scientists reported Monday at a meeting of the American Heart Association.

"All fish meals may not be equal," said Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard Medical School.

A diet high in fish has long been linked with lower levels of heart disease, so much so that the heart association recommends two or more weekly servings — especially of oily fish such as salmon and tuna that are particularly high in the omega-3 fatty acids. Those healthy fats are thought to increase the so-called good HDL cholesterol and lower unhealthy triglycerides.

Scientists suspect the omega-3s may play an even broader role, so lots of research is under way to better define how fish affects heart disease and just what people should be eating to get the benefit.

Mozaffarian examined ultrasound images of the hearts of 5,000 older Americans who were given a questionnaire about their diets. After accounting for other factors that play a role in heart disease — including other foods — he found that people who regularly consumed broiled or baked fish were more likely to have a lower heart rate and blood pressure, and better blood flow to the heart.

In contrast, those who regularly consumed fried fish or fish sandwiches showed signs of hardening arteries and other cardiac problems.

There was little evidence of omega-3s in the blood of the fried-fish lovers, probably because the fish species that usually are served fried are cod or other lean types that are much lower in omega-3 fats than fattier fish like salmon, Mozaffarian said.

Nor is deep-frying healthy.

The study advances scientists' understanding of how fatty fish affect the heart, said Dr. Jean Olson of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded it. For consumers, "the bottom line is, 'Eat more fish,'" she said.


Bill's Comment: Our tax dollars at work. Common sense would have told you that.

Hitler's Nurse Describes His Final Days

Hitler's Nurse Describes His Final Days

By SUE LEEMAN, Associated Press Writer
Mon May 2, 6:34 PM ET

LONDON - Adolf Hitler was a shaking, graying, weakened man who "sank into himself" in the final days before his suicide on April 30, 1945, according to the first published account of his nurse, who worked in his bunker as Allied forces closed in on Berlin.

Erna Flegel, now 93 and living in a nursing home in northern Germany, told Britain's Guardian newspaper in an interview published Monday that Hitler "had a lot of gray hair and gave the impression of a man at least 15 to 20 years older," toward the end of his life.

"In the last few days, Hitler sank into himself," Flegel said. "He shook a great deal, walking was difficult for him, his right side was still very much weakened as a result of the attempt on his life (in July 1944)."

With defeat imminent, Hitler, 56, shot himself and his mistress Eva Braun — whom he married shortly before his death — committed suicide by taking cyanide in his underground bunker in Berlin.

Flegel dismissed Braun.

"She didn't have any importance. Nobody expected much of her," she said. "She wasn't really his wife."

By contrast, Flegel described Magda Goebbels, wife of Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, as "a brilliant woman, on a far higher level than most people."

The Goebbels also killed themselves and poisoned their six children in the bunker after Hitler's death.

Flegel said she tried to persuade Mrs. Goebbels not to take the lives of her children as Russian troops got closer.

But Goebbels replied: "I belong to my husband. And the children belong to me," Flegel recalled.

"You have to understand that we were living outside normal reality," Flegel said.

The Guardian said Flegel had never given a public account before of her job as Hitler's nurse and her time in the Berlin bunker. But as the 60th anniversary of end of World War II approached this weekend, she was speaking out for the first time.

Flegel's existence became known after the transcript of an interview she gave to U.S. interrogators was declassified by the CIA four years ago, according to the Guardian.

In a separate interview with the German tabloid BZ, Flegel said she wanted her story to be known. "I don't want to take my secret with me into death," she was quoted as saying.

Asked by the Guardian what she thought of Joseph Goebbels, Flegel replied:

"I didn't like him. Nobody liked him. There were always people who hung around him, of course, relatives and so on, but they were only there because they wanted to help their careers. There were also lots of women there who were young and pretty. They used to hang 'round his ministry. They had an easier time of it than the rest of us, for whom things were more difficult."

She said Magda Goebbels did not say anything about her husband's numerous affairs.

The Goebbels' children, Flegel said, were favorites with Hitler, who drank hot chocolate with them and allowed them to use his bathtub.

Flegel described how Hitler said goodbye to his medical staff on April 29, 1945, the evening before his suicide.

"He came out of the side room, shook everyone's hand, and said a few friendly words. And that was it. There were a few people who then heard it (the shot, when Hitler killed himself the next afternoon) and there were others who didn't. The Fuhrer suddenly wasn't there any more," she recalled.

"I knew that the Fuhrer was dead. Suddenly there were more doctors in the bunker ... I didn't see Hitler's body. It was taken up to the garden. The Fuhrer had such an authority that when he was there you knew it. It felt so extraordinary," she said. The Guardian said Flegel remained in the Bunker until the Russians arrived.

Asked why she had remained silent for 60 years about her experiences, Flegel said they were simply too controversial.

"It was because after 1945 people started pointing fingers at each other and suggested that so and so was infected (a Nazi)," she said.

Flegel evaded the question of whether she regretted her role in the Third Reich. "Everyone has their own opinion," she said.

Man gets the poop on outsourcing

Man gets the poop on outsourcing

By Holly McKenna
Mon May 2,12:58 PM ET

DELMAR, N.Y. (Reuters) - Computer programmer Steve Relles has the poop on what to do when your job is outsourced to India.

Relles, one of a rising number of Americans seeking new opportunities as their work shifts to countries with cheaper labor, has spent the past year making his living scooping up dog droppings as the "Delmar Dog Butler."

"My parents paid for me to get a (degree) in math and now I am a pooper scooper," Relles, a 42-year-old married father of two told Reuters. "I can clean four to five yards in a hour if they are close together."

Relles, who lost his computer programming job about three years ago, got the idea of cleaning dog dirt from people's back yards from Mark Booth, a friend in Buffalo, New York.

Relles has over 100 clients who pay $10 each for a once-a-week cleaning of their yard.

Relles competes for business with another local company called "Scoopy Do." Similar outfits have sprung up across America, including, which operates in Ohio.

In the United States, there are about 63 million dogs, each producing about 23 "presents" per week, which if left can be unsafe for children and pets.

Relles says his business is growing by word of mouth and that most of his clients are women who either don't have the time or desire to pick up the droppings.

"St. Bernard (dogs) are my favorite customers since they poop in large piles which are easy to find," Relles said.

His "scooper" is a converted ice scrapper duct-taped to a ski pole. He flicks the poop into a dust pan lined with a plastic bag, then loads the waste into a large garbage can which he takes to the dump when full.

"It sure beats computer programming because it's flexible, and I get to be outside," he said.

Animal Waste Studied As Energy Source

Animal Waste Studied As Energy Source

By WILLIAM KATES, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 3, 3:27 PM ET

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is looking to become the first zoo in the nation to be powered by its own animal waste — particularly the prodigious piles produced by its pachyderms.

The zoo — world prominent for its Asian elephant breeding program — is studying how feasible it would be to switch to animal waste as an alternative energy source to reduce its $400,000 annual heating and electricity bill.

The zoo's six elephants produce more than 1,000 pounds of dung per day, said Zoo Director Anne Baker.

"Zoos are about conservation and stemming the loss of animals and habitat," Baker said. "But conservation also is about how people use natural resources. This is an opportunity to give visitors the whole picture."

The zoo sends most of its animal waste to a local farm, where it is composted. The zoo spends about $10,000 a year on animal-waste disposal, but Baker noted it also requires the use of additional fossil fuels for transportation.

"This would be just such a good idea on so many levels," she said.

Although other zoos have come up with creative ways to reuse their elephant manure — including using it to make stationery — Rosamond Gifford appears to be the first to propose using it for power, according to Jane Ballentine, a spokeswoman for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

Baker said the idea of using animal waste for energy first arose several years ago when she was talking to local officials about the potential for creating a more environmentally friendly and self-sustaining zoo.

Because the elephants eat mostly hay, they are the ideal waste producers for the project, Baker said. Additionally, they are inefficient digesters, which makes their feces higher in energy content, she said.

The zoo also will look at using the manure from its domestic farm animals, its other hoof stock, such as its bison and caribou, and even its lions and tigers, she said. Depending on the process, the zoo animal waste could be used to produce methane or hydrogen for powering a fuel cell or generator.

In the United States, a number of farms have used animal waste to produce power, so the technology is available to apply at the zoo, said John Fox of Homeland Energy Resources Development, a New York City-based renewable energy developer assisting with the study.

But there are questions to be answered to know whether it can be worthwhile, he said.

The study will start by evaluating the energy-producing potential of all the animals' dung. Another important question, said Fox, is determining just how much animal waste the zoo produces.


On the Net:

Rosamond Gifford Zoo:

American Zoo and Aquarium Association:

Attention: You Are NOT Required To Join Labor Unions

Joyce Comments: You may not know that if you work at a unionized place you are NOT required have union dues deducted from your paycheck if you do not want to join it. As you know most labor unions are corrupt, very politically liberal, and seem to be more a front for being an arm of the Democrat party then an agency for collective bargining. The collective bargining seems to be an after-thought to these unions and union dues go primarly for their political bullying or intimation. Know where you stand and help weaken this front by not joining or withdrawing from these labor unions. They do nothing but make American labor too expensive so that outsourcing is appealing (having American companies move plants, offices, etc out of the USA for cheaper or more reasonable labor costs); and twist arms and bully willing politicans looking for votes.

Fact Sheet: Executive Order 13201 - The Beck Poster

Executive Order 13201 (E.O. 13201) requires certain Government contracts and subcontracts to include an employee notice clause requiring non-exempt Federal contractors and subcontractors to post notices (the Beck poster) informing their employees that they have certain rights related to union membership and use of union dues and fees under Federal law.

What are these employee rights?

Under Federal law employees cannot be required to join a union or maintain membership in a union to retain their jobs. Employees who are subject to a union security clause and choose not to be union members may object to the use of their compulsory union dues and fees for union expenditures that are not related to representational activities such as collective bargaining, contract administration, and grievance adjustment. Employees who object to paying for non-representational activities may be entitled to a refund and appropriate reduction of future payments.

What is the definition of government contract under E.O. 13201 and the implementing regulations?

Government contract means any agreement or modification thereof between any contracting agency and any person for the purchase, sale, or use of personal property or non-personal services. The term "personal property" includes supplies, and contracts for the use of real property (such as lease arrangements), unless the contract for the use of real property itself constitutes real property (such as easements). The term "non-personal services" includes, but is not limited to, utilities, construction, transportation, research, insurance, and fund depository. The term "government contract" does not include (a) agreements in which the parties stand in the relationship of employer and employee and (b) Federally assisted contracts.

What is the definition of subcontract under E.O. 13201 and the implementing regulations?

Subcontract means any agreement or arrangement between a contractor and any person (in which the parties do not stand in the relationship of an employer and an employee): (a) for the purchase, sale, or use of personal property or non-personal services which, in whole or in part, is necessary to the performance of any one or more contracts; or (b) under which any portion of the contractor's obligation under any one or more contracts is performed, undertaken, or assumed.

Are there exceptions to the requirement?

Yes. The employee notice clause does not have to be included in government contracts for purchases below the Simplified Acquisition Threshold (currently $100,000). The posting requirement does not apply to: contractors with fewer than 15 employees; contractor establishments or construction work sites where no union has been formally recognized by the prime contractor or certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of the prime contractor's employees; contractor establishments where state law forbids enforcement of union-security clauses ("right-to-work" states); or work performed outside the United States that does not involve the recruitment or employment of workers within the United States.

Must a contractor post the notice at worksites where no work is performed under Government contracts?

Yes, unless the contractor makes a written request to the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) and is granted a waiver of the posting requirement for facilities that are in all respects separate and distinct from activities of the contractor related to the performance of a contract.

What contracts are covered by E.O. 13201?

E.O. 13201 covers Government contracts entered into on or after April 28, 2004, that resulted from solicitations issued on or after April 18, 2001.

How will employers be able to obtain copies of the Beck poster?

Posters can be downloaded from the OLMS Web site at, are available at any OLMS or Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) field office, by emailing, or by calling 1-800-4- US-DOL.

How will the Department determine whether a contractor is in compliance with E.O. 13201?

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Federal Contract Compliance may conduct a compliance evaluation to determine whether a contractor holding a nonexempt contract is in compliance with the requirements of E.O. 13201 and the implementing regulations. Such an evaluation may be limited to compliance with E.O. 13201 or may be included in a compliance evaluation conducted under other laws, executive orders, and/or regulations enforced by the Department of Labor.

What are the procedures for filing a complaint?

An employee of a covered contractor may file a complaint alleging that the contractor has failed to post the employee notice as required by E.O. 13201 and the implementing regulations; and/or has failed to include the employee notice clause in nonexempt subcontracts or purchase orders. Complaints may be filed with OLMS or OFCCP at 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210, or with any OLMS or OFCCP field office.

Is more information on E.O. 13201 available?

Information on E.O. 13201 has been posted on the OLMS Web site at including the Final Rule, FAQs, the Executive Order and Adobe® Reader® (.pdf) versions of the poster.

Last Updated: 05/11/04

Corrupt AFL-CIO Labor Unions Illegally Meddle In Politics & Get Slapped Back

Unions pressure financial firms not to back Bush on Social Security

Cox News Service
Friday, April 01, 2005

WASHINGTON — "I don't know but I've been told — Wall Street wants the workers' gold," union members chanted in the financial district of the nation's capital on Thursday as organized labor rallied against President Bush's push for private Social Security accounts.

Along with their shouts, protesters delivered letters urging the financial firms of Charles Schwab and Wachovia Corporation to "withdraw all support for privatizing Social Security."

With $400 billion in pension funds, unions can exert considerable pressure on the investment community. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has already convinced the brokerage firms of Edward Jones and Waddell & Reed to pull out of Compass, a business coalition supporting the Bush plan.

"This will be the biggest mobilization in the history of the labor movement," A.F.L.-C.I.O. President John Sweeney promised the protesters. Organizers said the unions staged similar rallies in 75 cities around the country on Thursday.

If the Bush plan is enacted, "politicians will be about to hand-pick which Wall Street firms make billions of dollars in inflated fees managing private accounts," he charged. "We're not going to let them line their pockets by cutting Social Security for everyone else."

But Republican Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Sam Johnson of Texas have asked the Labor Department to investigate whether the unions are waging an illegal campaign.

In a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the congressmen said they are concerned organized labor's pressure tactics on the financial firms and brokerage houses "raise serious legal questions involving federal labor and pension law."

Boehner is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and Johnson is chairman of the committee's Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations.

The March 18 letter said the union tactics include "tacit and/or explicit notice to these firms that if they support the president's proposal, the union will withdraw its assets and invest through brokerages they find more politically palatable."

Such activities could violate the National Labor Relations Act and the fiduciary responsibilities owed to union members by their leadership under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the congressmen wrote.

The unions counter that its members are only exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech.

"They say privatize. We say organize," the group of about 200 protesters chanted on the sidewalk outside of Schwab's Washington office. The workers' wardrobes showed a rainbow of loyalties: Blue T-shirts for the American Federation of Teachers. Florescent yellow T-shirts for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Steelworkers in black jackets with leather sleeves. Communication Workers of America in red sweatshirts.

"Charles Schwab, rich and rude. We don't like your attitude," they yelled.

"We already have corruption and greed on Wall Street," said Jim Bowles, 70, a retired meat cutter and Teamster. "Now they want to take our hard-earned money and give it to the fat cats."

Sweeney charged that financial companies have a conflict of interest in supporting personal accounts since they stand to profit if Social Security funds are invested in the stock market.

"Privatizing Social Security may be good business for Charles Schwab and Wachovia, but its a bad deal for working Americans," he said.

The firms themselves denied even taking sides in the Social Security debate.

"We feel these protests are misdirected and misguided," said Alison Wertheim, Schwab's vice president for corporate public relations. "We are not a proponent of privatization. We are not an advocate of any specific approach related to Social Security reform."

"Wachovia does not have a position on private accounts," said David Oliver, a spokesman for the company. The financial firm "believes in the fundamental importance of Social Security, and we think action to strengthen the system is absolutely necessary."

Sweeney said the firms were targeted because of their backing for the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, an association of businesses supporting the Bush plan. In his letter, he demanded that the firms "cease all support" for such groups.

Supporters of the Bush plan said such warnings are inappropriate.

"Today's theatrics once again reveal that many labor unions are more concerned with partisan politics than the interests of their own members," said Tracey Schmitt, press secretary of the Republican National Committee. "Recent activities to intimidate organizations that support the president's Social Security efforts amount to thuggery and do nothing to encourage public discourse."

A national survey of union members showed that 60 percent would be interested in creating a personal retirement account if offered the option, according to backers of Bush's plan.

"We meet rank-and-file union members every day who are outraged that their union is obstructing reform," said Derrick Max, executive director of Compass or the Coalition for the Modernization and Protection of America's Social Security, which commissioned the poll.

Bob Dart's e-mail address is bobdart(at)

News from the
Committee on Education and the Workforce
John Boehner, Chairman

March 18, 2005
CONTACTS: Kevin Smith or
Dave Schnittger
Telephone: (202) 225-4527

Boehner, Johnson Call on Labor Department to Investigate Whether Union Leader Tactics to Influence Social Security Debate Violate Federal Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) and Employer-Employee Relations Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, calling on the Labor Department to investigate whether the concerted efforts of organized labor to pressure financial firms and brokerage institutions to withdraw their support of the President’s proposal to reform Social Security have in fact violated federal labor and pension law.

“Recent media reports have raised serious legal questions about whether union leaders are in fact violating federal labor and pension laws by pressuring employers to withdraw their support for President Bush’s Social Security reform plan,” said Boehner. “The debate over how to ensure the solvency of Social Security for future generations should be open and honest, but it shouldn’t be influenced by special interests who may be breaking federal law.”

“If labor bosses are violating federal labor and pension laws by pressuring employers into opposing Social Security reform legislation they know would benefit their workers, we believe it should be investigated by the proper authorities,” added Johnson. “It is shameful – and may well violate the law – if union leaders are jeopardizing their members’ pensions for purely political reasons.”

The letter raises serious concerns about specific legal questions, as excerpts indicate below:

“The activities recounted in these reports raise serious questions as to their legality under a variety of federal laws, including the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which governs the permissible use by labor organizations of their members’ dues, and restricts the ability of labor organizations to engage in secondary activity (such as picketing or protesting). Perhaps more troubling are the questions these activities raise with respect to the fiduciary duties owed to union members by their leadership, and to union pension plan participants by their plans’ trustees, under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

“As you well know, under LMRDA and ERISA, union leaders and union pension plan trustees owe fiduciary duties to their constituencies (be they members or participants) to hold, manage, and invest their assets solely in the best pecuniary interests of these beneficiaries. The threat – whether explicit or tacit – that any labor organization will reassess its investment decisions (which, presumably have been and legally must be calculated to maximize the financial return for participants) for political considerations on its face raises the question of whether fiduciary duties are being breached. Put more simply, when union leaders and pension plan trustees base investment decisions on politics, we question how they can do so lawfully in the face of statutory requirements that such decisions be based on the economic and fiduciary best interests of beneficiaries and participants.”

# # # # #

(Full letter attached below)

WASHINGTON, DC 20515-6100

March 18, 2005

The Honorable Elaine L. Chao
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Chao:

We write in our respective capacities as Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce and Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations to express our deep concern about recent media reports concerning the President’s proposal to reform Social Security and the tactics of union leaders in response to that proposal, and to request that the Department of Labor immediately begin an investigation of this matter.

Specifically, we are gravely concerned with recent media reports indicating that organized labor has engaged in concerted activity to pressure financial firms and brokerage interests to withdraw their support of the President’s proposal to reform Social Security through tactics that raise serious legal questions involving federal labor and pension law. These reports indicate that in recent weeks, both Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. and Edward D. Jones & Co. have withdrawn their support for reform in the face of concerted union pressure tactics. These tactics have included public protest and picketing of the target firms, as well as tacit and/or explicit notice to these firms that if they support the President’s proposal, the union will withdraw its assets and invest through brokerages they find more politically palatable.

AFL-CIO indicates that it has similarly targeted a number of others among the nation’s largest brokerages, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co., Barclay Global Investors N.A., T. Rowe Price Group Inc., State Street Corp., Wachovia, and Charles Schwab. Indeed, AFL-CIO lobbyists have indicated publicly that the AFL-CIO has “no intention of letting any of these companies get away with this [supporting the President’s proposal] while they manage our workers funds.”* As you may recall, in 2001 and 2002, similar pressure was brought to bear on financial interests, including in particular State Street Corp., which appeared to reverse its longstanding support for reform in the face of union pressure.

The activities recounted in these reports raise serious questions as to their legality under a variety of federal laws, including the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which governs the permissible use by labor organizations of their members’ dues, and restricts the ability of labor organizations to engage in secondary activity (such as picketing or protesting). Perhaps more troubling are the questions these activities raise with respect to the fiduciary duties owed to union members by their leadership, and to union pension plan participants by their plans’ trustees, under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).

As you well know, under LMRDA and ERISA, union leaders and union pension plan trustees owe fiduciary duties to their constituencies (be they members or participants) to hold, manage, and invest their assets solely in the best pecuniary interests of these beneficiaries. The threat – whether explicit or tacit – that any labor organization will reassess its investment decisions (which, presumably have been and legally must be calculated to maximize the financial return for participants) for political considerations on its face raises the question of whether fiduciary duties are being breached. Put more simply, when union leaders and pension plan trustees base investment decisions on politics, we question how they can do so lawfully in the face of statutory requirements that such decisions be based on the economic and fiduciary best interests of beneficiaries and participants.*

In light of the above, we would request that the Department begin a formal investigation of this matter and respond to the concerns we have outlined above. We would appreciate the Department’s immediate attention to this matter, and in light of the Committee and Subcommittee’s oversight responsibilities, hope and trust that the Department will keep us informed of its efforts in this matter on an ongoing and timely basis.

We thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely yours,






Chairman, Subcommittee on
Employer-Employee Relations


* Gerald Shea of AFL-CIO, quoted in Roll Call (Tory Newmyer, “Social Security Critics Slow to Coalesce,” January 31, 2005).

* Indeed, irrespective of its legality under federal labor and pension law, the specter of investment decisions being made by political operatives raises the ancillary question of whether these individuals are qualified to make such decisions in the first instance. As the recent ULLICO scandal graphically demonstrated, no union member is well served when financial decisions relating to the management of billions of dollars of assets are made by non-experts or for political considerations.

Labor Dept. Warns Unions On Soc. Sec. Lobbying Funds

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

WASHINGTON — The Labor Department cautioned organized labor in a letter made public Wednesday not to use money from pension funds to lobby against President Bush's proposal to overhaul Social Security.

"The department is very concerned about the potential use of plan assets to promote particular policy positions," Alan D. Lebowitz, a department official, wrote AFL-CIO's top lawyer.

In the letter to Jonathan P. Hiatt, AFL-CIO's general counsel, Lebowitz also wrote that officials charged with administering multistate pension funds must not hire or fire service providers primarily on the basis of their positions on Social Security legislation.

Damon Silvers, an AFL-CIO lawyer, said, "We don't disagree with the Department of Labor that plans should not be lobbying on Social Security. However, we believe, and we believe the department agrees, that the plans ought to be able to educate their participants on matters directly related to their retirement security."

As for hiring decisions about investment companies, Silvers said, "we have no problem" with the letter. He said the AFL-CIO has considered a company's position on Social Security as a "collateral issue," and not as the sole or primary basis for a decision.

Lebowitz sent the letter after GOP Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Sam Johnson of Texas requested an investigation.

The Labor Department letter to the AFL-CIO marked a political turnabout of sorts. Democrats have complained for months that the White House has improperly used the Social Security Administration itself to lobby on behalf of Bush's proposals.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has asked the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to determine how much the administration's effort is costing. "Using taxpayer resources to mount a sophisticated propaganda and lobbying campaign is an abuse of the president's high office," he said earlier this year.

Last month, the AFL-CIO trumpeted success in persuading one financial services company, Waddell & Reed, to drop its membership in the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security, a group lobbying for personal accounts. The announcement came a day before the labor federation planned a demonstration at the firm's headquarters outside Kansas City, Mo.

Organized labor opposes Bush's call for Social Security solvency legislation that would also allow younger workers to divert a portion of their payroll taxes into personal accounts.

Democrats also are strongly opposed, and congressional Republicans are moving slowly, fearful of potential political repercussions.

Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has announced plans for weekly hearings beginning this month on retirement issues, including Social Security. Among the witnesses scheduled to testify is Robert C. Pozen, an investment company executive and architect of a plan to help restore solvency to Social Security.

Bush spoke favorably last week of Pozen's approach, which would reduce benefits promised to future middle and upper income retirees.

Thomas said last week he hopes to present legislation to the committee in June. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said during the day he wasn't going to be "nailed down to one specific timetable" for a vote by the full House.

Despite Finger, Body Parts in Food Rare

Despite Finger, Body Parts in Food Rare

By VALERIE BAUMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 3, 7:40 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. - This time, no one is doubting the claims: A customer really did find part of a worker's finger in a pint of frozen chocolate custard purchased at a shop in North Carolina.

Despite the horrifying find — and widespread media coverage of an infamous finger incident at a Wendy's restaurant in California in March — workplace statistics show that the chance of a body part winding up in food is extremely small.

The piece of index finger, which an employee had severed at the first knuckle, was found Sunday by Clarence Stowers in a pint of dessert he purchased from Kohl's Frozen Custard in the coastal town of Wilmington.

Kohl's owner Craig Thomas said 23-year-old employee Brandon Fizer tried to catch a bucket of custard he had dropped and accidentally put his finger into a machine that beats the custard mix. As shop workers tried to help Fizer, a drive-thru window attendant unknowingly scooped frozen custard from the bucket containing the finger and served it to Stowers.

The state Department of Labor is investigating to determine whether Kohl's was in compliance with state workplace safety rules — a probe that likely will take about two weeks.

Stowers did not return repeated calls for comment Tuesday. He has reportedly hired a lawyer and is holding on to the severed finger as evidence in a possible lawsuit.

"I thought it was candy because they put candy in your ice cream or whatever to make it a treat," he told a Wilmington television station on Sunday. "So I proceeded to put the object in my mouth, got all the ice cream off of it and spit it in my hand."

After rinsing it off with water, Stowers said he realized what it was and "just started screaming."

While national statistics show that people do lose fingertips on the job, they rarely do so in situations where they can get into food.

Mark Zak, an economist with the U.S. Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics, said that in 2003 the agency recorded 5,620 nonfatal fingertip amputations in private workplaces that resulted in the loss of at least one day of work. He said only 300 of those occurred at leisure and hospitality workplaces — a category that includes restaurants and ice cream parlors.

No specific statistics are available on how often amputated digits actually end up in the food supply, said Fred Blosser, a spokesman for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Robert Baldwin, president of Indianapolis-based workplace safety consultants Safety Resources, said Tuesday he has never heard of major problems caused by body parts getting into food, but his major concern would be disease.

"That is the issue to me more than anything," he said. "Hepatitis B is always the concern in the food industry; that's why you see all those workers wearing gloves."

The North Carolina discovery came not long after a Las Vegas woman made headlines around the country with a claim that she found a finger tip in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, Calif.

Investigators have called Anna Ayala's claim a hoax and charged her last month with attempted grand theft related to millions in dollars of financial losses Wendy's has suffered in northern California since news of her claim broke. It is not known whose finger it was; Ayala denies that it was a hoax.

Last month, a man sued the owner of an Arby's restaurant in Ohio for $50,000, claiming he found a 3/4-inch slice of human skin on his chicken sandwich in June 2004.

For Kohl's, Sunday's fingertip amputation was the second time in less than a year that a worker lost a finger on the same frozen custard machine. The worker, William Franklin, was found by investigators to have been negligent in the July 2004 incident, and the state Labor Department cleared the company of wrongdoing.

Franklin, however, contends he was only in his third day on the job and had been given no safety training when he was left alone to work on the machine. He is suing Kohl's, which he said fired him a short time after the incident, and has made several complaints to the Labor Department about his injury.

"I am outraged now," Franklin said. "I told them there was going to be another one, but I couldn't believe it. I had hoped that they would somehow try and prevent that."

Franklin said his severed finger didn't end up in any food. He recovered it, but doctors were not able to reattach it.

Pa. Eatery Offers New 15-Pound Burger

Pa. Eatery Offers New 15-Pound Burger

Tue May 3, 8:05 AM ET

CLEARFIELD, Pa. - The burger war is growing. Literally. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds.

Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers — and a bun.

It costs $30.

"It can feed a family of 10," said Denny Liegey Sr., the restaurant's owner.

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub had offered a 6-pound burger — with 5 pounds of toppings.

In February, a 100-pound female college student became the first to eat the burger within the three-hour time limit. Kate Stelnick, of Princeton, N.J., was awarded a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.

One month later, the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, N.J., introduced a 12.5-pound burger dubbed Zeus.

So Liegey responded, and the Belly Buster was born.

Over the weekend, four men took the challenge, but couldn't get through the entire burger. They opted for doggie bags, instead.

"It's a little too much for me to handle," said Steve Hepburn, of Clearfield. "It's like trying to eat half a cow."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Laura Bush: First lady of comedy?

The complete transcript of Laura Bush's comments from the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, held April 30:

President Bush: Thank you and good evening. I always look forward to these dinners, where I'm supposed to be funny — intentionally. I'm really looking forward to hearing Cedric the Entertainer. I kind of think of myself that way.

Cedric, did you hear that hilarious line I ad-libbed down in Arkansas? A woman in a town meeting told me she was from DeQueen, and I said, 'That's right next to DeKing.' You gotta' admit that's pretty good, Cedric. That's what you call sophisticated re — par — tay.

Then out in Montana, I told a joke about a cattle guard, which, to be honest, didn't get a very big laugh — actually, none. But Cedric, I think you'll appreciate this, and you can use it if you want to. See, there was this city slicker who was driving around lost and he came across this ol' cowboy. And so the city slicker asked the old guy how to get to the nearest town, and —

First Lady Laura Bush: Not that old joke — not again.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've been attending these dinners for years and just quietly sitting there. Well, I've got a few things I want to say for a change.

This is going to be fun because he really doesn't have a clue about what I'm gonna' to say next.

George always says he's delighted to come to these press dinners. Baloney. He's usually in bed by now.

I'm not kidding.

I said to him the other day, "George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later."

I am married to the president of the United States, and here's our typical evening: Nine o'clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I'm watching Desperate Housewives— with Lynne Cheney. Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife. I mean, if those women on that show think they're desperate, they oughta be with George.

One night, after George went to bed, Lynne Cheney, Condi Rice, Karen Hughes and I went to Chippendale's. I wouldn't even mention it except Ruth Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there. I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service codename is now "Dollar Bill."

But George and I are complete opposites — I'm quiet, he's talkative, I'm introverted, he's extroverted, I can pronounce nuclear —

The amazing thing, however, is that George and I were just meant to be. I was the librarian who speant 12 hours a day in the library, yet somehow I met George.

We met, and married, and I became one of the regulars up at Kennebunkport. All the Bushes love Kennebunkport, which is like Crawford, but without the nightlife. People ask me what it's like to be up there with the whole Bush clan. Lemme put it this way: First prize — three-day vacation with the Bush family. Second prize — 10 days.

Speaking of prizes brings me to my mother-in-law. So many mothers today are just not involved in their children's lives — Not a problem with Barbara Bush. People often wonder what my mother-in-law's really like. People think she's a sweet, grandmotherly, Aunt Bea type. She's actually more like, mmm, Don Corleone.

Cedric, am I doing all right?

I saw my in-laws down at the ranch over Easter. We like it down there. George didn't know much about ranches when we bought the place. Andover and Yale don't have a real strong ranching program. But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse.

Now, of course, he spends his days clearing brush, cutting trails, taking down trees, or, as the girls call it, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. George's answer to any problem at the ranch is to cut it down with a chainsaw — which I think is why he and Cheney and Rumsfeld get along so well.

It's always very interesting to see how the ranch air invigorates people when they come down from Washington. Recently, when Vice President Cheney was down, he got up early one morning, he put on his hiking boots, and he went on a brisk, 20- to 30-foot walk.

But actually, in all seriousness, I do love the ranch, and I love the whole Bush family. I was an only child, and when I married into the extended Bush clan, I got brothers and sisters and wonderful in-laws, all of whom opened their arms to me. And included in the package, I got this guy here.

I think when you marry someone, you unconsciously are looking for something in your spouse to help fulfill something in you, and George did that for me. He brought fun and energy into my life and so many other things. George is a very good listener, he's easy to be around, and on top of it all, he's a loving father whose daughters absolutely adore him.

So in the future, when you see me just quietly sitting up here, I want you to know that I'm happy to be here for a reason — I love, and enjoy being with, the man who usually speaks to you on these occasions.

So George and I thank you for inviting us, thank you for all of the good work that you and the press do, and thank you for your very kind hospitality this evening.

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