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Apr 14, 2008
Military Releases High Casualty Figures By Pia Malbran CBS News Monday 14 April 2008 Department of Defense's latest numbers: 31,590 troops wounded on battle field. The Department of Defense has released its latest American military casualty numbers for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the figures reveal non-fatal casualties that go well beyond the more than 4,000 U.S. troops who have died so far. As of April 5, a total of 36,082 members of the U.S. military have been wounded in action and killed in Iraq, since the beginning of the war in March 2003, and in Afghanistan, where the war there began in October 2001. The 36,082 number breaks down to 4,492 deaths and 31,590 wounded. According to the same DoD "casualty" counts, an additional 38,631 U.S. military personnel have also been removed from the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan for "non-hostile-related medical air transports." "That's a tremendous number," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of the advocate group Veterans for Common Sense, who believes these latest figures paint a more realistic picture of the true cost of the Iraq and Afghan wars. He is concerned troop casualties, including those who have been wounded, killed and medically transported, is now nearing 75,000. Defense Department spokesperson Cynthia Smith, however, told CBS News the numbers must be carefully interpreted. Smith said the 38,631 "non-hostile-related medical air transports" are not casualties of war even though they are listed in the DoD's "casualty" documents because, she says, they were for "injuries not related to service, they were unrelated to combat." Smith described the "non-hostile-related" injuries as the types that "could happen to any civilian on the street." "Our main focus is severe trauma care in the theater," she said. For example, "if a woman needs her annual check up, we don't have the capability of doing that [on the ground in Iraq] so we would air transport her out." According to Smith, the 36,082 tally is a more "accurate" reflection how many military service men and women have been fatal and non-fatal casualties in connection to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as of April 5. Sullivan points out that the military's casualty reports also exclude the "enormous number [of new veterans] flooding the VA," often with medical problems developed due to the war. A January report by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed 299,585 veterans who recently served in the Middle East had been treated by the VA since 2002. Forty percent (120,049) of the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who sought care from the VA did so for mental health disorders.
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Posted: Apr 14, 2008 5:34pm
Apr 10, 2008
Mr. Timotþ F. Geithner

President and Chief Executive Officer

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

33 Liberry Street

New York, NY 10045

Dear Mr. Geithner:

I am writing to request that you provide the Committee on Oversight and Government

Reform with information about the selection of BlackRock Financial Management, Inc., to

manage billions in assets that now appear to belong to the federal taxpayer.

According to your testimony before the Senate Banking Committee last week, BlackRock

and its affrliates will serve the Federal Reserve as the "Asset Manager" responsible for managing

the "portfolio supporting the $29 billion loan to be extended by the Federal Réserve in

connection with the proposed acquisition of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase." This portfolio,

which will be held in a limited liability company, is composed "largely of mortgage related

assets" valued by Bear Steams at a market value of $30 billion on March t4,2008.

Only limited details are known about the Federal Reserve's understandings with

BlackRock. It appears, however, that BlackRock is now directly responsible for managing a $30

billion portfolio on behalf of the American taxpayer. If BlackRock does its job well, the

taxpayers will be made whole or even experience a gain. If BlackRock is not successful, the

taxpayers stand to lose billions of dollars. In effect, it appears that BlackRock is serving as a

govemment contractor providing complex financial services to the Federal Reserve.

One question involves the award of this potentially lucrative position to BlackRockwithout

competition. In your testimony, you explained the lack of competition by citing the

extreme time constraints and the need for quick action, and I do not dispute the urgent

circumstances that the Federal Reserve faced. Typically, however, emergency no-bid contracts

have a short duration and are replaced with long-term contracts through full and open

competition. The rationale for this approach is evident: competition ensures that the taxpayers

are getting the best value for their money.

Mr. Timothy F. Geithner

April 7,2008

Page2

In this case, there is no indication that the Federal Reserve contemplates a future

competition. Instead, it appears that BlackRock may end up managing the $30 billion fund for

the Federal Reserve for up to ten years.

Another question raised by your testimony and Chairman Bernanke's testimony before

the Joint Economic Committee is the apparent lack of concrete terms with BlackRock.

Chairman Bernanke advised the Joint Economic Committee last week that "[t]he Federal

Reserve Bank of New York engaged BlackRock on a fee-to-be-determined-later basis that is to

be negotiated later." Similarly, your testimony before the Senate Banking Committee offered

few specifics about the Federal Reserve's arrangement with BlackRock.

The Committee's investigations have shown that when contract terms are not defined in

advance, it is usually the taxpayer - not the contractor - who suffers. In Iraq and in the

response to the September l1 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, taxpayers have incuned billions of

dollars in unnecessary costs when federal agencies tried to negotiate terms with a private

contractor that knows it has already won the contract. Exigent circumstances were often cited in

these cases to justiff the absence of concrete terms.

I know that the Federal Reserve is not subject to the same contracting requirements as

most federal agencies, and I recognize that the urgency of the circumstances and the complexity

of the financial arrangements may necessitate unusual ¿rrangements, so I want to assure you that

I have reached no conclusions. My goal at this point is to ensure that the Committee receives the

information it needs to fulfill its oversight responsibilities.

To further the Committee's understanding of this matter, I request you provide the

following information to the Committee:

l. Please describe the basis for BlackRock's selection as the asset manager and advisor.

2. Please describe whether the Federal Reserye's arrangement with BlackRock allows the

Federal Reserve to solicit competing bids for a portfolio manager. If the anangement

does not allow the Federal Reserve to solicit competing bids, please explain why this is in

the interest of the taxpayer. If the arrangement does allow competing bids, please explain

whether the Federal Reserve intends to solicit these bids and, if so, when and under what

circumstances.

3. Please provide all documents that relate to the terms and conditions of the arrangement

with BlackRock.

4. Please describe any specific plans the Federal Reserve has in place to oversee

BlackRock's management of the portfolio.

Mr. Timothy F. Geithner

Aprí17,2008

Page 3

5. Please provide a list of the names of BlackRock employees who will be responsible for

managing the portfolio.

6. Please explain whether the Federal Reserve has examined BlackRock's ownership

structure, investment portfolio, and other activities, such as its involvement with entities

seeking to accumulate distressed mortgages, to screen for potential conflicts of interest.

In particular, please address whether any BlackRock-supported ventures or board

members are pursuing business goals that might conflict with management of the

portfolio.

I request that you provide this information to the Committee by April 18, 2008.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight

committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in

House Rule X.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Roger Sherman or Alison

Cassady of the Committee staff at (202)225-505t.

Sincerely, ficù,^-

Henry A.'Waxman

Chairman

cc: Tom Davis

Ranking Minority Member

Ben S. Bernanke

Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

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Posted: Apr 10, 2008 2:15pm
Apr 9, 2008

President Bush to Host North American Leaders' Summit

As he noted in his State of the Union address, the President will be hosting the North American Leaders' Summit on April 21-22 in New Orleans. This fourth meeting of North American leaders since 2005 will continue our work on Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) initiatives. It will also serve as an opportunity for the three leaders to discuss hemispheric and global issues of importance to North America.

This is a pivotal chance for Americans from across the nation to join together to demand change. For too long corrupt, greedy politicains have taken America down the road to ruin and tyranny. We The People have the right to demand change and when that change does not come, it is every Americans duty to protest the grievances. Our forefathers understood that a despot could and would try to shut down our free society. That is happening now, and it ends now. Everyone, come to New Orleans and demand a return to the rule of law set forth in our constitution. If you can't come to New Orleans then hold a protest in your hometown.

The media from around the globe will be present at this summit so it is vital that Americans come together in common cause and make our voices heard. Not only will we send a message to the corrupt, greedy politicians but we will let the whole world know that the American People are still in charge. So put down that remote control, pick a banner and get involved. This may very well be the last time we have this big of an opportunity before tyranny strikes.

Come dressed in costumes such as the Statue of Liberty or a Founding Father or whatever yo can conjure up and let's have fun while we demand change.
Since the actual location of the summit is still a secret I propose that we meet up at local parks. This protest isn't being sponsored by just one group or individual as there are just too many causes that need to be addressed. Remember, this is a peaceful protest. If you disagree with another groups opinions don't start an argument, we are all there as concerened citizens that are demanding real change. So during this event we must remain united or it is all for moot.

President Bush, Mexico's President Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Harper will be in New Orleans for this year's North American Leaders Summit. On April 21-22 the three so-called leaders will be discussing further implementation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership in the city that Bush turned his back on just a few years ago. This is a high profile event with media that spans the globe.

There are so many things that We The People need to protest. It is clear that changes will not be made until we take a stand. This protest will be like that of Martin Luther King Jr. in the 60's. Like the issues of those days, changes were not made until the American people united in protest. This is that time for us, now. No matter your issue, this is the time to take a stand for what you believe in. If the founders of this nation knew that 200 years down the road the American People would not take a stand to correct the problems that our corrupted, greedy politicians have created they would be ashamed. Don't let them down!

There are many people who will be attending and some are going to have differing viewpoints on certain issues but it vitally important to put aside our differences and keep the peace. In the NOLA link above, I have put up links where you can make hotel reservations, get info on restaurants and nightclubs and a link to download coupons that can be used during your stay in New Orleans. Yes, it is important to spend a little cash into New Orleans' economy and let's have fun while we are there!

We will meet at Jackson Square (801 Chartres, Map to Jackson Square) at 8 am on the 21st and 22nd and will be wearing white armbands. If you're interested make a banner, dress in costume and let's have fun while we demand change! And visit CorrupTees for t-shirts and banners to bring to the protest. Remember, this is a leaderless protest. There is not one person or group that is sponsoring this event, this is about each American taking the initiative to peacably assemble as prescribed by the first amendment.



http://pages.suddenlink.net/nolaprotest/
Also a video to see

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Posted: Apr 9, 2008 1:26am
Apr 8, 2008

HRW: CIA Sent 14 Suspects to Jordan

Published: 4/8/08, 7:05 PM EDT
By DALE GAVLAK

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - A human rights group said Tuesday that the CIA transferred at least 14 terror suspects to Jordan for interrogation after September 11.

Human Rights Watch said in a new report that the U.S. ally in the Mideast served as a proxy jailer for the CIA until at least 2004.

"The Bush administration claims that it has not transferred people to foreign custody for abusive interrogation," said Joanne Mariner, the group's terrorism and counterterrorism director. "But we've documented more than a dozen cases in which prisoners were sent to Jordan for torture."

It said its 36-page report was based mainly on information from former Jordanian prisoners who had been detained with non-Jordanian terrorism suspects.

The group charged that Jordan commonly tortured suspects with extended beatings on the soles of their feet.

But Jordan's State Minister for Information Nasser Judeh called the findings "baseless and untrue," the official Petra news agency reported.

The CIA declined to comment on the report, with spokesman Paul Gimigliano saying that "the agency does not, as a rule, comment publicly on allegations of specific rendition activities." But he defended renditions as a "lawful, valuable tool."

"They have been used for years to take terrorists off the streets," he said. "The United States does not transport individuals for the purpose of torture, and has no interest in any process that would produce bad intelligence."

U.S. officials have acknowledged flying up to 150 of the most serious suspected terrorists secretly from one country to another, but have said they received diplomatic assurances from foreign authorities that they would not be tortured.

"No other country is believed to have held as many as Jordan," New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

While there have been general allegations that Jordan cooperated with the covert operations, along with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Tuesday's report, if confirmed, would be the most detailed account yet of the extent of Jordanian involvement.

Human Rights Watch said at least five Yemenis, three Algerians, two Saudis, a Mauritanian, a Syrian, a Tunisian, and one or more Chechens from Russia were rendered to Jordan. Five of them are now in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it said.

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Posted: Apr 8, 2008 4:25pm
Apr 6, 2008

After Blackwater operators opened fire on civilians in Baghdad last September, killing 17 and wounding more than 20 others, there was speculation that the controversial firm would be replaced by another security contractor when its five-year contract with the State Department expired in May. After all, initial investigations by the military and the FBI indicated that—contrary to Blackwater's version of events—its contractors were at fault in the shootings. "It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong," a military official told the Washington Post back in October. "The civilians that were fired upon, they didn't have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP [Iraqi Police] or any of the local security forces fired back at them." For a company that has maintained that the actions of its contractors were justified, the steps it took immediately after the shootings certainly seemed suspicious. Initially, Blackwater said that damage to its vehicles would prove its side of the story—that its contractors were attacked and were simply defending themselves and their clients. Yet, after the incident, the company reportedly repainted and repaired its vehicles, destroying key evidence that could potentially exonerate the company.


While a cloud still hangs over Blackwater, and it remains the subject of multiple investigations, including one by Henry Waxman's House oversight committee, the State Department shocked some Blackwater watchers yesterday by announcing that it would renew the firm's contract for another year.




The State Department says it can terminate Blackwater's contract at any time—and that the results of the FBI's ongoing investigation, when released, could also affect Blackwater's deal. That said, it's fairly remarkable that State would endure what is sure to be an onslaught of bad PR just to keep Blackwater on the job in Iraq. But there's a reason the agency may be willing to weather the flack—it is scared that the job of guarding the civilians currently protected by Blackwater could fall to its Diplomatic Security branch, which is spread pretty thin as it is. According to the Washington Post, State has a total of 1,400 diplomatic security agents, which are stationed at various posts around the world. Blackwater, by comparison, has close to 1,000 contractors working in Iraq and the ability to deploy many more at a moment's notice. The truth is, the government has become so reliant on PSCs that it is likely willing to overlook a shooting here and a shooting there so long as it doesn't have to deploy its own to resources to do the very dangerous work of guarding diplomats and dignitaries (and, yes, members of the press).


But whether or not Blackwater's contractors are guilty of massacring civilians, there's a rather big problem with the State Department's decision to keep Blackwater on. Many Iraqis already believe that Blackwater, and other security firms, operate with complete impunity, shielded from any form of accountability for their actions, and the U.S. government has done nothing to dispel that notion. Now, by renewing Blackwater's contract, it probably only reinforced the already widespread belief that security contractors are above the law.


Last winter, as Bruce Falconer and I reported our recent story on Blackwater's sister company, Greystone, I rang up retired marine colonel T.X. Hammes, who served in Iraq during the early days of the war and who has been vocal in his belief that security contractors have no place there. He has nothing against Blackwater and said its operators are among the most well-trained and professional of the security contractors working in Iraq, something I've heard from numerous sources. But, he noted, the mission of security contractors&mdashrotecting their clients—is inherently in conflict with the military's overarching strategy in Iraq, which involves appealing to the hearts and minds of the people and paving the way for some form of political accommodation. You can imagine how security contractors can and have set these efforts back, when, for instance, they run cars off the road when they get too close to their convoys or, worse, when they wound or kill civilians. "I don't think they belong in an insurgency ever, or in a combat zone ever," Hammes told me. "In a counterinsurgency, essentially it's a competition for the legitimacy of the government. The government is legitimate if it can provide security and hope for a better future. But as part of that hope for a better future, there has to be a feeling that in some way that government is accountable to you.... Iraqis have known these guys will never be punished; they just leave the country." He added, "The very fact that you're using contractors undercuts the legitimacy of the government."

2 hours ago
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Posted by Daniel Schulman on 04/05/08 at 8:15 AM


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Posted: Apr 6, 2008 2:14am
Apr 5, 2008
Will the Bush Administration's New Nukes Program Bomb?
As the administration continues to condemn countries it believes are pursuing nukes, it has sought to develop its own new warheads program despite congressional opposition. " />
Brian Beutler, The Media Consortium" />
April 01" /> , 2008" />
The Bush administration has made a point of condemning countries like North Korea and Iran for their nuclear weapons (or alleged nuclear weapons) programs. As recently as last Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney charged Iran with being "heavily involved in trying to develop nuclear weapons enrichment, the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade levels"—comments that were at odds with last fall's National Intelligence Estimate that concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

But amid the flame throwing, the administration has also quietly tried to launch its own new nuclear weapons production system—one that has been roundly criticized by nonproliferation experts and diplomats and has been rejected by Congress.

The program in question would result in the creation of a cache of so-called Reliable Replacement Warheads—newer, safer, and more transportable than existing ones—which would replace the country's current stockpile as those warheads are phased out.

Supporters of the RRW program don't mince words about it, hinting at, or directly threatening, that without it the United States might have to resume nuclear testing, breaking a self-imposed 1992 moratorium on the practice imposed by George H.W. Bush. (The United States is also signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but has never ratified it.) In April of last year, Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources committee, and one of the RRW's early advocates, sent letters to the secretaries of state and defense, and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, asserting his "confidence [in our ability] to design and manufacture RRW weapons that will be deployed without underground testing."

His audience was largely receptive and less coy about the consequences of not moving forward. In July 2007, the secretaries of state, defense, and energy released a joint statement warning that delays on RRW "raise the prospect of having to return to underground nuclear testing to certify existing weapons." This despite a 2006 Pentagon-commissioned report that found that most of the weapons in America's existing stockpile have, at a minimum, a shelf life of 100 years.

Members of Congress, however, were not convinced about the necessity of the initiative. Despite an effort by the program's sponsors to secure billions in appropriations, the final version of the omnibus spending package, which passed at the end of last year, granted no federal money to implementing the RRW program.

But even that rebuke didn't scuttle the administration's hopes for a new era of nuclear development. Buried in the administration's new budget request, unveiled in early February, the president asked Congress to allocate $10 million exclusively to begin work on RRWs.

Though it marks a significant reduction from previous hundred-million-dollar requests, its modesty is precisely what nonproliferation advocates find so alarming. They say Congress could easily overlook the request, or view its meager size as a sort of compromise and allocate the money passively. That could kick-start the program and lead to more and more funding for nuclear warheads further down the line.

The program has almost no support among nonproliferation experts, who say that America's existing stockpiles are perfectly functional, and that—considering the dangers of proliferation, and the diplomatic problems a new nuclear weapons system would cause—the country's focus should remain on its commitment to reduce its existing stockpiles without building new bombs.

Joe Cirincione, a nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, worries that the RRW may be a bank-shot attempt on the part of the Bush administration to keep the United States from ratifying a test-ban treaty. As he noted in an October 2007 article for the Web publication Science Progress (which is affiliated with the progressive Center for American Progress), "Though based on an old design previously tested, there is no certainty that officials would not add new features [to the RRWs] that could require testing," adding that the administration "lacks both scientific and congressional support for its nuclear expansion efforts."

Nonproliferation advocates argue that building new weapons could be disastrous (politically and otherwise) and that RRWs could easily undercut our ability to squash weapons programs and testing in more volatile countries. Devin Helfrich, who works on nuclear issues for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker-founded nonviolence lobby, says that producing any new nuclear weapons would be counterproductive: "We already have thousands of working, deployed warheads. Our focus should be on bringing that number down without stepping backward by building replacement warheads."

Backward steps can only be taken with the assent of Congress. Last year, Congress said no to a large-scale request. The next few months will tell if smaller is smarter for those in the Bush administration seeking new nukes.

Brian Beutler is the Washington correspondent for the Media Consortium, a network of progressive media organizations, including Mother Jones.

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Posted: Apr 5, 2008 6:03pm
Mar 16, 2008

Care2 GroupsThe Enchanted Cat Tattoo StudioVisit this group

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Posted: Mar 16, 2008 12:34pm
Jul 31, 2007

Democrats offer bill to clean up Congress

By Thomas Ferraro
Reuters
Monday, July 30, 2007; 6:10 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. congressional Democratic leaders, who won power last year with the help of voter disgust over mostly Republican scandals, offered legislation on Monday to clean up how lawmakers do business.

Democrats said they hope to win passage of the measure in the House of Representatives and Senate -- and send it to President George W. Bush to sign into law -- before Congress begins a monthlong recess at the end of this week.

"We are fighting to enact the most sweeping ethics and lobbying reform in history so we can deliver to the American people a government as good and honest as the people it represents," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat.

It would require disclosure of campaign donations collected by lobbyists and delivered to lawmakers in so-called bundles, deny pensions to members of Congress convicted of bribery and prohibit lobbyists from providing lawmakers gifts or travel.

The measure would also prohibit members from attending lobbyist-paid parties in their honor at national political conventions, and require greater disclosure of pet projects, known as earmarks, slipped into big spending bills.

But some Republicans, whose party had controlled Congress much of the past 12 years, charged that the earmark disclosure provision was woefully inadequate.

Under it in the Senate, they complained, the majority leader could certify if earmarks met disclosure requirements.

'FOX TO GUARD THE HENHOUSE'

"This bill allows the fox to guard the henhouse and makes a joke of ethics reform," said Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican.

But Democrats noted the majority leader's certification could be appealed to the Senate parliamentarian, and subjected to a vote by the full chamber. House certification could be made by the committee chair with jurisdiction over the bill.

An aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said his office was still reviewing the sweeping measure but "it sounds like the earmark provision will be really quite strict."

It would require that all earmarks in bills and in House-Senate conference reports, along with sponsors, be identified on the Internet before final congressional passage.

Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a public advocacy group, said, "It's a good bill. I'm pretty excited about it."

"Democrats are following through on our promise to change the way business is done in Washington," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Reid and Pelosi took the lead in drafting the measure after lawmakers haggled over changes and Republicans blocked efforts to begin final negotiations on the ethics and lobbying bills earlier passed by the two chambers.

While the war in Iraq was a major factor in last year's congressional elections, so was what Democrats denounced as a Republican "culture of corruption" on Capitol Hill.

This culture saw bribery convictions of Republican Reps. Bob Ney of Ohio and Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California and the downfall of convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

But the perception of such problems has not been confined to Republicans. Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was indicted on bribery charges this year after $90,000 was found in his freezer. He has pleaded innocent.


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Posted: Jul 31, 2007 12:27pm
Jul 31, 2007
Associated Press
House Passes Ethics Bill
By CHARLES BABINGTON 07.31.07, 12:20 PM ET
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WASHINGTON -

The House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to require lawmakers to disclose more details of their bids to fund pet projects and their fundraising help from lobbyists.

Some self-described watchdog groups called the measure, which now goes to the Senate, the most significant congressional reform in years.

The bill, drafted by Democratic leaders, would require House and Senate members to disclose those lobbyists who raise $15,000 or more for them within a six-month period by "bundling" donations from many people. It also would bar lobbyists and their clients from giving gifts, including meals and tickets, to lawmakers.

Senators seeking targeted spending projects or "earmarks" would have to publicize their plans 48 hours before the Senate votes on the proposals, and declare their families would not directly benefit financially. The House made similar changes to its rules governing earmarks in January.

House members approved the new legislation 411 to 8, even though some privately grumbled that it would complicate their fundraising efforts. Senate leaders expect opposition from some conservative Republicans, but they predicted final passage of the measure by week's end.

Some open-government groups said the bill should have gone further. But others hailed it as a far-reaching response to recent scandals involving lobbyists who urged or even bribed lawmakers to help their clients by quietly slipping earmarks into spending bills.

"These are big-time fundamental reforms that will end the secrecy surrounding the multiple ways in which Washington lobbyists use money to curry favor and gain access and influence with members of Congress," said Fred Wertheimer, president of the nonprofit group Democracy21.

The legislation marks Congress' most far-reaching reactions to scandals involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. Both men are now in prison on corruption charges that in some cases involved congressional earmarks.

The House voted a day after federal agents searched the Alaska home of Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who is involved in a probe of alleged bribery attempts by oil services executives.

The bill "mandates unprecedented disclosure of lobbying activities and turns the spotlight on the special interests who have grown too comfortable with their special access," Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., said during the brief debate preceding the House vote. It "levels the playing field between the special interests and the voters," he said.

Reform advocates said the bill's main element involves greater disclosure of lobbyists who "bundle" campaign donations to lawmakers by soliciting checks from numerous people. Under current disclosure laws, their efforts often go undetected, but the lawmakers are well aware of the help they received.

Earlier versions of the bill would have required lobbyist-bundlers to disclose their contributions to federal candidates, but many lawmakers preferred to control such reports themselves.

The upcoming Senate debate may focus more on the earmark provisions. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said the bill "guts key earmark reforms," in part because it would allow the majority party's leaders - not the Senate parliamentarian_ to rule on whether earmark disclosure requirements have been met.

Dissident senators would not be able to challenge the accuracy of the ruling, but they could try to strike an unreported earmark by offering an amendment.

The bill also would require former senators and top aides to wait two years before directly lobbying Congress. Ex-House members would have to wait one year. An earlier Senate version would have banned all lobbying activities for two years, not just direct contacts with lawmakers.

Democrats promised a crackdown on lobbying abuses when they campaigned in 2006 against a "culture of corruption" in Congress, then controlled by Republicans. The new Democratic-controlled House and Senate quickly embraced tighter guidelines on lobbying, spending and fundraising in January. But efforts to reconcile differences had bogged down in subsequent months.

The House-passed bill would:

_ Prohibit lobbyists and their clients from giving gifts, including meals and tickets, to senators and their staffs. The House adopted a gift ban in January.

_ Require senators and candidates for the Senate or White House to pay charter rates for trips on private planes. House candidates would be barred from accepting trips on private planes.

_ Require lobbyists to disclose payments they make to presidential libraries, inaugural committees or organizations controlled by or named for members of Congress.

_ Bar lawmakers from attending large parties given in their honor by lobbyists at national political conventions.

_ Bar lawmakers and their aides from trying to influence hiring decisions by lobbying firms and others in exchange for political access.

_ Deny retirement benefits to members of Congress convicted of bribery, perjury or similar crimes.


Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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Posted: Jul 31, 2007 12:23pm
Jul 31, 2007
Press Release July 31, 2007
Press Release Contact Information:
Orion Karl Daley
Balanced Party
2008 Presidential Candidate
E-Mail: orion@unity2008.org
Website: Visit Our Website

Joint Congressional Bill proposed to Take Back America by Election 2008 Candidate Orion Karl Daley
Presidential Candidate Orion Karl Daley has proposed in a petition to go to Congress, a joint Congressional Bill for the Economy of Active Representation.Its purpose, to provide accurate representation of the people's will in Congress through online voting.

/24-7PressRelease/ - July 31, 2007 - Presidential Candidate Orion Karl Daley has proposed in a petition to go to Congress, a joint Congressional Bill for the Economy of Active Representation. The proposed Bill is based on solutions from the New Deal ISBN: 1419670948. Its purpose, to provide accurate representation of the people's will in Congress through online voting.

In The New Deal, The Economy of Active Representation, in Congress, is realized by having on line web based voting made available for constituents. This is for matters that their senators and representatives will vote for on their behalf. Each member of Congress can easily provide poll voting at their web sites. This can more accurately demonstrate the constituents will that should be represented. In can also be implemented easily.

Orion Daley views that Congress people, like the president, cannot have their own unitary circle of power. Instead, they are to be accountable in serving the people transparently. And that's their only purpose. When they do, he views that this saves US tax payer money while getting a more cost effective government, and an assured nation for it.

Presidential Candidate Daley also dismisses that not everyone uses the web. He sees that we are better off having web based voting than not having it. And that eventually this could provide industry incentive for interactive TV, and U51Lvi:zePbMJzTaKjh0ej;svhp$b" target="_blank">Cell U51Lvi:zePbMJzTaKjh0ej;svhp$b" target="_blank">Phone U51Lvi:zePbMJzTaKjh0ej;svhp$b" target="_blank">text voting.

He says, "Not every one votes, but this will offer more incentive for the personal empowerment in Congress that the people deserve in their representation".

He further says, "Taking back America does not have to be just some campaign slogan, or something we hope for someday, but soon forgotten about by leadership right after presidential elections. It can be now starting with accurate congressional representation. The bottom line, it is up to us if we really want it !".

He views, that congress could only want to be transparent and accountable to the people, and be willing to assure this in real time. In spired by George Washington's words, he believes that this can provide a standard in representation, 'that the wise and honest can repair'.

In the Petition: the scope of the Bill includes:

1- That any Bill to be debated on the floor should represent the people's voice, over and above what any representative might believe is better for the people. In electing an official into office we are giving them the power to act on our behalf. This is not the same as acting for us as in the case where people are declared incapable of acting on their own behalf.

2- That it is up to the specific Senate/House Representative to make their case to the people, and that the Senate/House Representative is to bring the peoples will to the floor.

3- To provide this form of Republic to the people, that all Senate and House websites are to provide on line web based Constituent polling such that registered constituents may vote on line, and that such results are to reflect the will of the people for any proposed Bill, Amendment, or otherwise action intended by the specific representative in the House, or Senate.

4- That on line web form email although is a means to reach one's Senate or House representative is not an empirical method for representing the constituents voice, and does not reflect the timeliness of it.

5- That all actions that the Senate or House Representative is involved in is clearly documented for a Yeah/Nay vote by on line constituents.

6- That only the result of this Yeah/Nay from the constituents of the specific Senate/House Representative be taken to the floor as the position of the specific Senate/House Representative .

7- That Internet technology is readily available , if not 'free ware' that can accomplish the majority of any website upgrade necessary for putting simple polling requirements.

8- That time frames are viewed as critical for realizing this bill into law, and compliance, and we see that there should be no worthwhile reason why the Senate and the House would not want to reach out to assure competent, honest, ethical and open representation on behalf of the American people.

9- That in compliance with the Peoples will for this petition, that Congress can save fortunes in tax payer dollars for the time specific Senate/House Representatives spend on the floors of Congress.

10- That open disclosure of earmarks can be clearly posted at the Senate and House websites, and disposition of budgets, current and project national debt.

11- That constituents may propose earmarks as a public forum, where they can be voted on by fellow constituents of the specific Senate/House Representative.

The New Deal It is the Alternative for the Strategic Futre of our Nation.ISBN: 1419670948, is available at Amazon, and other online book stores.

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Posted: Jul 31, 2007 12:19pm

 

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