About Us

Contact Information

How You Can Make a Difference


Legislative Action Center


Policy Information Center


Religious Liberty

Send Me
More Information



Policies in the News: March 2001
By Dr. Joel P. Rutkowski

Table of Contents

Abortion and other Pro-Life Issues
The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Pro-Life Issues

President Conveys a Pro-Life Message
Human Cloning Legalized in Britain

Campaign Finance Reform
The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Finance Debate Starts

The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Education

Review Finds Middle School Science Texts Full of Errors
Government Efforts Fail to Help Children Master Math
President Bush's Ambitious Education Plan

The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Environment

Coming "Global Warming Disaster" Highly Overexaggerated
Earth Has Been Cooling
Global Warming, Debate Misses Target

Federal Bureaucracy
The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Federal Bureaucracy

Auditor Says Government in Financial Problems


Plan to Legalize Illegal Workers from Mexico

International Issues
The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on International Issues

Iraq Is Warned about Weapons Programs By Administration

National Defense
The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on National Defense

Major Weapons Systems Reduction Being Considered

The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Pornography

Virtual Pornography Ban Reviewed by Supreme Court

The American Voice Institute Policy Statement on Regulation

Moratorium on Clinton's Last Efforts

To read January 2001 — Policies in Today's News, Click Here.


President Conveys a Pro-life Message

On January 23, 2001, President Bush announced that he would reverse former President Bill Clinton's order that has provided federal money to international organizations involved in abortions.

The President wrote in his executive memorandum to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which oversees family-planning aid to foreign countries: "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortions or advocate or actively promote abortion either here or abroad."

Pro-choice leaders, who called it an act of war against woman's reproductive freedom, bitterly assailed the new President's executive order.

On the other side of the issue, pro-life activists saw the President's decision as a hopeful sign of his pro-life position. Thousands of demonstrators protesting the twenty-eighth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision were warmly welcomed in a message sent by the pro-life President inaugurated just two days earlier on the Ellipse behind the White House.

The President said in a message read by Representative Christopher Smith (R-New Jersey), a strong pro-life supporter, "We share a great goal: To work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. We know this will not come easily or all at once. But the goal leads us onward: To build a culture of life, affirming that every person, at every stage and season of life, is created equally in God's image."

In another affirmation of his position for life, President Bush gave a statement on January 26, that federal money should not be used in fetal tissue research - "I do not support research from aborted fetuses."

During the Presidential campaign, the President indicated his opposition to such research. However, since winning the election, his remarks on January 26, were the first on the topic.

Whether he would move to block federal research funding, he did not say. However, he was signaling his intent to do so said aides. Administration officials have also promised President Bush's review of the government's approval of the RU 486 abortion pill.

As early as this spring, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) plans to start funding research with just lab-grown embryonic stem cells unless the President intervenes.

In the past, the President has said he supports an alternative method using fetal tissue retrieved from miscarriages. However, as a result of genetic abnormalities in the fetus that causes the miscarriage, scientists say such tissue is seldom usable.

Bush stated, "I believe there's some wonderful opportunities for adult stem-cell research. I believe we can find stem cells from fetuses that died a natural death, but I do not support research from aborted fetuses."

The President's spokesman refused to address whether the new administration would shut down government research on the stem cells of discarded human embryos shortly before Bush took office.

Bush "would oppose federal funded research for experimentation on embryonic stem cells that require live human embryos to be discarded or destroyed," said Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on January 26, 2001, quoting the President's statement during the campaign.

However, when questioned by reporters, Fleischer would not say whether the President intends to block the NIH, which is currently accepting grant applications for research on lab-grown embryonic stem cells harvested by private researchers.

The issue was likewise side-stepped by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson who praised the University of Wisconsin scientists as medical pioneers for their breakthrough in first grown embryonic stem cells in the laboratory although he is a pro-life advocate.

A letter to President Bush urging him not to block funding for the first round of federal dollars for research on human embryo cells was signed by 80 U.S. Nobel laureates and faxed to the White House on the morning of February 22, 2001. Such notables as James Watson, who won a Nobel in 1962 for co-discovering with Francis Crick the structure of DNA; molecular biologist Hamilton O. Smith, who was a key player in the recent landmark genome mapping effort by Celera Genomics of Rockville; Edward Lewis, the California Institute of Technology biologist who conducted seminal work on embryo development; and Nobelists in other disciplines, including physicist Murray Gell-Mann and Steven Weinberg and economists Robert Samuelson and Milton Friedman signed the letter to Bush. Michael West and Roberta Lanza, two scientists at Advanced Cell Technology, Inc., a biotechnology company in Worcester, Massachusetts, composed and circulated the letter. This came three weeks prior to the NIH's deadline for scientists to apply for the agency's stem cell research grants.

Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesman Campbell Gardett said that HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has stated he is "reviewing" the Clinton administration's decision to fund such research, and Thompson "is cognizant of" the March 15 deadline.

On February 28, 2001, HHS Secretary Thompson said that the administration would decide by summer whether to allow controversial stem cell research to proceed during his first year. In the past, the Secretary has praised stem cell research even though he counts himself to be pro-life. Among the first to isolate and grow stem cell lines were researchers in his home state of Wisconsin, where Thompson served as governor until joining the Bush administration.

(References: Rick Weiss, "Nobel Laureates Back Stem Cell Research," The Washington Post, February 23, 2001; Ron Fournier, "Bush Won't Fund Stem Cell Research," The Associated Press, January 26, 2001; Douglas Turner, "Bush's abortion order buoys conservatives. Move bars aid to agencies," The Buffalo News, January 23, 2001; Marlene Cimons, "Stem Cell Study Decision Due by Summer," Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2001)

Back to the Top

Human Cloning Legalized in Britain

Britain became the first country to effectively legalize the creation of cloned human embryos when the House of Lords approved a proposed change to government regulations on January 22, 2001.

This ruling will allow unprecedented new research on stem cells, the un-programmed master cells found in early-stage embryos that can turn into nearly every cell type in the body.

The clones created under the new regulations are ordered to be destroyed after two weeks, like all other embryos used in research. However, still remaining outlawed is the creation of babies by cloning.

The ruling resulted because of the defeat of an amendment that would have delayed the law in order to create a special committee to review ethical and scientific issues.

Many Lords expressed concern that ethical questions were being sidelined in the rush to be at the forefront of medical research in an impassioned debate that ran into the night prior to the measure winning approval.

The ethical issues should be debated by a special committee later said the Lords as the amendment was defeated by 212 votes to 92 thus clearing the way for approval of the cloning measure.

Seeking to relax rules that limit medical research on human embryos under the 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act was the British government. Until the passing of this new measure, research on donated embryos had been limited to studies on infertility and the detection of birth defects.

In December, the House of Commons passed the measure to allow changes in stem cell research by a wide margin.

President Bush opposes federal funds for research that involves destroying human embryos. Congress has also introduced several bills aimed at outlawing cloning.

Presently, certain early stage embryonic stem cells obtained from donated or purchased embryos produced in private laboratories - especially fertility clinics - may be used in certain research in the United States.

Since fertility clinics produce an oversupply of embryos for in vitro fertilization and ultimately destroy the unused ones, they are a prime source of the cells.

Also, promising to consider cloning applications for some types of research, including certain stem-cell experiments, is Britain's Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which polices embryo research.

Since physicians ultimately want to treat ill patients with cells from their own bodies, the stem-cell research inevitably would involved embryo cloning. Those cells causing illness would be altered, cloned, and returned to the patients.

The nucleus of a donor egg would be removed by scientists and replaced with a cell from a sick patient. Next, the egg would be induced to divide and begin growing into an embryo. Genetically identical to the patient's cells would be the cloned cells. Therefore, the problems of transplant rejection, caused when the immune system fights foreign tissue, could theoretically be overcome.

When the stem cells are three of four days old, scientists foresee extracting them from the embryo. As a result, these cells can become any desired cell or tissue type for transplant that the lab will be directed to grow.

(Reference: Emma Ross, "Britain legalizes human cloning," The Associated Press, January 23, 2001)

Back to the Top


Campaign Finance Debate Starts

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott announced on January 26, 2001, after receiving general agreement on a timetable with Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), that the Senate will start debate on campaign finance legislation (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001 [Introduction to the Senate]) [S.27.IS] see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d107:s.00027: ) in mid to late March.

The Majority Leader said, "I think it's a win-win for all concerned." He also agreed that the timetable gives President Bush, "The opportunity that I thought he deserved…to roll out his agenda" and grants McCain's insistence that the issue come up for a vote early in the year."

In a reply statement, Senator McCain said he was pleased with the agreement and looked forward to working out remaining details to govern Senate action.

Large, unregulated "soft money" donations from corporations, unions and individuals would be outlawed by the campaign finance measure. It would also include other provisions to regulate the influence of money in politics.

In recent years, similar bills have become victims of fillibusters and have died in the Senate. This year Lott has indicated he has no plans to support such blocking tactics: "I want to get this issue done and out of the Senate."

Senator McCain visited President Bush in the White House for a discussion in January that dealt largely with campaign finance legislation. However, the measures' fate is uncertain because the President opposes some provisions of the bill.

The bill would bar labor unions and corporations from financing certain types of political commercials in the final weeks of a campaign, in addition to the soft money ban. One provision, which had been excluded last year, is the effort to crack down on so-called "issue ads" - attack ads that have proliferated in recent years ostensibly financed by independent groups.

The bill would also protect non-union workers who do not want their agency fees - payments in lieu of dues - spent on campaign activities.

Any campaign finance legislation must go further and require unions to gain permission from their own members before spending their dues on politics insist the President and other Republicans.

In deliberation on the bill, the union-dues issue is likely to emerge as a key sticking point. Open to a compromise that treats union members and corporate stockholders equally, but will not support the so-called "paycheck protection" provision by itself, was Senator McCain in a statement made on January 23, 2001.

The President wants to include "paycheck protection," a provision that lets union members prevent their dues from going to political campaigns against their wishes.

Vehemently opposed to this provision are Democrats, who rely heavily on money from labor unions.

Senator McCain said, "We talked about the so-called 'paycheck protection' issue. I talked about the fact that we should balance that…Stockholders should give their agreement if they also have their money spent for political purposes."

A separate measure that would limit but not prohibit soft money donations was introduced by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Mary Landrieu, (D-Louisiana). This bill would raise hard money limits from $1,000 per donor to a candidate to $3,000 per donor.

However, the President has not changed his mind about allowing individuals to contribute whatever they wish to political campaigns - a sticking point between the two men, said Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer.

On that issue, the President wants to ban soft-money contributions from unions and corporations, but not from individuals. "The President continues to believe that individuals have a constitutionally protected right to give…I'm sure they're not in complete agreement, " said Fleischer.

Unregulated "soft money" - unrestricted cash that goes to parties and cannot be used to directly benefit a candidate would be banned by McCain's plan, approved twice in the House but killed each time in the Senate. Independent organizations would also be forced to disclose their electioneering communications by the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Plan.

The U.S. Supreme Court's "Beck" decision, which concluded that union workers are not to be forced to pay dues that are used solely for political purpose would be codified by the bill.

Any worker who objects to their union's use of dues money for purposes not directly related to collective bargaining is entitled to a refund of that portion of their dues by the Beck ruling.

The Beck decision is called a "triumph of individual rights over the political weight of union leaders," by many conservatives.

The measure will treat both labor unions and corporations in a similar manner vows McCain.

In the Senate on October 19, 1999, a similar campaign-finance bill was scuttled by opponents.

Since her amendment dealing with ads paid for by labor unions and corporations will be included in the legislation, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announced her support for McCain's bill.

Snowe said, "As we know, in third party campaign ads, there are no funding restrictions, and there are no disclosure requirements. We will prevent unions and corporations from contributing to financing ads, 60 days before a general election and 30 days before a primary."

The legislation however will not violate "freedom of speech rights" of those organizations wanting to run political ads, insists Snowe.

She said, "We just want to know who you are because many of those ads are designed to influence the outcome of a federal election. We know that if we do nothing, it will get worse and we know it has gotten worse. I hope that we can demonstrate to the American people, that we do indeed intend to govern differently."

An element of McCain's strategy to keep the spotlight on the issue while turning up the heat on lawmakers is a series of town hall meetings sponsored by a coalition - Americans for Reform - that includes Common Cause, Public Citizen and other public interest groups.

The meeting in Little Rock on January 30, 2001, was no coincidence that McCain chose the home state of Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-Arkansas).

Since it includes what he says are unconstitutional curbs on issues ads, Hutchinson objects to the legislation in its current form although he supports a soft-money ban. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said, "Unfortunately, the latest incarnation of McCain Feingold reform suffers the same flaws as its numerous predecessors. It's unfair, unbalanced, unworkable and unconstitutional." Issues advocacy ads by outside groups that target candidates before an election would be regulated by the proposal. Senator McCain hopes to convey the idea that by opposing his bill, Hutchinson is acting against the wishes of his constituents and handing rivals a potent issue when he runs for re-election next year indicate organizers.

Similar meetings in the home states of Senators Robert C. Smith (R-New Hampshire) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon) who are also up for re-election in 2002, as well as several other states are being planned by organizers.

To solicit supporters for hard cash contributions to his political action committees, Senator McCain is using the introduction of his bill to regulate "soft" campaign donations.

The Senator has written to supporters, "I want to ask for your support as we fight to pass legislation that will change the way our campaigns are financed and restore the people's faith in their government," as he urges them to sign a petition. "Along with your petition, I hope you will send in a contribution of $75, $50, $25 or whatever you can afford at this time. Your contributions to Straight Talk America will not only be a big help, it will send a clear message that we have the strength and resources to get our reform agenda passed."

There was nothing contradictory about combining an update on campaign finance legislation with a pitch for campaign donations to Mr. McCain's PAC, Straight Talk America said McCain spokeswoman Nancy Ives: "The McCain-Feingold bill bans soft money. It does not ban or limit any of the hard money."

It "looks peculiar for a senator to be raising money so he can reform," said Charles Lewis, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.

He added, "It is a little incongruous. But everything in Washington is artificial. The problem [for Senator McCain] is that it costs money to get the message out. It's going to have to come from somewhere, somehow."

Federal contractors are required to past notices informing employees of their right not to fund union political activities by an executive order signed by President Bush.

Federal contractors (who employ 22 percent of private sector workers) are instructed to post a written notice informing workers of their rights under the U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers of America v. Beck which was won by the National Right to Work Foundation attorney in 1988 according to the President's executive order. Employees may reclaim all forced union dues used for activities unrelated to collective bargaining, like politics under Beck.

(References: Stefan Gleason, "Bush's Union Cybernet News Service Dues Executive order is a small First Step," CNSNews.com, February 23, 2001; Dave Boyer, "McCain calls for hard cash to fight 'soft money' battle," The Washington Times, January 30, 2001; John Lancaster, "McCain Hits Trail for Campaign Reform," The Washington Post, January 30, 2001; David Espo, "Lott OK's Campaign Finance Debate, The Associated Press, January 26, 2001; Joseph Curl, "McCain demands early votes," The Washington Times, January 25, 2001; David Espo, "Bush McCain To Talk Campaign Funds," The Associated Press, January 23, 2001; David Espo, "McCain Presses Campaign Legislation," The Associated Press, January 22, 2001; Jim Burns, "McCain Claims 'Momentum' for Campaign Finance Reform," CNSNews.com, January 22, 2001)

Back to the Top


Review Finds Middle School Science Texts Full of Errors

A new study concluded that science textbooks used by an estimated 80 percent of middle school students nationwide are riddled with errors.

According to John L. Hubisz (co-author of the report) a review conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University in Raleigh found that 12 of the most popular middle school science textbooks lists specific errors in science textbooks. The report was published to help publishers avoid similar mistakes in the future.

Some problems were merely production errors said Hubisz like an illustration depicting the equator running through central Texas and a picture of singer Linda Rondstandt that was labeled as silicon crystal. Factual inconsistencies and substantive mistakes were more disturbing. Hubisz said, "We were after those things that would really upset middle school students."

One book the researchers examined, for example, asked students to find the volume of an object when given only the depth and width, not the height. This book was published in 1998 by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill entitled Glencoe Science Interactions. It also gave the wrong formula for finding the volume of a sphere. Additionally, according to the review, the early chapters in the text refer to the concepts of "heterogeneous and homogeneous" which are not introduced until later in the book.

This two-year study funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation gives further evidence to a 1999 report released by Project 2061, which found that most middle school textbooks were inadequate in the teaching of the fundamentals of science.

Hubisz argued that such mistakes occur because too many authors are working on a book at the same time, some of the authors are not knowledgeable in the field of science, and "no one has checked the continuity."

Publishers should hire content reviewers who are specialists in their fields of science and should limit the number of authors on a book recommended Hubisz in his report.

(Reference: Michelle Galley, "Middle School Science Texts Full of Errors, Review Finds," Education Week, January 24, 2001)

Back to the Top

Government Efforts Fail to Help Children Master Math

According to a report from the National Research Council, released on January 23, 2001, a massive overhaul of math instruction in U.S. schools will be necessary if students are to achieve the skills and understanding required in today's high-tech world.

The report states that the integration of the teaching of basic computational skills with instruction in the underlying concepts of mathematics should be the chief goal of mathematics curriculum.

Jeremy Kilpatrick, a professor of math education at the University of Georgia and chairman of the panel that wrote the report said, "Both of these directions are incomplete without the other."

In classrooms, bitter battles have been waged over which to emphasize more, although the need for both types of knowledge might seem self-evident. Traditionalists - advocates of rote and repetition - have been pitted against those who favor hands-on activities to help students make sense of abstract concepts.

In California, the basics are back. The State Board of Education three years ago adopted standards that are more geared to basic arithematic after several years of favoring a more conceptual approach. For example, elementary pupils now memorize such basic computational skills as multiplication tables and the use of calculators is discouraged among young children. Recently, new math textbooks that emphasize such skills have been approved by the board.

Despite the alarming message from the report, little advice was offered to rectify the problem leaving school districts grappling with how to put together curricula that meet the recommended standards.

Training for teachers will be key emphasized the report. Often, prior to tests being developed, standards are set for math or reading. Many teachers lack the training and guidance to help students meet the new goals, and many schools rely on old textbooks without updated material reflected on the tests.

The lack of coordinated effort affects student achievement and teacher effectiveness found the report by math educators, psychologists and other experts.

The report also concluded that most students can perform basic arithmetic, but have trouble at higher levels of mathematics, including algebra, geometry and statistics.

The researchers said that children also have trouble applying math skills to word problems, science experiments, and other lessons.

Recent studies demonstrate that many elementary and middle school teachers have "only a shaky grasp of mathematics themselves," cited the report.

"We want kids to understand what they are doing. It isn't enough to just be able to add when someone tells you to add but we want you to be able to use addition to solve other problems," said Kilpatrick.

(References: Martha Groves, "Better Math Teaching Needed, Report Says," Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2001; Anjetta McQueen, "Math Instruction, Tests Don't Add Up," The Associated Press, January 24, 2001)

Back to the Top

President Bush's Ambitious Education Plan

Observers say that a growing political consensus has mandated that the federal government should increase pressure on states and school districts to improve academic achievement, especially for disadvantaged children. This statement was reflected in the sweeping education plan proposed by President Bush.

The President's plan has struck a chord among members of both major political parties who believe that federal funding should be tied to student performance although the details of how that pressure should be applied are sure to be the subject of debate in the coming months.

Chester E. Finn, Jr., the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation and a former assistant education secretary in the Reagan administration said, "This whole package is actually trying in a serious way to leverage behavior changes. I now sense a pretty universal agreement [that the current shape of the federal role] needs consideration reworking."

The promise of greater flexibility in spending federal aid is linked to the President's demand for more accountability.

Mr. Bush said in a January 23 address from the East Room of the White House, "Both parties have been talking about education for quite a while. It's time to come together to get it done, so that we can truthfully say in America: No child will be left behind."

A proposed requirement that states test third through eighth graders in Title I Schools every year in reading and mathematics would enforce accountability for achievement under the President's plan. Currently doing so are only 15 states, including Texas.

States that fail over time to close the achievement between students of different races and family income levels would be penalized by reducing a portion of the states' Title I administrative funds under the plan. To school and states that close those gaps, it would offer financial rewards.

President Bush said, "I believe strongly in local control of schools. But educational excellence for all is a national issue, and at this moment is a Presidential priority."


By removing their accreditation, shutting them down or taking them over, many states already have systems in place that penalize consistently failing schools. Some states also institute "high-stakes" tests which tie high school graduation or promotion in the earlier grades to satisfactory performance on state exams.

Federal law does enforce some accountability. States are required to set up systems of standards and aligned assessments and demonstrate yearly progress by the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which includes the $8.6 billion-a-year Title I program for disadvantaged students. School districts are also required to intervene in poor-performing schools.

However, the Bush plan would create further reform by posing a new threat for persistently failing schools - the loss of substantial federal aid in addition to the emphasis on more testing, coupled with rewards and penalties.

In the most controversial provision of the accountability package, some of the federal money could eventually go to private schools.

Extra financial and technical assistance would be received if, after one year, a poor-performing Title I school showed no improvement. The district would have to take corrective action after two years and offer public school choice to the school's pupils. Parents of students in failing Title I schools could ultimately take a portion of the federal dollars, matched by state funds, to spend on tutoring or on tuition at another school, whether public, private or religious after three years.

President Bush argued that "when schools do not teach and will not change, parents and students must have other meaningful options."

However, Democrats insist that the use of federal money for private school vouchers would kill the deal. Many political observers predict that the voucher element will eventually be eliminated given the razor-thin hold that Republicans now have in Congress.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), the ranking Democrat on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said after a meeting with the President, "I just commend the President for putting education first on the national agenda. As others have said, there are some areas of difference, but the overwhelming areas of agreement and support are very, very powerful."

However, the Senator told reporters that he thinks Democrats can muster the votes to stop the voucher proposal.

In addition to accountability, the Bush plan will also consolidate most federal K-12 programs into a much smaller and more flexible set of funding sources, and a few new programs would be created including a plan to improve math and science instruction and a K-2 reading initiative.

Still fuzzy are many details of the President's plan. Accompanying bills have not been drafted although the White House presented the plan as a legislative proposal.

However, the President was very clear in his remarks that an essential part of his agenda is annual testing: "States should test each student each year. Without yearly testing, we don't know who is falling behind and who needs help."

That emphasis pleased some observers. Edward B. Rust, the chairman and chief executive officer of the State Farm Insurance Company and the chairman of the Business Roundtable's Education Task Force said, "It's essential that we come around to more frequent testing. Too much can happen in six months, let along two or three years."

However, others were less enthusiastic. Representative Cal Dooley (D-California), the co-chairman of the House New Democrat Coalition said, "While we're totally committed to accountability based on performance, we question whether you need to test every child every year in grades three to eight."

Vincent L. Ferrandino, the executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals added, "We don't have a problem with providing a test at the end of every year. But if it becomes the only basis upon which a school's success is determined, it becomes extremely problematic."

Also scrutinized will be the wide-ranging package that touches on many aspects of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), including teacher quality, technology, bilingual education, and e-rate schools.

The federal E-rate program, for example, which provides discounts to schools and libraries with technology-grant dollars on telecommunications services (distributed by the Department of Education), will be consolidated by the Bush proposal. The "Straight A's" legislation pushed by Republicans in the 106th Congress, which would allow states or districts to consolidate most federal aid authorized under ESEA into a single block grant in exchange for negotiating a five-year performance agreement with the Secretary of Education, appears to be embraced by the plan. Specific goals for increased student achievement would be set by those deals. In the last Congress, adamantly opposing such an approach were former President Clinton and Congressional Democrats.

Under the President's approach several of former President Clinton's programs would be consolidated. Funds from the Clinton class size reduction program, coupled with other money, would be merged into a broader teacher-quality fund, similar to a Republican bill pushed last year. In the past, Democrats have fought hard to resist such efforts.

A new flexible grant initiative would be created by a merger of the federal after-school initiative, which Mr. Clinton succeeded in almost doubling its funding, to $846 million late last year and the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program.

Insisting that more federal spending is critical if the federal government is to expect more from schools are the so-called New Democrats - a centrist group affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council.

Senator Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, who has often worked with Republicans on education issues has put forward a bill with Senator Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) to consolidate most federal K-12 programs into five, goal-oriented titles, demand measurable progress from states, and increase the targeting of federal aid to the neediest students. According to Senator Lieberman, "We want to give states and local districts the resources they need to help every student learn at a high level."

The New Democrat Coalition, representing about 90 members of the House and Senate who are primarily centrists, would increase federal spending on education over five years by $35 billion. Increasing accountability of schools and giving districts more flexibility in spending federal dollars are some points this proposal shares with the Bush plan.

The New Democrats' plan differs from that of the Bush administration in that it would oppose vouchers, favor less frequent student testing, and direct more aid to poor students said Representative Dooley, the lead sponsor of the House companion to the Senate bill.

He said, "Our proposal will ensure that more of the federal dollars will go to those schools with some of the greatest challenges."

One of the Republican Party's rallying cries was the elimination of the Department of Education in 1994. Now, in 2001, the Department of Education could become significantly more powerful, overseeing the yearly assessments of how schools and states have progressed under the President's plan.

(References: Erik W. Robelen, "Democrats, GOP Agree in Principle on Federal Role," Education Week, January 31, 2001; David E. Sanger, "Bush Pushes Ambitious Education Plan, The New York Times, January 24, 2001; Andrew Cain and George Archibald, "Bush proposes major overhaul for education," The Washington Times, January 24, 2001)

Back to the Top


Coming "Global Warming Disaster" Highly Overexaggerated

NOTE: The American Voice Institute of Public Policy supports the creationist view of the formation of the world and is does not endorse the evolutionary philosophies promoted in the following article.

The former head of the U.S. National Weather Service says that an international report on climate change which sees the earth heading for "disaster" is missing the point. Joe Friday, who is now director of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Research Council says, "The most probable scenarios put forth by the [report] are in the middle of the model projections. So pinning all outcomes to the extreme scenario is overdoing it."

Scientists ran seven climate models with each model being run using each of 35 different scenarios of the amounts of greenhouse gases and other emissions that could affect global climate said Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was a member of the international panel that created the report.

Depending on various assumptions about factors like global standards of living or how energy is used, these scenarios varied the amounts of carbon dioxide, sulphate aerosols and other emissions. Thus for what the climate will be like in 2100, seven models times 35 scenarios produced 245 different results.

They would have come up with 35 answers, one for each scenario if each computer model could make perfect predictions. However, the models have many uncertainties, which account for the differing results although they are better now than five years ago said Trenberth.

Among these 245 possibilities are scenarios ranging from those that would be relatively benign to ones that could be disastrous. Having the same odds of occurring are the benign and disastrous changes along with all the various possibilities in-between.

Trenberth said, "The top end are where the scary scenarios lie. The most common result was a 2.8 degree Celsius (5 degree Farenheit) warming, or more generally, a 2 to 4 degree Celsius (3.6 to 7.2 degree Farenheit) increase in global temperature…and generally a one-half meter (0.64 feet) rise in sea level." The range of sea-level increase from 0.09 to 0.88 meters (0.29 feet to 2.89 feet) and the range of the possible global average temperature increase was from 1.4 degrees to 5.8 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees to 10.4 degrees Farenheit).

The high end of the temperature projection caused debate at the Shanghai meeting as to whether the extreme conclusion should be included said Friday, who was not a member of the group but who has been in close contact with scientists involved. Since it was identified within their model scenario, it should be included along with the rest of the projections argued scientists.

The climate science-working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the report late on January 21, 2001. During a meeting in Shanghai, China in January, the group had approved a 1,000-page book and a "Summary for Policymakers," in an 18-page summary of the book.

A strong statement in the report that the earth has warmed, especially over the last few decades, was made which said that human activities have added "greenhouse gases" to the atmosphere which has caused "most" of this warming.

News stories focusing on the possibility of disasters are going to "polarize the debate even more" said Friday. He continued, "There's enough evidence [of global warming] to push for more activity. But the extreme view is going to detract from that, which is a shame because a lot of good work has gone into the report…it should be read from a balanced viewpoint."

Enough is now known that energy planning, energy conservation, should start added Friday - "Do we know enough to make big power changes? I don't think so."

He also said, "We have to stop the idea that we can reverse global warming…simply turn it around. None of the [IPCC report's] scenarios say we could turn it around and put it back to 'normal,' whatever that might be…What we need to do is try to understand potential impacts. There are going to be winners and losers in global warming. The opportunity will be there for an expansion of farming into higher latitudes in a warmer climate. At the same time, water resources in the South and especially in the Southeast [USA] will face problems. We need to understand those better."

(Reference: Jack Williams and Chris Cappella, "Disaster' talk misses point of climate report," USA Today.com, January 24, 2001)

Back to the Top

Earth Has Been Cooling

NOTE: The American Voice Institute of Public Policy supports the creationist view of the formation of the world and is does not endorse the evolutionary philosophies promoted in the following article.

Evidence that the world has become 10 degrees Celsius cooler in the last 3.2 million years was found by British researchers. It is claimed the cooling off is five times greater than experts had previously believed.

According to the findings reported in the journal Science, cooling was especially rapid about two million years ago.

"People have been looking for a climate event that could explain what is seen in the geological record," said Jeremy Marlow, of Newcastle University, who led the team of British, American and German scientists.

Furthermore, he said, "We postulate that this dramatic cooling could be it. Up to two million years ago, the vegetation across southern Africa was fairly rich and typical of a temperature climate where evolutionary pressures were not that great.

"Then you get this sudden cooling. There's less evaporation from the sea, less rain and you start to see a build up of savannah appearing.

"Resources become limited; food is harder to get and there's less tree cover, increasing the danger from wild animals. The hominids around then would have been under greater pressure to survive, and they would have switched from gathering to hunting." Marlow, a Ph.D. student at the university, said this would have provided the spur required to push human evolution forward.

In the molecular fossils of microscopic marine algae, the scientists discovered tell-tale signs of the fall in temperature.

Evidence of a climate change cycle spanning thousands or even millions of years were revealed by examining the pattern of deposition of algae sediments.

For about five million years, the earth has been cooling according to the algae. Threshold points were reached which saw sudden and pronounced temperature dips during this time.

(Reference: "Climate cooling could force human evolution," The Age, January 23, 2001)

Back to the Top

Global Warming, Debate Misses Target

NOTE: The American Voice Institute of Public Policy supports the creationist view of the formation of the world and is does not endorse the evolutionary philosophies promoted in the following article.

Two scientists argue that climate change policymakers are no closer to a global warming solution than when they started with more than a decade of debate and $16 billion in research.

Daniel Sarewitz, a research scholar at Columbia University's Center for Science, Policy and Outcomes, and Roger Pielke, Jr., a scientist with the Environment and Societal Impacts Group at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, concluded that the debate, framed by high-level scientific findings that point to humans changing earth's climate through increased emissions of greenhouse gases, is only raising new questions, "dooming the debate to a pointless spiral."

They wrote in an article, "Breaking the global-warming gridlock," in the July 2000 Atlantic Monthly, that a better approach is needed to reduce our vulnerability to today's weather, thereby making strides to solve the problem of tomorrow's climate.

As illustrating one of many flaws in the fabric of the debate, they pointed to extreme weather such as 1998's Hurricane Mitch, which killed 10,000 people with floods and mudslides in Honduras and Nicaragua. They argued that Mitch's horrific toll reflected "not an unprecedented climate event but a level of exposure typical in developing countries where dense and rapidly increasing populations live in environmentally degraded conditions."

Sarewitz said, "What we really need to do is open our eyes and see what is going on in the world, and respond to that," in response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Benefiting least from climate change initiatives are developing nations said Sarewitz and Pielke in their article. A prime example is the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set as its goals the reduction of a global output of carbon dioxide in industrialized nations to pre-1990 levels by the end of this decade: "The carbon dioxide problem pales alongside immediate environmental and developmental problems," to third world countries trying to cultivate economies and reverse poverty.

During the 1997 Kyoto Conference, the China Daily reported the following which was cited by the authors: "The United States...and other nations made the irresponsible demand...that the developing countries should make commitments to limiting greenhouse gas emissions... As a developing country, China has 60 million poverty-stricken people and China's per capita gas emissions are only one-seventh of the average amount of more developed countries. Ending poverty and developing the economy must still top the agenda of [the] Chinese government."

About 80 percent of the planet's population - the developing world - has been "left outside the frame of the climate change discussion. This is hardly surprising, considering that the frame was defined mainly by environmentalists and scientists in affluent nations," argued Sarewitz and Pielke.

Focusing on these issues could "begin to reduce the toll exacted by weather and climate all over the world," said Sarewitz and Pielke.

"Environmental prospects for the coming century depend far less on our strategies for reducing carbon dioxide emission than on our determination and ability to reduce human vulnerability to weather and climate," concluded the scientists.

(Referenece: Chris Cappella, "2 scientists say warming debate misses target," USAToday.com, January 23, 2001)

Back to the Top


Auditor Says Government in Financial Problems

According to the U.S. Comptroller General, the nation's top auditor, President Bush has inherited a poorly-managed government which is lacking many of the skills required to run federal programs and is unable to account for the use of taxpayers' money.

Serious weaknesses in accounting and financial management throughout the government, from the Defense Department to the Internal Revenue Service, the Forest Service to the Federal Aviation Administration were found by the Comptroller General, David M. Walker.

Mr. Walker said that the Pentagon's financial statements are in such poor condition that they cannot be audited. In addition, most other agencies are not complying with federal accounting standards. As a result, Mr. Walker cannot certify the accuracy of consolidated financial statements for the government as a whole. But the problem is not new. Federal auditors have been complaining about this problem for several years.

Often boasting of "reinventing government," saying they had made it more efficient while reducing its size were former President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

However, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO) the federal agencies are poorly equipped to meet challenges of the twenty-first century since their employees lack the necessary skills in information technology, science, economics and management.

Mr. Walker also said that in recent years federal agencies, "drastically reduced or froze their hiring efforts. This helped reduce the number of employees, but it also reduced the influx of new people with new skills, new knowledge, new energy and new ideas - the reservoir of future agency leaders and managers."

Twenty-two "high-risk areas" in which the government was vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement were described by the GAO in a report to President Bush and to Congress. Tragically, on the list since 1990 were eight of the 22 problems, including overpayments to military contractors and Medicare fraud.

The government's failure to recruit and retain skilled employees was one of its biggest problems, severely impairing the ability of many agencies to perform their missions, said the accounting office for the first time on January 17, 2001. The report concluded that, too often, the government has treated its employees as "costs to be cut rather than assets to be valued."

The problem could worsen because "more than one-third of government workers will be eligible for retirement in five years," said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the ranking Democrat on the panel.

Justifiable was some reduction in the number of federal employees said Walker. He added, however, "The question is, How was it done? What type of strategic work-force planning took place in order to make sure that we achieved the short-term reductions in head count without mortgaging the future?' For the most part, that was not done."

(Reference: Robert Pear, "Financial Problems in Government Are Rife, Auditor Says," The New York Times, January 18, 2001)

Back to the Top


Plan to Legalize Illegal Workers from Mexico

Mexicans have been going north illegally for decades to provide menial labor to Americans, from picking tomatoes to washing dishes and cleaning houses.

Five U.S. Senators want to make changes that would give the Mexicans the legal status of "guest workers," with the number of Mexican illegal laborers now estimated between three and seven million. Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas) said, "We want to set up a workable guest-worker program so people can come into America legally to work, have their rights protected, and accumulate human and financial capital to take back to Mexico."

However, immigration experts caution that a worker program is unlikely to reverse a long tradition of undocumented northward migration although US and Mexican officials say such a program will draw support from both countries' presidents. Seen as one of the challenges is enforcement of the program, along with the challenge of convincing Mexicans to apply rather than follow the traditional path across the border.

The senators argue that both the US and Mexico would benefit from the plan. Workers would have salary, decent labor-condition, and other rights that as illegals they could not demand and labor-intensive US industries such as agriculture and construction would have a reliable source of workers.

Senator Gramm, who hopes to have the program operative within a year says given the option of working in the US legally, Mexicans would be less likely to migrate illegally. The program would first be offered to legal workers already in the US. Since one goal of the program is to encourage Mexicans to take their savings and new skills back to Mexico, it would not include the possibility of US citizenship.

Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), Zell Miller (D-Georgia), Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who traveled with Gramm to Mexico earlier in January to meet with President Vincentes Fox, are also supporting the initiative.

However, a guest-worker program is unlikely to be effective on a large scale say analysts on both sides of the border. Sidney Weintraub of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said guest-worker programs and illegal migrant amnesties usually just make migration more attractive.

Mr. Weintraub, an expert in US-Mexico relationships says he supported a migrant amnesty in 1986 that included penalties against employers who continued to use undocumented employees. However, Weintraub said the penalties were not seriously enforced and nothing currently suggests to him that the government would be more stringent.

Guest-worker programs often fall short concur Mexican experts. The bracero program the US operated for two decades from World War II to the mid-1960's actually stimulated illegal immigration said Jorge Chabat, a specialist in US-Mexico affairs at the Center for Economics Investigation and Teaching in Mexico City. Jorge Chabat said, "In just the few years from 1942 to 1945, the US accepted 120,000 workers under the bracero program and a similar number or more went north illegally. We've learned that one doesn't impede the other." The bracero program failed because legal workers' accounts of earning possibilities in the US encouraged illegal workers to follow in their footsteps - and the US government was lax in sanctioning employers who hired the illegals.

Already the US actually has a small guest-worker program that brings in about 40,000 mostly agricultural workers. However, it is considered inefficient and expensive to administer by US official, including Gramm. For example, in Texas, the so-called H-2A temporary work program has some 500 participants while the state is estimated to have at least 1.5 million illegal migrant workers notes Gramm.

Since it would apply first to workers already in the US and since it would be administered by both countries the senator said his new proposal would be an improvement.

Given the US economic standard, the time for activating a new guest-worker program may be short Weintraub notes, "It would be harder to talk about legalizing millions of workers if concerns about employment are growing."

Some observers say a guest-worker program does not easily fit with either Mexican or American views of immigration setting aside economic consideration. Chabat says, "By now you have this long tradition in Mexico of young men and others going north, may be within some family network but outside of any bureaucracy. Fears of easy deportation would be raised by an official program.

Uncomfortable with the guest-worker concept may be some Americans, who tend to view themselves with pride as a nation of immigrants. A view of what a large population of workers with no access to citizenship might mean for the US can be seen by Germany's trouble with its guest-worker program, which has created a separate class of residents without the rights of citizens.

(Reference: Howard LaFranchi, "A new plan to legalize illegal workers from Mexico," The Christian Science Monitor, January 23, 2001)

Back to the Top


Iraq Is Warned About Weapons Programs by Administration

The White House said it was too soon to say what steps the new administration would take to ensure Baghdad's compliance as it warned Iraq on January 22, 2001, to honor its agreements to destroy its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.

White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer said, "The President expects Saddam Hussein to live up to the agreements that he's made with the United Nations, especially regarding the elimination of weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to a report of January 22, 2001, that Iraq had rebuilt a series of factories long suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons.

However, Mr. Fleischer said, "I'm not prepared to address that today, but we will," when asked how and when the administration would help resume international inspections of suspected weapons sites and factories.

It is not clear however whether they have any better options than former President Clinton as the new Administration enters office.

Saddam Hussein has managed to ease his diplomatic isolations, and international support for tough enforcement of sanctions has lessoned, making it difficult to re-energize sanctions.

Despite evidence that Iraq has resumed covert work on dangerous weapons, the new administration is likely to find few allies if the President pursues a more aggressive strategy, including military force.

Iraq agreed to destroy its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs as well as the production of long-range missiles to deliver such weapons as a condition of ending the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

However, Iraq has barred any meaningful inspections by teams of United Nations experts, who since the end of the gulf war had ferreted out and destroyed large quantities of weapons and uncovered secret programs to create biological and chemical weapons since the middle of 1998.

Representative Porter Goss (R-Florida), who heads the House Intelligence Committee said, "The challenge is larger than a lot of people suspect. To say we've lost our eyes and ears in Iraq is true."

At the core of the new administration's policy is the constraint of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs. General Powell said in January, "His only tool, the only thing he can scare us with are those weapons of mass destruction, and we have to hold him to account."

Reinvigorating the economic sanctions against Iraq, convincing skeptical allies of their values, and somehow sparing Iraqi children from bearing the brunt of this effect is the vow of President Bush and his top advisors.

Richard Boucher, a State Department spokesman, said on January 22, 2001, "The most important thing is to maintain the core sanctions, the key sanctions that do make it more difficult and prevent Iraq from rebuilding its weapons programs, particularly its weapons of mass destruction." However, this approach is questioned even by some of the President's own advisors. Richard Perle, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Bush during the campaign said, "Re-energizing sanctions is a mistake. Ten years later, they're an obvious failure."

Attack on Iraq American and British aircraft struck Saddam Hussein's most sophisticated air command and radar center on February 17, 2001. To coordinate intensified anti-aircraft attacks, British and U.S. planes patrolled the no-fly zones over Iraq - the Al Suwayrah site 40 miles southwest of Baghdad, built with Russian and Serbian technical advice and funds.

However, less than 50 percent of the targeted radars were damaged said Pentagon officials. An inaccurate weather forecast prevented the munition from making a late-course correction and directly hitting all targets said a senior admiral on February 27, 2001, defending the performance of a Navy "standoff" weapon unleashed against Iraq on February 16, 2001.

Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn while giving the Navy's first public explanation of why the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) did not hit the bull's eye on all targets during the recent air strikes on Iraq said, "The mission itself was a very effective mission. It's an absolutely superb weapon. It has a tremendously good record in combat." Three factors combined in what he termed an "anomaly" to prevent most JSOW's from making a direct hit said Admiral McGinn, deputy chief of naval operations for naval warfare. He said most air defense targets were damaged by a spray of bomblets since the type of JSOW used in the operation was a cluster munition. Forecasters failed to predict the force and direction of winds at the point the JSOW's glided toward Iraq's early warning radar said the Admiral. Insufficient to overcome the wrong data was the weapon's on-board program to compensate for changes in wind direction. As a result of this, the center of the pattern of bomblets did not explode on target.

Technicians have now reprogrammed the weapons to be able to adapt to faulty weather predictions. Pilots at a safe distance from thick air-defense barrages are allowed by the 1,500-pount JSOW, to release the munition as standoff systems. A rocket-propelled model can go about 120 miles; and an unpowered JSOW can travel 40 miles.

The U.S.-British air raid on Baghdad brought Iraqi sympathy around the world and aggravated tension in a region wracked by nearly four months of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Media from Iraq taunted U.S. President George W. Bush as a "dwarf." The Babel newspaper run by President Saddam Hussein's elder son Uday said, "This criminal will fare no better against Iraq than his father, George Bush, who as U.S. President waged the 1991 Gulf War that expelled Iraqi occupation forces from Kuwait."

Additional comments referring to the survival of Saddam's rule are as follows: "The new dwarf in the 'Black House' will not be capable of doing any better than his father, who suffered a stinging defeat." Gulf newspapers said on February 18, 2001, that U.S. President George W. Bush had made a bad start with the Arab world by an act of "banditry" against an Iraq that is being reintegrated into the region. The Bush administration had "embarked on its rule in an arrogant way by flexing its muscle" in the U.S. and British raid air strikes around Baghdad said Qatar's Al Raya, which is close to official circles. It said that Washington and London had "committed a serious blunder by exacerbating the sentiment in the Arab street and the mistrust of [Arab] governments."

China's Role in Iraq

Disturbed that China is helping Iraq build a more sophisticated and effective defense against America and British air patrol, President Bush told a White House news conference, "It's troubling that they be involved in helping Iraq develop a system that will endanger our pilots."

Reports have indicated that Chinese civilian and military workers had been helping lay fiber-optic cables to improve the durability of Iraq's air defense network. The President said, "We're concerned about the Chinese presence in Iraq," and to Beijing, the administration is "sending the appropriate response." Less than 50 percent of the targeted radars were damaged said Pentagon officials. Iraq has denied that it imported workers from China. Also, to confirm the allegations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao has said he has no information.

Economic Sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell raised strong objections against the bombing of Baghdad stated the Spanish daily newspaper, El Mundo, on February 19, 2001. Powell supports economic sanctions but questioned the necessity of conducting a bombing campaign the newspaper stated. President Bush swayed more to the side of Vice-President Dick Cheney and the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

At an emergency White House meeting on February 15, 2001, the President gave his permission for the raid when these positions were taken. On a wide range of civilian goods, Secretary of State Colin Powell will recommend that sanctions on Iraq be eased but that the focus be more closely focused on military equipment. For the "ideas" he said by February 26, 2001, he had found "pretty solid support."

Arab allies complain that the sanctions are hurting only Iraqi children and changes are tended to address this opposition. Also joining the chorus are Russia, China and several U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe. However, unless they are sent into every Middle East nation, weapons inspectors would not be allowed back in Iraq even if sanctions were lifted said Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad said al-Sahaf.

On as many as 1,600 contracts for the sale of consumer and civilian goods to Iraq, U.S. objections could be lifted said a senior administration official. To some "dual-use" items such as refrigerated trucks and water pumps, which are considered to have possible military applications, the easing could even extend. The biggest problem would be to tighten sanctions on the small amounts of materials such as fissile material required to produce weapons of mass destruction said Secretary Powell. Putting the onus on "setting notions with fissile materials to control it," was proposed by Powell. He said, "We have to keep the box as strongly closed as it has been without having on our shoulders" the suffering of the Iraqi people."

The Gulf War

On February 25, 2001, Lady Margaret Thatcher marked the tenth anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait by saying allied forces should have pressed on into Iraq to crush Saddam Hussein for good. "I only wish that I had stayed on to finish the job properly," she told the Telegraph. Lady Thatcher added..."Perhaps then we wouldn't be where we are today with this cruel and terrible man still securely in power."

Lady Thatcher indicated "totally justified" were the recent bombing raids near Baghdad by British and American aircraft. "It was legal, it was within the law and nobody could say anything against it."

(Reference: Rowan Scarborough, "Admiral confirms Iraq - bombing problem," The Washington Times, February 28, 2001; Ben Barber, "Powell to push easing of sanctions," The Washington Times, February 27, 2001; Philip Jacobson, "Gulf War ended too soon, says Thatcher," Telegraph, February 26, 2001; Bill Varner, "Iraq Rejects Inspections, Even If UN Lifts Sanctions," Bloomberg, February 26, 2001; Robert Burns, "Bush Disturbed About China in Iraq," The Associated Press, February 23, 2001; John Ashtead, "Colin Powell Against US Raids on Iraq," Pravda, February 20, 2001; Philip Sherwell and David Wastell, "Bombs destroyed Iraqi command centre," Telegraph, February 18, 2001; "Iraq vows defeat for Bush after raids put Middle East on edge," Agence France-Presse, February 18, 2001; "Arab World dismisses Bush 'banditry' against Iraq: Gulf papers," Agence France-Presse, February 18, 2001; Eric Schmitt and Steven Lee Myers, "Bush Administration Warns Iraq on Weapons Programs," The New York Times, January 22, 2001)

Back to the Top


Major Weapons Systems Reduction Being Considered

Defense officials say that incoming Pentagon officials have already started discussing options for eliminating or curtailing major weapons systems, with the Joint Strike Fighter mentioned as a possible casualty.

"Feelers" have been sent to Capitol Hill to gauge political opposition to canceling systems that create jobs in a number of states by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's transition team said the source.

One source close to the transition team said, "The Bush team is being very smart. They are seeking congressional advice as they talk through some of these programs. They are discreetly planting seeds and looking at alternatives."

The idea of eliminating the $250 billion Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a multipurpose jet designed for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, has been broached by Pentagon officials in tentative discussions. One source said the Bush team would "make commitments" to the Marines' V-22 Osprey, the Navy's F-18 Super Hornet and the Air Force's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, in return for the military branches' agreement.

Also, delaying production of the Navy's DD-21 stealth destroyer to redesign it for theater ballistic missile defense is another option being discussed. The Defense source said, "There are discussions ongoing, but no decision has been made."

Largely based on service requests made during the Clinton administration's final year in office, Secretary Rumsfeld presented his first budget in February for fiscal year 2002. However, this spring, Mr. Rumsfeld will augment the request and would like to make a bold statement about his vision for the 1.37 million member armed forces say sources.

So that the Pentagon may invest in future weapons that promise to change the way wars are fought, the Secretary has been given orders from the President to cancel some programs. President Bush spoke of a "window of opportunity" that would allow the Pentagon to put money into technologies such as unmanned aircraft, light armor and the "arsenal ship," a stealthy vessel armed with long-range land-attack missiles in his campaign's major speech on defense policy at The Citadel in September: "The real goal is to move beyond marginal improvements, to replace existing programs with new technologies and strategies. To use this window of opportunity [is] to skip a generation of technology. This will require spending more and spending more wisely."

In major weapons procurement, nearly half a trillion dollars is at stake. However, each has a constituency of lawmakers, defense industry lobbyists and unions which pose a problem for the President. The reason the administration already is sending feelers to Congress is this potential opposition.

As part of a far-reaching review ordered by the President, at least seven major procurements will be scrutinized by Secretary Rumsfeld including weapons development, force structures, foreign deployments and the procurement process itself.

The Navy's DD-21 stealth destroyer, the Joint Striking Fighter, the Air Force F-22 stealth fighter, the Navy F-18 Super Hornet, the Marine Corps V-22 Osprey, the Army's Crusader artillery piece and the Comanche Scout/Light Attack helicopter will be the systems most likely to receive a closer look. Exceeding $475 billion is the system's long-range price tag.

As its overall budget declined in the past ten years, the Pentagon took a "procurement holiday." All that is left is an aging force as a result of the decline, coupled with unprecedented wear and tear on equipment. Vietnam-era helicopters are still being flown by the Marines. Air Force fighters are approaching 15 years average age. There is no way the Pentagon can modernize properly without eliminating some current systems contends John Hillen, a defense adviser to the Bush administration - "In my personal opinion, I do not see how you can continue to acquire the current upgrades on legacy systems such as the F-22 and Joint Strike Fighter while at the same time transforming the force with leap-ahead technologies."

"There is simply not enough money, not even close, even with extravagant budget increases. In other words, a true transformation is going to require some hard choices when it comes to current programs in the pipeline over the next 10 years."

The President said he planned to purchase some new weapons "necessary for current tasks" in his speech at The Citadel. However, to "replace existing programs with new technologies" is the most important part of his plan.

The President's problems could begin if he asks Congress to affirm his decision to discard major programs. For example, Lockheed-Martin is assembling the first F-22 and has strong backing of lawmakers from Georgia. Likely to be built in Mississippi (Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's home state) are a good share of the DD-21 destroyers. Senator Lott is arguing for a bigger shipbuilding budget, not in a decade - now.

A congressional defense aide said, "I think it will be fascinating. It will tell you who is running the Pentagon: Rumsfeld or the Joint Chiefs. Let's say they kill the V-22 and they make that recommendation to Congress. The Marines come over in the back door and say, 'Don't pay any attention.' If Rumsfeld doesn't have their head on a platter; it's clear who's running the Pentagon."

(Rowan Scarborough, "Pentagon considers cuts in major weapons systems," The Washington Times, January 22, 2001)

Back to the Top


Virtual Pornography Ban Reviewed by Supreme Court

On January 22, 2001, the Supreme Coiurt agreed to review whether Congress was wrong in banning computer-modified pictures that only appear to show minors involved in sexual activity.

The court will hear the government's argument over a 1996 law that bans sexual images that do not actually portray children to "help to stamp out the market for child pornography involving real children."

Challenging the ban saying it violates free-speech rights was a coalition of adult-oriented businesses. And agreeing with this was a San Francisco-based federal appeals court.

A long-standing ban on child pornography to prohibit any image that "appears to be" or "conveys the impression" of someone under 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct was expanded by the Child Pornography Prevention Act. Computer technology that can be used to modify an innocent picture of a child into a depiction of a child engaged in sex was targeted by the law.

In federal court, the law was challenged by the Free Speech Coalition, a California-based trade association of adult-oriented business.

One section of the law that banned the use of identifiable children in computer-modified sexual images was not challenged by the group. Although the law was upheld by a federal judge, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided in December 1999 that the provisions challenged by the coalition violated the Constitution's free-speech protection.

The government did not demonstrate an association between computer-generated child pornography and the exploitation of actual children said the court.

Justice Department attorneys asked the Supreme Court to resolve the conflict since several other appeals courts have upheld the provision in the appeal acted on January 22, 2001.

Government attorneys claim that the fact that pedophiles often use pictures to seduce other children into sexual activity gives the government a compelling interest in preventing the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Justice Department attorneys said, "The government may find it impossible in many cases to prove that a pornographic image is of a real child," since it is hard to distinguish computer-generated pictures from those actually portraying children involved in sex.

Even without the disputed provisions, the 1996 law "remains a comprehensive and effective tool for fighting the real evils of child pornography," said the Free Speech Coalition attorneys.

(Reference: Laurie Asseo, "Justices To Review Virtual Porn Ban," The Associated Press, January 22, 2001)

Back to the Top


Moratorium on Clinton's Last Efforts

Workers at the Office of Federal Register scrambled to attach notices saying the regulations had been withdrawn just hours after laying out copies of last minute regulations from the Clinton administration.

President Bush blocked many of the former President's actions by preventing them from being printed in the Federal Register in what has become a Washington tradition when the White House switches hands.

Notices for $2.7 billion in housing grants for the poor and new regulations for sightseeing flights over national parks were caught in the fray.

On January 22, 2001, this left some in the federal bureaucracy wondering what they could and could not enforce. Megan Durham, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said, "We're trying to figure it out." That agency needed to know if in California new maps outlining areas for two endangered species protected habitats would take effect for the Peninsula bighorn sheep and the arroyo toad.

After taking the oath on January 20, 2001, the President's moratorium was one of his first actions. To review the pending rules and try to scrap and to alter those it opposed was the intent of the new administration. President Bush also promised to review all executive orders already signed by former President Clinton.

On January 19, 2001, stacks of new policies and regulations that Clinton officials hoped would be published flooded the office of the Federal Register. However, under the orders of the White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, workers at the publication clipped notices to them declaring that rules and policies were being called back for review.

For workers at the Federal Register, the chaotic process during changes in administration was nothing new. In 1981, Ronald Reagan did it to Jimmy Carter's administration and in 1993, Clinton blocked some of the last actions of President Bush's father.

The former President, for example, put 58 million acres of federal land off limits to road building and logging and issued regulations imposing new workplace safety rules - two in a handful of last-minute orders that angered Republicans.

However, until President Bush stopped them, dozens of rules were pushed through anyway.

For housing, community development and empowerment programs and vouchers to help the poor rent housing, a notice was passed making $2.75 billion in HUD funds available.

Also, in relation to the removal of drug dealers and criminals from public housing - HUD's final "get tough" policy - an executive order was signed to allow tenants the right to dispute their criminal records as justification for eviction.

Additionally, a ruling was passed to make it easier for non-English speaking people to apply for federal benefits, including the hiring of interpreters and translators of written material. This order will also apply to state and local governments and any other organization receiving HUD money.

A U.S. Trade Representative's rule forced the review of agricultural agreements with the World Trade Organization to study their impact on the environment. Even national parks were affected by a ruling that helicopters and airplanes providing sightseeing tours over the federal parks would be prohibited because of complaints that the noise from the aircraft disturbed the parks tranquility.

In the end, Bush administration officials were unsure of the exact number of federal rules that were ultimately be stopped by the moratorium.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said many of the last minute rules were part of the normal course of government business while others gave Clinton a chance to "raise the barrier to change policies." Ornstein added, "You lay down markers of what you think policy should be like. If the new administration declines to follow those markers, you've set up a debate."

As a result of the many rules and regulations issued on January 22, 2001, the Federal Register made up 944 pages of new rules in two volumes. The printing crews were put on overtime to finish the work that took three nights to print and bind. Three other double-volume editions preceded these rules that added up to 2,568 pages.

Subject to a 60-day delay that the new administration imposed on January 20, 2001, many of the regulations published on January 23, 2001 are still in the proposal stage.

However, it will be difficult to undo the final rules that include eight new national monuments that exhibit various lands developed.

For example, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman said on February 28, 2001, that Bush administration officials will enforce rather than challenge rules issued in the waning days of the Clinton presidency that go after diesel trucks and buses as a source of dirty air.

March 18, 2001, when the diesel rule is scheduled to go into affect, the law will require refiners between 2006 and 2009 to reduce the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel by 97 percent.

Trucks and buses will have to be equipped with engines that produce 90 percent fewer emissions of particle soot beginning with the model-year 2007. Nitrogen oxides emissions from diesel engines have to be reduced by 95 percent by the 2010 model year.

(John Heilprin, "EPA Will Enforce Diesel Regulations," The Associated Press, February 28, 2001; Matt Kelley, "Clinton's Last Effort Called Back," The Associated Press, January 23, 2001, Cindy Skrzycki, "Midnight Regulations' Swell Register," The Washington Post, January 23, 2001)

Back to the Top