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Wooden, Cindy. "pope benedict formally begins his ministry as head of church." Tidings Online. April 29, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.the-tidings.com>
In a liturgy rich with symbols and promises, Pope Benedict XVI formally began his ministry as head of the universal church, and Catholics from around the world pledged their love and obedience to him. The morning of April 24, Pope Benedict, elected April 19, walked down to the tomb of the martyred St. Peter in the Vatican basilica to pay homage to the first bishop of Rome.Then, with some 150 cardinals, he processed into a sun-bathed St. Peter's Square to begin the Mass and receive the main symbols of his office: the fisherman's ring and the pallium. "At this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity," Pope Benedict said in his homily. The 78-year-old pope said he would rely on the prayers of all Catholics and the grace of God. "I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone," he said.
The new pope said his inaugural Mass was not the moment to present "a program of governance," but rather a time to promise to try be a good shepherd to Christ's flock, to rescue those who are lost, to help the poor and to build unity among all believers in Christ. An estimated 350,000 people attended the Mass, including delegations from more than 130 countries and from dozens of Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches. The German-born pope's 81-year old brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, was seated in the front row by the altar, not far from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Horst Koehler. Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Britain's Prince Philip were seated alongside the altar. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of U.S. President George W. Bush, led the five-member U.S. national delegation.
Religious calendars created some complications for some delegations. Israel was represented by its ambassador to the Vatican, although the inauguration took place on the first full day of the weeklong Passover observance. Sixteen Orthodox churches sent representatives even though April 24 was Palm Sunday on the Julian calendar most of them follow. Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez placed the pallium, a long woolen stole, around the neck of Pope Benedict, reminding him that Jesus has entrusted him with taking up the ministry of St. Peter to shepherd Christ's flock.
Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, handed Pope Benedict the fisherman's ring, which the new pope placed on the ring finger of his right hand.Cardinal Sodano prayed that "the Spirit of love" would fill the new pope with the strength and meekness needed to minister to Christians "in the unity of communion." In his homily, Pope Benedict said, "One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves." "Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God's truth, of God's word, the nourishment of his presence which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament," he said. The new pope asked for the prayers of the entire church that he would grow in his love for the Lord and for the members of the church and prayers that he would be strong in the face of those who threaten the church.

"Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another," he said.

His homily repeatedly was interrupted by applause, and Pope Benedict received a long ovation when he finished.

After he received the symbols of his office, Pope Benedict received the act of obedience of his new flock, symbolized by 12 people from eight countries.

Bishop Andrea Erba of Velletri-Segni, who represented diocesan bishops, leads the diocese of which the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was titular head while serving as dean of the College of Cardinals.

Father Enrico Pomili, representing all priests, is pastor of the Rome parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice, Cardinal Ratzinger's titular church until he became dean of the college in 2002.

The others included a transitional deacon from Africa; a Discalced Carmelite priest who serves as a consultant to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; a Benedictine abbess; a Korean married couple; a young woman from Sri Lanka; and a young man from Congo.

Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, South Korean Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan and Cardinal Medina represented the College of Cardinals.

Among the thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter's Square and filled the surrounding streets for the Mass were many who felt represented by the 12.
"Pope Benedict begins minstry as head of church." Catholic Centinial. April 29, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.centinial.org>
VATICAN CITY — In a liturgy rich with symbols and promises, Pope Benedict Sunday formally began his ministry as head of the universal church, and Catholics from around the world pledged their love and obedience to him.

Pope Benedict walked down to the tomb of the martyred St. Peter in the Vatican basilica to pay homage to the first bishop of Rome.

Then, with 150 cardinals, he processed into a sun-bathed St. Peter’s Square to begin the Mass and receive the main symbols of his office: the fisherman’s ring and the pallium.

“At this moment, weak servant of God that I am, I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity,” Pope Benedict said in his homily.

The 78-year-old pope said he would rely on the prayers of all Catholics and the grace of God.

The new pope said his inaugural Mass was not the moment to present “a program of governance,” but rather a time to promise to try be a good shepherd.

An estimated 350,000 people attended the Mass, including delegations from more than 130 countries and from dozens of Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant churches.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of U.S. President George W. Bush, led the five-member U.S. national delegation. Canada’s governor general attended.

The German-born pope’s 81-year old priest-brother was seated in the front row by the altar, not far from German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The crowd was dotted by faithful waving flags, especially German flags.

Religious calendars created some complications for some delegations. Israel was represented by its ambassador to the Vatican, although the inauguration took place on the first full day of the weeklong Passover observance. Sixteen Orthodox churches sent representatives even though it was was Palm Sunday on the Julian calendar most of them follow.

The pallium, a long woolen stole, was placed around the neck of Pope Benedict, reminding him that Jesus has entrusted him with taking up the ministry of St. Peter to shepherd Christ’s flock.

Pope Benedict was handed the fisherman’s ring, which the new pope placed on the ring finger of his right hand.

In his homily, Pope Benedict said, “One of the basic characteristics of a shepherd must be to love the people entrusted to him, even as he loves Christ whom he serves.”

“Loving means giving the sheep what is truly good, the nourishment of God’s truth, of God’s word, the nourishment of his presence which he gives us in the Blessed Sacrament,” he said.

The new pope asked for the prayers of the entire church that he would grow in his love for the Lord and for the members of the church and prayers that he would be strong in the face of those who threaten the church.

His homily repeatedly was interrupted by applause, and Pope Benedict received a long ovation when he finished.

After he received the symbols of his office, Pope Benedict received the act of obedience of his new flock, symbolized by 12 people from eight countries.

Among the thousands of people who gathered in St. Peter’s Square and filled the surrounding streets for the Mass were many who felt represented by the 12.

While the Gospel was chanted in Latin and Greek, the other Bible readings were in English and Spanish. The prayers of the faithful were recited in German, French, Arabic, Chinese and Portuguese.

The bread and wine consecrated by Pope Benedict during the Mass were brought up to him by Catholics from Hungary, Croatia, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Italy, China and Peru; many in the procession wore their national costumes.

During the offertory procession and the act of obedience, Pope Benedict smiled broadly, listened attentively, stroked the cheeks of the young and offered his blessing.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Benedict took his first ride in the popemobile, standing in the back of the open vehicle, waving to the crowd and blessing them with his right hand, newly weighted by the fisherman’s ring.

He then went into St. Peter’s Basilica where a chair was set on an oriental rug before the main altar. Members of the government delegations were led into the basilica to greet him and pose for photographs.
Murphy, Brian "Pope reaches out to other religions in his first major sermon." Daily Herald. April 25, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.harktheherald.com>
VATICAN CITY -- In a broad message of outreach to formally begin his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI stressed his church's shared bonds with Jews and other Christians and promised followers Sunday he would not ignore their voices in leading the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics. The pope's first major homily in St. Peter's Square also was noteworthy for what it left out: no mention of any current political issues or direct overtures toward Muslims although he paid respects "to believers and non-believers alike."

"My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church, to the word and the will of the Lord," the pontiff told a gallery of dignitaries, spiritual leaders and more than 350,000 pilgrims in his German-accented Italian.

The pope did not elaborate, but it suggested his papacy could study some pressing issues such as greater social activism and ways to reverse the decline of church attendance and vocations in the West. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- before his election as pope -- he clearly opposed any fundamental changes such as ending bans on contraception or women priests.

The lack of a political edge to the homily also hinted Benedict may be more cautious than his predecessor, John Paul II, in using the Vatican's clout in international affairs.

The 78-year-old pontiff appeared tired and coughed several times into a handkerchief that he pulled from within a sleeve of his golden vestments. But he looked invigorated -- smiling and waving -- while being driven over the square's cobblestones on an open-air vehicle after the Mass to formally invest him with the papacy.

"At first I though he'd be stern and scolding," said Walter Bonner, who traveled from Italy's German-speaking Alpine region. "But he turns out to be more like a grandfather."

The inclusive tone of the homily -- given after he received the Fisherman's Ring and other symbols of papal authority -- added fodder to the deep reassessment of Benedict since his election Tuesday. He emerged from the conclave followed by his reputation as rigid and dogmatic after 24 years as the Vatican's chief overseer of doctrine. But he quickly displayed a style of openness he said was inspired by John Paul II -- who he said is now "truly at home" among the saints.

One of Benedict's first acts was a personal greeting to the head of Rome's Jewish community. On Sunday, he noted "a great shared spiritual heritage" with Jews.

Benedict's effort to reach out to Jews carries an added dimension because of his membership in the Hitler Youth and later as a conscript into the German army during World War II. He said he was forced into both roles.

In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the pope's words shows his desire to continue John Paul's interfaith efforts and "forge even stronger ties between Israel and the Vatican and between Jews and Christians." Most Jewish leaders could not attend the Mass because it coincided with the weeklong Passover holiday.

The pope also extended a hand to all Christians, quoting Scriptures with images of a separated flock. "Let us do all we can to pursue the path toward unity," he said.

"Finally, like a wave gathering force," he added at another point in the 30-minute homily, "my thoughts go out to all men and women today, to believers and non-believers alike."

Here, too, the pope stepped gently onto sensitive ground. In 2000, while serving at the Vatican's powerful office that guides doctrine, he issued a document that angered other Christians and faiths by framing salvation in only Catholic terms.

But he went no further into church doctrine in his homily -- unlike his pre-conclave comments that stressed obedience to absolute truths of morality and faith. Instead, he proclaimed humility at facing "this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity."

"Pray for me," he said several times.

The Mass -- known as the Ceremony of Investiture -- brought Benedict back to the steps of St. Peter's Basilica where he led the funeral rites for John Paul on April 8. Both events brought huge crowds and required sweeping security measures, including anti-missile batteries on alert, no-fly zones over central Rome and police boats patrolling the rain-swollen Tiber River.

The list of dignitaries included German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother.

Among the religious leaders: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Metropolitan Chrisostomos, a top envoy for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Christian Orthodox, and a senior representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Kirill.
"Pope Benedict makes first appearance and blessing from the windows of papal apartment." EITB24. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.eitb24.com>
Pope Benedict made his first Sunday (May 1) noon appearance and blessing from the windows of his papal apartment, almost a month since Pope John Paul's poignant March 30 appearance at the windows of the same papal apartment, when he was too sick to speak to the crowds below.

In what was a welcome return to a much-loved weekly papal tradition, Benedict recalled to the cheering crowd of more than 40,000 the deeds of his predecessor, whom he feels to be a close presence. Benedict initially appeared stiff and nervous in comparison to the charismatic John Paul, who, he recalled, had made the Sunday noon greeting, usually in several languages a much loved tradition around the world.

In a sign that he intends to continue in his predecessors steps to the search for world harmony, Benedict greeted the Orthodox and eastern Orthodox churches which celebrate Easter on Sunday, hoping for unity between the Orthodox and Catholic churches. "I would like to salute with particular affection the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church, which this very Sunday celebrate the resurrection of Christ", said Benedict.

As millions gather around the world to mark Labour Day, the Pope called for better working conditions and greater respect for human dignity. "I wish there to be work for everyone, especially for the youth", said the Pope.
"A good start for Benedict XVI." Times-Herald. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.timesheraldonline.com>
While newly ordained Pope Benedict XVI has begun his papacy by pledging to work for peace, reconciliation, intrafaith outreach and harmony, many American Catholics - and even non-Catholics - sit fuming. He is not the pope that polls showed we wanted. Mo

By the two-thirds world, he means Asia, Africa and Latin America, and their growing influence on the Catholic religion.

And those parts of the world hold fast to tradition and traditional beliefs.
"With rare exception," according to Sweeny, "Christian leaders in the two-thirds world view changes to traditional teaching and practice with suspicion, or regard such changes as unfaithfulness."

So when Jim Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., told the Associated Press: "American culture has had a significant influence on church members here" and that "Catholics have considerable differences with Rome," he clearly overstated our power position.

American Catholics simply do not share the cultural roots of a large portion of fellow church members.

"Absent the experience of a vast new land mass and its settling," notes Phyllis Tickle, former contributing editor in religion for Publishers Weekly and editor for "The Divine Hours" prayer Web site,

"Europe can never develop nor comprehend the sacred individualism of the North American, with its penchant for the idiosyncratic and its almost pathological insistence on equal air space for every opinion."

"From their beginnings," writer Sweeny concludes, "North Americans have often followed conscience over tradition. We have often taken prophetic stands for what we believed to be right.

"In the future, we may be standing alone."

This new pope may not, however, turn out to the unpleasant, unfeeling hard-liner many Catholics feared.

It may be becoming more and more clear that American Catholics will not move the church away from its doctrinal base, but the 78-year-old man now leading the Catholic Church began his tenure with some impressive, conciliatory actions - at least on the global front.

In his first message to the faithful, Pope Benedict pledged to work for unity among Christians and to seek "an open and sincere dialogue"other faiths.

He also has vowed to draw on the work of the Second Vatican Council, a 1962-65 meeting that modernized the church.

That may ease the minds of some liberal, change-seeking Catholics.

Reactions to his election from other major church leaders have been hopeful and expectant.

"I think he has been very open, so I have no worries about the ecumenical route," British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor told the Associated Press. "It will continue. No doubt at all."

The Islamic world, where many hope he will promote harmony between the two religions and possibly Middle East peace, note this new pope has supported the Vatican's cautious overtures to mainstream Islamic leaders.

He won praise from Muslims by criticizing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for saying in 2001 that Western civilization is superior to Islam.

"One cannot speak of the superiority of one culture over another, because history has shown that a society can change from one age to another," he said at the time.

As a global leader, Pope Benedict shows promise already as a man of tolerance and outreach.

It is not a bad start.
Babington, Charles. "Frist frosts Democrats with filibuster talk at faith forum." The Journal Gazette. April 25, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.fortwayne.com>
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist delivered a taped speech Sunday to a nationwide broadcast in which Christian conservatives, during other segments, attacked Democratic senators for blocking judicial nominees described in the program as “people of faith.”

Frist, R-Tenn., avoided religious references in his six-minute video for “Justice Sunday,” whose sponsors said reached 61 million households. The hour-long telecast drew criticism from Democrats and religious groups who said its theme inappropriately injected religion into a heated debate over the filibustering of some of President Bush’s most conservative court nominees.

Frist urged Democrats to end the delaying tactics and allow up-or-down votes on the stalled nominees.

“Emotions are running high on both sides, and it reveals once again our country’s desperate need for more civility in political life,” he said in his taped message, part of the program simulcast to churches, homes and organizations from a 6,000-member Baptist church east of Louisville.

Tensions are rising in the Senate over filibusters of judicial nominees, and a showdown seems imminent. Frist has called the filibusters intolerable, saying they prevent senators from giving the president the “advice and consent” called for in the Constitution. Frist, who is considering a 2008 presidential bid, is threatening to change Senate rules to ban filibusters of judicial nominees. Democrats say they would retaliate by bringing most Senate business to a halt.

In his speech, Frist said Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., “calls me a radical Republican. I don’t think it’s radical to ask senators to vote.”

Alluding indirectly to some Republicans’ talk of punishing judges whose decisions they strongly dislike, Frist said: “The balance of power among all three branches requires respect, not retaliation. I won’t go along with that.”

Frist’s comments were more moderate than those of several religious leaders headlining “Justice Sunday: Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith.”

Charles W. Colson, head of Prison Fellowship Ministries, also appeared by videotape. He said Senate Democrats are trying to use the filibuster “to seize what they lost at the ballot box and to prevent the appointment of judges, holding the judiciary hostage.” Their actions, he said, “are destroying the balance of power, which was a vital Christian contribution to the founding of our nation.”

James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, spoke from the church’s pulpit and criticized the Supreme Court, seven of whose nine members were named by Republican presidents. The court’s majority, Dobson said, “are unelected and unaccountable and arrogant and imperious and determined to redesign the culture according to their own biases and values, and they’re out of control.”

The court’s majority does not care “about the sanctity of life,” he said. Pornography is a growing problem, he said, “plus this matter of judicial tyranny to people of faith, and that has to stop.”

Dobson said the Senate has “six or eight very squishy Republicans” who have not committed to helping change the filibuster rule. Throughout the program, the names and phone numbers of senators scrolled across the screen, and speakers urged listeners to call and demand that the filibusters be stopped. Among the senators whose photos were shown were Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, John McCain, R-Ariz., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.

Democrats and liberal religious groups said Frist should have played no role in the heavily promoted broadcast.

“I think Sen. Frist may have made as big a strategic political blunder in embracing Justice Sunday as he did in the Terri Schiavo case,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He was referring to Congress’ effort to intercede in a brain-damaged Florida woman’s case, which polls showed to be unpopular.

Democrats have used the filibuster – which can be stopped with 60 votes in the 100-member Senate – to block confirmation votes for 10 of Bush’s appellate court nominees. Democrats say the 10 are outside the political mainstream. Bush renominated seven of them this year; Democrats have vowed to filibuster them again, and Frist’s party, which holds 55 Senate seats, does not have the votes to stop them.

The philosophies and inclinations of federal judges have become increasingly vital to activist groups on the left and right. They see the courts as crucial arbiters in topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage, school prayer, gun rights and other matters.

The Senate has been at the center of the fight for years. Republicans acknowledge that they blocked several of Bill Clinton’s nominees when they controlled the Senate for most of his presidency, doing so mainly by bottling up nominations in committee. Republicans say that was a less drastic strategy than a filibuster on the Senate floor. Many Democrats disagree.
Nunn, Randall H. "Judicial Profiling by the Democrats." Opinion Editorials. April 29, 2005. May 1, 2005 <opinioneditorials.com>
It is time for the Republicans in Congress and the White House to stop pussyfooting around and act like a party with a mandate from the voters. Thus far, the Republicans have not shown themselves to be particularly effective in the battle over confirmation of judicial nominees nor skillful in their explanation of the issues involved in this constitutional confrontation. The issue is relatively simple to articulate. The Constitution provides that the president appoints Supreme Court justices and judges to the lower federal courts, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president, not the Senate, is empowered to select the judges. The Senate passes on their fitness for the office, voting to confirm or not by a simple majority vote. The Democrats are preventing a majority vote and trying to use their abuse of the filibuster to amend the Constitution, de facto, by requiring the concurrence of 60 Senators to confirm a judge. The Democrats are perverting the Constitutional requirements by denying confirmation because of a nominee’s judicial or political philosophy, rather than “fitness” for the office.

Alexander Hamilton, writing in The Federalist Papers, explained that allowing confirmation of such appointees by the Senate “would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.” Never was it suggested that a nominee’s beliefs about the nature of the government or the judicial system should be a factor. What could be more sensible than to allow the president to appoint people who share his vision of government and the proper role of the judiciary in that government? Should the Senate be allowed to force Cabinet members on the president who disagree with his basic policies? Of course not. The president was elected by a majority of the voters because they agreed with his policies and positions on important issues. The president should be allowed to carry out his duties with cabinet members and other appointees of his choice, so long as they are “fit” for that position. Judicial nominees should be no different.

The Democrats in Congress, and their confederates in the mainstream media and academe, are engaging in judicial profiling. Anyone who is conservative is presumptively not entitled to a vote in the U.S. Senate because the minority has decided that conservative principles are unacceptable in judicial nominees. And if the nominee is philosophically opposed to certain pet liberal doctrines and ideals (e.g., restrictions on religious expression and abortion rights), then such nominee must be stopped. This is nothing more than a campaign to frustrate the ability of the president and Congress to carry out their programs and to overrule the majority by imposing the elitist liberal philosophy on the country. If this is allowed to continue, what is the purpose of elections?

The arrogance of the Democrats and their liberal allies is not concealed in the slightest. Reuters news agency reported this week that “Top Democrats on Monday raised the possibility that they might permit some of the seven nominees to be confirmed, provided others were dropped.” The minority is telling the president and the majority in the U.S. Senate that they “might permit” some nominees to be confirmed, “provided others were dropped.” This is tantamount to telling the president that they—the liberal minority—will select the judges and the Constitution be damned. Of course, the liberals get away with this because Reuters (like the rest of the mainstream media) reports this without any comment or opposing viewpoint.

The Democrats in the Senate are, in effect, telling the country that they will force their choices on the president and the majority whether they like it or not and despite the Constitution. Their arrogance and disdain for the U.S. Constitution ought to be exposed and criticized by the media and the majority in Congress. Instead the media treats this battle as a fight by Democrats to prevent “extremist” judges from being appointed while at the same time some Republicans treat it as merely a squabble over Senate rules.

If respect for the rule of law and our judiciary is to be restored, it is vital that more strict constructionist judges be placed on the bench. If Republicans in the Senate don’t have the courage to set aside Senate “clubbiness” and collegiality on an issue like this at a time when a majority of the country is incensed over social engineering by judicial decisions, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. And when elected representatives don’t do their job and refuse to act in accordance with their campaign representations, it is time to “un-elect” them.
Holland, Jesse. "Fight over Judicial nominees escalates." Vanguard. April 28, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.dailyvanguard.com>
It is time for the Republicans in Congress and the White House to stop pussyfooting around and act like a party with a mandate from the voters. Thus far, the Republicans have not shown themselves to be particularly effective in the battle over confirmation of judicial nominees nor skillful in their explanation of the issues involved in this constitutional confrontation. The issue is relatively simple to articulate. The Constitution provides that the president appoints Supreme Court justices and judges to the lower federal courts, with the advice and consent of the Senate. The president, not the Senate, is empowered to select the judges. The Senate passes on their fitness for the office, voting to confirm or not by a simple majority vote. The Democrats are preventing a majority vote and trying to use their abuse of the filibuster to amend the Constitution, de facto, by requiring the concurrence of 60 Senators to confirm a judge. The Democrats are perverting the Constitutional requirements by denying confirmation because of a nominee’s judicial or political philosophy, rather than “fitness” for the office.

Alexander Hamilton, writing in The Federalist Papers, explained that allowing confirmation of such appointees by the Senate “would tend greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters from State prejudice, from family connection, from personal attachment, or from a view to popularity.” Never was it suggested that a nominee’s beliefs about the nature of the government or the judicial system should be a factor. What could be more sensible than to allow the president to appoint people who share his vision of government and the proper role of the judiciary in that government? Should the Senate be allowed to force Cabinet members on the president who disagree with his basic policies? Of course not. The president was elected by a majority of the voters because they agreed with his policies and positions on important issues. The president should be allowed to carry out his duties with cabinet members and other appointees of his choice, so long as they are “fit” for that position. Judicial nominees should be no different.

The Democrats in Congress, and their confederates in the mainstream media and academe, are engaging in judicial profiling. Anyone who is conservative is presumptively not entitled to a vote in the U.S. Senate because the minority has decided that conservative principles are unacceptable in judicial nominees. And if the nominee is philosophically opposed to certain pet liberal doctrines and ideals (e.g., restrictions on religious expression and abortion rights), then such nominee must be stopped. This is nothing more than a campaign to frustrate the ability of the president and Congress to carry out their programs and to overrule the majority by imposing the elitist liberal philosophy on the country. If this is allowed to continue, what is the purpose of elections?

The arrogance of the Democrats and their liberal allies is not concealed in the slightest. Reuters news agency reported this week that “Top Democrats on Monday raised the possibility that they might permit some of the seven nominees to be confirmed, provided others were dropped.” The minority is telling the president and the majority in the U.S. Senate that they “might permit” some nominees to be confirmed, “provided others were dropped.” This is tantamount to telling the president that they—the liberal minority—will select the judges and the Constitution be damned. Of course, the liberals get away with this because Reuters (like the rest of the mainstream media) reports this without any comment or opposing viewpoint.

The Democrats in the Senate are, in effect, telling the country that they will force their choices on the president and the majority whether they like it or not and despite the Constitution. Their arrogance and disdain for the U.S. Constitution ought to be exposed and criticized by the media and the majority in Congress. Instead the media treats this battle as a fight by Democrats to prevent “extremist” judges from being appointed while at the same time some Republicans treat it as merely a squabble over Senate rules.

If respect for the rule of law and our judiciary is to be restored, it is vital that more strict constructionist judges be placed on the bench. If Republicans in the Senate don’t have the courage to set aside Senate “clubbiness” and collegiality on an issue like this at a time when a majority of the country is incensed over social engineering by judicial decisions, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. And when elected representatives don’t do their job and refuse to act in accordance with their campaign representations, it is time to “un-elect” them.
"filibuster a hedge against majority stampede." The Miami Herald. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.miami.com>
For a brief moment last week it seemed that a compromise might be possible in the U.S. Senate to avert a nasty fight over the use of filibusters to block a vote on judicial candidates. It's been a custom in the Senate for nearly 200 years for the minority party to invoke filibusters and other anti-majority tactics, particularly when the other party controlled both the Senate and the presidency, which is the situation today. Although these practices commonly frustrate the majority, they have generally served the nation well as part of the system of checks and balances designed to protect the minority and promote compromise and consultation.

It was disappointing, therefore, to hear Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., turn down the offer of Democrats to allow a confirmation vote on four of seven stalled judicial nominations in return for doing away with the threat of changing the rules in order to quash filibusters. This brings the fight over judicial nominations to the brink of a partisan confrontation that is simply unnecessary.

Sen. Frist argues that he supports the principle that judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. This is a simple enough proposition on its face, but it conveniently ignores the common use of delaying and blocking tactics in years past. During the 1990s, when power was divided between a GOP-controlled Senate and a Democratic White House, at least 20 appeals-court nominees were denied hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee, for example. In other words, not only did the nominations not get to the floor of the Senate -- they never even got the courtesy of a hearing. The only ''principle'' that seems to apply in this fight is whose ox is gored.

In years past, another check on the executive allowed senators to block action on nominees who happened to be from their state. This, too, may seem unfair, but it was a rule used by the Judiciary Committee beginning in 1995 that -- conveniently -- blocked three candidates to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2003, however, this rule was abolished. Anonymous floor ''holds'' -- a particularly repugnant blocking technique -- were also dropped.

This piece-by-piece dismantling of the checks-and-balances system certainly paves the way for more efficient government, but democracy wasn't designed to put efficiency above fairness or to stifle opposition. These protections are granted not to a party, but to the American people, the ultimate beneficiaries of the checks and balances built into the U.S. system of government.

It is particularly unbecoming for Sen. Frist to say he does not support filibusters against judicial candidates. In 1999, he was part of a failed effort to block a vote on Richard Paez, a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee who finally was approved by the Senate four years after he was nominated. What kept Judge Paez from being blocked altogether was not the obedience to a principle against filibusters by his opponents but rather the fact that Sen. Frist and his colleagues didn't have the votes to make a filibuster effective.

As things stand, the courts are not ''stacked'' for one side or the other (see adjacent box). If Democrats are forced to surrender the filibuster to stop judges they consider extreme, it turns the Senate into a rubber-stamp chamber. As the number of party-related appointments suggest, the attack on the filibuster rule isn't related to the partisan affiliation of active federal judges. More likely, it goes hand in hand with the assault on the federal judiciary by Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Tex., and his ardent supporters. It isn't enough to have their party appoint judges; the aim is to control the judges, an objective designed to undercut the independence of the judiciary in order to produce decisions that obey the extreme agenda of some GOP followers.

Based on polls following the approval of the Terri Schiavo law in Congress, it seems clear that most Americans understand that it's not for the Congress -- or the president -- to tell the courts how to decide cases. They understand that the rights of the political minority in the Senate, regardless of party, shouldn't be trampled in order to gain a temporary advantage. The best way to get things done in Congress is through consultation and compromise. Institutionalizing silence isn't.
"Lawmakers at impasse over use of filibusters." The Seattle Times. April 27, 2005. May 1, 2005 <seattletimes.nwsource.com>
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans yesterday rebuffed a Democratic overture aimed at ending a confrontation over federal judges, saying that any agreement must include a pledge not to filibuster future nominees — especially Supreme Court nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had offered to end three of seven Democratic filibusters of President Bush's appellate-court nominees if Republicans would pledge not to change Senate rules to end the use of the parliamentary tactic to stall judicial votes.

But Republicans said they were less concerned about current nominees than they were about future ones, especially an anticipated Supreme Court vacancy this summer.

"Don't just focus on the past," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said. "All judicial and Supreme Court nominees deserve a fair up-or-down vote."

Democrats said they would accept no agreement that restricted use of the filibuster, leaving the two sides at an impasse.


Bush offers ex-bases for new oil refineries

President Bush is offering to make closed military bases available for new oil refineries and will ask Congress to provide "risk insurance" to the nuclear industry against regulatory delays to spur construction of nuclear-power plants, senior administration officials said yesterday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the president will outline his proposals in a speech today in which he intends to emphasize how new technologies can be used to ease the energy supply crunch.

The White House acknowledged that none of the initiatives was expected to provide any short-term relief from soaring gasoline and oil prices. But it will be Bush's second speech on energy within a week, reflecting the growing concern over the political fallout from high energy prices.


Advisory panel seeks stem-cell ethics rules

With stem-cell research advancing more quickly than the government's desire to regulate it, a national advisory panel yesterday called for the creation of oversight boards at universities and other institutions to prevent scientists from crossing delicate moral and ethical boundaries.

New stem-cell lines should not be created without the consent of those who contribute their embryos, eggs or sperm for scientific research, and donors should not be paid for their gifts, the panel said. The 10-member panel also proposed strict limits on transplants of human embryonic stem cells into research animals.

In all, the 131-page report from the National Academies includes more than a dozen recommendations designed to assure scientists and the public that stem-cell research is conducted in a manner that recognizes the sensitive nature of the work.


Push is on to ban asbestos lawsuits

Lawmakers said yesterday that they plan to push ahead with legislation to ban asbestos liability lawsuits in exchange for a $140 billion trust fund, despite lingering opposition from some interest groups.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter and the panel's top Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, want the committee to vote on their bill this week.

"What we're facing essentially is whether the current system, which is wrack and ruin, is preferable to ... what we have in this legislation," said Specter, R-Pa.

Supporters of the bill say asbestos liability is driving companies out of business and leaving victims with little or no money for medical bills. A trust fund would speed money to those people and assure companies that they would not be sued out of existence, the supporters say.

But some insurance groups have refused to sign on to the bill, and unions also are split.
Finkel, David. "DeLay-linked lobbyist defends self publicly." Chicago Tribune. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005 <www.chicagotribune.com>
WASHINGTON -- Jack Abramoff, the Washington lobbyist who is under federal investigation for his lobbying activities on behalf of Indian tribes and is a central figure in separate probes into alleged ethical improprieties by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), has begun publicly defending himself after months of silence.

In an interview with Time magazine, portions of which have been posted on the magazine's Web site in advance of Monday's publication date, Abramoff said the tribes that hired him for help with casino licensing applications and paid him tens of millions of dollars got their money's worth.

"The return on investment for these tribes, and all my clients, is far better than anything they or we could have imagined," Abramoff said. "They realize that spending millions to save billions is just good business."

Abramoff called his Indian clients "sophisticated business people" in the interview. In private e-mail, first disclosed in The Washington Post, he called them "stupid" and "moronic." In other e-mail, released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, he called them "idiots," "troglodytes" and "monkeys."

"I regret that in the heat of the locker room atmosphere of the lobbying world, I sometimes, rarely--but sometimes--I resorted to language more common to a drill sergeant or a football coach," Abramoff told Time. "Many of my e-mails have been maliciously taken out of context, another effort by those assaulting my career. As a result, I've been portrayed as a cynical barbarian preying on the very clients I was charged to defend."

The Interior and Justice Departments and two Senate committees are investigating Abramoff in connection with allegations of kickbacks and political payoffs.

In another article, published in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Abramoff called himself "an aggressive advocate for people who engaged me," and said, "I did this within a philosophical framework, and a moral and legal framework. And I have been turned into a cartoon of the greatest villain in the history of lobbying."

The Times article characterizes Abramoff's life as "in shambles." A downtown Washington delicatessen that he opened in 2002 has closed. A private religious school he founded in 2001 in Columbia, Md., also has closed, and some of its teachers are suing Abramoff for unpaid wages.

DeLay was the one topic Abramoff would not talk about in any detail. Asked by the Times about his relationship with the man who once referred to Abramoff as "one of my closest and dearest friends," Abramoff answered by talking in general terms about the life of a Washington lobbyist.

"There are probably two dozen events and fundraisers every night," he said. "Lobbyists go on trips with members of Congress, socialize with members of Congress--all with the purpose of increasing one's access to the decision-makers.

"That is not unusual," he said.
Thomas, Cal. "What about DeLay's congressional fellow travelers." THe Salt Lake Tribune. April 30, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.sltrib.com>
It is no excuse to say ''everybody does it'' if what everybody is doing is unlawful, but in the case of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has been singled out by Democrats for criticism because of trips he has taken that were, in some cases, apparently paid at least in part by lobbyists, the party that's pointing a finger at Delay ought to look at all of those fingers pointing back at Democrats.
A study by PoliticalMoneyLine (www.politicalmoneyline .com) has found that during the last five years and out of the $16 million in congressional travel paid for by private funds, more than half (almost $8.8 million) came from tax-exempt organizations which receive funds from others. One of the raps on DeLay is that some of his trips, including one to Russia in 1997, were reportedly underwritten by lobbyists, but through a non-profit organization. DeLay has said he had no knowledge of lobbyists funding such trips, which might have violated House ethics rules.
According to the study by PoliticalMoneyLine, many of the organizations paying for congressional travel are tax-exempt entities and are not required to disclose their donors to the public in the IRS form 990 reports they must file. The study found that during the five-year period surveyed, House and Senate Democrats took more trips (5,410) than Republicans (2,375). Altogether, 605 members of both houses took trips with Rep. James Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the number one traveler, taking 19 trips valued at $168,000. By contrast, DeLay was 28th on the list with 14 trips valued at $94,568.
Rep. Harold Ford Ford can claim the prize for most trips (63), but Ford's less expensive domestic travel totaled just $61,000. The top two organizations that paid for congressional travel, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, were the Aspen Institute ($2,897,602) and the Ripon Society ($694,042), both ideologically liberal organizations.
After Sensenbrenner, the next four members spending the most on travel were Democrats: Gene Green of Texas, John Breaux of Louisiana, Robert Wexler of Florida and Maurice Hinchey of New York. No Democrat has raised questions about any of these because their target is DeLay, probably the most effective majority leader since the days when Democrats used to rule. DeLay resists and often thwarts the Democrat's agenda. Because he continues to win re-election, Democrats are trying to take him down using their scandal machine.
There's plenty more in the report that bears investigation if Democrats are serious about ''exposing'' ethically questionable travel. More than 127 travel reports filed by members listed no destinations. Twenty reports listed no trip sponsor. One hundred and six reports listed no cost figures, Fifty-one reports showed no purpose for the travel. Four reports failed to show any travel dates. No wonder some members, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have rushed to file amended reports.
An aide acknowledged that Pelosi had not reported a 2004 trip to South Korea, but only after a Washington Post reporter inquired about it. The aide, said the Post, filed a full disclosure form ''a few hours after the newspapers' inquiry'' and sent a note to the ethics committee which said, ''I did not know I was supposed to file these forms and I apologize for its lateness.''
Hulse, Carl. "Do donations sway DeLay's GOP investigators?" Lexington Herald-Leader. April 30, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.kentucky.com>
WASHINGTON - Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., vigorously cultivates his low profile in the House, but as chairman of the Ethics Committee, he is about to become much more recognizable: The committee is about to embark on an investigation into the activities of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, after the House on Wednesday overturned rules that had kept the panel in limbo.

Some Democrats and advocacy groups say the Republicans on the evenly divided committee should step aside, because they have all received money from DeLay's political organization or, in two cases, contributed to his defense fund.

Republican lawmakers and top aides scoff at this. Some note that the Democrats on the panel -- Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia (Hastings' counterpart on the committee), Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Gene Green of Texas, Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Lucille Roybal-Allard of California -- have received contributions from the Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi of California, or have given to her committees.

Two Republican members, Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma, made donations to DeLay's defense fund. The contributions have drawn attention because they go more directly to DeLay's cause than campaign donations do. Smith, a close political ally of DeLay's, provided $5,000 last year, as did Cole.

Cole declined to be interviewed, citing panel rules of confidentiality.

In a statement from his office, Smith said that his past service on the committee in investigations of fellow Republicans had shown that "he can decide on ethics complaints based on the merits, not partisanship."

Over the years, DeLay's political-action committee has also contributed to lawmakers who are now on the panel -- $5,000 to Hastings, $1,000 to Rep. Judy Biggert of Illinois, $15,000 to Cole and $15,000 to Rep. Melissa A. Hart of Pennsylvania.

But Republican officials note that although members have worked with DeLay over the years, they have not always seen eye to eye. And as members of the panel last year, Hastings and Biggert supported the admonishments the committee issued against DeLay.
Mabeus, Courtney. "Tom DeLay Maintains His Generosity toward Fellow GOP Lawmakers." Yuba Net. April 28, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.yubanet.com>
Dogged by numerous allegations of ethical wrongdoing and the increasing likelihood of a congressional investigation, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is showing no sign of slowing his campaign contributions to fellow Republican House members.

DeLay contributed $144,010 to 15 GOP House members from his leadership political action committee in March, according to records filed this month with the Federal Election Commission. Eleven of the 15 members won election last year with 55 percent of the vote or less. Six of them are freshmen.

The contributions from DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC went to the members' campaign accounts, except for $5,000 that was given to the People for Enterprise, Trade and Economic Growth PAC, the leadership committee of Texas Rep. Pete Sessions.

DeLay is well known for his generous giving to Republican lawmakers and candidates. Since 1999, ARMPAC has contributed more than $3 million to federal GOP candidates, $2.6 million of which has gone to House candidates. DeLay topped all other members of Congress in the 2004 election cycle with more than $986,000 in contributions to federal candidates from ARMPAC and his campaign committee. Of that, $920,000 went to 111 GOP House candidates while another $59,000 went to nine Republican Senate candidates.

After being admonished by the House ethics committee three times last year, DeLay recently has been accused of traveling abroad on trips paid for by lobbyists or foreign agents. Ethics rules prohibit such travel.

DeLay also is on the defense for his close ties to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of an FBI investigation into his representation of Native American tribes. Two Senate committees are also investigating Abramoff's activities.

In addition, DeLay's Texas-based PAC, Texans for a Republican Majority, has been the subject of a high-profile grand jury investigation by Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earle over allegations that it laundered more than $190,000 in corporate contributions through the Republican National Committee that went to Republican candidates for the state legislature in 2002.

The House ethics committee has not yet organized this year because of a partisan dispute over rules changes pushed through by the Republican leadership that critics say were intended in part to protect DeLay.

But after weeks of stalemate, Republican leaders yesterday indicated that they might be willing to motify the rules and launch an ethics committee investigation of DeLay.

Although none of the five Republicans on the ethics committee received contributions from ARMPAC in March, all of them have received money from DeLay in the past, raising possible conflict-of-interest concerns.

Three ethics committee members, Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas), were added following a controversial shake-up of the committee membership earlier this year. Hart has received $15,000 from ARMPAC since she became a candidate in 1999. Cole, first elected in 2002, also has received $15,000 from ARMPAC. Smith, who has served on the ethics committee before, including nearly three years as chairman, has received $20 from ARMPAC since 1993.

Hart told the USA Today that she does not see the ARMPAC contributions to her campaign as problematic, saying it is "just normal" for leaders to contribute to campaigns.

Holdover ethics committee members from the 108th Congress, Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), also have received campaign contributions from DeLay. Hastings has raised a combined $8,930 from ARMPAC and DeLay's campaign committee since 1993. Biggert, who was elected in 1998, has received a combined $2,764 from DeLay.

Smith and Cole have contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund. Smith has donated $10,000 since 2000, the year DeLay started the fund. Cole has contributed $5,000, according to Public Citizen. None of those contributions was made this year.

"The donations were at different times for different purposes, and it misleads the public to link them together and to suggest that they affect Congressman Smith's current service on the Ethics Committee," Smith spokesperson Blair Jones said in a statement published by the Houston Chronicle.

Cole spokesperson Julie Shutley said Cole's contribution to DeLay's defense fund was made "before he was notified" that he would serve on the ethics committee. She did not address possible conflict-of-interest concerns.

"There are a lot of things the congressman is unable to talk about because of ethics committee rules," Shutley said.
Wendland, Joe. "Tom DeLay Solicited Donations with Skyboxes." Political Affairs. April 27, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.ilcaonline.com>
Fostering a Saddam Hussein image this past weekend at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) waved a rifle in the air and called on his "preferably armed" friends to help battle his enemies. In recent press statements, DeLay named as his enemy the "leftist syndicate" that has the nerve to point out that congressional representatives mired in ethics charges and criminal investigations ought to step down from House leadership.

Intent on bluster rather than on submitting to open, impartial and thorough investigation, DeLay continued his shrill rhetorical attack on judges, the media and Democrats to anyone who would listen.

Meanwhile, reports of further evidence of the improper solicitation of funds from donors linked to issues pending in Congress surfaced.

According to the Associated Press, Tom DeLay provided campaign donors with expensive skybox seats at entertainment events in 2000 provided by infamous lobbyist "Casino Jack" Abramoff, now under criminal investigation for stealing from and defrauding his clients.

DeLay never reimbursed Abramoff for the use of the tickets valued at thousands of dollars, and then DeLay voted for against legislation opposed by the donors who used the skybox seats.

While DeLay's lawyers claim the law at the time didn't require him to reimburse Abramoff, the law does require that members of Congress avoid appearance of solicitation of funds and of conflict of interest. House rules also prohibit members from soliciting funds from special interests or from groups with business before the House.

In the last two months evidence has surfaced that DeLay improperly accepted trips financed by Abramoff, who has given tens of thousands of dollars to DeLay's campaign fund, including a trip to London in 2000.

DeLay is also suspected of accepting an all-expenses paid trip to Russia that year ostensibly financed by a non-profit organization. According to the Washington Post, however, the non-profit was a front to hide Abramoff's involvement with financing the trip.

Earlier this week, GOP leaders in a public relations effort to shift focus from DeLay's ethics problems onto the Democrats called for allowing the House ethics committee to investigate DeLay, but under the new rules.

Republican leaders ordered new rules for the ethics committee last October after the committee unanimously rebuked DeLay for the third time. The House ethics committee has rebuked DeLay for abuse of power by improperly using his position and federal agencies to intervene in internal state disputes.

In 2003, DeLay was unanimously admonished by the committee for "creating the appearance of impropriety" when he accepted money from energy company executives who happened to record their intention to purchase congressional votes with $56,000 payments to DeLay's political action committee.

DeLay was also rebuked for threatening a Republican member by withholding financial support for future campaigns because that member refused to vote the way DeLay and the Republican leadership wanted him to.

DeLay is also suspected of funneling almost $200,000 to the Republican Party from corporate donors, a move that is illegal in Texas. This question is still under investigation by an Austin grand jury.

Public documents also showed that DeLay paid two family members over $500,000 from his political action committee in the last four years.

The ethics committee’s new rules limit the time of the investigation and require the committee drop the charges if in that short period of time it doesn't by a majority vote to rebuke DeLay. Earlier ethics investigations took a minimum of several months to complete thoroughly and to the satisfaction of the committee's members.

The committee is composed of an even number of Democrats and Republicans. And though the committee previously voted unanimously to rebuke DeLay for ethics violations on three occasions, it isn't likely to form a majority to do so now.

In an unusual move, the Republican Party leadership ordered the replacement of Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) and two other GOP members of the committee with GOP leadership loyalists who have given several thousand dollars to Tom DeLay's legal defense fund.

Republican leaders also threatened to investigate Democrats who called for DeLay's resignation or for more thorough and open investigation.

Responding to the Republican leadership’s imposition of new rules to protect DeLay in an editorial, former ethics committee chair Joel Hefley and current ranking Democrat Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (WV) described the situation as potentially "the end of a credible ethics process in the House."

Now the GOP wants to use a process that lacks credibility to "clear" DeLay.

Unfortunately for them, facts are facts and crooks have to be shown the door.
Parker, Akweli. "Making TV ratings more exact." Philadelphia Inquirer. April 30, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.philly.com>
When it comes to ranking TV shows - and deciding which ones survive in prime time and which are prematurely doomed to Nick at Nite reruns - the current state of measuring is inexact at best.

So Nielsen Media Research Inc., the New York company that provides ratings to television networks and anxiety disorders to their executives, is bringing what it says is a more accurate measuring system to Philadelphia.

Nielsen's Local People Meters have begun joining the less-sophisticated electronic monitoring and written diary systems used in hundreds of homes in the region. In June, the old methods will disappear entirely.

"It's been a long time coming," said Joan Erle, director of market research for local network affiliate WCAU-TV (Channel 10) in Bala Cynwyd, who is "much more comfortable with" the results provided by the new method.

The boxes beam household viewing data via telephone to Nielsen, providing daily reports of television shows' popularity both nationwide and in particular markets.

Erle and her counterparts at competing stations pore over the Nielsen data, looking for viewing patterns that can help their TV stations sell advertising.

Controversy has followed the newer meters, though, with some saying they misrepresent the viewing habits of minority households and thus threaten minority-focused programming with cancellation.

The group Don't Count Us Out began protesting the system after a 2003 rollout in New York. It complained that minority families were not trained properly in the use of the system, which led to undercounting of the programs they watched.

"Everyone agrees that advances in technology are good things," said Josh Lahey, campaign manager for the Don't Count Us Out coalition. But, he added, "there's clearly a problem with the way the technology has been implemented."

An oft-cited example: UPN Network experienced sharp ratings declines of African American-focused shows such as The Parkers, Girlfriends and Half & Half immediately after People Meters were installed in New York.

The People Meters and Nielsen's methods also were criticized in an independent task force's report this spring, and Don't Count Us Out has had the support of minority-focused interest groups such as some NAACP chapters.

Nielsen, however, has since launched a public relations counteroffensive, saying it does care about accurately capturing minority viewership.

Maria Quinones-Sanchez, director of the Puerto Rican government's regional office in Pennsylvania, said she was "somewhat satisfied" by Nielsen's outreach efforts, but will be more impressed if, next year, she sees hard proof that the new system worked accurately.

"I think the fact they had such a negative experience last year in New York forced them to make some changes - and that's good," Quinones-Sanchez said.

In Philadelphia and Washington, Nielsen has reached out to minority community leaders, and it said it has put more effort into training "Nielsen families" to use the system properly.

Much is at stake. Nielsen's ratings are the common currency for advertisers and the TV executives who woo them. Shows that don't pull in respectable Nielsen ratings for their time slots perish.

While Nielsen is working to address the concerns raised by Don't Count Us Out, Nielsen spokesman Jack Loftus points out that the group is not actually a grass-roots creation. The organization was created and cultivated by the Glover Park Group, a Washington lobbying firm working on behalf of News Corp. and its Fox subsidiary.

"The system is more accurate than the one it's replacing," Loftus said.

In addition, he said, Nielsen is taking steps to "oversample," or overcount groups that are prone to not submitting data: blacks, Latinos, and advertisers' most prized demographic, young adult men, in particular.

"There's no doubt this system does a better job of capturing viewing," Loftus said. "Our business is to try to find out what is the truth, what are people actually doing?"
Maynard, John. "Local People Meters May Mean Sweeping Changes on TV." THe Washington Post. April 28, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.washingtonpost.com>
It's the start of another television sweeps period when local news stations reveal their more sensational side with reports on "Exploding Cell Phones!" "Deadly Drains!" "Violent Girls!" and "Cabbie Come-Ons!" as well as their more in-depth and polished reports.

But a new method of measuring the way Washingtonians watch television may mean the end of the four-times-a-year sweeps fever, sparing viewers these sometimes over-the-top dinnertime reports. Then again, we might be getting those stories year-round.

A new television monitoring system known as Local People Meters hits town next month and promises to deliver a more accurate snapshot of viewer habits that will be delivered to stations -- and the advertisers who pay their bills -- overnight. For the local stations, that means no more waiting for sweeps months to air their more appealing stuff in an effort to win ratings.

"The times, they are a-changing," said Nielsen Media Research spokesman Jack Loftus, whose company has been rolling out LPMs to a random sampling of homes in big-city markets since 2002. On June 2, Washington will be hooked up, following in the footsteps of Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. Philadelphia will get LPMs next month. Detroit, Dallas and Atlanta will be wired by the end of 2006.

For years station executives and the buyers and sellers of television time have been clamoring for more complete and immediate data about who, exactly, is watching what. With LPMs, "Nielsen is about to give them their most devout wish and possibly their worst nightmare," Loftus said.

Currently, stations here set their advertising rates during the sweeps months of February, May, July and November. That's when diaries are mailed to randomly selected families who then indicate what and when they're watching. Although stations now have daily access to the number of households watching their programs based on older meters in 400 homes, the new LPMs will gauge specific demographic information that's crucial to woo advertisers.

Nearly $700 million was spent on local TV advertising for the Washington market in 2004, according to Nielsen. Accordingly, the stations run with what they deem as their best reports, sometimes in the works for months, during this time. Meanwhile, the major networks roll out their special programming, such as CBS's "Elvis" miniseries and an ABC biopic on Donald Trump, both airing in May, to make their affiliated stations happy.

On June 2, Nielsen will switch on the LPMs being wired in 600 Washington homes; there are about 2.2 million television households in the Washington area. Here's how LPMs work: A meter sits atop every television in a Nielsen household and each member of the family is assigned a number. When a person wants to watch TV, he presses his number on a special remote. (If other family members tune in at the same time, they enter their numbers.) The meter tallies which show is being watched, and that information is sent to Nielsen, which forwards the data to its clients the next day.

"Now [station executives] are going to get a ton of data every morning," Loftus said. "They'll know how many women 18 to 34 or how many adults 25 to 54 . . . watched my news or my program last night. They don't have to wait for sweeps."

The LPMs are not without their critics. News Corp., owner of the Fox television network and a number of local stations including WTTG and WDCA, has complained that the new method has undercounted minority viewers in cities.

"Nielsen is not investing properly in people on the ground to go out in minority communities and make sure that viewers are comfortable with the technology, [that] they understand it and how to implement it," says Josh Lahey, a spokesman for Don't Count Us Out. The group is funded by News Corp.

Washington news chiefs are hunkering down for the new system and have begun grappling with the daunting notion that every day is sweeps day. "You need to get people aware of you every single day," Bill Lord, WJLA vice president of news, said about the new ratings system. "Their behavior is going to be recorded," he said, so the ratings won't be based on what a viewer thought he watched last week via a diary.

"There will be more pressure to consistently be good," said Darryll Green, WUSA president and general manager. "We have to be good every single day."

WJLA has been broadcasting stories usually reserved for sweeps almost every day for the past year in anticipation of the new ratings system. "We planned well in advance for this . . . so that we would be in a rotation of having a sweeps mentality, for lack of a better term, year-round," Lord said.

Last year, WJLA revived its old "I-Team" by reassigning local Emmy-winner Andrea McCarren as its main investigative reporter. Many of the I-Team reports seem tailor-made for sweeps periods, such as a story last year on immigrant gangs in Virginia. WRC's vice president of news, Vickie Burns, who said her station's "Exploding Cell Phones" report was not a sweeps stunt, said the new ratings system is an opportunity to showcase and promote "highly produced" stories all year round. "Instead of clustering these good stories in a few months of the year, you're going to spread them out," she said. "It's going to only benefit the viewers. There won't be a lag or a wait. There will be good stuff delivered continuously 52 weeks a year."

Although Washington is adopting a year-round sweeps attitude, station executives stressed that the four-times-a-year sweeps bonanza will still be important. LPMs will be installed in the Top 10 markets by the end of 2006, but that leaves 70 percent of the country relying on the diary system to set their ad rates.

"I don't think sweeps are going away in terms of how networks program," Loftus said. "You still have to program for all those affiliates out there."

"I don't think it will go away entirely, this concept of sweeps," said WRC's Burns.

Matt Ellis, news director of Boston's CBS-owned WBZ, has been living with LPMs for nearly three years and said his station still readies itself for the four sweeps periods.

"Until the networks stop programming for the sweeps, we can't help but gear it up just a little bit more for those periods," Ellis said. "Because we've got to be in sync with the network."

Washington is relatively conservative compared with the "stunting" that goes on in other cities.

Last year, Cleveland anchor Sharon Reed of CBS affiliate WOIO took it all off to take part in a nude photographic installation in a report that ran during the November sweeps. The stunt worked, as the station garnered its highest ratings in five years for an 11 p.m. newscast. Broadcasting and Cable magazine noted this past February that both a Columbus, Ohio, reporter and a St. Louis reporter were shocked with high-voltage stun guns for stories on Tasers. "I do think [in Washington] we tend to stay away from some of that stuff," WJLA's Lord said.
"Lists of Best-Selling books." THe Kansas City Star. April 21, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.kansascitystar.com>
1. "Winning" by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch (HarperBusiness)

2. "And One More Thing Before You Go" by Maria Shriver (Free Press)

3. "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century" by Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

4. "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown)

5. "The Purpose-Driven Life" by Rick Warren (Zondervan)

6. "My Life So Far" by Jane Fonda (Random House)

7. "Slim and Sexy Forever" by Suzanne Somers (Crown)

8. "Your Best Life Now" by Joel Osteen (Warner Faith)

9. "On Bull" by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press)

10. "Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner (William Morrow)

11. "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder" by Michael Savage (Nelson Current)

12. "South Beach Diet" by Arthur Agatston, M.D. (Rodale Press)

13. "Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes" by Giada De Laurentiis (Clarkson Potter)

14. "One Solider's Story" by Bob Dole (HarperCollins)

15. "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke" by Suze Orman (Riverhead)
Argabright, Brian. "Rams baseball season ends with loss to Taft." Del Rio News-Herald. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.delrionewsherald.com>
SAN ANTONIO - The Del Rio Rams baseball season came to an end with a 6-1 loss to the Taft Raiders.

Del Rio had a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Catcher Michael Pena drew a leadoff walk. Courtesy runner J.R. Rodriguez entered the game and then stole second base. Rodriguez moved to third on an error by the Taft catcher.

After a strike out by Julian Gomez, Jaime Briones hit a ground ball to the Taft shortstop. A miscue by the shortstop allowed Rodriguez to score, but the Taft player was able to recover in time to get Briones for the second out. Esteban Flores flied out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, Taft touched Del Rio pitching for six runs on three hits and five walks. The damaging blow was a double that cleared the bases.

Despite picking up singles in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, Del Rio was unable to push any runs across the board.

Pena was 1 for 1 with a single and a walk, Eric Castillo was 1 for 3 with a single, Angel Roman was 1 for 3 with a single, Creston Hill was 0 for 2 with a walk and Briones was 0 for 2 with a walk.

The loss means Del Rio's varsity baseball team ends its season 8-16-1 and 3-11 in District 27-5A play.

The win means Taft wins the Distrct 27-5A title, edging out O'Connor and Jay.
"Baseball Splits MAAC Doubleheader At Rider." CSTV. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.collegesports.com>
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. - Sophomore Brian Schappert (Wyckoff, N.J./St. Joseph's) sparked the Fairfield University baseball team to a 7-6 win in the first game of a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) doubleheader at Rider, on Sunday afternoon at Sonny Pittaro Field. Schappert was 3-for-4 with a homerun, two runs scored, and two runs batted in.

Over the last four games, Schappert has been key for the Stags (10-28, 8-9 MAAC) at the plate, as he has hit .615 (8-of-13) with three runs scored, and three runs batted in.

In the third inning of the opener, Fairfield loaded the bases, as freshman Brian Rudolph (Washington Township, N.J./Bergen Catholic), ripped a leadoff single.

Senior Mark Geanuleas (Glenside, Pa./Academy of the New Church), then, reached on an error by the Rider third baseman, and Schappet's base-hit, loaded the bases for junior Jim Girolamo (Wayland, Mass./Wayland), who's two-run double plated Geanuleas and Rudolph.

That brought junior Doug Anderson (Randolph, N.J./Delbarton) to the plate, and he lofted a sacrifice-fly to centerfield, scoring Schappert.

However, in the home half of the third Rider (11-25, 7-10 MAAC) took a 5-3 lead with a two-run double from Scott Knazek and an RBI double from Gene Crimoli. The Broncs scored five runs, and had five of their 11 hits in that inning.

In the Fairfield fifth freshman Adam Chilelli (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City) stroked a leadoff single, and then with one out, Schappert smacked his first homerun of the season, tying the game at 5-5.





In the top of the sixth, Fairfield would take the lead with an RBI double by Rudolph, scoring junior Tom Arpino (Brooklyn, N.Y./Xaverian) who had his 12th double of the season.

In the ninth, Chilelli walked, and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Geanuleas. Then Schappert and Girolamo walked to load the bases, and Anderson grounded into a fielder's choice given, Fairfield a 7-5 lead.

Rider scored a run in its last at-bat, when Bryan Wagner singled in Mike Poalise who doubled.

Fairfield starter, Tim Dugan (Cedar Grove, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) recorded six strikeouts in eight innings of work to record the win. Dugan (4-4) gave up five runs on nine hits and two walks. Junior Dan Breen (Troy, N.Y./Troy) pitched the ninth to earn his second save of the season.

Arpino finished the first game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, and Rudolph also went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and his team-best 15th double of the season. Anderson and Girolamo also had two RBI in the game.

In the nightcap, Rider's Joe Moronese faced the minimum through five innings, collecting his fourth win of the season.

Rider posted a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning, with a two-run single by Poalise.

In the fourth, Wagner laced a two-run double making it 4-0 in favor of the Broncs. In the fifth, Rider scored three runs on four hits, making it 7-0.

Schappert, Girolamo, and Rudolph each had base hits in the second game, for the Stags.

Between games, Rider had a dedication for its new field, Sonny Pittaro Field, who was the Broncs, former coach.

The games were originally scheduled for Saturday, but rain forced the postponement until Sunday. The third game of the MAAC series will take place on Monday afternoon. First pitched is slated for 1 p.m. in Lawrenceville.
De Jesus Ortiz, Jose. "Selig's got the right idea." Houston Chronicle. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.chron.com>
Commissioner Bud Selig realizes that politicians aren't the only ones laughing at Major League Baseball's weak steroid policy.


Baseball fans want a clean sport, and it's nice to see Selig take the offensive against the players union by seeking harsher penalties for performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids in a letter to union chief Donald Fehr.

If you walk around a clubhouse, you'll find that major-leaguers tend to be very conservative. So it would seem hypocritical that they would tolerate the use of illegal drugs in their workplace.

If Selig has to shut down the sport to clean it up, he should. In the next collective bargaining agreement, Selig must not let the players hijack the integrity of the game.

Ballplayers need the game, not the other way around. Baseball, which values and relishes its glorious past more than any other sport, must step in to protect the integrity of the few records that haven't already been shattered by chemically altered ballplayers.

I have no proof that Barry Bonds, who holds the single-season home run record and will likely surpass Babe Ruth and eventually Hank Aaron for the top spot on the all-time home run list, ever used steroids. I have no evidence proving that Mark McGwire was on the juice, but no one will ever convince me that he and Bonds didn't use steroids.

For the sake of the great majority of players who have performed their feats in a legitimate manner, all the players must step up to their union leadership and support Selig's plan. Better yet, they should come up with even stricter penalties.

It's up to the fans to let players know they won't tolerate weak penalties for steroids. And it's up to the silent majority to follow former Astros All-Star Jeff Kent's example in speaking out against the current policy. In his letter to Fehr, Selig quoted a statement Kent gave the San Francisco Chronicle.

"I'm disappointed with Major League Baseball and the (players) association for not implementing a plan that is completely solid," Kent said. "We need to prove to the fans that there's no question baseball should be clean and is clean, and we're not sending the right message with this policy. We're continuing to beat around the bush.

"Major League Baseball should set a higher standard, like the Olympic athletes. We are the best of the best. Why shouldn't we be accountable for things? I think we should."

Kent has never quite fit in with his teammates. He's an independent thinker, finding no need to be one of the guys. Maybe it's time players start following his lead.
Perrotto, John. "Pirates cautious about Selig's latest proposal on steroids." Beaver County Times. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.timesonline.com>
PITTSBURGH - As the Pittsburgh Pirates began filing out of the clubhouse to take batting practice before their game with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night at PNC Park, they were surprised by the latest news concerning steroids and baseball. PITTSBURGH - As the Pittsburgh Pirates began filing out of the clubhouse to take batting practice before their game with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night at PNC Park, they were surprised by the latest news concerning steroids and baseball.
Bodley, Hal. "Selig awaits Union response on Steroids." USA Today. May 1, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.usatoday.com>
Commissioner Bud Selig should know this week if baseball's players union will embrace his request for a much stricter steroids policy.
Selig's proposal, outlined in an April 25 letter to union chief Don Fehr, calls for a 50-game suspension for any player who tests positive a first time, a 100-game ban for a second offense and a lifetime ban for a thirdviolation. Selig also wants amphetamines included. To be adopted, the plan must be approved by the players.

Fehr said over the weekend the union wasn't ready to discuss the plan, which comes four months after the players opened the current collective bargaining agreement and approved a stricter policy. He predicted a response by early this week.

Selig, citing an improved relationship between the commissioner's office and the union, wrote: "Last winter, we reopened our agreement to deal with steroids. I am asking you now to demonstrate once again to America that our relationship has improved to the point that we can act quickly and effectively deal with matters affecting the integrity of our great sport." Selig added, "Don, I continue to believe that time is of the essence in addressing this issue."

Selig, in admitting the current program isn't strong enough, said: "Regardless of whatever incremental progress we have made under the current agreement, we continue to have a serious integrity issue with regards to our current policy and our great game."

Said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) ranking minority member of the House Government Reform Committee that held a hearing on steroids in baseball on March 17: "It's weaker than the policy Congress is considering, but significantly stronger than baseball's current policy."

Former union executive director Marvin Miller told USA TODAY on Sunday the players erred when they reopened the current agreement in January and approved a somewhat stronger policy.

The current CBA expires after the 2006 season, but the steroids policy extends through 2008.

"I expect that in the next go-round we will perhaps see that spitting on the clubhouse floor will be at least two lifetime penalties to be served consecutively," said Miller.

When asked if he'd discussed reopening the CBA with Fehr, Miller said: "Nope. He hasn't asked me. I know why he hasn't asked me; he knows what I think."

Selig, who does not need union approval for players not on 40-man rosters, said he will make changes to the minor league program, including tougher discipline.

Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada said, "It's about time they stiffened it (policy) up. But the testing has got to be better if the penalty is going to be that stiff for a first offense. I don't want to be getting a positive test for taking supplements."
"Baseball Suspends 38 Minor Leaguers for Steroids Use." Bloomberg. April 4, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.bloomberg.com>
April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball suspended 38 minor-league players who failed tests for steroids, a day after announcing the first penalty against a major-leaguer involving the muscle-building drugs.

David Castillo, in the farm system of the Oakland Athletics, was banned for 60 games, baseball said in an e-mailed statement. The other 37 players each received 15-game suspensions starting with the first game of their seasons.

Minor leagues open play on April 7.

Baseball said it conducted 925 drug exams at minor-league spring training camps in Arizona this year. It said one positive test result came from an off-season exam.

Minor league players remain subject to drug testing year- round.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Alex Sanchez yesterday became the first major-league player to be suspended under the MLB's new policy on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Sanchez said he would appeal the 10-game suspension and that he never used steroids.

Baseball's minor-league drug policy is different from the one negotiated with the Major League Baseball Players Association. The big-league plan was tightened this year after the U.S. Congress threatened to act following reports in the San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers linking major-league players to steroid use.

Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney declined to comment on the minor-league suspensions.

Minor-league baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy calls for a 15-game suspension for a first offense, 30 games for a second and 60 games for a third. A fifth positive results in a permanent suspension from the minor leagues.

Major-league players face a 10-day suspension without pay for a first offense. The penalties increase to 30 and 60 days for the second and third positive tests.
Shanahan, Tom. "Baseball and the Steroids Debate." Voice of San Diego. April 5, 2005. May 1, 2005. <www.voiceofsandiego.org.>
Picture Mark McGwire, seated as he was two weeks ago before the U.S. Congressional hearings on steroids use in baseball, wearing the blue-and-white uniform of an East German Olympic athlete.

Now picture Barry Bonds, also dressed in East German colors, seated as he was a week ago before media members outside the San Francisco Giants' spring training clubhouse.

Ah, see. Now it's not so hard to dismiss McGwire, Bonds, et al. for the overwhelming evidence that says they used steroids in blatant disregard for our national pastime's hallowed records.

Baseball fans become irrational over the issue of steroids if the athlete in question plays for their team. Fans still celebrate McGwire in St. Louis and Bonds in San Francisco.

And Padres fans are guility of turning a blind eye to a player benefiting from steroids. Ken Caminiti admitted in a Sports Illustrated article in May 2002 that he took steroids, yet he remained a beloved hero for his 1996 MVP season that led the Padres to the National League West title.

Not until Caminiti wound up dead from a drug overdose last fall did a public debate in San Diego begin on how Caminiti's career with the Padres should be remembered or honored.

Americans despised the East Germans for cheating with steroids. East German swimmer Korenelia Ender won four gold medals at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. There were suspicions she was on steroids, but she says not until 1991, when the secrets of the East German evil sports empire were revealed to the world, did she know her coaches and trainers gave her steriods.

Shirley Babashoff, a silver medalist four times to Korneila Ender and other East Germans in Montreal, is viewed by American swim fans as the rightful owner to the fame denied her. Babashoff now toils in anonymity as a mail carrier.

In baseball, there is a Shirley Babashoff for every player who finished second to a Caminiti, a McGwire, a Bonds or a Jose Canseco -- another MVP who has admitted to using steroids. But it's easier for American sports fans to rationalize labeling an East German as a cheater than the guy who plays for the "Town Team."

The Olympics, the NFL and college athletics have all acted to test for steroids in the last two decades, but baseball continued to risk the integrity of the game until forced to act by a doubting public.

The Major League Baseball Players Association prevented testing for steroids until now, but baseball should have found a way to get in front of the issue. The Padres, despite their chapter with Caminiti, attempted to do so as the first organization to institute testing for steroids in the minor leagues.

By ignoring the steroids issue, baseball has helped American sports become what we hated about East German sports. Our athletes cheat by using steroids to get an edge, and then they accept the fame and money that come with it.

We dismissed the East Germans because they were viewed as soulless communists. We should dismiss baseball's steroids users for their soulless lack of respect for the national pastime
Wisner, Franz. "Lessons i learned from my Runaway Bride." SFGate. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.sfgate.com>
On your wedding night, your bride should wear a teddy, not clutch one in her arms as deputy marshals whisk her across the country. She should be under the covers instead of draping her face in them to hide from media and friends who have engaged in a nationwide manhunt.

These are red flags, fiances of the world. Big, Christo-sized red flags.

Unfortunately, we fiances often miss any and all signs that there's something wrong in the wedding build-up. We trip over every clue to get to "I do."

The explanation is simple: We're "vowaholics." We gloss over problems and excuse omens, focusing only on that planned walk down the aisle. Trust me on this one. I know. I'm a former sufferer.

My bride-to-be gave me all the signs. She didn't wear the engagement ring most of the time. She was late with the invitations. She even "forgot" to tell her brother until a couple of weeks before the wedding.

"Well, those invites are embossed," I convinced myself. "That's gotta be the reason for the delay. And that ring might be causing a rash. Maybe pick up some talcum powder for her. Note to self."

Classic, delusional rationalization of a grade-A vowaholic.

And, just like Georgian groom John Mason, my big day came to a crashing halt. My fiancee fessed-up to the red flags and dumped me the week before the wedding at Sea Ranch, so close to the date that guests were already en route. The band had cashed the deposit, the flowers waited in vases, and, most important, the wine sat in the trunk of my car.

So I decided to have a wedding anyway ... just without the whole "I do" part. Don't laugh. There are advantages. You get to spend a few meaningful days with friends and family without having to sport an itchy tuxedo or listen to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" ad nauseam.

The brideless weekend was such a success, I decided to go on my prepaid honeymoon to Costa Rica. I canceled the honeymoon suites and chilled champagne, and asked my younger brother Kurt to join me. He readily agreed, but only after I explained I had no plans to carry him over any thresholds.

After two weeks of brotherly bonding and exploring the scenic country in a rented SUV, we decided to extend the honeymoon. We quit our jobs, sold our houses, tossed our cell phones into the garbage, and continued the trip to 53 countries over the following two years. By the end of the journey, I thought an "engagement ring" was a Thai boxing match and a "maid of honor" was someone who left a couple extra mints on your hotel pillow.

Unlike Mason, I was completely cured of my vowaholism. Hearing his spokesman say that his family would appreciate "some time and space to assist" his runaway bride resolve her "issues" makes me want to smack him over the head with a unity candle. Give her all the space and time she wants, amigo -- as in, eternally.

Cures? There are many. A month in Rio de Janeiro would do the trick. Or a Las Vegas weekend with a few bad influence/tech-savvy friends who'd arrange a boatload of mischief and then post it on the Web. Call it a sin-tervention.

But the best remedy is also the most necessary -- time. Detach, as much as possible, from all the wedding plans, media interviews and advice (including that from newspaper op-eds). Give yourself ample time to see and understand those red flags. Add them up on a sheet of paper. Or two. Or 20. Let them soak in and sting. If you're remotely honest with yourself, you'll realize that the road to the altar should be a much smoother ride, and you'll start seeking a better-suited partner for the journey.

And if Mason still insists on marrying Jennifer Wilbanks, as he stated last week, I'd be happy to lend him my brother.
Meyers, Michelle. "Runaway bride toasts attraction auction bread." The Net. May 7, 2005. May 8, 2005. <news.com.com>
So perhaps it's appropriate that a New Jersey man chose a piece of toasted Wonder Bread as a canvas for the runaway bride's portrait, now selling for more than $16,000 on the auction Web site eBay.

While 48-year-old Perry Lonzello reportedly carved the Georgia bride's likeness into the toast and posted it as a joke, his artwork has been making some serious bread. Lonzello, who has been keeping a log of the resulting toast frenzy on the eBay listing, said he plans to donate the money to charity.

As of noon Pacific Time Saturday, 116 bids had been made on the toast, with a top bid of $16,100. The week-long auction started at $1 and closes Sunday morning.

Lonzello's called the auction item "Jennifer Wilbanks found on my morning breakfast toast."

"I still think her fiance did it," he continued in his description. "This is the one and only toast depicting the scam artist of the year, Jennifer Wilbanks. Look at the eyes, it's her. Don't be fooled by others."

Those commenting on the auction item couldn't help but be, well, "punny."

"No matter how you slice it, I think what you are doing is crummy," one respondent wrote. "I don't mean to sound stale but you should try to do more with your time besides loafing off at your computer."

Another asked the question, "Since Jennifer was found on toast, does that create a higher risk of her now getting yeast infections?"

One of the interested bidders, Lonzello said, appears to be GoldenPalace.com, which earlier this week bought Britney Spears' alleged home-pregnancy test for $5,001, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Golden Palace's other recent acquisitions include a grilled-cheese sandwich that purportedly resembles the Virgin Mary's face and a Doritos chip that looks like the pope's hat.

A knock-off piece of runaway bride toast has also been posted and is going for just $19.99. But it doesn't have any bidders yet. Someone else has posted a runaway bride sticker with the description, "I just want to enjoy this ride."

Wilbanks disappeared for three days last week, shortly before her scheduled 600-guest wedding, triggering a nationwide search. Family and friends said they were afraid she was the victim of foul play. In the end, Wilbanks said she had run away on her own, fleeing by bus to Las Vegas and eventually to Albuquerque, N.M.
"Runaway bride has checkered past." WSB TV. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.wsbtv.com>
ATLANTA -- The Gainesville lawyer hired to represent runaway bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks once prosecuted Wilbanks for felony shoplifting, court records seen by the Atlanta Journal Constitution show.

Lydia Sartain was Hall County district attorney in 1996 when Wilbanks was arrested for allegedly stealing $1,740 in merchandise from a Gainesville mall. AJC.com reports that Sartain dropped the felony charge after Wilbanks completed a pretrial diversion program that included 75 hours of community service.


The newspaper said Wilbanks was arrested two other times for shoplifting -- once before the felony arrest and once in 1998. She pleaded guilty to stealing $98 worth of merchandise in the 1998 incident and spent two weekends in jail.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter is considering whether to charge Wilbanks for falsely reporting a crime when she blamed her pre-wedding disappearance on a kidnapping.

Duluth's City Council met Saturday to consider a civil case against Wilbanks to recover the thousands of dollars spent in the search for her.
"The bride who tried to hide." Times-Herald. May 7, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.timesheraldonline.com>
The bride who tried to hide

It's a flighty affair, this "runaway bride" story that has been headlining the news lately.
To recap, 32-year-old bride Jennifer Wilbanks of Duluth, Ga., took off a couple of days before her wedding, cooking up a story about being kidnapped, and landed in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The true story revealed - she's in an "I don't" not an "I do" frame of mind - tongues wagged nationwide.

"Criminal," say some. "Funny," say others.

A runaway bride, after all, was the stuff that made the charming Julia Roberts-Richard Gere romantic comedy such a hit in the movie, well, "Runaway Bride."

Is she to be pitied? Mocked? Ordered to pay restitution for search services?

What of the hapless, would-have-been groom, John Mason?

Claiming he still wants to marry her, despite her acknowledged "issues," Mason's father stepped in with a wise and gentle: "Uh, son, you might want to take this a little slow"

Now, at age 32, Wilbanks isn't what folks in the south consider a spring chicken as far as marryin'-up goes.

Heck, she's near-on granny age in the rural parts.

So while the family hides out under the collective towel that covered the escapee's capricious head as she was escorted down the airplane aisle for the return flight home, it brings to mind that traditional wedding advisory:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

This wedding story has it all:

Something old: A 32-year-old bride in the southern parts.

Something new: A deliciously gossipy story to tantalize the public.

Something borrowed: The plotline from a hit movie. (Save for the fib about the felony abduction, of course).

Something blue: Wilbank's dad, since he gets to pay for a 600-guest, 14-bridegroom and bridal attendant shindig that didn't happen.

Bridal season is upon us.

May bridal feet from sea to shining sea stay warm.
Yee, Daniel. "Runaway bride apologizes." Chicago Sun Times. May 5, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.suntimes.com>
GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks apologized Thursday for disappearing just before her wedding day, and insisted cryptically that her flight was prompted not by cold feet, but by "a host of compelling issues that seemed out of control."

Wilbanks' three-day disappearance last week scared her family and friends and led to a nationwide search.

"I am truly sorry for the trouble I caused and I offer my deep and sincerest apology," the 32-year-old said in a statement read her father's pastor, the Rev. Tom Smiley.

She said she has asked for the forgiveness of her fiance, their families, friends, churches and communities "and any others I may have offended unintentionally."

Wilbanks could face criminal charges for allegedly claiming at first that she had been kidnapped. The mayor of Duluth, Ga., has threatened to sue her to recoup the $40,000 to $60,000 cost of the search. And many of those in the community expressed disgust when they learned that she had run off without telling anyone.

"At this time I cannot fully explain what happened to me last week. I had a host of compelling issues that seemed out of control," Wilbanks said.

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

"Please let me assure you that running away had nothing to do with cold feet or anything to do with leaving John. ... I could not wait to be called Mrs. John Mason," she said.

"In my mind, it was never about timing, however unfortunate. I was simply running away from myself and certain fears in my life," she said.

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

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





Text of statement


Statement issued Thursday by runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks:


At this time, I cannot explain fully what happened to me last week. I had a host of compelling issues which seemed out of control-- issues for which I was unable to address or confine. Please, may I assure you that my running away had nothing to do with "cold feet," nor was it ever about leaving John. Those who know me know how excited I've been, and how excited I was about the spectacular wedding we planned, and how I could not wait to be Mrs. John Mason.

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

Each day I am understanding more about who I am and the issues that influenced me to respond inappropriately. Therefore, I have started professional treatment voluntarily.

I am truly sorry for the troubles I caused, and I offer my deep and sincere apology. I ask for John's forgiveness and that of his family. I also ask for forgiveness of my family, our friends, our respective churches, our communities, and any others I may have offended unintentionally.

I am deeply grateful and appreciative to everyone who responded on my behalf. I thank you for every expression of support and effort. Your sacrifices of time and personal inconvenience touched me deeply, and I hope your spirit of care is not lessened.

I understand that many people wanted to hear from me personally today, and I wanted to be here. However, I look forward to days ahead when I am strong enough to speak for myself.

As John said on countless occasions recently, may we follow the teaching of Scripture, in being kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving, just as God in Christ forgives us. Thank you.
O'Rourke, William. "Bush's Social Security plan: Bait and switch." Chicago Sun-Times. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.suntimes.com>
Who knew that one of the last stops on President Bush's 60-day Social Security road show would be the East Room of the White House?

During Bush's April 28 prime-time news conference -- the first of his second term -- the president continued to do his Social Security bait-and-switch routine, but so flagrantly that the general public is beginning to notice. First he claimed: ''When the baby boomers start retiring in three years, Social Security will start heading toward the red. In 2017, the system will start paying out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes. Every year after that, the shortfall will get worse, and by 2041 Social Security will be bankrupt.'' And, he continued, ''Any reform of Social Security must replace empty promises being made to younger workers with real assets, real money.'' Later he explained, ''And all that's left behind is file cabinets full of IOUs.''

But, when extolling his plans for privatization, Bush said, ''I know some Americans have reservations about investing in the stock market, so I propose that one investment option consist entirely of Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government."

Those must be the good government bonds -- the ones that China buys so many of -- whereas Social Security only gets the bad Treasury bonds -- the ones that are merely ''IOUs.''

And, it is no one's definition of bankruptcy -- not even the new business-friendly bankruptcy law just enacted -- that Social Security will be bankrupt in 2041 when -- if nothing changes -- it will be able to pay out only about 70 percent-plus of promised benefits. Creditors will not drive you into bankruptcy court if you can pay 72 cents on the dollar.

Then, President Bush put forth the so-called means-tested benefit reduction scheme, proposed by Robert Pozen, head of MFS, a large mutual fund company. It is one of the under-reported realities of Bush's privatization scheme that Wall Street firms are not interested in handling the stock accounts of low-income workers. They want to deal with real money, from middle to upper-class-income workers' contributions.

Many of the reporters went into a swoon over the notion that Bush wants to give to the poor and stick it to the rich with his means-testing scheme. This proposal should seem familiar, though, because all along it has been half of Bush's privatization scheme. His plan requires lowering benefits and forcing workers to make up the difference with so-called private accounts.

Bush's version of the Pozen plan leaves lowest-wage workers' benefits right where they would be -- benefits for the poor will not ''rise faster,'' as reported -- under the current system. That avoids the bureaucratic hassle of dealing with their puny private accounts and leaves the higher-income workers with decreased benefits, and therefore eager, the White House presumes, for private accounts. Bush wants the cuts as much as the accounts.

The benefit cuts are the stick; the private accounts are the carrot. Congress will not lower benefits without offering a fig leaf, and the ballyhooed possibility of making money in the stock market serves that purpose.

Bush's Social Security push is yet another version of his tax policy. He wants to reduce the amount the wealthy pay. Private accounts likely will help only upper-income Americans, financial firms and their shareholders, Bush's base.

When it sinks in that every worker above the $25,000 cutoff will receive reduced benefits, the Bush/Pozen plan will go nowhere. But there might be an unintended consequence. The large majority of those above the cutoff who stand to lose so much down the road might find it more palatable to accept small tax increases in the future -- by raising the income cap, now $90,000, that is subject to FICA taxes.

The cap could increase gradually over time, thereby taking care of whatever solvency problem the Bush/Pozen plan claims to fix. But President Bush says: Read my statements: No new taxes.

If nothing is done and there is a shortfall in 2041 -- by no means a certainty if the economy improves -- just redistribute the predicted 28 percent reduction of benefits that may occur. Let the wealthy absorb the cuts. If Bush really means, ''Take it from the rich,'' take it then, not now.
"Critics hold news conference to attack Bush's Social Security plan." KVOA. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.kvoa.com>
WASHINGTON Critics of President Bush's plan to reform Social Security are continuing their efforts to derail its key proposals.

Americans United To Protect Social Security assembled a panel of experts in Washington today to denounce the plan.

The group says the president's proposals to scale back future benefits for all but low-income workers and to set up private accounts will have a negative impact on Americans.

Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the group, says Bush's plan has been resoundingly rejected by the public and points to poll results that he says prove it.
"President's put Social Security squarely on the table." The Desert Sun. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.thedesertsun.com>
Bush's plan forces the Democrats out of safe political cover. For the most part, these lawmakers have been sitting on the sidelines, watching gleefully as the president's approval numbers fall, celebrating their good fortune that Bush is so adamant about pushing his plan though, with or without the public's support, and betting that his perceived stubbornness will only hurt the Republican Party in the next election cycle.
It's too easy to take shots at the president and poke holes in his proposals. Now it's time for Democrats to come up with their own plan.

Same goes for the Republicans. They can't just duck and hide and hope the issue goes away. If Bush's Social Security solvency plan is that unpalatable, they, too, need to put their heads together to find other viable alternatives to save the system.

Social Security is headed for a crash. It's inevitable. It may or may not happen in our lifetime - or even by 2042, when the Social Security Administration predicts it will exhaust its "trust fund" surplus - but it is a problem that not many lawmakers are willing to deal with.

President Bush, however, is focusing much of his energy - and expending valuable political capital - to make the country aware that a Social Security collapse is forthcoming.

You don't have to be an economist to grasp the concept. Social Security is running out of money. The system uses the money that current workers pay into Social Security to provide benefits to people who are now retired. But as baby boomers start retiring, there are growing numbers of retirees and fewer workers to support them.

There are a few options: you can increase taxes, reduce benefits or change the way Social Security funds are invested.

President Bush has favored two of these approaches:

Partial privatization of Social Security: Private retirement accounts would allow current wage earners to voluntarily invest a portion of their payroll taxes into a mix of conservative bond and stock funds.

Reducing benefits: Limiting benefits for wealthy retirees, indexing benefits to prices, instead of wages; increasing the retirement age; or changing the benefit formula to create disincentives for early retirement. All of these options are on the table.

Bush is just one of a few of our country's leaders willing to withstand the heat of the hottest of all political hot potatoes.

The president's suggestion to partially privatize Social Security has not been well received. He has incurred the wrath of the American Association of Retired People - the most powerful lobbying group in the nation - and even members of his own party are taking cover, anxious to duck constituent backlash.

Bush's Social Security salvage plan may be considered foolish or fearless, radical or reasonable. But at least he has the guts to come clean to the American people and educate them about the scope of the problem and the intricacies of the system. He's up front and in your face and isn't pulling any punches. We can handle the truth.

Recently, Bush stirred the pot again - much to the consternation of Republicans and Democrats. He proposed "progressive indexing," a plan that would tie middle- and upper-income wage earner benefits to inflation - not to growth in wages, as is currently the case. That means benefits would vary depending on one's income. Retirees in these income categories will undoubtedly take a hit in benefits.

Low-income wage earners are not affected under the provisions of this plan.

Of course, no lawmaker - regardless of party affiliation - wants to go back to their district and announce they voted to reduce retirement benefits for perhaps the majority of their constituency.

No one is going to escape this debate unscathed. Since both political parties seem to be in a similar predicament, it looks like the time is ripe for negotiation and compromise. The president is willing to deal, so what are we waiting for?
"Bush's Social Security plan cuts benefits." The Boston Herald. April 29, 2005. May 8, 2005. <news.bostonherald.com>
WASHINGTON -- After nearly 60 days on the road pitching Social Security changes, President Bush is offering a new plan to fix its finances by cutting benefits of more prosperous future retirees. Democrats still aren't buying it.

In a prime-time news conference, Bush refused to back off his desire to carve private retirement accounts out of Social Security. Democrats say those personal accounts are a deal-breaker that would keep most of them from supporting Bush's revisions.



But for the first time he proposed changes under which Social Security checks for low-income workers retiring in the future would grow faster than those for people who are better off.

"By providing more generous benefits for low-income retirees, we'll make this commitment: If you work hard and pay into Social Security your entire life, you will not retire in poverty," Bush said.

The White House said Bush's proposal could be accomplished with a "sliding-scale benefit formula." That would mean lower Social Security payments for future middle- and upper-income retirees than they are currently guaranteed - a fact Bush himself did not mention in his 60-minute session with reporters.

Bush's plan immediately drew renewed ire from Democrats.

Bush would "gut benefits for middle-class families," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement.

They reiterated their opposition to Bush's desire to let younger workers divert some of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts. "All the president did was confirm that he will pay for his risky privatization scheme by cutting the benefits of middle-class seniors," Pelosi and Reid said.

Bush held his first prime-time televised news conference in more than a year as he scrambles to generate momentum for his stalled Social Security plans and to calm anger over $2-a-gallon gasoline prices. Those two issues have dragged his approval ratings down.

The president appeared at ease in the East Room of the White House as he fielded questions from reporters after a 7-minute opening statement. At times, he twisted the toe of his shoe on the carpeted riser. [continue]
RIECHMANN, Deb. "Bush's Social Security Plan Cuts Benefits." Guardian Unlimited. April 29, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.guardian.co.uk>
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Friday pitched his new proposal to fix Social Security's finances by cutting the benefit now promised to future retirees for all but the lowest-income recipients and warned Democratic opponents not to ``play politics as usual'' with it.

``I have a duty to put ideas on the table, and I'm putting them on the table,'' Bush said at an event in suburban Falls Church, Va. The outing was a follow-up to his prime-time news conference Thursday, in which Bush talked for the first time about his ideas for changes that would solve Social Security's long-term fiscal problems. He told his audience that ``those who block meaningful reform are going to be held to account in the polls.''

Under Bush's approach, future Social Security checks would increase more quickly for the lowest-income retirees than for everyone else. Though Bush promised that middle- and upper-income retirees would get benefits ``equal to or greater than the benefits enjoyed by today's seniors,'' they would be smaller than what the system is now promising for the future.

``If you've worked all your life and paid into the Social Security system you will not retire into poverty,'' Bush said. ``If Congress were to enact that, that would go a long way toward making the system solvent for the younger generation of Americans.''

Bush's plan immediately drew ire from Democrats.

Bush would ``gut benefits for middle-class families,'' House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said in a joint statement.

But White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that calling Bush's proposal a cut is ``irresponsible.'' He argued that Social Security's long-term fiscal problems mean that the benefits the system is guaranteeing today ``are an empty promise'' and that everyone's checks will eventually be smaller if no action is taken.

Bush's proposal could be accomplished with a ``sliding-scale benefit formula,'' the White House said in a fact sheet. That change, it said, would solve 70 percent of Social Security's solvency problem.

The plan is similar to one by Robert C. Pozen, a Democrat with MFS Investment Management, a Boston mutual fund company, which proposes changing the way annual benefit increases are calculated. Increases in benefits for low-income workers would track with wage increases, as they do now. But the benefits of the better off would start to index with prices, which tend to rise more slowly than wages.

Bush in his speech and news conference Thursday night did not give specifics about just how much lower future checks would be. And he did not identify the income cutoff he had in mind, saying that would be a point of negotiation with Congress. Nor did he give more specifics Friday.

The president is refusing to back off his unpopular desire to carve private retirement accounts out of Social Security, in which younger workers would be allowed to divert some of their Social Security taxes into investments in stocks and bonds.

Democrats reiterated their opposition to that idea, saying the accounts are a deal-breaker that would keep most of them from supporting Bush's other revisions to the system.

``All the president did was confirm that he will pay for his risky privatization scheme by cutting the benefits of middle-class seniors,'' Pelosi and Reid said.

But Bush said Democrats will pay a political price for refusing to join discussions.

``The American people expect us in Washington, D.C., to do our duty and not play politics as usual with an issue as important as Social Security,'' he said.

Thursday night, Bush held his first evening news conference in more than a year as he scrambles to generate momentum for his stalled Social Security plans and to calm anger over $2-a-gallon gasoline prices.

On international issues, Bush:

-Called North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ``a dangerous person'' and defended multination talks aimed at curbing his nuclear-weapon ambitions.

-Expressed dismay with Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

-Stated that the United States, Britain, France and Germany all believe ``we can't trust the Iranians when it comes to enriching uranium.''

On domestic topics, Bush said he understood that motorists and businesses were unhappy about gasoline prices that are expected to stay above $2 a gallon through summer. He pledged to encourage oil-producing nations to maximize production and promised to protect U.S. consumers. He prodded Congress to get an energy bill to his desk by summer.

Bush disagreed with the conservative Family Research Council's contention that his judicial appointments were being held up in the Senate because of their religious faith. ``I think people are opposing my nominees because they don't like the judicial philosophy of the people I've nominated,'' he said.

Bush continued to back Undersecretary of State John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton's confirmation has been stalled by allegations he dressed down subordinates, unease over his past hostility toward the United Nations and accusations he tried to pressure career intelligence analysts into twisting facts for political reasons.
Hall, Kevin G. "Bush's Social Security plan would cut benefit growth for wealthiest." KRT Wire. April 29, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.kansascity.com>
WASHINGTON - (KRT) - President Bush's new proposal to fix Social Security's projected funding shortfall would keep the current benefit structure intact for Americans who earn less than $25,000 a year, but it would cut the rate of growth of everyone else's benefits.

For the wealthiest Americans, that would mean a steep benefit cut compared with the current system. Bush's plan assumes that the wealthy already get tax breaks for their retirement savings in the form of tax-deferred Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and employer 401(k) pension plans, which the poor rarely have.

The president favors a plan modeled on one by Robert Pozen, the chairman of Boston-based MFS Investment Management, a mutual fund manager and a member of Bush's 2001 commission on fixing Social Security.

Pozen's "progressive indexing" plan would slow the growth of future benefits by changing the way they're calculated. Social Security actuaries believe Pozen's plan would cover about 70 percent of the system's projected $3.7 trillion funding shortfall over the next 75 years.

Currently when a worker retires, the Social Security Administration calculates his retirement benefit based on his lifetime earnings, adjusted by a formula tied to the annual change in average national wages.

Pozen would keep this method of calculating benefits intact for workers whose earnings average $25,000 or less a year - roughly the bottom 30 percent of U.S. workers. For workers with higher earnings, he would calculate retirement benefits on a sliding scale, adjusting them for changes over time in both average national wages and prices. Benefits for the wealthiest workers, whose average career earnings exceed $113,000, would be calculated solely on an index keyed to changes in prices over time.

Historically, wages have grown faster than prices; during the 20th century, U.S. wages grew 1.1 percent per year faster than prices. By tying benefit increases to prices, their future benefits would grow more slowly than if they were tied to wages, as they are now.

Under Pozen's plan, someone earning about $36,000 in today's wages and retiring in 2055 would receive an initial year of retirement benefits, in the earning power of today's dollars, of $17,400. Under the current system, that same worker is promised $21,770.

Because Pozen's plan would deliver $4,370 less, Democrats call that a benefit cut. But Pozen, a Democrat himself, sees it as a benefit increase of $3,000 - over the $14,400 that a worker retiring in 2005 would get.

"I think what people aren't realizing is that these benefits are growing, even for higher earners, in both real and nominal terms," Pozen told Knight Ridder in a recent interview. His plan would trim the rate of benefit growth, but not cut benefits below current levels.

Pozen believes that his plan is fair because it would protect the lowest third of the working population from any change in the current formula for benefit growth, and then progressively slow the rate of benefit growth as income rises.

During his news conference Thursday night, President Bush also offered a new wrinkle to his proposal to create private investment accounts funded by Social Security taxes. If workers fear investing in stocks, he said, they should be allowed to invest solely in Treasury bonds.

Such a move "would be utterly idiotic," said Jason Furman, a former Clinton administration economist and now an analyst with the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research center.

What retirees would get from their bond accounts would likely be less than what they would have gotten from sticking with traditional Social Security benefits, Furman said.

Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, didn't dispute that. But he told Knight Ridder that bond accounts could still be attractive because they would be transferable to heirs should a worker die before reaching retirement age. Payroll taxes paid into traditional Social Security aren't transferable to heirs.
Johnson, Glen. "Bush's Social Security plan could cut benefits." Marin Independence Journal. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005 <www.marinij.com>
WASHINGTON - President Bush, trying to set off a depth charge under Social Security negotiations, yesterday proposed asking future middle and higher-income retirees to accept smaller benefit checks than they're currently slated to receive.
In a prime-time news conference, Bush said a system in which benefits for low-income workers "grow faster than for people who are better off would solve much of the solvency problem" facing the government retirement program.

"I propose that future generations receive benefits equal to or greater than the benefits today's seniors get," he said. But a White House fact sheet suggested changes that include lower benefits than currently planned for all but lower-income future retirees.

"Social Security worked fine during the last century, but the math has changed," the president said. He cited figures from the system's trustees showing that the program in 2017 will start paying out more in benefits annually than it takes in from payroll taxes.

Bush did not lay out any specific ideas in his news conference, but a fact sheet distributed by the White House said "benefit increases for wealthier seniors should grow no faster than the rate of inflation," adding that "this reform would solve approximately 70 percent of the funding problems facing Social Security."

Both the White House document and a news release issued by the Republican National Committee during the news conference embraced "progressive indexing," in which benefit payments for low-wage workers remain linked to wage growth, benefits for higher-wage workers are shifted to a slower growing price index and workers in between receive payments based on a mixture of the two indices.

He stood by his call for private investment accounts for younger workers.

Democrats labeled Bush's insistence on private accounts a nonstarter.

"His privatization plan would slash guaranteed Social Security benefits and burden future generations with trillions of dollars of new debt largely borrowed by China and Japan," said a statement issued by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

In opening remarks that touched on the rising price of gasoline as well as Social Security, Bush pledged, "There will be no price gouging at gas pumps in America."

Bush also urged the Senate to take "up or down" votes on his controversial nominees to the appeals courts. Democrats filibustered 10 of his first-term appeals court nominees, blocking confirmation votes on them. Bush has renominated seven of the 10, and Democrats have threatened to attempt to block them once more.

Bush said he is pressing Iraq's incoming prime minister, Ibra-him al-Jaafari, to refrain from tinkering with the structure of the Iraqi security force that the U.S. military is creating and training. Bush called that possibility "one of the real dangers" as Iraq transitions to an independent democracy.
Followell,Melissa. "hundreds protest Bush Plan." Herald Today. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.bradentown.com>
SARASOTA - Benjamin Dictor is about 40 years away from being eligible for Social Security benefits, but the president's discussion of reforms worries him.

"Frankly, Social Security concerns young people more than the senior citizens today. Our future is on the line," Dictor said Saturday at a rally organized by the Democratic Club of Sarasota.

Dictor is the founder of Mobilized Youth, a local organization set on making young people politically aware before many of them are even able to vote. About 20 members representing every Sarasota high school gathered at the corner of U.S. 41 and Siesta Drive to protest President Bush's proposed personal-account Social Security plan.

Democratic Club member DeeDee Katz stood with more than 200 other protesters, waving a sign proclaiming Bush's plan more of a problem than a solution. She was answered by a chorus of honking horns from passing cars.

"It's fantastic," she said. "People have been honking and giving us the thumbs-up all day."

Katz was inspired by the number of people who lined the streets, but what was most important to her was the number of young people involved in the protest.

"This is a youngrights issue, make no question," Dictor said.

Former Democratic Congressional candidate Jan Schneider believes the proposed changes to Social Security also ostracize another group of people.

"This is an attack on American women," she said.

Women are likely to live longer, have been paid less and have fewer financial resources than their male counterparts, Schneider said.

"The proposed solution doesn't even purport to solve the problem," Schneider said.

Though no clear plan has emerged, Bush continues to push for a personal-account Social Security plan that would let people divert a portion of their payroll taxes to a personal retirement account and manage their investment.

Nina Burwell sees the concept as the government trying to get out of paying what was in essence a promissory note to American citizens. She fears what such a plan could do to the system and what that would mean for her retired mother or her daughters in the future.

"This issue hits home. It's personal," Burwell said.

An ordained minister and local activist, Burwell expressed concern that the risks could be detrimental to those who rely heavily on Social Security.

"It could mean the difference between self-sufficiency and poverty," Burwell said.

She thinks many more people would agree the program sounds risky if they took the time to educate themselves, and opinion polls appear to back her up. The Herald recently reported that since Bush has toured talking about the plan, surveys have shown declining support.

The lack of a concrete plan even has some of Bush's biggest supporters waiting to see something more substantial before rallying behind him.

Congresswoman Katherine Harris, R-Sarasota, believes changes in the Social Security system are necessary but has not yet pledged her support to Bush's plan.

"She doesn't want to make a decision until she sees a plan on the table," Harris press secretary Garrison Courtney said Saturday.

Another protest rally is planned for 4 p.m. May 24 at Bayfront Park. Fourteen co-sponsors have joined the Democratic Club's efforts.
"BUSH'S SOCIAL SECURITY PLAN." New york post. April 28, 2005. May 8, 005. <www.nypost.com>
So, listen to what President Bush and his allies have had to say.

"Personal accounts do not solve the issue" of solvency, the president acknowledged on March 16. Independent experts will point out that, by themselves, the accounts make the trust fund deficit worse by diverting trillions from the fund into the private accounts.

Republican officials have acknowledged that the Bush administration plan will include indexing changes that eventually cause a 40 percent benefit cut, according to Social Security's actuaries. A former senior administration official told a national newspaper that the indexing cut "is assumed to be part of any final solution." Bush himself called the indexing change a "good idea." These benefit cuts would not be voluntary.

A senior administration official explaining the president's plan said, "in return for the opportunity to get benefits from the personal account, the person forgoes a certain amount of benefits from the traditional system." As described by that official, the benefits taken away would amount to 70 percent of the value of the private account. When the government takes a citizen's money, it can only be called a tax.

The information that Rep. Maloney sent out is substantiated by professional analysis of information provided by the Bush administration.
McLeer, Cathy. "Group Protests Bush's Social Security Plan." Keloland television. April 26, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.keloland.com>
President Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security is getting mixed reviews on Capitol Hill. Bush's plan would use payroll taxes to fund private retirement accounts.

Critics contend the plan will require big borrowing, and make Social Security's problems worse. That's why a group of KELOLAND Democrats are asking Senator John Thune to sign a pledge to protect Social Security.

With signs in hand, members of 'South Dakotans United to Protect Social Security' send a message to lawmakers debating the future of the retirement fund. Retiree Shirley Goodmanson says, "My thoughts on Social Security has been for a long time, no privatization I worry about my grandchildren."

The group says a plan to funnel a portion of Social Security taxes into private accounts is too risky.

Retiree John McIntyre says, "The Bush privatization plan takes away some of the guaranteed stability that the guaranteed Social Security benefit now have, up to 45% of our guaranteed benefits will be lost under their so called Bush plan. "

Even those years away from retirement, piped in. College Student Dylan Andersen says, "This issue is something that affects everyone who's a student right now because soon they're entering the work force and the money they're paying in is hopefully going to support them when they retire."

Andersen says his generation has as much at stake as current retirees. Andersen is already investing for his own retirement in a 401K. He agrees changes need to be made, but doesn't think private accounts are the way to save the system.

"There are a lot of different options that will work that can be implemented with lower costs without taking away benefits to current recipients of Social Security," says Andersen.

The group says Social Security isn't in the crisis President Bush claims. However, by the year 2017, more money will be paid out of Social Security than is being paid in.

One solution the group proposed is raising the income cap on Social Security taxes from $90,000 to $180,000.

Senator John Thune, says raising the cap only extends the program for a few years, but doesn't really solve the problem. He says it needs to be solved sooner rather than later, and he welcomes discussions on the best way to do that, including private retirement accounts.

Sen. John Thune says, "Under any proposal congress will come up with, their benefits will be guaranteed, any one retired today, or near retirement, won't see any change in current program. Further more for those who are younger will be a voluntary program."

Right now, 90% of Americans over 65 receive Social Security. This year alone the government will pay $500 billion in benefits.
Monjoy, Chris. "Breaking Down the Second Round of the NBA Playoffs." Hoopsworld. May 8, 2005. may 8, 2005. <www.hoopsworld.com>
Really? Is the second round of the playoffs starting already? Why, it seemed like just yesterday…yeah, right. The first round presented some close series (Indiana over Boston and Dallas over Houston) and a few walks in the park (Miami over New Jersey and Phoenix over Memphis), but the most important part is we’re onto the second round.

By the way, go ahead and check my first round primer…go ahead…I’ll wait…yep, I picked the winner in every series. Sure, maybe I didn’t get the final margin right every time…or any time, actually, but I still picked the correct winners, and that counts for something, right? Just the same, the first round didn’t exactly present any surprises. It was pretty easy to guess the Wizards would get past the wounded Bulls, and the inspired Pacers would be able to get past the error-prone Celtics.

Before I move onto my second round predictions, some quick hit thoughts about the first round:

1) Boy, I thought New Jersey would at least put up a fight against Miami. They really only kept it close in one game. Even without an inside presence, I figured they’d at least win one of their home games. If I was a betting man, I’d say Jason Kidd is wearing a different uniform by next February’s trade deadline.

2) As good as Iverson was, Detroit still brutalized Philly. It just goes to show you, one guy (even if he’s the best player on the floor) can’t do it by himself (are you listening Kobe?). Plus, the way it looks right now, Webber’s and Iverson’s games will never really mesh well. With the way Iverson gets beat up during the regular season, he’s on borrowed time, anyway. How much longer can he play at such a high level with the abuse his body has taken? Sad to say, but he’ll probably end up being one of those great players who never won a championship.

3) What ever Reggie Miller’s been eating for breakfast, he’d better hope he has some left for the Pistons. He’s going to need to double his dose if the Pacers are going to have a shot at even keeping the series close. Still, the Pacers always play the Pistons hard, because their style of play matches up well. With the inspired way Indiana roared through the first round, I’m not so sure the Pistons would have beat them if Ron Artest was involved. Then again, if Ron Artest was involved, the National Guard would have to be alerted before every game.

4) With a healthy Deng and Curry, the Bulls win the series. The Wizards are a strange team (and Miami should be prepared for a tough series). The Wizards are basically controlled chaos out there. Offensively, it’s basically just a series of Isos, so they can go cold for long periods of time. However, defensively, the Wizards are so frenetic and disruptive, they keep themselves in just about every game.

5) The Suns looked terrifying against the Grizzlies, didn’t they? Is Steve Nash the true MVP of the league? While he’s certainly the straw that stirs the drink, how can you discount the guys he’s playing with? Shawn Marion’s contributions on defense, rebounding, and scoring around the basket are invaluable. Amare Stoudamire is a match-up nightmare, and Q. and Joe Johnson are among the best outside shooters and fast-break finishers in the league. The Suns are kind of the bizarrro world version of the Detroit Pistons. Would you give Ben Wallace the MVP of the league, considering he plays the Nash role on the Pistons, as their defensive foundation?

6) Denver sure looked good that first game, didn’t they? Then the Spurs remembered who they were.

7) Enjoy Seattle why you can, because with all the free agents they have, they’re going to be a totally different team next year.

8) With the way Jason Terry is playing right now, he’s going to be lighting up the NBA’s new MVP like Christmas tree in the second round. Will it be enough to steal the series? I’ll get to that in a moment.

#1 Miami Heat over #5 Washington Wizards (4-2)

Washington is a dangerous team. Dangerous to themselves and dangerous to the teams they play. When they go cold (and believe me, they can go seriously cold) on offense, they look like a recreational league team, with everybody jacking up shots with no apparent rhyme or reason. However, when they’re hot…they can beat anyone in the league, with all their different weapons. With Antawn Jamison, Gilbert Arenas, and Larry Hughes, there’s no one you can really double. The question becomes, will their frenetic defensive pace be enough to disrupt Miami’s offense to keep them in games? If Miami lets itself get caught up in the fast-pace game the Wizards are going to try to force, they’ll turn the ball over in bunches, and the Wizards will outrun them. Still, the Wizards are a young team, and they can be extremely mistake-prone. My guess is the cooler heads of the Heat will eventually prevail in a series that’s going to be much tougher than the first round.

#2 Detroit Pistons over #6 Indiana Pacers (4-1)

Anyone get a load of the Pistons in the first round? They look absolutely devastating on defense (the same way they looked last year), The Pacers will steal a game, based on heart alone, but I just can’t see them outlasting Detroit. It’s nice to see Reggie Miller going out with a modicum of success, though, especially when it looked like the Pacers wouldn’t even make the playoffs for a while. He’s a memorable player who had one last memorable series against the Celtics, but my hunch is he’ll have a much quieter series against the buzz-saw that is the Detroit defense.


#2 San Antonio Spurs over #3 Seattle Sonics (4-1)

This is the series where Seattle turns back into the pumpkin it was last season. Ray Allen had a terrific first round, but he didn’t have Bruce Bowen guarding him (in fact, against the Kings, you could argue he didn’t have anyone guarding him). After a tough first game, the Spurs rounded into form, and they look like the team that’s going to be coming out of the West (sorry, Suns fans). Even though Duncan is still a little gimpy, the Spurs have that all-business look to them, now. I think we’ll be seeing the Detroit vs. San Antonio NBA Finals that everyone expected last year.

#1 Phoenix Suns over #4 Dallas Mavericks (4-3)

What’s it going to look like when the new NBA MVP starts getting blown up by Jason Terry? As much as I love Steve Nash’s game, I do believe you have to have a force on both ends of the floor to truly be an MVP player. Like I said above, would you make Ben Wallace the MVP of the league? He’s the defensive version of Steve Nash. The Mavericks are going to be doing everything they can to prove they didn’t need the long-haired Canadian, and Nash is going to be doing everything he can to prove they shouldn’t have let him go. It all comes down to match-ups. Sure Terry may score at will against Nash when he’s hot, but when he goes cold, he can’t do the little things (you know, like passing) that Nash can do on offense to make up for it. Joe Johnson and Quentin Richardson probably get the slight edge over Michael Finley and Josh Howard, but it’s much closer than you’d think. Amare is still much better than Dampier, but Dampier’s defense will at least slow him down a little. The true difference-maker is Shawn Marion’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk already showed he can be seriously bothered when a defender really gets into him like McGrady did, and Marion is a better defender than McGrady. This is going to be a series like those old Dallas/Sacramento series where the last team to score won. Phoenix has the talent edge, so they probably end up being the last team to score.
"Wizards Advance in NBA Playoffs." VOA News. May 7, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.voanews.com>
The Washington Wizards beat the visiting Chicago Bulls 94-91 Friday to advance to the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years.

Washington wrapped up their Eastern Conference, best-of-seven series 4-2, winning four games in a row against the Bulls after losing the first two.

All five Wizards' starters scored in double digits. With the score tied 91-91, Jared Jeffries grabbed an errant Chicago inbounds pass that hit the back of a Bulls' player, drove down the court and delivered Washington's game-winning dunk shot with 33 seconds left in regulation time.

The Wizards are in the play-offs for the first time since 1997. The last time they made it to the second round was 1982, when the team was known as the Bullets.

Washington next takes on the East's top seed, the Miami Heat, which swept New Jersey in an opening series. Game one of the best-of-seven conference semi-final is Sunday in Miami.
"NBA: Wizards Beat Bulls, Advance to Round 2 of Playoffs." VOA News. May 7, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.voanews.com>
The Washington Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls Friday and advanced to the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs for the first time in more than 20 years.

Washington's 94-91 win at home wrapped up the Eastern Conference series, 4-2. The Wizards came back with four wins in a row after the Bulls took the first two games.

All five Wizards starters scored in double digits Friday. With the score tied at 91-all, Jared Jeffries grabbed an errant Chicago inbounds pass, dashed downcourt to an empty basket and slammed home a game-winning dunk with 33 seconds left.

The Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 1997. The last time they made it to the second round was 1982, when the team was known as the Bullets.

Washington next takes on the East's top-seeded team, the Miami Heat, which swept New Jersey in their opening series. Game one of the best-of-seven conference semifinal is in Miami on Sunday.

Saturday's NBA playoffs feature two decisive game-seven matchups. The Indiana Pacers are in Boston against the Celtics, and the Dallas Mavericks host the Houston Rockets.
"NBA Playoffs: Rockets and Celtics force deciding contests." Herald Tribune. May 6, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.iht.com>
Tracy McGrady no longer has to do it all himself. Mike James, Jon Barry and the rest of the Houston Rockets made sure of it.

That might be the difference in McGrady's latest attempt to get out of the first round.

Playing with the desperation of a man on the brink of elimination, McGrady had 37 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists to help the Rockets avoid an early playoff exit with a 101-83 victory over Dallas in Houston on Thursday night.

"I've been in this situation before," McGrady said. "I'm going to lay everything out on the line, leave everything out there on that basketball court, and I'm going to bring my teammates with me."

The series is tied 3-3, with Game 7 in Dallas on Saturday. The winner will face top-seeded Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Houston was one of two teams to force a decisive Game 7. The Boston Celtics, in a series that has featured 14 technical fouls, two ejections and one suspension, topped the Indian Pacers, 92-89, in overtime in Indianapolis despite losing their star, Paul Pierce, near the end of regulation.

"I think at times, it was some kind of divine intervention that we won," Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, said after the wild victory, the fourth of the series by the visiting team.

The winner Saturday faces what could be an even tougher prospect in the next round, a matchup with the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In Houston, James came off the bench for 22 points, Barry scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and the aging center Dikembe Mutombo provided some stout interior defense for the Rockets, who have lost in the opening round of their last three playoff appearances.

Jerry Stackhouse led Dallas with 21 points, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 on 5-of-22 shooting as he continued his series-long struggles against McGrady's defense.

"I've got to figure a way to shoot the ball better if we want to win Game 7," Nowitzki said.

Mutombo, who earlier in the day promised that he would be "wagging his finger" in Phoenix next week, offset a disappointing effort from Yao Ming, who had eight points and five rebounds.

In Indianapolis, Pierce was ejected with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Celtics leading 84-83 after receiving his second technical foul for shoving Jamaal Tinsley of the Pacers, who fouled Pierce hard.

"It was an overreaction to a hard foul, and I lost my cool out there," Pierce said. "I'm just happy we got the win. I don't know how I'd feel if we lost this game."

With Pierce out, Antoine Walker, who was suspended for Game 4 after grabbing a referee, finished with 24 points for Boston, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer early in overtime and a clinching basket with a minute to go.

Indiana appeared on its way to an easy end to the series, scoring the first 10 points of the game and leading 19-8 before the Celtics made their comeback.

Tracy McGrady no longer has to do it all himself. Mike James, Jon Barry and the rest of the Houston Rockets made sure of it.

That might be the difference in McGrady's latest attempt to get out of the first round.

Playing with the desperation of a man on the brink of elimination, McGrady had 37 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists to help the Rockets avoid an early playoff exit with a 101-83 victory over Dallas in Houston on Thursday night.

"I've been in this situation before," McGrady said. "I'm going to lay everything out on the line, leave everything out there on that basketball court, and I'm going to bring my teammates with me."

The series is tied 3-3, with Game 7 in Dallas on Saturday. The winner will face top-seeded Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Houston was one of two teams to force a decisive Game 7. The Boston Celtics, in a series that has featured 14 technical fouls, two ejections and one suspension, topped the Indian Pacers, 92-89, in overtime in Indianapolis despite losing their star, Paul Pierce, near the end of regulation.

"I think at times, it was some kind of divine intervention that we won," Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, said after the wild victory, the fourth of the series by the visiting team.

The winner Saturday faces what could be an even tougher prospect in the next round, a matchup with the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In Houston, James came off the bench for 22 points, Barry scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and the aging center Dikembe Mutombo provided some stout interior defense for the Rockets, who have lost in the opening round of their last three playoff appearances.

Jerry Stackhouse led Dallas with 21 points, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 on 5-of-22 shooting as he continued his series-long struggles against McGrady's defense.

"I've got to figure a way to shoot the ball better if we want to win Game 7," Nowitzki said.

Mutombo, who earlier in the day promised that he would be "wagging his finger" in Phoenix next week, offset a disappointing effort from Yao Ming, who had eight points and five rebounds.

In Indianapolis, Pierce was ejected with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Celtics leading 84-83 after receiving his second technical foul for shoving Jamaal Tinsley of the Pacers, who fouled Pierce hard.

"It was an overreaction to a hard foul, and I lost my cool out there," Pierce said. "I'm just happy we got the win. I don't know how I'd feel if we lost this game."

With Pierce out, Antoine Walker, who was suspended for Game 4 after grabbing a referee, finished with 24 points for Boston, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer early in overtime and a clinching basket with a minute to go.

Indiana appeared on its way to an easy end to the series, scoring the first 10 points of the game and leading 19-8 before the Celtics made their comeback.

Tracy McGrady no longer has to do it all himself. Mike James, Jon Barry and the rest of the Houston Rockets made sure of it.

That might be the difference in McGrady's latest attempt to get out of the first round.

Playing with the desperation of a man on the brink of elimination, McGrady had 37 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists to help the Rockets avoid an early playoff exit with a 101-83 victory over Dallas in Houston on Thursday night.

"I've been in this situation before," McGrady said. "I'm going to lay everything out on the line, leave everything out there on that basketball court, and I'm going to bring my teammates with me."

The series is tied 3-3, with Game 7 in Dallas on Saturday. The winner will face top-seeded Phoenix in the Western Conference semifinals.

Houston was one of two teams to force a decisive Game 7. The Boston Celtics, in a series that has featured 14 technical fouls, two ejections and one suspension, topped the Indian Pacers, 92-89, in overtime in Indianapolis despite losing their star, Paul Pierce, near the end of regulation.

"I think at times, it was some kind of divine intervention that we won," Doc Rivers, the Celtics coach, said after the wild victory, the fourth of the series by the visiting team.

The winner Saturday faces what could be an even tougher prospect in the next round, a matchup with the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In Houston, James came off the bench for 22 points, Barry scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and the aging center Dikembe Mutombo provided some stout interior defense for the Rockets, who have lost in the opening round of their last three playoff appearances.

Jerry Stackhouse led Dallas with 21 points, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 on 5-of-22 shooting as he continued his series-long struggles against McGrady's defense.

"I've got to figure a way to shoot the ball better if we want to win Game 7," Nowitzki said.

Mutombo, who earlier in the day promised that he would be "wagging his finger" in Phoenix next week, offset a disappointing effort from Yao Ming, who had eight points and five rebounds.

In Indianapolis, Pierce was ejected with 12.9 seconds remaining in regulation and the Celtics leading 84-83 after receiving his second technical foul for shoving Jamaal Tinsley of the Pacers, who fouled Pierce hard.

"It was an overreaction to a hard foul, and I lost my cool out there," Pierce said. "I'm just happy we got the win. I don't know how I'd feel if we lost this game."

With Pierce out, Antoine Walker, who was suspended for Game 4 after grabbing a referee, finished with 24 points for Boston, hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer early in overtime and a clinching basket with a minute to go.

Indiana appeared on its way to an easy end to the series, scoring the first 10 points of the game and leading 19-8 before the Celtics made their comeback.
Babington, Charles. "Clash Over Judicial Filibusters Nears Boiling Point." The washington post. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.washingtonpost.com>
As the Senate returns from a week-long recess, Republicans are reminding everyone that four years ago today, President Bush nominated Priscilla R. Owen and Miguel A. Estrada to federal appellate courts. Neither received a Senate confirmation vote, Republicans note, because of Democratic filibusters.

The issue has simmered ever since, and many lawmakers say they believe it will reach a full boil this month, as conservative activists press Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to try to change Senate rules to bar filibusters of judicial nominees. Groups on the left and right are spending millions on broadcast ads and holding dozens of rallies, telethons, news conferences and other events to argue for and against Frist's effort.


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The ads and rallies have targeted at least 10 states with 20 senators. But insiders agree that only a few GOP senators -- perhaps four or five -- might truly be undecided and crucial to the outcome.

Senators hope to resolve a major transportation bill and other legislation before the chamber is consumed by what could be a bitterly partisan confrontation. That is why numerous aides say a filibuster showdown is most likely in about two weeks, shortly before the Memorial Day recess. But Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said Friday the issue "could come up at any time."

Today's schedule is typical of the dueling events that have framed the debate for weeks. At 11 a.m., Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) will hold a Capitol Hill news conference with Hispanic leaders to mark the fourth anniversary of Estrada's nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Owen's nomination to the 5th Circuit. Both were among the 10 nominees thwarted by Democratic filibusters in Bush's first term. Owen, a Texas Supreme Court justice, is one of seven that the president renominated this year. Estrada and two others withdrew.

At noon at the National Press Club, groups including the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters will announce new "coast-to-coast activity to demand an immediate vote" to change the Senate rules. And in the afternoon, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- who opposed Republican efforts to change the filibuster rules in a national radio address Saturday and on "Fox News Sunday" -- will hold a Capitol news conference with Texas officials critical of Owen's record.

Republicans hold 55 of the Senate's 100 seats. They have been unable to muster the 60 votes needed to stop filibusters of conservative nominees that Democrats say are too extreme to be granted lifetime appointments. Frist is threatening to change the rule but, with every Democrat opposing him and several Republicans deeply wary, it is unclear whether he can round up the 51 votes he needs.

Frist may not have helped himself last week when he sent an e-mail to all 54 GOP colleagues praising a new anti-filibuster radio and TV ad airing in Maine and five other states. Maine's two Republican senators -- Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins -- have criticized the notion of changing the filibuster rule, and Collins told the New York Times the e-mail surprised her. Stevenson said Frist, who was in the Middle East, simply wanted to apprise his caucus of recent events and was not trying to needle Collins or Snowe.

The radio and TV ads are also airing in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and Rhode Island. They are financed by Progress for America, which poured millions of dollars into Bush's 2004 reelection bid. The group bills itself as "an issue advocacy/grassroots organization committed to representing a diverse coalition of concerned citizens, businesses, nonprofit organizations and community leaders." But the liberal Alliance for Justice says the group "is funded and staffed by Washington insiders, political players and big money donors with strong ties to the Bush administration."

Another liberal group, People for the American Way, is countering the Progress for America campaign with TV ads criticizing Owen's record and saying Republicans want "too much power."

A HEAVY DAY: Thursday should be a doozy of a day in Congress. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee could spend hours discussing the latest allegations against John R. Bolton before voting on his nomination to be U.N. ambassador. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled debate, and possibly votes, on three appellate court nominees whom Democrats may filibuster: William H. Pryor Jr. (tapped for the 11th Circuit); Terrence W. Boyle (4th Circuit); and Brett M. Kavanaugh (D.C. Circuit).

And Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter is scheduled to meet privately with House members in a follow-up to last year's session held by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. House leaders say the goal is to establish better relations between the legislative and judicial branches -- a timely topic these days.
Heilprin, John. "Senate GOP Hopes Deal Will End Filibusters." THe washington post. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.washingtonpost.com>
WASHINGTON -- A leading Senate Republican expressed hope Sunday for a deal to end the divisive fight over the filibustering of judicial nominees, saying that "some of us might be moderately intelligent enough to figure this out."

"We need to work through this," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., who is publicly undecided about whether to endorse the GOP threat to use their Senate majority to ban such filibusters.



Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is interviewed on ABC's "This Week" in Washington Sunday, May 8, 2005. Regarding the divisive fight over the filibustering of judicial nominees, Levin said Sunday "We should not give up on a principle which has been an absolutely essential part of protecting minority rights..." adding "There is no other check and balance other than a filibuster in the Senate". (AP Photo/ABC, Linda Spillers) (Linda Spillers - AP)

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Hagel noted that private talks are continuing between Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in an effort to work out a compromise.

"My goodness, you've got 100 United States senators. Some of us might be moderately intelligent enough to figure this out. We would, I think, debase our system and fail our country if we don't do this," Hagel told ABC's "This Week."

"But you can't give up a minority rights tool in the interest of the country, like the filibuster," he said.

To Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., "It's that kind of statement that gives us hope."

The GOP is talking about seeking a parliamentary ruling that declares filibusters are not permitted against judicial nominees. That ruling would ultimately be submitted to the full Senate for a vote, with a simple majority required to prevail.

During President Bush's first term, Democrats filibustered 10 nominees to federal appeals courts and have said they will do so again this year for the seven that Bush renominated. As of late March, the Senate had confirmed 204 judges chosen by Bush, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I know that Senator Frist and Senator Reid both want to work this out," Hagel said.

It takes 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to stop a filibuster and end unlimited debate intended to block legislation or a nomination. In the current Senate, there are 55 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one independent.

The vice president can break a 50-50 tie. Passing a bill or confirming a nominee requires only a simple majority, 51 senators if all 100 senators are present.

"The United States Senate is a minority rights institution unique in the world," Hagel said. "And I don't think either side wants to give that up. Now, the other part of this, which I also believe strongly, is that presidents deserve votes on their nominees."

Yet he noted that Republicans prevented votes on many of President Clinton's choices for the federal bench.

"The Republicans' hands aren't clean on this either. What we did with Bill Clinton's nominees _ about 62 of them _ we just didn't give them votes in committee or we didn't bring them up," Hagel said.
"Investigation of Tom DeLay: two Republicans refused themselves." News from Russia. May 5, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.newsfromrussia.com>
Two Republican members of the House ethics committee refused themselves Wednesday from any investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying their presence on the panel could pose a potential conflict of interest because they both contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund.

Reps. Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma said they met with committee chairman Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington about the matter, and everyone agreed that their recusals would be in the "best interests" of the committee.
Smith said any action the committee takes regarding DeLay will "come under intense scrutiny," and he didn't want to present a distraction, tells CNN News.

The decision represented an effort by Republicans to avert calls for an outside counsel to lead the House investigation into the powerful party leader and to restore credibility to its internal ethics process. That process has been rocked by accusations that Republicans had sought to weaken it through new rules and membership changes. Mr. Cole and Mr. Smith were added to the committee this year after the panel admonished Mr. DeLay three times last year.

Democrats' objections to the changes in the panel's rules and membership had created a partisan impasse that had paralyzed the ethics committee until the meeting Wednesday.

Mr. DeLay said on Wednesday that he was eager to present the leaders of the committee with information on his overseas travel as part of his effort to resolve accusations that he and some of his top aides had taken trips underwritten by lobbyists in violation of House rules. "We did everything by the book," Mr. DeLay told reporters.

As the heightened scrutiny on House travel threatened to ensnare more lawmakers, Mr. DeLay also said the haste with which House members of both parties were correcting their forms was evidence that the rules covering such trips were confusing and needed to be better spelled out by the ethics panel, publishes the New York Times.
"New York Times Best Sellers." The Register-Guard. May 8, 2005. May 8, 2005. <www.registerguard.com>
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6. Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger (Houghton Mifflin, $25). A three-game series in 2003 between the Cubs and the Cardinals as seen through the eyes of Tony La Russa, the St. Louis manager.

7. Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder by Michael Savage (Nelson Current/Thomas Nelson, $25.99). An attack on the ``insanities and inanities of extreme leftist thought.''

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