- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) — Capital Comment — Daily news notes, political rumors, and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

Keeping your friends close…

The Bush administration has been under considerable pressure from its nominal allies on the right over its continual efforts to reach out to the Muslim and Arab-American communities in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on New York and Washington by Middle Eastern terrorists.

While very serious about cracking down on terrorist activities — as recent arrests confirm — the White House wants to insure that a climate of hatred is not allowed to develop where some people might be singled out for attention or worse because of religious or ethnic affiliations.

On Friday, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller met again with leaders of the Arab, Sikh and Muslim-American communities to discuss issues of mutual concern, including the progress the FBI on its pledge to protect these communities from hate-driven crimes and acts of violence.

According to the Islamic Institute, whose chairman, Khaled Saffuri, participated in the meeting, Mueller talked about the necessity of continued dialogue. "I'm vitally concerned that the rights of Muslim, Sikh and Arab Americans be protected," Mueller is quoted as saying.


Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., says he will not join the field of Democrats competing for the party's 2004 presidential nomination. In a statement released by his office, Dodd said he had decided not to seek the nomination but would instead focus on his Senate duties.

"It has become very obvious to me that in the days, weeks, and months to come, the Senate will be a focal point for America's future … I intend to use my voice and my vote to serve the people of our state and our nation to the best of my ability. For that reason I have decided that I will not seek the nomination of my party for President," he said.

Putting their left foot forward…

Thousands of activists are expected in Washington for an anti-war march and rally to mark International Women's Day on March 8. Organizers say the protesters will begin the day in Malcolm X Park and march through the streets before meeting up at 1 p.m. to "encircle the White House for peace."

Standing behind the activities are women's groups including CodePink for Peace, the National Organization for Women, the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom and the Sisterhood is Global Institute.

"When the world is on the brink of being consumed by global testosterone poisoning, it's time for the women to rise up in a pre-emptive strike for peace," CodePink's Jodi Evans said. Organizers have also promised that a number of celebrities will participate. In a Feb. 26 release, they announced that The Color Purple's Alice Walker, comedienne Janeane Garofalo, musician Michelle Shocked, and Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, will take part in some of the events.

TomPaine answers the $10,000 question…

Last December TomPaine.com, an online journal devoted to liberal opinions, offered "a $10,000 reward to the first person who proves the identity of the Eli Lilly Bandit" — the name the Web site gave to "the member of Congress responsible for inserting" a provision into last year's Homeland Security Bill protecting Lilly against lawsuits from some parents who claimed vaccines caused their children to develop autism.

On Thursday, TomPaine.com donated the $10,000 to the Autism Society of America. In a release, the opinion journal said it had "received a number of submissions, including one from Rep. Dick Armey claiming credit, but none, including Armey's, were substantiated." TomPaine.com Editor-in-Chief John Moyers declined to explain why Armey's admission of responsibility was insufficient to substantiate the claim.

Since the issue surfaced, Armey had repeatedly said he was the member of Congress responsible for the provision and was proud of it. In claiming the bounty, he asked TomPaine.com to send it to an inner-city charter school he had supported while in Congress — a request they declined, saying that the contest hadn't ended.

They also issued "A Clarification" on the site: "Lots of readers have contacted us to say, 'Rep. Dick Armey admitted doing it!' We know that. It's easy for Dick Armey to say he did it … Armey, as House Majority Leader, did allow it to happen … What TomPaine.com is looking for is the person who asked Armey to allow it to happen."

Nevertheless, in what TomPaine.com says is "in recognition of Armey's willingness to claim responsibility," the donation to the autism group was made in his name.

Personnel notes…

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has named Sue Fryer Ward as its new director of grassroots activity. Between 1998 and 2003, Ward was Maryland's secretary of aging, where she played an integral role in implementing federal Medicaid waivers allowing older adults to receive long-term care services in home- and community-based settings … Pundit Craig Crawford, formerly editor-in-chief and then executive publisher of National Journal's The Hotline, has moved to Congressional Quarterly where he will produce a weekly feature — White House Trail Mix — for CQ Today. The column will follow the presidential race from the pre-primary season and national nominating conventions through to the general election.


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