- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

Environmental hero

Traditional environmentalists are expected to be scarce tonight when Bjorn Lomborg, a hero to free-market environmentalists, receives the Julian L. Simon Memorial Award at the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s ninth annual dinner at the Capitol Hilton.

Mr. Lomborg, seen as a traitor of the traditional environmental movement, authored “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” a book that originally set out to disprove the free-market theories of Mr. Simon, the late economist.

“Instead, Lomborg discovered that Simon was right about his central point — things are getting better all the time,” the CEI said in announcing the award. “The air we breathe is cleaner; the water we drink is cleaner; our forests aren’t dying out; and perhaps the most controversial — global warming isn’t as bad as some environmentalists would lead us to believe.”

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, will be the featured speaker at the event.

Said CEI President Fred L. Smith Jr.: “As a former businessman, DeLay knows firsthand what kind of detrimental impact the regulatory state can have on businesses and all Americans. Congress is attempting to rein in the costs, but it will be a huge undertaking to conquer Leviathan.”

Frank v. Wolfowitz

Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, called on Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to resign yesterday in a speech on the House floor.

Mr. Wolfowitz has tried to “undermine democracy” in Turkey, Mr. Frank said. Mr. Wolfowitz has expressed public frustration that Turkey did not more actively support the U.S.-led military action in Iraq.

U.S. military planners had hoped to win approval from the Muslim democracy and longtime Middle East ally to stage a massive onslaught into Iraq from Turkey’s southeastern border. The Turkish parliament voted against giving the U.S. that permission.

In a recent television interview with Turkish journalists, Mr. Wolfowitz said: “When you had an issue of Turkey’s national interest and national strategy, I think it’s perfectly appropriate, especially in your system, for the military to say it was in Turkey’s interest to support the United States in that effort.”

“For Mr. Wolfowitz to lament the fact that the Turkish military showed respect for democracy and did not seek to muscle an elected government is a startling betrayal of what ought to be an American effort to support this sort of development,” Mr. Frank said.

The smoke vote

The toughest antismoking law in the nation could go up in flames as voters go to the polls in Pueblo, Colo., today to decide whether to keep their town virtually smoke-free.

A coalition of bar owners and attorneys calling themselves Puebloans for Common Sense in Government have gathered more than 10,000 signatures to put the antismoking law on the recall ballot, along with the four City Council members who voted for it.

But the recall effort has run into stiff opposition from nonsmokers, known as Citizens for a Healthier Pueblo, who say the law will keep Puebloans healthier and attract patrons looking for a smoke-free environment.

Enacted six months ago, Pueblo’s ordinance bans smoking in all indoor areas open to the public, including bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and bingo halls. The lone exception to the rule is tobacco stores.

The law was in effect for just two weeks before opponents managed to have it suspended until voters decide the issue.

Meeting with dissidents

President Bush will observe the 101st anniversary of Cuba’s independence by meeting today with Cuban dissidents and former political prisoners, the Associated Press reports.

The dissidents include family members of some of the more than 70 Cubans arrested in March as part of a sweeping crackdown on pro-democracy activists. All were given lengthy prison terms after brief trials for being “counterrevolutionaries.”

Among those Mr. Bush will receive is Ramon Colas, who started an independent library movement in Cuba and left the island after undergoing severe harassment by the Communist dictatorship of Fidel Castro.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said that during today’s meeting, Mr. Bush will listen to the stories of “brave men and women who have survived Castro’s regime.”

It was not clear last night whether Mr. Bush will announce any policy changes toward Cuba. Debate among officials was continuing.

Several Cuban-American groups are hoping that Mr. Bush will use the occasion to tighten sanctions against Cuba, pursue a policy of regime change or strengthen U.S. government TV and radio broadcasts to the island.

May 20 is the anniversary of the founding of the Cuban republic in 1902 after the Spanish-American War. The Castro regime does not recognize the holiday, contending that Cuba did not achieve self-determination until the 1959 revolution.

Bush’s strength

While the nation generally remains closely divided, the balance has shifted at the top of the political ticket, with President Bush showing surprising strength in states that Democrats will need in 2004, pollsters say.

“The parties remain pretty balanced,” said Robert Shapiro, a public opinion specialist at Columbia University. “We have competitive elections for control of the House and the Senate. Where we find the imbalance is in regard to the presidency.”

Some state pollsters attending the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Nashville, Tenn., offered their views over the weekend, the Associated Press reports.

• In New York, Mr. Bush is very popular and leads the Democratic candidates in head-to-head matchups in the Democratic-leaning state, said Doug Schwartz, director of the Quinnipiac poll. “If the Democrats don’t hold onto New York, there’s no way they can win the nation,” he said.

• In New Jersey, Mr. Bush is more popular than Democratic Gov. James E. McGreevey, who is wrestling with budget headaches and other political problems, said pollster Cliff Zukin, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.

• In Minnesota, a competitive state won by Democrat Al Gore in 2000, Mr. Bush is popular overall and his ratings on the war are strong, although he is more vulnerable on the economy, said Robert Daves, a pollster at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

• In California, the president is relatively popular among Hispanics, which could help neutralize a Democratic trend in the state in recent years, said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.

Michigan probe

The Michigan attorney general launched a probe of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his security staff yesterday, just three days after state police announced they were looking into reports of wrongdoing.

Mr. Kilpatrick came under scrutiny last week after a deputy police chief charged that the mayor fired him May 9 for investigating allegations of drunken driving, falsified overtime records and a cover-up by two of the security detail’s 20 members.

The fired official, Gary Brown, said he was also looking into a report that a wild party was held last year at the mayor’s mansion at which there was nude dancing and an assault that was concealed from police. The mayor denies such a party took place.

Attorney General Mike Cox said he decided to take the lead in the investigation after receiving reports that Col. Tad J. Sturdivant, the commander of the state police, attended the purported party. Mr. Sturdivant has denied being at any gathering at the mayor’s mansion.

Mr. Cox said he believes Col. Sturdivant, but that it was also important to avoid any conflict of interest or the perception of a conflict of interest.

“We don’t need any more twists,” he said. “What we need, what the mayor has asked for and what the citizens of Detroit and Michigan deserve are the undisputed facts brought to light by a truly independent actor. And that’s what I intend to deliver.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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