Wednesday, August 31, 2005

News that should be news

Officials rescue living, count dead after Katrina
Overwhelmed authorities struggled to rescue the living and count the dead on Wednesday amid catastrophic destruction left in the path of powerful Hurricane Katrina.
648 Dead, 322 Hurt in Iraq Bridge Stampede
At least 648 people were killed in a stampede on a bridge Wednesday when panic engulfed a Shiite religious procession amid rumors that a suicide bomber was about to attack, officials said. It was the single biggest confirmed loss of life in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.
New Rules Could Allow Power Plants to Pollute More
The Bush administration has drafted regulations that would ease pollution controls on older, dirtier power plants and could allow those that modernize to emit more pollution, rather than less.

The language could undercut dozens of pending state and federal lawsuits aimed at forcing coal-fired plants to cut back emissions of harmful pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, said lawyers who worked on the cases.
Back to Plan B
THOUSANDS OF unplanned pregnancies, many of which would result in abortions, could be prevented if the Food and Drug Administration would follow the advice of its own advisory panel and approve over-the-counter sales of Plan B, the morning-after contraceptive. Yet last Friday the FDA bowed once again to political pressures and put off a decision on the birth control method, which is already available by prescription nationally and over the counter in seven states.

Halliburton Whistleblower Demoted

Whistleblowers -- those who go public with allegations of waste, fraud and abuse -- continue to have a tough time, despite a law protecting them and repeated assurances from the White House, many government agencies and Congress that they maintain a policy of zero tolerance for retaliation.

The latest victim of apparent retaliation is Bunnatine H. "Bunny" Greenhouse, the senior contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, who objected -- first, internally, then publicly -- to a multi-billion dollar, no-bid contract with the Halliburton company for work in Iraq.

Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, commander of the Army Corps, told Greenhouse she was being removed from the senior executive service, the top rank of civilian government employees, because of poor performance reviews.

But Greenhouse's attorney, Michael D. Kohn, has appealed the decision in a letter to Defence Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying the performance review cited by Strock to justify his action "was conducted by the very subjects" of Greenhouse's allegations.
U.S. Sells the Most Weapons to Others
The United States is the largest supplier of weapons to developing nations, delivering more than $9.6 billion in arms to Near East and Asian countries last year.

Poverty Rate Rises to 12.7 Percent
Even with a robust economy that was adding jobs last year, the number of Americans who fell into poverty rose to 37 million — up 1.1 million from 2003 — according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.

It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure.
More costly than 'the war to end all wars'
Despite the relatively small number of American armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan (140,000), the war effort is rapidly shaping up to be the third-most expensive war in United States history
The FCC's Cable Crackdown
In the coming weeks, observers expect Martin to act upon between 30 and 50 outstanding indecency complaints, the first step in clearing a backlog of hundreds of allegedly inappropriate broadcasts on television and radio. He has promised to remake the indecency process, speeding FCC responses and establishing a clearer precedent of what constitutes indecent programming. "The fact that we have not had any fines this year really just means we are in the eye of the hurricane," says one former FCC official, who has been following the situation. The storm first hit in 2004, when the FCC, under then-chairman Michael Powell, proposed $3.7 million in fines, more than twice as much as all the fines issued in the previous decade.
Iraq Worse Than Vietnam - in Number of Journalists Killed
More journalists have been killed in Iraq since the war began in March 2003 than during the 20 years of conflict in Vietnam, media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Sunday.
Journalists' Group Iraq Media Death Probe
The International Federation of Journalists on Monday urged the United Nations to investigate deaths of media staff at the hands of coalition forces in Iraq.

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