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.
Heavy medal -- Established in 1945 by President Harry S. Truman as a civilian decoration for service during World War II and reintroduced in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy to confer recognition for distinguished service in all fields of endeavor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest non-military honor.
On Thursday, the White House released the list of new honorees. The recipients, who represent a broad cross-section of American life include: former Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves outfield Henry "Hank" Aaron, who holds the career records for home runs in major league baseball and was one of the first black players to break the color line in the deep South; comedian Bill Cosby, whom the president lauds as having "revolutionized the portrayal of African Americans on television;" Dr. Peter Drucker, the management guru whose theories have revolutionized the world marketplace; Nelson Mandela, who led the fight against apartheid from a jail cell on Robbin Island and rose to become the first democratically-elected state president of South Africa; Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore, who led the microchip revolution that dramatically altered the world; and former New York Times editor and columnist A.M. Rosenthal, who is one of the most influential opinion journalists in the country, particularly where, the White House says, the " suffering of oppressed peoples, especially religious minorities" are concerned.
Heavy hitter -- The Republicans emerged victorious in the annual Congressional Baseball Game played at Bowie Baysox Stadium in Maryland. The GOP defeated their House counterparts by a score of 9-2 thanks to the strong performance of Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who struck out four Democrats. Shimkus, who wore a Southern Illinois University at Carbondale jersey during the game, was named its most valuable player. Proceeds for the night went for the benefit of the Washington Literacy Council and the Metropolitan Boys and Girls Clubs.
International family relations -- Marie Wheat, until recently chief of staff to Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has taken over as the director of congressional relations for the Peace Corps. In her new post, will take point on the president's effort to double the number of volunteers working for the 40-year-old agency as part of the administrations' community-service initiatives. Work on foreign policy issues runs in the family -- her husband Mark -- also a former congressional staffer -- is currently part of the congressional relations team at the United States Dept. of State.
A big man for a big job -- The New York Times is reporting that the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is well known for his ability to use the politics of division to keep his name in the headlines, is ready to head to India and Pakistan in July to try and broker a deal over the disputed Kashmir region. According to the Times, Sharpton says, "that as a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, who was, after all, from India, he felt morally bound to offer help." Of course, Sharpton may be forgetting that a Hindu militant activist who believed the Indian leader had given away too much to the Muslims in the period following independence and partition assassinated Gandhi.
Fit for the job -- On Thursday, the White House announced the appointment of 20 people to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports that will be chaired by football great Lynn Swann, formerly with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Among the others named to the council were Dallas Cowboy's running back Emmit Smith; fitness guru Denise Austin; University of Florida women's soccer head coach Amanda Cromwell; Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year; and golfer Nancy Lopez, who is a member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.
A woman's work is never done -- One of the fall's hottest books is sure to be Unfinished Business by Julianne Malveaux and Deborah Perry. Writing from both sides of the American political divide, Malveaux, a columnist and author who frequently stakes out the left's position on television news programs, and Perry, a former congressional lobbyist who appears from the right on many of those same programs, debate reproductive rights, childcare, taxes, crime and other polarizing issues while attempting to find where and if common ground exists between them.
The big speech -- The Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Council, has announced that Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, will make the keynote address to their conference on homeland security. The meeting, scheduled for June 26 in Washington at The Hotel Washington, will speak on the immediate and long-term challenges facing the Bush administration and Congress as they work to address new security needs in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
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