WASHINGTON, July 31 (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.
Through the sandblasts of time-- Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, has introduced legislation that would strip J. Edgar Hoover's name from the FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. "Several reasons played an important role in my decision to introduce this important piece of legislation," Burton says. "J. Edgar Hoover clearly abused his role as director of the FBI. Symbolism matters in the United States, and it is wrong to honor a man who frequently manipulated the law to achieve his personal goals." Burton's committee has been investigating allegations, as reported by UPI's P. Mitchell Prothero, that the FBI protected informants inside organized crime at the expense of at least one innocent man who was sent to prison for 30 years. A statement from Burton's office describes the case thusly: "Evidence indicates that (FBI) Director J. Edgar Hoover himself turned a blind eye to numerous murders in order to develop and protect informants. As a result, Joseph Salvati and others were left to die in prison, notwithstanding clear evidence that they were innocent." The building bearing Hoover's name was dedicated in 1975.
From the more bad news department -- No one knows why the politicians in North Carolina cannot draw district lines that pass muster in the courts. After the lines were drawn and redrawn numerous times during the 1990s, officials hoped the post-2000 census would bring about a map that everyone could live with. Not so -- and the resulting judicial machinations have resulted in the state's political primaries being delayed and in the runoff elections eventually being canceled.
Politicos of both stripes believe this has acted like a torpedo amidships for Democrats in the state, who believed that for the first time since 1984 they had a real shot to win the Senate seat occupied by Republican Jesse Helms since 1972, probably because Helms has retired and is not seeking re-election in the fall. The Democrats are faced with an embarrassment of riches in their primary -- with Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton; state Secretary of State Elaine Marshall; and state Rep. Dan Blue all bidding for the party's nod.
The longer the primary season drags on, the stronger the probable GOP nominee, former U.S. Labor and Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Dole, becomes in the fall election. The Democrats continue to fight each other, making it harder to pull everyone together behind one candidate in the fall while Dole is free to campaign for the general election.
A new poll, conducted by Voter/Consumer Research -- a GOP-leaning firm -- of 600 likely voters shows Dole winning decisively. The poll also includes a subsample of 295 Democrats that produced news that should be less than encouraging. While 29 percent chose Bowles as their candidate, making him the front-runner in this survey, 34 percent said they remained undecided as to how they would vote. The margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent but it can hardly be seen as a show of strength when the nominal front-runner comes in behind "I don't know."
I scream, you scream, we all scream for... hydrogenated oils? -- The Center for Science in the Public Interest, the self-appointed guardian of America's dietary habits, is going after ice cream favorite Ben and Jerry's. The CSPI says Ben and Jerry's "misleads customers by falsely claiming that some of its ice cream and frozen yogurt products are 'All Natural,' when they contain artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, or other factory-made substances." The group filed a complaint against the company with the Food and Drug Administration, asking the government agency to take enforcement action against the company, which is now a unit of the multinational food conglomerate Unilever. Before being acquired by the company, however, Ben and Jerry's was owned by, well, Ben and Jerry -- two liberals from New England famous for the way they blended their personal politics and their pleasing products -- like Chunky Monkey and Cherry Garcia.
Mosque masking -- Talbert Shaw, president of Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., has recommended closing the campus mosque because of a lack of space on campus, much to the chagrin of the American Muslim Council. The mosque was built after the late King Khalid of Saudi Arabia made a million-dollar donation to the university in 1983. According to the AMC, Ihsan Bagby, a professor of international relations at the university, who also leads prayers at the mosque, told Muslims assembled for prayer that the proposal to close the mosque is a sign that the university no longer welcomes Muslims on campus. The American Muslim Council is asking people to contact the university and ask them to reconsider, saying that, "The recommendation to close the mosque at a time when there is a free season for anti-Muslim rhetoric will further deteriorate the situation for Muslims in this country. A mosque, which was built with donations from Muslims, must not be allowed to close."
Personnel note -- Donna M. Erwin, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, has been named by the president to be acting special trustee of the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians in the Department of the Interior, effective Wednesday. Erwin joined the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1992 as deputy director of the Office of Funds Management, becoming director in 1996. Since November 2001, she has been assigned to the Office of Trust Transition. Her predecessor in the post resigned under pressure when he challenged the department's contention it was making progress in repairing the troubled trust fund. Robert Orr, currently a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has been tapped to head up the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations. Orr is a veteran of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, the National Security Council, the International Peace Academy and the Brookings Institution.
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