UPI's Capital Comment for Aug. 15, 2002

By United Press International  |  Aug. 15, 2002 at 10:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (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.

Free state follies -- The gubernatorial campaign of Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a Democrat, took a turn for the worse this week. According to records released by the University of Maryland, federal crime money meant for the school was often used to pay staff in a Townsend-controlled state office. On Tuesday, the university released records pertaining to 20 plus grants that were under subpoena by the U.S. Attorney in Baltimore as part of probe into misuse of the grant money for political purposes. The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which Townsend headed for Democrat Parris Glendening, is currently under investigation by a federal grand jury. Townsend, who calls the charges politically motivated, is in a close race for governor with Republican Bob Ehrlich, a member of Congress from the Baltimore area.

Financial follies -- Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, the head of the Department of Justice's Corporate Crime Task Force, is coming under fire from judicial gadfly Larry Clayman's organization. According to a release, Judicial Watch is bringing "a shareholders suit in federal court in San Francisco" against Thompson "and other directors and officers of Providian Financial Corporation, as well as Providian itself, for alleged securities fraud involving misleading accounting practices and insider trading."

Judicial Watch says Thompson chaired the company's audit and compliance committee and that he knew "Providian's financial condition was deteriorating and adopted a fraudulent scheme to delay recognition of losses from the second quarter 2001 into the third quarter 2001, thereby artificially enhancing and inflating Providian's stock prices and allowing the individual defendants to exercise their stock options and sell their stock to unsuspecting buyers before Providian's true financial condition could be discovered" and that he used his official position to block an investigation by the department.

A passed-over tragedy -- A recent column in the New York press by A.M. Rosenthal, former editor of the venerable New York Times, challenged the United States to more aggressively confront anti-Semitism around the world.

"Jews and Christians have been deceiving themselves that the most violent and virulent anti-Semitism campaign since Hitler has involved only Muslim states," Rosenthal wrote. "The American press is generally doing a miserable job of reporting this outbreak. But when the information does trickle in, we sit around saying, 'Well, what can we do about it?'"

"The first thing we can do is decide to do something. President Bush has so far shown the bravest and clearest mind among the world's 'leaders.' He does not try to define the killers by nationality or religion but by their belief that the only important weapon of their warfare is terrorist murder," he goes on. "Dissemination of Jew-hate is a prelude to suicide terror just as certainly as making the bomb is the prelude to exploding it. In Israel today, America tomorrow."

In the piece, Rosenthal, who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of a lengthy journalistic career fighting injustice, calls for the United States to boycott any country or international organization "that allows any official to tolerate the growing international anti-Jew movement."

The piece has sparked a rigorous debate in Washington over whether Rosenthal's observations are real or hyperbolic and what, if anything, the United States is to do. One suggestion being heard with increasing frequency is that the White House should stop ignoring the plight of the Americans who are killed or wounded in the terror attacks against Israel in increasing numbers.

A good first step, one foreign policy insider says, would be for the president to call the families of the Americans killed in the bombing at Hebrew University, promising those murdered will have their justice.

Stripped of the honor -- As if Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., didn't have enough to worry about in the run up to next week's Georgia primary, news comes that a proposal has been put forward in the state legislature to strip her of an honor only recently awarded to her.

Several members of the Georgia General Assembly have introduced House Resolution 794, a resolution "re-designating portions of SR 154 and SR 10 as Memorial Drive" and "To repeal Part 4 of a Resolution Act approved May 1, 2000" that renamed those sections of highway for McKinney in the first place.

The call to rename the road "Memorial Drive" -- as it was known before McKinney's name was hung upon it -- is "in honor and memory of all of those United States citizens who died on or after September 11, 2001, as a result of attacks on this nation by foreign enemies and in defense of this nation against further such attacks as part of Operation Enduring Freedom."

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