UPI's Capital Comment for Sept. 9, 2002

By United Press International

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (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.

Patchwork quit -- When North Carolina prison guard Bobby Hayes sewed the North Carolina and U.S. flags onto his state-issued uniform, he thought he was being patriotic. The state Department of Corrections thought he was being insubordinate. They fired him when he refused to remove the patches. Now, the issue is beginning to show up in some state legislative campaigns.


The Department of Corrections cited a new policy prohibiting corrections officers from engaging in acts of personal expression on their uniforms. "If you let each individual express their own preferences on their uniform, it's no telling what you'll have, " Clinton Holt, the superintended of the Randolph, N.C., Correctional Center where Hayes worked said. "Uniform means everything is the same. We're representing the state and someone has made the decision that this is how we'll look." Corrections officials say the American flag was not being slighted but Hayes and others disagree. Now, according to several North Carolina political operatives, the issues is surfacing in some state legislative races -- with candidates for the state assembly calling for Hayes to be reinstated and the policy to be amended to permit the two flags to be displayed if officers chose to wear them.


Vigilance -- On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group is leading an interfaith vigil at the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The event, "A Night of Remembrance and Reflection," includes a candlelight vigil, a choir of children, poetry readings, and speeches from community and religious leaders. "On this solemn occasion, we urge all Americans to unite in prayers for peace and tolerance. Now more than ever, we must challenge those who seek to divide our country along ethnic or religious lines," CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad said.

Rave reviews? -- Parties that mix electronic music, light shows and dancing -- known as raves -- have been portrayed as dangerous, sinister drug fests, attended by criminals who use them to sell drugs like Ecstasy to young people according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Instead, the liberal civil rights group says, raves should be seen as "Legitimate cultural event(s) just like rock concerts, art exhibitions and film screenings, and are an important outlet for youth culture today."

In a memo to its action network members, ACLU National Field Organizer Angela Colaiuta warns the U.S. Senate is, "In a misguided spin-off of the 'War on Drugs'... considering the Reducing Americans Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, S. 2633, legislation that targets raves and would impose huge fines and even prison time on the owners of venues into which customers bring controlled substances. No matter how much security event managers put in place, they can be held responsible for the actions of just one customer." Colaiuta says that, "Holding club owners and promoters of raves criminally liable for what some people may do at these events is no different from arresting the stadium owners and promoters of a Rolling Stones concert or a rap show because some concertgoers may be smoking or selling marijuana" and is asking for network members to communicate their opposition to the proposal.


Thrill ride -- Winding up the steep road through Maryland's Catoctin Mountains en route to Camp David, the motorcade carrying members of the White House press corps to the Camp David presidential retreat was forced into a skidding halt after a private, commercial vehicle unconnected to the pool motorcade pulled to the side abruptly and without warning.

Two of the motorcade's six Dodge Ram vans -- large, 15-passenger models -- slammed into the back of vans in front of them. One CNN soundman was taken to Hagerstown Hospital after his head hit the inside of the van. Others in the motorcade were shaken but uninjured. The two damaged vans were left in the care of WH personnel while the remaining four sallied forth to Camp David, with assorted staffers and reporters crammed into the remaining four vans.

Three's a crowd -- The advance response to the American Enterprise Institute's Sept. 10 book forum on The War Against the Terror Masters by AEI Freedom Chair Michael Ledeen, has been so overwhelming that the think tank has been forced to move the event from its 17th street headquarters to the Mayflower Hotel, where there is more space. Participating alongside Ledeen will be Duane Clarridge, formerly of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Gen. Wayne Downing, former anti-terrorism advisor to President Bush. The event begins at 5 PM.


In the hall -- The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, a women's group named for the former playwright, politician and U.S. ambassador to Italy, says they are establishing the "Outstanding Conservative Women Hall of Fame" in their new Virginia headquarters.

Women being honored in the initial class of inductees include defense-policy expert and political activist Phyllis Schlafly; former British Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher; Mother Teresa, the nun who cared for the poor and sick in the streets of Calcutta; and Amb. Luce herself. "The Hall of Fame," the group says, "will serve as a tribute to women whose lives are often dismissed because of their dedicated conservative principles."

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