UPI's Capital Comment for Sept. 30, 2002

By United Press International  |  Sept. 30, 2002 at 4:13 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (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.

A suspension of belief -- As part of its regular business Tuesday, the U.S. House intends to take up H.R. 556 -- the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act. The bill, which has the support of many in the financial services industry, prohibits any person engaged in a gambling business from "knowingly accepting in connection with the participation of another person in Internet gambling: (1) credit; (2) electronic fund transfers or funds transmitted by or through a money transmitting business; (3) any instrument drawn by or on behalf of another and payable through any financial institution; or (4) the proceeds of any other form of financial transaction involving a financial institution as payer or financial intermediary for another." Internet gaming opponents believe this will make it much more difficult for Americans to use the Web to place wagers.

A room with a view -- With President George W. Bush looking on, the new chairman of the National Council on Disability, Lex Frieden, was sworn into office in the Oval Office on Sept. 26. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. administered the oath. Frieden, a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine, is currently senior vice president at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston, a comprehensive medical rehabilitation center which provides clinical, educational, and research programs pertaining to spinal cord and brain injuries and other disabling conditions. The National Council on Disability is an independent federal agency that makes recommendations to the president and to the Congress on federal disability policy.

Shedd spread -- The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of 185 liberal and left-wing civil rights advocacy groups who have opposed President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, is holding a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 1, to register their objection to the nomination of Dennis Shedd of South Carolina to a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Among those scheduled to speak in opposition are Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights; Elliot Mincberg, legal director for People for the American Way; and Fred Gittes, president of the National Employment Lawyers Association. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Shedd on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Suspicious minds -- Lisa Marie Presley, only daughter of the King of Rock and Roll and the ex-wife of the Prince of Pop, addressed a congressional hearing Thursday, Sept. 26, adding her voice to those concerned about the over-medication of children diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. "I have spoken to children who have been forced to take a cocaine-like stimulant to control their behavior; I have shared their sense of sheer desperation," Presley told the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. "Children have been wrenched from their family's care simply because their parents favored an alternative, drug-free approach to addressing educational and behavioral problems. The psychotropic drugging of millions of children has to stop," said Presley, who is now married to Academy-Award winning actor Nicholas Cage.

The panel at the hearing into the alleged over-medication of children was heavily populated by witnesses connected to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, an offshoot of the Church of Scientology which has long been at war with mental health providers. First brother Neil Bush was also scheduled to testify but was, at the last moment, unable to appear, according to a committee spokesman.

Some Windex for that glass ceiling? -- A new survey from the polling company WomenTrend found that 75 percent of respondents believe successful women are more likely to receive negative attention when accused of improper conduct than men who are accused of the same acts. The survey of 800 American women also found that 87 percent said women are ridiculed and criticized for doing something bad that earn men a "cool" or "humorous" image.

"The intensity of agreement on this issue is simply stunning, and it is quite indicative of the fact that women are well aware of the type of public judgment to which they are subjected," WomenTrend Chief Executive Officer Kellyanne Conway said. "Their celebrity status does not exonerate them from being treated as a women in times of crisis," she said. "Seventy-six percent think Winona Ryder is the most recent case study illustrating this point," Conway added, pointing to Martha Stewart, Kathie Lee Gifford and Drew Barrymore as other examples of women being vilified for acts that men seem to get away with in larger numbers.

Personnel notes -- The White House has announced the president's intention to nominate Phillip Merrill to be president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for the remainder of a four-year term expiring Jan. 20, 2005. Merrill is currently the chairman of the board of Capital-Gazette Communications, Inc., which produces several local and regional publications in the Washington D.C. and Maryland areas, and operates the Capital Investment Company. Merrill has served in six past administrations and was assistant secretary-general of NATO from 1990 to 1992.

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