Abortion Rights Groups Criticize New Family-Planning Appointee
And finally, the Bush administration is coming under criticism for its new choice to head family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. The appointee, Erick Keroack, is former head of “A Women’s Concern” -- a medical organization that discourages handing contraceptives to women. The Washington Post reports the group supports sexual abstinence until marriage, opposes contraception and does not distribute information promoting birth control at its six centers in eastern Massachusetts. Keroack will play an advisory role on reproductive health and adolescent pregnancy and oversee $283 million dollars in annual family-planning grants. Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said: "[Keroack's appointment is] striking proof that the Bush administration remains dramatically out of step with the nation's priorities."
Leading HMO Charged With Hospital Dumping
In California, a leading hospital chain has been charged with ridding itself of a homeless patient by dumping her in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Los Angeles. The hospital, Bellflower, is run by Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the United States. Prosecutors say the case marks the first time a US hospital has been charged with hospital dumping despite its widespread practice.
Bush Admin Plans Gitmo “Mini-City” for Military Commissions
The Miami Herald is reporting the Bush administration is planning construction of a massive new “mini-city” at Guantanamo Bay to hold military trials for prisoners. The one hundred twenty-five million dollar compound would be the largest single construction expenditure since the prison opened four years ago. The administration wants to begin the military commissions by July of next year.
Israeli Minister Calls for Broadening “Targeted Assassinations”
In Israel, a government cabinet minister is calling for an increase in the “targeted killing” of Palestinian leaders. In an address on public radio Thursday, Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer said the attacks should be broadened and that not even Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya should be immune.
Pivotal Journalist in Al-Arian Case Romantically Involved With Prosecutor
Here in Florida, a journalist whose reporting led to the federal investigation into jailed University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian has admitted he’s romantically involved with one of the case’s lead prosecutors. The reporter, Michael Fechter of the Tampa Tribune, has been widely criticized for displaying bias in his coverage of Al-Arian and his alleged links to the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad. Al-Arian has been jailed for over three years despite the fact the jury in his case failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the charges brought against him. Fechter insists his relationship with prosecutor Cherie Krigsman began after the end of Al-Arian’s trial last year. Fechter says he’s stopped reporting on the case since the relationship began.
Senate Approves US-India Nuclear Deal
In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate approved legislation Thursday to begin nuclear cooperation with India. The measure received bi-partisan support to pass 85 to 12. Dissenting Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota argued the agreement would increase nuclear proliferation and worsen tensions between India and Pakistan.
- Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota): "Any nuclear deal, any relationship we have with another country that deals with nuclear power and nuclear issues should be judged, in my opinion, on whether it reduces the number of nuclear weapons. Does it reduce the number of nuclear weapons that exist, or decrease them? It's quite clear that what we're debating today will result in an increase of nuclear weapons in India. I don't think there's