Failed VA security contract was 'an open checkbook,' report says
March 29, 2007 (Computerworld) A 10-year, $103 million contract for a security incident response center at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) had to be aborted after less than three years because of funding problems caused by bad planning and administration.
Instead of yielding a state-of-the-art security readiness and response capability, the contract became "an open checkbook" that resulted in the award of nearly two dozen noncompetitive task orders, inflated prices, overpayments and unaccounted-for equipment purchases totaling $35 million.
Those are just some of the findings of an audit by VA Inspector General George Opfer into the planning, award and administration of the Central Incident Response Capability (CIRC) contract awarded to the Veterans Affairs Security Team LLC (VAST) in July 2002. VAST was incorporated as a Texas-based limited liability corporation one week before the contract was awarded. The now-defunct company was owned by several small businesses led by Washington-based SecureInfo Corp.
According to Opfer's report, much of the problems with the $102.7 million CIRC contract had to do with the addition of requirements for a Managed Security Services (MSS) component. While there appears to have been adequate acquisition planning for the CIRC requirements, there is no evidence of similar planning for MSS requirements, the report said. In fact, it is still unclear when the decision was made to include MSS requirements in the CIRC contract. There is also no documentation to show that the VA's program office considered at any point whether it would make sense to award separate contracts.
"We found that deficiencies in the planning, solicitation, evaluation of proposals, award and administration of the contract for MSS resulted in uncontrolled spending, overpayments and illegal contracting actions that resulted in the ultimate demise of the contract due to lack of funding," Opfer said in his report.
One modification -- made three months after the contract was awarded to VAST -- added new language that changed the MSS component from a firm fixed-price contract to a so-called Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract. "The modification allowed VA to issue task orders to fill requests from field facilities and Office of Cyber Security for MSS at additional cost," Opfer said in his report. The VA began issuing such task orders in August, shortly after the contract was signed -- even though the contract change that legitimized such orders was not made until October, the report said.
Under the original pact awarded to VAST in 2002, $82.9 million was earmarked for recurring labor costs over 10 years, with the remaining $19.8 million meant for equipment and supply costs. But because of the task orders, the potential value of the contract shot up from $102.7 million to about $250 million. Though this sort of a "cardinal change" was prohibited, it was still approved by the VA's Office of General Counsel. That approval came one day after counsel asked for an opinion on the modification by the officer in charge of the contract, Opfer noted in his report.
"This made the contract an open checkbook in that it resulted in the award of 22 noncompetitive task orders valued at approximately $48.6 million, with little assurance of price reasonableness and no planned funding," the report said. At least 17 of the task orders were out of scope and thus prohibited changes under the original contract, Opfer said in his report.
A lack of clarity surrounding the modifications may have resulted in VAST being overpaid about $3.8 million for MSS services it never delivered and an additional $4.7 million in duplicate payments. On top of that, the VA also spent about $35 million on equipment and supplies, but has no record of what the equipment is or where it may be. Because the VA revised the tasks that were the basis of the original award -- and sought new proposals from VAST -- it wound up paying about $6.76 million more than had been earmarked for the original contract in the first year.
As a result of the errors, the VA managed had spent about $91.8 million in less than three years when the plug was pulled.
Opfer's report also blasted the VA's vendor selection process. Little due diligence appears to have been put into evaluating vendor qualifications and ensuring that the prices being quoted were reasonable.
For instance, the CIRC contract was specifically meant for small businesses, which VAST was not, Opfer said. VAST, in its original response to the VA contract, described itself as a joint venture involving six small businesses teamed with three large businesses -- Compaq, Signal and SAIC. Such an association should have automatically disqualified VAST as a small business, the report said.
Just before the contract was awarded, VAST also changed its status from joint venture to limited liability corporation with no small business status. And because VAST appeared to have no assets, the VA may be hard-pressed to recover any excess money it paid the company, the report said.
Christopher Fountain, CEO of SecureInfo, disagreed with Opfer's conclusions and denied that VAST had been overpaid during its work for the VA. "At no time during the review were we alerted to any such concerns" by the IG's office, Fountain said. "They never told us they had found anything" that was a cause for concern during the review, he said.
In fact, when the contract was allowed to expire, it was VAST that incurred "several million dollars in liability" resulting from equipment purchases and other expenses, he said. Fountain also disagreed with Opfer's conclusion that VAST was not a small business. He maintained that the company was in fact a small business at all times during its contract with the VA.
"We believe that the government realized great value from the work we did perform for them," Fountain said. "We believe we [set up] one of the most advanced security operations center in the federal government."
Also disagreeing with Opfer's finding was the VA's acting general counsel. In a statement responding to Opfer's audit, the general counsel's office maintained that the modifications made to the CIRC contract were legal.
But Robert Howard, the assistant secretary of IT for VA, said in a response that he concurred with the report's findings and had launched an inventory of equipment as recommended by Opfer.
The VA did not respond to a request for comment.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Pain at the Pump
In just one week, gas prices jumped 12 cents in San Diego, bringing the average price of regular unleaded to $2.83. Several gas stations around town had soared above the 3 dollar mark.
Oil companies blame the rise on a dip in supply, but consumer watchdog group UCAN says we're being ripped off. They point to the fact that the price of oil has dropped since this time last year, but gas prices are up more than 30 cents since March 1, 2006.
"What is especially disturbing to us is that this is the highest price we've ever seen in the history of gasoline this early in the year," said UCAN's gas analyst Charles Langley. Langley says we could hit well above $3.50 by the time we reach the summer travel season.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Hundreds call for investigation of Bush administration
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Hundreds of anti-war activists urged state lawmakers Thursday to support a resolution asking that Congress investigate the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and possibly consider impeachment of the president and vice president.
"This memorial is not directly about the war. In fact, it's not even directly about impeachment. It's about getting answers," said state Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, who sponsored the resolution. "It's a petition to Congress asking them to do a legitimate, real, serious investigation."
In addition to Oemig's resolution, the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Elections also conducted a hearing Thursday on a resolution petitioning the president and Congress not to escalate U.S. involvement in Iraq or increase troop levels. That measure was sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson attended the hearing and praised the committee for taking up the resolutions. Anderson has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration.
"I am honored to address you today and am pleased that you, unlike so many members of Congress and most state legislatures, have recognized your solemn responsibility to examine whether proceedings should be commenced for the impeachment of the President of the United States," Anderson told the committee.
He said the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been a tragedy at "every level" and that "no clearer case for impeachment can be found than misleading our nation so it will engage in a tragic, illegal war."
Republicans on the committee boycotted the hearing and Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, issued a statement calling it a "partisan, political" display.
"We understand how passionate people are about the issues heard today," the release said. "But it's important to remember which Washington we're in. These are issues that should be handled at a federal level.
"The people of our districts sent us to Olympia to work on major challenges that we can solve at the state level."
State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said the hearing was a waste of time.
"Olympia Democrats have shown once again they are more worried about playing to their partisan base than governing responsibly," Esser said in a news release.
It is unlikely the resolutions will move onto the Senate floor this session, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, told reporters Thursday.
The hearing came after a key legislative cutoff deadline, so in order to bring the resolutions up the Senate would need to pass a special resolution. Brown said she didn't expect that to happen.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:54 AM
Salt Lake Mayor calls for Washington Legislature to support resolution to impeach President Bush
By Doug Smeath
Deseret Morning News
When President Clinton was impeached, it was a partisan exploitation of a law broken not at the expense of the nation but in a personal matter, Rocky Anderson says. When President Andrew Johnson was impeached, it was simply over policy disagreements.
But when it comes to President Bush, "Never before has there been such a compelling case for impeachment and removal from office of the president of the United States," the Salt Lake City mayor told a Washington state Senate committee today.
The mayor was invited to Olympia, Wash., by Sen. Eric Oemig, D-Kirkland, to testify in support of the first-term lawmaker's proposed resolution that would call on Congress to investigate possible impeachment of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
In his written testimony, Anderson wrote that impeachment "should be pursued when, as in the case of George W. Bush, a president misleads Congress and the American people in taking our nation to war; authorizes and supports the kidnapping, incarceration without charge and torture of human beings; demonstrates contempt for the rule of law and for specific laws passed by the United States Congress; and blatantly violates fundamental constitutional protections afforded citizens of the United States."
The 22-page written testimony, along with the text of Anderson's speeches today, can be read at www.slcgov.com.
Also testifying in support of the resolution today was Ann Wright, a 29-year U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2001. A number of Washington residents spoke at a public hearing for the resolution, and all favored the impeachment effort.
Anderson's written testimony outlines a number of instances in which Anderson believes Bush and his administration misled the public in the run-up to the Iraq war, broke international law in invading Iraq, spied on American citizens through unconstitutional wiretapping and violated detainees' human rights by allowing them to be tortured.
"Impeachment and removal from office is the only appropriate remedy for a president who asserts such abusive, totalitarian power, in contravention of fundamental rights and liberties embodied in the U.S. Constitution," Anderson wrote. "It is the only means by which we can make it clear in the future that no president can so casually override our precious freedoms."
Oemig's resolution is one of a handful of similar statements that have been considered by state legislatures across the nation, including in California, Illinois, Minnesota and New Mexico. No state has passed such a resolution, although New Mexico's has passed through two committees.
The Washington resolution has missed a technical deadline — the cut-off date for legislation to be introduced to the floor of the full Senate was Wednesday. However, an exemption can be granted by a simple majority vote of the Senate, and an Oemig spokesman said the delay was intentional.
The idea, he said, was to allow debate on state issues to be carried out before the cut-off period and save the debate on national politics for later.
The Washington Legislature finishes its current session April 22. Oemig's proposal could come up for consideration any time before then.
Anderson's status as a national anti-war and anti-Bush figure continues to grow in the wake of two Salt Lake City anti-war rallies — one in August 2006, another in August 2005. Before he appeared before the legislative committee in Olympia, he spoke at an pro-impeachment rally at the state Capitol there.
He told his fellow protesters that Bush must be booted from office "to restore some modicum of decency and accountability for our nation and to protect our nation against those who would rule without regard to established law."
The rally, he said, was a gathering of "proud patriots" who "embrace the fundamental values underlying our Constitution so dearly."
Anderson's anti-Bush rhetoric has regularly stirred the ire of Utah Republicans, who condemned him as a bad host for protesting when Bush visited Salt Lake City the last two summers. And while they were largely quiet when he addressed an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., in January, state GOP chairwoman Enid Greene this week called Anderson's visit to Olympia "embarrassing on many, many levels."
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:53 AM
Remembering Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
He toured the 20th-century horizon as fully as the leaders he wrote about.
By Evan Thomas
March 1, 2007 - When I was writing a biography of Robert Kennedy in the late '90s, I had lunch with Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the author of the then—and probably still—definitive biography of RFK. Schlesinger, whom I knew slightly, might have brushed me off, but he was gracious and even eager to talk about our mutual subject. Though he was then nearly 80, he knocked back two martinis and tucked into a large steak at New York's Century Club. Then he launched off on cheerful, gossipy tour of the 20th-century horizon, which he had lived as fully as the great leaders he wrote about.
Schlesinger was, in some ways, a walking reproach to modern academic historians. He believed in writing from experience, and he argued that individuals—and not just broad social and economic movements—shaped history.
Though he won two Pulitzer Prizes and a basket of lesser awards, and though he was regarded at times as the reigning authority on Presidents Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, he was never a lonely or bookish scholar. He relished the combat of ideas, often writing op-eds and articles in political journals; he took sides in everyday politics, and even served in the Kennedy White House. (JFK was a little ambivalent about having an in-house historian, at once honored to have such a distinguished scholar on board and not quite sure what was in those notes that Schlesinger was taking.) Scheslinger wrote speeches for liberal Democratic presidential candidates from Adlai Stevenson to RFK.
A bon vivant, he was a fixture in New York literary society, hobnobbing with the likes of Truman Capote and various society heiresses. His life in the world affected his life of the mind. He was sometimes accused of shading history to protect his friends, but in my experience he was pretty scrupulous about getting the facts right.
Schlesinger never stopped observing and reporting.
At that Century Club lunch, I learned a few things about Robert Kennedy, but I learned more about an up-and-coming Republican presidential candidate, George W. Bush. Schlesinger, with his way of knowing everyone, was a longtime friend of Bush’s aunt (and George H.W. Bush’s sister) Nancy Ellis. During the early '70s, Schlesinger was often a guest at Sunday lunch at the Ellis house in Wellesley, Mass. Another frequent guest was young George Bush, then a student at Harvard Business School. Schlesinger, always on the lookout for political talent, could see some in the younger Bush. But mostly he was struck by Bush’s bitter resentment of the “pointy heads” and liberal intellectuals who had taken over elite Ivy League colleges like Harvard and Yale—pushing aside the hail-fellow fraternity boys like Bush (president of DKE at Yale) and supplanting them as the Big Men on Campus. Schlesinger could see that young Bush was developing a lifelong hatred of liberal intellectual elites out of the personal experience of being shunned by them. This insight always stayed with me as I watched Bush govern with a certain lack of intellectual curiousity and a visceral disdain for anything that The New York Times might try to tell him. Schlesinger understood that early personal experience could shape leaders and that leaders shaped history with their prejudices and cultural baggage.
“I have lived through interesting times and had the luck of knowing some interesting people,” Schlesinger once said. That sounds modest, which Schlesinger was not. The point is that he learned from those people and better understood how they shaped their times.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:49 AM
U.S. Marshals official accused of misspending security funds
By Matt Kelley, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — A U.S. Marshals Service official misspent $4.3 million meant for courthouse security and witness protection to pay for fitness centers and firing ranges at federal buildings, a Justice Department investigation found.
The Office of Management and Budget repeatedly told David Barnes not to use construction money on exercise and training facilities, citing agency policy and appropriations laws that restricted the money for improved prisoner security, the report said.
MARSHALS WARNED: Budget office specified where money was to go
Barnes, who oversees courthouse space for the agency, concealed the spending from his superiors and directed $2.6 million in construction money for fitness centers and firing ranges at 20 federal courthouses from 2000 to 2005, according to a copy of the 41-page report obtained by USA TODAY.
The agency has not acted on the report, which it received last April.
Barnes also used nearly $900,000 budgeted for witness protection to build a firing range in the Miami federal courthouse, and he used nearly $400,000 in construction money to hire fitness center staff and clerical workers at the Marshals Service headquarters, where Barnes works, the investigation found. Some workers were friends or relatives of Barnes and his subordinates and were unqualified for the jobs, the report said.
Barnes' lawyer, Charles Printz, said his client had the authority to spend construction money on firing ranges and fitness centers. Printz said the investigation was spurred by disgruntled employees and he expected his client to be cleared.
"No monies were misappropriated," Printz said in an e-mail response.
Barnes remains on the job, pending an administrative review. He could be fired, suspended or cleared.
Marshals spokesman Michael Kulstad and Paul Martin of the Inspector General's office declined to comment.
Printz referred questions to Kevin Linskey, the former staff director of the Senate panel controlling Justice Department spending. Linskey said Congress gave the agency leeway to spend its construction money, including for fitness centers and firing ranges.
In the report, the Justice Department said construction money was supposed to be for "prisoner holding space" in courthouses. In 2001, a congressional committee warned security must be tightened "before a tragedy occurs."
The report also found Barnes:
•Wasted $440,000 by bypassing Marshals Service officials and paying for contractors and construction through the General Services Administration. Printz said those contracts were legal.
•Violated ethics rules by having subordinates do work for free around his home and by forming a vanpool company used by contractors he hired. Ethics rules ban managers from receiving gifts from their employees, the report said. It also found that the vanpool company, which he initially failed to disclose, was a conflict of interest. Printz said the workers are longtime friends of Barnes and that the vanpool arrangement did not violate ethics rules.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:48 AM
Author Shaped Lens for Viewing U.S. History
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., 89, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who wrote about the evolution of the American democratic tradition, served in the Kennedy White House as a "court philosopher" and was among the foremost public intellectuals of his era, died Feb. 28 at New York Downtown Hospital after a heart attack.
Schlesinger rose to prominence at 28 when his book "The Age of Jackson," about the democratization of U.S. politics under President Andrew Jackson in the early 19th century, won the 1946 Pulitzer for history. Twenty years later, his book "A Thousand Days," an account of his role as special assistant to President John F. Kennedy, won the Pulitzer in the category of biography or autobiography.
In the 1950s, Schlesinger also wrote three volumes about President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal, the Depression-era political and economic doctrine. Published as "The Age of Roosevelt," the books were considered valuable accounts of a tumultuous period.
Sean Wilentz, a history professor and former director of American studies at Princeton University, said of Schlesinger: "He was certainly one of the outstanding American historians of his generation. He set the terms for understanding not just one or two but three eras of American history -- Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. It's enough for most historians to write one book and get recognition for it."
Schlesinger wrote or edited more than 25 books, most recently "War and the American Presidency," published in 2004, which called President Bush's approach to the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "a ghastly mess."
In addition to his best-selling books, Schlesinger was known for essays and articles he contributed to an array of magazines. While serving under Kennedy, he wrote movie and book reviews for the Saturday Review.
With his horn-rimmed glasses and perpetual bow tie, he seemed to cultivate a near-caricature of the reserved Harvard University professor he once was, yet he thrived on the gossipy salon circuits of Washington, New York and Boston. He developed close relationships with newspaper publishers such as the Graham family in Washington, writers such as Truman Capote and, of course, the Kennedys.
"It was hard to resist the raffish, unpredictable, sometimes uncontrollable Kennedy parties," Schlesinger once wrote.
Noticeably absent in his books on the Kennedy clan was a tone of critical and dispassionate historical perspective. Author Gore Vidal called "A Thousand Days" a "political novel."
Nevertheless, in the earliest books that shaped his reputation, Schlesinger was revered for his engaging and interpretive approach to history. Most intriguingly, Wilentz said, Schlesinger saw Jackson as a man more shaped by East Coast intellectuals and the new labor movement than was previously thought and saw the New Deal not as a fixed set of principles but an evolving experiment.
Schlesinger's 1978 book "Robert Kennedy and His Times," which won the National Book Award, also provided one of his more enduring personal analyses of John and Robert Kennedy. "John Kennedy was a realist brilliantly disguised as a romantic," he wrote. "Robert Kennedy, a romantic stubbornly disguised as a realist."
Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger was born Oct. 15, 1917, in Columbus, Ohio, and grew up in Iowa City and Cambridge, Mass. He later changed his middle name to Meier and added the suffix "Jr." to honor his father, a prominent historian at Harvard.
Although it was never officially confirmed, Schlesinger said that his mother's side of the family included the 19th-century historian and diplomat George Bancroft, often regarded as the father of American history. Starting in 1834, Bancroft wrote the 10-volume "History of the United States" and also served as secretary of the Navy.
Schlesinger graduated from the private Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and traveled with his family around the world before enrolling at Harvard at 16. He graduated summa cum laude in 1938 and briefly considered a career as a theater critic before his father swayed him to write a book based on his senior thesis. That work, "Orestes A. Brownson: A Pilgrim's Progress," about a 19th-century author and cleric, received positive reviews.
After a year studying at Cambridge University, Schlesinger received a Harvard fellowship that allowed him to research "The Age of Jackson." Published in 1945, the book sold 90,000 copies in its first year, won the Pulitzer and established him as a force among a post-war generation of scholars.
Alan Brinkley, provost of Columbia University and a history professor, said the Jackson book "changed the way people viewed American history generally, because it was a rebuttal of the frontier thesis that [Pulitzer-winning historian] Frederick Jackson Turner made so central to historic interpretation in the 1920s and 1930s. Schlesinger argued that it was not the frontier that created Jackson's democratic ethos; it was cities, workers."
Furthermore, the book's focus on the formative decades and spirit of U.S. democracy caught on with the public after World War II.
Schlesinger, who had poor eyesight, spent the war years as a writer in the Office of War Information and the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA. He joined Harvard's faculty in 1946 as an associate history professor -- a rare accomplishment for someone so young and without an advanced degree.
In 1947, he helped start Americans for Democratic Action, a political group made up of a range of New Deal liberals, including former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, labor lawyer Joseph Rauh, economist John Kenneth Galbraith and future vice president Hubert H. Humphrey. The organizers wanted to counter the influence of the Progressive Party of Henry Wallace, which they saw as Communist-dominated.
Out of the ADA movement came Schlesinger's 1949 book "The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom." It was credited with providing an ideological basis for practical liberalism during the early years of the Cold War and a philosophical alternative to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and U.S. Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, the red-baiting Wisconsin Republican. Schlesinger wrote in the book: "Problems will always torment us, because all important problems are insoluble: that is why they are important. The good comes from the continuing struggle to try and solve them, not from the vain hope of their solution."
Schlesinger became a full professor at Harvard in 1954. He took consulting jobs for government agencies and ventured into back-room political work.
In 1952, he urged W. Averell Harriman to give up his challenge to Illinois Gov. Adlai E. Stevenson for the Democratic presidential nomination. He advised Stevenson's unsuccessful campaigns in 1952 and 1956 and said he was frustrated by the candidate's cerebral approach to politics at the expense of a more assertive voice that he thought would capture the public's imagination.
Schlesinger said that even if Stevenson were not the most compelling candidate, he "made Kennedy's rise possible." He added: "His lofty conception of politics, his conviction that affluence was not enough for the good life, his impatience with liberal cliches, his contempt for conservative complacency, his summons to the young, his demand for new ideas, his respect for people who had them, his belief that history afforded no easy answers, his call for a strong public leadership, all this set the tone for a new era of Democratic politics."
During the 1960 presidential election, Schlesinger became a Kennedy partisan and wrote "Kennedy or Nixon: Does it Make Any Difference?," which threw into sharp relief what he thought was the idealism Kennedy offered and the materialism of the Republican candidate, then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon.
Starting in 1961, he took a two-year leave from Harvard to work for the Kennedy White House. As special assistant to Kennedy, he was close to the center of power but had a debatable degree of influence.
Although Schlesinger was often described as a general "court philosopher," Kennedy aides Kenneth P. O'Donnell and David F. Powers wrote in their 1970 book, "Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye," that Schlesinger was "special assistant without a special portfolio, to be a liaison man in charge of keeping Adlai Stevenson happy, to receive complaints from the liberals and to act as a sort of household devil's advocate who would complain about anything in the administration that bothered him."
At one time, Schlesinger wrote a memorandum cautioning against what became the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of April 1961. When it was clear that the invasion was imminent, he wrote another memo advising the president to let blame fall on his subordinates.
Kennedy ignored the advice and publicly took "full responsibility" for the failure, and Schlesinger was criticized for telling the media at the time of the invasion that there were 300 to 400 men in the landing force, although the accurate figure was 1,400. He later told Time magazine, "I was lying," but he said he had no choice if he wanted to stay with the White House. "Either you get out, or you play the game."
After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Schlesinger transformed his notebooks into "A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House," which also won the National Book Award. Largely seen as a flattering account of the president, the book aroused controversy for its depiction of tensions between the president and then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
Schlesinger briefly stayed on under President Lyndon B. Johnson but felt shunted aside. In 1966, he became the Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at City University of New York, a position he held for almost 30 years.
Meanwhile, he wrote a book criticizing Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War, "The Bitter Heritage" (1966), which faulted the war's advocates for "seeing the civil war in Vietnam as above all a moral issue."
Living in Manhattan, Schlesinger became active in then-Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's (D-N.Y.) bid for the presidency in 1968. After the candidate was killed that June, Schlesinger gave an angry commencement address at CUNY, underscoring the "hatred and violence" he saw around him.
Among his later books were "The Imperial Presidency" (1973), which placed allegations of Nixon's abuse of power in conducting foreign affairs in the context of post-World War II attempts to expand presidential authority.
"The Disuniting of America," his 1991 bestseller that condemned the rise of "political correctness" as well as ethnic history movements such as Afrocentrism, won him strong reviews in the mainstream media. However, a range of black scholars, including Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Leonard Jeffries, used highly personal terms to denounce his work.
Schlesinger dismissed much of the attacks. "What the hell," he told The Washington Post. "You have to call them as you see them. This too shall pass."
The first volume of his memoirs, "A Life in the 20th Century: Innocent Beginnings, 1917-1950," was published in 2000. An edited version of his 6,000-page diary covering 1952 to 1998 is scheduled to be released this fall by Penguin Press.
His marriage to Marian Cannon Schlesinger ended in divorce. A daughter from that marriage, Katharine Kinderman, died in 2004.
Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Alexandra Emmet Schlesinger of Manhattan, N.Y.; three children from his first marriage, Stephen C. Schlesinger and Christina Schlesinger, both of Manhattan, and Andrew Schlesinger of Cambridge, Mass.; a son from his second marriage, Robert Schlesinger of Alexandria; a stepson, Peter Allan of Manhattan; and three grandchildren.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:47 AM
Understanding the Reactions to the Cheney Bombing
In one sense I can understand why this site would delete comments on the bombing near Dick Cheney in Afghanistan that might lament that the bomb wasn't close enough do personal damage to the VP. Most of us, no matter how grudgingly, approved of Michael Dukakis' answer to Bernard Shaw's question during the campaign for President.
Shaw asked, "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" Dukakis said, "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life."
What most of us thought at the time was, "If somebody raped and murdered MY wife, I'd like to see the bastard die a slow death, but I refuse to lower myself to his level."
When the planes hit the buildings on 9/11 and thousands died, most of us wanted to retaliate. We thought it right to retaliate. That means killing the people who were responsible for those deaths. It was roundly agreed upon, except from those who think any killing is wrong.
So when Dick Cheney, the one man responsible for the deaths of thousands of American men and women in his boutique war in Iraq, and the maiming of tens of thousands of other Americans in his war. And the one man responsible for turning America into a nation who commits atrocities and war crimes in torturing prisoners and illegally holding others.
And the one man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands (hundred of thousands?) of Iraqis. And the one man who wants to start another war with Iran.
And when the one man who has hijacked the American Constitution and has tried to turn our country into a Presidential dictatorship has a bomb go off near him, is it so far-fetched to wish him ill? How many of us would have the courage of Michael Dukakis and say, "No. I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life?"
If I heard he had been blown up? It's never good to take a life but I would not have been unhappy to have someone else as Vice President of the United States.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:46 AM
The New York Times
Most Support U.S. Guarantee of Health Care
By ROBIN TONER and JANET ELDER
A majority of Americans say the federal government should guarantee health insurance to every American, especially children, and are willing to pay higher taxes to do it, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
While the war in Iraq remains the overarching issue in the early stages of the 2008 campaign, access to affordable health care is at the top of the public’s domestic agenda, ranked far more important than immigration, cutting taxes or promoting traditional values.
Only 24 percent said they were satisfied with President Bush’s handling of the health insurance issue, despite his recent initiatives, and 62 percent said the Democrats were more likely to improve the health care system.
Americans showed a striking willingness in the poll to make tradeoffs to guarantee health insurance for all, including paying as much as $500 more in taxes a year and forgoing future tax cuts.
But the same divisions that doomed the last effort at creating universal health insurance, under the Clinton administration, are still apparent. Americans remain divided, largely along party lines, over whether the government should require everyone to participate in a national health care plan, and over whether the government would do a better job than the private insurance industry in providing coverage.
Looking ahead to the presidential campaign, 36 percent of Americans polled said they had confidence in the ability of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, to “make the right decisions on health care,” while 49 percent said they were uneasy about her.
But Mrs. Clinton retained the confidence of nearly 6 in 10 Democrats on the issue, despite the politically devastating collapse 13 years ago of the national health initiative she helped develop early in her husband’s presidency.
The poll helps explain why health care already looms large in the presidential campaign, and in statehouses from California — where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has proposed a sweeping coverage plan — to Massachusetts, now instituting a program passed under Mitt Romney, the former governor and current Republican presidential candidate.
John Edwards, the Democratic presidential candidate and former senator from North Carolina, recently unveiled his own attempt at a consensus plan, one that would require everyone to have insurance and require employers to provide it or pay into a fund that would do so. Nearly 4 in 10 said that was a good idea; nearly half said they were unsure.
While Democrats are traditionally strong supporters of expanding health coverage, this survey found many Republicans and independents in agreement.
“I think everybody should have some kind of health care available to them,” said Diane Manning, 66, of Vancouver, Wash., who described herself as an independent.
“I don’t necessarily think that socialized medicine is the answer, but I think everyone should have that right,” said Mrs. Manning, who participated in the poll and agreed to a follow-up interview. “And there are so many people that don’t.”
Nearly 47 million people in the United States, or more than 15 percent of the population, now go without health insurance, up 6.8 million since 2000.
The poll also found overwhelming support behind the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covers many low- and moderate-income children and is up for renewal in Congress this year. Eighty-four percent of those polled said they supported expanding the current program to cover all uninsured children, now estimated at more than eight million. A similar majority said they thought the lack of health insurance for many children was a “very serious” problem for the country.
The nationwide telephone poll of 1,281 adults was conducted Feb. 23- 27, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The poll found Americans across party lines willing to make some sacrifice to ensure that every American has access to health insurance. Sixty percent, including 62 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans, said they would be willing to pay more in taxes. Half said they would be willing to pay as much as $500 a year more.
Nearly 8 in 10 said they thought it was more important to provide universal access to health insurance than to extend the tax cuts of recent years; 18 percent said the tax cuts were more important.
“I wouldn’t want to pay a lot of taxes, but if it was spread out and everyone paid their fair share, it would be fine,” said Don Galvan, 50, a computer programmer from Ringwood, N.J., who considers himself an independent. “Everybody should have some kind of medical coverage, in case they or their children get sick. Especially children.”
Most participants said they were satisfied with the quality of their health care, but there was widespread concern about costs. Nearly half of those with insurance said an employer had cut back on benefits or required them to pay more for their benefits in recent years.
A quarter of those with insurance said someone in their household had gone without a medical test or treatment because insurance would not cover it. Six in 10 of those without insurance said someone in their household had gone without care because of the cost.
More people now see guaranteeing health insurance as important than did so at the end of the Clinton efforts in 1996. At that time, 56 percent polled said it was the government’s responsibility to do so, and 38 percent said it was not. In the current poll, 64 percent said the government should guarantee health insurance for all; 27 percent said it should not.
Moreover, an overwhelming majority in the current poll said the health care system needed fundamental change or total reorganization, just as they did in the early 1990s, when a deep recession and soaring health care costs galvanized the public and spurred the Clinton drive.
But now, as then, this concern did not translate into a consensus on what should replace it.
One question offered a choice between the current system and a national health insurance program covering everyone, administered by the government and financed by taxpayers. Thirty-eight percent said they preferred the current system, 47 percent the government-run approach.
Robert Blendon, an expert at Harvard on public opinion and health, said politicians had to find some compromise between these philosophical divisions on the role of government, which are deep-seated in American culture, or “we’re going to have the same train wreck we did before.”
The Clinton plan, itself an attempt at a compromise, collapsed under attacks from an array of interests, including the insurance industry, which warned that the plan amounted to a big government takeover.
Mr. Blendon noted that many politicians were seeking a blend between the private market and the government in their health plans.
Megan Thee, Marina Stefan and Marjorie Connelly contributed reporting.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:43 AM
Are U.S. Oil Companies Going to "Win" the Iraq War?
"The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not preemption; it was ... an avaricious, premeditated, unprovoked war against a foe who posed no immediate threat but whose defeat did offer economic advantages." - Michael Scheuer, the CIA's senior expert on al-Qaeda until he quit in disgust with the Bush administration, in Imperial Hubris.
Remember oil? That resource we didn't go to war for in Iraq?
Well, you'll have a tough time convincing anyone in Iraq of this particular claim if a new oil law set to go before the Iraqi Parliament within weeks (or even days) becomes the law of the land.
On Monday, the Bush administration and U.S. oil companies came one step closer to "winning" the war in Iraq when the Iraqi Cabinet passed this new national oil law.
The brainchild of the Bush administration and its corporate allies, the law is the smoking gun exposing Bush's war for oil.
The Oil Law
If passed, the law would transform Iraq's oil system from a nationalized model all-but-closed to U.S. oil companies, to a commercialized model, all-but-fully privatized and opened to U.S. corporate control.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. oil companies were shut out of Iraq's oil industry with the exception of limited marketing contracts.
As a result of the invasion, if the oil law passes, U.S. oil companies will emerge as the corporate front-runners in line for contracts giving them control over the vast majority of Iraq's oil under some of the most corporate-friendly terms in the world for twenty to thirty-five years.
The law grants the Iraq National Oil Company oversight only over "existing" fields, which is about one-third of Iraq's oil. Exploration and production contracts for the remaining two-thirds of Iraq's oil will be opened to private foreign investment. Neither Iraqi public nor private oil companies will receive any preference in contracting decisions.
The contracts allow for foreign companies to take ownership of Iraq's oil fields without actually having to get to work for as long as seven years. Thus, the companies can take advantage of the incredibly weak negotiating position of the Iraqi government at a time of foreign occupation and civil war, while simultaneously being able to "ride out" the current "instability" in Iraq.
Foreign companies do not have to reinvest any of their earnings in the Iraqi economy, hire or train Iraqi workers, transfer useful technology, or partner with Iraqi companies.
The exact contract model is yet to be determined, but it appears that Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) are yet again on the table. These are the contract-darlings of international oil companies that grant foreign companies greater control, profits, and longer contract terms than the contracts preferred by the majority of the world's oil countries. In fact, PSAs are only used in about 12 percent of the world's oil.
If the new law passed, Iraq's oil system would be utterly unique in the Middle East and in virtually any oil rich nation. For example, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia all maintain nationalized oil systems and have outlawed foreign control over oil development. They all hire foreign oil companies as contractors to provide specific services, as needed, for a limited duration, without giving the foreign company any direct interest in the oil produced. Iraq, freed from the pressure of a foreign occupation, would likely do the same.
Contrary to the Bush administration's claims, Iraq does not need foreign oil corporations in order reap the benefits of its oil. Prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraq produced an average of 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. Since the invasion, the Iraqis have averaged approximately 2.2 million barrels of oil a day. This amount has dropped recently due to the surge in violence to about 1.7 million barrels a day. Because Iraq's oil is the cheapest in the world to produce, only about sixty cents a barrel, and oil is selling today at $61 per barrel - the return on any investment is enormous. At its current low rate of production, Iraq is expected to generate more than $30 billion from its oil this year alone - more than enough to keep the industry running and the economy stable.
The administration has been selling the law as a way to bring increased equality and stability to Iraq. It is correct on one point. The law does introduce a very equitable distribution of Iraq's oil revenues from the central government based on population. However, the benefits of this new provision are dramatically reduced if the majority of Iraq's revenues are going overseas.
The law is likely to bring far more instability to Iraq. In fact, many Iraqi oil experts are already referring to the draft law as the "Split Iraq Fund," arguing that it facilitates plans for splitting Iraq into three ethnic/religious regions. The experts believe the law undermines the central government and shifts important decision-making and responsibilities to the regional entities. This shift could serve as the foundation for establishing three new independent states, which is the goal of a number of separatist leaders.
The law opens the possibility of the regions taking control of Iraq's oil, but it also maintains the possibility of the central government retaining control. In fact, the law was written in a vague manner to help ensure passage, a ploy reminiscent of the passage of the Iraqi constitution. There is a significant conflict between the Bush administration and others in Iraq who would like ultimate authority for Iraq's oil to rest with the central government and those who would like to see the nation split in three. Both groups are powerful in Iraq. Both groups have been mollified, for now, to ensure the law's passage.
But two very different outcomes are possible. If the central government remains the ultimate decision-making authority in Iraq, then the newly established Iraq Federal Oil and Gas Council will exercise power over the regions. And if the regions emerge as the strongest power in Iraq, then the Council could simply become a silent rubber stamp, enforcing the will of the regions. The same lack of clarity exists in Iraq's constitution.
What is clear, however, is that the foreign oil corporations do have their rights clearly established. They have the right to explore, produce, control, and have guaranteed revenue from the second largest oil reserves in the world.
Of course, we would expect very little in increased stability to follow from a U.S. corporate oil-grab of Iraq. The American who will pay the heaviest price are likely to be U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.
We all know that the Bush administration began planning for the Iraq war well before the September 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil has explained that by February 2001, the administration was well passed debating whether or not to attack Iraq, but rather discussing the logistics of how to invade.
Few people know that just month later, in March 2001; Cheney's Energy Task Force was working on a series of maps and lists outlining Iraq's entire oil productive capacity and the foreign companies lined-up to cash-in.
The task force included representatives from all of the major U.S. oil and energy service companies, including Halliburton, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. In addition to maps, they compiled two lists entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts as of 5 March 2001" that listed all the companies - none of them American - that were in negotiations with, or had already signed, oil contracts with Saddam Hussein.
Because of the sanctions against Iraq, however, none of the contracts were actually in force. But the writing was on the wall. Global public opinion had turned against the sanctions. If the sanctions were removed while Saddam Hussein was in power, oil companies from China, Russia, France, and elsewhere would get their hands on Iraq's oil, while U.S. companies would be left out.
The U.S. State Department's Oil and Energy Working Group began meeting in December 2002. By April 2003, the group recommended that Iraq "should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war," using PSAs.
Since then, the Bush administration has invaded Iraq, ousted Saddam Hussein, put the pre-existing oil contracts on hold, and has nearly succeeded in a four-year long venture to restructure the Iraqi oil industry for itself and its corporate allies.
Most Iraqis, including, until very recently Iraqi Parliamentarians, have remained in the dark about the new oil law. Iraq's oil workers had to travel to Jordan to learn details of the law from the London-based research organization Platform. As a result, in September 2006, the nation's five trade union federations--between them representing hundreds of thousands of workers--released a public statement rejecting "the handing of control over oil to foreign companies, whose aim is to make big profits at the expense of the Iraqi people, and to rob the national wealth, according to long-term, unfair contracts, that undermine the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the Iraqi people." They demanded a delay in consideration of any law until all Iraqis could be included in the discussion.
It's simple: the Bush administration and Big Oil are trying to get the best deal and the most oil possible out of a war-ravaged and desperate people. They are holding 25 million Iraqis - and 150,000 American troops -- hostage to their oil agenda.
There is time, if we shine enough sunlight, to expose the oil agenda driving the war and support Iraqis who believe that now is not the time for their government to rush into contracts that will lock in the fate of their most valuable resource for a generation.
Oil Change International, Global Exchange, and others organizations and communities across the United States and around the world are coming together in protest events on March 17-19, to mark the 4-year anniversary of the Iraq war.
They are urging environmentalists, climate justice, and peace activists to join together in protests at the headquarters and gas stations of the oil companies leading the charge in Iraq: Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, ConocoPhillips, Shell and BP. Learn more at http://www.PriceofOil.org.
In the Bay Area, activists are planning a Rally, Protest, and Nonviolent Direct Action at Chevron's World Headquarters on March 19 from 7:00-11:00am in San Ramon. Visit http://www.myspace.com/ProtestChevron for details.
An international network of groups is organizing protests under the heading "Hands Off Iraq's Oil!" Visit their website http://www.HandsOffIraqiOil.org/.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:41 AM
Prosecutors Crack Insider-Trading Ring
NEW YORK — Investigators have broken up what they call one of the biggest Wall Street insider-trading rings since the 1980s _ a sweeping, $15 million scandal that involved power brokers at some of the nation's top financial firms and two lawyers.
In announcing the case Thursday, authorities described a criminal operation that used insiders at Morgan Stanley and Co. and UBS Securities LLC to steal valuable secrets from the companies. Prosecutors also alleged a Banc of America Securities LLC broker accepted cash kickbacks and two former representatives of Bear Stearns & Co. obtained UBS inside information.
"This conduct didn't occur in obscure boiler rooms _ but rather at what are commonly considered `top tier' Wall Street firms," said Linda Chatman Thomsen, director of the Division of Enforcement for the Securities and Exchange Commission.
She said "there is hardly a duty on Wall Street that the defendants charged today didn't breach."
U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said Wall Street professionals repeatedly traded on secrets revealed to them by insiders at UBS and Morgan Stanley.
The case alleges that people were tipped off about stock upgrades and downgrades by UBS and impending corporate acquisitions involving Morgan Stanley clients, allowing investors to cash in before the news hit the market.
The SEC said the ringleaders of the UBS part of the scheme went to great lengths to hide their illegal conduct, with tactics including a clandestine meeting at Manhattan's famed Oyster Bar and eventually the use of disposable cell phones, secret codes and cash kickbacks.
In all, 13 people have been arrested in the criminal case. The SEC brought civil charges against 11 individuals and three entities.
Among financial professionals charged criminally in U.S. District Court in Manhattan was Mitchel Guttenberg, an executive director and institutional client manager at UBS.
Garcia said Guttenberg, who worked in UBS's equity research department, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars as he sold nonpublic information to two men regarding upcoming upgrades and downgrades by UBS analysts.
The men, David Tavdy and Erik Franklin, used the UBS inside information to each earn more than $4 million by executing profitable trades in various brokerage accounts they controlled, Garcia said.
Guttenberg pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan Thursday and was released on $500,000 bail. He declined to comment afterward.
The husband-and-wife attorneys, Randi Collotta, 30, a former employee of Morgan Stanley in Manhattan, and her husband, Christopher Collotta, 34, who worked in private practice, were also among those criminally charged. They pleaded not guilty and each were released on $250,000 bail. Their lawyer, Brian Rafferty, declined to comment.
In an indictment, prosecutors said Randi Collotta was an associate in Morgan Stanley's global compliance division when she passed inside stock tips to her husband, who gave it to others, resulting in illegal profits of hundreds of thousands of dollars between September 2004 and August 2005.
After others made money from the tips, they paid Christopher Collotta cash that represented a portion of their profits, the indictment said.
Guttenberg, Tavdy, Franklin and the Collottas all were charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud, which carry potential penalties of up to 25 years in prison. Franklin pleaded guilty earlier this week to conspiracy, securities fraud and commercial bribery and awaits sentencing. Tavdy was expected to make an initial court appearance in federal court in Miami. Five others were released on bail after pleading not guilty.
Three additional criminal defendants have pleaded guilty to conspiracy, securities fraud and commercial bribery charges, prosecutors said.
Thomsen said it was "one of the most pervasive Wall Street insider trading rings" since Ivan Boesky and Dennis Levine carried out their notorious insider-trading schemes in the 1980s.
The SEC said in a complaint that Guttenberg's trading scheme began in 2001 when he met Franklin at the Oyster Bar at a time when he owed Franklin $25,000. The SEC said Guttenberg proposed paying off that debt by giving him nonpublic UBS analyst recommendations.
Mary Claire Delaney, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, said, "We are outraged that a former employee allegedly stole confidential information from the firm, and we have cooperated and will continue co-operating fully with the authorities."
Thomsen said original tippers in both insider schemes, Guttenberg and Randi Collotta, took steps to evade detection including not trading in their personal accounts and accepting kickbacks in cash.
"Some defendants may have thought they were flying `under the radar' by making modest profits on individual transactions, secure in the knowledge that, over hundreds of tips, they would reap millions of dollars in illicit trading profits," she said. "And yet, despite their best efforts to avoid detection, we caught them."
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:35 AM
House panel subpoenas fired federal prosecutors
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first high-profile subpoenas of the 110th Democratic-led Congress were issued on Thursday in an investigation of the firings of at least eight federal prosecutors by the Bush administration.
With critics suggesting possible political mischief in the dismissals, a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee subpoenaed four of the former U.S. attorneys to appear before the panel next week.
They include one who, according to a U.S. senator, has told congressional aides he believes he was ousted because he resisted pressure to indict in an investigation in New Mexico, which could have helped Republicans before the 2006 elections.
"We need to get to the bottom of whether competency in upholding the law is being sacrificed for political ideology," said Rep. Linda Sanchez, a California Democrat and chairwoman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Law.
The Justice Department denied any wrongdoing on its part.
The subpoenas were approved on a voice vote by the panel's seven Democratic members. The five Republican members did not attend the brief open meeting.
"Republicans are not going to provide votes for political subpoenas," said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, top Republican on the full Judiciary Committee. "Every U.S. attorney serves at the pleasure of the president and they know this beforehand."
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, "We have never removed a United States attorney or asked or encouraged (one) to resign, in an effort to retaliate against them or interfere with or inappropriately influence a particular investigation, criminal prosecution or civil case."
As a result of the flap, legislation has been introduced to drop a provision added to the anti-terrorism Patriot Act last year that critics have blamed for helping lead to the firings. It allows for the indefinite appointment of new prosecutors without Senate confirmation.
Among those the House panel subpoenaed was David Iglesias, recently dismissed as the U.S. attorney in New Mexico.
Iglesias has told Senate aides he believes he was fired because he rejected what he considered political pressure to bring charges in an investigation involving New Mexico Democrats shortly before last year's elections, according to Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat,
In a Senate speech on Wednesday, Schumer said Iglesias told aides that two members of Congress had called him to ask about the probe, apparently eager for indictments.
Iglesias has not identified the two lawmakers, aides said. Democratic aides said if it was determined that lawmakers interfered with an investigation, they could face House ethics or even criminal charges.
The Justice Department has denied any political motivation. It has suggested the U.S. attorneys were fired largely because of problems in job performance. Democrats say six had good evaluations.
Overall, there are 93 U.S. attorneys responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the United States.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:32 AM
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Global warming debate over, time to act now: report
By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Declaring the global warming debate over, an international team of scientists urged the world's nations on Tuesday to act now to keep climate change from becoming a catastrophe.
The international community needs to take stronger steps to cut the pace of global warming, adapt to the climate changes that have already taken place and ensure development can be sustained throughout the process, the scientists said in a report released at the United Nations.
"We make the argument that it is essential that we get started now: not next year, not next decade, but now," said John Holdren, a professor of environmental policy at Harvard University and member of the scientific panel that crafted the report.
This report is a logical next step after the February 2 release of a much-heralded document by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris, which stated that global warming is real and human activities caused much of it over the past half-century.
The earlier report was prohibited from making policy recommendations; the current one, funded by the non-profit U.N. Foundation and Sigma Xi scientific society, centers on just such recommendations.
And while the recommendations are global, certain specific items are sure to affect the United States, Holdren said in a telephone interview before the report's formal release.
For example, scientists said no country should build any traditional coal-burning power plants -- big emitters of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide -- unless they are designed to be able to capture and bury the carbon dioxide they emit.
The United States, which emits about 25 percent of the world's carbon dioxide, relies heavily on coal-fired power plants.
MORE EFFICIENT ENERGY
One recommendation urges improved energy efficiency for vehicles, homes, commercial buildings and in industry, to save money, cut dependence on oil and reduces the balance of payments to pay for oil imports.
Biofuels, such as the ethanol advocated by the Bush administration, should increasingly replace oil in transport, the report said.
In the tropics, the international community should aim to slow and eventually reverse deforestation, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, Holdren said.
Global investment in advanced energy technology should be tripled or quadrupled, the report said. This and the other recommendations are aimed at cutting global warming but also providing economic opportunity and new jobs, he said.
The report stressed the reality of the global warming problem now, and noted the inadequate response to the stronger storms, worse droughts and heat waves and more severe wildfires that are a consequence of higher world temperatures.
"We need to make greater investment in the capacity of the world to deal with those sorts of extreme events, not only because climate is changing, making those events ever more frequent, but because the suffering already associated with our inadequate responses to those needs to be corrected," Holdren said.
The scientists considered nuclear power as a carbon-free option, but said this energy source must address the problem of disposal of radioactive waste and break the link between nuclear technology and weapons proliferation.
On Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said late on Monday she hoped to see a "substantial package" of global warming legislation by June 1.
Posted by politicalstuff at 1:46 AM