Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bush: Endangered Species Act Extinct

This President has not only declared war on countries but nature as well. Mr.Bush also wins the title of worst environmental President in American history.

Just months before President Bush leaves office, his administration is antagonizing environmentalists by proposing changes that would allow federal agencies to decide for themselves whether subdivisions, dams, highways and other projects have the potential to harm endangered animals and plants.

The proposal, first reported by The Associated Press, would cut out the advice of government scientists who have been weighing in on such decisions for 35 years. Agencies also could not consider a project's contribution to global warming in their analysis.

Reaction was swift from Democrats and environmental groups.

The chairman of the House committee that oversees the Interior Department, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said he was "deeply troubled." Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., head of the Senate's environment committee, said Bush's plan was illegal. Environmentalists complained the proposals would gut protections for endangered animals and plants.

"This proposed rule ... gives federal agencies an unacceptable degree of discretion to decide whether or not to comply with the Endangered Species Act," Rahall said.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne defended the revisions, saying they were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a "back door" to regulate the gases blamed for global warming.

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of endangered species regulations since 1986 and accomplish through rules what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.

In May, the polar bear became the first species declared as threatened because of climate change. Warming temperatures are expected to melt the sea ice the bear depends on for survival.

"We need to focus our efforts where they will do the most good," Kempthorne said in a news conference arranged hastily after the AP reported details of the proposal. "It is important to use our time and resources to protect the most vulnerable species. It is not possible to draw a link between greenhouse gas emissions and distant observations of impacts on species."

Obama Ad: "Celebrity" McCain from Washington

This is smart of the Obama campaign to turn the tables on McCain. He is a Washington celebrity.

Me? A celebrity? What about you, Sen. John McCain?

That's the gist of a TV ad that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's campaign released Monday. Embrace is a response to two recent ads from McCain. Both McCain ads called Obama a "celebrity" and questioned whether he is ready to lead the nation. One compared his fame to that of Paris Hilton's and Britney Spears'.

The script

Narrator: "For decades, he's been Washington's biggest celebrity. John McCain. And as Washington embraced him, John McCain hugged right back. The lobbyists — running his low road campaign. The money — billions in tax breaks for oil and drug companies, but almost nothing for families like yours. Lurching to the right, then the left, the old Washington dance, whatever it takes. John McCain. A Washington celebrity playing the same old Washington games."

The images

Embrace begins as a spoof of McCain's ads. The narrator calls McCain "Washington's biggest celebrity." Images of the Arizona senator hugging President Bush, joking with late-night comedians and appearing on NBC's Saturday Night Live and ABC's The View flicker by.

Reality check

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center says McCain's plans would "primarily benefit those with very high incomes," while Obama would raise taxes "significantly" on that group. Obama would give larger tax breaks to lower-income groups than McCain, according to the center, a project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Chinese Police Beat Christian Church Activist

Obviously Bush's presence and pro-freedom comments at the games did very little to stop the religious repression.

Police in Beijing on Tuesday denied claims by a Chinese Christian that he was beaten by police and warned off going to a church service attended by U.S. President George W. Bush on the weekend.

The allegations were made by the religious activist Hua Huiqi in a letter released by the U.S.-based group Human Rights in China.

Hua said in the letter that he and his brother were picked up near the church in Beijing early on Sunday morning.

He said they were beaten, dragged into two cars and then interrogated at a nearby building.

Hua quoted police officers as saying, "You are not allowed to go to Kuanjie Protestant Church because President Bush is going there today. If you go again, we will break your legs."

Hua said he managed to sneak out of the building when police were not watching and that he is now in hiding.

A spokesman for the Beijing Public Security Bureau told Kyodo News that police officers had "absolutely no contact" with Hua on Sunday and denied that he had been detained.

However, Hua's brother, Hua Huilin, told the Associated Press that he had received at least two phone calls from the Public Security Bureau saying Hua Huiqi had escaped and asking about his whereabouts.

"I haven't heard from him. We've been waiting here. We're so worried," Hua Huilin was quoted as saying.

Bush urged greater freedom of religion in China after visiting the government-approved Protestant church in Beijing on Sunday.

"Laura and I just had the great joy and privilege of worshiping here in Beijing," he told reporters. "It just goes to show that God is universal, and God is love, and no state, man or woman should fear the influence of loving religion," he said.

All religious institutions have to be officially approved and come under some form of government control in China, but many Christians belong to illegal or "house" churches which do not submit to state authority.