Daily Archives: Jan. 4, 2006

Double tragedy in West Virginia

What a terrible tragedy in West Virginia. Not only did 12 of 13 workers trapped in a coal mine die, but their families were incorrectly told by a mine official that the miners had been found alive (which was reported in Wednesday’s Eagle). The official then learned about 30 minutes later that the miners were dead, but waited three hours to tell the families — who were celebrating outside a local church (see photo). The families were so furious when they learned the truth that the church pastor said he was thankful that the police were there to protect the mine official.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

The eavesdropping plot thickens

“The National Security Agency acted on its own authority, without a formal directive from President Bush, to expand its domestic surveillance operations in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks,” The New York Times reported. And contrary to White House claims that Congress had signed off on expanded eavesdropping, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote a letter to the head of NSA on Oct. 11, 2001, questioning the programs legality.
What’s more, James B. Comey, the No. 2 man in the Justice Department, refused in 2004 to approve the continuation of the eavesdropping program, forcing White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and then-chief counsel Alberto Gonzales to lobby former Attorney General John Ashcroft while he was in the hospital, The Times reported last weekend.
And as we noted in our editorial Wednesday, President Bush was unconvincing in defending the program Sunday and in trying to explain away his 2004 statement that “a wiretap requires a court order.”
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

Good ideas from Gingrich on lobbyists, Iran, bipartisanship

Calling for the GOP to be the party of reform, not just the “party of pork barrel,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich brought fresh thinking to three important issues Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation”:
– Require that every lobbying activity be listed on the Web, including golfing outings and dinners out. Even better, possibly ban political fundraisers in Washington, D.C., when Congress is in session. “I think this whole system has grown, frankly, a little sick with insiders raising money for insiders to re-elect insiders to do favors for insiders,” he said.
– Take seriously the threat represented by Iran’s new president, who denies the Holocaust happened and who wants to defeat Anglo-Saxons and eliminate Israel or at least move it to Europe. “I think it’s as serious as the problem with Adolf Hitler in 1935,” Gingrich said.
– Launch the 2008 presidential race by holding only bipartisan meetings in Iowa and New Hampshire, “so you have real discussion and everybody’s in the same room talking.”
Posted by Rhonda Holman

More restaurants should choose to be smoke-free

The passage of restaurant smoking bans in New York City and other places likely means that such a ban will eventually happen in Wichita. The Eagle editorial board is divided on this issue, however, with some members wanting the city to prohibit smoking in restaurants, and other members not wanting the government to interfere with private business decisions. But regardless of whether Wichita passes a smoking ban, restaurants are free now to be smoke-free. And it is encouraging that, as a news story in the Sunday Eagle noted, an increasing number of restaurants are making that choice.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

If criminals were smart, they wouldn’t be criminals

Police arrested a Great Bend man and woman Saturday in connection with a string of robberies at Wichita tanning salons. Not only were the alleged robbers dumb to think that tanning salons would have much cash, but their robbery spree started Friday and continued Saturday. As a result, when they showed up at the fifth tanning salon Saturday afternoon, the employees were on the lookout and called police. The alleged robbers can’t even blame their lack of brain cells on having spent too much time under ultraviolet lights; police said they didn’t have tans.
Posted by Phillip Brownlee

One Bush isn’t wedded to old ways

Her husband has been reluctant to toss out the old in favor of the new, but first lady Laura Bush has shown a penchant for change lately. In 2005, she traveled without her husband to such hot spots as Afghanistan, the West Bank, Rwanda and Tanzania. According to The Wall Street Journal, she also has a new hairstylist; a trendier, less-Texas wardrobe; and a staff newly dominated by Beltway veterans. And she reportedly had a hand in ousting longtime White House head chef Walter Scheib, who was said by one of her staffers to have displayed a “level of arrogance” in repeatedly making dishes that the Bushes disliked, such as scallops.
Posted by Rhonda Holman