Friday , July 27, 2007
Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency says he will investigate a threatening letter sent to a global warming skeptic by the head of a group advocating the use of renewable energy.
The Washington Times reports American Council on Renewable Energy President Michael Eckhart wrote to Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis — "It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity."
The EPA is a member of ACORE — and so are several other government agencies. Eckhart told tthe Times he apologizes to all who were offended by his choice of words, and says the letter was a private communication in the context of what he called "personal combat and jousting."
Preliminary charges have been filed against former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin in a scandal that has rocked the Paris political scene.
Villepin is accused of taking part in a smear campaign against current President Nikolas Sarkozy several years ago. Officials say Villepin falsely accused Sarkozy and others of having secret bank accounts which were used to hold bribe money. Villepin has denied any wrongdoing.
Villepin is famous for his 2003 speech before the U.N. Security Council arguing against the U.S. led war in Iraq.
Free Speech Concerns
A new report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is warning of expanding government censorship of the Internet.
It calls online policing "a bitter reminder of the ease with which some regimes — democracies and dictatorships alike — seek to suppress speech that they disapprove of, dislike, or simply fear."
It points to questionable online restrictions in places like China, Hong Kong and Sudan. It says Malaysia is drafting laws to prosecute Web users critical of Islam.
And says Kazakhstan's information minister has vowed to purge Web sites of what the government calls "dirt" and "lies."
Meanwhile the American Foreign Policy Council reports 40 members of Iran's parliament have written a letter to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticizing his recent decision to shut down two news outlets.
But Iranian leaders aren't budging, and are in fact stepping up the filtering on the computers of parliamentary deputies.
And the passage of a House ethics bill that would bar a political campaign from employing a lawmaker's spouse is drawing plenty of complaints on Capitol Hill. The Politico reports some members will lose significant family income if they have to fire their spouses.
Texas Republican Joe Barton's wife reportedly was paid $57,000 by his campaign in the last election cycle.
He says — "I'm not apologetic. She does real work and puts out a good product. I'm tired of us acting like there's something we should be ashamed of — I'm not."
That bill still needs to go through the Senate — and Politico reports it has yet to gain traction there.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.