The Dean of the White House Corp Has Something to Say

And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the political grapevine:

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A Joint Cancellation
Harvard University has thought better of its invitation to the British poet Tom Paulin to deliver its Morris Gray poetry reading this week. The problem was that, as pointed out, Paulin had urged that Israeli settlers in the West Bank be "shot dead" and he said he understood "how suicide bombers feel." Harvard said the reading was canceled by joint agreement with Paulin and the English Department, which said it regrets "the widespread consternation that has arisen" as a result of an invitation it said was "solely on the basis of Mr. Paulin's lifetime accomplishments as a poet." One of those accomplishments, by the way, was a poem in which Paulin spoke of a Palestinian boy being shot by "the Zionist SS."

Limited Restrictions on Entry
Such language would be nowhere near enough to keep Paulin out of this country, which has a policy to deny visas only to people who actually participate in terrorism, or aid terrorist groups. Joel Mowbray reports in the New York Post that the State Department's current policy on the issue is headed "Advocacy of Terrorism Generally Not Exclusionary." This provision, he says, was added to law at the behest of Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts more than 10 years ago. The Secretary of State has the authority to overrule it, but has not chosen to do so.

Dean of the White House Press Corps
Helen Thomas, still regarded as the dean of the White House press corps, though she no longer covers the place on a regular basis, says she "censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself 'who do I hate today.'" Thomas, now a columnist for the Hearst Newspapers, told an enthusiastic audience at MIT this week that "I have never covered a president who actually wanted to go to war. Bush's policy of pre-emptive war is immoral." The publication The Black World Today further quotes her as saying, "It's bombs away for Iraq and on our civil liberties if Bush and his cronies get their way."

Dire Warnings Begin Again
Dire warnings of casualties, which preceded both the Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan, are beginning again. A British group called "Medact" said to be affiliated with the American organization "Physicians for Social Responsibility" says an invasion of Iraq  could lead to a  "human catastrophe" with as many as 250,000 casualties within the first three months. And the predicted catastrophe would occur, the group says, even if it does not involve poison gas and outbreak of civil war or nuclear weapons."