The Political Grapevine - August 7, 2001

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Getting the silent treatment from the White House

White House officials reportedly won't be talking to Talk magazine anymore.  The Washington Post says the White House is upset with a photo spread in the magazine that sort of depicts the president's daughters as jailbirds.  Supermodels stand in for the girls.  Administration officials, therefore, say they'll stop talking with journalists writing for Talk.

The photo spread in question shows two models in jail flanked by a presidential look-alike and fake Secret Service agents along with such captions as Grand Old Party and Arrested Development.  Talk says the pictures were in good fun.

But White House communications director Dan Bartlett says they're disrespectful and that the magazine openly mocked the administration's request for restraint in media coverage of the first daughters.

Running out of water and time

Farmers in the Klamath Basin could be facing another dry spell.  The Interior Department recently gave farmers along the California-Oregon border some irrigation water, months after the farmers' first requests.  Federal agencies now say the extra water will run out by August 20th.

Farmers have watched their fields turn to dust because the Endangered Species Act requires protection of endangered fish, in this case the suckerfish and a species of salmon.  They get first dibs on the water, especially when water levels in the Klamath Basin get low.

In need of aid with his confirmation?

The Boston Globe is reporting that one of President Bush's picks to work at the U.S. Agency for International Development is coming under fire from civil-rights activists.

Mr. Bush has nominated Kent Hill to be assistant administrator at USAID.  Hill's the former president of Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he started a policy that only "committed Christians" be hired to teach in the school's adult-education program.

The director of the Anti-Defamation League's Boston office is calling on senators to raise the matter during Hill's confirmation hearings.  Critics want to know whether he'll favor international religious groups in his new post.  If confirmed, Hill would be responsible for overseeing $1.5 billion in aid to Europe and the Balkans.

When Hill instituted the school's policy nine years ago, the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU determined he had the legal right to do so because the college was privately run, but an ACLU spokesman said this week that it would become a major issue if part of government work.

Former staffers getting defensive

Finally, The New York Post says three staffers for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton have formed their own legal defense fund in connection with the investigation of pardons of Hasidic Jews from New Square.  The U.S. attorney in Manhattan is investigating whether Bill Clinton commuted the sentences of four Jews for embezzlement in exchange for votes for his wife.

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