ELSEWHERE Wednesday, September 17,2003 - Page 9 News from the nation, world Briefs By The Associated Press Arafat dismisses veto by U.S. ..UNITED NATIONS — Yasser Arafat dismissed the United States' veto of a U.N. resolution against Israel's threats to expel him, saying today that the step will not "shake us." Arabs expressed angelV saying Israel may see the veto as a green light to move against the Palestinian leader. Washington says it opposes expelling Arafat from the West Bank. But it said the U.N. resolution calling for Israel to halt its threats was "lopsided" and didn't condemn terrorist groups attacking Israel. Arabs were dismayed by the veto, with some saying the vote showed the United States had lost its credibility as an honest broker in the Middle East. Arafat, speaking to supporters at his West Back headquarters in Ramallah, dismissed the American move. "No decision here or there will shake us," he said. "We are bigger than all decisions." Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian foreign minister, said U.S. officials "informed us officially" that the veto "is not in any way a green light for Israel." Clark enters presidential race LITTLE ROCK, Ark. —- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark enters a wide-open presidential race with no experience in elective office and no history on domestic policy. But he offers Democrats one thing they crave: New hope of undercutting President Bush's wartime popularity. "The most important issue in America today is our security at home and abroad. And that's what Americans seek," Clark said as he prepared to announce his candidacy at a boys and girls club here today. "I'm the best among any of the prospective candidates in terms of being able to work for America's security." Clark, 58, will become the 10th candidate in a Democratic race that is up for grabs. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the frontrunner, but a solid majority of voters remain undecided and some party leaders believe the current field has un- derperformed. Court to look again at vote SAN FRANCISCO —In yet another twist in the back- and-forth saga of the state's recall vote, a federal court said it would re-examine a ruling by a panel of its own judges that postponed the ballot, pre-empting critics who were preparing to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Attention turned once again to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today as state officials prepared to petition the whole court to overturn a three-judge panel that halted the Oct. 7 voting and suggested it could be folded into the March 2 presidential primary. Troops facing revenge attacks BAGHDAD, Iraq — The commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq said in an interview published today that U.S. forces, already under pressure from a guerrilla- style resistance, now face revenge attacks from ordinary Iraqis angered by the occupation. North of Baghdad, there were at least three separate attacks on U.S. forces with roadside bombs in less than VA hours this morning. Witnesses reported injured soldiers, but details were unclear. The attacks hit U.S. Humvees about 12 miles north of Baghdad near al- Taji. While U.S. forces increasingly, patrol Iraqi hotspots with American- trained local militiamen, citizens voice growing anger with tactics that are seen as heavy-handed and insensitive to Iraqi social and religious customs. Deficit, Iraq big election issues ByALANFRAM Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — Members of both parties say record federal deficits are showing signs of evolving into a powerful political issue, fed by voter concern over the size of President Bush's $87 billion reques t for Iraq. Until now, voters have paid little attention as four consecutive years of budget surpluses abruptly morphed into shortfalls now expected to soar beyond $400 billion this year and next. Public attention instead has been focused on the economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism. But now people seem to 'be paying attention. Members of Congress returning home say they are hearing about deficits and Iraq spending from constituents, and recent polls show a growing discontent with Bush's handlingof the economy and the budget. "They're saying, 'You have a half-trillion-dollar deficit and you're asking for another $87 billion?'" said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. "That's a very high price." Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., said the United States was "embarked on nothing less than nation- building in its most profound sense." He said his constituents are asking "how is this equitable" now that the federal surplus is gone and the government is borrowing money to rebuild the Iraq economy. Brownback said he has told White House budget chief Joshua Bolten that the administration needs to publicly discuss specific ideas for reducing deficits. Brownback said he believes the administration will lay out such plans in about a month. Bolten and other White House officials have said they believe there is little evidence that deficits are harming the economy. They say shortfalls can be halved in five years through economic growth and spending restraint. Bush's Iraq spending package is expected to pass Congress overwhelmingly, with both parties flashing their support for U.S. troops. But sensing an opportunity, Democrats in Congress and those running for president have begun discussing the deficit with growing frequency. They cite the Iraq spending request as an example of administration incompetence in running the economy — perhaps the key issue on the horizon for 2004. They use it to challenge the wisdom of Bush tax cuts that have aggravated the government's long-term shortfalls, and link it to Bush's spending plans for Iraq as well. "We are already facing a nearly half-trillion-dollar deficit, and American taxpayers deserve to know how this spending will affect our ability to address the unmet needs in our own country," House Minority Leader Nancy P/elosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday. In an AP interview last week, presidential contender Sen. John Read your rights After being locked away for two years at an undisclosed location, the original Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence have returned to the Rotunda of the National Archives in Washington after undergoing treatment to ensure their longevity. For the first time, all four pages of the Constitution will be on permanent display. Previously, just the first and last pages were. The documents will be housed in an exhibit case on the ground to make them more accessible to people in wheelchairs and children. The archives open to the public Thursday. (AP photo) Scholars question succession Claim Congressional fight for presidency could worsen crisis By JESSE J. HOLLAND Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — To avoid political chicanery, a Cabinet member, not a member of Congress, should assume the presidency if terror or another disaster should incapacitate or kill both the president and the vice president, constitutional scholars say. The Constitution specifies the vice president must succeed the president but gives Congress the duty to name an "officer" to assume the presidency if both elected leaders are unavailable. With the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, Congress put the House speaker and the senior member of the Senate's majority party immediately behind the vice president in the succession. The secretary of state follows, arid other members of the Cabinet follow according to the date their offices were established. Scholars testifying Tuesday at a joint hearing of the Senate Rules and Judiciary committees questioned the constitutionality of the 1947 law. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said Congress should simply change the law to remove its leaders from the line of succession.be- fore another, terror attack such as that on Sept. 11, 2001, imperils the president and vice president. Some people believe the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt was headed to Washington, to crash either into the Capitol or the White House. The law leaves too much uncertainty, said John Fortier, executive director of the private Continuity of Government Commission. In a time of national crisis, he said, there should never be a fight over the presidency. "House and Senate leaders are not officers within the meaning of the succession clause," said Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor who specializes in presidential succession. "Rather, the framers clearly contemplated that a Cabinet officer would be named acting president." A constitutional crisis could occur should both the president and vice president die, said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former Texas attorney general. For example, he said, what would happen if the House speaker should claim the presidency but was challenged in court by the secretary of state, the first Cabinet member in the line of succession? And who would be president if the president, vice president, Cabinet and Congress all were killed in a terror attack on Washington? "In an age of terrorism and a time of war, this is no longer mere fodder for Tom Clancy novels and episodes of 'The West Wing,"' Cornyn said. "These nightmare scenarios are serious concerns after 9-11." Having members of Congress, who have the power to indict and impeach the president, in the line of succession also could lead to mischief, scholars said. Fortier said some House Democrats looked to the 1947 law during the Watergate scandal as a vehicle for taking the White House away from President Nixon. "In Nixon's case. Vice President Agnew had resigned, and some in Congress foresaw the demise of Nixon himself," Fortier said. "A group of representatives encouraged Carl Albert, then speaker of the House, to hold up the confirmation of Gerald Ford for vice president so that Congress could then remove Nixon and elevate the Democrat Albert to the presidency." Added M. Miller Baker, a former Justice Department lawyer: "Fortunately, cooler'heads prevailed, and the Democratic-controlled Congress confirmed Ford. But it illustrates the mischief possible." Spiro T. Agnew resigned because of a payoff scandal. Nixon chose Ford as Agnew's replacement under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution. The scholars also suggested that Congress create a new office for an assistant vice president or first secretary to step in.after the deaths or resignations of the president and vice president. Kerry, D-Mass., said he would oppose the $87 billion proposal without assurances that the administration will "put America in a stronger position" by raising funds for Iraqi reconstruction from U.S. allies. Some GOP leaders say they are not concerned.that deficits or the Iraq package will deal their party any political blows. They say Americans understand that a recession and the 'costs of fighting terrorism forced the return of red ink after four annual surpluses under President Clinton. Underscoring that, GOP leaders said the House would pass a bill this week increasing charitable deductions for many taxpayers — and adding $12.6 billion to deficits over the coming decade. Tracking system created for beef By EMILY GERSEMA Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — Meatpack- ers and fast-food restaurants are backing a new database that could help health officials quickly track the source of an outbreak of food-poisoning all the way back to the farm. VeriPrime Inc., a company in Wichita, Kan., created the new tracking system for cattle and beef products, which has been endorsed by meatpacker Swift & Co., ConAgra Cattle Feeding Co. and fast-food chain Burger King. John Lawrence, a VeriPrime vice president, said the National Cattlemen's Beef Association also is supportive of the system, which keeps tabs on cattle herds from birth to slaughter by marking each newborn calf with a coded tag. "We know what lot it came from and what herd it came from," Lawrence said. "Once it gets packed and sent out we can track it back to a specific herd. That will help in recalls." The United States does not have a system for tracking most animals, a gap underscored in May when U.S. and Canadian officials spent days tracking down animals possibly linked to a case of mad cow disease in Canada. Scientists deemed it an isolated incident. The VeriPrime database was developed because meat industry officials and retailers were concerned that cattle could become infected with mad cow and other infectious diseases like foot-and-mouth, an illness harmless to humans but devastating to livestock. The Agriculture Department is not endorsing VeriPrime, but it is urging the meat industry to participate in a national system to track all meat from farms to packing plants and stores. Chuck Lambert, the department's deputy undersecretary of marketing programs, said the information companies collect on livestock will improve the security and safety of the nation's food supply. Log on, chat with Bush's officials about policies, recipes By JENNIFER LOVEN Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — Need a recipe to spice up your marriage? Wonder what became of Amy Carter's tree house? Curious to know whether the White House really is haunted? Just "Ask the White House" — a 5-month-old effort to connect regular folks directly with top Bush administration officials through live online chat sessions on the White House Web site. The forums provide another way for the White House to sell and defend President Bush's policies. Responding to questions that voice both skepticism and support', officials supply answers that keep to the administration line on issues ranging from tax cuts and environmental actions to Medicare and judicial nominations. "Ask the White House," www.whitehouse.gov/ask The exchanges are not without lighter moments. Someone going by the name "King Bloop Zod" asked Housing Secretary Mel Martinez if the government might offer incentives to those considering "Mars as an ideal location for a vacation home or just a place to get away from it all." "Dear King," replied Martinez, "Your problem is one that does not appear to be housing. I think you are doing great at promoting tourism, but affordable housing in America is more of my concern." Treasury Secretary John Snow created a miniflap when he told "John" from Natalia, Texas, that the $500 bill is the one he would most like to have stamped with his picture. "It has the least circulation — that way I wouldn't have to see myself too often," he wrote with an "lol" — Internet-speak for "laugh out loud." Snow, however, apparently was not aware that living persons cannot appear on U.S. currency and that the $500 bill has been out of circulation for more than 30 years. And to the mild dismay of the president's usually tightlipped staff, Laura Bush confirmed, during her online session, rumors of a previously unannounced presidential visit to Britain in October. The few-times-a-week chats are the brainchild of Jimmy Orr, director of the White House Web site. "It's important for the American people to have access to their government," said Orr's boss, White House communica- White House Director of Communications Dan Harriett participated in a session of ''Ask the White House" in the West Wing Tuesday. (AP photo) tions director Dan Bartlett, sitting at his office computer and typing answers recently when he hosted an "Ask the White House" session. Stephen Hess, a specialist in the presidency at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said the White House deserves high marks for the effort Orr strives for smart packaging. Photos pop up as the site refreshes with new questions and answers. Hosts connected to an in- the-news-today issue often film video backgrounders that are linked to the chat session. Other links might take surfers to Web- casted video of a presidential event.
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