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John Rennie

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Sep 30, 2005, 6:33:07 AM9/30/05
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September 30, 2005
The Way It Is
By PAUL KRUGMAN
New York Times
Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is under investigation by the
Securities and Exchange Commission. He sold all his stock in HCA, which his
father helped found, just days before the stock plunged. Two years ago, Mr.
Frist claimed that he did not even know if he owned HCA stock.

According to a new U.S. government index, the effect of greenhouse gases is
up 20 percent since 1990.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a 33-year-old Wall Street insider with little experience
in regulation but close ties to drug firms, was made a deputy commissioner
at the F.D.A. in July. (This story, picked up by Time magazine, was
originally reported by Alicia Mundy of The Seattle Times.)

The Artic ice cap is shrinking at an alarming rate.

Two of the three senior positions at the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration are vacant. The third is held by Jonathan Snare, a former
lobbyist. Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group, reports that he
worked on efforts to keep ephedra, a dietary supplement that was banned by
the F.D.A., legal.

According to France's finance minister, Alan Greenspan told him that the
United States had "lost control" of its budget deficit.

David Safavian is a former associate of Jack Abramoff, the recently indicted
lobbyist. Mr. Safavian oversaw U.S. government procurement policy at the
White House Office of Management and Budget until his recent arrest.

When Senator James Inhofe, who has called scientific research on global
warming "a gigantic hoax," called a hearing to attack that research, his
star witness was Michael Crichton, the novelist.

Mr. Safavian is charged with misrepresenting his connections with
lobbyists - specifically, Mr. Abramoff - while working at the General
Services Administration. A key event was a lavish golfing trip to Scotland
in 2002, mostly paid for by a charity Mr. Abramoff controlled. Among those
who went on the trip was Representative Bob Ney of Ohio.

It's not possible to attribute any one weather event to global warming. But
climate models show that global warming will lead to increased hurricane
intensity, and some research indicates that this is already occurring.

Tyco paid $2 million, most going to firms controlled by Mr. Abramoff, as
part of its successful effort to preserve tax advantages it got from
shifting its legal home to Bermuda. Timothy Flanigan, a general counsel at
Tyco, has been nominated for the second-ranking Justice Department post.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is awash in soldiers and
police. Nonetheless, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has hired
Blackwater USA, a private security firm with strong political connections,
to provide armed guards.

Mr. Abramoff was indicted last month on charges of fraud relating to his
purchase of SunCruz, a casino boat operation. Mr. Ney inserted comments in
the Congressional Record attacking SunCruz's original owner, Konstantinos
"Gus" Boulis, placing pressure on him to sell to Mr. Abramoff and his
partner, Adam Kidan, and praised Mr. Kidan's character.

James Schmitz, who resigned as the Pentagon's inspector general amid
questions about his performance, has been hired as Blackwater's chief
operating officer.

Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style
murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr.
Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony "Big
Tony" Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In
court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever
provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men
arrested, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, is a principal.

Iraq's oil production remains below prewar levels. The Los Angeles Times
reports that mistakes by U.S. officials and a Halliburton subsidiary, which
was given large no-bid reconstruction contracts, may have permanently
damaged Iraq's oilfields.

Tom DeLay, who stepped down as House majority leader after his indictment,
once called Mr. Abramoff "one of my closest and dearest friends." Mr.
Abramoff funneled funds from clients to conservative institutions and
causes. The Washington Post reported that associates of Mr. DeLay claim that
he severed the relationship after Mr. Boulis's murder.

Public health experts warn that the U.S. would be dangerously unprepared for
an avian flu pandemic.

As Walter Cronkite used to say, That's the way it is.


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