Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2002 / 24 Tishrei, 5763

Peter Roff

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Capital Comment | (UPI) And the attendees were all aglow... -- Leading experts in nuclear and radiological issues are convening in London at the end of September for an international conference co-sponsored by the United States National Nuclear Security Administration and the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Atomic Energy. The purpose of the conference is to establish protocols for coordinating global efforts to prevent nuclear and radiological terror. Those presenting at the conference include: NNSA Acting Administrator Ambassador Linton Brooks; U.S. Undersecretary of State for International Security John Bolton; Bruce George, Labor chairman of the British Parliament's Defense Committee; Dr Evgeny Velikhov, president of Moscow's Kurchatov Nuclear Institute and one of Russia's foremost nuclear physicists and Madame Therese Delpech, director of the French Atomic Energy Institute. The conference will be held from Sept. 29-Oct. 2.

Sounding the alarm -- A coalition of liberal organizations, led by the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights and the League of Women Voters, recently sent a letter to President George W. Bush to "Express our alarm over the continuing failure of Congress and your administration to enact strong, meaningful election reform legislation.

"We seek to enlist your help in urging Congress to reach an agreement on legislation that will deal with the extensive problems that continue to plague our nation's electoral systems, but which will not contain discriminatory provisions that could disenfranchise minority, elderly, student, poor and disabled voters," the letter says.

"Specifically, the legislation must protect existing voting rights laws, provide strong national standards, remove discriminatory identification provisions, including the use of Social Security numbers, and ensure strong enforcement." The prospects for any electoral process reform before the November elections is, insiders say, bleak -- in part because the two parties cannot agree as to what the problems in the system are.

Is there a doctor in the house? -- After almost two years without an administrator, President George W. Bush has selected Dr. Mark McClellan to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. McClellan is currently a member of the President's Council on Economic Advisers and serves as a senior policy director for health care and related economic issues inside the White House.

Dr. McClellan, who has been a practicing internist, medical school professor and medical researcher in addition to his work as an economist, is thought to be acceptable to Senate Democrats and Republicans. He hasn't worked in the pharmaceutical industry, a precondition put down by Senate Labor Committee Chairman Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who will chair the confirmation hearings. He also has good Republican credentials: his brother, Scott McClellan, is deputy White House press secretary.

All things in moderation -- The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy has organized a debate on the subject of Islamic Reformation to be held Oct. 12 at Washington's Grand Hyatt Hotel. Scheduled to participate in the debate are: Dr. Akbar S. Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun chair of Islamic Studies at American University; Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a noted Republican strategist and coalition builder; and Dr. Judith Kipper, co-director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As a special attraction, filmmaker Alex Kronemer will show a sneak preview of the upcoming PBS documentary: "Mohammed: Legend of A Prophet" at the event.

A sobering thought -- On Wednesday, the House Immigration Subcommittee approved H.R. 2155, a bill to close a loophole preventing U.S. Customs officials and Immigration and Naturalization Service inspectors from detaining drunk drivers attempting to cross the border into the United States.

"Border security is a fundamental function of the federal government," Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the principal author of the Sober Borders Act, said. "It's ludicrous that those charged with protecting our borders are powerless to defend us from drunk drivers coming into the country ... I'm glad Congress is finally moving on it." The bill now must be passed by the full House Judiciary Committee.

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