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web posted September 24, 2001

Gall asks Bush not to send her nomination as Product Safety Chairwoman back to Senate

After being rejected by a Democratic-controlled committee, Consumer Product Safety commissioner Mary Sheila Gall has quietly asked President Bush to withdraw her nomination to lead the agency.

Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee voted as a bloc against Gall, a Republican, and her nomination lost on a party-line 12-11 vote last month.

"She feels that the rejection by the committee was a partisan political vote and that at this stage she wants to get on with her life, her family and her job here," Gall spokesman Dennis Wilson.

Committee Democrats said she too often favored business over consumer safety.

The Bush administration said it was Gall's decision to abandon her candidacy and she was not pressured by the White House to drop out. "She has decided at this point that she does not want to pursue the nomination," White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said.
Womack said that when the next vacancy opens on the commission, the White House will nominate someone to fill it.

That likely means the next person nominated to the committee will be the next nominee for chairman. Ann Brown, who has served as chairwoman since 1994, has said she will leave the agency by Nov. 1, even though her term is not up until 2006.

The only other member of the commission is the current vice chairman, Thomas Moore, who supported Gall's bid to head the agency and could become chairman if no one is confirmed by the time Brown leaves.

But Moore, like Brown, is a Democrat and is not expected to be nominated by Bush to permanently run the commission.

Gall will remain on the commission through 2005.

The nearly 30-year-old commission oversees about 15,000 products, from fire sprinklers to stuffed kittens, by enforcing mandatory rules and product bans.

Judge opens Seattle voters guide to criticisms

If candidates for office can extol their own virtues in the city voters guide, they must also be allowed to criticize their opponents, a federal judge ruled September 19.

U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said it is unconstitutional to bar candidates from even mentioning their opponents in the 400-word statements they submit for publication in the pamphlet, which is mailed to each residence in the city.

His decision was a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and Grant Cogswell, who is running for the City Council against incumbent Richard McIver. Elections for the nine-member panel are nonpartisan.

"Allowing the incumbent to talk about his record and achievements while denying (Cogswell) the opportunity to talk about those same topics provides the public with only one side of a debatable subject," Lasnik wrote. He said the rule "deprives plaintiff of a fair opportunity to present himself and his candidacy to the voters."

Cogswell, who has attacked McIver's record as head of the council's Transportation Committee, said the ruling "gives us the chance to do what we're normally supposed to be able to do in a democracy, which is to speak our minds freely."

City lawyers argued that the guide was intended to provide information about candidates rather than be a forum for campaign debates. They argued that striking down the ordinance would result in a free-for-all of unanswerable attacks.

"One can hardly imagine a more genteel political environment than Seattle," Lasnik said September 17 in court. "What is this free-for-all you're worried about?"

City Ethics and Elections Director Carol Van Noy said she didn't know whether the ruling would be appealed, but it will be in effect for the general election Nov. 6.

Cogswell finished second to McIver in a four-way primary race a day before the ruling, assuring him a place on the November ballot.

Bush addresses Congress, nation; Introduces office of Homeland Security

Addressing a united Congress and newly resolute country, President Bush vowed September 20 to strike back against the terror attacks in New York and Washington. "Justice will be done," he declared.

Appearing before a joint session of Congress nine days after suicide hijackers are believed to have killed more than 6,000 Americans, Bush announced that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge will direct a new Cabinet-level office to fortify homeland defenses, the Office of Homeland Security. Ridge, a Republican, will resign Oct. 5, and will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker.

The president clasped the badge of a slain policeman in his fist. "I will not forget this wound to our country, or those who inflicted it. I will not yield. I will not rest," he said.

In the nationally televised address, his fourth prime-time speech since taking office, Bush tried to explain to a horrified nation the anti-American hatred of its enemies.

Bush blamed the Sept. 11 attacks on suspected terrorist Usama bin Laden and his followers -- the same forces suspected of bombing American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and last year's bombing of the USS Cole.

"The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans and make no distinctions among military and civilians, including women and children," Bush said.

Bush condemned the Taliban religious militia that rules most of Afghanistan and gives bin Laden refuge.

He demanded that the Taliban turn over to the United States all the leaders of bin Laden's network "who hide in your land," and to release all foreign nationals, including American citizens who have been imprisoned in Afghanistan.

Further, Bush demanded that the Taliban "close immediately and permanently every terrorist camp in Afghanistan and hand over every terrorist and every person in their support structure to appropriate authorities."

Moreover, Bush demanded full U.S. access to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan "so we can make sure they are no longer operating."

These demands are not open to discussion, Bush said. "They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate."

Bush directed U.S. military forces to "be ready" for the gathering battle against terrorists.

"The hour is coming when America will act and you will make us proud," he said.

Bush asked every nation to take part, by contributing police forces, intelligence services and banking information.

With British Prime Minister Tony Blair watching from a House gallery seat at first lady Laura Bush's right arm, Bush said:

George W. Bush"The civilized world is rallying to America's side. They understand that if terror goes unpunished, their own cities, their own citizens may be next. Terror unanswered cannot only bring down buildings, it can threaten the stability of legitimate governments and we will not allow it."

Bush entered the House of Representatives chamber to rousing applause from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Unprecedented security shrouded his address in the Capitol one week after it was evacuated for the second time because of suspected threats.

Vice President Dick Cheney stayed away, due to security concerns. Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., third in line for the presidency, was in the vice president's customary seat behind Bush on the speaker's rostrum. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., next in line as the Senate president pro tempore, sat beside Hastert.

Bush compared the terrorists to the 20th century world's evil forces: "By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions -- by abandoning every value except the will to power -- they follow in the path of fascism and Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

Even as he spoke of wiping out terrorism, Bush conceded that the violent extremists had already extracted a heavy toll.

"Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered great loss and in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war," he said.

While cautioning that Americans need remain on alert, Bush said, "It is my hope that in the months and years ahead, life will return almost to normal."

He asked for patience. He warned of more casualties.

This war against elusive terrorists, he said, "will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat."

He said it would be a war unlike any in history. "It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success."

Still, he assured the nation, "We'll go back to our lives and routines, and that is good. Even grief recedes with time and grace. But our resolve must not pass."

Before leaving the White House for Capitol Hill, Bush gathered international and spiritual support. He separately huddled with Blair and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, who delivered his country's support.

A Methodist himself, Bush welcomed two dozen religious leaders -- Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists -- to pray with him and give counsel and sing together "God Bless America."

Archbishop Demetrios C. Trakatellis, whose Greek Orthodox Church of New York was destroyed in last week's bombing, called the private meeting with Bush "a religious ceremony in front of God."

'Definite struggle' aboard Flight 93

Officials familiar with the cockpit voice recorder on United Airlines Flight 93 -- the hijacked jet that crashed in western Pennsylvania on September 11 -- say there was a "definite struggle" described as desperate and wild between hijackers and some of the passengers.

An official has said there was definitely some shouting, but it is not clear who was in control of the plane before it crashed. Several family members of passengers have previously described cell phone conversations saying there might be an attempt to re-take control of the plane.

Officials say the voice recorder was able to pick up scuffling sounds.

Terrorists hijacked four commercial jets early on September 11. Two of them slammed into the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York, and a third hit the Pentagon in Washington.

But Flight 93 -- which departed Newark, New Jersey, en route to San Francisco, California, and turned around over Cleveland, Ohio, to head back toward the east -- never reached its target, which remains unknown.

Instead, the jet slammed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

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