By LISA HOFFMAN
Scripps Howard News Service
June 03, 2007
The Center for Responsive Politics is asking the public to help them figure out which Capitol Hill lawmakers are pulling the strings behind the scenes of about 30 "mystery" fundraising political action committees.
Under current rules, these politicians do not have to disclose their control of their so-called "leadership PACs," which they use as vehicles to give themselves campaign cash or reward fellow legislators with donations -- often as a way to curry future favor for their own political ambitions.
So the watchdogs hope you can help them unmask who's behind these "mystery PACs," which include Penguin PAC (which gave $35,000 to Democratic lawmakers last year), Serving America's Citizens PAC (source of $31,000 to Republicans), and Dam PAC ($21,000 to Republicans).
The full list is at www.opensecrets.org. Send your findings, along with documentation, to MysteryPACs(at)crp.org.
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Looks like Walter Reed Army Medical Center won't be closing anytime soon. Doomed by the 2005 base-closing commission, the landmark facility was given what could be a decade-long stay when Congress slipped in a provision in the Iraq war funding bill last week postponing its closure until new facilities are built and fully equipped at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in nearby Maryland and Fort Belvoir over the Potomac in Virginia.
Given the pace of planning for those projects -- and the significant local opposition due to traffic and sprawl concerns -- the premier hospital for the war wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan should remain in business long after its 2011 shutdown date.
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Sharpen your elbows for pitched combat over the armrests this summer, which the Air Transport Association forecasts will see a record 209 million passengers taking to the skies on vacations from June through August. That would be a 3 percent jump over the same time last year.
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Good and bad news on the highways: Preliminary stats from the U.S. Transportation department show there was a slight drop in overall road deaths nationally last year: 43,330 in 2006 compared to 43,443 in 2005. Injuries dropped 6 percent; pedestrian fatalities fell slightly, from 4,881 to 4,768; deaths from large truck crashes were down nearly 4 percent. But alcohol-related deaths climbed more than 2 percent.
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Fifty years ago, some veterinary schools told female applicants that they needn't bother trying to get in because women simply weren't welcome. Now, for the first time, female veterinarians outnumber men. According to a peak at the upcoming June 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, current classes are about 75 percent women and four vet schools have female deans.
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Chinese officials kicked more than 800,000 vehicles off the roads in and around Beijing during a three-day summit on Africa last fall, causing an immediate drop of as much as 40 percent in pollutants in the notoriously foul air of the sprawling metropolis. Most experts think China will do the same during the summer Olympic Games next year as a way to boost the city's image and ease the strain on athletes.
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The Medal of Honor will soon be awarded for the first time to a member of a Sioux Indian tribe, though posthumously. Last week, President Bush signed off on bestowing the military's highest award on Woodrow Wilson Keeble, a member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux tribe in the Dakotas. During the Korean War, he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers, refusing to be treated for his severe wounds until he had single-handedly destroyed four enemy positions. Keeble died in 1982.
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We may have a sexually transmitted disease to thank for a treatment for the deadly avian flu virus. Biopharmaceutical company Hemispherx Biopharma announced this week that a low dose of its antiviral drug Alferon-LDO -- approved in the United States for treating genital warts -- showed dramatic promise in reducing cases of flu-caused pneumonia and also holds possibility for preventing the disease.
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