This site is 100% ad supported. Please add an exception to adblock for this site.

Improv Speech Flashcards


undefined, object
copy deck
The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.
An instance of the use of this delaying tactic.
An adventurer who engages in a private military action in a foreign country.
Tom DeLay
Tom DeLay (born April 8, 1947) is an American Republican politician from Texas and current Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is well-known for his conservative stances on foreign and domestic policy issues.
how do Democrats in Washington try to keep power?
The Senate rule at the heart of the struggle is the filibuster, whereby a minority party can block legislation by making speeches until a debate's allotted time runs out, and the proposal fails.

The technique has been used since the 19th century, but over the past four years it has taken centrestage as the Democrats have used the threat of a filibuster to block 10 conservative nominees to high Federal courts. The Republican leadership is threatening to change Senate rules to stop filibusters on judicial nominations, stripping the Democrats of one of their last remaining powers in Republican-dominated Washington.
more on Democrats and filibusters
A Republican-controlled Senate committee on Thursday approved the nominations of two controversial federal appeals court judges, moving the full Senate a step closer to a major fight over a GOP proposal to block Democrats from using filibusters to kill judicial nominations they don't like.

Republicans and Democrats both warned that a constitutional crisis is brewing. Lawmakers held strategy talks, staged rallies and engaged in threats and counter-threats over both parties' long-standing use of filibusters. The filibuster is the use of unlimited debate that allows legislative minorities the ability to talk legislation and nominations to death without voting on the issues themselves.

The Senate Judiciary Committee's party-line votes in favor of the appointment of two conservative state supreme court judges, Priscilla Owen of Texas and Janice Rogers Brown of California, to federal appellate judgeships brought the long-simmering debate over the filibuster to the fore. Both judges have already been blocked once by Democrats and President Bush's re-nomination of them could trigger the fight over the continued use of the filibuster in the Senate.

As Republicans contemplate whether to scale back the use of the filibuster and Democrats threaten to retaliate if they do by slowing down Senate operations, both parties are playing a high-stakes game of political chicken. No one knows precisely how the public will react to the confrontation, making it a dangerous game for both parties.

The fight over judges has taken on a certain intensity in part because it is a proxy for a larger battle over Democrats' ability to thwart Bush's second-term legislative agenda. It also is a warm-up for the possible coming nomination of a new Supreme Court justice, if either ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist or another justice retires soon.

The filibuster fight also plays into an image contest, with Republicans saying Democrats are obstructionists in refusing to allow up-or-down votes on all judicial nominations and Democrats attempting to portray the GOP as an arrogant entrenched majority.

At the root of this is the threat of a dramatic maneuver that has come to be called the "nuclear option," under which Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., along with at least 50 of his Republican colleagues, would vote to change Senate rules and prevent lawmakers from filibustering judicial nominations.

"Soon, all 100 Senators will have to decide if these highly qualified candidates will get a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor," Frist said.

Current rules require 60 votes to cut off unlimited debate, or filibuster, that typically has been used to stop legislation strongly opposed by a minority. The Republicans hold 55 of the 100 Senate seats and thus by themselves do not have enough votes to cut off a filibuster.

Democrats say changing Senate rules in this way is not permitted, though it's not clear what they could do to stop it. "They have to break the rules to change the rules," said Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Since Bush has been in office, he has made 215 judicial nominations and the Senate has confirmed 205 of them. Ten, however, failed to win confirmation because of Democratic filibusters, including Owen and Brown.

That, Republicans contend, is eminently unfair, especially because the filibustered judges have all been nominees for appellate courts, which are vastly more influential than district courts. Never has the filibuster been used as a systematic tool for blocking a president's judicial nominations, Republicans argue.

"Elections have consequences and the president won," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. "We have advise and consent, not advise and filibuster."

Both parties claim the Constitution is on their side. Each accuses the other of abusing its power, and both say they want to avoid the coming clash.

It still is not entirely clear that Frist will pull the "nuclear" trigger and seek to change the filibuster rule, in part because several Republicans have expressed discomfort with the idea. Republican and Democratic leadership aides said Frist plans to call up highway legislation next week, not judicial nominations. The following week is a congressional recess, perhaps delaying a confrontation even further.

Democrats, with 44 senators and an independent who often votes with them, are trying to create a 51-vote majority on the issue of changing the rules by persuading six Republicans to break party ranks and protect the tradition of the filibuster.

"My sense is if you gave sodium pentathol to a lot of Republicans and they could speak honestly, they would express a lot of apprehension," said Marshall Wittmann, a senior scholar at the Democratic Leadership Council, and a former aide to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Meanwhile, Democrats are expanding their argument that Republicans are abusing their majority status by changing the rules in mid-game when they don't like an expected outcome. The Democrats say that the ongoing debate over process is keeping Congress from working on issues important to the public.

"The list of things we can accomplish to improve people's lives is limited only by the time we are willing to devote to the cause and our desire to put partisanship aside," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Democrats are also threatening to slow the Senate down to a snail's pace if Republicans cut off their ability to filibuster. Durbin said Democrats would insist that the Senate abide by all of its rules, eliminating procedural short cuts.

"You just can't assault the constitution and 200 years of tradition and not have consequences," Durbin said.

Republicans, however, argue that the Democrats' threat is tantamount to a shutdown, something they say the public will not appreciate.

"I think the Democrats are making a huge mistake if they decide to blow up the Senate and blow up the government," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

Before that can happen, however, Frist will have to persuade such lawmakers as Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to go along with him.

During a floor speech Thursday, Specter said he has not made up his mind about how he would vote on the nuclear option.

"I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to study the issues and vote their consciences independent of party dictation," Specter said.
Benedict XVI: 265th pope
Benedict XVI said he chose his papal name based on the ideals of Benedict XV, ``a courageous prophet of peace'' who led the church through World War I. The pope said Benedict was also a patron saint of Europe ``whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe.''

The German-born pontiff spoke in French, English, German, Spanish and gave greetings in Croatian, Slovenian, Polish and Italian. It was the first papal speech to a general audience since Pope John Paul II was hospitalized in January for complications arising from influenza.
pope's biography
The man

He was born Joseph Alois Ratzinger on April 16th 1927, in Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, the youngest of three children. (Bavaria is the home of the BMW – Bavarian Motor Works.) The area is not far from Salzburg, Austria, the home of Mozart. In 1939 he became a seminarian. It is also reported that, like all his colleagues, he also had to join Hitler Youth, which he subsequently left. Returning to the seminary after the war he studied alongside his brother, Georg, and both were ordained in 1951.

In 1953 Fr Ratzinger received his doctorate after presenting a dissertation on "The People and House of God in St Augustine’s Doctrine of the Church." He began teaching theology in 1957 and taught in Freising for two years, moving to Bonn for ten years, Munster and Tubingen. In 1969, he became a professor at the University of Regensburg, eventually becoming its Vice- President.

Back in 1962 he attended the Second Vatican Council in Rome as an advisor to the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joseph Frings. It is reported that he was influential in getting the Cardinal to support other clergy in a move against members of the Vatican Curia who wanted to hold back on reforms in the church. At the time one of the offices under heavy criticism was the Holy Office, the predecessor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he has headed up for the past 20+ years. He became a prolific writer and theologian of renown over the years. His lectures, according to those who studied under him, were remarkable. One former student said that after every lecture he always wanted to go to church to pray.

He was appointed Archbishop of Munich in 1977 by Pope Paul VI and made a Cardinal three months later. In 1981 Pope John Paul II appointed him Prefect to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.$showpage?value1=3323525603161081
TV censorship: who? what?
The latest assault on cable TV’s creative freedom comes from octogenarian Republican Senator Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Stevens and his committee are considering a censorious House-passed “indecency” bill regulating radio and TV broadcasters — legislation cooked up in the wake of the furor over Janet Jackson’s boob flash during the Super Bowl. And now, the weighty senator wants to extend its provisions — including a draconian new government-imposed ratings system. With an ironclad Republican Senate majority, Stevens usually gets what he wants.

The effect on cable-TV programming would be enormous. The Republican-controlled FCC has, in the Bush years, already been heavy-handed in targeting what it deems broadcast speech too impure for you to hear. Its rulings go way beyond the traditional “Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV” made famous by George Carlin’s uproarious comic riff. That’s why Howard Stern — after getting a $495,000 spanking from the FCC — chose to exile himself from broadcast radio to his upcoming new home on Sirius Satellite Radio. But if Stevens has his way, Howard will be subjected anew to the same censorship on the Net. And so will cable.
Time Magazine poll results
That’s all the more true given the public’s demand for more censorship, revealed in a new Time magazine poll out this week: 68 percent of Americans say the entertainment industry has lost touch with viewers’ “moral standards,” 53 percent want stricter FCC censorship of sex and violence on TV, and 49 percent want to extend FCC regs to cover basic cable, including MTV and the E! channel on most cable systems. That’s just what Stevens’ proposals would do.
NBA playoffs
Phoenix v. Memphis (3-0)
Miami v. New Jersey (3-0)
San Antonio v. Denver (2-1)
Detroit v. Philadelphia (3-1)
Seattle v. Sacramento (2-1)
Boston v. Indiana (2-2)
Dallas v. Houston (2-2)
Chicago v. Washington (2-1)
NBA Most Improved
2005 Award Winners
We nominated and you voted. As the season came to a close, asked who you thought was most deserving for each of the six major regular-season awards. With your votes tabulated, we now turn to the official vote to see if members of the media agree with your chosen winners.
Thursday, the Clippers' Bobby Simmons was named Most Improved Player for the 2004-05 season as the player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons. Simmons received a total of 384 points, including 59 first-pace votes, from a panel of 123 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.

Wednesday, Cleveland's Eric Snow was named the J. Walter Kennedy Citzenship Award winner, presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The Kennedy Citizenship award, the oldest citizenship and community service award in the NBA, is named for the second commissioner of the league and honors an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

"I am honored to have been selected for such a prestigious award,” said Snow. “To now be mentioned in the company of those past and even future recipients who spend so much of their time, energy and resources in service to others is truly a blessing. I hope that my being recognized will be an inspiration to others in the same way that others have inspired me."
NBA Kennedy Citizenship Award
Snow Named Winner of J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

NEW YORK, April 27 - Eric Snow of the Cleveland Cavaliers is the 2005 recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
The Kennedy Citizenship award is the oldest citizenship and community service award in the NBA and is named for the second commissioner of the league. The award honors an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

"I am honored to have been selected for such a prestigious award,” said Snow. “To now be mentioned in the company of those past and even future recipients who spend so much of their time, energy and resources in service to others is truly a blessing. I hope that my being recognized will be an inspiration to others in the same way that others have inspired me."

Snow established the Full Court Fathers Program this season, which promotes, encourages and rewards positive father-child relationships. During the 2004-05 season, 40 father-son and 40 father-daughter pairs were honored at Cavaliers home games and had a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet Snow.

Snow’s Shoot 4 The Moon Foundation, initially established in the Philadelphia-area in 1997, was introduced to the Canton, Cleveland and surrounding areas of Northeast Ohio when Snow became a Cavalier last summer. The foundation is dedicated to supporting and strengthening communities and families by placing an emphasis on community activities aimed at empowering and encouraging fathers. Snow also hosted the inaugural Shoot 4 The Moon Basketball Camp in November 2004.

Through the Steals and Assists Program, Snow donated twenty dollars for every steal and twenty dollars for every assist he made during the 2004-05 regular season to local non-profit agencies. With 67 steals and 317 assists this season, Snow donated a total of $7,680. Over two seasons as a Philadelphia 76er, Snow donated close to $20,000 to four Philadelphia-area fatherhood programs.

On November 7, Snow and his son E.J. hosted the first Fatherhood Basketball Clinic, an exclusive basketball clinic for 50 father-son duos from the Fathers and Families Together program at the Center for Families and Children. The clinic included basic basketball skill instruction and competition, as well as a discussion about the important role father’s play in their children’s lives.

During the Christmas holiday, Snow collected and personally delivered over 700 toys to local children through his first annual Toy Drive. Snow and the Cavaliers also hosted a holiday party at the Children’s Hospital at The Cleveland Clinic for the children and their families.

"The PBWA is proud to present Eric Snow with the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award for 2005," said Steve Aschburner, president of the PBWA. "Eric's commitment to strong family values through his Full Court Fathers program reminds people that the No. 1 role model for most kids should be the man involved in their daily lives, not an athlete in a colorful uniform whom they mostly see on TV. His work at father-son and father-daughter relationships is genuine, too, based on the richness of time he has spent with his dad, Hubert, and on the leadership Eric tries to provide for his own children."

The PBWA represents writers for newspapers, magazines and internet services who cover the NBA on a regular basis. Members nominate players for the award, then a vote is taken by the membership of approximately 150. The five finalists this season were Snow, Adonal Foyle of the Golden State Warriors, Richard Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons and Shaquille O’Neal of the Miami Heat.
NY Times Bestseller List Nonfiction Top 10 (May 1 - 7)
Hardcover Nonfiction

Published: May 8, 2005

1 MY LIFE SO FAR, by Jane Fonda. (Random House, $26.95.)
2 THE WORLD IS FLAT, by Thomas L. Friedman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.50.)
3 BLINK, by Malcolm Gladwell. (Little, Brown, $25.95.)
4 FREAKONOMICS, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. (Morrow, $25.95.)
5 ON BULL----, by Harry G. Frankfurt. (Princeton University, $9.95.)
6 THREE NIGHTS IN AUGUST, by Buzz Bissinger. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.)
7 LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER, by Michael Savage. (Nelson Current/Thomas Nelson, $25.99.)
8 ONE SOLDIER'S STORY, by Bob Dole. (HarperCollins, $25.95.)
9 GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES, by Ruth Reichl. (Penguin, $24.95.)
10 ASSASSINATION VACATION, by Sarah Vowell. (Simon & Schuster, $21.)
My Life So Far
Jane Fonda
This book is an autobiography of Jane Fonda's life. She is a sixty-eight year old actress. She was born in New York on December 21, 1937.
The World is Flat
Thomas L. Friedman.
The book is done in Friedman's trademark style. You travel with him, meet his wife and kids, learn about his friends and sit in on his interviews. Some find this irritating. I think it works in making complicated ideas accessible.

A good bit of the book is taken up with a discussion of these technological forces and the way in which business has reacted and adapted to them. Friedman explains the importance of the development of ''work flow platforms,'' software that made it possible for all kinds of computer applications to connect and work together, which is what allowed seamless cooperation by people working anywhere.

Mostly a book about the economic situation of our world.
Malcolm Gladwell
A book about first impressions, splitsecond decisions, and more.
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
A maverick scholar applies economic thinking to everything from sumo wrestlers who cheat to legalized abortion and the falling crime rate.
On Bull
Harry G. Frankfurt
A philosopher attempts a theoretical understanding of a "vast and amorphous" phenomenon.
Three Nights in August
Buzz Bissinger
He is the author of Friday Night Lights.
A three-game series in 2003 between the Cubs and the Cardinals, as seen through the eyes of Tony La Russa, the St. Louis manager.
Liberalism is a Mental Disorder
Michael Savage
The syndicated radio talk show host attacks the "insanities and inanities of extreme leftist thought."
One Soldier's Story
Bob Dole
The former United States senator and presidential candidate recalls his service in World War II. (and his childhood in Kansas)
Garlic and Sapphires
Ruth Reichl
The editor in chief of Gourmet relives her days as the restaurant critic of The New York Times.
Assassination Vacation
Sarah Vowell
A guide to three presidential murders — of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley — and the ways they have been used by popular culture.
more on Tom DeLay
White House Challenges DeLay Allegations Ahead of Probe

Published: May 1, 2005

Filed at 6:01 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House stepped up its defense of embattled Rep. Tom DeLay on Sunday, disputing the merit of ethics allegations against the House majority leader ahead of an expected congressional probe.

While White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card said it was ``a matter for the House to consider'' whether DeLay violated any House rules, he added: ``We have no reason to believe that they (the rules) haven't been followed.''

``We have not seen anything that would suggest that those allegations have any merit,'' Card told NBC's ``Meet the Press,'' going beyond recent statements of support from President Bush.

Card made his comments after the Republican-led House of Representatives dropped new ethics rules opposed by Democrats, clearing the way for another anticipated probe of DeLay.

Admonished by the House ethics committee last year on three separate matters, DeLay, a Texas Republican, has faced new questions in the past several weeks on ties to lobbyists and foreign trips funded by outside groups.

``I don't know anyone who believes that there is necessarily merit to the allegations that have been put forward,'' Card said.

DeLay, who has denied any wrongdoing, said he would welcome the opportunity to put the matter before the committee and ``set the record straight.''

Most House Republicans have publicly supported DeLay, but at least two have suggested that he step aside as leader, at least until the ethics questions are resolved.

Bush showed support for DeLay last week by making a rare public appearance with him at a Social Security event in Texas. They then flew back to Washington together aboard Air Force One.

DeLay, widely admired among Republicans for his skill at rallying votes, has been a key force behind a number of Bush's legislative victories, such as a new prescription drug benefit for older Americans and curbs on class-action lawsuits.

``He's been a strong leader for this president. He's been very productive in getting things done,'' Card said of DeLay.

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, in a recent interview with USA Today, predicted DeLay would keep his job.
Pope's first window appearance
Pope Makes First Window Appearance

Published: May 1, 2005

Filed at 6:42 a.m. ET

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday made the first window appearance of his papacy, saying he was keeping up the popular tradition of his ''beloved'' predecessor, John Paul II, who last appeared to crowds in St. Peter's Square in silent suffering.

With tens of thousands of people gathered in the square below, Benedict stood at the window of the papal apartment, which he moved into a day earlier, blessed the crowd, wished Orthodox Christians a happy Easter and said he hoped efforts toward Christian unity would continue.

''I address you, my very dear brothers and sisters, for the first time from this window that the beloved figure of my predecessor made familiar to countless people in the entire world,'' Benedict said, from the third-floor window of the apostolic palace.

''From Sunday to Sunday, John Paul II, faithful to an appointment which became a cherished habit, accompanied for more than a quarter-century, the history of the Church and of the world, and we continue to feel him closer to us than ever,'' Benedict said to the cheering crowd.

John Paul died on April 2, three days after his last time at the window, a silent appearance in which he blessed the crowd. German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of John Paul's closest aides, was elected pontiff on April 19.

In the 15-minute appearance, Benedict, wearing a white cassock, issued a call for continued efforts to bridge the gap between Catholics and Orthodox.

Saying he was wishing from his heart a happy Easter to Orthodox Christians who celebrate the holiday this Sunday, Benedict said that God ''is asking us to travel with decision down the path toward full unity.''

John Paul had made better relations with the Orthodox a main goal of his 26-year-long papacy.

Like John Paul, Benedict used the window appearance to talk about current problems on the world scene.

After saying he was dismayed by ''wars, poverty and illness'' in the world, Benedict singled out the African nation of Togo. He expressed closeness to Togo's people, ''upset by painful internal struggle,'' and said he was praying for ''harmony and peace.''

After greeting pilgrims in Italian and Spanish, Benedict raised his arms in greeting several times and offered his blessing.
Pope Benedict and the Holy Land
Holy Land Poses Challenges for New Pope

Published: May 1, 2005

Filed at 2:59 p.m. ET

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Palestinian Christians have a particularly large cross to bear -- cut off from land, restricted in movement, exposed to violence and often unable to visit the sacred sites where Jesus once walked.

Can a new pope in Rome help ease their burden? Possibly, some faithful say, but only if he can persuade people to see Christians in the Middle East as a vulnerable minority.

The Holy Land -- home to the ancient Jewish temples, birthplace of Christ, site of Muhammad's ascension to heaven -- is an important testing ground for Pope Benedict XVI's stated goal of improving ties between faiths.

His predecessor, John Paul II, made great strides in that area, but his focus on Christian-Jewish and Christian-Muslim relations during a historic 2000 visit to the Holy Land left many local Catholics feeling slighted.

Many wonder whether Benedict can do any better at bolstering his beleaguered Catholic flock, who comprise just over 1 percent of the population in Israel and the Palestinian territories and whose numbers are dwindling because of widespread emigration.

''The Christians are in a precarious situation throughout the Middle East,'' said Daniel Rossing, director of the Jerusalem Center for Jewish-Christian relations. ''Rather than perceiving them as in a very precarious position as a minority there's a tendency to simply see them as a part of the vast dominant Christian world.''

Some of the 250,000 Christians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, half of whom belong to Catholic denominations, say they are victims of Israeli discrimination and Muslim antipathy.

''It's not easy being Christian here,'' said George Nassar, a 44-year-old Catholic bookseller in Jerusalem. ''But as the old pope and the new pope have told us, we don't have to be afraid.''

Most agree the best solution to the plight of Palestinian Christians would be an end to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But the 78-year-old German pontiff may find himself with even less influence than his predecessor had.

Some Palestinians fear German guilt over the Holocaust could make Benedict leery of criticizing the Jewish state.

They wonder whether he'll continue John Paul's opposition to Israel's West Bank separation barrier that cut off many Bethlehem Christians from their farmland, for instance, or if he'll oppose Israeli land policies in Nazareth that restrict non-Jewish ownership, causing housing shortages for Christians.

Some Israelis, meanwhile, are apprehensive about Benedict's membership in the Hitler Youth as a teenager in Nazi Germany. Such membership was compulsory, but that didn't stop the mass circulation Yediot Ahronot from running these headlines upon his election as pope: ''White smoke, black past'' and ''From the Nazi youth movement to the Vatican.''

Other Israelis, however, welcomed Benedict's papacy, noting his intimate involvement in John Paul's historic decisions to apologize for the church's past anti-Semitism and forge diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican.

''We are sure that under his papacy we will continue to see a strengthening relationship between Israel and the Vatican and between the Jewish people and the church,'' said foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

Palestinians, too, congratulated the new pope but are urging him to underline the official Vatican position that Jerusalem be a city open to all. Four years of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed have resulted in most Muslims and Christians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip not being allowed to visit the holy city.

''What's going on here in the city of peace and the city of religion is something that is against all religion,'' said Adnan Husseini, director of the Islamic Trust, or Waqf. ''The pope should care about this because this is the Holy Land.''

Religious tensions often boil over.

Aside from the well-known enmity between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, clashes periodically erupt between other groups, including recent violence between Druse and Christians in an upper Galilee village that left nine people injured.

The various Christian sects often quarrel among themselves over sites like Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

Christians and Muslims in Nazareth are engaged in a heated dispute over attempts to build a mosque next to one of Christendom's holiest sites, the Church of the Annunciation.

''Religious leaders have a role to play to help political leaders find peace,'' said Father Shawki Baterian, chancellor of the Catholic Church's Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, but he cautioned against expecting that the pope can wipe out centuries of tensions.
pope's first general audience (4-27-05)
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has held the first general audience of his new pontificate, pledging to work for reconciliation and peace.
He also referred to Europe's Christian roots in what is expected to be a major theme of his papacy.
The pope touched on the issues as he described how he chose his name, recalling Pope Benedict XV, who led the church during World War I.
"In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples," he said.
Benedict also recalled St. Benedict of Norcia, a patron saint of Europe, "whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life."
Benedict arrived in St. Peter's Square in an open-topped jeep-like vehicle surrounded by security guards.
The weekly appointment has been a fixture for recent popes, and an estimated 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the event.
Faithful waved and reach out to him as the vehicle, with the pope standing in the back, passed through the square.
Benedict, who was formally installed on Sunday, greeted pilgrims in a half-dozen languages, including Polish, the native language of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
"I greet the faithful of the Polish language. I thank you for your goodness and your prayers. I bless you from my heart," Benedict said.
In English, he described how he was filled with "sentiments of awe and thanksgiving," adding in his native German the word "trembling."
The 90-minute audience in the sun-baked square was slightly down from those held by John Paul. After the formal remarks, only bishops and other clerics -- not ordinary pilgrims -- were brought up for greetings.
The reference to Europe's Christian heritage is a theme Benedict is expected to take up frequently in a bid to combat religious apathy on the continent.
He said the founder of the Benedictine order is heavily venerated in Germany and "in particular Bavaria, the land of my origin."
election of pope
Benedict was elected pope on April 19 after four rounds of balloting in 24 hours, one of the fastest elections in a century. He had gone in as a leading candidate, but at 78 he was considered old to be named pope.
Benedict on election
Benedict, 78, said he hoped to spend his last years living quietly and peacefully.

"At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please don't do this to me,"' he recalled. "Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me."
on Jews and others
During his homily, the new pontiff said he wished to reach out to Jews and "believers and non-believers alike," and asked for prayers from the St. Peter's Square onlookers as he assumed "this enormous task."(Full text of homily)

"Let us do all we can to pursue the path toward the unity you have promised," he said. "Grant that we may be one flock and one shepherd. Do not allow your net to be torn. Help us to be servants of unity."

He noted "a great shared spiritual heritage" with Jews, whom he called "brothers and sisters."

Benedict's effort to reach out to Jews carries an added dimension because of his membership in the Hitler Youth and later as a German army conscript during World War II. He said he was forced into participating.

The pope made no direct overture to Muslims, but he said that "like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and nonbelievers alike."
an interview with Jack Abramoff
A central issue is whether some of DeLay's overseas travel was funded, at least indirectly, by Abramoff, in violation of House rules barring legislators from accepting travel paid for by lobbyists.
Abramoff, 46, an orthodox Jew who espouses conservative values, was already under investigation by two congressional committees and the FBI for allegedly bilking his Indian-tribe clients and possibly abusing tax exemptions on charities he set up.
Abramoff spoke to TIME's Adam Zagorin about the questions swirling around him. Excerpts from their conversation, conducted by phone and e-mail:
TIME: Tom DeLay has called you one of his "closest friends." Do you consider him a close friend?
TIME: Did you get too close to DeLay?
ABRAMOFF: No. Tom DeLay is a dedicated public servant. I was drawn to Tom because of our shared interest in the Bible and like political philosophies. He's a man fortunate enough to have a loving and devoted wife who shares his faith and philosophy.
TIME: There is evidence that you paid for DeLay's travel. What is your explanation for this apparent violation of House rules?
ABRAMOFF: I did not base my lobbying on the stereotypical Washington image that lobbyists provide little more than a "wink, wink, nudge, nudge"--or gifts and gratuities.
In my view, no worthy members of Congress or their staff would ever change their position on an issue based on anything other than their constituents' interests or their own deeply held views.
My lobbying efforts were focused on presenting my clients' causes in a way which was consistent with the philosophy of my friends on Capitol Hill. That's why I had such a record of success--not because anyone received gifts or traveled with me.
As for the travel, like virtually every lobbyist in modern time's, I've traveled with members of Congress and staff. Lobbyists will travel with a member or staff because their presence will help the educational value of a trip.
Often time's, the lobbyist is a personal friend, though, and will travel in the same way that any friend will join another friend.
Media attempts at endowing innocent congressional travel with nefarious intrigue sadly typify what has happened in this story.
TIME: Whose idea was the trip DeLay took to Scotland and London? How did you come to make some of the travel arrangements and pay some of the bills?
ABRAMOFF: It's hard to remember the details of trips which occurred five or more years ago. The trip to the U.K. was sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, on whose board I then sat.
Having the most powerful member of Congress meet with one of the three greatest leaders of the 20th century--Lady (Margaret) Thatcher--was a worthy activity. As to the logistical details, I don't recall the arrangements, but I'm certain that everything was done with the intent of adhering to the law.
I participated in many trips involving Congressmen, their staffs and other policymakers over the years. Trips are an essential way for members of Congress and others to get firsthand knowledge of important issues and regions around the world.
TIME: What did the side trip to golf in Scotland have to do with that?
ABRAMOFF: I have already explained my view of trips I have taken with congressional members and staff. Your question would seem better directed to the Congressmen themselves rather than to me.
TIME: How did it come to pass that two of your gambling-industry clients deposited $25,000 each with the trip's official sponsor on the day DeLay left for the trip?
ABRAMOFF: I have no knowledge of this. You would have to ask them.
TIME: We reported this week that you gave expensive gifts to members of DeLay's staff, including a weekend trip for aide Tony Rudy. DeLay's current chief of staff admitted he accepted a golf club from you. Wasn't that a violation of ethics rules?
ABRAMOFF: What constitutes a violation of congressional ethics rules is a question better suited for members of Congress or their staff who are subject to these rules.
TIME: You are said to be a religious person, yet in e-mail communications you describe your Native American clients in terms (as "monkeys" and "losers") that could have been lifted from the Howard Stern Show. What were you thinking?
ABRAMOFF: I regret that in the heat of the locker-room atmosphere of the lobbying world, I sometimes--rarely, but sometimes--resorted to language more common to a drill sergeant or a football coach.
These regrettable utterances were not directed at my clients. They were usually reserved for those attacking my clients. Many of my e-mails have been maliciously taken out of context.
As a result, I've been portrayed as a cynical barbarian preying on the very clients I was charged to defend. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have a solid record of years of achievement for the tribes, and my respect for them is unbounded.
TIME: A Senate investigation showed that you charged excessive amounts to certain Native American tribes and delivered little or nothing in return. Did you?
ABRAMOFF: Over the 10 years that I lobbied for Native Americans, my tribal clients continually praised our efforts as delivering far in excess of the amounts charged. We delivered literally billions of dollars in value.
That we charged millions of dollars for these services might seem high, especially compared to the typical Washington lobbyist who charges less and delivers almost nothing. But the return on investment for these tribes--and all my clients--is far better than anything they or we could have imagined.
The Native Americans I served are sophisticated business people. They are running a multibillion-dollar industry. They realize that spending millions to save billions is just good business.
TIME: Are you cooperating with prosecutors? Have you cut a deal?
ABRAMOFF: I have not commented and will not comment on ongoing investigations.
TIME: It was recently suggested in a published story that you might turn state's evidence on DeLay. Did you really indicate that you might do that?
ABRAMOFF: I did not. The reporter who went with that story did so in the face of flat denials, not only from me but from others.
TIME: Much has been made of your lavishing favors and gifts on members of Congress, including allowing use of your skyboxes at sports venues and of your gourmet Pennsylvania Avenue restaurant. You also raised millions for members, their political committees and charities. Is that the way things ought to be done?
ABRAMOFF: Politicians run for office, and they need resources to do so. I've dedicated my political life to helping those I support legally obtain the resources they need to get re-elected.
Every night scores of fund-raising events take place, and liberals, conservatives and moderates all participate. And I can't imagine there's anything I did that other lobbyists didn't do and aren't doing today.
The focus fell on me because the media built me up as a Washington powerbroker. Reading the press, it almost seems as if I invented political contributions by lobbyists, travel with Congressmen, the hiring of former Capitol Hill staffers, etc., etc.
It's almost comical how my every action and thought have been scandalized.
TIME: Are you now in financial as well as legal peril?
ABRAMOFF: It used to be that I had a lot of clients paying my law firm a lot of money. Now I have a lot of lawyers to whom I pay a lot of money, no clients. Quite a reversal of fortune.
Democrats last year
Democrats blocked 10 of President Bush's appellate court choices during his last term by filibustering. Bush re-nominated seven of them this term, and Democrats are threatening to block them again. They contend those seven are too sharply conservative to fill the lifetime appointments.
Senate rules
Under Senate rules, 60 votes are needed in the 100-member body to end a filibuster. Republicans are threatening to use their majority to change the rules and require only a simple majority vote to end a filibuster.
UN nomination
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration went on the offensive Friday to support the president's controversial nomination of John Bolton to be the next ambassador to the United Nations.
Bolton, the UN appointee
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush, stunned when John R. Bolton's nomination for United Nations ambassador hit a Republican road bump, is working hard to avoid a political setback at the outset of his second term when senators hold a showdown vote next week.

Since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unexpectedly delayed a vote on Bolton's nomination last month, the White House has reiterated its support daily, worked to reassure wavering Republicans he's the right choice and ensured that Senate GOP leaders are on board.

Bush himself delivered his second recent public defense of his nominee on Thursday. At a news conference, he called Bolton "a blunt guy" who "can get the job done at the United Nations" and "who isn't afraid to speak his mind in the post of the ambassador to the U.N."

The confirmation battle has enormous stakes for the president, potentially providing him with either a boost or a blow at a critical time. The panel vote on Bolton is set for May 12.
Social Security
About 70 percent of people surveyed do believe President Bush's warning that Social Security is running out of money. But most also say they do not like the way the president is handling the issue, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.,0,7287414.story?coll=sns-ap-nation-headlines
the "plan" for SS
What President Bush has proposed so far would mean massive benefit cuts for America's middle class - possibly with more to come - and huge new government deficits to finance the carving up of Social Security to create privatization accounts.
two things
There are two separate issues at stake here: Social Security solvency (bringing into balance Social Security revenue and payments) and the creation of privatization accounts, which would divert a substantial share of payroll taxes away from Social Security.
private accounts
Bush Would Create Private Accounts. Starting in 2011, all workers could divert a third of their payroll tax, or 4 percent of their earnings, up to $1,000 per year, into a privatization account.
"Clawback" Would Eat Into Any Gains In Accounts. Upon retirement, workers would be subject to a "clawback" and would have to repay the money diverted into private accounts, plus interest, plus inflation, through automatic reductions of their guaranteed benefits. The total interest rate would be 3 percent above inflation annually. Unless the amount in their accounts grew by more than 3 percent plus inflation, the "clawback" would take away all (or more than all) of the value of the account.
benefit cuts or trillions in borrowing
Private Accounts Would Force Trillions in New Borrowing. Under Bush's plan, money that was earmarked to pay current beneficiaries would no longer be available, requiring the government to borrow trillions of dollars to allow Social Security to pay for promised benefits. Without this borrowing, benefit cuts to current retirees would have to be made.
net loss
Bush's Plan Would Worsen Social Security's Financial Outlook. Accounts could be passed on in the event of a worker's death or split in the case of divorce. In those cases, Social Security benefits would not be automatically reduced to recoup the money diverted away from Social Security, presenting a net loss.
limited choices
Investment Choices Would Be Limited. Workers could invest in five index funds, but it is unclear who would decide upon these choices or how the options would be determined. At higher ages, investments would be allocated to lifecycle funds that reduce the share of stocks with age, unless workers opt out of those funds. Upon retirement, workers would be forced to convert enough of their accounts into lifetime annuities to have a benefit equal to at least the poverty line.
cutting benefits
Bush Would Address Solvency Solely by Cutting Benefits. President Bush has ruled out the possibility of payroll tax increases, and has suggested no other increases in funding. The White House has also apparently retracted its support for raising the cap - currently set at $90,000 - above which earnings are no longer subject to Social Security taxation.
benefit formula
Benefit Cuts Would Come Through a Change in the Benefit Formula. Currently, benefits and tax contributions grow at the rate of wage growth. For new beneficiaries earning $90,000 in 2005, initial benefits under the president's outline would rise slower than the amount of taxes contributed, and only at the inflation rate. For people earning between $20,000 and $90,000 in 2005, initial benefits would grow above the rate of inflation, but below the rate of wage growth and tax contributions.
Democrats on Social Security
U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas cautioned Democrats to drop preconditions on their willingness to negotiate a bill that shores up Social Security. Democrats in the House and Senate have said they won't discuss any plan that includes President George W. Bush's proposal for private investment accounts using the Social Security payroll tax.
John Snow on Social Security
WASHINGTON, May 5 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow on Thursday said he was optimistic about reaching a bipartisan deal on Social Security but expressed disappointment about early lawmaker response to the president's proposals.
"I think we're going to get there. We're not there yet," he told a Pittsburgh radio show, in response to a question about tepid support in Congress for President George W. Bush's proposed overhaul of the U.S. retirement program.
Des Moines Register on SS
Under one proposal he's endorsed, a worker earning $36,507 this year would see his or her monthly benefit check fall from $1,653 to $1,382 in 2045. In Iowa, where median earnings for a working male in 2003 were about $36,000 and for a female $27,000, that means a substantial loss.
two Republicans
(CBS/AP) Two Republicans on the House ethics committee say they'll step aside from any investigation of Tom DeLay, acknowledging their contributions to the majority leader's defense funds will lead others to question their impartiality.
The withdrawal announcement Wednesday represented the second time in two weeks that majority Republicans caved in to criticism by minority Democrats. Last week, Republicans reversed themselves and voted to reinstate investigative procedures they put in place nearly a decade ago.
same two
Democrats have complained for months that Speaker Dennis Hastert appointed Republicans Lamar Smith of Texas and Tom Cole of Oklahoma to make the panel more favorable to DeLay, R-Texas. Both said they could be impartial despite their contributions, but they agreed with ethics committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., that it was best to avoid controversy.
Jack Abramoff
Abramoff is the subject of investigations by the FBI, a federal grand jury, the IRS and two Congressional committees, CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger reports.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., called Abramoff's lobbying activities "a pathetic, disgusting example of greed run amok."

That greed involves allegations that Abramoff's business defrauded six Indian tribes of more than $66 million, and has resulted in a $32 million lawsuit filed by the Louisiana Couchattas.

Deck Info