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Digest

Pork spending is way down, group reports

By TIMES WIRES
Published March 8, 2007


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WASHINGTON

After seven record-breaking years in a row, the number and cost of so-called pork barrel projects is way down, thanks to voter outrage and a one-year moratorium imposed by Democrats after taking over Congress. "There are no indoor rain forests, National Peanut Festivals, mariachi music grants, or teapot museums to be found," according to the Citizens Against Government Waste group's annual "Pig Book." Still, there were 2,658 earmarks in the defense and homeland security spending bills - passed under GOP control - totaling $13.2-billion, according to the group. Critics took aim at a $4-million expenditure for the proposed Northern Rail Extension, an Alaskan railway that will link the village of North Pole (pop. 1,778) to the village of Delta Junction (pop. 840). The railroad money is just a fraction of the $209-million Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, helped steer into the state. "He's proved once again that he's one of the alpha porkers in Congress," said David Williamson, vice president of the anti-pork group.

Also Wednesday

AIRPORT SCREENERS: The Senate approved a measure Wednesday to scale back slightly the collective-bargaining rights of airport screeners, but the bill to implement new security measures likely will be vetoed by President Bush.

SEWAGE: The House endorsed $1.7-billion in federal help for communities facing with deteriorating sewage systems, ignoring White House warnings that the cost was too high.

IMMIGRATION: Attorneys for undocumented immigrants who have suffered violent crimes sued the federal government for failing to issue protective "U" visas approved by Congress more than six years ago.

BOISE, IDAHO

Look for legislator, find Jesus

People who call the number listed for Legislative Information Center in the 2007 legislative directory hear this message: "Hi, there. If today were the last day of your life, would you be ready to meet God?" The bubbly woman's voice goes on to ask callers to consider what Jesus Christ has done on their behalf, "so that when your last day comes, you'll be ready." A reverse directory shows the number, which differs from the correct one by one digit, belongs to someone named "D Shurtz." Messages left after an answering machine kicked in weren't immediately returned.

[Last modified March 8, 2007, 02:04:53]


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