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Revised Patriot Act targets allergy, cold meds

By LAURIE KELLMAN

Suffer from springtime allergies? You could be among the first affected by the USA Patriot Act poised for final congressional passage this week.

Besides terrorism, the bill takes aim at the production of methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that cannot be manufactured without a key ingredient of everyday cold and allergy medicines. The bill would impose new limits next month for how much relief a person can buy over the counter.

And beginning Sept. 30, it’ll take a flash of ID to buy that medication.

Independent panel probes role of National Guard, Reserves

By LOLITA C. BALDOR

Thorny issues involving the changing role of the National Guard and Reserves and friction between federal and state officials over who controls the citizen soldiers must be addressed, members of a newly formed independent commission said Monday.

Members of the panel, many of them retired military, said they will begin rolling out initial recommendations by June. They cautioned, however, that state officials should not look to the commission to overturn unpopular base closure decisions approved by Congress last year.

Things ain’t looking too good for Katherine Harris

By AMIE PARNES

Katherine Harris has seen better days.

And those days were the days following the 2000 presidential election. At that time, the former Florida Secretary of State was labeled a Republican Party "hero" after overseeing the ballot dispute which handed George W. Bush a victory.

AP sues to open up court records

The Associated Press sued the Justice Department on Monday for access to American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh’s petitions to have his 20-year federal prison sentence shortened.

Homeland security faulted…again

By LIZ SIDOTI

The Homeland Security Department still spends money on U.S. port projects that aren’t considered national security priorities even though it has made some corrections, a new report says.

Congressional reform? Yeah, right

By DAN K. THOMASSON

The verdict is still out on whether Congress truly is the best money can buy, although the evidence is heavily weighted toward that being the case.

There still is time to turn things around when the Senate takes up two major but watered down lobbying reform bills this week. But if the recent rejection by a Senate committee of a bipartisan proposal to establish an office that would oversee the enforcement of ethics and lobbying laws is any indication, redemption won’t happen. The committee vote wasn’t even close – 11 to 5 against – pretty much making it clear that even the shadow of Jack Abramoff isn’t as long as one might imagine when it comes to what really counts, money.

Congress backs away from ethics reform

By ROB HOTAKAINEN
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

A new set of ethics rules headed for a Senate vote this week is missing two big changes that many lawmakers pushed hard to get passed: a ban on privately financed travel and the creation of an independent watchdog office to oversee the conduct of lobbyists and members of Congress.

After putting ethics atop its agenda amid an unfolding influence-peddling scandal two months ago, Congress has shown signs of retreat.

Bush’s plummenting polls

By MICHAEL MALIK

February was not a good month for President Bush. Reminders of Hurricane Katrina, dissension by congressional Republicans and a bloody month in Iraq contributed to a new series of low poll numbers.