Bush has changed regulations for forests:
Environmental groups said the new rules pared down protection for native animals and plants to the point of irrelevance. These protections were a hallmark of the 1976 National Forest Management Act.
"The new planning regulations offer little in the way of planning and nothing in the way of regulation," the conservation group Trout Unlimited said in a statement.
Martin Hayden, a lawyer with Earthjustice, a law firm affiliated with the Sierra Club, accused the administration of watering down protections "that are about fish and wildlife, that are about public participation, or about forcing the agency to do anything other than what the agency wants to do."
That's from Felicity Barringer's "Administration Overhauls Rules for U.S. Forests" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/politics/23forest.html?hp&ex=1103864400&en=7cbd9e17690f15c9&ei=5094&partner=homepage).
Also on the front page, don't miss Greg Winter's "Students to Bear More of the Cost of College" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/education/23pell.html):
College students in virtually every state will be required to shoulder more of the cost of their education under new federal rules that govern most of the nation's financial aid.
Because of the changes, which take effect next fall and are expected to save the government $300 million in the 2005-6 academic year, at least 1.3 million students will receive smaller Pell Grants, the nation's primary scholarship for those of low income, according to two analyses of the new rules.
[This was addressed in the Times in November, see http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/11/its-just-another-day-another-episode.html and scroll down to "Enjoy the Ramen College Students."]
Sarah Kershaw provides a bit of good news in "Lead Tips to Democrat for Washington Governor" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/national/23gov.html?hp&ex=1103864400&en=b49b8c4dd12afc25&ei=5094&partner=homepage):
After a bitter and protracted recount fight in the Washington governor's race, elections officials announced Wednesday that the Democratic candidate, Christine O. Gregoire, was leading her Republican opponent by 10 votes - a minuscule margin but a stunning reversal of the Nov. 2 election results.
The preliminary results elated Democratic Party officials and came only hours after the party scored another victory, when the State Supreme Court agreed with the Democrats' contention that more than 700 newly discovered and erroneously disqualified ballots in heavily Democratic King County should now be considered.
Richard A. Oppel, Jr. and Eric Schmitt follow up on the bombing in Mosul in "Suicide Bombing is Now Suspected in Mosul Attack" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/international/middleeast/23iraq.html?hp&ex=1103864400&en=39a2c7cd7cccc0c2&ei=5094&partner=homepage):
A suicide attacker wearing a bomb-laden vest most likely set off the explosion at a military mess tent that killed 22 in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, American officials said Wednesday, raising the possibility that the bomber was an Iraqi or foreign worker employed at the base.
"At this point it looks like it was an improvised explosive device worn by an attacker," Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a Pentagon news conference.
In the hours after the explosion, which included 14 American troops and four American civilian contractors among the dead, military officials speculated that the blast was caused by a rocket.
But F.B.I. and other allied forensic experts later discovered parts of a torso and an explosives belt that they believed were from a suicide bomber, according to a senior law enforcement official in Washington.
Simon Romero covers the developments in the oil industry: "China in Line as U.S. Rival for Canada Oil" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/business/worldbusiness/23canada.html?hp&ex=1103864400&en=428b0d964982d1eb&ei=5094&partner=homepage).
For Krista, the speculation about who owns the company that bid on Yukos is now moot:
An oil company controlled by the Russian government, Rosneft, said yesterday that it had bought the company that had won Sunday's auction for the largest subsidiary of the oil giant Yukos.
In turn, Rosneft is scheduled to merge sometime next year with Gazprom, Russia's natural gas monopoly, which had widely been thought to be the government's choice to win the auction in the first place.
The intrigue surrounding the sale of the Yukos subsidiary for back taxes effectively puts the Russian government in control of about 15 percent of the country's oil production, which industry analysts had speculated was the Kremlin's goal from the beginning. The Yukos subsidiary, Yuganskneftegas, produces about a million barrels of oil a day and Rosneft produces about 400,000 a day.
That's from Erin E. Arvedlund & Simon Romero's "State Company Buys Winner in Yukos Deal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/business/worldbusiness/23yukos.html). We're speaking of the actions of Bully Boy's friend. Translation, "nationalization."
Back on the front page, William K. Rashbaum & Jim Dwyer have an article entitled "Citing Debacle Over Nomination, Kerik Quits Giuliani Partnership" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/23/nyregion/23kerik.html).
The Times coverage on Kerik has been erratic and disappointing. From the beginning, they've allowed other papers to own the story that should have been their's due to their proximity and their size. Instead Newsday, The New York Daily News and a host of other papers have been the ones leading on this story. Early on reporters seemed either unaware of or unable to nail down concerns that the editorial board had. The result was fluff [see http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/coup-today-show-seizes-control-of-new.html]. As other papers broke the news that the Times should have been breaking, reporters at the paper were left to play catch up.
That's embarrassing but what's worse is that once the Times finally began uncovering what everyone else was already reporting, the coverage was inconsistent. From questions regarding the potential abuse of his position, Kerik was just this weekend given another puff piece. Elisabeth Bumiller's Sunday article [see http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/when-bully-boy-met-kerik.html] appeared to be written by someone who'd been asleep since the first weekend of December and was completely unaware of any and all developments the press had uncovered -- at other papers and at the Times itself. Rashbuam and Dwyer appear to have a handle on the various allegations and developments in today's front page story. But the paper needs to look into not just how they got scooped by their competition, but also the lack of consistency in the reports that they have filed.
When reporters for the Times finally began getting the scoops they should have had all along, Bumiller comes along to file a piece this past Sunday that reduces all the questionable actions of Keriks' to this:
Last week, Mr. Kerik withdrew from consideration, citing legal problems with his former employment of a nanny. Since then, far more questions have been raised about his ethical and financial background.
So began and ended any "discussion" in Bumiller's piece. Now Kerik's back on the front page and Rashbaum and Dwyer are raising serious issues. The paper seems unable or unwilling to maintain a consistent tone in their coverage of the allegations surrounding Kerik. While being so late out of the gate on this story needs to be addressed, someone at the paper also needs to figure out why the coverage has lacked consistency?