Archive for Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Around the nation

December 14, 2004


New York City

Sinclair drawing nationwide protest

A coalition of liberal political groups is launching a nationwide protest against Sinclair Broadcast Group, charging that the 62-station TV broadcaster, which also was the target of intense criticism during the presidential campaign, is misusing public airwaves with partisan news programming.

The groups, led by Media Matters for America, will announce today a campaign to pressure Sinclair's advertisers with letters. The groups, however, are stopping short of demanding an advertiser boycott.

The campaign is one of the first broad attempts to re-energize liberal political activists in the wake of the Democrats' defeat in November. Others involved include

The anti-Sinclair campaign will be run through a new Web site,

The main focus of the protest is the nightly "The Point" commentary by Mark Hyman.

Washington, D.C.

Chief justice bows out of some cases

Chief Justice William Rehnquist has bowed out of voting in some of the Supreme Court cases he missed this fall while receiving treatment for thyroid cancer, a court spokeswoman said Monday.

Rehnquist, who has been absent from the bench for nearly two months, will not vote in cases that were heard in November, unless the remaining eight justices are deadlocked. He does plan to participate in the cases argued in December, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

The announcement came after the Supreme Court released four opinions, two without Rehnquist's involvement. Monday was the Supreme Court's final work day before a nearly monthlong holiday break.

Washington, D.C.

FBI reports murders down first half of year

Murders in the United States dropped by nearly 6 percent in the first half of the year after rising for four straight years, the FBI reported Monday. Almost all other crimes declined, too.

Overall, violent crime was down 2 percent in the first six months of the year compared with the same period of 2003, according to preliminary figures provided to the FBI by more than 10,700 state and local police agencies. Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

Property crimes -- burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft -- also declined about 2 percent, and arsons fell by nearly 7 percent. The only crime that increased was rape, which was up 1.4 percent nationwide and 6.5 percent in cities with populations of 1 million or more.

Experts aren't sure why crime is falling.


Electoral delegation casts votes for Bush

The Ohio delegation to the Electoral College cast its votes for President Bush on Monday, hours after dissident groups asked the state Supreme Court to review the outcome of the state's presidential race.

As members of the Electoral College met across the nation to affirm the results of last month's election, the 20 GOP electors in Ohio voted unanimously for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"The vast majority of people understand this election is over," said Gov. Bob Taft, who was at the electors' voting session in the state Senate chamber.

The challengers who went to the Supreme Court question whether Bush won the key swing state by 119,000 votes, guaranteeing his victory over Democrat John Kerry.

The court did not act on their request before the electors cast their ballots.

Washington, D.C.

Medicare errors nearly $20 billion

The private companies that process health claims for Medicare made nearly $20 billion in erroneous or questionable payments last year, an error rate of 9.3 percent, the government said Monday.

The error rate measures claims that were paid despite being medically unnecessary, inadequately documented or improperly coded. In some instances, Medicare asked health care providers for medical records to back up their claims and got no response.

Medicare chief Mark McClellan said the survey did not document instances of alleged fraud.

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