Thursday, June 09, 2005

Thursday 9 June 2005

Second Shoe Drops: Govt. To Pay Tobacco Companies

Written Apology For Putting Smoking Exec's "Through Hell" Also Part of Settlement

Government lawyers last evening submitted a motion that it was dropping the lawsuit against the country's leading tobacco companies. The new settlement of this case will have the government paying the tobacco companies millions of dollars and offering a written letter of apology for "unduly putting the industry executives through hell".

This bombshell was the second of the day, coming ours after the Justice Department stunned everyone watching this case, by lowering their suggested settlement from $130-Billion, down to $10-Billion. That action prompted Judge Gladys Kessler to note "Perhaps it suggests that additional influences have been brought to bear on what the government's case is."

The case against big tobacco was filed in 1999, under President Clinton's Justice Department. As President Bush took office in 2001, it was widely discussed and speculated that the Bush Administration was less keen on pursuing the case.

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft, early in Bush's first term, pushed for an early settlement, stating he believed the case to be weak. Ashcroft also reduce the financial support for the legal team in the case.

The Justice Department issued a statement defending dropping the case and the new settlement, saying "it was time to move on".

Critics pounced on the Justice Department.

At a news conference last evening, Democrats derided the action and suggested Administration ties to the tobacco industry may have made the officials "uncomfortable" with saddling the tobacco companies with a large financial demand. The payments were intended to finance a stop-smoking program that a government witness said would cost $130 billion over 25 years.

The New York Times reported Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) asking; "Why, in the middle of a lawsuit, would you give up, which is exactly what this administration has done?"

Speculation also rose around the role of Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum Jr., a former classmate of President Bush at Yale and partner in an Atlanta law firm that represented one of the defendants in the case, R. J. Reynolds. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) sent a letter to the Inspector General, asking for an investigation of improper political interference.

More rumors centered around Former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Reports have come in that Philip Morris, and its parent company, Altria, may sponsor the 'When Eagles Soar' tour Ashford is planning.

Chicago Braces For Millions and End Of The World

Red Sox-Cubs Match-up First Since 1918; Cataclysmic Clash of Curses Expected

Officials in Chicago have declared, in advance, a state-of-emergency and are requesting federal assistance as the city prepares for the Boston Red Sox face the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field for the first time since 1918.

Religious zealots and other proponents of the 'End-of-the-World' scenarios have been pouring into the Windy City all week. Streets are lined with preachers calling for anyone who will stop and listen to repent. Sellers of 'Good Luck' charms and trinkets have been popping up on the street, in the subway and even on the observation deck of the John Hancock Tower.

Predictions that Lake Michigan will boil and turn to blood, flooding the city, or that fierce winds will blow Chicago down into dust can be heard at every turn. Some are touting the pending disaster can be found in the 'DiVinci Code'

For baseball fans, this is a long-sought dream series, albeit, it's not happening in the World Series.

Many Cubs fans rooted for the Red Sox last year as they marched to the win the championship. Jim Belushi, an actor and a lifelong Cubs fan. "It was like having a neighbor win the lottery. At first you're really happy for them because it couldn't happen to a better guy

Steve Bartman, who got in the way of a foul ball that many in Chicago blame for extending the Cub's curse is rumored to be honored with throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, a move that the doomsayers cite as tempting the building fate of this star-crossed match-up.

Chicago officials have blitzed the news media, calling for all citizens to remain calm and enjoy the games. They wait for federal troops to arrive to begin clearing the streets, as virtually the entire city is in gridlock.

Said one City Hall employee; "Next week, this is New York's problem

Next weekend, the Chicago Cubs travel to play the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium - for the first time since 1938.

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