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State officials can do something about gas prices, but will they?

Last summer, when gasoline prices rose to their highest (so far) levels, a few fair-minded officials in Illinois wondered whether the state should continue to benefit from those extraordinarily high fuel costs. After all, they reasoned, it's bad enough that gasoline costs about twice as much as it cost five years ago. Worse was that the state was benefiting from the high costs, and taking even more money from consumers.

In August 2005 – when the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Illinois was $2.72 – a legislative commission projected that if that price were maintained, the state sales tax would yield an extra $175 million from fuel-related sales taxes. Gasoline prices later dropped, but they're up again, and the statewide average is dangerously close to the record of $3.12 a gallon last September.


Will D.C. heat melt Snow?

President Bush isn't the first executive to turn to the world of television news for a fresh face and a clear voice to deliver his administration's perspective.


Jakobsson's pension fund bill benefits her career, nothing else

Democrats, who enjoy an overwhelming majority in the Illinois House, are fond of using all sorts of imaginative tricks to win the support of voters back in their legislative districts. Whether it's approving harmless congratulatory resolutions, passing bills that are popular but clearly unconstitutional or loading up the state budget with pork-barrel projects, the party in control of the House can use any number of maneuvers to wheedle votes.


Long-awaited budget showdown

The American people soon may witness some real history: a Bush administration veto. In five years of record federal spending, President Bush has not vetoed a single spending bill.

But unless Congress puts the brakes on an "emergency" spending bill that includes plenty of nonemergency items, the president will issue his first veto. That's what the White House said Tuesday.


CIA probe into news leak claims a casualty

Porter Goss, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, wasn't joking when he pledged that one of his top priorities would be to crack down on leaks of national security information.

Last week, Goss announced that he had fired a senior agency employee implicated in the unauthorized release of information to The Washington Post.


Don't criminalize free speech

Whether the federal government is serious or if it is only acting to appease ultrasensitive Chinese authorities, the prosecution of Chinese national Wenyi Wang on charges of "knowingly and willfully intimidating, coercing, threatening or harassing ... a foreign official performing his duties" is outrageous.

Wang is guilty of nothing more than being impolite to a government official, and that's almost a tradition in the United States. Last week, the 47-year-old medical doctor (who has a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Chicago) interrupted a White House lawn ceremony by waving a banner and shouting at Chinese President Hu Jintao, "Stop oppressing the Falun Gong," "Your time is running out," and "Anything you have done will come back to you in this life."


Politicians' priority is to placate short-sighted motorists

Desperate to make it appear that he is doing something about the explosive increase in gasoline prices, President Bush on Tuesday capped the strategic petroleum reserve for the summer in order to increase gasoline supplies to the public.

Instead of adding to the 687.5-million barrel emergency reserve that is stored in salt caverns along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and which by recent government policy is supposed to be expanding to 1 billion barrels, the government will divert that oil to the public market.


Korean War Museumrelocation a loss for area

After trying two sites in East Central Illinois, the board of directors of the National Korean War Museum and Library has opted to move again – to Springfield.

The museum was incorporated in 1997, and its first home was in Tuscola. It moved to Rantoul in 2004, in an appropriate space in Grissom Hall on the old Chanute Air Force Base. In fact, the Korean War Museum is adjacent to the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum. Long-range plans called for a permanent museum to be built in Rantoul.


FBI wasting its time searching for decades-old 'secrets'

How proud Jack Anderson would be to know that even in death he is tormenting government officials.

The old muckraking columnist, who passed away last December at the age of 83, donated188 boxes of private files to George Washington University. The files were to be cataloged by librarians, then presumably turned over to researchers.


Board rebuke sends correct message to Deedrich

Despite his lawyer's claim to the contrary, Champaign County Supervisor of Assessments Curt Deedrich would be making a big mistake if he interprets a review of his treatment of office employees as a vindication of his management style.

The Champaign County Board voted overwhelmingly last week to chastise Deedrich for using inappropriate language in reference to one of his employees, with a couple of board members suggesting that Deedrich consider resignation. Board members, however, were advised by legal counsel that Deedrich's conduct, while inappropriate, did not meet the legal definition of harassment and felt they could go no further in admonishing him.