Just another day of partisan sniping on Capitol Hill

In what once was known as the world's greatest deliberative body, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., exchanged heated letters last week, accusing each other of disingenuousness (a long word that essentially means lying) on the issue of ethics and lobbying reforms in Congress.

It was a day rich with irony, in view of the fact that the senators – neither of whom is up for re-election this year – continue to take donations from special-interest groups even as they talk about limiting the influence of money and special-interest groups in politics. McCain, with $1.1 million in his campaign fund, accused Obama, with $881,393 in his treasury, of "self-interested political posturing" on the issue of ethics reform.

Case dismissed — hurrah!

Republican gubernatorial candidate Andy Martin, formerly of Champaign, asked on Wednesday that a dubious 34-year-old warrant for his arrest be quashed.

The wheels of justice may never have spun so fast. Within hours, the case (which in 1972 was against Anthony R. Martin-Trigona, Martin's former name) had been sufficiently researched by Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh and others, State's Attorney Julia Rietz agreed to Martin's motion and Judge John Shonkwiler signed an order dismissing the warrant.

Proposed campaign reform legislation restricts free speech

The latest scandals in government – and the fear among some politicians that they could be hurt on Election Day by the disclosures – has lawmakers at the state and federal levels offering more government ethics legislation.

All of this begs the question that if the earlier ethics and campaign finance reform measures didn't clean up government, what makes anyone think that these proposals would be more successful? As any police officer or prosecutor could tell you, you can't legislate morality.

Lots of heat, but little light in eavesdropping hearing

U.S. Senate hearings opened this week on President Bush's decision to order national security wiretaps, without court orders, on phone calls from suspected al-Qaida sources outside this country to people inside the country.

If ever a congressional hearing called for a reasoned discussion of a serious issue, this was it. But rhetoric from senators seemed motivated more by political posturing than anything else.

Martin-Trigona case should have been dismissed long ago

His playbook is about 40 years old, but it still works for Anthony R. Martin-Trigona, aka Andy Martin, aka Republican candidate for governor.

Although he has no chance of being elected governor this year, Andy Martin has become quite successful at generating the one thing he really craves – attention.

State, local officials need to make Kraft plant a priority

No one is saying that Champaign's Kraft Foods plant, which provides about 1,300 good-paying jobs in the community, is going to close. But it is a possibility.

Kraft, the world's second-largest food company, announced last month that it would eliminate 8,000 jobs and close as many as 20 plants over the next two years. Only two of the plants, one in Alabama and another in Australia, were identified. The rest of the plant closings and job losses will be announced at a later date.

Catholic Church's anti-abuse policies again found wanting

Not unlike Roman Catholic Church leaders who dug in their heels and were nearly dismissive when the national clergy abuse scandal broke in 2002, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George was defensive last month when allegations were leveled by prosecutors against a 37-year-old pastor at an inner-city parish.

Since then, the cardinal has done a near-reversal. "I thought that we had the process ... to take care of these things," George said last week. "Now it turns out it wasn't adequate, that I wasn't adequate."

Cartoon riots send message

It's another day and another series of destructive riots as angry Muslims all over the world burn, stone and threaten to kill because of what they perceive as insults to their religion.

Non-Muslims should take a good look at what's going on because this grotesque and bizarre behavior says much more about the extremist world view of these religious zealots than their critics could dream up. Protesting Muslims are expressing what they believe is justifiable disagreement over the publication in Denmark of cartoon images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

House GOP heads in a new direction

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, concerned about a negative public image and motivated by a desire to get back to their principles, made a major change in direction last week when they elected John Boehner as their new majority leader.

Boehner, a veteran legislator from Ohio, defeated two other candidates to win the job, U.S. Rep. John Shadegg of Arizona, and, most prominently, U.S. Rep Roy Blunt of Missouri. Blunt, the Republican whip, was closely associated with former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who stepped down after he was indicted for allegedly violating Texas state campaign finance law.

Greater activity puts a spring in your step

University of Illinois researchers have documented what most people intuitively know to be true: The more active people are, the better they feel – physically and emotionally.

UI Professors Edward McAuley and Robert Motl, both kinesiologists, and Ed Diener, a psychologist, came to their conclusions based on a five-year examination of the physical and psychological benefits to senior citizens who made the transition from a sedentary to more physically active lifestyle. Their results: The seniors who maintained active programs were not only physically stronger but more confident and content.