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The Friday Faxline

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The Friday Faxline
Issue 378, October 15, 2004

Ambassador visit
Since I was first elected, I have begun several initiatives to build bridges between countries, particularly between my work with constituents and my work in Congress on foreign affairs. One such initiative is the Ambassador Visit during which I invite Ambassadors from hundreds of nations to spend an extended weekend in the 16th District. During the trip, these Ambassadors stay with host families and tour various cultural, business, and historic sites. Today, we are in the second day of this year's visit with more than 40 nations represented. An ambassadorial post in the United States is considered the pre-eminent diplomatic post in the world. Consequently, the men and women who represent their nations in Washington , DC are very close with the heads of state in their respective nations. By educating these leaders on what America is truly like, these trips foster a greater understanding among the ambassadors and the elites of their home countries. This is a remarkable experience for both the Ambassadors and their host families.

The people speak in Afghanistan , Australia
Two elections held recently carry significant implications for President Bush's leadership in the War on Terror. In Afghanistan , the nation's first democratic elections were held with very little incident, despite Taliban threats that it would disrupt the day at the polls. People walked for miles to vote in the election. While the results will not be officially certified for a few weeks, a survey reported in the Washington Times this week showed President Hamid Karzai with a sizable lead over the opposition. Ethnic Pashtuns chose Mr. Karzai, also a Pashtun, by overwhelming majorities. What was most surprised observers was that ethnic minority groups supported Mr. Karzai as well majorities. In Australia , staunch U.S. ally in the war on terror Prime Minister John Howard faced stiff opposition in his election because of his support of the liberation of Iraq . In a stinging blow to his opponents, however, Mr. Howard and his conservative governing coalition won easily.

Ten Commandments displays go before Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a case on the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land or buildings. Challenges to these displays have been raised across the nation including right here in our area. These displays have a role in our public life and serve as a foundation of our legal system. I hope the Supreme Court will agree.

Skepticism meets pledge not to raise taxes
A Gallup poll recently found that 48 percent of Americans believe their income taxes would go up if Senator Kerry is elected President, 14 percent say they would decrease, and 34 percent say they would remain the same. Interestingly, among Senator Kerry's supporters who make less than $50,000 44 percent said they expect tax hikes if Mr. Kerry is elected. On the other hand 57 percent of Americans believe their taxes would stay the same under a second Bush Administration, 25 percent expect an increase, and 13 percent expect another tax cut.

Quote of the Week
"The election was a psychological defeat for the terrorists. [Osama bin Laden's deputy] Ayman al-Zawahiri said that half of Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban, but if that was true then how could we hold the election in Zabul, in Kandahar , in Helmand , in Khost, in all the regions where the Taliban are active? This was a big defeat."

• Zalmai Rassoul, chairman of the Afghan National Security Council and a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai.

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