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Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Corporate Welfare for Mickey Mouse

Congress wants to use a critical counterterrorism tool to subsidize the travel industry.

by Nathan A. Sales

Earlier this month, the Senate passed the Travel Promotion Act by a lopsided margin of 79–19. The name is innocuous enough. Read the fine print, however, and the bill becomes rather less appealing. It’s corporate welfare for Mickey Mouse.

Here’s a little background on the bill. The TPA directs the Department of Homeland Security to impose a $10 fee on foreign citizens who visit America under the visa-waiver program. That program lets people from 35 countries, mostly in Europe, travel to the U.S. without first obtaining a visa. Instead, travelers register with DHS’s online security system before coming to this country.

The DHS fee could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade. (In 2006 alone, the United States welcomed some 18 million visitors from visa-waiver countries.) The fees will be used to fund a new nonprofit known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion. Its mission is to “promot[e] the United States of America to world travelers,” and it will do so via multimillion-dollar ad campaigns.

What could be wrong with that?

Well, for starters, the TPA is a stark example of mission creep. DHS’s online registry — the “Electronic System for Travel Authorization,” or “ESTA” — is a counterterrorism program. Its purpose is to help authorities identify the next shoe bomber before he sets foot on a flight bound for the U.S. The system was never intended to raise revenue, let alone to raise revenue for the benefit of big business...
 
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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.