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Senators condemn '07 report on reform

A critical letter that Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and five other Democratic senators wrote to World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has spread to a global audience, thanks to an opinion piece about it that received thin but wide coverage.

A critical letter that Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and five other Democratic senators wrote to World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has spread to a global audience, thanks to an opinion piece about it that received thin but wide coverage.

Dorgan and the others blasted the World Bank's October report, "Doing Business 2007: How to Reform," because they say it encourages countries to violate internationally recognized labor standards.

The letter says the report praises and highly rates countries that don't have minimum wages, that don't govern overtime and are anti-union.

A Web search indicates the letter and report on which it is based received little news coverage. It also can't be found on Dorgan's Web site. The most attention it got was due to commentary written and distributed by Mark Engler, a New York City foreign policy analyst, who obviously agrees with Dorgan and the other Democrat signers.

Engler's commentary made it to several progressive Web sites and The Tehran Times. Yes, Tehran, capital of Iran. The Mehr News Agency in Tehran also published it at Mehrnews.com last week.

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The others who signed the letter to Wolfowitz were Dick Durbin, Illinois; Joseph Biden, Delaware; Christopher Dodd, Connecticut, and Paul Sarbanes, Maryland.

Eyes on Pogemiller

Minnesota political observers are watching Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller.

The other three legislative leaders and Gov. Tim Pawlenty appear to be on good terms and all say they can get along with each other. But, as one Senate leader said quietly, senators are waiting for "Pogemiller to become Pogemiller," a reference to what Republicans call a combative and confrontational attitude of the Minneapolis senator.

In a meeting with reporters last week, House Speaker-designate Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis; House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall; and Senate Minority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, avoided taking shots at each other or Pawlenty. Pogemiller did, too, for most of the discussion, but he said Republican Pawlenty does not give lawmakers enough direction on what he would like to see done.

"More bills, less press conferences," Pogemiller urged.

Clerks come and go

Retiring U.S. District Clerk of Court Ed Klecker will be feted at a public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Bismarck Elks Club. He retires as of Jan. 1 after serving for 23 years as the top federal court clerk in the state.

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Robert Ansley, the new clerk of U.S. District Court, will be sworn in during a public ceremony at 3 p.m. Jan. 5 in Courtroom No. 1 at the Federal Courthouse in Bismarck.

'Unusual couple'

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said he turned fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi into an "aggie" and ethanol enthusiast when he hosted the San Francisco lawmaker at the FarmFest agriculture show last summer in southwestern Minnesota.

Peterson said last week he has a good relationship with Pelosi, the House speaker-designate, despite ideological differences. Peterson represents a conservative rural area while Pelosi hails from perhaps the most liberal city in the country.

"We're kind of an unusual couple," Peterson admitted in a speech last week at the Midwest Ag Energy Network Summit in St. Paul.

The 7th District congressman joked he probably could get only 10 percent of the vote in Pelosi's congressional district, and she would garner the same meager support in his western Minnesota district.

Still, Peterson said he was the only congressman whom Pelosi personally endorsed during recent committee chairmen selections. He will lead the House Agriculture Committee.

More foreign press

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The Yonhap News Agency in South Korea last week published a lengthy exclusive interview with U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., about the widespread practice of Korean children being adopted by American families.

The story notes that because Korea was once the top nation for sending its children to be raised abroad, it is still a sensitive issue there.

Pomeroy's children were both adopted from Korea: daughter Kathryn in 1994 when she was 3 months old and son Scott in 1996 when he was 4 months old.

Pomeroy told the interviewer: "The bottom line is, a country that doesn't let national pride get in the way of finding homes for children who need families is a country with its priorities in the proper perspective."

He said he encourages his children to "embrace the world" and makes sure Koreaness (the writer's term) is part of their lives.

Leaders named

Republican Minnesota House members have elected three assistant minority leaders and the top Republican appointed a fourth.

Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, picked New York Mills Rep. Dean Simpson as an assistant, while fellow GOP House members elected Laura Brod, of New Prague, Brad Finstad, of Comfrey and Kurt Zellers, of Maple Grove (a Devils Lake, N.D., native).

Seifert earlier named Tom Emmer, of Delano, as his deputy leader and Denny McNamara, of Hastings, as minority whip.

Mail reformed

U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., praised Congress' passage of a measure to reform the U.S. Postal Service, one of the last-minute bills that passed with little public notice.

"An effective Postal Service is essential for Minnesota, where a large printing and mailing industry accounts for thousands of jobs and rural areas depend on it for access to a large variety of products," Coleman said.

The legislation is designed to improve the service's efficiency. One of the key provisions eliminates a requirement that the Postal Service pay pension benefits its employees earned while they were in the military, a $27 billion savings.

Also, the bill limits postal rate increases to inflation and establishes a commission with authority over the Postal Service.

Forum Communications reporter Scott Wente contributed to this story.

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