Wednesday, September 20, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 20, 2006

Civil-rights veteran wins Mass. governor primary

By Jason Szep
Wednesday, September 20, 2006; 12:22 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - Deval Patrick, a former top U.S. civil-rights enforcer,will try to become Massachusetts' first black governor and break a 16-yearRepublican hold on the office after winning the liberal state's Democraticprimary on Tuesday.

Patrick, 50, who served as assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rightsunder former President Bill Clinton, faces Republican lieutenant governorKerry Healey and millionaire independent Christy Mihos in the November 7 general election.

If Patrick wins in November, as some early polls suggest, he could becomeonly the second black person ever elected governor in the United States,although two other African-American candidates are running in Pennsylvaniaand Ohio this year.


The New York Times

September 20, 2006

Rules for the Real World

The White House has been acting lately as though the struggle over theproper way to handle prisoners is a debate about how tough to get with Osamabin Laden if he's ever actually caught. This week, we've had two powerfulreminders of the real issue: when a government puts itself above the law,innocent people are put at risk.

On Monday, Canada issued a scathing report about the story of a Canadiancitizen, Maher Arar, who was abducted by American agents in late 2002 andturned over to Syrian authorities, who obligingly tortured him for 10 monthsuntil he signed a transparently false confession. The report said Mr. Ararnever had any connection to terrorism. But the United States stonewalledCanada's investigation, which concluded that the Americans misled Canadaabout their plans for Mr. Arar. Sending him to Syria, where he wouldcertainly be tortured, was not just immoral and un-American, it was aviolation of international law.


The New York Times

September 20, 2006
The Pope's Act of Contrition

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has expressed regret for offending Muslims inremarks he made last week, we hope Catholics and Muslims alike will putaside the pontiff's ill-considered comments and move forward in aconciliatory spirit.

Muslim leaders need to condemn the specific acts of violence that followedthe pope's speech. Even more important, they must work against the nurturingof grievance that magnifies and politicizes insults, giving them adestructive dynamic.

There are hopeful examples of such leadership. Muhammad Habash, head of thecenter for Islamic studies in Damascus, acknowledged Muslims' shock at thepope's remarks but said that now "it is our turn to call for calming thesituation." The top Islamic cleric in Turkey, Ali Bardakoglu, who hadsharply criticized the pope, accepted the apology. He said Benedict's"expression of sadness is a sign that he would work for world peace."


September 20, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Afghanistan's Drug Habit

AS if there hadn't been enough bad news from Afghanistan of late, now thecountry's drug dependency is back in the headlines. On Sept. 2, the head ofthe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that the shatteredcountry is now producing 92 percent of the world's supply of illegal opium,up from 87 percent in 2004. This deplorable new record will not be reversedby more belligerent counternarcotics measures. Instead, America, NATO andthe Afghan government must reform a vital but neglected institution: thelocal police.

In 2004, for the first time in history, farmers in every province ofAfghanistan chose to cultivate opium poppies. The American and Afghangovernments promised a major poppy eradication campaign. Aid agencies scrambled to create an economic alternative for the thousands of Afghans whodepended on poppy farming to survive.


September 20, 2006
Mubarak's Son Proposes Nuclear Program

CAIRO, Sept. 19 - Gamal Mubarak, the son of Egypt's president, proposedTuesday that his country pursue nuclear energy, drawing strong applause fromthe nation's political elite, while raising expectations that Mr. Mubarak isbeing positioned to replace his father as president.

The carefully crafted political speech raised the prospect of twopotentially embarrassing developments for the White House at a time when theregion is awash in crisis: a nuclear program in Egypt, recipient of about $2billion a year in military and development aid from the United States, andMr. Mubarak succeeding his father, Hosni Mubarak, as president withoutsubstantial political challenge.

Simply raising the topic of Egypt's nuclear ambitions at a time ofheightened tensions over Iran's nuclear activity was received as acalculated effort to raise the younger Mr. Mubarak's profile and to buildpublic support through a show of defiance toward Washington, political analysts and foreign affairs experts said.


Science And Salvation

E.O. Wilson Hopes Christians Will Join in Preserving All God's Creation

By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 20, 2006; C01

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. It's hard to picture, if you know him only by his scientific reputation, but E.O. Wilson confesses it freely: He loveswatching preachers on television.

Wilson is an internationally renowned biologist who has based hisextraordinarily productive five-decade career at that great bastion ofsecular humanism, Harvard University. At 77, his work and his worldview areso thoroughly entwined with Darwinian theory that they're impossible toimagine without it. His reverence is for the wondrous creatures andintricate interconnections of the natural world, not for any supreme being.


The New York Times

September 20, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Hostage to Iran Again?

It was galling to be lectured on ethics, truth, justice, virtue and respect for human rights by a Holocaust-denying, Iraq-meddling, American-hating pipsqueak. A guy who showed up to address the United Nations without bothering to wear a tie, so casual in a disco-looking cream suit and open-necked pink shirt he looked like he would kick back later in Chelsea.

If President Bush was bland, oblique and condescending in his U.N. remarks, bypassing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak directly to the people of Iran, the Iranian leader was more blunt - referring to America and Britain disdainfully as "the occupiers." "Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood," he said.

Iranian leaders love nothing more than taunting American presidents, as we learned when Jimmy Carter was emasculated during the hostage crisis. And so it was with Mr. Ahmadinejad, who took W. and Dick Cheney's refrain about how Republicans are needed to stiffen America's will and threw it back at them.


The New York Times

September 20, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Dumb as We Wanna Be
São Paulo, Brazil

I asked Dr. José Goldemberg, secretary for the environment for São Paulo State and a pioneer of Brazil's ethanol industry, the obvious question: Is the fact that the U.S. has imposed a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff to prevent Americans from importing sugar ethanol from Brazil "just stupid or really stupid."

Thanks to pressure from Midwest farmers and agribusinesses, who want to protect the U.S. corn ethanol industry from competition from Brazilian sugar ethanol, we have imposed a stiff tariff to keep it out. We do this even though Brazilian sugar ethanol provides eight times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it, while American corn ethanol provides only 1.3 times the energy of the fossil fuel used to make it. We do this even though sugar ethanol reduces greenhouses gases more than corn ethanol. And we do this even though sugar cane ethanol can easily be grown in poor tropical countries in Africa or the Caribbean, and could actually help alleviate their poverty.

Yes, you read all this right. We tax imported sugar ethanol, which could finance our poor friends, but we don't tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances our rich enemies. We'd rather power anti-Americans with our energy purchases than promote antipoverty.




August 24, 2006

Evolution Major Vanishes From Approved Federal List

Evolutionary biology has vanished from the list of acceptable fields of study for recipients of a federal education grant for low-income college students.

The omission is inadvertent, said Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, which administers the grants.

"There is no explanation for it being left off the list," Ms. McLane said. "It has always been an eligible major."Another spokeswoman, Samara Yudof, said evolutionary biology would be restored to the list, but as of last night it was still missing.

If a major is not on the list, students in that major cannot get grants unless they declare another major, said Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Mr. Nassirian said students seeking the grants went first to their college registrar, who determined whether they were full-time students majoring in an eligible field.


Education Week

Published: September 20, 2006

S.C. to Allow Credit for Off-Campus Religious Study
By Jessica L. Tonn

In a major victory for religious advocates, the South Carolina legislature approved a law this summer allowing high schools to give credit to students for off-campus religious study during the school day.

Anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 students nationwide leave their schools every week for religious instruction-a practice known as released time-and states and districts typically count the off-campus study time toward the total number of hours a student must spend in the classroom each day.

South Carolina, though, appears to be the first state to pass a law allowing school districts to grant an elective credit toward graduation for the off-campus religious study. The programs still must be approved by local districts and are not likely to be in place until next school year.

Advocates of the programs hope South Carolina's effort will help add momentum to a national movement to get similar policies in place in other states and school districts.


Education Week

Published: September 20, 2006

Prominent Teacher-Educator Assails Field, Suggests New Accrediting Body in Report
But others finding fault with Levine's conclusions, methodology.
By Vaishali Honawar

In a new study that has already raised some hackles, a noted expert on teacher education paints the field as a troubled one in which a majority of aspiring teachers are educated in low-quality programs that do not sufficiently prepare them for the classroom.In his 140-page report, which includes surveys of alumni, school principals, and deans of teacher-training institutions, as well as case studies of 28 programs that cover the wide spectrum of teacher education, Arthur E. Levine, the former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, describes such programs as "unruly and chaotic" Wild West towns that lack a standard approach to preparing teachers.

Universities that produce a majority of teacher graduates have lower admission standards, professors with lesser credentials, and fewer resources, and they produce graduates who are less effective in the classroom, the report asserts.

Further, the debate over whether teaching is a profession or a craft has left programs unsure about whether they should become professional schools or remain grounded in the academic world of arts and sciences.

Pointing to the proliferation of alternative teacher-preparation programs, the report warns: "There is a real danger that if we do not clean our own house, America's university-based teacher education programs will disappear."

Even before its official release date of Sept. 18, the report had stirred up opposition among those responsible for policing quality in teacher education with a recommendation to improve quality control through a complete redesign of the system used to accredit teacher programs.