Sunday, September 03, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 3, 2006


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 31, 2006; 10:28 PM

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. command in Baghdad is seeking bidders for a two-year, $20 million public relations contract that calls for monitoring the tone of Iraq news stories filed by U.S. and foreign media.Proposals, due Sept. 6, ask companies to show how they'll "provide continuous monitoring and near-real time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international, and U.S. media," according to the solicitation issued last week.

Contractors also will be evaluated on how they will provide analytical reports and customized briefings to the military, "including, but not limited to tone (positive, neutral, negative) and scope of media coverage."

The winner of the contract will likely also be required to develop an Arabic version of the multinational force's web site.



Communication in the Bush age: Mum's the word


The conventional wisdom has it that John F. Kennedy was the first television president.

Meaning not that he was president when the medium began to impact thenation -- that distinction goes to Dwight Eisenhower -- but that he was thefirst to understand its potential and exploit its power. The signatureillustration is the famous debate with Richard Nixon. People who watched iton television felt the handsome, vigorous Democrat trounced the ailing,haggard Republican.

Curiously enough, many of those who only heard the debate on radio gave theedge to Nixon.

Forty-six years later, I submit to you that we are undergoing a similarlyseismic moment in presidential communication: George W. Bush is the firstInformation Age president.

Like Kennedy, he arrived a little late; he was not in office wheninformation access became the currency of daily life. Yet, he was the firstpresident to understand the potential and exploit the power of thatdevelopment. Unfortunately, he does so to our detriment.



Where is justice with innocent on Death Row?


So I read in the paper where another man is about to be lied to death.

The first such story I am aware of was published last year in the HoustonChronicle. It concerned a street punk named Ruben Cantu, who was executed in1993 for shooting two men, killing one. Cantu was sentenced based on theword of a single witness, the shooting survivor. That man now says it wasn'tCantu who shot him and that he was pressured to say otherwise by police. The
Chronicle concluded that Cantu almost certainly did not commit the crime forwhich he was killed.

Ruben Cantu, meet Tyrone Noling. Noling is a resident of Death Row at OhioState Penitentiary whose story was told last week by the Cleveland PlainDealer. Noling, a petty thief, was convicted of the 1990 murder of anelderly couple. The case against him was based on testimony from threemembers of his gang who told the court Noling forced his way into the homeof Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig and shot them to death.


The New York Times

More GOP Districts Counted as Vulnerable
Number Doubled Over the Summer

By Dan Balz and David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, September 3, 2006; A01

Facing the most difficult political environment since they took control of Congress in 1994, Republicans begin the final two months of the midterm campaign in growing danger of losing the House while fighting to preserve at best a slim majority in the Senate, according to strategists and officials in both parties.

Over the summer, the political battlefield has expanded well beyond the roughly 20 GOP House seats originally thought to be vulnerable. Now some Republicans concede there may be almost twice as many districts from which Democrats could wrest the 15 additional seats they need to take control.


Iraq war's ties to Sept. 11 have unraveled


On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan launched a sneak attack that devastated the U.S.naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. And the United States rose in righteousfury, immediately declaring war on Thailand. Because, you know, it was inthe same part of the world as Japan and the people kind of looked alike andbesides, those Thais had been getting a little uppity and were due for a

Which is not the way it happened, of course, but if Secretary of DefenseDonald Rumsfeld wants to use World War II allusions to describe the War onTerror, I submit that my fantasy comes a lot closer to the truth than his.Rumsfeld's fantasy, if you missed it, was shared in a recent speech beforethe American Legion in Salt Lake City. There, the Sec Def said that criticsof the war in Iraq -- a designation that now includes most Americans -- arelike those who thought they could avoid fighting by negotiating with, or''appeasing,'' the Nazis in the days before World War II.


Birth Control

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

August 31, 2006

ISSUE: FDA OKs wider access to Plan B.

For three years, politics held up the morning after pill's approval forover-the-counter sale to adult women. So it's fitting that politicalgamesmanship had a substantial hand in forcing the Food and DrugAdministration to make the right move in the end.

After FDA administrators -- under pressure from religious conservatives --stalled their decision on whether to make Plan B more easily accessible, twosenators held up Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach's confirmation as FDA chief.

The hold did what scientific data and strong staff recommendations couldnot -- bring FDA leadership to its senses and allow women 18 and older tobuy the emergency contraceptive over the counter. Quick access to Plan B is essential because it is most effective when taken within 72 hours ofunprotected sex, and getting a prescription in time can be especiallydifficult over the weekend and during holidays.


A Change in Tone -- and a Stumble
On Iraq, Bush Embraces Nuance. Trusting the Public Is Another Matter.

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, September 3, 2006; B07

President Bush made headlines recently by adopting a more somber, realistictone on Iraq. Then Bush, his vice president and his defense secretarystepped all over that message with unduly harsh assaults on the war'scritics last week. What gives?

Several things provide an answer of sorts, and all of them suggest that thetransition from the shock-and-awe tactics of Bush's first term to a morecooperative, diplomatic approach this time around is still very much a workin progress.

The late-summer shift of Bush's tone toward increased realism on Iraq cameshortly after the White House received a situation report from the CIAhighlighting worrisome trends in the administration's effort to shore up anational unity government in Baghdad. The agency says that effort is beingundercut by significant population movements of Sunnis and Shiites fleeing each other and huge arms supplies reaching both camps.


The New York Times

September 2, 2006
Rove's Word Is No Longer G.O.P. Gospel


WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 - Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, is struggling to steer the Republican Party to victory this fall at a time when he appears to have the least political authority since he came to Washington, party officials said.

Mr. Rove remains a dominant adviser to President Bush, administration officials say. But outside the White House, as Mr. Bush's popularity has waned, and as questions have arisen among Republicans about the White House's political acumen, the party's candidates are going their own way in this difficult election season far more than they have in any other campaign Mr.
Rove has overseen.

Some are disregarding Mr. Rove's advice, despite his reputation as the nation's premier strategist. They are criticizing Mr. Bush or his policies. They are avoiding public events with the president and Mr. Rove.


The Washington Post

Fixing A Broken Congress

By David S. Broder
Sunday, September 3, 2006; B07

Congress returns for a final preelection push this week, with few of its
members believing there is much hope of salvaging some real accomplishments
from this dismal session.

In an interview last week, one of the Republican leaders of the House told
me that in the 21 districts he visited during the August recess, including
those in his own Midwestern state, immigration vies with Iraq as a matter of
major concern to the voters. Does that mean, I asked, that you're likely to
try to complete a final version of the immigration reform bill, endorsed by
President Bush and passed in different forms by the House and Senate?

"No," said the GOP leader, who spoke without attribution in the interest of
candor. "The voters would rather we get it done right than done fast. I
don't look for any action in September."



When assumption trumps objectivity
by Habib Battah
Sunday 03 September 2006 9:23 AM GMT

After four weeks of devastating Israeli air raids across Lebanon, Americannews network NBC began its Nightly News bulletin with its anchorman, BrianWilliams, asking: "Does the US really have any influence in this war?"

Hours earlier on sister network MSNBC, anchorwoman Chris Jansing seemed tobe at a similar loss. "Can anything be done to stop the violence?" sheasked.

But to an American audience, the thought of a Syrian or Iranian news anchorposing the same questions would be fit for a comedy skit.


The Washington Post

Accommodating Genocide

By Eric Reeves
Sunday, September 3, 2006; B07

In the face of ongoing genocide in Darfur, the international community'sfailure to accept the "responsibility to protect" (that's United Nationslanguage, officially adopted) innocent civilian lives has taken its last,abject form. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum, made up ofthe very men who have for more than three years orchestrated the systematicdestruction of Darfur's African tribal populations, has been told directlyand unambiguously that there will be no U.N. peacemaking force without itsconsent.

In the revealing words of British U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry,Khartoum's agreement to U.N. deployment "is quite crucial" to taking anymeaningful action. Jones Parry's words have been repeated explicitly by U.N.and U.S. officials, as well as officials of other countries possessing themilitary resources that are the only possible source of protection forapproximately 4 million people in Darfur and eastern Chad -- people whom theUnited Nations describes as "conflict-affected" and in growing need of humanitarian assistance.


The New York Times

September 3, 2006
The Count

A Teacher's Year, a C.E.O.'s Day: The Pay's Similar

Enough already on how many millions this or that chief executive earns, how many stock options are tossed around to keep the Champagne flowing, the
McMansion dusted, the Bentley polished.

As a little back-to-school thought, let's shift gears to a group of workers
who earn pennies in comparison but who, it could be argued, play at least as
vital a role in society. It is teachers, after all, who try to make sure
that those captains of industry have educated workers.

According to the American Federation of Teachers, the state with the highest
average pay for teachers in 2003-04 was Connecticut, at $56,516; the lowest
was South Dakota, at $33,236.

Or look at it this way: Pick a corporate chieftain - say, Jeffrey R. Immelt
of General Electric. He earns $15.4 million a year. Every single day -
including Thanksgiving and Christmas - he makes almost what the average
teacher does for a year of taming wild children, staying up nights planning
lessons, and, really, helping to shape a generation.


The New York Times

September 3, 2006

Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2 - Afghanistan's opium harvest this year has
reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50
percent from last year, the executive director of the United Nations Office
on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul.

He described the figures as "alarming" and "very bad news" for the Afghan
government and international donors who have poured millions of dollars into
programs to reduce the poppy crop since 2001.

He said the increase in cultivation was significantly fueled by the
resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country's prime opium growing
region. As the insurgents have stepped up attacks, they have also encouraged
and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they
expanded their opium operations.

"This year's harvest will be around 6,100 metric tons of opium - a
staggering 92 percent of total world supply. It exceeds global consumption
by 30 percent," Mr. Costa said at a news briefing.
He said the harvest increased by 49 percent from the year before, and it
drastically outpaced the previous record of 4,600 metric tons, set in 1999
while the Taliban governed the country. The area cultivated increased by 59
percent, with more than 400,000 acres planted with poppies in 2006 compared
with less than 260,000 in 2005.


PakTribune [Pakistan]

Oh What Tangled Webs We Weave.

'Islamic fascism', this most current war cry of the Neocons, is nothing more
than the latest terminological inexactitude on the falling power curve of
the Neocons, an ugly last ditch attempt to breathe new life into the fast
fading, faltering and dying war steed of the Neocons.
Most recently, the president of United States said: "This nation is at war
with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love
freedom, to hurt our nation."

Not to be debated in this column is the fact that the United States itself
is now so steadfastly embarked upon a course of such vile fascism that even
genuine American fascists are distancing themselves from this Neoconish
version of it. Also not to be debated here are further facts that the
Islamic fundamentalists who, according to the grapevine, perpetrated 9/11
and similar crimes in Europe, hanker for a fundamentalist theocracy, not
fascism and that the new American fascists themselves have their religion
and government so thoroughly welded with each other that it is difficult to
tell one from the other.

No sirs, the agenda of the Islamic cave dwellers of Tora Bora may be any
thing but fascist. 'Islamic fascism', this most current war cry of the
Neocons, is nothing more than the latest terminological inexactitude on the
falling power curve of the Neocons, an ugly last ditch attempt to breathe
new life into the fast fading, faltering and dying war steed of the Neocons.


The New York Times

September 3, 2006

G.O.P. Hopeful Says Rumsfeld Should Resign

MOUNTAINSIDE, N.J., Sept. 2 - State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., the
Republican nominee for United States Senate in New Jersey, says he is so
frustrated with the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq that
he is pushing for something that few Republicans have supported: the
resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In an interview at his campaign headquarters here, just shy of midnight on
Friday, Mr. Kean said that he had become dissatisfied over the summer with
what he said was Mr. Rumsfeld's refusal to consider "competing points of

But what compelled him to advocate publicly for a "fresh face" leading the
troops, Mr. Kean said, were Mr. Rumsfeld's recent remarks chiding critics of
the war for "moral and intellectual confusion," and comparing them to those
who advocated appeasing Nazi Germany in the 1930's.

"By engaging in that kind of rhetoric, this secretary has stepped over the
line," Mr. Kean said.


Iranians taste freedoms on own terms
Dissidents shun US assistance
By Anne Barnard, Globe Staff | August 30, 2006

TEHRAN -- Emad Baghi is a human rights activist who spent three years in
prison for his writings. Shadi Vatanparast is a promoter of underground
Iranian rock bands who, in the semi-privacy of her office, throws off her
government-mandated headscarf. And Fazel Mehbadi is a mullah who preaches a
message that's dangerously dissident in the theocratic Islamic Republic of
Iran: Religion should be separate from government.

These Iranians, in large ways and small, want more democracy and pluralism
in their country, and they have taken risks to change their society. They
are the kind of people whom US officials say they want to support. Yet they
all agree that the last thing they need is help from the United States.

``The best thing the Americans can do for democracy in Iran is not to
support it," Baghi, the activist, said recently in his office, next to a
stack of his politically risky published books -- ``The Tragedy of Democracy
in Iran," ``Clerics and Power," and a study that criticizes the government
on its own terms, using Islamic teachings to indict Iran's justice system
and its arbitrary arrests and executions.

Receiving US aid -- whether cash or simply public statements of support --
could destroy democracy advocates' chances of building grass-roots
credibility at home, say Baghi and many other Iranians critical of their
government. They prefer to steer their own course, pushing for gradual
change and navigating a middle ground between accommodation and conflict
with the Muslim clerics who rule Iran.

Their goals vary, though none would sound out of place on an American wish
list: Baghi pushes for the rule of law; Mehbadi, the cleric, wants more
power for elected officials; and Vatanparast, the music promoter, wants to
midwife young Iranians' yearning for social and cultural freedom, a force
that has already pushed the government to accept, tacitly, a looser dress
code for women.