Monday, October 02, 2006



Link to video:

Reuters photo fraud in Lebanon


Obama and the 'audacity' of a presidential hopeful

Sen. Barack Obama insists that he's not running for president, but he is notexactly running away from it, either. Why should he? The Illinois Democrathas leaped further and faster into the public consciousness than anypresidential hopeful in memory, based on one speech.

With media following him like flies to spilled honey all the way to AfricaDemocrats nationwide and ranks as one of his party's most-requested fund-raising guests. Democrats seem more eager to be seen with him thanRepublicans candidates are to be seen with President Bush, who's beenstruggling to recover from recent approval ratings as low as 42 percent.

But can Obama go the distance as a presidential hopeful? When I caught upwith him at a speech at Georgetown University, co-sponsored by the liberalpolitical action group on Sept. 20, he sounded mightily adept atpleasing the party's liberal-progressive base while sticking to hismiddle-of-the-road come-together principles. He's a realist, he told mebackstage. "I'm also a believer in facts," he said.


The Myth of Judicial Activism

Just because Americans have complained for centuries about legislation fromthe bench doesn't mean it actually happens.

By Kermit Roosevelt

KERMIT ROOSEVELT is an assistant professor at the University of PennsylvaniaLaw School and the author of "The Myth of Judicial Activism."

October 2, 2006

WITH THE NEW Supreme Court term set to begin today, judicial activism isagain in the news. You remember activism, of course; it's what PresidentBush promised to save us from with his Supreme Court nominees, and what JohnG. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. swore to avoid during theirconfirmation hearings.

Activism, as it's conventionally understood, is the sin committed whenjudges decide cases based on their own values rather than the dictates oflaw. This is an abandonment of the judicial role; it is what is sometimescalled "legislating from the bench."


New polls find Dems have shot at Senate

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Democrats are within striking distance of taking control of theU.S. Senate on Election Day, a series of new polls for McClatchy Newspapersand MSNBC showed Monday.

Democratic Senate candidates are tied, have a slight edge or an outrightlead in every one of 10 pivotal battleground states. No Democrat trails inthose races; no Republican leads. Democrats must gain six seats to capturecontrol of the 100-member Senate.

Democratic candidates have a strong chance to win all seven at-riskRepublican Senate seats - with their candidates tied in Virginia andMissouri, holding a slight edge in Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee, andleading in Montana and Pennsylvania.

And they are in position to hold their three most vulnerable seats - with a slight edge in New Jersey and leading in Maryland and Washington.


Leadership failure

Fearing political setbacks, House officials neglected to protect pages against a member's exploitation.

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

THE scandal surrounding U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, the Florida Republican whoresigned Friday, improves Democrats' chances to regain a majority in theHouse. However, partisan advantage is a long way from being the most salientfeature of this story.

Foley makes a powerful example not only of corruption in high places, butalso of the U.S. political arena's boundless capacity for hypocrisy. Themore some politicians talk of God, country, honor and the sanctity of thefamily, the more likely it is they have little regard for any of them.

Foley focused his political career on efforts to punish sexual predators andprotect children from them. Until his resignation, he co-chaired theCongressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus. He was the author ofkey sections of legislation to outlaw the online solicitation of sex with aminor. Yet at least for a year he grotesquely exploited his association withyoung House pages, sending several of them overfriendly, sometimes sexuallyexplicit electronic messages.


Brazil's electronic voting has safeguards lacking in United States

By Associated Press

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Elections in Brazil used to be a monumentalchallenge, with millions of paper ballots to count by hand, many of themdelivered by canoe and horseback from remote Amazon villages. Fraud waswidespread, and it often took a week or more to determine the winners.

Latin America's largest country eliminated many of these hassles byswitching to electronic voting a decade ago, long before the United Statesand other countries started abandoning paper ballots. When 125 millionBrazilians vote on Sunday, they will punch computer keyboards, part of asystem Brazil credits for building faith in its democracy.

''The voting machine is so secure that I would say the only way to tamperwith it is to smash it with a hammer,'' Athayde Fontoura, general directorof Brazil's Supreme Electoral Tribunal, said in an interview.


Posted on Mon, Oct. 02, 2006


Radical Islam must learn value of free speech


In 1989, photographer Andres Serrano exhibited a photo he called Piss Christ, depicting a crucifix submerged in urine. It raised a furor and was condemned on the floor of the United States Senate.

Nobody was killed.

In 1999, artist Chris Ofili exhibited a painting he called The Holy Virgin Mary in which the mother of Jesus has an exposed breast made of elephant dung. It drew a rebuke from the mayor of New York and crowds of protesters.

Nobody was injured.

Last year, a Danish newspaper printed political cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, one showing him with a bomb in his turban. There were weeks of rioting across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At least one person died in Somalia, five in Afghanistan, a hundred in Nigeria. An untold number of people were injured. Property damage was in the millions.


The Washington Post

We Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?

By Susan E. Rice, Anthony Lake and Donald M. Payne
Monday, October 2, 2006; A19

With Darfur set to be hit by a second wave of genocide, world leaders are shifting into diplomatic high gear. The government of Sudan flatly rejects deployment of a 22,000-strong U.N. force, knowing it would be much more effective than the African Union's, even if augmented by additional personnel as is now planned.

Some 450,000 innocent human beings are already dead, and more than 2.5 million have fled their homes. Now Sudan is launching a major offensive in Darfur. After three years of fruitless negotiation and feckless rhetoric, it's time to go beyond unenforced U.N. resolutions to a new kind of resolution: the firm resolve to act.

Will world leaders continue to give the perpetrators of genocide a veto over international action to stop it? Unless something changes dramatically, the answer seems to be yes.


The Washington Post

The Right Man For Fox News

Roger Ailes Soldiers On For the Good of the Cause

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 2, 2006; C01

NEW YORK -- Ten years after he created Fox News Channel, Roger Ailes says he still avoids mentioning his place of employment in certain circles.

"It's just not worth going through the hassle at an elite party," he says. And: "The only reason I know we're doing the right thing is that we're widely criticized." And: "I've never felt out of the mainstream in America. I've felt out of the mainstream at Le Cirque."

If the paunchy 66-year-old executive sounds as though he still harbors sharp resentments toward a liberal-leaning world, that bristling attitude is embedded in his network's genetic code as well. Ailes says he recently considered retiring but rejected the idea because, well, there are too many things that still tick him off.

Never mind that he got a big promotion last year, with owner Rupert Murdoch putting him in charge of Fox's local television stations as well as what has become the top-rated cable news channel. The onetime Republican operative remains acutely sensitive to any slights, pulling out of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences after Fox News was repeatedly shut out in Emmy nominations. Ailes wrote the academy head in 2002 that the award-winning stories were "those that reinforce the views and prejudices of your judges. . . . Earth to academy: your bias is showing."


The New York Times

October 1, 2006, 10:30 pm

George Bush's Grand Tour

It's time for President Bush to go to China. I don't mean that literally, but metaphorically. It's time for George Bush to do what Richard Nixon did - perform an act whose effectiveness is a function of the fact that he is the last man anyone would have expected to do it. What would that act be? It won't be - and shouldn't be - agreeing to a face-to-face, one-on-one debate with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, if only because when you accept the other guy's invitation you cede him the initiative and the position of leadership, and we all know that George Bush will never willingly do that. No, it has to be something that a) makes clear that he is the one in charge, and b) is so surprising and (apparently) out of character that its very announcement alters the geopolitical landscape and disarms criticism in advance.

President Bush should also announce that he's going to the Middle East for a 7-to-10-day trip and taking along Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a few congressional leaders from both parties. He should explain that it is not his intention to negotiate anything and certainly not to ask for anything. He should say that he just wants to see firsthand what is going on in a region that is the repository of mankind's hopes and fears, and so he will visit every country, not only those that are already friendly to the West.


The New York Times

October 2, 2006
Guest Columnist

An Offer Tehran Can't Refuse

A few days ago, I inadvertently violated United States economic sanctions against Iran. I was paying my hotel bill in Tehran, didn't have enough cash and asked if I could use a credit card.

"I'll need to keep your card for at least half an hour," said the clerk. Since he'd also "needed to keep" my passport for the first couple of days I was in Iran, I thought nothing more of it. Half an hour later, I had my hotel bill and my credit card and left for the airport.

A couple of days later my assistant asked me if I had purchased any clothing in Dubai. "No," I said. "Why?" Someone, it appeared, had used my corporate credit card to do just that. When I heard the amount involved - precisely the total of my hotel bill - I understood.

There had been no purchase of clothing in Dubai, of course; but some Dubai business debited my credit card there (where such a transaction is legal) for the amount of my hotel bill, simultaneously crediting the company that owns the hotel in Tehran with that sum for the purchase of goods or services in Dubai. Similar, much larger loopholes enable the European subsidiaries of American companies to sell sanction-banned American goods inside Iran in limited but still significant quantities.


From the NY Times

September 30, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Pirates of the Mediterranean
Kintbury, England

IN the autumn of 68 B.C. the worlds only military superpower was dealt a profound psychological blow by a daring terrorist attack on its very heart. Romes port at Ostia was set on fire, the consular war fleet destroyed, and two prominent senators, together with their bodyguards and staff, kidnapped.

The incident, dramatic though it was, has not attracted much attention from modern historians. But history is mutable. An event that was merely a footnote five years ago has now, in our post-9/11 world, assumed a fresh and ominous significance. For in the panicky aftermath of the attack, the Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty. One cannot help wondering if history is repeating itself.


Abramoff's ties to Mehlman extensive

Report shows close ties between lobbyist and White House official

By Joel Seidman
NBC News

Updated: 6:59 p.m. ET Sept. 29, 2006

WASHINGTON - A report released in June by the Department of Justice's Inspector General, Glenn Fine, contained what may have been be the first references of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's strong ties to White House Political Director Ken Mehlman, but it was only today that the extent of that relationship was revealed.

Melhman is now the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The June report said that Abramoff was receiving information about the U.S. territories in the Pacific -- Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas -- directly from White House information "recommended" to be given to Abramoff by Mehlman. Both territories were clients of Abramoff lobbying firm.

The IG report says White House political official Leonard Rodriguez told investigators he had "kept Abramoff aware of information relevant to Guam ... at the behest of Ken Mehlman," the White House Political Director, who "recommended or suggested that I reach out to make Jack aware of issues related to Guam."


The Washington Post
Should He Stay?

The biggest question mark was Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld:

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 2, 2006; A01

After President Bush won reelection in 2004, White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. got out an 8 1/2 -by-11 spiral notebook, half an inch thick, with a blue cover. He called it his "hit-by-the-bus" book -- handy in case someone in the administration suddenly had to be replaced. He had intentionally used a student notebook, something he had bought himself, so it wouldn't be considered a government document or presidential record that might someday be opened to history. It was private and personal.

A second term traditionally leads to personnel changes. The question was whether one of them would involve Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.


The New York Times

October 2, 2006

Review of Messages Sent by Congressman Begins


WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 - Law enforcement officials said Sunday that the F.B.I. had begun a preliminary inquiry into whether former Representative Mark Foley broke any federal laws when he reportedly exchanged sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age Congressional pages as leaders of both parties demanded new inquiries.

Officials described the F.B.I. action as a review of the evidence and relevant statutes to determine whether to open a full investigation, though one appeared likely.

At the same time, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert asked the Justice Department on Sunday not only to investigate Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican who resigned on Friday after ABC News confronted him with the e-mail messages, but also to determine who possessed the messages that have touched off a furor weeks before the November elections.


The New York Times

October 2, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist
Things Fall Apart


Right after the 2004 election, it seemed as if Thomas Frank had been completely vindicated. In his book "What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," Mr. Frank argued that America's right wing had developed a permanent winning strategy based on the use of "values" issues to mobilize white working-class voters against a largely mythical cultural elite, while actually pursuing policies designed to benefit a small economic elite.

It was and is a brilliant analysis. But the political strategy Mr. Frank described may have less staying power than he feared. In fact, the right-wing coalition that has spent 40 years climbing to its current position of political dominance may be cracking up.

At its core, the political axis that currently controls Congress and the White House is an alliance between the preachers and the plutocrats - between the religious right, which hates gays, abortion and the theory of evolution, and the economic right, which hates Social Security, Medicare and taxes on rich people.

Surrounding this core is a large periphery of politicians and lobbyists who joined the movement not out of conviction, but to share in the spoils.


Many Men Who Buy Sex Already Have Partner

Most Participants Did Not Use Condoms

POSTED: 10:52 am EDT October 2, 2006

Nearly half of men who pay for sex already have a partner, according to anew survey.

One in 10 of the men surveyed for the study admitted paying for sex. Theparticipants' average age was 34.

Most of the respondents said that they had paid for sex with women. Morethan half said that they had paid for sex while abroad, but 4 out of 10 saidthey had paid for sex locally. The study was conducted in the UnitedKingdom.

Two thirds of the participants admitted paying for sex in the precedingyear, and nearly 25 percent said that they repeatedly used prostitutes.