Monday, October 16, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 16, 2006

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GOP Running Against a Stiff Northern Wind

Its waning support in the region could give Democrats a base for congressional takeover.

By Ronald Brownstein, Times Staff Writer

GROTON, Conn. - The political equivalent of a nor'easter is bearing down on Republicans from New England through Pennsylvania.

With President Bush's approval ratings collapsing across the Northeast, theregion presents Democrats an unusually rich concentration of opportunitiesto capture Republican-held House and Senate seats in the November elections.

In this tempest, Democrats are pressing GOP Sens. Lincoln Chafee in RhodeIsland and Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, and mounting fierce challenges topick up about 10 Republican-held House seats in several states. Half a dozenother House Republicans also could be swept away.


The Washington Post

An Offer Kim Can't Refuse

By Aaron L. Friedberg
Monday, October 16, 2006; A21

Though the hour is late and the odds long, there is still a chance thatNorth Korean dictator Kim Jong Il can be persuaded to give up his nucleararsenal.

Despite what many have suggested, this cannot be achieved simply throughface-to-face negotiations or by offering security guarantees and economicaid. Kim is a cynical realist and will not exchange his nuclear capabilitiesfor empty acts of diplomatic deference or what he would doubtless regard asmere scraps of paper. The hope that he might be tempted to ease thesuffering of his people is also sadly misplaced. Kim has been described bypsychological profilers as a "malignant narcissist"; he cares only forhimself and is indifferent to the pain of others.

Whatever his quirks, Kim is also a cunning and rational strategist with oneoverriding objective: ensuring his own survival by maintaining an absolutegrip on power. The only way to move him is by confronting him with a starkchoice -- turn over existing nuclear weapons, dismantle productionfacilities and submit to rigorous international inspections, or face asteadily rising risk of overthrow and untimely death.


The Washington Post

Hastert's Team Mentality to Be Tested as Foley Scandal Unfolds

By Michael Grunwald and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, October 16, 2006; A01

On a table near the desk of the speaker of the House, nine bears sit in awooden rowboat, eight with oars and one in charge. But the boat can't moveunless the oars all row in the same direction. That's why House Speaker J.Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) bought it.

Ever since an odd combination of scandal and turmoil catapulted Hastert intothe speaker's job in 1999, the beefy former wrestling coach -- who's a bitbearlike himself -- has pushed House Republicans to work as a team. And he'shad remarkable success. Largely unknown outside Washington, routinelyunderestimated as a powerless figurehead inside Washington, the accidentalspeaker has helped unify his fractious caucus, promote President Bush'sagenda and expand the House's GOP majority.


The Washington Post

School Aide Swept Up In Britain's Veil Debate

By Thomas Wagner
Associated Press
Monday, October 16, 2006; A17

LONDON -- A government minister has joined an increasingly bitter debateabout the rights of Muslim women to veil their faces, saying a teachingassistant should be fired for insisting on wearing one in school.

Phil Woolas, Britain's race and faith minister, was quoted by the SundayMirror newspaper as demanding that Aishah Azmi, a Muslim, be fired forrefusing to remove her veil at work.

"She should be sacked. She has put herself in a position where she can't doher job," Woolas said.

Azmi has refused to remove her black veil, which leaves only her eyesvisible, in front of male colleagues. She was suspended but has taken hercase to a court that handles cases on employment law.


The Washington Post

Why Everyone You Know Thinks the Same as You

By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, October 16, 2006; A02

You can see it the next time you visit your office cafeteria or a nearby park: Whites sitting together with whites, blacks with blacks, young peoplewith other young people. When individuals from these groups mix, it isusually because they share something else in common, such as a pastime.

Sociologists call this phenomenon homophily, a somewhat grand word todescribe the idea that birds of a feather flock together. Thinkers fromPlato and Aristotle onward have observed that people seem to be drawn toothers like themselves.

But while the basic idea is simple, homophily has surprisingly complexcauses and consequences. Three weeks ahead of a midterm election, forexample, it is playing a powerful, but largely invisible, role in politics.


The New York Times

October 16, 2006

Israeli Police Recommend Charges Against President
JERUSALEM, Oct. 15 - The Israeli police recommended on Sunday that PresidentMoshe Katsav face charges of rape and sexual assault allegedly committedagainst several women in his office. Israel's attorney general must nowdecide whether to file such charges.

Mr. Katsav, who has held the mostly ceremonial post since 2000, has deniedany wrongdoing. He has said that at least one of his accusers was trying toextort money and that his political enemies were behind the investigation.

After an inquiry that lasted nearly two months, the police on Sunday handedtheir findings to the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz. He will review thematerial and decide whether charges are warranted. It could be weeks beforehe announces a decision.


The New York Times

October 15, 2006, 10:00 pm
Up-and-Comer in Ohio
By Thomas F. Schaller

Whoever is managing Hillary Clinton's holiday card list should double-checkRepresentative Ted Strickland's address and make sure his envelope getssufficient postage. Because if Strickland wins his race for governor inOhio - and polls say he now has a double-digit lead over Republican KenBlackwell, the secretary of state - he will have an opportunity to rewritethe partisan script in the Buckeye State, perhaps the most coveted state inpresidential politics.

For Ohio Democrats, the last decade reads like a horror story. Theretirement of Senators Howard Metzenbaum and John Glenn in the 1990'screated a leadership vacuum. Since Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election win inOhio, Democrats have not won a statewide race for governor, U.S. Senate orpresident. They presently hold just 6 of 18 U.S. House seats and controlneither chamber of the state legislature.


The New York Times

October 16, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

One-Letter Politics

In a recent interview with The Hartford Courant, Senator Joseph Liebermansaid something that wasn't credible. When the newspaper asked him whetherAmerica would be better off if the Democrats took control of the House ofRepresentatives next month, he replied, "Uh, I haven't thought about thatenough to give an answer."

Why wasn't this a credible answer? Because anyone with the slightestinterest in American politics - a group that obviously includes Mr.Lieberman - is waiting with bated breath to see how this election goes, andthinking a lot about the implications. If the Democrats gain control ofeither house, no matter how narrowly, the American political landscape willbe transformed. If they fail, no matter how narrowly, it will be seen,correctly, as a great victory for the hard right.

The fact is that this is a one-letter election. D or R, that's all thatmatters.


The New York Times

October 16, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

Running With Blinders

Berkeley, Calif.

AT this point in the fall campaign, unabashed negativity clogs every mediaoutlet. The stench of foul political advertising is everywhere, and onesenses that little will change: Americans once again will hold their nosesand vote.

For this round, there really isn't much to be done. But looking to the 2008presidential race, there is still time to find a new way of campaigning - specifically, for progressive candidates to consider a fresh approach torunning for office.

Why progressives? Because it's in their interest: pervasive negativity takesa far greater toll on progressive causes than on conservative ones.Conservatives typically rail against big government and bureaucrats. But byattacking the current administration, progressives unwittingly join theanti-government chorus. The differences between the two - one side makinggeneral attacks, the other specific ones - are details. Both projectnegative messages about government, but the advantage still goes to theconservatives.


The New York Times

October 16, 2006

Faith-Based Profits

Mary Rosati, a novice training to be a nun in Toledo, Ohio, says that after she received a diagnosis of breast cancer, her mother superior dismissed her. If Ms. Rosati had had a nonreligious job, she might have won a lawsuit against her diocese (which denies the charge). But a federal judge dismissed her suit under the Americans With Disabilities Act, declining to second-guess the church's "ecclesiastical decision."

Ms. Rosati's story is one of many that Diana Henriques told in a recent Times series examining the fast-changing legal status of churches and religious-affiliated institutions. The series showed that the wall between church and state is being replaced by a platform that raises religious organizations to a higher legal plane than their secular counterparts.

Day care centers with religious affiliations are exempted in some states from licensing requirements. Churches can expand in ways that would violate zoning ordinances if a nonreligious builder did the same thing, and they are permitted, in some localities, to operate lavish facilities, like state-of-the-art gyms, without paying property taxes.


The New York Times

October 16, 2006

In Final Weeks, G.O.P. Focuses on Best Bets

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 - Senior Republican leaders have concluded that Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio, a pivotal state in this year's fierce midterm election battles, is likely to be heading for defeat and are moving to reduce financial support for his race and divert party money to other embattled Republican senators, party officials said.

The decision to effectively write off Mr. DeWine's seat, after a series of internal Republican polls showed him falling behind his Democratic challenger, is part of a fluid series of choices by top leaders in both parties as they set the strategic framework of the campaign's final three weeks, signaling, by where they are spending television money and other resources, the Senate and House races where they believe they have the best chances of success.


Netzeitung, Germany

Mikhail Gorbachev: U.S. Suffers from a 'Winner's Complex'

Interview By Dr. Michael Maier
Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor

Translated By Bob Skinner

October 13, 2006

Germany - Netzeitung - Original Article (German)

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, has voicedboisterous criticism of the U.S. In his interview with the Netzeitung,Gorbachev said: Our American friends suffer today from a malady worse thanAIDS. I would call this illness "the Winner's Complex." Gorbachev justifiedhis criticism by pointing to America's role in world politics.

He believes that as of now, the U.S. has not liberated itself from thestrategy that it employed during the Cold War. "They cannot break loose oftheir old European politics, which they continued after the Cold War. Theywanted to completely call the shots in Western Europe. And the Americanswon't abandon this old claim."


The Washington Post

Gallaudet Reopens With Protesters Still At Front Gates
Jordan Is Criticized For Approving Arrests

By Susan Kinzie and Mary Otto
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, October 15, 2006; A01

Gallaudet University reopened yesterday, the morning after 133 protesterswere arrested to break up a three-day shutdown of the nationally renownedschool for the deaf over the choice of Jane K. Fernandes to be president.

Although the arrests resolved the immediate crisis, the university remainsas deeply fractured as it ever has been, and no one sees the reopening as anend to the bitter confrontation with the school's leadership.

Last night, about 1,000 protesters stood shoulder to shoulder from the frontgates of the school in Northeast Washington up a hill to Chapel Hall.Fernandes remains the target of their wrath. But the current president, I.King Jordan, who has been hailed as a heroic symbol of deaf accomplishment,is now viewed by many as a traitor for ordering the arrests by campuspolice.


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -

Confessions of a 'Defeatocrat'

By John P. Murtha
Sunday, October 15, 2006; B01

The Republicans are running scared. In the White House, on Capitol Hill andon the campaign trail, they're worried about losing control of Congress. Andso the administration and the GOP have launched a desperate assault onDemocrats and our position on the war in Iraq. Defeatists, they call us, andappeasers and -- oh so cleverly -- "Defeatocrats."

Vice President Cheney has accused Democrats of "self-defeating pessimism."Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has faulted us for believing that"vicious extremists can be appeased." The White House calls Democrats theparty of "cut and run."

It's all baseless name-calling, and it's all wrong. Unless, of course, beinga Defeatocrat means taking a good hard look at the administration's Iraqpolicy and determining that it's a failure.


UK - The Sunday Times
October 08, 2006

Prisoners of war

Bob Woodward begins exclusive extracts from his new book, which is shakingthe White House with its revelations of a dysfunctional presidency thatignored the truth about Iraq

In early January 2003, Jay Garner, a retired general, picked up an incomingcall on his mobile phone from the Pentagon.

"We want to talk to you. Can you come over?"

What do you want to talk about? Garner asked.

"It's a little sensitive on the phone."
Garner found himself being hired by Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary,to take over the post-war humanitarian mission after the imminent invasionof Iraq. He had been picked because in 1991 he had run Operation ProvideComfort, coming to the rescue of thousands of ethnic Kurds in northern Iraqafter the Gulf war.