Thursday, December 14, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 14, 2006

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The Washington Post

Rumsfeld Career Ending in Ignominy of Iraq

The Associated Press
Thursday, December 14, 2006; 2:53 AM

WASHINGTON -- History seems to be in a hurry to judge Donald H. Rumsfeld.

And despite his half century in public service, a defense secretary whoserved three presidents and oversaw two wars is being sized up not by thelong reach of his career but by its ending _ the body slam of Iraq.

With an eye on his legacy, Rumsfeld asked to be judged by the extraordinarynature of today's threat, like none that has come before.


The Chicago Tribune,0,6226772.story?coll=chi-business-hed

Rich-poor disparity worries Americans
Issue a major concern for most, poll reports Bloomberg News

December 14, 2006

Americans overwhelmingly say the growing gap between rich and poor hasbecome a serious national concern, a sentiment that may bolster Democrats'plans to narrow the income divide when they take control of Congress.

Almost three-quarters of Americans believe inequality is a major issue,versus 24 percent who don't think so, according to a new Bloomberg/LosAngeles Times poll. Most of the concern is among Democrats and independentvoters, though a majority of Republicans--55 percent--also called thesituation serious.


The New York Times

December 14, 2006
Carter Book Stirs Furor With Its View of Israelis' 'Apartheid'

On Tuesday night in Phoenix, after signings and interviews to promote hisnew book, "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid," President Jimmy Carter made ahastily arranged visit: an hourlong gathering with a group of rabbis.

"We ended up holding hands and circled in prayer," Mr. Carter said in atelephone interview from Phoenix, adding that the rabbis requested themeeting to discuss his book.

It was an unusual interruption during an unusually controversial book tour,which began with a few faint complaints last month and has escalated to afull-scale furor, with Mr. Carter being trailed by protesters at booksignings, criticized on newspaper op-ed pages and, on the normally sedate"Book TV" program on C-Span2, being called a racist and an anti-Semite by anindignant caller.


George W. Bush: A dangerous, cornered, rabid animal
December 13, 2006 7:18 AM | Rant | Comments (66)


My gut tells me the President of the United States has become a corneredanimal - wary of a party that has all but shunned him, distrustful of evenhis closest advisors, angry at an American public that has rejected him andfearful of his own inability to cope with his growing madness.

White House insiders tell me George W. Bush grows more sullen and moody witheach passing day. His paranoia, they say, is increasing to manic levels ashe launches into tirades about traitors in his own party, in the press andamong his allies.

They describe a man living on the edge and stepping too often over it.

Bush, they say, feels betrayed by former Secretary of State James Baker whohe now feels held his administration up for public humiliation in the IraqStudy Group report. Although he told the press after meeting with ISGco-chairs Baker and Lee Hamilton that the White House will take the group'srecommendations "very seriously," Bush says privately that he has nointention of going along with their plan.


Today in Congress

Lessons for Democrats

The public understands the unfairnessof the current trends in the distribution of income.
By Congressman Barney Frank
The American Prospect
Issue Date: 12.08.06

The most important lesson to be learned by Democrats from recentevents in both the real and political worlds is that economic growth aloneis not enough. Expansion of gross domestic product is a good thing, but 4percent annual growth does not guarantee that Americans will see significantimprovement in their own economic positions; and eroding real wages in themidst of a growing economy translates into an important political fact aswell. Economically, politically, and most importantly morally, Democratsshould insist on public policies that not only promote economic growth butalso work against the current trends in which nearly all of that increase isconcentrated in the hands of a few.


Editorial: Intelligence follies
Ignorance of Middle East prevails
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The 9/11 Commission Report two years ago stated the issue bluntly:"Congressional oversight for intelligence -- and counter-terrorism -- is nowdysfunctional."

Congress has focused on personal scandals and day-to-day events instead ofdoing a traditional review of programs to identify, address and attempt toresolve national security problems. "Of all our recommendations,strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult andimportant," the commission concluded.

A major issue is that few committee members have developed the necessaryexpertise to conduct effective oversight. With a new Democratic majority,House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has an opportunity to institute a turnaround.


Editorial: A nuclear gamble
U.S.-India deal sets a dubious precedent
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons has never been easy. At least ninecountries have nukes. But the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970, whichbars the transfer of nuclear technology to countries that have not signedit, has at least helped to slow the spread.

India is one of the nine, but has not signed the NPT and is not likely to.Yet Congress has just changed U.S. law to allow the transfer of nucleartechnology to India. In return, India has agreed to open its 14 civiliannuclear facilities to international inspection and not to transferforeign-source fuels and technology to its eight bomb-making plants. Butthose military facilities will remain off-limits, and the nuclear materialsIndia imports will free domestically mined materials for expanding itsarsenal.


The New York Times

December 14, 2006

U.S. Subpoena Is Seen as Bid to Stop Leaks

Federal prosecutors are trying to force the American Civil Liberties Unionto turn over copies of a classified document it received from a source,using what legal experts called a new extension of the Bush administration'sefforts to protect national-security secrets.

The novelty in the government's approach is in its broad use of a grand jurysubpoena, which is typically a way to gather evidence, rather than toconfiscate all traces of it. But the subpoena issued to the A.C.L.U. seeks"any and all copies" of a document e-mailed to it unsolicited in October,indicating that the government also wants to prevent further disseminationof the information in the document.

The subpoena was revealed in court papers unsealed in federal court inManhattan yesterday. The subject of the grand jury's investigation is notknown, but the A.C.L.U. said that it had been told it was not a target ofthe investigation.

The subpoena, however, raised the possibility that the government had founda new tool to stop the dissemination of secrets, one that could avoid theall but absolute constitutional prohibition on prior restraints onpublication.


The New York Times

December 14, 2006
Judge Sets Back Guantánamo Detainees

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 - For the first time, a court has affirmed that a lawenacted this fall accomplishes what the White House and its Congressionalsupporters sought: stripping the federal judiciary of the authority to hearchallenges from detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

In a ruling Wednesday, Judge James Robertson of the Federal District Courthere said Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a prisoner at Guantánamo, could no longercontest his detention before a federal court because, Judge Robertson said,Congress this fall explicitly eliminated his right to file a habeas corpuschallenge.

The judge said the Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in Septemberand signed into law by President Bush the following month, was unambiguousin denying Guantánamo detainees the use of a habeas corpus statute. Like Mr.Hamdan, hundreds of other prisoners at the base have challenged theirdetention, in similar cases.


The New York Times

December 14, 2006

Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine

At first, the innovation sounds simple enough: Representative-elect KirstenGillibrand has decided to post details of her work calendar on the Internetat the end of each day so constituents can tell what she is actually doingfor their money.

In fact, it is a quiet touch of revolution. The level of transparencypledged by Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York - down to naming lobbyistsand fund-raisers among those she might meet with - is simply unheard of inCongress. The secrecy that cloaks the dealings of lawmakers and deep-pocketspecial interests underpinned the corruption issue that Ms. Gillibrandinvoked as voters turned Republicans from majority rule last month.


The Washington Post

Democrats to raise wages for poor workers

By Thomas Ferraro
Thursday, December 14, 2006; 8:40 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The incoming Democratic-led U.S. Congress intends togive a hand to dishwashers, fast-food cooks and America's other poorest-paidworkers by raising the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade.

With the gap between rich and poor widening, Democrats promised such a payhike as a part of their campaign that saw them win control of both chambersof Congress in the November 7 elections from President George W. Bush'sRepublicans.

With the new 110th Congress set to convene on January 4, Democrats vow avote soon on a bill to raise the minimum wage over two years to $7.25 perhour from $5.15 per hour. And they seem positioned to make the popularmeasure law.



The Government's Assault on Press Freedom
By William Bennett Turner, San Francisco Chronicle
Posted on December 12, 2006, Printed on December 14, 2006

Vladimir Posner, the former Soviet journalist, used to claim the press wasfreer in the Soviet Union than it was in the United States. This was duringGlasnost, as the Soviet empire was disintegrating. Posner explained that thegovernment was dysfunctional, so journalists did not have to worry about theofficial censors, and the media had not been privatized, so journalists werenot accountable to commercial sponsors and advertisers. The result was akind of anarchic freedom. The press was free, but only for a brief window intime.

The window in America once was open wide and, I thought, permanently so. Iused to tell my students on the first day of class that we had the freestspeech and press in the world. I can't do that anymore.


Washington Post

McCain Inc.?

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, December 14, 2006; A31

Some 30 invited corporate representatives and other lobbyists gathered atthe Phoenix Park Hotel on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to hear two seniormainstream Republican senators pitch the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen.John McCain. They were selling him to establishment Republicans as theestablishment's candidate. Nothing could be further from McCain'sguerrilla-style presidential run in 2000, which nearly stopped George W.Bush.

Invitations to Tuesday's event were sent by Trent Lott, the newly electedSenate minority whip. Over coffee, Lott and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) pushedMcCain, though neither previously was seen as a McCainiac. They were not forMcCain in 2000, and neither were the assembled party activists.


The New York Times

December 14, 2006

Recalculating the Costs of Global Climate Change

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change was released Oct. 30 andbecame front-page news because of its striking conclusion that we shouldimmediately invest 1 percent of world economic activity (referred to asglobal gross domestic product in the report) to reduce the impact of globalwarming. The British report warned that failing to do so could risk futureeconomic damages equivalent to a reduction of up to 20 percent in globalG.D.P.

These figures are substantially higher than earlier estimates of the costsof global warming, and environmental economists have studied the 700-pagereport to try to figure out why the numbers are so large.


Washington Post

Clinton and Giuliani Have the Early Edge For '08, Poll Shows

By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 14, 2006; A03

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former New York mayor RudolphW. Giuliani (R), who briefly competed against each other in a Senate race in2000, hold early leads over potential rivals for their parties' 2008presidential nominations, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Clinton has a clear head start over other prospective Democratic candidates,with Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who only a month ago expressed interest inthe 2008 race, running second and former senator John Edwards (N.C.), theparty's 2004 vice presidential nominee, in third.

Giuliani's advantage in the Republican race appears more tenuous: He holds anarrow lead over Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who is far ahead of Giuliani inorganizing a presidential campaign. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, whohas not disclosed his plans for 2008, is well back in third.



Protecting Democracy Comes Before Promoting Faith

This week's question could not be more important. Events around the world inrecent years amply demonstrate that the religious freedom we enjoy in theUnited States is one of the essential building blocks of our democracy.

What we tend to lose sight of, however, is the price we must pay for thisreligious freedom: we must commit ourselves to the First Amendment principleof separation of church and state even when the principle works against theinterests of our particular religion.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This wise maxim, applied to the FirstAmendment principle of the separation of church and state, has permitted theprinciple to drift into disrepair. People are encouraged to think that whilethere may be all sorts of borderline cases and vexing conundrums about justwhere to draw the line, examining them will only arouse anxiety anddiscord--so let's just cover everything with a fine fog of pious, presumedconsensus. We all honor the First Amendment and that's that, and that'sfine. So it would be, if it weren't for the steady pressure of those whowould exploit our benign neglect, encroaching gradually on what makes theprinciple work-to the extent that it does.


Washington Post

Ways & Means
After 35 Years in the House, Charlie Rangel Has the Power. But There AreStill Taxing Times Ahead for the Man From Harlem.

By Wil Haygood
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2006; C01

Back then, on the streets of Harlem, he'd take a full swing at his foes. Hewas a high school dropout, a dead-end kid until he picked himself up and puton that military uniform. In the Korean War he fought like hell, broughtback a couple of medals, too.

After he came home, he set himself on a course straight as a ruler: college,law school, assistant U.S. attorney, politics.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

December 10, 2006
Long Island | Westchester
Rush to Judgment on Sex Offenders

New York may soon join the 17 states that lock people up for crimes theymight commit. Among the bad ideas on Gov. George Pataki's to-do list forthis week's special legislative session is a civil confinement bill underwhich imprisoned sex offenders who are deemed too dangerous to be releasedwould be held involuntarily in hospitals after their sentences end.

Civil confinement has support across the political spectrum - who couldpossibly object to keeping sexual predators away from children, after all? -and so the negotiations in Albany are over details, like how much to protectinmates' due-process rights, who forms the committees that make confinementdecisions and what specific crimes and habits qualify someone as a sexualpredator.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Dec. 14, 2006

Why Obama should run


New Hampshire was recently brightened by the presence of Barack Obama, 45,who, calling the fuss about him ''baffling,'' made his first trip in 45years to that state, and not under duress. Because he is young, is just twoyears distant from a brief career as a state legislator and has negligiblenational-security experience, an Obama presidential candidacy could have aporcelain brittleness. But if he wants to be president -- it will not be amoral failing if he decides that he does not, at least not now -- this isthe time for him to reach for the brass ring. There are four reasons why.

. One can be an intriguing novelty only once. If he waits to run, the lasthalf-century suggests that the wait could be for eight years (see reasonfour, below). In 2016, he will be only 55, but there will be many fresherfaces.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Dec. 14, 2006

GOP governor could name new senator

Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. - Control of the U.S. Senate could be determined byRepublican Gov. Mike Rounds if a replacement must be named for DemocraticSen. Tim Johnson.

State law would allow the governor to appoint a temporary replacementfor a vacant Senate seat until the next general election in 2008, whenJohnson's term expires.

Johnson, 59, underwent late-night brain surgery in Washington afterbeing hospitalizes for stroke-like symptoms.

Rounds said in a statement Wednesday: "Our prayers are with Tim,Barbara and their family. We are hopeful of good news for our friend andcolleague."

Rounds' press secretary, Mark Johnston, said early Thursday thatRounds had nothing else to say.


The Washington Post

New Congress Is More Trusted Than President

By Charles Babington and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 14, 2006; A03

Americans trust Democratic lawmakers more than President Bush to handle thenation's toughest problems, including the Iraq war, and a quarter ofRepublicans are glad that Democrats have won control of Congress, aWashington Post-ABC News poll finds.

At the same time, however, most Americans want lawmakers and the presidentto work together rather than pursue separate agendas. They also have modesthopes about how much the new Congress will be able to accomplish.

The degree to which congressional leaders can sustain and capitalize oninitial goodwill is questionable, because the No. 1 issue for most Americansis perhaps the most difficult for Congress and the White House: Iraq.Forty-four percent of respondents said the Iraq war is the most importantproblem facing the government, easily eclipsing the economy -- the topconcern for 10 percent -- and health care, No. 1 for 6 percent.


The Washington Post

If Israel Falls, the West Follows

Jerusalem, Israel - A radical Islamic front, led by Iran and includingHezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda, is making a bid to expand its brand oftheocratic rule throughout the Muslim world, with the aim of dominating theWest as well. If the U.S. retreats in the face of this challenge, militantIslamism will advance.

Israel may or may not be the first victim of this advance, but we will notbe the last. As the 9/11 attacks illustrated, the Islamists have tired ofpretending that Israel is their only, or even primary enemy. As the Iraniansput it, Israel is the "Little Satan," while the U.S. is the "Great Satan."


The Washington Post

House Win Adds Insult to Injury for DeLay

By Sylvia Moreno and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writer and Staff Writer
Thursday, December 14, 2006; A04

AUSTIN, Dec. 13 -- Former congressman Ciro Rodriguez's victory in a Houserunoff election Tuesday in Texas not only allowed Democrats to pick up their30th seat of the 2006 elections but served as a final rebuke to one of thearchitects of the Republican House majority: Tom DeLay.

The former congressman from Texas was the mastermind of a 2003 redrawing ofcongressional lines in the state that led to the removal of six HouseDemocrats in the 2004 elections.

Two years later, DeLay's fortunes have suffered a near-total reversal, asthe redistricting map that once seemed certain to cement his legacy and GOPmajorities for years has instead led to the end of that career and may wellbe a building block for a reenergized Democratic Party in the state.


The Washington Post

Holocaust Conference Brings Disbelief on All Sides

By Michael Powell and Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 14, 2006; A02

NEW YORK -- They sent congratulatory telegrams to Hamas, their rabbisadvised Yasser Arafat (and took a fee for their trouble), and they stoodoutside the White House wagging signs -- "Judaism Has No Right to Rule overANY PART of the Holy Land" -- to protest a November visit by Israeli PrimeMinister Ehud Olmert.

But even by the standards of Neturei Karta, these most ultra ofultra-orthodox Jewish Hasids took a step into the world of the very strange,if not the meshuga, or crazy, when they showed up as honored guests at aconference of Holocaust skeptics and deniers in Tehran. With a hug and asmile for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rabbi Aharon Cohen walkedinto a conference room with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke,discredited academics, and more than a few white supremacists and served upa rousing welcome speech.


The New York Times

December 13, 2006, 9:02 pm
Love on the Brain
By Daniel Goleman

A radio interviewer in Dublin recently asked me why, in my view, people inIreland were no happier now that their booming economy had brought them asudden tide of prosperity. In answering, I cited well-known data showingthat once people leave poverty and are able to satisfy their basic needs,there is little to no correlation between earnings and happiness. Or as theBeatles put it, "Money can't buy me love."

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel-winning psychologist at Princeton, has explainedthe paradox of the unhappy rich in terms of "the hedonic treadmill": as weearn more income, our material expectations ratchet inexorably upward, sothere's never enough money. The chase for ever more expensive pleasuresnever ends. As a result, the rich end up needing more to be as satisfied asthe poor are with less money and lower expectations.

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