Thursday, December 28, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 28, 2006

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Teacher Magazine

Published: January 1, 2007

Rethinking Merit Pay
Can states and districts make performance bonuses work for teachers?
By Alexandra R. Moses
Minnesota math teacher Bob Nystrom has a shot at earning a bonus of up to$2,000 this school year. He just has to receive high marks on hisevaluations, help boost his school's test scores, and meet an ambitiousclassroom goal he set earlier in the year.

Such performance incentives have long been a staple in private industry.Until recently, though, they were rare in public education, where pay isalmost always determined by years of service.
The New York Times

December 28, 2006
The Energy Challenge
It's Free, Plentiful and Fickle

Wind, almost everybody's best hope for big supplies of clean, affordableelectricity, is turning out to have complications.

Engineers have cut the price of electricity derived from wind by about 80percent in the last 20 years, setting up this renewable technology for amajor share of the electricity market. But for all its promise, wind alsogenerates a big problem: because it is unpredictable and often fails to blowwhen electricity is most needed, wind is not reliable enough to assuresupplies for an electric grid that must be prepared to deliver power toeverybody who wants it - even when it is in greatest demand.

In Texas, as in many other parts of the country, power companies arescrambling to build generating stations to meet growing peak demands,generally driven by air-conditioning for new homes and businesses. But powerplants that run on coal or gas must "be built along with every megawatt ofwind capacity," said William Bojorquez, director of system planning at theElectric Reliability Council of Texas.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Dec. 28, 2006

Betty Ford will again be in the spotlight
By Tina Moore

New York Daily News


NEW YORK - Betty Ford will mourn her husband this week the same wayshe confronted many of her own personal demons and struggles - on America'spublic stage.

The quiet and reserved former first lady will again be in the nation'sspotlight, as she was when she battled breast cancer and drug and alcoholaddiction.

Her highly publicized personal struggles, which occurred during andafter her husband's presidency, turned her into an accidental activist.

Ford brought a new national awareness to alcohol and drug addictionafter kicking her own dependence on booze and pills. She has also spent alifetime supporting breast cancer research and education.


The Boston Globe

A reason to keep Saddam alive
December 28, 2006

THERE ARE DIVERSE reasons for discontent with Tuesday's decision of an Iraqiappeals court upholding a death sentence for Saddam Hussein for the 1982massacre of 182 men and boys in the Shi'ite town of Dujail. The independenceof the judges who found him guilty of crimes against humanity has beenquestioned, as has a blatant lack of security for defense lawyers.Human-rights groups have lamented the rapidity of the judicial reviewconducted by the nine-judge appeals panel. And those who oppose the deathpenalty in all circumstances would prefer that Saddam serve a life sentencefor his crimes.

But if the work of the Iraqi High Tribunal is viewed as an opportunity toestablish historical truth, then the principal objection to carrying out thedeath sentence within 30 days, as the tribunal's charter mandates, is of adifferent order. Once Saddam is hanged for the single circumscribed crimeagainst humanity he perpetrated in Dujail, his other, genocidal crimesagainst the Kurds, Shi'ites, and marsh Arabs cannot be tried and judgedproperly in a court of law.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Dec. 28, 2006

Let Supreme Court interpret the law


PHOENIX -- President Bush has often criticized ''activist judges'' forallegedly shaping the law to fit their own policy preferences instead ofenforcing it as written.

Now, Bush's own appointees to the Supreme Court have an opportunity to showthat they will enforce a law that Congress enacted more than 30 years ago,rather than bending that law out of shape to avoid a result that they wouldrather not reach.

The law involved is the 1970 Clean Air Act, still relevant. Although the actis long and complicated, at least one of its requirements is clear andsimple. It requires the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agencyto issue standards limiting automobile emissions of any air pollutant``which in his judgment causes, or contributes to, air pollution which mayreasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.''

This provision is mandatory. If a pollutant ''may reasonably be anticipatedto endanger public health or welfare,'' then the EPA must act.


The New York Times

December 27, 2006

Roll Call of Notables Who Died in 2006
Filed at 4:14 p.m. ET

Gerald Ford ended ''our long national nightmare.'' Betty Friedan gave riseto the modern women's movement, striking a chord that continues to ring fourdecades later.

In the waning days of 2006, former President Ford died at 93, and Americanspaused to pay tribute in their hearts to the man who brought decency anddignity to the presidency after the battering of the Watergate scandal.

Friedan, with her book ''The Feminine Mystique,'' was one of many remarkablewomen whose deaths touched us in 2006. She and Coretta Scott King crusadedfor human rights. Shelley Winters and Wendy Wasserstein made their mark inthe performing arts, while Jeane Kirkpatrick and Ann Richards served ingovernment.



The Washington Post

Annan and the U.N.'s Limits

By William Shawcross
Thursday, December 28, 2006; A27

Kofi Annan deserves a good sendoff. For 10 years he has persevered withunfailing grace in what really is "a job from hell."

I am biased -- I've admired Annan since the early 1990s, some years beforehe became secretary general of the United Nations. Like the U.S. government,I welcomed his replacing Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1996. Annan had been theone U.N. official brave enough to give Washington the green light to bombthe Serbs to the negotiating table in the summer of 1995. His interventionthen was crucial.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Dec. 28, 2006


U.S. home sales up 3.4%, raising hopes worst is over
National new-home sales post better-than-expected gains in November, perhapsreflecting a recovery in the drooping housing market.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Sales of new homes rose in November while the backlog of unsoldhomes fell for a fourth straight month, providing hope that the seriousslump in housing could be ending.

Sales of new single-family homes rose by 3.4 percent over October sales to aseasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 million units, reflecting solidsales increases in every region of the country except the South. Theincrease was better than had been expected and offered hope that the steepslide in housing may be starting to bottom out as builders, using a widearray of incentives, begin to make a dent in the record level of unsoldhomes.


The New York Times

December 28, 2006
U.S. Scolds Israel on Plan for West Bank Settlement

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 - In a rare public rebuke to Israel, the Bushadministration said Wednesday that an Israeli plan to construct a Jewishsettlement in the occupied West Bank for the first time in 10 years couldviolate the terms of an American-backed peace proposal.

"We are aware of reports about the Maskiot settlement," said GonzaloGallegos, a State Department spokesman. "The establishment of a newsettlement or the expansion of an existing settlement would violate Israel'sobligations under the road map."

The road map is the shelved plan that is supposed to lead to peace betweenIsraelis and Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state.Under the plan, Israel is not supposed to build more settlements in the WestBank.


The Washington Post

Edwards Announces Presidential Bid in New Orleans

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2006; 9:42 AM

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 28 -- Former North Carolina senator John Edwardsofficially jumped into the 2008 presidential race this morning in thisflood-ravaged city, sounding a populist call for citizen action to reducethe U.S. troop presence in Iraq, combat poverty and global warming and helprestore America's moral leadership in the world.

"I'm here to announce I'm a candidate for president of the United States,"Edwards told NBC's "Today Show" shortly after 7 a.m. "I've reached my ownconclusion this is the best way to serve my country."

Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004, unveiled hiscandidacy with a multimedia barrage that symbolized the changing nature ofpolitical communication. Using a neighborhood devastated by HurricaneKatrina as his backdrop, Edwards said New Orleans symbolizes not only thetheme of two Americas --- haves and have-nots --- that was the underpinningof his 2004 presidential campaign, but also the power of ordinary citizensto take responsibility for their own futures.


The New York Times

December 28, 2006
G.O.P. Senator in Spotlight After a Critical Iraq Speech

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 - At the close of the Senate's lame-duck session, inbetween formulaic tributes to senators departing voluntarily or otherwise, aRepublican backbencher suddenly rose to give one of the most passionate andsurprising speeches about the war in Iraq yet delivered in Congress.

For a solid Republican who had originally voted for the war, the wordsspoken by the senator, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, on the evening of Dec. 7were incendiary and marked a stunning break with the president.

"I, for one, am at the end of my rope when it comes to supporting a policythat has our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, beingblown up by the same bombs day after day," Mr. Smith said. "That is absurd.It may even be criminal."


The New York Times

December 28, 2006
Muslims Begin Annual Hajj Pilgrimage
Filed at 6:24 a.m. ET

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Nearly 3 million Muslims from around the world,chanting and raising their hands to heaven, marched through a desert valleyoutside Mecca on Thursday on the first day of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

Dressed in seamless white robes symbolizing the equality of mankind underGod, the pilgrims hiked through the eight-mile valley to Mina, starting aseries of rituals to cleanse themselves of sin.

This year's hajj takes place amid increasing worries across the Islamicworld -- over the bloodshed in Iraq, violence in the Palestinian territoriesand a new war in Somalia. Amid the crises, tensions have increased betweenthe two main sects of Islam, Sunnis and Shiites, who come together in thefive days of hajj rituals centered around the holy city of Mecca, birthplaceof Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

''We will not allow sectarian tensions from any party during the hajjseason,'' Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz toldreporters ahead of the rituals.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Dec. 27, 2006

Saddam urges Iraqis to seek coexistence

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to embrace "brotherlycoexistence" and not to hate U.S.-led foreign troops in a goodbye letterposted on a Web site Wednesday, a day after Iraq's highest court upheld hisdeath sentence and ordered him hanged within 30 days.

A top government official, meanwhile, said Saddam's execution could proceedwithout the approval of Iraq's president, meaning there were no more legalobstacles to sending the deposed dictator to the gallows.

One of Saddam's attorneys, Issam Ghazzawi, confirmed to The Associated Pressin Jordan that the Internet letter was authentic, saying it was written bySaddam on Nov. 5 - the day he was convicted by an Iraqi tribunal forordering the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in Dujail.


The New York Times

December 28, 2006
Court Reprimands Ohio Governor Over Gifts

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 27 - The Ohio Supreme Court formally reprimanded Gov.Bob Taft on Wednesday for failing to report nearly $6,000 worth of golfoutings and other gifts, a coda to his scandal-plagued final term in office,which ends Jan. 8.

The unanimous ruling followed the penalty recommended by the Board ofCommissioners on Grievances and Discipline, which evaluates charges ofmisconduct among lawyers and judges. Mr. Taft, a Republican, was admitted topractice law in Ohio in 1976 and may return to practicing after his termends.

Public reprimand was the minimum penalty that could have been imposed by thecourt, which had the discretion to suspend Mr. Taft's law license in Ohio orto bar him permanently from practicing law in the state.

The court said Mr. Taft deserved the minimum punishment because he had noprior disciplinary record and cooperated fully with the investigation. "Anysanction is an indelible stain on a lawyer's professional record," theruling said.


The Washington Post

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2006; A01

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone towar," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched theinvasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's ownadministration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "verystrongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invadingIraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, muchmore vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not onlyof Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief ofstaff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford'schief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7624300.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

John Edwards Joins Presidential Race
Associated Press Writer

December 27, 2006, 10:40 PM EST

NEW ORLEANS -- Former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwardsjumped into the presidential race Wednesday a day earlier than he'd planned,prodded by an Internet glitch to launch a candidacy focused on health care,poverty and other domestic issues.

The North Carolina Democrat's campaign accidentally went live with hiselection Web site a day before an announcement Thursday that was scheduledto use Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans as a backdrop.

The slip-up gave an unintended double-meaning to his campaign slogan on theJohn Edwards '08 Web site: "Tomorrow begins today."

Aides quickly shut down the errant Web site but could not contain news ofthe obvious, even in the shadows of former President Ford's death.

"Better a day earlier than a day late," said Jennifer Palmieri, an Edwardsadviser.


Bright idea makes a big comeback: Conservation

Updated 12/28/2006 4:12 AM ET

By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

Nearly all businesses share an all-consuming mission: sell, sell, sell. McDonald's wants to peddle more hamburgers. Airlines strive to fill every seat. Phone companies want you to make more calls.But power companies these days are increasingly being told by regulators to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into selling less electricity.

Energy-efficiency programs, which first caught fire in the 1970s before fading in recent years, are making a big comeback spurred by global-warming fears and the public's aversion to more pollution-belching power plants. At least 15 states are starting or considering new or expanded rebate and tax-incentive programs. The campaigns entice consumers to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs and energy-saving dishwashers and coax businesses to replace power-guzzling freezers and lighting systems.

To prod utilities into better promoting or funding the initiatives, many states are carving out new financial inducements that turn the industry's 125-year-old business model on its head: In some cases, companies could make just as much money by selling less power.


Detroit News

As new year dawns, studies offer hope on state of world

Report says armed conflicts are declining; another says 2006 saw major dropin disasters.

Lisa Hoffman / Scripps Howard News Service

There is no doubt that our world is a bloodied and battered place thesedays, with wars, terror attacks and deadly acts of nature taking a terribletoll.

But, in some ways, it is actually a less violent globe than we perceive,according to two studies that offer a measure of optimism as a new yeardawns.

Yes, international terrorism is on the rise and, yes, formerly quiescentlands such as Somalia appear on the brink of exploding again.

Still, a just-released report on the state of the world says the number ofarmed conflicts is on a decidedly downward trend, shrinking from 66 to 56 inthe past few years.

"From the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2005, the number of wars beingfought around the world dropped significantly," said Andrew Mack, directorof the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia, whichproduced the report.


In the Bush White House, a mirror on Ford's travails
By Peter S. Canellos, Globe Staff | December 28, 2006

When George W. Bush peered 30 years into the past to pay tribute to formerpresident Gerald R. Ford, who died Tuesday, he saw some familiar images.

A president grappling with the limits of American power, after a helicopterremoved the last Americans from a failed war in Saigon.

A president coping with congressional demands for limits on "imperial"presidential powers, particularly in the realm of domestic surveillance andCIA tactics overseas.

And he saw some familiar faces, as well -- such as Dick Cheney, Donald H.Rumsfeld, and his own father, George H.W. Bush, all of whom had prominentroles in Ford's administration -- and all of whom took away lessons thathave guided the current president.

"Ford's presidency marked a turning point away from the enormous economicand military strength the United States enjoyed after World War II," saidEllen Fitzpatrick, a University of New Hampshire historian, citing thelimiting effects of the Vietnam War, Watergate, the first oil crisis, andmore. "The nation still struggles with redefining itself and its mission inthe face of these realities. It's a very sobering set of problems that , Ithink , can really be traced to that period in history."

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