Friday, December 29, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 29, 2006

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The New York Times

December 24, 2006
The World
Across Africa, a Sense That U.S. Power Isn't So Super


THE rally was supposed to be against Ethiopia, Somalia's neighbor andhistoric archenemy, which in the past few weeks had sent troops streamingacross the border in an attempt to check the power of the increasinglypowerful Islamists who rule Mogadishu.

But the cheers that shook the stadium (which had no roof, by the way, andwas riddled with bullet holes) were about another country, far, far away.

"Down, down U.S.A.!" thousands of Somalis yelled, many of them waving cockedKalashnikovs. "Slit the throats of the Americans!"

Not exactly soothing words, especially when the passport in your pocket hasone of those golden eagles on it.

Somalia may be the place that best illustrates a trend sweeping across theAfrican continent: After Sept. 11, 2001, the United States concluded thatanarchy and misery aid terrorism, and so it tried to re-engage Africa. Butanti-American sentiment on the continent has only grown, and becomeincreasingly nasty. And the United States seems unable to do much about it.


The New York Times

December 29, 2006
Ford Arranged His Funeral to Reflect Himself and Drew in a Former Adversary

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 - As he helped in recent years arrange the details ofhis own funeral, Gerald R. Ford reached out to an old adversary: JimmyCarter, who defeated him for the presidency in 1976.

Mr. Ford asked whether his successor might consider speaking at his funeraland offered, lightheartedly, to do the same for Mr. Carter, depending on whodied first.

The invitation was decades in the making, associates of Mr. Ford's said.And, they said, it was typical for Mr. Ford, who came to his ownfuneral-planning sessions adamant that his coffin not be carried to theCapitol in an elaborate horse-drawn caisson but a motorcade instead.

During services for Mr. Ford, the 38th president, over the next few days,the simplicity he sought will be on display in Washington and, later, inMichigan, where he will be interred. His coffin is expected to be carriedinto the Capitol through the House of Representatives, where he served for25 years, rather than up the sweeping front staircase. A band will play asomber version of the University of Michigan fight song, a Ford favoritefrom his undergraduate alma mater, and a song he preferred to "Hail to theChief" while he was president.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,7537107.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

For Haitian deportees, American-style 'grills' mark them as targets for
violence, hate
By Ruth Morris
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

December 29, 2006

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- When authorities deported Marc-Henry Petion fromWest Palm Beach he was a chubby kid nicknamed Pillsbury who spoke almost noCreole and sported a grill -- a line of gold caps affixed to his front teeththat served as his flashy, street-smart calling card.

Three years later, he has picked up the language and altered his appearance.The dreadlocks he once wore are stuffed in a plastic bag in the tinycinderblock room he rents on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. He lopped themoff to avoid calling attention to himself as a deportee, a classificationthat carries a heavy stigma on Haiti's unstable streets. He's also forgonethe oversized clothes he wore in South Florida, another telltale sign of hisU.S. upbringing.

But he doesn't have the money to remove his grill, so has learned to keephis mouth shut, literally.


The Washington Post

The Legal Year in Review

By Andrew Cohen
Special to
Friday, December 29, 2006; 12:00 AM

The good news from the world of the law in 2006 is that we did not for oncein recent memory have to endure an avalanche of vapid news coverage about asolitary trashy tale of sex and fame and crime. There was no Michael Jacksonmolestation trial or Kobe Bryant rape trial or Laci Peterson saga to drawour attention away from trials and cases and legal issues of true merit.

The bad news from the world of the law in 2006 is that we didn't take thatextra time given to us by divine providence and follow or absorb with anydepth or sense of passion or outrage the truly monumental and generallyominous things that were done in the law, in our name, in thisfifth-going-on-sixth year of the legal war on terrorism. Tens of millions ofAmericans know and care about the identity of the latest winner of AmericanIdol. But only a tiny fraction of those know, too, of the manifold pressurescurrently pushing upon the rule of law. Hey, you didn't really think thatParis and Britney really were going to end up best-friends-forever, did you?


The New York Times

December 29, 2006
Editorial Observer
Middle School Girls Gone Wild

It's hard to write this without sounding like a prig. But it's just as hardto erase the images that planted the idea for this essay, so here goes. Thescene is a middle school auditorium, where girls in teams of three or fourare bopping to pop songs at a student talent show. Not bopping, actually,but doing elaborately choreographed re-creations of music videos, in tinyskirts or tight shorts, with bare bellies, rouged cheeks and glittery eyes.

They writhe and strut, shake their bottoms, splay their legs, thrust theirchests out and in and out again. Some straddle empty chairs, like lapdancers without laps. They don't smile much. Their faces are locked fromgrim exertion, from all that leaping up and lying down without poles to holdonto. "Don't stop don't stop," sings Janet Jackson, all whispery. "Jerk itlike you're making it choke. ...Ohh. I'm so stimulated. Feel so X-rated."The girls spend a lot of time lying on the floor. They are in the sixth,seventh and eighth grades.


The Washington Post

Saddam to hang, but confusion over how soon

By Mariam Karouny
Friday, December 29, 2006; 8:28 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Senior Iraqi officials on Friday dismissed suggestionsfrom Washington that they would hang Saddam Hussein this weekend and saidsome in cabinet were pushing for the execution to be put off for a month ormore.

But Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has called for the oustedpresident put to death this year for killing and oppressing Shi'ites, saidthere would be "no review or delay" in the sentence following this week'sfailure of Saddam's appeal.

And a defense lawyer said he thought Saddam might well die on Saturday afterlawyers were told to collect his belongings.

But in a continuation of public confusion at the highest levels and secrecyover the historic proceedings, Iraq's Justice Ministry, which must carry outthe execution, denied it had taken custody of Saddam from his U.S. militaryjailers and said it could not legally hang him for nearly a month.


The Washington Post

Walking a Tightrope Into 2007

By David Ignatius
Friday, December 29, 2006; A27

As the new year approaches, I think of three people who symbolize for mesome of the difficulties of the year we have just lived through and also thepromise and potential of the one ahead. Each of them reminds me that we arewalking into the future balanced on a tightrope.

The first is Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran. As an official ofthe Islamic Republic of Iran, he is part of a regime that posed the biggeststrategic challenge to the United States in 2006. But he also embodiesIran's potential to become a great nation -- and perhaps to escape theapocalyptic confrontation with the West that is proclaimed by his politicalrival, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

For all of Ahmadinejad's headline-grabbing fulminations this year, it wasQalibaf who was the big political winner.


The Washington Post

Sen. Johnson Improves, Is Expected to Miss Start of Congress

Associated Press
Friday, December 29, 2006; A17

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) turned 60 yesterday, two weeks after emergencysurgery to repair a brain hemorrhage that has left him in criticalcondition.

Julianne Fisher, a spokeswoman for the senator, said Johnson will not bepresent in the first days of the new Congress next week but is continuing toimprove. She said he is responsive to directions from his wife but has notyet spoken.

It is too soon to tell how long recovery will take, Fisher said.

In a statement yesterday, Johnson's doctors said he remains in intensivecare at George Washington University Hospital. They have released few newdetails about Johnson's condition and prognosis since the days after theDec. 13 surgery to stop bleeding in his brain.


The New York Times

December 29, 2006

Under-the-Rug Oversight

The wondrously named Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board held itsfirst public hearing the other day on the National Security Agency's illegaleavesdropping program. If you expected it to discover any truths about thesecret program, you can forget it. The board spent its time explaining whyit was more important to work from within the administration than tochallenge it. Thus wags the tail of a watchdog with neither bark nor bite.

The board was created two years ago by the White House and the RepublicanCongress as a pale substitute for the independent monitor recommended by theSept. 11 commission. Its members (four Republicans and one lone Democrat)serve at the pleasure of the administration. It has a paltry budget and nosubpoena power, and any requests for documents can be vetoed by the attorneygeneral.


The New York Times

December 29, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

A Failed Revolution

After first attempting to deny the scale of last month's defeat, theapologists have settled on a story line that sounds just like Marxistexplanations for the failure of the Soviet Union. What happened, you see,was that the noble ideals of the Republican revolution of 1994 wereundermined by Washington's corrupting ways. And the recent defeat was a goodthing, because it will force a return to the true conservative path.

But the truth is that the movement that took power in 1994 - a movement thathad little to do with true conservatism - was always based on a lie.

The lie is right there in "The Freedom Revolution," the book that DickArmey, who had just become the House majority leader, published in 1995. Hedeclares that most government programs don't do anything "to help Americanfamilies with the needs of everyday life," and that "very few Americanfamilies would notice their disappearance." He goes on to assert that "thereis no reason we cannot, by the time our children come of age, reduce thefederal government by half as a percentage of gross domestic product."


The Boston Globe


Political early adopters: It's your time
By Ellen Goodman | December 29, 2006

MAYBE IT WASN'T such a great Christmas gift after all. The baseball caps,emblazoned with the last day of the Bush presidency -- Jan. 19, 2009 --seemed to offer my favorite Democratic couple a light at the end of thetunnel. But sometimes it's easier to see the tunnel than the light.

Nevertheless, January is about to mark the earliest opening for anypresidential campaign in memory. So allow me to end the old year and beginthe new by taking a look at the question dominating the news magazines andtalk shows: Is America ready for a president who isn't a white male?

The only Democrats who so far have actually announced their candidacies areindeed white and male, from Tom Vilsack to John Edwards. But the sexier andracier question dominating the early chatter is the possible mano-a-womano,black-and-white matchup that could be offered with Hillary Rodham Clinton orBarack Hussein Obama atop the national ticket.

Ready? Political readiness is not exactly like reading readiness. Forgenerations, strategists and psychologists have posed the samechicken-and-egg riddle for social change. Do you need a change in attitudesbefore you can succeed in changing real life? Or does a change in realityproduce a change in attitudes?

The answer is, of course, yes.

Ancient Ice Shelf Breaks Free In Canadian Arctic
Global Warming Blamed

POSTED: 8:41 am EST December 29, 2006

TORONTO -- A giant ice shelf has snapped free from an island south of theNorth Pole, scientists said Thursday, citing climate change as a "major"reason for the event.

The Ayles Ice Shelf -- all 41 square miles of it -- broke clear 16 monthsago from the coast of Ellesmere Island, about 500 miles south of the NorthPole in the Canadian Arctic.

Scientists discovered the event by using satellite imagery. Within one hourof breaking free, the shelf had formed as a new ice island, leaving a trailof icy boulders floating in its wake.

Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, traveledto the newly formed ice island and couldn't believe what he saw.


CBS News

AP Poll: Bush, Britney Get Thumbs-Down
AP Poll: President Bush and Britney Spears top thumbs-down list for 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2006

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press Writer

(AP) Bad guy of 2006: President Bush. Good guy of 2006: President Bush. Whenpeople were asked in an AP-AOL News poll to name the villains and heroes ofthe year, Bush topped both lists, in a sign of these polarized times.

Among entertainment celebrities, Oprah Winfrey edged out Michael J. Fox asthe best celebrity role model while Britney Spears outdistanced Paris Hiltonas the worst.

Bush won the villain sweepstakes by a landslide, with one in fourrespondents putting him at the top of that bad-guy list. When people wereasked to name the candidate for villain that first came to mind, Bush faroutdistanced even Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader in hiding; andformer Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who is scheduled for execution.

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