Saturday, January 06, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 06, 2007

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The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Bush Facing a Deep Divide With Democrats Over Talk of Increasing Troops inIraq

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - The new Democratic leaders of the Senate and the Housewarned President Bush on Friday against sending additional troops to Iraq,setting the stage for what could become a major confrontation over a new warstrategy.

Mr. Bush is expected to call for more troops in a speech as soon asWednesday, as part of a renewed effort to secure Baghdad. But Nancy Pelosi,the new speaker of the House, and Harry Reid, the new Senate majorityleader, dismissed that approach as a strategy "that has already failed."

"Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch ourmilitary to the breaking point for no strategic gain," Mrs. Pelosi and Mr.Reid wrote in a letter to Mr. Bush. "We are well past the point of moretroops for Iraq," they added, urging Mr. Bush to begin a "phasedredeployment," or gradual withdrawal.


Top Democrats balk at troop surge
Pelosi, Reid send warning to Bush
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | January 6, 2007

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's anticipated decision to increase troop levelsin Iraq set off a pitched battle yesterday as newly empowered Democratswarned the White House against an escalation of an unpopular war while twoinfluential senators who want to send more forces drew hundreds of anti warprotesters when they appeared at a conservative Washington think tank.

To preempt Bush's scheduled announcement of a new Iraq strategy onWednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reidtold the president that sending thousands more troops into combat is a badidea, declaring that "no issue is more important than finding an end to thewar in Iraq."

The increase, described as a "surge" of forces, "is a strategy that you havealready tried and that has already failed," the Democratic leaders wrote ina letter delivered to the White House yesterday. "Like many current andformer military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a seriousmistake."


Hope on the Hill
January 6, 2007

THE FIRST actions by the new Congress have been encouraging substantivelyand politically, raising hope that the session will prove less bitterlypartisan than the bully-boy tactics of recent times, and perhaps moreeffective.

The session just ended was not only beset by scandals, but was alsounproductive, despite Republican control of both branches and the WhiteHouse. Even a modest level of comity within the new Congress, now led byDemocrats, could overcome the predicted partisan stalemate in Washington.That would be welcome news indeed.

The most significant action taken this week was the House vote on Thursdayendorsing a strong set of ethics reforms, severely limiting the gifts,travel, and other favors members may take from lobbyists and other specialinterests. A second round of ethics rules changes came yesterday, includingthe tightening of "earmark" projects for individual members' districts orsupporters.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
The Land of Rising Conservation

TOKYO, Jan. 5 — In many countries, higher oil prices have hurt pocketbooksand led to worries about economic slowdowns. But here in Japan, KiminobuKimura, an architect, says he has not felt the pinch. In fact, his monthlyenergy bill is lower than a year ago.

A reason is his new home fuel cell, a machine as large and quiet as a filingcabinet that sits in front of his house and turns hydrogen into electricityand cold water into hot — at a fraction of regular utility costs. But evenwith the futuristic device, which is available for now only in Japan, Mr.Kimura has not let up on the other shortcuts that leave him unscathed bylast year’s oil squeeze.

Energy-efficient appliances abound in the many corners of his cramped home.There is the refrigerator that beeps when left open and the dishwasher thatis compact enough to sit on the kitchen counter. In some homes, room heatershave a sensor that directs heat only toward occupants; there are “energynavigators” that track a home’s energy use.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Brownback to Move on Presidential Bid
Filed at 3:54 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican and favorite sonof the religious right, will officially enter the presidential race laterthis month in his home state.

''He will be fully announcing on January 20 in Topeka, Kansas,'' Brian Hart,the senator's spokesman, said Friday. The move was expected even thoughBrownback set up an exploratory committee in December to gauge whether hehad enough support for a full-blown campaign.

After the announcement in Kansas, Hart said Brownback will fly to Washingtonto participate in the anti-abortion march marking the anniversary of theSupreme Court ruling.

Brownback is a lesser-known candidate in a crowded GOP presidential fieldthat likely will include Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rudy Giuliani, theformer New York City mayor. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor,rounds out the top tier. All three are considering runs but, to variousextents, also have records or positions on social or fiscal issues thatdon't sit well with the Republican base.


The Washington Post

New Congress Brings Along Religious Firsts

By Jonathan Tilove
Religion News Service
Saturday, January 6, 2007; B09

The new Congress, for the first time, includes a Muslim, two Buddhists, moreJews than Episcopalians and the highest-ranking Mormon in congressionalhistory.

Roman Catholics remain the largest single faith group in Congress,accounting for 29 percent of all members of the House and Senate, followedby Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Jews and Episcopalians.

While Catholics in Congress are almost 2-to-1 Democrats, the most lopsidedlyDemocratic groups are Jews and those not affiliated with a religion. Of the43 Jewish members of Congress, there is only one Jewish Republican in theHouse and two in the Senate. The six religiously unaffiliated members of theHouse are all Democrats.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
The Senate's Task on Warming

Here are a few bulletins from planet Earth:

Dec. 12 - Exhaustive computer simulations carried out at the National Centerfor Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., suggest that the Arctic Oceanwill be mostly open water in the summer of 2040 - several decades earlierthan expected. Scientists attribute the loss of summer ice largely to thebuildup of carbon dioxide and other man-made greenhouse gases in theatmosphere.

Dec. 14 - Experts at NASA's Goddard Institute predict that 2006 will be thefifth-warmest year since modern record-keeping began, continuing adecades-long global warming trend caused, again, by the buildup of man-madecarbon dioxide.

Dec. 27 - The Interior Department proposes adding polar bears to the list ofthreatened species because of the accelerating loss of the Arctic ice thatis the bears' habitat. The department does not take a position on why theice is melting, but studies supporting the proposed listing identifygreenhouse gases as the main culprit, adding that if left unchecked thesegases will create ice-free Arctic summers in three decades.


The New York Times

January 5, 2007
Bush Is Expected to Shift U.S. Ambassador in Iraq to U.N.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 - President Bush intends to name Zalmay Khalilzad, theAfghan-born diplomat who has been ambassador to Iraq for the past 21 months,to be the new envoy to the United Nations, part of a diplomatic shakeup asMr. Bush prepares to announce a new strategy for the war.

A senior administration official, who had been briefed on the decision buthad to discuss it anonymously because the change had not been formallyannounced, confirmed Thursday that the president had decided to nominate Mr.Khalilzad to the United Nations post.

The official said Mr. Bush intended to name Ryan C. Crocker, the ambassadorto Pakistan, to replace Mr. Khalilzad in Baghdad.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
A Status Quo Secretary General

The big powers in the United Nations Security Council chose Ban Ki-moon assecretary general because they wanted a low-key bureaucrat who wouldn't rockthe boat. Judging by Mr. Ban's early moves, the world has gotten exactly

Expect no Kofi Annan-style exhortations to live up to the values of the U.N.charter. In commenting on the sordid execution of Saddam Hussein, Mr. Baneven managed to forget that the U.N. opposes the death penalty on principle.Expect no shift from patronage to selection based on merit for key staffpositions. The top jobs in peacekeeping, political affairs and humanitarianrelief are already being doled out to the favored candidates of London,Paris and Washington (three of Mr. Ban's backers).

And expect no serious drive for much-needed administrative reform. The topmanagement job, previously held by a reform-minded American, has now beengiven to a long-serving insider, Alicia Bárcena Ibarra of Mexico.

Mr. Ban takes over at a difficult time. The secretariat's reputation forintegrity has been battered by the oil-for-food scandal, and the SecurityCouncil's claim to influence has been battered by its failure to halt thegenocide in Darfur or the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Congressional Memo
Giddy Sea of Fresh Faces in the Capitol, United by a Serious Mission

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5 - Hours after casting his first votes in Congress,Representative Zack Space still beamed with excitement on Thursday, showingoff the identification card that doubles as an electronic balloting device.

"I had to ask someone how to use it," he said, proudly whisking the card outof its carrying case as he gave his family a tour of the Capitol.

Back in his office, a new receptionist apologized for hanging up on someonewho called. "Sorry, second day on the job," she chirped.

Even before his arrival in Washington this week, Mr. Space, 45, typified theincoming freshman class: A Democrat from Ohio, he campaigned hard on theissue of ethics reform in a race to succeed Representative Bob Ney, whopleaded guilty in a corruption case. Despite his political inexperience -and the fact that Democratic officials considered him one of their weakestcandidates - Mr. Space beat his Republican rival, in an increasinglyRepublican district, 62 percent to 38 percent.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Political Memo
Leaked Notes on '08 Show Giuliani Without the Spin

The country sure has been enjoying itself reading about the Rudy Caper,feasting on the inside dish gleaned from Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidentialplaybook.

The purloined or lost document gives outsiders a glimpse behind the curtain,a rare look at political calculations that, if predictable in theirrevelations, are decidedly surprising in their candor. Irresistible. Theunexpected - the macaca tidbit, it might be called today - is alwaysirresistible in the game of control that is politics.

Consider the alternative: Mr. Giuliani's own site on the, which went up last month when he formed his presidentialexploratory committee. Anyone with a computer can access the cheerful red,white and blue site to learn how the former mayor wants the public to seehim, how he would like to be portrayed in a presidential campaign.


The Washington Post

Polish Archbishop Admits Signing Communist Pact
Cleric Allegedly Cooperated With Secret Police

By Vanessa Gera
Associated Press
Saturday, January 6, 2007; A09

WARSAW, Jan. 5 -- After calls for him to step aside, Warsaw's incoming RomanCatholic archbishop admitted Friday that he had signed an agreement tocooperate with the secret police during the Communist era and said he wasleaving his fate in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, whose installation ceremony is scheduled forSunday, expressed regret for an act that he acknowledged "harmed thechurch." He said that despite signing the document, he "never informed onanyone and never tried to hurt anyone."

"Before you today, I confess to the mistake committed by me years ago, justas I have confessed to the Holy Father," Wielgus said in an open letter toPoland's Roman Catholic clergy and believers.


Text of Reid/Pelosi letter
January 5, 2007

Text of the letter to President Bush from Senate Democratic leader HarryReid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

January 5, 2007

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together onthe critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important thanfinding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of thewar in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.

The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they do notbelieve your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need achange in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. Weunderstand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraqand are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to theAmerican people next week.


Memoir blasts Kerry's 2004 campaign
Ex-Democratic chair vents his frustrations
By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press | January 6, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Two years after President Bush's re election victory, formerDemocratic honcho and Clinton pal Terry McAuliffe is airing his frustrationswith John Kerry's campaign in a revealing and waggish memoir.

Unlike other political autobiographies that read like pollster-approvedcampaign material, McAuliffe doesn't pull his punches in writing about hisrise from a scrappy Irish kid from Syracuse, N.Y., to chairman of theDemocratic National Committee.

Some of his harshest criticism focuses on the 2004 campaign that he was onceresponsible for defending. McAuliffe calls the Kerry campaign gun-shy,incompetent, and distracted from the mission of defeating a more organizedBush campaign.

McAuliffe said the Massachusetts senator's presidential campaign was soafraid of offending swing voters that it didn't defend his record and backedaway from criticizing Bush at critical turns.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
The Vanishing Man of the Forest

ONCE again, I am driving, under the blazing equatorial sun, down anuncomfortable, rutty relic of a road into the interior of central Borneo.With me are two uniformed police men, one armed with a machine gun. Thelandscape is bleak, no trees, no shade as far as the eye can see. Ourmission is to confiscate orangutan orphans whose mothers have been killed asa result of the sweeping forest clearance taking place throughout Borneo.

Many years ago, Louis Leakey, the great paleo-anthropologist whose work atOlduvai Gorge and other sites in East Africa revolutionized our knowledge ofhuman origins, encouraged me to study wild orangutans - just as he hadencouraged Jane Goodall to study chimpanzees and Dian Fossey to studygorillas. Later, he laughingly called us the "trimates," or the threeprimates.


Jet stream changes bring record temp
By April Simpson and Gareth Cook, Globe Staff | January 6, 2007

Boston set a record high temperature yesterday, and seemed likely to setanother one today, as the entire region did an unsettling impression ofspringtime in January, complete with blooming trees and people picnicking onthe Public Garden's emerald green grass.

Boston hit 63 degrees yesterday, breaking the record of 62 set in 1993,according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters predicted the mercurycould hit the mid-60 s again today, breaking a record that dates back to1913.

Meteorologists yesterday said the unseasonable temperatures since the fallhave been caused by changing weather patterns over the oceans. Instead ofcold air being drawn down from the north, as usually happens this time ofyear, warm air is continuing to flow in from the south and west.


The New York Times

January 6, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Monkey on a Tiger

There was a touch of parody to the giddy Democrat takeover this week: NancyPelosi indulging her inner Haight-Ashbury and dipping the Capitol intie-dye, sashaying around with the Grateful Dead, Wyclef Jean, Carole King,Richard Gere, feminists and a swarm of well-connected urchins.

The first act of House Democrats who promised to govern with bipartisancomity was imperiously banishing Republicans from participating in theinitial round of lawmaking. Even if Republicans were brutes during theirreign, Democrats should have shown more class, letting the whiny minorityparty offer some stupid amendments that would lose.

Perhaps the Democrats' power-shift into overdrive is a neurologicaldisorder, or neuropolitical disorder.

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