Thursday, January 18, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 18, 2007

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The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Jan. 18, 2007

The high price of dismissing democracy


Free and fair elections have become a habit in Latin America. After 2006'scrowded electoral season, Latinobarómetro recorded the region's strongestever support for democracy. So many elections reminded citizens everywhereof their hard-won rights and liberties. Then, too, three years of sustainedeconomic growth have bolstered hopes of social mobility. Freedom and abetter life, that's what it's all about.

At their recent inaugurations, Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega and Rafael Correasounded different tunes. Unlike most Latin Americans, they dismissrepresentative democracy and a market economy as the best conduits ofprogress. Yet, their prescriptions -- direct democracy and state-centeredeconomies -- failed in the past and will surely fail again.

Democracy and markets, no doubt, have fallen short of expectations, which iswhy the present is one of rightful anger in many quarters. When institutionsfalter and growth isn't shared, citizens tend to listen to the likes ofChávez, Ortega and Correa. It's that simple. The topic at hand, though, ishow each might govern over the near future.


Your Job, Credit Or Phone Calls Can Affect Rate
By KEVIN BEGOS The Tampa Tribune

Published: Jan 17, 2007

And you thought hurricanes were the only reason to worry about insurancerates.

Turns out you can be denied or required to pay more for property, auto andother insurance because of your credit history, your education and evenwhether you're a blue-collar or white-collar worker.

Just as the industry uses supercomputers to model hurricanes, similartechnology is being used to model people, assigning them a score forinsurability.

This week, legislators are debating emergency fixes to the hurricaneinsurance market, but in the background, state officials are working onother problems, too.

In early January, an administrative law judge rejected Florida's attempt tolimit how insurance companies use credit scores to write and price policies.The Office of Insurance Regulation is considering its options in that case,spokesman Bob Lotane said.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Jan. 18, 2007

Even terror suspects deserve good lawyers

Cully Stimson -- the senior Pentagon official who attacked law firmsproviding pro bono services to detainees at Guantánamo Bay -- should bedisciplined if not fired. At the very least, he should not be supervisingdetainee affairs given his apparent disregard for their access to fairjudicial processes.

The Pentagon's senior official overseeing detained terrorism suspects, Mr.Stimson apologized for his remarks in a letter to the editor published inThe Washington Post yesterday. Yet his apology raises more questions abouthis attitude toward terrorism suspects, who may or may not be what thePentagon alleges.


The Dems' antiwar shuffle
Hillary Clinton, back from Iraq and facing a challenge from Obama, decidesshe's not so pro-war after all.

January 18, 2007

A MONTH AGO, the contest between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and BarackObama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination was shaping up as abattle of the "firsts." Would Democrats rally 'round Clinton because shewould be the first female president? Or Obama because he would be the firstAfrican American in the White House? This week, the faceoff between the twosenators - not the party's only would-be nominees but certainly the mosttalked about - shifted from identity politics to Iraqi politics. That's notnecessarily an improvement.

On Tuesday, as Obama was launching his 2008 exploratory committee,supporters of the freshman senator from Illinois were publicizing a websitecalled Visitors to the site are reminded that Obama in2002 called a war to topple Saddam Hussein "dumb" and "rash." Next to apicture of Clinton, who voted to authorize the war, is her statement in 2002that "it is clear . that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue toincrease his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keeptrying to develop nuclear weapons." Take that, Hillary.


McCain's war stance alienates many
42% say they are less likely to vote for him for president because of hissupport for a troop increase in Iraq.
By James Gerstenzang
Times Staff Writer

January 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain's vocal support for sending more U.S. troopsto Iraq has set him apart from most of the emerging crop of majorpresidential contenders. And that position could harm his politicalprospects, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

More than one-third of those polled - 36% - said they would be "much lesslikely" to back the Arizona Republican for the White House because of hisposition. Six percent said his stand made them "somewhat less likely" tovote for him.

Only 13% said they were somewhat or much more likely to support him becauseof his embrace of a force escalation; 42% said it had no effect on theirview of him; and 3% gave no answer to the question.


The New York Times

January 18, 2007

Bills on Climate Move to Spotlight in New Congress

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - The climate here has definitely changed.

Legislation to control global warming that once had a passionate butquixotic ring to it is now serious business. Congressional Democrats areincreasingly determined to wrest control of the issue from the White Houseand impose the mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions that mostsmokestack industries have long opposed.

Four major Democratic bills have been announced, with more expected. One ofthese measures, or a blend of them, stands an excellent chance of passage inthis Congress or the next, industry and environmental lobbyists said ininterviews.


Is Obama too untried for White House bid?
As the Illinois senator heads toward a 2008 run, hi lack of experience loomsas an issue.

By BILL ADAIR, Times Washington Bureau Chief
Published January 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - Sen. Barack Obama is a bestselling author, a gifted orator anda star in the Democratic Party. But as he prepares to run for president, hispolitical resume is a little thin.

Obama, who filed papers Tuesday to create a presidential exploratorycommittee, has only eight years in the Illinois Legislature and two in theU.S. Senate. Is he qualified for the nation's highest office?

Many Democrats think so. They say Obama is such a thoughtful, inspiringpolitical leader that his lack of experience won't matter.

"He brings a freshness to Washington that would be very helpful," said KrisSchultz, a party activist serving as communications director, an independent group urging him to run.


The New York Times

January 18, 2007

Court to Oversee U.S. Wiretapping in Terror Cases

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - The Bush administration, in a surprise reversal, saidon Wednesday that it had agreed to give a secret court jurisdiction over theNational Security Agency's wiretapping program and would end its practice ofeavesdropping without warrants on Americans suspected of ties to terrorists.

The Justice Department said it had worked out an "innovative" arrangementwith the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that provided the"necessary speed and agility" to provide court approval to monitorinternational communications of people inside the United States withoutjeopardizing national security.

The decision capped 13 months of bruising national debate over the reach ofthe president's wartime authorities and his claims of executive power, andit came as the administration faced legal and political hurdles in itseffort to continue the surveillance program.


The New York Times

January 18, 2007
Political Memo

As the Skeptics Ask Why, Obama Asks Why Not?

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - There is always, it seems, a fresh new face breezinginto a presidential race, offering himself as the person to change the tone,eliminate the vitriol and transform the old ways of politics.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is auditioning for that role in the 2008campaign. He said so himself, leaping into the Democratic contest this weekon a promise to "advance the cause of change and progress that we sodesperately need."

A long line of Democrats, Republicans and independents have gone before him,casting themselves as the sparkling candidate of the new politics only tofind that their freshness withers well before the balloting begins. ThinkJohn Anderson, Gary Hart, Ross Perot.

How can Mr. Obama avoid a similar fate?


The Washington Post

By David S. Broder
Thursday, January 18, 2007; A23

The third or fourth time I heard Vice President Cheney tell Fox News's ChrisWallace on Sunday that al-Qaeda was gambling that the United States "doesn'thave the stomach" to keep up the fight in Iraq, it crossed my mind thatCheney may be staring at the wrong part of the national anatomy.

The question, really, is not whether we have the stomach for the fight butthe brains to figure out what to do in Iraq.

The vice president's effort to reduce it to a question of courage -- tosuggest that those who want to expand the war are braver than those urgingsteps to limit it -- is a standard rhetorical trick. Whenever any Bushpolicy is questioned, someone from the administration almost automaticallycharges that its critics are soft on terrorism.

Iraq requires thought, not just gut instinct, because we are struggling witha situation we've never faced before. What does America really know abouthow to deal with a Shiite-Sunni civil war in a land devastated by years ofdictatorship, damaged by invasion, infiltrated by terrorists and surroundedby countries with their own territorial ambitions? Not much, which is why itbehooves us to move with caution.


The New York Times

January 18, 2007

After Iraq Trip, Clinton Proposes War Limits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday calledPresident Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq "a losing strategy" andproposed placing new limits on the White House's conduct of the war.

Her comments came after a weekend trip to Iraq and amounted to her latesteffort to bolster her credentials as a critic of the war at the outset ofthe 2008 presidential race.

Starting at 7 a.m. with back-to-back appearances on NBC and CBS, SenatorClinton devoted her day to a choreographed effort to press the Bushadministration to change its Iraq policy and to outline a set of views thatmight bring her more in sync with Democratic primary voters.

Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to announce plans to run for president soon,sought to tap into the intense and bitter emotions that many Democrats feelabout the war, as she promised to introduce legislation to cap the number oftroops in Iraq and to place restraints on the administration's policy.


The Washington Post

New Chance for Peace?

By Jimmy Carter
Thursday, January 18, 2007; A23

I am concerned that public discussion of my book "Palestine Peace NotApartheid" has been diverted from the book's basic proposals: that peacetalks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution ofPalestinians be ended. Although most critics have not seriously disputed oreven mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, anapparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book's title, combinedwith allegations that I am anti-Israel. This is not good for any of us whoare committed to Israel's status as a peaceful nation living in harmony withits neighbors.

It is encouraging that President Bush has announced that peace in the HolyLand will be a high priority for his administration during the next twoyears. On her current trip to the region, Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice has called for an early U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian meeting. She hasrecommended the 2002 offer of the 23 Arab nations as a foundation for peace:full recognition of Israel based on a return to its internationallyrecognized borders.


The Washington Post

Boeing's Winning Hand

By George F. Will
Thursday, January 18, 2007; A23

CHICAGO -- After an excellent year, Boeing is counting its blessings, whichinclude its competitor. They also include an anticipated doubling of thecommercial aviation market in the next 20 years, which will require 27,000new planes, costing $2.6 trillion.

Americans ambivalent about globalization should note how Boeing, under chiefexecutive James McNerney, is prospering. The Sept. 11 attacks devastatedcommercial airlines, causing Boeing -- which cut its jetliner production inhalf -- to rapidly shed more than 40,000 of its 93,000 workers who designedand built the planes. But the revival has added back some 13,000 jobs andraised Boeing's stock price from $25 to $88 a share.

Even without terrorism, the commercial aircraft industry is not for thefainthearted. Companies must wager billions developing products thatanticipate travelers' preferences and airline strategies a decade later.Boeing reportedly wagered $8 billion in developing the midsize wide-body(seating up to 290 passengers) 787 Dreamliner, the first of which will bedelivered in 2008.


The Washington Post

The $800 Billion Tax Loophole

By Maya MacGuineas
Special to's Think Tank Town
Thursday, January 18, 2007; 12:00 AM

Democrats are in a bind when it comes to their domestic economic agenda.They have promised a number of new and costly initiatives such as fixing theAlternative Minimum Tax, providing middle-class tax relief, and increasingspending on homeland security and education. But they have also made acommitment to fiscal responsibility. So how can they deliver on theirpromises without opening themselves up to the old "tax and spend" label?Reforming tax entitlements -- a large, mostly under-the-radar part of thefederal budget -- might just give them a way out of their predicament.

As a result of the 1986 bipartisan tax reforms, the tax base was broadenedand the tax code was greatly simplified. But these reforms have beengradually undone as Congress has created scores of new tax breaks andloopholes. Want to preserve historic buildings, encourage alternative energysources, help working families, or give certain industries a boost withoutappearing to increase spending? Voil? -- a new targeted tax break is born.


The Washington Post

Two Minutes Closer to Doomsday
Scientists Change Symbolic Clock to Recognize New Dangers

By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 18, 2007; A12

The Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' ticking nudge tothe world's conscience, moved two minutes closer to nuclear midnightyesterday, the closest to doomsday it has been since the Cold War.

North Korea's nuclear bomb test, Iran's nuclear plans, and atomic energyprojects posed as an answer to climate change prompted the scientificjournal to move the hands of the clock on its cover to 11:55. Midnightrepresents doomsday on the clock, for six decades a symbolic indicator ofthe threat posed by nuclear proliferation.

Nuclear science has changed the world, "but it hasn't managed to change theway that people think about the world, and that's why we're here," said MarkStrauss, editor of the journal, founded by University of Chicago scientistswhose work on the first atomic bomb led them to anti-nuclear advocacy.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Blacks should 'get over' slavery: lawmaker


January 17, 2007


RICHMOND, Va. -- A state legislator said black people ''should get over''slavery and questioned whether Jews should apologize ''for killing Christ,''drawing denunciations Tuesday from stunned colleagues.

Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, 79, made his remarks in opposition to a measurethat would apologize on the state's behalf to the descendants of slaves.

'Force the Jews to apologize?'
In an interview published Tuesday in the Daily Progress of Charlottesville,Hargrove said slavery ended nearly 140 years ago with the Civil War andadded that ''our black citizens should get over it.''

The newspaper also quoted him as saying, ''are we going to force the Jews toapologize for killing Christ?''


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Why Being a Feminist Does Not Mean Backing All Women
By Gloria Steinem, Women's Media Center
Posted on January 16, 2007, Printed on January 18, 2007

There is still a false idea out there that feminists back every woman,regardless of how she behaves. Let's leave that behind right along with2006.

In fact, feminism is just the belief that all people have the full circle ofhuman qualities combined in a unique way in each of us. The simplisticlabels of "feminine" and "masculine" are mostly about what society wants usto do: submerge our unique humanity in care giving and reproducing if we'rewomen, and trade our unique humanity for power if we're men.

So yes, I believe that women have the right to be wrong, with no doublestandard of criticism. But when we have the power to make a choice, we alsohave responsibility. Biology isn't destiny, and it isn't a free pass either.


Teacher Magazine

January 18, 2007
Published: January 17, 2007

And Now, a Word of Praise for NCLB
By Dayle Timmons

As part of a new partnership, is publishing this regularcolumn by members of the Teacher Leaders Network, a professional communityof accomplished educators dedicated to sharing ideas and expanding theinfluence of teachers.

It was eight years ago-one of those years when I was trying to be super mom,super wife, super teacher. My husband, out of desperation, finally decidedto hire a housekeeper to come once every two weeks to relieve some of thepressure at home. What a gift!

For months the housekeeper slipped quietly into my home while I was atschool. I couldn't wait to get home. I would take in the smell of Pledge andPinesol as I opened the door. On this particular day, she came while I wasworking at home. When she was finished working her magic, she walked insoftly and stood by my desk. When I looked up, her eyes were on the floor.She stammered, "As I've been cleaning your house, I guessed you was ateacher." "Why, yes!" I said, quite proud of my profession. "Well. . I waswondering. I graduated from high school here in town but I didn't neverlearn to read. Do you think you could teach me to read?"


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

January 17, 2007
Merkel Seeks to Revive European Constitution
Filed at 10:25 a.m. ET

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned onWednesday that failure to revive the European Union's constitution would bea ``historic mistake'' that would leave the bloc divided and mired inbureaucracy.

Merkel said Germany would aim by the end of its six-month presidency of theEuropean Union in June to offer a plan for resolving the deadlock beforeEuropean Parliament elections in mid-2009, but offered no hint of how acompromise could look.

``I know it is a very difficult door I am knocking on, but please don't makethis historic mistake. Don't prevent Europe from taking a step in thatdirection which basically you also want,'' she told the European Parliamentin a plea directed explicitly at eurosceptics in Britain and elsewhere.


Jan. 16, 2007, 9:27PM
Lawmaker's remarks on slavery ignite furor
Republican is excoriated for panning Virginia's apology proposal

Washington Post

RICHMOND, VA. - A veteran Virginia lawmaker ignited a hot exchange in theHouse of Delegates on Tuesday after criticizing a proposal for the state toissue an apology for slavery and likening it to requiring Jews to apologizefor "killing Christ."

Del. Frank Hargrove, a Republican from Hanover County who turns 80 thismonth, told lawmakers that his comments were intended only to make the pointthat "not a soul in this legislature" had anything to do with slavery - andthat there is no point in dwelling on a chapter of U.S. history that allagree was repugnant.

"If we keep bringing this up, bringing this up - I think this is a harmfulidea just to keep recycling this thing which we all know and all despise andhave no respect for," said Hargrove, a 25-year veteran of the House.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Memo to the Media: Extreme Weather Is Linked to Global Warming
By Paul Rogat Loeb, AlterNet

Posted on January 17, 2007, Printed on January 18, 2007

This article has appeared previously on the Huffington Post and on CommonDreams.

It wasn't Katrina, not even close, but Seattle's storm of the century was nopicnic. It gave me one more a taste of a future where the weather cansuddenly turn--and destroy the habitability of our world. The storm hitSeattle mid-December with pounding rain and 70 mile-an-hour winds, reaching110 miles per hour near the slopes of the Cascade Mountains.

The ground was already soggy from the wettest November in Seattle history,and as the wind and rain uprooted trees, many fell on houses and cars,blocked roads and took down local power lines, cutting off heat and light toover a million residents in the city and surrounding areas. Thirteen peopledied. Sanitation systems overflowed, dumping tens of millions of gallons ofraw sewage into Puget Sound.


Not quite the next JFK
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist | January 18, 2007

DELIVER A dynamite speech. Grab some quick time in Washington. Write twobest-selling books. And, last but not least, look real fine in a bathingsuit .

Barack Obama is making headway in presidential politics by following aformula John F. Kennedy would appreciate: promise change, ooze charisma, anddownplay experience.

The junior senator from Illinois also brings a new element to the JFKequation: his race. He is aiming to become the nation's first blackpresident.

The Kennedy model works well for Obama, but only up to a point.

Compared with Obama, JFK was a seasoned political veteran. When he announcedhis presidential candidacy in January 1960, Kennedy had already representedMassachusetts in Congress for 13 years, first in the House ofRepresentatives and then in the US Senate. Even that resume didn't stopRichard M. Nixon, the vice president and Republican nominee, fromchallenging Kennedy's gravitas and credentials for the White House duringone of their legendary televised debates.


Los Angeles Times,1,4405129,print.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Democrats drying up oil industry tax breaks
By Richard Simon
Times Staff Writer

January 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - When oil company executives came before theRepublican-controlled Congress in 2005 to defend their record profits amidhigh gasoline prices, they were spared the indignity of being sworn in underbright TV lights, as the tobacco chiefs had been a decade earlier.

But with Democrats in charge, perhaps no industry will find the new Congressless hospitable than the oil industry.

That will be underscored Thursday when the House is expected to approve abill that would repeal billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks passedby the GOP-controlled Congress.

The measure would raise about $14 billion over 10 years by repealing the taxbreaks and by closing a loophole that allowed royalty-free offshore oilleases. The money would be used to promote energy conservation and developalternative fuels.


The Washington Post

The GOP in a Quagmire

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, January 18, 2007; A23

The sense of impending political doom that clutches Republican hearts oneweek after President Bush presented his new strategy on Iraq to the nationis stoked by the alarming intelligence brought back from Baghdad byRepublican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota and passed around Capitol Hill.

In a pre-Christmas visit to Iraq, Coleman and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson ofFlorida met with Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the Iraqi government's nationalsecurity adviser. Coleman described their astounding encounter in a Dec. 19blog entry: Dr. Rubaie "maintains that the major challenge facing Iraq isnot a sectarian conflict, but rather al-Qaeda and disgruntled Baathistsseeking to regain power. Both Senator Nelson and I react with incredulity tothat assessment. Rubaie cautions against more troops in Baghdad."

Rubaie denied the overriding reality of sectarian violence in Baghdadbecause his government is tied to the Shiite belligerents in that conflict.While Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pays lip service to Bush's demand thathe crack down on Mahdi Army commander Moqtada al-Sadr, U.S. officialsrecognize that Maliki's political support depends on the Shiite militialeader.


The New York Times

January 18, 2007

A Spy Program in From the Cold

Of the many ways that President Bush has trampled civil liberties and thebalance of powers since the 9/11 attacks, one of the most egregious was hisdecision to order wiretaps of Americans' international calls and e-mailwithout court approval. It was good news, then, when the administrationannounced yesterday that it would now seek a warrant from the proper courtfor that sort of eavesdropping.

The president's decision hardly ends this constitutional crisis. Among otherthings, the public needs to know why Mr. Bush broke the law for more thanfive years and what should be done to ensure there will be no more abuses ofthe wiretap statute.

But we're pleased that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed leaders ofthe Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Bush had decided to end thewarrantless program. He said the administration had worked out a way tospeed the process of getting a warrant from the Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Court to intercept communications to and from the United States"where there is probable cause to believe that one of the communicants is amember or agent of Al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization."


The New York Times

January 18, 2007
A 12th Dallas Convict Is Exonerated by DNA

HOUSTON, Jan. 17 - A 50-year-old Dallas man whose conviction of raping a boyin 1982 cost him nearly half his life in prison and on parole won a courtruling Wednesday declaring him innocent. He said he was not angry, "becausethe Lord has given me so much."

The parolee, James Waller, was exonerated by DNA testing, the 12th personsince 2001 whose conviction in Dallas County has been overturned long afterthe fact as a result of genetic evidence, lawyers said.

"Nowhere else in the nation have so many individual wrongful convictionsbeen proven in one county in such a short span," said Barry C. Scheck,co-founder of the Innocence Project, the legal clinic that championed Mr.Waller's case. In fact, Mr. Scheck said, those 12 such instances are morethan have occurred anywhere else except the entire states of New York andIllinois since the nation's first DNA exoneration, in 1989.

Islam's Sunni-Shiite split
By Dan Murphy, Staff writer of The Christian Science MonitorWed Jan 17, 3:00AM ET

To the outsider, the differences between the Sunni and Shiite Islamic sectsare hard to recognize.

The five pillars of Islam - daily prayer; fasting during Ramadan; almsgiving; the pilgrimage to Mecca; and belief in one, unitary god - are at thecore of both faiths, and most mainstream clerics in each denominationrecognize adherents of the other side as "legitimate" Muslims.

The Koran is the sacred text for both. They believe Muhammad was the prophetand that there will be a resurrection followed by a final judgment when theworld ends.

Adding to the potential confusion is the insistence of many Muslims not tobe identified as Shiite or Sunni, saying they are Muslims and Muslims only.

But, as recent events in Iraq and Lebanon have shown, the differencesbetween the believers are not only seen as important by the communities butnow, as they have for centuries, rest at the core of bloody politicalstruggles.

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