Thursday, January 25, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 24, 2007

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The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
A Case of Hearing Without Listening

Madame Speaker didn't lean over and boink the president on the head with hergavel, or garrote him with her red pashmina.

No one was gelded or cuckolded or left to bleed on the floor of the Senate,as in HBO's "Rome," that other gory saga of a declining empire with peoplewho can't stop talking.

Still, the nation's capital had the aroma of treachery, as former alliesbrutally turned on one another. Despite W.'s attempt to salvage hispresidency last night by changing the subject and going alldomestic-sensitive, Washington was more consumed with betrayal thansubstance.

The city was riveted by opening statements in the Scooter Libby trial, wherethe aspens were turning but not in clusters. Scooter's lawyer claimed thatthe White House had made his client a scapegoat in the Valerie Plame case toprotect Karl Rove because "Boy Genius," as W. calls him, was critical tokeeping the Republican Party in power.


The New York Times

Martin Luther Al-King?

Published: January 24, 2007

It's hard to know what's more disturbing: the barbaric sectarian murders bySunnis and Shiites in Iraq, or the deafening silence with which these massmurders are received in the Muslim world. How could it be that Danishcartoons of Muhammad led to mass violent protests, while unspeakableviolence by Muslims against Muslims in Iraq every day evokes about as muchreaction in the Arab-Muslim world as the weather report? Where is the MuslimMartin Luther King? Where is the "Million Muslim March" under the banner:"No Shiites, No Sunnis: We are all children of the Prophet Muhammad."

I can logically understand the lack of protest when Muslims kill Americansin Iraq. We're seen as occupiers by many. But I can't understand how themass slaughter of 70 Baghdad college students last week by Sunni suicidebombers or the blowing up of a Shiite mosque on the first day of Ramadan in2005 evoke so little response. Every day it's 100 more.I raise this question because the only hope left for Iraq - if there isany - is not in a U.S. counterinsurgency strategy. That may be necessary,but without a Muslim counternihilism strategy that delegitimizes the massmurder of Muslims by Muslims, there is no hope for decent politics there. Ittakes a village, and right now the Muslim village is mute. It has no moralvoice when it comes to its own.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Libby Defense Portrays Client as a Scapegoat

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., the vice president's former chiefof staff, was made a scapegoat by White House officials to protect thepresident's longtime political adviser, Karl Rove, Mr. Libby's lawyerasserted in his opening statement on Tuesday.

The unexpected assertion may foreshadow an effort to put distance betweenMr. Libby and the administration.

The statement by the lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., was the first indicationthat Mr. Libby, who is facing five felony counts of lying to investigators,would seek to deflect some of the blame onto his former White Housecolleagues.

Mr. Wells did not, however, fully explain the connection between an effortto protect Mr. Rove and the actions that led to Mr. Libby's indictment. Itwas also the first sign that there had been fighting within the Bushadministration over the C.I.A. leak investigation.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Bush Insists U.S. Must Not Fail in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - President Bush tried to resuscitate his ailingpresidency Tuesday night, using his State of the Union address to present amodest agenda of energy and health care proposals while warning anincreasingly assertive Congress against undercutting his new Iraq strategy.

It was a speech that reflected Mr. Bush's difficult circumstances. It waslimited in ambition and political punch at home, with no proposals to rivalhis call two years ago to remake Social Security, no mention of rebuildingNew Orleans and no allusions to limiting stem cell research or banning gaymarriage.

And when it came to his plan to send additional troops to Iraq, he wasforced to plead with the Democrats who now control Congress - and with agrowing number of Republican critics - to "give it a chance to work."


The Washington Post

Va.'s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush
Va. Senator Urges Change in Direction for Economy, Iraq War

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; A12

Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) delivered a forceful nine-minute response toPresident Bush's State of the Union address last night, promising anaggressive challenge to Bush's Iraq and economic policies from the newlyempowered Democratic majority in Congress.

Speaking live from a historic Capitol Hill meeting room, Webb displayed thesame blunt manner that won over Virginia voters in November and latergenerated headlines after a face-to-face exchange with Bush at the WhiteHouse.

Webb accused the president of taking the country into Iraq "recklessly" andforcing it to endure "a mismanaged war for nearly four years."


The Washington Post

Ex-Spy Crafted Watergate, Other Schemes

By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; A01

E. Howard Hunt, 88, the shadowy former CIA man who organized the Watergatebreak-in and other "dirty tricks" that ultimately brought down thepresidency of Richard M. Nixon, died of complications from pneumoniayesterday at a hospital in Miami.

The Watergate episode was the most notorious caper in a colorful career thatincluded the overthrow of a Guatemalan president, oversight of a group ofCuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and such over-the-top ideas asfirebombing the Brookings Institution to distract guards while his crewburglarized the think tank.

Melodramatic and devious in character, resembling the actor Gene Hackman inappearance, Hunt donned a cheap red wig and wore a device that altered hisgait while casing another burglary site -- the office of a psychiatrist toDaniel Ellsberg, who had released the classified Pentagon Papers on theVietnam War.


Hillary: I'll Be My Own Man
by The Associated Press

Posted: January 23, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET

(Washington) If elected president, Hillary Rodham Clinton says her spouseand former Oval Office occupant will be a "tremendous asset," but she's thedecider.

"I'm running to be the president, to make the decisions," the New Yorksenator told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

For his part, former President Clinton told a New York audience that helooked forward to playing a "supporting role" in his wife's campaign.

"I'll do whatever I'm asked to do," he said at a book party Monday night forTerry McAuliffe, the chairman of Sen. Clinton's presidential campaign."She's got the best combination of mind and heart, the ability to lead andlearn, to stand fast ... and to make honorable agreements with people whodisagree with her than anybody I've known."


The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Jan. 23, 2007

Ex-dictator Noriega to be released Sept. 9

Post a Comment
El Nuevo Herald

It's official and final: Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega,held in Miami-Dade on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, willbe released from prison on Sept. 9 after completing his sentence.

The news was revealed to El Nuevo Herald by Noriega's attorney, FrankRubino. The release order appears on the official Web page of the U.S.Bureau of Prisons.

''There is no turning back. The order is obligatory and nobody can stopit,'' Rubino said.

According to Rubino, Noriega, who is ''in very good health,'' will return toPanama as soon as possible. He is 72 years old.

''He wants to go home. He has no intention of remaining here,'' Rubino said.


Carter wins applause at Brandeis
Defends stance on Palestinians; critic speaks later
By David Abel and James Vaznis, Globe Staff | January 24, 2007

WALTHAM -- Jimmy Carter, in a carefully orchestrated visit, receivedmultiple ovations last night during his speech at Brandeis University. Loudapplause greeted his rebuttal of critics who have called him an anti-Semitebecause of his views on Israel.

The 82-year-old former president, whose best-selling book "Palestine PeaceNot Apartheid" has angered many Jewish groups and others nationwide, spokein a gym packed with about 1,700 Brandeis students, faculty, and othermembers of the campus community. About 50 protesters gathered outside, butthe only protest visible inside the gym was "Pro Israel, Pro Peace" buttonsworn by about 200 students.

"This is the first time that I've ever been called a liar and a bigot and ananti-Semite and a coward and a plagiarist," Carter said to a hushed audienceat the school, which has a predominantly Jewish student body, referring tothe reaction to his book.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
In Address, Bush Insists U.S. Must Not Fail in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - President Bush tried to resuscitate his ailingpresidency Tuesday night, using his State of the Union address to present amodest agenda of energy and health care proposals while warning anincreasingly assertive Congress against undercutting his new Iraq strategy.

It was a speech that reflected Mr. Bush's difficult circumstances. It waslimited in ambition and political punch at home, with no proposals to rivalhis call two years ago to remake Social Security, no mention of rebuildingNew Orleans and no allusions to limiting stem cell research or banning gaymarriage.

And when it came to his plan to send additional troops to Iraq, he wasforced to plead with the Democrats who now control Congress - and with agrowing number of Republican critics - to "give it a chance to work."


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
The State of the Union

The White House spin ahead of George W. Bush's seventh State of the Unionaddress was that the president would make a bipartisan call to revive hisdomestic agenda with "bold and innovative concepts." The problem with thatwas obvious last night - in six years, Mr. Bush has shown no interest inbipartisanship, and his domestic agenda was set years ago, with huge taxcuts for wealthy Americans and crippling debt for the country.

Combined with the mounting cost of the war in Iraq, that makes boldness andinnovation impossible unless Mr. Bush truly changes course. And he gave nohint of that last night. Instead, he offered up a tepid menu of ideas thatwould change little: a health insurance notion that would make only a tinydent in a huge problem. More promises about cutting oil consumption withbarely a word about global warming. And the same lip service aboutimmigration reform on which he has failed to deliver.

At times, Mr. Bush sounded almost as if he'd gotten the message of the 2006elections. "Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on -as long as we are willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done," he said.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
A Healthy, Well-Regulated Wall Street

A healthy financial sector is crucial to the economic well-being of thiscountry and to New York City in particular. And it is true that Wall Streetis facing ever stiffer competition from financial markets like London's andHong Kong's. But beware of the doomsayers who argue that American marketsare in free fall and - not incidentally - contend that looser regulationsare the only way to save them.

Senator Charles Schumer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined that chorus thisweek. In a new report, they warn that without changes to what they callAmerica's "stringent regulations and high litigation risks," this country'sshare of the lucrative finance business will decline further, at a cost ofbillions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

We certainly don't want American regulations to drive away good business.But it is first important to remember that when investors lose their shirtsin huge frauds like Enron, plenty of damage is done to markets as well. Andany discussion about the health of our financial industry must be as honestand open as possible. This report at times seems to cull facts to provepredetermined conclusions.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Return of the Drug Company Payoffs

Two excessively lenient court decisions have allowed the manufacturers ofbrand-name drugs to resume the underhanded practice of paying genericcompetitors to keep their drugs off the market. It is a costly legalloophole that needs to be plugged by Congressional legislation.

The problem arises when a generic manufacturer tries to take its drug tomarket before the patent on a brand-name drug has expired by arguing thatits product does not infringe upon the patent or that the patent is invalid.Huge sums of money are at stake, especially with blockbuster drugs whoseannual sales can exceed a billion dollars.

Rather than risk it all, a brand-name manufacturer may choose to pay itsgeneric competitor substantial compensation to drop its challenge and delaymarketing its drug. Both companies make out handsomely. The big losers areconsumers and the public and private insurers that must continue to paymonopoly prices for the brand-name drugs.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
What if Israel and Syria Find Common Ground?

ISRAEL'S newspapers are rife with reports of a peace agreement secretlyforged between Israeli and Syrian negotiators. Though both the Syrian andIsraeli governments have denied any involvement in the talks, pastexperience shows that such disavowals are often the first indication oftruth behind the rumors.

Certainly, there is nothing new about the details of the purported plan,which involves a staged Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, occupiedsince 1967, and the full normalization of relations between Damascus andJerusalem. Nor is there a precedent in the willingness of Israeli and Arableaders to enter into direct discussions without the participation orknowledge of the United States.

What is new is the Bush administration's apparent opposition to aSyrian-Israeli accord and the possibility that Israel, by seeking peace withone of its Arab neighbors, risks precipitating a crisis with the UnitedStates.


The New York Times

January 24, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
State of the Union: Another Take
Randy Newman, the singer, songwriter and composer, performed this song atCarnegie Hall in 2006. It will be released soon online. This is an abridgedversion.

A Few Words in Defense of Our Country
By Randy Newman

I'd like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people aren't bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they're the worst that we've had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They had split Gaul into three parts
Fed the Christians to the lions
And burned down the City
And one of 'em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That's like vice president or something
That's not a very good example, is it?
But wait, here's one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position



The Washington Post

The Knee-Jerk Opposition

By Ruth Marcus
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; A23

If George W. Bush proposes something, it must be bad. Such is the knee-jerkstate of partisan suspiciousness that when the president actually endorses atax increase -- a tax increase that would primarily hit the well-off, noless -- Democrats still howl.

Such is the level of distrust that when the president finally disavows thefree lunch and comes up with a program not financed with deficit spending --indeed, one that would actually bring in extra revenue as the years go on --Democrats still howl.

Listening to Democratic reaction to Bush's new health insurance proposal,you get the sense that if Bush picked a plank right out of the Democraticatform -- if he introduced Hillarycare itself -- and stuck it in his Stateof the Union address, Democrats would churn out press releases denouncingit.


The Washington Post

Our Delusional Hedgehog

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; A23

In the beginning, George W. Bush sent American forces into Iraq with noapparent thought about the sectarian tensions that could explode once SaddamHussein was ousted. Now, nearing the end of his presidency, Bush is sendingmore American forces into Iraq with no apparent regard for the verdict ofthe American people, rendered in November's election, that they've had itwith his war. And, by the evidence of all available polling, with Bushhimself.

The decline in Bush's support to Watergate-era Nixonian depths since heannounced that his new Iraq policy was his old Iraq policy, only more so,stems, I suspect, from three conclusions that the public has reached aboutthe president and his war. The first, simply, is that the war is no longerwinnable and, worse, barely comprehensible since it has evolved into aSunni-Shiite conflict. The second is that Bush, in all matters pertaining tohis war, is a one-trick president who keeps doing the same thing over andover, never mind that it hasn't worked. In Isaiah Berlin's typology ofleaders, Bush isn't merely a hedgehog who knows one thing rather than manythings. He's a delusional hedgehog who knows one thing that isn't so.


The Washington Post

New Face on a Tough War

By David Ignatius
Wednesday, January 24, 2007; A23

For a nation bitterly divided over Iraq, the one point of agreement seems tobe that Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is the right commander for U.S. forces inBaghdad. That gives Petraeus a surge of the most important strategic assetin this war -- which is time. But it also locks him into an awkward role fora professional military officer, as chief public spokesman for a war thepublic has come to doubt.

As long as Iraq was "Bush's war," it looked like a lost cause. This week, itbecame in part "Petraeus's war." The fundamentals on the ground appear asbleak as ever, and polls show the public doubts the war is winnable. ButPetraeus offers something new: He is the last frail hope for a bipartisanconsensus on Iraq.

Petraeus won plaudits yesterday from nearly every member of the Senate ArmedServices Committee, continuing the celebratory tone that greeted hisnomination by President Bush. Even Sen. Edward Kennedy, one of the sharpestcritics of the war, had good things to say about the new commander. It was amomentary honeymoon from acrimonious debate.


The Washington Post

Court Rules Against Foster Parents
Chinese Couple To Get Child

By Tamara Jones
Washington Post Staff Writer

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a 7-year-old girl raised byan American couple since infancy must be returned to her Chinese parents,who say they never intended to give her up for adoption.

Shaoqiang He, a 42-year-old restaurant manager in Memphis, said he willprobably return to China with his family after a transition period for AnnaMae He. She turns 8 on Sunday and has spent all but the first three weeks ofher life with foster parents Jerry and Louise Baker.

"We have a big bedroom for her in our apartment, and we're going to buyclothing and furniture for her," He said in the telephone interview. "Sheknows by her face that she is Chinese, and she must be asking the Bakers,'Where is my mom? Where is my dad?' "


Mail Privacy

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

January 24, 2007

Bush signing statement raises questions

Maybe President Bush just likes to waste time writing out meaninglesssigning statements to attach to legislation. Or maybe it's more complicatedthan that. Whatever it is, the president should stay out of Americans'
private mail.

When Bush signed a postal reform bill into law last month, he added asigning statement saying his administration had the right, "in exigentcircumstances," to open mail without a warrant. White House Press SecretaryTony Snow said the statement didn't represent a change in policy or in thelaw regarding such searches. But then why did Bush feel the need to say it?

The Constitution and the law are very clear: except in an emergency, awarrant is required before any government agent can open first-class mail.Such clarity requires nothing further from the president, and the presidentshouldn't have to be told to respect the law.


The Los Angeles Times,0,2387115,print.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Speaking on demand
The State of the Union address, a constitutional requirement, seemed moreforced than ever this year.

January 24, 2007

IT IS ALWAYS tempting to take the State of the Union address seriously. Itis the Constitution, after all, that requires that the president "from timeto time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," andeven if the substance of the address rarely inspires, there is always thespectacle itself: the full chamber, the shouts and applause of the audience,the surprise guests in the gallery.

This year, however, the speech felt even more compulsory than usual.President Bush seemed at times to be going through the motions, reassertinghis position or making proposals on a number of issues - immigration,healthcare, education, the war in Iraq, energy independence - in an effortto remain relevant in the face of a Democratic Congress and plummetingpublic support. It's difficult to know how many of his ideas will amount toanything. On a few fronts, however, they're either interesting or relevant(though not often both).


The Showbuzz

Gore "Thrilled" By Oscar Nominations

NEW YORK, Jan. 23, 2007

(AP) Who says politics is show business for ugly people?

"An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's film on the perils of global warming,scored two Oscar nominations Tuesday - for best documentary feature and bestoriginal song.

While he is not technically a nominee - the film's director, DavisGuggenheim, won the nod, as did singer Melissa Etheridge for the song "INeed to Wake Up" - Gore said he was "thrilled" that his movie was honored.

"The film ... has brought awareness of the climate crisis to people in theUnited States and all over the world," Gore said in an e-mail statement. "Iam so grateful to the entire team and pleased that the Academy hasrecognized their work. This film proves that movies really can make adifference."

Aides say the former vice president plans to walk the red carpet withHollywood's beautiful people at the Academy Awards ceremony next month.


Los Angeles Times,1,2307973,print.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Contradictions seen in alternative energy plan
By Richard Simon, Elizabeth Douglass and John O'Dell
Times Staff Writers

January 24, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush's proposals to reduce U.S. gasoline consumptionby 20% in 10 years include more specific and ambitious new goals than inprevious White House statements, but they also appear to rely on assumptionsabout energy markets, politics and technology that some experts say aredebatable, and include some apparent contradictions.

In general, Bush's proposal to boost alternative fuels such as ethanol wasgreeted with conditional enthusiasm by many scientists, environmentalistsand members of Congress. His plan would require suppliers to include 35billion gallons of alternative fuels in the nation's vehicle fuel supply by2017, up from the current 5 billion gallons.

"It is in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply - and theway forward is through technology," Bush said. " . We need to press on withbattery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use ofclean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. We must continue investing in newmethods of producing ethanol - using everything from wood chips, to grasses,to agricultural wastes."


SMU tracks students' political opinions

Democratic, GOP reaction predictable in audience response study

11:32 PM CST on Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BY HOLLY K. HACKER / The Dallas Morning News

UNIVERSITY PARK - When it comes to energy policy and fighting AIDS andmalaria in Africa, President Bush gets high marks. But he gets mixed resultson education policy and sending more troops to Iraq.

That's the verdict from a group of Southern Methodist University students ofvarying political persuasions who watched Tuesday's State of the Unionaddress from the campus that may soon become home to Mr. Bush's presidentiallibrary.

Without saying a word, they expressed their opinions loud and clear.Throughout the speech, they registered their reactions on electronic dialsthat ranged from 1 (meaning they hated what they heard) to 100 (they lovedit).

Overall, the 15 students gave Bush relatively high marks, 66 out of 100.That broke down to 82 for Republicans and 50 for Democrats (some studentscalled themselves independent but for research purposes were forced to picka side).


Los Angeles Times,0,3262174,print.story?coll=la-home-headlines


Bush tries to regain footing
Some analysts say his small steps on domestic concerns may be too little,too late in his presidency.
By Janet Hook
Times Staff Writer

January 24, 2007

WASHINGTON - Can this presidency be saved?

That's the question that loomed Tuesday as President Bush gave his State ofthe Union speech in the most inhospitable climate he has ever faced for hisannual address to Congress.

In proposing a short list of initiatives on healthcare, immigration andenergy, Bush gave more attention than he has in past speeches to domesticissues. That agenda was potentially more appealing to Democrats - or atleast harder for them to dismiss out of hand - than his ill-fated plan tooverhaul Social Security, which was to be the crown jewel of his secondterm.

But Bush's plans may be too modest to accomplish the broader challengefacing him: how to rescue the last quarter of his presidency fromirrelevance and patch his tattered legacy. Bush is trying to regain hisfooting while Iraq is littered with carnage, Democrats are calling the shotson Capitol Hill, senior members of his own party are openly questioning hisIraq policy, and a vast majority of the public is disenchanted with hisleadership.

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