Wednesday, January 03, 2007


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Houston Chronicle

Jan. 3, 2007, 1:44AM
Obama's candor may be issue
His admission of drug use could get a closer look if candidacy unfolds

Washington Post

WASHINGTON - Long before the national media spotlight began to shine on him,Barack Obama had this to say about himself: "Junkie. Pothead. That's whereI'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. ...I got high (to) push questions of who I was out of my mind."

The Democratic senator from Illinois and likely presidential candidateoffered the confession in a memoir written 11 years ago, not long after hegraduated from law school and well before he contemplated life on thenational stage. At the time, 20,000 copies were printed and the book seemeddestined for obscurity.

Today, Obama, 45, is near the top of the polls of potential Democraticpresidential contenders, and Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race andInheritance has regularly been on the best-seller lists, with 800,000 copiesin print. Taken along with his latest best-seller, The Audacity of Hope:Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Obama has become a publishingphenomenon.


Women's milestones in U.S. politics
By The Associated Press | January 3, 2007

A look at some milestones for women in U.S. politics:

--In 1916, Jeanette Rankin, R-Mont., became the first woman elected to theHouse.

--The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1920, grantingwomen the right to vote.

--In 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton, D-Ga., became the first woman to serve inthe Senate. She was appointed to fill temporarily a vacant seat and servedfor only two days.

--Nellie Tayloe Ross, D-Wyo., became the first woman governor, in 1925,after she was elected to replace her deceased husband.

--Rep. Mae Ella Nolan, R-Calif., became the first woman to chair acongressional committee, in 1925, when she headed the committee onexpenditures in the Post Office Department.

--Sen. Hattie Wyatt Caraway, D-Ark., was appointed to the Senate to succeedher deceased husband in 1931. She later became the first woman elected tothe Senate.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Jan. 03, 2007

Saddam co-defendants to be executed Thurs.

Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Preparations are under way to hang two of Saddam Hussein'sco-defendants on Thursday but the details still have to be worked out withthe American military, an Iraqi government official said Wednesday.

Saddam's half brother Barzan Ibrahim, a former intelligence chief, and AwadHamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, wereoriginally scheduled to hang with Saddam, who was put to death on Saturday.

But their execution was delayed until after Islam's Eid al-Adha holiday,which ends Wednesday for Iraq's majority Shiites.

Al-Arabiya satellite television and Al-Furat TV, run by Iraq's major ShiiteMuslim political organization, both reported Wednesday that Ibrahim andal-Bandar would go to the gallows on Thursday.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4603997.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

Newly elected mayor's death ruled a suicide
By Lianne Hart
Los Angeles Times

January 3, 2007

The shooting death of the newly elected mayor of a southwestern Louisianatown has been ruled a suicide, but the case has been turned over to statepolice at his family's request, investigators said Tuesday.

The body of Gerald "Wash" Washington, 57, was found Saturday night lyingnext to his truck, a single gunshot wound to the chest. A pistol was nearby."Preliminary investigation of the facts indicate a self-inflicted gunshotwound, and the coroner's office ruled it a suicide," sheriff's spokeswomanKim Myers said.

Washington's family originally declined to involve the state police butreversed that decision Tuesday, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso saidin a statement. "It's always hard for family members to believe a loved onecaused their own death," he said.

Members of Washington's family could not be reached for comment.


The Washington Post

FBI Reports Duct-Taping, 'Baptizing' at Guantanamo

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; A01

FBI agents witnessed possible mistreatment of the Koran at the militaryprison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including at least one instance in which aninterrogator squatted over Islam's holy text in an apparent attempt tooffend a captive, according to bureau documents released yesterday.

In October 2002, a Marine captain allegedly squatted over a copy of theKoran during intensive questioning of a Muslim prisoner, who was "incensed"by the tactic, according to an FBI agent. A second agent described similarevents, but it is unclear from the documents whether it was a separate case.

In another incident that month, interrogators wrapped a bearded prisoner'shead in duct tape "because he would not stop quoting the Koran," accordingto an FBI agent, the documents show. The agent, whose account wascorroborated by a colleague, said that a civilian contractor laughed aboutthe treatment and was eager to show it off.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007
Panel Seeks End to Death Penalty for New Jersey

TRENTON, Jan. 2 - A legislative commission recommended on Tuesday that NewJersey become the first state to abolish the death penalty since statesbegan reinstating their capital punishment laws 35 years ago. Its reportfound "no compelling evidence" that capital punishment serves a legitimatepurpose, and increasing evidence that it "is inconsistent with evolvingstandards of decency."

The report, whose lone dissenter was the original author of the state'smodern death penalty statute, came a year after New Jersey joined Illinoisand Maryland in imposing moratoriums on executions, and amid growing uneaseamong politicians and the public about capital punishment.

Eight other states, including New York, have also suspended executions inrecent years, most because of court decisions. Maryland had lifted itsmoratorium in 2003, after a year, but a court essentially reinstated it lastmonth.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007
A Light Bulb Goes On

Bad habits can be hard to break. So it's great news that Wal-Mart is puttingits considerable heft behind one of the easiest ways to reduce energyconsumption and the production of global-warming gases: the corkscrew-shapedlight bulbs of the future.

Light bulbs don't have tailpipes to remind us that their use adds topollution. But more than half of the nation's electricity comes fromcoal-burning plants. Switching from familiar bulbs to longer-lasting,energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps makes sense economically andenvironmentally.

As Michael Barbaro reported in The Times yesterday, Wal-Mart is pushing tosell 100 million compact fluorescents a year. Because they use 75 percentless electricity, that would save customers $3 billion on their electricitybills and save the world from 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gases.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007
Karachi Journal
When She Speaks, He's Breaking All of Islam's Taboos

KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan. 2 - Ali Saleem may have devised the perfect, ifimprobable, cover for breaking taboos in conservative, Muslim Pakistan.

In a country where publicly talking about sex is strictly off limits, Mr.Saleem has managed not only to bring up the subject on his prime-timetelevision talk show - but to do so without stirring a backlash fromfundamentalist Islamic clerics.

And he has done so as a woman.

When Mr. Saleem takes to the airwaves, he is Begum Nawazish Ali, acoquettish widow who interviews Pakistan's glitterati and some of its toppoliticians.

A real woman could not possibly do what Mr. Saleem does. In the unlikelyevent a station would broadcast such a show, the hostess would be shunned.And taking on the guise of a married woman - whose virtue is crucial to herwhole family - would be equally impossible.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

A Hanging and a Funeral

Last Saturday was a strange day. It started with the hanging of SaddamHussein. The more I read about the hasty, quasi-legal maneuvers used byIraq's Shiite leaders to rush Saddam to the gallows on a Muslim holiday, Idal-Adha, and the more I watched the grainy cellphone video of the event, inwhich a guard is heard taunting Saddam with chants of "Moktada! Moktada!" -the Shiite cleric whose death squads have killed hundreds of Sunnis - andthe more I read of the insults Saddam spat back, the more it resembled atribal revenge ritual rather than the culmination of a constitutionalprocess in which America should be proud to have participated.

Bassam al-Husseini, an aide to Iraq's Shiite prime minister, was quoted bythe BBC as saying Saddam's execution was "an Id gift to the Iraqi people."Many Sunnis would not share that view. For his part, Saddam, a Sunni, usedhis last breaths to spew vitriol against "the traitors, the Americans, thespies and the Persians." For Persians, read Shiites.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Swissinfo, Switzerland, January 2, 2007

First same-sex partnership registered in Ticino

The first same-sex partnership was registered on Tuesday at a registryoffice in canton Ticino after the entry into force of the new federalpartnership act.

As of January 1, gay and lesbian couples are able to have their civil unionofficially recognised thanks to a new federal law passed in 2005.

According to the Italian-language station Radio svizzera di lingua italiana(RSI), the couple who registered their partnership have lived together for30 years but wish to remain anonymous.

"The ceremony was moving and very well organised by the registry officer,"said Donatella Zappa, from the pro-gay marriage association "Imbarcoimmediato", who attended the ceremony.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007
Protecting Internet Democracy

One of the big winners in the last election may turn out to be theprinciple, known as net neutrality, that Internet service providers shouldnot be able to favor some content over others. Democrats who are moving intothe majority in Congress - led by Ron Wyden in the Senate and Edward Markeyin the House - say they plan to fight hard to pass a net neutrality bill,and we hope that they do. It is vital to preserve the Internet's role inpromoting entrepreneurship and free expression.

Internet users now get access to any Web site on an equal basis. Foreign anddomestic sites, big corporate home pages and little-guy blogs all show up ona user's screen in the same way when their addresses are typed into abrowser. Anyone who puts up a Web page can broadcast it to the world.

Cable and telephone companies are talking, however, about creating atwo-tiered Internet with a fast lane and a slow lane. Companies that payhefty fees would have their Web pages delivered to Internet users in thecurrent speedy fashion. Companies and individuals that do not would berelegated to the slow lane.


The Washington Post

The Audacity of Nope

By Ruth Marcus
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; A19

The setting: Late January, outside a Chicago housing project where Sen.Barack Obama once worked as an organizer. The will-he, won't-he debate aboutthe Illinois Democrat has reached a fever pitch.

In the grip of Obama-mania, the networks are poised to break into liveprogramming to cover the announcement. Flanked by his wife and two youngdaughters, the 45-year-old Obama steps to the microphone.

"My fellow Americans. There's been a lot of talk about whether I'll be apresidential candidate in 2008 -- some of it encouraged by me. I've made mydecision, and I won't be running."

Boos and yells of "No!" from the crowd. Obama raises his hands to quietthem.


The New York Times

January 3, 2007

Political Paper Stolen, Giuliani Camp Says

Advisers to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said yesterday that someoneinfiltrated the Giuliani camp last fall and stole a document about hispresidential prospects and political liabilities. It was then leaked, theysaid, as a "dirty trick" to embarrass Mr. Giuliani and highlight suchheadaches as his controversial former aide, Bernard B. Kerik, and one of hisex-wives, Donna Hanover.

The Daily News was given the 140-page document recently by someone"sympathetic to one of Giuliani's rivals for the White House," The News saidin an article published yesterday. According to the article, the documentproposes a $100 million fund-raising effort for 2007, names an array ofpotential donors, and warns that Mr. Giuliani might face "insurmountable"problems, including questions about Mr. Kerik and Ms. Hanover.

Mr. Giuliani is expected to decide over the next few months whether to runfor president, his advisers say, and he has already formed an exploratorycommittee to raise money.


Activists on the Left Applying Pressure to Democratic Leaders
Liberals Seek Bolder Approach to War, Spying

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; A03

Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress tomorrow are facingmounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontationalcourse on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with someeven calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

The carefully calibrated legislative blitz that Democrats have devised forthe first 100 hours of power has left some activists worried the passionthat swept the party to power in November is already dissipating. A clusterof protesters will greet the new congressional leaders at the Capitoltomorrow. They will not be disgruntled conservatives wary of Democraticcontrol, but liberals demanding a ban on torture, an end to warrantlessdomestic spying and a restoration of curbed civil liberties.

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