Saturday, February 03, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 03, 2007

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The New York Times

February 3, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
No Way Out

"Everything you've heard and read is true. And I am deeply sorry about that." Who said it?

(a) George Bush, about the chilling new intelligence report on Iraq.

(b) Joe Biden, about his self-imploding prolixity.

(c) Condi Rice, on her ability to understand Peyton Manning'svulnerabilities better than Nuri Kamal al-Malaki's.

(d) Silvio Berlusconi, on his wife's Junoesque lightning bolt after hispublic flirting.

(e) Jacques Chirac, after giving a Gallic shrug at the prospect of Irangetting un or deux nuclear weapons.

(f) Hillary Clinton, on enabling the president to invade Iraq.

(g) Barack Obama, for the ultimate sin of not being black enough or whiteenough.

(h) Mary Cheney, on her decision to work on her terrifying dad's homophobiccampaign because the thought of John Kerry was "terrifying."

(i) Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, about his affair with hiscampaign manager's wife.

The answer is Gavin Newsom.

It's rare to get a simple apology when a complex obfuscation will do.


The Washington Post

In Va. House, 'Profound Regret' on Slavery
Delegates Unanimously Pass Resolution of Contrition About State's Role

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A01

RICHMOND, Feb. 2 -- The House of Delegates unanimously approved a resolution
Friday expressing "profound regret" for Virginia's role in the slave trade,
a significant act of contrition by a body that used to start the day with a
salute that symbolized the state's Confederate heritage.

The resolution, one of several that lawmakers are considering as part of the400th anniversary celebration of the founding of Jamestown, is one of thebiggest steps any state has taken in offering remorse for the enslavement ofmillions of Africans and Caribbean islanders during the 17th, 18th and 19thcenturies.

The statement also condemns the "egregious wrongs" that European settlersinflicted on Native Americans.

"The General Assembly hereby expresses its profound regret for theCommonwealth's role in sanctioning the immoral institution of human slavery,in the historic wrongs visited upon native peoples, and in all other formsof discrimination and injustice that have been rooted in racial and culturalbias and misunderstanding," the resolution reads.


The Washington Post

States' Map For Saving The Oceans

By Leon E. Panetta and James D. Watkins
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A15

Buried beneath the headlines about warming oceans, harmful algae blooms anddwindling seafood stocks is the fact that it is within our power to makeimmediate, measurable progress toward solving the problems facing ouroceans. Innovative state leaders are showing us the way, and the federalgovernment needs to follow their example.

Over the past three years, California, acting to preserve a vital stateresource, has developed an Ocean Action Plan; launched the mostcomprehensive approach to marine protected areas in the nation; and investedmore than $30 million in projects to improve water quality, protect oceanhabitats and manage sand on its beaches. In the past year, at least 18states have taken similar steps. Regional, bipartisan alliances were formedto protect the waters, shores, species and economies of the Gulf of Mexico,New York, Puget Sound and the West Coast.


The Washington Post

Will We Lose in the Stem Cell Race?

By Joseph Fuller and Brock Reeve
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A15

Americans take it for granted that they are the world's leaders in the lifesciences. And it's true that, today, American companies account for 60percent of global pharmaceutical sales and 75 percent of biotech sales, andthat they dominate the market for medical devices. But complacency is apowerful enemy; our leadership position is not a national birthright. Wecould fumble it just as we fumbled leadership in the consumer electronicsand automotive sectors.

In science and technology-intensive fields, fumbling is particularly easy.Less than 30 years ago, five of the world's top 10 pharmaceutical companies,including the two largest, were European. Between 1980 and 1984, Europeinvented more than half of the world's new drugs. Observers assumed thatEurope would lead the anticipated revolution in biotechnology.

Today, however, American companies account for more than three-quarters ofworldwide biotech revenue and have almost 4,500 products in development -- 21/2 times as many as European companies.


The New York Times

February 3, 2007

The Groundhog Emerged, and Sounded a Lot Like Al Gore

Groundhog Day has been part of the Western calendar since around the fifthcentury, which means it has survived centuries of Catholicism, theReformation, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the advent ofthe agriculture of cloned sheep.

But whether it will survive in an age of global warming was one question -albeit not the biggest one - raised by the awkward coincidence yesterday ofGroundhog Day 2007 falling on the same day a report was released by theIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations.

The report said that global warming was an unequivocal fact likely to makesummers hotter and winters warmer for the next few centuries, withpotentially dire consequences for the ecosystem. Groundhogs around thecountry, including the legendary Pennsylvania groundhog known asPunxsutawney Phil, basically concurred yesterday, shunning their shadows topredict an early spring.

But in this winter that almost wasn't, that hardly seemed an accomplishmentin prognostication - an untrained house cat could most likely have said thesame.


The New York Times

February 3, 2007

Texas Is First to Require Cancer Shots for Schoolgirls

HOUSTON, Feb. 2 - Texas on Friday became the first state to require all 11-and 12-year-old girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated against asexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

Averting a potentially divisive debate in the Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry,a Republican, signed an executive order mandating shots of the Merck vaccineGardasil as protection against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, starting inSeptember 2008.

Mr. Perry's action, praised by health advocates, caught many by surprise ina largely conservative state where sexual politics is often a battleground.

"I had no idea; I was absolutely caught off guard," said RepresentativeJessica Farrar, Democrat of Houston, who sponsored a bill to require thevaccinations starting this September. "Normally, the governor does not takethings like this upon himself, although I'm glad he did."


The Washington Post

Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Take the Stage

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 2, 2007; 1:22 PM

Democrats, fired up by their recent midterm election victories, todaylaunched a campaign to win the White House in 2008.One after another,Democratic presidential candidates paraded into the Democratic NationalCommittee's winter meeting in Washington and, in seven-minute windows, gavesnapshots of their stump speeches.

In perhaps her most aggressive speech since announcing she is running forpresident, Sen. Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) repeated her mantra that she is "into win" -- and declared that victory in the presidential campaign was a toppriority.

"I know a thing or two about winning campaigns," Clinton said to anapplauding crowd. "When our party, or our candidates, are attacked, we havegot to stand up and fight back. I have always done that and I always will. Iknow how they think, how they act, and how to defeat them. And if you giveme the chance that is exactly what we will do together in 2008."

Clinton, widely seen as the national front-runner but in a close race inearly-voting states, followed a speech by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, whodelivered a serious set of remarks that at times brought the hall to ahushed silence.


The New York Times

February 3, 2007

Republicans Plan to Block Iraq Debate

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2 - Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican

leader, said Friday that his party would unite to block Senate debate nextweek on a bipartisan resolution opposing President Bush's troop buildup inIraq unless the Democrats allowed votes on at least two Republicanalternatives.

Mr. McConnell said even Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican whois the chief author of the bipartisan proposal, and other Republicansbacking his plan had agreed to prevent the resolution from reaching thefloor Monday if Democrats did not agree to that demand.

"We're in a position to insist on a procedure for considering these mattersthat we think is fair to us," said Mr. McConnell, who has been negotiatingthe framework of the debate with Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majorityleader. "We can't dictate the outcome necessarily, but we're insistent upona process that we are comfortable with."


The New York Times

February 3, 2007

The Governor's Health Plan

Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to freeze Medicaid payments at current levels forhospitals and nursing homes is causing understandable consternation amonghealth care institutions that are already in precarious financial straits.But the governor's new budget proposal looks like a responsible way to freeup money to help pay for a huge increase in state aid for education andsubsidize the property tax cuts he deems necessary to win approval of hiseducation proposals - and accelerate much-needed reform in the way medicalcare is delivered.

New York currently spends roughly a third of the state budget, or some $46.5billion, on Medicaid, far more than any other state. That makes Medicaid areasonable place to look for savings. By ramping down the rate of growth,the governor's new budget proposes to save more than $1.2 billion fromprojected state spending on Medicaid and a related health program in thenext fiscal year.


The Washington Post

Brazilians' Arrest Focuses Scrutiny on Evangelical Groups

By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A01

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Before a service at Reborn in Christ Church this week,a man hawked gospel CDs outside the front door. In the cavernous nave,volunteers placed envelopes soliciting cash donations on each of about 1,000chairs, while cameramen working for the church's television network focusedon the altar.

Everything was ready, except the church's founders and spiritual leaders.

Estevam Hernandes-Filho and his wife, Sonia -- who oversee more than 1,000churches in Brazil and several in Florida -- were under house arrest inMiami, accused of carrying more than $56,000 in undeclared cash. Some of themoney had been stuffed between the pages of their Bible, according to U.S.customs agents who detained the couple last month at the Miami airport.


The Washington Post

Cheney's Fingerprint?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, February 2, 2007; 12:58 PM

The revelation yesterday that Scooter Libby acknowledged in November 2003that he and Vice President Cheney may have talked in July about whether totell reporters that Valerie Plame worked at the CIA further bolsters thetheory that Cheney may be the prime force behind this whole sordid tale.

The conversation in question took place on July 12, 2003, as Cheney and histhen-chief of staff were flying back from an event in Norfolk on Air ForceTwo.

According to multiple reports, Cheney was talking about how to discreditPlame's husband, Joseph Wilson, who was making trouble with his suggestionthat the administration manipulated intelligence about Saddam Hussein'sweapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq. Wilson felt theadministration had intentionally disregarded the findings of a trip to Nigerhe had undertaken for the CIA.


The New York Times

February 3, 2007

Science Panel Calls Global Warming 'Unequivocal'

PARIS, Feb. 2 - In a grim and powerful assessment of the future of theplanet, the leading international network of climate scientists hasconcluded for the first time that global warming is "unequivocal" and thathuman activity is the main driver, "very likely" causing most of the rise intemperatures since 1950.

They said the world was in for centuries of climbing temperatures, risingseas and shifting weather patterns - unavoidable results of the buildup ofheat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

But their report, released here on Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change, said warming and its harmful consequences could besubstantially blunted by prompt action.


The Washington Post

British to Show Al Gore Movie in Schools

The Associated Press
Friday, February 2, 2007; 11:25 AM

LONDON -- Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore's global warming documentarywill be sent to every secondary school in England as part of a campaign totackle climate change, the government said Friday.

Environment Secretary David Miliband and Education Secretary Alan Johnsonannounced plans to distribute Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," on theday the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was published inParis. The report by leading scientists, said global warming has started andis "very likely" caused by humans.

"The debate over the science of climate change is well and truly over, asdemonstrated by the publication of today's report by the IPCC," Milibandsaid. "Our energies should now be channeled into how we respond in aninnovative and positive way in moving to a low-carbon future."


The Washington Post

The Libby Trial, Two Weeks In

Now that the perjury and obstruction trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby istwo full weeks in, and in case you haven't been following it from pregnantmoment to moment, it's time to identify a few kernels of truth about thecase.

1. It's now obvious why Libby's lawyers intend to focus on a "faulty memory"defense on behalf of their client. Witness after witness, several of thememinently credible, have come forward to tell jurors that Libby knew aboutValerie Plame Wilson, the covert CIA agent, before the time frame he laterdisclosed to grand jurors and federal investigators. If jurors have tochoose only between Libby's statements at face value and the testimony ofall those other witnesses, Libby will lose and be convicted. But if jurorscome to believe that Libby merely made a mistake, he has a chance.

2. In order to make it harder for those jurors to be willing to give Libbythe benefit of that doubt, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is doing amasterful job of introducing evidence, through testimony, that paints Libbyin a shoddy light. Prosecution witnesses, taken together, havecharacaterized him as a slimy bureaucratic operative who was more interestedin his own political survival than the good of the nation. Libby's lawyerswill have to counter this when their witnesses take the stand-- one reasonwhy Vice President Dick Cheney is still expected to be a prime defensewitness.


The Washington Post

DNC Turns Focus to White House
At Party Forum, the Leading Candidates Jockey for Position

By Dan Balz and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A03

With Congress in their control and their eyes now on the White House,Democratic Party leaders took their first look at the party's field ofpresidential candidates yesterday at a forum in which the threefront-runners presented their positions on Iraq and jockeyed over who candefeat the Republicans in 2008.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York presented herself as a tough,experienced pragmatist. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois offered himself as aninspirational critic of politics as usual. And former senator John Edwardsof North Carolina made himself the keeper of the Democratic flame,delivering a call for Democrats to reclaim their heritage.

Addressing the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting, Clinton putfurther distance between herself and President Bush on Iraq. "I want to bevery clear about this," she said. "If I had been president in October of2002, I would not have started this war. . . . If we in Congress don't endthis war before January 2009, as president, I will."


The Washington Post

Pentagon Official Who Criticized Detainee Lawyers Quits

From News Services
Saturday, February 3, 2007; A06

A senior Pentagon official resigned yesterday, the Defense Departmentannounced, three weeks after criticizing lawyers who represent terrorismsuspects.

Charles "Cully" Stimson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detaineeaffairs, called it "shocking" that major U.S. law firms representedGuantanamo Bay detainees free of charge and said they would likely sufferfinancially after their corporate clients learned of the work.

"I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms arerepresenting the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001,those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representingterrorists or representing reputable firms," Stimson said in a Jan. 11interview on Federal News Radio.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Feb. 03, 2007

Romney beats Kerry in flip-flop contest


Last spring when the tender shoots of John Kerry's ambition wererising again like a hardy perennial, I uttered a cri de coeur or, as we sayin English, a shriek: 'Stop Him Before He Kills (The Democrats' Chances)Again.''

Kerry is a good, honorable, thoughtful man but a God-awfulpresidential candidate. And so the one person who choked up at last week'sannouncement that he wasn't going to run again was, well, John Kerry.

But no sooner do we celebrate the demise of one Massachusettscandidate, then up pops the next one. The unlamented former Gov. Mitt Romneyis becoming a true contender, harvesting endorsements and attention inpursuit of the Republican nomination for president.

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