Monday, February 05, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 05, 2007

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The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Feb. 05, 2007


To promote peace, create a Palestinian state


DAVOS, Switzerland -- It was an electric moment in this mountain town a fewdays ago when the young Hashemite king, Abdullah II of Jordan, stood infront of the World Economic Forum and warned of a conflagration that couldspread ''from Beirut to Bombay'' -- pitting Shiite against Sunni, Persiansagainst Arabs with untold consequences for all.

The king saw three potential civil wars on the boil, involving thePalestinians, the Lebanese and the Iraqis. The No. 1 issue that could soothethe region would be the swift creation of a Palestinian state. ''Thecontinued denial of Palestinian rights is a fire starter,'' he said. ``Ifyou don't fix the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you can't have stability inthe region. We will all pay the price for what I think may be the lastopportunity.''

Nothing frustrates Israelis more than the suggestion that solving thePalestinian problem has any bearing on al Qaeda's doings or Iraq. Israel'sRabbi David Rosen called that notion a ``ridiculous canard.''


Universal plan can cost under $300, insurers say
Monthly price is closer to goal
By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff | February 5, 2007

Many state residents will probably be able to buy basic health insurance forless than $300 a month to meet the new state mandate that everyone obtaincoverage, insurers and observers said last week.

Although it might still be too expensive for some people, that would bringthe price closer to what the Legislature envisioned when it passed theuniversal health insurance law last April.

The state's largest health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, said that withmore flexibility from the state, it could offer slimmer coverage for anaverage of $210 a month -- near the price originally suggested by formergovernor Mitt Romney.

"If it's buy or die, they could buy at $210 or $220," said Allen Maltz,chief financial officer for Blue Cross. "It would be a comprehensive plan,covering hospital, office visits, prescription drugs. It wouldn't eliminatecategories of coverage."


The Sun-Sentinel,0,721352,print.story?coll=sns-newsnation-headlines

Study: More Kids Exposed to Online Porn

AP Medical Writer

February 5, 2007, 6:01 AM EST

CHICAGO -- More children and teens are being exposed to online pornography,mostly by accidentally viewing sexually explicit Web sites while surfing theInternet, researchers say.

Forty-two percent of Internet users aged 10 to 17 surveyed said they hadseen online pornography in a recent 12-month span. Of those, 66 percent saidthey did not want to view the images and had not sought them out, Universityof New Hampshire researchers found. Their conclusions appear in February'sPediatrics, due out Monday.

"It's beyond the wild West out there. You've really taken away the age ofinnocence," said Dr. Michael Wasserman, a pediatrician with the OchsnerClinic in Metairie, La., who was not involved in the study.

Online pornography was defined in the study as images of naked people orpeople having sex.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Feb. 05, 2007


Torture case is a test for new law

The first torture case of its kind will be tested in a Miami federalcourtroom as defense attorneys seek the identity of a man who claims the sonof the former Liberian president tortured him.

The son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor is locked up in amaximum-security cell in downtown Miami awaiting trial. The charges:torturing a man in his father's homeland.

Today, an attorney for ''Chuckie'' Taylor Jr. will urge a federaljudge to dismiss the indictment -- the first such criminal case in theUnited States -- because it does not name the Liberian man who accused himof torturing him at gunpoint.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Miguel Caridad says his client, a29-year-old U.S. citizen born in Boston, cannot properly defend himselfagainst such ''vague and incomplete'' accusations.

''The government's unprecedented, close-to-the-vest, poker-game methodof indictment in this case is constitutionally inadequate,'' Caridad wrotein a motion to dismiss the case.


The New York Times

February 5, 2007

U.S. Set to Begin a Vast Expansion of DNA Sampling

The Justice Department is completing rules to allow the collection of DNAfrom most people arrested or detained by federal authorities, a vastexpansion of DNA gathering that will include hundreds of thousands ofillegal immigrants, by far the largest group affected.

The new forensic DNA sampling was authorized by Congress in a little-noticedamendment to a January 2006 renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, whichprovides protections and assistance for victims of sexual crimes. Theamendment permits DNA collecting from anyone under criminal arrest byfederal authorities, and also from illegal immigrants detained by federalagents.

Over the last year, the Justice Department has been conducting an internalreview and consulting with other agencies to prepare regulations to carryout the law.


Technology Review

Monday, February 05, 2007

Algae-Based Fuels Set to Bloom

Oil from microorganisms could help ease the nation's energy woes.
By Kevin Bullis

Relatively high oil prices, advances in technology, and the Bushadministration's increased emphasis on renewable fuels are attracting newinterest in a potentially rich source of biofuels: algae. A number ofstartups are now demonstrating new technology and launching large researchefforts aimed at replacing hundreds of millions of gallons of fossil fuelsby 2010, and much more in the future.

Algae makes oil naturally. Raw algae can be processed to make biocrude, therenewable equivalent of petroleum, and refined to make gasoline, diesel, jetfuel, and chemical feedstocks for plastics and drugs. Indeed, it can beprocessed at existing oil refineries to make just about anything that can bemade from crude oil. This is the approach being taken by startups SolixBiofuels, based in Fort Collins, CO, and LiveFuels, based in Menlo Park, CA.

Alternatively, strains of algae that produce more carbohydrates and less oilcan be processed and fermented to make ethanol, with leftover proteins usedfor animal feed. This is one of the potential uses of algae produced bystartup GreenFuel Technologies Corporation, based in Cambridge, MA.


Obama's race dilemma
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist | February 4, 2007

THE LATEST CONTROVERSY involving Joe Biden confirmed the obvious about thesenator from Delaware: Glibness has its risks.

It also revealed something about Barack Obama: The African-American senatorfrom Illinois isn't sure how to handle race as an issue in his bid for theWhite House.

The last time Biden ran for president, he dropped out after admitting thathe borrowed lines from an inspirational speech given by a Britishpolitician. Twenty years later, his own words undercut his announcement ofanother try. In a shoot-from-the-lips interview with the New York Observer,Biden described Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who isarticulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The words are controversial because they are an honest, if awkwardly stated,expression of the white establishment view of African-American politicianswho preceded Obama -- that their looks, speech, or life style turned offwhite voters, making them unelectable on the national stage.


The New York Times

February 5, 2007
Rebellion Growing as States Challenge a Federal Law to Standardize Driver'sLicenses

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 - Opposition among state officials is turning into anopen revolt against a federal law calling for the creation of standardizeddriver's licenses nationwide that are meant to be less vulnerable to fraud.

Maine legislators started off the rebellion late last month by passing anonbinding resolution that rejected the law, called the Real ID Act, whichCongress passed in 2005. They said that it would cost the state $185 millionto put into place and that instead of making Maine's residents more secure,it would leave them more vulnerable to identity theft.

Since then, legislatures in five states - Georgia, Montana, New Mexico,Washington and Wyoming - have voted in committee or on the floor of onechamber to move similar legislation ahead. The bill adopted in a 99-to-1vote by the Montana House of Representatives would go furthest, orderingstate officials there to ignore the federal law.

Unless the federal law is revised, any state that defies it will riskcausing major inconvenience for its residents, as noncompliant licenses willnot be accepted as a proof of identification at airports, federal buildingsor when applying for federal benefits.


The New York Times

February 5, 2007
Editorial Observer

On Race and the Census: Struggling With Categories That No Longer Apply

Imagine the Census Bureau announcing that it would end the practice ofasking people to identify themselves by race beginning in 2010. Blackelected officials and their allies in the civil rights community would fightthe proposal tooth and nail by arguing that racial statistics were necessaryfor enforcing civil rights laws - especially the Voting Rights Act - andthat dropping race from the census would dilute black political strength.Enemies of affirmative action would jump for joy, believing that they hadfinally won.

But these antagonists aren't the only factions in the fight. A growingnumber of demographers and historians who are fully sympathetic to the civilrights struggle would probably be happy to see the word "race" disappearfrom the census as well. There seems to be an emerging consensus that thesystem of racial classification that has dominated national politics and thecensus for nearly two centuries is so fraught with imprecision - and sotainted by racist ideas that have been disproved by science - that it shouldeventually be dropped altogether.

This view has been percolating among census historians for years. But it hasgained traction since the 1990s, when there was a pitched battle over aproposal that would have added a "multiracial" category to the 2000 census.


The Washington Post

Again Supply-Sider?

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, February 5, 2007; A15

Sen. John McCain, who echoed Teddy Kennedy on taxes when he ran forpresident in 2000, sounds more like Jack Kemp as a 2008 candidate. "I'venever voted for a tax increase in 24 years," he told me last week. "Never,ever, not under any president, including President Reagan, and I will nevervote for a tax increase, nor support a tax increase."

He wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. ("If I didn't vote to makethose tax cuts permanent, it would have the effect of a tax increase.") Hesupports radically scaling back the estate tax and does not now favorupper-income increases in the Social Security tax. McCain gets tax policyadvice from conservatives, including supply-side founding father ArthurLaffer. "I may have changed some of my views," the senator said. "You learnover 24 years."

Thus, McCain passes the Republican tax litmus test, as he did not in 2000.That may be why McCain has lost liberal journalists and othernon-Republicans entranced by his campaign against George W. Bush. McCainpained these former admirers by making peace with Jerry Falwell andadvocating more troops in Iraq, but it is his current position on taxes thatmost aggravates them.


The Washington Post

In Another CIA Abduction, Germany Has an Uneasy Role

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 5, 2007; A11

HAMBURG -- The decision by Munich prosecutors to press charges against CIAcounterterrorism operatives for kidnapping a German citizen, Khaledel-Masri, won widespread applause last week from German politicians and thepublic. "The great ally is not allowed to simply send its thugs out intoEurope's streets," lectured the Munich newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

But there has been an awkward silence and no prosecutions in the parallelcase of another German citizen, Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who was alsocovertly abducted in a CIA-sponsored mission after the attacks of Sept. 11,2001. The difference: German agents were directly involved in the Zammarcase, providing crucial information to the CIA about his travels and makinga secret trip to Syria to interrogate him after he landed in prison there.

Zammar vanished from public view five years ago but resurfaced last fall ina Syrian courtroom, where he stands accused of training in al-Qaeda campsand faces the death penalty. After insisting for years that they couldn'tconfirm his whereabouts, German diplomats in Damascus have scrambled toprovide him with a defense attorney and consular assistance.


The Washington Post

Obama Confronts 'Outsider' Dilemma
How to Win Without Losing His Identity

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 5, 2007; A01

In the nearly three weeks since Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made hisunofficial debut as a presidential candidate, his senior advisers have beenholed up in a temporary office on Connecticut Avenue NW, feverishly workingto translate the huge excitement about his candidacy into a politicalstrategy.

For all the buzz about his running, Obama did not enter the race with theconventional weapons of a presidential candidate -- a deep database ofdonors, a tactical road map for winning primaries or even a sign marking theentrance to his ad hoc campaign headquarters. Obama is only now starting tobuild a political infrastructure that matches his growing support.

But the challenge for Obama is not just assembling the nuts and bolts of anational campaign on the fly. He must, his advisers believe, do so in a waythat reflects the distinct, next-generation message of his candidacy, or atleast avoids making him look like every other politician in the race. "Iwould sooner lose the race than lose having him the way he is," said DavidAxelrod, his chief media strategist.


The Washington Post

Iraq Vote Could Resonate In 2008
Resolution Against Adding Troops Is Set for a Showdown

By Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 5, 2007; A01

When Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) saw reporters approaching him last week,he took off in a sprint, determined to say as little as possible about anonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's troop-escalation plan, whichis expected to come before the Senate today.

"You know where I stand," the senator, who is considered politicallyvulnerable back home, said repeatedly as he fled down stairways at theCapitol. "I'm still looking."

The historic showdown to begin today represents the first bipartisanconfrontation between Congress and the White House over the Iraq war sincethe invasion nearly four years ago. While the resolution will test themettle of every member of the chamber, none will be challenged more thanSununu and the 19 other Senate Republicans facing reelection in 2008 -- manyfrom states where voters are angry with Bush's war policy and want thetroops to begin heading home.


The New York Times

February 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The Green-Zoning of America

One of the best of the many recent books about the Iraq debacle is RajivChandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City." The book tells a taleof hopes squandered in the name of politicization and privatization: keyjobs in Baghdad's Green Zone were assigned on the basis of loyalty ratherthan know-how, while key functions were outsourced to private contractors.

Two recent reports in The New York Times serve as a reminder that the Bushadministration has brought the same corruption of governance to the homefront. Call it the Green-Zoning of America.

In the first article, The Times reported that a new executive order requiresthat each agency contain a "regulatory policy office run by a politicalappointee," a change that "strengthens the hand of the White House inshaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servantsand scientific experts." Yesterday, The Times turned to the rapid growth offederal contracting, fed "by a philosophy that encourages outsourcing almosteverything government does."


The New York Times

February 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Gary Tyler's Lost Decades
Destrehan, La.

The term "time warp" could have been coined for this rural town of 11,000residents that sits beside, and just a little below, the Mississippi River.

A remnant of the sugar-plantation era, the region's racially troubled pastis always here, seldom spoken about but inescapable, like the murk in theair of a perpetually stalled weather front.

The Harry Hurst Middle School is on the site of the old Destrehan HighSchool, which was the scene of violent protests during the integrationperiod of the 1970s. Local residents have tried to blot out the murder casethat made Destrehan High notorious three decades ago, but there's a bigproblem with that collective effort to forget. The black teenager who wasrailroaded into prison (and almost into the electric chair) for the murderof a white student in 1974 is still in prison all these many years later.

He's middle-aged now, still suffering through a life sentence without any chancefor parole in the notorious state penitentiary at Angola.

There is no longer any doubt that the case against the teenager, Gary Tyler,was a travesty. A federal appeals court ruled unequivocally that he did notreceive a fair trial. The Louisiana Board of Pardons issued rulings on threeoccasions that would have allowed Mr. Tyler to be freed.

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