Thursday, February 01, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 1, 2007

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The Washington Post

Senators Unite On Challenge to Bush's Troop Plan
Revised Warner Language That Protects Funds Is Embraced for BipartisanAppeal

By Shailagh Murray and Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 1, 2007; A01

Democratic and Republican opponents of President Bush's troop-buildup planjoined forces last night behind the nonbinding resolution with the broadestbipartisan backing: a Republican measure from Sen. John W. Warner ofVirginia.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced the shift, hoping tounite a large majority of the Senate and thwart efforts by the White Houseand GOP leaders to derail any congressional resolution of disapproval ofBush's decision to increase U.S. troop levels in Iraq by 21,500.

Although the original Democratic language was popular within the party, ithad little appeal among Republicans. Warner's proposal drew support fromboth sides, and it was retooled last night to maximize both Democratic andRepublican votes.


The New York Times

February 1, 2007

Full Disclosure of Back-Scratching

Now that House Democrats are beyond the spotlight of their ballyhooed first100 hours, there are signs of foot-dragging on the keystone of theirpromised lobbying reform: forcing disclosure of the huge sums in campaigndonations that lobbyists package to grease privileged access in the Capitol.This practice - called bundling - has lobbyists mass hundreds of donationsof a few thousand dollars each into special-interest piƱatas of hundreds ofthousands. Full disclosure of bundling is the sine qua non of lobbyingreform. Speaker Nancy Pelosi cannot let the new House majority backslide.

Senate Democrats have already passed bundling disclosure, but Roll Call, theCapitol newspaper, reports that House colleagues are raising questions aboutwhether they really want to go along. The Senate bill requires quarterlyreports from lobbyists detailing their own donations and fund-raisingevents, plus the mega-sums they solicit, bundle and grandly submit tocandidates. According to Roll Call, this provision is stalled byCongressional doubters and K Street lobbyists. Opponents also want to hobblea provision barring Congressional alumni from lobbying for two years, andanother forcing disclosure of how lobbyists concoct "grass roots" campaignsto create pressure in Washington.


The New York Times

February 1, 2007

Bullying Iran

Given America's bitter experience in Iraq, one would think that PresidentBush could finally figure out that threats and brute force aren't asubstitute for a reasoned strategy. But Mr. Bush is at it again, this timetrying to bully Iran into stopping its meddling inside Iraq.

We have no doubt about Iran's malign intent, just as we have no doubt thatMr. Bush's serial failures in Iraq have made it far easier for Tehran to sowchaos there and spread its influence in the wider region. But more threatsand posturing are unlikely to get Iran to back down. If Mr. Bush isn'tcareful, he could end up talking himself into another disastrous war, and ifCongress is not clear in opposing him this time, he could drag the countryalong.

The drumbeat began during Mr. Bush's recent speech on Iraq, when he vowed to"seek out and destroy" Iranian and Syrian networks he said were arming andtraining anti-American forces. Mr. Bush also announced that he was sending asecond aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. Hours earlier, American troopsraided an Iranian diplomatic office in Iraq. If anyone missed the point,aides let it be known that the president had authorized the military to killor capture Iranian operatives in Iraq.


The New York Times

February 1, 2007
Survey Details the Lives of Black Youth
Filed at 3:44 a.m. ET

CHICAGO (AP) -- Decades after the civil rights movement's greatestvictories, black youth often see a world rife with discrimination, a newsurvey says. And yet they remain optimistic about their chances foraffecting social change.

Researchers at the University of Chicago, who were releasing the studyThursday, say their findings also show that these youth are complex when itcomes to such issues as sex education and hip-hop music.

Cathy Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Chicago andthe report's lead author, said the aim of the survey was to provide datathat goes beyond broad stereotypes.

It found, for instance, that while 58 percent of black youth say they listento rap music every day, the majority of them also think its videos are tooviolent and often portray black women in an offensive way.


Molly Ivins dies of breast cancer at 62

Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal whoskewered the political establishment and referred to President George W.Bush as ''Shrub,'' died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer.Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal whoskewered the political establishment and pointed out the ridiculousness ofPresident Bush's push to ban same-sex marriage, died Wednesday after a longbattle with breast cancer. She was 62.

David Pasztor, managing editor of the Texas Observer, confirmed her death.The writer, who made a living poking fun at Texas politicians, whether theywere in her home base of Austin or the White House, revealed in early 2006that she was being treated for breast cancer for the third time.

More than 400 U.S. newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicatedcolumn, which combined strong liberal views and populist-toned humor.Ivins's illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver bitingone-liners. ''I'm sorry to say [cancer] can kill you but it doesn't make youa better person,'' she said in an interview with the San AntonioExpress-News in September, the same month cancer claimed her friend formerTexas governor Ann Richards.



`Common Sense Charlie' puts people above party
Michael Mayo
News Columnist

February 1, 2007

Less than a month in office, Gov. Charlie Crist has done so many things thatmake so much sense it's hard to believe he campaigned as someone who wouldcontinue in the Jeb Bush mold.

So far, Crist has been the anti-Jeb.

He cancelled a fancy inaugural gala that would have been bankrolled byspecial interests and fat cats. Crist, a Republican, has appointed the bestpeople to jobs, regardless of party affiliation. He corralled theLegislature into special session to do something about hurricane insurance.He wants to ditch electronic voting machines and replace them withpaper-based optical scanners. He wants to revamp the state's flawed propertytax system. He's proposing limited state funding of stem cell research.

Even if all the details aren't perfect, at least he's showing vision,initiative and a pulse.


The New York Times

February 1, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The Iraq Syndrome, R.I.P.

After Vietnam, Americans turned inward. Having lost faith in theirleadership class, many Americans grew suspicious of power politics andhesitant about projecting American might around the world.

The Vietnam syndrome was real. It lasted all of five years - the timebetween the fall of Saigon and the election of Ronald Reagan.

Today, Americans are disillusioned with the war in Iraq, and many around theworld predict that an exhausted America will turn inward again. Some see anation in permanent decline and an end to American hegemony. At Davos, someEuropeans apparently envisioned a post-American world.

Forget about it. Americans are having a debate about how to proceed in Iraq,but we are not having a strategic debate about retracting American power andinfluence. What's most important about this debate is what doesn't need tobe said. No major American leader doubts that America must remain, as DeanAcheson put it, the locomotive of the world.


The New York Times

January 31, 2007

White House to Release Details on Eavesdropping

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31- Bowing to bipartisan pressure from lawmakers, theJustice Department announced today that it was turning over to selectmembers of Congress secret documents detailing the National Security Agency'sdomestic eavesdropping program.

The decision came two weeks after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales facedwithering questions from senators about why the Bush Administration hadrefused to provide details on the legal underpinnings of the N.S.A. program.

Mr. Gonzales appeared on Capitol Hill the day after the Bush administrationannounced it had agreed to put the N.S.A. program under the authority of theForeign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and that the secret court had onJan. 10 approved a Justice Department request for a wiretap.

The decision to hand over the documents, which Mr. Gonzales confirmed toreporters today, will allow members of the House and Senate intelligencecommittees -- as well as select congressional leaders -- to review thatcourt order.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

White House forced scientists to lie

Posted By Doug Thompson On January 30, 2007 @ 5:05 pm In Capitol Hillbillies


Federal scientists have been pressured to play down global warming, advocacygroups testified Tuesday at the Democrats' first investigative hearing sincetaking control of Congress.

The hearing focused on allegations that the White House for years hasmicromanaged the government's climate programs and has closely controlledwhat scientists have been allowed to tell the public.

"It appears there may have been an orchestrated campaign to mislead thepublic about climate change," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Waxman ischairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a critic ofthe Bush administration's environmental policies, including its views onclimate.

Climate change also was a leading topic in the Senate, where presidentialcontenders for 2008 lined up at a hearing called by Sen. Barbara Boxer. Theyexpounded - and at times tried to outdo each other - on why they believedCongress must act to reduce heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases.


Biden Joins Democratic Presidential Hopefuls
The Associated Press

Posted: January 31, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Washington) Sen. Joe Biden officially joined an increasingly crowded fieldfor the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination Wednesday, as he has beenpromising for months.

"After nine months of doing this, there is no exploratory committee - I'mrunning," the Delaware senator told The Associated Press.

A 34-year Senate veteran known for his foreign policy expertise and somewhatwindy oratory, Biden acknowledged his campaign would generate little of thebuzz surrounding the celebrity candidates New York Sen. Hillary RodhamClinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

However, Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, enteredthe race touting his plan for resolving the top political issue of the day -what to do about the war in Iraq.


The New York Times

January 31, 2007

German Court Seeks Arrest of 13 C.I.A. Agents

FRANKFURT, Jan. 31 - In the most serious legal challenge yet to the CentralIntelligence Agency's secret transfers of terrorism suspects, a German courthas issued an arrest warrant for 13 people in connection with the mistakenkidnapping and jailing of a German citizen of Lebanese descent.

Prosecutors in Munich said the suspects, whom they did not name, were partof a C.I.A. "abduction team" that seized the man, Khaled el-Masri, inMacedonia in late 2003 and flew him to Afghanistan. He was imprisoned therefor five months, and has said he was shackled, beaten, and interrogatedabout his alleged ties to Al Qaeda, before being released without charges.

His ordeal is the most documented case of the C.I.A.'s practice of"extraordinary rendition," in which suspected terrorists are seized and sentfor interrogation to countries where torture is practiced.

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