Sunday, February 18, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 18, 2007

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The New York Times

Written by Stephen Crockett
(co-host of Democratic Talk Radio .)
Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919.
Email: . Phone: 443-907-2367.

February 17, 2007 at 03:20:25

Defining and Refining the Democratic Message
by Stephen Crockett

Defining and Refining the Democratic Message

Democrats have usually won the war of ideas but not always the war of wordswith our opponents, the Republican Spin Machine. Our opposition has far toooften been successful in spinning us into some kind of parody of who werereally are in the eyes of far too many voters. We have been less thaneffective in connecting emotionally with the language in which we presentour ideas, programs and candidates. We have not built the kind of organizedSpin Machine found on the Corporate Republican Right. Politically, we havefailed to block the media concentration fostered by the largest corporationswith active assistance of the Republican Right that makes it difficult forDemocrats to reach the public with our message.

There are solutions. We can define both ourselves and the Republicanopposition using many of the same tactics as our opposition. We can reframeour ideas, programs and public images of our candidates in more effectiveemotive terms. We can build more effective mechanisms of reaching the publicthat bypass the Corporate Republican bias of the broadcast media and manynewspaper chains. The Internet can be a great tool for presenting theDemocratic message. We can build a national network of local, regional andnational talk radio programs. We can pass legislation that will restorelocal media ownership, the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Protection inbroadcasting and demand the return of anti-monopoly regulations for allmedia outlets.


The New York Times

February 17, 2007
Italians Protest Over U.S. Base Expansion

Filed at 3:12 p.m. ET

VICENZA, Italy (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Italians under heavy policeguard marched through the city of Vicenza on Saturday to protest at theexpansion of a U.S. military base that has divided the center-leftgovernment.

Leftists who last year voted for Prime Minister Romano Prodi, an Iraq waropponent, turned out in droves to decry his approval for U.S. plans toexpand the base in Vicenza, home of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Pacifists waved rainbow-striped peace banners while some protesters carriedanti-American slogans like ``Yankees go Home'' as they marched through thecity and gathered in a main square.

``There is no reason to have this base here,'' said Antonio Faitta, a25-year-old gardener who traveled from Genoa.

The Pentagon wants a larger base so that it can house the entire brigadeinstead of dividing it between Italy and Germany.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
Senate Rejects Renewed Effort to Debate Iraq


WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 — The Senate on Saturday narrowly rejected an effort toforce debate on a resolution opposing President Bush’s troop buildup inIraq, but Republican defections emboldened Democrats to promise new attemptsto influence the administration’s war policy.

The 56-to-34 vote in a rare Saturday session was the second time Republicanswere able to deny opponents of the troop increase a debate on a resolutionchallenging Mr. Bush, and it came just a day after the House formallyopposed his plan to increase the military presence in Iraq.

But the outcome, four votes short of the 60 needed to break a proceduralstalemate, suggested that Democrats were slowly drawing support from SenateRepublicans for what was shaping up to be a drawn-out fight between theDemocrat-controlled Congress and Mr. Bush over his execution of the war.

Seven Republicans split from their party and joined 48 Democrats and oneIndependent in calling for a debate — five more Republicans than during asimilar showdown earlier this month. All but two of the seven facere-election next year.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
Jailed 2 Years, Iraqi Tells of Abuse by Americans

DAMASCUS, Syria — In the early hours of Jan. 6, Laith al-Ani stood in a jailnear the Baghdad airport waiting to be released by the American militaryafter two years and three months in captivity.

He struggled to quell his hope. Other prisoners had gotten as far as thegate only to be brought back inside, he said, and he feared that wouldhappen to him as punishment for letting his family discuss his case with areporter.

But as the morning light grew, the American guards moved Mr. Ani, a31-year-old father of two young children, methodically toward freedom. Theyswapped his yellow prison suit for street clothes, he said. They snipped offhis white plastic identification bracelet. They scanned his irises intotheir database.

Then, shortly before 9 a.m., Mr. Ani said, he was brought to a table for onelast step. He was handed a form and asked to place a check mark next to thesentence that best described how he had been treated:

“I didn’t go through any abuse during detention,” read the first option, inArabic.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
They Are America

Almost a year ago, hundreds of thousands of immigrant workers and theirfamilies slipped out from the shadows of American life and walked boldly indaylight through Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York and othercities. “We Are America,” their banners cried. The crowds, determined butpeaceful, swelled into an immense sea. The nation was momentarily stunned.

A lot has happened since then. The country has summoned great energy toconfront the immigration problem, but most of it has been misplaced, crudelyand unevenly applied. It seeks not to solve the conundrum of a brokenimmigration system, but to subdue, in a million ways, the vulnerable men andwomen who are part of it. Government at all levels is working to keepunwanted immigrants in their place — on the other side of the border, indetention or in fear, toiling silently in the underground economy withoutrecourse to the laws and protections the native-born expect.

The overwhelming impulse has been to get tough, and tough we have gotten:

Border enforcement. What little the last Congress did about immigration wasfocused on appeasing hard-line conservatives by appearing to seal theborder. President Bush’s new budget continues that approach, seeking 3,000more Border Patrol officers and another $1 billion for a 700-mile fence,adding to the billions spent to militarize the border since the 1990s. Thatstill isn’t enough to build the fence and it hasn’t controlled the illegalflow; you need more visas and better workplace enforcement to do that. Ithas directed much traffic into the remote Southwest desert, making moreimmigrants vulnerable to smugglers and leaving many people dead.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Human Nature Redux

Sometimes a big idea fades so imperceptibly from public consciousness youdon’t even notice until it has almost disappeared. Such is the fate of thebelief in natural human goodness.

This belief, most often associated with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, begins withthe notion that “everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author ofthings; everything degenerates in the hands of man.” Human beings arevirtuous and free in their natural state. It is only corrupt institutionsthat make them venal. They are happy in their simplicity, but socialconventions make them unwell.

This belief had gigantic ramifications over the years. It led, first of all,to the belief that bourgeois social conventions are repressive andsoul-destroying. It contributed to romantic revolts against tradition andetiquette. Whether it was 19th-century Parisian bohemians or 20th-centurybeatniks and hippies, Western culture has seen a string of antiestablishmentrebellions led by people who wanted to shuck off convention and reawakenmore natural modes of awareness.



Richardson Raises $2 Million for '08 Bid
New Mexico governor raises $2 million for his 2008 presidential campaign

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Feb. 16, 2007
By MATT MYGATT Associated Press Writer

(AP) New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson raised at least $2 million for hispresidential campaign, a tally that puts him in good standing in the racefor the Democratic nomination.

Almost 1,000 people attended the event Thursday night at a New Mexicoresort, Amanda Cooper, Richardson's deputy campaign manager, said Friday.Individual contributors gave $2,300 _ the maximum individual donationallowed under federal law for the primary election _ and became "Friends ofBill." For $1,000, donors were dubbed "Supporters of Bill."

"We had a key group of 50 to 60 people committed to raising $25,000 each,"said Cooper, who added that the campaign received some bundled checks with$25 contributions.

A former U.N. ambassador, Energy Department secretary and congressman,Richardson has an impressive resume, but faces tough odds againstbetter-known candidates such as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and BarackObama, and John Edwards.


Romney the vagabond
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist
February 18, 2007

THERE'S NO PLACE like home. Unless you're Mitt Romney, trying to find theplace you want to call home for the purposes of a presidential announcement.

Massachusetts? Too liberal and too knowledgeable about his recent plungeinto the pool of social conservatism.

Utah? It is the scene of Romney's great triumph -- the turnaround of thescandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics. But it is also the vortex of his greatpolitical challenge -- his Mormon faith.

So, no, to Massachusetts and Utah. But, yes, by default, to Michigan, whereRomney was born, but left 41 years ago. In other words, it is the place ofwarm childhood memories and no adult fingerprints.

These presidential announcements are gimmicky pleas for media attention,worth a quick symbolic hit, before a candidate moves on to the next phase ofthe long campaign.

The only place automatically ruled out is Washington, D.C. John F. Kennedyannounced his candidacy from the Senate caucus room, and Robert F. Kennedydid the same to honor his brother's memory. But no modern candidate wouldchoose that viper's nest of inaction and partisan sniping.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,1090429,print.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Lethal injection under increasing scrutiny across country
No executions in Florida while method reviewed
By Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau Chief

February 18, 2007

Angel Nieves Diaz craned his neck to see the clock as a blend of lethalchemicals dripped into the intravenous tube snaking into his left arm.

He asked, "What's happening?"

It depends on who is telling the story.

Diaz grimaced as if in pain, his Adam's apple bobbing furiously, hiswide-open mouth gasping for air "like a fish out of water," said theconvicted killer's attorney, who sat six feet away.

Or, as the Florida State Prison warden tells it, the 55-year-old Diaz fellinto a deep sleep, snoring and showing no signs of distress.

Compared with the gallows, firing squad and electric chair, lethal injectionhas been billed as a more humane, almost antiseptic, way to kill. Of the 38states that have the death penalty, Nebraska continues to use only theelectric chair while 36 other states have turned to lethal injection.Florida offers a choice of injection or electrocution.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
Anglican Leader Encourages Humility
Filed at 8:21 a.m. ET

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania (AP) -- The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion onSunday called for bishops to feel humility before God, as a fierce debateover homosexuality and scripture threatens to break apart the Christianfellowship.

Leaders of the world's 77 million Anglicans, in Tanzania for a closedconference that ends Monday, traveled by boat from the mainland for aservice at Zanzibar's Christ Cathedral in this predominantly Muslimarchipelago on the Indian Ocean.

''There is one thing that a bishop should say to another bishop,''Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the packed Anglican cathedral,as dozens of others listened outside under white tents. ''That I am a greatsinner and that Christ is a great savior.''

The worldwide Anglican Communion is divided over ordaining gays and blessingsame-sex unions, which reached a crisis in 2003 when the Episcopal Church --the American wing of the fellowship -- consecrated its first gay bishop.


The New York Times

February 18, 2007
The Way We Live Now
Narrowing the Religion Gap?

Try a quick political thought experiment. First, form a mental picture ofthe Democratic front-runners for president — Hillary Clinton and BarackObama. Now do the same for the leading Republican contenders — John McCainand Rudy Giuliani. Next (and this is the key step), imagine each of them inchurch, sitting in a pew, head bowed, or better still, at the pulpit,delivering a homily or leading the congregation in worship.

Strange, no? It’s not hard to envision Clinton and Obama among the faithful.She is a lifelong Methodist and self-described “praying person,” and hebelongs to a church where some years ago he found himself (in his own words)“kneeling beneath that cross” in submission “to His will.” Both slip easilyinto the earnest, humble-of-the-earth mode of liberal God talk.

But McCain and Giuliani? You somehow imagine them fidgeting during the hymnsand checking their watches. The senator is an Episcopalian, the former mayora Catholic, but neither man, you have to think, would be caught dead in aBible-study group or could possibly declare, à la George W. Bush, that hisfavorite philosopher is “Christ, because he changed my heart.” In the pietyprimary, the Democrats win hands down.

None of this is likely to reverse the “religion gap” in our politics — thatis, the fact that regular churchgoers identify by a wide margin with theG.O.P. Come election time, the personal religiosity of the Democraticcandidates won’t matter nearly as much as the positions they take in all thedrearily familiar theaters of the culture war. What a matchup betweenchurchgoing Democrats and secular-minded Republicans may supply, though, iswelcome moderation in our debates over issues like abortion, gay marriageand stem-cell research. God knows, both sides of the ideological divide havefundamentalists in need of taming.


The New York Times

February 17, 2007

California Gives Stem Cell Research Grants

BURLINGAME, Calif., Feb. 16 (AP) — California’s stem cell agency gave outnearly $45 million in research grants to about 20 state universities andnonprofit research laboratories on Friday, far exceeding the federalgovernment’s annual outlays for stem cell work.

In issuing the first significant research grants in its two-year history,the agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, became thebiggest financial backer of human embryonic stem cell research.Stanford University researchers were the biggest winners, receiving 12grants worth a combined $8 million, including the first publicly financedhuman embryo cloning project.

The Salk Institute in San Diego and the J. David Gladstone Institute in SanFrancisco were among the 10 nonprofit research centers receiving grants.Next month, another round of 25 grants worth about $80 million will go toestablished stem cell scientists.


The Washington Post

In Majority, Democrats Run Hill Much as GOP Did

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 18, 2007; A04

Democrats pledged to bring courtesy to the Capitol when they assumed controlof Congress last month. But from the start, the new majority used its muscleto force through its agenda in the House and sideline Republicans.

And after an initial burst of lawmaking, the Democratic juggernaut has kepton rolling.

Of nine major bills passed by the House since the 110th Congress began,Republicans have been allowed to make amendments to just one, a measuredirecting federal research into additives to biofuels. In the arcane worldof Capitol Hill, where the majority dictates which legislation comes beforethe House and which dies on a shelf, the ability to offer amendments fromthe floor is one of the minority's few tools.

Last week, the strong-arming continued during the most important debate theCongress has faced yet -- the discussion about the Iraq war. Democratsinitially said they would allow Republicans to propose one alternative tothe resolution denouncing a troop buildup but, days later, they thoughtbetter of it.


The Washington Post

Trial in Error
If You're Going to Charge Scooter, Then What About These Guys?

By Victoria Toensing
Sunday, February 18, 2007; B01

Could someone please explain to me why Scooter Libby is the only person ontrial in the Valerie Plame leak investigation?

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald charged Vice President Cheney's formerchief of staff with perjury on the theory that Libby had a nefarious reasonfor lying to a grand jury about what he told reporters regarding CIA officerPlame: He was trying to cover up a White House conspiracy to retaliateagainst Plame's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV. Wilson had infuriated VicePresident Cheney by accusing the Bush administration of lying aboutintelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Fitzgerald apparently concluded that a purported cover-up was sufficientmotive for Libby to trim his recollections in a criminal way. So whenLibby's testimony differed from that of others, it was Libby who gotindicted.

There's a reason why responsible prosecutors don't bring perjury cases onmere "he said, he said" evidence. Without an underlying crime or tangibleevidence of obstruction (think Martha Stewart trying to destroy phone logs),the trial becomes a mishmash of faulty memories in which witnesses can seemas guilty as the defendant. Any prosecutor knows that memories differ, evenvividly, and each party can be convinced that his or her version is thetruthful one.

If we accept Fitzgerald's low threshold for bringing a criminal case, thenwhy stop at Libby? This investigation has enough questionable motives andshadowy half-truths and flawed recollections to fill a court docket formonths. So here are my own personal bills of indictment:


The Washington Post

Political Markets In Action

By George F. Will
Sunday, February 18, 2007; B07

Two Democratic presidential candidates with national campaign experience arestumbling. A Republican candidate who has run only municipal campaigns isconfounding expectations, calling into question some assumptions aboutRepublican voters.

John Edwards has learned -- surely he did not know it when they werehired -- that two women employed by his campaign have Internet trails ofvitriolic anti-Christian, and especially anti-Catholic, rants. One of themwrote a profane screed about God impregnating Mary and said the CatholicChurch opposes the morning-after birth control pill in order to "force womento bear more tithing Catholics." The other woman, who sprinkles hercommentary with a vulgar term for female genitalia, referred to George W.Bush's "wingnut Christofascist base."

When the women's works became known, it was reported that they had been, orwere going to be, fired. Thirty-six hours later, after left-wing bloggersrallied to their defense, Edwards's campaign said they would be retained.Edwards explained that the women had assured him that "it was never theirintention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word."

He really does? The two women -- both of whom have resigned, pronouncingthemselves, of course, victims of intolerance -- are what they are and areunimportant. But a prospective president being so pliable under pressure andso capable of smarmy insincerity -- what does he think were the women'sintentions? -- is very important.


The Washington Post

In Vermont, Prisoners Go To High School Behind Bars

By Wilson Ring
Associated Press
Sunday, February 18, 2007; D01

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. -- Most days when Nathan Stevens returns to the CaledoniaCommunity Work Camp after laboring to make amends for a burglary conviction,the 17-year-old puts jail life aside and picks up his books.

He spends time studying decimals, biology or other topics one-on-one withCorrections Department educator Tom Woods; these are topics he didn't payany attention to during his years in a traditional high school.

"It's helpful. I'm not a guy who can sit in a class and just listen,"Stevens said. "Here I can get that help and learn something."

Welcome to one of 17 outposts of the Community High School of Vermont.

It's the state's largest high school, and it's run by the Department ofCorrections. The school -- operating in each of the state's jails andprisons, with walk-in schools at Probation and Parole offices -- has about3,500 registered students, though only about 350 attend classes every day.



Published on Thursday, February 15, 2007 by Reuters
Ex-aide Says Rice Misled Congress on Iran
by Carol Giacomo

Controversy over a possible missed U.S. opportunity for rapprochement withIran grew on Wednesday as former aide accused Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice of misleading Congress on the issue.

Flynt Leverett, who worked on the National Security Council when it washeaded by Rice, said a proposal vetted by Tehran's most senior leaders wassent to the United States in May 2003 and was akin to the 1972 U.S. openingto China.

Speaking at a conference on Capitol Hill, Leverett said he was confident itwas seen by Rice and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell but "theadministration rejected the overture."

Rice's spokesman denied she misled Congress and reiterated that she did notsee the proposal.


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