Wednesday, February 21, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 21, 2007

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The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Court Endorses Law’s Curbs on Detainees

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — A divided federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a new law stripping federal judges of authority to review foreign prisoners’ challenges to their detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The decision set the stage for a third trip to the Supreme Court for the detainees, who will once again ask the justices to consider a complex issue that tests the balance of power among the White House, Congress and the courts in the murky context of the fight against international terrorism.

It also prompted some senior Democratic lawmakers, who have fought the Bush administration on the matter before and who now hold sway in Congress, to vow enactment of a law more favorable to the prisoners.

The Supreme Court previously ruled twice that federal statutes empowered the courts to consider Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions challenging the grounds for their detention. In response to those rulings, Congress twice rewrote law to limit the detainees’ avenues of appeal.The most recent rewriting was at issue in Tuesday’s 2-to-1 decision.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Rape Accusation Reinforces Fears in a Divided Iraq

BAGHDAD, Feb. 20 — The most wicked acts are spoken of openly and without reserve in Iraq. Torture, stabbings and bodies ripped to pieces in bombings are all part of the daily conversation.Rape is different.

Rape is not mentioned by the victims, and rarely by the authorities. And when it is discussed publicly, as in several high-profile cases involving American soldiers and Iraqi women, it is usually left to the relatives of the victim to give the explicit details.

So when a 20-year-old Sunni woman from Baghdad appeared on the satellite television station Al Jazeera on Monday night with a horrific account of kidnapping and sexual assault at the hands of three officers in the Shiite-dominated Iraqi National Police, people across the country were stunned, some disbelieving, others horrified, but all riveted.

Almost immediately, Shiite leaders lined up to condemn the woman, calling her charges propaganda aimed at undermining the new security campaign. Sunni politicians offered the woman their support. Whatever the truth of the accusation, though, it played to sectarian fears on both sides.


The Washington Post


Wednesday, February 21, 2007; A13

More than two months after suffering a brain hemorrhage, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has left a Washington hospital and entered a private rehabilitation facility, his office said yesterday.

A spokeswoman refused to say whether the senator remained in Washington or was moved to a facility in South Dakota, citing family concerns about media scrutiny.

The Democrat's Dec. 13 brain hemorrhage and subsequent surgery highlighted his party's tenuous one-seat advantage in the Senate.

Johnson will continue to undergo physical, occupational and speech therapy at the private facility.Philip Marion, chief of rehabilitation at George Washington University Hospital, where Johnson had been treated, said in a statement released by Johnson's office that the senator has made "great progress" and that a final test showed no evidence that the tangle of veins and arteries that triggered the senator's hemorrhage remains.

Johnson's office has said his recovery is expected to take several months, though he has been doing some work from his bed.

-- Associated Press


The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Feb. 20, 2007

Hillary charms black voters in Liberty City


Hillary Clinton chose Liberty City Tuesday to make her first public appearance in Florida as a presidential candidate, signaling that she won't forfeit black voters to Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The senator from New York and former first lady set an informal tone at the Joseph Caleb Community Center, fielding questions from community activists seated all around her. She reminded the crowd that she had visited nearby Charles Drew Elementary School 13 years ago, calling out to the former principal, Fred Morley.

''I've been to Liberty City before, so I am happy to be back,'' she said.

Clinton's visit to Florida also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars from private campaign fundraisers in Coconut Grove, Hollywood and Tampa.

Though two South Florida members of Congress -- Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- endorsed Clinton Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who hosted the public forum with her, did not join them. Considered a rising star in the Democratic party, Meek said he wanted his constituents to hear Clinton first and that he would make a decision soon.

''It spoke volumes to me that someone ingrained in politics in Florida since 1991 would come here,'' Meek said. ``Usually, a stop like this in the black community is a month or two before the election.''


Faltering in polls, Romney takes to airwaves
TV commercials in N.H., Iowa bring candidate up close
By Lisa Wangsness, Globe Staff | February 21, 2007

Mitt Romney, behind in early New Hampshire polls but flush with campaign cash, will launch a television commercial in New Hampshire and Iowa today, becoming the first major presidential candidate to take to the airwaves in those early battleground states.

Titled "Unplugged," the commercial was shot in a stripped-down style with hand-held digital video cameras during his announcement tour last week, giving viewers the illusion of having an up-close view of the candidate.

"I believe the American people are overtaxed and the government is overfed," Romney says in the ad, speaking before a flag-draped stage, as his audience breaks into cheers. "I believe we're spending too much money, and that's got to stop. I believe our laws ought to be written by the people and not by unelected judges."

Sixty-second and 30-second versions of the ad will begin airing today in New Hampshire and Iowa and will expand to South Carolina, Michigan, and Florida next week.

The campaign would not say how much it is spending on the ads or how long they will run.

Romney's presidential fund-raising machine has brought in millions this year. Last Thursday alone, he raised more than $1 million at a Boston fund-raiser.

But the former Massachusetts governor has ground to make up in New Hampshire, a poll of likely Republican primary voters conducted in the first week of February indicated.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Shielding the Powerful

The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday overturning a nearly $80 million punitive damage award against Philip Morris is a win for corporate wrongdoers. It stretches the Constitution’s guarantee of due process in a way that will make it easier for companies that act reprehensibly to sidestep serious punishments.

It also provides unsettling new evidence that the court is more concerned about — and more willing to protect — the powerful than the powerless.

An Oregon jury awarded Mayola Williams, the widow of a cigarette smoker, about $821,000 in compensatory damages and $79.5 million in punitive damages. Ms. Williams argued that Philip Morris had spent 40 years denying the connection between smoking and cancer, even though it knew cigarettes were deadly. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the punitive damages award, saying that Philip Morris’s actions had been “extraordinarily reprehensible.” By keeping Oregonians smoking longer than they otherwise would have, the court said, the company’s actions would, “naturally and inevitably, lead to significant injury or death.”

By a 5-to-4 vote that did not follow the usual ideological lines, the court ruled that the award was improper because it punished Philip Morris for harm done to people who were not part of the lawsuit. There is nothing unusual, or wrong, about courts considering the broader impact of a wrongdoer’s misdeeds. As Justice John Paul Stevens noted in dissent, “A murderer who kills his victim by throwing a bomb that injures dozens of bystanders should be punished more severely than one who harms no one other than his intended victim.” The fact that Philip Morris hurt so many other smokers along with Jesse Williams is surely relevant to its punishment.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Charade in Jerusalem

It speaks volumes when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice flies to Jerusalem to try to revive peace talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and cannot even get the two to show up when she reads out the content-free joint statement to which they have grudgingly agreed.

Volume 1 reminds us of the six feckless years during which the Bush administration has squandered America’s once commanding prestige in the region. Volume 2 portrays a secretary of state who clearly arrived with no new ideas — and no idea of how to wheedle or pressure either side into making any of the compromises needed to stimulate the dangerously moribund peace effort.

Ms. Rice’s diplomatic default was all the keener since this just might have been a moment for breaking the stalemate that has prevailed since Hamas won control of the Palestinian Parliament last year.

Hamas’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and its people’s right to live free from terrorism is undeniably the biggest single obstacle to peace. But Mr. Abbas and his more moderate Fatah movement already accept both points. And the imperfect agreement Mr. Abbas reached with Hamas this month on a cease-fire between the two groups (reeling them back from civil war) and a coalition government gave him more authority, after months of flailing, to bargain on behalf of the Palestinians.

Israel could have reinforced Mr. Abbas’s position and increased the chances for progress with a series of low-risk steps: committing to serious negotiations, freezing the expansion of settlements and easing restrictions on civilians’ movements in the West Bank. Those steps would have given new hope to Palestinian moderates and thereby increased the political pressure on Hamas to abandon terrorism.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
One Troublesome Word

A tempest has been brewing over a children’s book that contains a word some find naughty and unsettling. The word is scrotum. It appears only a few times in the book, “The Higher Power of Lucky,” which is recommended for grades four to six. The scrotum in question belongs to a dog, who is bitten there by a snake.

On that basis, a few queasy librarians have chosen not to order the book, even though it won the prestigious Newbery Medal. The arguments pro and con are bubbling on librarians’ message boards. The cons seem vastly outnumbered, though they have gotten a lot of attention. One likened the author, Susan Patron, to the shock-radio host Howard Stern. Another suggested that teachers reading the book aloud replace that word with “a clearing-throat noise,” a bleep in the form of an “ahem.”

All this seems like a lousy way to treat a sweet, funny book whose main character, a smart, curious 10-year-old girl named Lucky Trimble, is already wise to the power and mystery of words: “Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much. It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”

Librarians all over are flinching at the furor, saying it reinforces their profession’s hated archetype: Marian the Librarian, the prig in a wet blanket. (This is the perception, but it’s nonsense; remember that Marian Paroo, played in the “Music Man” film by the lovely Shirley Jones, is the musical’s only real grown-up, a complicated professional who scandalizes River City ladies with her love of bawdy books. Chaucer! Rabelais! BAL-zac!)

Speaking of Balzac, it seems a good time to remember that discomfort about words isn’t the fault of the words or of the authors who use them. And that plain old uncynical, workmanlike common nouns lose their naughty aura through unembarrassed use. The alternative — silent ignorance or the baby-talk slang that children acquire as surely as strep and ear infections — seems far less healthy.

With every generation, a new cohort of children begins the journey from ignorance to knowledge. Librarians help those children get there. Some barely make it, and end up toting ignorance as baggage, a sniggering erility about body parts and functions. Those are the ones who will be drawn to shock radio — not children like the thoughtful, dauntless Lucky Trimble and those lucky enough to have read her book.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Half a Shield Is Better Than None

AS the new Democratic Congress moves ahead decisively on a panoply of issues, it should confront a particularly pressing one: freedom of the press. Congress should expeditiously enact a federal journalist-source privilege law, which would protect journalists from compelled disclosure of their sources’ confidential communications in the same way psychiatrists and lawyers are protected. Importantly, neither Congress nor the press should be unwilling to compromise when the alternative is to forgo such a privilege altogether.

A strong and effective journalist-source privilege is essential to a robust and independent press and to a well-functioning democratic society. It is in society’s interest to encourage those who possess information of significant public value to convey it to the public, but without a journalist-source privilege, such communication will often be chilled because sources fear retribution, embarrassment or just plain getting “involved.”

As we have seen over the past several years, particularly with the federal investigation of the leak of the identity of former C.I.A. operative Valerie Plame, the absence of a journalist-source privilege leads to confusion, uncertainty and injustice. At the hands of unrestrained federal prosecutors, journalists have taken a serious battering.

There is nothing novel in the call for such a privilege. At present, 49 states and the District of Columbia recognize some version of it. The federal government is long overdue to enact such a privilege as well. This issue has often been before Congress, but Congress has consistently failed to act, in part because the press has stubbornly insisted that anything less than a perfect privilege is unacceptable. We must move forward. The press can no longer afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007

How Bush Might Have Answered Putin Speech
International Herald Tribune

President George W. Bush has been circumspect in his response to the recent speech by Vladimir Putin in which the Russian president chose, in his own words, "to avoid excessive politeness."

Putin's portrayal of the post-Cold War United States as a marauding power overstepping "its national borders in every way," igniting a new arms race and imposing an "unacceptable" model of "pernicious" unilateral domination, brought Moscow close - however fleetingly - to the ABC school of international thought. That's the Ahmadinejad/Bashar al- Assad/Chávez school.

In response, Bush noted that he and Putin have had "agreements and disagreements" since he first gazed into those ice-blue Russian eyes in 2001 and discerned a trustworthy soul. He praised Russian cooperation on nonproliferation issues. In short, he took the high road.

Here, however, is what the U.S. president might have said if he had opted for a Putin-like frankness:

Vladimir, I'm pleased you have given me the opportunity to speak my mind. You are angered by NATO's expansion to embrace the former vassal states of the Soviet empire. You see in it "a serious provocation" and the drawing of new dividing lines across Europe. You suggest Russia is the target of this maneuver.

Russia is big, Vladimir, but memory and history are bigger. Have you forgotten the Hungarian martyrs of 1956? Have you overlooked the Prague Spring that followed a dozen years later? Have the Soviet tanks and thought police that enslaved the peoples of Central Europe slipped from your mind?


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Cleaner Coal Is Attracting Some Doubts

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — Within the next few years, power companies are planning to build about 150 coal plants to meet growing electricity demands. Despite expectations that global warming rules are coming, almost none of the plants will be built to capture the thousands of tons of carbon dioxide that burning coal spews into the atmosphere.

Environmentalists are worried, but they put their faith in a technology that gasifies the coal before burning. Such plants are designed, they say, to be more adaptable to separating the carbon and storing it underground.

Most utility officials counter that the gasification approach is more expensive and less reliable, but they say there is no need to worry because their tried-and-true method, known as pulverized coal, can also be equipped later with hardware to capture the global warming gas.

But now, influential technical experts are casting doubts on both approaches.

“The phrases ‘capture ready’ and ‘capture capable’ are somewhat controversial,” said Revis James, the director of the energy technology assessment center at the Electric Power Research Institute. “It’s not like you just leave a footprint for some new equipment.”


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Europeans Agree to Cut Emissions Sharply if U.S. and Others Follow Suit

PARIS, Feb. 20 — Seeking to persuade other nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, European Union ministers pledged Tuesday to raise their own targets if industrialized countries like the United States made similar efforts.

European governments would be ready to cut emissions 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, from a current pledge of 20 percent, but only if other heavy polluters joined in, said Sigmar Gabriel, the German environment minister, who led a meeting in Brussels that formally endorsed the European targets.

Germany, the biggest European economy, was already prepared to cut its emissions even further if there was a broader agreement, Mr. Gabriel said, noting that the German Parliament had supported a 40 percent target.

The pledges, which match a proposal made by the European Commission last month, are signs that nations are gearing up for new negotiations on a global climate accord after 2012, when the first period covered by the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The issue is expected to be on the agenda when Germany serves as host of a meeting in June of the Group of 8 nations. European countries are hoping to win pledges from big developing countries as well, including China and India.


The New York Times

February 21, 2007
Australia Is Seeking Nationwide Shift to Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

SYDNEY, Australia, Feb. 20 — Australia looks ready to become the first country to phase out incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, as part of its drive to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Australian environment minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said Tuesday that he would work with the states to get rid of incandescent bulbs by 2009 or 2010.

“The most effective and immediate way we can reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is by using energy more efficiently,” Mr. Turnbull said. “Electric lighting is a vital part of our lives; globally, it generates emissions equal to 70 percent of those from all the world’s passenger vehicles.”

He pointed to International Energy Agency data showing that a worldwide switch to compact fluorescent lights could result in energy savings equivalent to five years of Australia’s present electricity use by 2030.

Australia already has minimum energy performance standards that apply to appliances, and a similar system will be put into effect for light bulbs. The standards would ultimately make it impossible to sell incandescent bulbs. Mr. Turnbull said the government would consider some exceptions, like medical lighting and low-power oven lights.


The Washington Post

Why I Oppose the Death Penalty
By Martin O'Malley
Wednesday, February 21, 2007; A15

In evaluating whether Maryland's criminal death penalty should be replaced with life without parole, one must be guided by the answers to two basic questions:

· Is the death penalty a just punishment for murder?

· Is the death penalty an effective deterrent to murder?

Most of us would point to the execution of John Thanos, here in our state, as an example of a "just" application of the death penalty. Thanos murdered three teenagers, at random, by shooting them point-blank. He expressed no remorse, even declaring in court that he wished he could bring his innocent victims back to life to kill them again. In the end, he demanded to be executed and was. Most Marylanders felt, basically, that "hanging was too good" for John Thanos.

Did this one relatively humane execution balance out a violent murder -- much less three violent murders? Can any execution really be said to "even the ledger" for the taking of another's unique life?


The Washington Post

A Problem of Passivity
Once again the United States stands by while al-Qaeda operates in a safe haven.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007; A14

AFTER THE attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there was a painful and sometimes bitter debate in this country about how two administrations could have failed to take decisive action against an obvious threat -- al-Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan. The Sept. 11 commission concluded that it was partly a "problem of imagination": Few U.S. officials considered the possibility that al-Qaeda was capable of reaching out from its remote base to stage devastating strikes on New York and Washington.

We know now that allowing al-Qaeda a safe haven can have terrible consequences for U.S. homeland security. And yet the Bush administration appears to be letting the threat develop again.

For several months U.S. intelligence officials and independent observers
have been telling journalists -- most recently at the New York Times -- that al-aeda has established several camps in the Pakistani territory of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border. Those camps are populated by Pakistani, Afghan and foreign militants; some may be Westerners who are being trained for attacks in Europe or the United States.

The camps have operated unhindered since at least September, when Pakistan's military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, agreed to a separate peace deal with local Taliban leaders. Since then, cross-border attacks by the Taliban into Afghanistan have tripled, according to the U.S. military. Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in Waziristan have developed a "complex cooperative relationship," Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, the outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanistan, testified before the House Armed Services Committee last week. Yet no action has been taken, either by the United States or by Pakistan, its nominal ally in the war on terrorism.

President Bush accepted and endorsed Mr. Musharraf's truce with the militants when it was reached. Now senior administration officials acknowledge that it has created serious problems. "A steady, direct attack against the command and control in Pakistan in sanctuary areas is essential," Gen. Eikenberry said. In separate congressional testimony, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "President Musharraf . . . has to do something." Mr. Musharraf has done nothing. Instead, he has continued to defend his deal with the Taliban and suggested that similar havens should be created in Afghanistan. The provincial governor who brokered the deal held a news conference last weekend at which he said the truce was a success and called the Taliban's terrorism againstU.S. and NATO forces "a resistance movement, sort of a liberation war."


The Washington Post

Swift Action Promised at Walter Reed
Investigations Urged as Army Moves to Make Repairs, Improve Staffing

By Dana Priest and Anne Hull
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 21, 2007; A08

The White House and congressional leaders called yesterday for swift investigation and repair of the problems plaguing outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as veterans groups and members of Congress in both parties expressed outrage over substandard housing and the slow, dysfunctional bureaucracy there.

Top Army officials yesterday visited Building 18, the decrepit former hotel housing more than 80 recovering soldiers, outside the gates of the medical center. Army Secretary Francis Harvey and Vice Chief of Staff Richard Cody toured the building and spoke to soldiers as workers in protective masks stripped mold from the walls and tore up soiled carpets.

At the White House, press secretary Tony Snow said that he spoke with President Bush yesterday about Walter Reed and that the president told him: "Find out what the problem is and fix it."

Snow said Bush "first learned of the troubling allegations regarding Walter Reed from the stories this weekend in The Washington Post. He is deeply concerned and wants any problems identified and fixed." The spokesman said he did not know why the president, who has visited the facility many times in the past five years, had not heard about these problems before.

Walter Reed's commander, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, said in an interview that the Army leadership had assured him that all the staff increases he had requested would be met. "This is not an issue," he said. "This is their number one priority."


The Washington Post

Blair Announces Iraq Withdrawal Plan

The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 21, 2007; 7:57 AM

LONDON -- Britain will withdraw about 1,600 troops from Iraq in coming months if local forces can secure the southern part of the country, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday.

"The actual reduction in forces will be from the present 7,100 _ itself down from over 9,000 two years ago and 40,000 at the time of the conflict _ to roughly 5,500," Blair told the House of Commons.

Denmark's prime minister said Wednesday that his country will also withdraw its 460-member contingent from southern Iraq by August and transfer security responsibilities to Iraqi forces.

Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the decision had been made in conjunction with the Iraqi government and Britain, under whose command the Danish forces are serving near Basra.

Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark would replace the troops with surveillance helicopters and civilian advisers to help the Iraqi government's reconstruction efforts.

Blair and President Bush talked by secure video link Tuesday morning about the proposals, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said. Bush views Britain's troop cutbacks as "a sign of success" in Iraq, he said.


The Miami Herald

Ex-senator appalled by nation's divisive politics

Former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, clergyman and moderate Republican, bemoans the 'collapse of the center' in American politics.

Palm Beach Post

If you wanted someone to talk about religion and politics, who better than John Danforth?

He has degrees in law and divinity from Yale. He served 26 years in political office, including three terms as a Republican senator from Missouri. And he's an ordained Episcopal priest.

At the Society of the Four Arts' lecture series in Palm Beach Tuesday, Danforth told a nearly full house that he's also a moderate Republican who now finds that much of what he once took for granted about his party has been tossed aside in favor of political expediency.

''I was a mainstream Republican,'' Danforth said. He believed in a strong defense, low taxes and an engaged foreign policy. And he made no secret of his Christian faith while in office.

''But I never thought it was my job to foist a particular religious agenda on my constituents,'' he said.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Feb. 21, 2007

Sending the Dream Team late in the game


As House members were debating their Iraq resolution on Friday, a very different Iraq drama was going on in the Senate, with hardly any attention paid.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was holding confirmation hearings for Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador-designate to Baghdad. Even Iraq skeptics heaped praise on Crocker, one of the country's most talented and intrepid diplomats.

Crocker's hearing underlined one of the most startling ironies of America's Iraq venture: Late in the day, the administration has filled its top military and civilian posts in Iraq with top officers and diplomats who have been critical of the conduct of Iraq policy.

They include not only Crocker, but also the new coordinator of America's Iraq reconstruction effort, Timothy Carney; the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus; and a circle of outstanding military experts on counterinsurgency warfare assembled by Petraeus. The administration has asked them to rescue a near-impossible situation that might have been avoided had it heeded their warnings years earlier.

The theme that runs through these warnings: If you don't grasp the nature of the society and people you are supposed to be helping, you will fail.

• Crocker, whom I first met as a young political officer in 1982 in Beirut, always wanted to be out in the field, learning about the local people. He was one of the first Westerners at the scene of the infamous massacre of Palestinians by Christian Lebanese militiamen in the Sabra and Shattila refugee camps. An Arabic speaker, he has been ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Pakistan -- and served several frustrating months in Baghdad in 2003 working under U.S. occupation czar Paul Bremer.


Los Angeles Times,1,6225076,print.story?coll=la-headlines-politics

For Democrats, war is front and center

All the presidential contenders say they oppose the Iraq conflict, but that doesn't stop them from fighting about it.
By Mark Z. Barabak
Times Staff Writer

February 21, 2007

CARSON CITY, NEV. — The Democrats seeking the White House may be united in opposing the war in Iraq. But that hasn't stopped them from fighting over the conflict.

It is a skirmish over judgment, character and political mettle.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois stresses his opposition to the invasion from the start and says those who voted to authorize the war, only to come around later, are at least partly to blame for today's problems. It shows, Obama says, the decision-making capacity each candidate would bring to the White House.

Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who has apologized for his initial war vote, suggests Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has been too measured in her opposition. Implicit is the notion that a calculating front-runner has shaped her views more out of political consideration than principle.

Clinton has sharpened her tone and stepped up her antiwar rhetoric, but has not apologized for her initial stance on the war. Take it or leave it, she says, telling voters she would not make the same decision today but acted on the best information at the time.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights:
Trends in the States 2006

Over the course of 2006, 29 states enacted a total of 62 new laws addressinga wide range of reproductive health and rights-related concerns (see chartbelow). Although this represents nearly 20% fewer laws than the 78 enactedin 2005, it follows a long-standing pattern of lessened activity ineven-numbered years that may be largely due to circumstances unrelated toreproductive health politics: 21 states only address budget bills-the locusof much reproductive health policymaking-in odd-numbered years, andlegislatures in six states convene only in odd-numbered years. This analysisaddresses enacted laws related to abortion (26 new laws), contraception (11)and statutory rape reporting (3).

For a state-by-state chart of legislation enacted in 2006,


Clearly unconstitutional abortion bans, designed as a direct challenge toRoe v. Wade, received considerable attention in state legislatures in 2006,with proposed bans introduced in 12 states. South Dakota became the firststate in 15 years to pass such a law, making all abortions illegal in thestate unless the woman's life is endangered. (Similar laws adopted inLouisiana and Utah in 1991 were predictably struck down in federal court.)Following the measure's passage, a petition put it before South Dakotavoters in November, who soundly defeated the ban, 56% to 44%.

Taking a different approach, legislators in five states introduced measuresto ban abortion immediately if Roe is overturned.

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