Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST February 28, 2007

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The New York Times

February 28, 2007
News Analysis
Afghan Bombing Sends a Danger Signal to U.S.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 — The audacity of a suicide-bomb attack on Tuesday at the gates of the main American base in Afghanistan during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney underscores why President Bush sent him there — a deepening American concern that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are resurgent.American officials insisted that the importance of the attack, by a single suicide bomber who blew himself up a mile away from where the vice president was staying, was primarily symbolic. It was more successful at grabbing headlines and filling television screens with a scene of carnage than at getting anywhere near Mr. Cheney.

But the strike nonetheless demonstrated that Al Qaeda and the Taliban appear stronger and more emboldened in the region than at any time since the American invasion of the country five years ago, and since the Bush administration claimed to have decimated much of their middle management. And it fed directly into the debate over who is to blame.

The leaders with whom Mr. Cheney met on his mission to Pakistan and Afghanistan have appeared increasingly incapable of controlling the chaos, and have pointed fingers at one another.

Mr. Cheney said the attack was a reminder that terrorists seek “to question the authority of the central government,” and argued that it underscored the need for a renewed American effort.


The Washington Post

U.S. Will Join Talks With Iran And Syria
Rice Announces Policy Shift as Iraq Plans Conferences

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A01

The United States agreed yesterday to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq, an abrupt shift in policy that opens the door to diplomatic dealings the White House had shunned in recent months despite mounting criticism.

The move was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in testimony on Capitol Hill, after Iraq said it had invited neighboring states, the United States and other nations to a pair of regional conferences.

"I would note that the Iraqi government has invited all of its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to attend both of these regional meetings," Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee. "We hope that all governments will seize this opportunity to improve the relations with Iraq and to work for peace and stability in the region."


The Washington Post

Blacks Shift To Obama, Poll Finds

By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A01

The opening stages of the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination have produced a noticeable shift in sentiment among African American voters, who little more than a month ago heavily supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton but now favor the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama.

Clinton, of New York, continues to lead Obama and other rivals in the Democratic contest, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

But her once-sizable margin over the freshman senator from Illinois was liced in half during the past month largely because of Obama's growing support among black voters.

In the Republican race, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who recently made clear his intentions to seek the presidency, has expanded his lead over Sen. John McCain of Arizona. Giuliani holds a 2 to 1 advantage over McCain among Republicans, according to the poll, more than tripling his margin of a month ago.

The principal reason was a shift among white evangelical Protestants, who now clearly favor Giuliani over McCain. Giuliani is doing well among this group of Americans despite his support of abortion rights and gay rights, two issues of great importance to religious conservatives. McCain opposes abortion rights.

Among Democrats, Clinton still enjoys many of the advantages of a traditional front-runner. Pitted against Obama and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina, she was seen by Democrats as the candidate with the best experience to be president, as the strongest leader, as having the best chance to get elected, as the closest to voters on the issues and as the candidate who best understands the problems "of people like you." Obama was seen as the most inspirational.


The Washington Post

Millions In U.S. Infected With HPV
Study Finds Virus Strikes a Third of Women by Age 24

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A01

More than one-third of American women are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), which in rare cases can lead to cervical cancer, by the time they are 24 years old, according to a study being published today.

The new estimates suggest that there are 7.5 million girls and women 14 to 24 years old infected with the microbe -- about two-thirds more than an earlier but less comprehensive study had found.

Overall, about one-quarter of women under age 60 are infected at any given time, making HPV by far the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country.

News of the higher-than-expected prevalence of HPV infection was balanced by the discovery that only 2.2 percent of women were carrying one of the two virus strains most likely to lead to cervical cancer -- about half the rate found in previous surveys.

The lead researcher cautioned the findings do not mean that HPV infection rates are rising, only that they are higher than previously thought.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4587983,print.story?coll=sns-newsnation-headlines

Death Squad Leaders Seized in Baghdad
Associated Press Writer

February 28, 2007, 1:37 AM EST

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S.-led strike forces seized suspected Shiite death squad bosses Tuesday in raids that tested the fragile bonds between the government and a powerful militia faction allowing the Baghdad security crackdown to move ahead.

The sweeps through the Sadr City slum were part of highly sensitive forays into areas loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who has ridiculed the 2-week-old campaign for failing to halt bombings by suspected Sunni insurgents against Shiite civilians.

Al-Sadr withdrew his powerful Mahdi Army militia from checkpoints and bases under intense government pressure to let the security push go forward. But the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also worries that al-Sadr could pull his support if he feels his militiamen are being squeezed in Baghdad.

The pre-dawn raids appeared to highlight a strategy of pinpoint strikes in Sadr City rather than the flood of soldiers sent into some Sunni districts.

Bombings have not slackened off, with at least 10 people killed in blasts around Baghdad on Tuesday. However, an apparent success of the clampdown can be measured in the morgues: a sharp drop in the number of bullet-riddled bodies found in the streets of the capital, victims of sectarian death squads.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Feb. 27, 2007
Cervical cancer more of a threat

A new federal study says the human papillomavirus that can lead to cervical cancer infects many more girls and young women than previously thought, and researchers stressed the importance of a newly approved vaccine.

The study, released Tuesday, found an infection rate among women 14 to 59 of about one-quarter, similar to previous findings. But 7.5 million females in the 14-to-24 age group -- 33.8 percent -- are infected. Earlier estimates put the number at 4.6 million in that age group.

Researchers attribute the higher numbers entirely to better counting methods, not an increase in infection. Still, it means the problem is worse than earlier believed.

''The fact that so many girls are infected means the vaccine is incredibly important in fighting cancer,'' said Dr. Tanvi Sharma, assistant professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Tough choices in education
By David P. Driscoll | February 28, 2007

AFTER MORE than four decades as an educator, there is one question I just cannot answer: Why has so little changed in public education? We've made schools handicapped accessible, wired them for the Internet, lowered class sizes, and made school lunches more nutritious. Some communities have full-day kindergarten, many students are reading and writing earlier and better than ever, high schools offer advanced placement courses by the dozen, and vocational-technical schools have expanded to include everything from biotechnology to robotics.

On the surface there have been plenty of improvements, but when you dig deeper it's clear that little of substance has changed in public education since the days of Horace Mann, the Commonwealth's first secretary of education.

Foreign language is still taught by conjugating verbs and learning vocabulary words, not having conversations. The average class day is still just six hours long, leaving children on the street midafternoon. School calendars still follow the September to mid-June schedule that was set when children were needed to work the fields each summer.

And in Massachusetts, where many teachers find creative ways to engage students in high-level learning and prepare them for what they will face on the MCAS exams, too many use the state's high stakes test as an excuse to "teach to the test," leaving their students bored and unmotivated to learn.

Assessment tests like the SATs and the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, show Massachusetts leading the nation. But international assessments tell a vastly different story: We are first in a nation that is lagging far behind internationally.


Romney's French complex
February 28, 2007

THERE IS a lot that makes sense in the PowerPoint document, described in Tuesday's Globe, that outlines an electoral strategy for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. After all, a competent candidate has to have a modicum of political self-knowledge. He needs to grasp his own vulnerabilities as well as his rivals' areas of weakness. And the candidate should enter the lists with a clear idea of the targets at which he will aim his lance.

But if there is one intriguing peculiarity in the enemies list compiled for the Romney campaign, it is the primacy given to France as the ultimate evil haunting America's future. The other "bogeymen" are boiler-plate adversaries for a Republican who needs to persuade the right-wingers who seem to exercise a virtual veto over the party's nominee that he is really one of them.

What the Regents of the Right revile as Hollywood values must be on the scroll of denounced demons. Ditto for taxes, jihadism, and Hillary Clinton. Even the presence of Massachusetts on the infernal side of the ledger cannot come as a surprise.

For some time, Romney has been jetting around the country, raising money and rousing the Republican faithful by making jokes about the Commonwealth. The voters of Massachusetts may resent being the butt of the governor's shtick, but they have to admire the deftness of his costume changes. People in these parts long ago realized that Romney's mocking of Massachusetts is key to what the PowerPoint presentation calls "Primal Code for Brand Romney" -- and never mind that voters may prefer an actual person to a brand.

That phrase distills an essence of business school theology. It suits the venture-capital background of a candidate who is preparing to present himself to the American electorate as a "tested, intelligent, get-it-done, turnaround CEO g overnor." Translated from B-school jargon to English, this means that the Commonwealth was just another under performing corporate entity before Romney took it over, re organized it, and transformed it into a launching pad for his flight to the White House -- though he left the state with fewer Republicans than he started with.


Ex-presidents' big payday
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist | February 28, 2007

WHEN HARRY Truman left the White House in 1953, historian David McCullough records, "he had no income or support of any kind from the federal government other than his Army pension of $112.56 a month. He was provided with no government funds for secretarial help or office space, not a penny of expense money." To tide him over for the transition back to private life, Truman had to take out a bank loan. One of the reasons he and his wife moved back into their far-from-elegant old house in Independence, Mo., "was that financially they had little other choice."

Nevertheless, Truman refused to cash in on his celebrity and influence as a former president. He turned down lucrative offers, such as the one from a Florida real estate developer inviting him to become "chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than $100,000." He wouldn't make commercial endorsements, accept "consulting" fees, or engage in lobbying. He wouldn't even take the free car that Toyota offered him as a gesture of improved Japanese-American relations.

"I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable," Truman later wrote, "that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency." He did sell the rights to his memoirs for a handsome sum to Life magazine. But he turned down every other enticement to trade on his former position for private gain.

Half a century later, Truman's rectitude seems as quaint and obsolete as George Washington's wooden teeth.

We learned last week that in the six years since Bill Clinton left office, he has pocketed a staggering $40 million in speaking fees. Tirelessly working the lecture circuit, he has delivered hundreds of speeches, often at a price of $150,000 and up. Two-thirds of his speaking money has come from foreign sources, according to the Washington Post, including "Saudi Arabia's Dabbagh investment firm, which paid $600,000 for two speeches, and China's JingJi Real Estate Development Group, run by a local Communist Party official, which paid $200,000 for a speech."


Posted on Wed, Feb. 28, 2007
U.S. economy clouded by uncertainty

Tuesday's stock market plunge shows the start of a ''correction,'' the age-old euphemism for a steep drop in stock prices. The question is whether it also signals worse to come.

Recent data on the economy is mixed, and Alan Greenspan suggested Monday that recession could be looming. Investors, who have murmured about a coming ''correction'' for weeks, seem particularly worried about a severe stock market decline in China and its impact on the U.S. economy.

However, many economists say the chances of a recession are slim for the United States -- about one in five -- and even slimmer for China.

For all three major markets -- the Dow Jones industrial index, the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite and the S&P 500 -- it was the largest one-day drop since trading resumed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

The drop also underscored how connected the U.S. economy is with the broader global economy. U.S. exchanges sank following a nearly 9 percent drop Tuesday on China's Shanghai Composite Index -- Shanghai's biggest one-day drop in a decade. Investors worried that interest rates may soon rise to douse China's sizzling economic growth.


Posted on Wed, Feb. 28, 2007
Race for big bucks leaves voters behind

In case you haven't noticed, the publicfinancing system for presidential campaigns is on the brink of collapse. This was the major campaign reform to emerge from the Watergate scandals of the 1970s, and through eight election cycles it has helped to keep the lid on spending. Today, the sky's the limit. The average voter stands to get trampled by the presidential herd chasing campaign dollars.

Listen to voters

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has already been pushed out of the race due to out-of-control spending by his opponents. Meanwhile, candidates forced to devote more time to raising money from fat-cat donors and special interests have less time to talk to average voters -- and, more important, listen to them.

Sen. Hillary Clinton's recent visit to South Florida was typical of what happens in this monumental money chase. Staged public events devoid of content are coupled with closed-door private events where a select few have the privilege of mingling with the candidate in exchange for opening their wallets. This is what passes for a campaign.

In fairness, Sen. Clinton didn't invent this process, nor is she the first to benefit from it. In 2004, none of the leading candidates participated in public funding during the primaries -- the limits, set long ago, are too low -- but 2008 may become the first time in the 32-year history of the public-financing system that all candidates turn down matching funds for the general election, as well.


Posted on Wed, Feb. 28, 2007
Differences between British ruling class and ours

The House of Windsor can use all the good PR it can get. A glittering Helen Mirren came through when she accepted the best actress Oscar for her role in The Queen and saluted Queen Elizabeth II for all her stodgy stoicism -- despite Mirren's portrayal of the monarch's stiff upper lip during the trauma of Princess Diana's death as chilling indifference.

By stroke of luck (or could it be stroke of public-relations genius?) a more uplifting royal tale was unfolding in London just as the red carpets were being rolled out in preparation for the Academy Awards in L.A.: Prince Harry is marching off to war in Iraq.

Having graduated from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst -- the equivalent of West Point -- the son of Diana and Prince Charles is fulfilling, at his own insistence, a duty to serve on the battlefront with the troops he was trained to command. ''There's no way I'm going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country,'' the young prince said in a 2005 interview that has been circulated widely.

It takes no nostalgia for the crown to hear the honor in Harry's vow -- and to wince at the contrast with our own, much larger force in Iraq, from which the sons and daughters of the well-heeled and the well-known are largely absent. Like the United States, Britain has a volunteer military. Unlike the United States, Britain has some vestige of an elite that believes in the notion of noblesse oblige.

While England sends its prince into battle, we are making paupers of our military families.


Posted on Wed, Feb. 28, 2007
Official offers glimpse of Padilla's jailing

During his 3 ½-year detention as an ''enemy combatant,'' suspected al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla was at various times deprived of a clock, windows and a Koran, and forced to sleep on a metal bed frame without a mattress, according to testimony Tuesday from an official at the Navy brig where he was held in Charleston, S.C.

The account of Sanford Seymour, the brig's technical director, was narrow in scope and offered only a glimpse of Padilla's incarceration, which Padilla and his attorneys have said included torture that renders him psychologically unfit to stand federal trial in Miami.

Limited by a court ruling to what he had discussed with a psychologist evaluating Padilla's competence for trial, Seymour's testimony was sketchy but ran contrary to some of Padilla's most serious allegations.

''I told him I knew of no physical abuse,'' Seymour testified.

Seymour's testimony marked the first time any official from the brig had publicly described conditions of Padilla's incarceration.


Popping vitamin pills could increase your risk of dying, new report says
By Nancy McVicar
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

February 28, 2007

Before you reach for your morning vitamins, consider this: They may not be good for you.

An analysis of 47 studies involving more than 180,000 participants taking beta carotene, vitamin E and vitamin A indicates that rather than improving health, popping the pills may increase the risk of death.

The report appears in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and was compiled by researchers with the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of experts who conduct systematic reviews of published studies to determine whether current treatments are based on scientific evidence.

The researchers reviewed 68 studies, but sorted out results from the 47 they considered the most credible and found an overall 5 percent increased risk of death. Beta carotene was associated with a 7 percent increased risk; vitamin A, a 16 percent increase, and vitamin E, a 4 percent increase.

Vitamin C and selenium were also included in the analysis and no increased risk of death was found, according to Dr. Goran Bjelakovic, director of medical science at the Center for Clinical Intervention Research in Copenhagen. But people taking vitamin C didn't necessarily live any longer than people who didn't take the vitamin.

"Our findings contradict the findings of observational studies claiming that antioxidants improve health," the researchers wrote. There is no evidence that vitamin C increases longevity, they said, and while selenium tended to reduce mortality, more study is needed to confirm the benefit.


Familiar pattern of deception and revenge
By Jim Mullins

February 28, 2007

President Bush has ridiculed the House resolution against his "surge" escalation of the Iraq war as "unbinding," dismissed the Iraq Study Group's recommendations and ignored voters' repudiation of his conduct of the war via the November elections. The Democrats are responding by considering a repeal of the 2002 congressional resolution that gave him a free hand in determining whether to invade Iraq. Repeal should not be rejected with sophistries like "mistakes were made" or "intelligence failure," for Bush's allegations of an existential security threat posed by Saddam Hussein began falling like tenpins before the Iraqi invasion and need to be revisited.

When Gen. Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, defected to Jordan, he admitted in briefings with U.N. Chief Inspector Rolf Ekeus and U.S. officials that Iraq once had four tons of VX nerve gas. The president quoted
him on that, but left out that Kamel, as director of Iraq's WMD programs, testified in the same briefing that "all weapons, chemical, biological and nuclear" were destroyed in 1992 on Saddam's orders.

Pentagon claims that Iraq had Scud missile launchers were disproved when it gave U.N. inspectors their supposed locations. Inspection turned up Iraq-style chicken coops.


The New York Times

February 28, 2007
Government by Law, Not Faith

The Supreme Court hears arguments today in a case that could have a broad impact on whether the courthouse door remains open to ordinary Americans who believe that the government is undermining the separation of church and state.

The question before the court is whether a group seeking to preserve the separation of church and state can mount a First Amendment challenge to the Bush administration’s “faith based” initiatives. The arguments turn on a technical question of whether taxpayers have standing, or the right to initiate this kind of suit, but the real-world implications are serious. If the court rules that the group does not have standing, it will be much harder to stop government from giving unconstitutional aid to religion.

Soon after taking office, President Bush established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and faith-based offices in departments like Justice and Education. They were intended to increase the federal grant money going to religious organizations, and they seem to have been highly effective. The plaintiffs cited figures showing that from 2003 to 2005, the number of federal grants to religious groups increased 38 percent. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and several of its members sued. They say that because the faith-based initiatives favor religious applicants for grants over secular applicants, they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits government support for religion.

These are profound issues, but because the administration challenged the right of the foundation and its members to sue, the courts must decide whether the plaintiffs have the right to sue in this case before they can consider the constitutionality of the faith-based programs. An appeals court has ruled, correctly, that the plaintiffs have standing.


February 28, 2007
Competing in the Money Marathon

If nothing else, the disheartening frenzy to raise huge campaign donations in this front-loaded presidential race is making money — lots and lots of money — a public issue. In the cross-fire, federal election regulators are expected to approve Senator Barack Obama’s clever but cagey attempt to claim a reformer’s mantle: he wants to let the nominees keep bagging unlimited private donations in the run-up to the primaries, then have the choice of returning a chunk of it after the conventions and accepting limited public financing for the general election.

Of course, Mr. Obama is proposing to adopt the even-money truce — should he win the nomination — only if the Republican nominee does the same.

Behind this shadowboxing is the fact that the post-Watergate public financing of presidential elections has not kept pace with inflation. This failure, which a conscientious Congress would repair in time for the 2012 election, has put private fund-raisers back at the wheel. All major candidates, including Mr. Obama, are rejecting the $65 million possible through the public money route for the primaries as a trifle.

Mr. Obama may be scoring political points in the reformers’ image race with Senator Hillary Clinton, who lately yielded and agreed to disclose who her fund-raising megabrokers are. But voters should not get their hopes too high. The Obama and Clinton campaigns did not hesitate to upstage the Oscars with a hissy fit over who can best beg before Hollywood’s deep-pocketed political sages. The candidates’ mix of furious money-seeking and ritual umbrage at its excesses evokes St. Augustine’s self-reform: “Make me chaste, oh Lord, but not yet.”


The New York Times

February 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Ozone Man Sequel


Al Gore now has a movie with an Oscar and a grandson named Oscar.

Who could ask for anything more?

Al Gore could.

The best ex-president who was never president could make one of the most interesting campaigns in American history even more interesting. Will he use his green moment on the red carpet in black tie to snag blue states and win the White House?

Only the Goracle knows the answer.

The man who was prescient on climate change, the Internet, terrorism and Iraq admitted that maybe his problem had been that he was too far ahead of the curve.
He realized at a conference that “there’re ideas that are mature, ideas that are maturing, ideas that are past their prime ... and a category called ‘predawn.’

“And all of a sudden it hit me,” he told John Heilemann of New York magazine last year. “Most of my political career was spent investing in predawn ideas! I thought, Oh, that’s where I went wrong.”

As Mr. Gore basked Sunday night in the adoration of Leo, Laurie David and the rest of the Hollywood hybrid-drivers, Democrats wondered: Is this chubby guy filling out the Ralph Lauren three-piece tuxedo a mature idea or an idea that’s past its prime?

With Hillary overproduced and Barack Obama an unfinished script, maybe it’s time to bring the former vice president out of turnaround.

Hillary’s henchmen try to prognosticate the Goracle’s future by looking at his waistline, according to Newsday; they think if he’s going to run, he’ll get back to fighting weight.


February 28, 2007
Low Pay and Broken Promises Greet Guest Workers


To a rice farmer from Thailand making $500 a year, the recruiter’s pitch was hard to resist — three years of farm work in North Carolina that would pay more than 30 times as much as he earned at home.

The pitch was so persuasive that the farmer, Worawut Khansamrit, put his farm up as collateral to pay the recruiter $11,000 to become a guest worker. “The amount of money they promised was very attractive,” said Mr. Khansamrit, a slight, soft-spoken 40-year-old with a 15-year-old daughter he wants to send to college.

But after he arrived in North Carolina with 30 other Thai workers, he found there was only about a month’s work. He was then taken to New Orleans to remove debris from a hotel damaged by Hurricane Katrina — work he says he was never paid for. This month, he and other Thai workers filed a federal lawsuit asserting that they were victims of illegal trafficking.

Mr. Khansamrit’s tale highlights the abuses that many guest workers face at a time when President Bush and many in Congress are pushing to expand the guest worker program as part of an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Each year 120,000 foreign workers receive visas to do farm work or other low-skilled labor, usually for three to nine months. These programs grew out of the World War II bracero program, in which hundreds of thousands of Mexicans worked on farms and railroads, often in deplorable conditions.


The New York Times

February 28, 2007
2 New Drugs Offer Options in H.I.V. Fight

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 27 — Two new AIDS drugs, each of which works in a novel way, have proved safe and highly successful in large studies, a development that dctors said here on Tuesday would significantly expand treatment options for patients.

The two drugs, which could be approved for marketing later this year, would add two new classes of drugs to the four that are available to battle H.I.V., the AIDS virus. That would be especially important to tens of thousands of patients in the United States whose treatment is failing because their virus has become resistant to drugs already in use.

“This is really a remarkable development in the field,” Dr. John W. Mellors of the University of Pittsburgh said at a news conference here at the 14th Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Dr. Mellors, who was not involved in the studies but has been a consultant to the manufacturers of the drugs, said he “wouldn’t be going out on a limb” to say the new results were as exciting as those from the mid-1990s, when researchers first discovered that cocktails of drugs could significantly prolong lives.

Dr. Scott Hammer, chief of infectious diseases at Columbia University Medical Center, who also was not involved in the studies but has been a consultant to the manufacturers, agreed that the new drugs “will provide extended years of meaningful survival to patients.”


The New York Times

February 28, 2007
Jailers Testify About Padilla’s Confinement

MIAMI, Feb. 27 — As Jose Padilla dropped his head and grew still, a senior official from the naval brig in Charleston, S.C., testified on Tuesday in federal court here that he had twice observed Mr. Padilla weeping in the electronically monitored cell where the military detained him for three years and eight months.

The brig’s technical director, Sanford E. Seymour, also said that Mr. Padilla, an American citizen who was designated an enemy combatant in 2002, sometimes slept on a steel bunk without a mattress, that the windows in his 80-square-foot cell were blackened and that brig employees covered up their nametags around him.

Mr. Seymour said that Mr. Padilla, a Muslim, occasionally visited with an imam and that his Koran was taken from him periodically; that he sometimes went outside to shoot baskets or sunbathe; and that when Mr. Padilla believed he had been administered LSD, it was really a flu shot.

These scattershot revelations, elicited by Mr. Padilla’s lawyers in a hearing of sharply limited scope, did not add up to a comprehensive portrait of Mr. Padilla’s time in the brig. But they were nonetheless significant, marking the first time Mr. Padilla’s military jailers were forced to speak publicly about the conditions of his secretive confinement without charges.

That confinement ended a year ago when Mr. Padilla, 36, was transferred into the civilian law enforcement system to stand trial on terrorism conspiracy charges.
But his lawyers argue that the conditions of his military detention and interrogations traumatized him so severely that he is incapable of assisting them in his own defense. In essence, they say, the government rendered him incompetent to stand trial, a position the prosecution vehemently denies.


The New York Times

February 28, 2007
Face Book

A Fighter for Colleges That Have Everything but Status

LOREN POPE has been bucking convention nearly all of his life, which is to say for a long, long time.

Mr. Pope, who is 96, grew up in northern Virginia, a Democrat in a family he describes as “hard-core Republican.” He worked as an editor at Washington newspapers and a local radio station, but left the news business for a while in the late 1940s to farm and raise cattle, largely because he thought the press was failing to stand up firmly to anti-Communist bullying. A decade later, he left The New York Times after a year as its education editor, discouraged, he says, by factionalism and bureaucracy.

So naturally, when he opened shop as an independent college counselor in Washington in 1965, Mr. Pope quickly developed a maverick’s view of college admissions.

He helped some clients get into the country’s most selective colleges and universities, but that was not where his passions lay. Instead, he began vigorously promoting to high school students and their parents the virtues of small, little-known liberal arts colleges.

“I’ve got egalitarian instincts, and that’s why I’m opposed to the elite schools’ status and prestige,” Mr. Pope said.


Overseas Markets Continue Downward Slide
Yesterday's 3.3% Dow Tumble is Biggest Loss Since '03

By David Cho, Tomoeh Murakami Tse and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; 7:42 AM

Asian and European stock markets headed down again Wednesday after a broad global sell-off the day before that included a more than 3 percent drop in the Dow Jones industrial average and the loss worldwide of an estimated trillion dollars in equity.

The Chinese indexes that started the rout actually rebounded after Chinese officials disavowed some of the more severe capital market restrictions they were rumored to be considering, such as a tax on capital gains. Shanghai's Composite Index rose nearly 4 percent.

U.S. stock market futures were also pointing higher Wednesday morning, indicating that the flight from global equities was slowing.But as they anticipated Wall Street's opening bell and a new report on U.S. economic growth, Asian and European markets continued downward.

Japan's Nikkei index fell 515 points -- nearly three percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost around 2.5 percent. Some emerging markets were hit even harder: Philippine stocks were down nearly 8 percent, their worst lost since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1970s.


New Light Shed on CIA's 'Black Site' Prisons

By Dafna Linzer and Julie Tate
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A01

On his last day in CIA custody, Marwan Jabour, an accused al-Qaeda paymaster, was stripped naked, seated in a chair and videotaped by agency officers.

Afterward, he was shackled and blindfolded, headphones were put over his ears, and he was given an injection that made him groggy. Jabour, 30, was laid down in the back of a van, driven to an airstrip and put on a plane with at least one other prisoner.

His release from a secret facility in Afghanistan on June 30, 2006, was a surprise to Jabour -- and came just after the Supreme Court rejected the Bush administration's assertion that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners like him.

Jabour had spent two years in "black sites" -- a network of secret internment facilities the CIA operated around the world. His account of life in that system, which he described in three interviews with The Washington Post, offers an inside view of a clandestine world that held far more prisoners than the 14 men President Bush acknowledged and had transferred out of CIA custody in September.

"There are now no terrorists in the CIA program," the president said, adding that after the prisoners held were determined to have "little or no additional intelligence value, many of them have been returned to their home countries for prosecution or detention by their governments."


Europe's Runaway Prosecutions

By David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A19

An Italian court announced this month that it is moving forward with the indictment and trial of 25 CIA agents charged with kidnapping a radical Muslim cleric.

These proceedings may well violate international law, but the case serves as a wake-up call to the United States. Overseas opponents of American foreign policy are increasingly turning to judicial proceedings against individual American officials as a means of reformulating or frustrating U.S. aims, and action to arrest this development is needed.

The Italian case involves a 2003 CIA mission to apprehend an Egyptian cleric named Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr. Suspected of terrorist ties, Nasr was seized in Milan and transported to Egypt, where he claims he was tortured. This was, of course, an "extraordinary rendition" -- a long-standing and legal practice that generally involves the cooperation of two or more governments in the capture and transportation of a criminal suspect outside of normal extradition proceedings. It was through such a rendition that the terrorist "Carlos the Jackal" was delivered for trial to France from Sudan in 1994.

The United States has used extraordinary renditions as part of the war on terrorism, but the continuing value of this tactic, particularly in Europe, is questionable.

One of the primary European objections to the concept of a "war" on terrorism is the fear that U.S. forces will treat Europe as a battlefield. Although this fear is specious -- international law has long provided that, even in wartime, a nation cannot pursue its enemies into the territory of friendly countries without their express permission -- extraordinary rendition gets uncomfortably close to U.S. military operations on European streets. Moreover, unlike many other aspects of U.S. policy, extraordinary rendition can probably be abandoned without severely undercutting the war effort. That being the case, and given the obvious and increasing hard feelings the policy has prompted in Europe, extraordinary renditions should end.


U.S. Sanctions With Teeth

By David Ignatius
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A19

Everybody knows that economic sanctions don't work. Just look at the decades of fruitless pressure on Cuba. But guess what? In the recent cases of North Korea and Iran, a new variety of U.S. Treasury sanctions is having a potent effect, suggesting that the conventional wisdom may be wrong.

These new, targeted financial measures are to traditional sanctions what Super Glue is to Elmer's Glue-All. That is, they really stick. Deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt doesn't even like to call them sanctions, preferring the term "law enforcement measures." Explains Stuart Levey, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence: "Sanctions are scoffed at. They have a bad history."

Authority for the new sanctions, as with so many other policy weapons, comes from the USA Patriot Act, which in Section 311 authorizes Treasury to designate foreign financial institutions that are of "primary money laundering concern." Once a foreign bank is so designated, it is effectively cut off from the U.S. financial system. It can't clear dollars; it can't have transactions with U.S. financial institutions; it can't have correspondent relationships with American banks.

The new measures work thanks to the hidden power of globalization: Because all the circuits of the global financial system are inter-wired, the U.S. quarantine effectively extends to all major banks around the world. As Levey observed in a recent speech, the impact of this little-noticed provision of the Patriot Act "has been more powerful than many thought possible."


After the Tears
Breast Cancer Is a Serious Disease, but Young Survivors Find the Laughter Is Contagious

By Emily Wax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; C01

The man in the white lab coat at Georgetown Hospital's Lombardi Cancer Center took one look at my bellybutton ring and sighed.

"You can't have your CT scan with that in there," he said.

The demand for the piercing's removal last summer was just another way cancer was trying to pry away at my 32-year-old life. But the silver hoop wouldn't budge.

That's how my husband and I ended up racing in a cab to an M Street tattoo parlor hours before I was scheduled for the test that would tell me if the breast cancer had spread. And if I would have a better chance of undergoing surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and surviving, or slogging through the treatments and possibly dying.

The parlor's electronica music spinning from a laptop seemed way too loud. The hipsters in skinny jeans and puffy boots eyeing the latest Chinese symbol tattoos seemed blissfully carefree. Amid the tattoo-splattered walls, I turned as ashen and as soaked in sweat as I would during the height of chemo as I sat down on a cold metal table. "Sweet!" purred a tattooed Burly Man, a cliche with wrench: "This trend is so over."


Iraq Bill Vexes Democrats
Leaders Struggle to Craft Measure That Can Unite Party

By Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A04

House Democratic leaders offered a full-throated defense last night of their plans to link Iraq war spending with rigorous standards for resting, training and equipping combat troops, saying that they would hold President Bush accountable for failing to meet those readiness tests.

But after a fractious meeting of the House Democratic caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Democratic members still have not united around the proposal.

More than a week after Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.) detailed plans that he said would curtail deployments to Iraq, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said the coming debate on war funding would be about forcing the administration to live up to existing military requirements. War funds would be redirected toward equipment, such as night-vision goggles, that some troops lack. Democrats would insist on giving combat troops a year off between deployments, and they could impose restrictions on Pentagon policies that extend combat tours.

They would also condition some war funding on benchmarks for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.).


The Bradenton

Posted on Tue, Feb. 27, 2007
Kerry blasts nominee over Swift Boat contribution

By Grant Slater
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WASHINGTON - Prominent Missouri businessman and Republican financier Sam Fox, accompanied by heavyweight backers, expected smooth sailing in the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday on his way to confirmation as ambassador to Belgium.

He didn't get it.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., broadsided Fox, criticizing his 2004 donation to the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and questioning Fox's credentials for the job.

"You saw fit to put $50,000 on the line to continue the smear, my question to you is: Why?" Kerry said.

The Swift Boat group gained notoriety for running a well-funded campaign that questioned the validity of Kerry's Vietnam War medals during Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.


USA Today

Giuliani addresses his Democratic past
Updated 2/26/2007 4:32 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani addressed his Democratic past on Tuesday and offered one reason for his political conversion — the economy and taxes.

"I don't think anything separates us more right now between Republicans and Democrats than how we look at taxes," the former New York mayor said. "What we understand as Republicans is that, sure, the government is an important player in this, but we are essentially a private economy. What Democrats really believe ... is that it is essentially a government economy."

In the days of President John F. Kennedy, Giuliani said, Democrats understood the concept of the private economy and cutting taxes. But, he said, Democrats have "kind of lost that."

"It's one of the reasons that I used to be a Democrat and I'm now a Republican," Giuliani said before quoting Winston Churchill as saying: "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you have no heart, but if you're not a conservative by the time you're 40, you have no brain."

The line prompted laughter from Giuliani's audience, a few hundred people affiliated with the Hoover Institution, a public policy center.


Millions In U.S. Infected With HPV
Study Finds Virus Strikes a Third of Women by Age 24

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2007; A01

More than one-third of American women are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), which in rare cases can lead to cervical cancer, by the time they are 24 years old, according to a study being published today.

The new estimates suggest that there are 7.5 million girls and women 14 to 24 years old infected with the microbe -- about two-thirds more than an earlier but less comprehensive study had found.

Overall, about one-quarter of women under age 60 are infected at any given time, making HPV by far the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country.

News of the higher-than-expected prevalence of HPV infection was balanced by the discovery that only 2.2 percent of women were carrying one of the two virus strains most likely to lead to cervical cancer -- about half the rate found in previous surveys.

The lead researcher cautioned the findings do not mean that HPV infection rates are rising, only that they are higher than previously thought.


The Seattle Times

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 12:00 AM
Danny Westneat
Impeach Bush? Don't bother

Congressman Jay Inslee knows a thing or two about the politics of impeachment. After all, he owes his job to it.

It's doubtful Inslee, of Bainbridge Island, would be in office had he not been the first politician in the nation to run TV ads decrying the impeachment investigation of President Clinton in 1998. The ads said the impeachment was a waste that had paralyzed Congress. At the time, Clinton was toxic and few were defending him. Inslee's stand was national news. He surged ahead of Republican Rick White to win a seat he's held ever since.

Now Inslee is getting blasted by some anti-war activists for saying the growing movement to impeach President Bush is also a waste.

Thursday, that movement goes prime time. The state Senate is holding a hearing in Olympia on a resolution requesting that Congress begin impeachment proceedings against both Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

It's no longer a fringe issue. Last week, an activists' forum on impeachment in Olympia drew 850 people. Thursday's rally and hearing — now the second governmental hearing on impeachment after one held in the New Mexico Senate two weeks ago — could be larger.


Pardons reemerge as issue in Clinton run
By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | February 28, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Six years ago, the launch of Hillary Clinton's career in the US Senate was marred by allegations that her brothers had received payments from people pardoned by President Bill Clinton in the waning months of his presidency.

Now, in the wake of the launch of her presidential campaign, the pardon controversy has reemerged in an obscure court case in which Senator Clinton's brother Tony is battling an order to repay more than $100,000 he received from a couple pardoned by President Clinton.

Tony Rodham, who acknowledged approaching the president about a pardon for the couple, is the second of Hillary Clinton's brothers to receive money from people who were eventually pardoned by President Clinton. Hugh Rodham received $400,000 from two people, one of whom was pardoned and one whose sentence was commuted.

But while Hillary Clinton immediately expressed chagrin over the news in 2001 that Hugh received the money -- and asked him to return it -- she said Tony was "not paid," according to a congressional report. The Clinton campaign yesterday declined to comment on the case involving Tony Rodham.

Clinton critics have been seeking to revive an array of controversies, from the Whitewater land deal to the Monica Lewinsky case. The Clinton campaign has sought to depict them as old or moot cases. But the Tony Rodham case could be different because it is in court just as Senator Clinton's campaign reaches full speed.


The politics of drug sentencing
By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | February 28, 2007

WASHINGTON THERE WAS a curious footnote to last week's Supreme Court oral arguments over criminal sentencing guidelines.

One case involved Mario Claiborne of St. Louis, who received a 15-month sentence for possessing 5.03 grams of cocaine. That just crossed the line to trigger a federal five-year prison sentence.

The 20-year-old Claiborne's lack of a prior record allowed for the five years to be lowered to 37 to 46 months. But the district judge gave him only a 15-month sentence. Anything more, the judge said, would be "tantamount to throwing you away." The US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned the verdict, saying it was way out of line with federal guidelines.

Claiborne's attorneys appealed to the Supreme Court. It was not surprising to see the American Civil Liberties Union and public defender and defense lawyer groups file briefs on his behalf.

On the other side was the Bush administration. One brief on their behalf stood out. It was from Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and other allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Diane Feinstein of California.


The New York Times

March 1, 2007
Stock Market Gains After Steep Decline on Tuesday

After suffering its steepest drop in nearly four years, the stock market showed some tentative signs of recovery today, rising slightly in early trading.

At the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange at 9:30, share prices advanced enough to push both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index above Tuesday’s closing levels. The gains were small, however, and sometimes fleeting as both indexes fluctuated in and out of positive territory.

The broad global sell-off of stocks on Tuesday wiped out the gains the Dow and the S.& P. made for the year. At the end of the trading day, both indexes had values about equal to where they stood at the end of November. The Dow lost 416 points, or about 3.3 percent. The broader S.& P. lost about 3.5 percent of its value.

The Nasdaq composite index, heavy with technology stocks, fell 3.9 percent on Tuesday and continued to slump in early trading today.Across the world, stock markets continued to feel the fallout from Tuesday’s global dive. Stock markets fell sharply across most of Asia again and continued to decline in Europe.

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