Thursday, March 15, 2007


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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

The Washington Post

A Self-Inflicted Wound
The U.S. is blocking the best and brightest immigrants.

Monday, March 12, 2007; A12

ONE OF the more self-defeating aspects of this nation's immigration policyis its insistence on denying work visas to thousands of the world's mostsought-after doctors, scientists, engineers and technical specialists,including those finishing their degrees at American universities.

Understandably, U.S. technological corporations, which, unlike Congress,live in the real world of innovation and cutthroat competition for skilledworkers, are furious that their own government's visa policies give foreignfirms a leg up. As Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., told a Senatecommittee last week, "America will find it infinitely more difficult tomaintain its technological leadership if it shuts out the very people whoare most able to help us compete."

That, unfortunately, is precisely the effect of current policy, which forthe past few years has limited the number of visas reserved for skilledworkers to 65,000 annually -- many fewer than American firms would like tohire. The immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year would haveincreased that number to 115,000, but the bill died in the House. As aresult, it is a certainty that thousands of highly trained workers, theirhopes of staying and working in America dashed, are now giving firms inEurope or Japan a competitive advantage in some of the world's mostcutting-edge industries.

The lunacy of the current state of affairs is exposed by the fact that from2001 to 2003, Congress raised the number of visas for skilled workers to195,000 annually, in recognition of marketplace realities, then allowed itto revert back to 65,000 through what amounted to inattention. At thispoint, with the demand for skilled workers soaring, the 65,000 cap is soinadequate that every single such visa is snapped up by skilled workers whoapply each spring, before the federal government's fiscal year even beginsin October. The system's dysfunction has been recognized by Congress, whichfelt compelled to make some exemptions to its own cap. That eased but didnot solve the problem.

Entangled in the broader debate about immigration, the skilled-worker visaproblem has been neglected for too long. Tighter immigration curbs imposedafter the terrorist attacks of 2001 may have been an understandable reactionat the time.

But there's no excuse for the current logjams, particularly since alegislative fix is relatively simple: increase the number of visas. Andwhile Congress is at it, it should also raise the woefully inadequate annualcap on green cards, which are needed for permanent residency status. Just140,000 are granted annually, and the backlog in applications now requires awaiting period of about five years.


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -,,329744438-103677,00.html

The Guardian - UK

Was I a good American in the time of George Bush?

Too many of us have done too little to stop the crimes of this White House.We are waking up but what took us so long?

Rebecca Solnit
Wednesday March 14, 2007


Was I a good American? How good an American was I? Did I do what I could toresist the takeover of my country and the brutalisation of my fellow humanbeings? How much further could I have gone? Were the crimes of the Bushadministration those that demand you give up your life and everydaycommitments to throw yourself into maximum resistance? If not, then whatwere we waiting for? The questions have troubled me regularly these lastfive years, because I was one of the millions of American citizens who didnot shut down Guantánamo Bay and stop the other atrocities of theadministration.

I wrote. I gave money, sometimes in large chunks. I went to anti-warmarches. I demonstrated. I also planted a garden, cooked dinners, playedwith children, wandered around aimlessly, and did lots of other things youdo when the world is not crashing down around you. And maybe when it is. Wasit? It was for the men in our gulag. And the boys there. And the rule of lawin my native land.

Before the current administration, it had always been easy to condemn the"good Germans" who did nothing while Jews, Gypsies and others were roundedup for extermination. One likes to believe that one will be different, willharbour Anne Frank in one's secret annex, smuggle people across the border,defy the authorities who do evil. Those we scornfully call good Germansmerely did little while the mouth of hell opened up.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4124643,print.story?coll=sns-newsnation-headlines

Republican Says Gonzales Should Be Fired
Associated Press Writer

March 15, 2007, 2:52 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- A Senate Republican is calling for Attorney General AlbertoGonzales' dismissal as Democrats weigh subpoenaing President Bush's topaides in the escalating political furor over the firing of eight federalprosecutors.

Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, a longtime Bush administration criticfacing a tough re-election campaign, called for Gonzales' ouster Wednesdayjust hours after Bush expressed confidence in the attorney general, who is alongtime friend.

"I think the president should replace him," Sununu said in an interview. "Ithink the attorney general should be fired."

Although some Republicans have been tepid in their support for the attorneygeneral, Sununu was the first to go so far in the wake of an uproar over theJustice Department's firing of the attorneys and its response tocongressional questions, plus a separate report that the administrationabused its power to secretly investigate suspected terrorists.

The White House issued a curt response to Sununu's remarks.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007
If Elected ...

Clinton Says Some G.I.'s in Iraq Would Remain


WASHINGTON, March 14 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton foresees a "remainingmilitary as well as political mission" in Iraq, and says that if electedpresident, she would keep a reduced military force there to fight Al Qaeda,deter Iranian aggression, protect the Kurds and possibly support the Iraqimilitary.

In a half-hour interview on Tuesday in her Senate office, Mrs. Clinton saidthe scaled-down American military force that she would maintain would stayoff the streets in Baghdad and would no longer try to protect Iraqis fromsectarian violence - even if it descended into ethnic cleansing.

In outlining how she would handle Iraq as commander in chief, Mrs. Clintonarticulated a more nuanced position than the one she has provided at hercampaign events, where she has backed the goal of "bringing the troops home."

She said in the interview that there were "remaining vital national securityinterests in Iraq" that would require a continuing deployment of Americantroops.

The United States' security would be undermined if parts of Iraq turned intoa failed state "that serves as a petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda,"she said. "It is right in the heart of the oil region," she said. "It isdirectly in opposition to our interests, to the interests of regimes, toIsrael's interests."


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Dying Woman Loses Appeal on Marijuana as Medication

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 - Federal appellate judges here ruled Wednesday thata terminally ill woman using marijuana was not immune to federal prosecutionsimply because of her condition, and in a separate case a federal judgedismissed most of the charges against a prominent advocate for the medicinaluse of the drug.

The woman, Angel McClary Raich, says she uses marijuana on doctors'recommendation to treat an inoperable brain tumor and a battery of otherserious ailments. Ms. Raich, 41, asserts that the drug effectively keeps heralive, by stimulating appetite and relieving pain, in a way thatprescription drugs do not.

She wept when she heard the decision.

"It's not every day in this country that someone's right to life is takenfrom them," said Ms. Raich, appearing frail during a news conference inOakland, where she lives. "Today you are looking at someone who really iswalking dead."

In 2002, she and three other plaintiffs sued the government, seeking relieffrom federal laws outlawing marijuana. The case made its way to the SupremeCourt, and in 2005, the court ruled against Ms. Raich, finding that thefederal government had the authority to prohibit and prosecute thepossession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. But the justices leftelements of Ms. Raich's case to a lower court to consider.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007
Immigration Misery

A screaming baby girl has been forcibly weaned from breast milk and taken,dehydrated, to an emergency room, so that the nation's borders will besecure. Her mother and more than 300 other workers in a leather-goodsfactory in New Bedford, Mass., have been terrorized - subdued by guns anddogs, their children stranded at school - so that the country will noticethat the Bush administration is serious about enforcing immigration laws.Meanwhile, tens of thousands of poor Americans, lacking the rightcitizenship papers, have been denied a doctor's care so that not a penny ofMedicaid will go to a sick illegal immigrant.

As the country waits for Congress and the president to enact immigrationreform, the indecency of existing policies is becoming intolerable. Theimmigrant underclass is in a growing state of misery and fear. States andlocalities have rushed to fill the vacuum of Congressional inaction with ajumble of enforcement regimes. Farmers are worrying about crops rotting astheir immigrant workers retreat further into the shadows. Officials inColorado have settled on one solution: replacing those workers with prisonchain gangs.

Senator Edward Kennedy, infuriated after visiting a New Bedford churchbasement and hearing tales of separated families and sick children, hasgiven up on drafting a new immigration bill. He has decided instead to getCongress moving quickly by reintroducing a bill passed last year by theSenate Judiciary Committee. That bill - sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter,then the committee's chairman - was seriously flawed to start and furtherdistorted by harsh Republican amendments.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

The Long Exit

Senator Carl Levin has always been one of the most serious participants inthe Iraq debate. He's one of those politicians who could actually pass atest of Middle East cultural literacy - who could tell you what the Mahdirmy is or whether Al Qaeda is a Sunni or Shiite organization. He's one ofthe Democrats who generally hasn't formed his Iraq position with an eye toIowa primary voters or the party's donor base.

Which is why it's significant that his speeches during yesterday's Senatewar debate were so utterly unconvincing.

The essential Levin argument was that the Iraqi leaders have been shirkingtheir duties and it's time to force them to get serious. "It is time forCongress to explain to the Iraqis that it is your country," Levin declared.It is time to shift responsibility for Iraq firmly onto Iraqi shoulders, andgive them the incentives they need to make the tough choices. The Democratictimetable resolution, Levin concluded, "will deliver a cold dose of realityto Iraqi leaders."

But does anybody think that Iraqi leaders, many of whom have seen theirbrothers and children gunned down, need a cold dose of reality deliveredfrom the U.S. Congress? Does anybody buy the Levin model of reality, whichholds that Iraqi leaders are rational game theorists who just need to havetheir incentives rearranged in order to make peace? Does anybody believe therifts in Iraqi society can be bridged by a few "tough choices" made by thelargely reviled Green Zone politicians?


The New York Times

March 15, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The Danger Zone

The national unemployment rate came in at 4.5 percent last week and wasgenerally characterized as pretty good. But whatever universe those numberscame from, it was not the universe that black men live in.

Black American males inhabit a universe in which joblessness is frequentlythe norm, where the idea of getting up each morning and going off to workcan seem stranger to a lot of men than the dream of hitting the lottery,where the dignity that comes from supporting oneself and one's family hastoo often been replaced by a numbing sense of hopelessness.

What I'm talking about is extreme joblessness - joblessness that is coursingthrough communities and being passed from one generation to another, like adeadly virus.


The Washington Post

At Candidates Forum, Silence About the War Speaks Volumes

By Dana Milbank
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A02

John McCain -- fighter pilot, prisoner of war, tormentor of Pat Robertson --
s seldom wanting in courage. But even so, what he did yesterday wasnoteworthy.

The Republican senator from Arizona was one of 11 presidential candidates --
emocrat and Republican -- to address the annual gathering of thefirefighters union. But he was the only one to risk making a passionate casebefore the left-leaning group about why the war in Iraq must continue."It is not hopeless," McCain told them. No response other than somebodycoughing.

Reading his speech and stealing quick glances at his listeners, hecontinued. "The hour is late, but we must try, we must!" Beefy firemen, armsfolded on chests, stared back silently.

"We do have some evidence that the new tactics . . . have begun to makeprogress," he pleaded. Audience members whispered. Some shook heads. Oneraised the comics section in front of her face.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

For Wary Conservatives, All Eyes on Bush
Filed at 4:57 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Every time President Bush makes an overture toDemocrats -- and he makes plenty these days -- conservative Republicans getedgy. They fear he might be so willing to cross the aisle that he will endup crossing them.

''Everybody should be very concerned and very active,'' said GroverNorquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and a conservative leaderwith close White House relations.

''The temptation for an administration in the last two years is to dosomething for legacy purposes,'' Norquist said. ''And with a DemocraticHouse and Senate, doing something cannot be good.''

The White House sees it differently.

Mired in an unpopular war, slumping in the polls and knocked off course byone setback after another, Bush still has time. He can score a fewlegislative victories and burnish his domestic legacy before he leavesoffice if he gets help from both parties.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Asian and European Markets Recover
Filed at 7:56 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- European and Asian stock markets rebounded Thursday, relievedby a recovery on Wall Street after a plunge earlier in the week triggered byworries about a slowdown in the U.S. economy.

Europe's three biggest markets were trading higher around midday in Europe.The U.K. benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose 1.8 percent to 6,107.00, Germany'sDAX Index advanced 1.8 percent to 6,561.38 and France's CAC rose 1.6 percentto 5,378.05.

Investors who had dumped stocks a day earlier in the wake of sharp declinein the U.S. market snapped up shares in a broad rally that stretched acrossmost markets from Japan to London.

''U.S. stocks rebounded sharply,'' said Lawrence Peterman, investmentdirector at Eden Financial in London. ''Bargain hunting was evident.''

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 183.50 points, or 1.10 percent, to16,860.39, a day after sliding 2.92 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Indexadvanced 132.51 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,969.44 after sliding 2.6percent Wednesday.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Hussein's Vice President to Be Hanged
Filed at 6:16 a.m. ET

BAGHDAD (AP) -- An Iraqi court has upheld the death sentence against SaddamHussein's former deputy for his role in the killing of 148 Shiites in 1982,a judge said Thursday.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Saddam's vice president when the regime wasousted by the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, will be hanged, the method ofexecution in Iraq, the judge Mounir Haddad said at a news conference. Thedecision was final.

The appeals court decision was relayed to the government of Prime MinisterNouri al-Maliki, which will set the date for the execution, he added.Haddad, a member of the court's nine-judge panel, said the decision touphold the death sentence was unanimous.

Ramadan was convicted in November along with Saddam and six others in thekillings of Shiites in Dujail following an assassination attempt against theformer Iraqi leader in 1982 in the Shiite town north of Baghdad. Three otherdefendants were sentenced to 15 years in jail in the case, while one wasacquitted.

Ramadan was sentenced to life in prison but an appeals court ruled that wastoo lenient and asked that the lower court reconsider. The court sentencedhim to death last month.


The New York Times

March 14, 2007, 10:36 pm

Clinton, Obama and Gays
By Patrick Healy

After Hillary Clinton came under fire for not directly addressing thequestion of whether she thought homsexuality was immoral, her campaign lastnight released a statement from the Senator. In her statement, Mrs. Clintonaddressed the remarks of General Peter Pace, the chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, who said he should not have publicly expressed his viewthat homosexual conduct was immoral and akin to adultery.

"I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple,"the Senator said. "It is inappropriate to inject such personal views intothis public policy matter, especially at a time in which there are young menand women in such grave circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in otherdangerous places around the world."

And Mrs. Clinton is not the only one coming under fire tonight. According toNewsday, Senator Barack Obama gave indirect responses to repeatedquestioning on the same issue, saying, for instance, that traditionally theJoint Chiefs chairman comments only on military matters.

A spokesman for Mr. Obama said last night that the senator, too, disagreedwith General Pace's remarks and believed that homosexuality was not immoral.Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rightsorganization, said he was concerned about the initial responses of bothDemocratic senators, and compared their comments unfavorably to the rebukeby a Republican senator, John Warner of Virginia, who said he "respectfullybut strongly" disagreed that homosexuality was immoral.

"It is a problem, and we're going to reach out to both of those campaignsThursday and ask them to clarify their answer," Mr. Solmonese said.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Gonzales's Critics See Lasting, Improper Ties to White House

WASHINGTON, March 14 - As he pressed his case to be confirmed as attorneygeneral, Alberto R. Gonzales made a promise to the Senate JudiciaryCommittee - and to the nation at large.

"I will no longer represent only the White House," he testified in 2005 ashe prepared to leave his job as White House counsel. "I will represent theUnited States of America and its people. I understand the differencesbetween the two roles."

Yet in one of his first acts in his new job, Mr. Gonzales brought over twotop White House aides and elevated a third, D. Kyle Sampson, a JusticeDepartment staff member who had worked in the White House. Within days, Mr.Sampson began identifying federal prosecutors to oust, an effort initiatedby Harriet E. Miers, the fellow Texan who succeeded Mr. Gonzales at theWhite House.

The attorney general's accumulating critics point to the removal of sevenprosecutors in December as evidence that Mr. Gonzales, a longtime Bushloyalist, had failed to distance himself and his agency from the White Houseand its political agenda.

As attorney general, Mr. Gonzales became a vocal defender of some of theadministration's most contentious antiterrorism initiatives, including theNational Security Agency's eavesdropping program, for which he helpeddevelop the legal rationale while at the White House.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

Push to Fix Ozone Layer and Slow Global Warming

HONG KONG, March 14 - An unusual coalition of industrial and developingcountries began pushing Wednesday for stringent limits on the world's mostpopular refrigerant for air-conditioners, as evidence mounts that therefrigerant harms the earth's ozone layer and contributes to global warming.The coalition is pitted against China, which has become the world's leadingmanufacturer of air-conditioners that use the refrigerant, HCFC-22. Mostwindow air-conditioners and air-conditioning systems in the United Statesuse this refrigerant, as well.

International pressure has grown rapidly this winter for quick action. "Wescientifically have proof: if we accelerate the phaseout of HCFC, we aregoing to make a great contribution to climate change," said RominaPicolotti, the chief of Argentina's environmental secretariat.

An accelerated phaseout of the refrigerant could speed up by five years thehealing of the ozone layer of the atmosphere. It could also cut emissions ofglobal-warming gases by the equivalent of at least one-sixth of thereductions called for under the Kyoto Protocol.

The United States joined Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, Mauritania and Norwayon Wednesday in notifying the Ozone Secretariat of the United NationsEnvironment Program that they want to negotiate an accelerated phaseout ofhydrochlorofluorocarbons, or HCFC's, at an international conference inMontreal in September.


The New York Times

March 15, 2007

In a Test of Capturing Carbon Dioxide, Perhaps a Way to Temper GlobalWarming

WASHINGTON, March 14 - American Electric Power, a major electric utility, isplanning the largest demonstration yet of capturing carbon dioxide from acoal-fired power plant and pumping it deep underground.

Various experts consider that approach, known as sequestration, essential toreining in climate change by preventing the gas from being added to theatmospheric blanket that promotes global warming.

The project, to be announced Thursday by American Electric Power, based inColumbus, Ohio, will use a new process - so far tested only at laboratoryscale - that uses chilled ammonia to absorb the gas for collection. Theprocess was developed by Alstom, a major manufacturer of generatingequipment, and aims to reduce the amount of energy required to capture thecarbon dioxide.

Some experts have estimated that nearly a third of a power plant's energyoutput might be needed to pull carbon dioxide from the waste stream. Alstomhopes to hold it to 15 percent.

The cost must be kept as low as possible if the technology is to be used ona wide scale. Congress is seen as unlikely to impose enormously expensiverestraints on emissions. And under proposals to cap emissions nationally andlet companies trade credits for extra reductions, only the cheapest methodsof reducing greenhouse gases would thrive in the marketplace.


The Washington Post

Reports of the GOP's Death . . .

By David S. Broder
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A19

Months before the first votes are cast in the campaign of 2008, some in themedia are conducting last rites for the Republicans. The rush to bury theGOP is as hasty as it is premature.

The headline atop Page 1 of Tuesday's New York Times read, "GOP Voters VoiceAnxieties on Party's Fate." It sounded like a death knell for the party thathas held the White House for 26 of the past 38 years. But the evidence wasthin.

A New York Times-CBS News poll that included 698 self-identified Republicansfound that 40 percent of them thought the Democrats were likely to win thepresidency in 2008, while only 12 percent of Democrats said they believed aRepublican would win. That finding is hardly a surprise. A great manyDemocrats I know still have trouble admitting that their candidates lost toGeorge W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. They are still mentally counting votes inFlorida and Ohio that they are convinced were overlooked.

The Times, not normally solicitous of Republicans' feelings, also reportedwidespread concern among those it interviewed "that their party had driftedfrom the principles of Ronald Reagan, its most popular figure of the past 50years."

The fine print of the survey, though, told a somewhat different story.Support for President Bush and his policies remains high among Republicans.His overall job rating among GOP voters is 75 percent, "and by overwhelmingnumbers they approve of his handling of foreign policy, the war in Iraq andthe management of the economy."


The Washington Post

The Wrath Of Tom DeLay

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A19

Newt Gingrich's attempted phoenix-like rise from his own political ashes toa presidential candidacy will run next week into a harsh assessment by hisformer House Republican colleague Tom DeLay. The former majority leader'sforthcoming memoir assails Gingrich as an "ineffective" House speaker with aflawed moral compass.

Gingrich is not the only erstwhile political ally to feel DeLay's wrath. In"No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight," DeLay is even morecritical of his predecessor as majority leader, Dick Armey, and assailsGeorge W. Bush as being more compassionate than conservative. Even the manDeLay handpicked to succeed Gingrich as speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, isaccused along with Gingrich and Armey of opening the door to the Democraticpurge of DeLay.

DeLay is an angry man after being driven from the leadership, from Congressand, so far, from public life by "a concerted effort to destroy me legally,financially and personally" through a 2005 indictment in Texas. DeLay'sresponse to Democratic District Attorney Ronnie Earle is familiar. What isunusual are his claims that "pre-existing tensions I had with Gingrich andArmey" partially explain their role in kicking DeLay out of the leadership.

DeLay admits that the Republican leaders empowered by the 1994 elections --
omprising himself as majority whip, Gingrich as speaker and Armey asmajority leader -- "were not a cohesive team, and this hindered our abilityto change the nation." He puts most blame "at Newt Gingrich's door."

In describing Gingrich as an "ineffective Speaker," DeLay writes: "He knewnothing about running meetings and nothing about driving an agenda." Headds: "Nearly every other day he had a new agenda, a new direction he wantedus to take. It was impossible to follow him."


The Washington Post

Why This Primary Push?

By George F. Will
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A19

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once."
-- attributed to Albert Einstein

That is, however, a very good reason. And a reason that the emerging natureof the 2008 process for picking presidential nominees is regrettable.With scant thought given to the national interest, particular statespursuing what they fancy is in their interest are propelling the nation intoa delegate selection process so compressed that it will resemble a nationalprimary. These states may exacerbate what they consider a problem -- theimportance of early voting in small states.

It is, of course, a commandment graven on the heart of humanity by thefinger of the Almighty that Iowa's caucuses shall come first and then NewHampshire shall have its say. Or at least it was so graven until Democratsdecided that the Almighty's purposes would be better served by insertingbetween Iowa (population 3 million) and New Hampshire (population 1.3million) some caucuses in Clark County, Nevada.

Technically, the caucuses are in all of Nevada (population 2.5 million), butoutside of Clark County -- basically, Las Vegas -- where about 70 percent ofNevadans live, the state is mostly federally owned land (91 percent) andsheep and other quadrupeds. Were Nevada to try to have a primary before NewHampshire, that irritable state might move its primary up to May.

Anyway, until recently, nine states had primaries scheduled for Feb. 5. Butsoon perhaps 20 states, including California (population 36.5 million),will. If that many states do, this will increase the importance of Iowa,Clark County and New Hampshire.


The Washington Post

Rough Justice - The Case Against Alberto Gonzales
Part I | Part II

Part II: Alberto Gonzales, Presidential Enabler

Three episodes in the career of Alberto R. Gonzales before he becameAttorney General of the United States tell us what kind of a job he waslikely do as the nation's top attorney at the Justice Department. In eachinstance, history has not been kind either to Gonzales' actual substantivework or to the ethical and moral judgment he exercised on behalf of hisclients at the time. In each case, the advice Gonzales offered -- legallydubious to begin with -- created not just political embarrassment andbacklash for his bosses, but unfortunate, even catastrophic results.

Not only did the three pre-Justice Department episodes turn out to beremarkable predictors for his troubled and disappointing tenure as AttorneyGeneral -- but many predicted two years ago that they might be. For example,Sen. Patrick Leahy (D.-Vt.) looked Gonzales in the eye at the latter'sSenate confirmation hearing in January 2005 and said: "My concern is thatduring several high-profile matters in your professional career you'veappeared to serve as a facilitator rather than as an independent force inthe policy-making process."

Gonzales reassured Sen. Leahy -- and anyone else who cared to lodge the samecomplaint back then -- that he knew the difference between the role he wouldhave to play as Attorney General and those he had played as White Housecounsel and as counsel to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

But let us judge him by his deeds and not his words. The Attorney General'srecord at the Justice Department strongly suggests that he has still actedas a docile and dogged "facilitator" for White House initiatives rather thanas a wise, high-minded legal counselor willing and able on occasion toexercise independent judgment and power. The roads to the current scandalover the dismissal of federal prosecutors, to the Justice Department's rabidsupport for warrantless domestic surveillance, and to department's tepiddefense of civil liberties for resident aliens all are paved with stonesthat Gonzales and Bush laid down before the former took the oath of officein early 2005.

For the first two examples, I lean heavily upon the distinguished work ofAlan Berlow, who brilliantly chronicled in the July/August 2003 issue of TheAtlantic Monthly Gonzales' appallingly unprofessional work on death penaltycases when he was counsel for Gov. Bush. According to Berlow, Gonzales"repeatedly failed to apprise Bush of some of the most salient issues in thecases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigatingevidence, even actual evidence of innocence" (emphasis in original) in aseries of memoranda Gonzales prepared for the governor's review as part ofthe state's clemency process. Berlow believes that this was not merenegligence on the part of Gonzales -- that would have been bad enough -- butrather part of a concerted effort by both men to ensure for both politicaland ideological reasons that there would be no clemency petitions granted.The dice were loaded, you might say, by the man who now is the nation's toplawyer.


Washington Post

Google to Tighten Privacy
Personal Data to Be Cut From Archived Searches

By Sam Diaz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2007; D03

Google said yesterday that it plans to alter its privacy policy and stripcertain identifying information from archived Internet searches.

The change, which is to go into effect by the end of the year, was welcomedby privacy advocates who have challenged Google to respect its users'privacy as it pursues its goal of organizing the world's information. Thenew policy will affect only searches conducted from the Google home page,not from Google Calendar or correspondence sent through Google's Web e-mailservice, Gmail.

Under the new policy, Google will continue to store search terms, but after18 to 24 months it will remove the Internet protocol addresses, which canhelp identify the location of computers that conducted searches. Google willalso erase cookies, which are bits of information that stay on computer harddrives after searches are conducted and might help an observer learn moreabout other Web sites visited by the person using the computer at a giventime.

"It's something we've been complaining about for years," said Ari Schwartz,deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington."This is a big deal because they're saying, 'We really do value privacy.'This is definitely a step in the right direction."

Last year, a federal judge ordered Google to turn over Web-search records tothe Justice Department, which was trying to prove that filtering softwarewas failing to limit children's access to online pornography. The governmentlater scaled back its request, asking instead for a sampling of randomsearches.


The Washington Post

Medical Marijuana Use Dealt Setback

Associated Press
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A11

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14 -- A woman whose doctor says marijuana is the onlymedicine keeping her alive can face federal prosecution on drug charges, afederal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling was the latest legal defeat for Angel Raich, a mother of two fromOakland suffering from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea and otherailments who sued the government preemptively to avoid being arrested forusing the drug. On her doctor's advice, Raich eats or smokes marijuana everytwo hours to ease her pain.

The Supreme Court ruled against Raich in June 2005, saying medical marijuanausers and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal druglaws even if they lived in a state such as California, where medical use ofthe drug is legal.

When told of the decision, Raich, 41, began sobbing. "I'm sure not going tolet them kill me," she said.


The Washington Post

Dozens in GOP Turn Against Bush's Prized 'No Child' Act

By Jonathan Weisman and Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 15, 2007; A01

More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate -- including the House'ssecond-ranking Republican -- will introduce legislation today that couldseverely undercut President Bush's signature domestic achievement, the NoChild Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testingmandates.

For a White House fighting off attacks on its war policy and dealing with aburgeoning scandal at the Justice Department, the GOP dissidents' move is afresh blow on a new front. Among the co-sponsors of the legislation areHouse Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key supporter of the measure in2001, and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Bush's most reliable defender in the Senate.Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House GOP's chief deputy whip and a supporter in2001, has also signed on.

Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings withschool administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the HouseRepublican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt wasconvinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act areunacceptably onerous, Snyder said.

Some Republicans said yesterday that a backlash against the law wasinevitable. Many voters in affluent suburban and exurban districts -- GOPstrongholds -- think their schools have been adversely affected by the law.Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federaltesting mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests,siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouragingcreativity, critics say.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Thu, Mar. 15, 2007
`I'm responsible for 9/11'

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the man the United States says masterminded the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, confessed to the attack and to plotting a reign ofanti-American terror across the planet, according to a military transcriptof a weekend hearing at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, released Wednesday.

''I was responsible for the 9/11 operation -- from A to Z,'' he is quoted assaying in the 26-page transcript, posted on the Defense Department websiteat the close of business Wednesday.

The confession likely clears the way for the Pentagon to try the man thatthe United States says was Osama bin Laden's operations chief before amilitary war-crimes court empowered to sentence alleged terrorists to death.

No attorney was present at the status hearing in front of a panel chaired bya Navy captain and meant to determine whether he could be classified as an''enemy combatant.'' The Pentagon also barred the news media.

According to the transcript, an Air Force lieutenant colonel read a 31-pointlist of operations -- some completed, some planned -- while Mohammed sat ina hearing room on Saturday.


Sharpton spell is fading fast
Kathleen Parker
March 14, 2007

Al Sharpton's desperation is showing.

His recent attacks on presidential candidate Barack Obama and his threat towithhold his support have exposed the trick behind Sharpton's magic act. Hisaudience is leaving the tent and Sharpton is scrambling for relevancy.

Sharpton has been challenging Obama's credentials in the black community andsaying that Obama is the darling of white leadership, according toDemocratic sources.

Sharpton told CBS News that he is withholding his endorsement until afterhis National Action Network summit next month. Meanwhile, he's playing hardto get between the Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton camps, even declining toreturn calls from Obama's campaign.

Now, it is fair to ask, what is Sharpton really up to? What is his realobjection to Obama? That Obama has white supporters? That Obama has becomethe first serious black presidential candidate in U.S. history? That helacks the civil rights bona fides that Sharpton claims for himself?


Can Edwards win with an 'us vs. them' pitch?

By Judy Keen, USA TODAY

OTTUMWA, Iowa - Dan Murphy, a Democrat and a sixth-grade teacher, isshopping for a presidential candidate in a community college conference roomon a sunny Saturday. He's here to hear John Edwards' pitch.

Murphy, 50, likes Sen. Barack Obama but says the Illinois freshman "hasn'tbeen around long enough." New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is "too muchof a Washington politician." Edwards, he says, "is pretty down to earth andknows what's going on with people at my income level."

Murphy's assessment of the candidate in broken-in jeans, blue shirt andyellow "Live Strong" wristband is exactly what Edwards hopes to achieve inhis second presidential run.

This time, the 2004 vice presidential nominee has a repackaged messageframing the campaign as a struggle that pits the political and corporateelite against regular people who just want to make a decent living, affordhealth care and end the Iraq war. Edwards, who made millions as apersonal-injury lawyer taking on big business, tells audiences heunderstands that they feel squeezed because they "pay more for everything .but their pay is not going up."

Edwards' challenge is to convince voters in primaries and caucuses that heis a populist who would put their interests above those of big corporationsand big government. He must prove that message will triumph over thepersonal and political appeal of Clinton and Obama, and sell across thenation, especially to moderate and independent voters important in a generalelection.


Clinton: "Right-Wing Conspiracy" Is Real

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2007

(AP) The "vast, right-wing conspiracy" is back, presidential candidateHillary Rodham Clinton is warning, using a phrase she once coined todescribe partisan plotting.

Once derided for her use of the phrase, Clinton is now trying to turn theimagery to her advantage.

Speaking Tuesday to Democratic municipal officials, the New York senatorused the term to hammer Republicans on election irregularities. She alsoused the phrase similarly during a campaign appearance over the weekend inNew Hampshire.

Clinton was first lady when she famously charged allegations of an affairbetween her then-president husband Bill Clinton and White House internMonica Lewinsky were the result of a conservative conspiracy.

As evidence of the affair eventually came to light, the comment wasridiculed. But many Democrats have since insisted that Clinton was correct,pointing to the well-documented efforts by conservative financier RichardMellon Scaife to fund a network of anti-Clinton investigations.


Why bash Dubai?
If there is any place in the Arab world that the United States should nothave a beef with, it is Dubai. One of seven Persian Gulf states looselylinked into the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is a booming monument tocapitalism.

Yet this oil-rich emirate, known for its opulent hotels and shopping malls,has quickly become a political piñata for Democrats (and some Republicans).

Last year, lawmakers thwarted a merger that would have let a Dubai-basedcompany run several American ports. Never mind that few, if any, expertsinvolved in port security thought the deal would have made U.S. ports anyless safe.

Now a controversy is erupting over the announcement by Halliburton, the oilservices giant run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president, that itwill move its headquarters to Dubai from Houston. Never mind that there arelegitimate business reasons for the move.

Dubai has become a convenient symbol to stoke fears about global securityand globalization. It can be depicted as a terrorist haven, as it was duringthe ports debate, or a tax haven, as it is now. The image one is left withis rather incongruous, kind of like a Bermuda run by the Taliban.

The irony is that Dubai is one of the best things going in the Middle East.While other Arab nations are contending with growing ranks of Islamicextremists with medieval notions, Dubai is a center of free trade, religioustolerance and pro-Western attitudes.


Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
Tri-County -

It Can Happen Here: Journalist Joe Conason on "Authoritarian Peril in theAge of Bush"

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Political journalist Joe Conason joins us in our firehouse studio to discusshis new book, "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush."Conason writes, "For the first time since the resignation of Richard M.Nixon more than three decades ago, Americans have had reason to doubt thefuture of democracy and the rule of law in our own country. [includes rushtranscript]

Joe Conason, national correspondent for The New York Observer, columnist and head of the Nation Institute Investigative Fund.. His latestbook is "It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush."


This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help usprovide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TVbroadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.
Donate - $25, $50, $100, more...

AMY GOODMAN: It Can Happen Here.


AMY GOODMAN: Why did you choose that title?

JOE CONASON: That's the title -- well, there was a book in 1935 written bySinclair Lewis called It Can't Happen Here, which was kind of a satiricalnovel about the rise of fascism in the United States, which doesn't soundlike a very funny subject, but he managed to bring some humor to a very grimsubject, which was our descent into an authoritarian state after the 1936election.

Sinclair Lewis was married at the time to a foreign correspondent namedorothy Thompson, who was one of the greatest of her time and maybe of alltime, who had been kicked out of Nazi Germany in 1934 and had come home -- or telling the truth about Hitler -- and had come home and basically spenta lot of time telling her husband that the world was on the verge of apotential fascist takeover and he ought to try to do something about it. Andthis is why he wrote this novel.

I read that book at the urging of my editor at St. Martin's Press, and itoccurred to me that there were many striking parallels, actually, betweenwhat Sinclair Lewis had imagined as the kind of authoritarianism that couldcome to America and some of the things that we had been seeing in the lastseveral years here.

AMY GOODMAN: You make some stark parallels between what's happening now andthe Nixon administration, when it came to trying to obliterate the checksand balances. Explain.


The Chicago Tribune,0,6122474,print.column?coll=chi-ed_opinion_columnists-utl

If Gonzales gets boot, who should fill shoes?
Steve Chapman

March 15, 2007

When James Buckley ran for the United States Senate in New York in 1970, hiscampaign billboards asked a question: "Isn't it time we had a senator?" Thelatest controversy surrounding the Justice Department raises a question ofits own: "Isn't it time we had an attorney general?" Alberto Gonzalesstarted out in Washington as the president's man, and he has done nothing toendanger his favored status. But that leaves the rest of us sorelyunrepresented.

The uproar over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys may be a case whereGonzales actually had sound reasons, rather than unsavory political motives,for doing what he did. Someone who has consistently been a pliableadministration functionary, though, can hardly expect the benefit of thedoubt when scandal erupts. That makes this a good time to consider what sortof person ought to replace Gonzales in the likely event that he will soonreturn to private life.

The short answer is: someone very different. This attorney general owesalmost everything to George W. Bush, who brought him on as his legal adviserwhen he was governor of Texas, appointed him to the state supreme court,gave him the job of White House counsel and installed him at Justice. It'sabout as easy to imagine Gonzales standing up to the president as it is topicture Mickey Mouse biting Walt Disney.

Whatever else he has done in Washington, he has conspicuously failed to earna reputation for fearless and independent judgment, so everything that hascome out about the removal of the prosecutors has been interpreted in themost incriminating fashion.

Some of it is hard to interpret any other way. The attorney general isentitled to get rid of mediocre prosecutors. Yet of the seven who got thegate in December, two had just been given high grades by Kyle Sampson, thenGonzales' chief of staff. One of those rated unsatisfactory was Bud Cumminsof Arkansas, who the department now admits was removed only to make room fora former aide to Karl Rove. And now we also know that the White House, whichhad denied any role in the firings, was involved from the start.


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