Thursday, March 22, 2007


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The New York Times

March 22, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

A Smoke-Filled War Room

THE Democratic majority in the House is trying to set policy for the Iraqwar by committee - a fractious and divided committee.

If the Democrats really want to play a role in the current Iraq debate, theyshould take a look at what John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are up to. Thesetwo Republican presidential contenders are pinning the blame for the currentmorass squarely on President Bush, rather than tackling the far morecontentious project of how and when to bring the war to an end.

The Democratic leadership, meanwhile, instead of hammering Mr. Bush, hasbusied itself behind closed doors, producing a toothless, loophole-riddenresolution that showcases the party's generic antiwar stance while trying toestablish troop readiness requirements, benchmarks for Iraqi progress andwithdrawal timetables. The resolution - more precisely, a set of dealsintended to paper over intraparty factions - is the result of a processbetter suited to a highway bill than national security.

This patchwork proposal not only demonstrates the House leadership'sinability to extract a meaningful consensus from a membership that runs theideological gamut from the Out of Iraq Caucus on the left to the Blue Dogson the right. It also risks setting the Democrats up for a poisonous shareof responsibility for the failure of United States foreign policy, whileamplifying questions regarding Democratic competence on military matters.

Admittedly, some Democrats have tried to spell out coherent objections tothe administration's botched venture. But none so far have come close tomatching the forcefulness of Mr. McCain and Mr. Giuliani, and, as often asnot, when a Democrat speaks about the war, he or she gets pulled back intothe maw of the legislative process.


Stepping on the Dream


The Washington Post

Battling the 'No Child' Backlash

By David S. Broder
Thursday, March 22, 2007; A21

The last thing President Bush needs is another fight with his politicalbase. But that is what he has found as he presses Congress to renew the NoChild Left Behind Act, his signature education program passed by abipartisan majority in the first months of his first term.

Last week, 57 Republican legislators signed on as sponsors of legislationthat would -- in the view of the administration -- destroy No Child LeftBehind. The bill would allow any state that objected to the law's standardsand testing to excuse itself from those requirements and still receivefederal school aid.

The sponsors, who include Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the House GOP whip,and Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, the chairman of the Republican NationalCommittee, say the measure is needed to curb federal interference in localschools.

The backlash against No Child Left Behind has been building almost from themoment it was enacted in the winter of 2001-02 as one of Bush's firstlegislative successes.

By requiring annual tests in the elementary grades in English and math andby demanding that schools show that all students, regardless of background,are making progress toward proficiency, the program sought to eliminateracial and ethnic disparities and lift overall performance towardworld-class standards.


The Washington Post

Musharraf at the Exit

By Ahmed Rashid
Thursday, March 22, 2007; A21

LAHORE, Pakistan -- In the rapidly unfolding crisis in Pakistan, no matterwhat happens to President Pervez Musharraf -- whether he survivespolitically or not -- he is a lame duck. He is unable to rein inTalibanization in Pakistan or guide the country toward a more democraticfuture.

Since March 9, when Musharraf suspended the chief justice of the SupremeCourt, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, public protests have escalated everyday -- as has a violent crackdown by the police and intelligence agencies onthe media and the nation's legal fraternity.

The legal convolutions about Chaudhry's dismissal boil down to one simplefact: He was not considered sufficiently reliable to deliver pleasing legaljudgments in a year when Musharraf is seeking to extend his presidency byfive more years, remain as army chief and hold what would undoubtedly berigged general elections.

Musharraf's desire to replace Chaudhry with a more pliable judge has badlybackfired. After just 10 days of protests, lawyers around the country havemade it clear to the senior judiciary that they will not tolerate furtherlegal validations for continued military rule or tolerate Musharrafremaining as president. At least seven judges and a deputy attorney generalhave resigned in protest.

Across the country, in law offices, in the media, among the oppositionparties and other organized sections of civil society, the feeling isgrowing that Musharraf will have to quit sooner rather than later. Aftereight years of military rule it appears people have had enough.


The New York Times

March 22, 2007
Panel Approves Five Subpoenas on Prosecutors

WASHINGTON, March 21 - A House panel authorized subpoenas Wednesdayrequiring Karl Rove and four other senior Bush administration officials totestify under oath in the inquiry into the dismissals of eight federalprosecutors.

Even as the White House dug in against the demand, Democrats in Congressheld out hope for a compromise. Though members of a House judiciarysubcommittee approved the subpoenas, they did not issue them, saying theywanted to avoid a showdown over separation of powers.

"Trust me," said Representative John Conyers Jr., the Michigan Democrat whois chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "We are not going to move in areckless or angry or temperamental way at all."

The potential for the investigation to broaden into a constitutionalconfrontation has created a tricky political calculus for the newlyempowered Democrats. As they consider their strategy, they are acutely awarethat they are already entangled in another major clash with theadministration over the question of pulling American troops out of Iraq.

The White House said the offer it made Tuesday was final: to allow Mr. Roveand others to be interviewed in private without having to take oaths orhaving the sessions transcribed.


The New York Times

March 22, 2007
The Year Without Toilet Paper

DINNER was the usual affair on Thursday night in Apartment 9F in an elegantprewar on Lower Fifth Avenue. There was shredded cabbage with fruit-scrapvinegar; mashed parsnips and yellow carrots with local butter and freshthyme; a terrific frittata; then homemade yogurt with honey and thyme tea,eaten under the greenish flickering light cast by two beeswax candles and afluorescent bulb.

A sour odor hovered oh-so-slightly in the air, the faint tang, not whollyunpleasant, that is the mark of the home composter. Isabella Beavan, age 2,staggered around the neo-Modern furniture - the Eames chairs, the brownvelvet couch, the Lucite lamps and the steel cafe table upon which dinnerwas set - her silhouette greatly amplified by her organic cotton diapers intheir enormous boiled-wool, snap-front cover.

A visitor avoided the bathroom because she knew she would find no toiletpaper there.
Meanwhile, Joseph, the liveried elevator man who works nights in thebuilding, drove his wood-paneled, 1920s-era vehicle up and down its chute,unconcerned that the couple in 9F had not used his services in four months."I've noticed," Joseph said later with a shrug and no further comment. (Hedeclined to give his last name. "I've got enough problems," he said.)

Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella's parents, ColinBeavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, asenior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyleexperiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan willtell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except saidfood; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and,most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.


The New York Times

March 22, 2007
In Utah, an Opponent of the 'Culture of Obedience'

SALT LAKE CITY - Rocky Anderson may not be the most liberal mayor inAmerica. But here in the most conservative state, he might as well be.

Just being himself is enough to galvanize, divide or enrage people who havefollowed his career as Salt Lake City's mayor, and who are now watching himbecome, in the twilight of his final term, a national spokesman for theexcoriation and impeachment of President Bush.

["President Bush is a war criminal," Mr. Anderson, a Democrat, said at arally here on Monday marking the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. "Letimpeachment be the first step toward national reconciliation - and towardpenance for the outrages committed in our nation's name."]

Mr. Anderson, a 55-year-old lapsed Mormon and former civil litigator with arich baritone and a mane of patrician-silver hair, is no stranger to strongtalk and political stances that leave his audiences breathless withexasperation, admiration or sometimes a mixture of both.

He has presented his densely footnoted constitutional argument against Mr.Bush's presidency in speeches from the Washington Legislature to peacerallies in Washington, D.C., making him a favorite punching bag ofconservative talk show hosts and bloggers well beyond his home state. [Hewent on Bill O'Reilly's show on Fox News on Tuesday, for example, and Mr. O'Reilly promptly called him "a kook."]


The New York Times

March 22, 2007
Gore Warns Congress of 'Planetary Emergency'

WASHINGTON, March 21 - It was part science class, part policy wonk paradise,part politics and all theater as former Vice President Al Gore came toCongress on Wednesday to insist that global warming constitutes a "planetaryemergency" requiring an aggressive federal response.

Mr. Gore, accompanied by his wife, Tipper, delivered the same blunt messageto a joint meeting of two House committees in the morning and a Senate panelin the afternoon: Humans are artificially warming the world, the risks ofinaction are great, and meaningful cuts in emissions linked to warming willhappen only if the United States takes the lead.

While sparring with Representative Joe L. Barton, a Texas Republicancritical of his message, Mr. Gore resorted to a simple metaphor. "The planethas a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor." He added, "Ifthe doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say 'I read a sciencefiction novel that says it's not a problem.' You take action."

In the House, there was little debate about the underlying science; theatmosphere was more that of a college lecture hall than a legislativegive-and-take. But in the Senate, James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the rankingRepublican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, set a pugilistictone, challenging Mr. Gore's analysis of the dangers of climate change fromhurricanes and melting ice in Antarctica.

"It is my perspective that your global warming alarmist pronouncements arenow and have always been filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements," Mr. Inhofe said.


The New York Times

March 22, 2007

Thousands of Iraqis Who Flee to Kurdish Region to Escape War Face HarshLiving Conditions


BAGHDAD, March 21 - About 160,000 Iraqis from outside the mountainousKurdish north have moved there to flee a growing civil war, according to adraft of a report by an international group that tracks refugees anddisplaced people.

That number is the first comprehensive figure for internal flight to IraqiKurdistan that has been released by any organization. It is also far higherthan partial estimates previously disclosed by Kurdish officials.

The draft report, by Refugees International, which is based in Washington,says the Iraqis who have fled north face harsh living conditions. Inflationis rampant, and outsiders have few decent job opportunities.

Little aid is available for those or other internally displaced Iraqis,because the Iraqi and United States governments, as well as the UnitedNations, have failed to acknowledge the extent of the crisis, the reportsaid.

The report's number of 160,000 displaced Iraqis in Kurdistan is based onestimates by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.


The Sun-Sentinel,0,4124642,print.story?coll=sns-newsnation-headlines

John Edwards to Discuss Wife's Health

Associated Press Writer
March 22, 2007, 2:14 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- John Edwards disclosed that his wife, Elizabeth, had breastcancer the day after he lost the vice presidency in the 2004 election. Nowhis political future may hinge on her health.

The couple planned a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., to discuss theirplans Thursday, a day after visiting doctors who are monitoring Mrs.Edwards' recovery from the cancer.

Campaign officials refused to answer any questions about what the couplelearned at the doctor's appointment or how it might affect Edwards' secondpresidential bid. Edwards had cut short a trip to Iowa to be with his wifebut still attended a barbecue fundraiser Wednesday evening in Chapel Hill,their hometown.

The campaign had said Mrs. Edwards, 57, had a follow-up appointmentWednesday to a routine test she had Monday. The campaign explained that shehad similar follow-ups in the past but they always resulted in a clean billof health.

The campaign refused to describe what happened this time.


The LA Times,1,7157615,print.story?coll=la-news-environment

Capitol Hill warms up to Gore

The former vice president will be the star witness at hearings on climatechange.

By Richard Simon
Times Staff Writer
March 21, 2007

WASHINGTON - Capitol Hill is accustomed to famous visitors, but its guesttoday is an especially hot ticket: Al Gore, who left Washington as adefeated presidential candidate and returns as the celebrity spokesman onthe world's most crucial environmental issue.

The former vice president will be the star witness on hearings about globalwarming, a Gore passion that has moved center stage in theDemocratic-controlled Congress and on the presidential campaign trail.

Interest in Gore's televised hearings before House and Senate committees isso high that a bigger hearing room has been reserved, extra rooms have beenset aside for the anticipated crowd and photo opportunities have been addedto the calendars of top Democrats.

When Congress rolls out the green carpet today, it will complete a dramatictransformation for Gore from the dismal days after he conceded the bitterlycontested 2000 presidential election.

Then, Gore's campaign was faulted by fellow Democrats for losing thepresidency to Republican George W. Bush. Now, congressional Democrats hopeGore, fresh from his appearance at the Oscars, will electrify their effortsto pass a global warming law.


The Advocate

Sexual assaults in military increase

Reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by about 24% last year,and more than twice as many offenders were punished.

There were nearly 3,000 sexual assault reports filed in 2006, compared withalmost 2,400 the previous year, a Pentagon report said Wednesday. Action wastaken against 780 people, from courts-martial and discharges to otheradministrative remedies.

The cases involved members of the military who were victims or accused ofthe assaults. The military counts rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecentassault, and attempts to commit any of those as sexual assault, though the17-page report contained no data on how many of each were reported.

This is the third year the military has compiled sexual assault statistics.The reporting methods have changed each year, however, making comparisons ofthe annual reports difficult.

Of the 2,947 sexual assaults reported last year, 756 were initially filedunder a program that allows victims to report the incident and receivehealth care or counseling services but does not notify law enforcement orcommanders.


Will Big Name Politicians Show Up In Washington Madam's Little Black Book?
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 21, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET

(McLean, Virginia) High-priced call girls always seem to have their littleblack books.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, accused of running an illegal escort service in thenation's capital, has 46 pounds of phone records.

And her offer - or threat - to turn them over to the media has some inWashington playing a guessing game as to whether any Beltway movers andshakers are on her list of up to 15,000 client phone numbers.

The 50-year-old alleged D.C. Madam was indicted earlier this month by afederal grand jury on charges of running a high-class call girl ring in theWashington area from her home in Vallejo, Calif. She has denied the escortservice engaged in prostitution.

In court records, prosecutors estimate that her business, Pamela Martin andAssociates, generated more than $2 million in revenue over 13 years, withmore than 130 women employed at various times to serve thousands of clientsat $200 to $300 a session.

Her home was raided months ago, but the case attracted little interest untilearlier this month, when Palfrey announced that to raise money for herdefense, she intended to sell her phone records to any news outlet willingto pay.


Romney Camp Linked To Hitler Ad
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 21, 2007 - 9:00 am ET

(Detroit, Michigan) The co-chair of presidential candidate Mitt Romney'sfinance committee contributed to a group that used the money for a newspaperad comparing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to Adolf Hitler.

John Rakolta said he and other Republicans unwittingly paid for the ad withcontributions to Voice the Vote, a Detroit-based political action committee.The full-page ad last summer featured a photo of Hitler and urged blackvoters to reject Granholm's 2006 re-election bid.

The ad included a swastika and photo of Granholm, who defeated Republicanbusinessman Dick DeVos in November.

The ad appeared in the Michigan Chronicle, the state's largest blacknewspaper.

The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday took issue with Rakolta's rolein the presidential campaign and called on Romney to disavow attack ads.Rakolta, in an interview with The Associated Press, criticized the DNC.

"All the Democrats are trying to do is embarrass Mitt Romney," John Rakoltasaid by telephone Tuesday. "I'm not going to let one or two people, or theDemocratic National Committee stop me from fundraising for Mitt Romney."


The New York Times

March 22, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Stepping on the Dream

One of the weirder things at work these days is the fact that we’re making it more difficult for American youngsters to afford college at a time when a college education is a virtual prerequisite for establishing and maintaining a middle-class standard of living.

Young men and women are leaving college with debt loads that would break the back of a mule. Families in many cases are taking out second mortgages, loading up credit cards and raiding 401(k)s to supplement the students’ first wave of debt, the ubiquitous college loan.

At the same time, many thousands of well-qualified young men and women are being shut out of college, denied the benefits and satisfactions of higher ducation, because they can’t meet the ever-escalating costs.

You want a recipe for making the U.S. less competitive over the next few decades? This is it.

Traditionally, one of the sweetest periods in the lives of many college graduates has been the time immediately after leaving school, when they could relax and take the measure of the newly emerging adult world. It was a time, perhaps, to travel, or to sample intriguing employment opportunities, even if they didn’t pay particularly well. Debt was not usually the overriding concern of the young graduate.


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