Tuesday, March 27, 2007


**IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE, CONTACT US AT rays.list@comcast.net and we'll be happy to send the full article.




Separatists Slip in Quebec Vote
Referendum Campaign Shelved; Ruling Liberals Lose Their Majority

By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A08

TORONTO, March 26 -- Voters in Quebec on Monday refused to endorse anothercampaign for independence from Canada for the French-speaking province.

Only about 28 percent of voters cast ballots in the provincial NationalAssembly election for the once-powerful Parti Quebecois, which had calledfor a third attempt to pass a referendum on Quebec sovereignty, according toresults with nearly all votes counted.

But voters also took away the majority rule of the Liberal Party government.The ballot results will require the Liberals and a surgingmiddle-of-the-road party, Action Democratique du Quebec, to negotiate analliance to govern in the province's parliament. The Liberals won about 33percent of the vote, barely ahead of the ADQ, which won about 31 percent.

Both parties strongly oppose another contentious referendum on sovereigntyafter previous referendums on independence failed in 1980 and 1995.

Voters "sent a message that we must hear," acknowledged the leader of theParti Quebecois, Andr? Boisclair. In a speech conceding defeat, however, heinsisted that there are "millions of Quebecers who want to make our peopleinto a country."




Senate's Iraq vote may come down to wire
By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writer | March 27, 2007

WASHINGTON --An upcoming Senate vote on the Iraq war could come down to justone or two votes, testing Democratic unity on a proposal to begin bringingcombat troops home.

Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor and Ben Nelson are expected to deliver thecritical votes this week, when members decide whether to uphold legislationthat orders some troops home right away, with the goal of ending combatmissions by March 31, 2008.

The provision is attached to a $122 billion bill that would fund the wars inIraq and Afghanistan.

"The United States Senate will ensure they have everything they need tocontinue this fight as we have done," said Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev. But, he added, "We must also ensure that our soldiers have a strategyfor success."

The bill is similar to one the House passed last week, but with a tougherdeadline. While the Senate identifies March 2008 as a goal -- giving thepresident leeway to ignore the deadline -- the House voted 218-212 torequire all combat troops out as of Aug. 31, 2008.


The Washington Post


Is Obama All Style and Little Substance?

The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; 3:34 AM

WASHINGTON -- The voices are growing louder asking the question: Is BarackObama all style and little substance?

The freshman Illinois senator began his campaign facing the perception thathe lacks the experience to be president, especially compared to rivals withdecades of work on foreign and domestic policy. So far, he's done little tochallenge it. He's delivered no policy speeches and provided few detailsabout how he would lead the country.

He has focused instead on motivating his impressive following with a callfor unity and change in Washington. But along with the attention comes ahunger to hear more about what he's about.

"The Obama campaign has been smart about recognizing that voters don't wantto be lost in the valley of policy only," said Democratic consultant JennyBackus. "But it's a gap that's going to have to be filled as he goes on."

Obama has a lot of time to fill in the blanks between now and Election Day,and certainly many other candidates are short on details this early in therace. But they don't have such a barrier to prove they are qualified to bepresident.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
Plea of Guilty From Detainee in Guantánamo

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba, March 26 - In the first conviction of a Guantánamo
detainee before a military commission, an Australian who was trained by AlQaeda pleaded guilty here Monday to providing material support to aterrorist organization.

The guilty plea by the detainee, David Hicks, was the first under a newmilitary commission law passed by Congress in the fall after the SupremeCourt struck down the Bush administration's first system for trying inmatesat Guantánamo.

The guilty plea is sure to be seen by administration supporters as anaffirmation of its efforts to detain and try terrorism suspects here,although the government's detention policies still face significant legaland political challenges.

The plea by Mr. Hicks came after an extraordinary day in a pristine red,white and blue courtroom here. Earlier the military judge had surprised thecourtroom with unexpected rulings that two of Mr. Hicks's three lawyerswould not be permitted to participate in the proceedings, leaving only Maj.Michael D. Mori of the Marine Corps at the defense table.

After several acrimonious sessions in which Major Mori claimed that thejudge, Colonel Ralph H. Kohlmann of the Marines, was biased, the judgeinsisted that he was impartial and the hearings came to a close.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
Time for Answers

The news that Monica Goodling, counsel to the attorney general and liaisonto the White House, is invoking her Fifth Amendment right againstself-incrimination takes the United States attorney scandal to a new level.Ms. Goodling's decision comes just days after the Justice Departmentreleased documents strongly suggesting that Attorney General AlbertoGonzales has not been honest about his own role in the firing of eightfederal prosecutors.

Mr. Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the Senate in three weeks, butthat is too long to wait. He should speak now, and explain why he continuesto insist that his department did nothing wrong.

As the liaison between the White House and the Justice Department, Ms.Goodling seems to have been squarely in the middle of what appears to havebeen improper directions from the White House to politicize the hiring andfiring of United States attorneys. Mr. Gonzales has insisted the eightprosecutors were let go for poor performance, and that the dismissals are an"overblown personnel matter." But Ms. Goodling's decision to exercise herFifth Amendment rights suggests that she, at least, believes crimes may havebeen committed.

Last Friday night, the Justice Department released a calendar entry thatdirectly contradicts Mr. Gonzales's insistence that he was out of the loop.It shows that he attended an hourlong meeting on Nov. 27 to discuss theupcoming firings of seven of the prosecutors. Previously, he had insistedthat he never "had a discussion about where things stood."

The release of the calendar entry is disturbing because it suggests not onlythat Mr. Gonzales may have personally approved the firings - something hehas denied - but that the Justice Department has been dishonest in itsresponses to Congress. The department had already released what it claimedwas a full set of relevant documents, and it now says it simply overlookedthe ones released on Friday. But the information about the Nov. 27 meetingmay have been released because Mr. Gonzales's chief of staff, who waspresent at it, has agreed to testify before Congress this week.

The more information that comes out, the more disturbing the firings look.Mr. Gonzales is scheduled to make a routine appearance before the SenateJudiciary Committee on April 17. But there is, as John McKay, a fired UnitedStates attorney from Washington State, put it, "a cloud over the JusticeDepartment" right now. Mr. Gonzales should testify this week. The seriousquestions that have been raised about improper, and possibly illegal,actions in the Justice Department need to be investigated and answeredwithout delay in full public view.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
A Smoother Re-entry

With corrections costs going through the roof, states and localities arebeginning to figure out the long-term costs of just shoving inmates out thedoor when their sentences are finished. To prevent people from ending upright back inside, states will need to embrace re-entry programs thatprovide ex-offenders with training, jobs, places to live and a range ofsocial services that don't exist in most places.

This month, the Washington State Senate passed a farsighted bill that couldbe a model for the nation. It would require the state Corrections Departmentto fashion individual re-entry plans - detailing job training, drugtreatment and educational goals - for every inmate. The bill, which isexpected to pass the House as well, would provide a tax incentive forcompanies that hire previously incarcerated people, and would prompt areview of state laws that may bar felons from state-licensed occupationsthat are in no way related to their offenses.

Researchers have shown over and over again that inmates who earn collegesdegrees are far less likely to end up back behind bars. But like moststates, Washington backed away from prison college education programs duringthe 1990s. That's also when Congress barred inmates from receiving federalPell grants. Washington State's proposed new program would partly reversethat policy by allowing inmates to take college classes that would be paidfor by the inmates, third parties or perhaps through loans. It would alsorequire the state to pay the full costs for inmates seeking high schooldiplomas or high school equivalency degrees.

The exact costs are as yet uncertain. But they would clearly pale beside thebillions that the state would save if it slowed the growth of the prisonpopulation and turned more of its ex-convicts into law-abiding, taxpayingcitizens.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Pakistan's Silent Majority Is Not to Be Feared


I WAS one of the few Pakistanis who actually voted for Gen. Pervez Musharrafin the rigged referendum of 2002. I recall walking into a polling station inIslamabad and not seeing any other voter. When I took the time required toread the convoluted ballot, I was accosted by a man who had the overbearingattitude of a soldier although he was in civilian clothes. He insisted thatI hurry, which I refused to do. He then hovered close by, watching my everyaction, in complete defiance of electoral rules.

Despite this intimidation, I still voted in favor of the proposition thatGeneral Musharraf, who had seized power in a coup in 1999, should continueas Pakistan's president for five more years. I believed his rule had broughtus much-needed stability, respite from the venal and self-serving electedpoliticians who had misgoverned Pakistan in the 1990s, and a more free andvibrant press than at any time in the country's history.

The outcome of the referendum - 98 percent support for General Musharraffrom an astonishing 50 percent turnout - was so obviously false that even hefelt compelled to disown the exercise.

Rigged elections rankle, of course. But since then, secular, liberalPakistanis like myself have seen many benefits from General Musharraf'srule. My wife was an actress in "Jutt and Bond," a popular Pakistani sitcomabout a Punjabi folk hero and a debonair British agent.

Her show was on one of the many private television channels that have beenpermitted to operate in the country, featuring everything from local rockmusic to a talk show whose host is a transvestite.

My sister, a journalism lecturer in Lahore, loves to tell me about theenormous growth in recent years in university financing, academic salariesand undergraduate enrollment. And my father, now retired but for much of hiscareer a professor of economics, says he has never seen such a dynamic andexciting time in Pakistani higher education.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
You, Too, Can Be a Banker to the Poor

KABUL, Afghanistan

For those readers who ask me what they can do to help fight poverty, oneoption is to sit down at your computer and become a microfinancier.

That's what I did recently. From my laptop in New York, I lent $25 each tothe owner of a TV repair shop in Afghanistan, a baker in Afghanistan, and asingle mother running a clothing shop in the Dominican Republic. I did thisthrough www.kiva.org, a Web site that provides information aboutentrepreneurs in poor countries - their photos, loan proposals and credithistory - and allows people to make direct loans to them.

So on my arrival here in Afghanistan, I visited my new business partners tosee how they were doing.

On a muddy street in Kabul, Abdul Satar, a bushy-bearded man of 64, wassitting in thewindow of his bakery selling loaves for 12 cents each. He was astonishedwhen I introduced myself as his banker, but he allowed me to analyze hisbusiness plan by sampling his bread: It was delicious.

Mr. Abdul Satar had borrowed a total of $425 from a variety of lenders onKiva.org, who besides me included Nathan in San Francisco, David inRochester, N.Y., Sarah in Waltham, Mass., Nate in Fort Collins, Colo.; Cindyin Houston, and "Emily's family" in Santa Barbara, Calif.

With the loan, Mr. Abdul Satar opened a second bakery nearby, with fouremployees, and he now benefits from economies of scale when he buys flourand firewood for his oven. "If you come back in 10 years, maybe I will havesix more bakeries," he said.


The New York Times


March 27, 2007
Guest Columnist
What We Can Do

We must acknowledge the limits of our power and knowledge in Iraq,Afghanistan and elsewhere and concentrate on what is achievable. Thequestion is not "What ought we to do?" but "What can we do?"

This is rarely discussed. When I ask politicians whether we can defeat theTaliban, they reply that we "have to" defeat the Taliban. If I ask whetherwe can actually do any good by staying in Iraq, they reply that we have "amoral obligation" to the Iraqi people.

By emphasizing moral necessity, politicians can justify almost any risk,uncertainty or sacrifice and make compromise seem cowardly and criticismtreasonous. When I suggest recognition of Moktada al-Sadr or negotiationwith the Taliban, I am described as an appeaser. But these moral judgmentsare fragile, and they increasingly cloak despair, paralysis and preparationfor flight.

We are learning, painfully, that many of the problems in Iraq orAfghanistan - from violence and state failure to treatment of women - aredeeply embedded in local beliefs, political structures and traumatichistories. Iraqis and Afghans do not want their country controlled byforeigners and non-Muslims. A powerful and effective minority is trying tokill us. The majority is at best lukewarm: they may dislike Sadrists or theTaliban, but they prefer them to us.




Ordinary Customers Flagged as Terrorists

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; D01

Private businesses such as rental and mortgage companies and car dealers arechecking the names of customers against a list of suspected terrorists anddrug traffickers made publicly available by the Treasury Department,sometimes denying services to ordinary people whose names are similar tothose on the list.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control's list of "specially designatednationals" has long been used by banks and other financial institutions toblock financial transactions of drug dealers and other criminals. But anexecutive order issued by President Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attackshas expanded the list and its consequences in unforeseen ways. Businesseshave used it to screen applicants for home and car loans, apartments andeven exercise equipment, according to interviews and a report by theLawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area to beissued today.

"The way in which the list is being used goes far beyond contexts in whichit has a link to national security," said Shirin Sinnar, the report'sauthor. "The government is effectively conscripting private businesses intothe war on terrorism but doing so without making sure that businesses don'ttrample on individual rights."

The lawyers' committee has documented at least a dozen cases in which U.S.customers have had transactions denied or delayed because their names were apartial match with a name on the list, which runs more than 250 pages andincludes 3,300 groups and individuals. No more than a handful of people onthe list, available online, are U.S. citizens.

Yet anyone who does business with a person or group on the list riskspenalties of up to $10 million and 10 to 30 years in prison, a powerfulincentive for businesses to comply. The law's scope is so broad and guidanceso limited that some businesses would rather deny a transaction than riskcriminal penalties, the report finds.




An Antiwar Tide on The Rise

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A13

Within three weeks, the United States could face a constitutional crisisover President Bush's war policy in Iraq. The president and his allies seemto want this fight. Yet insisting upon a confrontation will be anothermistake in a long line of bad judgments about a conflict that grows moreunpopular by the day.

Last week's narrow House vote imposing an August 2008 deadline for thewithdrawal of American troops was hugely significant, even if the billstands no chance of passing in the Senate this week in its current form. Thevote was a test of the resolve of the new House Democratic leadership andits ability to pull together an ideologically diverse membership behind aplan pointing the United States out of Iraq.

To understand the importance of the vote, one need only consider what wouldhave been said had it gone the other way: A defeat would have signaled HouseSpeaker Nancy Pelosi's powerlessness to create a governing majority from afragmented Democratic membership. In a do-or-die vote, Pelosi lived to fightanother day by creating a consensus in favor of withdrawal that includedsome of her party's most liberal and most conservative members.

The vote is only the first of what will be many difficult roll callspotentially pitting Congress against the president on the conduct of warpolicy. It confirmed that power in Washington has indeed shifted. Bush andhis Republican congressional allies had hoped Democrats would splinter andopen the way for a pro-Bush resolution of the Iraq issue. Instead, antiwarDemocrats, including Web-based groups such as MoveOn.org, discovered acommon interest with their moderate colleagues.

Oddly, the president's harsh rhetoric against the House version of thesupplemental appropriations bill to finance the Iraq war may have beendecisive in sealing Pelosi's victory. "The vehemence with which thepresident opposed it made it clear to a lot of people that this was a changein direction and that it was significant," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.),chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Tom Matzzie,the Washington director of MoveOn, saw the Bush effect rallying his ownantiwar membership. "Bush is our worst enemy," Matzzie said, "and our bestally."




Obama's Back Story

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A13

While I was whiling away my youth as an insurance investigator -- yes, yes,Cohen of Claims -- I met the lovely Penny, a wise and beautiful woman whoutterly changed my life. She invited me to her family's summer place at thebeach. The old house had a screened-in porch, and it was there, my firstmorning, that I encountered her father. He was dressed in khaki shorts andsitting at his typewriter, completing yet another book. I decided then andthere that he had precisely the life I wanted. He was a writer.

I tell you this story to suggest something about Barack Obama. In hismemoir, "Dreams From My Father," he recounts a watershed moment of hisown -- a "revelation," a "violent" awakening, an incident that "permanentlyaltered" his "vision." Twice he tells how as a 9-year-old he went to theU.S. Embassy in Indonesia (a country where his mother had taken him to live)and came across a Life magazine article about a black man who had tried towhiten his skin through some sort of chemical process. The result was adisaster.

"I felt my face and neck get hot," Obama wrote. "My stomach knotted; thetype began to blur on the page."

The child had, for the first time, confronted racism and its hideousconsequences.

Only there is no such issue of Life magazine. So says the Chicago Tribune,which has gone through the Obama memoir with commendable thoroughness. Thenewspaper conducted "more than 40 interviews with former classmates,teachers, friends and neighbors" from Obama's youth and found both trivialand substantial differences between the stories Obama tells and thoserecalled by others. What emerges from the Tribune's reporting is a man whoseems much less fixated than he insists on finding his racial identity.




The Multipolar Presidency

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A13

Coherence has never been the strong suit of George W. Bush's rhetoric. Hisline about how sometimes you have to "catapult the propaganda," my favoriteBushism of all time, may be one of the most off-the-wall presidentialutterances ever. But the Decider's policies, however unfortunate, at leastused to be pretty much of a piece. Not any more.

Increasingly, the president seems pushed and pulled in contradictorydirections, not so much by the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill but byhis own Cabinet members and other appointees. The president comes out everyonce in a while to make a show of steely resolve, as he did last week insupport of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. But then he retreats andleaves the decidin' to others.

Take the Gonzales affair, which is beginning to look like an experiment todetermine just how much unnecessary damage an administration can inflictupon itself. Because of friendship or stubbornness, Bush has essentiallyleft the attorney general's future up to the attorney general (whosejudgment has been, shall we say, called into question). Bush won't fire him,Gonzales won't leave and the acidic drip-drip-drip of new revelationscontinues to eat away at what's left of the administration's credibility.

I have to believe that at some point, Gonzales will solve this problem bylooking deep within his soul and discovering an urgent need to spend moretime with his family. But his situation is just the example du jour ofdisarray in a newly multipolar administration.

The war in Iraq -- the foreign policy misadventure by which history willjudge the Bush administration -- is now Gen. David Petraeus's to win orlose. It's the general who drew up the plan for the escalation we'resupposed to call a "surge." If he needs an additional few thousand troopsover and above what he asked for, here they come.




A Brokered Peace
U.N. Mediation Is the Best Hope for a Political Settlement in Iraq

By Carlos Pascual
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A13

The March 10 international conference seeking peace in Iraq should beapplauded. If those with a stake in Iraq are talking, they might at leastfind common rhetorical ground in their opposition to terrorism. But dialoguedoes not mean peace. Focused international mediation, ideally by the UnitedNations, will be needed for peace and stability.

The Bush administration seems to ignore the need for a formal politicalsettlement in Iraq. In Bosnia, Kosovo, Congo, Mozambique and NorthernIreland, political agreements were essential to securing peace, even if theycould not guarantee it. Iraq has redefined civil war -- with Shiites andSunnis killing each other, militias battling the government, insurgentstargeting coalition forces and al-Qaeda in Iraq fighting everyone. Fightingcan shape the incentives for negotiation by demonstrating futility to oneside or the other or exhausting participants. But without a framework forpeace to implement, force alone cannot sustain stability as long as anyparty continues to maim or bide its time waiting for better prospects.

Most peace agreements must engage the stakeholders in the conflict for thoseagreements to stick. The Baghdad conference was right to call on neighboringstates to refuse to fund terrorism. The proposed working groups on bordersecurity, fuel imports and refugees address key topics. But if the partiesto the conference want a serious chance for peace in Iraq and stability inthe region, they need an honest broker to help them turn contentious issuesinto meaningful options. The United Nations is not magical, but there is noother actor with comparable neutrality. In Iraq, U.N. special adviserLakhdar Brahimi brokered agreement on the interim government in spring 2004when the United States could not.

The departure point for U.N. engagement should be practical: dealing with 2million refugees and 1.8 million internally displaced people. Most areliving with relatives. The million more who probably will be displaced nextyear will be poorer and have fewer skills. They will have little option butto mass in refugee camps, a breeding ground for violence, extremism andrecruitment of terrorists.

The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR has the international mandate to address suchcrises. It should bring together Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran,Turkey, Kuwait, the United States and the European Union in regionalmeetings in Jordan and policy oversight meetings in New York. UNHCR shouldreport to the Security Council to develop and implement a plan addressingthe humanitarian crisis, the security risks inherent in populationdisplacement and eventual resettlement. Whether or not they supportPresident Bush's surge strategy, Americans should welcome an internationalapproach to share the burden of the refugee crisis. Today, there is nostrategy.




Europe's Birthday Blahs

By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, March 27, 2007; A13

BERLIN -- If you didn't notice that last Sunday was the 50th anniversary ofthe founding of the European Union, don't worry: Most Europeans didn'teither. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds the rotating Europeanpresidency, did invite all 27 heads of state to hear Beethoven's "Ode toJoy," and it's true that at one designated Berlin nightclub, the Europeansof tomorrow danced to music played by DJs from all 27 countries. Fireworkswent off as well, and of course a document was signed -- the "BerlinDeclaration"-- which described Europe as an

"Idea, a hope for freedom and understanding."

Still, an aura of gloom hung over the whole affair, as it does over thewhole continent, at least whenever the Idea of Europe is pondered. Across-continental 50th-anniversary poll found that 56 percent of Europeansbelieve that "the European Union does not represent ordinary people." Moredisturbing was another poll, which revealed that some 44 percent ofEuropeans in the most populous member states believe that life has becomeworse since their countries joined the E.U., and only 25 percent think lifehas improved.

What is odd about the gloom is the fact that, objectively speaking, life inEurope has unquestionably improved. Five decades ago, before it became acity of chic clubs, much of Berlin was still in ruins. In Britain, foodrationing had just ended. The eastern half of the continent was dominated bythuggish and incompetent communist dictatorships. Yet over the next halfcentury, living standards grew at an astounding rate, health improved, lifeexpectancy increased. Now there is no war, no rationing, no communism.

Contrary to the common American perception, much of the continent and mostnotably the East -- Poland, Slovakia, the Baltic states -- enjoyexceptionally high growth rates. The German economy is on the upswing, andthe British economy booms. To drive home the point, one British politicianlast week published a list of 55 good things wrought by Europeanintegration, including "cheaper phone calls," "clean beaches" and "my twoparliamentary assistants, Constance, from France, and Raquel, from Spain."So what, exactly, has gotten worse?

Part of the explanation for the gloom is not the E.U. itself but the E.U.'snational governments: To put it bluntly, Europe at the moment has anexceptionally weak group of national leaders. The British prime minister,Tony Blair, damaged by scandal and his support of the now-unpopular Iraqwar, is on his last legs; so is the unpopular and ineffective Frenchpresident, Jacques Chirac, whose term ends this spring. Others, includingMerkel as well as many of the East Europeans, have to rely on unstablecoalitions and minimal public support. Whether it's the fault of theirproportional electoral systems or just plain coincidence, they do not, atthe moment, make an impressive group photograph.


The Miami Herald


Posted on Mon, Mar. 26, 2007
Law won't violate civil liberties

As usual, the civil libertarians are mistaken. There's no ''national IDcard,'' let alone one that will destroy our civil liberties.

A 2005 federal statute provided that in 2008 ``a federal agency may notaccept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification cardissued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirementsof this section.''

' `Official purpose' includes but is not limited to accessing federalfacilities, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft, enteringnuclear power plants, and any other purpose that the secretary (of homelandsecurity) may determine.''

Applicants for state-issued IDs must provide certain kinds of proof, such ascitizenship or legal residency, and the state-issued ID must contain certainkinds of information, such as name, photograph, date of birth.

There have been no serious examples proffered of how the statute violatesAmericans' civil liberties -- especially today, when the United States is inat least a de facto war with radical Islam.




Snowbirds carp while rest of us hardly afford one home

Stacey Ray
Delray Beach

March 27, 2007

Oh, woe is the snowbird. Enough already! For the privilege of owning avacation home, they are being "forced to subsidize" our high cost of livinghere in Florida. Give me a break!

I doubt the seniors who are barely subsisting on their meager SocialSecurity checks would agree since many are no longer able to liveindependently because of the outrageous increases in property taxes on theonly home they have.

I'm sure the teachers, firefighters, police officers and civil servantswould not agree either, as they are increasingly forced to relocate out ofthe state because they cannot afford the property taxes on the only homethey have.

Of course, there's also the working poor, those unskilled enough to onlyqualify for the minimum wage we offer here, but who are welcomed into thehomes of the snowbirds to do manual labor such as cleaning, lawn work andrepairs for a pittance of the true wage they deserve.

Perhaps snowbirds should remember that the increased tax dollars on theirhomes are because they do not support the community the rest of the year. Ifyou can afford to own two homes, then you must take your lumps. That's thebeauty of our capitalistic system.

Increases to your property taxes are allocated to pay for the uncontrolledgrowth of an infrastructure that can barely expand, but must to accommodateyour presence. Further, you should consider that when you come here forthree or four months a year, the few dollars you spend in search ofearly-bird specials, free things to do within the community, and driving upthe local prices and demand for services mandate that you pay more. If youdon't like the hand you are dealt, sell your property and stay home. Ofcourse, that might be a problem, because the locals can't afford your taxeseither.



We believe that no president should ever be given the unilateral power todesignate people enemy combatants and then have them locked awayindefinitely, with no prospect of being charged or tried.

The prison at Guantanamo is damaging American values, and our reputation inthe eyes our enemies and allies alike. It's time to end indefinitedetention without charges and shut down Guantanamo.

Please contact your Members of Congress right now and tell them to close theprison at Guantanamo Bay.

Complete the form below with your information.



[Send your comments about articles to Rays.List@Comcast.net]


No comments: