Wednesday, March 28, 2007


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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

ACLU Sues White House over Denver Bush Event
March 16, 2007 By Matthew Rothschild

On March 15, the ACLU filed a complaint against three current or formerWhite House staffers, alleging that they illegally ejected the Denver 3 fromBush's town hall meeting in Denver on March 21, 2005.

The three staffers are Steven Atkiss, then-deputy director of White HouseAdvance; James O'Keefe, lead advance person for the Denver event; and GregJenkins, then-director of White House Advance.

"The President does not have the authority to ignore the First Amendmentsimply because he disagrees with someone's views," ACLU Senior StaffAttorney Chris Hansen said. "Therehas been a consistent pattern from the White House of handpicking whichAmericans are allowed entry to public events. That is unacceptable."


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

University of Nebraska Sues Chertoff
By Matthew Rothschild
March 10, 2007

You may have heard about Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan being banned from theUniversity of Notre Dame by the Bush Administration. Well, here's anotherexample of the Bush Administration's hostility to the First Amendment andxenophobia about foreign scholars.

Waskar Ari is a Bolivian historian who got his doctorate at Georgetown.

A scholar of indigenous people, Ari came to the attention of the Universityof Nebraska, which has a specialty in this subject. The university decidedto hire him as an assistant professor in the departments of history andethnic tudies, and he was supposed to teach there from August 15, 2005, toMay 16, 2008.

But he's never taught a single class because the Department of HomelandSecurity has sat on the paperwork needed for his visa.

On June 13, 2005, the University of Nebraska filed a petition that Ari wouldneed before he himself could apply for a visa. That petition, called an"H-1B," is standard for employers who want to hire a foreign professional.The university also applied for expedited processing, and submitted the$1,000 fee, which entitled the university to a response within 15 days.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Making a Killing: America's Private Army and the Business of War
David Zlutnick, Area Indymedia, CA
March 25, 2007

On January 20th the Iraqi resistance shot down a Blackhawk helicopterkilling thirteen American soldiers. Three days later, just hours before Bushwould give his State of the Union address, a Little Bird helicopter was shotdown, killing five more Americans-but this incident didn't make nearly theamount of news as the former. While the five men died in combat, they werenot members of the US military. They were employees of Blackwater USA, theshining star in a new breed of corporation specializing in privatesoldiers-also known as mercenaries.

These private companies are part of a huge surge in the outsourcing of war,which is extremely evident in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Colombia, Haiti,and numerous other countries. Private contractors are the second-largestcon- tingent of the "Coalition of the Willing" with a ratio of about onearmed con- tractor for every two American soldiers. This is up from a ratioof one to sixty during the first Gulf War. The Pentagon estimates the numberof contractors at around 100,000-but this is only an estimate because afterfour years in Iraq the military is only now beginning a survey to find thesize of its contractor force.

According to the Government Accountability Office, approximately 48,000 ofthese contractors are working in Iraq as private soldiers, about six timesthe number of British troops in the country. Their roles include everythingfrom operators of US military aircraft to security guards to bodyguards forhigh-level officials to interrogators (such as the CACI employees involvedin the Abu Ghraib torture scandal).

For political purposes it is in the interests of the US government to builda large army of private soldiers. Even though 770 contractors have beenkilled in Iraq and 7,761 have been injured, they are not included in theofficial US death toll. Perhaps even more have been killed but the Pentagondoesn't track contractor deaths, citing military regulations as the reasonfor this lack of oversight. Figures have to be deduced from insurance claimsfiled through the Depart- ment of Labor. Plus, if contractors are used formissions that are not quite legal or want to be distanced from officialpolicy, their actions are completely deniable as they are not employees ofthe US government. This is the case along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,where American forces are not allowed to venture into Pakistani territory.


11 - States Suspending Executions

Eleven of 38 death penalty states have suspended executions as the role ofdoctors in administering lethal injections is surfacing as the latestethical issue to force a re-examination of capital punishment in the UnitedStates; the sharpest debate is shaping up in North Carolina, where the statecorrections department and the state medical board are headed for a showdownover the board's declaration that it will punish any doctor who participatesin executions. The fight in North Carolina is the first time a state medicalboard, a state agency that licenses and disciplines physicians, haswillingly pushed itself into the debate. Months after a judge said a doctormust monitor a death-row inmate's vital signs to ensure there is no pain,the state's medical board in January said it would punish any doctor who didanything more than observe executions. As a result, a judge has stayed fiveexecutions. Lethal injection is now the primary method of execution; onlyone state, Nebraska, uses the electric chair. Read more


Bible Belt Blogger

Romney drops to sixth in USA Today poll

A poll of 429 Republican and Republican-leaning voters, conducted betweenMarch 23-25, shows Mitt Romney's support plunging in the past two weeks,from 8 percent to 3 percent.

The former Massachusetts governor (and former Mormon missionary to France),who was in third place at the start of the month, has fallen to sixth place,even trailing Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Meanwhile, Southern Baptist minister (and former Arkansas Gov.) MikeHuckabee is stuck in tenth place, with just 1 percent of the vote. Thereligious views of both men have garnered a lot of media attention.

Rudy Guliani, apparently unharmed by criticism of his two divorces, leadsthe pack.


Clinton doubles Obama's Hollywood fund-raising

Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton collected $2.6 million at a Hollywoodfund-raiser Saturday evening, doubling the amount that Sen. Barack Obama,currently her closest challenger for the Democratic nomination, raised at asimilar event last month.

U.S. senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton collected $2.6million at a Hollywood fund-raiser Saturday evening, doubling the amountthat Sen. Barack Obama, currently her closest challenger for the Democraticnomination, raised at a similar event last month.

Reuters reported Monday that about 700 invitees paid $2,300 each for dinnerwith Senator Clinton and former president Bill Clinton at supermarket mogulRon Burkle's estate. About 250 guests paid an additional $2,300 for ameet-and-greet with the candidate. Among the guests were Barbra Streisand,James Brolin, Ted Danson, Paula Abdul, Berry Gordy, and several mediaexecutives. (The Advocate)


Romney Buying Young College Conservatives
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 27, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET

(Boston, Massachusetts) A millionaire thanks to his work as a venturecapitalist, Mitt Romney is acutely aware of the motivating power of money.His presidential campaign hopes it will have a similar effect on collegestudents, which is why it's offering them a cut of their fundraising.

Participants in "Students for Mitt" will get 10 percent of the money theyraise for the campaign beyond the first $1,000. While candidates often offerprofessional fundraisers commissions up to 8 percent, campaign expertsbelieve the Massachusetts Republican is the first to do so with the legionof college students who have historically served as campaign volunteers.

"For the kids that want to get involved in a political campaign and theydon't want to spend their summer painting houses, they can help the campaignand themselves at the same time," said Romney spokesman Kevin Madden.

Others take a dimmer view.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Women's Group Plans to Endorse Clinton

Filed at 12:10 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- The political arm of NOW, the National Organization forWomen, will endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid onWednesday, according to Democratic officials familiar with the plan.

Clinton will join NOW president Kim Gandy to accept the endorsement, whichwill take place at Washington's Sewell-Belmont House, the historic home ofthe National Women's Party.

''The NOW PAC is excited to close out Women's History Month with news that'ssure to energize women's rights supporters across the country,'' Gandy saidin an e-mail statement.

Clinton, a New York senator, has made a deliberate pitch to women voterssince launching her White House bid in January. Earlier this month, hercampaign unveiled ''Women for Hillary,'' an effort to recruit women votersto talk up Clinton's candidacy to other women. A separate, Web-basedcomponent targeting younger women,, is another partof the outreach effort.

Clinton advisers point to 2004, when about 9 million more women than menvoted in the general election.


The New York Times

March 27, 2007
Bush Spokesman's Cancer Returns and Spreads

WASHINGTON, March 27 - Tony Snow, the White House press secretary who hasspoken frequently of his battle with colon cancer, has suffered a recurrenceof the cancer and the disease has spread to his liver, White House officialssaid today.

Mr. Snow, a former television commentator for Fox News who has become aprominent face of the administration since he joined the White House lastyear, underwent surgery on Monday to remove what he had said appeared to bea benign growth in his abdomen. He told reporters on Friday that doctorswere removing it out of "an aggressive sense of caution" and that he wouldbe back at work in three weeks.

In 2005, Mr. Snow underwent surgery and chemotherapy for his colon cancer.This morning, President Bush greeted reporters in the Rose Garden to say Mr.Snow had called him from the hospital to tell him of the recurrence of thecancer.

"He told me that when they went in and operated on him they found cancer,"Mr. Bush said.

"It's a recurrence of the cancer that he thought that he had successfullydealt with in the past. His attitude is, one, that he is not going to letthis whip him, and he's upbeat. My attitude is, is that we need to pray forhim, and for his family."

The White House deputy press secretary, Dana Perino, said today that thecancer had metastasized, or spread. She said Mr. Snow described it as"attached but not inside the liver."


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Still Trying to House Katrina's Victims

The Bush administration's mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina housingcrisis has often looked like an attempt to discourage survivors fromapplying for help. The House has taken an important step toward reversingthis policy with a bill that would require the Department of Housing andUrban Development to issue tens of thousands of new housing vouchers underthe Section 8 program, which allows low-income families to seek homes in theprivate real estate market.

Many of these families would have long since found permanent homes andsettled into new lives had the Bush administration brought HUD - which wascreated to deal with these kinds of situations - into the picture at thevery start. But Hurricane Katrina arrived just as the administration hadmade up its mind to cripple HUD and the successful Section 8 program, partlyas a way of offsetting tax cuts for the wealthy.

The administration instead rigged up a confusing and inflexible housingprogram and put the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge. FEMAfrustrated landlords and Katrina's victims alike. Last year, one federaljudge likened the convoluted application process - which too often ledvulnerable families to lose aid without knowing why or having reasonablerecourse to appeal - to something out of a horror story by Kafka.

With thousands of families scheduled to lose their temporary aid bySeptember, the Senate should move quickly to pass this much-neededlegislation. Hurricane Katrina's victims should not have to keep paying theprice for the administration's misplaced animosity toward low-incomehousing.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

How Many Scientists?

Sometimes you read something about this administration that is just soshameful it takes your breath away. For me, that was the March 20 article inthis paper detailing how a House committee had just released documentsshowing "hundreds of instances in which a White House official who waspreviously an oil industry lobbyist edited government climate reports toplay up uncertainty of a human role in global warming or play down evidenceof such a role."

The official, Philip A. Cooney, left government in 2005, after hisshenanigans were exposed in The Times, and was immediately hired by, ofcourse, Exxon Mobil. Before joining the White House, he was the "climateteam leader" for the American Petroleum Institute, the main oil industrylobby arm.

The Times article, by Andrew Revkin and Matthew Wald, noted that Mr. Cooneysaid his past work opposing restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions onbehalf of the oil industry had "no bearing" on his actions at the WhiteHouse. "When I came to the White House," he testified, "my sole loyaltieswere to the president and his administration." (How about loyalty toscientific method?) Mr. Cooney, who has no scientific background, said hehad based his editing on what he had seen in good faith as the "mostauthoritative and current views of the state of scientific knowledge."


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Senate Supports a Pullout Date in Iraq War Bill

WASHINGTON, March 27 - The Senate went on record for the first time onTuesday in favor of a withdrawal date from Iraq, with Democrats marshalingthe votes they needed to deliver a forceful rebuke to President Bush's warpolicy.

By a vote of 50 to 48, with a few crucial votes shifting in favor of theDemocratic position, the Senate rejected a Republican effort to strip fromthe military spending bill any mention of a withdrawal date. The legislationwill now move forward with a nonbinding goal of beginning a gradualwithdrawal of American troops from Iraq within 120 days of the measure'senactment, with a pullout by March 31, 2008.

"When it comes to the war in Iraq, the American people have spoken, theHouse and Senate have spoken," said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois,the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. "Now, we hope the president is listening."

Senators still must vote on the overall legislation this week, and thentheir bill must be reconciled with a House measure passed Friday. The Housevoted 218 to 212 for a binding measure requiring the president to bring mostAmerican combat troops home from Iraq by September 2008.

A few minutes after the vote on Tuesday in the Senate, the White Houserepeated its vow to veto any legislation containing a withdrawal date. TheSenate action increases the likelihood that Congress and Mr. Bush willengage in a confrontation over the financing of the war.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007

Australian Detainee's Life of Wandering Ends With Plea Deal

LONDON, March 27 - David Hicks's journey through the post-Sept. 11 militarylegal labyrinth has sometimes seemed as uncertain and tortuous as his life'sjourney, from high school dropout and kangaroo skinner to a young man insearch of a war and a cause.

Before he was captured in Afghanistan in December 2001, Mr. Hicks, then 25,could not seem to figure out what to do with his life. After he was sent tothe military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the Bush administration hadtrouble figuring out what to do with him.

It pleaded with Australia, his home country, to take him, but Australia saidhe had not violated any of its laws and would be set free; the United Statesdid not want that.

Charges were filed, thrown out after a Supreme Court decision in anothercase; new charges were filed, then reduced. Mr. Hicks and his lawyersrejected offers to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of 10 years, tobe served in Australia.

Eventually, domestic politics in Australia played a role in Mr. Hicks'sbeing brought before the military tribunal Monday, where he pleaded guilty.


The Washington Post

Bush's Royal Trouble
Why Is King Abdullah Saying No to Dinner?

By Jim Hoagland
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A15

President Bush enjoys hosting formal state dinners about as much as having aroot canal. Or proposing tax increases. So his decision to schedule amid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah signified thepresident's high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush familyfriend.

Now the White House ponders what Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explainedcancellation of the dinner signifies. Nothing good -- especially forCondoleezza Rice's most important Middle East initiatives -- is the clearestavailable answer.

Abdullah's bowing out of the April 17 event is, in fact, one more warningsign that the Bush administration's downward spiral at home is underminingits ability to achieve its policy objectives abroad. Friends as well as foessee the need, or the chance, to distance themselves from the politicallybesieged Bush.

Official versions discount that possibility, of course. Bandar bin Sultan,the Saudi national security adviser, flew to Washington last week to explainto Bush that April 17 posed a scheduling problem. " 'It is not convenient'was the way it was put," says one official.

But administration sources report that Bush and his senior advisers were notconvinced by Bandar's vagueness -- especially since it followed Saudidecisions to seek common ground with Iran and the radicals of Hezbollah andHamas instead of confronting them as part of Rice's proposed "realignment"of the Middle East into moderates and extremists.


The Washington Post

The Republican Mystery

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A15

The truly astonishing thing about the latest scandals besetting the Bushadministration is that they stem from actions the administration took afterthe November elections, when Democratic control of Congress was a faitaccompli.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' hour-long meeting on sacking federalprosecutors took place after the election. The subsequent sacking took placeafter the election. The videoconference between leaders of the GeneralServices Administration and Karl Rove's deputy about how to help Republicancandidates in 2008, according to people who attended the meeting, took placeJan. 26 this year.

During last year's congressional campaigns, Republicans spent a good deal oftime and money predicting that if the Democrats won, Congress would becomeone big partisan fishing expedition led by zealots such as Henry Waxman. TheRepublicans' message didn't really impress the public, and apparently itdidn't reach the president and his underlings, either. Since the election,they have continued merrily along with their mission to politicize everygovernmental function and agency as if their allies still controlledCongress, as if the election hadn't happened.

Clearly, they had grown accustomed to the Congress of the past six years,whose oversight policy towards the administration was "Anything Goes." Buttheir total and apparently ongoing inability to shift gears once theDemocrats had taken control -- with an oversight policy that could besummarized as "You Did WHAT?" -- is mind-boggling.

Democrats such as Waxman clearly had planned to hold hearings on theadministration's hitherto-unexamined follies of the past six years. Instead,the most high-profile investigations they're conducting concernadministration follies of the past five months, since they won the election.


The Washington Post

Beyond the Subprime Debacle
By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A15

Remember the bank panic of 1907? Probably not. But revisiting it is one wayto clarify the differences between the old financial order and the new --and the challenges posed to the new order by the subprime mortgage mess.Higher defaults on these loans to weaker borrowers raise a question: Is thenew order better than the old? For the U.S. economy, the stakes are huge.

Consider the financial upheaval. Since the early 1800s, banks had dominatedthe system. People and businesses deposited their cash in banks; then thebanks made loans. Now, much money bypasses banks. In 1975, banks and savingsand loan associations -- close cousins -- issued 73 percent of all homemortgages. By 2006, their share of the $10 trillion mortgage market was 29percent. Almost 60 percent had been "securitized": bundled into bonds andsold to investors (pensions, mutual funds, foreign investors).

The old system had defects. Periodic panics were one. In 1907, rumors of badloans triggered a bank run. People wanted their money; no one knew whichbanks were safe. Although the legendary banker J.P. Morgan ultimatelyorganized a rescue of many banks, it was too late. Some banks failed; saverslost funds. A recession worsened.

The panic of 1907 inspired Congress to create the Federal Reserve in 1913.The Fed was supposed to prevent panics by making loans to solvent butthreatened banks. The Fed blundered in the Great Depression; two-fifths ofU.S. banks failed. In 1933, Congress created deposit insurance; that endedtraditional bank runs, because depositors knew they'd get their money back.

Still, the economy depended heavily on bank credit. High losses in one areamight curtail loans elsewhere, because losses could deplete bank reservesand capital. In the 1980s, banks suffered big losses on commercial realestate and Third World loans. Between 1989 and 1993, 1,418 banks and S&Lsclosed. Lending slowed. A recession began in 1990. Recovery was sluggish.


Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
Tri-County -

Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Daily Herald (Provo, Utah)
Cheney Speech at BYU Causes Outcry
by Nathan Johnson

At BYU -- in the heart of what has been called the reddest county in thenation -- the mere possibility of Vice President Dick Cheney coming tocampus is getting some blue blood boiling.

Cheney is scheduled to be Brigham Young University's keynote speaker at thisyear's graduation ceremonies. While it is a day of celebration for many,some BYU administrators and faculty, alongside parents and students, areexpressing displeasure with the VP's visit.

Despite the opposition, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said that there arecurrently no plans to eliminate Cheney as a part of the graduationceremonies.

BYU Marriott School professor Warner Woodworth said that he has receivede-mails from all over the world expressing dismay over Cheney's visit.

Woodworth said that some of those e-mails came from parents and LDS stakepresidents, particularly in Latin America, expressing anger that Cheney --whom they called a "warmonger" -- will be representing their children andtheir church.

Woodworth said that administrators, faculty and even some students andparents are refusing to attend graduation ceremonies if Cheney is speaking.Pickets and other forms of protest are also being planned, he said.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Sports of The Times

Youngsters' Defiance Is a Lesson in Acceptance

A soccer team of Canadian girls recently applied sandbox mores when theydecided that the report-card virtue of "plays well with others" was meant toinclude everyone - including those in Muslim headscarves.

The red hijab worn by Asmahan Mansour, an 11-year-old player for the NepeanHotspurs near Ottawa, had never hurt anyone in the games she played beforethe Canadian indoor championships last month in Quebec. But as Mansourtrotted onto the field for a shift change, about to mix it up with playersin prescription glasses and elastic headbands, a referee ejected her whenshe wouldn't remove her headscarf.

Safety violation, the ref cited.

R U kidding? Mansour's teammates thought.

With preteens, thought bubbles are always in text-message form, so theirnext step was C U later. The girls triggered a tense national debate onmulticulturalism - was the hijab a safety issue or religiousdiscrimination? - when they instinctively turned and walked off the field insupport of Mansour. The Hotspurs withdrew from the tournament.


U.S. housing index posts first decline

By Paul Owers
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 28, 2007

Single-family home prices nationwide fell in January compared with a yearago, the worst showing in at least six years, according to a report releasedTuesday by Standard & Poor's.

The S&P/Case-Shiller housing index showed a small drop in the price ofexisting homes in 20 major metropolitan areas, the first decline since thecompany started tracking that information in 2001. The index fell 0.2percent.

Meanwhile, in the Miami metropolitan area, which includes Broward and PalmBeach counties, prices grew by more than 4 percent annually but declinedslightly from December to January, the report said.

"Even in Miami, the rate of growth is decelerating," said Maureen Maitland,a vice president of Standard & Poor's. "There's no longer the guaranteedreturn on investment people were expecting two or three years ago."

Existing-home sales figures from the Florida Association of Realtors showthat prices have been flat or falling in Broward and Palm Beach countiessince last summer. Sluggish prices make it harder for financially strappedhomeowners to borrow against their equity, making it difficult for them torefinance their home loans. Many in South Florida have fallen behind ontheir monthly house payments as the interest rates on adjustable-ratemortgages increase.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007
A one-off deal to get out of Guantánamo

Anyone who values due process and the rule of law shouldn't be counted amongthe many people who will celebrate Guantánamo prisoner David Hicks' deal toplead guilty to helping anti-U.S. terrorists. Hicks is the 31-year-oldAustralian who unexpectedly changed his mind Monday and pleaded guilty to acharge that he gave ''material support'' to al Qaeda terrorists. Hismilitary-style trial was the first under a new law passed by Congress afterthe Supreme Court invalidated earlier procedures.

Deal good for Hicks

Thus, for the White House, the conviction is validation that the new systemworks. For Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, who has been underintense pressure from a public harshly critical of the Iraq war in generaland the prison at Guantánamo in particular, the deal represents a victory ofhis diplomatic efforts with the United States to win Hicks' release andbring him back to Australia.

And, without a doubt, the deal is good for Hicks personally. He was in theposition of a man staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. Hicks had enduredfive hard years in the Guantánamo prison. After his father and sister sawhim this week for the first time in years, they said he appeared ''pudgy''and unwell. Although Hicks gave no hint that a guilty plea was in the offingduring the hearing, the proceeding stood out as yet another bad turn forhim.

The military judge disqualified two of the three lawyers representing him.And the remaining lawyer was one who had vociferously insisted that thejudge was biased. The judge denied the charge and pressed ahead.

Under these circumstances, a reasonable person would conclude that the cardswere stacked against him and take the surest route to a different addressand the possibility of freedom and reunification with family. The terms ofHicks' plea deal and possible sentencing later this week have yet to beworked out. But owing to a diplomatic agreement between the United Statesand Australia, Hicks was the only one among the nearly 400 prisoners atGuantánamo who was assured of being returned home upon leaving there. Simplechoice: More of the same, or a chance, ultimately, for freedom.

America loses

The loser in this deal is America's sterling record as a paragon of dueprocess and the rule of law. A military trial in which classified evidenceis permissible -- some of it based on hearsay and coerced testimony -- doesserious damage to America's image at home and abroad.

Hicks' plea is a bargain for him and his family, and a good deal forpoliticians. But it is no bargain for U.S. legal jurisprudence.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007
No longer Bush's war but the GOP's

From its inception, the Iraq War has been President Bush's signature

It was conceived by a small band of neoconservatives who had on their sidethe vice president's robust agreement and unflagging determination to havethe United States return to Iraq. They, in turn, had the president's ear.

The public has long seen Iraq as Bush's war. It is why his approval ratingssoared with what appeared to be initial success, and why they have sunk withthe prospects for anything resembling an American victory. Now the warbelongs to the GOP.

That is really what happened in the House the other day. All but twoRepublicans opposed the Democrats on the vote in favor of a war fundingmeasure that seeks to wind down American military involvement with a set ofpolitical benchmarks that the Iraqi government and Bush himself have longespoused but never attained.

The same is about to occur in the Senate, when it votes this week on a warspending bill that includes a ''goal'' -- but no requirement -- of bringingU.S. combat troops home in a year.

Having first blocked even debate on a nonbinding resolution on Iraq in theSenate,Republicans there now will be almost unanimous in opposing this more robustbill.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Tue, Mar. 27, 2007
Child porn conviction gets review

Can a grandparent's innocent e-mail promising ''good pics of kids inbed'' -- actually photos of toddlers in pajamas -- become criminalizedspeech under a 2003 federal law directed at illegal child pornography?

That's among hypothetical questions raised in an 11th U.S. Circuit Court ofAppeals decision that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to review -- acase that got its start in 2004 with the arrest of a Key Largo man oncharges of both ''promoting'' and possessing child pornograhy.

The appeals court last April sided with Michael Williams, finding that the''promoting'' or pandering charge under the federal PROTECT Act of 2003 was''unconstitutionally overbroad'' because it gives police officers''incredibly broad discretion to define whether a given utterance orwriting'' breaks the law.

For example, the appeals court said, an e-mail titled simply ''good pics ofkids in bed'' -- even if sent out by proud grandparents -- could be calledinto question because the ``pandering provision requires no inquiry into theactual nature or even existence of the images.''

The review panel reversed Williams' conviction for pandering childpornography on the Internet -- but upheld his conviction of possession ofchild porn. Williams continues to serve a 60-month sentence in a federalprison in Miami.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Wed, Mar. 28, 2007
Controversial gun bill passes hurdle in state Senate

A bill that would prohibit business owners from barring guns, porn and otherlegal -- but arguably inappropriate -- material from their parking lotspassed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday 7-1, but not beforelawmakers put in safeguards to keep the items out of sight.

Under current law, business owners can decide what is and isn't allowed intheir parking lots. But this measure (SB 2356) would allow employees andcustomers to have any ''legal personal property'' inside their vehicle.While the bill would protect business owners if any of the items weresubsequently used to commit a crime, it would also expose them toprosecution if they questioned or reprimanded an employee about the contentsof their vehicle.

Opponents of the measure say it infringes on business owners' propertyrights and Florida's ''at will'' labor laws, which allow companies to setthe ground rules for employment.

''This is the biggest assault on private property rights and theemployer-employee relationship that this Legislature has ever heard,'' saidMark Wilson, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

But the bill's backers -- including the National Rifle Association and theAFL-CIO -- say if someone is licensed to carry a gun, that right shouldextend to their automobile, regardless of where it is parked.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Standoff Over Britons Held in Iran Escalates

LONDON, March 28 -Escalating its dispute with Iran, Britain today froze all"bilateral business" with Tehran to retaliate for the seizure of 15 Britishnaval personnel six days ago in what the Royal Navy insists were Iraqiterritorial waters.

"It is now time to ratchet up international and diplomatic pressure" on Iranto demonstrate its "total isolation," Prime Minister Tony Blair toldparliament after the Royal Navy made public details of what it said was thesailors' position when they were apprehended.

Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told a Turkishtelevision station today that Iran would release "today or tomorrow" theonly woman among the 15 captives.The Royal Navy took the highly unusual stepof making public charts, photographs and previously secret navigationalcoordinates purportedly proving that the sailors were 1.7 nautical milesinside Iraqi waters, and not in Iranian waters, when they were seized.

The Navy's disclosure was only the beginning of a coordinated response bysome of the most senior British officials, including Mr. Blair and MargaretBeckett, the Foreign Secretary, who told parliament that Britain would "beimposing a freeze on all official bilateral business with Iran until thesituation is resolved."

While the impact of that prohibition was unclear, it seemed to reflect thefirst formal reprisal by Britain in response to the seizure of itspersonnel.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
White House Spokesman's Cancer Recurs

WASHINGTON, March 27 - Tony Snow, the press secretary to President Bush, hassuffered a recurrence of the colon cancer he battled two years ago, and thedisease has spread, reaching the liver, White House officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Snow, a former television commentator for Fox News who joined the WhiteHouse less than a year ago and has made his fight against cancer part of hispublic persona, underwent surgery on Monday to remove what he had said lastweek appeared to be a benign growth in his abdomen.

He told reporters on Friday that doctors were removing it out of "anaggressive sense of caution" and that he expected to return to work in threeweeks.

But on Tuesday, he called Mr. Bush from the hospital to say that the growth,near where his cancer was first discovered in 2005, was malignant and thatthe disease had spread, a development that caught many people in the WhiteHouse off guard.

The deputy press secretary, Dana Perino, cried when discussing it withreporters.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Result of Military Trial Is Familiar to Civilians

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba, March 27 - In the first session of the new militarycommission system set up by Congress, the first detainee to face a judgesounded for a time as though he was ready for a trial.

It was David Hicks, an Australian Qaeda trainee who has become by fluke anddesign one of the best known of the 385 detainees here. Some 75 detaineesface similar war crimes prosecutions.

On Monday afternoon, Mr. Hicks told the judge that he wanted more lawyers"to give me a better chance in my defense."

Between then and a reconvened session after 8 p.m., things changed. Hepleaded guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization. Itwas the military equivalent of a plea bargain, the rubber-meets-the-roadmoment that makes it possible for courts all over America to cope withcaseloads that would choke them if every defendant insisted on a trial.

On Tuesday an Australian official said that as part of the deal Mr. Hickswould serve "a bit" more time in prison beyond the five years he has beenhere, but that he would be allowed to serve it in Australia.


The Washington Post

New Drive Afoot to Pass Equal Rights Amendment

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A01

Federal and state lawmakers have launched a new drive to pass the EqualRights Amendment, reviving a feminist goal that faltered a quarter-centuryago when the measure did not gain the approval of three-quarters of thestate legislatures.

The amendment, which came three states short of enactment in 1982, has beenintroduced in five state legislatures since January. Yesterday, House andSenate Democrats reintroduced the measure under a new name -- the Women'sEquality Amendment -- and vowed to bring it to a vote in both chambers bythe end of the session.

The renewed push to pass the ERA, which passed the House and Senateoverwhelmingly in 1972 and was ratified by 35 states before skidding to ahalt, highlights liberals' renewed sense of power since November's midtermelections. From Capitol Hill to Arkansas, legislators said they are seizinga political opportunity to enshrine women's rights in the Constitution.

"Elections have consequences, and isn't it true those consequences are goodright now?" Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) asked a mostly female crowdyesterday at a news conference, as the audience cheered. "We are turningthis country around, bit by bit, to put it in a more progressive direction."

The amendment consists of 52 words and has one key line: "Equality of rightsunder the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by anyState on account of sex." That sentence would subject legal claims of genderdiscrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to allegations ofracial discrimination.


The Washington Post

Arab Leaders Meet to Revive Peace Plan

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; 7:29 AM

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Arab leaders opened a summit Wednesday to revive aplan for peace with Israel, with U.S. allies trying to enlist other Arabs inefforts to win Israeli and Western acceptance of the deal.

The two-day summit in the Saudi capital comes at a time when the UnitedStates has shown some progress in maneuvering all sides into place for aresumption in long-stalled negotiations.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and other Arab officials said Israelmust snap up thechance and accept the Arab offer.

"If Israel refuses, that means it doesn't want peace. Then (the conflict)goes back into the hands of the lords of war," al-Faisal said Tuesday.

The initiative, first launched by the Arab summit in 2002, offers Israelrecognition and permanent peace with all Arab countries in return forIsraeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war.


The Washington Post

Edwardses' News Brings Flood of Online Support

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A03

The emotional news conference Democrat John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth,held last week to share word that her cancer has returned brought them anoutpouring of more than 24,000 e-mails in 24 hours. It also appears to haveunleashed a torrent of online contributions to his presidential campaign.

In the past five days, the campaign received more than 5,000 donationstotaling half a million dollars -- about 50 percent of the total it raisedonline in the previous three months, according to postings on,the Web site that tracks Edwards's Internet fundraising.

Supporters of the former North Carolina senator say the surge incontributions reflects a favorable public reaction to the couple's handlingof the grim prognosis. But several top fundraisers said it remains far fromcertain what will follow once the publicity about Elizabeth Edwards'scondition subsides.

A USA Today-Gallup poll released yesterday found that more than a third ofthose surveyed think that John Edwards eventually will be forced to withdrawfrom the campaign because of his wife's illness, and professionalfundraisers said that that lingering perception will not be helpful.

"What clearly happened last week is, he made a connection," said TracySturman, a former finance director for presidential candidates John F. Kerryand Joseph I. Lieberman who is not attached to a 2008 campaign.


The Washington Post

U.S. Is Open to a Deeper Iran Dialogue, Gates Says

By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007; A12

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that the U.S. government isopen to higher-level exchanges with Iran, and he called talks this month inBaghdad that included Iranian, Syrian and U.S. officials "a good start."

In his first domestic public speech since taking office in December, Gateslaid out a pragmatic approach to foreign policy -- one that emphasizes usingdiplomacy to overcome disagreements with Turkey, Iran and other nationsregarding Iraq.

Gates, who had advocated dialogue with Iran before becoming defensesecretary, said "the regional talks recently held in Baghdad were a goodstart toward improved cooperation, and our government is open tohigher-level exchanges."

But Gates also warned of the need for realism in dealing with Tehran.

"We should have no illusions about the nature of this regime -- or abouttheir designs for their nuclear program, their intentions for Iraq, or theirambitions in the Gulf region," he said in remarks before theAmerican-Turkish Council in Washington.


The Los Angeles Times,1,1635352,print.column?coll=la-util-politics-nation

Bush and Democrats: Enemies who need each other
Neither alone can change course in Iraq.

Ronald Brownstein
March 28, 2007

THE TRAGEDY in the escalating confrontation between President Bush and theDemocratic Congress over Iraq is that each has something the other needs.

Bush has the authority to engineer a change of direction in the war. But helacks the credibility with the public to reestablish consent for his course.

Congressional Democrats, even after their seismic Senate victory Tuesday,ultimately lack the leverage to mandate a new course in Iraq. But they offerBush his only possibility of rebuilding a public consensus over America'srole in the war.

Because neither side can set a sustainable course on its own, their choiceis either to continue colliding in polarized confrontations like Tuesday'sSenate vote narrowly approving a time limit for withdrawal, or to seekagreement on a strategy for Iraq that a broader coalition in Congress andthe country might support.

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called Tuesday for suchnegotiations, Bush is approaching this intensifying debate with what appearsto be utter denial about his political situation.


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