Thursday, March 29, 2007


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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Capitol Hill Blue

FBI director defends Patriot Act abuses

Tag it:?
Wednesday, 28 March 2007

FBI Director Robert Mueller struggled Tuesday to convince skeptical senatorsthat - despite recent abuses - the FBI should retain Patriot Act authorityto gather telephone, e-mail and financial records without a judge'sapproval.

"The statute did not cause the errors. The FBI's implementation did," the
FBI chief told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., served notice: "We'regoing to be re-examining the broad authorities we granted the FBI in thePatriot Act." House Judiciary committee members delivered a similar messagelast week.

The Senate panel's ranking Republican, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, wentfurther: "The question arises as to whether any director can handle this joband whether the bureau itself can handle the job."

Grim-faced and sometimes even looking pained, Mueller testified at thepanel's second hearing into a Justice Department inspector general's reportthis month that revealed abuses in the FBI's use of documents callednational security letters to gather data.


Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News

Rocky Mountain News,1983,DRMN_23964_5446776_ARTICLE-DETAIL-PRINT,00.html

'Open skies' could be boon to travelers
March 28, 2007

It took more than four years and there are still some details to be workedout, but the United States and the European Union have finally approved an"open skies" agreement that should make trans-Atlantic air travel cheaperand more convenient.

Basically, starting next March, it would allow airlines of the EU countriesto fly to any American city and allow U.S. carriers to fly to anydestination in the EU's 27 countries.

The agreement would replace a restrictive web of bilateral aviationtreaties. The impetus for the deal began in 2002 when a Europe-wide courtbegan ruling the bilateral agreements illegal under EU law.

The signers have high hopes for what open skies will do for the vitaltrans-Atlantic market that already accounts for 60 percent of allinternational air travel. EU officials estimate that within five years itwill add 26 million passengers to the 50 million who now fly each year,bring in $16 billion in additional revenues and add 80,000 new jobs here andin the EU.

The British were the most reluctant party to the agreement, one reason beingthey don't want to add to the four carriers, two British, two American,currently allowed to operate trans-Atlantic flights from busy Heathrow.


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -

The New York Times

March 29, 2007

U.S. Iraq Role Is Called Illegal by Saudi King

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 28 - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arableaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq was illegal andwarned that unless Arab governments settled their differences, foreignpowers like the United States would continue to dictate the region'spolitics.

The king's speech, at the opening of the Arab League meeting here,underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bushadministration as the Saudis take on a greater leadership role in the MiddleEast, partly at American urging.

The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to thepolicies of their longtime ally.

They brokered a deal between the two main Palestinian factions last month,but one that Israel and the United States found deeply problematic becauseit added to the power of the radical group Hamas rather than the moremoderate Fatah. On Wednesday King Abdullah called for an end to theinternational boycott of the new Palestinian government. The United Statesand Israel want the boycott continued.

In addition, Abdullah invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran toRiyadh earlier this month, while the Americans want him shunned. And intrying to settle the tensions in Lebanon, the Saudis have been willing tonegotiate with Iran and Hezbollah.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
Pakistani Woman Freed in Brothel Case

Filed at 9:33 a.m. ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- A woman kidnapped by female seminary studentsand accused of running a brothel was freed Thursday after a hard-line clericforced her to repent in public -- an episode in vigilante justice that showsthe boldness of Islamic extremists in Pakistan.

Students in black burqas had seized the woman and several of her relativesfrom her home late Tuesday during an anti-vice campaign in the capital,taking the law into their own hands and embarrassing President Gen. PervezMusharraf's military-dominated government.

The students are disciples of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, vice principal of theJamia Hafsa seminary and a cleric at the adjoining Lal Masjid mosque. Themosque has a reputation for preaching hard-line Islam as well as links to anoutlawed militant group accused in sectarian attacks on Shiite Muslims.

With no sign of police intervention to force her release, the woman, knownas Aunty Shamim, was presented to reporters at the Jamia Hafsa seminary inIslamabad to meet Ghazi's demand that she stop ''spreading obscenity'' inreturn for her freedom.

''I apologize for my past wrongdoing and I promise in the name of God thatin future I will live like a pious person,'' said Shamim, only her eyes andpart of her nose visible beneath an all-enveloping burqa.


Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
Tri-County -

Unprovoked wars of aggression are illegal. It is a crime against the peace.

March 29, 2007
U.S. Iraq Role Is Called Illegal by Saudi King

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, March 28 - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told Arableaders on Wednesday that the American occupation of Iraq was illegal andwarned that unless Arab governments settled their differences, foreignpowers like the United States would continue to dictate the region'spolitics.

The king's speech, at the opening of the Arab League meeting here,underscored growing differences between Saudi Arabia and the Bushadministration as the Saudis take on a greater leadership role in the MiddleEast, partly at American urging.

The Saudis seem to be emphasizing that they will not be beholden to thepolicies of their longtime ally.

They brokered a deal between the two main Palestinian factions last month,but one that Israel and the United States found deeply problematic becauseit added to the power of the radical group Hamas rather than the moremoderate Fatah. On Wednesday King Abdullah called for an end to theinternational boycott of the new Palestinian government. The United Statesand Israel want the boycott continued.


Bush Forced To Withdraw Controversial Ambassador Nominee
by The Associated Press
Posted: March 28, 2007 - 8:00 pm ET

(Washington) President Bush on Wednesday withdrew the ambassadorialnomination of businessman Sam Fox after Democrats denounced Fox for givingmoney to a controversial conservative group that undermined Sen. JohnKerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

Kerry, D-Mass., had criticized Fox because of a $50,000 contribution thatFox made in 2004 to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Many Democrats blame the group for sinking Kerry's presidential hopes thatyear after it aired a series of controversial ads that impugned Kerry'smilitary record in the Vietnam War.

The White House announced the withdrawal in a press release distributed lessthan an hour before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee gathered to voteon his nomination to be ambassador to Belgium. On Tuesday, Kerry's Vietnamcrew mates had sent a letter urging committee members to oppose Fox'snomination. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

"In our judgment, those who finance smears and lies of combat veterans don'tdeserve to represent America on the world stage," said the letter signed byJames Rassman and 10 other Vietnam Swift Boat veterans who served withKerry.Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said Tuesday he opposes the nomination because Fox"refused to apologize for his behavior" during his confirmation hearing lastmonth.


The New York Times

March 28, 2007
Tax Cut Advocate Forbes Endorses Giuliani in NY

Filed at 11:16 a.m. ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fiscal conservative Steve Forbes on Wednesday endorsedformer New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's bid to become the Republican nomineefor president in the 2008 race for the White House.

Forbes, chief executive of Forbes magazine who unsuccessfully sought theRepublican nomination in 1996 and 200vative Sen. David Vitter of Louisianadespite Giuliani's past support for abortion rights, gun control and gayrights.


Senate's Bold Proposal for Iraq: Sugar Beets and Rural Schools -- in the

By Dana Milbank
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A02

Midway through the Senate debate yesterday over the "emergency" spendingbill for Iraq, Barbara Boxer rose to speak in favor -- of strawberries.

"There's a song called 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' " the CaliforniaDemocrat declared on the Senate floor, as an aide displayed a poster of anicy berry patch. "This is a strawberry field," Boxer continued, seekingfunds for frostbitten fruit farmers. "It looks like an ice rink. Thestrawberries are somewhere in there; they are destroyed. I also want to showyou oranges. . . . Here you can see the icicles near the avocados."

The relationship between crops and troops was lost on Sen. Lindsey Graham(R-S.C.), who backed an amendment that would remove spending for sugar beetsand other agricultural pursuits. "I don't see how the asparagus-spinachproblem helps us win in Iraq," he argued at a news conference. "This is abill designed to help people that are getting shot at."

Oh? Immediately after this righteous plea in the Senate television studio,Graham went downstairs to the Senate floor and voted in support of anamendment to the Iraq bill directing an additional $5 billion to ruralschools and counties -- right here in the U.S. of A.

It's common for lawmakers to complain that a spending bill is "loaded uplike a Christmas tree" with pet projects. But the Iraq EmergencySupplemental Appropriations Act going through the Senate this week isunusual in that it is loaded up with Christmas trees.


Circuit City fires 3,400 salespeople for making too much money
By Mark Clothier

Bloomberg News
March 29, 2007

Circuit City Stores Inc., the second-largest U.S. electronics retailer afterBest Buy Co., fired 3,400 of its highest-paid salespeople and will hirereplacements willing to work for less.

The company, with many stores in South Florida, said it's eliminating jobsthat paid "well above" market rates. Those who were fired can apply for thelower pay, company spokesman Bill Cimino said Wednesday. He declined to givethe wages of the fired workers or the new hires.

Circuit City, based in Richmond, Va., also hired Goldman, Sachs & Co. tostudy a sale of its 900 Canadian stores.

The moves will reduce 2008 expenses by $110 million and trim $140 million inannual spending in 2009. Sales may be volatile during the first half of thisfiscal year as the new salespeople learn their jobs, the company saidWednesday.

"Firing 3,400 of arguably the most successful salespeople in the companycould prove terrible for morale," Colin McGranahan, an analyst with SanfordBernstein & Co., wrote in an investment note.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Released

Filed at 9:46 a.m. ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The country's main opposition leader was freedafter being held by police for several hours, party officials said Thursday,as southern African leaders gathered in Tanzania to discuss the crisis inZimbabwe.

Police denied arresting Morgan Tsvangirai Wednesday as he prepared to talkto reporters about a wave of political violence that left him brieflyhospitalized earlier this month.

''It doesn't matter how long he was deprived of his freedom, he was stillarrested,''
Tsvangirai's aide, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, told The Associated PressThursday.

Tsvangirai, 54, had been arrested earlier this month along with about 50other people as opposition, church, student and civic groups tried to stagea prayer meeting. His supporters said police smashed his head against a wallrepeatedly.

State radio said Mugabe had left for Tanzania to attend a Thursday meetingof the Southern African Development Community on the political turmoil inZimbabwe amid concerns the crisis could threaten regional stability.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
Mountaintop Rescue

Mountaintop mining is a cheap and ruthlessly efficient way to mine coal:soil and rock are scraped away by enormous machines to expose the buriedcoal seam, then dumped down the mountainside into the valleys and streamsbelow.

Mountaintop mining has also caused appalling environmental damage inviolation of the Clean Water Act. According to a federal study, mountaintopremoval has buried or choked 1,200 miles of Appalachian streams and damagedhundreds of square miles of forests.

No recent administration, Democrat or Republican, has made a serious effortto end the dumping, largely in deference to the financial influence of thecoal industry and the political influence of Robert Byrd, West Virginia'ssenior senator. But the Bush administration has gone out of its way toshield the practice. In 2002 and 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency -onfronted with complaints that mountaintop mining violated regulationsprohibiting the dumping of mine wastes in streams - simply changed theregulations to allow it to continue.

Now a federal judge has inspired hopes that this destructive nonsense can bebrought to a halt. In a case argued by two advocacy groups, Earthjustice andthe Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Judge RobertChambers of Federal District Court halted four mountaintop removal projectson the grounds that the Army Corps of Engineers - which issued permits forthe projects - had failed to demonstrate that the damage would not beirreversible. He also said the corps had failed to conduct the necessaryenvironmental reviews.

Local residents who have watched the destruction of their landscape hope theruling will lead to tighter regulation of other mountaintop miningproposals. The greater hope is that the government can be persuaded to stopthe practice altogether.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
45 Million Card Numbers Stolen From Retailer

Filed at 6:58 a.m. ET

BOSTON (AP) -- More than two months after first disclosing that hackersaccessed customers' financial data from its computers, discount retailer TJXCos. has revealed that information from at least 45.7 million credit anddebit cards was stolen over an 18-month period.

In a regulatory filing that gives the first detailed account of the breachinitially disclosed in January, the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and otherstores in North America and the United Kingdom also said another 455,000customers who returned merchandise without receipts had their personal datastolen, including driver's license numbers.

The data that was stolen covers transactions dating as far back as December2002, TJX said in the filing Wednesday with the Securities and ExchangeCommission.

TJX spokeswoman Sherry Lang did not immediately return a telephone messagefrom The Associated Press seeking comment late Wednesday.

But Lang told The Boston Globe, which first reported the filing Wednesdaynight, that about 75 percent of the compromised cards either were expired orhad data from their magnetic stripes masked, meaning the data was stored asasterisks, rather than numbers.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
Immigrants Becoming U.S. Citizens at High Rate

Legal immigrants in the United States have opted to become American citizensin historically high numbers in the last decade, according to a studypublished yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The number of naturalized citizens in the United States population in 2005was 12.8 million, a record high, the study found. The number reflected notonly a growing number of legal immigrants coming to the United States, butalso a growing eagerness among them to adopt
American citizenship, the study reported.

Of all the immigrants now living legally in the United States, 52 percentare naturalized citizens, while others are permanent residents or have someother immigration status. The last time that citizens made up more than halfof all legal immigrants was in 1980, the study found.

The research, which is based primarily on census data, was done by JeffreyS. Passel, a demographer at the Pew center, a nonpartisan organization basedin Washington.

"It is clear that today's legal immigrants are signing on to a closerrelationship with the U.S. than was the case a decade or two ago," Mr.Passel concluded.


The New York Times

March 29, 2007
E-Mail Shows Rove's Role in Fate of Prosecutors

WASHINGTON, March 28 - Almost every Wednesday afternoon, advisers toPresident Bush gather to strategize about putting his stamp on the federalcourts and the United States attorneys' offices.

The group meets in the Roosevelt Room and includes aides to the White Housecounsel, the chief of staff, the attorney general and Karl Rove, who alsosometimes attends himself. Each of them signs off on every nomination.

Mr. Rove, a top adviser to the president, takes charge of the politics. Ascaretaker to the administration's conservative allies, Mr. Rove relays theirconcerns, according to several participants in the Wednesday meetings. Andespecially for appointments of United States attorneys, he manages the horsetrading.

"What Karl would say is, 'Look, if this senator who has been working withthe president on the following things really wants this person and we thinkthey are acceptable, why don't we give the senator what he wants?' " saidone former administration official. " 'You know, we stiffed him on that billback there.' "

Mr. Rove's role has put him in the center of a Senate inquiry into thedismissal of eight United States attorneys. Democrats and a few Republicanshave raised questions about whether the prosecutors were being replaced toimpede or jump-start investigations for partisan goals.


Uganda's Early Gains Against HIV Eroding
Message of Fear, Fidelity Diluted by Array of Other Remedies

By Craig Timberg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A01

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Students packed a grassy field at Makerere University inApril 1989 for a farewell concert by singer Philly Lutaaya. This symbol ofswaggering virility had grown gaunt, with splotchy skin and the fine, sparsehair of a baby. He sang hauntingly,"Today it's me, tomorrow it's somebody else."

Between songs, he warned the stunned crowd that having several sex partnerswas a sure way to die in the age of AIDS, echoing pleas also made bypolitical and religious leaders of the time. When Lutaaya died thatDecember, at age 38, the country already had begun its historic reversal ofthe epidemic, researchers say, because of the power of that single,terrifying message.

Despite this success story, unmatched elsewhere on this AIDS-riddencontinent, no country has entirely replicated Uganda's approach. Mostinstead have followed a diffuse palette of other remedies pushed by Westerndonors -- condom promotion, abstinence training, HIV testing, drug treatmentand stigma reduction -- while forgoing what research shows worked here: fearand a relentless focus on sexual fidelity.

Even in Uganda, these key ingredients have been lost as a new generationcoming of age years after Lutaaya's death indulges in the same recklessbehavior that first spread the disease so widely.

"We saw him. We saw him die. We abandoned the girlfriends," said SwizenKyomuhendo, a social scientist at Makerere, who was an undergraduate whenLutaaya spoke there. "When you look at the university students now, they arenot as terrified as we were then."


A Cry for Zimbabwe
A Moment to End the Repression -- Unless the World Retreats Into Silence

By Desmond Tutu and Madeleine Albright
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A19

Zimbabwe, long plagued by the repressive leadership of President RobertMugabe, has reached the point of crisis. Leaders of the democraticopposition were arrested and beaten, and one was killed, while attempting tohold a peaceful prayer meeting on March 11.

Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change, emerged fromdetention with a swollen eye and a fractured skull. Several days later,Nelson Chamisa, the movement's spokesman, was stopped en route to a meetingwith European officials andbeaten with iron bars. Other activists have been prevented from leaving thecountry to seek medical treatment for wounds inflicted by police.

Unrest has continued, as have the violent crackdowns. Mugabe, stubborn andunrepentant as ever, has vowed to "bash" protesters and dismissedinternational criticism as an imperialist plot. Although anti-governmentfeelings are prompted by the regime's lack of respect for human andpolitical rights, Mugabe's poor management of the economy is also to blame.The inflation rate, more than 1,700 percent, is the world's highest, whilean estimated four out of five people are unemployed. Zimbabwe, once Africa'sbreadbasket, has become, under Mugabe, a basket case.

The crisis in Zimbabwe raises familiar questions about the responsibilitiesof the international community. Some argue that the world has no businessinterfering with, or even commenting on, the internal affairs of a sovereignstate. This principle is exceptionally convenient for dictators and forpeople who do not wish to be bothered about the well-being of others. It isa principle that paved the way for the rise of Hitler and Stalin and for themurders ordered by Idi Amin. It is a principle that, if consistentlyobserved, would have shielded the apartheid government in South Africa fromexternal criticism and from the economic sanctions and political pressurethat forced it to change. It is a principle that would have prevented racistRhodesia from becoming Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe from ever coming to power.

We are not suggesting that the world should intervene to impose politicalchange in Zimbabwe. We are suggesting that global and regional organizationsand individual governments should make known their support for human rightsand democratic practices in that country, as elsewhere. We should condemn inthe strongest terms the use of violence to prevent the free and peacefulexpression of political thought. We should make clear our support for thestandards enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights andin the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Given Mugabe's consistentunwillingness to respect the legitimate complaints of his people, this isnot the time for silent diplomacy.


When the Woodshed Isn't Enough
By David S. Broder
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A19

In the midst of the travails of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, DavidStockman, Ronald Reagan's former budget director, burst into the news as thedefendant in a big corporate fraud prosecution in New York. It got methinking, not just about those two men but about the two presidents who hadto wrestle with whether to keep or fire them.

Is there something about tough-guy conservative chief executives that turnsthem squeamish when it comes to firing people? Reagan, who had no hesitationabout building up America's store of arms and telling the communists to"tear down this wall," couldn't bring himself to let Stockman go -- afterthe young budgeteer had committed an egregious breach of loyalty.

Now, Bush is hanging on to Gonzales to the detriment of the JusticeDepartment and the political embarrassment of congressional Republicans.

The parallels are striking.

For those who have forgotten -- or are too young to know -- the Stockmansaga offers a cautionary lesson on the dangers of brilliant egotism. When Ifirst met him in 1969, Stockman was a student at Harvard Divinity School,hiding out from the draft like many others and living as a babysitter withHarvard professor Daniel Patrick Moynihan and his wife, Liz.

I was on sabbatical at the Institute of Politics, teaching a noncreditseminar for undergrads, and Moynihan phoned me to say that he had thisgraduate student-roomer who was passionately interested in politics andwanted to be in the class. Of course, I made room for him.


The Seat Congress Can't Offer

By George F. Will
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A19

Lincoln supposedly said: If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog
have? Five? No, calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg. Which brings usto the proposal to treat the District of Columbia as if it were a state.

Today's Democratic-controlled Congress wants to give the District, bylegislation, a full voting member in the House of Representatives. Havingfailed to achieve ratification of a constitutional amendment, sent to thestates in 1978, which would have conferred statehood on the District (only16 states ratified it, 22 short of the required number), Democrats now sayan amendment is unnecessary, and a statute will suffice to do essentiallythat.

Many clauses in the Constitution leave room for conflicting interpretations.What constitutes "commerce . . . among the several states," "establishmentof religion," "cruel and unusual punishments"? Regarding the composition ofthe House of Representatives, however, the Constitution is unambiguous.Article I, Section 2 says the House shall be composed of members chosen "bythe people of the several states."

Until the nation's flag has 51 stars -- at which point the District willhave two senators -- the city should not have a full member of the House.(Today, the D.C. "delegate" votes in committees and on floor amendments -- as long as the vote does not change the outcome -- but not on final passageof legislation.) But those -- mostly Democrats -- who favor full Housemembership for the District cite Congress's constitutional power "toexercise exclusive legislation" over "the seat of the government." They sayCongress can exercise its "exclusive legislation" power to nullify ArticleI, Section 2's requirement that House members be chosen by the people "ofthe several states."

But that is preposterous: If Congress's "exclusive legislation" powerconcerning the District can trump one constitutional provision, it can trumpany provision: Congress could establish a religion, stifle free speech orauthorize unreasonable searches and seizures in Washington.

And if Congress's power over the District allows it to award full Houserepresentation, why could it not also award two Senate seats? Today'sCongress is pressing House representation for the District partly because ofthat predictable next step: The District would be a reliable source of twoDemocratic senators.


The Washington Post

Emboldened Tax-and-Spenders

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A19

The new Democratic majority begins dancing the next phase of thetax-and-spend minuet in the House of Representatives today. Following theexample set by their Senate brethren last Friday, House Democrats will adopta budget resolution containing the largest tax increase in U.S. history amidmassive national inattention.

Nobody's tax payment will increase immediately, but the budget resolutionsset a pattern for years ahead. The House version would increase non-defense,non-emergency spending by $22.5 billion for next fiscal year, with suchspending to rise 2.4 percent in each of the next three years. To pay forthese increases, the resolution would raise taxes by close to $400 billionover five years -- about $100 billion more than what was passed in theSenate.

It had been assumed that the new Democratic majority would end PresidentBush's relief in capital gains, dividend and estate taxation. Thesimultaneous rollback of Bush-sponsored income tax cuts was a surprise. Thisreflects Democrats' belief that they can survive a long-term commitment tobigger government. Here is an audacious effort to raise the banner of fiscalresponsibility while increasing spending and taxes.

This Democratic strategy is encapsulated in what Harry Hopkins, PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt's main man, is alleged to have told a friend at NewYork's Empire City race track in August 1938: "We will spend and spend, andtax and tax, and elect and elect." While Hopkins denied ever saying thosewords, they represented successful Democratic government and politicalstrategy for the next two decades.

John F. Kennedy, reclaiming the White House for the Democrats for the firsttime in eight years, altered the pattern in 1961 with massive tax cuts. ButBill Clinton, taking power in 1993 after 12 years of Republican rule,returned to the Hopkins formula by proposing and passing what then was thebiggest tax increase ever. It was "tax" and "spend," but not "elect." TheClinton tax contributed to the Democrats' loss of control, for the firsttime in 40 years, of both houses of Congress.


The Washington Post

Texas Teen's Imprisonment Sparks Protests

By Sylvia Moreno
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A11

AUSTIN, March 28 -- Civil rights activists are rallying around a 15-year-oldblack girl who has been in a high-security juvenile detention center for ayear for shoving a hall monitor at her school and whose sentence was justextended for what authorities call possession of contraband: an extra pairof socks and a plastic foam cup.

One of 4,562 juveniles in the Texas Youth Commission's custody, ShaquandaCotton may have remained incarcerated in obscurity, fretted over by hermother and a handful of supporters in her home town of Paris, in northeastTexas near the Oklahoma border. But a Chicago Tribune article has promptedan inquiry by the Rev. Al Sharpton and spurred several hundred protesters totravel this week from Dallas to the courthouse where Cotton was convicted.Internet message boards and blogs have been flooded with postings crying"Free Shaquanda Cotton!"

Almost every bit of information in the Cotton case is in dispute -- from theallegation that on Sept. 30, 2005, Shaquanda shoved a 58-year-old whiteteacher's aide acting as a hall monitor to whether her mother was offeredthe opportunity keep the teenager at home under the less-onerous option ofprobation.

Her mother, Creola; the state NAACP; local African American activists and afew white lawyers in Paris contend that the girl and her mother are victimsof a discriminatory school system.

They say that the Cottons have been targeted by the Paris school districtbecause of Creola's involvement in a group that complained to the U.S.Department of Education about discrimination against black students. Aspokesman for the Education Department said it is investigating whether thedistrict discriminated during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years "in theadministration of its discipline policies."


Guantanamo Detainee Described as Lost Soul Seeking 'a Way Out'

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007; A09

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, March 28 -- When Australian David Hicks arrived atthis island prison as it opened in January 2002, the U.S. government paintedhim as one of the world's worst terrorists, someone who would doimmeasurable harm and needed to face justice. In the five years since, whilenearly 400 other detainees have gone home, Hicks has languished in a tinycell, often wondering, his defense team says, why he has been targeted asone of the chief enemies of the United States.

Hicks's guilty plea on Monday to one count of material support for terrorismwas the first step toward concluding his case, one that ultimately amountedto charges that he trained with al-Qaeda and worked with the Taliban afterthe attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But the U.S. government dropped allegationsthat he fired a single shot in the direction of U.S. or allied forces, and apretrial agreement could limit the amount of prison time he serves to a fewyears.

This case so far has been less about who Hicks is or what he did than aboutstarting the Bush administration's military commissions resolving aninternational issue with a close ally. Commission officials have praised thecase as showing a transparent and fair system; human rights groups havepainted the commissions as a sham with still-unwritten rules.

Lost in the process, in part, is Hicks. His attorneys describe Hicks, who ischarged with war crimes allegedly committed in late 2001, as a man who hasbeen terribly affected by years in this detention facility with little humaninteraction. In recent months he has lived in the highest-security area,growing his hair long so he can cover his eyes to keep out the light whilehe sleeps and reading up on fishing and organic gardening.

The 31-year-old from Adelaide, Australia, has been described by hisattorneys as a lost soul who at one point worked as a kangaroo skinner in ameatpacking plant. U.S. officials allege he moved toward extremism in thelate 1990s when he went to Albania to fight for the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Between 1999 and 2001 he allegedly converted to Islam, moved to Afghanistanand trained at various al-Qaeda camps. He later allegedly helped the Talibanby guarding a tank in Kandahar and moving briefly to the front lines of thewar against U.S. forces and the Northern Alliance. Hicks was caught whilefleeing by taxi to the Pakistani border.


McLean Students Sue Anti-Cheating Service
Plaintiffs Say Company's Database of Term Papers, Essays Violates CopyrightLaws

By Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 29, 2007; B05

Two McLean High School students have launched a court challenge against aCalifornia company hired by their school to catch cheaters, claiming theanti-plagiarism service violates copyright laws.

The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, seeks$900,000 in damages from the for-profit service known as Turnitin. Theservice seeks to root out cheaters by comparing student term papers andessays against a database of more than 22 million student papers as well asonline sources and electronic archives of journals. In the process, thestudent papers are added to the database.

Two Arizona high school students also are plaintiffs. None of the studentsis named in the lawsuit because they are minors.

"All of these kids are essentially straight-A students, and they have nointerest in plagiarizing," said Robert A. Vanderhye, a McLean attorneyrepresenting the students pro bono. "The problem with [Turnitin] is thearchiving of the documents. They are violating a right these students haveto be in control of their own property."

Turnitin officials did not return calls for comment yesterday. A FairfaxCounty schools spokesman said the system would not comment on pendinglitigation.


Detroit News

March 29, 2007
Americans' income gap continues to grow, data reveal
New York Times

Income inequality grew significantly in 2005, with the top 1 percent ofAmericans -- those with incomes that year of more than $348,000 -- receivingtheir largest share of national income since 1928, analysis of newlyreleased tax data shows.

The top 10 percent, roughly those earning more than $100,000, also reached alevel of income share not seen since before the Depression.

While total reported income in the United States increased almost 9 percentin 2005, the most recent year for which such data is available, averageincomes for those in the bottom 90 percent dipped slightly compared with theyear before, dropping $172, or 0.6 percent.

Emmanuel Saez, a University of California, Berkeley economist who analyzedthe Internal Revenue Service data, said such growing disparities weresignificant in terms of social and political stability.


The LA Times,1,6066560,print.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

'Calm down' on Iraq, Pelosi tells Bush
Democrats urge the president to back away from his pledges to veto any warfunding bill that sets dates for a troop withdrawal.

By Noam N. Levey
Times Staff Writer
March 29, 2007

WASHINGTON - Congressional Democrats, emboldened by their successes inadvancing timelines to end the war in Iraq, ratcheted up pressure Wednesdayon the White House to accede to limits on America's military involvement.

"Take a deep breath, Mr. President," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SanFrancisco) said as she urged President Bush to back away from threats toveto any war funding bill that sets dates for withdrawing U.S. forces fromIraq.

"Calm down with the threats," Pelosi said. "There's a new Congress in town.We respect your constitutional role. We want you to respect ours."

The Senate, which has endorsed a plan that sets a goal of withdrawing U.S.forces by March 31, 2008, inched closer Wednesday to passing its$122-billion version of the spending bill. Final passage is expected today.

On Friday, the House passed a $124-billion war spending bill that mandates awithdrawal no later than August 2008, and sooner if the Iraqi governmentdoes not meet a series of benchmarks.


Kennedy: Justice firings are keyed to '08 vote
By Rick Klein, Globe Staff | March 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Senator Edward M. Kennedy yesterday accused President Bush ofusing the Department of Justice to further his administration's "right-wingideology," saying that veteran prosecutors were replaced by politicaloperatives in key states to ensure that "reliable partisans" are in place intime for the 2008 presidential election.

Kennedy noted that the recent rash of firings among US attorneys put new topprosecutors in place in several presidential swing states, includingFlorida, Iowa, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arkansas.

At least two of the eight US attorneys fired by the administration refusedto investigate spurious claims of voter fraud that were initiated byRepublicans, Kennedy said. Two of the new US attorneys, meanwhile, haddocumented records of pursuing GOP goals, one as a Justice Departmentofficial and the other as a top aide to White House political adviser KarlRove, he said.

"The administration views our system of justice as merely another arena forfurthering its right-wing ideology," Kennedy said in a speech at theNational Press Club. "The conclusion is inescapable that the administrationhas methodically placed reliable partisans in positions where they caninfluence the outcome of the 2008 election."

The speech by Kennedy, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee,came a day before a former top Justice Department official is scheduled toappear before the committee.


USA Today

Question for Hillary: What will Bill's impact be?

By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - The former leader of the free world cast a spell across astilled ballroom as he recalled his history with the woman he hopes will bethe next leader of the free world.

"We met and had our first date 36 years ago this month - this very month,"Bill Clinton told hundreds of donors at a fundraiser last week as his wifelooked on fondly. He said that by the next year, 1972, he was professing hislove to Hillary Rodham and his belief that she was the best leader of theirgeneration. "She's still the best," Clinton said to cheers, and he wrappedthe New York senator in a hug.

Hillary Rodham Clinton has no more enthusiastic supporter than her husbandin her bid to be the first female president. He is putting his strategicskills, fundraising clout and fabled charisma to work for her as the pairbuild a campaign juggernaut designed to crush her Democratic rivals.

The possibility of Bill Clinton returning to the White House he left sixyears ago raises some questions that are far touchier than whether Americansare ready for a "first gentleman." As an ex-president, how much influencewould he have in his wife's administration? Will memories of the MonicaLewinsky scandal haunt Hillary Clinton's campaign and drive away voters?What's the status of the Clintons' marriage - and does it matter?

In a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans say Bill Clinton will domore good than harm for his wife's campaign. Yet questions about theirmarriage - as well as the Lewinsky sex saga that led to Bill Clinton'simpeachment by the U.S. House in 1998 - remain close to the surface. Thereminders include a stream of jokes on late-night TV and even HillaryClinton's own words, such as her recent joking reference to her experiencewith "evil and bad men."


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Dobson Says Fred Thompson "Not a Christian" (NewsMax)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 2:57 p.m. EDT
Dr. James Dobson: Fred Thompson 'Not a Christian'

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has dealt a potentially devastatingblow to Fred Thompson's presidential aspirations, saying the former senatoris not a Christian.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the thingsthat the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson - considered the mostpolitically powerful evangelical figure in the U.S. - said in a phone callto Dan Gilgoff, senior editor at U.S. News & World Report.

"[But] I don't think he's a Christian. At least that's my impression."

Thompson's spokesman Mark Corallo took issue with the statement.


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