Tuesday, August 21, 2007


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The New York Times


August 21, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Take Al Qaeda to Court

AS the need to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility becomes moreurgent, the question that derails all conversation on the subject is, "Yes,but what do we do with the detainees?" Some have proposed a newnational-security court, a special system to detain and try terrorismsuspects, as an answer.

Proponents of such a system say that terrorism cases are too complex forordinary federal courts. In particular, they argue that the federal courtsare overburdened and too limited by the procedural guarantees of theConstitution to handle evidence without compromising intelligence sourcesand methods.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States does not need anew and untested detention system for terrorists. The existing federalsystem has a proven track record of dealing with complex prosecutions.

As a former federal prosecutor who worked on terrorism-related cases, I havehad firsthand experience doing just what proponents of a national-securitycourt say is impossible. In 2005, I prosecuted two Yemeni citizens whoconspired to send money from Brooklyn to members of Al Qaeda and Hamas tosupport terrorist activities. Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, the maindefendant in the case, boasted that he had met Osama bin Laden andpreviously sent both Al Qaeda and Hamas millions of dollars in assistance.




Psychologists reject Bush-approved interrogation techniques
By Shankar Vedantam
The Washington Post
August 21, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO The American Psychological Association has ruled thatpsychologists can no longer be associated with several interrogationtechniques that have been used against terrorism detainees at U.S.facilities because the methods are immoral, psychologically damaging andcounterproductive in eliciting useful information.

At a meeting of the association on Sunday, the group voted to requirepsychologists who witness interrogators using mock executions, simulateddrowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleepdeprivation to intervene to stop such abuse and report the activities tosuperiors. They are also required to report the involvement of any otherpsychologists in such activities to the association. It could then stripthose professionals of their memberships.

The move by the APA, the nation's largest association of behavioral experts,is a rebuke of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies becausemany of the techniques deemed unacceptable have been widely reported to beused at military facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as in Iraq andat various CIA detention centers.

But it also has practical effects. Psychologists whose membership is revokedcan lose their licenses because many state licensing boards requirepsychologists to be in good standing with the national association.

Also ruled out of bounds are the exploitation of prisoners' phobias, the useof mind-altering drugs, hooding, forced nakedness, the use of dogs tofrighten detainees, exposing prisoners to extreme heat and cold, physicalassault and threatening the use of such techniques against a prisoner or aprisoner's family.




August 21, 2007
Senator Biden airs first campaign ads in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden aired his first campaignadvertisement Sunday, casting himself as the only candidate with a viablestrategy for a sustainable peace in Iraq.

In the 30-second spot airing in Iowa, Biden describes how a soldier'sremains accompanied him on the flight back after Biden's latest trip toIraq.

''As I climbed into the C-130, strapped into the middle of that cargo baywas a flag-draped coffin,'' Biden says. ''It turned that cargo bay into acathedral. And all I could think of was the parents waiting at the otherend.

''We must end this war in a way that doesn't require us to send theirgrandchild back.''

''Joe Biden is the only candidate with a plan to get us out of Iraq and keepus out,'' the ad states as Biden's image fades.




August 21, 2007
Thompson campaign invokes states' rights in marriage debate

After CNN ran a piece on its political blog, the Political Ticker, statingthat presumed GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson would seek to pass afederal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, the candidate'scampaign sent what it called a clarification to the conservative NationalReview.

The Review's blog, the Corner, published a statement that Thompson's policywould be to allow states to adopt their own laws regarding same-sexmarriage.

"He does not believe that one state should be able to impose its marriagelaws on other states or that activist judges should construe theConstitution to require that," the statement read. "If necessary, he wouldsupport a constitutional amendment prohibiting states from imposing theirlaws on marriage on other states."

The original posting was taken down from the Political Ticker as of Monday.(The Advocate)




The Associated Press is reporting today that the U.S. military is, quiteliterally, running out of troops.

From the AP synopsis posted at Raw Story:

"The Army's 38 available combat units are deployed, just returning home oralready tapped to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere, leaving no freshtroops to replace five extra brigades that President Bush sent to Baghdadthis year," Lolita C. Baldor reports for AP, based on interviews andmilitary documents.

Without enough troops to sustain current troop levels, the Pentagon willface some painful decisions if President Bush argues for a continuation ofthe surge. It can accelerate deployments of National Guard units, break themilitary's pledge to keep soldiers in Iraq for 15 months or less or reverseits commitment to give troops a year at home with their families beforereturning them to a war zone.

"For a war-fatigued nation and a Congress bent on bringing troops home, noneof those is desirable," the AP reports.

And neither, apparently, is welcoming gay Americans who want to serve.

Nowhere in the AP article is there any mention of military commandersconsidering a call to Congress in support of repealing "Don't Ask, Don'tTell."




Americans Using Painkillers More Than Ever
20 Aug 2007

According to a recent analysis by the Associated Press (AP) news agency offigures from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Americans areusing painkillers more than ever before. Between 1997 and 2007 the volume offive major painkillers sold and distributed in the United States byhospitals, retail pharmacies, doctors and teaching centres has risen by 90per cent.

The DEA figures show that in the most recent year of complete data,Americans bought in excess of 200,000 pounds of codeine, hydrocodone,meperidine, morphine, and oxycodone. That is equivalent to 300 milligrams ofpainkillers for each member of the population.

Most of the increased sales is in pills that contain oxycodone, the activeingredient in the painkiller OxyContin. Sales of this compound have risen bynearly 600 per cent in the 8 years between 1997 and 2005 says the AP report.

Oxycodone was once known as "hillbilly heroin" because of its reputation forbeing bought and sold, mostly illegally in Appalachia. Nowadays however ithas gained a strong foothold in major cities in states such as Ohio andFlorida.

The other painkiller on the rise, and mostly in rural parts of the country,is hydrocodone, the active ingredient of Vicodin. However, cities are alsoseeing sharp rises in use of all painkillers, so the problem covers thewhole nation.




A conscientious objector sees Vietnam for first time
August 21, 2007
By Brian McNaught

The question is asked frequently to American visitors. "Is this your firsttime in Vietnam?" It generally means "Did you fight in the war?"

My spouse and I were asked the same question by the U.S. senator who satnext to us at breakfast in the Hanoi hotel in which we were all staying. Thedepth of our answers depends upon the questioner.

With Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who was visiting Southeast Asia with hisVietnamese wife and who offered that he had fought in DaNang, our nextdestination, we simply said, "Yes." I explained that I was in Hong Kong todo a series of presentations to Wall Street executives on gay workplaceissues, and that we came to see Vietnam and Cambodia because we had heardthey were beautiful countries. That was the truth, but the answer wasincomplete because we didn't want to exacerbate his painful memories,evidenced by the ever-so-subtle wince I witnessed when we mentioned DaNang.Knowing how emotionally torn and scarred Vietnam vets can be, I generallysay very little in their presence about my perspective on that war.

To our Vietnamese questioners, however, I quickly and gladly explained thatyes, this was our first visit, and that we both had actively and vigorouslyopposed the war. I, in fact, was a conscientious objector, I tell them. Theyalways smiled and enthusiastically said, "Thank you." It's remarkable andsurprising how good that made me feel.

Spending several days in DaNang, reflecting on what Americans call theVietnam War and the Vietnamese call the American War, can be an intenselyconflicting but nevertheless healing process both for those Americans my agewho fought in it and for those of us who fought against it. But it'ssomething we have rarely talked to each other about. I'm just assuming thatSen. Webb would be pained by my perspective on the war, as I'm assuming hislack of awareness of how deeply impacted people like me were by those times,too.


The New York Times


August 21, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
War's Chilling Reality

Bryan Anderson, a 25-year-old Army sergeant who was wounded in Iraq, wasexplaining, on camera - to James Gandolfini, of all people - what happenedimmediately after a roadside bomb blew up the Humvee that he was driving.

"I was like, 'Oh, we got hit. We got hit.' And then I had blood on my faceand the flies were landing all over my face. So I wiped my face to get ridof the flies. And that is when I noticed that my fingertip was gone. So Iwas like, 'Oh. O.K.'

"So that is when I started really assessing myself. I was like, 'That's notbad.' And then I turned my hand over, and I noticed that this chunk of myhand was gone. So I was like, 'O.K., still not bad. I can live with that.'

"And then when I went to wipe the flies on my face with my left hand, therewas nothing there. So I was like, 'Uh, that's gone.' And then I looked downand I saw that my legs were gone. And then they had kind of forced my headback down to the ground, hoping that I wouldn't see."

HBO's contribution to an expanded awareness of the awful realities of warcontinues with a new documentary, "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq."


The New York Times


August 21, 2007
British Civics Class Asks, What Would Muhammad Do?

BRADFORD, England - At the Jamia Mosque on Victor Street in this raciallyand religiously tense town, Idris Watts, a teacher and convert to Islam,tackled a seemingly mundane subject with a dozen teenage boys: why it isbetter to have a job than to be unemployed.

"The prophet said you should learn a trade," Mr. Watts told the studentsarrayed in a semicircle before him. "What do you think he means by that?"

"If you get a trade it's good because then you can pass it on," said SafraanMahmood, 15.

"You feel better when you're standing on your own feet," offered OssamaHussain, 14.

The back and forth represented something new in Britain's mosques: agovernment-financed effort to teach basic citizenship issues in a specialcurriculum intended to reach students who might be vulnerable to Islamicextremism.

In the long haul, the British government hopes that such civics classes,which use the Koran to answer questions about daily life, will replace theoften tedious and sometimes hard-core religious lessons taught in manymosques across the land. Often, these lessons emphasize rote learning of theKoran and are taught by imams who were born in Pakistan and speak littleEnglish and have little contact with British society.


The New York Times


August 21, 2007
Senator Threatens to Charge White House With Contempt

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 - A leading Democrat threatened on Monday to pursuecontempt charges against the White House next month over its response to asubpoena for internal documents on the National Security Agency's domesticsurveillance program.

"Time is up," said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, thechairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We've waited long enough."

Mr. Leahy's comments ratcheted up the battle between Congressional Democratsand the White House over access to secret documents on the legalunderpinnings of the eavesdropping program, which authorized the N.S.A. tolisten in without a court warrant on Americans' internationalcommunications.

Nearly two months ago, the Senate voted to subpoena the White House and theBush administration for access to the documents as part of its investigationinto the program.


The Washington Post


What Presidents Don't Know
By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A15

"You're not going to have time in January '09 to get ready for this job."

"If the position of president was a street, someone would have to holdObama's hand while he crossed it."

Like John Kerry's flip-flops or John Edwards's haircuts, the foreign policygaffes of Sen. Barack Obama have become a staple source of presidentialcampaign humor -- so much so that the candidate himself has felt compelledto come up with counter-jokes. "To prepare for this debate I rode in thebumper cars at the state fair," he told an Iowa audience on Sunday.

Yet given that his main rivals for the Democratic nomination include aone-term senator and another senator whose career, at least as an electedofficial, is only four years longer than Obama's, maybe we should pausebefore laughing. After all, the barb in the jokes comes from theassumption -- usually unquestioned -- that there really is some specific,specialized, inside knowledge of foreign countries that some candidates haveand some don't, that is essential to holding the presidency. Is that true?Or, to put it in late-night talk-show language, do you really have to knowthe name of the Pakistani president to be a good U.S. president?

Clearly you don't have to know very much of anything about other countriesto become U.S. president, this not being a criterion that matters greatly tomost voters. Famously, candidate George W. Bush couldn't identify thePakistani president (and thought Greeks were called Grecians) -- and he'dhardly traveled abroad. Candidate Bill Clinton had traveled abroad and knewthe names of lots of international politicians, but he had never beenrequired to use them, the governorship of Arkansas not being a job thatinvolves much interaction with foreign leaders. By contrast, George H.W.Bush had plenty of foreign policy experience -- as CIA director andambassador to China -- none of which helped him when he sought reelection in1992.


The Washington Post


Egypt's Unchecked Repression
By Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A15

This month marked the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of Egyptianjournalist Reda Hilal. Rumors about the involvement of a secret governmentdeath squad tasked with silencing detractors of the ruling Mubarak family inthis and other disappearances -- such as that of Libyan dissident MansourKikhia in Cairo in 1993 -- have spiked in recent weeks.

On Aug. 8, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights reported that it hadconfirmed more than 500 cases of police abuse since 1993, including 167deaths -- three of which took place this year -- that the group "stronglysuspects were the result of torture and mistreatment." The organizationpreviously found that while Egypt's population nearly doubled during thefirst 25 years of Hosni Mubarak's regime, the number of prisons grew morethan fourfold and that the number of detainees held for more than one yearwithout charge or indictment grew to more than 20,000.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have corroborated chillingaccounts of torture in Egyptian prisons. The independent daily Eldestourrecently published two important facts: that the annual budget for internalsecurity was $1.5 billion in 2006, more than the entire national budget forhealth care, and that the security police forces comprise 1.4 millionofficers, nearly four times the size of the Egyptian army. "Egypt has becomea police state par excellence," the paper's editor noted.


The Washington Post


An Unjust Judge
By Nan Aron
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A15

To understand the furor over President Bush's nomination of Leslie Southwickto the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, one should start with theGoode family of Mississippi.

A propane heater exploded in their house, killing their granddaughter. TheGoodes sued the manufacturer. After the trial, new evidence emergeddemonstrating that the company had provided inaccurate information aboutservicing the heater. Yet, in a dissenting opinion, Southwick argued thatthe Goodes didn't deserve a new trial.

How about Annie Cannon? It was years before doctors determined that toxicchemicals at work caused her debilitating illnesses. No matter. Echoing thereasoning of the Roberts court's controversial decision that denied Alabamaworker Lilly Ledbetter equal pay, Southwick authored a dissent saying thatCannon should be barred by the statute of limitations from bringing suit forher damages.


The Washington Post


Cheney's Office Says It Has Wiretap Documents
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; A02

Vice President Cheney's office acknowledged for the first time yesterdaythat it has dozens of documents related to the administration's warrantlesssurveillance program, but it signaled that it will resist efforts bycongressional Democrats to obtain them.

The disclosure by Cheney's counsel, Shannen W. Coffin, came on the day thatthe Senate Judiciary Committee had set as a deadline for the Bushadministration to turn over documents related to the wiretapping program,which allowed the National Security Agency to monitor communications betweenthe United States and overseas without warrants.

White House counsel Fred F. Fielding has also declined to turn over anydocuments about the program, telling lawmakers last week that more time wasneeded to locate records that might be responsive to the panel's subpoenas.

The committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), said yesterday thathe will pursue contempt proceedings against administration officials if thedocuments are not produced.


The Palm Beach Post


Undecided voters keep GOP hopefuls coming to Florida
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

WINTER PARK - Voters like John and Jeana Dragash are the reason Mitt Romneyand Rudy Giuliani are spending vast amounts of time and money in Florida.

They're the reason Fred Thompson could be joining the Republicanpresidential field soon. And as GOP hopefuls come to Florida to try to woothe Dragashes and other up-for-grabs voters, state party Chairman Jim Greersounds like a chamber-of-commerce guy whose city just landed the Super Bowl.

GOP debates

Florida voters will have at least two chances to see GOP presidentialcandidates debate before the state's Jan. 29 primary.

Oct. 21: Fox News Channel will televise a debate from the RepublicanParty of Florida's Presidency IV conference in Orlando.

Nov. 28: CNN, the Internet site YouTube and the Florida GOP will hosta 'user-generated' debate from St. Petersburg.




Ethanol Production Gulps Down Water
By RUSSELL RAY The Tampa Tribune
Published: Aug 21, 2007

In Florida, water is on everybody's minds.

There is never a time when there isn't some type of restriction onwater use in Florida, where booming populations and furious development havereduced the state's lakes, rivers and aquifers to dangerously low levels.

A new, significant draw on Florida's water supplies is about toemerge.

The ethanol industry, which uses so much water that it has been blamedfor lowering water levels throughout the Midwest, has targeted Florida.Plans to build at least four ethanol plants in Florida, including one inTampa, have been announced and more are expected.

State officials are bent on making Florida a leader in ethanolproduction, an initiative designed to ease Florida's energy crunch, bringfarmers extra cash for their crops and create thousands of new jobs throughan emerging industry.

Ethanol plants and the crops they use to make ethanol require massiveamounts of water.

A typical ethanol plant that produces 50 million gallons of ethanol ayear consumes 411,000 gallons of water a day, enough to supply an averageTampa household for more than four years.

Some question whether the state has enough water to satisfy the needsof ethanol plants and other expanding industries.


The Miami Herald


Posted on Tue, Aug. 21, 2007
Obama presidency a 'stretch' for voters

Barack Obama knows it's a stretch to think of him as president.

Just 46 years old and three years out of the Illinois legislature, thefreshman senator also understands that the clock is ticking on his chance tosurmount that "certain threshold" and convince voters he's ready for theWhite House.

"The challenge for us is to let people know what I've accomplished ata time when the campaign schedule is getting so compressed," Obama said in arecent interview. "I just don't have much time to make that case."

He's right about that. Iowa Democrats begin winnowing the field latethis year or in early January with their first-in-the nation caucuses. Thencomes a few more early voting states before a multistate primary on Feb. 5that could determine the nomination.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and 2004 Democratic vice presidentialnominee John Edwards are tied with Obama in polls of Iowa Democrats. Theformer first lady has a huge lead in national surveys of Democratic voters,and the backing of a political machine built by her husband, formerPresident Clinton.

Obama has the broadest network of grass-roots activists, or at leastthat seems to be the case based on the record number of people who havedonated money to his campaign - often in small amounts - and the size ofcrowds at his campaign events.


Los Angeles Times


The clash between faith and politics
By David Bauder
August 21, 2007

NEW YORK -- Christiane Amanpour's work on the documentary series"God's Warriors" took her directly to intersections of extreme religious andsecular thinking.

She watched, fascinated, as demonstrators in San Francisco accusedteenagers in the fundamentalist Christian group BattleCry of intolerance ina clash of two cultures that will probably never understand each other.

Understanding is what Amanpour is trying to promote in "God'sWarriors," airing in six prime-time hours on CNN. The three-part series onreligious fundamentalism among Christians, Muslims and Jews runs tonightthrough Thursday.

Many people know only stereotypes of these true believers, even theones in their own country, she said.

Yet it's vital to be familiar with their thinking given the growingimportance of these movements in the war on terrorism, the never-endingconflicts surrounding Israel and conservative politics in the United States.

"I'm not interested in drumming up false fears or falsely allayingfears," CNN's chief international correspondent said by phone from France,where she added last-minute touches to the series. "I just want people toknow what's going on."


Los Angeles Times


Priority changes on green policies
Democrats in Congress turn to lower-profile projects to combat globalwarming and aim to boost funding 33%.
By Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 21, 2007

WASHINGTON - Reflecting a shift in priorities under the Democraticmajority, Congress is moving to spend as much as $6.7 billion next fiscalyear to combat global warming, an increase of nearly one-third from thecurrent year.

House appropriations bills call for about $2 billion in new spendingon initiatives aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil dependency,significantly expanding the budgets for numerous federal researchinitiatives and launching some new ones.

While legislation to raise vehicle miles-per-gallon standards and capemissions from power plants has been slower moving -- because of resistancefrom some lawmakers -- Democrats have turned to the budget to advance theirenvironmental priorities by increasing spending on a variety oflower-profile programs.

That is likely to set up a showdown this fall between Congress and
President Bush, who wants to spend less on climate-change initiatives. TheWhite House budget office, which has criticized excessive spending in theoverall appropriations bills, noted that the president's proposed budgetprovides for a 3% increase in spending for climate-change activities.

"Congress is putting its money where its mouth is," said Lowell Ungar,senior policy analyst at the Alliance to Save Energy, a Washington coalitionof business, consumer, environmental and government leaders. "They aredevoting real resources to trying to address the problem of climate change."





Obama Says He Can Turn Out Black Voters
Associated Press Writer
8:16 PM CDT, August 20, 2007


Barack Obama predicted that black voter turnout would swell by atleast 30 percent if he wins the presidential nomination, giving Democratsvictory in Southern states that have been voting Republican for decades.

"I'm probably the only candidate who having won the nomination canactually redraw the political map," Obama told a Democratic voter skepticalthat he could defeat a Republican candidate.

"I guarantee you African-American turnout, if I'm the nominee, goes up30 percent around the country, minimum," Obama said. "Young people'spercentage of the vote goes up 25-30 percent. So we're in a position to putstates in play that haven't been in play since LBJ."

Lyndon Baines Johnson ran for president in 1964 and won in alandslide. But since then the South has turned into a Republican stronghold.

Obama's comment came in response to former New Hampshire state Rep.Carol Moore, who told him the candidate to get her vote will be the one shefeels has the best chance of winning in the general election because she'sso scared another Republican will replace President Bush.


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