Sunday, August 26, 2007


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Military Cites Risk of Abuse by CIA
By Charlie Savage
The Boston Globe
Saturday 25 August 2007

New Bush rules on detainees stir concern.

Washington - Top military lawyers have told senators that PresidentBush's new rules for CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists could allowabuses that violate the Geneva Conventions, according to Senate and militaryofficials.

The Judge Advocates General of all branches of the military told thesenators that a July 20 executive order establishing rules for the treatmentof CIA prisoners appeared to be carefully worded to allow humiliating ordegrading interrogation techniques when the interrogators' objective is toprotect national security rather than to satisfy sadistic impulses.

The JAGs expressed their concerns at a meeting late last month withSenators John Warner of Virginia, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and anaide representing John McCain of Arizona, who could not attend because hewas campaigning for president. All three senators are Republicans who havebeen key proponents of laws banning the abuse of detainees, and have vowedto monitor the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners.

The top JAG for the US Army, Major General Scott C. Black, followed upon the meeting this month by sending a memo to lower-ranking soldiersreminding them that Bush's executive order applies only to the CIA, not tomilitary interrogations. Black told soldiers they must follow Armyregulations, which "make clear that [the Geneva Conventions are] the minimumhumane treatment standard" for prisoners.

"This Executive Order does not change the standard for the Army.... Iwant to ensure that there is no confusion concerning the Executive Order'slack of applicability to the Army," Black wrote in the memo, a copy of whichwas obtained by the Globe. "As a Corps, we must be diligent to ensure thatall interrogation and detention operations comply with the Army standard."

In an e-mail yesterday, a Justice Department spokesman defended Bush'sorder as "consistent" with the minimum standards of humane treatmentrequired by the Geneva Conventions.


The New York Times

August 26, 2007
Stiff-Arming Children's Health

The Bush administration has imposed new requirements on a valuable children's health insurance program that look so draconian as to be unattainable. Lateon a recent Friday while Congress was in recess, a time fit for hiding darkdeeds, the administration sent a letter to state health officials spellingout new hurdles they would have to clear before they could insure childrenfrom middle-income families unable to find affordable health coverage. Some19 states may be forced to pull back programs they have started or proposed.

There is a legitimate argument to be had over how far up the income scalethe federal-state partnership known as the State Children's Health InsuranceProgram, or S-chip, should climb. When it was created, the program focusedon children whose family incomes were no higher than twice the povertylevel, or about $41,000 today for a family of four. The goal was to coverthe near-poor, who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough toafford private health insurance.

Over the years, the Clinton administration and especially the Bushadministration allowed states to extend coverage to higher income levels.Today, New Jersey caps it at 350 percent of the poverty level and New Yorkproposes to go to 400 percent. In reaching out this way, virtually allstates have scooped up lots of children who were actually poor enough toqualify for Medicaid but had never been enrolled. The combined result hasbeen a heartwarming drop in the number of uninsured children.


The New York Times

August 26, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Swift-Boated by bin Laden
Doha, Qatar

One thing that has always baffled me about the Bush team's war effort inIraq and against Al Qaeda is this: How could an administration that was sogood at Swift-boating its political opponents at home be so inept atSwift-boating its geopolitical opponents abroad?

How could the Bush team Swift-boat John Kerry and Max Cleland - authentic
Vietnam war heroes, whom the White House turned into surrendering pacifistsin the war on terror - but never manage to Swift-boat Osama bin Laden, agenocidal monster, who today is still regarded in many quarters as thevanguard of anti-American "resistance."

Dive into a conversation about America in the Arab world today, or even inEurope and Africa, and it won't take 30 seconds before the words "Abu Ghraib" and "Guantánamo Bay" are thrown at you. Yes, both are shameful, butAbu Ghraib was a day at the beach compared to what Al Qaeda and its Sunnijihadist supporters have been doing in Iraq, yet none of their acts havebecome one-punch global insults like Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.

Consider what happened on Aug. 14. Four jihadist suicide-bombers blewthemselves up in two Iraqi villages, killing more than 500 Kurdishcivilians - men, women and babies - who belonged to a tiny pre-Islamic sectknown as the Yazidis.


The Washington Post

After Iraq Trip, Unshaken Resolve
By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2007; A08

CHICAGO When Rep. Jan Schakowsky made her first trip to Iraq this month, theoutspoken antiwar liberal resolved to keep her opinions to herself. "I wouldlisten and learn," she decided.

At times that proved a challenge, as when Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salihtold her congressional delegation, "There's not going to be politicalreconciliation by this September; there's not going to be politicalreconciliation by next September." Schakowsky gulped -- wasn't that thewhole idea of President Bush's troop increase, to buy time for thatpolitical progress?

But the real test came over a lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who usedcharts and a laser pointer to show how security conditions were graduallyimproving -- evidence, he argued, that the troop increase is doing somegood.

Still, the U.S. commander cautioned, it could take another decade beforereal stability is at hand. Schakowsky gasped. "I come from an environmentwhere people talk nine to 10 months," she said, referring to the time framefor withdrawal that many Democrats are advocating. "And there he was,talking nine to 10 years."

The trip gave Schakowsky a good look at the challenge that Democrats facenext month, when Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker travel toWashington to testify before Congress, presumably with similar charts andarguments that the U.S. military is making strides in Iraq, and thatwithdrawal dates would be reckless and wrong.


The Washington Post

Bloomberg And Hagel For 2008?
By David S. Broder
Sunday, August 26, 2007; B07

Chuck Hagel, the senator from Nebraska, describes himself as a "tidal"politician, one who believes that larger forces in society shape careersmore than the ambitions of individuals. "The only mistakes I've made," hetold me last week, "were when I tried to go against the tide."

Today, that tide may be carrying him away from his Republican Party andtoward a third-party or independent ticket with New York Mayor MichaelBloomberg -- a development that could reshape the dynamics of the 2008presidential race.

Next month, Hagel will make a threshold decision -- whether to run for athird term in the Senate. He gave me no definitive answer, but my guess isthat he will say that 12 years of battling the institutional lethargy ofCapitol Hill will be enough. Certainly he is under no illusions about howmuch he can achieve as one of 100 lawmakers.

On the contrary, while Washington is gridlocked in partisan battle betweentwo equally spent parties, the country is moving rapidly, he thinks, to theconclusion that neither Republicans nor Democrats have the answers to theproblems people see.

The war in Iraq is the prime example, a war on which Hagel was perhaps thefirst prominent Republican to break with the president. Credit problems thathave shaken the mortgage markets and fed the decline in housing add to thesense of anxiety. And the abject failure of Washington to deal with theissue of illegal immigration is fueling further frustration.


The Washington Post

A Quiet Battle for Rights in Iran
By Fotini Christia
Sunday, August 26, 2007; B07

TEHRAN -- It was during a recent visit to a middle-class beauty salon here,amid the women getting their upper lips threaded and their legs waxed, thatI saw what the One Million Signature Campaign is up against. A femalevolunteer approached another customer and encouraged her to sign a petition,which organizers hope to submit to Iran's parliament along with a requestfor legal reforms on gender equality. The woman said she supported thedemands for equality but shied away from what she considered overt politicalactivity against the regime.

The campaign against gender discrimination is encountering resistance onmultiple fronts.

Activists gave themselves two years to collect a million signatures, buttomorrow, the campaign's one-year anniversary, they will not have more than100,000 to report. But unlike other human rights movements battlingrepressive regimes, which have traditionally looked to the West for alifeline, Iran's activists are adamant that for all the gratitude they mayfeel for their Western supporters, they would prefer that we keep ourdistance. Their efforts offer a fascinating window on how one aspect of theIranian democracy movement is struggling to survive in a period of growinggovernment repression and paranoia.

The campaign for the million signatures was born after the arrest of 70women who staged a demonstration against gender discrimination last year inTehran's Haft-e-Tir Square. Nine of those women were convicted on charges of"endangering national security" and face lengthy prison sentences, beatingswith whips and, in some cases, both.


The Washington Post

Reckless Abandonment
By Douglas Brinkley
Sunday, August 26, 2007; B01

Over the past two years since Hurricane Katrina, I've seen waves ofhardworking volunteers from nonprofits, faith-based groups and collegecampuses descend on New Orleans, full of compassion and hope.

They arrive in the city's Ninth Ward to painstakingly gut houses one by one.Their jaws drop as they wander around afflicted zones, gazing at thetowering mounds of debris and uprooted infrastructure.

After weeks of grueling labor, they realize that they are running in place,toiling in a surreal vacuum.

Two full years after the hurricane, the Big Easy is barely limping along,unable to make truly meaningful reconstruction progress. The most importantissues concerning the city's long-term survival are still up in the air. Whyis no Herculean clean-up effort underway? Why hasn't President Bush named ahigh-profile czar such as Colin Powell or James Baker to oversee the ongoingdisaster? Where is the U.S. government's participation in the rebuilding?

And why are volunteers practically the only ones working to reconstructhomes in communities that may never again have sewage service, garbagecollection or electricity?


The Washington Post

For Mother Teresa, a Profound Darkness
The Associated Press
Saturday, August 25, 2007; 3:08 PM

-- Mother Teresa's hidden faith struggle, laid bare in a new book that showsshe felt alone and separated from God, is forcing a re-examination of one ofthe world's best known religious figures.

The depth of her doubts could be viewed by nonbelievers and skeptics as moreevidence of the emptiness of religious belief. But Roman Catholic scholarsand supporters of the woman who toiled in Calcutta's slums and calledherself "a pencil in God's hand" argue that her struggles make her moreaccessible and her work all the more remarkable.

"It shows that she wasn't a plaster-of-Paris saint who never had a doubtabout God or the ultimate meaning of life," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, aUniversity of Notre Dame theology professor and author of "Lives of theSaints." "This can only enhance her reputation as a saintly person withpeople who aren't easily impressed with pious stories. Those who thinkotherwise have a lot of learning to do about the complexities of life andabout the nature of faith."

This revelation about Mother Teresa's dark years of the soul is not new. Herordeal, laid out to a series of confessors and confidants, became publicknowledge in 2003 during the investigation into her cause for sainthood, aprocess fast-tracked by Pope John Paul II.

But "Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the 'Saint of Calcutta,'" tobe released Sept. 4 by Doubleday, collects her thoughts in one place for thefirst time, inviting a closer review of her life 10 years after her death.

The book was edited by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, a priest who knew MotherTeresa for 20 years and is the postulator for her sainthood cause. Itdepicts Mother Teresa as a mystic who experienced visions of Jesus speakingto her early in her ministry, only to lose that connection and long for itlike an unrequited love for most of her last four decades.


Obama Eyes GOP Help
by The Associated Press
Posted: August 26, 2007 - 7:00 am ET

(Key Biscayne, Florida) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama oftensays he will be a candidate that will bring both parties together andSaturday he named a few of the Republicans he would reach out to if elected.

"There are some very capable Republicans who I have a great deal of respectfor," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Theopportunities are there to create a more effective relationship betweenparties."

Among the Republicans he would seek help from are Sens. Richard Lugar ofIndiana, John Warner of Virginia and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Obama said.

"On foreign policy I've worked very closely with Dick Lugar," Obama said. "Iconsider him one of my best friends in the Senate. He's someone I wouldactively seek counsel and advice from when it came to foreign policy."

"Senator Warner is another example of somebody with great wisdom, although Idon't always agree with him on every issue," Obama said. "I would also seekout people like Tom Coburn, who is probably the most conservative member ofthe U.S. Senate. He has become a friend of mine."

Part of Washington's problem is that President Bush has created a partisanatmosphere, he said.


Astronomers Find a Hole in the Universe
AP Science Writer
7:45 AM EDT, August 24, 2007

Astronomers have stumbled upon a tremendous hole in the universe. That's gotthem scratching their heads about what's just not there. The cosmic blankspot has no stray stars, no galaxies, no sucking black holes, not evenmysterious dark matter. It is 1 billion light years across of nothing.That's an expanse of nearly 6 billion trillion miles of emptiness, aUniversity of Minnesota team announced Thursday.

Astronomers have known for many years that there are patches in the universewhere nobody's home. In fact, one such place is practically a neighbor, amere 2 million light years away. But what the Minnesota team discovered,using two different types of astronomical observations, is a void that's farbigger than scientists ever imagined.

"This is 1,000 times the volume of what we sort of expected to see in termsof a typical void," said Minnesota astronomy professor Lawrence Rudnick,author of the paper that will be published in Astrophysical Journal. "It'snot clear that we have the right word yet ... This is too much of asurprise."


Houston Chronicle
Aug. 25, 2007, 9:01PM
Clinton failing to make inroads with male voters
Democrats' lead candidate fighting wide gender gap

DES MOINES, IOWA - A pair of Sen. Hillary Clinton's worst nightmares trudged past a giant blue "Hillary for President" sign outside the Iowa State Fair here with palpable disgust.

"I'll never vote for her," said Alice Aszman, 66, a Democrat from Ottumwa. "I don't think a woman should be president. I think a man should. They've got more authority."

Her husband, Daniel, 50, also a Democrat, agreed: "I think women should stay home instead of being boss."

That's not what Clinton wants to hear from voters like the Aszmans, who described themselves as "working-class." But there's also no question that, even as Clinton, the New York Democrat, widens her lead in national polls of Democratic voters, becoming the first female president won't be easy.

Appealing to female voters as a sister-in-arms won't be enough to win the White House, and a potentially worrisome gender gap has emerged in polls. A July poll of likely Democratic caucus-goers by the University of Iowa found that Clinton had 30 percent support among women and 18 percent among men. By comparison, there was no difference in gender support for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who got 21 percent from both men and women.

The same poll found that 32 percent of women strongly agreed that Clinton was electable, while only 14 percent of men did. And 30 percent of women strongly agreed that Clinton was the Democrats' strongest candidate, while only 17 percent of men did.

Clinton brings special baggage to the campaign, demonized as she was through the 1990s by conservative talk-show hosts haranguing the white male voters whom Clinton must woo now. That's one reason why Clinton has the highest "disapproval ratings" among Democrats, ranging into the mid-40s in national polls.


Houston Chronicle

Aug. 25, 2007, 6:17PM

Will Bush get the Truman treatment?
Historians debate whether his stature will increase after he leaves office

WASHINGTON - If Harry S. Truman did it, why can't George W. Bush?

Truman came back from the political abyss - his public approval rating sank as low as 22 percent thanks in large part to America's entry into the Korean War and his handling of labor disputes at home - to become regarded by historians as one of the nation's top 10 presidents.

Lately, some Bush administration officials and White House associates have predicted that President Bush - mired in an unpopular war in Iraq and saddled with the low Nixon-level approval ratings - will get the Truman treatment by historians after he leaves office in January 2009.

"I think when the history is written that, in fact, it will reflect credit upon this president and his administration," Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN's Larry King last month.

Will history really give Bush the Truman bounce?

Several historians doubt it, noting that no other president other than the former haberdasher from Independence, Mo., has received such a 180-degree revision to the benefit of his legacy.

"I don't think any president has had as significant a re-evaluation as Truman," said Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley. "(Dwight) Eisenhower has risen in historical evaluation quite a lot, but not to the same degree. (James) Polk was once ranked much higher than he now usually is. I suspect (Ronald) Reagan will fluctuate a good deal over time."

Bush, Brinkley said, "does not seem to me to have many achievements that would earn him a high ranking - again, unless the Iraq war turns out, unexpectedly, to be successful in the long term."


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