Tuesday, August 28, 2007


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The New York Times


August 28, 2007
The House Lawyer Departs

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has finally done something important toadvance the cause of justice. He has resigned. But his departure alonecannot remove the dark cloud that hangs over the Justice Department.President Bush needs to choose a new attorney general of unquestionedintegrity who would work to make the department worthy of its name again -and provide the mandate to do it. Congress needs to continue to investigatethe many scandals Mr. Gonzales leaves behind.

When Mr. Gonzales was appointed, it seemed doubtful that he would be able toput aside his years as Mr. Bush's personal lawyer, which stretched back tothe Texas governor's office, and represent the interests of the Americanpeople. He never did.

In many ways, Mr. Gonzales turned out to be the ultimate "loyal Bushie," aterm his Justice Department chief of staff used so incrediblyinappropriately to describe what his department was looking for in its topprosecutors.

It was just that kind of craven politics - the desire to co-opt the power ofthe government to win elections - that was the driving force in Mr. Gonzales's Justice Department. Dedicated and capable United States attorneys were firedfor insisting on doing their jobs with integrity - for refusing to putpeople in jail, or shield them from prosecution, simply to help Republicanswin elections. Lawyers were hired for nonpolitical jobs based on partyenrollment and campaign contributions, and top members of Mr. Gonzales'sstaff attended pre-election political briefings at the White House led byKarl Rove and his aides.


The New York Times


August 27, 2007
Editorial Observer
Mexico's Plutocracy Thrives on Robber-Baron Concessions

Growing up in Mexico City, I always knew Mexico was an unjust country - aplace where small coteries of the privileged control all power and wealthwhile half the population lives in poverty. But it never occurred to me thatMexico would have billionaires.

It does. According to Forbes magazine, last year there were 10 Mexicansamong the world's 946 billionaires.

That might not seem out of line in a country with 100 million-plus people,which accounts for about 1.6 percent of the global economy. But here's whattakes the cake, especially if you're Mexican like me. Earlier this month,Fortune reported that Carlos Slim HelĂș, a Mexican, had just surpassed BillGates to become the world's richest man, with a fortune worth $59 billion.

To put it in perspective, Mr. Slim's treasure is equivalent to slightly lessthan 7 percent of Mexico's total production of goods and services - one outof every 14 dollars' worth of stuff made by all the people in the country.

The income distribution in the United States may be fast approaching Mexicanlevels of inequality, but in relative terms, Mr. Gates isn't even in Mr.Slim's league. His $58 billion fortune is less than 0.5 percent of thenation's G.D.P.

Indeed, by this measure, Mr. Slim is richer even than the robber barons ofthe gilded age. John D. Rockefeller, America's richest man, was worth theequivalent of about 1.5 percent of the nation's G.D.P.


The New York Times


August 28, 2007
Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations

BAGHDAD, Aug. 27 - Several federal agencies are investigating a wideningnetwork of criminal cases involving the purchase and delivery of billions ofdollars of weapons, supplies and other matériel to Iraqi and Americanforces, according to American officials. The officials said it amounted tothe largest ring of fraud and kickbacks uncovered in the conflict here.

The inquiry has already led to several indictments of Americans, with moreexpected, the officials said. One of the investigations involves a seniorAmerican officer who worked closely with Gen. David H. Petraeus in settingup the logistics operation to supply the Iraqi forces when General Petraeuswas in charge of training and equipping those forces in 2004 and 2005,American officials said Monday.

There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing byGeneral Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, who through a spokesmandeclined comment on any legal proceedings.

This article is based on interviews with more than a dozen federalinvestigators, Congressional, law enforcement and military officials, andspecialists in contracting and logistics, in Iraq and Washington, who havedirect knowledge of the inquiries. Many spoke on condition of anonymitybecause there are continuing criminal investigations.


Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
Tri-County - chances1@bellsouth.net


Burning the Law in a Riot of Treason
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Columnist
Monday 27 August 2007

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In bothinstances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged,and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air,however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.

- Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The departure of Alberto Gonzales from the Attorney General's Officebrings America to a place of definitions, and hanging in the balance is thevery idea of the nation itself. The basic concepts and fundamentalprinciples of our republic now stand as the only legitimate considerationsgoing forward, for they have been tested almost to annihilation already, andwill not endure much longer if we continue on this path.

It is the mythology within the Declaration of Independence we speak of,the fiction that tells us we are endowed with rights, and that those rightsare unalienable. This falsehood has been vividly exposed in the last severalyears, and it has been a harsh lesson indeed. All the rights we hold dearand believe to be our greatest strength are, in fact, only words on oldpaper with neither force nor power. The next line - "That to secure theserights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powersfrom the consent of the governed" - is the muscle behind the myth, the corethat has endured a withering assault.

Matters are so much worse than our national political dialogue lets on.


The New York Times


The New York Times
August 28, 2007
Op-Ed Contributors
Op-Chart: An Update on the State of New Orleans

TWO years after Hurricane Katrina toppled New Orleans's levee system,leaving more than half the city under water, there are signs of revival. Thecity's population has climbed to 68 percent of its pre-hurricane level, thework force is 78 percent of what it was before the flood, and sales taxrevenues have rebounded to 84 percent.

But some troubling trends persist. The city's share of the region'spopulation has dropped to 30 percent, an indication that economic activityis shifting to the suburbs. Even as the city has added workers, a greatershare are unemployed now than were a year ago. And important sectors of theeconomy - health care, education, and leisure and hospitality services - arestill missing critical workers.

Progress on improving school quality, public safety and access to childcare, doctors and hospitals has been slow. Crime, especially violent crime,has risen significantly. And as of May, fewer than half of New Orleans'sschools had reopened. While the city plans to open 25 more public schools byLabor Day, many repairs are still needed to get them ready.


The New York Times


August 28, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Holding Kids Hostage

The governors of New York and New Jersey were upset and not trying to hideit.

"We had zero forewarning," said New Jersey's Jon Corzine. "It was sprung at7:30 on a Friday night in the middle of August, the time when it would drawthe least fire."

He was talking about the Bush administration's latest effort to thwart theexpansion of the popular Children's Health Insurance Program. Governors inseveral states are trying to include more youngsters from the lower rungs ofthe middle class and have vowed to fight the president on this issue.

Acting during a Congressional recess, and making a distinct effort to staybeneath the radar of the news media, the administration enacted insidiousnew rules that make it much harder for states to bring additional childrenunder the umbrella of the program, known colloquially as CHIP.

The program is popular because it works. It's cost effective and there iswide bipartisan support for its expansion. But President Bush, locked in anideological straitjacket, is adamant in his opposition.


The New York Times


August 28, 2007
As Brazil Defends Its Bounty, Rules Ensnare Scientists

RIO DE JANEIRO - Marc van Roosmalen is a world-renowned primatologist whoseresearch in the Amazon has led to the discovery of five species of monkeysand a new primate genus. But precisely because of that work, Dr. vanRoosmalen was recently sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison and jailed inManaus, Brazil.

Earlier in August, his lawyers managed to get him freed while they appealhis conviction on charges stemming from an investigation into allegedbiopiracy. But scientists here and abroad are outraged, and they describethe case as only the most glaring example of laws and government policiesthey say are xenophobic and increasingly stifling scientific inquiry.

"Research needs to be stimulated, not criminalized," said Enio Candotti, aphysicist who has been the president of the Brazilian Society for theProgress of Science, the country's leading scientific body, for the lastfour years. "Instead, we have a situation in which overzealous bureaucratsconsider everyone guilty unless they can prove their innocence."

At a biologists' conference in Mexico last month, 287 scientists from 30countries signed a petition saying that the jailing of Dr. van Roosmalen was"indicative of a trend of governmental repression of scientists in Brazil."

The treatment of him, they warned, is unduly harsh and is "alreadydiscouraging biological research in Brazil, both by Brazilian scientists andby potential international donors."

Brazil's government officials say they have no vendetta against thescientists and are merely trying to protect the nation's natural and geneticpatrimony; they also declined to talk about the van Roosmalen case.

Fears of biopiracy, loosely defined as any unauthorized acquisition ortransport of genetic material or live flora and fauna, are deep andlongstanding in Brazil. Nearly a century ago, for example, the Amazon rubberboom collapsed after Sir Henry Wickham, a British botanist and explorer,spirited rubber seeds out of Brazil and sent them to colonies in Ceylon andMalaya (now Sri Lanka and Malaysia), which quickly dominated theinternational market.


The Washington Post


In the End, Realities Trumped Loyalty
By Dan Balz and Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 28, 2007; A01

Few attributes are more highly prized in President Bush's White House thanloyalty -- and few have exacted a higher toll on the president and hispolitical standing. Yesterday's resignation announcement by Attorney GeneralAlberto R. Gonzales underscored once again the damage that can be done whenloyalty becomes paramount in presidential decision-making.

Rarely has a Cabinet-level resignation been so anticipated, coming longafter Gonzales's credibility had been irreparably undermined by controversy.After he seemingly could do no more harm to the administration, Bush'sfriend and longtime confidant finally called it quits.

Yet the resignation was almost as surprising as it was long expected. Bushrepeatedly expressed confidence in his embattled attorney general, andGonzales had stubbornly refused to yield to the political reality that hispresence at the Justice Department meant continued conflict with Democratsand some Republicans in Congress as well as further investigations into theinner workings of the administration.

"Getting him out of there is about four months or five months late," saidone Republican strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offera candid appraisal of the situation. "It reemphasizes that this thing isbroken."




'X' marks symbolize suffering and survival
New Orleans split on fate of disaster graffiti
The Associated Press

August 28, 2007

NEW ORLEANS When Freddy Yoder returned to his flooded Lakeview home afterHurricane Katrina, he was taken aback by the big orange "X" spray-painted onthe plywood covering his front door. There was a notation in each quadrant,indicating the date searched, by which agency, whether the house wasentered, and if any corpses were found.

It was the first thing to go in the debris pile.

"I want to get rid of everything that reminds me of the storm," he saidrecently as he stood in front of his restored Victorian-style home. "I'veseen enough of that to last me a lifetime. ... It's permanently embedded inmy mind, and I'll take it to the grave with me."

To most, the crude, neon-colored X's are too-vivid symbols of death anddestruction. The sooner they're erased, painted over or discarded, thebetter.

But to some, like Bywater glass artist Mitchell Gaudet, the disastergraffiti is part of the city's historical landscape. And preserving it hasbecome an act of defiance.


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