Wednesday, September 05, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 05, 2007

**IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE, CONTACT US AT and we'll be happy to send the full article.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
Hard Times Help Leaders in Iran Tighten Their Grip

TEHRAN, Sept. 4 - Rents are soaring, inflation hovers around 17 percent, and10 million Iranians live below the poverty line. The police said they shut20 barbershops for men in Tehran last week because they offeredinappropriate hairstyles, and women have been banned from riding bicycles inmany places, as a crackdown on social freedoms presses on.

For months now, average Iranians have endured economic hardships, politicalrepression and international isolation as the nation's top officialsremained defiant over Iran's nuclear program. But in a country whose leaderssee national security, government stability and Islamic values asinextricably entwined, problems that usually would constitute threats to theleadership are instead viewed as an opportunity to secure its rule.

Paradoxically, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's economic missteps and theanimosity generated in the West by his aggressive posture on the nuclearissue have helped Iran's leaders hold back what they see as corruptingforeign influences, by increasing the country's economic and politicalisolation, said economists, diplomats, political analysts, businessmen andclerics interviewed over the past two weeks.

Pressure from the West, including biting economic sanctions, over Iran'snuclear program and its role in Iraq have also empowered those pushing theharder line.

"The leader is concerned that any effort to make the country more manageablewill lead to reform and will undermine his authority," said Saeed Leylaz, aneconomist and former government official of the country's supreme leader,Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
Craig Said to Consider Not Resigning

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 - Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho opened the doorTuesday to returning to the Senate, creating another twist in his unfoldingpolitical drama and raising the possibility of an ugly showdown withnational Republican leaders.

Dan Whiting, a spokesman for Mr. Craig, an Idaho Republican, said last nightthat Mr. Craig had not ruled out reversing his plan to step down Sept. 30.After intense pressure from Republican Senate colleagues, Mr. Craigannounced Saturday that it would be best for "the people of Idaho" if heresigned after the disclosure of his plea last month to disorderly conductcharges stemming from his arrest in June in a Minneapolis-St. PaulInternational Airport bathroom.

"As he stated on Saturday, Senator Craig intends to resign on September30th," Mr. Whiting said in a statement. "However, he is fighting thesecharges, and should he be cleared before then, he may, and I emphasize may,not resign."

The potential change of heart followed moves by Mr. Craig to mount anaggressive challenge to the charges, hiring well-known lawyers to handle thecriminal case and any Senate ethics inquiry into the incident, as well as acommunications firm that specializes in crisis management.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
Musician Is Killed for Banging on a Door

DALLAS, Sept. 4 - A Texas rock musician was shot to death here early Mondayby a neighbor who fired through a closed door, thinking he was scaring off aburglar.

The incident occurred just three days after a new law took effectstrengthening the right of Texans to use deadly force to protect themselvesand their property.

The musician, Jeffrey Carter Albrecht, 34, a keyboardist with Edie Brickelland the New Bohemians and the Dallas rock band Sorta, was shot in the headafter he startled a man and his wife about 4 a.m. by pounding and kicking attheir back door, the police said. Mr. Albrecht had just assaulted hisgirlfriend, who lives next door and had locked him out of her house, thepolice said.

The neighbor, who has not been identified by the police, was awakened by hiswife's screams that someone was breaking into their home, according to thepolice report. The man yelled for the person to go away, but when thepounding continued, he fired through the top of the door.

Mr. Albrecht, who was about 6-foot-5, was struck in the head.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
The Candidates' Tainted Money

The presidential candidates' gross money marathon is leaving themincreasingly open to shady backslappers securing privileged access with bigbags of campaign cash on the barrelhead. Senator Hillary Clinton has beenburned twice lately by so-called bundlers - aspiring power brokers whoharvest large amounts of smaller donations and bundle them into irresistiblygiant packages. One Clinton bundler turned out to have an outstanding arrestwarrant for business fraud; the other has a history of tax liens, fraudcharges and bankruptcy proceedings on two continents.

Other candidates in both parties have been similarly embarrassed. And nowonder, as an estimated 2,000 bundlers now work the major campaigns likemaître d's. Business executives pass the hat among underlings and familymembers for impressive scores. Trade and professional groups milk theirmemberships for big-ticket entry to the political circus.

For all their press releases promising watchfulness, the candidates havebecome increasingly addicted to bundlers. This is because Congress failed toupdate the public financing of campaigns, the alternative that worked wellfor the nation for three decades. Private fund-raising, deposed after thecampaign corruption of Watergate, has retaken the throne, with the moneyhunt becoming more rampant as the campaign season lengthens. There is noprocess forcing disclosure of bundling so voters could better judge acandidate's donors. Sensing the growing risk of scandal, the campaigns haveoffered only half-hearted swipes at disclosure.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Letter From Baghdad

I saw many contradictory things on this visit to Iraq - too many to declarea definitive trend. So let me share three scenes that had an impact on me:

Scene 1: I went on a patrol that visited a U.S. Army platoon based in theAmeriya neighborhood of Baghdad, alongside the "Ameriya Knights," who, asGen. David Petraeus put it to me, "are not a rugby team."

Ameriya is a Sunni neighborhood that had been home to doctors, lawyers andother professionals. Today it is a ghost town. It is chilling to see howmuch this city has been fragmented into little pieces. What were clearlyupper-middle-class homes are almost all abandoned, and the streets are fullof litter and rubble. This neighborhood first came under assault from Shiitemilitias, then from pro-Al Qaeda Iraqi Sunnis, who moved in on the pretextof protecting the Sunnis from the Shiites and then imposed a reign ofIslamist terror on them.

The Ameriya Knights are predominantly secular Sunni boys from theneighborhood, who banded together to both drive out the pro-Al Qaedaforces - which took root here more deeply than I realized - and to protecttheir homes from Shiite death squads.


The New York Times

September 5, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
The 46-Year-Old Virgin

Barack Hussein Obama squinted into the New Hampshire sun to read a newspeech on his teleprompter Monday and turned into William Jennings Bryan.

It isn't a good fit. Obama is many things, but the Great Commoner ain't oneof them. Bryan gave a Cross-of-Gold speech, and Obama gave a Cross-of-Mediaspeech.

The urbane young senator who rules over Chicago society with his wife,Michelle, the glamour boy who has graced more fashionable magazine coversthan Heidi Klum, the debonair pol who has wowed crowds at white-tie andblack-tie press dinners in D.C., suddenly started ranting about Washingtonpundits and other jades on the Potomac who don't appreciate the thrillingloftiness of his message and purifying minimalism of his résumé.

Suddenly, the candidate who had so consciously modeled himself and his wifeon J.F.K. and Jackie was a simple rube, fighting the system.

"There are a lot of people who have been in Washington longer than me, whohave better connections and go to the right dinner parties and know how totalk the Washington talk," he told an audience in Manchester.


The Washington Post

D.C. Asks Supreme Court to Back Gun Ban
By Robert Barnes and David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; 12:12 PM

The District today asked the Supreme Court to uphold the city's ban onprivate ownership of handguns, saying the appeals court decision thatoverturned the law "drastically departs from the mainstream of Americanjurisprudence."

Most legal experts believe the court will accept the case, which could leadto a historic decision next year on whether the ambiguously worded SecondAmendment to the Constitution protects private gun ownership or only impartsa civic right related to maintaining state militias.

The District argues in its petition for review that its law--one of thetoughest handgun bans in the nation--should be upheld regardless of whetherthe court sides with the so-called "individualist" or "collective" legaltheories.

"It is eminently reasonable to permit private ownership of other types ofweapons, including shotguns and rifles, but ban the easily concealed anduniquely dangerous modern handgun," states the petition, filed by DistrictAttorney General Linda Singer. It adds: "Whatever right the Second Amendmentguarantees, it does not require the District to stand by while its citizensdie."

"We're going to fight to uphold a law that . . . has public support," MayorAdrian M. Fenty (D) said at a news conference outside D.C. policeheadquarters. "The only possible outcome of more handguns in the home ismore violence. Our appeal will help the District of Columbia be able tocontinue to reduce gun violence."

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit split2-1 last March in throwing out the District's law, which prohibits handgunownership except by active and retired law enforcement officers. It alsostruck down a law requiring that rifles and shotguns kept in private homesbe unloaded and disassembled or bound by trigger locks.


The Washington Post

Falling for the Spin
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; 7:38 AM

President Bush got the headlines he wanted with his Labor Day drop-by inIraq.

New York Times: "Bush, In Iraq, Says Troop Reduction is Possible."

Los Angeles Times: "Bush Hints at Troop Reduction."

Washington Times: "In Anbar, Bush Optimistic for Pullout."

But when you stick a fork into what he actually said, the souffle collapses.A troop reduction is no more likely today than it was yesterday. Thepresident himself gave away the game in his interview with Katie.

COURIC: But just hearing those two words, "troop reduction": do you think itwill win some people over who are uncomfortable with this war?

BUSH: That was just speculating. It's not going to win anybody over until itbecomes a reality.

Just speculating--and yet that became the media's lead.

Which leads me to another question: How come Bush gets to ask everyone towait for the Petraeus report, but he can go on about the surge's progressand how it would be a mistake to pull out? The wait-and-see admonitiondoesn't apply to him?


The Washington Post

The Magic Touch?
Winfrey Lends Her Brand and Her Empire in Support of Obama's Presidential Bid
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 5, 2007; A06

The Oprah-Obama '08 bumper sticker was meant to be only a lark, hawked onthe Internet for $3.99 under the catchphrase "Just when you thought therewas no hope for the Democratic Party . . ."

Turns out the sentiment, at least, may not be entirely fanciful.

Oprah Winfrey, the nation's wealthiest African American and host of anafternoon television program, endorsed Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in May.Now, she is in discussions with his advisers about playing a broader role inthe campaign -- possibly as a surrogate on the stump or an outspokenadvocate -- or simply bringing her branding magic to benefit his White Housebid.

On Saturday, Winfrey will host her first-ever presidential fundraisingaffair on the grounds of the Promised Land, her 42-acre ocean- andmountain-view estate in Montecito, Calif. -- an event that is expected toraise more than $3 million for Obama's campaign.


[Send your comments about articles to]

No comments: