Friday, September 07, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 07, 20077

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The New York Times

September 7, 2007

For Thompson, Goal Is to Don Reagan Mantle

Fred D. Thompson had one central strategic goal as he formally began hispresidential campaign on Thursday: to win over conservatives who aredisheartened at their current choice of Republican candidates by positioninghimself as the ideological and stylistic heir of Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Thompson is certainly conservative, and has been throughout his publiclife - particularly on the question of federalism, the size of government,tax cuts and his unwavering support for the war in Iraq.

Biographically and stylistically, Mr. Thompson, another former actor tryingto become president, recalls the easygoing manner that Reagan used toadvocate conservative solutions to the nation's challenges, as he made clearwith his announcement speech in Des Moines on Thursday. He spoke of"common-sense conservative beliefs," including the notion that "we still getour basic rights from God, not government."


Congress Moves To End Possibility Of More Hanging Chads, Other Election
Errors In 2008

by The Associated Press
Posted: September 7, 2007 - 6:00 am ET

(Washington) Lawmakers have come full circle after devoting more money tohigh-tech voting machines following the 2000 election debacle in Florida.They now say a return to the paper trails of old is the key to an honestvote, exasperating state election officials.

Legislation pending in the House would require a voter-verified paper ballotfor every vote cast in national elections beginning with the November 2008ballot. It also would require random audits in federal elections andspecifies that the paper ballot is the vote of record in all recounts andaudits.

Public confidence in the voting process is at an all-time low, said Rep.Rush Holt, D-N.J., the bill's chief sponsor. "I shudder to think what wouldhappen with another election where millions of Americans don't believe theresults," Holt said.

But his bill has been hit by a barrage of criticism from state and localelection officials and election machine makers who contend the timelines areunrealistic, the audit process is overly cumbersome, the reliance on paperis too restrictive and the money allotted to replace existing systems, $1billion, is insufficient.

"The ramifications of hasty action on this ill-conceived piece oflegislation are immense and far-reaching," Donna Stone, a member of theDelaware House of Representatives and president of the National Conferenceof State Legislatures, wrote to House leaders Wednesday.


The New York Times

September 7, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Time to Take a Stand

Here's what will definitely happen when Gen. David Petraeus testifies beforeCongress next week: he'll assert that the surge has reduced violence inIraq - as long as you don't count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed byShiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of thehead.

Here's what I'm afraid will happen: Democrats will look at Gen. Petraeus'suniform and medals and fall into their usual cringe. They won't ask hardquestions out of fear that someone might accuse them of attacking themilitary. After the testimony, they'll desperately try to get Republicans toagree to a resolution that politely asks President Bush to maybe, possibly,withdraw some troops, if he feels like it.

There are five things I hope Democrats in Congress will remember.

First, no independent assessment has concluded that violence in Iraq isdown. On the contrary, estimates based on morgue, hospital and policerecords suggest that the daily number of civilian deaths is almost twice itsaverage pace from last year. And a recent assessment by the nonpartisanGovernment Accountability Office found no decline in the average number ofdaily attacks.


The New York Times

September 7, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

The New Social Contract

In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt imposed wage controls on American companies.Unable to lure workers with higher salaries, many employers began offeringhealth insurance and other benefits. Then, in 1952, officials at theInternal Revenue Service ruled that these benefits wouldn't count as taxableincome.

And so, accidentally, the modern American health and pension system wasborn.

The system, in which families received social protections through theiremployers, worked well for decades. But now it's coming apart at the seams.The proportion of people insured is falling. Rising health care costs burdenemployers. Workers can't chase opportunities because they can't bring theirhealth insurance packages with them.

As Jason Bordoff points out in the current issue of Democracy, the oldemployer-based social contract is eroding and the central domestic policydebate of our time is over how to replace it.

Some liberals, believing that government should step in as employerswithdraw, support a European-style, single-payer health care system. Thatwould be fine if we were Europeans. But Americans, who are moreindividualistic and pluralistic, will not likely embrace a system thatforces them to defer to the central government when it comes to makingfundamental health care choices.


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

In Plot Suspect, Germany Sees Familiar Face

ULM, Germany, Sept. 6 - Legally, his name is as German as they come: Fritz.To his new confidants in the radical Islamic scene and alleged terroristco-conspirators, he was Abdullah.

Fritz Gelowicz, barely 28 years old, sits in police custody, charged withleading a terrorist plot that, had it succeeded, could have surpassed theLondon and Madrid bombings in their murderous toll. That he is a Germannative, born in Munich, and a youthful convert to Islam has only made itharder for his countrymen to grasp the accusation, although his guilt is farfrom established.

The picture sketched by legal documents and interviews with intelligence andlaw enforcement officials is nonetheless of a young man troubled by problemsin his parents' marriage, quickly embraced by forces that would twist him totheir agenda. They made him not only a willing soldier but a capable leader.

"A leading mind, the one with initiative, the coordinator," said AugustHanning, the state secretary at the German Interior Ministry. "He possessedenormous criminal energy. Very cold-blooded and full of hatred."


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

For Idaho, Rare Spotlight From Senator's Troubles

BOISE, Idaho, Sept. 6 - Senator Larry E. Craig to Announce Resignation.Craig Reconsiders Resignation. Craig Essentially Drops Efforts to FinishSenate Term.

The succession of such headlines about Mr. Craig, an Idaho Republican whorecently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in an airport men's room, hasconfused and exhausted many Idahoans, who are unaccustomed to being thefocus of national politics and are known for their distrust of outsideintervention.

Derrick Boles, who was having lunch downtown on Thursday, said that Mr.Craig's conduct reflected something broader in national politics and thatelected leaders had lost sight of "integrity, honesty and loyalty."

But asked whether he thought the senator would be pressing his luck if hewere to continue to try to keep his seat, Mr. Boles, who runs a company thatpromotes youth leadership, said: "I'm not going to judge him. I'm just goingto say that this is affecting all of us."

A certain fatigue has set in here since Mr. Craig began to hedge on hisdecision to resign and the prospect of an extended fight began to seem moreplausible. On Thursday, however, the story took another turn, with aides tothe senator emphasizing that the possibility of Mr. Craig's remaining in theSenate was remote.


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

Fugitive Political Fund-Raiser Arrested in Colorado

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 7 - Norman Hsu, the wealthy political donor who hastwice been a fugitive from justice, most recently skipping a court date inCalifornia on Wednesday, was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation late Thursday at a hospital in Grand Junction, Colo.

Mr. Hsu was arrested at 7 p.m. Mountain time in Grand Junction on federalcharges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, F.B.I. Special Agent LeslieKopper of the bureau's Denver division confirmed in a telephone interview.

Last week, Mr. Hsu had turned himself in to the authorities in San MateoCounty, just south of San Francisco, and posted $2 million bond inconjunction with a 1991 fraud case. He was to have appeared in SuperiorCourt in Redwood City, Calif., at 9 a.m. Wednesday to hand in his passport,request a reduction in bail and set a court date.

But Mr. Hsu failed to appear, leaving his lawyer, the state attorney generaland the judge waiting in the courtroom.


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

Judge Voids F.B.I. Tool Granted by Patriot Act

A federal judge yesterday struck down the parts of the recently revised USAPatriot Act that authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to useinformal secret demands called national security letters to compel companiesto provide customer records.

The law allowed the F.B.I. not only to force communications companies,including telephone and Internet providers, to turn over the records withoutcourt authorization, but also to forbid the companies to tell the customersor anyone else what they had done. Under the law, enacted last year, theability of the courts to review challenges to the ban on disclosures wasquite limited.

The judge, Victor Marrero of the Federal District Court in Manhattan, ruledthat the measure violated the First Amendment and the separation of powersguarantee.

Judge Marrero said he feared that the law could be the first step in aseries of intrusions into the judiciary's role that would be "thelegislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free passto the hijacking of constitutional values."


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

Recruitment by Military in Schools Is Criticized

Military recruiters are frequently given free reign in New York City publicschools and allowed into classes in violation of the school system'sregulations, according to a report released yesterday by the Manhattanborough president and the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The report, based on surveys of nearly 1,000 students at 45 high schoolscitywide last spring, said the city's Department of Education exercisedalmost no oversight over how much access recruiters had to students at highschools.

"There were recruiters who were in the classroom not to talk to studentsabout reading, writing and arithmetic, but to talk to them about how to geta one-way ticket to Iraq and all the benefits you will accrue by thatprocess," Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, said at a newsconference. "This is something that must be stopped. It's outrageous, and itgives recruiters a captive audience."


The New York Times

September 7, 2007

Survey Reveals Student Attitudes, Parental Goals and Teacher Mistrust

Nearly half of middle and high school students surveyed in New York Citypublic schools say that students who get good grades are not respected.Nearly a quarter of parents call smaller class sizes the chief improvementthey seek. More than a third of teachers say they do not trust theirprincipals.

Those were some of the findings of a $2 million survey released yesterday byMayor Michael R. Bloomberg, to which 587,000 out of 1.8 million parents,teachers and middle and high school students responded, providing a trove ofinformation on attitudes toward the schools.

Mr. Bloomberg heralded the survey, which was conducted last spring as partof an effort to grade all schools A through F, as an invaluable tool,likening it to the Police Department's vaunted crime-tracking system. Hecalled it "the most successful effort in the history of American educationto collect a community's views about public schools."

Still, only 26 percent of parents responded. The rates were better amongteachers and students. Forty-four percent of teachers and 65 percent ofmiddle and high school students filled out the survey. Parent and teacherresponse rates were lower in schools that are largely poor and minority.


The New York Times

A Conservative for . . . 1994?

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, September 7, 2007; A21

Fred Thompson, who proposes to be what Republicans need to overcome theirmalaise, may himself be part of the problem.

And the problem is that conservatism as a philosophy no longer producesready-made answers to the quandaries that face the country or the voters.Republicans do not need to debate who is conservative enough. They need toargue about what conservatism is.

The candidate who stands to make the most of that opportunity is former NewYork mayor Rudy Giuliani, not Thompson -- and Thompson's decision to run hasmade Giuliani's life easier.

By referring in his online announcement speech this week to the glory daysof the 1994 Republican landslide, Thompson suggested that he hopes to sweepthrough the primaries with bows to a heroic past and calls to keep the oldfaith alive.


The New York Times

Employers Cut 4,000 Jobs in August

By Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 7, 2007; 10:52 AM

The U.S. economy shed 4,000 jobs in August, as layoffs in the mortgage andconstruction industries combined with the slide in manufacturing employmentto produce the first such monthly decline in four years.

The report upended expectations of continued job growth and added toevidence of a slowing American economy. Indeed, the pace of job creation inthe previous two months was revised downward by 81,000 jobs.

The news sent the Dow Jones industrial average down as much as 150 points inits opening minutes. After the first hour of trading, the exchange was offmore than 198 points, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 had each dropped bywell over 1 percent.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged, at 4.6 percent, as the loss ofjobs was offset by people leaving the workforce.

Still, the fact that the economy actually lost employment was surprisingnews, even though other indicators have pointed to lower U.S. economicgrowth.


The Washington Post

Religion Not Clear-Cut Issue in White House Race

By Ed Stoddard
Thursday, September 6, 2007; 6:36 PM

DALLAS (Reuters) - Religion is not proving to be a clear-cut factor in the2008 U.S. White House race, taking a back seat to the Iraq war and domesticissues, but most Americans still feel faith is an important attribute intheir president, according to a survey released on Thursday.

The Pew Forum survey also found that U.S. presidential candidates need notbe seen as very religious to gain wide voter acceptance, noting that theDemocratic and Republican front-runners -- Hillary Clinton and RudyGiuliani -- are viewed as the least religious among the top contenders.


Pew Research Center

44% - Working Moms: Good or Bad for Society?

A 44%-plurality of at-home moms considers the increase in working mothersbad for society; about half as many (22%) say the increase is good forsociety and the remainder take a neutral position (31%). By contrast,working moms are split almost evenly between positive (34%), negative (34%),and neutral (31%) views of how this trend is affecting society. Read more



In less than two weeks, we will deliver our petition to Senate MajorityLeader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding they protect anddefend the Constitution, starting with immediate fixes to the outrageousFISA legislation that made warrantless NSA spying on Americans legal.

To send the strongest possible message, we need 100,000 signatures bySeptember 17, when we deliver the petition. We're more than half-way there,but we need your help.

Please sign the petition and tell Congress: Don't Fail Freedom.

When Congress passed a bill allowing for massive, untargeted collection ofinternational communications - without court order or meaningful oversightby either Congress or the courts-they crossed the line and played into thehands of the Bush administration.

Instead of restoring our freedoms, they actually handed the administrationvast new powers to invade our privacy with no meaningful oversight from thecourts or Congress.

Though the law expires in 6 months, momentum is quickly building to pass apermanent FISA "modernization" bill very soon. This is a critical time tokeep pressure on Congress to fix the flawed FISA law.

Please sign the petition and tell Congress: Don't Fail Freedom.

If we leave a vacuum for even a moment, the debate will be defined byselective and politically motivated intelligence leaks that skew the debate,and by fear of appearing "soft on terrorism" during election season. We can't
let that happen. Act now, before any misguided proposals gain momentum inCongress.Please sign the petition and tell Congress: Don't Fail Freedom.

Thank you for all you're doing in the fight to restore the Constitution.

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director


The Detroit News

Michigan, Florida seek new law to break primary logjam
Gordon Trowbridge / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Seeking a permanent solution to the calendar chaos that hasshaken the presidential campaign, two top Michigan lawmakers said today theywill strengthen their efforts to pass legislation mandating a rotatingsystem for primaries and caucuses that would end the first-in-the-nationstatus of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Michigan U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan U.S. Rep. Sander Levin and Florida'sDemocratic Sen. Bill Nelson said they will push for passage of a legislationlong advocated by Rep. Levin, establishing a system of six presidentialnominating dates throughout the campaign season, each featuring randomlyselected states from each of six regions of the country.

Nelson and Sen. Levin -- the brother of Rep. Levin -- have been key moversin their states' moves to challenge the dominance of Iowa and New Hampshireby scheduling their own early primaries. Neither showed any signs of backingdown in the face of penalties from the Democratic National Committee and acampaign boycott of their states by Democratic presidential candidates.

Levin, repeating an allegation he made in a letter this week to DemocraticNational Committee Chairman Howard Dean, said that if Michigan and Floridaare penalized for moving their primaries in violation of party rules, NewHampshire should be as well.

"The ball is in Gov. Dean's court as to whether he's going to have adouble-standard," Levin said.


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