Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 12, 2007

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Hey, Florida!!!!

Don't Forget! We need to hear from you!

Many of you haven't responded.....

Florida Red And Blue!!!!

Do your part to fight the right-wing state-wide anti-gay initiativeto amend the Florida constitution.

Friday, September 28, at the GLCC, Ft. Lauderdale - 11:45am to 1:30pm.

Michael and I promised to get a minimum of 10 people to attend thislow dollar boxed lunch - only $25 - to learn about Florida Red And Blue andthe multiple efforts to overcome this hateful amendment. Florida Red andBlue has already raised over $1 million, but our work is only beginning.

Will you support us with this? Every GLBT person in Florida needs to be apart of this effort.

Boxed Lunch Series
Friday, September 28
Noon - 1:30pm
Networking 11:45am
GLCC - Ft. Lauderdale

Send us an e-mail and let us know if you'll join us on the 28th.

And...... If you can't attend, we'll be glad to accept your check made outto "Florida Red and Blue."

Ray and Michael


The New York Times

September 12, 2007

Bush Nearing Choice to Lead Justice Dept.


WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - The White House is closing in on a nominee to replaceAttorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with former Solicitor General TheodoreB. Olson considered one of the leading candidates, administration andCongressional officials said Tuesday.

Reports of Mr. Olson's candidacy suggested that President Bush, in choosingthe third attorney general of his presidency, might defy calls fromDemocrats and choose another Republican who is considered a staunch partisanto lead the Justice Department. Mr. Gonzales is departing after beingrepeatedly accused of allowing political loyalties to blind him toindependently enforcing the law.

"Clearly if you made a list of consensus nominees, Olson wouldn't appear onthat list," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who ledthe Judiciary Committee effort to remove Mr. Gonzales. "My hope is that theWhite House would seek some kind of candidate who would be broadlyacceptable."

The choice of Mr. Olson, or almost any other candidate on the list, wouldalmost certainly draw opposition from some Senate Democrats. Democraticleaders had called on the White House to find a respected, moderate nomineeto restore calm to the Justice Department.


The New York Times

September 12, 2007

Academy to Invite Jon Stewart Back as Oscar Host


LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 - The Academy Awards haven't exactly turned into ayearly show with Jon Stewart. But Mr. Stewart, the political satirist andstar of "The Daily Show," is getting another shot at the Oscar podium.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars,is expected to bring back Mr. Stewart, who was host of the ceremony in 2006.An announcement is scheduled for Wednesday, according to two people involvedwith the plan who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talkto the news media.

A spokesman for the academy declined to comment. And a publicist for Mr.Stewart declined to comment.

The show, scheduled for Feb. 24 on ABC, will be produced by Gil Cates, whowas also the producer when Mr. Stewart made his appearance in 2006.


The New York Times

September 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Iraq Through China's Lens

Dalian, China

It's nice to be in a country where Iraq is never mentioned. It's just alittle unnerving when that country is America's biggest geopolitical andeconomic rival these days: China.

I heard China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao, address an internationalconference here in Dalian, and what impressed me most was how boring itwas - a straightforward recitation of the staggering economic progress Chinahas made in the last two decades and the towering economic, political andenvironmental challenges it still faces.

How nice it must be, I thought, to be a great power and be almost entirelyfocused on addressing your own domestic problems?

No, I have not gone isolationist. America has real enemies that China doesnot, and therefore we have to balance a global security role in places likethe Middle East with domestic demands.

But something is out of balance with America today. Looking at the worldfrom here, it is hard not to feel that China has spent the last six yearstraining for the Olympics while we've spent ourselves into debt on iPods andAl Qaeda.

After 9/11, we tried to effect change in the heart of the Arab-Muslim worldby trying to build a progressive government in Baghdad. There was, Ibelieved, a strategic and moral logic for that. But the strategy failed, fora million different reasons, and now it is time to recognize that and focuson how we insulate ourselves from the instability of that world - by havinga real energy policy, for starters - how we protect our security intereststhere in more sustainable ways and how we get back to developing our ownhouse.

By now it should be clear that Iraq is going to be what it is going to be.We've never had sufficient troops there to shape Iraq in our own image.



The New York Times

September 12, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Peaches Tightens the Girdle


Joe Biden didn't talk that much yesterday for Joe Biden.

And he told Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker that theyshouldn't talk too much, either, so that members of the Senate ForeignRelations Committee would have time to get in their questions. Even thoughthe senators often didn't ask questions but simply gave little partisanlectures or told stories about themselves, or in the case of Barbara Boxer,had an aide hold up a blow-up picture of herself with General Petraeus inIraq.

Nevertheless, Mr. Biden, the committee's chairman, took time at the end ofyesterday's first hearing with the Surge Twins to make the points, a bitrepetitively, that there is no plan to get out of Iraq and that the Bushadministration is not leveling with Americans.

John McCain was standing behind Mr. Biden, waiting to sit down for the nexthearing - the Armed Services Committee - with the witnesses.

First, the Republican presidential candidate smiled archly at having to coolhis heels as the Democratic presidential candidate yakked - sniffing at theSurge that Mr. McCain supports. Then Mr. McCain turned to his G.O.P.colleague Susan Collins and flapped his fingers in the universal hand signfor yakking.

It pretty much said it all.



The New York Times

September 12, 2007

Dollar Hits All-Time Low Against Euro

Filed at 6:57 a.m. ET

LONDON (AP) -- The U.S. dollar hit a record low against the euro and waslower against other major currencies in European trading Wednesday morning.Gold was up.

The euro hit an all-time high against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, climbingas high as $1.3878 amid speculation that the Federal Reserve will soon cutinterest rates before falling back. The previous record of $1.3852 wasreached in July.

The euro was quoted at $1.3864, up from $1.3832 late Tuesday in New York.


The New York Times

September 12, 2007

Germans See Imitation in Chinese Cars


FRANKFURT, Sept. 11 - It's hardly surprising that a car that bills itself asthe "ultimate driving machine" would inspire imitation. But to BMW, the CEO,a Chinese sport utility vehicle, is less respectful homage than brazenknockoff.

Charging that the CEO is a copy of BMW's popular X5, the company has filedsuit to prohibit its sale in Germany by the Chinese carmaker ShuanghuanAutomobile.

That did not prevent Shuanghuan's European importer from showing off the CEOon Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

It was a vivid illustration, on the show's first day, that the struggle overintellectual property rights between China and the West - a battle that hasranged over products from designer handbags to computer chips - now extendsto cars.

"We did not like it," BMW chief executive, Norbert Reithofer, said curtly inan interview here.



The New York Times

September 12, 2007

Woman, 20, Was Imprisoned and Tortured, Police Say


LOGAN, W.Va., Sept. 11 - A 20-year-old woman was held captive for more thana week in a mobile home, where she was raped, stabbed and tortured by atleast a half-dozen people, the police said. Sheriff's deputies rescued heron Saturday, and she remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition.

"I've been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, and this is the firsttime I've ever seen anything of this nature," the Logan County sheriff,Eddie Hunter, said.

Six people, including a mother and her son and a mother and her daughter,have been charged in the case.

The police said the people charged, all of whom are white, yelled racialslurs at the woman, who is black, during some of the attacks. The womanendured horrific torture, according to court documents. She was raped bymultiple men, some of whom poured scalding water on her during the assaults,according to the criminal complaints.

She was forced to lick up blood, eat animal feces and drink water from atoilet, the documents said, and she was also stabbed repeatedly in the legand was told that if she tried to leave, she would be killed.



The Los Angeles Times,1,7100054.story?coll=la-news-a_section

The next attorney general should unite, not divide

Whomever takes over the Justice Department must end political abuses, writesSen. Patrick Leahy.

By Patrick Leahy
September 12, 2007

The next attorney general of the United States will inherit a departmentthat has been needlessly and disastrously run into the ditch, and will facethe challenge of repairing damage inflicted by a White House that injectedpolitics into every level of the agency.

Like previous attorneys general, he or she will have to protect rights,combat crime and enforce the law, managing more than 100,000 employees. Butthe toughest part of the job may be regaining the public's trust after fouryears of partisanship and political abuses.

The Justice Department is different from other Cabinet departments. Thefounders wanted to buffer law enforcement and the justice system frompolitical influence because in the U.S., no one -- not even the president --is supposed to be above the law. North Carolina's 1776 constitution gave itsattorney general the same life tenure as its judges, while its governorswere elected for one-year terms. In recent years, some have suggested10-year terms for our attorneys general to further shield them from WhiteHouse interference.

It is deeply saddening that the department's history and standards have beenignored by the Bush administration, in incidents ranging from thepolitically motivated firing of U.S. attorneys to the creation of a legallydubious warrantless wiretapping program lacking proper checks and balances.Considering the evasive testimony that Congress has heard time and againfrom various Justice Department witnesses, one would almost think thedepartment's motto had changed to "I don't recall."

The department must never be subverted in this way again. No JusticeDepartment should be manipulated into a political arm of the White House,whether occupied by a Republican or a Democrat.


Los Angeles Times,1,5953773.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&track=crosspromo

Giuliani's support is soft in key states

Though the former N.Y. mayor leads the GOP field nationwide, a poll showshim trailing in three early-voting states. Clinton maintains a solid leadamong Democrats.

By Janet Hook and Peter Wallsten
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

September 12, 2007

WASHINGTON - Rudolph W. Giuliani has been well ahead of his rivals for theRepublican presidential nomination in nationwide polls, but he is far weakerin the crucial states that will cast early votes in the nominating processnext year, according to a new Los Angeles Times/ Bloomberg poll thatunderscores how unsettled the GOP race remains.

Among Republican voters, Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, trails MittRomney in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he lags behind Fred Thompson in SouthCarolina.

However, Giuliani is only a few points behind the leader in New Hampshireand South Carolina -- within the poll's margin of error -- suggesting thatthe race in those two states is too tight for anyone to be declared a clearfront-runner.

In a worrisome finding for all the Republican candidates, the poll alsofound that many GOP voters in those key states are only lightly committed totheir choices: Though they have been showered with attention by thecampaigns, a sizable 72% of Iowa Republicans who say they favor a candidatealso say they may decide to back someone else.




Most think founders wanted Christian USA

By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY

Most Americans believe the nation's founders wrote Christianity into theConstitution, and people are less likely to say freedom to worship coversreligious groups they consider extreme, a poll out today finds.

The survey measuring attitudes toward freedom of religion, speech and thepress found that 55% believe erroneously that the Constitution establishes aChristian nation. In the survey, which is conducted annually by the FirstAmendment Center, a non-partisan educational group, three out of four peoplewho identify themselves as evangelical or Republican believe that theConstitution establishes a Christian nation. About half of Democrats andindependents do.

ON THE WEB: Read the full poll results

Most respondents, 58%, say teachers in public schools should be allowed tolead prayers. That is an increase from 2005, when 52% supported teacher-ledprayer in public schools.

More people, 43%, say public schools should be allowed to put on Nativityre-enactments with Christian music than in 2005, when 36% did.

Half say teachers should be allowed to use the Bible as a factual text inhistory class. That's down from 56% in 2000. Charles Haynes, a seniorscholar at the First Amendment Center, says the findings are particularlytroubling during a week when the top diplomat in Iraq gave a report toCongress on progress toward achieving democracy there. "Americans are dyingto create a secular democracy in Iraq, and simultaneously a growing numberof people want to see a Christian state" here, he says.


The Washington Post

Giuliani's GOP Lead Shrinks in New Poll
Ex-Mayor's Numbers At a Low for the Year

By Dan Balz and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; A06

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani continues to lead the race for theRepublican presidential nomination, but he has seen a dramatic erosion inhis support, which now stands at its lowest point of the year, according toa new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Giuliani's support dropped from 37 percent in a July poll to 28 percent inthe latest survey, and his decline from February has been even more sharp.Then, he had the backing of 53 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaningindependents and had a better than 2 to 1 advantage over his closest rival.

Former senator Fred D. Thompson (Tenn.), who formally entered the race lastweek after months of exploration, now stands in second place in the GOPfield, with 19 percent. That is nearly double the support he received in anApril poll taken as he began to express serious interest in running.

But for all the anticipation about his candidacy, Thompson is roughly evenwith Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), whose campaign has had to weather strugglesover the Iraq war, immigration and fundraising as well as the resignationsof senior staff members. McCain is at 18 percent in the new poll, arrestinga slow decline that began late last winter.


The Washington Post

September 12, 2007

A General Faces Questions From 5 Potential Bosses


WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 - Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware wanted toknow if Gen. David H. Petraeus would recommend next March, even if thesituation in Iraq did not change, that as many as 160,000 American troopscontinue to be "shot at, killed and maimed" every day.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York observed that the general'sreport on Iraq required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois asked angrily, "At what point do we say,enough?"

Among the 45 senators from two committees who questioned General Petraeus onTuesday, five - four Democrats and one Republican - are running forpresident. The candidates jockeyed among themselves, but zeroed in on thereality that, however the next 16 months unfold, many decisions on troopwithdrawals and political reconciliation in Iraq are likely to fall to the44th president.

In their minds, it might be one of them.

"We have been begging that leadership for the last four and a half years toget their act together," Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut saidwith exasperation about Iraq's political class. Then he put it directly toGeneral Petraeus and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador in Baghdad,who sat at the general's side: "What makes you possibly believe thatanything further like this is going to produce the results that everyoneelse has failed to produce over the previous four and a half years?"



The Washington Post

A Bumper Crop of Inertia

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; A19

The farm legislation proceeding through Congress symbolizes much of what'swrong with Washington. It's government by inertia. We do today what we didyesterday, because politicians draw their power from distributing benefitsand various interest groups feel entitled to receive them -- even if theyserve no defensible public purpose. Our extravagant farm programs capturethe absurdity as well as any other.

Since 1970, farm subsidies have totaled $578 billion, according to thehistorical tables of the U.S. budget. What has the public gotten for thisvast outlay? Not much. Food would be produced without subsidies. Roughly 90percent of commodity payments go to farmers raising grains (wheat, corn),soybeans, cotton and rice; these products represent about a fifth of farmcash receipts. Meanwhile, meat, vegetable and fruit producers get no directsubsidies. Does anyone truly think that, without subsidies, Iowa'scornfields and Kansas's wheat fields would go fallow?

If subsidies vanished, some high-cost farms would cut production or switchcrops. Some land values would drop because one source of income (federalpayments) would disappear. Still, food supplies would be ample. The proof:the rest of agriculture that manages without federal largess. In 2005, meatoutput alone (beef, chicken, pork, veal) totaled 86.8 billion pounds.



The Washington Post

The Assault on Petraeus

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; A19

There is a long American tradition of savaging failed generals, from GeorgeMcClellan to William Westmoreland. It is a more novel tactic to attack asuccessful one. Sen. Dick Durbin accuses Gen. David Petraeus of "carefullymanipulating the statistics." Sen. Harry Reid contends, "He's made a numberof statements over the years that have not proven to be factual." Anewspaper ad by includes the taunt: "General Petraeus or GeneralBetray Us?" -- perhaps the first time since the third grade that thisdistinguished commander has been subjected to this level of wit.

Gen. Andrew Jackson probably would have responded to these reflections onhis honor with a series of duels. Gen. Petraeus, in the manner of the modernArmy, patiently answered with a series of facts and charts showing militaryprogress in Iraq that seemed unimaginable even six months ago.

On Petraeus's brief watch, al-Qaeda in Iraq has suffered a major setback. Ithas been cleared out of the main population centers of Anbar province; itscells scattered into the countryside. The resentment of Sunni tribal leadersagainst al-Qaeda's highhanded brutality predated the surge -- but the surgegave those leaders the confidence and ability to oppose al-Qaeda. And thisapproach is showing promise among other Iraqi tribal groups as well.


The Washington Post

Ms. Clinton's $850,000 Bundle

The candidate is returning the money, but the system still needs fixing.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007; A18

NORMAN HSU may turn out to be the best thing that's happened to campaignfinance reform in years. The Hsu episode illuminates how the current systemproduces bad results and why changes need to be made.

Mr. Hsu is a Democratic fundraiser who collected $850,000 for Hillary RodhamClinton's campaign and hundreds of thousands more for other Democrats. He isalso, it turns out, a crook: He pleaded no contest to grand theft in aninvestment fraud scheme and failed to turn up for sentencing in 1992. TheFBI is investigating whether Mr. Hsu, who tried again to flee last week whenhis fugitive status was revealed, was engaging in similarly shady investmentactivities even as he became one of Ms. Clinton's biggest financial backers.The Clinton campaign, after initially returning Mr. Hsu's $23,000 in directdonations but saying it saw no reason to return the contributions hesolicited, plans to toss back the entire bundle now that it has become apolitical hot potato.

The first lesson of the Hsu episode is one that all candidates -- especiallycandidates named Clinton -- ought to have learned after the fundraisingscandals of the 1996 presidential campaign: Beware of fundraisers bearingbig bundles. To some extent, all candidates are at the mercy of theirfinanciers, taking it on faith that the contributions being solicited arenot the product of under-the-table, and illegal, reimbursement schemes. Butthe bigger the bundle, the more diligence is due in checking out thebundler, especially one like Mr. Hsu, whose source of wealth was notobvious, and whose listed occupation changed from one filing with theFederal Election Commission to another.



The Washington Post,0,3113495.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Another $100 billion for Iraq?

Eleven more months of surge would mean $100 billion that could be betterspent elsewhere.
September 12, 2007

Iraq is too important to lose, so we've got to keep on trying, no matter thecost, and though it's not clear when we will succeed.

This is the essence of the two-day report to Congress by Gen. David H.Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The general and theambassador freely admitted that the situation in Iraq is frustrating, thatU.S. military might cannot force Iraqis into the political reconciliationthat is the only basis for real stability, and that it's impossible topredict when Iraqis will be able to run their country themselves.Nevertheless, they argued, the consequences of U.S. troops departing couldbe so horrific -- Iraq turning into an Al Qaeda haven plagued by ethniccleansing and preyed upon by Iran -- that the only prudent course is to keepat least 130,000 soldiers in Iraq at least until July.

President Bush is expected to accept this recommendation in a speechThursday. Despite Democratic protests, it's unlikely that this toothlessCongress will stop him from continuing the de facto occupation of Iraq forthe remainder of his term. We fear this is a grave mistake that willcompound the colossal error of invading Iraq in the first place -- althoughwe fervently hope that Petraeus, Crocker and the courageous people they leadwill somehow manage to prove us wrong.


The Boston Globe

Poll results on surge differ sharply from general's view

Data suggest most view war as failing
By Alan Fram, Associated Press | September 12, 2007

WASHINGTON - The public sees the Iraq war as a failure and thinks the UStroop buildup there has not worked, an Associated Press-Ipsos pollindicated, suggesting the tough sell President Bush faces in asking Congressand voters for more time.

The pessimism expressed in the poll, taken in the days before General DavidPetraeus's long-awaited appearance before Congress, contrasted with thebrighter picture Petraeus offered.

The chief US commander in Iraq told Congress this week that the added 30,000troops have largely achieved their military goals and could probably leaveby next summer, though he said there has been scant political progress.

By 59 percent to 34 percent, more people said they believe history willjudge the Iraq war a complete or partial failure than a success. Thosecalling it a failure included eight in 10 Democrats, three in 10Republicans, and about six in 10 independents, the poll indicated - ominousnumbers for a president who hopes to use a nationally televised addresslater this week to keep GOP lawmakers from joining Democratic calls for awithdrawal.

"It's time to turn the corner in my view, gentlemen," Joseph R. Biden Jr. ofDelaware, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman and a Democraticpresidential candidate, told Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, US ambassador toIraq, as they testified before his panel yesterday. "We should stop thesurge and start bringing our troops home."


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