Tuesday, September 04, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST September 4, 2007

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A note from Ray and Michael:

We have a fantastice group of pictures showing the relationship of the earth to the sun and the solar system. It's the most graphic representation we have seen. We'll be glad to forward them to you - just send us a note at rays.list@comcast.net The pix help to put our daily issues in perspective.

Best to you!
Ray and Michael


The New York Times


September 4, 2007
The Wrong Answer in Connecticut

Three members of a prominent Cheshire, Conn., family were slain in theirhome in July after being held hostage for hours. The gruesome murders, andthe arrests of two career criminals out on parole for the crime, have leftConnecticut residents justifiably outraged. More than 42,000 people havesigned an online petition advocating that their state pass a "three strikesand you're out" law to force judges to impose lengthy sentences on criminalsconvicted of three felonies. That is the wrong solution, for Connecticut orany state.

There's no question that what befell Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and her twodaughters Hayley and Michaela, was horrific. The state's mishandling of thetwo parolees accused of the crime only compounds the horror.

Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes have long criminal records. Mr.Komisarjevsky has 21 felony convictions, and Mr. Hayes has 17. The Board ofPardons and Parole released Mr. Komisarjevsky despite having woefullyincomplete information. That happens routinely in Connecticut, where for 10years absurd fights over which department should pay photocopying costs keptcriminal records from being shared. Had board members read the judge'scharacterization of Mr. Komisarjevsky's actions as "predatory" they mightnever have released him.

The appeal of a "three strikes and you're out" law is understandable, butthese laws have proven to be blunt instruments that cause more injusticethan they prevent. In California, which has a particularly draconian law, aman who shoplifted $153.54 worth of videotapes was sent to jail for 50years.




Obama Clinton War Of Words Escalates
by The Associated Press
Posted: September 4, 2007 - 9:00 am ET

(Manchester, New Hampshire) Democrat Barack Obama has sharpened his critiqueof lead rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, warning against a return to "divisive,special interest politics" that had demoralized the country even beforePresident Bush took office.

"As bad as this administration has been, it's going to take more than just achange in parties to truly turn this country around," Obama told supportersat a Labor Day rally.

"George Bush and Dick Cheney may have turned divisive, special interestpolitics into an art form, but it was there before they got to Washington.If you and I don't stand up to challenge it, it will be there long after weleave."

It was the latest volley in the "change versus experience" debate that hasdominated the dialogue between Clinton and her top rivals in recent weeks.On Sunday, Clinton unveiled a new campaign speech where she argued that onlya president experienced in the ways of Washington could bring about realpolitical transformation.

Without mentioning Clinton by name, Obama struck back hard at that argument.


The New York Times


September 4, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Center First Gives Way to Center Last
Have you noticed the change in the Iraq debate?

Most American experts and policy makers wasted the past few years assumingthat change in Iraq would come from the center and spread outward. Theysquandered months arguing about the benchmarks that would supposedly inducethe Baghdad politicians to make compromises. They quibbled over whether thisor that prime minister was up to the job. They unrealistically imagined thatpeace would come through some grand Sunni-Shiite reconciliation.

Now, at long last, the smartest analysts and policy makers are starting tothink like sociologists. They are finally acknowledging that the key Iraqifigures are not in the center but in the provinces and the tribes. Peacewill come to the center last, not to the center first. Stability will comenot through some grand reconciliation but through the agglomeration oforder, tribe by tribe and street by street.

The big change in the debate has come about because the surge failed, and itfailed in an unexpected way.

The original idea behind the surge was that U.S. troops would create enoughcalm to allow the national politicians to make compromises. The surge wasintended to bolster the "modern" - meaning nonsectarian and nontribal -institutions in the country.

But the surge is failing, at least politically, because there arepractically no nonsectarian institutions, and there are few nonsectarianleaders to create them. Security gains have not led to political gains.

At the same time, something unexpected happened. As Iraqi national politicsstagnated, the tribes began to take the initiative. The process started inAnbar Province, when the local tribes revolted against Al Qaeda. It hascontinued in Diyala Province and even in Baghdad neighborhoods like Ameriya.In the South, moderate Shiite parties have begun to resist the Sadrists,while in many places local groups that look like mafia families struggle toimpose order on their turf.

In other words, organic local actors - some thuggish, some not - have begunto impose a security structure on parts of the country. Some areindependent, some require assistance from the U.S. troops supplied by thesurge.


The New York Times


September 4, 2007
Lobbying in U.S., Indian Firms Present an American Face

MUMBAI, India - In the heat of the 2004 presidential race in the UnitedStates, John Kerry compared outsourcing to treason, Lou Dobbs haranguedagainst it on CNN and the Indian outsourcing vendors were left scrambling.

Engineers to the core, their leaders fired back with data-packed PowerPointpresentations. Outsourcing is good for the economy, they said. It increasesefficiency. It creates more jobs than it costs. But in the eyes of manyAmericans, those arguments proved no match for accounts of laid-off softwareengineers.

"Telling someone who loses their job in North Carolina or Jacksonville thatthis is good for the economy doesn't work," said Phiroz A. Vandrevala, anexecutive vice president at Tata Consultancy Services, one of the largestIndian vendors, who serves as a Washington strategist for Tata and otherIndian companies.

But if four years is a lifetime in Washington, it is an eternity inBangalore. And as the 2008 campaign starts to pick up speed, the Indianoutsourcing companies have returned to Washington as veritable insiders,slicker and better connected than ever.

They have hired a former official in the Bush administration as a lobbyist.They are humanizing the issue by bringing Americans they have hired intomeetings with politicians.


The Dallas Morning News


The GOP and Latino evangelicals
Candidates' immigration views could alienate a natural group of supporters,
12:00 AM CDT on Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A note here for Mitt, Fred, Rudy and the gang:

You guys gunning for the GOP nomination really should pay attention to theRev. Samuel Rodriguez and the many other Latino evangelicals who think likethe California pastor. They are natural Republicans, but if your party keepsup its anti-immigrant rhetoric, you can forget them coming your way.

The same thing appears true for Republicans like Texas Sen. John Cornyn,who's up for re-election. Based on what I'm hearing, Latino evangelicalswill sit out next year's election or go Democratic.

Mr. Rodriguez presides over the National Hispanic Christian LeadershipConference, which is the sister of the prominent National Association ofEvangelicals. He is plugged in enough to participate in weekly White Houseconference calls.

Those credentials made his recent comments to me sound all the more
problematic for Republicans. If he's right, the GOP's in big trouble with afast-growing part of the conservative religious community. (You can read hiscomments online at dallasnews.com/extra.)

Before we get into why Republicans could be in trouble, let's review somenumbers.


The Washington Post

Israel's Example
Fighting terrorism without sacrificing due process
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A16

NO ONE would say that Israel is soft on terrorism, which makes it all themore fascinating that a country that essentially lives under siege providesso many legal accommodations to those it detains as unlawful combatants.It's a stark contrast to the Bush administration's approach and one theadministration may be able to learn from.

That's essentially the point made by a handful of Israeli law professors andmilitary law experts in a recently filed friend-of-the-court brief inBoumediene v. Bush. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the casethis fall to determine whether the administration has lawfully detained Mr.Boumediene as an enemy combatant.

Mr. Boumediene and five other Algerians who had become Bosnian nationalswere arrested in Bosnia at the behest of the United States in October 2001on suspicion that they were plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy there. InJanuary 2002, the Bosnian courts ordered the release of the detainees afterfinding no basis for the allegations, but the United States demanded and gotcustody of the men. The six have been held at Guantanamo Bay for the past 51/2 years, with limited consultation with lawyers and limited ability tochallenge their detention. The Bush administration argues that non-U.S.citizens detained on foreign soil have no right to the constitutionalprotections enjoyed by Americans. The Supreme Court may yet agree, but thereis little doubt these six detainees would have had a dramatically differentexperience had they been detained by Israel.

In Israel, even noncitizens captured outside the country and designatedunlawful combatants are entitled to due process in Israeli civilian courts.


The Washington Post


The New Anti-Semitism
By Denis MacShane
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A17

Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south andeast of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee ofBritish parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader,that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain. None of us are Jewishor active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of Britishcitizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a thirdare observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagoguesattacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punchedand knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provideprivate security for their weddings and community events. On campuses,militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking toprevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.

More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood andtone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities,among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. Toexpress any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewishstate to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.

Our report sent a shock wave through the British government. Tony Blaircalled us in and told his staff to fan out throughout government departmentsand produce answers to the problems we outlined. To Britain's credit, theBlair administration produced a formal government response setting out toughnew guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and foruniversities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses.Britain's Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allowanti-Jewish broadcasts.


The Washington Post


Good Morning, Vietnam!
By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A17

The most fascinating aspect of George W. Bush's no-holds-barred campaign tokeep Congress from meddling in his foolish and tragic war is the way he hasbegun invoking the Vietnam War -- not as a cautionary lesson about hubrisand futility but as a reason to push ahead (whatever "ahead" might mean) inIraq.

Say what you want about the man, but he's full of surprises -- and I'm nottalking about the unannounced visit he made yesterday to Anbar province.With the pivotal report from Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C.Crocker due to land next week, and with the Iraqi government having madezero progress on political reconciliation, it's no surprise that the Deciderwould decide to be photographed touring the one part of Iraq where he canclaim any measure of success.

But seeking support for the war in Iraq by reminding the nation aboutVietnam? I'd feel better if I thought this was just some exquisitely subtle,deeply cynical gambit, yet I have the sinking feeling that Bush actuallybelieves the nonsensical version of history he's peddling. I fear the man ison a mission to rewrite the past.


The Washington Post


Freed Scholar Recounts Time In Iranian Prison
Esfandiari Relied on Schedule During Solitary Confinement
By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A13

Seeing the sliver of a new moon from her cell became the marker of HalehEsfandiari's solitary confinement, thousands of miles from home and facingan uncertain future.

"I was sitting in my cell and through the bars I saw it and I said, 'Oh, myGod, there is the moon,' " said the Washington scholar, who was allowed toleave Iran early yesterday after being detained there for eight months byauthorities who said she was a national security threat. "A month later Isaw the moon again, and then I saw it a third time. It was quite tough. Iwas lonely and anxious."

In her first interview since leaving Iran, Esfandiari described her time inone of the Middle East's most notorious prisons and how she coped with herconfinement. Esfandiari, director of Middle East programs at the SmithsonianInstitution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, flew fromIran to Vienna, where she met her husband, Shaul Bakhash, and her sister.She said she would rest in Europe before returning soon to her home inPotomac.

Esfandiari, 67, said that she survived solitary confinement by sticking to astrict 10-hour exercise regimen to keep from thinking about the implicationsof the charges against her. Iranian officials said that she was engaged in"crimes against national security" and plotting a "velvet revolution" -- areference to the nonviolent upheavals that ousted communism in EasternEurope -- against the world's only modern theocracy.

The legal status of Esfandiari, a dual citizen of the United States andIran, remains unclear.


The Washington Post


Barack Obama, Drawing the Big Crowds
By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; A05

MILFORD, N.H., Sept. 3 -- As Sen. Barack Obama led a rowdy mob down thestreet here during a Labor Day parade, an organizer wearing a Mitt Romneypin stood on the sidewalk and stared in astonishment.

"It's going to be tough to beat that guy," he said, shaking his head, toanother man with a Romney sign.

Or will it?

Obama (D-Ill.) has not picked up measurable steam in the national pollssince he announced his candidacy more than six months ago. His most obviousstrength has been seen in the money he has raised and in the jaw-droppingsizes of the crowds he draws -- a sign of what his campaign says is itssolid ground organization.

With the unofficial start of the primary season this weekend, Obama soughtto sharpen the distinctions between his campaign and that of Sen. HillaryRodham Clinton (N.Y.), the Democratic front-runner, taking swipes at theWashington establishment and the "cynical math" that he implied othercandidates are using to calculate a narrow victory rather than a broadconsensus.

"There are those who tout their experience working the system inWashington -- but the problem is that the system in Washington isn't workingfor us, and hasn't for a long time," Obama said in a speech in Manchesterbefore marching in the parade here and attending an ice cream social.


The Washington Post


Mitt Romney, Basking In the Momentum
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A05

ASHLAND, N.H., Sept. 3 -- Former senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee willgrab most of the headlines this week as he enters the race for the WhiteHouse, but Mitt Romney likes where he stands in the contest for theRepublican nomination.

"When I started running seven months ago, I was at 5 percent in the nationalpolls," the former Massachusetts governor said at a question-and-answersession here. "Now I won the Iowa straw poll; I'm ahead here in NewHampshire, ahead in Michigan, ahead in the Nevada."


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