Saturday, October 06, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 06, 2007

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The New York Times

Bush Defends Interrogations, Saying Methods Aren't Torture

October 6, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 - President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar overthe disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting theharsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday,declaring, "This government does not torture people."

The remarks, Mr. Bush's first public comments on the memorandums, came at ahastily arranged Oval Office appearance before reporters. It was billed as atalk on the economy, but after heralding new job statistics, Mr. Bushshifted course to a subject he does not often publicly discuss: aonce-secret Central Intelligence Agency program to detain and interrogatehigh-profile terror suspects.

"I have put this program in place for a reason, and that is to betterprotect the American people," the president said, without mentioning theC.I.A. by name. "And when we find somebody who may have informationregarding a potential attack on America, you bet we're going to detain them,and you bet we're going to question them, because the American people expectus to find out information - actionable intelligence so we can help protectthem. That's our job."



The New York Times

October 6, 2007

Out of Prison and Deep in Debt

With the nation's incarcerated population at 2.1 million and growing - andcorrections costs topping $60 billion a year - states are rightly lookingfor ways to keep people from coming back to prison once they get out.Programs that help ex-offenders find jobs, housing, mental health care anddrug treatment are part of the solution. States must also end the Dickensianpractice of saddling ex-offenders with crushing debt that they can neverhope to pay off and that drives many of them right back to prison.

The scope of the ex-offender debt problem is outlined in a new studycommissioned by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance andproduced by the Council of State Governments' Justice Center. The study,"Repaying Debts," describes cases of newly released inmates who have beengreeted with as much as $25,000 in debt the moment they step outside theprison gate. That's a lot to owe for most people, but it can beinsurmountable for ex-offenders who often have no assets and whose pooreducations and criminal records prevent them from landing well-paying jobs.



The New York Times

October 5, 2007

Misleading Spin on Children's Health

Trying to justify his ideologically driven veto of a bill to expand theState Children's Health Insurance Program, President Bush and his staff havefired a barrage of misinformation about this valuable program. Before theHouse votes on whether to override the veto, all members - especially thosefrom Mr. Bush's party who say they are concerned about millions of uninsuredchildren - must look behind the rhetoric.

Mr. Bush stretched the truth considerably when he told an audience inLancaster, Pa., that he has long been a strong supporter of the S-chipprogram. "I supported it as governor, and I support it as president of theUnited States," he said. As governor of Texas, Mr. Bush fought -unsuccessfully - to restrict the state's program to children with familyincomes up to 150 percent of the poverty level, well below the 200 percentallowed by federal law. As president, he is again trying to shrink theprogram for the entire country. His proposed five-year budget does notprovide enough to continue enrollments at current levels, let alone covermillions of the uninsured.



The Washington Post

North Korean Mystery

By Jim Hoagland
Sunday, October 7, 2007; B07

Two big questions hang over the new agreement to contain North Korea'snuclear weapons program at its current level -- whatever that level is.

Why has a secretive government addicted to power politics and flexing itsmilitary muscles abruptly turned to negotiations and peaceful compromise?

And why is North Korea doing the same?

The Bush administration, of course, cannot match Kim Jong Il's regime inparanoia, bellicosity and information control, although this White Houseseems at times to have been tempted to try. Other countries know next tonothing about Pyongyang's motivations, intentions or even its ability tocarry out any agreement it makes.

This deepens the Washington end of this great strategic mystery: Why isPresident Bush accepting the promises of a regime he has regularlyexcoriated -- at a time when officials in his administration make a crediblecase that North Korea has just been caught helping Syria with nucleartechnology?

North Korea's desperation as its economy implodes and its people starve isclearly part of the answer. Pyongyang's plight has helped U.S. negotiatorChristopher Hill get an agreement that he believes can be verified andenforced. Timing is also everything for Bush, who is reaching for diplomaticsuccesses before his presidency ends.



Forwarded from Pew Research Center

Go to the website, above, for the following articles

World Publics Welcome Global Trade -- But Not Immigration
The publics of the world broadly embrace key tenets of economicglobalization but fear the disruptions and downsides of participating in theglobal economy. In rich countries as well as poor ones, most people endorsefree trade, multinational corporations and free markets. However, the latestPew Global Attitudes survey of more than 45,000 people in 47 countries findsthey are concerned about inequality, threats to their culture, threats tothe environment and the threats posed by immigration. Read more

Religion and Politics
Young White Evangelicals: Less Republican, Still Conservative
An analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted between 2001 and 2007suggests that young white evangelicals have become increasingly dissatisfiedwith President Bush and are moving away from the GOP. How will these changesaffect the vote in 2008 and beyond? Read more


Boston Herald

Slain soldier told kin to investigate if she died

By Mike Underwood | Wednesday, October 3, 2007 |

The Quincy soldier mysteriously slain by a bullet to the head on a secureAfghanistan airbase feared something might happen to her after discovering"something she didn't like," her devastated family revealed.

Massachusetts National Guard Spc. Ciara Durkin, 30, was found with a singlegunshot wound to her head behind a building at Bagram Airbase on Sept. 27.

"The last time she was home she said she had seen things that she didn'tlike and she had raised concerns that had annoyed some people," said Durkin's sister Fiona Canavan, 44, of Quincy.

"She said, and I thought she was joking, that if anything happened to her wehad to investigate."

Canavan said she did not know what her baby sister had seen or whom she hadtold, and she rejected the notion that Durkin committed suicide. Themilitary has not answered the family's questions about her death, she added.

Publicly, the military will only say her death is under investigation.

Canavan said Durkin was openly gay, but she did not believe that hadanything to do with her death.

Bay State political leaders are also demanding answers from the U.S.military's top brass.



Israel's Toy Soldiers

Posted on Oct 1, 2007
By Chris Hedges

If you are a young Muslim American and head off to the Middle East for aspell in a fundamentalist "madrassa," or religious school, Homeland Securitywill probably greet you at the airport when you return. But if you are anAmerican Jew and you join hundreds of teenagers from Europe and Mexico foran eight-week training course run by the Israel Defense Forces, you can postyour picture wearing an Israeli army uniform and holding an automatic weaponon MySpace.

The Marva program, part summer camp part indoctrination, was launched inIsrael in 1981. It allows participants, who must be Jewish and between theages of 18 and 28, to fire weapons, live in military barracks in the Negevdesert and saunter around in an Israeli military uniform saluting and takinglong hikes with military packs. The Youth and Education Corps of the IsraelDefense Forces run four 120-strong training sessions a year.

"Upon arrival, the participants experience an abrupt change into army life:wearing uniforms, accepting army discipline, and learning the programs andlessons integral to the program," the Let Israelis Show You Israel Web sitereads. "The program includes military content such as: navigation, fieldtraining, weapons training, shooting ranges, marches and more, as well aseducational content such as: Zionism, Jewish Identity, history and knowledgeof the land of Israel. All of this is taught in Hebrew in an intensiveeight weeks."



Catholic Neocons on the run?

Neocon Catholic leaders nurtured by GOP and Conservative Philanthropyon their heels

In the 2004 presidential election cycle, Catholics, whose vote wasconsidered open to both parties, were carefully courted by the Republicans.GOP organizers -- accompanied by their neoconservative Catholic brethren --brought the "traditional family values" mantra to the table, highlightingsupposed agreement between Catholics and conservative evangelical Christianson two major issues -- abortion and same-sex marriage.

In the actual election, Republican George W. Bush wound up receiving52 percent of the Catholic vote, up from 47 percent in 2000, to John Kerry's47 percent.

In 2006, however, Catholics, who compose a 67 million-person slice ofthe electorate, favored Democrats by 55 percent to 45 percent, according toNational Election Pool exit polls.

It was clear that some Catholic voters had migrated back to theDemocratic Party. Was it a temporary move or were they heading home for thelong term?

GOP builds Catholic leaders and institutions
Jeff Diamant of Religion News Service reported that "Catholic votingpatterns varied by state, but the overall shift helped Democrats in severalbig states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to John Green, a seniorfellow at Washington's Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life."



Are Clinton, Obama, Edwards All The Same?

The Nation: Despite What Fans Say, Differences Between Top Three Dems Aren'tClear

(The Nation) This column was written by Katha Pollitt.

The other night I got an irate e-mail from an old acquaintance on the left.He was furious because I'd quipped in an interview that if people didn'tstop making sexist comments about Hillary Clinton, I might just have to votefor her. Maybe he missed the ironic conditional: He thought I supported her.He went on to excoriate Clinton: she is militaristic and ultranationalistic;she would carry on Bush's policy of a long-term occupation of Iraq, defineforeign policy around the "war on terror," support the hard-liners in Israeland promote the centrist-Democratic, left-smashing ideology of the DLC. Weneed to rebuild the left, he concluded, and that's why he wassupporting...Barack Obama.

If you get your news from the progressive media, especially the Web, youwould think large fields of ideological difference separate Clinton, Obamaand Edwards. I haven't decided who I'm voting for. I would love to see aDemocratic woman president; I'm not ashamed to say that. I'd love to see aDemocratic black president too. But obviously - I shouldn't have to saythis - what matters is what the candidates stand for and to whom they'll bebeholden if elected. My problem is the three don't look so far apart to me -certainly not enough to justify demonizing one and canonizing another, as myleft-wing correspondent does.



Romney increases overtures to disenchanted evangelicals

By Michael Kranish, Globe Staff | October 5, 2007

WASHINGTON - Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has stepped up hisefforts to woo evangelicals in response to the threat by some Christianconservative leaders to back a third-party candidate.

The third-party threat grew yesterday after a key evangelical leader, JamesDobson, said that he and other social conservatives had agreed to support a"minor party" candidate if the Republicans choose a presidential nominee whois not conservative enough.

Dobson's statement is viewed as significant in the Romney campaign becauseDobson has ruled out supporting GOP candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani,and Fred Thompson, but has left open the possibility of supporting Romney.

"Dr. Dobson is keeping an open mind on Mitt Romney, and I think that isbecause they do share in common so many values," Romney spokesman EricFehrnstrom said yesterday.

Dobson, the leader of the high-profile Focus on the Family, whose radioprogram has 1.5 million listeners, did not respond to a request for commentyesterday.

Romney has sought for more than a year to convince evangelicals that theyshould support him despite their concerns about his Mormon faith, which manyevan gelicals see as a non-Christian religion, and his past support forabortion rights and some forms of gay rights.


The New York Times

October 6, 2007
News Analysis

A Battle Foreshadowing a Larger Health Care War


WASHINGTON, Oct. 5 - The debate now raging here over the children's healthinsurance program offers a cautionary lesson to Democrats running forpresident. It shows how hard it will be to persuade many Republicans to signon to their vision of universal coverage.

If Democrats and Republicans had so much difficulty agreeing on a plan tocover 10 million children, most of them from low-income families, how canthey ever agree on legislation to guarantee insurance for 250 million or 300million people?

Many of the questions that provoked fierce argument in the battle over thechild health bill would be even more divisive in a debate over universalcoverage: Should the government subsidize insurance for middle-incomepeople? How much government involvement is too much? How much should thegovernment spend, and who should foot the bill?



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