Tuesday, October 09, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 09, 2007

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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News


Republicans Remain Deeply Distrustful of News Media

Democrats much more positive
October 08, 2007
by Frank Newport

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans in America today remain deeply distrustful ofthe national news media -- in sharp contrast to Democrats, who have a greatdeal more trust in the media's accuracy. Overall, less than half ofAmericans, regardless of partisanship, have a great deal or a fair amount oftrust in the mass media. Nearly half of Americans -- including overthree-quarters of Republicans -- perceive the media as too liberal whilefewer than one in five say the media are too conservative. Americans areless likely to perceive bias in their local news media than in the nationalnews media.

Basic Trust in the Accuracy of the News Media

Gallup's annual Governance poll, updated Sept. 14-16, 2007, uncovered highlevels of distrust today on the part of Americans about most aspects oftheir government, and found a continuation of the high level ofdissatisfaction with the way things are going in the country seen for thepast two years.

Given this generally negative environment, it is not surprising to find thatAmericans also give the mass media low trust and confidence ratings.

The Governance survey shows that only 9% of Americans say they have a greatdeal of trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news "fully,accurately, and fairly," while another 38% say they have a "fair amount" oftrust in the media to do this.

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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News


Phone Jamming Cover-up at DoJ? Conyers Wants Answers

By Paul Kiel - October 5, 2007, 11:58AM

It happened nearly five years ago, but House Judiciary Committee ChairmanJohn Conyers (D-MI) still has plenty of questions about the New Hampshirephone jamming case.

In a letter Wednesday, he asked Acting Attorney General Peter Keisler anumber of questions about the case, focusing in particular on whether theJustice Department has "adequately investigated and prosecuted" the case.You can read the letter here.

On Election Day, 2002, remember, Republicans schemed to jam Democraticget-out-the-vote phone banks (here's our timeline of the scandal). Theexecutive director of the New Hampshire GOP, Charles McGee, who hatched thescheme, subsequently explained that he'd gotten the idea from his time inthe Marines, where he was taught to jam the enemy's communications. BothMcGee and Allen Raymond, who ran the consulting firm that arranged thejamming, pled guilty and have served their time.

The case moved slowly -- the pleas not occurring until June of 2004. And itwasn't until after the 2004 election that James Tobin, who'd been theRepublian National Committee's New England Regional Political Director, wasindicted for his role in the conspiracy. He was ultimately convicted, butthen the verdict was reversed on appeal. Tobin will go to trial again thisDecember.

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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News


Britain 'on board' for US strikes on Iran

By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 2:31am BST 09/10/2007

British defence officials have held talks with their Pentagon counterpartsabout how they could help out if America chose to bomb Iran.

Gordon Brown 'will back air strikes on Iran'
The man who stands between US and new war
Michael Burleigh: Drum beaters for Iran war should think again

Washington sources say that America has shelved plans for an all-outassault, drawn up to destroy the Iranian nuclear facilities and take out theIslamist regime.

The US is planning a strike on Iran's Revolutionary Guards

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that President Bush's White House nationalsecurity council is discussing instead a plan to launch pinpoint attacks onbases operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds force, blamed fortraining Iraqi militants.

Pentagon officials have revealed that President Bush won an understandingwith Gordon Brown in July that Britain would support air strikes if theycould be justified as a counter-terrorist operation.

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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News


Iraq: Criticism Of U.S. Senate's Partition Resolution Echoes Across ArabWorld

By Kathleen Ridolfo

October 4, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Senate's passage of a nonbindingresolution calling for a formal separation of Iraq's 18 governorates intothree autonomous regions that would reflect the country's largestethnicities has sparked a massive outcry both inside Iraq and across theArab world, with critics suggesting the United States has overstepped itsrole in Iraq.

The resolution, co-sponsored by Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware)and Senator Sam Brownback (Republican, Kansas), passed last week with abipartisan vote of 75-23, calling for a decentralized, federal system inIraq with a limited role for the central government.

In a statement posted to his website on October 1 clarifying the intent ofthe resolution, Biden noted: "First, the Biden-Brownback amendment does notcall for the partition of Iraq. To the contrary, it calls for keeping Iraqtogether by bringing to life the federal system enshrined in itsconstitution.... Second, the amendment is not a foreign imposition. Iraqisalready have made the decision to decentralize in their constitution andfederalism law." Moreover, he contended, "the amendment will not produce"bloodshed and suffering" in Iraq."

Arousing Sunni Sensibilities

Nevertheless, criticism of the bill has filled editorial pages across theArab world, and has widely been interpreted as an imperialistic attempt todecide both Iraq's and the region's fate. Iraq's neighboring Arab states,which are dominated by Sunnis already threatened by the rise of aShi'ite-led government in Baghdad, viewed the resolution as an attempt tofurther solidify the fragmentation that exists in Iraq today, and byassociation, influence the future shape and composition of regional states.Radio Free Iraq talked to Iraqi politicians and people on the street fortheir reactions to the Senate resolution.

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Forwarded from Victoria Lavin
Daily Queer News


Bush's torturers follow where the Nazis led

October 7, 2007
Andrew Sullivan

I remember that my first response to the reports of abuse and torture atGuantanamo Bay was to accuse the accusers of exaggeration or deliberatedeception. I didn't believe America would ever do those things. I'd alsosupported George W Bush in 2000, believed it necessary to give the presidentthe benefit of the doubt in wartime, and knew Donald Rumsfeld as a friend.

It struck me as a no-brainer that this stuff was being invented by the farleft or was part of Al-Qaeda propaganda. After all, they train captives tolie about this stuff, don't they? Bottom line: I trusted the president in atime of war to obey the rule of law that we were and are defending. And thenI was forced to confront the evidence.

From almost the beginning of the war, it is now indisputable, the Bushadministration made a strong and formative decision: in the absence of goodintelligence on the Islamist terror threat after 9/11, it would do what noAmerican administration had done before. It would torture detainees to getinformation.

This decision was and is illegal, and violates America's treaty obligations,the military code of justice, the United Nations convention against torture,and US law. Although America has allied itself over the decades with someunsavoury regimes around the world and has come close to acquiescing totorture, it has never itself tortured. It has also, in liberating the worldfrom the evils of Nazism and communism, and in crafting the Genevaconventions, done more than any other nation to banish torture from theworld. George Washington himself vowed that it would be a defining mark ofthe new nation that such tactics, used by the British in his day, would beanathema to Americans.

But Bush decided that 9/11 changed all that. Islamists were apparently moredangerous than the Nazis or the Soviets, whom Americans fought and defeatedwithout resorting to torture. The decision to enter what Dick Cheney called"the dark side" was made, moreover, in secret; interrogators who had no ideahow to do these things were asked to replicate some of the methods USsoldiers had been trained to resist if captured by the Soviets or Vietcong.

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The New York Times


Democrats Seem Ready to Extend Wiretap Powers

October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - Two months after insisting that they would roll backbroad eavesdropping powers won by the Bush administration, Democrats inCongress appear ready to make concessions that could extend some crucialpowers given to the National Security Agency.

Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval ofthe broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congressrushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may notcome up with enough votes to stop approval.

As the debate over the eavesdropping powers of the National Security Agencybegins anew this week, the emerging measures reflect the reality confrontingthe Democrats.

Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remainnervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strictcurbs on gathering intelligence.

A Democratic bill to be proposed on Tuesday in the House would maintain forseveral years the type of broad, blanket authority for N.S.A. eavesdroppingthat the administration secured in August for six months.



The New York Times


Op-Ed Contributor
Captives of the Supply Side

October 9, 2007

REMEMBER the Republican presidential debate a few months ago, when threecandidates raised their hands to indicate they didn't believe in evolution?Something just as laughable is likely to happen today, at the firstRepublican debate on the economy. Every candidate will probably embrace themyth that cutting taxes increases government revenues. At the very least, noone will denounce it as a falsehood.

It's been said for years that the Republican nominating process iscontrolled by social conservatives, and that any aspiring nominee mustkowtow to their demands. But this year's Republican primary is making itincreasingly clear that a different tiny minority - the economic far right -truly calls the shots.

Last year, Senator John McCain earned widespread ridicule for publiclyembracing Jerry Falwell, whom he had once described as "evil." But anequally breathtaking turnabout occurred earlier in the year, when Mr. McCainembraced the Bush tax cuts he had once denounced as an unaffordable giveawayto the rich. In an interview with National Review, Mr. McCain justified hisreversal by saying, "Tax cuts, starting with Kennedy, as we all know,increase revenues." It was the political equivalent of Galileo concedingthat the Sun does indeed revolve around the Earth.

Mr. McCain is not alone. Every major Republican contender - Rudy Giuliani,Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney - has said that the Bush tax cuts have causedgovernment revenues to rise. No prominent Republican office-seeker darechallenge this dogma for fear of offending the economic far right.



The New York Times


Supreme Court Won't Hear Torture Appeal

October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 - A German citizen who said he was kidnapped by theCentral Intelligence Agency and tortured in a prison in Afghanistan lost hislast chance to seek redress in court today when the Supreme Court declinedto consider his case.

The justices' refusal to take the case of Khaled el-Masri let stand a March2 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, inRichmond, Va. That court upheld a 2006 decision by a federal district judge,who dismissed Mr. Masri's lawsuit on grounds that trying the case couldexpose state secrets.

"We recognize the gravity of our conclusions that el-Masri must be denied ajudicial forum for his complaint," Judge Robert B. King wrote in March for aunanimous three-judge panel. "The inquiry is a difficult one, for it pitsthe judiciary's search for truth against the executive's duty to maintainthe nation's security."

The ordeal of Mr. Masri, who is of Lebanese descent, was the mostextensively documented case of the C.I.A.'s controversial practice of"extraordinary rendition," in which terrorism suspects are abducted and sentfor interrogation to other countries, including some in which torture ispracticed. The episode caused hard feelings between the United States andGermany, whose diplomatic ties were already frayed because of differencesover the war in Iraq.

Mr. Masri contended in his suit that he was seized by local law enforcementofficials while vacationing in Macedonia on New Year's Eve 2003. At thetime, he was 41 years old and an unemployed car salesman.

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The New York Times


Op-Ed Columnist
High-Stakes Flimflam

October 9, 2007

It's time to rein in the test zealots who have gotten such a stranglehold onthe public schools in the U.S.

Politicians and others have promoted high-stakes testing as a panacea thatwould bring accountability to teaching and substantially boost the classroomperformance of students.

"Measuring," said President Bush, in a discussion of his No Child LeftBehind law, "is the gateway to success."

Not only has high-stakes testing largely failed to magically swing open thegates to successful learning, it is questionable in many cases whether thetests themselves are anything more than a shell game.

Daniel Koretz, a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, toldme in a recent interview that it's important to ask "whether you can trustimprovements in test scores when you are holding people accountable for thetests."

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The New York Times


The Public's Right to Know

October 9, 2007

Efforts to enact a federal shield law for journalists have passed a critical milestone in the Senate. By a 15-to-2 vote, the Judiciary Committee approvedlegislation sponsored by Senators Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania,and Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, to grant reporters limitedprotection against being forced to reveal confidential sources in federalcourt.

The measure, the Free Flow of Information Act, offers reporters and theirconfidential sources weaker protection in the broad realm of nationalsecurity than a bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee in August -weaker than we would have liked.

But some compromise was necessary to reassure wavering senators that ajournalist's pledge of confidentiality would not be allowed to trump publicsafety and to give the measure a realistic chance of passage.

Senator Schumer deserves particular credit for his advocacy on behalf of thebill during the committee's deliberations. Thanks largely to his efforts,the measure emerged from the committee without further watering down itsprincipled protection of robust reporting and Americans' right to know aboutthe doings of their government. His continued leadership will be essentialas the measure moves to being considered by the full Senate and House.

The next showdown could come soon. Buoyed by the Senate Judiciary Committee'svote last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says she aims to have theHouse take up the shield bill by the end of the year.

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The New York Times


Britain to Halve Its Force in Iraq

October 9, 2007

LONDON, Oct. 8 - Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the House of Commons onMonday that he would remove half of the 5,000 British troops in Iraq by nextspring, and left open the strong possibility that all British soldiers wouldleave Iraq by the end of 2008.

Mr. Brown said the cuts were possible because of what he described as theprogress made in training Iraqi security forces. He described the situationin Basra in southern Iraq, where the British troops are based, as "calmer."

Since President Bush has made clear that American troops will remain heavilycommitted in Iraq at least through his administration's end in January 2009, it appears that the tight alliance on Iraq forged between Mr. Brown'spredecessor, Tony Blair, and Washington is fraying. Indeed, a hallmark ofMr. Brown's three months as prime minister has been the relative distance hehas established with the American president.

The timetable of reductions appears to fit neatly into the calculus of aBritish general election that is now expected to be held in 2009. Britain'srole as America's largest military partner has been highly unpopular amongvoters, and as Mr. Brown spoke, thousands of protesters gathered outsideParliament chanting slogans calling for immediate withdrawal.

Mr. Brown visited British troops stationed at their base outside Basra lastweek, and announced then that 1,000 troops would be going home.

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The Washington Post


Still Losing the AIDS Fight

By Richard Holbrooke
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A17

On the day you read this column, an estimated 12,000 people worldwide willcontract HIV. Ninety percent of them, about 10,800 people, will not learnthey are infected until full-blown AIDS hits them -- in 2015. Until then,those people will unintentionally spread the virus that lies silently withineach of them.

But on Dec. 1, the 19th annual World AIDS Day, political leaders andinternational health officials will, once again, tell the world thatalthough the fight is far from over, progress is being made. The fight isindeed far from over -- but don't believe the second half of suchstatements.

It is heartening that more than 2 million HIV-positive people are onlifesaving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), thanks to generous programs from theUnited States, the European Union, the Global Fund, the Gates and Clintonfoundations, and others. Americans should take pride in the fact that, withofficial aid of over $13 billion since 2003, the United States has led theworld in a manner that evokes generous programs of the past such as theMarshall Plan.

But real progress must be measured by the only criterion that ultimatelymatters: Is the number of people who are HIV-positive declining? The answeris a resounding no. The number of people infected each day still faroutpaces the number of people going on treatment each day. Anthony Fauci,the famed director of the National Institute of Allergy and InfectiousDiseases at the National Institutes of Health, has stated the case indramatic terms. Speaking in July at an international conference, Fauci said:"For every one person that you put in therapy, six new people get infected.So we're losing that game." He went on to say, "Clearly, prevention must beaddressed in a very forceful way."

As a strategy to defeat HIV-AIDS, focusing primarily on treatment will neversucceed; it can only keep (some of the) people already infected alive, andthen only as long as they take ARVs every day for the rest of their lives.(If they stop taking ARVs, even for a few days, their infection willprobably become drug-resistant.)

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The Washington Post


Which Black America?

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A17

What do Fox News polemicist Bill O'Reilly, nappy-headed radio jock Don Imus,Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the leading Republican presidentialcandidates, the National Urban League, the NAACP and much of the nationalmedia have in common?

They don't see, or don't want to admit, that "black America" is anincreasingly meaningless concept -- nearly as imprecise as just plain"America."

Why is O'Reilly under siege? Because he was shocked to learn that thereexists in this country an upscale black-owned restaurant with an affluentAfrican American clientele. Four or five decades ago, you could reasonablygeneralize that "black America" was poor. Today, African Americans controlnearly $800 billion in annual purchasing power -- enough to dineoccasionally at restaurants that have tablecloths.

Why did Imus get fired by CBS and NBC? Because now there are senior blackprofessionals in both of those companies with the clout to march into topexecutives' offices and argue that Imus had to go. Also because Al Roker, anAfrican American who happens to be one of the stars of "Today" -- oftendescribed as the most profitable show in all of television -- calledpublicly for Imus's head, or at least his cowboy hat.

Why does Thomas, in his pugnacious autobiography, insist that he's beingpersecuted for holding views that are somehow off-limits to black Americans?Apparently, it would destroy his sense of his own exceptionalism toacknowledge the many African Americans who share his conservative socialviews and his ethic of personal responsibility and self-help. (He's right,though, that on the subject of affirmative action, most black Americans dothink he's nuts.) Why do the leading Republican candidates simply write offthe African American vote, even though there's clearly a growing number ofblack voters who demographically fit the Republican profile? Hasn't the GOPnoticed that here in the Washington area -- we're in the vanguard, but othercities are following our lead -- more African Americans live in the suburbsthan in the city proper?

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The Washington Post


Bartlett on the GOP Field: A Hick, a "Dud" and a "Flip-Flopper"

One of President Bush's closest advisers has a brutally candid analysis ofthe Republican nomination battle: Fred Thompson is the campaign's "biggestdud," Mitt Romney has "a real problem in the South" because people will notvote for a Mormon, Mike Huckabee's last name is too hick and John McCaincould end up repeating 2000 by winning New Hampshire but losing thenomination.

Dan Bartlett, who stepped down as White House counselor in July afterworking nearly his entire adult life for Bush, gave those frank assessmentsof the Republican presidential candidates during a recent appearance beforethe U.S. Chamber of Commerce that went unnoticed outside the room. Neverbefore has Bartlett opened up in a public setting with such an unvarnishedanalysis of the race. And while he no longer formally speaks for thepresident, Bartlett spent 14 years channeling Bush and remains virtually hisalter ego, so his views could be seen as a revealing look into the thinkingwithin the president's inner circle.

Bartlett was harshest in his judgment of Thompson, the former Tennesseesenator who jumped into the contest a month ago and faces his firsttelevised debate today. Thompson, Bartlett said, was the "biggest dud"because he peaked last spring when he first started talking about runningand since then has yet to articulate a compelling vision for why he isrunning. "The biggest liability was whether he had the first in the belly torun for office in the first place and be president," Bartlett said. "So whatdoes he do? He waits four months, fires a bunch of staff, has a big staffturnover, has a lot of backbiting, comes out with his big campaign launchand gives a very incoherent and not very concise stump speech for why he'srunning for president."

Bartlett held out little hope that Thompson could win the nomination."Unless they really find a way to crystallize his message for why he'sdifferent than the other candidates, why people should take a second looknow, I don't feel very good that Fred Thompson's going to be the candidatefor my party," he said.

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The Washington Post


Battles, Airstrikes in Pakistan Kill 250

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; 11:39 AM

MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan -- Fighting between Islamic militants and securityforces near the Afghan border has killed as many as 250 people over fourdays _ the deadliest clashes in Pakistan since it threw its support behindthe U.S.-led war on terrorism in 2001, the army said Tuesday.

Airstrikes hit a village bazaar in North Waziristan tribal region on Tuesdayafternoon, killing more than 50 militants and civilians and wounding scoresmore, said resident Noor Hassan. "The bombing destroyed many shops andhomes," Hassan said by telephone from the village of Epi. "We are leaving."

Twelve huge explosions rocked the village and bombs also hit the nearbyvillage of Hader Khel, Hassan said.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad said military aircraft struck "one ortwo places" near the town of Mir Ali _ about 2 1/2 miles from Epi _ andthere were unconfirmed reports that about 50 militants were killed. Heacknowledged that civilians may have been killed, but had no exact numbers.

"We had confirmed reports about the presence of militants, and the air powerwas used to target those militant hideouts," he told The Associated Press.

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The Washington Post


Members Vote to Retain Pastor

The Associated Press
Monday, October 8, 2007; 6:41 AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Members have voted to keep a prominent pastor accused ofmisspending money at a Southern Baptist megachurch.

A lawsuit filed last month by about 50 members of Two Rivers Baptist Churchaccuses the Rev. Jerry Sutton of failing to abide by church rules andpunishing those who question his authority. The suit follows allegationsthat Sutton spent church money on his daughter's wedding reception.

Members voted 1,101-286 during the church's services Sunday.

Sutton acknowledged Sunday that some church members might choose to leave asa result of the vote.

"If they do go somewhere else, I hope they're happy," Sutton said. "I'mconvinced that when all this is over, what some intended for evil, God meantfor good."

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The Washington Post


Mich. Primary Move Splits Democrats
Candidates Stay Away, but Others Say State's Voice Should Match Its Size

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; A06

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 8 -- For Debbie Dingell and Sen. Carl M. Levin, thestandoff has been brewing for years. The Michigan Democrats have longworked, mostly behind the scenes, to change an electoral calendar thatplaces vast importance on results in Iowa and New Hampshire, states thatbear little resemblance to the industrial heartland.

"There's just no possible justification for one or two states that are notparticularly representative to have a dominant role in this process. It'snot fair to other states," Levin said in a telephone interview. "Why thehell do New Hampshire and Iowa have a claim to the attention to theirissues?"

Republican presidential candidates will be standing on a Dearborn stageTuesday afternoon, discussing manufacturing, jobs and the U.S. economy.Democrats, meanwhile, are shunning Michigan in retaliation for the state'sdecision to elbow its way into the early primary lineup. When Michigan movedits primary to Jan. 15, leaders in New Hampshire and Iowa leaned on theDemocratic principals to stay away.

The result is a tangle, with the Democratic National Committee vowing not toseat any convention delegates Michigan chooses that day and Democraticpresidential candidates facing a deadline of Tuesday to decide whether toremain on the ballot here.

Those behind Michigan's move are warning candidates that removing theirnames would be risky.

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Orlando Sentinel


Fewer blacks opt for Army

More job choices, unpopular war blamed
Darryl E. Owens
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 9, 2007

A growing number of blacks in Florida and nationwide are spurning the U.S.armed forces.

Recruiters blame disaffection with the war in Iraq, concerns about beingkilled or maimed, increased job opportunities at home and parents and otheradvisers in black communities steering young people away from the military.

Fabienne Elie, a senior at Evans High School in Orlando, is considering herpost-high-school options -- and marching into the military isn't one ofthem, she said.

"I know why we started the war," said Fabienne, 17, "but I don't think itshould have gone on that long, with so many people dying. I don't see thereason for them to die." Serving, she said, is "not something I'm interestedin."

In 2001, nearly 51,500 blacks signed on for active duty and the Reserve.Five years later, that number had plunged 38 percent to less than 32,000,according to Pentagon numbers compiled recently by The Associated Press.

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Boston Globe


Thompson may be focus of debate in Michigan
October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON - Fred Thompson, a veteran actor but a newcomer to presidentialpolitics, steps onto a debate stage today for the first time in a decade.

Although nine Republicans will take part in the two-hour forum in Dearborn,Mich., the focus will be on Thompson, a former Tennessee senator. He will bepositioned on stage between top GOP rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

A late entry into the race, Thompson has sometimes struggled to answerquestions on the campaign trail in his initial weeks as a full-fledgedcandidate. And the last time he engaged in a political debate was 1996during his successful Senate reelection campaign.

Over the past two weeks, Thompson has held seven to nine debate sessions athis McLean, Va., campaign headquarters outside Washington, aides said. Ineach session, Thompson would answer timed questions on a variety ofsubjects. Aides then would review answers with him.

Among those helping: former New York senator Alfonse D'Amato, who has playedRudy Giuliani.

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Boston Globe


Many warming unexpectedly to Clinton
By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff | October 9, 2007

CONCORD, N.H. - Don Schwartz, who describes himself as "a super-Deaniacprogressive type," decided to back Hillary Clinton - whose centrist views,he concedes, do not necessarily match his own - for a simple reason. Hewanted, finally, to be with a winner.

When Schwartz, the vice chairman of the Londonderry Democratic committee,started to contact his neighbors, with a goal of reaching 100 people perweek, he thought he would have to appeal to their respect for her ratherthan their affection.

"I was actually surprised how many people said they were for Hillary,"Schwartz said. "Now, they're getting to know her, and they're starting tolike her. She is a nice person!"

That reaction to the kind feelings the New York senator is able to generatehas been a common one in New Hampshire, where a range of Democrats said lastweek that they are amazed to find themselves falling for the presidentialhopeful.

"I actually like her more than I thought I would," Martha LaFlanne, 49, thevice president of student affairs at New Hampshire Community TechnicalCollege in Berlin. "I think she's proven to be her own woman."

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Chicago Tribune


Romney: Smartest guy in the room

He's a perfectly packaged overachiever with all the answers,but one questionremains: Who is the real Mitt Romney?
By Tim Jones
Tribune national correspondent
9:42 AM CDT, October 9, 2007


Mitt Romney is the earnest, overachieving school kid in the front row, hisright arm thrust high and fingers fluttering in the air, straining to getthe attention of the teacher. Mitt's got the answer. He always does.

Among all the Republican candidates for president, the chronically strivingRomney might be the smartest guy in the room. Armed with a law degree and amaster's of business administration from Harvard, he's the well-preppedanswer man on health care and immigration, and quick-draw responder to theurgent events of the media moment.

Sen. Larry Craig in the airport men's room? Disgusting.

Letting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak? Outrageous.

What to do with Guantanamo? Triple it.

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The Washington Post


Activists See Gains In Quest For Vote
After Setback, D.C. Advocates Look to 2009

By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 9, 2007; B01

In the 1970s, D.C. voting rights activists tried in vain to amend the U.S.Constitution. In 1993, the city's bid for statehood was rebuffed by theHouse. And now a D.C. vote bill has been blocked by Republican senators.

Will the District ever get a vote in Congress?

Proponents remain optimistic. They have revived a movement consideredmoribund just a few years ago. And, although prospects in the currentCongress look dim, many believe next year's national elections could boostDemocrats, who have pushed for more representation for the city.

But the quest remains bedeviled by three problems that have persisted fordecades. First is partisanship: Republicans are reluctant to help createseats in the House or Senate for a strongly Democratic city. Second is alack of national awareness that D.C. residents lack a vote in Congress. And,finally, city dwellers have failed to raise enough of an outcry thatCongress feels pressure to act.

"We're in a better position today than for the last 30 years," said BernardDemczuk, a leading D.C. voting rights activist in the early 1990s. But theissue still hasn't galvanized the city's nearly 600,000 residents, he said.

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The Detroit News


DEARBORN -- For once, Michigan is at the center of the national economicstory -- hosting this afternoon's Republican presidential debate on businessand economic issues, where nine GOP candidates will outline their plans ontaxes, spending and jobs to Michigan voters eager for words of hope for arebound.

Nationally, the story may well be the showing of actor and former TennesseeSen. Fred Thompson, appearing in his first debate since entering the race.The debate will start at 4 p.m. at the Ford Community & Performing Artscenter in Dearborn.

But in Metro Detroit, voters may pay more attention to the talk about taxesand government spending -- an increasingly heated issue of contentionbetween top GOP contenders Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney in the last week.It would be a significant departure from the campaign's current course forany of the front-runners to lay out specific plans to aid Michigan'sbattered auto industry -- even though the Jan. 15 primary places Michigan ata crucial spot in the Republican nominating calendar, right aftertraditional kickoff states Iowa and New Hampshire.

Political analyst Denise DeCook suggests the first candidate to get to theheart of Michigan's struggles may hold an advantage here, where the racelooks like a wide-open four-way contest.

"Iowa and New Hampshire have for years been able to press candidates to bevery specific about the issues important to them," said DeCook of MarketingResource Group, a Lansing-based Republican consulting firm. "I don't thinkit's asking too much of any presidential candidate to be specific aboutwhat's helpful to Michigan."

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The New York Times


Political Memo

The Perils of Playing Front-Runner

October 9, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, ahead in polls andfund-raising and seeking to position herself as the presumptive Democraticpresidential nominee, is doing what candidates in her circumstances like todo: avoiding risky moves, sidestepping clashes with rivals from her ownparty and trying to run simultaneously as a primary and general-electioncandidate.

The strategy reflects a growing confidence among Mrs. Clinton's aides thatshe has so far weathered the intense personal scrutiny her candidacy hasattracted. But it carries risks for any candidate - and particularly for onenamed Clinton, as she has found in recent days.

In trying to appeal both to the Democrats' liberal base and to a morecentrist general-election audience, Mrs. Clinton, like her husband beforeher, risks feeding into the assessment of critics that she is more aboutpolitical calculation than about conviction. The point has been driven homethese past few days in her efforts to present herself as the antiwar hawk:vowing to an audience of Democrats to end the war in Iraq while voting inCongress for a harder line against Iran, a move that some Democrats arguecould lead to another war.

That vote led an Iowa Democrat to challenge her heatedly on Sunday in anexchange that ended with her apologizing for accusing him of being a plantfor a rival campaign. And it was mocked Monday by a statement from theRepublican National Committee that pointedly described it as Mrs. Clinton's"Iran calculation," and condemned by one Democratic opponent, former SenatorJohn Edwards, who suggested that Mrs. Clinton was giving President Bushlicense to wage war in Iran.

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to another Democratic rival, Senator BarackObama, said: "She has straddled a lot of issues, but I think this one was amiscalculation born of a misplaced comfort of where she is in the process.She got caught looking ahead to a general election."

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Chicago Tribune


SEIU Won't Endorse Democratic Candidates

AP Labor Writer
10:05 PM CDT, October 8, 2007


None of the Democratic presidential primary contenders will get theendorsement they've been fervently seeking from the Service EmployeesInternational Union, an especially painful blow to John Edwards.

The union said Monday it won't choose a national candidate for the primaryelections, underscoring divisions that had been apparent among SEIUsupporters of Edwards and the Democrats he trails in national polls: HillaryRodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

"Any one of these candidates would help create a new American dream forworkers and their families," SEIU Secretary Treasurer Anna Burger said.

Instead of making a national endorsement, the union will let its locals makedecisions state by state. And to ensure that there are no conflicts, once anSEIU local has chosen a candidate, the union's activists from that statewill be barred from campaigning in states that have chosen someone else.

"Given the importance of this election, we are encouraging members andleaders to act on their passion for the candidates and get involved on astatewide basis," SEIU President Andy Stern said.

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