Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 16, 2007

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Cancer death rates are dropping faster than ever

The Associated Press
October 15, 2007


Good news on the cancer front: Death rates are dropping faster than ever,thanks to new progress against colorectal cancer.

A turning point came in 2002, scientists conclude today in the annual"Report to the Nation"on cancer. Between 2002 and 2004, death rates droppedby an average of 2.1 percent a year.

That may not sound like much, but between 1993 and 2001, deaths ratesdropped on average 1.1 percent a year.

The big change was a two-pronged gain against colorectal cancer.

While it remains the nation's No. 2 cancer killer, deaths are droppingfaster for colorectal cancer than for any other malignancy - by almost 5percent a year among men and 4.5 percent among women.

more . . . . .




Thompson says he's the real conservative

Posted on Tue, Oct. 16, 2007

Presidential hopeful Fred Thompson cast himself Monday as the consistentRepublican conservative in the race and suggested during a speech on RudyGiuliani's home turf that the former New York mayor was a liberal."Some think the way to beat the Democrats next year is to be more like them.I could not disagree more," Thompson told the Conservative Party of NewYork.

"My friends, I suggest it's not time for psychological flexibilities interms of our principles. That's the surefire way of making sure we don'twin," he added.

The former Tennessee senator didn't mention Giuliani, but was trying to drawa contrast with the opponent who leads in national Republican polls. UnlikeThompson, Giuliani supports abortion and gay rights. Giuliani also was oncea Democrat. And, the ex-mayor's central argument for Republicans to nominatehim is that he has the best chance of winning in November 2008.

Thompson was more direct in an interview on Fox News Channel before thespeech.

more . . . . .


The New York Times


Low in Polls, Bush Makes More Time for Friendly Crowds

October 16, 2007

ROGERS, Ark., Oct. 15 - Out there in the rest of America, polls show thatabout twice as many people disapprove of President Bush as approve of him.But here in a cavernous convention center hall, Mr. Bush found nothing butadmirers Monday when he answered questions during a town-hall-style meeting.

One man began by commending Mr. Bush "on your steadfastness and your faith."Another concluded by saying, "Thank you for being my president for the lastseven years," with an emphasis on the word "my." A third expressed dismaythat Mr. Bush could not run for president again.

"It's time for new blood," Mr. Bush replied. "Plus," he added wryly, "I'd besingle."

The friendly audience in northwest Arkansas - not a single questionercriticized Mr. Bush - is typical of such let-Bush-be-Bush events, which theWhite House is staging with increasing frequency. Mr. Bush's aides like thembecause the president is much better in an informal setting, especially onewhere he can get his message across, conversation-style, without peskyreporters asking the questions.



The New York Times


Polish Party Accused of Anti - Semitic Ad

October 15, 2007
Filed at 2:40 p.m. ET

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- A right-wing party ran a campaign ad Mondaysuggesting Polish lives have been put in danger in Iraq to serve Jewish andU.S. interests, and it immediately drew accusations of anti-Semitism.

The League of Polish Families' TV spot shows President Lech Kaczynski, firstat a meeting with President Bush, and then with Orthodox Jews at Israel'sWailing Wall, where he dons a yarmulke. The words ''Our allies'' are flashedacross the screen, followed by: ''They put us in the line of attack.''

A grim voiceover then warns: ''It is our nation that is going to fallvictim. Let the nation decide.''

The advertisement -- part of campaigning for Sunday's general election --sparked a firestorm of criticism. Jacek Kurski, a lawmaker with thegoverning Law and Justice party, slammed it as ''a pathetic masquerade''that was ''seasoned with some anti-Semitism.''

League of Polish Families leader Roman Giertych defended the spot, saying itwas not anti-Semitic while insisting there is a connection between the warin Iraq and Israel.



The Washington Post


Who's Really a Real Republican?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007; A08

Mitt Romney created a stir over the weekend with his assertion that hespeaks for "the Republican wing of the Republican Party." His comment drew aswift rebuke from Sen. John McCain, who challenged the former Massachusettsgovernor's conservative credentials. But Romney may have raised a morepertinent question: Just what is the Republican wing of the RepublicanParty?

Romney did not intend to set off a discussion about the future of the GOP.His goal was more practical: to separate himself from his most worrisomerival, Rudy Giuliani, by claiming he represents the party's mainstreamvalues in a way that the socially liberal former mayor of New York cannot.

Then McCain intruded on the Romney-Giuliani spat, citing Romney's checkered Republican past to question whether he should be trusted to lead the partyin 2008. He noted that Romney had contributed money to a Democratic Senatecandidate in 1992, had voted for Democrat Paul Tsongas in the 1992presidential primary, had failed to endorse the Republicans' Contract WithAmerica as a Senate candidate in 1994 and had distanced himself from theReagan years in that same campaign.

"So you'll understand why I'm a little perplexed when Mitt Romney nowsuggests that he's a better Republican than me, or that he speaks for theRepublican wing of the Republican Party," McCain said.



The New York Times


Tough, Sad and Smart

October 16, 2007
Op-Ed ColumnistBy

They are a longtime odd couple, Bill Cosby and Harvard's Dr. AlvinPoussaint, and their latest campaign is nothing less than an effort to savethe soul of black America.

Mr. Cosby, of course, is the boisterous veteran comedian who has spent thelast few years hammering home some brutal truths about self-destructivebehavior within the African-American community.

"A word to the wise ain't necessary," Mr. Cosby likes to say. "It's thestupid ones who need the advice."

Dr. Poussaint is a quiet, elegant professor of psychiatry who, in public atleast, is in no way funny. He teaches at the Harvard Medical School and is astaff member at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston, where he seeskids struggling in some of the toughest circumstances imaginable.

I always wonder, whenever I talk to Dr. Poussaint, why he isn't betterknown. He's one of the smartest individuals in the country on issues ofrace, class and justice.

For three years, Mr. Cosby and Dr. Poussaint have been traveling thecountry, meeting with as many people as possible to explore the problemsfacing the black community.

There is a sense of deep sadness and loss - grief - evident in both men overthe tragedy that has befallen so many blacks in America. They were on "Meetthe Press" for the entire hour Sunday, talking about their new book, a cride coeur against the forces of self-sabotage titled, "Come On, People: Onthe Path From Victims to Victors."



The New York Times


A Still, Small Voice

October 16, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Deborah Pryce, the Republican congresswoman,in her Washington office. There was a doll propped up against a windowsill,and I wanted to ask her if it had belonged to her daughter, who died ofcancer at age 9 in 1999. But that question seemed to trespass on somethingout of bounds, so I asked about her re-election campaign in 2006.

Her Ohio House race had been one of the toughest in the entire country. Andwhen I brought it up, I expected her to talk about the vicious ads that hadbeen run against her.

Instead, she talked about the ads that she had put on the air against heropponent.

"I was appalled by what I had to do," she said. In close races, the nationalparties send teams of professionals to take over campaigns, and thecandidates who resist their efforts generally lose.

When Pryce spoke about the direct-mail letters that went out under her name,she did so with a look of disgust. She said that her friends kept coming toher to complain about the TV ads she was running against her opponent.Finally, her own mother told her she was ashamed of the ads.

The truth is, Pryce's opponents did worse. But it was her own ads that shekept dwelling on, and as she spoke, I could see that she'd been fighting thewar that the best politicians fight - the war within herself to preserve herown humanity.

Politics, as you know, is a tainted profession. Professional politicianscannot serve their country if they do not win their races, and to do thatthey must grapple with a vast array of forces that try to remold and destroywho they are.



The New York Times


An Overblown Fear About S-Chip

October 16, 2007

To hear the Bush administration tell it, expanding the State Children'sHealth Insurance Program would entice hordes of families to drop theirprivate coverage and put their children on the public dole. As the Healthand Human Services secretary, Michael Leavitt, argued in a recent televisionappearance, states that cover middle-income children as well as the poor areessentially telling people to "cancel your private insurance and we'll havethe government pay for it."

There are several things wrong with that claim.

First, nobody who enrolls in S-chip would be living on government handouts.The families would all be paying appropriate premiums and co-payments. It isalso highly unlikely that a lot of people would drop private coverage toenroll in S-chip. States already monitor such substitution and take a numberof steps to deter it.

New York estimates that only about 3 percent of the children enrolled in theprogram came from families that dropped employer coverage to obtain S-chip.Mathematica Policy Research, in a report prepared for the federalgovernment, looked at states across the country and pegged the typicalsubstitution rate at less than 10 percent.

Using a broader methodology and peering into the future, the nonpartisanCongressional Budget Office estimates that the bill vetoed by President Bushwould increase enrollment in S-chip and Medicaid by 5.8 million in 2012. Ofthat total, 3.8 million children would otherwise be uninsured and 2 millionwould be children who could have gotten private insurance in the absence ofS-chip.



The New York Times


A Health Care Bargain

October 16, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

WHEN I look at the presidential candidates talking about the 47 millionuninsured Americans and putting forth their health care reform plans, whatcomes to mind is a scene from December 2003: President Bush at a signingtable at Constitution Hall in Washington, behind him grinning legislatorscelebrate making Medicare Part D the law of the land.

Much was made of the great boon this would be for our older citizens,helping to pay for needed prescription drugs. One might have supposed thatthe generosity of spirit of the president and the lawmakers had beencombined to pay for this gift. They were delighted to claim credit for thisnew entitlement, but no one said a word about the taxpayers who were beinggiven the responsibility to pay for it.

I make so much of this episode because it has become the general case - atacit bipartisan agreement to obscure rather than illuminate the issuessurrounding health care, to pander to voters rather than educate them on theconjoined issues of rights and responsibilities. On many issues, we now havegovernment as an institution apart from the people: of itself, by itself,for itself.



The New York Times


Disguised Silence

October 15, 2007, 9:15 am
By Will Okun

Will Okun is a Chicago school teacher who traveled with Nick Kristof in Juneto central Africa, on the win-a-trip contest. He blogged and vlogged as hewent, and you can see his reports at www.nytimes.com/twofortheroad. Heteaches English and photography in a Chicago school with many students fromlow-income and minority homes.

When is silence not golden?

Last Thursday, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that requires allpublic schools to provide students with a moment of silence at the beginningof the school day.

And, pray tell, how do you think the students are to utilize this moment ofsilence?

Mandated silent prayer in the public schools? No, of course not, that wouldbe illegal. Instead supporters claim the students can use this moment ofsilence as either an opportunity for silent prayer or "for silent reflectionon the anticipated activities of the day."




The New York Times


Failing Schools Strain to Meet U.S. Standard

October 16, 2007

LOS ANGELES - As the director of high schools in the gang-infestedneighborhoods of the East Side of Los Angeles, Guadalupe Paramo strugglesevery day with educational dysfunction.

For the past half-dozen years, not even one in five students at her
teeming high schools has been able to do grade-level math or English. AtAbraham Lincoln High School this year, only 7 in 100 students could. AtWoodrow Wilson High, only 4 in 100 could.

For chronically failing schools like these, the No Child Left Behind law,now up for renewal in Congress, prescribes drastic measures: firing teachersand principals, shutting schools and turning them over to a private firm, acharter operator or the state itself, or a major overhaul in governance.

But more than 1,000 of California's 9,500 schools are branded chronicfailures, and the numbers are growing. Barring revisions in the law, stateofficials predict that all 6,063 public schools serving poor students willbe declared in need of restructuring by 2014, when the law requiresuniversal proficiency in math and reading.

"What are we supposed to do?" Ms. Paramo asked. "Shut down every school?"



The New York Times


China Warns U.S. on Dalai Lama Trip

October 16, 2007

BEIJING, Oct. 16 - Chinese officials warned the United States not to honorthe Dalai Lama, saying a planned award ceremony for the Tibetan spiritualleader would have "an extremely serious impact" on relations between the twocountries.

Speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of theCommunist Party's ongoing 17th National Congress, the officials condemnedthe Dalai Lama as a resolute separatist and said foreign leaders must stopencouraging his "splittist" mission.

"Such a person who basely splits his motherland and doesn't even love hismotherland has been welcomed by some countries and has even been receivingthis or that award," Tibet's Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, toldreporters during the congress.

"We are furious," Mr. Zhang said. "If the Dalai Lama can receive such anaward, there must be no justice or good people in the world."

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since the Chinese army crushed anuprising in his homeland in 1959, is revered as the spiritual leader ofTibetan Buddhists. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is scheduled to receivethe Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after President Bush hosts him atthe White House today.



The Miami Herald


Risky business: Iron dumped in ocean

Posted on Tue, Oct. 16, 2007

You've heard of fertilizing the lawn, but fertilizing the ocean? Yes, itsounds strange, but two U.S. companies are betting on this as part of asolution for global warming. One of those firms, Planktos, plans to spreadas much as 100 tons of pulverized iron 350 miles from the Galapagos Islands.Planktos' 135-foot ship is docked on the New River in Fort Lauderdale, readyto go ``any day now.''

The idea has some merit. This iron-seeding technique creates plankton bloomsthat absorb carbon dioxide, a green-house gas that is heating up theatmosphere. Problem is, the science isn't clear on whether the benefits willoutweigh the unknown consequences of iron seeding on such a large scale. Yetthere is little in terms of maritime treaties or enforcement to stop suchventures in international waters.

Such uncontrolled experimenting and unclear outcomes make for scaryprospects. Ideally, iron seeding's promise would be tempered by the risk ofan environmental disaster. Historically, there have been many examples ofsuch well-intentioned efforts backfiring.

In the 1970s, more than 700,000 tires were dumped off Fort Lauderdale'scoast to make artificial reefs. That experiment has turned into a sea-bottommess that now is costing millions of dollars to clean up.

Planktos and others hope to profit by selling ''carbon credits'' tocompanies that want to offset their green-house gas pollution. A market forsuch carbon offsets already exists in Europe, and one is emerging in theUnited States.

Scientists have experimented with iron fertilization enough to know that ithas potential. Plankton blooms provide feed for fish, which could boostdepleted stocks in many waters. Yet a U.N. panel calls this a''speculative'' strategy to counter global warming. Questions about theseefforts persist. Among them:

. It is unclear how much carbon is absorbed by the plankton or how it couldbe measured. Some of the organisms sink, storing carbon deep in the ocean,which would count toward carbon credits. But most blooms are eaten by othersea life, which then convert the carbon back into greenhouse gas.

. Some research suggests iron seeding could create new algae, which mightlessen the oxygen available and put other deep-sea life at risk.

Much of the unease with Planktos' plan is its scale: The amount of ironspread would be 10 times greater than anything ever tried. But U.S.regulators have no say over the California company because its ship doesn'tfly a U.S flag.

This experiment should motivate the global community to act. Internationalwaters must be protected from risky experiments that could harm us all.


The Washington Post


Turkey's War on the Truth
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; Page A19

It goes without saying that the House resolution condemning Turkey for the"genocide" of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 will serve no earthly purpose andthat it will, to say the least, complicate if not severely strainU.S.-Turkey relations. It goes without saying, also, that the Turks areextremely sensitive on the topic and, since they are helpful in the war inIraq and are a friend to Israel, that their feelings ought to be taken intoaccount. All of this is true, but I would feel a lot better about condemningthis resolution if the argument wasn't so much about how we need Turkey andnot at all about the truthfulness of the matter.

Of even that, I have some doubt. The congressional resolution repeatedlyemploys the word "genocide," a term used by many scholars. But RaphaelLemkin, the Polish-Jewish emigre who coined the term in 1943, clearly had inmind what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. If that is the standard -- andit need not be -- then what happened in the collapsing Ottoman Empire wassomething short of genocide. It was plenty bad -- maybe as many as 1.5million Armenians perished, many of them outright murdered -- but not allArmenians everywhere in what was then Turkey were as calamitously affected.The substantial Armenian communities in Constantinople, Smyrna and Aleppowere largely spared. No German city could make that statement about itsJews.



The Washington Post


Verizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders

Firm's Letter to Lawmakers Details Government Requests
By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; A01

Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, toldcongressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephonerecords to federal authorities in emergency cases without court ordershundreds of times since 2005.

The company said it does not determine the requests' legality or necessitybecause to do so would slow efforts to save lives in criminalinvestigations.

In an Oct. 12 letter replying to Democratic lawmakers, Verizon offered arare glimpse into the way telecommunications companies cooperate withgovernment requests for information on U.S. citizens.

Verizon also disclosed that the FBI, using administrative subpoenas, soughtinformation identifying not just a person making a call, but all the peoplethat customer called, as well as the people those people called. Verizondoes not keep data on this "two-generation community of interest" forcustomers, but the request highlights the broad reach of the government'squest for data.



The Washington Post


Putin Arrives in Iran for Historic Visit

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 16, 2007; 2:51 AM

TEHRAN, Iran -- Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran onTuesday for a historic visit to hold talks on Iran's nuclear program andattend a Caspian sea summit.

The visit, the first by a Kremlin leader since World War II, is taking placedespite warnings of a possible assassination plot and amid hopes that around of personal diplomacy could help offer a solution to an internationalstandoff on Iran's nuclear program.

Putin's trip was thrown into doubt when the Kremlin said Sunday that he hadbeen informed by Russian special services that suicide attackers might tryto kill him in Tehran, but he shrugged off the warning Monday during a visitto Germany.

"Of course I am going to Iran," he said after talks with German ChancellorAngela Merkel. "If I always listened to all the various threats and therecommendations of the special services I would never leave home."



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