Tuesday, October 02, 2007


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House Moves on Troop Withdrawal Plan

By Associated Press
9:04 AM EDT, October 2, 2007


The House takes up legislation today that would require President Bush tosubmit a plan for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

The bill would require the administration to report to Congress on thestatus of redeployment plans in 60 days. Follow up reports would be requiredevery 90 days thereafter.

Initially, Democratic leaders considered the bill too mild and insteadfocused on tougher measures that ordered troops home this fall. But thosemeasures didn't pick up enough Republican support.

The latest bill doesn't set any timetable for a withdrawal and Republicanleaders have said they will not oppose it.

Thwarted in efforts to bring troops home from Iraq, Senate Democrats onMonday helped pass a defense policy bill authorizing another $150 billionfor the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vote was 92-3.

more . . . . .


The New York Times


Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts

October 2, 2007

The Arctic ice cap shrank so much this summer that waves briefly lappedalong two long-imagined Arctic shipping routes, the Northwest Passage overCanada and the Northern Sea Route over Russia.

Over all, the floating ice dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a centuryor more, by several estimates.

Now the six-month dark season has returned to the North Pole. In thedeepening chill, new ice is already spreading over vast stretches of theArctic Ocean. Astonished by the summer's changes, scientists are studyingthe forces that exposed one million square miles of open water - sixCalifornias - beyond the average since satellites started measurements in1979.

At a recent gathering of sea-ice experts at the University of Alaska inFairbanks, Hajo Eicken, a geophysicist, summarized it this way: "Our stockin trade seems to be going away."

Scientists are also unnerved by the summer's implications for the future,and their ability to predict it.



The Washington Post


Witness for the Persecution

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; A19

I believe in affirmative action, but I have to acknowledge there arearguments against it. One of the more cogent is the presence of JusticeClarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you caught Thomas on " 60 Minutes" on Sunday night, you know that he willprobably consider me one of the many people who want to see him "destroyed"because he doesn't "follow in this cult-like way something that blacks aresupposed to believe." That's what he told CBS correspondent Steve Kroft --that he'd been persecuted for "veering away from the black gospel that we'resupposed to adhere to."

The up-close-and-personal "60 Minutes" piece, timed to coincide withpublication of Thomas's autobiography, was compelling television. It wasalso a useful reminder that whenever my Bush Derangement Syndrome flares upto the point where I'm actually feeling nostalgic for the days when GeorgeBush the Elder was in the White House, I need only recall that it was Poppywho put Thomas on the court. That snaps me back to my senses. Thomas is only59; we'll be saddled with him, and that gigantic chip on his shoulder, fordecades to come.

Thomas said in the interview that the scorched-earth battle over hisconfirmation wasn't really about him, it was about abortion. Yet at otherpoints he made clear that the whole thing was about him, specifically hiscommission of the ultimate sin: He is (drum roll, please) a blackconservative. Cover the children's ears.

"I'm black," he told Kroft. "So I'm supposed to think a certain way. I'msupposed to have certain opinions. I don't do that. You don't create a boxand put people in and then make a lot of generalizations about them."



The Washington Post


Gold-Plated Rambos

By Patrick B. Pexton
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; 7:44 AM

Every day, President Bush trusts his life to U.S. government employees. Atthe White House, Secret Service agents and U.S. Marines protect him aroundthe clock. Wherever he travels, he takes Secret Service with him. He usesMarine helicopters for short trips and Air Force aircraft for longer ones.And, for his medical care, there are Navy doctors on call.

Most U.S. diplomats, too, put their safety in the hands of people paiddirectly by Uncle Sam. Scores of American embassies and consulates aroundthe world are patrolled by a joint force of civilian diplomatic securityagents and fully armed units of U.S. Marines.


The Washington Post


Why They Don't Like Us

Would You Follow the Country That Bungled Iraq?
By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; A19

"Why do they hate us?" Much ink has been spilled over the past six years inattempts to answer that question. By contrast, not enough attention has beenpaid to what is, in some ways, a more perplexing conundrum: Why don't theylike us as much as they used to?

"They" in this latter question are our very, very closest allies. By this Idon't mean France, or even Canada, democracies that are part of the Westernalliance but that have never particularly warmed to the idea of Americanleadership, whether political or cultural. The French have always been huffyabout NATO, and downright nasty about Hollywood; the Canadians have actuallyformed their national identity around being "not-Americans." No, the moreinteresting question is why support for American leadership has declinedamong our traditional friends: Britain, Poland, Germany, Italy, theNetherlands.

And it has declined -- drastically. Since 2002, according to the latestGerman Marshall Fund " transatlantic trends" survey, support for "U.S.leadership in world affairs" -- that's whether they want to follow ourpolitical lead, not whether they think we're nice -- has plunged by 30percentage points in Germany, 26 points in Italy, 24 points in Poland, 23points in the Netherlands and 22 points in Britain. More generally, supportfor U.S. leadership, which was at 64 percent across Europe in 2002, is nowat 36 percent (though that figure includes the touchier countries).


The Washington Post


Other Killings By Blackwater Staff Detailed

State Dept. Papers Tell of Coverup
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; A01

Blackwater security contractors in Iraq have been involved in at least 195"escalation of force" incidents since early 2005, including severalpreviously unreported killings of Iraqi civilians, according to a newcongressional account of State Department and company documents.

In one of the killings, according to a State Department document, Blackwaterpersonnel tried to cover up what had occurred and provided a false report.In another case, involving a Blackwater convoy's collision with 18 civilianvehicles, the firm accused its own personnel of lying about the event.

The State Department made little effort to hold Blackwater personnelaccountable beyond pressing the company to pay financial compensation to thefamilies of the dead, the documents indicate. In a case involving a drunkenBlackwater employee who killed a security guard to one of Iraq's vicepresidents last Christmas Eve, U.S. government personnel helped negotiate afinancial settlement and allowed the employee to depart Iraq.

Details of these and other incidents were released yesterday by the chairmanof the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Henry A.Waxman (D-Calif.), after the committee's staff examined hundreds of internalBlackwater and State Department documents. Erik Prince, Blackwater'schairman, and David M. Satterfield, the State Department's Iraq coordinator,are scheduled to testify today at a hearing before the committee.



The Washington Post


Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut

Bush's Approval Rating Ties All-Time Low
By Jon Cohen and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page A01

Most Americans oppose fully funding President Bush's $190 billion requestfor the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a sizable majority support anexpansion of a children's health insurance bill he has promised to veto,putting Bush and many congressional Republicans on the wrong side of publicopinion on upcoming foreign and domestic policy battles.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll also shows deep dissatisfaction withthe president and with Congress. Bush's approval rating stands at 33percent, equal to his career low in Post-ABC polls. And just 29 percentapprove of the job Congress is doing, its lowest approval rating in thispoll since November 1995, when Republicans controlled both the House andSenate. It also represents a 14-point drop since Democrats took control inJanuary.


The Washington Post


An Iranian University Invites Bush to Speak

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page A15

After the controversial appearance of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad atColumbia University last week, an Iranian university yesterday invitedPresident Bush to travel to Iran and speak on campus about a range ofissues, including the Holocaust, terrorism, human rights and U.S. foreignpolicy, the Fars News Agency reported yesterday.

The invitation from Ferdowsi University in the northeastern city of Mashhadasked Bush to answer questions from students and professors "just the sameway" that Ahmadinejad took questions "despite all the insults directed athim."


The Washington Post


High Court Won't Hear Two Religion Cases

The Associated Press
Monday, October 1, 2007; 4:54 PM

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court returned to work Monday by sidestepping twochurch-state cases that social conservatives had hoped the justices woulduse to chart a rightward course.

The justices decided not to consider a challenge by religious groups to aNew York law requiring health plans to cover birth control pills, and aCalifornia case in which an evangelical group was denied use of a publiclibrary for religious services.

"We were hoping the Supreme Court would provide broader protections forreligious liberties, and both these cases were excellent vehicles to dothat," said Jordan Lorence, an attorney representing the evangelical groupthat was turned away from the library in Antioch, Calif.


This Morning: Hearing on Blackwater USA's Mission and Performance inIraq and Afghanistan

This morning at 10:00 a.m., the Oversight Committee is holding ahearing to examine the mission and performance of private militarycontractor Blackwater USA in Iraq and Afghanistan. Erik Prince, the owner ofBlackwater, will testify as well as three State Department officials.

The hearing will provide members the opportunity to address three keyquestions: (1) Is Blackwater's presence advancing or undermining U.S.efforts? (2) Has State Department responded appropriately to the shootingincidents involving Blackwater forces? (3) What are the costs to U.S.taxpayers for the reliance on Blackwater and other private militarycontractors?


The Boston Globe


Eight states sue over children's healthcare

N.H. among those seeking more aid
By Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press | October 2, 2007

EAST ORANGE, N.J. - Eight states are suing the Bush administration over newrules that block expansion of a health insurance program for children fromlow-income families.

The coalition representing New Jersey, Maryland, Arizona, California,Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, and Washington objects to rules issued inAugust that make it harder for states to provide coverage to children inmiddle-income families by limiting the total income of families whoparticipate.

The states suing accuse the administration of overstepping the federalgovernment's authority to set income limits for participants in the StateChildren's Health Insurance Program.

The lawsuits are another battle between Democrats and the Bushadministration over the program, which covers 6.6 million children frommodest-income families that aren't poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

The federal program was set to expire but has been temporarily continueduntil Congress and the administration can reach a funding agreement.

Democrats want to expand the program by $35 billion over five years, fundedby new tobacco taxes, to allow about 10 million uninsured children toparticipate nationwide.



Chicago Tribune



The diminutive lion of the left
Ohio congressman's sunny certitude wins admirers for uncompromisingstances -- but few believe he can win

By Ofelia Casillas
Tribune staff reporter
October 2, 2007

On the eve of another grim anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terroristattacks, members of Congress voted on a symbolic resolution to establish anofficial remembrance, expression of sympathy and honoring of heroes.

It was the kind of measure on which, surely, everyone could agree.

Everyone, that is, except Rep. Dennis Kucinich, elected and sent to CapitolHill in 1996 to represent a district that includes Cleveland, the city wherehe was dubbed the boy mayor at age 31.

In explaining why his was the lone dissenting vote, Kucinich said Congressneeds to "wake up to the truth and exercise its obligation under theConstitution to save our nation from being destroyed from the lies that ledus into Iraq, the lies that keep us there, the lies that are being used toset the stage for war against Iran and the lies that have undermined ourbasic civil liberties at home."

For Kucinich, self-doubt isn't a problem, and half-measures won't do. Hisposition on the war? Complete withdrawal, now. Health insurance? Everybodyshould have it, now. International trade agreements? Abandon them, now.

Back for a second, quixotic attempt to win the Democratic nomination forpresident, Kucinich is in perfect form as the perfect foil to a slate ofpolitically pragmatic candidates. His is a world of essential, immutable,not-up-for-compromise truths. Look no further than the slogan that markedhis political comeback 13 years ago in a race for the Ohio legislature,following a disastrous term as the mayor of Cleveland: "Because he wasright."



Chicago Tribune


McCain Criticized for Religious Remarks

Associated Press Writer
4:50 PM CDT, October 1, 2007


Several Jewish organizations criticized John McCain on Monday after theRepublican candidate said he would prefer a Christian president over someoneof a different faith.

In an interview with Beliefnet, a multi-denominational Web site that coversreligion and spirituality, the White House hopeful was asked if a Muslimcandidate could be a good president.

"I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was foundedprimarily on Christian principles ... personally, I prefer someone who Iknow who has a solid grounding in my faith," McCain said. "But that doesn'tmean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a goodpresident."

Later, McCain said, "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was thecandidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values." Headded that "the Constitution established the United States of America as aChristian nation."



Dallas Morning News


Obama maintains cash lead, raising $19M this summer

10:21 PM CDT on Monday, October 1, 2007
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Barack Obama raised more than $19 million this summer for thepresidential primaries, holding his lead for now in the race for campaigncash though still trailing Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton innational polls.

Fred Thompson, the GOP newcomer, has collected more than $11.5 million sinceJune, when he began exploring a run, Republicans familiar with hisfundraising said Monday.

Obama's Democratic rival John Edwards reported raising $7 million during theJuly-September quarter for a total of $30 million for the year. Aides saidhe would show $12 million cash on hand and was on track to meet his goal ofraising $40 million by the time the first presidential contests begin inJanuary.

Clinton, whose fundraising has nearly kept pace with Obama's, had notreleased her third-quarter figures Monday. The quarter ended Sunday night.



The New York Times


Obama to Urge Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

October 2, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 - Senator Barack Obama will propose on Tuesday setting agoal of eliminating all nuclear weapons in the world, saying the UnitedStates should greatly reduce its stockpiles to lower the threat of nuclearterrorism, aides say.

In a speech at DePaul University in Chicago, Mr. Obama will add his voice toa plan endorsed earlier this year by a bipartisan group of former governmentofficials from the cold war era who say the United States must beginbuilding a global consensus to reverse a reliance on nuclear weapons thathave become "increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective."

Mr. Obama, according to details provided by his campaign Monday, also willcall for pursuing vigorous diplomatic efforts aimed at a global ban on thedevelopment, production and deployment of intermediate-range missiles.



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