Monday, October 22, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 22, 2007

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The New York Times

At Debate, G.O.P. Race Becomes More Personal

October 22, 2007

The Republican presidential candidates sharply escalated their attacks oneach other last night, clashing over who is the most conservative, mostexperienced and most electable in a debate one of them likened to a"demolition derby."

The debate stood out for the intensity and personal nature of the exchanges,as Republicans tried to distinguish themselves - a tactic that riskedhighlighting the unhappiness among conservatives with much of the field.

Even as they scrimmaged, the leading candidates took stronger aim at oneDemocratic candidate: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. Inaddition to helping them score points with Republican voters, their attackson Mrs. Clinton may have the side effect of helping her score points withDemocrats.

The evening got off to a fiery start when Fred D. Thompson, the actor andformer Tennessee senator who has been criticized for a slow and sometimesdisengaged beginning to his campaign, questioned the conservativecredentials of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, who has ledin national opinion polls.

"Mayor Giuliani believes in federal funding for abortion," Mr. Thompsonsaid. "He believes in sanctuary cities. He's for gun control. He supportedMario Cuomo, a liberal Democrat, against a Republican who was running forgovernor, then opposed the governor's tax cuts when he was there."

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The New York Times

Ain't That America

October 22, 2007

Think of America's greatest historical shames. Most have involved thesingling out of groups of people for abuse. Name a distinguishing feature -skin color, religion, nationality, language - and it's likely that peoplehere have suffered unjustly for it, either through the freelance hatred ofcitizens or as a matter of official government policy.

We are heading down this road again. The country needs to have a workingimmigration policy, one that corresponds to economic realities and is basedon good sense and fairness. But it doesn't. It has federal inertia and arising immigrant tide, and a national mood of frustration and anxiety thatis slipping, as it has so many times before, into hatred and fear. Hostilityfor illegal immigrants falls disproportionately on an entire population ofpeople, documented or not, who speak Spanish and are working-class or poor.By blinding the country to solutions, it has harmed us all.

The evidence can be seen in any state or town that has passedconstitutionally dubious laws to deny undocumented immigrants the basics ofliving, like housing or the right to gather or to seek work. It's in hotlines for citizens to turn in neighbors. It's on talk radio and blogs. It'son the campaign trail, where candidates are pressed to disown moderatepositions. And it can be heard nearly every night on CNN, in the nativistdrumming of Lou Dobbs, for whom immigration is an obsessive cause.

In New York, Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proposed allowing illegal immigrants toearn driver's licenses. It is a good, practical idea, designed to replaceanonymous drivers with registered competent ones. In show after show, Mr.Dobbs has trained his biggest guns on Mr. Spitzer, branding him with puerileepithets like "spoiled, rich-kid brat" and depicting his policy as some sortof sanctuary program for the 9/11 hijackers. Someday there may be a calmdebate, in Albany and nationally, about immigrant drivers. But with Mr.Dobbs at the megaphone, for now there is only histrionics and outrage.

Let's concede an indisputable point: people should not be in the countryillegally. But forget about the border for a moment - let's talk about the12 million who are already here. What should be done about them?

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The New York Times

A Dearth of Taxes
October 22, 2007

President Bush considers himself a champion tax cutter, but all the leadingRepublican presidential candidates are eager to outdo him. Their zeal ismisguided. This country's meager tax take puts its economic prospects atrisk and leaves the government ill equipped to face the challenges fromglobalization.

According to a report from the Organization of Economic Cooperation andDevelopment, a think tank run by the industrialized countries, the taxescollected last year by federal, state and local governments in the UnitedStates amounted to 28.2 percent of gross domestic product. That rate was oneof the lowest among wealthy countries - about five percentage points ofG.D.P. lower than Canada's, and more than eight points lower than NewZealand's. And Danes, Germans and Slovaks paid more in taxes, as a share oftheir economies.

Politicians on the right have continuously paraded the specter of statism torally voters' support for tax cuts, mainly for the rich. But the meager taxtake leaves the United States ill prepared to compete. From universal healthinsurance to decent unemployment insurance, other rich nations provide theircitizens benefits that the United States government simply cannot afford.

The consequences include some 47 million Americans without health insuranceand companies like General Motors being dragged to the brink by the cost ofproviding workers and pensioners with medical care.

President Bush and his tax-averse friends extol the fact that the tax haulhas risen over the past two years as evidence of the wisdom of his tax cuts.But if anything, the numbers underscore the economy's weaknesses - mainlyits growing inequality.

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The New York Times

Inch by Inch, Great Lakes Shrink, and Cargo Carriers Face Losses

October 22, 2007

OSWEGO, N.Y. - From his office at the port here, Jonathan Daniels stared ata watermark etched on the rocks that hug one of the commercial piers - athick dark line several inches above the surface of Lake Ontario - andwondered how much lower the water would dip.

"What we need is some rain," said Mr. Daniels, director of the Port ofOswego Authority, one of a dozen public port agencies on the United Statesside of the Great Lakes. "The more we lose water, the less cargo the shipsthat travel in the Great Lakes can carry, and each time that happens,shipping companies lose money," he said. "Ultimately, it's people like youand I who are going to pay the price."

Water levels in the Great Lakes are falling; Lake Ontario, for example, isabout seven inches below where it was a year ago. And for every inch ofwater that the lakes lose, the ships that ferry bulk materials across themmust lighten their loads by 270 tons - or 540,000 pounds - or risk runningaground, according to the Lake Carriers' Association, a trade group forUnited States-flag cargo companies.

As a result, more ships are needed, adding millions of dollars to shippingcompanies' operating costs, experts in maritime commerce estimate.

"When a ship leaves a dock, and it's not filled to capacity, it's the sameas a plane leaving an airport with empty seats: It cuts into their earningcapacity," said Richard D. Stewart, a co-director of the Transportation andLogistics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

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The New York Times

Polish Premier Is Routed, Polls Show

October 22, 2007

WARSAW, Oct. 22 - Voters appeared to have ousted the prime minister, onehalf of Poland's wonder-twin team, in parliamentary elections on Sunday. Thechallenger, Donald Tusk, declared victory for his pro-business party, CivicPlatform.

The prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, conceded defeat as two major exitpolls showed his Law and Justice Party trailing Civic Platform bydouble-digit margins. His brother, Lech, will remain president and retainveto power over the presumptive new government's legislation.

Official results are not expected until Tuesday. They could determinewhether Civic Platform achieves an outright majority or, as is more likely,needs to form a coalition with the centrist Polish Peasants Party. Thoughthe results were still unofficial, Mr. Kaczynski congratulated his opponentafter what appeared to be a significant defeat.

"It was a battle," Mr. Tusk told supporters gathered here Sunday night. "Wewon it. But tomorrow we need to get down to work."

Surveys showed that this election had the highest rate of voterparticipation since the fall of Communism in 1989. Some polling stations ranout of ballots, which kept several open up to three hours later thanscheduled.

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The Washington Post

Californians for Rudy

By Robert D. Novak
Monday, October 22, 2007; A23

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Curt Pringle, the conservative mayor of Anaheim andonetime speaker of the California State Assembly, is a pro-life Republicanwho endorsed pro-choice Rudy Giuliani for president in March, and since thenhe has been actively engaged in Giuliani's campaign. After conversationswith Giuliani, Pringle takes at face value the former New York mayor'spledge to nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia andClarence Thomas. That reassurance on abortion makes it possible for Pringleand many other prominent California Republicans to pursue an ambitiouspolitical design.

Pringle and the state's other Giuliani supporters want to bring Californiaback to relevance in selecting the Republican nominee and electing thepresident. They resent that the nation's most populous state is presumed tofollow the lead of Iowa and New Hampshire in picking presidents. They resentCalifornia being consigned as a general election backwater, conceded to theDemocrats. Pringle sees Giuliani resurrecting California as a significantplayer for both the nomination and the election.

What seemed fanciful in March looks more realistic in October. Giuliani hasmaintained double-digit leads in California over other Republicans all year.With the state's primary moved up to Feb. 5, and voting beginning a monthearlier, its results could negate the outcome in early primaries in smallstates. Giuliani's popularity here with political leaders such as Pringle isbased on the belief that he is the only Republican who can challenge HillaryClinton in blue states -- New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well asCalifornia.

Giuliani at first seemed, as presidential candidates generally do, to regardCalifornia simply as a money jackpot. Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens,Giuliani's fund-raising dynamo, has a home in Del Mar and is an activeoverseer of the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley. Pickens andother veterans of George W. Bush's fund-raising put Giuliani in front of theCalifornia GOP money chase.

Beyond fundraisers, Giuliani's campaign has signed up more prominentCalifornia Republicans than other presidential candidates -- most recentlyformer governor Pete Wilson. Like Giuliani, Wilson is pro-choice. AnotherGiuliani backer is the liberal multi-millionaire Richard Riordan, who asmayor of Los Angeles called himself a RINO -- Republican in name only. "RudyGiuliani is too liberal for the solid, right-wing Republicans inCalifornia," Riordan said recently.

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The Washington Post

At the Poles, Melting Occurring at Alarming Rate

By Doug Struck
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 22, 2007; A10

Fourth in a monthly series

For scientists, global warming is a disaster movie, its opening scenes setat the poles of Earth. The epic already has started. And it's not fiction.

The scenes are playing, at the start, in slow motion: The relentless grip ofthe Arctic Ocean that defied man for centuries is melting away. The sea icereaches only half as far as it did 50 years ago. In the summer of 2006, itshrank to a record low; this summer the ice pulled back even more, by anarea nearly the size of Alaska. Where explorer Robert Peary just 102 yearsago saw "a great white disk stretching away apparently infinitely" fromEllesmere Island, there is often nothing now but open water. Glaciers raceinto the sea from the island of Greenland, beginning an inevitable rise inthe oceans.

Animals are on the move. Polar bears, kings of the Arctic, now search forice on which to hunt and bear young. Seals, walrus and fish adapted to thecold are retreating north. New species -- salmon, crabs, even crows -- arecoming from the south. The Inuit, who have lived on the frozen land formillennia, are seeing their houses sink into once-frozen mud, and theirhunting trails on the ice are pocked with sinkholes.

"It affects everyone," said Carin Ashjian, a Woods Hole OceanographicInstitute scientist who spent early September with native Inupiats inBarrow, the northernmost town of Alaska. "The only ice I saw this year wasin my cup at the cafeteria."

At the South Pole, ancient ice shelves have abruptly crumbled. The air overthe western Antarctic peninsula has warmed by nearly 6 degrees since 1950.The sea there is heating as well, further melting edges of the ice cap.Green grass and beech trees are taking root on the ice fringes.

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The Washington Post

Wildfires Rage in Southern Calif.

The Associated Press
Monday, October 22, 2007; 8:55 AM

MALIBU, Calif. -- Out-of-control wildfires threatened thousands of SouthernCalifornia homes Monday, as firefighters raced to beat back the blazes thathave engulfed the region, killing one, destroying buildings and forcingthousands to evacuate.

The fires, which covered swaths of drought-parched land from the high desertto the Pacific Ocean, were being fanned by hot, dry Santa Ana desert winds.Some of the worst damage was in Malibu, where a church, homes and a castlewere charred.

Things got worse early Monday, when several new fires sprouted in San Diegocounty, adding to about a dozen blazes that have already burned more than40,000 acres. Though firefighters had been on high alert because forecasterspredicted the winds, they admitted Sunday night that they were overwhelmed.

"You do not expect something to stretch our resources to this magnitude,"Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Sam Padilla said. "To try and staffsomething this big, you cannot predict it."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency late Sunday inseven counties. One person died in a fire near San Diego, which burned morethan 14,000 acres _ or about 22 square miles _ about 70 miles southeast ofSan Diego, just north of the Mexican border town of Tecate, CaliforniaDepartment of Forestry spokesman Matt Streck said.

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The Washington Post

Spiritual Leaders Call for Understanding
At Emory University, Dalai Lama Says Tolerance Is 'Essential' in Today'sWorld

By Dorie Turner
Associated Press
Monday, October 22, 2007; A02

ATLANTA, Oct. 21 -- The Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders called Sundayfor followers of the world's religions to work toward understanding eachother rather than bickering over differences.

The panel, which included Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi,stressed affection for others, even if they have differing views on faith.

"Today, the world is getting smaller," the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet said inEnglish. "We really need closer understanding of each other. It'sessential."

The discussion was part of a weekend of events at Emory University with theDalai Lama, who has accepted a distinguished professorship at the school.His visit will also include a free public talk at Centennial Olympic Park indowntown Atlanta on Monday and the first of many lectures to the Emorycommunity.

Thousands filled Emory's gymnasium throughout the weekend to listen in onpanel discussions and hear the exiled leader of Tibet -- for which hecontinues to seek autonomy from China -- talk about topics as diverse asneuroscience and Buddhist meditation.

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The Miami Herald

Landlords aren't federal agents

Posted on Mon, Oct. 22, 2007

Landlords should not serve as agents of the immigration service. They arenot allowed to in California, thanks to a new law, and that's the way itshould be all over the country.

On Oct. 10, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill that prohibitsCalifornia cities from passing municipal ordinances requiring landlords toask the immigration status of their tenants. The law takes effect at thebeginning of next year.

It passed after a bitter fight. The Concerned Women for America, afundamentalist Christian group, argued that cities should restrictundocumented immigrants to ``prevent squalor that is dangerous not only tothe individuals involved, but also to the surrounding neighborhoods wheresanitation, parking and other troubles ensue.''

But ''squalor'' is not a result of immigration; it is a result of the lowwages paid to undocumented immigrants. And if sanitation is an issue, whynot enforce already existing housing ordinances instead?

Cities are finding themselves in the midst of demographic changes asimmigrants, both documented and undocumented, relocate to areas that havebeen traditionally white. In some places, this influx has sparked an uglyreaction.

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Los Angeles Times,0,5512088.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

Who are the bench's judicial activists?
Looking at the Supreme Court justices' voting records, the lines betweenactivism and restraint may surprise you.

By Thomas J. Miles and Cass R. Sunstein
October 22, 2007

The Supreme Court has returned to work, and court watchers are again askingthe perennial questions: Which justices are most partisan? Who are the realactivists?

We have tried to make progress on these questions by examining how thejustices vote and letting their records speak for themselves. We exploredthe justices' voting patterns from 1989 through 2005, an unusually longperiod of continuity within the court. (No reliable conclusions can be drawnabout Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito becausethey have so few votes.)

Everyone looks at the high-profile constitutional cases, but to get a realsense of how justices approach their jobs, it's best to analyze the moreroutine, less-visible cases that are often more important to people's dailylives.

For this reason, we examined all cases in which members of the court, usingsettled principles, evaluated the legality of important decisions by federalagencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National LaborRelations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and theFood and Drug Administration.

We used clear and simple tests to code the decisions of these agencies aseither "liberal" or "conservative." For example, we counted an environmental regulation as "liberal" if it was challenged by industry as too aggressive,or as "conservative" if it was challenged by an environmental group as toolax.

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Houston Chronicle

In 2008, this question for GOP voters: Why pro-life?

Oct. 21, 2007, 11:09PM

Idon't know if life begins at conception. I don't really know what "life"means. Consciousness? Possessing a soul? Well, if consciousness defines theissue, then life surely does not begin at conception. Not even the mostadamant pro-lifer claims otherwise.

As for souls, I believe we have them, but I don't know how they work.Indeed, ensoulment - the process by which God puts a soul in our bodies - isa controversial topic among religious scholars, people who know a lot moreabout such things than I do. And I'm not sure any of them are right anyway.

If "life" simply means that fetuses are something more than inanimateobjects, I'm with you. But that hardly seals the deal for me on the issue ofabortion. After all, the world is filled with organisms that do not deserveany special consideration, let alone a claim on a human being's life orliberty.

In short, while I have great sympathy for "culture of life" arguments, ifyou tallied most of the above views on abortion, they'd appear to add up tomy being pro-choice. And yet, when I get right down to it, I'm not. Why?

I've been trying to find my own answer to that question as the GOP comes togrips with the fact that its presidential front-runner, Rudy Giuliani, ispro-choice. I confess: A fully satisfactory answer eludes me, but I haveenough of one to stay pro-life.

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