Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 30, 2007

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Literature in U.K. mosques tied to Saudis

Posted on Tue, Oct. 30, 2007

Agencies linked to the Saudi government have distributed extremistliterature to mosques and Islamic centers in Britain, an independent thinktank said Tuesday.

The Policy Exchange, timing its report to Saudi King Abdullah's state visit,said the material expressed a deep-rooted antipathy toward Western society,calling for violence against enemies of Islam, including women and gays whodemand equal rights.

"Saudi Arabia is the ideological source of much of this sectarianism - andmust be held to account for it," the study said. "Islamic institutions inthe U.K. must clean up their act."

Abdullah, who depends on support from the same clerics known to inspireal-Qaida militants, has faced criticism for his support of Islamicextremists.

The king also has been dogged by criticism over Saudi Arabia's human rightsrecord. Prime Minister Gordon Brown already is under pressure to use hisvisit to raise concerns about allegations that the regime is involved intorture and other abuses.

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Cambodia PM severs ties to gay daughter

Posted on Tue, Oct. 30, 2007

Cambodian's prime minister said Tuesday he was severing ties with hisadopted daughter, who is a lesbian, but appealed to people not todiscriminate against gays.

"My adopted daughter now has a wife. I'm quite disappointed," Hun Sen said.

He made the rare revelation about his closely guarded family life during apublic speech at a student graduation ceremony.

Hun Sen said he plans to file a civil court case to disown his adopteddaughter so that she cannot claim any inheritance from his family.

"We are concerned that she might one day cause us trouble ... and try tostake her claim for a share of our assets," he said.

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Inside Higher Education


A Haven for Minority Scholars

The number of black, Hispanic and American Indian recipients of Ph.D.'s hasbeen edging higher in recent years, but members of those groups are stillsignificantly underrepresented in the proportion of all doctorates earned.

So it's hardly surprising that at most of the academic meetings that a blackgraduate student like La Tonya M. Green goes to, such as those in herdiscipline of urban studies and planning, she feels like "a speck in a room," as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology doctoral student put itat the Compact for Faculty Diversity's Institute on Teaching and Mentoringin Washington last weekend.

"When these students are in their classrooms and departments, their livescan be a very lonely one," said Ansley A. Abraham, director of the StateDoctoral Scholars Program at the Southern Regional Education Board, whichwas one of the hosts of the institute. "By definition, the pursuit of thePh.D. is a lonely excursion, and when you add the minority component, it isa real isolating experience."


The New York Times


Immunity Deals Offered to Blackwater Guards

October 30, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - State Department investigators offered Blackwater USAsecurity guards immunity during an inquiry into last month's deadly shootingof 17 Iraqis in Baghdad - a potentially serious investigative misstep thatcould complicate efforts to prosecute the company's employees involved inthe episode, government officials said Monday.

The State Department investigators from the agency's investigative arm, theBureau of Diplomatic Security, offered the immunity grants even though theydid not have the authority to do so, the officials said. Prosecutors at theJustice Department, who do have such authority, had no advance knowledge ofthe arrangement, they added.

Most of the guards who took part in the Sept. 16 shooting were offered whatofficials described as limited-use immunity, which means that they werepromised that they would not be prosecuted for anything they said in theirinterviews with the authorities as long as their statements were true. Theimmunity offers were first reported Monday by The Associated Press.

The officials who spoke of the immunity deals have been briefed on thematter, but agreed to talk about the arrangement only on the condition ofanonymity because they had not been authorized to discuss a continuingcriminal investigation.

The precise legal status of the immunity offer is unclear. Those who havebeen offered immunity would seem likely to assert that their statements arelegally protected, even as some government officials say that immunity wasnever officially sanctioned by the Justice Department.

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The New York Times


Foreign Fighters of Harsher Bent Bolster Taliban

October 30, 2007

GARDEZ, Afghanistan - Afghan police officers working a highway checkpointnear here noticed something odd recently about a passenger in a red pickuptruck. Though covered head to toe in a burqa, the traditional veil worn byAfghan women, she was unusually tall. When the police asked her questions,she refused to answer.

When the veil was eventually removed, the police found not a woman at all,but Andre Vladimirovich Bataloff, a 27-year-old man from Siberia with aflowing red beard, pasty skin and piercing blue eyes. Inside the truck was1,000 pounds of explosives.

Afghan and American officials say the Siberian intended to be a suicidebomber, one of several hundred foreign militants who have gravitated to theregion to fight alongside the Taliban this year, the largest influx since2001.

The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency.They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locallybred allies, officials on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border warn.

They are also helping to change the face of the Taliban from a movement ofhard-line Afghan religious students into a loose network that now includes agrowing number of foreign militants as well as disgruntled Afghans and drugtraffickers.

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The New York Times


The Happiness Gap

October 30, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Some elections are defined by the gap between the rich and the poor. Othersare defined by the gap between the left and the right. But this electionwill be shaped by the gap within individual voters themselves - the gapbetween their private optimism and their public gloom.

American voters are generally happy with their own lives. Eighty-six percentof Americans say they are content with their jobs, according to the GeneralSocial Survey. Seventy-six percent of Americans say they are satisfied withtheir family income, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Sixty-twopercent of Americans expect their personal situation to get better over thenext five years, according to a Harris Poll, compared with only 7 percentwho expect it to get worse.

Researchers from Pew found that 65 percent of Americans are satisfied overall with their own lives - one of the highest rates of personal satisfactionin the world today.

On the other hand, Americans are overwhelmingly pessimistic about theirpublic institutions. That same Pew survey found that only 25 percent ofAmericans are satisfied with the state of their nation. That 40-point gapbetween private and public happiness is the fourth-largest gap in theworld - behind only Israel, Mexico and Brazil.

Americans are disillusioned with the president and Congress. Eighty percentof Americans think this Congress has accomplished nothing.

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The New York Times


Holding Up History

October 30, 2007

Before his disastrous turn as the nation's attorney general, AlbertoGonzales was the White House counsel behind some of the administration'smost egregious legal maneuvers, including President Bush's 2001 executiveorder unilaterally repealing the presumption of public access topresidential papers enshrined in the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

The executive order, which Mr. Gonzales drafted, made it significantlyharder for historians and the public to gain access to a former president'sofficial records, and it provided an early glimpse of two Bush White Housethemes: a mania for secrecy and a dangerously inflated view of presidentialauthority to override existing law.

Six years and one Congressional power shift later, there is ample support inthe House and Senate for repealing the executive order's cumbersome rules,which give presidents, former presidents and even their heirs power towithhold sensitive documents well beyond the standard 12-year waitingperiod. A bipartisan measure reversing the presumption of nondisclosure andreasonably limiting executive privilege claims passed the House in March bya veto-proof majority. In June, it cleared Senate committee review.

Yet approval by the full Senate is in doubt because of a single Republicansenator, Jim Bunning of Kentucky. Mr. Bunning has declined to detail hisreasons for exercising his senatorial prerogative to hold up considerationof the bill beyond telling The Dallas Morning News that the "president oughtto have the right to withhold any records he chooses." His colleagues andall Americans are owed a fuller explanation of why he believes a
desire to hide embarrassing information for no legitimate reason of nationalsecurity should trump the public's right to know.

Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, should not let the bill die. If Mr.Bunning will not lift his hold, it should be possible to round up the 60votes needed to get the bill around him and onto the floor.

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The New York Times


Vote Early, Count Often

October 30, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor

THE system we use to select the major-party presidential nominees in thiscountry is badly broken. That New Hampshire may move its primary into 2007should be evidence enough. But focusing on the absurdity of the primarycalendar obscures a problem of greater significance: not all voters areequal. To correct that sad truth we must change the way we selectcandidates.

The only solution that treats every voter equally would be to establish atrue national primary, with every state voting on the same day.Unfortunately, this format would eliminate the essential "retail" politicsof small-state primaries and turn the contest into a nasty televisedslugfest among the candidates with the most money.

There is, however, a simple way to establish a national primary and yetstill allow retail politicking to meaningfully affect the course of thecampaign over several months: allow early voting, with regular reporting ofthe tally.

Here's one way it could work. Set a national primary date of June 30 andcreate a window for early voting that opens on Jan. 1. The early votes wouldbe counted and reported at the end of each month from January through May.

More than 30 states already allow early voting, and every state allowsabsentee voting. But under the current system, those votes sit around untilElection Day and often don't get counted at all if the race isn't close.

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The New York Times


Honey, They Shrunk the Congress

October 30, 2007
Editorial Observer

President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was asked animportant question about Congress's power at his confirmation hearing. Ifwitnesses claim executive privilege and refuse to respond to Congressionalsubpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal - as Karl Rove and HarrietMiers have done - and Congress holds them in contempt, would his JusticeDepartment refer the matter to a grand jury for criminal prosecution, asfederal law requires?

Mr. Mukasey suggested the answer would be no. That was hardly his onlyslap-down of Congress. He made the startling claim that a president can defylaws if he or she is acting within the authority "to defend the country."That is a mighty large exception to the rule that Congress's laws aresupreme.

The founders wanted the "people's branch" to be strong, but the Bushadministration has usurped a frightening number of Congress's powers - withvery little resistance. The question is whether members of Congress of bothparties will do anything about it.

Congress is often described as one of three coequal branches, but that isnot entirely true. As Akhil Reed Amar, a Yale law professor, observed in"America's Constitution: a Biography," Article I actually makes Congress"first among equals, with wide power to structure the second-mentionedexecutive and third-mentioned judicial branches."

Article I, which describes Congress's powers, is the Constitution's first,longest and most generously worded article. It gives Congress a wide arrayof specific powers, but also broad authority to pass laws that bring to life"all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of theUnited States, or in any department or officer thereof."

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The New York Times


U.S. on the Sidelines of Global Trends?

By Anne-Marie Slaughter
October 28, 2007, 9:22 pm

Anne-Marie Slaughter, an international lawyer and the dean of the WoodrowWilson School at Princeton University. She is the author "The Idea that isAmerica," and she is spending this academic year in Shanghai.

Last week I heard the Singaporean Foreign Minister, a very impressive mannamed George Yeo, give a twenty-minute address about the rise of Asia andAsia-EU relations in which he did not mention the United States once. Notonce.

The occasion was a conference of deans of public policy schools from aroundthe world held at the Lee Kwan Yew School of Government here. To be fair toMinister Yeo, he may have been under the impression that the assembled deanswere only from Asia and Europe; hence the focus of his remarks. Butregardless, it is a very unusual experience for an American to be sittinglistening to the foreign minister of another country, and a very smallcountry at that, talk at some length about major global trends as if theUnited States didn't exist.

Unusual, and salutary. After all, many other countries endure that treatmentfrom us. The Russians simply dropped off the map for almost a decade afterthe end of the Cold War. And Singapore has just had to endure President Bush's last-minute cancellation of a planned summit with the ASEAN (Association ofSoutheast Asian Nations) leaders in Singapore on his way to Sydney for theAPEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting (he went to Iraq instead).

Yeo spoke about the phenomenal rise of Chinese cities and manufacturingareas, not only on the east coast of China but also in the interior. Hespoke of China's rise in the context of Asia's rise, of a whole regionfinally coming into its own in world affairs, or rather returning to itshistoric importance. He described the burgeoning contacts between Asia andthe Middle East - described rather as West Asia - and concluded with areview of ties between Asia as a region and the EU.

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The New York Times


Merrill Chief Is Out; Interim Leader Named

October 31, 2007

Merrill Lynch the world's largest brokerage, said today that its embattledchief executive, E. Stanley O'Neal will retire, effective immediately.

Merrill Lynch named Alberto Cribiore interim nonexecutive chairman. Mr.Cribiore, a member of the Merrill board since 2003, will chair the searchcommittee to find a replacement for Mr. O'Neal.

The departure of Mr. O'Neal, 56, was expected after the company took morethan $8 billion in writedowns in the third quarter for bad bets on bonds andother instruments backed by subprime mortgages.


The New York Times


Venezuela's Gas Prices Remain Low, but the Political Costs May Be Rising

October 30, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela, Oct. 29 - In a country moving toward socialism, thebeneficiaries of government largess here are still people like NicolásTaurisano, a businessman who dabbles in real estate and machinery imports.He is the proud owner of a Hummer.

Motorists in the United States smarting from rising gasoline prices, takenote: Mr. Taurisano pays the equivalent of $1.50 to fill his Hummer's tank.Thanks to a decades-old subsidy that has proven devilishly complex to undo,gasoline in Venezuela costs about 7 cents a gallon compared with an average$2.86 a gallon in the United States.

"It is one clear benefit to living in an otherwise challenging country,"said Mr. Taurisano, 34, who also owns a BMW, a Mercedes-Benz, a Ferrari anda Porsche.

Many Venezuelans consider the subsidy a birthright even though it bypassesthe poor, who rely on relatively expensive and often dangerous publictransportation. Economists estimate that it costs the government ofPresident Hugo Chávez more than $9 billion a year.

Critics of Mr. Chávez, and the president himself, agree that the subsidy isa threat to his project to transform Venezuela into a socialist society,draining huge amounts of money from the national oil company's sales eachyear that could be used for his social welfare programs.

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The New York Times


G.M. Will Build Its Own Research Center in China

October 30, 2007

BEIJING, Oct. 29 - General Motors announced Monday that it would build anadvanced research center in Shanghai to develop hybrid technology and otherdesigns.

It was the latest research investment in China by a foreign automakerdespite chronic problems with purloined car designs.

G.M. already has a 1,300-employee research center in Shanghai with its mainChinese joint venture partner, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation.The separate, wholly owned research center announced Monday, for the mostadvanced vehicle engineering and development, could help G.M. keep greatercontrol over new technologies than through the joint venture.

Kevin Wale, president of General Motors' China operations, said that thecompany remained "very comfortable" with its partnership with ShanghaiAutomotive and that the partner's recent introduction of its own sedans hadshown "no significant impact" on G.M. sales.

Rick Wagoner, G.M.'s chairman, said it was essential to do advanced researchin China to adapt technologies quickly to cars being sold locally. G.M.'sjoint venture sales in China have grown to an estimated one million thisyear, from 20,000 in 1999, making it the company's second-largest marketafter the United States.

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The New York Times


Eyes on Supreme Court in Execution Case Tuesday

October 30, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 - By 6 p.m. Tuesday, when a Mississippi inmate isscheduled to die by lethal injection, the Supreme Court may give theclearest indication so far of whether it intends to call a halt to all suchexecutions while a case from Kentucky that the justices accepted last monthremains undecided.

The Mississippi inmate, Earl W. Berry, convicted of kidnapping and murder in1988, has been turned down by the Mississippi Supreme Court and by theUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Late on Monday, thejustices denied his appeal of the state court ruling, as well as theapplication for a stay of execution that accompanied it.

Mr. Berry's application for a stay of the Fifth Circuit ruling, which hislawyers filed on Monday afternoon, remained pending in the evening, havingcome in very late in the afternoon.

In turning down the state-court appeal without any apparent dissent, theSupreme Court's three-sentence order provided a brief explanation. TheSupreme Court had no jurisdiction, the unsigned order said, because "thejudgment of the Mississippi Supreme Court relies upon an adequate andindependent state ground."

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on Oct. 11 that Mr. Berry's challenge tothe lethal injection procedure was barred as a matter of state law becausehe had not presented the claim in his earlier appeals. The United StatesSupreme Court's own jurisdiction is limited to deciding independentquestions of federal law.

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The New York Times


In Science Classrooms, a Blast of Fresh O2

October 30, 2007

Maybe you've seen the television quiz show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5thGrader?" and will proudly attest that you are. But how might you stack upagainst the students in Faye Cascio's ninth-grade physical science class?Consider the following problems:

1) You fall into a swiftly moving river and are in need of a flotationaldevice. You see a life preserver bobbing three meters downstream of you andanother one the same distance behind. Which preserver should you swimtoward?

2) A bullet is fired into one end of a spiral tube. When it shoots out ofthe other end, and forgetting here about the effects of gravity, will thebullet follow a trajectory that (a) is a straight line; (b) begins as aslight curve in the same direction as the spiral tube before graduallystraightening out; or (c) begins as a slight curve in the opposite directionof the tube before straightening out?

3) A plane flying into a headwind will have a lower speed, relative to theground, than it would if it were flying through still air, while a planetraveling with the benefit of a brisk tailwind will have a comparativelygreater ground speed. But what about a plane flying through a 90-degreecrosswind, a breeze that is buffeting its body side-on? Will its groundspeed be higher, lower or no different than it would be in unruffled skies?

The school year is still young, and so, too, is the Academy of Science, thealmost sneakily rigorous high school magnet science program in LoudounCounty, Va., of which Ms. Cascio's physics class is a part. Yet already herfreshmen students can not only ace exercises in Newtonian mechanics like thesamples cited above, but they can also explain the reasoning behind everyanswer they give.

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The New York Times


Schools Raise Bar for Classes for the Gifted

October 30, 2007

In an effort to transform the city's gifted and talented programs, which hehas long derided as a hodgepodge of offerings that have favored children incertain neighborhoods and with well-connected parents, Schools ChancellorJoel I. Klein announced a plan yesterday to limit the programs to studentswho score in the top 5 percent on admissions tests.

At a news conference yesterday announcing his plan, the chancellor estimatedthat roughly half the children in gifted programs now might not meet the newstandards because they did not score in the 95th percentile or above onadmissions tests. There have been no standard citywide cutoffs on admissionsexams; last year, available slots in gifted programs were filled by the topscorers in each school district, and before that the admissions processvaried throughout the city.

"In some districts you'll find that half the kids that got in wouldn't havemet the 95th percentile threshold, and in other districts you'll find a muchdifferent number," Mr. Klein said. "The number is significant, and if youtalk citywide, about half, that could be certainly in the ballpark."

Mr. Klein's overhaul of elementary school gifted programs also includes anew test to identify the gifted, the Bracken School Readiness Assessment,which gauges students' understanding of colors, letters, numbers, sizes,comparisons and shapes. The Bracken test replaces the Gifted ReadinessScales, a test added last year because, officials said, it was easier toadminister and would be more objective.

Under the new plan, Mr. Klein said, school districts that usually have awealth of gifted programs could lose some, while parts of the city with adearth could gain new ones. Officials said it was hard to tell whether thetotal number of children in gifted and talented programs would go up ordown.

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The Washington Post


Free the Running Mates: What Americans Can Learn From Cecilia Sarkozy

By Anne Applebaum
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A15

Admittedly, the divorce was one step too far. But right up until the Frenchfirst couple announced their permanent separation, I was rooting like madfor Cécilia Sarkozy. At last, a prominent wife of a prominent politician whodid not pretend to be totally absorbed by her husband's career! During thefew months since her husband became the French president, Mme. Sarkozy didnot entertain, did not give interviews, did not show up for lunch withGeorge W. Bush and did not even live at the Elysee Palace (the Frenchequivalent of the White House). She certainly did not craft policies. "Asfar as nominations and decisions go, I keep the door of my office closed,"she declared, post-divorce announcement, last week.

See no politics, hear no politics and above all speak no politics -- andwhatever else she was doing, she didn't keep the media informed, at leastnot on purpose. Yet her silence didn't prevent her husband's election,perhaps because most of her countrymen wholeheartedly approve. The vastmajority of the French -- 89 percent, according to one poll-- think thattheir president's marriage is none of their business.

Increasingly, much of the rest of the Western world feels the same way. Thehusband of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, grants no interviews, makesno public appearances and teaches chemistry at a Berlin university, just ashe's always done. Though she had some unfortunate tangles with the press,Cherie Booth, otherwise known as Mrs. Tony Blair, did go on practicing lawwhile her husband was prime minister of Britain. And here I declare apersonal interest: Though I am married to a Polish parliamentarian, I playedno part whatsoever in his recent election campaign. Nor did anyone expect meto. In fact, whenever I do appear at Polish political events, people seemmildly surprised to see me -- which is how it should be.

By contrast, Americans appear to care very deeply about their president'sspouse and family. This is a quality we share with developing countries suchas Argentina -- which just elected its former first lady to thepresidency -- and it gets worse with every electoral cycle. Paying homage tothe American public's interest in their husbands' personal affairs, five ofour many would-be first ladies even appeared together last week for a "debate," which former journalist Maria Shriver, herself the wife of aprominent California politician, declared a landmark event: "Never before inthe history of our country," she said, "have the spouses . . . gatheredtogether to talk about their lives" -- as if this were some sort of positivedevelopment.

The result? There was Michelle Obama, an impressive woman who has put hercareer on hold to attend such events; Elizabeth Edwards, who gamely enduresthis sort of thing despite her cancer; and poor Jeri Thompson, who admittedto sheer terror ("I'm afraid of embarrassing Fred . . . you don't want tolet everybody down"). Nothing of relevance was said, of course. How could itbe?

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The Washington Post


Wall St.'s Expanding Universe

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A15

The real story on Wall Street isn't that E. Stanley O'Neal, whosegrandfather was born a slave, is being shoved out of the top job at MerrillLynch, the gargantuan investment bank. More important is the fact that . . .well, Tom Wolfe said it best in "The Bonfire of the Vanities," his rompthrough the world of hubris and high finance, with this description of thenovel's protagonist:

"On Wall Street he and a few others -- how many? -- three hundred, fourhundred, five hundred? -- had become precisely that . . . Masters of theUniverse."

Actually, O'Neal rose to such heights that the number of his professionalpeers was nowhere near 300 -- more like three or four. That a black man whopicked cotton as a child in Alabama could have spent the past five years asan Uber-Master of the Universe, running one of the world's leading financialinstitutions, is more significant than his downfall.

Granted, the downfall has been pretty spectacular. Merrill Lynch had todisclose last week that the company took a loss of $8.4 billion in thesubprime mortgage meltdown -- much greater than the damage suffered by otherhuge investment firms such as Goldman Sachs.

Merrill's board of directors -- most of whose members were chosen byO'Neal -- has to share responsibility for that debacle; it's not as if theboard was unaware of how O'Neal was investing the firm's money. Apparently,though, there was one thing that O'Neal failed to tell the board: that hehad approached the chief executive of Wachovia Corp. about a possible mergerof the two companies.

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The Washington Post


Bush's Legacy of Cynicism

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A15

When George W. Bush surveys his presidency, he will see two wars commencedand none concluded, Osama bin Laden still on the loose, American prestige atrecord lows throughout the world, a military both broken and abused, and acountry that in large part thinks its government is a liar. Guinness WorldRecords will need a chapter for Bush alone.

It is, though, that bit about lack of trust in government that may be themost important and intractable. The others are correctable. For Iraq, thereis a solution -- or at least an ending. For the military, there is the cureof more money and the fading of memories. For bin Laden, there is mortalityitself. As for Afghanistan, who knows what will happen, since that countryis where Western expectations go to die.

But this business about the people's trust in its government is destructivestuff. We see it played out now with the Senate resolution labeling theal-Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terroristorganization. The resolution itself is a pretty straightforward affair,stating a compelling case that the al-Quds Force has interfered in Iraq andcaused the deaths of Americans. Whatever you may feel about the war in Iraq,no one gets to kill Americans with impunity.

As the resolution states, the American military has "evidence" -- the wordis Gen. David Petraeus's -- of Iranian activity. "This is not intelligence,"the general told Congress. "This is evidence, off computers that wecaptured, documents and so forth." Petraeus didn't get his stars fornothing. He knows the level of well-earned cynicism that the word"intelligence" now engenders in Congress. Evidence! He's talking evidence.

No matter. To a whole lot of people, Petraeus might as well have beentalking dream interpretation. These people, most of them on the Democraticleft, not only do not believe the evidence, they see the resolution as theold Bush administration rope-a-dope: the first step on the road to war withIran. But Bush and Vice President Cheney don't need any resolution to makewar -- "Resolution, resolution, I don't have to show you any stinkin'resolution," I imagine Cheney saying after seeing "The Treasure of theSierra Madre" -- and what the Senate affirmed the world has known for sometime: The Revolutionary Guard is itself a terrorist outfit.

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The Washington Post


The Waterboarding Dodge
Who's really to blame for Mr. Mukasey's evasions on torture?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A14

IT'S A SAD day in America when the nominee for attorney general cannotflatly declare that waterboarding is unconstitutional. The interrogationtechnique simulates drowning and can cause excruciating mental and physicalpain; it has been prosecuted in U.S. courts since the late 1800s and wasregarded by every U.S. administration before this one as torture. Yet, whenasked during his confirmation hearing whether waterboarding isunconstitutional, the best that former judge Michael B. Mukasey could musterwas "if waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional."

The fault for this evasion lies as much, if not more, with President Bushand Congress as it does with Mr. Mukasey. Mr. Bush authorized waterboardingin the past, most notably against al-Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. IfMr. Mukasey now condemns the interrogation method as unconstitutional, hewould probably be in conflict with Justice Department memoranda thatimplicitly endorse such techniques and that have been used by CIAinterrogators and others to cloak their actions in legal legitimacy. Thepresident could also be legally implicated for approving the method.

Democratic senators are demanding that Mr. Mukasey declare waterboardingillegal before they will vote to confirm him. But Congress has failed topass laws that explicitly ban waterboarding and other acts that constituteeither torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, a lesser categoryof abuse also banned by international treaty. Instead, legislators haverepeatedly agreed to definitions of inhumane treatment that have allowed theabuse of foreign detainees to continue.

If Democratic senators are serious about eliminating the use ofwaterboarding and other abusive interrogation techniques, they should seekto mandate that all questioning of foreign detainees be governed by theArmy's interrogation field manual, which was recently updated. Top militaryofficials, who have repeatedly argued that torture yields unreliableinformation and could expose U.S. soldiers to mistreatment, say thetechniques contained in the field manual provide all the tools needed toobtain intelligence even from difficult subjects.

Mr. Mukasey may have a way out of his predicament. He could respond to theSenate's questions by saying that waterboarding should be judged asunacceptable under statutes passed by Congress since 2005, despite theloopholes those laws contain. Though the administration has sought topreserve its prerogative to use waterboarding, the technique reportedly hasnot been employed since then. He also could renew his promise to review allJustice Department memos regarding detainee treatment and correct oreliminate those that don't comport with the law. Then the animus swirlingaround Capitol Hill and throughout the blogosphere toward the attorneygeneral nominee could be redirected more properly: at an administration thatcondoned torture and a Congress that did too little to stop it.


The Washington Post


The Ghost of Brownie

A fake news conference raises doubts about the 'new' FEMA.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A14

SINCE ITS disgraceful performance during Hurricane Katrina and the shake-upthat followed, the folks at the Federal Emergency Management Agency haveadopted a mantra: We are a new FEMA. But the old, bumbling agency capable ofbreathtaking lapses in judgment reemerged last week during a "pressconference" to update the "media" on FEMA's response to the wildfires inSouthern California.

Turns out the people whom FEMA deputy administrator Harvey E. Johnson Jr.called on for softball questions about the agency's handling of the firstmajor disaster since Katrina were -- as Post writer Al Kamen firstreported -- FEMA employees. The real reporters, who couldn't get to the newconference because it had been called 15 minutes before it started,telephoned in but were allowed only to listen. No questions. This isoutlandish on so many levels, we don't know where to begin.

FEMA personnel who participated in this hoax undermined the agency'sstill-tattered credibility smack in the middle of an emergency. The excusethat staffers were simply asking questions they had been fielding fromreporters all day is as lame as it is unacceptable.

Despite apologies from two men who should have known better -- Mr. Johnsonand John P. "Pat" Philbin, who until last week was FEMA's director ofexternal affairs -- condemnation from the administration was quick.

President Bush's press secretary Dana Perino said, "It is not a practicethat we would employ here at the White House." Russ Knocke, spokesman forthe Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is a part, bluntlydescribed the stunt as "totally unacceptable." Reprimands are "veryprobable," he added. DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff sent Mr. Knocke to FEMAon temporary assignment yesterday to manage its external affairs operation.Good. May he bring order and discipline with him.

Mr. Philbin, who left FEMA on Thursday, said, "I hope readers understandwe're working very hard to establish credibility and integrity, and I wouldhope this does not undermine it." Hope springs eternal.

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The Washington Post


Immunity Jeopardizes Iraq Probe
Guards' Statements Cannot Be Used in Blackwater Case

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; 9:41 AM

Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in theshooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromisedbecause the guards received immunity for statements they made to StateDepartment officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcementofficials said yesterday.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation twoweeks after the Sept. 16 shootings cannot use any information gleaned duringquestioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security,which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed bythe FBI, citing promises of immunity from State, one law enforcementofficial said. The restrictions on the FBI's use of their initial statementsdo not preclude prosecution by the Justice Department using other evidence,the official said, but "they make things a lot more complicated anddifficult."

Under State Department contractor rules, Diplomatic Security agents arecharged with investigating and reporting on all "use of force" incidents.Although there have been previous Blackwater shootings over the past threeyears -- none of which resulted in prosecutions -- the Sept. 16 incident wasby far the most serious. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security was underpressure to quickly determine what had happened in what soon became a majorcontroversy in Baghdad and Washington.

It is unclear when or by whom the grant of immunity was explained to theguards. Under federal case law applying to government workers, onlyvoluntary answers to questions posed by the employing agency can be usedagainst them in a criminal prosecution. If an employee is ordered to answerunder threat of disciplinary action, the resulting statements cannot beused.

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The Washington Post


Oil and Trade Gains Make Major Investors Of Developing Nations

By David Cho and Thomas Heath
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A01

The government of Libya, flush with oil, has amassed $40 billion and isready to put it in play on Wall Street. China recently acquired a huge stakein one of the biggest names in U.S. finance. Tiny Qatar is adding $1 billiona week to its investment coffers and is trying to buy the leading grocer inBritain.

Developing nations, especially in Asia and the Middle East, are aggressivelystockpiling some of the largest concentrations of investment money inhistory. The cash hoards, called sovereign wealth funds, are controlled notby state-run companies or private investors but by governments.

These investment pools are equal to or even bigger than the largest pensionand private-equity funds in the United States, and many are highly secretiveabout their activities. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority has an estimated$875 billion to invest, while China's first stab at a sovereign wealth fund,which started last month, has $200 billion. The largest private-equity firmhas about $90 billion under management.

Sovereign wealth funds have been around for decades. But enriched by thesurge in the price of oil, which settled at a record $93.53 yesterday, andthe trade gap between the United States and Asia, these funds have grown togigantic proportions. This has alarmed U.S. politicians and regulators, someof whom held a series of meetings on the topic here this month. Some on WallStreet say the growing prominence of these funds portends a fundamentalshift in financing power away from Western nations.

"It's evidence of the emergence of the developing world as an economicsuperpower and . . . of a shift of economic power away from the UnitedStates," said Alex Patelis, head of international economics at MerrillLynch.

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The Washington Post


Nature or Nurture? Well, Smart Guy?

By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A02

The forum at the usually sober American Enterprise Institute yesterdaystarted off with a bit of Borscht Belt humor. AEI adjunct fellow Jon Entinedisplayed a cartoon of a tablet-carrying Moses looking incredulously towardthe heavens.

"Now, let me get this straight," the bearded figure says. "The Arabs get theoil, and we have to cut off the ends of our what?"

Don't get it? Must be your goyishe kop. For two hours yesterday, two AEIscholars and a visiting bioethicist kibbitzed about a pressing cause: WhyJews are so doggone smart.

Entine, author of the new book "Abraham's Children: Race, Identity and theDNA of the Chosen People," argued that genetic mutations gave Jews very highIQs. "If you had one of these mutations" -- such as those that causeTay-Sachs disease -- "it probably could cause high intelligence," heasserted.

Fellow AEI fellow Charles Murray suggested that the rigors of Talmudic studydrove out the dull Jews centuries ago. "If you were dumb and a Jew," saidthe philo-Semitic Murray, "it was a lot easier to be a Christian." Murray,best known for his incendiary book about race and intelligence, "The BellCurve," explored Jewish smarts in an April article in Commentary titled"Jewish Genius."

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The Washington Post


2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion
Some Formerly Classified Figures Are to Be Disclosed Today

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A04

The director of national intelligence will disclose today that nationalintelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S.intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according tosources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.

The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S.intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according tothese sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the totalremains classified.

Adm. Mike McConnell will announce that the fiscal 2007 national intelligenceprogram figure, classified up to now, is being made public at the urging ofthe Sept. 11 commission and the insistence of Congress, which turned thecommission's recommendation into law. The commission's plan was to have thepresident make the figure public each year.

While the budget figure released by McConnell excludes intelligence programsfor the separate military services, it includes the budgets of the CIA, theDefense Intelligence Agency, the FBI's intelligence programs, the StateDepartment's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the major DefenseDepartment intelligence collection agencies.

The latter group includes the National Security Agency, which interceptselectronic communications; the National Reconnaissance Office, which buildsand manages intelligence satellites; and the NationalGeospatial-Intelligence Agency, which does image collection. They compose amajor part of the $40 billion-plus national intelligence budget.

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The Washington Post


Pride and Joy in India Over La.'s Bobby Jindal
Governor-Elect Is Latest Scion Idolized for Making It in U.S.

By Rama Lakshmi
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A10

KHANPUR, India -- U.S. politics aren't usually the subject of gossip in thehomes of this sleepy rice- and wheat-growing village in northern India. Butwhen Bobby Jindal, an American of Indian descent, was elected governor ofLouisiana this month, the residents of his ancestral village erupted in joy,distributing sweets and lighting firecrackers.

Along rural roads lined with heaps of cow dung, they danced the traditionalbhangra to the beat of drums.

It was quite the celebration considering the village's relatively flimsyties to its native son. Jindal's father packed up more than three decadesago to chase the American dream, leaving behind a large extended family. Onerelative vaguely recalls seeing a then-4-year-old Bobby visit many yearsago, but others are not so sure. And when Jindal visited India in 2006 aspart of a congressional delegation, he didn't bother to visit Khanpur.

To the villagers here, none of that seems to matter. They have drawn up awish list of public works projects they would like Jindal to fund, includinga hospital, a women's college and a sports stadium.

"Bobby's success is our success," said a turbaned Ujagar Singh, 68, whobicycled to school on the village's bumpy dirt tracks with Jindal's father."His story begins here. The quality of the fruit depends on the roots."

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The Washington Post


Weary, Wary Lawmakers See Compromise as Way Forward

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A04

For most of the year, congressional Democrats have been uncompromising onissues including the Iraq war and expanded health insurance for poorchildren, believing that public opinion favored them and that Republicanswould break with President Bush. But the GOP held firm and Congress'sapproval ratings plummeted.

Now, the dynamic may be changing.

Over the weekend, Democratic leaders were joined by staffers from the GOPleadership to discuss expansion of the State Children's Health InsuranceProgram. By midweek, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the committee's ranking Republican,hope to unveil changes to the House version of the bill that have theblessing of the Republican and Democratic leadership.

Those negotiations come after new bipartisan efforts on the war and attemptsto put controls on the president's warrantless wiretapping program. AfterDemocrats failed throughout the summer to establish a timetable for bringingtroops home, Democrats and Republicans got behind a more modest plan toforce the Bush administration to present plans to Congress for troopwithdrawals. After that bill passed the House earlier this month, 377 to 46,a Senate coalition emerged to advance the legislation. The coalitionincludes Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), James Webb (D-Va.), GeorgeV. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).

And as Democratic leaders push their own legislation to rein in thewiretapping program, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has been quietly exploringavenues of compromise with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the rankingRepublican on the House intelligence committee. Centrist Democrats hopethose talks can dovetail with the Senate intelligence committee's ownbipartisan measure on surveillance of suspected terrorists.

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The Washington Post


Canada publicly welcomes Dalai Lama, defies China

By Randall Palmer
Monday, October 29, 2007; 4:58 PM

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government defied China on Monday,proceeding with public meetings with the Dalai Lama and criticizingBeijing's efforts to prevent the talks.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader in hisoffice in Parliament, with television cameras and photographers present, andpresented him with a maple-leaf scarf.

"I hope that the entire world gets the message that attacking a 72-year-oldpacifist Buddhist monk, who advocates nothing more than cultural autonomyfor his people, is counterproductive," junior cabinet minister Jason Kenney,who attended the meeting, told reporters.

In 2004, then-Prime Minister Paul Martin met the Dalai Lama privately at thehome of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Ottawa, but the venues wereupgraded to government buildings for his current visit.

"I don't care. The important (thing) is meeting (in) person. That I consideris the most important," said the Dalai Lama, wearing a maroon and saffronrobe.

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The Washington Post


Iraqi Dam Seen In Danger of Deadly Collapse

By Amit R. Paley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; A01

AT THE MOSUL DAM, Iraq -- The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of animminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water,possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest citiesin the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of acatastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, whohave concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths bydrowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet,said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. "The Mosul dam is judged tohave an unacceptable annual failure probability," in the dry wording of anArmy Corps of Engineers draft report.

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam innorthern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, accordingto Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be releasedTuesday. The reconstruction project, worth at least $27 million, was notintended to be a permanent solution to the dam's deficiencies.

"In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is themost dangerous dam in the world," the Army Corps concluded in September2006, according to the report to be released Tuesday. "If a small problem[at] Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely."

The effort to prevent a failure of the dam has been complicated bybehind-the-scenes wrangling between Iraqi and U.S. officials over theseverity of the problem and how much money should be allocated to fix it.The Army Corps has recommended building a second dam downstream as afail-safe measure, but Iraqi officials have rejected the proposal, arguingthat it is unnecessary and too expensive.

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Study: AIDS in U.S. earlier than first thought

Common form came to Haiti in 1960s
By Jia-Rui Chong
Los Angeles Times
October 30, 2007

A genetic analysis of 25-year-old blood samples has outlined a new map ofthe AIDS virus' journey out of Africa, showing that today's most widespreadsubtype first emerged in Haiti in the 1960s and arrived in the United Statesa few years later.

The analysis fills in a gap in the history of the virus, whose migration hasbeen known in only a sketchy form from its origin in Africa in the 1930s toits first detection in Los Angeles in 1981.

Dr. Michael Gottlieb, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLAand one of the original discoverers of AIDS, said the analysis placed thevirus in the United States nearly a decade earlier than previously thought.

"It's pretty clear evidence for Haiti as a stepping stone," he said. "Thesuggestion that the infection was further below our radar than I'dpreviously suspected is kind of unnerving." The analysis, published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on a variety of HIVknown as subtype B, which is the most prevalent form in most countriesoutside Africa.

Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona andsenior author of the study, analyzed five blood samples collected in 1982and 1983 from Haitian AIDS patients in Miami. The samples had been stored ina freezer by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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The Miami Herald


FEMA's charade

Posted on Tue, Oct. 30, 2007

The Federal Emergency Management Agency created a disaster of its own lastweek when it staged a fake press conference regarding the Californiawildfires. This attempt to manipulate the American public not only tarnishestrust in government but brings another black mark on an agency still hauntedby its inept response to Hurricane Katrina.

To his credit, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, who oversees FEMA,minced no words in criticizing the charade. ''I think it was one of thedumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been ingovernment,'' he said. ``I have made unambiguously clear, in Anglo-Saxonprose, that it is not to ever happen again, and there will be appropriatedisciplinary action taken against those people who exhibited . . .
extraordinarily poor judgment.''

That's the right message. John P. ''Pat'' Philbin, the FEMA external affairsdirector who arranged the event, already has paid for his part. He lost thewas to start Monday heading public affairs for the director ofNational Intelligence. Let's hope that the message is also taken to heart atthe nation's troubled disaster-relief agency. Public affairs employees havea duty to be honest with the public.

What motivated the ill-fated ''press conference'' is still unclear. FEMAprovided only 15 minutes' notice. No journalists showed up in person. Thereporters who called in on a FEMA-provided line were blocked from askingquestions. Instead, agency employees threw softball questions at Vice Adm.Harvey E. Johnson Jr., FEMA's second-in-command. Everyone from Mr. Johnsonand Mr. Philbin on down should have known better.

This is no way for FEMA to improve its image. The way to do it is to get thejob done right on the ground and give the public honest answers to toughquestions.

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Another election fiasco in Florida?

The Democratic Party is doing battle -- with itself -- over the state's rolein the primaries. Some members say it could cost the party in November 2008.

By Michael Scherer
Oct. 30, 2007

Amid the swimming pools and shuffleboards, a new sense of outrage is buzzingthrough condo land. Democratic activist Adele Berger began to hear about itat her regular, eight-deck rummy game in Century Village, an expansive,historically Jewish community of New York retirees. "People have been comingover and asking me, 'What's going on, Adele? What's the purpose of voting ifit won't be counted?' And that's sad, that's sad."

The head of the community's Democratic club, Sophie Bock, is hearing thesame thing, forcing her to reassure residents in the monthly newsletter thattheir presidential primary vote will count -- at least symbolically. "I amtrying to make nicey-nicey, because I can't stand it when the people say, 'Idon't want to vote. My vote won't be counted.'" Privately, however, she isas angry as her club members, so angry that she has even begun deletingfundraising e-mails from Howard Dean and the Democratic National Committeebefore reading them.

"We have been screwed so many times," says Berger, sitting at her kitchentable late last week, before a spread of moist marble cake and sugarcookies.

"Oh yes, they are screwing us again," says Bock, who wears a purple beretdecorated with fabric flowers.

"That's what I just said -- right," Berger says.

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Palm Beach Post


Former senator still a pacifist

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH - His step is slower than it was when he ran on an antiwarplatform 35 years ago, but his theme is little changed, as formerpresidential candidate George McGovern talks about three moves the UnitedStates should make to get out of Iraq.

"I think we ought to issue an apology to the people of Iraq, some 600,000 ofwhom have been killed," the former U.S. senator from South Dakota said."Otherwise, you leave behind millions of Iraqis who will hate us until theday they die. And that's dangerous."

The other two steps he recommended: spending a fraction of the money spentso far on the war to rebuild the structures that have been destroyed in itscourse, and work with neighboring nations to build a law enforcement system,rather than an army, to restore order.

McGovern, 85, was in town Monday to talk to Palm Beach County Democratsabout wars past and present and to sign copies of his book, Out of Iraq, aPractical Plan for Withdrawal Now.

It was a popular stance to those roughly 200 people who packed a room at theKravis Center's Cohen Pavilion.

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The Miami Herald


Are you staph savvy?

Posted on Tue, Oct. 30, 2007

Recent reports about the deaths of two students -- one in Virginia and, mostrecently, a Brooklyn middle schooler -- from a virulent strain ofdrug-resistant bacteria have propelled staph infections into the news.

In Miami-Dade, school officials announced last week that five footballplayers at Miami Palmetto Senior High were infected withmethicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, within thepast month. At the same time, angry parents descended on Sunset ElementarySchool after learning that a teacher there had symptoms consistent with theillness yet school officials had not informed them about it. (The case hasnot been confirmed as MRSA).

In Broward County, 10 cases of unconfirmed MRSA have been reported to theBroward school district, including infections in at least two employees. Theschools are Broward Estates and Thurgood Marshall elementaries in FortLauderdale; Oakridge Elementary in Hollywood; Deerfield Beach Middle, ForestGlen Middle in Coral Springs, Glades Middle in Miramar, New River Middle inFort Lauderdale and Silver Trail Middle; and Flanagan High in Pembroke Pinesand Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

''MRSA has been around for quite some time -- and it has gotten a lot ofpress lately -- but we don't want people to think that this superbug haslanded on the moon and is brand new here,'' says Barbara Russell, directorof Infection Prevention and Control for Baptist Hospital in Kendall.

Many questions persist: Can I get it? Why can't most antibiotics treat it?How can I prevent it?

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The Miami Herald


Lawmaker defends death penalty

Posted on Tue, Oct. 30, 2007

An American Bar Association panel found that Florida's death penalty system''falls short'' in providing defendants with ''fair and accurate''treatment, but a key state senator Monday dismissed calls for revisions.

Florida was one of several states cited by the lawyers' group, which iscalling for a nationwide moratorium on executions until states determinethat their systems meet legal standards for fairness.

But Sen. Victor Crist, a Tampa Republican, said Florida has done what it canto eliminate problems.

''The criticisms are unwarranted and nothing more than an attempt to end thedeath penalty,'' said Crist, who chairs the Senate Criminal and CivilJustice Appropriations Committee and has made death penalty revisions hischief policy area. ``No matter what we do, as long as we have a deathpenalty, they'll try to find fault with it.''

Florida was one of eight states the association studied over the past threeyears. The review team that studied the system in Florida, as well as thosein Arizona and Pennsylvania, did not call for moratoriums in those states.Chris Slobogin, a University of Florida School of Law professor and reviewteam member said, however, that a ''significant majority'' of the groupvoted for a moratorium.

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Thompson, Obama get most positive coverage: study

By Paul J. Gough
Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:24am EDT

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - A new study of campaign 2008 coverage findsthat Illinois Democrat Barack Obama and former "Law & Order" actor FredThompson, a Republican, have enjoyed much more positive coverage than theirrivals.

By the same token, longtime media darling John McCain of the GOP has taken abeating in coverage, largely the result of mostly negative stories about hisfundraising struggles. The study of coverage was conducted from January1-May 31 by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and the JoanShorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Obama has attained rock star status on the campaign trail even though he'sbehind Hillary Clinton in the voter polls. Obama received positive coveragein 47% of all stories about him. But the study also found that Obama seemedto be slipping after May, with more neutral and negative stories. Some 46%of the stories about Thompson had been positive with only 4% negative abouthis candidacy.

Thompson's GOP rival McCain suffered 48% negative coverage and only 12% ofwhat the study considered positive, mostly due to his falling behind in thepolls and fund-raising. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani had morenegative than positive stories done about him, however, while Clinton had38% negative and 27% positive stories. Five candidates received half of allcoverage.

The media also were taken to task for focusing too much on the horse raceand not enough about the issues that voters say they want to hear. Thenuts-and-bolts of campaigning accounted for 63% of all coverage, while thepersonalities and private life of the candidates and their families addedanother 17%. That left only 7% for domestic policy issues and 7% for foreignpolicy aspects.

"All of these findings seem to be at sharp variance with what the publicsays it wants from campaign reporting," the study said. It looked at themajor network morning and evening newscasts along with daytime and nighttimeprogramming on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News.


The Los Angeles Times


A juggling act on No Child Left Behind

Democrats, Republicans and teachers see flaws in Calif.'s Rep. Miller'sproposal to renew the 2001 education law. He's not giving up.

By Nicole Gaouette
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 30, 2007

WASHINGTON - Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) has never been one to back awayfrom a brawl -- he once warned an adversary that if he wanted to fight, itwas going to take a while, so he'd better bring lunch. But as Miller pushesto renew the landmark education law known as No Child Left Behind, he facesso many fights that the fate of the bill is increasingly in doubt.

As chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, Miller is sparringwith Republicans who see his proposed changes as an unacceptable wateringdown of the law's core standards.

Teachers object to his proposal to link pay to performance.

Even his fellow Democrats -- particularly freshmen who campaigned against itand members of the Congressional Black Caucus -- are giving him a hard time,largely for not doing enough to soften the law's most rigid requirements.

Some critics of the law say the emphasis on math and English testing hassqueezed teaching time for history, science and other subjects. Others saythat the law is too strict and punishes schools that are doing a fairly goodjob.

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