Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS October 17, 2007

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The New York Times

China Issues Warning on Dalai Lama Trip

October 17, 2007

BEIJING, Oct. 16 - Chinese officials warned the United States on Tuesday notto honor the Dalai Lama, saying a planned award ceremony in Washington forthe Tibetan spiritual leader would have "an extremely serious impact" onrelations between the countries.

Speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of theCommunist Party's 17th National Congress, the officials condemned the DalaiLama as a resolute separatist and said foreign leaders must stop encouraginghis "splittist" mission.

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

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

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel laureate, has lived in exile since the Chinese armycrushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959 and is revered as the spiritualleader of Tibetan Buddhists. He is scheduled to receive the CongressionalGold Medal on Wednesday.

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The New York Times

Support Wanes in House for Genocide Vote

October 17, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 - Worried about antagonizing Turkish leaders, Housemembers from both parties have begun to withdraw their support from aresolution backed by the Democratic leadership that would condemn asgenocide the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago.

Almost a dozen lawmakers had shifted against the measure in a 24-hour periodending Tuesday night, accelerating a sudden exodus that has cast deep doubtover the measure's prospects. Some made clear that they were heedingwarnings from the White House, which has called the measure dangerouslyprovocative, and from the Turkish government, which has said House passagewould prompt Turkey to reconsider its ties to the United States, includinglogistical support for the Iraq war.

Until Tuesday, the measure appeared on a path to House passage, with strongsupport from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was approved last week by theHouse Foreign Affairs Committee. But by Tuesday evening, a group of seniorHouse Democrats had made it known that they were planning to ask theleadership to drop plans for a vote on the measure.

"Turkey obviously feels they are getting poked in the eye over somethingthat happened a century ago and maybe this isn't a good time to be doingthat," said Representative Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat who dropped hissponsorship of the resolution on Monday night.

Others who took the same action said that, while they deplored the masskillings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, the modern-day consequences inthe Middle East could not be overlooked.

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The Washington Post

Many GOP Donors Yet to Open Wallets

Even Bush 'Rangers' Are Staying Away
By Chris Cillizza and Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A01

More than a third of the top fundraisers who helped elect George W. Bushpresident remain on the sidelines in 2008, contributing to a gapingfinancial disparity between the GOP candidates and their Democraticcounterparts.

Scores of Bush Pioneers and Rangers are not working for any Republicancandidate, citing discontent with the war in Iraq, anger at the performanceof Republicans in Congress and a general lack of enthusiasm. More than twodozen have actually made contributions to Democrats.

Matt Fong, a former California state treasurer, 1998 U.S. Senate candidateand two-time Bush Pioneer, said that after months of disappointment in theRepublican Party, he had hoped to be recharged by the new crop ofpresidential candidates.

"I have yet to get interested in any of them," he said. "I'm just not happywith the direction of our party. I think we have a huge credibility problem,which I have not seen any of the candidates show the ability to rise above."

Democrats now have more than twice as much money to spend in the upcomingprimaries as Republicans do, according to Federal Election Commissionreports released this week. Some leading Republicans said they fear that alack of enthusiasm could translate to indifference from rank-and-fileRepublicans in next year's election.

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The New York Times

Questions of Justice

October 17, 2007
Op-Ed Contributors

Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush's nominee for attorney general, appearstoday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Op-Ed page asked four legalexperts to pose the questions they would like to hear Judge Mukasey answer.

1. Griffin Bell, attorney general under Jimmy Carter, once wrote of the"tension between the attorney general's duty to define the legal limits ofexecutive action in a neutral manner and the president's desire to receivelegal advice that helps him do what he wants." How will you manage thistension?

2. You wrote recently that proposals for a national security court toincapacitate terrorists through preventive detention rather than criminaltrials "deserve careful scrutiny by the public, and particularly by the U.S.Congress." Do you support the creation of such a court? What class ofterrorists should be subject to preventive detention, and for how long?Should alleged terrorists be given the right to counsel and the right tocompel witnesses?

3. In 2002 the Department of Justice opined, "Any effort by Congress toregulate the interrogations of battlefield combatants would violate theConstitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in thepresident." Do you agree with this statement? How do you define the scope ofthe president's exclusive military powers?

4. Many of the top jobs in the Justice Department are vacant as a result ofretirements or Senate refusals to confirm nominees. How does this affect theJustice Department's ability to carry out its mission of upholding the ruleof law? Are these vacancies the fault of the president or the Senate? How doyou plan to address the problem?

- JACK M. BALKIN, a Yale law professor, blogs at Balkinization.


The Washington Post

Son of SCHIP

By Ruth Marcus
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A17

Tomorrow, if all goes as expected, House Democrats will fail in theirattempt to override President Bush's veto of the bill to expand the StateChildren's Health Insurance Program.

As a political matter, that's the good news for Democrats.

The next legislative battles, on spending measures and terrorismsurveillance, find the Democrats in much more treacherous politicalterritory -- at a time when Congress has its last clear chance to sellitself to voters before presidential politics entirely dominate thediscussion.

"The first veto is the defining veto," House Democratic Caucus Chairman RahmEmanuel (Ill.) told me, and Democrats were smart to play their strongestcard first. Now, though, instead of arguments about health care for childrenthat feed voters' preconceived notions of miserly Republicans, the fightsare apt to feed voters' preconceived notions about spendthrift,terrorist-coddling Democrats.

The calendar necessitates a two-front war: Fiscal 2008 started Oct. 1, withno spending bills completed. Meanwhile, the subtly titled Protect AmericaAct expires in February, and Democrats want to get the surveillance billdone in time to avoid a replay of the law's steamroller passage this summer.

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The Washington Post

Can You Hear Us Now?

Verizon Shouldn't Be A Cellphone Censor
By Nancy Keenan and Roberta Combs
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A17

As the presidents of NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Christian Coalition ofAmerica, we are on opposite sides of almost every issue. But when it comesto the fundamental right of citizens to participate in the politicalprocess, we're united -- and very, very worried.

Free speech shouldn't stop when you turn on your computer or pick up yourcellphone. But recent actions by the nation's biggest communicationscorporations should be of grave concern to all who care about publicparticipation in our democracy, particularly our leaders in Congress.

Last month, Verizon Wireless refused to approve NARAL Pro-Choice America'sapplication for a text-messaging "short code," a program that enables peopleto voluntarily sign up to receive updates by texting a five-digit code. WhenNARAL Pro-Choice America protested, the nation's second-largest wirelesscarrier initially claimed the right to block any content "that, in itsdiscretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory."

After news of Verizon's censorship hit the front page of the New York Times,and sparked a public outcry, the company quickly backpedaled. Verizon issuedan apology and blamed the blocking on a "dusty internal policy," while stillreserving the right to block text messages in the future at its discretion.

When it comes to censoring free speech, sorry just isn't good enough.Whatever your political views -- conservative or liberal, Republican orDemocrat, pro-choice or pro-life -- it shouldn't be up to Verizon todetermine whether you receive the information you requested. Why should anycompany decide what you choose to say or do over your phone, your computeror your BlackBerry? Technologies are converging in our communicationssystem, but the principles of free expression and the rights of allAmericans to speak without intervention should remain paramount.

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The Washington Post

Republicans at a Loss

By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A17

My conservative brethren in the op-ed commentariat have made a disquietingdiscovery: The Republican candidates for president are saying nothing thataddresses the economic anxieties of the American middle class. Both DavidBrooks and Michael Gerson, writing last Friday in the New York Times and ThePost, respectively, expressed a mixture of amazement and horror at thedisdain that the candidates display toward broadly centrist proposals tobolster Americans' economic security, and at the candidates' apparentindifference to their need to craft such proposals of their own.

"The Democrats propose something" such as expanding health-care coverage forchildren or providing federal matching funds for 401(k) accounts forfamilies of modest means, bemoaned Brooks, "and the Republicans have noalternative." Gerson grumbled that the candidates were taking gleefulpotshots at the "baby bonds" notion -- providing newborns with small savingsaccounts -- that Hillary Clinton briefly floated, despite the fact that theidea has won support from the right as well as the left.

In fact, with the honorable exception of long-shot candidate Mike Huckabee,the Republican field seems content with an economic program that comes downto opposing whatever Hillary Clinton proposes. Rudy Giuliani, campaigninghard to convince the Republican base to overlook his heresies on suchcultural hot buttons as abortion rights, seeks to win over the faithful byclaiming the mantle of Hillary-Basher Club Champion. A tax credit forparents struggling to pay their children's college tuition? Matching fundsfor 401(k)s? Baby bonds? Crazy notions all, not because of theirsubstance -- Rudy can't be bothered with their substance -- but because theywere proposed by -- get this -- Hillary! The GOP crowds roar.

As a road map to governance, this is both dim and skimpy. PresidentGiuliani, Romney, McCain or Thompson can reliably be counted on to beagainst whatever Clinton is for. Beyond that, if we total up their domesticand economic policy proposals, they intend to do almost nothing at all.

Romney will punt to the states the problem of the decreasing willingness ofemployers to provide health insurance. Giuliani says everybody should justbuy their own policies -- and if the insurance companies don't want to sellto the sick or middle-aged, that's just too bad. John McCain focuses on therising costs of treating chronic diseases rather than the declining level ofcoverage. Fred Thompson wants to take a whack at Medicare.

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The New York Times

As the Shock of Virginia Tech Fades

October 17, 2007

It was a vox pop scene steeped in pathos: Parents of students slain in theVirginia Tech gun massacre journeyed to the Capitol yesterday and beggedCongress to finally close the glaring gun control loophole discovered after33 lives were lost in the campus rampage. It should have been fixed soonafter the slaughter in April. After all, most of Congress supports theremedy - a strengthened law to block dangerously ill people like theVirginia Tech predator from buying firearms.

The bipartisan measure won fast passage in the House, where its supportersfeatured the rarest of partnerships between gun control advocates and theNational Rifle Association. Then it ran into wasted months of Senatecommittee infighting over gun lobby taboos. And now, as the pleading parentsmake their rounds, their biggest need is to confront Senator Tom Coburn, thelone obdurate lawmaker blocking final approval.

Senator Coburn styles himself in some fantasy O.K. Corral, outgunning thegun lobby. He has raised budgetary obfuscations and absurd questionspremised on his view that the right to bear arms trumps all manner oflife-and-death issues. The senator worries greatly that innocent Americansor war-stressed veterans might wind up on the list, unable to buy thealmighty gun.

In this case, an administrative glitch meant the deranged student gunman wasnever put on the federal firearms watch list, even though he was previouslydeemed dangerous by a judge who had ordered him into psychiatric therapy.The bill aims to fix that while presenting more resources to help stateskeep the watch list updated and, we hope, cut back on the abominable toll ofnearly 30,000 gun deaths a year.

It's time for Democratic leaders to deliver on all that talk of closure andend Senator Coburn's dangerous farce. If it takes a filibuster confrontationto defeat him, so be it. The gun lobby, which has pointed out theultra-extremist flaws in the senator's position, should take the next stepand support that effort.


The Washington Post

Helping Workers Where it Hurts

By Robert LaLonde
Special to's Think Tank Town
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; 12:00 AM

Imagine if auto insurance policies paid for fender benders, but not for carsthat were totaled. Or, if homeowner's policies paid when errant baseballsflew through windows, but not when homes burned to the ground. If insuranceactually worked like this, there would be an outcry. We would feel lesssecure about our cars and homes. We would demand reform.

The current system of work insurance is like the auto insurance policy thatcovers only fender benders. If workers suffer the equivalent of a minoraccident -- a few weeks without a job -- they are covered by thegovernment's Unemployment Insurance program. But if they suffer theequivalent of a car wreck, they get nothing.

Car wrecks in the labor market do not take the form of unemployment. In theUnited States most displaced workers usually find new work reasonablyquickly. Rather, the car wreck that threatens U.S. workers consists of wageloss, not job loss. The Displaced Workers Survey, conducted by the U.S.Bureau of the Census, indicates that 25 to 30 percent of long-tenureddisplaced workers find new jobs that pay less than 80 percent of their oldwages. These reemployment earnings losses persist, sometimes throughouttheir lives. The economic effects of this wage loss are similar to havingone's house burn to the ground without insurance.

Imagine a 40-year-old, displaced worker, who made $40,000 in his previousjob. He can find a new job quickly, but only at $30,000, or 25 percent lessthan his old job. Studies suggest that this worker will probably stay in theworkforce for another twenty years. If this 25 percent pay cut persists, thelife-time cost of his job displacement amounts to $165,000 -- and thisexcludes his foregone pension and health benefits, and reduced employercontributions to Social Security. With no insurance to mitigate the loss, itis easy to see why middle class workers fear job loss and the governmentpolicies that increase their financial risk.

Congress should consider such fears as it reauthorizes the Trade AdjustmentAssistance Act. Trade adjustment assistance was created to broaden middleclass workers' support for free trade by providing help to workers who arehurt by liberalization. But the program falls short of its goals in threeways.

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The New York Times

Texas Governor Endorses Giuliani

October 17, 2007
Filed at 8:51 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani onWednesday won the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, despite theirdifferences on abortion rights.

Perry, an abortion opponent, said his biggest concern had been Giuliani'ssupport for abortion rights but that he was satisfied Giuliani would appointjudges who view the issue conservatively.

''The one (issue) that I wanted to hear him give me an answer and look meright in my eyes was that issue of who can I expect, what type of individualcan I expect on the Supreme Court,'' Perry said at a news conference withGiuliani.

''He clearly said ... you can look for people like Scalia and Roberts andAlito. Let me tell you, I can live with that,'' Perry said, referring toconservative Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito andChief Justice John Roberts.

Perry said when he buys a pickup truck, he doesn't rule it out simplybecause it has one option he doesn't like.

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The New York Times

Panel Rejects Detention Center for Illegal Immigrants

October 17, 2007

RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 16 - A Virginia state panel on Tuesday rejected acontroversial proposal to create the country's first state-run facilitywhere illegal immigrants arrested for certain crimes could be held untilfederal officials deport them or while awaiting trial.

Instead, the panel recommended that the state provide additional money solocal officials could build more jail space to house immigrants awaitingdeportation. It also called on local jail officials to check the immigrationstatus of all inmates and deny bail to most illegal immigrants who committedcrimes.

In recent years, Virginia has become a testing ground for some of thestrictest policies in the nation to curb illegal immigration.

This week, officials in Prince William County, Va., were weighing proposalsto deny county services to illegal immigrants and to direct the police tojail those immigrants who could not show documentation proving they were inthe United States legally.

This year, state lawmakers submitted a proposal to fine employers who hiredillegal immigrants $10,000 and to revoke the business licenses of anyone inthe state convicted of hiring illegal immigrants. In 2003, the state was thefirst to pass a measure making it a crime to give illegal immigrants driver's

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The Boston Globe

Bob Jones III endorses Romney for president

October 16, 2007

COLUMBIA, S.C. --Bob Jones III, chancellor of the Christian fundamentalistschool named for his family in Greenville, is endorsing Mitt Romney for theRepublican nomination for president.

Romney's campaign confirmed Jones' endorsement Tuesday.

"We're proud to have Dr. Jones' support and look forward to working with himto communicate Gov. Romney's message of conservative change to voters,"Romney spokesman William Holley said in a statement.

Jones didn't immediately respond to a message Tuesday evening from TheAssociated Press. But he told a Greenville newspaper that supporting Romneyis critical both to make sure former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani doesn'twin the GOP nomination and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary RodhamClinton doesn't win the election.

"If it turns out to be Giuliani and Hillary we've got two pro-choicecandidates, and that would be a disaster," Jones told The Greenville Newsfor a story on its Web site.

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The Washington Post

The Mukasey Hearing

Maybe senators will have better luck getting answers than they did from his predecessor.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A16

THE CROSS-EXAMINATION got off to a sharp, quick start: "Do you approve oftorture?" "What kind of a standard is appropriate for the detention ofaliens?" "To what extent has . . . the Patriot Act been of real importancein our fight against terrorism?"

Skeptical senators, already feeling burned by a hyper-secretiveadministration and just months after discovery of the Justice Department's"torture memo," appropriately grilled attorney general nominee Alberto R.Gonzales during his January 2005 confirmation hearing. Then Mr. Gonzalesstarted talking. His answer to a question about the mistreatment ofdetainees at the Abu Ghraib prison? "As a human being I am sickened andoutraged by those photos, but as someone who may be head of the department,I obviously don't want to provide any kind of legal opinion as to whether ornot that conduct might be criminal," Mr. Gonzales testified. He addedmoments later, if "that conduct falls within the jurisdiction of theDepartment of Justice, I will pursue it aggressively. And you have my wordon that."

The Senate Judiciary Committee should insist on more from Michael B.Mukasey, Mr. Gonzales's would-be successor, whose confirmation hearing isscheduled to begin today. Mr. Mukasey is known as a straight shooter. And asa 19-year veteran and former chief judge of the U.S. District Court for theSouthern District of New York, he also appears more qualified andknowledgeable than Mr. Gonzales about a host of federal law enforcement andanti-terrorism matters. But senators shouldn't hesitate to press Mr. Mukaseyabout his legal opinions and policy interpretations.

Mr. Mukasey presided over the initial federal court proceedings involvingalleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla. He allowed the administration to hold Mr.Padilla, a U.S. citizen, as a material witness while insisting, overadministration objections, that Mr. Padilla be allowed to consult with alawyer. How did then-Judge Mukasey strike the legal balance between thegovernment's desire to hold Mr. Padilla and Mr. Padilla's right to counsel?Would he strike the balance in the same way as attorney general or wouldthat balance shift because of his new role?

Does Mr. Mukasey believe that Rasul v. Bush, in which the Supreme Courtfound that detainees held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base had the right tochallenge their detentions, was decided correctly? Would Mr. Mukasey supportlegislation, pending in Congress, to restore the habeas rights of thosedetainees? If not, why not?

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The Washington Post

The Tobacco Tax

The benefits of a proposed increase go way beyond funding children's healthinsurance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A16

TOBACCO USE is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States,killing more than 400,000 Americans each year. Half of all long-term smokerswill die early from a disease caused by tobacco. One answer to this scourgeis imposing higher taxes: According to one recent report, increasing tobaccotaxes has "proven highly effective in reducing tobacco use."

For every 10 percent increase in tobacco prices, the number of adult smokersdrops by 1.5 percent and overall consumption drops 2 percent. Young smokersare much more responsive to price increases than adults, so higher tobaccotaxes are particularly effective in preventing youths from moving beyondexperimentation to habitual smoking. Pregnant women are similarly affected;a 10 percent price increase produces a 5 to 7 percent reduction in smoking.

This may not be a surprising analysis, but it does come from a somewhatsurprising source: the President's Cancer Panel, which endorsed, in its mostrecent report, an increase in the federal excise tax on tobacco. PresidentBush has done the opposite; he vetoed an expansion of the State Children'sHealth Insurance Program (SCHIP) that would be funded by a 61-cents-a-packincrease in the tobacco tax, to $1 per pack. The tax hasn't been increasedin nearly a decade.

Mr. Bush argues that the legislation would "raise taxes on working people,"and to a certain extent that is accurate. Smoking is more prevalent amongthose with lower incomes. However, as the President's Cancer Panel noted,while the new tax would fall more heavily on lower-income smokers, "taxincreases also result in greater reductions in smoking among thispopulation, with the dual effect of shifting the tax burden to higher-incomesmokers." This is not some rogue group; its three members, appointed by Mr.Bush, are LaSalle Leffall, professor of surgery at Howard University andchairman of the board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation;Margaret L. Kripke, executive vice president of the University of Texas M.D.Anderson Cancer Center; and cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids estimates that the 61-cents-a packincrease would result in a 9.2 percent decline in youth smoking. Some 1.9million children alive today would not become smokers, and 1.2 million adultsmokers would quit. The administration argues that because tobacco taxes areeffective in reducing smoking, the increase would not produce enough to fundSCHIP after the first five years. That's true -- but it's an argument forthe tax, not against it.

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The Washington Post

Does Obama's Message Match the Moment?

Reconciliation May Be Hard Sell to Angry Party

By Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; A01

WASHINGTON, Iowa -- A hush fell over the crowd as Sen. Barack Obama crossedthe field, his white shirt glowing in the sun, waves of cornstalks rustlingbehind him. Once inside the open barn on the county fairgrounds here, heoffered a message as uplifting as the backdrop, promising a new era ofconsensus instead of partisan divide.

"We're going to win an election, but more importantly, we're going to changethe country," the Illinois Democrat said. Nothing will get done inWashington "unless we not only change political parties in the White House,but also change our politics."

The audience of Iowa Democrats seemed receptive. But when it came time forquestions, it was clear that at least some members of the crowd had notescaped the partisan mind-set that Obama said he wanted to overcome. Whatdid he think about President Bush's veto of a children's health insurancebill? What, another person asked, did he make of the Bush administration'salleged denigration of science? What would he do to prevent Republicans fromtaking advantage of election flaws like the one in Florida in 2000, in whichthe questioner said "it's not over till your brother counts the votes"?

As Obama positions himself for the stretch run for the Democraticpresidential nomination, his call for a "new kind of politics" faces a broadtest in his own party, and not just of whether it makes any criticism of hischief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), seem hypocritical. As thepointed questions he received here suggest, it may be that his summons to"turn the page" past the country's red-blue polarization is not what manyDemocrats want to hear after seven years of mounting anger at Bush and theRepublican-dominated government.

Obama faults a broken system in Washington for failures that many Democraticvoters attribute simply to having the other side in power. By contrast,Clinton more directly exploits Democrats' feelings of resentment. She arguesthat the troubles of the past seven years -- the Iraq war, HurricaneKatrina, the widening income gap -- are the result not of broken politics inWashington but of poor Republican governance, and she says that she wouldoffer competent leadership to fix what has gone awry since her husband leftthe White House.

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The Washington Post

Gore Has No Plans to Seek Presidency

The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 17, 2007; 6:29 AM

OSLO, Norway -- Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore says winning the NobelPeace Prize has not pushed him into entering the 2008 presidential race.

"I don't have plans to be a candidate again, so I don't really see it inthat context at all," Gore told Norwegian state broadcaster NRK in aninterview broadcast Wednesday. "I'm involved in a different kind ofcampaign. It's a global campaign. It's a campaign to change the way peoplethink about the climate crisis."

NRK said it interviewed Gore in Nashville, Tenn.

At a press conference last Friday in Palo Alto, California, Gore sidesteppedthe issue of a U.S. presidential run, saying then that he wanted to "getback to business" on "a planetary emergency."

However, before winning the Nobel Prize he had said repeatedly that he hasno plans to run for office in 2008.

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Forwarded from Ron Mills

Maybe you love Rudy or maybe you hate him. But whatever you may think ofhim, check out his foreign policy team, because that's the key to knowingwhat to expect from a Rudy presidency. Especially for candidates with littleor no foreign policy experience of their own, the folks advising thecandidate are key. And Rudy's team is made up, more or less, of all the guyswho were too nuts or too extreme to make the cut with George W. Bush. If youreally, really want to go to war with Iran as soon as possible, vote are the highlights


Senator, Bill Nelson (D-FL), who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee,will meet behind closed doors this Thursday to start piecing together theSenate's version of an electronic eavesdropping "reform" bill.

You have a critical role to play to ensure Senator Nelson protects the
Constitution and our privacy. What the Intelligence Committee comes up withthis Thursday will guide the direction of the whole Senate.

The stakes couldn't be higher. As the New York Times stated this Sunday inits editorial, Spies, Lies, and FISA, President Bush is creating a fog offear around spying, and bit by bit the House has caved to his demands. Now,the Senate is on the cusp of capitulation.

We're hearing that senators are prepared to do two things to give the Bushadministration what it wants to wiretap the phone calls and emails ofAmericans without any real check:

1.. Give "get out of jail free" cards to telecom companies that broke the intelligence collection law (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, orFISA) when they handed over the phone calls, emails, and private records ofAmericans to the government without a warrant.

2.. Support a "reform" bill that authorizes "basket" warrants, which aren't
really warrants at all. Rather, they are blank checks to sweep up, and keepforever, the private phone calls and emails between Americans and anyoneoutside the U.S.The Senate Intelligence Committee has the power to stop both things fromhappening.

Please call your Senator on the committee, Bill Nelson
In Washington, D.C.: (202) 224-5274
Toll-free in Florida: (888) 671-4091.

You can say something like this:

I oppose granting telecom companies retroactive immunity for illegal spyingand violations of my privacy. And I demand the Senate's FISA reform billrequires individualized warrants for Americans.

If Bush really has good reason to believe an American is talking to aterrorist, he will have no problem convincing a judge to issue a warrant.

Look up phone numbers and log your call here.


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