Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST November 13, 2007

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The New York Times


Barricaded in Home, Bhutto Says President Should Resign

November 13, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan, Tuesday, Nov. 13 - Hundreds of riot police early todayblocked the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and her supporters from makinga planned long march from this eastern city 160 miles through PunjabProvince to the capital, Islamabad. Ms. Bhutto, barricaded in her home here,called for the resignation of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf,in a phone interview with CNN this morning.

About 900 police officers surrounded the house where Ms. Bhutto was stayinghere and arrested party workers who tried to cross police lines to reachher. Riot police using barbed wire and dump trucks loaded with sand blockedoff the neighborhood.

"We will definitely try to come out," said Farzana Raja, a party spokesman,referring to street protests. "She will definitely try to come out." Minuteslater, the police arrested Ms. Raja and several dozen other party workers,and in the interview with CNN, Ms. Bhutto said, "My plans have been takenout of my hands by force."

About 3,500 police officers were deployed around the city, and they arrestedhundreds of workers from her political party today. Riot police officerswere outside government buildings here as well, in anticipation of protestsby Ms. Bhutto's supporters.

[Bhutto also said it was now likely that her Pakistan Peoples Party wouldboycott January parliamentary elections and indicated that she wanted tobuild an alliance with other opposition leaders, including former PrimeMinister Nawaz Sharif, to restore democracy, The Associated Press reported.

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The New York Times


Righting Reagan's Wrongs?

November 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

Let's set the record straight on Ronald Reagan's campaign kickoff in 1980.

Early one morning in the late spring of 1964, Dr. Carolyn Goodman, herhusband, Robert, and their 17-year-old son, David, said goodbye to David'sbrother, Andrew, who was 20.

They hugged in the family's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan,and Andrew left. He was on his way to the racial hell of Mississippi to joinin the effort to encourage local blacks to register and vote.

It was a dangerous mission, and Andrew's parents were reluctant to let himgo. But the family had always believed strongly in equal rights and thebenefits of social activism. "I didn't have the right," Dr. Goodman wouldtell me many years later, "to tell him not to go."

After a brief stopover in Ohio, Andrew traveled to the town of Philadelphiain Neshoba County, Mississippi, a vicious white-supremacist stronghold. Justdays earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan had firebombed a black church inthe county and had beaten terrified worshipers.

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The New York Times


The Character Factor

Op-Ed Columnist
November 13, 2007

Rochester, N.H.

About six months ago, I was having lunch with a political consultant and wewere having a smart-alecky conversation about the presidential race. All ofsudden, my friend interrupted the flow of gossip and said: "You know, there's really only one great man running for president this year, and that'sMcCain."

The comment cut through the way we pundits normally talk about presidentialcandidates. We tend to view them like products and base our verdicts ontheir market share at the moment. We don't so much evaluate their character;we analyze how effectively they are manipulating their image to appeal tovoters, and in this way we buy into the artificiality of modern campaigning.

My friend's remark pierced all that, and it had the added weight of truth.

Eight years ago, it was fashionable for us media types to wax rapturouslyabout McCain. That vogue has passed, but I'm afraid my views are unchanged.I have seen McCain when his campaign was imploding, and now again when he'srising in the polls. I have seen him shooting craps and negotiating in theSenate. I have seen him leading delegations like a statesman and bickeringwith his old Hanoi Hilton prison-mate Bud Day like a crotchety old lady.

And I can tell you there is nobody in politics remotely like him.

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The New York Times


The Daily Show

Op-Ed Contributor
November 13, 2007


IN many towns and cities, the newspaper is an endangered species. At least300 daily papers have stopped publishing over the past 30 years. Thosenewspapers that have survived are struggling financially. Newspapercirculation has declined steadily for more than 10 years. Average dailycirculation is down 2.6 percent in the last six months alone.

Newspapers have also been hurt by significant cuts in advertising revenue,which accounts for at least 75 percent of their revenue. Their share of headvertising market has fallen every year for the past decade, while onlineadvertising has increased greatly.

At the heart of all of these facts and figures is the undeniable realitythat the media marketplace has changed considerably over the last threedecades. In 1975, cable television served fewer than 15 percent oftelevision households. Satellite TV did not exist. Today, by contrast, fewerthan 15 percent of homes do not subscribe to cable or satellite television.And the Internet as we know it today did not even exist in 1975. Now, nearlyone-third of all Americans regularly receive news through the Internet.

If we don't act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will seenewspapers wither and die. Without newspapers, we would be less informedabout our communities and have fewer outlets for the expression ofindependent thinking and a diversity of viewpoints. The challenge is torestore the viability of newspapers while preserving the core values of adiversity of voices and a commitment to localism in the media marketplace.

Eighteen months ago, the Federal Communications Commission began a review,ordered by Congress and the courts, of its media ownership rules. After sixpublic hearings, 10 economic studies and hundreds of thousands of comments,the commission should move forward. The commission should modify only one ofthe four rules under review - the one that bars ownership of both anewspaper and a broadcast TV or radio station in a single market. And therule should be modified only for the largest markets.

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The New York Times


For Crack Offenders, Reduced Circumstances?

By Tobin Harshaw
November 13, 2007, 8:26 am

Tags: worth a click

"An independent panel is considering reducing the sentences of inmatesincarcerated in federal prisons for crack cocaine offenses, which would makethousands of people immediately eligible to be freed," reports this morning'sWashington Post. "Should the panel adopt the new policy, the sentences of19,500 inmates would be reduced by an average of 27 months. About 3,800inmates now imprisoned for possession and distribution of crack cocainecould be freed within the next year, according to the commission's analysis.The proposal would cover only inmates in federal prisons and not those instate correctional facilities, where the vast majority of people convictedof drug offenses are held."

Douglas Berman at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog feels that "this crackretroactivity decision may be the single most consequential decision to bemade by the USSC since the initial guidelines were first promulgated 20years ago."

Defense lawyer/blogger Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft thinks this is "just thebeginning": "A renewed fight to get Congress to change mandatory minimumsentences based on drug quantity alone must come next. Perhaps with theinternet's ability to spread the word, it will come, before all thoseserving life sentences die in prison of old age and can still benefit fromit."


The New York Times


Special Olympics in China

By Anne-Marie Slaughter
November 12, 2007, 10:26 am

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.

There is a poster all over Shangai of a Downs Syndrome kid with a medalhanging around his neck covered in lipstick kisses - an ad for the SpecialOlympics that were held in Shanghai last month. Professor William Alford, myfriend and former colleague from the Harvard Law School, was deeply involvedin making the Special Olympics happen. I asked him to write up a post aboutit. He describes a sea-change in China's attitude toward disabled kids -kids who have long been hidden away were in the spotlight, applauded by aproud nation.

When I first began to study China almost 45 years ago, Chairman Mao had yetto launch the Cultural Revolution. There was no United States foreigninvestment in the People's Republic of China nor any PRC students in theUnited States. China was so inwardly focused that few, if any, in or outsidethe country could have imagined it becoming a global economic and militarypowerhouse.

Over these decades, I've had a front-row seat to epic changes, both hopefuland tragic. But nothing compares with the extraordinary events I witnessedthis autumn through my pro bono work with the Special Olympics, an NGOheadquartered in the United States that provides free sports, health,educational and family support services worldwide to persons withintellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics held its Summer World Games in Shanghai during the firsthalf of October. It was the largest sporting event of any type held in theworld this year, with some 7,500 athletes with intellectual disabilitiesfrom 165 nations having taken part. But far more noteworthy is the change itexpresses and what that tells us about China.

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The New York Times


It Depends What the Meaning of 'Makes Sense' Is

Tags: debates, Hillary Clinton
November 11, 2007, 5:52 pm

Well, it finally arrived, the long-anticipated bump in Hillary Clinton'sroad to the nomination, the bump that many predicted would slow her down andgive her competitors a chance to catch up.

Or did it?

The media certainly thought so, and I don't mean just the conservative mediathat pounce eagerly on any sign that she is faltering, or fudging, orover-reaching, or peaking too soon, or engaging in shady practices.(Unfortunately for the Fox-New York Post crowd, the Norman Hsu story doesn'tseem to have legs.) Everyone was writing her political obituary ten secondsafter the last word was spoken in the October 29 debate. Liberalhand-wringers, self-identified feminists, concerned "old friends" - theywere all standing over the body and taking bets on whether or not it couldbe revived.

The other Democratic candidates were already piling on during the debate.And in the days that followed they did more of the same.

Barack Obama just happened to be in the neighborhood when "Saturday NightLive" was doing its Halloween show and cleverly appeared as himself.Whipping off his Barack Obama mask to reveal - you guessed it - BarackObama, he said to the actress playing Hillary that he was always the sameperson no matter where he was and no matter what the company. (Which means,I guess, that no matter where he is he always manages to say absolutelynothing in orotund and inspiring tones.)

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The New York Times


Nun Pleads No Contest in Sex Abuse

November 13, 2007

A Roman Catholic nun pleaded no contest yesterday to two counts of indecentbehavior with a child in connection with accusations from the 1960s when shewas a principal and teacher at a Catholic school in Milwaukee.

The nun, Norma Giannini, 79, faces up to 20 years in prison for whatprosecutors say was sexual abuse of two male students.

Although dozens of nuns have been accused of sexual abuse, often in civillawsuits, Sister Giannini is one of the first to face criminal charges, saidAnne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group thatcompiles reports about abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

Mary Pat Fox, president of Voice of the Faithful, a lay group formed inresponse to the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, said she hoped the case wouldencourage more victims of nuns to come forward. "I think this is the tip ofthe iceberg," Ms. Fox said.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Milwaukee County districtattorney's office, Sister Giannini repeatedly assaulted the two boys whilethey were in middle school at St. Patrick School. The complaint said theassaults included intercourse and occurred in numerous locations, includinga convent and a classroom.

The men who say they were abused, Gerald Kobs and James St. Patrick, now intheir 50s, attended Monday's hearing in Milwaukee.

"This is just a tragic situation for everyone involved," said Sister BettySmith, president of the Regional Community of Chicago of the Sisters ofMercy, the religious order to which Sister Giannini belongs.

Sister Smith said Sister Giannini had been removed from work with minorsafter one of the men came forward with accusations in 1992. She will besentenced on Feb. 1.


The Washington Post


Panel May Cut Sentences For Crack
Thousands Could Be Released Early

By Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A01

An independent panel is considering reducing the sentences of inmatesincarcerated in federal prisons for crack cocaine offenses, which would makethousands of people immediately eligible to be freed.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets guidelines for federal prisonsentences, established more lenient guidelines this spring for future crackcocaine offenders. The panel is scheduled to consider today a proposal tomake the new guidelines retroactive.

Should the panel adopt the new policy, the sentences of 19,500 inmates wouldbe reduced by an average of 27 months. About 3,800 inmates now imprisonedfor possession and distribution of crack cocaine could be freed within thenext year, according to the commission's analysis. The proposal would coveronly inmates in federal prisons and not those in state correctionalfacilities, where the vast majority of people convicted of drug offenses areheld.

By far the largest number -- more than 1,400 -- of those who would beeligible for sentence reductions were convicted in the U.S. District Courtfor the Eastern District of Virginia, which has jurisdiction over NorthernVirginia and the Richmond area, according to an analysis done by thecommission. Nearly 280 inmates convicted in federal courts in Maryland wouldbe eligible, as well as almost 270 prisoners found guilty in the District ofColumbia.

The commission is taking up one of the most racially sensitive issues of thetwo-decades-old war on drugs. Jurists and civil rights organizations havelong complained that the commission's guidelines mandate more stringentfederal penalties for crack cocaine offenses, which usually involve AfricanAmericans, than for crimes involving powder cocaine, which generally involvewhite people. The chemical properties of the drugs are the same, thoughcrack is potentially more addictive.

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The Washington Post


Middle-Class Dream Eludes African American Families
Many Blacks Worse off Than Their Parents, Study Says

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A01

Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a newstudy -- a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragilenature of middle-class life for many African Americans.

Overall, family incomes have risen for both blacks and whites over the pastthree decades. But in a society where the privileges of class and incomemost often perpetuate themselves from generation to generation, blackAmericans have had more difficulty than whites in transmitting thosebenefits to their children.

Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle class
in 1968 -- a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in inflation-adjusteddollars -- grew up to be among the lowest fifth of the nation's earners,with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16 percent of whitesexperienced similar downward mobility. At the same time, 48 percent of blackchildren whose parents were in an economic bracket with a median familyincome of $41,700 sank into the lowest income group.

This troubling picture of black economic evolution is contained in a packageof three reports being released today by the Pew Charitable Trusts that testthe vitality of the American dream. Using a nationally representative datasource that for nearly four decades has tracked people who were children in1968, researchers attempted to answer two questions: Do Americans generallyadvance beyond their parents in terms of income? How much is that affectedby race and gender?

"We are attempting to broaden the current debate" beyond the growing gapbetween higher- and lower-income Americans, said John Morton, Pew's managingdirector for program planning and economic policy. "There is little outthere on the question of mobility across generations, and we wanted toexamine that."

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The Washington Post


The Answer in Pakistan

By Thomas R. Pickering, Carla Hills and Morton Abramowitz
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A19

Every day that Gen. Pervez Musharraf refuses to reverse his imposition ofmartial law and restore Pakistan's constitution brings another round ofdisturbing reports -- lawyers beaten, journalists arrested, mass protestsfor democracy crushed -- and another day of embarrassment for the militarygovernment's foreign backers. The Bush administration's aims of securingsupport for the "war on terror" and stability for a nuclear power willcontinue to be right, but as a nation of 160 million people rapidly fraysunder repression, it will only become more obvious that militarydictatorship is not the answer.

This realization is already settling in. Many in the Bush administration andCongress have been sending clear messages of disapproval to Musharraf. ThePentagon, however, has been more ambiguous, and it is unclear whethermilitary aid will continue as if nothing happened on Nov. 3.

The United States must go beyond verbal condemnations and show with actionsthat it believes Musharraf is on the wrong track.

If there is a recent analogy to what is happening in Pakistan, it is thePhilippines of Ferdinand Marcos in late 1985 (though the stakes are muchhigher today). During President Ronald Reagan's second term, theadministration came to recognize that, despite his and earlieradministrations' acceptance of the dictator, Marcos's desire to maintainpolitical power at all costs was destroying democracy and prospects forstability in his country.

His personal ambition was casting the Philippine armed forces in the role ofpopular repressor rather than national protector, tainting their legitimacyin the eyes of the people. More than anything else, that fact had underminedthe Philippines' battle against militant Islamist and communist rebels.

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The Washington Post


Repairing a Crack in the System

By Paul G. Cassell
Monday, November 12, 2007; 7:55 PM

Today the United States Sentencing Commission holds a hearing on its recentdecision to reduce the disparity in federal sentencing guidelines for crackand powder cocaine offenses. As a former federal judge and chairman of thefederal judiciary's Criminal Law Committee, I believe the change inguidelines was long overdue, and, to maximize its impact as an importantfirst step toward restoring the credibility of federal drug sentences, itshould be applied retroactively.

The crack and powder cocaine disparity traces back to the Anti-Drug AbuseAct of 1986, which set various mandatory minimum sentences for drugtrafficking based on how much of a drug was distributed. For powder cocaine,the quantity needed to trigger a mandatory minimum was 100 times more thanthat for crack cocaine -- a penalty scheme referred to as the "100-to-1 drugquantity ratio." It meant that someone convicted of distributing just fivegrams of crack cocaine would get at least five in prison, the same assomeone convicted of distributing as much as 500 grams of powder cocaine.

The ratio was a well-intentioned response to the crack-related violence ofthe 1980s. But its effects have been more harmful than good. It hasexaggerated the relative harmfulness of crack cocaine, forcing stiffsentences on mostly small-time drug dealers. Additionally, it has had adisproportionate impact on minorities. About 80 percent of convicted crackdealers are African American, while whites tend to be more heavily involvedin powder cocaine trafficking. The sentencing disparity, therefore,prolonged sentences for minority offenders without sound justification.

Even more pernicious, the disparity corroded the effectiveness andlegitimacy of the federal criminal justice system. In part because of the100-to-1 ratio, many Americans, particularly in minority communities, cameto be suspicious of federal law enforcement. When people believe the systemis racist or otherwise unfair, they are less likely to convict when servingon a jury. They are also less likely to willingly testify as witnesses andreport crimes to the police.

So, after years of controversy, the amended sentencing guidelines that tookeffect this month are a welcome change. The Sentencing Commission, whichsets guidelines for federal judges, essentially narrowed the guidelines gapby reducing the recommended sentences for the majority of crack cocaineoffenses. Ultimately, the disparity should be reduced even further -- tosomething closer to 10-to-1. But even the recent change will noticeablyreduce crack sentences. Whereas previously the average sentence for crackcocaine offenders was 121 months, now the average sentence should be closerto 106 months, according to the advocacy group the Sentencing Project.

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The Washington Post


'Socialized Medicine' Snake Oil

By Eugene Robinson
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A19

It turns out that Rudy Giuliani knows even less about health care than Ithought. Not only are his figures about prostate cancer survival rates inthe United States and Britain wildly misleading, but he's also wrong on hisgeneral point: that a single-payer system, of the kind that Republicans call"socialized" medicine, inevitably would deliver inferior care.

Untrue, according to a major study conducted this year by the CommonwealthFund, a respected New York foundation with a track record in health carestretching back to 1918. Not that candidate Giuliani is likely to payattention -- he won't even back down from his ridiculous assertion that hewas nearly twice as likely to survive his bout with prostate cancer in theUnited States as he would be in Britain, although death rates from thedisease in the two countries are basically the same.

For Giuliani, it appears, all that's needed to establish truth is a simpleassertion: "Because I said so."

The Commonwealth Fund and Harris Interactive surveyed adults in Australia,Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain -- all of which havesingle-payer health-care systems -- and the United States. The methodologyappears sound, the margin of error is less than three percentage points andthe results are striking.

Respondents in the United States were less likely than those in the othercountries to say their health-care system "works well" -- and much morelikely to see a need for "fundamental" change or a total overhaul. With 47million Americans lacking health insurance, I suppose that shouldn't be muchof a surprise.

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The Washington Post


The Can't-Win Democratic Congress

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A19

Democrats in Congress are discovering what it's like to live in the worst ofall possible worlds. They are condemned for selling out to President Bushand condemned for failing to make compromises aimed at getting things done.

Democrats complain that this is unfair, and, in some sense, it is. But whosaid that politics was fair?

Over the short run, Democratic congressional leaders can count on littlesupport from their party's presidential candidates, particularly BarackObama and John Edwards. Both have decided their best way of going afterfront-runner Hillary Clinton-- who has been in Washington since herhusband's election as president in 1992 -- is to criticize politics asusual.

At this weekend's Democratic fundraising dinner in Des Moines, Obama andEdwards not only attacked Bush fiercely but also issued broadsides againstthe larger status quo.

When Obama assailed "the same old Washington textbook campaigns" anddeclared that he was "sick and tired of Democrats thinking that the only wayto look tough on national security is by talking and acting and voting likeGeorge Bush Republicans," he was aiming at Clinton. But Obama was echoingwhat many in his party have been saying about their congressionalleadership.

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The Washington Post


Records Under Wraps
Hillary Clinton's White House papers would be tied up even if she releasedthem.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007; A18

DURING LAST month's Democratic Party debate in Philadelphia, Sen. HillaryRodham Clinton's opponents demanded that she release papers from theNational Archives to allow the American people to judge whether herexperience as first lady qualifies her to be president. Such campaigntheatrics played into the well-worn narrative that the Clintons aresecretive and slippery. But even if former President and Mrs. Clinton didwhat her opponents asked, the records would not be available in time fornext year's election. It's a problem of lengthy review periods stretchinginto years that a bill from Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) wouldalleviate -- if only Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) would get out of the way.

Presidential records are off-limits for five years after a president leavesoffice. In addition, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 allows a formerpresident to withhold six types of records for a further seven years,including confidential advice between the president and his advisers.Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush each instructed the NationalArchives to withhold such documents for 12 years -- as did Mr. Clinton in1994.

But even if Mr. Clinton today asked the National Archives to releaseconfidential communications between him and the former first lady,disclosure could still be years away. That's because the six archivists atthe Clinton library would have to sift through -- by hand -- more than 138million pages in 36,000 boxes. And that's after they respond on afirst-come-first-served basis to 287 pending Freedom of Information Actrequests. Once the Archives scrubbed the records of information that cannotbe released by law, the records would go to Bruce R. Lindsey, handler of Mr.Clinton's presidential records, who already is reviewing 26,000 pages. Thenthey would go to President Bush. A 2001 Bush executive order puts no timelimit on the incumbent president's review.

Enter Mr. Lieberman, whose legislation would limit the review by the formerand incumbent presidents to no more than 90 days. More important, it wouldroll back the unprecedented step of extending to their relatives and to thevice president the right to invoke executive privilege. That provision couldput some presidential papers permanently out of public reach. The Liebermanbill, combined with more money for the Archives to help it keep up with theexplosion of electronic documents, would modestly speed access to historicaldocuments.

But the Lieberman bill can't get anywhere because Mr. Bunning has put a holdon it. He has said, "The president ought to have the right to withhold anyrecords he chooses." Wrong. Those documents belong to the people of theUnited States. The sooner Mr. Bunning gets out of the way, the sooner theAmerican people can see them.

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The Washington Post


Crime Data Underscore Limits Of D.C. Gun Ban's Effectiveness

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; B01

Three decades ago, at the dawn of municipal self-government in the District,the city's first elected mayor and council enacted one of the country'stoughest gun-control measures, a ban on handgun ownership that opponentshave long said violates the Second Amendment.

All these years later, with the constitutionality of the ban now probablyheaded for a U.S. Supreme Court review, a much-debated practical questionremains unsettled: Has a law aimed at reducing the number of handguns in theDistrict made city streets safer?

Although studies through the decades have reached conflicting conclusions,this much is clear: The ban, passed with strong public support in 1976, hasnot accomplished everything that the mayor and council of that era wanted itto.

Over the years, gun violence has continued to plague the city, reachingstaggering levels at times.

In making by far their boldest public policy decision, the District's firstelected officials wanted other jurisdictions, especially neighboring states,to follow the lead of the nation's capital by enacting similar gunrestrictions, cutting the flow of firearms into the city from surroundingareas.

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Can Obama get support across party lines from black Floridians?

By Gregory Lewis Staff Writer
November 13, 2007

Al Calloway, a student activist back in the day, is advocating Florida's65,000 black Republicans switch their party registration and vote for Sen.Barack Obama in the January primary.

"Black Republicans need to help black people," said Calloway, a FortLauderdale Republican. "We need to send Obama to the convention with enoughdelegates to transform the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party retains 90percent of black voters and does nothing for black people."

Obama has crossover appeal, political observers say, but it won't helpunless he can get the Democratic presidential nomination. Most black membersof the Grand Old Party in Florida, though, aren't likely to follow Calloway.They align more to their party than their race when it comes to supportingObama, a black senator from Illinois, and Florida's closed primary systemencourages voters to stay within their political parties.

Dorsey Miller is a case in point. A Republican from Parkland, Miller likesObama a lot as a candidate. But not enough to leave the Republican party tovote for him in January. "He's an outstanding candidate," Miller said."Obama, without a doubt, is the best candidate among Democrats orRepublicans in the race."

Political observers say that black conservatives voters won't be swayed byrace.

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Living for two

Mounting evidence suggests that fetuses are surprisingly susceptible tooutside influences such as food, environmental pollutants, even stress.

By Shari Roan
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 12, 2007

IF Aly Hartman could have placed herself in a protective bubble for theduration of her recent pregnancy, she would have done so.

The Marina del Rey woman, 28, cut out alcohol, sodas and caffeine. Shereplaced her sugary breakfast cereal with crackling oat bran, quit eatingTaco Bell MexiMelts and began stocking up on organic fruits and vegetables.She ducked back into her car while pumping gas and, when driving, spedaround vehicles emitting thick fumes. She avoided crowds and handshakes,bought all-natural cleaning products and stopped wearing perfumes andlotions.

The child-talent agent admits her safety measures may seem a bit extreme,but she may actually be a model for all pregnant women.

What women eat, touch and breathe during pregnancy now appears to be moreimportant to their babies' health than anyone ever imagined. Mountingscientific evidence suggests that fetuses are surprisingly susceptible tooutside influences, such as food, environmental chemicals and pollutants,infections, even stress. Under this theory -- called fetal programming --babies are born not just with traits dictated by their parents' genes, suchas brown eyes and olive skin. They may be born with a tendency to developasthma, diabetes or other illnesses based on what their mothers ate and wereexposed to during pregnancy.

Already known were the obvious, and serious, risks posed by smoking,drinking and drug use. Now researchers are homing in on subtler changes inthe fetal environment that can influence a child's health even intoadulthood. In one of the most widely relevant examples, given the nation'sgrowing waist size, research has shown that pregnant women with diets highin fat and sugar give birth to children who are more likely to become obese,perhaps because their fat cells are "programmed" in utero for later obesity.

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Miami Herald


Supreme Court review leaves executions on hold

Posted on Tue, Nov. 13, 2007

Prosecutor Matt Whitworth persuaded a jury to sentence Lisa Montgomery todeath, but he isn't expecting the Kansas woman to die anytime soon.

Whitworth, an assistant U.S. attorney in Kansas City, Mo., said thatMontgomery, 39, should be put to death for strangling a pregnant woman andthen using a kitchen knife to cut the baby from her womb.

On Oct. 30, however, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of aMississippi murderer until it concludes a review next year of whether lethalinjections constitute cruel and unusual punishment. And even before that,many states -- including Texas and Missouri, two of the leaders instate-sanctioned killings -- had imposed de facto moratoriums. ''It'll bemany years before it's all wrapped up,'' Whitworth said.

After 1,099 executions since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated,there's been an unusual lull in the nation's death chambers. There have beenonly 42 executions so far this year, the fewest since 1994.

On Thursday, the state of Florida is scheduled to execute Mark Dean Schwab,who raped and murdered an 11-year-old boy in Brevard County. The FloridaSupreme Court last week rejected legal challenges to lethal injection madeby Schwab's lawyers, as well as a challenge made on behalf of all death rowinmates.

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Miami Herald


Respect Iran's independence

Posted on Tue, Nov. 13, 2007

A major shortcoming in today's world is the persistence of a zero-sum senseof geopolitics. The world expected something different in the post-Cold Warera to promote peace and stability. Instead, after the terrorist attacks ofSept. 11, 2001, momentum swung toward a ''global war on terror'' that, inpractice, became the rationale for maintaining a Cold War mentality.

Consider my country, Iran, which has not invaded any country in the past 250years. After decades of struggle against dictatorship and foreigndomination, we secured our freedom and independence in 1979 by establishinga political system of our own choosing. But instead of establishing friendlyrelations with Iran based on this new reality, the United States hasconsistently sought to restore its domination, even providing massivediplomatic, financial and military support to Saddam Hussein in his waragainst my country during the 1980s.

The current dispute over Iran's peaceful and legal nuclear program is partof this pattern. Iran's peaceful nuclear program originates from the late1960s and 1970s. Iran's energy demand will exceed its supply, possiblyreducing or even eliminating its oil-export capacity in the near future.Thus, Iran urgently needs to produce 20,000 megawatts of nuclear power by2020.

As long ago as 1973, the U.S. government itself saw that Iran would neednuclear power. Despite the encouragement of Iran's civil nuclear program bythe United States, Britain, Germany and France, they all ultimately renegedon their contractual commitments after our revolution in 1979. Today, someof these governments are even questioning Iran's need for nuclear energy --a matter that was obvious to them 30 years ago.

Iran does not need nuclear weapons to protect its regional interests, andsuch weapons have no place in Iran's security strategy. It seeks to win theconfidence of its neighbors and has remained within the confines of theNuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The latest report from the InternationalAtomic Energy Agency has verified that there has been no diversion of Iran'scivil nuclear program to weapons development. Iran has even proposedregional and multinational participation in its uranium enrichmentfacilities -- only to be met by resounding silence from the Western powers.

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Detroit News


Primary fight shifts to court
Emergency appeal to save Jan. 15 vote expected as Legislature scraps session

Gordon Trowbridge and Charlie Cain / The Detroit News
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LANSING -- The focus of attempts to save Michigan's endangered Jan. 15presidential primary is expected to move to the courts today.

The Legislature canceled today's tentatively scheduled session and won't beback until Nov. 20. There had been some hope that the House would take upthe primary legislation today.

Attorney General Mike Cox's office is expected to file an emergency appealtoday with the state Court of Appeals asking it to step into the dispute byissuing a stay of last week's Ingham County judge's ruling that canceled theprimary because a portion of the law was unconstitutional.

The Democratic and Republican state parties technically are supposed tonotify Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land by Wednesday if they plan to holdprimaries, whose results would determine how the state's national conventiondelegations will vote next summer.

But some lawmakers, such as House Republican Leader Craig DeRoche of Novi,say the Legislature can simply vote to put off that deadline by changing thelaw that established it.

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The Washington Post


Democrats Oppose Nuclear Waste Dump

The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 13, 2007; 9:14 AM

LAS VEGAS -- The leading Democratic presidential candidates are united onthe government's Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage plan: They'd scrap it.

Their vigorous opposition to the project reflects Nevada's importance as oneof a handful of states that will lead off voting in January for theDemocratic and Republican nominations. Few local issues are as unpopularwith Nevadans as the waste dump.

The Democrats have just one problem _ their records keep getting in the way.Front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has created suspicion because she'srefused to rule out expansion of nuclear power as a solution to the nation'senergy woes and has received campaign contributions from the nuclearindustry. Barack Obama, whose home state of Illinois has more nuclear plantsthan any other, also has received substantial contributions from theindustry and wants to leave nuclear power on the table.

John Edwards, when he was a North Carolina senator, voted twice to open thedump and once against it. Bill Richardson once ran the Energy Department,which is building the dump, and voted for it when he was a New Mexicocongressman.

The dump, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, was supposed to open in 1998, butscientific controversies, lawsuits and money shortages have delayed it. Itsopening is now projected for no earlier than 2020 and its cost has climbedto an estimated $77 billion.

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