Saturday, November 17, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST November 17, 2007

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The most recent FISA bill being considered by the Senate has a long way togo before it upholds the Constitution and the rule of law. There has neverbeen a more important time for your senators to hear from you on two crucialprinciples regarding warrantless spying on Americans that will be consideredby the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

Here are the two crucial principles the Senate will be considering:

a.. Telecomm immunity: The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to discussletting phone companies that broke the law off the hook when theycapitulated to the NSA and handed over your phone and email records. Phonecompanies must be held accountable for their actions.

b.. Individual "warrants": The Senate must reject sweeping up the private information of Americans in a broad net of surveillance. Unconstitutionalsurveillance tactics, such as basket "warrants," or completely warrentlessspying, allow the government to obtain huge amounts of phone and emailrecords, potentially sweeping in huge numbers of innocent Americans who haveno connection to terrorism.

Senators must act now to ensure that any FISA bill that reaches the Senatefloor requires individual warrants when Americans are spied on, and does notlet phone companies that broke the law off the hook.

Tell your senators two things: Don't let telecom companies off the hook andinsist on individual warrants.

There is a group of Senators, led by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) that havemade it clear that they are willing to stand up for the Constitution byfilibustering any bill that grants immunity to phone companies. We need yourhelp to make sure more senators join them in standing up for your privacyand the rule of law.

There will be more action coming on FISA tomorrow. Will the Senate stand onprinciple? One thing is for sure: it won't happen if they run theirproposals by the NSA like some senators are doing.

Tell your senators: Don't let telecom companies off the hook, insist onindividual warrants and filibuster any bill that doesn't measure up.

Events will be moving quickly in the days ahead. Please act now to make sureyour senators know how strongly you feel.



The New York Times

Republican Race in Iowa Still Unsettled

November 17, 2007
Filed at 5:24 a.m. ET

OSKALOOSA, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa Republicans have a recent track record ofembracing the GOP's establishment presidential candidate in their leadoffcaucuses. They've searched far and wide for a such a nominee for 2008 -- buthaven't yet found him. Less than seven weeks before the voting, theRepublican race here is unsettled.

Mitt Romney had held a double-digit lead in polls for months, but his marginis narrowing as voters begin to home in on their choices ahead of January'scontest.

''I haven't picked a candidate. I'm leaning toward Romney. I like FredThompson, too,'' Keith Campbell, 81 and a GOP loyalist, said, chewing overpolitics this week with his fellow retirees during their daily gab sessionat the Smokey Row cafe in this central Iowa town.

Across the table, Chuck Russell, 85, a former Oskaloosa mayor and a Democratpiped up as the debate turned to the pros and cons of Rudy Giuliani'scandidacy. Then he said: ''I hear Mike Huckabee's coming on.''

Chuck Barnhouse, 80 and a Republican, added another name to the mix: ''I'mprobably a John McCain supporter. But I'm very ambivalent about my politicalchoices this year.''

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The New York Times

Giuliani Says He'd Appoint Conservative Judges

November 16, 2007
Filed at 6:07 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, viewedwith suspicion by some in his party for his support of abortion and gayrights, vowed on Friday to put conservatives on the Supreme Court ifelected.

Speaking to the Federalist Society, a conservative group that places a heavyemphasis on states' rights, the former New York mayor said he would modelhis nominations after Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and AntoninScalia, two of the most conservative judges on the highest U.S. court.

"We're seeking to find judges who understand the very, very importantconcept that judges exist to interpret the law, not amend the law," he toldthe group. "We believe in the rule of the law, not in the rule of judges."

"Our constitutional principles instruct us that we have to recognize thelimitations on power as a way protecting our liberty," said Giuliani, whoserved as a senior official in the Reagan administration's JusticeDepartment.

He emphasized that the next president would likely appoint some 200 judgesto federal courts. He said he would try to convince the U.S. Congress tochange its long-standing rules that allow a single U.S. senator to blockconfirmation of a judicial nominee, a practice that has been used to stymiesome of President George W. Bush's nominees.

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The New York Times

Atty: Woman Wasn't Told Donor Was a Risk

November 16, 2007
Filed at 7:55 p.m. ET

CHICAGO (AP) -- A woman in her 30s who is one of the four organ transplantpatients infected with HIV and hepatitis was not told that the infecteddonor was high risk, and had previously rejected another donor ''because ofhis lifestyle,'' her attorney said.

Attorney Thomas Demetrio filed a petition Thursday in Cook County CircuitCourt on behalf of the woman, asking officials to keep a hospital and anorgan procurement center from destroying or altering any records involvingthe donation.

''She's really a mess right now,'' Demetrio said of the Chicago-area woman.''She's still in shock.''

The patient, identified in court documents as Jane Doe, received a kidneytransplant at the University of Chicago Medical Center on Jan. 9, Demetriosaid.

Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network in Elmhurst and the University ofChicago both knew the kidney donor was high-risk and did not inform thepatient, Demetrio said.

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The New York Times

Election Watchdog Group Cancels Russia Mission

November 17, 2007

MOSCOW, Nov. 16 - Western election observers on Friday pulled out of amission to monitor Russia's Dec. 2 parliamentary vote, citing restrictionsimposed by the Kremlin on their work.

The cancellation by the election-monitoring arm of the 56-memberOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe means the electionsbeing held by President Vladimir V. Putin's government may not be seen aslegitimate by Western Europe and the United States.

The group's decision to withdraw from the monitoring mission was the firstsuch occurrence in Russia since the country undertook to hold free and fairelections and to allow access for observers to monitor them in 1990, as theSoviet Union was disintegrating. It will probably be seen as another breachbetween the government of Mr. Putin and the West.

The group, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, orO.D.I.H.R., cited what it called unacceptable Russian demands to limit themission's size, making it impossible to determine whether the elections aremarred by fraud. It also noted the failure on the part of the Russianauthorities to issue visas for its advance team, with only two weeks to gobefore the vote. The Warsaw-based group said in a statement that Russia hadso curtailed its work that it would be "unable to deliver its mandate underthese circumstances."

The observers evaluate opposition groups' freedom to assemble, campaign andgain access to news media throughout the former Soviet Union. In Russia, theOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or O.S.C.E., concludedin a statement that "the authorities of the Russian Federation remainunwilling to receive O.D.I.H.R. observers in a timely and cooperativemanner."

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The New York Times

Merrill to Pay Chief $50 Million, More if Stock Rises

November 17, 2007

Call him Wall Street's richest mop-up man, at least for now.

John A. Thain, the new chief executive of Merrill Lynch, can expect nearly$50 million a year as he tries to restore the firm's reputation and risk-management practices as it grapples with the subprime mortgage problems.

The pay package, largely made up of stock and options, could be worth morethan $120 million if Merrill stock rises more than $40 a share in the nexttwo years.

The compensation, detailed in a regulatory filing yesterday, will make Mr.Thain one of Wall Street's highest-paid chief executives as he steps in forE. Stanley O'Neal, who was ousted about three weeks ago.

Mr. Thain's compensation is three times what he earned over his first threeyears running the New York Stock Exchange, and it could approach the paylevel of hedge fund traders and top executives at Goldman Sachs, which Mr.Thain previously helped run.

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The New York Times

Democrats Find Their Voice

November 17, 2007

It has been two long months since Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander inIraq, owed Congressional Democrats into silence, championing President Bush's misguided course on the war. We're pleased to see that the effects of hisbriefing are finally wearing off. The bad news, as ever, is that Mr. Bushand his Republican allies continue to resist reason.

House Democrats distinguished themselves this week when they stood up to theWhite House's latest military funding steamroller: approving only $50million of the additional $196 million the president requested for the warsin Iraq and Afghanistan. They also set conditions on the funding, includingdemands that troops start coming home from Iraq within 30 days and that thewithdrawal be completed by mid-December 2008.

Senate Democrats quickly brought the House plan to the floor. But, ever thespoilers, Republicans blocked it, as they have other attempts to rein in Mr.Bush's war-without-end in Iraq.

Predictably, the White House - which always prefers fear-mongering toserious debate - accused Democrats of undermining the troops. Even DefenseSecretary Robert Gates got into the act, threatening to direct the Army andMarine Corps to begin developing plans to lay off employees and terminatecontracts next year unless Congress approves new funding within days.

Lawmakers, regardless of party, and the American people will always standbehind the brave men and women in the armed forces. Congress has alreadyapproved some $800 billion in funding since Sept. 11, 2001, for the wars inIraq and Afghanistan. But that hardly measures the full cost in blood andtreasure. More than 800 troops have been killed in Iraq in 2007 alone,making it the deadliest year yet for the American military there.

There have been some advances since President Bush sought to salvage hismisadventure by sending even more troops into Iraq. Violence has declinedand Al Qaeda in Iraq is said to be weaker. But Mr. Bush's main argument forhis escalation - that it would create political space for Iraqis to worktogether and achieve national reconciliation - has proved wrong.

Even Mr. Bush's generals know that these gains are unlikely to last. TheWashington Post's Thomas Ricks reported this week that senior Americancommanders now see the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated governmentas the key threat facing the American effort in Iraq - rather than Al Qaedaterrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias. America can't wantpeace and democracy for Iraq more than the Iraqis.

Democrats say they will continue to push the president and his Republicanallies to concede their failed war policy and change course. They must keepat it. It's far past time to begin a swift and orderly withdrawal of forcesfrom Iraq's civil war and to refocus on Afghanistan, where America's winover the Taliban and Al Qaeda is in danger of being reversed.


The New York Times

Hillary Fries the Waffle

November 17, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist

It's remotely possible that some of you missed the very important and verylengthy Democratic debate this week. Perhaps you started watching it but hadto switch off during the section on trade relations when you discovered yourchildren had grown up and wanted to say goodbye before they left forcollege.

We feel your pain. For your convenience, a Democratic debate cheat sheet:

MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT "My health care policy is bigger than your health carepolicy."

Right out of the box, Wafflegate reared its ugly head. Prompted by moderatorWolf Blitzer, Barack Obama complained that Hillary Clinton refuses to give"straight answers to tough questions" and listed her now-infamouswishy-washy positions on Iran, immigration and Social Security.

What was Hillary going to say in response? Provide a new explanation for theIran vote? A paean to the virtues of political nuance? No, she whippedaround and told Obama that his health care plan "would leave 15 millionAmericans out. That's about the population of Nevada, Iowa, South Carolinaand New Hampshire."

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The New York Times

Being Adopted, and Being Me

By Adam Wolfington
November 16, 2007, 9:31 pm

Being adopted is different. It can be confusing to the adopted kid and toother people (especially if you are a transracial adoptee, because they spotthe difference and then want answers). So, adoption to me is black - and myfamily is white.

How is being adopted different? Well, I don't know who my birth parents are.I wonder about that. Not because it makes me sad, but because I just wonder.Well, maybe it makes me a little sad. It's kind of like a missing piece ofme. My mom told me my birth parents were not married and were very young, soif I ever wanted to track someone down it would be her - my birth mom. I'mnot sure if I want to do that or not. She was white. He was black. How muchdoes all that matter? I don't know now.

Maybe not all adoptive parents are great, but mine are - pretty much. Morethan anything else, I love to play music and my parents support me in thatall the way. I have an older brother and sister. My mom calls them"home-mades" because she and my dad are their birth parents. I am the"gourmet take-out," in her words. When people ask if she is my "real mother," she asks, "What do I look like, a hologram?" I just don't like itwhen my parents make me study and I get grounded for not doing what I amsupposed to. But I guess that's what parents who care do. Anyhow, that'swhat they tell me.

I get into trouble sometimes because too often I don't do my schoolwork.Right now I am grounded for ten days! This is a hard lesson and punishment.I am allowed to do my music and community service and go to school. And that'sall. I hate this. But I know it is my fault. And I know my parents are nothappy about it either. They say they care enough to make me do what isright. Grrrrr. It still stinks.

My first memory of realizing "I was different" was when I was inkindergarten. People looked at us (my mom, dad, sister and me) funny. Someasked questions. Some said nothing at all and just stared. I finallyunderstood they were trying to figure out our family. And I think that'swhen I began to wonder, too.

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The Washington Post

McCain-Feingold Slipping Away?

Campaign finance reform advocates were cringing today as the FederalElection Commission released draft versions of new ground rules for anypolitical ads paid for with corporate or union money.

The commission offered two competing proposals for how this a televisioncommercial must be written if it's underwritten by corporate or unionsmoney. They are scheduled to vote on the drafts at a meeting next week.

Under either version, the ads would be permitted if they focus on a "publicpolicy issue" and don't mention the election or specifics about thecampaign, according to Loyola Law Professor Rick Hasen.

One version of the proposed FEC rule changes, Hasen said, will reopen thedoor to so-called "sham issue ads," which are essentially political attackads dressed-up to look like they were about a specific policy question. Thesecond version will do that, plus eliminate a requirement that the groupthat sponsors such an ad disclose the source of the money that funded it.

"This is very troubling," said Paul Ryan of the advocacy group the CampaignLegal Center.



The Washington Post

Pakistan's One-Man Calamity

By Nawaz Sharif
Saturday, November 17, 2007; A17

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- My country is in flames. There is no constitution.Judges have been sacked on a whim and arrested, political leaders locked up,television stations taken off the air. Human rights activists, lawyers andother members of civil society are bearing the brunt of a crackdown by abrutal regime. Extremism has assumed enormous and grave proportions.

All of this is the doing of one man: Pervez Musharraf. He first struck atthe core of democracy on Oct. 12, 1999, when he dismissed my government atgunpoint. My government was chosen by the people of Pakistan in free andfair elections. But Musharraf so feared my popularity that he banished mefrom the country and won't allow me to return. After Pakistan's SupremeCourt declared this year that I have a right to return, I flew intoIslamabad in September. But Musharraf brazenly refused me admittance to myown country.

On Nov. 3, Musharraf struck again at democracy. He abrogated theconstitution and declared a state of emergency. For Musharraf, theconstitution is nothing but a piece of paper that can be crumpled anddiscarded. After the Supreme Court stood up to him early this year andattempted to restore the fundamental rights of the people, he dismissedChief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. Stung by the successful civilsociety movement that led to Chaudhry's reinstatement, Musharraf actedquickly after suspending the rule of law. The Supreme Court was consideringMusharraf's eligibility to be elected president despite being the armychief, but before the court could rule, Musharraf dismissed the entirejudiciary.

These are the wages of dictatorship. Democracy holds the key to resolvingPakistan's problems. Musharraf hopes that other nations will prefer hisdespotism to the anarchy he claims would erupt were he to leave office. Thisis a lie that America and other Western nations should not accept. Tyrannyis never a substitute for freedom, and there is no substitute for democracy.

Musharraf's self-serving contention that a free vote would result inextremists coming to power is utterly flawed and intended to frighten theWest. First, the people of

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The Washington Post

Iraqis With Ties to U.S. Cross Border Into Despair
Contractor Employees Wait, Hope for Visas

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 17, 2007; A01

AMMAN, Jordan -- At every opportunity, the Iraqis pull out photos ofthemselves side by side with U.S. soldiers, photos they feared to shareinside their country. They offer up laminated notes of appreciation fromAmerican commanders. They flash expired U.S. Embassy badges they still keepin their wallets.

Thousands of Iraqi employees of U.S. contractors, forced to flee to thiscapital out of fear, are desperately trying to leverage their American tiesinto entry to the United States. But most languish for months in abureaucratic and psychological limbo, their status as uncertain as theirfuture.

"We are here only because of our work with the Americans," said IntisarIbrahim, 53, a tall, solemn engineer who left Iraq two years ago. "They havean obligation to help us, but until now we have not seen any help."

More than four years after the U.S.-led invasion, the number of Iraqis beingresettled in the United States is expanding, although the numbers areminuscule and the pace is glacial. Only those who have worked directly forthe U.S. government or military -- a tiny percentage of the refugees -- areeligible for fast-track immigration processing. An estimated 100,000 Iraqisemployed by U.S. contractors -- from office cleaners to managers to highlyskilled professionals -- have much lower priority, although they facedsimilar dangers and underwent rigorous background checks.

In Iraq, these workers paid a price for being America's allies. They leddouble lives sheathed in lies and secrecy. Many were killed. Those fortunateenough to make it to Jordan have found that life as a refugee is precarious.

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The Washington Post

With Strong Debate, Clinton Quiets Talk of a Slide
Spotlight Moves to Whether Rivals Can Slow Her Momentum Toward Nomination

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2007; A05

LAS VEGAS, Nov. 16 -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's strong performance inThursday's Democratic debate here will blunt talk that she is on a downwardslide and shift the focus to whether Sen. Barack Obama or former senatorJohn Edwards can stop her march to the nomination, party strategists saidFriday.

"In some ways the hiccup of two weeks ago, or the misstep of two weeks ago,was good for the Clinton campaign, in that it brought the Clinton campaignback to earth and back to reality," said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin,referring to her rocky outing in a debate in Philadelphia late last month."It was a campaign that probably started looking to the general election alittle too early, that didn't take the voters' questions about HillaryClinton to heart enough."

Steve Elmendorf, who ran the presidential campaign in 2004 for then-Rep.Richard A. Gephardt, said Clinton's aggressiveness Thursday was a reminderto her rivals that she would not allow them to attack her indefinitelywithout responding. "She sent a very strong signal to the other candidatesthat there are no free shots here," he said. "She is ahead, and if theyattack her, she'll hit back. Everybody has vulnerabilities."

Clinton (N.Y.) won the battle of Las Vegas by aggressively turning thetables on her rivals, challenging them where they are vulnerable and forcingthem to answer questions they weren't ready to answer. She once againdemonstrated her skill as a debater -- and Obama (Ill.) showed that he isnot as strong in debates as he is in other forums.

The reactions from inside the Clinton and Obama campaigns signaled thatbetween now and Iowa, there will be an intensifying debate over who shouldlead the party. Clinton advisers were ecstatic about the performance, whichthey felt successfully shifted the story line away from the candidate'searlier problems. Gone was talk about "piling on," which had marked theirresponse to the Philadelphia debate, even though her rivals were as criticalof her Thursday night as they had been earlier.

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The Washington Post

Court Rejects Early Michigan Primary

The Associated Press
Friday, November 16, 2007; 11:40 PM

LANSING, Mich. -- A state appeals court on Friday dealt a blow to Michiganpolitical leaders' hopes of holding a presidential primary on Jan. 15.

In a 2-1 ruling, Judges Patrick Meter and Donald Owens objected that a lawrecently passed by the Legislature setting up the primary would let thestate political parties keep track of voters' names and whether they tookDemocratic or GOP primary ballots but give no public access to thatinformation.

Michigan had at one time tentatively scheduled Democratic caucuses for Feb.9, but state officials and Gov. Jennifer Granholm have tried to push up thedate to Jan. 15. If no primary is held, Republicans will make their choicesat a Jan. 25-26 party convention. Democrats also could move up theircaucuses, although no date has been set.

The weeks-long logjam involving the courts has delayed scheduling of thenation's first primary. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner sayshe won't set the date of his state's primary until it's clear what's goingto happen with Michigan. New Hampshire law says it must go first in thenation.

A spokesman for Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said no decision had beenreached on whether to take the case to the state Supreme Court.

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The Washington Post

Inconvenient Truth: Gore Won a Nobel, and Bush Will Host the Winners

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 17, 2007; A03

Maybe he'll bring the slide show.

Former vice president Al Gore plans to return to the White House afterThanksgiving, apparently for the first time since leaving office, to behonored by the man who beat him seven years ago.

President Bush will host five American winners of this year's Nobel Prizesin the Oval Office on Nov. 26, including the winner of the Peace Prize, whofell 538 votes short of hosting the event himself. No word on whether theSupreme Court will be on hand to mediate in case of trouble.

The president regularly invites Nobel laureates for a handshake andphotograph and decided this year would be no different, even if they includehis vanquished rival from 2000. The Gore camp said the White House went outof its way to accommodate the former vice president's schedule, even movingthe event when there was a conflict with the first proposed date. Bushpersonally telephoned Gore yesterday to finalize the arrangements.

"The president wanted to call him and lock that in and make sure he's goingto be able to come," said White House spokesman Tony Fratto. "He alsooffered his congratulations and said he looked forward to having him here."

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The Washington Post

Thousands Rally Against Perceived Bias in Prosecutions
Response to Hate Crimes Is Decried

By Michael E. Ruane and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 17, 2007; B03

Thousands of African American demonstrators from across the country marchedon the Justice Department yesterday in a large and emotional protest overwhat they termed the inequality of the nation's justice system.

Chanting "No Justice, No Peace!" and "No More Nooses!" the throng was largeenough to fill several blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue while simultaneouslyringing the department's fortress-like Robert F. Kennedy Justice Building at10th Street and Pennsylvania.

The demonstration was headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of theNational Action Network; Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civilrights leader; and Charles Steele Jr., president of the Southern ChristianLeadership Conference.

The trio marched with arms locked, surrounded by legions of demonstratorscarrying red-green-and-black flags that whipped in the cold wind under theday's clear blue sky.

While the march was aimed at what organizers said was the department'sfailure to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, many participants expressedanger at what they perceived as widespread inequality in the administrationof justice.

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The Advocate

Clinton Goes After "the Boys" in Democratic Debate


Hillary Rodham Clinton showed she knows how to use the roughhouse tactics ofthe political boys club.

Two weeks after a rocky presidential debate performance where she appearedat times both defensive and evasive, the New York senator came intoThursday's Democratic forum poised, confident, and ready to rumble.

For the first time, she directly challenged the records of her top rivals,Barack Obama and John Edwards. She even chided Edwards, her fiercest criticin this debate and others, for ''throwing mud'' Republican-style.

Spectators inside the debate hall appeared to echo that criticism,repeatedly booing Edwards and occasionally Obama when they criticizedClinton.

And after days of torturous contortions on whether she supported grantingdriver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Clinton was able to stand by andwatch as Obama was tripped up on the issue this time.

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The Advocate

I Heart Al Gore

While listening to the former vice president discuss climate change in thebackyard of a Los Angeles estate on a chilly Friday night, Advocate deputyeditor Rachel Dowd suddenly realizes why the world is better off without AlGore as president of the United States.

By Rachel Dowd
November 09, 2007

An exclusive posted November 9, 2007

The evening of October 5, 2007, was unseasonably cold in Los Angeles,forcing the well-heeled crowd gathering in the backyard of Michael and JenaKing's Pacific Palisades home to huddle under heat lamps. Paper lanternsswung wildly from the tree branches with every gust of ocean breeze; thelights of downtown twinkled in the distance like a Christmas village inSweden. From time to time some brave soul would duck her head out from underthe fiery halo to snatch a full glass of champagne or a crab cake. That afund-raiser to benefit Oceana -- an organization dedicated to protecting theworld's oceans and marine life from, among other things, overfishing --would choose seafood as an appetizer is a discussion for another time.Nourishment staves off hypothermia.

Inside, clearly the smarter place to be, the flat-screen television abovethe mantle showed the Boston Red Sox in the early innings of their eventualwin against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- a win which would propelthe Sox to the American League Championship Series and, ultimately, to theirsecond World Series title. Stick with me here: After an 86-year dry spellthat had marked the team as "cursed" (or for those of us who grew up in theNation, "godforsaken losers that'll break your heart year after year"), theRed Sox have finally unleashed the potential we always suspected they had.Much the same can be said about Al Gore, who two weeks after accepting thePartners Award at Oceana's chilly soiree would be awarded the Nobel PeacePrize in Stockholm.

Let me start by saying that I never really knew what to make of Al Gore. Thevice president is by definition something of an afterthought, but VP to BillClinton? You may as well be the wallpaper. And then there was the 2000election, which was punctuated with Gore's strange claims to have inventedthe Internet, a painfully bad makeup job during at least one debate, and anawkward attempt at a passionate kiss with Tipper. Even so, I voted for him.I threw my fists in the air when the White House was handed over to a dimwitin his place. I've imagined -- innumerable times -- what this country mighthave been under his leadership. But seeing Al Gore take the microphone sevenyears later confirmed that he has hit his stride outside of politics, andthat's no mistake.

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Detroit News

Decision 2008
Evangelicals turning from politics to faith

Religious right shifting as unease of mixing politics with faith grows inChristian community.
Stephanie Simon and Mark Z. Barabak / Los Angeles Times
Friday, November 16, 2007

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A fundamental shift is taking place within thereligious right, long a force in presidential politics, as aging evangelicalleaders split on the 2008 race and a new generation of pastors turns awayfrom politics altogether.

The result, in the short term, could be a boost for the centrist candidacyof former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, whose messy personal lifeand support for gay and abortion rights have not produced the unifiedopposition from Christian conservatives that many expected.

Over the longer term, the distancing of religious leaders from politicscould prove even more consequential, denying the GOP one of the essentialbuilding blocks the party has used to capture the White House in five of thepast seven presidential races.

The shift is evident in this community at the heart of the evangelicalmovement.

"As far as me standing in the pulpit holding a voter guide, that's not goingto happen," said Pastor Brady Boyd, 40, who leads a congregation of 10,000at New Life Church. He will use his position to teach the Bible toworshipers. "I won't use it to influence their vote," he said.

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Los Angeles Times,0,3508319.column?coll=la-util-opinion-commentary

Divided Over Uniting

By Ronald Brownstein,
© National Journal Group Inc.
Friday, Nov. 16, 2007

It says something about modern politics that Sen. Barack Obama has facedsome of his sharpest attacks over the charge that he's too conciliatory.

Liberal activists who consider Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton suspiciouslycentrist complain that Obama hasn't "taken off the gloves" against her inthe Democratic presidential race. From another angle, former Sen. JohnEdwards ridicules Obama's pledge to reduce the influence of insurance anddrug companies but still provide them a voice in negotiations on health carereform. There's no negotiating with these business interests, Edwardsinsists: The only way to achieve universal coverage is to beat them.

Obama has given a nod to the first critics by sharpening his differenceswith Clinton. But he is holding his ground against Edwards and like-mindedliberals who maintain that major change won't come unless the next presidentrallies Democrats for a crusade against the economic and ideological forcesthat they believe stand in the party's way. Obama argues the reverse: Bigchange won't come unless the next president builds a broad coalition thatattracts voters and constituencies beyond the party's base. "No party has amonopoly on wisdom or virtue," Obama said in an interview. And realprogress, he insists, isn't possible with just "a 50-plus-one majority."

Those are not easy arguments to sell today. Two terms of bruising combatwith President Bush have left many Democrats dubious about any compromisewith Republicans and their allies. And anyone counseling more cooperationamid such unremitting conflict between the parties can strike many partisansas dreamy and naive.

Those sentiments have compelled Obama to walk a thin line as he promotesreconciliation. One telling example is his intensifying attempt to wooblue-collar voters, who have been cool to his candidacy. Although nationalpolls don't report improvement for Obama with those voters, the latest NewHampshire surveys show some gains, and his aides say that their privatepolling indicates greater progress in Iowa.

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The Washington Post

Pelosi: War, Immigration Hurt Public Approval of Congress
Speaker Says Clinton Can 'Hold Her Own'

By David S. Broder and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 15, 2007; 4:31 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today blamed Congress' failure to bring an end tothe war in Iraq and deal effectively with the reform of immigration laws asthe primary causes of the institution's near-record low approval ratings.

In an interview at the U.S. Capitol, Pelosi said the Democratic takeover ofCongress had raised expectations on action to end the conflict in Iraq, andthat the Senate's initial willingness to tackle immigration reform followedby its failure to do so left the American public disappointed in Congress.

The House on Wednesday night passed spending legislation that sought to tiefunding for the Iraq war to hard deadlines for beginning troop withdrawals,a proposal that has little hope of passage in the Senate.

"People thought it was a problem that could be solved and when it didn'thappen I think it was a big disappointment," she said. "Usually those lownumbers relate to expectations and there were high expectations" on bothIraq and immigration.

Pelosi made her comments in an interview for's "PostTalk"program, just hours before seven of her party's presidential candidates arescheduled to gather in Las Vegas for a televised debate.

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Miami Herald

Crackdown shows true face of Musharraf regime

Posted on Fri, Nov. 16, 2007

LAHORE, Pakistan -- It was close to midnight last Saturday when Gen. PervezMusharraf finally appeared on state-run television. That's when police vanssurrounded my house. I was warned not to leave, and hours later I learned Iwould be detained for 90 days.

At least I have the luxury of staying at home, though I cannot see anyone.But I can only watch, helpless, as this horror unfolds.

The Musharraf government has declared martial law to settle scores withlawyers and judges. Hundreds of innocent Pakistanis have been rounded up.Human-rights activists, including women and senior citizens, have beenbeaten by police. Judges have been arrested, and lawyers battered in theiroffices and the streets.

These citizens are our true assets: young, progressive and full of spirit.Many of them were trained to uphold the rule of law. They are beingbrutalized for seeking justice.

Musharraf justified his Draconian measures by saying he needed to be able touse all his might to fight the terrorists infecting our country. Yet the dayafter he declared an emergency, the Dawn newspaper reported that scores ofterrorists were released by the government.

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Miami Herald

Bangladesh cyclone toll rises to 1,723

Posted on Sat, Nov. 17, 2007

The official death toll from a savage cyclone that wreaked havoc onsouthwest Bangladesh reached 1,723 Saturday - the deadliest storm to hit thecountry in a decade.

Military helicopters and ships joined rescue and relief operations and aidworkers on the ground struggled to reach victims. Tropical Cyclone Sidr toreapart villages, severely disrupted power lines and forced more than amillion coastal villagers to evacuate to government shelters.

The latest death figure tallied to 1,723, with 474 deaths reported fromworst-hit Barguna district and 385 from neighboring Patuakhali, a militaryspokesman, Lt. Col. Moyeenullah Chowdhury, told reporters in the capital,Dhaka.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information.AP's earlier story is below.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - The official death toll from a cyclone that wreakedhavoc on southwest Bangladesh reached 1,070 Saturday, while militaryhelicopters and ships joined rescue and relief operations and aid workers onthe ground struggled to reach victims.

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