Thursday, November 29, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST November 29, 2007

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GOP Rivals Clash on Immigration, Torture

Filed at 7:07 a.m. ET
November 29, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Republican presidential rivals Rudy Giulianiand Mitt Romney scornfully debated immigration in a provocative,no-holds-barred CNN/YouTube debate just over a month before the first votesare cast.

Giuliani, the front-runner in national polls, accused Romney Wednesday ofemploying illegal immigrants at his home and running a ''sanctuarymansion.'' The testy personal exchange came after Romney said Giuliani hadretained New York's status as a sanctuary city while he was mayor.

Romney said it would ''not be American'' to check the papers of workersemployed by a contractor simply because they have a ''funny accent.'' He hadlandscapers at his Belmont, Mass., home who turned out to be in the countryillegally.

Giuliani shot back, calling Romney's attitude ''holier than thou.''

''Mitt usually criticizes people when he usually has the far worse record,''Giuliani said.

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China AIDS Rate Slows, Main Transmission Now Sex

Filed at 12:58 a.m. ET
November 29, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) - The rate of new HIV/AIDS infections in China is slowingand is now mainly being transmitted through sex, which the government couldtackle with a circumcision campaign, the health minister said on Thursday.

The country will have an estimated 50,000 new infections in 2007, comparedwith 70,000 in 2005, though groups like men who have sex with men areincreasingly at risk, according to a report by the State Council, orCabinet, and the United Nations.

That will mean there will be about 700,000 people living with HIV/AIDS thisyear in China, up from an earlier estimate of 650,000.

Of the new infections, 44.7 percent will come from heterosexualtransmission, 12.2 percent from men having sex with men, and 42 percent fromintravenous drug use, the report said.

In the past, most infections were caused by intravenous drug use.

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G.O.P. Rivals Exchange Jabs in Testy Debate

November 29, 2007

The Republican presidential candidates engaged in a slashing debate lastnight over immigration and other issues, confronting one another in testyexchanges that reflected the wide-open nature of the race in the finalsprint toward the Iowa caucuses.

The debate showcased some of the fierce battles that have raged recentlybetween Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, as Mr. Romney accused Mr.Giuliani of making New York a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants whenhe was mayor and Mr. Giuliani turned the tables on him, noting that Mr.Romney had employed illegal immigrants at his home, adding, "I would say hehad sanctuary mansion, not just sanctuary city."

The debate also reflected a new reality in the Republican race: MikeHuckabee, the former Arkansas governor, played a central role, demonstratinghow he had come from behind to show strength in several recent polls of Iowacaucusgoers.

The debate, held in St. Petersburg, Fla., and sponsored by CNN and YouTube,provided some odd juxtapositions as eight dark-suited male candidatesaddressed video questions submitted by a more youthful, diverse group ofvideographers that included a guitar strummer, Uncle Sam, acorn-on-the-cob-eating questioner in a T-shirt, a young man asking thecandidates what they thought of his Confederate flag and a retired brigadiergeneral who said he was gay and asked about gay men and lesbians in themilitary.

Though the candidates spent much of their previous debates criticizing aDemocrat, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, she was barelymentioned last night, although at one point Mr. Huckabee said that maybe"Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars."

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Pulling Their Punch Lines
While Political Races Heat Up, Writers' Strike Leaves Late-Night HumoristsSpeechless

By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007; C01

The great national strategic political comedy reserve has been depleted.

Thanks to the TV writers' strike, millions of citizens have been deprived(for 24 days now!) of their late-night dose of sarcasm and slashing wit, ofirony and smart-aleck quips. No Letterman, no Leno, no Stewart or Colbert.

As a compressed schedule of presidential primaries rapidly approaches, thenation's Irony Deficiency comes at the worst possible time. Withoutlate-night comedy, how will we really know what or whom to make fun of? Witha few precious weeks before Iowa and New Hampshire, will politicaljournalists be forced to create their own caricatures of the candidateswithout any help from "Saturday Night Live," Conan or even that Scottishguy?

More important is the general loss of swagger and sass on TV. What would webe as a nation without our nightly ridicule, our daily back-talking to, andhumiliation of, the pretenders to power? Answer: We'd be Canada.

Look at all the juicy targets that have passed without extracurricularcommentary these past three-plus weeks. What would "Indecision 2008" havedone with Hillary Clinton's comment about being able to stand the heat ofthe campaign because she's "real comfortable in the kitchen"? What wouldLeno make of Mike Huckabee's surge in Iowa (and his endorsements from bothChuck Norris and former pro wrestler Ric "Nature Boy" Flair)? What fun could"SNL" have with the news that arch-social-conservative Pat Robertson hasendorsed Republican Rudy Giuliani, a candidate who: (a) is thrice-married,(b) once engaged in an openly adulterous affair, (c) is pro-abortion and (d)supports gay and lesbian rights?

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In Debate, Romney and Giuliani Clash on Immigration Issues

By Michael D. Shear and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A01

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 28 -- The Republican candidates for presidentengaged in a two-hour free-for-all Wednesday night, repeatedly confrontingone another directly even as they fielded video questions submitted byInternet users in the most spirited debate of the 2008 presidentialcampaign.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former New York mayor RudolphW. Giuliani immediately set the tone for the combative event, using thefirst question to continue a weeks-long feud they have waged on the campaigntrail. Each accused the other of ignoring laws against illegal immigrationand distorting one another's record on the issue.

Giuliani accused Romney of having a "sanctuary mansion" by employing illegal immigrants as lawn workers and of being "holier than thou" on the issue.Romney accused Giuliani of ignoring the laws and of welcoming illegalimmigrants to New York. "That's the wrong attitude," Romney charged in alengthy, heated exchange.

The clash between the two was only the start of what resembled a raucousfamily argument, stoked by sharp questions that touched on the mostcontentious issues in the Republican contest: immigration policy, abortion,gun control, same-sex marriage, race and the Confederate flag.

The exchanges at the debate, sponsored by CNN and YouTube, underscored theconcerns of all the leading candidates as they jockey for advantage withfive weeks remaining until the Iowa caucuses, with no contender gaining aclear edge in the battle for the GOP nomination. It also provided a publicforum for the arguments that the candidates have been waging through newsreleases and stump speeches.

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Mr. Nasty Vs. Mr. Nice

By David S. Broder
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A25

BEDFORD, N.H. -- Call them Mr. Rough and Mr. Smooth. Or maybe Mr. Nasty andMr. Nice. The intense battle between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney forsupremacy in the Jan. 8 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary ismore a contrast in personalities than a difference on issues.

Watching them in back-to-back appearances over the Thanksgiving weekend -- amix of parades, home visits and town meetings -- it became evident that, asmuch as these men dislike each other, they are locked in a political contestthat virtually excludes outsiders.

John McCain has retained some of his backing from 2000 in the state, andlibertarian Ron Paul has his own fervent faction. Mike Huckabee appears tobe a lesser player here but could gain momentum if he upsets Romney in Iowa.Fred Thompson's campaign is a puzzle to local Republican leaders.

But Giuliani is laying down a serious challenge to early leader Romney, andthe buzz in GOP circles is all about the sharp contrast in their styles.

Giuliani uses blunt instruments -- almost daring his audiences to defy him.He begins even informal, house-party talks with the flat-voiced declaration,"I am running for president of the United States." Implicit in his tone isthe unasked question, "Want to make something of it?"

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The New York Times

The Right Way to Handle Former Inmates

November 29, 2007

To control recidivism, and thus have a shot at controlling prison crowdingand costs, the states and localities need to develop comprehensive programsthat help former inmates find jobs, housing, training, drug treatment andmental health care. A promising model has emerged in Brooklyn, whereDistrict Attorney Charles Hynes started his re-entry program long beforeother jurisdictions even realized they were necessary.

Created in 1999 in Brooklyn, ComAlert was recently the subject of astate-funded study carried out by the district attorney's office incollaboration with Bruce Western of Harvard, a sociologist and criminaljustice expert. The program is still evolving and is far from perfect. Butthe study shows that former inmates are more likely to get jobs and keepjobs - and more likely to remain out of jail - if they undergo a rigorousregime of counseling and drug treatment while participating in a companionprogram that offers them immediate work experience and job training.

Drug treatment, counseling and drug testing are cornerstones of the ComAlertprogram. In addition to being counseled and tested, participants are alsoencouraged to sign up with Ready, Willing & Able, a highly regarded work andtraining program offered by the Doe Fund, a nonprofit organization in NewYork.

Many of those who join the program have little or no experience with theworld of work. They begin to get that experience by working full time inlow-skill jobs like street cleaning, which pays between $7.40 and $8.15 perhour. Most participants are eventually moved into vocational programs wherethey are trained in one of several areas, including food preparation, pestcontrol, office services and building management. They are often referred tojobs at companies that have longstanding relationships with the program.

According to the report, ComAlert graduates are less likely be re-arrestedafter leaving prison and much more likely to be employed than either programdropouts or members of the control group. Participants who complete the DoeFund work-training component do even better. They have an employment rate ofabout 90 percent, somewhat higher than the ComAlert graduates generally andseveral times higher than the control group.

These results are quite promising, but more research will be needed to bearthem out fully. Beyond that, the ComAlert team will need to find ways tolower the combined dropout and failure rate, which is nearly 46 percent.These issues aside, the program is clearly headed in the right direction anddeserves to be expanded and emulated elsewhere. It represents an impressivestart toward the goal of helping newly released inmates forge viable liveson the outside.


The New York Times

Op-Ed Contributor
Penny Foolish

November 29, 2007

THE migrant farm workers who harvest tomatoes in South Florida have one ofthe nation's most backbreaking jobs. For 10 to 12 hours a day, they picktomatoes by hand, earning a piece-rate of about 45 cents for every 32-poundbucket. During a typical day each migrant picks, carries and unloads twotons of tomatoes. For their efforts, this holiday season many of them areabout to get a 40 percent pay cut.

Florida's tomato growers have long faced pressure to reduce operating costs;one way to do that is to keep migrant wages as low as possible. Althoughsome of the pressure has come from increased competition with Mexicangrowers, most of it has been forcefully applied by the largest purchaser ofFlorida tomatoes: American fast food chains that want millions of pounds ofcheap tomatoes as a garnish for their hamburgers, tacos and salads.

In 2005, Florida tomato pickers gained their first significant pay raisesince the late 1970s when Taco Bell ended a consumer boycott by agreeing topay an extra penny per pound for its tomatoes, with the extra cent goingdirectly to the farm workers. Last April, McDonald's agreed to a similararrangement, increasing the wages of its tomato pickers to about 77 centsper bucket. But Burger King, whose headquarters are in Florida, hasadamantly refused to pay the extra penny - and its refusal has encouragedtomato growers to cancel the deals already struck with Taco Bell andMcDonald's.

This month the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, representing 90 percent ofthe state's growers, announced that it will not allow any of its members tocollect the extra penny for farm workers. Reggie Brown, the executive vicepresident of the group, described the surcharge for poor migrants as "prettymuch near un-American."

Migrant farm laborers have long been among America's most impoverishedworkers. Perhaps 80 percent of the migrants in Florida are illegalimmigrants and thus especially vulnerable to abuse. During the past decade,the United States Justice Department has prosecuted half a dozen cases ofslavery among farm workers in Florida. Migrants have been driven into debt,forced to work for nothing and kept in chained trailers at night. TheCoalition of Immokalee Workers - a farm worker alliance based in Immokalee,Fla. - has done a heroic job improving the lives of migrants in the state,investigating slavery cases and negotiating the penny-per-pound surchargewith fast food chains.

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The New York Times

Pledge of Allegiance

By Tobin Harshaw
November 28, 2007, 4:09 pm

Tags: primaries, Republicans

Open primaries ­ in which voters don't have to be a member of a party tovote for its candidates ­ have long been a thorn in the sides of nationalDemocrats and Republicans. Now, according to the Associated Press, Virginia's G.O.P. is going to do something about it: "If you're planning to vote inVirginia's February Republican presidential primary, be prepared to sign anoath swearing your Republican loyalty. The State Board of Elections onMonday approved a state Republican Party request to require all who applyfor a G.O.P. primary ballot first vow in writing that they'll vote for theparty's presidential nominee next fall."

The Roanoke Times doesn't hanker to the idea: "The Republican Party ofVirginia has no interest in thoughtful voters. It only wants mindless partyloyalists who will vote Republican no matter what." (Thanks, Steve Benen.)Eric Kleefeld at TPM Election Central, adds: "Sen. Harry Byrd Jr. (D-VA)famously bolted from the Democrats and became an independent in the 1970sdue to such a loyalty oath being imposed on candidates, but this goes anextra step by putting the the oath to voters. Oddly enough, the state Boardof Elections has approved the request, even though it would be impossible toenforce the contract not only practically, but probably in legal terms, tooas contracts requiring a party to vote a certain way in an election areillegal."

Libby Spencer at the Newshoggers sees a tactical angle: "It's unenforceableof course and probably arises from a fear that Democrats and Independentswill vote for Ron Paul in the primary and then vote Democratic in thegeneral election but it smacks of such desperation that you can almost smellthe sweat."


The New York Times

Russia's Election Is for Parliament, but the Real Vote Is on Putin

November 29, 2007

MOSCOW, Nov. 28 - His valor is extolled on billboards across the nation, andhis daily feats dominate the television news. At a keynote election speechlast week, his handlers even showcased a shimmying girl band singing an odeto that heartthrob in the Kremlin: "I want a man like Putin, full ofstrength!"

Thousands of candidates are vying on Sunday for seats in the nextParliament, but the election is really about only one politician, PresidentVladimir V. Putin. After steadily securing control over Russia since takingoffice in 2000, Mr. Putin has transformed the election into a vote ofconfidence on his leadership and on the nation's economic recovery, and heis throwing the full weight of his government and party machine into thefight.

But to many in the opposition, the fight does not seem entirely fair.

Opposition parties have been all but suffocated by strict new election laws,scant television coverage, curbs on their ability to organize and criminalinquiries. Workers at government agencies and companies that receive statefinancing said they were being exhorted by their bosses to pull the leverfor Mr. Putin's party, United Russia.

A professor in Siberia named Dmitri Voronin, for example, said in aninterview today that he and others at his university had been repeatedlycalled in by administrators and told that if they did not vote for UnitedRussia, they would be dismissed.

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The Washington Post

Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A01

In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama'sbiography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connectionsto the Muslim world.

Since declaring his candidacy for president in February, Obama, a member ofa congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago, has had to addressassertions that he is a Muslim or that he had received training in Islam inIndonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10. While his father was an atheistand his mother did not practice religion, Obama's stepfather didoccasionally attend services at a mosque there.

Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continueto allege that Obama (D-Ill.) is a Muslim, a "Muslim plant" in a conspiracyagainst America, and that, if elected president, he would take the oath ofoffice using a Koran, rather than a Bible, as did Rep. Keith Ellison(D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress, when he was sworn in earlier thisyear.

In campaign appearances, Obama regularly mentions his time living andattending school in Indonesia, and the fact that his paternal grandfather, aKenyan farmer, was a Muslim. Obama invokes these facts as part of his casethat he is prepared to handle foreign policy, despite having been in theSenate for only three years, and that he would literally bring a new face toparts of the world where the United States is not popular.

The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Obama wasborn and spent much of his childhood in Hawaii, and he talks more about hismulticultural background than he does about the possibility of being thefirst African American president, in marked contrast to Sen. Hillary RodhamClinton (D-N.Y.), who mentions in most of her stump speeches the prospect ofher becoming the first woman to serve as president.

"A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs is not what I just studied inschool. It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in theseother countries live," he said earlier this month in Clarion, Iowa.

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The Washington Post

Bush's Next Preemptive Strike

By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A25

George W. Bush is focusing now on his legacy. Duck. Run. Hide.

Some of his legacy-building, I'll allow, is commendable, if overdue -- mostparticularly, his efforts to resurrect the Israeli-Palestinian peaceprocess, which he ignored for seven long years. But the linchpin of Bush'slegacy, it appears, is to make his Iraq policy a permanent fixture ofAmerican statecraft.

On Monday, Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed adeclaration pledging that their governments would put in place a long-termpolitical and security pact sometime next year. "The shape and size of anylong-term, or longer than 2008, U.S. presence in Iraq will be a key matterfor negotiation between the two parties, Iraq and the United States," Lt.Gen. Douglas Lute, the White House official in charge of Iraq war matters,said at the briefing unveiling the agreement.

What Bush will almost surely be pushing for is permanent U.S. bases in Iraq,enshrined in a pact he can sign a few months before he leaves office. Andhere, as they used to say, is the beauty part: As far as Bush is concerned,he doesn't have to seek congressional ratification for such an enduringcommitment of American force, treasure and lives.

"We don't anticipate now that these negotiations will lead to the status ofa formal treaty which would then bring us to formal negotiations or formalinputs from the Congress," Lute said. The administration is looking to signa status-of-forces agreement, which requires Senate ratification if it'sclassified as a treaty but not if it's classified as an executive agreement.One need not be able to solve the riddle of the Sphinx to guess which ofthose classifications the Bush White House will go for.

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The Washington Post

Why Lott Cashed It In

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A25

Well-connected Republicans in Mississippi were shocked by more than theunexpected nature of Trent Lott's resignation announcement Monday. They werestunned that Lott, in good health at age 66 and at the top of his game, wasleaving the Senate just one year into his fourth term in order to make moremoney.

One of Lott's longtime political associates, who asked not to be quoted byname, put it this way to me: "Can you imagine Pat Harrison, Jim Eastland,John Stennis [past Mississippi senators] or, for that matter, Thad Cochran[the state's other senator today] quitting the U.S. Senate to go intobusiness? I cannot."

It is understood in Washington and Jackson, Miss., why Lott is leavingwithout serving even the first two years of a six-year term. By getting outnow, he can collect big lobbying money in one year instead of having to waittwo years, as he would under new congressional ethics regulations. Rep. ChipPickering would have been Gov. Haley Barbour's certain choice to replaceLott had Pickering not announced three months ago that he would not seek aseventh term. Though 22 years younger than Lott, Pickering is also leavingfor financial reasons. That makes it hard for Barbour to select Pickering.

Members of Congress talk among themselves about "getting out to make somemoney," and they do not mean pocket change. The swollen federal governmentand concomitant growth of massive lobbying firms means ex-lawmakers such asLott and Pickering will quickly be able to pull down seven-figure incomes.For many in today's Congress, big money trumps public service.

Actually, federal legislators know how to build tidy nest eggs withoutspending one day in the private sector -- none of them much better thanTrent Lott. Except for one year as a practicing attorney fresh out of lawschool, Lott has spent his career on the public payroll -- four years as acongressional staffer, 16 years in the House and 19 in the Senate.

Nevertheless, the Center for Responsive Politics in 2005 calculated his networth at between $1.4 million and $2 million, or 42nd among 100 senators. Itput his annual income from the Senate and private sources at $289,710, inthe top 1.5 percent of American income earners.

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The Washington Post

Rights Advocate Fights Back
Attorney for Rape Victim Is Suing Saudi Justice Ministry

By Faiza Saleh Ambah
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, November 29, 2007; A18

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 28 -- A human rights lawyer who has defended agang-rape victim sentenced to jail time and lashes said Wednesday that he issuing the Justice Ministry for revoking his license and for defaming hisclient by accusing her of having an affair.

Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem's license was suspended this month in the eastern townof Qatif, where his client was sentenced to six months in jail and 200lashes on a morals charge after she and a male companion were kidnapped byseven men and raped.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement last week that the 20-year-oldmarried woman had "confessed to having an affair with the man she was caughtwith." The statement also said she was not fully clothed when she and hermale companion were seized at knifepoint.

"The Justice Ministry's accusing my client of adultery, without proof, isillegal. It is a crime, and they, better than anyone else, should knowthat," Lahem said. "I am suing them to protect my client's honor and becauseno one, including the Justice Ministry, should be above the law."

The Saudi National Human Rights Association, a government-financed group,has requested an explanation for the revocation of Lahem's license by theQatif court.

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Sudan Hauls British Teacher Into Court

Associated Press Writer
7:51 AM EST, November 29, 2007


Riot police surrounded a Sudanese court as proceedings began Thursdayagainst a British teacher charged with inciting religious hatred overletting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad.

Gillian Gibbons, in a dark blue jacket and blue dress, was not handcuffedwhen she walked into the courtroom in Khartoum, according to reporters whowere briefly allowed inside but were subsequently dismissed.

The case, which has drawn international condemnation, set up an escalatingdiplomatic dispute with Britain, Sudan's former colonial ruler.

If convicted, Gibbons faces up to 40 lashes, six months in jail and a fine,Sudanese officials have said, with the verdict and any sentence up to the"discretionary power of the judge."

Prosecutor-General Salah Eddin Abu Zaid told The Associated Press earlierThursday that the British teacher can expect a "swift and fair trial."

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Miami Herald

Church refuses to back down from Chávez's verbal attacks

Posted on Thu, Nov. 29, 2007

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's habit of verbally attacking his enemiesappears to have backfired in his dealings with one of the country's mostprestigious institutions -- a Catholic Church critical of the president.Even as he clashed in recent days with King Juan Carlos of Spain andPresident Alvaro Uribe from neighboring Colombia, the populist Chávez andtop government officials were unleashing the worst crisis in church-staterelations in decades.

Chávez threatened reprisals -- and even prison -- against Cardinal JorgeUrosa Savino as church officials publicly criticized constitutionalrevisions proposed by the president -- and to be approved or rejected in aSunday referendum -- as ``morally unacceptable.''

In a speech televised to this predominantly Catholic country, Chávez brandedUrosa Savino as ''a thug,'' ''stupid,'' ''mentally retarded,'' ''sycophant''and defender of ``dark interests.''

But rather than shying away from confrontation with a popular and powerfulpresident, the church fired back.

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Miami Herald

Republicans are asked: 'What would Jesus do?'

by Mark Silva

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- For a presidential contest in which religion - andindeed the religious faith of at least one candidate - will play a certainrole in the choices which many voters make, two questions loom large here:Is every word in the Bible true, and "what would Jesus do'' about capitalpunishment.

For Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister who had a career in Christianbroadcasting before election as governor of Arkansas - a "pro-life''governor who has executed the death penalty - these questions set up acouple of quick hits over the fences in last night's televised debate of theRepublican candidates for president.

"Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office,'' Huckabee said. "That'swhat Jesus would do.''

But the ones who are running for the Republican nomination in 2008 confronta political fact: One in four of the potential voters in their primaries andcaucuses this winter consider themselves Christian conservatives, thoughreligion will play a greater role for some than for others. And in thecampaign of Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who is aMormon, the choice which many Evangelical Christians make in Iowa, NewHampshire and beyond may have as much to with who he is as what he says.

"I believe in the Bible,'' Romney declared here.

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Miami Herald

Immigration, torture provoke GOP candidates to clash over debate

Posted on Wed, Nov. 28, 2007

Republican presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney scornfullydebated immigration Wednesday in a provocative, no-holds-barred CNN/YouTubedebate just over a month before the first votes are cast.

Giuliani, the front-runner in national polls, accused Romney of employingillegal immigrants at his home and running a "sanctuary mansion." The testypersonal exchange came after Romney said Giuliani had retained New York'sstatus as a sanctuary city while he was mayor.

Romney said it would "not be American" to check the papers of workersemployed by a contractor simply because they have a "funny accent." He hadlandscapers at his Belmont, Mass., home who turned out to be in the countryillegally.

Giuliani shot back, calling Romney's attitude "holier than thou."

"Mitt usually criticizes people when he usually has the far worse record,"Giuliani said.

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St. Petersburg Times

Low moments aplenty, and nary a champion

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published November 29, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Who won the CNN/YouTube debate? Not beleaguered Republicanslooking for a champion.

Nobody should have been surprised that the sparring was so aggressive in thefinal stretch of an unpredictable race. What was striking is how so many ofthese candidates are ripe for attack on so many core conservative issues.

Gun control? Front-runner Rudy Giuliani drew pronounced boos when hedefensively talked about "reasonable regulations."

Abortion? Mitt Romney received what sounded like stony silence when hefeebly quipped, "I'm not sure who that young guy was," after beingconfronted with old footage of him touting his support of legal abortions.

Tax hikes? Fred Thompson was kind enough to feature a video of then-ArkansasGov. Mike Huckabee talking about the assorted tax increases he wouldsupport.

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The Boston Globe

Retirements, fund-raising gap putting GOP further in political hole
Races in key states are thrown open

By Chris Cillizza, Washington Post | November 28, 2007

WASHINGTON - The resignation announcement by Trent Lott of Mississippi, theSenate minority whip, on Monday was the latest in a wave of retirements tohit congressional Republicans, making an already difficult 2008 electorallandscape even more complicated for the minority party.

Party officials insist that the retirements - 17 members of the House andsix senators - are simply the result of individual decisions and notindicative of a broader negative sentiment within the party. "I don't hear adrumbeat that 'We're not effective and I don't like it here anymore,' " saidthe National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, Tom Cole ofOklahoma.

But with so many lawmakers - including a large number from competitivestates and districts - heading for the exits, it's hard not to point to theGOP's newfound minority status in Washington, the turnover in partyleadership, and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 toexplain the exodus.

Another surprise this week came from Representative J. Dennis Hastert ofIllinois, who was toppled from the speaker's chair by Republican losses in2006 and had said in August that he would not run for reelection. Hastertsaid that he is leaving Capitol Hill immediately, allowing Illinois to holda special primary election for his seat Feb. 5.

"The one thing the open seats have in common is that there is no one who cansqueeze" an incumbent "into an uncomfortable place to convince them tostay," said Dan Hazelwood, a Republican direct-mail consultant who hasworked on dozens of House campaigns. "There was always a cogent and powerfulperson to say: 'The team needs you.' There is less of that, but it's alsounclear that the team needs them."

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Democratic presidential debate canceled over strike

By Steve Gorman
Wednesday, November 28, 2007; 9:27 PM

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A planned televised debate among the Democraticpresidential contenders was canceled on Wednesday after candidates vowed toboycott the event rather than cross picket lines of striking Hollywoodwriters, organizers said.

CBS Corp., whose Television City studio in Los Angeles was the venue chosenfor the December 10 debate, is embroiled in two labor disputes with theWriters Guild of America, including the screenwriters' strike.

Writers Guild members have routinely rallied outside the CBS facility sincethe strike against film and TV studios began November 5, and several leadingcandidates recently pledged to forego the debate rather than cross WGApicket lines.

Organizers said they tried but failed to get assurances from the union for amoratorium on picketing outside CBS studios in Los Angeles for the night ofthe debate.

Further complicating the situation, CBS News writers, producers and editors represented by the WGA East recently voted to authorize a strike against thenetwork in a separate contract dispute, though no work stoppage has beendeclared.

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Pew Research Center

Go to the above website for the following articles:

English Usage among Hispanics in the U.S.Nearly all Hispanic adults born inthe U.S. of immigrant parents report they are fluent in English. Bycontrast, only a small minority of their parents describe themselves asskilled English speakers. This finding of a dramatic increase inEnglish-language ability from one generation to the next emerges from a newanalysis of six Pew Hispanic Center surveys conducted this decade among atotal of more than 14,000 Latino adults. Visit Thursday at 9a.m. to view the report.

For the first time in a long time, nearly half of Americans express positiveopinions about the situation in Iraq and judgments about the overallsituation there have improved steadily since the summer. However, a rosierview of the military situation in Iraq has not translated into increasedsupport for maintaining U.S. forces in Iraq, greater optimism that theUnited States will achieve its goals there, or an improvement in PresidentBush's approval ratings. Read more
On the Middle East Agenda

While negotiators face formidable obstacles, the most recent Pew GlobalAttitudes survey also reveals that Arabs and Israelis, as well as Americans,share some common concerns, most notably, concerns about Iran. Chances forprogress at the Middle East conference should also be bolstered by thepresence of Saudi Arabia, which is viewed as a key ally in much of the Arabworld. Read moreComing Thursday:

Nearly all Hispanic adults born in the U.S. of immigrant parents report theyare fluent in English. By contrast, only a small minority of their parentsdescribe themselves as skilled English speakers. This finding of a dramaticincrease in English-language ability from one generation to the next emergesfrom a new analysis of six Pew Hispanic Center surveys conducted this decadeamong a total of more than 14,000 Latino adults. Visit PewResearch.orgThursday at 9 a.m. to view the report. The Daily Number

15%: Pakistanis with Favorable View of U.S.
That's the small fraction of Pakistanis who say they have a favorable viewof America in the latest Pew Global Attitudes poll. Check back every weekdayfor another number in the news. Read more


Dennis Kucinich

by Gore Vidal

For the past two years I've been crisscrossing the United States speaking tocrowds of people about our history and politics.

At the same time, would-be Presidents of the greatest nation in the country,as silver-tongued Spiro Agnew used to say, have been crowding the trail,while TV journalists sadly shake their heads at how savage the politicoshave become in their language.

But then, it is the task of TV journalists to foment quarrels where oftennone properly exist.

As I pass through the stage door of one auditorium after another, I now hearthe ominous name of Darth Vader, as edgy audiences shudder at the horribledirection our political discourse has taken. Ever eager as I am to shedlight, I sometimes drop the name of the least publicized applicant to thecreaky throne of the West: Dennis Kucinich.

It takes a moment for the name to sink in.

Then genuine applause begins. He is very much a favorite out there in theamber fields of grain, and I work him into the text. A member of the Houseof Representatives for five terms since 1997, although many of hislegislative measures have been too useful and original for our brain-deadmedia to comprehend. I note his well-wrought articles proposing theimpeachment of Vice President Cheney, testing the patriotic nerves of hisfellow Democrats, but then the fact of his useful existence often causesdistress to those who genuinely hate that democracy he is so eager toextend. "Don't waste your vote," they whine in unison--as if our votes arenot quadrennially wasted on those marvelous occasions when they are actuallycounted and recorded.

Meanwhile, Kucinich is now at least visible in lineups of the Democraticcandidates; he tends to be the most eloquent of the lot. So who is he?

Something of a political prodigy: at 31 he was elected mayor of Cleveland.Once he had been installed, in 1978, the city's lordly banks wanted the newmayor to sell off the city's municipally owned electric system, Muny Light,to a private competitor in which (Oh, America!) the banks had a financialinterest. When Mayor Kucinich refused to sell, the money lords took theirrevenge, as they are wont to do: they refused to roll over the city's debt,pushing the city into default.

The ensuing crisis revealed the banks' criminal involvement with the privateutility of their choice, CEI, which, had it acquired Muny Light, would havebecome a monopoly, as five of the six lordly banks had almost 1.8 millionshares of CEI stock: this is Enronesque before the fact.

Mayor Kucinich was not re-elected, but his profile was clearly etched on theconsciousness of his city; and in due course he returned to the ClevelandCity Council before being elected to the Ohio State Senate and then the USCongress.

Kucinich has also written a description of his Dickensian youth, growing upin Cleveland. He has firsthand knowledge of urban poverty in the world'srichest nation. Born in 1946 into a Croatian Catholic family, by the time hewas 17 he and his family had lived in twenty-one different places, much ofwhich he describes in Dreiserian detail in a just-published memoir.


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