Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 26, 2007

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Boston Globe

Immigration arrests still target workers, not employers
New crackdown on businesses has not shown results

By Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post
December 26, 2007

WASHINGTON - In its announced clampdown on companies that hire illegalworkers, the federal government has arrested in the last year nearly fourtimes the number of people that it did two years ago, but only 2 percent ofthose arrests involved criminal charges against those who hired the workers,according to a year-end tally prepared by the Department of HomelandSecurity.

Fewer than 100 owners, supervisors, or hiring officials were arrested infiscal 2007, compared with nearly 4,900 arrests that involved illegalworkers, providers of fake documents, and others, the figures show.Immigration specialists say the data illustrates the Bush administration'slimited success at delivering on its rhetoric about stopping illegal hiringby corporate employers.

"I know what it takes to get a criminal case," said Senator ClaireMcCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, a former state prosecutor and member of theSenate homeland security committee. ". . . Why is it that hundreds of barowners can be sanctioned in Missouri every year for letting somebody with afake ID have a beer, but we can't manage to sanction hundreds of employersfor letting people use fake identities to obtain a job?"

Bush administration officials have promised to strike at the job "magnet"luring illegal immigrants into the country, a goal supported by specialistsacross the political spectrum. "The days of treating employers who violatethese laws by giving them the equivalent of a corporate parking ticket -those days are gone. It's now felonies, jail time, fines, and forfeitures,"Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a Nov. 6 newsconference.

In a year-end review this month, Chertoff added that an enforcementcrackdown will "make a down payment on credibility with the Americanpeople," whose "profound public skepticism" about government efforts tocontrol illegal immigration helped kill a broad, White House-backed overhaulin the Senate this summer.

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Atlanta Journal Constitution

'07 awards - even for the idiots
And at rate the U.S. is going, nominees won't get smarter

Published on: 12/26/07

It truly has been a banner year. No, not for the economy, or for America'sprestige around the world; and not for the caliber of political discoursehere at home as we prepare to enter a presidential election year. It was avery good year for idiocy at all levels - international, national, state,local and individual. Thus, in rendering our "Idiots of the Year" awards,the difficulty lay not in fielding sufficient nominees, but in decidingamong so many nominees, those truly most worthy of such designation.

Starting where I like to begin, with the U.S. Constitution, it should comeas no surprise to note our first award - the James Madison ConstitutionalScholarship Award - goes to former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.Either ignorant of, or uncaring about, the fact that the "Great Writ" ofhabeas corpus has been an underpinning of Western civilization since theprinciple was crafted into the Magna Carta in 1215 and, specifically,referenced in our Constitution, this year Gonzales testified before theSenate that the right of habeas corpus is not guaranteed to the citizenry.This one should make every American feel safe and secure from theirgovernment.

We also know that torturing individuals by our government is not onlymorally repugnant - or at least used to be - but is unlawful. However,perhaps like his predecessor Bill Clinton, who justified any of his actionsthat required explanation by reciting that, "it all depends on what themeaning of 'is' is," President Bush apparently believes torture is not"torture" if you simply modify the word with a benign adjective. Thus, theAward for Creative Sophistry goes to the Bush administration for justifyingthe practice of "waterboarding," in which a prisoner is drowned but just notto the point of death, by calling it "simulated" drowning.

Of course, we're all appreciative of the fine work our police officersperform in our behalf, but every once in a while an officer goes above andbeyond the call. When this occurs, the officer is singled out for the PolicePower of the Year Award. The 2007 award goes to Minneapolis Airport policeSgt. Dave Karsnia, who apparently has nothing better to do than sit in men'sroom stalls all day waiting for someone in an adjoining stall to tap hisfoot. Kudos to Karsnia for making his long stints in men's rooms pay offlast summer when he arrested U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) for tapping afoot.

Once our police officers do their jobs in apprehending criminals and thosesuspected of violating our laws, the judges take over. Thank goodness wehave so many good judges in our society as to make awarding of the JudicialWhat, Me Worry? Award so easy. This year, it goes to Georgia Superior CourtJudge Hilton Fuller, who, in presiding over the 2005 Brian Nichols multiplecourthouse murder case, decided that further and indefinite delays in thecase were warranted because to proceed would be "pointless."

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New York Times

Editorial: The Work Remaining

December 26, 2007

It has been nearly a year since the United States attorneys scandal broke,and much has changed. Many people at the center of the scandal have fledWashington, and new laws and rules have been put in place making it harderto use prosecutors' offices to win elections. Much, however, remains to bedone, starting with a full investigation into the misconduct that may haveoccurred - something the American people have been denied.

The primary responsibility for giving the public the final answers aboutwhat happened, and assurances that it will not happen again, lies withAttorney General Michael Mukasey, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and SenateMajority Leader Harry Reid.

Over the course of the year, considerable evidence emerged that the Bushadministration did what seemed unthinkable: it used federal prosecutors, whoare supposed to be scrupulously nonpartisan, to help the Republican Partywin elections. As many as nine United States attorneys were fired,apparently because they brought cases against powerful Republicans orrefused to bring cases that would hurt Democrats.

When the scandal broke, important players either refused to testify beforeCongress - like Harriet Miers, a former White House counsel, and Karl Rove,the presidential adviser - or professed ignorance. Then these officialsbegan to slink away. The list of people connected to the scandal whoresigned their jobs includes Ms. Miers; Mr. Rove; Kyle Sampson, the chief ofstaff to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Monica Goodling, theJustice Department's White House liaison; and Mr. Gonzales himself.

Reforms were instituted. Congress passed a law taking back the power it hadunwisely given the president to appoint United States attorneys withoutSenate confirmation. That should make it harder for future presidents to putpolitical operatives in these sensitive posts. More recently, AttorneyGeneral Mukasey issued new guidelines restricting contacts between theJustice Department and the White House, which appears to have been theconduit for the orders to politicize prosecutions.

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New York Times

At 60% of Total, Texas Is Bucking Execution Trend

December 26, 2007

This year's death penalty bombshells - a de facto national moratorium, astate abolition and the smallest number of executions in more than adecade - have masked what may be the most significant and lastingdevelopment. For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty,more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas.

Over the past three decades, the proportion of executions nationwideperformed in Texas has held relatively steady, averaging 37 percent. Onlyonce before, in 1986, has the state accounted for even a slight majority ofthe executions, and that was in a year with 18 executions nationwide.

But enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 werespread across nine other states, none of which executed more than threepeople. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

Indeed, said David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston whohas represented death-row inmates, the day is not far off when essentiallyall executions in the United States will take place in Texas.

"The reason that Texas will end up monopolizing executions," he said, "isbecause every other state will eliminate it de jure, as New Jersey did, orde facto, as other states have."

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Washington Post

The End of Free Trade

By Robert J. Samuelson
Wednesday, December 26, 2007; A21

Here's today quiz. What do the following have in common: (a) Vladimir Putin;(b) China's currency, the renminbi; (c) the U.S.-Peru trade agreement; and(d) Hugo Ch¿vez? Answer: They all reflect the "new mercantilism." It's anominous development affecting the world economy. Even as countries becomemore economically interdependent, they're also growing more nationalistic.They're adopting policies intended to advance their own economic andpolitical interests at other countries' expense. As practiced until themid-19th century, mercantilism aimed to do just that.

It was an economic philosophy that favored large trade surpluses. At thetime, this had some logic. Trade was an adjunct to military power. Exportsearned gold and silver coin, which financed armies and navies. Butmercantilism fell into disfavor as a way to promote national prosperity.Free trade, argued Adam Smith and David Ricardo, would benefit allcountries, because each would specialize in what it did best -- the doctrineof "comparative advantage." The post-World War II economic order took freetrade as its ideal, even though trade barriers were lifted slowly. Nowmercantilism is making a comeback, as governments try to manipulate marketsto their advantage.

The undervalued renminbi is a glaring example. China's leaders have stakedtheir country's political stability on export-led job creation driven by anartificially cheap currency that puts competitors -- Mexico, India and otherdeveloping countries as well as the United States and Europe -- at adisadvantage. China's trade surpluses have swelled. In 2007, the currentaccount -- a broad trade balance -- will register a $400 billion surplus,about 12 percent of gross domestic product, says economist Nicholas Lardy ofthe Peterson Institute. That's up from $21 billion, or 1.7 percent of GDP,in 2000. As a share of GDP, China's current account surplus is "tripleJapan's level in the 1980s when Japan-bashing was at its peak."

Mercantilist notions also affect the energy trade. "A bear at the throat" ishow the Economist recently described Europe's reliance on Russia for about aquarter of its natural gas. Putin talks of a gas cartel, and Europeans fearthat their dependence exposes them to political blackmail. Ch¿vez isalready less subtle. He dispenses Venezuela's oil to Cuba and other friendlycountries at discounted prices. The specter is that scarce energy supplies,now available to all on commercial terms, will be increasingly allocated bypolitical commitments.

Finally, the retreat from global trade agreements also reflects the newmercantilism. The Doha round of worldwide trade talks is floundering.Countries feel more comfortable with nation-to-nation and regional tradeagreements, where they have more control over the terms. The World TradeOrganization counts about 400 such agreements; the U.S.-Peru pact is thelatest.

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