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NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 10, 2008

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Sacramento Bee

AP: Richardson ends presidential bid

MERRIMACK, N.H. -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ended his campaign forthe presidency Wednesday after twin fourth-place finishes that showed hisimpressive credentials could not compete with his Democratic rivals' starpower. Richardson planned to announce the decision Thursday, according totwo people close to the governor with knowledge of the decision. They spokeon a condition of anonymity in advance of the governor's announcement.


The Wall Street Journal

Race Is Fluid As Vote Shifts To Big States

January 10, 2008; Page A1

WASHINGTON -- Americans frustrated by Iowa and New Hampshire's clout inpicking their presidents can take some heart: The two states' electoralverdicts settled little.

Now the 2008 presidential-nominating race goes national, with no clearfront-runner in either party and a whole range of new issues andconstituencies that will play a big role in coming weeks in determiningwhich candidates face off for the White House in November. Fund raising alsowill be a crucial factor.

After a year of person-to-person campaigning in a pair of lightly populated,mostly white and largely rural and small-town states, the presidentialcandidates now have to appeal to big-city voters -- as well as Hispanics inFlorida and California, in an election year when sentiment is running highagainst illegal immigration.

In Nevada, Democrats will be reaching out to labor unions and, in SouthCarolina and elsewhere, to large numbers of black voters. Republicans willhave to balance appeals to their large base of evangelical Christianswithout alienating more socially moderate voters in the big coastal statesand in suburban areas.

The new battlegrounds include pockets of economic distress. Nevada andFlorida have been hit hard by the housing slump and have among the highesthome-foreclosure rates in the country. Michigan, where the Republican raceturns next, has long been viewed as a state in recession.

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The Wall Street Journal

COMMENTARY: The Road to Universal Coverage

January 9, 2008; Page A15

Democrats should be celebrating. Their three major candidates have puthealth insurance front and center on the domestic agenda, and with plansthat are remarkably similar. They've done so at a time when the public seemsreadier than ever before to embrace universal health insurance, and readierto trust a Democratic president to put it into effect.

But instead of celebrating, the candidates and left-leaning pundits aresquabbling over whether the plans should include so-called mandates thatrequire everyone to purchase health insurance. Talk about self-inflictedwounds. Mandates are a sideshow, and fighting over them risks turning awayvoters from the main event.

In almost every important respect, all major Democratic plans are the same.They require employers to "play or pay" -- either provide coverage to theiremployees or contribute to the cost of coverage. They create purchasingpools that will offer insurance to anyone who doesn't get it from anemployer. The plans preserve freedom of choice of doctors. They aim to savemoney through more preventive care, better management of chronic disease,and standardized information technology. All of them subsidize lower-incomefamilies.

Despite some skirmishing over whose subsidies are most generous, thesubsidies are about the same. The major Democratic plans would spend nearlyan identical amount of money helping low- and middle-income families becausethey rely on the same source of general revenue, derived from allowing theBush tax cuts to expire. Given the myriad ways universal health insurancemight otherwise be organized -- single payer, employer mandate,health-insurance vouchers, tax credits -- this Democratic consensus isstriking. It also highlights the abject failure of Republicans to come upwith any coherent plan.

Take a closer look and even the candidates' positions on mandates aren't allthat different. John Edwards has proposed to automatically enroll people inhealth insurance on their tax returns, but has said this mandate won't applyuntil premiums are affordable. Hillary Clinton says she favors mandates, butisn't sure there should be a penalty for noncompliance. Barack Obama favorsan immediate mandate for children, but doesn't include one for adults. Hesays he's willing to revisit the issue after making health insurance moreaffordable and enrollment easier, and is also considering an automaticenrollment with an opt-out for those who don't want to be included.

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Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn

A Surge of More Lies

By Congressman Robert Wexler
Tuesday 08 January 2008

A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is criticalthat the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media,Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge inIraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further fromthe truth.

This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negativelyimpacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and definedobjective - to create stability and security - enabling the Iraqi governmentto enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation andcooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.

This has not happened.

There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are nocloser to solving the complex problems - including a power sharinggovernment, oil revenue agreement and new constitution - than we were beforethe Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.

Too many Democrats in Congress are again surrendering to GeneralPetraeus and have failed to challenge the Bush Administration's claims thatthe surge has been successful. In fact - it is just the opposite.

The reduction in violence in Iraq has exposed the continuing failure ofIraqi officials to solve their substantial political rifts. By PresidentBush's own stated goal of political progress, the Surge has failed.

Of course raising troop levels has increased security - a strategy theBush administration ignored when presented by General Shinseki before thewar in Iraq began - but the fundamental internal Iraqi problems remain andthe factors that were accelerating the civil war in 2007 have simply beenput on hold.



New York Times

Michigan Next, G.O.P. Rivals Turn to the Economy

January 10, 2008

PONTIAC, Mich. - Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney sped to Michigan onWednesday and turned their focus to the slowing economy as they headedtoward the next showdown in the race for the Republican presidentialnomination.

Mr. Romney dropped his television advertising in two other importantbattlegrounds, South Carolina and Florida, to focus his spending on Michiganin hopes of averting another major defeat. Mr. McCain, whose campaign untilnow has operated by necessity as a wide open but low-cost insurgency,adopted a carefully choreographed series of rallies as it scrambled togather the money and the organization it needs to take advantage of hisvictory in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign aidesgathered to plot how best to take advantage of her victory in New Hampshireas she and Senator Barack Obama prepared for a protracted nationwide battlefor the nomination.

After two fourth-place finishes, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico isdropping out of the Democratic contest, according to people knowledgeableabout his decision. John Edwards remains in the race, but his distantthird-place finish in New Hampshire moved the Democrats toward a two-personrace between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

After appearing on the morning television news programs, Mrs. Clinton stayedoff the campaign trail as she and her aides debated how to allocate her timeand money through Feb. 5, when 22 states will vote. Mr. Obama made a forayto the New York area, appearing at a rally in New Jersey, which like NewYork and Connecticut will hold its primary on Feb. 5, before coming toManhattan for a fund-raiser.

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New York Times

2005 Use of Gas by Blackwater Leaves Questions

January 10, 2008

WASHINGTON - The helicopter was hovering over a Baghdad checkpoint into theGreen Zone, one typically crowded with cars, Iraqi civilians and UnitedStates military personnel.

Suddenly, on that May day in 2005, the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictestconditions and with the approval of top military commanders. An armoredvehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers,passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint.

"This was decidedly uncool and very, very dangerous," Capt. Kincy Clark ofthe Army, the senior officer at the scene, wrote later that day. "It's not agood thing to cause soldiers who are standing guard against car bombs,snipers and suicide bombers to cover their faces, choke, cough and otherwisedegrade our awareness."

Both the helicopter and the vehicle involved in the incident at theAssassins' Gate checkpoint were not from the United States military, butwere part of a convoy operated by Blackwater Worldwide, the private securitycontractor that is under scrutiny for its role in a series of violentepisodes in Iraq, including a September shooting in downtown Baghdad thatleft 17 Iraqis dead.

None of the American soldiers exposed to the chemical, which is similar totear gas, required medical attention, and it is not clear if any Iraqis did.Still, the previously undisclosed incident has raised significant newquestions about the role of private security contractors in Iraq, andwhether they operate under the same rules of engagement and internationaltreaty obligations that the American military observes.

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New York Times

Editorial: More Than a Steak Dinner

January 10, 2008

A Texas judge was so delighted last week to free a wrongly convictedinmate - after 27 years in prison - that the judge bought him a steak dinnerand taught him how to use a cellphone to spread the news. The fact that thishappened in Texas, famous for its draconian criminal punishments, washeartening. Most heartening of all was that Dallas County, where itoccurred, is turning into a model for the rest of the nation in preservingpotentially exonerating evidence in capital cases.

There are more than two million inmates in American prisons and jails, andsome studies estimate that as many as 5 percent may be innocent. There arefew procedures in place, however, for the wrongly convicted to put forthevidence to exonerate themselves.

The Texas inmate, Charles Chatman, who was serving 99 years for rape, wasfortunate that Dallas County has saved many specimens. When the specimen inhis case, a swab taken from the rape victim, was tested, Mr. Chatman's DNAdid not match. He became the 15th prisoner to be exonerated in Dallas Countysince 2001 and one of more than 200 inmates nationally freed from prisonthrough the pioneering use of DNA by the Innocence Project, a nonprofitlegal group.

While DNA evidence has captured the popular imagination, Mr. Chatman'sstory - and that of many postconviction exonerations - is also in large partabout eyewitness misidentification, the most common factor in wrongfulconvictions. The Innocence Project has proposed some important reforms thatstates should use in upgrading their criminal justice system. These includeimprovements in the use of eyewitness testimony and electronic recording ofinterrogations.

Better oversight and funding of crime labs is also crucial, along withcreation of innocence commissions to manage claims of wrongful conviction. Agroundbreaking federal law now grants federal inmates access to DNA testing.Most states and localities are lagging in doing this, and in properlypreserving evidence.

Finally, for all the instant joy, most of the exonerated are nevercompensated for their lost lifetime. Society owes those who wrongly spendyears in prison more than a steak dinner and cheering courtroom.


New York Times

Bush Predicts Completion of Mideast Peace Treaty

Filed at 10:24 a.m. ET
January 10, 2008

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- President Bush on Thursday predicted that aMideast peace treaty would be completed by the time he leaves office, butundercut that optimism with harsh criticism of Hamas militants who controlpart of the land that could form an eventual independent Palestine.

Bush said he's convinced that both Israeli and Palestinian leadersunderstand ''the importance of democratic states living side by side'' inpeace, and noted that he has a one-year deadline for progress on his watch.He named Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, assistant to the Chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, to monitor steps that both sides are making on the peaceprocess, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.

''I'm on a timetable,'' he told reporters. ''I've got 12 months.''

Bush said he is not sure that the problem of Hamas, which took over the GazaStrip in June, can be solved within that time frame. Hamas, he said, waselected to help improve the lot of Palestinians, but ''has delivered nothingbut misery.''

Standing alongside Abbas at the news conference, Bush said he is confidentthat ''with proper help, the state of Palestine will emerge.''

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Washington Post

The Clintons' One-Two Punch

By Robert D. Novak
Thursday, January 10, 2008; A21

Late on Tuesday afternoon, when exit polls indicated Sen. Barack Obama wouldefeat Sen. Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primary, there was palpablerelief from many Democrats -- including some avowed supporters of linton'spresidential candidacy -- that the country soon would be finished with notonly the Bushes but also the Clintons. Four hours later came evidence of hepolitical folly in underestimating the former president and his wife.

Those exit polls were so wrong because they grossly understated the femalevote in New Hampshire. Had the turnout of women there, which constituted anunprecedented 57 percent of the Democratic vote, been plugged in to exitresults, a two-percentage-point Clinton victory would have been forecast.The unexpected female support in turn can be attributed to the Clintonstyle, which may not be pretty but is effective. Hillary Clinton's tearsevoked sympathy for her, and Bill Clinton's sneers generated contempt forObama.

That is a good lesson for Republican strategists fretting about thedifficulty of running against a fresh face such as Obama and hoping forClinton instead. It strengthens the case for Sen. John McCain, who after NewHampshire is the Republican front-runner. The man who spent six years in acommunist prison and has been abused and reviled by Washington's K Streetpower brokers may be the only Republican who can cope with what the Clintonswould throw at him.

It is difficult to exaggerate the funereal tone inside the Clinton camp onprimary day in New Hampshire. Sen. Clinton's campaigning there after herthird-place Iowa finish was uninspired and uninspiring. Even her husbandseemed to lose his famous vibrancy. One Democratic old pro who supports hercompared the atmosphere to the last days of Edmund Muskie's failed candidacyin 1972. Expectations of a double-digit defeat Tuesday led to speculation ofat least a "relaunched" post-New Hampshire campaign and even a withdrawalbefore a possible embarrassment in her home-state New York primary Feb. 5.

With that background, Sen. Clinton's lachrymose complaint in New Hampshireon Monday that "this is very personal for me" was widely compared toMuskie's crying jag in Manchester 36 years ago, which began his downfall.But whereas Muskie's tears were involuntary, only the naive can believeClinton was not artfully playing for sympathy from her sisters. It worked.

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Washington Post

A Shocker, in Hindsight

By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Thursday, January 10, 2008; A21

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Maybe the signs pointing to Hillary Clinton's victory inthe New Hampshire primary were there all along, hidden in plain sight by theblur of Obamamania and a stack of flawed polls.

There was that moment in the ABC News debate Saturday when Barack Obama andJohn Edwards ganged up on Clinton and she fought back. Later, when ScottSpradling, a local political reporter, suggested that voters didn't find herlikable, she replied, "Well, that hurts my feelings." It looked like agenuine reaction from someone so often cast as a stick figure.

Obama then made trouble for himself by offering a comment many saw assnarky. "You're likable enough, Hillary," he said. Obama insisted later thathe intended it as a "gesture of graciousness." Gestures of graciousnessshouldn't have to be explained.

And then, on the eve of the election, Clinton choked up about thedifficulties of the campaign. "This is very personal for me; it's not justpolitical," she said, defying another stereotype about her. The media didClinton the only favor they rendered her all week, playing the video overand over. It was a clip in which she managed to include her basic lines ofattack on Obama ("Some of us are ready, and some of us are not") withoutseeming to be attacking at all.

Did she win the primary on the basis of such episodes rather than policies,on anecdotes rather than data? These were "moments when she finally peeledback the veneer," said Clinton's adviser and friend Paul Begala. And thishelped build her large margin among women.

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Washington Post

An Old Democratic Fault Line

By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, January 10, 2008; A21

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- All 50 states hold elections, but only New Hampshireraises the dead. John McCain and Hillary Clinton, like Bill before her, havenow been saved from political extinction by Granite State voters, who havemanaged in the process to set up a protracted contest for the Democraticpresidential nod. (The Republicans were never going to avoid one.)

The battle in the Democratic Party features divisions that the world'soldest political party has never before experienced, just as it has neverbefore seen candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The gendergap, up to now a phenomenon that distinguished one party's supporters fromthe other's, has become a phenomenon that distinguishes one Democrat'ssupporters from another's.

But beneath the profound novelties of the Democratic race lurk the samerifts that have characterized the party's presidential contests for 40years. Breaking down Tuesday's vote, the old divisions of class, and thesometime divisions of age, are plain to see. Like Hubert Humphrey, WalterMondale and Al Gore before her, Clinton is winning downscale and oldervoters, and the support of party regulars. Like Eugene McCarthy, Gary Hartand Bill Bradley before him, Obama has the backing of more upscale andyounger voters, and independents.

Obama carried the college towns. Clinton swamped him in working-classManchester. Among voters who told the exit pollsters that they were gettingahead economically, Obama won 48 percent support and Clinton just 31percent. But among voters who said they were falling behind economically --and there were twice as many of those as the "getting aheads" -- Clinton led43 percent to 33 percent. She led Obama among voters from union households,and she led among voters who said the economy was the most importantissue -- which a plurality did.

Over the past week, Clinton showed a keen eye (not just a damp one) for theeconomically anxious. In Saturday's debate, she was the only candidate tobring up the sharply rising unemployment figures, and in one campaign stopafter another, she waded into the weeds of proposals that would generategood jobs. Obama spoke brilliantly of changing history, Clinton prosaicallybut empathetically of providing employment. There was nothing prosaic,however, about her victory.

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Washington Post

A Questionable Barrier
The Supreme Court considers a law requiring voters to show a photo ID.

Thursday, January 10, 2008; A20

IN MANY ways, yesterday's arguments before the Supreme Court revolved aroundfear of the unknown.

Those challenging an Indiana law requiring voters to present photoidentification at polling places fear that the requirement will place anundue burden on poor, elderly and minority voters who don't already havesuch IDs. Such voters, they argue, often can't afford an ID or can't easilypay for or get access to birth certificates and other documents needed toobtain one. They argue that the law will have the effect of whittling downthe number of these voters, who often vote Democratic.

Those defending the law -- primarily Republicans and Republican-appointedjudges -- say it was enacted to prevent fraud; they fear that those intenton improperly skewing elections, especially elections expected to be close,could, for example, assume the identities of registrants who have died butwhose names have not yet been removed from voter rolls.

The problem with both sides of this debate is the absence of evidence. TheIndiana Democratic Party and other critics of the ID requirement lodgedtheir lawsuit before the law took effect; their "facial challenge" is basedalmost entirely on speculation and hypotheticals. Those in favor of the IDrequirement also are on shaky footing. While preventing voter fraud is alegitimate governmental goal, the state failed to present any evidence thatin-person voter fraud is or has been a significant problem. They say thatproving voter fraud is exceedingly difficult and that this fact helps toaccount for the scant evidence.

On its face, asking voters to show photo identification at a polling placemight seem reasonable and innocuous. The lawyer for those challenging thelaw conceded during the hour-long oral argument that "if everybody has aphoto ID in their pocket," it would be "constitutional to require them toshow them at the voting booth." But everybody does not have such an ID --and this country has a long and sordid history of using such measures asliteracy tests and poll taxes to prevent whole classes of people fromvoting.

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Washington Post

Kenya at the Brink
A president and his challenger can strike a deal -- or condemn their countryto chaos.

Thursday, January 10, 2008; A20

AFRICAN AND Western leaders have been working overtime to pull Kenya backfrom the brink of political chaos and communal slaughter. Their urgency isunderstandable: The East African nation of 32 million was looking like amodel of emerging democracy and prosperity before its disputed election ofDec. 27. President Mwai Kibaki, who won a free election five years ago, wastrailing in the presidential vote and the early counts, even as his partywas trounced in parliamentary voting. Then, with reports of irregularitiesmounting, he prematurely declared victory and had himself sworn in for a newterm -- touching off rioting that has killed more than 500 people.

Since then, numerous luminaries have tried to persuade Mr. Kibaki and hisprincipal opponent, Raila Odinga, to strike a political deal; much of theviolence has involved fighting between Mr. Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe and the Luotribe of Mr. Odinga. On Tuesday, the president of Ghana and chairman of theAfrican Union, John Kufuor, arrived in Nairobi in the hope of brokering somekind of bargain. Four retired African presidents and U.S. AssistantSecretary of State Jendayi Frazer also have been in the capital. Even Sen.Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, made an effort, taking a break fromhis New Hampshire campaign on Monday to call Mr. Odinga. While everyone hasstressed the need for the Kenyan leaders to devise their own solution, Ms.Frazer hinted at some crucial elements. In particular, Kenya needs moresharing of power and resources among political branches and regions,something that would require constitutional reforms.

The outside suasion seemed to be working at first; Mr. Kibaki invited Mr.Odinga for talks and hinted at power-sharing. Then, just before the arrivalof Mr. Kufuor, the president once again acted preemptively, naming a partialcabinet of 17 ministers, most of them allies from his party -- and none fromMr. Odinga's party. The violence, which had been subsiding, promptly surgedagain.

The would-be peacemakers are still trying. Under American prodding, Mr.Kibaki said yesterday he was open to appointing some of Mr. Odinga's alliesto his cabinet. Still, the president seems determined to entrench himself inpower, even if doing so means inciting more attacks against members of hisKikuyu tribe, which has suffered the most so far. Despite the urgings of Mr.Obama and others, Mr. Odinga has continued to insist on conditions forbeginning negotiations. Most Kenyans appear to share the sentiment of theforeign leaders: They want to stop the violence before it gets any worse.The president and his challenger can respond -- or they can wreck theircountry.


Washington Post

In Property Dispute, Litigation Drags On, And the Costs Grow

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 10, 2008; B02

A nasty property dispute between the Virginia Episcopal Diocese and 11breakaway congregations is likely to stretch into 2009 as a result of ajudge's decision, and the two sides say they have spent more than $1 millionapiece on legal fees and expect to spend at least that much again before thecase ends.

The Virginia dispute is one part of a global Anglican battle over how tointerpret Scripture and Jesus's view of homosexuality.

It is being closely watched, because one of the main breakawayorganizations-- the Convocation of Anglicans in North America -- is based inFairfax City, and because it could set a precedent for conservatives acrossthe country who want to leave the Episcopal Church and hold on to churchbuildings and land.

In the Virginia breakaway churches, majorities voted to quit in 2006 and2007 and have since refused to vacate church properties worth tens ofmillions of dollars.

On Friday, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows told the two sides thatthe earliest he could hear the second part of the case would be in the fall.A first trial was held in November, but Bellows has not issued a ruling. Thetwo trials are supposed to resolve whether a "division" has occurred in thediocese under Virginia law -- a position the Episcopal Church rejects -- andwhether the breakaway groups must vacate.

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Washington Post

Court Ends Bible Distribution in School

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 9, 2008; 2:48 PM

ST. LOUIS -- A rural school district's long-standing practice of allowingthe distribution of Bibles to grade school students is unconstitutional, afederal judge has ruled.

An attorney for the southeastern Missouri school district said Wednesday hewill appeal the judge's injunction against the practice.

For more than three decades, the South Iron School District in Annapolis,120 miles southwest of St. Louis in the heart of the Bible Belt, allowedrepresentatives of Gideons International to give away Bibles in fifth-gradeclassrooms.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit two years ago on behalf offour sets of parents. In August, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. CircuitCourt of Appeals upheld a temporary injunction against the practice.

The district altered its policy, saying the Gideons and others were stillwelcome to distribute Bibles or other literature before or after school orduring lunch break, but not in classrooms.

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