Saturday, January 19, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 19, 2008

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Band of Scouting Misfits Attains Eagle Ranking
Achievement of 11 Teens Is Called Unprecedented

By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 19, 2008; A01

The boys called themselves the Viking Patrol. The scoutmasters called thembabies.

As Cub Scouts, they were so wild that the exasperated leaders insisted thattheir parents attend the meetings to keep things from getting out of hand.Their first hike as Boy Scouts became notable for the "strike" when the boyslay down side by side on an easy trail and refused to go on after havingcovered about the length of the Mall.

But something happened to these 11 whiny, quick-to-say-quit goofballs fromBoy Scout Troop 681 in Falls Church. It happened somewhere along the waybetween pinewood derbies and knot-tying in the Scout House, the log cabinwhere the group met three times a month under the glassy eyes of a stuffedmoose. And it happened on 50-mile hikes and canoe trips, under the watch ofscoutmasters such as the retired lieutenant colonel who spun war stories andtaught them how to set up an L-shaped ambush, Ranger-style.

Somehow, this bunch of undisciplined suburban kids grew into a closely knitcrew of slyly ironic, decent, responsible young men whose proudestachievement was a 90-mile hike in the mountains of New Mexico. Now all 11members of the Viking Patrol, one of 10 patrols that make up the troop, havemade it to the rank of Eagle Scout -- a feat that national, regional andlocal Scouting leaders believe is unprecedented.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than the boys.

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What Would Jesus Tax?

By David Madland
From the Center for American Progress
Saturday, January 19, 2008; 12:00 AM

As Mike Huckabee's presidential candidacy gains momentum, winning the Iowacaucus and now in the running to win Saturday's South Carolina primary, themedia has primarily focused on his ability to generate support among whiteevangelical Christians based on his conservative positions on social issues,such as his opposition to abortion and to civil unions for gay couples. Thisstandard story line misses the former Baptist minister's ability to speak tothe economic concerns of evangelical voters and glosses over the growingdivide in the conservative movement between social and economicconservatives.

Conservatives have won electoral gains over the past thirty years bycourting an uneasy, yet effective fusion of right-to-life socialconservatives with economic conservatives who support tax cuts and a reducedgovernment safety net for the needy. For thirty years, the differencesbetween these two factions have largely been masked, with many observersassuming that socially conservative white evangelicals actually support aconservative economic agenda.

Not all of Huckabee's economic views, of course, are progressive. Hesupports, for example, a regressive consumption tax that would seriouslyempty the wallets of many low- and middle-income white evangelicals he isnow courting on the campaign trail. ¿ Still, Huckabee is running againstthe standard conservative line on the economy. He argues that conservativesneed to "quit being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street ¿ or elsewe're not going to win another election for a generation." He has supportedincreasing the minimum wage and expanding health insurance to morechildren¿positions that put him at odds with traditional economicconservatives.

While commentators have increasingly noted Huckabee's economic views, fewhave linked his message with his ability to win white evangelical voters ornoted what this may mean for the future of the conservative movement. Sincethe emergence of the Religious Right as a defining voice in the conservativemovement in the late 1970s, most evangelical leaders (with some notableexceptions like Jim Wallis) have generally supported cutting taxes andreducing government services.

Most Christian Right leaders, observes Michael Lienesch, a professor ofPolitical Science at the University of North Carolina, "combine conservativeeconomics and conservative religion in a multiplicity of ways, so that inthe end the two are almost indistinguishable."

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Liberal church expands

By Steve Schmadeke
Chicago Tribune
January 19, 2008


As a melting-pot faith that holds no creed and welcomes all comers, theUnitarian Universalist church hasn't always seen much need to evangelize.

But as the atheists, Christians, humanists and Buddhists in its pews growolder, and with the church growing only at a trickle, Unitarians areexperimenting.

The Boston-based Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations lastyear launched its first national advertising campaign. In another first, thechurch has sponsored an ad appearing in the programs given to collegefootball fans at 13 bowl games.

The church also has dramatically expanded its number of campus ministriesfrom a handful to more than 200, said the Rev. William Sinkford, associationpresident.

"We have allowed this wonderful faith community to be the best-kept secretin town for too long," Sinkford said. "We have come to understand that we'recalled to make Universal Unitarianism available to those yearning for aliberal religious home."

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Boston Globe

Clinton losing support among blacks, poll says

January 19, 2008

Hillary Clinton's support among black Democrats has cratered as racialpolitics emerged in the nomination fight and as Barack Obama's stock hasrisen, a new nationwide poll suggested yesterday.

Clinton trails Obama by 59 percent to 31 percent among African-Americans,according to the CNN/Opinion Research Poll. In October, Clinton led 57percent to 31 percent. Since then, Obama, who is seeking to become the firstblack president, won the Iowa caucuses and he and Clinton have emerged asthe front-runners for the Democratic nomination.

Clinton has been criticized in the last week by some African-Americanleaders for remarks they perceived as diminishing the accomplishments ofMartin Luther King Jr. She has sought to mend fences in recent days, and sheand Obama called a truce during a debate on Tuesday night.

The poll did not find significant gaps among black Democrats on whetherClinton or Obama better understands the problems of blacks, or whetherblacks would be better off if either were president.

Among all Democrats, Clinton still leads 42 percent to Obama's 33 percent,according to the CNN poll. John Edwards had 17 percent, and Dennis Kucinich3 percent.

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Boston Globe

SC may set future for GOP candidates

By Laurie Kellman, Associated Press Writer | January 19, 2008

WASHINGTON --Voters in two states a continent apart were choosing Saturdayamong Republican and Democratic candidates for president in contestsshadowed by racial politics and the threat of recession.

No front-runner had emerged in either party as South Carolina's Republicansheaded for the polls and Nevadans of both parties prepared for the noveltyof caucuses.

Polls in South Carolina opened Saturday at 7 a.m. with many areas seeingrain coming down. A poll manager in Mount Pleasant said it would bedifficult to predict what the inclement weather would do to voter turnout.In the northern reaches of the state up to three inches of snow wasforecast, which threatened to slow the region to a crawl.

"My friends, these are challenging times," John McCain told supportersFriday while aboard a World War II aircraft carrier in Charleston's harbor.He was referring to the slumping economy, but he could have been talkingabout the intensity and the expense of the neck-and-neck fight for the GOPnomination.

To the East, Republicans battled for delegates in South Carolina, home of6.6 percent unemployment in December after the largest one-month increase innearly 20 years. Political viability was at stake for McCain, Mike Huckabeeand Fred Thompson; Mitt Romney, meanwhile, lowered expectations for hisprospects in the Palmetto State by moving on to Nevada.

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Los Angeles Times,1,7064462.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

Drives in 5 states target affirmative action
Activists aided by Prop. 209's Ward Connerly aim to put the issue beforevoters. Foes say the initiatives will be hard to block.

By Stephanie Simon
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 19, 2008

DENVER - Intent on dismantling affirmative action, activists in five stateshave launched a coordinated drive to cut off tax dollars for programs thatoffer preferential treatment based on race or gender.

The campaign aims to put affirmative action bans on the November ballot inArizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. The effort is beingorganized by California consultant Ward Connerly, who has successfullypromoted similar measures in California, Michigan and Washington.

Supporters of affirmative action say the initiatives will be hard to block,given that Connerly has a proven ability to raise funds and persuade voters,even in more liberal states.

"They've targeted states where there's a white majority electorate and avocal, if small, extreme anti-immigrant right wing," said Shanta Driver, whoruns By Any Means Necessary, a coalition that defends affirmative action. Insuch states, she said, "it's extremely difficult for us to win."

Connerly's campaign -- which he calls Super Tuesday for Equality -- couldalso get a boost if the presidential ballot includes an African American ora woman. That would help him make the case, he said, that the playing fieldis level and minorities no longer need a hand up.

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Washington Post

When Attacked, Obama's Now Hitting Back

By Shailagh Murray and Alec MacGillis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 19, 2008; A01

RENO, Nev., Jan. 18 -- The hundreds of people who turned out at theUniversity of Nevada on Friday heard Sen. Barack Obama deliver a lofty stumpspeech about bridging the nation's divides and creating a groundswell forchange. But they also witnessed him engage in the more mundane task ofrebutting attacks from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on his positions onSocial Security taxes and on the proposed nuclear waste site at YuccaMountain in Nevada.

"When Senator Clinton implied that I'm for Yucca when I've never been forit, that's a problem. That erodes people's confidence in our politics,"Obama said.

It was a sign of a lesson learned the hard way: Let no attack go unanswered.

After his victory in the Iowa caucuses, Obama arrived in New Hampshire moreas the head of a movement than as a candidate, greeted by huge crowds thatlined up for hours to hear a speech that could have been delivered at asuburban megachurch, all empowerment and inspiration.

While the Democratic senator from Illinois was holding his rallies, though,Clinton's campaign sent out a mailing accusing him of being soft in hissupport for abortion rights, organized 24 prominent New Hampshire women tosend an e-mail echoing that charge and distributed a flier accusing him ofseeking a big tax increase on working families. The charges were debatable,but Obama's only response was a hastily arranged automated phone calldecrying the abortion attack. Clinton won the primary with strong supportfrom the mailings' target audiences -- women and working-class voters.

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For Democrats, Obama the pick

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/20/08

According to a recent Gallup poll, almost three out of four Americans aredissatisfied with how things are going in our country, with just 24 percentbelieving we're headed in the right direction. The deep discontent reflectedin those numbers have made Democrats optimistic about their party's chancesof electing one of their own to the White House in November.

However, the situation represents more than a mere opportunity; it imposesan obligation on the Democratic Party to offer the country a candidate whocan inspire the American people, a candidate capable of addressing the manycritical challenges, foreign and domestic, that will confront our nextpresident and commander in chief.

At times of crisis, this country has always been blessed with strong, evenvisionary, leadership. But that has not been true for the last seven years.To the contrary, on almost every front we are suffering the consequences ofslapdash, divisive leadership.

Economically, the country appears to be sliding into a recession;internationally, our reputation on the world stage has perhaps never beenlower. Militarily, our men and women in uniform have been burdened withresponsibilities that they lack the manpower to carry out over the longterm, and with the aging of the Baby Boom generation and a soaring nationaldebt, our financial obligations likewise threaten to overwhelm the resourceswe have committed to meet them.

In Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, the Democrats offerGeorgia voters three candidates with the experience, leadership andcharacter to begin to turn this country around. However, only two of thosecandidates now harbor realistic hopes for the nomination.

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Chicago Tribune,1,2028567.story

White House Missing CIA, Iraq E-Mails

Associated Press Writer
4:51 AM CST, January 19, 2008


Apparent gaps in White House e-mail archives coincide with dates in late2003 and early 2004 when the administration was struggling to deal with theCIA leak investigation and the possibility of a congressional probe intoIraq intelligence failures.

The gaps -- 473 days over a period of 20 months -- are cited in a chartprepared by White House computer technicians and shared in September withthe House Reform and Government Oversight Committee, which has been lookinginto reports of missing e-mail.

Among the times for which e-mail may not have been archived from VicePresident Dick Cheney's office are four days in early October 2003, just asa federal probe was beginning into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity,an inquiry that eventually ensnared Cheney's chief of staff.

Contents of the chart -- which the White House now disputes -- weredisclosed Thursday by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chairsthe House committee, as he announced plans for a Feb. 15 hearing.

Waxman said he decided to release details from the White House-preparedchart after presidential spokesman Tony Fratto declared "we have absolutelyno reason to believe that any e-mails are missing."

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