Saturday, January 26, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 26, 2008

**IF YOU CAN'T ACCESS THE FULL ARTICLE, CONTACT US AT and we'll be happy to send the full article.


Giving Moderate Baptists a Stronger Voice
Coalition of Churches and Political Heavyweights Meeting in Atlanta toReshape Denomination's Image

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2008; B09

More than 30 groups representing over 20 million Baptists will gather nextweek in Atlanta for what is being touted as the broadest meeting of Baptistsin the United States since slavery tore the faith apart more than a centuryago.

The gathering -- a brainchild of former president Jimmy Carter, co-chairmanof the event with former president Bill Clinton -- aims to give moderateBaptists a stronger national voice. Many hope it will also serve as acounterweight to the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, which hasbeen closely aligned with the Republican Party.

"In the public eye . . . Baptists only seem to be either denouncing somebodyor fighting among themselves," said Bill Leonard, dean of Wake ForestDivinity School, a member of the conference's program committee. "And thereis a new generation of Baptist ministers -- conservative and liberal -- whoare tired of that."

But fissures are already appearing in the delicate coalition. Baptists whosupport gay rights are unhappy at being blocked from an official role,Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has backed out after Cartermade remarks against President Bush, and there are complaints that themeeting is taking on political overtones.

And leaders of the 16.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention aren'tattending, saying it is aimed solely at boosting support for the DemocraticParty.

more . . . . .



John Gibson should lose his platform
The Fox News talk-show host mocked Heath Ledger's death on his radio show.
That's unacceptable, and he should be shunned.

By Mary McNamara
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 26, 2008

Why exactly is John Gibson still on the air?

Three days ago, the Fox News talk-show host opened his radio show withhate-filled, and prepared, mockery of actor Heath Ledger's death. Auditoryclips of Ledger's most famous film, "Brokeback Mountain," played with abackground of funeral music, ending with his character's lover, Jack Twist,saying, "I wish I knew how to quit you."

"Well, he found out how to quit you," Gibson chortled before launching intoa show that repeatedly referenced the 28-year-old actor's death as if itwere some sort of joke. Among other things, Gibson suggested, laughing thewhole time, that the actor had killed himself because of the stock marketdownturn, the stalled John Edwards campaign or because he was just a"weirdo" with "a serious drug problem."

Never mind that the cause of death has yet to be established. Never mindthat even if it were a drug overdose or a suicide, it would still be atragedy, and not because he was a movie star but because he was a28-year-old human being.

After the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and other groupsdenounced Gibson's behavior, he at first defended it as a joke, explainingthat he had long made fun of the "quit you" line and wasn't about to stopnow. Then Thursday, clearly responding to increased pressure, he issued astatement during Fox News' "The Big Story With John Gibson and HeatherNauert," saying he was sorry if some people were offended by his remarks andalso that he was sorry Ledger had died.

more . . . . .


Wall Street Journal

Glum Mood Bodes Ill for GOP

Poll Shows Public Is Worried About Jobs and Recession
And Has Little Faith in Bush

January 25, 2008; Page A3

Just when it seemed Americans couldn't get any gloomier about the country'sdirection, they have. That finding, from the latest Wall Street Journal/NBCNews poll, could leave Republicans the gloomiest of all, as prospects fortheir party darken further in a presidential-election year.

Amid a weakened economy and market turmoil, President Bush's stock has slidagain as he prepares to deliver his final State of the Union address nextweek, underscoring the burden he could pose for his party's presidentialnominee in the race to November's election.

1. See how support for candidates varies among men and women, urban andrural voters, more.
As for his would-be successors, the Republican candidates remaining in therace have dropped further behind in hypothetical matchups against potentialDemocratic standard-bearers Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The exceptionis Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has revived his still-fragile candidacy andtakes the lead in the contest for the Republican nomination for the firsttime in the poll. (See related article2.) New York Sen. Clinton remainsahead on the Democratic side, though Sen. Obama has cut into heronce-formidable edge. Mr. McCain runs even with both of them in hypotheticalNovember matchups.

The Journal/NBC poll was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, as globalstock-market swoons raised fears of a financial crash, and the FederalReserve intervened with an emergency cut in its short-term interest-ratetarget. As for the political backdrop, the 1,008 adults were interviewedafter news of Saturday's Nevada party caucuses, which Sen. Clinton andRepublican Mitt Romney won, and South Carolina's Republican primary, whereSen. McCain led. The poll has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

The poll results confirm that the economy is the top campaign issue for2008, replacing last year's focus on the Iraq war and terrorism. Nearly halfof those polled -- 46% -- say "job creation and economic growth" is theirfirst or second choice for the federal government's top priority. That is 15ercentage points higher than just a month ago, in the previous Journal/NBCpoll. A similar double-digit margin now separates the economic issue fromAmericans' next choices for the country's top priorities -- the Iraq war andhealth care.

more . . . . .


Boston Globe

McCain tested on economy
Defends his credibility and experience

By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff | January 26, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - In a race increasingly centered on the economy,Republican candidate John McCain yesterday found himself on the defensiveover his credibility on the subject, claiming a career of experience dealingwith the issue and unique abilities in "leadership, not management."

Those words were aimed at former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, alongtime consultant and venture capitalist, who has emphasized his corporatebackground in recent weeks. For much of last year, Romney downplayed hisbusiness experience while trying to appeal to conservative voters largely onsocial and moral issues.

A Romney ad now airing in Florida highlights his experience in the privatesector. "I know how America works, because I spent my life in the realeconomy," he boasts, in front of the Jacksonville skyline.

"Governor Romney is touting his qualities and his experience and resume as amanager; I am telling the American people - and they know it - that I am aleader," McCain said at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale. McCain waschallenged at the news conference over an answer he gave in a debate theprevious night when asked by moderator Tim Russert if he had said he was"not well versed on" economic issues.

"Actually, I don't know where you got that quote from," McCain replied.

more . . . . .


Boston Globe

Obama leads South Carolina; McCain up in Florida: poll

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent | January 26, 2008

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Reuters) - Barack Obama expanded his lead on rivalHillary Clinton to 15 points heading into South Carolina's bitterlycontested presidential primary, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby pollreleased on Saturday.

Obama, an Illinois senator, gained two points on Clinton overnight to lead41 percent to 26 percent just hours before voting began in Saturday'sprimary. John Edwards was in third place after slipping two points to 19percent.

In Florida, where Republican presidential contenders meet in a criticalprimary on Tuesday, John McCain had a narrow 3-point advantage on rival MittRomney, 31 percent to 28 percent, in the state's initial rolling poll.

The polls in both states had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Obama has led Clinton by double-digits in all four days of polls in SouthCarolina, fueled by a huge advantage among the black voters who are expectedto make up about half of the electorate in the first Democratic primary inthe South.

more . . . . .


Houston Chronicle

Prosecutor launches probe into Detroit mayor scandal
Possible felony case has some wondering if he should just resign

Associated Press
Jan. 25, 2008, 11:02PM

DETROIT - A prosecutor launched an investigation Friday into allegationsthat Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick lied under oath about an affair with histop aide.

Some political observers are questioning whether the popular yet polarizingfigure should stay on the job.

"Can he? Yes. Should he? That's his call," University of Nevada-Renopolitical science professor Eric Herzik said Friday. "But if you are beingprosecuted, your ability to run the city is incredibly compromised."

Others believe Kilpatrick could fight perjury charges and still fulfill hismayoral duties.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday that her office wouldinvestigate reports that Kilpatrick and Chief of Staff Christine Beattyexchanged romantic text messages after they testified in a trial last summerthat they did not have a physical relationship in 2002 and 2003.

more . . . . .


Washington Post

Hey, Pollsters: Democrats Care About Religion, Too

By Leah Daughtry
Saturday, January 26, 2008; 12:00 AM

Religion will play an important role in today's South Carolina Democraticprimary, just as it did in last week's South Carolina Republican primary.The difference is that we'll learn less about how religion affects today'svote than we learned about how it influenced last week's contest.

Last week, thanks to exit polls, we understood the religious breakdown, howoften voters attended religious services, whether they considered themselvesborn-again or evangelical Christians, whether they said the candidates'religious beliefs mattered and what they thought about abortion. And thepolls helped to shape the news coverage, so we saw headlines such as:"Evangelical Republicans Drive S.C. Primary" and Ideology, ReligionImportant in "S.C."

If previous exit polls this cycle are any indicator, religion will be muchless central to the exit polls today. At most, Democrats have been askedwhich religion they identify with and how often they go to church. In Iowaand Michigan, Democrats weren't asked about religion at all. And that, inturn, has shaped the news coverage, making it appear that one party has amonopoly on religion in this race.

I'm chief of staff of the Democratic National Committee and CEO of the 2008emocratic Convention. I'm also an ordained Pentecostal minister. So I'vebeen encouraged by the growing attention paid to the role of religion inpolitics as we go about the important task of electing our next president.I've been disappointed, however, with the focus of the discussion so far.

Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith. My ownsupport for the party stems from my sense that it is most emblematic ofgospel values. Democrats believe in equal opportunity for all Americans,that no child should go to bed hungry or go without health care, that weshould be good stewards of the earth, that we shouldn't pass on debt to ourchildren, and that people who work hard should be able to earn a living wageso they can support their families.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist: Questions for the Clintons

Charleston, S.C.
January 26, 2008

Joseph P. Riley Jr. has been mayor of this historic and often tense citysince the mid-1970s. He's a Democrat, highly respected and has workeddiligently to heal racial wounds that have festered in some cases forhundreds of years.

He has endorsed Barack Obama in today's Democratic primary. But what struckme during an interview in his quiet office in an exquisitely restored CityHall was not the fact of the endorsement, but the manner in which the mayorexpressed it.

He went out of his way to praise the Democratic field, including some of thecandidates who have dropped out, like Senators Joseph Biden and Chris Dodd.He talked about his fondness for Bill and Hillary Clinton and said: "It'stough when you have to choose between friends."

The mayor's thoughtful, respectful, generous assessment of the field echoedthe tone that had prevailed until recently in the Democratic primarycampaign. That welcome tone has been lost, undermined by a deliberateinjection of ugliness, and it would be very difficult to make the case thatthe Clintons have not been primarily to blame.

Bill Clinton, in his over-the-top advocacy of his wife's candidacy, has attimes sounded like a man who's gone off his medication. And some of theClinton surrogates have been flat-out reprehensible.

Andrew Young, for instance.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Editorial: Behind the Abortion Decline

January 26, 2008

Coinciding with this month's 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court's rulingthat legalized abortion, a new study shows that the United States continuesto make progress on reducing the abortion rate. The progress would begreater if more was done to avoid unintended pregnancies.

Between 2000 and 2005, the last year in the study by the GuttmacherInstitute, the number of abortions performed yearly dropped from 1.3 millionto 1.2 million, the fewest since 1974. The proportion of pregnancies endingin abortion also declined significantly.

Abortion opponents like the National Right to Life Committee seized upon thenumbers as vindication for their strategy of demonizing abortion and makingit harder for women to obtain one. Many states now mandate counselingsessions beforehand. But a harder look at the data suggests anotherexplanation.

Almost two-thirds of the decline in the total number of abortions can betraced to eight jurisdictions with few or no abortion restrictions - NewYork, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, California, Oregon, WashingtonState and the District of Columbia. These are places, notes the GuttmacherInstitute's president, Sharon Camp, that have shown a commitment to real sexeducation, largely departing from the Bush administration's abstinence-onlyapproach. These jurisdictions also help women avoid unintended pregnanciesby making contraception widely available.

The lesson: prevention works. Restrictions on abortion serve mainly to hurtpoor women by postponing abortions until later in pregnancy. While shiftingsocial mores may change some people's behavior, the best practical strategyfor reducing abortions is to focus on helping women avoid unwantedpregnancies.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Op-Ed Contributor: Two Presidents Are Worse Than One

Evanston, Ill.
January 26, 2008

SENATOR Hillary Clinton has based her campaign on experience - 35 years ofit by her count. That must include her eight years in the White House.

Some may debate whether those years count as executive experience. But therecan be no doubt that her husband had the presidential experience, fully. Hehas shown during his wife's campaign that he is a person of initiative andenergy. Does anyone expect him not to use his experience in an energetic wayif he re-enters the White House as the first spouse?

Mrs. Clinton claims that her time in that role was an active one. He canhardly be expected to show less involvement when he returns to the scene ofhis time in power as the resident expert. He is not the kind to be a pottedplant in the White House.

Which raises an important matter. Do we really want a plural presidency?

This is not a new question. It was intensely debated in the convention thatformulated our Constitution. The Virginia Plan for the new documentsubmitted by Edmund Randolph and the New Jersey Plan submitted by WilliamPaterson left open the number of officers to hold the executive power.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Editorial: Primary Choices: Hillary Clinton

January 25, 2008

This generally is the stage of a campaign when Democrats have to work hardto get excited about whichever candidate seems most likely to outlast anuninspiring pack. That is not remotely the case this year.

The early primaries produced two powerful main contenders: Hillary Clinton,the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and BarackObama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois. Theremaining long shot, John Edwards, has enlivened the race with his own brandof raw populism.

As Democrats look ahead to the primaries in the biggest states on Feb. 5,The Times's editorial board strongly recommends that they select HillaryClinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.

We have enjoyed hearing Mr. Edwards's fiery oratory, but we cannot supporthis candidacy. The former senator from North Carolina has repudiated so manyof his earlier positions, so many of his Senate votes, that we're not surewhere he stands. We certainly don't buy the notion that he can hold back thetide of globalization.

By choosing Mrs. Clinton, we are not denying Mr. Obama's appeal or hisgifts. The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party alsois exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee."Firstness" is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has beenraised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Editorial: Primary Choices: John McCain

January 25, 2008

We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president.The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq.They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even nowto break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them stronglyon what makes a good Supreme Court justice.

Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator JohnMcCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bushstyle of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With arecord of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation,he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of theRepublican field.

We have shuddered at Mr. McCain's occasional, tactical pander to the rightbecause he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle.He was an early advocate for battling global warming and risked hispresidential bid to uphold fundamental American values in the immigrationdebate. A genuine war hero among Republicans who proclaim their zeal to becommander in chief, Mr. McCain argues passionately that a country'streatment of prisoners in the worst of times says a great deal about itscharacter.

Why, as a New York-based paper, are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? Why notchoose the man we endorsed for re-election in 1997 after a first term inwhich he showed that a dirty, dangerous, supposedly ungovernable city couldbecome clean, safe and orderly? What about the man who stood fast on Sept.11, when others, including President Bush, went AWOL?

That man is not running for president.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

Editorial: Trapped in Gaza

January 24, 2008

The neglect and mistreatment of the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in theGaza Strip is a disgrace, and a very dangerous one. They are pawns in thestruggle among Hamas, which controls Gaza and uses the territory to bombardIsrael daily; its rivals in the Fatah movement that run the PalestinianAuthority and the West Bank; and Israel. If something isn't done quickly toaddress the Gazans' plight, President Bush's Annapolis peace process couldimplode.

It is no wonder that tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed out of Gazainto Egypt on Wednesday after a metal border wall was toppled. Life forGazans, never easy, has been worsening since Hamas seized control lastsummer, and most international aid - except humanitarian assistance - wascut off. Hamas has turned a deaf ear to the Gazans' plight, refusing tonegotiate peace or accept Israel's right to exist.

Life got truly desperate last week when Israel, reacting to a sustained andintense barrage of rocket fire, blockaded Gaza and stopped all shipmentsexcept emergency supplies. When the border wall was breached on Wednesday,Gazans went on a buying spree in Egypt, stocking up on fuel, medicine, soap,cigarettes, cement, chickens and goats.

We are deeply concerned about the many innocent Israelis who live along theborder with Gaza and must suffer through the constant bombardment. ButIsrael's response - shutting off power and other essential supplies - is acollective punishment that will only feed anger and extremism.

Mr. Bush has said that he is committed to negotiating a peace deal betweenthe Israelis and the Palestinians before he leaves office next year.

Allowing Gaza to fester or to erupt into an all-out military confrontationis the surest way to bury that dream.

more . . . . .


The New York Times

U.S. Race Captures World's Eye, and Holds It

January 26, 2008

DAVOS, Switzerland - To look at the reams of coverage in newspapers outsidethe United States or to follow the hours of television news broadcasts, youmight conclude that foreigners had a vote in selecting an Americanpresidential candidate - or, at least, deserved one, so great is America'sinfluence on their lives.

From Berlin to London to Jakarta, the destinies of Democratic and Republican contenders in Iowa or New Hampshire, or Nevada or South Carolina, havebecome news in a way that most political commentators cannot recall. It isas if outsiders are pining for change in America as much as some Americanpresidential candidates are promising it.

The personalities of the Democratic contest in particular - the potentialharbinger of America's first African-American or female president - havefascinated outsiders as much as, if not more than, the candidates' policieson Iraq, immigration or global finances.

And there is a palpable sense that, while democratic systems seem clunky nduninspiring to voters in many parts of the Western world, America offers potential model for reinvigoration.

"It is in many ways an uplifting sight to see a great democracy functioningat that most basic of levels," said Lord McNally, the leader of the smallopposition Liberal Democrats in Britain's House of Lords. "Even with all themoney, the publicity, the power of television, the person who wants to bethe most powerful man or woman in the world still has to get down and talkin small town halls and stop people on the street and stand on soapboxes."

more . . . . .


The Washington Post

Democrats Begin Voting in S. Carolina
Obama Leads, but Polls Show a Racial Divide

By Dan Balz and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 26, 2008; 8:59 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C., Jan. 26 -- Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clintonraced through a final day of campaigning Friday before Saturday's SouthCarolina Democratic primary, after a week of angry bickering and with theelectorate here polarized along racial lines.

Obama looked to Saturday's vote in the first Southern presidential contestof the 2008 nomination season to rebound after disappointing losses toClinton in New Hampshire and Nevada, which followed his win in Iowa at thebeginning of the month.

Voting here will be open until 7 p.m.

Late polls showed Obama (Ill.) leading Clinton (N.Y.) and former senatorJohn Edwards (N.C.), and veterans of Democratic campaigns in the statereported that Obama has the superior organization. A defeat here wouldrepresent a major setback for Obama heading into Feb. 5, when more than halfof the pledged delegates to the national convention are at stake in tests in22 states.

The recent focus on race has stirred considerable angst in Obama's innercircle, and as the primary campaign came to a close here, his effort took ona hurried quality, as though the candidate were eager to move past thecontroversies and arguments of the week.

more . . . . .


The Washington Post

Shanghai's Middle Class Launches Quiet, Meticulous Revolt

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, January 26, 2008; A01

SHANGHAI -- Bundled against the cold, the businessman made his way down thesteps. Coming toward him in blue mittens was a middle-aged woman.

"Do you know that we're going to take a stroll this weekend?" she whispered,using the latest euphemism for the unofficial protests that have unnervedauthorities in Shanghai over the past month.

He nodded.

Behind her, protest banners streamed from the windows of high-rise apartmentblocks, signs of middle-class discontent over a planned extension of thecity's magnetic levitation, or maglev, train through residentialneighborhoods.

The couple checked to make sure no plainclothes police were nearby anddiscussed where security forces had been posted in recent days. "Did youtake any photos?" the man asked. Yes, she said, promising to send them tohim so he could post the evidence online.

more . . . . .


[Send your comments about articles to]

No comments: