Thursday, January 31, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST January 30, 2008

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New York Times

McCain Defeats Romney in Florida Vote

January 30, 2008

MIAMI - Senator John McCain defeated Mitt Romney on Tuesday to win thedelegate-rich Florida primary, solidifying his transformation to theRepublican front-runner and dealing a devastating blow to the presidentialhopes of Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Republican officials said after Mr. Giuliani's distant third-place finishthat he was likely to endorse Mr. McCain, possibly as early as Wednesday inCalifornia. They said the two candidates' staffs were discussing thelogistics of an endorsement.

The results were a decisive turning point in the Republican race,effectively winnowing the field to Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney, two candidateswith very different backgrounds who have little affection for one anotherbut share a similar challenge in winning over elements of the partysuspicious of their ideological credentials.

While most of the attention in Florida was on the Republicans, Democraticvoters gave Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton a victory in a virtuallyuncontested race. The Democratic Party had stripped the state of itsdelegates as a punishment for moving its primary earlier in the year, andthe leading candidates refrained from campaigning there.

Mr. McCain's victory showed he could win among Republican voters. Floridaallows only registered Republicans to vote in its primary, unlike NewHampshire and South Carolina, where Mr. McCain's victories earlier thismonth were fueled by independent voters.

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New York Times

Op-Ed Columnist: Seeing Red Over Hillary

January 30, 2008

Even newly armored by the spirit of Camelot, Barack Obama is stilldistressed by the sight of a certain damsel.

It's already famous as The Snub, the moment before the State of the Unionwhen Obama turned away to talk to Claire McCaskill instead of trying to joinTeddy Kennedy in shaking hands with Hillary.

Nobody cared about W., whose presidency had crumpled into a belated concernabout earmarks.

The only union that fascinated was Obama and Hillary, once more creepingaround each other.

It would have been the natural thing for the Illinois senator, only hoursafter his emotional embrace by the Kennedys and an arena full of deliriouslyshrieking students, to follow the lead of Uncle Teddy and greet the rebuffedHillary.

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New York Times

Editorial: Restoring Civil Rights

January 30, 2008

In recent decades, and to much public acclaim, Congress passed a series oflandmark laws designed to ensure equal rights for all Americans. Lately, andwithout much notice, the Supreme Court has been gutting them.

Senator Edward Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, has introduced a pair ofbills designed to undo the damage done by the court's badly reasoneddecisions. Congress should pass both without delay.

One of the most troubling rulings was in the case of Lilly Ledbetter, asupervisor at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant who was paid lessthan her male colleagues after she was given smaller raises over severalyears. The court's conservative majority ruled that Ms. Ledbetter had notmet the 180-day deadline to file her complaint. It insisted that the 180days ran from the day the company had made the original decision to give hera smaller raise than the men.

The ruling made no sense, since Ms. Ledbetter was being discriminatedagainst when she made her complaint. As a practical matter, Justice RuthBader Ginsburg noted in a strongly worded dissent, it would have beenexceptionally difficult for Ms. Ledbetter to complain when she was firstgiven a lower raise than the male supervisors because Goodyear, like manyemployers, kept salaries and raises confidential.

The Fair Pay Restoration Act, one of Senator Kennedy's bills, would undo theinjustice of the Ledbetter decision by establishing that the 180-daydeadline runs from when a worker receives the unequal pay, not when theemployer decided to discriminate. It would make clear that eachdiscriminatory paycheck restarts the clock.

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New York Times

Editorial: Kicking Democracy's Corpse in Russia

January 30, 2008

Look into the eyes of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and what yousee is a K.G.B.-trained mind that apparently cannot tolerate leaving anydetail of an election to chance.

What else could explain the latest ugly twist in Russia's riggedpresidential election: the forced withdrawal of former Prime MinisterMikhail Kasyanov for allegedly invalid signatures on his nominatingpetitions?

Most people who manipulate elections usually try to pretend otherwise. Mr.Putin does not even bother. Even though he, or a chosen proxy, could easilyhave won a fair election, he was not about to take the chance.

Critics and potential rivals now understand that if they challenge him theyface legal harassment and perhaps even physical danger. Independent newsoutlets have been systematically stifled.

The results were evident in last month's parliamentary elections, judged tobe far from free and fair by European monitors. Mr. Putin's party claimed itwon nearly two-thirds of the vote.

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New York Times

What Florida Taught Me

By David Brooks
January 30, 2008, 12:36 am

Here are a few things I learned Tuesday night.

First, good candidates are never completely out of it. Several months ago Iwas covering a John McCain event in Keene, N.H. It was at the low point ofthe McCain candidacy, after his staff explosion and when the campaign bankaccount was dry. There was no bus and he was staying in the cheapest motelsin town.

After the event, he invited the press corps out to dinner. I was the entirepress corps. We went to a cheap hamburger place and I was tempted to buy himand his three aides dinner, since his campaign had no money. (Being a cheapjournalist, I resisted the temptation.) But do you want to know what hismood was like?

He was fine. Winning the nomination, let alone the presidency, seemed likethe longest of long shots back then. But he was fine with that. He wanted towin, but he was content to merely go to small gatherings and have his say.There was no bitterness. Nor was there any desperate casting about for waysto turn things around.

He just plugged along. He stayed true to himself. Eventually good and honestcandidates get rewarded no matter how badly outspent they are, no matter howfew consultants they have.

Second, voters are human beings, not automatons. As always, there wereperplexities in the exit polls. The economy was the top voter concern.McCain did well among economically minded voters even though Romney talkseconomics far more. As Tom Bevan of the invaluable RealClearPolitics sitepoints out, Romney was the second choice of many Rudy Giuliani voters whileMcCain was the overwhelming second choice among the very conservative MikeHuckabee voters. These things happen because voters are not ideologicalrobots. They vote in ways that defy ideological categorization, but makesense as character judgments.

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New York Times

News Analysis: McCain's Victory in a Party-Only Primary Raises the Hurdlesfor Romney

January 30, 2008

MIAMI - Senator John McCain's victory in the Florida primary came in theface of considerable odds and suggests that his chief rival here, MittRomney, faces tough going in what has effectively become a two-personRepublican field.

This was a battlefield where Mr. McCain was supposed to be at adisadvantage, the first competitive contest open only to Republicans. (Theothers allowed independents to vote.) "An all-Republican primary!" Mr.McCain said in his victory speech here.

Even though voters here overwhelmingly said their top concern was theweakening economy - the issue that Mr. Romney sought to turn to hisadvantage, asserting that he was far more qualified than Mr. McCain tomanage the country back to prosperity - exit polls found that Republicanswere more likely to chose Mr. McCain as the best candidate to deal witheconomic problems.

The weak performance of Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York,means that Mr. McCain will now face diminished competition for moderateRepublican voters. To compound Mr. Romney's challenge, Republicans said thatMr. Giuliani was on the verge of throwing his support to Mr. McCain, anendorsement that could help Mr. McCain achieve what will be his main goal inthe days ahead: getting the party to rally behind him.

What is more, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who came in fourthTuesday night, declared that he was staying in the race, suggesting that hewould continue to compete with Mr. Romney for conservative Christian voters.

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New York Times

Bush, Facing Troubles, Focuses on War and Taxes

January 29, 2008

WASHINGTON - Facing an unstable economy and an unfinished war, PresidentBush used his final State of the Union address Monday night to call forquick passage of his tax rebate package, patience in Iraq and a modestconcluding agenda that includes $300 million in scholarship money forlow-income children in struggling schools.

With Senate Democrats already jockeying to amend the stimulus package thatthe administration negotiated with the House last week, Mr. Bush, in hisaddress, urged lawmakers to resist the temptation to "load up the bill" withother provisions. To do so, he warned, "would delay or derail it, andneither option is acceptable."

Yet Mr. Bush devoted relatively little of his 53 minute speech to theeconomy, the issue that is the top concern of voters during this electionyear. He spent far more time talking about the issue that has been his ownprimary concern, Iraq.

Mr. Bush made the case that his troop buildup had "achieved results few ofus could have imagined just one year ago," and reminded Americans that incoming months, 20,000 troops will have come home. Yet he avoided anytimetable for further withdrawal and, if anything, seemed to be preparingthe country for a far longer-term stay in Iraq, warning that a precipitouswithdrawal could lead to a backslide in security.

"Members of Congress," Mr. Bush said, "having come so far and achieved somuch, we must not allow this to happen."

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New York Times

Carter Leads Moderate Baptist Meeting

Filed at 8:13 p.m. ET
January 29, 2008

Weary of Southern Baptists' dominance in American Protestantism, a new pushis starting by other Baptist groups aimed at working on social justiceissues, and showing their religious tradition is broader than theconservative SBC. Former President Jimmy Carter is leading the effort.

More than 10,000 moderate and liberal Baptists are expected for three daysstarting Wednesday in Atlanta for the ''Celebration of a New BaptistCovenant.'' Organizers aren't forming a new denomination, but want todevelop common ministries that would have a big impact.

Carter, a longtime Bible teacher at his Plains, Ga., church, hopes the eventwill ''solidify the image of Baptists and Christians being able to cooperatewith other.''

''We're not going to delve into past divisions,'' Carter told The AssociatedPress. ''We're going to try to show we can work in harmony.''

The meeting is taking place just days before Feb. 5, when 24 states holddelegate-rich presidential primaries and caucuses. Baptists organizers saythe timing is coincidental; they began planning the Atlanta event about twoyears ago before the primary schedule was set.

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Washington Post

Giuliani to Exit Presidential Race

The Associated Press
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; 11:52 AM

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rudy Giuliani told supporters Wednesday he's abandoning hisbid for president and backing Republican rival and longtime friend JohnMcCain.

Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and adviser to Giuliani, said theformer mayor called him this morning to tell him of his plan.

Giuliani "will be announcing his endorsement today," said King.

"I expect him to be fairly active for McCain. There is a real friendship andrespect between the two," he said. A similar call took place betweenGiuliani and New York Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

"I spoke with Rudy Giuliani this morning and he confirmed that he isdropping out of the race and will endorse Senator John McCain forpresident," Bruno said in a statement.

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Washington Post

How to End the Gridlock

By Bob Graham
Wednesday, January 30, 2008; A15

For much of the past two decades, Americans have watched in frustration aspresidents and members of Congress have repeatedly achieved deadlock ratherthan consensus on issues that are critical to our nation. The results ofthis partisan traffic jam are frightening. For example:

¿ Almost seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, we still have huge gaps innational and homeland security. Our military is stretched thin and ournation remains vulnerable to catastrophic terrorism.

¿ Nearly 50 million Americans still have no health insurance, and thenumber of the uninsured rises every year.

¿ As evidenced by the bridge collapse in Minneapolis last August and thecrumbling levees in New Orleans, we have recklessly neglected ourinfrastructure.

¿ Gas prices remain high, but we still have no real energy policy.

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Miami Herald

'We need a leader,' not a politician

Posted on Wed, Jan. 30, 2008

I was 6 years old when John F. Kennedy was killed.

I don't remember much about that time, but do I recall that people felt asif hope had died. The murdered young president had embodied transformation,the startling power of the new, a sense of promise, optimism, unexploredfrontiers. Four decades of revelations about backstage politics, maritalinfidelities, gangsters and Marilyn Monroe have not stopped people fromlooking back on that era with longing. To his admirers back then, Kennedyrepresented a promise that we the people could be better than we were.

Much as Barack Obama represents for his admirers now.

That realization was crystalized for me by two events of recent days.

. The first was public. Shortly after the Illinois senator won SouthCarolina's Democratic primary, John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline announcedher support of him in a New York Times column that compared him to herfather. This was followed by an endorsement from her uncle, Sen. Edward M.Kennedy.

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Boston Globe

Transgendered delegate makes DNC history

By Laura Crimaldi | Sunday, January 27, 2008 | | 2008 Campaign News

When Diego Sanchez attends the Democratic National Convention in Denver thisAugust, he'll be making history.

Sanchez, the director of public relations and external affairs for AIDSAction Committee of Massachusetts, is the first transgender person to benamed to a convention committee.

"I think that it shows that the Democratic Party is committed to fullinclusion, and looking at the seven LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender) people, they didn't select quiet people. They selected leaders.People who are leaders in their area of expertise, who are avid andexperienced as well as strong purveyors of policy," said Sanchez.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean nominated Sanchez, 51, toserve on the convention's Platform Committee. The position will require himto travel the country for "listening sessions" to develop a party platformthat will be voted on at the four-day convention. Sanchez was also named anat-large delegate.

"Gov. Dean's appointment of a record seven LGBT members to the conventioncommittees, including the first transgender member, is an importantrecognition of the Democratic Party's diversity and our commitment toequality," said DNC spokesman Damien LaVera.

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Edwards quitting presidential race

(CNN) -- Former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina is dropping out of therace for the Democratic presidential nomination, two sources inside hiscampaign said Wednesday.

Edwards has told top advisers about his decision. It is expected he willannounce it in a speech at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday in New Orleans, Louisiana.

An Edwards aide said the candidate was not getting the media attention heneeded to get his message out and win delegates, especially with racescoming up in 22 states next Tuesday.

Edwards has amassed 26 delegates for the Democratic nomination.

Campaign money was not an issue, the aide said.

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Boston Globe

Democrats slam Mukasey on waterboarding

By Lara Jakes Jordan, Associated Press Writer | January 30, 2008

WASHINGTON --Senate Democrats accused Attorney General Michael Mukasey ofducking questions Wednesday on whether waterboarding is torture despite hispromise last year to study whether it is illegal.

The issue briefly stalled Mukasey's confirmation last fall until he assuredSenate Democrats he would review the legality of the harsh interrogationtactic and report back.

Waterboarding involves strapping a person down and pouring water over hiscloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning.

Ultimately, however, Mukasey said Wednesday he would not rule on whetherwaterboarding is a form of illegal torture because it is not part of thecurrent interrogation methods used by the CIA on terror suspects. Despitehaving called waterboarding personally repugnant, Mukasey's non-answerangered Democrats who said the attorney general should be able to address alegal question.

"I think failure to say something probably puts some of our people in moredanger than not," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Judiciary Committee'schairman.

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Los Angeles Times,1,5215581.story?track=crosspromo

McCain's victory in Florida shows that he may be able to cobble together anew type of coalition.

By Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 30, 2008

TAMPA, FLA. -- John McCain now has a pathway to the Republican presidential nomination. The question is whether he can put his fractured party backtogether.

The Arizona senator, long the bane of the GOP establishment, showed inFlorida that he could begin cobbling together a new Republican coalition --ttracting enough support from all corners of the party base to give him aplurality in the biggest and most diverse state to vote so far in the 2008campaign.

He took about a quarter of conservatives, secured nearly a third ofevangelicals, dominated among his typical base of self-described moderates,and won easily among voters who care about authenticity, experience andelectability.

In winning Florida, McCain threw off a major critique of his candidacy: Heprevailed in an all-Republican primary that excluded the more moderateindependents who had ensured McCain's wins in New Hampshire and SouthCarolina.

And in a state plagued by insurance woes, falling home prices and a risingnumber of foreclosures, he defeated a rival, former Massachusetts Gov. MittRomney, who had portrayed himself as the best-equipped to fix the economy.

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Boston Globe

Mass. lawmakers convene to press for Obama
Seeking Bay State win Super Tuesday

By David Abel, Globe Staff | January 30, 2008

About 40 elected officials from around the state met at Governor DevalPatrick's committee headquarters yesterday to support Senator Barack Obama'sbid to win Massachusetts in next Tuesday's Democratic primaries.

The state lawmakers, city councilors, and other elected officials werejoined via conference call by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and RepresentativesMichael E. Capuano and William Delahunt.

Patrick sought to dampen expectations about Obama's chances against hischief Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton.

"Nobody is kidding anybody," Patrick said. "This will be an uphill climb forthis candidate. This is an insurgent campaign in many respects. . . .

"Unless we make it personal, we will not get it over the goal line," hesaid. "By that, I mean, tell somebody. Tell your friends, your neighbors,your co-workers. Tell the people who support you why it is you have decidedto support this visionary leader."

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There's nothing the matter with Kansas
Barack Obama goes "home" to one of the reddest states in the nation andpromises to bridge the divide between parties.

By Nadia Pflaum

Jan. 30, 2008 | It's 10 a.m. and the snow is blowing sideways. A fast-movingcold front has knocked the temperature in El Dorado, Kan., down from 50degrees to 30 degrees in a matter of hours. So many cars are trying to parkat Butler County Community College, where Sen. Barack Obama is hosting atown hall meeting this morning, that the overflow has started to use the lotat the Star Vu Drive-In movie theater across the street.

Obama isn't scheduled to appear for another two hours, but a line stretchesfrom the doors of the college gym 100 yards across the campus lawn. Theresidents of a rural white town in a bright red state have come in droves tohear a black Democrat from a big city give a speech, albeit a black Democratwith ancient ties to El Dorado.

Obama is a son of El Dorado, 30 miles east of Wichita on the Kansas prairie,despite never having set foot in the town before Tuesday. Obama was born inHawaii, but his maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham, grew up in here, andhis grandmother Madelyn was born in nearby Augusta. Obama's mother, AnnDunham, was born on the Army base at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., two hours tothe east.

But the presidential candidate's trip to El Dorado is also a symbolic forayinto what has long been enemy territory for Democrats. Obama's visit to oneof the most Republican states in the Union underlines his rhetoric aboutinclusion -- about how the division between red and blue is artificial, andabout how his own personal story, which combines black and white and Kansasand Kenya, is quintessentially American. It is also a practical politicalstatement, a week in advance of Kansas' Super Tuesday Democratic caucus,meant to reinforce a message about electability. It says that Obama is aDemocrat who can attract votes across party lines, unlike his chief rivalfor the nomination, but like another woman, Kathleen Sebelius, the popularDemocratic governor of Kansas. Many of those in line in El Dorado have heardthe rumor that her endorsement of Obama is imminent.

Inside the gym, hung with banners that proclaim "Home of the Grizzlies,"spectators recognize that Obama's visit is unique, and not just for itsunfamiliar aura of celebrity. "This is something this community wouldn'tusually get during an election year," says Andrew Hammond, an 18-year-oldAfrican-American freshman at Butler. "We've all lived in Kansas our wholelives, so we know what the whole 'red state' thing is about. This is thefirst time someone from the Democrats is really trying to do something forthe state of Kansas. It's about time."

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