Sunday, May 25, 2008


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New York Times
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-Joe Lieberman, Would-Be Censor
The Internet is simply a means of communication, like the telephone, but that has not prevented attempts to demonize it - the latest being the ludicrous claim that the Internet promotes terrorism. Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is trying to pressure YouTube to pull down videos he does not like, and a recent Senate report and a bill pending in Congress also raise the specter of censorship. It is important for online speech to be protected against these assaults. Mr. Lieberman recently demanded that YouTube take down hundreds of videos produced by Islamist terrorist organizations or their supporters. YouTube reviewed the videos to determine whether they violated its guidelines, which prohibit hate speech and graphic or gratuitous violence. It took down 80 videos, but left others up. Mr. Lieberman said that was "not enough," and demanded that more come down.

-Two Can Make History
OVER the last few months, the contest between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination has been compared to the bitter feud between Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass, two of the most famous progressive reformers of the 19th century. They had been colleagues and friends through two decades of public service - Douglass, the former slave who gained international fame as a writer, editor and activist, and Stanton, who began her career by organizing the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848. They had worked closely together on a variety of social reform issues, particularly abolition. But in 1869, Douglass and Stanton were torn apart by the 15th Amendment of the Constitution, which stipulated that the right to vote cannot be denied on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude. Gender remained a perfectly legal reason to keep someone off the voter rolls. During the Civil War, many women, including Stanton, had willingly put aside the fight for women's rights to campaign for the emancipation of the slaves. After the war, they had even stood by patiently when, in 1866, Congress passed the 14th Amendment, defining citizens specifically and solely as "male" - the first use of the word "male" in the Constitution. The politicians soothed the women's rights advocates by assuring them their turn would come soon.

-Misreading the Arab Media
"ARABIC TV does not do our country justice," President Bush complained in early 2006, calling it a purveyor of "propaganda" that "just isn't right, it isn't fair, and it doesn't give people the impression of what we're about."
The president's statement, along with the decision by the New York Stock Exchange to ban Al Jazeera's reporters in 2003, is a prime example of how the Arab news media have been demonized since the 9/11 attacks. As a result, America has failed to make use of what is potentially one of its most powerful weapons in the war of ideas against terrorism. For proof, in the last year we surveyed 601 journalists in 13 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant and the Arabian Peninsula. The results, to be published in The International Journal of Press/Politics in July, shatter many of the myths upon which American public diplomacy strategy has been based. Rather than being the enemy, most Arab journalists are potential allies whose agenda broadly tracks the stated goals of United States Middle East policy and who can be a valuable conduit for explaining American policy to their audiences.

-Couple Forced to Divorce By Saudi Court Appeal For Help
RIYADH (Reuters) - A Saudi couple forced to divorce by an Islamic court have called for more international pressure to reunite them after Saudi authorities failed to fulfill a pledge to a U.N. body to do so. Fatima Azzaz and Mansour al-Timani were forced to separate in 2006 after her brothers persuaded judges her husband's tribal stock was not prestigious enough.

-Brazil Rainforest Analysis Sets Off Political Debate
Gilberto Câmara, a scientist who leads Brazil's national space agency, is more at ease poring over satellite data of the Amazon than being thrust into the spotlight. But since January, Dr. Câmara has been at the center of a political tug-of-war between scientists and Brazil's powerful business interests. It started when he and his fellow engineers released a report showing that deforestation of Brazil's portion of the rainforest seemed to have shot up again after two years of decline. Since then, Dr. Câmara, who leads the National Institute for Space Research here, has found himself having to defend his agency's findings against one of Brazil's richest and most powerful men: Blairo Maggi, who is governor of the country's largest agricultural state, Mato Grosso, and a business owner known as the "Soybean King."

Washington Post
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-Why Didn't We Listen to Their War Stories?
The last known surviving U.S. veteran of what was once called the Great War, Cpl. Frank Buckles of Charles Town, W.Va., recently toured the World War I memorial in Washington. Accompanied by his daughter and an aide, the wheelchair-bound 107-year-old rolled around the small, temple-like structure, stopping occasionally to acknowledge the applause of the small crowd that had gathered to watch. He did not comment upon the memorial's unkempt appearance -- it has been neglected for three decades -- but noticed that it honored only veterans from the city. "I can read here," he said in a soft, barely audible mumble, "that it was started to include the names of those who were local." No one, apparently, had told him that the United States has no national World War I memorial.

-The Torture Scandal's Heroes
Not everyone in government went along when the Bush administration approved abusive tactics.
ALMOST EVERY scandal produces unlikely heroes, workaday or even flawed men and women who don't make headlines but perform courageous acts of conscience, often behind the scenes and in the face of enormous pressure.
Several such characters emerged recently from what has otherwise been a disgraceful chapter of American history involving the abuse of foreign detainees held by U.S. forces in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq. An extensive report released last week by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General is the first official document to lay out in exhaustive detail theextent of the fissures created within the administration because of disagreements over interrogation and detention policies. The report depicts the struggles of several Justice Department and FBI officials to thwart interrogation tactics they considered ineffective at best and illegal at worst. In the process, they stuck their necks out by clashing with military and CIA interrogators and Defense Department and CIA higher-ups, and they pressed their case at the White House, even when that task seemed futile.

-Rewarding Patriotism
Remove the red tape that ensnares members of the military seeking U.S. citizenship.
ARMY SPEC. Kendell K. Frederick was killed in late 2005 by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Spec. Frederick, who was born in Trinidad and lived in Maryland, legally came to the United States with his family when he was 15. He was on his way to provide fingerprints for his long-pending citizenship application when he lost his life. pec. Frederick, 21, was granted U.S. citizenship a week after his death. Non-U.S. citizens make up a sizable portion of the modern U.S. armed forces. According to data from the Defense Department, nearly 35,000 non-U.S. citizens have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq in U.S. uniforms; 144 lost their lives there. Some 20,000 men and women born on foreign soil are on active duty in U.S. military branches, and another 13,000 are enrolled in the reserves. Roughly 7,000 non-U.S. citizens who serve in the armed forces are waiting for their citizenship papers to come through. Since shortly after Spec. Frederick's death. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) has been working to ensure that the bureaucratic tangles that ensnared his application do not delay the citizenship process for the thousands of other non-U.S. citizens who risk their lives as members of the U.S. armed forces.

-To Claim Popular Vote, Clinton Is Seeking Wins in Last 3 Primaries
Trailing in delegates while her debt continues to grow, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is aggressively campaigning in the final three contests of the primary season in the hope of seizing a victory in the overall popular vote from Sen. Barack Obama. The effect of such a victory -- and the question of whether Clinton hopes to leverage it into the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket or simply leave it as a historical marker -- is less clear. "One hundred percent of her energy is on the popular vote," a senior adviser said. "The only thing she can control is how hard she works and what effort she puts into the remaining three contests. She wants to end this with as many votes as she can."

-Exxon Drills for Every Penny
Awash in profits, oil company uses franchise deals to maintain tight control over its stations.

-Hagee's Jewish Endorsers
Fundamentalist religious leaders who believe not only that God controls everything that happens but that they are able to see God's explicit plans within the context of their own political and cultural views should raise alarm bells for those who would ally with them. Senator John McCain faced this dilemma starkly yesterday, and ended up, rightly, repudiating Pastor John Hagee's assertions that Hitler was foretold in a verse in Jeremiah and that Hitler and the Holocaust were part of God's plan to force the Jewish people back to Israel.
Jews can empathize with Sen. McCain because we have faced the same dilemma with Rev. Hagee. No fundamentalist Christian is more overtly supportive of Israel, raised more money for Israel, nor used his religious and political clout to more energetically mobilize support in America for Israel. Further, he was an evangelical who made clear that his relations with Jews over Israel would not be used to try to convert us. Yet, his fundamentalist views had led to reprehensible statements about gays, Catholics, and even the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

-DNC Is Not Duplicating the Fundraising Success of Party's Candidates-Sens.
Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) are raising record sums for their presidential bids, and Democrats in the House and Senate enjoy huge cash advantages over their Republican counterparts. But as of the end of April, the DNC had collected $22.8 million this year and had $4.4 left to spend; the Republican National Committee finished April with $57.6 raised and $40.6 million in its accounts.

Miami Herald
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-Poor whites are being conned BY LEONARD PITTS
I keep thinking I should be mad at West Virginia. Not because Barack Obama was recently beaten like a red-headed stepchild -- to use my father's expression -- in that state's primary. No, I'm thinking I should be upset about why he was beaten. According to exit polls, two out of every 10 voters said race was a major factor in how they cast their ballots. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show ran a clip of a white woman who explained her refusal to vote for Obama thusly: ''I guess because he is another race. I'm sort of scared of the other race 'cause we have so much conflict with 'em.'' She spoke in the vaguely shamefaced, what're-you-gonna-do? voice of someone who knows she should stick to her diet or stop smoking, but just can't help herself.
You'd think this would have me in a state of high dudgeon, fingers blazing the keyboard in righteous rebuke of attitudes so atavistic and wrong. But I can't. Oh, it's disappointing to see bigotry in Appalachia so vividly displayed. Yet I find it doesn't make me angry. It just makes me sad. I feel sorry for them. If that sounds patronizing, I apologize. That's not how it's meant. It's just that, if the headline here is that Obama was rejected by whites on the basis of race, I submit that's not the whole truth.
Pollsters say he was actually rejected on the basis of race by whites who lack college degrees and whose household income is less than $50,000 a year.
In other words, he was rejected by the poor and the less educated.

Fort Report
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-Trouble brewing in N.Y. for Clinton
Black leaders say that if Hillary Rodham Clinton returns as senator, she'll need to heal racial wounds her campaign has inflicted. Even as she continues her longshot presidential bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a political rift in New York, where black leaders say her standing has dropped due to racially charged comments by her and her husband during the campaign.
African American elected officials and clerics based in New York City say Clinton will need to defuse resentment over the campaign's racial overtones if she returns to New York as U.S. senator.,0,2206514.story?track=rss

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