Wednesday, June 04, 2008


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New York Times
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-Former NBA star headed for runoff in Sacramento
Former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson survived his first political test, forcinga runoff election for mayor against the two-term incumbent in California'scapital.

-Obama Clinches Nomination
First Black Candidate to Lead a Major Party Ticket
Senator Barack Obama claimed the Democratic presidential nomination on
Tuesday evening, prevailing through an epic battle with Senator HillaryRodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters fromevery corner of America to demand change in Washington.
A last-minute rush of Democratic superdelegates, as well as the results fromthe final primaries, in Montana and South Dakota, pushed Mr. Obama over thethreshold of winning the 2,118 delegates needed to be nominated at the party's convention in August. The victory for Mr. Obama, the son of a black Kenyanfather and a white Kansan mother, broke racial barriers and represented aremarkable rise for a man who just four years ago served in the IllinoisSenate.

-Calm in the Swirl of History
He gives the appearance of a strikingly laid-back victor, this presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
On the day before the night he made history, Barack Obama shot hoops at the Back Bay Club in Chicago, and called the odd superdelegate or two. Then he and his wife, Michelle, kissed their daughters goodnight and, with a half dozen of their best friends, rode to Midway Airport to catch a flight to St. Paul to claim his prize. He sat on the plane, legs crossed, chuckling, chatting, giving little hint of what roiled within. Mr. Obama has written of his "spooky good fortune" in politics, and vaulting ambition and self-possession define his rise.

-Next on Agenda Is Clinton's Role By ADAM NAGOURNEY
Senator Barack Obama heads into the general election with obviousadvantages: He is a Democratic candidate running in a sour atmosphere forRepublicans, in a contest where voters are hungry for change and coming outof a campaign in which he filled arena after arena with supporters.
Yet while he would like to shift his attention fully to the onslaughtalready coming from Senator John McCain and the Republicans, Mr. Obama stillhas problems in his own party that may overshadow everything else until headdresses them: How to repair relations with Senator Hillary Rodham Clintonand her supporters and whether to offer her a spot on the ticket.
Mrs. Clinton used her final hours of the long primary season to make clearthat she would be open to being Mr. Obama's running mate. If there was everany hope in Democratic circles that she would let Mr. Obama off the hookwith an evasion or a flat declaration of no interest, Mrs. Clinton dashed iton Tuesday.

-The Long Goodbye
Maybe it was her night after all: Hillary Clinton decided not to withdrawfrom the presidential campaign tonight, and the liberals in blogville arenot happy about it, to put it mildly. Matthew Yglesias of The Atlanticbegins his blog post on Clinton's speech by writing, "I probably shouldn'twrite any more about this woman and her staff. Suffice it to say that I'vefound her behavior over the past couple of months to be utterlyunconscionable and this speech is no different." He continues, " I think ifI were to try to express how I really feel about the people who've beenenabling her behavior, I'd say something deeply unwise. Suffice it to say,that for quite a while now all of John McCain's most effective allies havebeen on Hillary Clinton's payroll."

-Cardinal Tells Priest Who Mocked Clinton to Take a Leave and 'Reflect'
The priest whose mocking of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton stirred more racially tinged controversy in the presidential campaign was effectively placed on leave from his pastoral work Tuesday at the Roman Catholic parish he has led since 1983. The archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, called on the priest, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, to "step back from his obligations" at St. Sabina and "take leave for a couple of weeks." Father Pfleger has been a friend of Senator Barack Obama and served until several weeks ago in an unpaid role on the Obama campaign's Catholic advisory council. He has apologized for remarks he made last month as a guest speaker at Trinity United Church of Christ, where Mr. Obama resigned as a member last week.

-Clinton Discusses What She Wants, but Not What She Will Do
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton took the stage before supporters Tuesday night and finally asked the question that so many people had been posing:
"What does Hillary want?" She listed some policy goals and demanded respect for her supporters. But she did not really answer her own question, demurely suggesting instead that it was up to her backers to advise her by e-mail on what she should do next.
What the crowd gathered at Baruch College in Manhattan for her final primary night celebration wanted was clear, from those outside chanting "Denver, Denver," urging her to go all the way to the party's convention in August, to those inside interrupting her speech with shouts of "Yes, she will! Yes, she will!"

-The delegate count.

-Time for Radical Pragmatism By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
Ramallah, West Bank - When I reported from Israel in the mid-1980s, the big debate here was whether Israel's settlement-building in the West Bank had passed a point of no return - a point where any serious withdrawal became virtually impossible to imagine. The question was often framed as: "Is it five minutes to midnight or five minutes after midnight?" Well, having taken a little drive through part of the West Bank, as I always do when I visit, it strikes me more than ever that it's not only five after midnight, it's five after midnight and a whole week later.The West Bank today is an ugly quilt of high walls, Israeli checkpoints, "legal" and "illegal" Jewish settlements, Arab villages, Jewish roads that only Israeli settlers use, Arab roads and roadblocks. This hard and heavy reality on the ground is not going to be reversed by any conventional peace process. "The two-state solution is disappearing," said Mansour Tahboub, senior editor, at the West Bank newspaper Al-Ayyam.
Indeed, we are at a point now where the only thing that might work is what I would call "radical pragmatism" - a pragmatism that is as radical and energetic as the extremism that it hopes to nullify. Without that, I fear,Israel will remain permanently pregnant with a stillborn Palestinian state in its belly.

-The Science of Denial
The Bush administration has worked overtime to manipulate or conceal scientific evidence - and muzzled at least one prominent scientist - to justify its failure to address climate change. Its motives were transparent:
the less people understood about the causes and consequences of global warming, the less they were likely to demand action from their leaders. And its strategy has been far too successful. Seven years later, Congress is only beginning to confront the challenge of global warming. The last week has brought further confirmation of the administration's cynicism. An internal investigation by NASA's inspector general concluded that political appointees in the agency's public affairs office had tried to restrict reporters' access to its leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen. He has warned about climate change for 20 years and has openly criticized the administration's refusal to tackle the issue head-on.

-Mexico at the Brink
The War on Drugs may be fading from memory north of the Rio Grande, but south of the river, bloody battles are threatening to overwhelm Mexico's democratically elected government. The timid assistance package proposed by the Bush administration and pared down by Congress suggests that Washington doesn't grasp either the scale of the danger or its own responsibilities.President Felipe Calderón's decision to take on the traffickers shows great courage and a sound understanding of the threat they pose to his country. But he seems to be in over his head. More than 4,000 people, including about 450 members of the police department, have been killed in drug-related violence since he took office a year and a half ago.
Just last month, four top security officials were gunned down in Mexico City, including the acting chief of the federal police.

-Beijing Suspends Licenses of 2 Lawyers Who Offered to Defend Tibetans in
Two prominent human rights lawyers have lost their licenses after volunteering to defend Tibetans charged in the violent anti-China protests that erupted in March. The decision comes as Chinese authorities aretightening scrutiny over dissidents in advance of the Olympics in August.The two lawyers, Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong, are known for taking on politically contentious cases, including those alleging official abuses ofhuman rights. Reached on Tuesday night, Mr. Teng said he learned last week that judicial authorities had renewed the license of every lawyer in his firm, except his own."Obviously, it is because of the Tibetan letter that I signed and also other sensitive cases I handled," Mr. Teng said.

-Foreign Reaction to Obama's Claim Is Favorable
Within hours of Senator Barack Obama claiming the Democratic presidential nomination, the world's attention switched from a primary campaign that had riveted outsiders to a presidential contest that raises deep concerns about where and how America will lead the world.Even though Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton did not immediately concede defeat, Mr. Obama's claim shifted the focus from the tantalizing question of the primaries - were the Democrats prepared to make history on matters of race and gender - to the looming battle between relative youth and relative age, between experience and renewal and, most of all, between the untested champion of the Democrats to the nominee of a Republican Party whose global image has been scarred by the war in Iraq and fear of neo-conservative adventures.

-New Hints Seen That Red Wine May Slow Aging
Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs. The study is based on dosing mice with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. Some scientists are already taking resveratrol in capsule form, but others believe it is far too early to take the drug, especially using wine as its source, until there is better data on its safety and effectiveness. The report is part of a new wave of interest in drugs that may enhance longevity. On Monday, Sirtris, a startup founded in 2004 to develop drugs with the same effects as resveratrol, completed its sale to GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million.

-Opponents of Evolution Adopting a New Strategy
Opponents of teaching evolution, in a natural selection of sorts, have gradually shed those strategies that have not survived the courts. Over the last decade, creationism has given rise to "creation science," which became"intelligent design," which in 2005 was banned from the public school curriculum in Pennsylvania by a federal judge.Now a battle looms in Texas over science textbooks that teach evolution, and the wrestle for control seizes on three words. None of them are "creationism" or "intelligent design" or even "creator." The words are "strengths and weaknesses."
Starting this summer, the state education board will determine the curriculum for the next decade and decide whether the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolution should be taught.

- Daughter of Sect Leader Gets Additional Protection
A 16-year-old girl who, her lawyers said, was sexually abused in a West Texas polygamist group led by her father, Warren S. Jeffs, was given added legal protections on Tuesday by a district court judge who barred any contact between her and Mr. Jeffs. The ruling came as more children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued to go home to their parents from state foster care.
The order's language puts the focus of the investigation of the group more squarely onto Mr. Jeffs, who led the sect as a hailed prophet of God and is now serving a sentence of 10 years to life after his conviction in Utah last year of forcing an under-age girl in his sect to marry against her will.

Washington Post
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-N.Y. Is Sued Over Gay Marriages
A Christian legal organization, the Alliance Defense Fund, said it has suedto stop New York from recognizing same-sex marriages legally performed inother states. Same-sex marriages are unconstitutional in New York, but Gov.David A. Paterson (D) told state agencies on May 14 that the state mustrecognize those performed in Massachusetts, Canada and other places wherethey are legal. The group says it filed its lawsuit in the Bronx. SeveralRepublican state senators are named as party to the suit.

-An Olympic Amnesty
The time has come for China's leaders to offer an Olympic amnesty to allpolitical prisoners and those of us who were forced into exile.

-Patching Up the Democrats byHarold Meyerson
40 years later, what Obama and Clinton could learn from McCarthy andKennedy.

-A Shield Law for The World
The United States owes a federal shield law not only to American journalistsbut to journalists around the world. Passage of such a law is urgentlyneeded. By finally allowing the media to protect the anonymity ofconfidential sources, Congress would do more than close a fissure in U.S. press freedoms: It would also help curtail the destructive behavior thatcurrent U.S. prosecutorial habits are inspiring globally.
Under the past several attorneys general, the unimaginable has happened inthe United States despite the protections of the First Amendment: Americanjournalists have been jailed for sticking to the basic ethics of theirprofession. In high- and low-profile cases, prosecutors have coercedjournalists into breaking promises of confidentiality they had given totheir sources -- or have gotten them jailed for being in "contempt ofcourt."

-The Faith That Moves Tony Blair
By Michael Gerson
The American kickoff of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation last weekunintentionally revealed the mountain of misunderstanding the former Britishprime minister has undertaken to scale. At an event designed to furthermutual religious sympathy, two of the panelists -- including the presidentof Yale University, Richard Levin -- casually asserted that religiousAmericans who support pro-life restrictions on international family planningaid are as doctrinaire and exclusionary as Saudi extremists. Pro-lifeCatholics and evangelicals? Wahhabi extremists? What's the difference?
Clearly, mutual religious sympathy has a ways to go in places such as Yale.
Speaking to me after the event, Blair was patient, arguing that that "couldnot be what they intended." He admitted that on issues such as the rights ofwomen, things "will be difficult," but he insisted that "there is a largerunity." He has no intention of being distracted from his mission.

-Transracial Adoptions
Race should not be a determining factor in finding loving homes for childrenwho need them.
A REPORT FROM the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute does a good job ofpointing out the deficiencies of the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA), thelaw governing transracial adoptions and foster care assignments. Despite thelaw's passage in 1994, African American children continue to bedisproportionately represented in the foster care system and stay in publiccare longer than white children. The requirement that states recruit fosterand adoptive parents who reflect the diversity of the children who needhomes has been virtually ignored thanks to inadequate funding. But the NewYork-based organization's call to remedy these problems by junking theprohibition against routinely using race as a factor in placements is wrong.

-A Recipe for Weakness
By limiting visas for skilled foreign professionals, the United States onlyharms itself.
THANKS TO the nation's dysfunctional immigration system and thedysfunctional Congress that keeps it that way, tens of thousands ofpromising, intelligent, ambitious and highly skilled foreign professionals,including thousands receiving advanced degrees from American universitiesthis month, will be denied a chance to contribute their expertise and energyto the American economy. Few policies match this one is terms of sheerirrationality, and few will do as much damage to this country's long-termprospects and competitiveness. Yet Congress, mired in a political swamp ofits own making when it comes to immigration, seems incapable of extractingitself.
Although the United States welcomes unlimited numbers of foreign studentsand subsidizes their education in engineering, physics, computer science,medicine and other disciplines, those students face increasingly steepobstacles to employment here. So do educated foreign workers whose skillsare needed in the American workforce.
This year, some 163,000 applicants from both categories vied for 85,000 H-1Bwork visas -- 65,000 for foreign workers with bachelor's degrees and another20,000 for foreign alumni of U.S. graduate schools.

-U.N.: Burma Cyclone Victims May Need Food Aid for a Year
U.S. Military Forced to Abort Aid Mission
Cyclone survivors in Burma's devastated Irrawaddy Delta could require food aid for as long as a year, given the severity of the damage to the region's rice production just weeks before a crucial planting season, United Nations officials said on Wednesday. The prediction came as the U.S. military aborted a mission to use the helicopters and small boats aboard the USS Essex to deliver much-needed aid to cyclone survivors, after Burma's ruling military junta ignored repeated offers to assist with the disaster relief effort.

-The Hummer's Dead End?
As Gas Hits $4 and Sales Tank, GM Considers Selling Brand Reacting to growing consumer sentiment, General Motors chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. said yesterday that the world's biggest automaker will consider revamping or selling off some of the world's biggest passenger vehicles -- the Hummer line. Is there any vehicle that so incites the ire, the anger, the reptile-brain rage of a group of people? Is there any other vehicle that has suffered as much defacement by eco-vandals?
Indeed, the Hummer has achieved greater success as a symbol, a cudgel and an in-your-face badge of defiance than as a statistically significant market.
Hummers accounted for less than 1 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States last year.

-Heavy Internet Users Targeted
Providers to Test Charges, Delays
Cable service operators Comcast and Time Warner Cable said yesterday that they would begin testing new approaches that would slow Internet access for heavy users and charge more to those who want additional speed.The tests come as the Federal Communications Commission wraps up an investigation on complaints that Comcast blocked certain users from sharing video, music and other files. The complaints fueled a larger debate, with hearings in Congress and by the FCC, on how much control Internet service providers should have over the flow of data."The cable companies see a hammer hovering above their heads and are scrambling to find ways to reduce the appearance of wrongdoing," said Ben Scott, head of policy for the public interest group Free Press, which advocates for better oversight of cable operators. He called the plans"Band-Aids" on the bigger problem of network capacity, which he said can be solved only by larger investments in the cable companies' networks.Comcast said that on Friday it would begin tests in Chambersburg, Pa., and Warrenton, Va., that would delay traffic for the heaviest users of Internetdata without targeting specific software applications.

-Lawyers Fear for Marri's Sanity
U.S. Defends Conditions of Detainee's Solitary Confinement
Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri is obsessed with the noise variations in an industrial fan, the buzzing of fluorescent lights overhead and the preparation of his dinners. He has stuffed his air vents with food to prevent what he believes are noxious fumes from streaming into his cell, and he worries at times that his lawyers are part of a government conspiracy against him. The only person currently held as an "enemy combatant" on U.S. soil, Marri has been accused of being a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda, but he is not charged with any crime. After 6 1/2 years of confinement -- the past five in a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. -- Marri's lawyers argue that his isolation has degraded his mental state and that years of being held incommunicado have left him unable to help in his own defense.

-Study Praises Mass. Health-Care Program
Number of Uninsured Dropped by Half
Massachusetts's ambitious program to move toward universal health insurance nearly halved the number of adults without coverage from about 13 percent to 7 percent in the first year after the multifaceted initiative was launched in 2006, a comprehensive survey has found. More people in the state are getting medical treatment, including preventive care, and residents are paying less on average in out-of-pocket costs, said author Sharon K. Long, an economist at the nonpartisan Urban Institute in Washington, which researches social policy questions.But as successful as the plan has proven to be in achieving public health goals, it has cost the state as much as a third more than was initially projected, and about 86,000 taxpayers paid fines for not signing up for health insurance. The program imposes penalties on people who do not buy coverage when they can afford to do so.

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-A legal concept that's outlived its usefulness
It's time to dissolve the institution of marriage. No gay marriage, and nostraight marriage, either. Since the California Supreme Court declined tooverturn a constitutional provision promising equal treatment to all groups,it looks like gay marriage is on its way to California. So San FranciscoMayor Gavin Newsom, who unsuccessfully tried to bring same sex nuptials to acity already boasting more rainbow flags than Key West, is having his way,after all.,0,3084893.story

-Citing fuel costs, FPL seeks 16% rate increase
Spiking fuel prices might hit South Floridians' monthly electric bills.
Florida Power & Light Co. on Tuesday asked state regulators for permissionto increase residential customers' power bills by 16 percent on average tooffset the utility's soaring oil and natural gas costs.
Under the proposal, a monthly bill would go to $118.91 from $102.63 for acustomer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours of energy per month, slightly less thanwhat the average residential customer uses.,0,6336373.story

Fort Report
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-'This was the moment'
Excerpts of Barack Obama's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
"There are those who say that this primary has somehow left us weaker andmore divided. Well I say that because of this primary, there are millions ofAmericans who have cast their ballot for the very first time. There areindependents and Republicans who understand that this election isn't justabout the party in charge of Washington, it's about the need to changeWashington. There are young people, and African-Americans, and Latinos, andwomen of all ages who have voted in numbers that have broken records andinspired a nation. . . . "

-Clinton refuses to bow out of presidential race
Angling for a vice presidential nod, Hillary Rodham Clinton refused to bowout of the Democratic race Tuesday, hoping to maintain leverage as BarackObama clinched the delegates needed to secure the party's nomination.,0,3187268.story

-Did Clinton damage her VP chances?
While Hillary Clinton was by some measure concilatory toward the presumptiveDemocratic nominee Barack Obama Tuesday, Obama's campaign may be morefocused on the parts of her speech that came after her congratulations.

-No shame, no gain
US elections 2008: On a night when Obama made history, Clinton's reaction was dangerously abrasive and selfish The lead story tonight - my "lede," as we spell it here - should have been about the remarkable fact that a black man has been nominated by a major party to lead a developed Western nation for the first time in the history of the world. A man - in whose lifetime people with his shade of skin were denied the right to vote and to use public accommodations - who is now on the cusp of the presidency. It says something good about America, and I would like to have been able to dwell on it.

-Obama's moment: Key point in U.S. history
3 of 4 voters ready for black president; Obama's nomination tests assertionThe principle that all men are created equal has never been more than aremote eventuality in the quest for the presidency. But with the Democraticnomination finally in Barack Obama's grasp, that ideal is no longerrelegated to someday.


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