Sunday, June 01, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - Sunday, June 1, 2008

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New York Times
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-Democrats Approve Deal on Michigan and Florida
to jeers and boos that showcased deep party divisions, officials approved aplan to give the states’ delegates half a vote each, dealing a blow toHillary Rodham Clinton. The agreement, reached by the rules committee of theDemocratic National Committee behind closed doors and voted on publiclybefore a raucous audience of supporters of the two candidates, would giveMrs. Clinton a net gain of 24 delegates over Senator Barack Obama. But thisfell far short of her hopes of winning the full votes of both delegationsand moved the nomination further out of her reach.

-It’s All About Leverage BY THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
When you have leverage, talk to your foes. When you don’t have leverage, getsome. Then talk.

-Obama Leaves Church That Drew Wide Criticism
Senator Barack Obama has resigned his membership in Chicago’s Trinity UnitedChurch of Christ, which he attended for nearly two decades, following monthsof controversy about pastors and their political views. Mr. Obama said heand his wife, Michelle, wrote a letter on Friday to the church’s pastor, theRev. Otis Moss, explaining that their estrangement from Trinity took root incontroversial remarks by the church’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A.Wright Jr., who once was Mr. Obama’s spiritual guide. “Our relations withTrinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright,which sharply conflict with our own views,” they wrote. “These controversieshave served as an unfortunate distraction for other Trinity members who seekto worship in peace, and have placed you in an untenable position.”

-Young Evangelicals Take Their Faith, but Not Their Politics, to the People
Southern Baptists, as a rule, do not drink. But once a month, youngcongregants of the Journey, a Baptist church here, and their friends gettogether in the back room of a sprawling brew pub called the SchlaflyBottleworks to talk about the big questions: President Bush, faith and war,the meaning of life, and “what’s wrong with religion.”

-McCain’s McClellan Nightmare By FRANK RICH
THEY thought they were being so slick. When the McCain campaign abruptlymoved last Tuesday’s fund-raiser with President Bush from the PhoenixConvention Center to a private home, it was the next best thing to sendingthe loathed lame duck into the witness protection program. John McCain andMr. Bush were caught on camera together for a mere 26 seconds, and at 9 p.m.Eastern time, safely after the networks’ evening newscasts. The two men’sfurtive encounter on the Phoenix airport tarmac, as captured by a shaky,inaudible long shot on, could have been culled from asurveillance video.

-No Road Map for Democrats as Race Ends
The party faces the drama of how, when and even whether Senator HillaryRodham Clinton will drop out.

Washington Post
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-Abstinence Campaign Launches
Groups enlist parents nationwide in effort to lobby for changes in sex education at local level. Proponents of sex education programs that focus on encouraging abstinence are launching a nationwide campaign aimed at enlisting 1 million parents to support the controversial approach. The National Abstinence Education association, a Washington-based advocacy group, said that it sent e-mails last week to about 30,000 supporters, practitioners and parents to try to recruit participants and plans to e-mail 100,000 this week as part of the first phase of the $1 million campaign.

-Swiss to Decide on Secret Votes by Public on Citizenship Candidates
Milikije Arifi has lived in Switzerland for more than 30 years, since she was 18, and raised a family here. She is fluent in German — the principal language here in the north of the country — and speaks it with the same Swiss accent as her neighbors. She passed an examination on Swiss and local history and government. Still, in April, for the third time, the Town Council in this Zurich suburb denied her and her husband citizenship.
Although the law encourages a vote held in public and a detailed explanation, the council made its decision in private and gave no justification for the denials beyond “insufficient integration.” “We did not break the law,” said Martin Koller, a member of the council and its immigration committee. “A local community can never be forced to naturalize anybody.”

-Iranians Like Us. Really.
Many Iranians think the 'Great Satan' is just great. It's their own president they hate.
TEHRAN On a recent afternoon, while riding a rickety bus down Vali Asr Avenue, Tehran's main thoroughfare, I overheard two women discussing the grim state of Iranian politics. One of them had reached a rather desperate conclusion. "Let the Americans come," she said loudly. "Let them sort things out for us once and for all." Everyone in the women's section of the bus absorbed this casually, and her friend nodded in assent.

-Senate Roadblock
Partisan concerns and side issues must not stop a key U.S. HIV-AIDS initiative.
THE PRESIDENT'S Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is American "soft power" at its life-saving best. Since 2003, PEPFAR has supported HIV testing and counseling for more than 33 million people and care for more than 6.6 million (including more than 2.7 million orphans and other children infected and affected by HIV). The program has funded medicine for about 1.5 million men, women and children worldwide, the vast majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Even President Bush's harshest critics concede that PEPFAR, which has cost $15 billion so far, is one of his best accomplishments. When Mr. Bush asked Congress to authorize a five-year, $30 billion extension, Democratic lawmakers in both houses raised the proposed funding level to $50 billion, and legislation sailed through with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then it stopped: Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and six other Republicans have exercised their prerogative to keep it off the Senate floor. Mr. Coburn wants to mandate that 55 percent of PEPFAR's money go to treating those who are already sick with AIDS -- as opposed to preventing new cases and other purposes.

-Democrats Come Together To Tear Their Party in Half
Leave it to the Democrats to make a hash of democracy.
When the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee met at the Marriott in Woodley Park yesterday to decide what to do with the contested primary results in Florida and Michigan, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean kicked off the session by suggesting they avoid a "food fight."
Good luck with that.
"Alice in Wonderland." "Willy-nilly." "Totally incorrect." "This way lies haos." "An arbitrary formula." "My mama always taught me to play by the rules." "Cheating." "Let's cancel 2012." And that was just from the members of the committee. The Floridians and Michiganders were equally unruly ("My state has already suffered enough!"), and the audience became a mob, answering the participants with boos, hisses, cheers and commentary:
"Revote! . . . Answer! Answer! . . . Go, Donna! . . . Shut up!" "I'm reminded," said witness Jim Blanchard, the former governor of Michigan, "of the old Will Rogers adage, which was: 'I belong to no organized party. I'm a emocrat.' " The committee took its lunch break -- at 3 p.m., 5 1/2 hours after it began morning arguments that were supposed to last just over three hours. The panelists finally returned from their break, and backroom deliberations, at 6:15, as wedding guests were expected to arrive at the Marriott for an evening reception in a nearby ballroom. The lack of decorum in the hall was barely elevated from that on the sidewalk outside the hotel, where several hundred Hillary Clinton supporters chanted "Count every vote!" and waved signs announcing "Count my vote or count me out." A smaller number of Barack Obama supporters kept their distance.

-Still Not Ready? For Female Candidates, Latent Biases Matter
Last month it became increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton may no longer be within reach of the Democratic presidential nomination. While it is uncertain when Clinton's historic candidacy will actually end, many in the media and in political circles are debating the role sexism played in her defeat. How did the once-inevitable candidate, who was destined to be America's first female president, lose this nomination battle? Was it her past? Was it her husband? Or is America just not ready for a female president? Although it's difficult to draw definitive conclusions, behavior and attitudes in the corporate sphere shed some light on the answers to these questions. Unfortunately, the picture suggests we still have work to do.

-The Iraqi Upturn
Don't look now, but the U.S.-backed government and army may be winning the war.
THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now." Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans.

-Stuck in Syria, With No Way Home
DAMASCUS - On our last day in Syria, our interpreter, Sameer, asked us a favor. "Please tell my brother not to go back to Baghdad," he said. "He'll be killed." Sameer, 29, had spent 17 months as a translator for the U.S. Army in his native Iraq before fleeing the country two years ago after someone nailed a death threat to his family's door. He is in the final stages of a Byzantine process that we hope will lead to his resettlement in Texas. But his older brother, Duried, has been waiting for an interview with the international agencies that determine Iraqi refugees' fates. He is running out of patience, hope and money. "I can survive here maybe three more months," Duried later told us over tea in Sameer's small apartment, echoing a sentiment we heard from dozens of Iraqis in Syria. "After that, I cannot even pay rent. Honestly, what choice do I have?"
Damascus is the epicenter of the Middle East's gravest humanitarian disaster since the Palestinian refugee crisis of 1948.

Forwarded from Susan Frishkorn
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-Australia ends Iraq combat operations
By TANALEE SMITH, Associated Press Writer 23 minutes ago
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally and one of the first countries to commit troops to the Iraq war five years ago, ended combat operations there Sunday, a Defense Department official said. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was swept into office in November largely on the promise that he would bring home the country's 550 combat troops by the middle of 2008. Rudd has said the Iraq deployment has made Australia more of a target for terrorism. The combat troops are expected to return home over the next few weeks. Local media reports said the first of the soldiers had already landed in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Fort Report
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-Texas Watch: Cheney could be charm or curse in GOP's bid to regain DeLay's seat
Republicans badly want Tom DeLay's old congressional seat back, and they're already sending big guns. Vice President Dick Cheney comes to Houston on Friday to replenish GOP nominee Pete Olson's coffers. Not bad for a first-time candidate who's basically broke in his bid to unseat Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, though Democrats call it a sign of desperation. Few political figures are as polarizing as Mr. Cheney. He does draw donors, though he's not much of a good-luck charm. The last House candidate he stumped for lost a special congressional election the next day in another "safe" GOP district, in rural Mississippi, last month. And he helped Mr. Lampson's last GOP opponent, Shelley Sekula Gibbs, raise $200,000 just before the 2006 election.

-Interfaith Alliance on Senator Obama Church Resignation: Decision forPolitical Reasons Dishonors Religion and Disrespects Constitution
The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a practicing Baptist minister and President of the Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement upon the news that Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama resigned his nearly two decade membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago:
"No candidate for the presidency should ever have to resign from or join a particular house of worship in order to be a viable candidate for that high office. To make such a decision for political reasons dishonors religion and disrespects the constitution. This is a sad day in American politics and even sadder in American religion. Senator Obama is at the center of the storm, but all who wed religion to partisan politics share responsibility for this tragic development."


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