Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS Tuesday June 3, 2008

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New York Times
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-It Isn’t Magic: Putin Opponents Are Made to Vanish From TV
Critics of the government, and of Vladimir V. Putin, have been placed on a roster of individuals barred from TV news and political talk shows. [...] Not only were his remarks cut — he was also digitally erased from the show, like a disgraced comrade airbrushed from an old Soviet photo. (The technicians may have worked a bit hastily, leaving his disembodied legs in one shot.)

-The Great Immigration Panic
Someday, the country will recognize the true cost of its war on illegal immigration. We don’t mean dollars, though those are being squandered by the billions. The true cost is to the national identity: the sense of who we are and what we value. It will hit us once the enforcement fever breaks, when we look at what has been done and no longer recognize the country that did it.
A nation of immigrants is holding another nation of immigrants in bondage, xploiting its labor while ignoring its suffering, condemning its lawlessness while sealing off a path to living lawfully. The evidence is all around that something pragmatic and welcoming at the American core has been clipsed, or is slipping away. An escalating campaign of raids in homes and workplaces has spread indiscriminate terror among millions of people who pose no threat.

-A Gift to the G.O.P. By BOB HERBERT
Talk about self-inflicted wounds. The Democrats may finally be stepping away from their circular firing squad. It took them long enough. There are so many things that the Democrats need to do to have any chance of winning the White House in November, and it’s awfully late in the game to begin doing them. Only now is the party starting to rally around Senator Barack Obama, who has been the likely nominee for the longest time. No one knows how long it will take to move beyond the fratricidal conflict that was made unnecessarily bitter by Bill and Hillary Clinton. The cry of “McCain in ’08!” at the Democratic rules committee meeting in Washington over the weekend came from a supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton. It reminded me of Bill Clinton’s comment that “it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country.” He was talking about Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

-Calling Dr. Doom By DAVID BROOKS
It took Christopher Columbus about 70 days to get to the New World — a bit less than half as long as it took us to get through the 2008 primary calendar. But by Tuesday night, we’ll have reached our destination, and people in the Obama and McCain camps are feeling good about themselves.
Neither campaign is planning a major pivot for the fall. Both are confident they have a strategy for victory. So my role today is Dr. Doom — to break through unmerited confidence and raise the anxiety level in both camps.
Since effectively wrapping up the nomination, Barack Obama has lost 7 of the last 13 primaries. Obama’s confidants say that this doesn’t matter. In states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, primary election results are no predictor of general election results. That’s dubious. Though voters now prefer Democratic policy positions on most major issues by between 11 and 25 points, Obama has only a 0.7 percent lead over McCain in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. His favorability ratings among independents has dropped from 63 percent to 49 percent since late February.

-Peace Fills a Vacuum
IN the last few weeks, three long-frozen conflicts in the Middle East have displayed early signs of thawing. Israel and Hamas may be inching toward a cease-fire that would end attacks by both sides and, perhaps, loosen the siege imposed on the impoverished Gaza Strip. The factions in Lebanon, after a long period of institutional paralysis and a near civil war, have reached a tentative political agreement. And eight years after their last negotiations, Israel and Syria have announced the resumption of indirect peace talks. That so many parties are moving at the same time in so many arenas is noteworthy enough. That they are doing so without — and, in some cases, despite — the United States is more remarkable still. The Gaza deal is being brokered by Egypt. Qatar mediated the Lebanese accord. Turkey is shepherding the Israeli-Syrian contacts. All three countries are close allies of the United States. Under normal circumstances, they would be loath to act on vital regional matters without America’s consent. Yet in these cases they seem to have ignored Washington’s preferences.

-Kennedy’s Surgery for Tumor Called Success
Senator Edward M. Kennedy successfully underwent surgery on Monday in Durham, N.C., for a malignant brain tumor, his surgeon said. “I am pleased to report that Senator Kennedy’s surgery was successful and accomplished our goals,” the physician, Dr. Allan H. Friedman, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center at the Duke University Medical Center, said in a statement about 2 p.m.

-China Lists Dos and Don’ts for Olympics-Bound Foreigners
Do not bring any printed materials critical of China. Do not plan on holding any rallies or demonstrations in China. Do not think that you are guaranteed an entry visa because you hold tickets to an Olympic event. And do not even think about smuggling opium into China. That is some of the eclectic advice issued by the Beijing Organizing Committee on Monday, in a document listing 57 questions that foreign visitors to the Olympic Games in August may have:
“Does China have any regulation against insults to the flag or national emblems?” “After eating or drinking at restaurants or hotels, if you have diarrhea or vomiting symptoms, how do you lodge a complaint?”

-Sect’s Children Returned to Parents, but Inquiry Continues
More than 460 children seized by state authorities in April in an investigation of possible sexual abuse at an isolated West Texas polygamist community began going home on Monday. The case, one of the largest custody disputes in United States history, tied the Texas child welfare system in knots and became the focus of a national debate over the limits of police power. State officials announced the release, under a court order signed by a district judge here in Tom Green County, with an arch, if not quite reluctant, formality and said the story was far from over. A spokeswoman for the Department of Family and Protective Services, Marleigh Meisner, said the investigation into possible sexual abuse would continue. The judge in the case also imposed a lengthy list of caveats pending the conclusion of the investigation, including surprise home visits by caseworkers, possible psychiatric evaluations of the children and a ban on travel outside Texas.

-Obama, Awaiting a New Title, Carefully Hones His Partisan Image
In his telling, his opponent is wrong on the Iraq war and wrong on the ailing economy, a would-be George W. Bush running for what amounts to a third term. “This is a guy who said I have no knowledge of foreign affairs,” Senator Barack Obama says, his voice hitting a high C on the incredulity scale, before he adds: “Well, John McCain was arguing for a war that had nothing to do with 9/11. He was wrong, and he was wrong on the most important subject that confronted our nation.” The crowd rises, clapping and cheering at this pleasing whiff of partisan buckshot.

-McCain Sharpens His Foreign Policy Attacks on Obama
As the bitter Democratic presidential nomination battle was consumed by rancorous maneuverings, Senator John McCain honed his national security message before Jewish leaders on Monday, saying Senator Barack Obama’s policies toward Iraq and Iran would create chaos in the Middle East and endanger the United States and Israel. Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has been laying out a series of foreign policy attacks on Mr. Obama, his likely Democratic rival, questioning the wisdom of Mr. Obama’s call for making diplomatic overtures to enemies and repeatedly painting him as inexperienced.

Washington Post
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-Reagan's Choice
Gerald Ford went to his grave believing that Ronald Reagan's challenge for the Republican presidential nomination cost him the White House in 1976. In truth, Reagan sharpened Ford as a candidate, much as Hillary Clinton's campaign has sharpened Barack Obama in 2008. What damaged Ford in his effort to overtake Democrat Jimmy Carter was not what Reagan did to him in the spring of 1976 but what he failed to do in the fall. Similarly, the question now is what role Clinton will play after Obama has formally secured the nomination.

-A Greener Revolution
If wealthy countries pitch in, higher food prices could jump-start African Agriculture.
WORLD LEADERS assemble in Rome today for a three-day summit on the global food crisis. The sense of urgency surrounding the meeting is appropriate.
With commodity prices at their highest levels in three decades, some 100 million people who had been lifted out of chronic poverty are at risk of slipping back. Famine once again threatens vulnerable countries such as North Korea. Yet, massive as it is, the short-term problem of getting food relief into the hands of the hungry is probably the simplest item on the summit agenda. Much more complex is the long-term task of restoring the world's ability to feed itself at widely affordable prices. Expect to hear plenty of criticism of the United States and Europe for subsidizing the diversion of their crops into the production of ethanol and other biofuels.
No doubt these wasteful policies have contributed to the spike in grain prices. So have bans on exports by such large food producers as India. A successful summit would produce a promise from all sides to think more about the global effects of their policies. But even then, the problem of raising agricultural productivity would remain.

-A Campaign to Hate By Richard Cohen
Wherever I go -- from glittering dinner party to glittering dinner party -- the famous and powerful people I meet (for such is my life) tell me how lucky I am to be a journalist in this the greatest of all presidential contests. I tell them, for I am wont to please, that this campaign is indeed great when, as history will record, it is not. I have come to loathe the campaign. I loathe above all the resurgence of racism -- or maybe it is merely my appreciation of the fact that it is wider and deeper than I thought. I am stunned by the numbers of people who have come out to vote against Barack Obama because he is black. I am even more stunned that many of these people have no compunction about telling a pollster they voted on account of race -- one in five whites in Kentucky, for instance. Those voters didn't even know enough to lie, which is what, if you look at the numbers, others probably did in other states. Such honesty ought to be commendable. It is, instead, frightening. I acknowledge that some people can find nonracial reasons to vote against Obama -- his youth, his inexperience, his uber-liberalism and, of course, his willingness to abide his minister's admiration for a racist demagogue (Louis Farrakhan) until it was way, way too late. But for too many people, Obama is first and foremost a black man and is rejected for that reason alone. This is very sad.

-For an 'Obamacon,' Communion Denied By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Word spread like wildfire in Catholic circles: Douglas Kmiec, a staunch Republican, firm foe of abortion and veteran of the Reagan Justice Department, had been denied Communion. His sin? Kmiec, a Catholic who can cite papal pronouncements with the facility of a theological scholar, shocked old friends and adversaries alike earlier this year by endorsing Barack Obama for president. For at least one priest, Kmiec's support for a pro-choice politician made him a willing participant in a grave moral evil.
Kmiec was denied Communion in April at a Mass for a group of Catholic business people he later addressed at dinner. The episode has not received wide attention outside the Catholic world, but it is the opening shot in an argument that could have a large impact on this year's presidential campaign: Is it legitimate for bishops and priests to deny Communion to those supporting candidates who favor abortion rights?

-Sen. Robert Byrd Hospitalized, Spokesman Says

Vanity Fair
The Comeback Id by Todd S. Purdum
Old friends and longtime aides are wringing their hands over Bill Clinton’s post–White House escapades, from the dubious (and secretive) business associations to the media blowups that have bruised his wife’s campaign, to the private-jetting around with a skirt-chasing, scandal-tinged posse. Some point to Clinton’s medical traumas; others blame sheer selfishness, and the absence of anyone who can say “no.” Exploring Clintonworld, the author asks if the former president will be consumed by his own worst self.

Fort Report
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-Drudge keeps campaigns guessing
Matt Drudge is reviled by many on the left, but his news instincts are undeniable—and he has an uncanny ability to drive the national conversation with what he chooses to highlight on his site.


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