Tuesday, July 01, 2008


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New York Times
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-Wounded Iraqi Forces Say They've Been Abandoned
Iraqi veterans described their government's treatment of them as at bestindifferent and at worst vindictive.

-Enabling Mr. Mugabe
Africa's leaders can continue to enable Robert Mugabe or they can speak thetruth about the horrors he has visited on Zimbabwe and back up their wordswith sanctions. [...] they can follow the wiser example of the livingsymbol of African liberation, Nelson Mandela, who last week condemnedZimbabwe's "tragic failure of leadership."

-The South Will Fall Again
THE interim between the primaries and the parties' nominating conventionsis, according to ancient writ, a fertile period for presidential campaignsto talk about how they plan to expand the political map in the fall. Thisyear is no different. Barack Obama's strategists are suggesting that thefirst African-American presidential nominee of a major political party canparlay increased turnout among black voters into a string of victories inthe South. Given that roughly half of all African-Americans live in the 11former Confederate states, the idea seems intuitive enough. It's also wrong.Prying Southern electoral votes away from the Republicans is not so simple.

-Guns and Democrats
The Obama campaign Web site's "In the News" section, which chronicles BarackObama's recent statements on the 36th anniversary of the passage of Title IXand the Juneteenth holiday celebration, does not include his reaction to theUnited States Supreme Court decision last week to strike down the Districtof Columbia's ban on handguns. Though I couldn't find it on the Web site,the campaign did issue a statement - albeit a fairly tepid one - on theCourt ruling. "I have always believed that the Second Amendment protectsthe right of individuals to bear arms," Mr. Obama is quoted as saying. "ButI also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save theirchildren from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense,effective safety measures." If Charlton Heston were still living, he couldhave comfortably uttered the same sentences.

-Black Lawmakers Seek Restrictions on Menthol Cigarettes
The Congressional Black Caucus is calling for changes to a Housetobacco-regulation bill, demanding that the legislation place restrictionson menthol cigarettes, the type heavily favored by African-American smokers.

-Poland Won't Sign European Treaty
BERLIN -- As France assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union onTuesday, the bloc's wounded plans for reform took another hit , this timefrom Poland whose president said he would not sign into law the so-calledLisbon Treaty. The treaty's future was thrown into doubt last month whenIrish voters rejected it in a referendum. Under the EU's laws, the treaty,which was designed to modernize the institutions of the 27-nation bloc,requires unanimous backing among its member states to be adopted. Irelandwas the only country whose own constitution stipulated a referendum, whichhas been approved by 19 national parliaments, including that of Poland.

-Budget Pain Hits States, With Relief Not in Sight
Squeezed by high inflation, dwindling tax revenues and a national economicdownturn, states from coast to coast have struggled to close yawning budgetgaps while bracing for another difficult fiscal year, which in most statesbegins Tuesday. State tax revenues, adjusted for inflation and tax cuts,fell 5.3 percent in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the same time ayear ago, according to a report to be released Tuesday; it was the thirdquarter in a row that total adjusted revenue declined. The first quarterrevenues were the weakest among states since early 2003.

-Oil Rises on Middle East Tension, Supply Worries
LONDON (Reuters) - Oil rose more than $2 on Tuesday after the InternationalEnergy Agency revived concerns about long-term supply shortages and tensionbetween Israel and Iran raised fears about possible outages in the muchnearer term.

-Qaeda Targets U.S. Oil Interests In N.Africa: Report
Al Qaeda's growing north Africa network plans to attack U.S. interestsseeking control of the region's energy riches, its Algerian-based leadersaid in remarks published on Tuesday. The network of militants fromMauritania to Libya sees U.S. interests as legitimate targets becauseWashington backed the region's "criminal" governments and stole Algerianoil, the New York Times quoted Abdelmalek Droukdel as saying.

-On the Road: Bag Helps Laptop Pass Air Security
For years at airport security checkpoints, passengers have heard therefrain, almost a dirge: "Laptops must be removed from their cases andplaced on the belt." Get ready for a change. The Transportation SecurityAdministration has given the go-ahead for passengers to use newly designedcarry-on bags that will let them pass through security without having totake their laptops out for the X-ray inspection.

Washington Post
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-Last-Minute Missiles
The Bush administration rushes to complete premature and costly deals withthe Czech Republic and Poland. THE BUSH administration may have radicallyshifted its foreign policy more than once in the past seven years, but ithas been foolishly consistent in one endeavor: the overzealous pursuit ofmissile defense. Before and after Sept. 11, 2001, without regard fortechnological failures or the mixed results of testing, the administrationhas relentlessly and recklessly sought to build and deploy interceptors inAlaska and Europe and on ships. Before the 2004 election, the Pentagonrushed to pour concrete for silos in Alaska, though the ground-based systemhad not passed the most rudimentary tests or even been equipped with all ofits components. Now the State Department is trying to seal agreements withPoland and the Czech Republic for a second interceptor base and a largeradar station before President Bush leaves office. Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice hopes to travel to Prague and maybe to Warsaw early thismonth.

-Put Them Out to Pastor
The pilgrim is making little progress. In a futile effort to convincefaith-voters that he is one of them, John McCain paid a visit to the Grahamsof North Carolina -- father Billy and son Franklin. After the meeting, not aword was said about the Grahams' past indiscretions concerning Muslims orJews, and neither, for that matter, was an endorsement proffered. The nextguest was country singer Ricky Skaggs. He did better. He got lunch.

-The Court vs. Voters
If the long conservative era that began with Ronald Reagan's election isover, will the judges appointed during the right's ascendancy be able toblock, frustrate and undermine the efforts of a new progressive majority?Consider this analysis from two influential journalists describing SupremeCourt justices as "the last hope of the conservative interests in the UnitedStates."

-CRY ZIMBABWE: My Father Was Loyal to Mugabe. It Didn't Matter.
HARARE, Zimbabwe My father, who lives in Zimbabwe's countryside, sent me aletter the other day. The 74-year-old man wrote that he had not had soap,cooking oil, sugar or tea leaves -- virtually anything -- for a very longtime. Could I help? And if I had any old shoes that I was no longer using,could I send them to him?

-A Rare Audio Recording of Gandhi
Gandhi's address, delivered in English, was recorded in 1947, a few monthsbefore his assassination.

-Obama: Love of U.S. Is 'a Given'
Democratic candidate defends his patriotism, as well as rival John McCain'smilitary service. [...] Polls have shown that a small but statisticallysignificant slice of the electorate continues to question Obama'spatriotism, especially in white, working-class regions.

-Chinese Lawyers Arrested Before Meeting with Congressmen
BEIJING, July 1 -- A group of Chinese human rights lawyers were detained andlater put under house arrest by government security officials to preventthem from attending a dinner Sunday hosted by two visiting members of theU.S. Congress.

A former CIA operative who says he tried to warn the agency about faultyintelligence on Iraqi weapons programs now contends that CIA officials alsoignored evidence that Iran had suspended work on a nuclear bomb.

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-Obama to expand Bush's faith based programs
Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate BarackObama is announcing plans to expand President Bush's program steeringfederal social service dollars to religious groups and -- in a move sure tocause controversy -- support some ability to hire and fire based on faith.

Miami Herald
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-Dodging the issue on interrogation
Two key architects of the Bush administration's interrogation policies,which have been roundly and rightly condemned around the world, had anopportunity last week to state publicly for the first time why theyadvocated harsh treatment of terrorism suspects. Unfortunately, theirperformance before a House panel left the distinct impression that they werefollowing the advice of auto tycoon Henry Ford when he famously declared,``Never apologize, never explain.''

-Diplomacy useful in dealing with threats
The Bush administration's deal to have North Korea come clean about itsnuclear activities in exchange for relaxing trade sanctions is a victory notonly for diplomacy, but for realism. The idea that North Korea -- aninsular, paranoid, bellicose regime -- could be bullied into changing coursenever seemed likely to succeed. Switching to a more effective diplomaticstrategy has worked.

Fort Report
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-POLITICS | TRUE OR FALSE: Candidates Think Flip-Flopping is the Only Wayto Win Elections
The fund-raiser was unremarkable, by L.A. standards. Under enormouschandeliers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, wealthy donors mingled withshowbiz types (Dennis Quaid, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Beals) and ateendive spears stuffed with brie. Couples willing to donate $28,500 got todine beforehand with the candidate, Barack Obama, who gave his usual stumpspeech and mocked his opponent, John McCain, for believing "that a bunch ofoil rigs along the California coast was a good idea." (McCain had justrecommended that states be allowed to opt out of the federal ban on offshoredrilling.) This last zinger got a roar from the crowd, not a few of whom ownshorefront properties in places like Malibu and Santa Barbara.

-A Conversation With Barack Obama
The Candidate Talks About The Youth Vote,
What's On His iPod and His Top Three Priorities As President
Shortly after Barack Obama claimed victory in the fight for the Democraticnomination, I joined him aboard his chartered 757 campaign plane as a memberof the press corps. He was flying from Chicago to Appleton, Wisconsin, for atown-hall meeting, one of a series he was doing in Midwestern and swingstates to address constituencies he might have missed during the primaries -and, of course, to get some warm-up practice for any town-hall debates hehas with John McCain.

-Obama and Bill Clinton Finally Speak
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton ended their mutual silent treatment Monday,with the Democratic presidential candidate reaching out and asking hisformer Democratic nemesis to help him win the White House. In their firstconversation since the end of the heated primary, former President Clintonagreed to campaign for the candidate he portrayed as inexperienced for apresidential run. Obama had said Bill Clinton's harsh criticisms led him towonder which Clinton he was running against sometimes.

-What we can do in this dangerous moment
It is quite possible that we are now at the most dangerous moment since theAmerican financial crisis began last August. Staggering increases in theprices of oil and other commodities have brought American consumerconfidence to new lows and raised serious concerns about inflation, therebylimiting the capacity of monetary policy to respond to a financial sectorwhich - judging by equity values - is at its weakest point since the crisisbegan. With housing values still falling and growing evidence that problemsare spreading to the construction and consumer credit sectors, there is apossibility that a faltering economy damages the financial system, whichweakens the economy further.

-Black Republicans Launch Racial Anti-Obama Ads
The National Black Republican Association has launched the most personalizedattacks of the presidential campaign to date, accusing Barack Obama of beingan "arrogant elitist," and raising his connections to Rev. Jeremiah Wright,Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko.

-No time for Obama to play it safe
Barack Obama, elegant practitioner of political pragmatism, soundedpassionless last week talking about guns. His careful tiptoeing after theSupreme Court's landmark decision overthrowing a Washington, D.C., handgunban gave Republican John McCain the opening his wobbling campaign has beenaching for. While Obama parsed, McCain bellowed.

-Obama-Clinton contest revealed limits of racism, sexism
To hear some of Hillary Clinton's disappointed supporters tell it, half ofAmerica just told her to "Iron my shirt." In fact, two guys did, at aClinton rally in New Hampshire in January, in what seems to have been aprank to draw attention to their radio show.

-Obama's sister helps reach out to Asian-Americans
The throng of Asian-American donors drew closer, drinks in hand, to hearBarack Obama's sister describe the wide arc of his life: beyond politics andChicago, into his childhood in Indonesia and Hawaii. To many in this crowdObama's Asian-American half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, represents yet anotheraspect of Obama's identity that makes him unique as a presidentialcandidate, although it has been underplayed amid the excitement surroundinghis shot at becoming the first black president.

-New Georgia poll shows McCain ahead of Obama
Did John McCain pick up 9 percentage points in Georgia in a week? A pollreleased Monday showed the Republican presidential candidate bestingDemocrat Barack Obama in Georgia by 10 points. Another poll released June 19showed the two essentially tied.


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