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by autofran (autofran@mac.com) on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:11:41 PM EST
Pre-emptive nuclear strike a key option, Nato told | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a "grand strategy" to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a "first strike" nuclear option remains an "indispensable instrument" since there is "simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world".

The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views. It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato's secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.

"The risk of further [nuclear] proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible," the authors argued in the 150-page blueprint for urgent reform of western military strategy and structures. "The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction."

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:18:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
given what we know from sible Edmonds, the reason why there is no chance of a nuclear free world is that we were determined to sell expertise and materials to anyone who wanted it. Waiting to find the suggestion that A Q Khan was a CIA-asset.

Changing no-first-use is tantamount to global suicide. We'd rather destroy the world ourselves than let the Soviets terrists bomb it first. How perfectly MAD !!!!

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:17:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a radical manifesto from the west´s most senior MADmen, in preparation to make the EU accept fkg Petraus as head of Nato???

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No light, no heat, no bread: stark reality for the powerless in Gaza | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited
When it opened its doors seven years ago, the European Gaza hospital was one of the biggest foreign investments in the long-troubled Gaza Strip and one of the leading medical centres in the Palestinian territories. Yesterday, the 250-bed hospital was sliding rapidly into crisis, turning away patients for routine operations and struggling to manage emergency cases, as the sole power plant in Gaza halted electricity production after Israel stopped all fuel supplies.

Israel said its closure of the Gaza strip was intended to halt the firing of makeshift rockets by Palestinian militants into southern Israel.

Yet Israel's stark new policy has meant no fuel or food aid has come into Gaza since last Thursday. Large parts of the overcrowded strip had no power, leaving it without lights and heating, closing bakeries and forcing hospitals to rely on generators and their own limited fuel reserves. As night fell nearly all Gaza City was in darkness. Simply put, it was "collective punishment," said the European commissioner for external relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Osama Nahal, a paediatric doctor in the European hospital's special care baby unit, looked resigned. "Politics is politics, but the care of human beings must be away from politics," he said. His unit now has 10 newly-born patients, of whom two are on ventilators.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:19:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The poor and the sick suffer as Israel cuts power to Gaza - Independent Online Edition > Middle East

Mansour Rahal lay unconscious in the intensive care unit of Gaza City's Shifa hospital, linked to an electrically powered ventilator, the coloured monitor above his head showing his heart, respiration and oxygen saturation rate.

On Thursday last week, the teenager was driving his donkey cart through Beit Lahiya when it was destroyed by a missile which targeted militants in a nearby car. The rocket killed his mother and older brother, and Mansour contracted meningitis after suffering severe head wounds.

His hopes of survival yesterday depended on there being enough diesel to keep in operation the four generators which were Shifa's only source of power. His doctor, Kamal al-Geathny, said: "If we lose power, he and six other patients in this unit will die."

This was the scene at the hospital yesterday before Israel authorised limited supplies of fuel and medicine to Gaza after a wave of international condemnation for its imposition of a four-day-old total embargo, which left much of the Strip without electricity. The EU called the blockade a " collective punishment" of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The embargo caused industrial diesel to run out, shutting down Gaza's only power station on Sunday, plunging Gaza City into darkness. Large parts of it are still without power.

by Fran on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 at 11:26:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I got Godwin'd the last time I pointed out the obvious reference, but does anyone remember Warsaw.....

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:18:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
didn't you know that asking obvious questions is anti-semitism?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:32:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Top Stories
  • Guardian - "The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the 'imminent' spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists. Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a 'grand strategy' to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a 'first strike' nuclear option remains an 'indispensable instrument' since there is 'simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world'."

  • NYT - "Fears that the United States may be in a recession reverberated around the world on Monday, sending stock markets... into a tailspin and puncturing the hopes of many investors that Europe and Asia would be able to sidestep an American downturn."

USA
  • WaPo - "Sen. Barack Obama took the pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church here Sunday and drew a clear link between King's vision of an America free of segregation and racism and the central tenet of his own presidential campaign, a call for unity after years of partisan rancor and division... The Illinois Democrat spoke to more than 2,000 people in the large, modern sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, across the street from the original structure where King and his father preached."

  • CNN - "Discussions about proposals on the economy and health care were overshadowed by heated exchanges between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during Monday night's Democratic debate... Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards jumped in, saying 'Are there three people in this debate, not two?' 'This kind of squabbling -- how many children is this going to get health care? How many people are going to get education because of this? How many kids are going to get to go to college because of this?' Edwards said to cheers from the crowd. 'I respect both of my fellow candidates, but we have got to understand this is not about us personally.'"

  • LA Times - "The Bush administration is beginning its last year in office by quietly scaling back its foreign policy ambitions as it struggles with new obstacles and rapidly dwindling influence. Only a few months ago, senior officials predicted that before their exit, they could deliver the Middle East peace deal that had eluded so many predecessors... the Bush administration is going to be spending the next year managing crises and tidying up messes until the next president takes over, rather than reaching legacy milestones, as officials recently had hoped."

  • WaPo - "The Bush administration is set to announce an overhaul of the nation's emergency response blueprint Tuesday, streamlining a chain of command that failed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005... After years of aggressive lobbying by unhappy state governments, the administration chose to restore FEMA's power to coordinate federal disaster operations. The plan makes clear that the homeland security secretary will remain the president's 'principal federal official for domestic incident management.'"

  • AP - "Interstate 35W bridge collapse survivors and victims' families are giving the state formal notice that they intend to sue. Paperwork to notify the state of potential lawsuits is supposed to be filed within 180 days of an incident -- a deadline that comes up Sunday... As of Friday, the state had received notices from 73 injured survivors and six families of victims killed in the collapse... Three insurance companies and the owner of the school bus that fell with the bridge also filed paperwork."

  • CS Monitor - "Prosecutors in Miami are asking a federal judge to endorse a broad reading of a murder conspiracy statute and material support law to send convicted Al Qaeda recruit Jose Padilla to prison for the rest of his life. If US District Judge Marcia Cooke agrees with the US Justice Department, the severe sentence won't be for any violent act carried out or planned by Mr. Padilla. Instead, he will be punished for what prosecutors say were his dangerous intentions - intentions to conduct unspecified future terrorist operations." Padilla will be sentenced on Tuesday.

  • McClatchy - "U.S. businesses are betting that the federal government soon will put mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions, and they're making sure they have a say in shaping a vast new regulatory system... The U.S. Climate Action Partnership -- which includes U.S. automakers, other big manufacturers... and energy companies... -- supports a cap and trade system, but its members have questions about key elements, such as how emissions could be offset and how much they'd have to pay for the allowances."

  • CS Monitor - "The 2005 energy bill provided exactly the kind of multiyear support the wind industry says it needs. The impact has been dramatic. Nearly one-third of all US power capacity added last year - about 5,244 megawatts - was in wind. Overall wind-generating capacity soared 45 percent last year, adding the clean-energy equivalent of 10 large coal-fired power plants, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reported last week. Wind power injected $9 billion into the US economy and now employs 20,000 people directly, the industry says." The $1 billion tax credits to solar and wind are set to expire at the end of 2008.

Europe
  • Guardian - "17 years after the last hammer and sickle tanks trundled through Red Square, the Kremlin is to revive on May 9 the Soviet-era practice of parading its big weaponry, the Russian defence ministry confirmed yesterday. As well as 6,000 marching soldiers, it will show off its latest tanks and rockets - such as the new intercontinental ballistic missile, Topol-M... The decision to revive this symbol of the cold war is likely to provoke criticism from opposition parties, which accuse Vladimir Putin of turning Russia into a pastiche of the Soviet Union."

  • NYT - "Italy's staggering government appeared near collapse on Monday after the former justice minister said he would no longer support Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who holds a one-vote majority in Parliament's upper house... Mr. Prodi, whose fractured nine-party coalition has lurched from one crisis to another since he took office in May 2006, made no immediate comment. Several allies said, however, that he would discuss the crisis in the lower house of Parliament on Tuesday before deciding whether to resign."

  • Guardian - "The government's top foreign policy advisers were as inept as their US counterparts in failing to see that removing Saddam Hussein in 2003 was likely to lead to a nationalist insurgency by Sunnis and Shias and an Islamist government in Baghdad, run by allies of Iran... None of Whitehall's 'Arabists' warned Tony Blair of the difficulties which have plagued the occupation. The revelation undermines the British claim that it was US myopia which was to blame for the failure to foresee what would happen in postwar Iraq."

  • CS Monitor - "Ever since its 21 signatory nations agreed in 1976 to a set of protocols designed to reduce pollution in the Mediterranean, the Barcelona Convention, which holds biennial meetings, has spearheaded a variety of important environmental initiatives. But this year's reunion in Almera, Spain, the group's 15th, has gone further than most. Participants, including environment ministers from Italy, Tunisia, Israel, Croatia, and Montenegro, agreed that along all 29,000 miles of Mediterranean shore, no construction would be permitted on the 100 meters (about 328 feet) of land nearest the water."

  • Spiegel - "Germany's main carnival parade this year will poke fun at England for failing to qualify for the European Football Championship in June -- with a float depicting a paper-mache English knight in football shorts watching the tournament on TV while the rest of Europe laughs at him. The float will be paraded through Cologne on Feb. 4, Rose Monday, in a procession that usually attracts well over a million people and is broadcast nationwide."

  • BBC News - "Rising sea levels are threatening parts of the Giant's Causeway and other coastal areas of Northern Ireland, the National Trust is warning... The Trust says sea walls will be overtopped more often while waves may swamp part of the Giant's Causeway and in time making access more difficult to some areas of the landmark stones."

  • Guardian - "British scientists have launched an ambitious conservation project to protect some of the weirdest and slimiest creatures on the planet from extinction. The Zoological Society of London's Edge project has identified 100 species of amphibians that have the fewest living relatives, making them evolutionary rarities and precious examples of Earth's biodiversity... Climate change, habitat loss and outbreaks of disease have taken their toll on amphibians around the world. Half of all amphibian species are in decline, while a third are threatened with extinction."

Africa
  • BBC News - "Five people have been shot dead in Kenya as opposition leader Raila Odinga made a renewed call for international mediation to end post-poll bloodshed. The deaths of two men and three women in a Rift Valley village was linked by police to the ongoing political crisis. On a visit to a prayer service in Kisumu, Mr Odinga said he was willing to meet President Mwai Kibaki but only if Kofi Annan joined them. The former UN secretary general is expected in Kenya on Tuesday."

  • NYT - "Congo's government reached an agreement on Monday with a renegade general to end an insurgency that has forced more than 400,000 people from their homes in the country's volatile east in the past year and threatened to undermine the new democratically elected government, according to Congolese officials and Western diplomats involved in the negotiations."

  • Guardian - "A tribal sheikh described as 'the poster child for Janjaweed atrocities in Darfur' has been given a senior government position by the Sudanese authorities. Musa Hilal, who is accused of leading militias on a state-sponsored campaign to cleanse parts of Darfur of non-Arab farmers, will act as special adviser to the minister of federal government... Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, defended the appointment".

  • BBC News - "Conservation groups say they have found an unusual threat to East Africa's wildlife - hunting by hungry refugees. A report from the wildlife trade monitoring body Traffic says wild meat is covertly traded, cooked and consumed in Tanzanian refugee camps. Traffic suspects species affected may include chimpanzee, buffalo and zebra."

Middle East
  • NYT - "A suicide bomber killed 17 people in Salahuddin Province north of Baghdad on Monday in the latest suicide attack outside the capital... In the attack on Monday, a suicide bomber in the village of Hajaj near the northern oil refinery town of Baiji entered a communal hall where a feast was under way, observing the end of the seven-day mourning period for the uncle of a high-ranking security official in the Salahuddin provincial government. The bomber detonated his explosive vest, demolishing the hall."

  • NYT - "From the blast and the high, thin plume of white smoke above the tree line, it looked and sounded like any other attack. The bare details were, sadly, routine enough: a gunner was killed and three crew members were wounded Saturday when their vehicle rolled over a homemade bomb buried beneath a road southeast of Baghdad. Yet, it was anything but routine. Over a crackling field radio came reports of injuries and then, sometime later, official confirmation of the first fatality inflicted by a roadside bomb on an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq."

  • LA Times - "Illegal diggers are chipping away at Iraq's heritage at thousands of largely unguarded sites. The artifacts may never be returned... U.S. and Iraqi experts say a tragedy on an even greater scale [than the looting of Iraq's National Museum] continues to unfold at more than 12,000 largely unguarded sites where illegal diggers... are chipping away at Iraq's heritage..."

    "Iraq floats over two seas; one is oil and the other is antiquities," said Abdul Zahra Talaqani, media director for Iraq's Ministry of State for Tourism and Archaeology. "The American forces, when they entered, they protected all the oil wells and the Ministry of Oil . . . but the American forces paid no attention to Iraq's heritage."

  • Guardian -"The political authority of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suffered a serious blow yesterday after the country's most powerful figure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sided with MPs by ordering him to supply cheap gas to villages suffering power cuts in an unexpectedly harsh winter. In a humiliating rebuff, Iran's supreme leader, who has the final say over all state matters, ordered the enactment of a law requiring the government to provide 500m-worth of gas supplies from emergency reserve funds."

  • NYT - "The Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, announced Monday night that he was lifting some of the restrictions imposed on Gaza and that on Tuesday morning he would allow delivery of a week's supply of industrial diesel fuel for the local power station, as well as 50 trucks of food and medical supplies... Israeli officials... denied that international pressure was a factor."

South Asia
  • BBC News - "Militants have attacked a Pakistani security force fort in the troubled South Waziristan region on the Afghan border, killing five soldiers. Militants attacked the Ladha fort and an observation post at 0100 (2000GMT Monday), military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. At least seven soldiers have been wounded, he said."

  • LA Times - Pakistani "authorities arrested two more alleged militants Sunday in connection with the recent assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto... The arrests took place in Pakistan's mountainous North-West Frontier Province, where a teenage suspect and a man identified as his handler were taken into custody two days earlier."

  • McClatchy - "Pervez Musharraf relaxed his chokehold on Pakistan's airwaves Monday, allowing the nation's largest and most popular television network back on the air 79 days after he forced it to go dark. [Networks] had to agree not to criticize Musharraf, the military, foreign policy or the judiciary, and to limit visual images of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Also, at least five public-affairs program hosts and news anchors remained blacklisted from the cable channel."

  • AP - "Last year the streets in parts of the old city dropped by nine feet. The reason? A massive garbage haul... The garbage project is part of an effort to clean up and restore old Kabul, after six years of relative peace and with millions of dollars from foreign donors. The Turquoise Mountain Foundation, which is dedicated to traditional Afghan arts and architecture, has spent $1 million on conservation and clean up in the Murad Khane neighborhood since last year. The Kabul organization is financed by both Western and Middle East donors."

  • CS Monitor - "When 3,200 US marines deploy to Afghanistan this spring, the message it sends is that the US remains committed to the security of the country and its future... But the marines destined for Afghanistan are on a one-time, seven-month deployment that fills a gap only for trainers and combat forces, say analysts. They won't supply the kind of counterinsurgency that country needs, they say."

  • Reuters - "A court punished 11 Hindus with life in prison on Monday for gang-raping a pregnant Muslim woman and murdering her family during one of India's worst riots in which hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, were slaughtered. The court also jailed a policeman for three years for falsifying evidence in a trial seen as testing whether Muslim victims of the 2002 riots in Gujarat could get justice."

Asia-Pacific
  • WaPo - "As China's middle class expands, ... hundreds of thousands of new car owners [are] hitting the roads each year, driving up imports of luxury cars, snarling traffic, creating a car culture and reveling in what many Chinese describe as a newfound sense of freedom... Most people in this country of 1.3 billion still do not own a car. For example, in Beijing, a city of 16 million people, there are just slightly more than 3 million cars. But car ownership in China has grown by 300 percent in just six years."

  • Guardian - "Their wealth and fame buy apparently endless privilege. But celebrities' perks do not extend to larger families, Chinese authorities have warned. Sports people and pop stars who violate the one-child policy will face harsher fines and tarnished credit records, according to a senior family planning official. The authorities believe the rich and famous are setting a bad example to ordinary couples - yet barely notice the financial penalties because of their wealth."

  • AFP - "A gangster who shot dead the mayor of Nagasaki apologised on Tuesday for the rare assassination that shocked Japan last year. Tetsuya Shiroo, 60, admitted that he gunned down Mayor Iccho Ito in April during his re-election campaign, but his defence team is expected to deny that the crime was premeditated. He was taken into custody immediately after shooting the mayor twice in the back on a busy street in the southern city."

  • BBC News - "An elected parliament has convened in Thailand for the first time since the military seized power in a coup in September 2006. The session follows polls in December and the announcement on Saturday of the formation of a six-party coalition led by the People Power Party (PPP)... PPP head Samak Sundaravej looks likely to be named prime minister on Friday."

  • SMH - Australian "householders could be offered incentives to cut spending and save more of their income as part of the Federal Government's drive to control inflation. Mapping out a five-point plan to fight inflation yesterday, Kevin Rudd said he wanted to build a national savings culture to help reduce demand pressures which were pushing up prices."

  • SMH - "Australia has flown its first whaling surveillance mission as forces opposing the Japanese fleet in the Antarctic are stepped up. The flight by an extended range Airbus, along with the sighting of a Japanese fishing boat said to be shadowing Sea Shepherd, raise spying over the 'scientific' whaling program to a new level. There are also signs that international attention on the program is creating unrest in Tokyo."

  • Fairfax Media - "Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand's greatest hero, has been farewelled by a grateful nation. In a state funeral that shared the Hillary family warm moments with the nation, Nepalese, Indians, New Zealanders and others gathered at St Mary's Church in Parnell, Auckland. Each eulogy was rich in thanks for his life."

Americas
  • NYT - "These days, it is easy to form the impression that a war is going on in Mexico... Yet what is happening is less a war than a sustained federal intervention in states where for decades corrupt municipal police officers and drug gangs have worked together in relative peace, officials say. The federal forces are not only hunting cartel leaders, but also going after their crews of gunslingers, like Gulf Cartel guards known as the Zetas, who terrorize the towns they control."

  • AP - "An indigenous-rights activist jailed for setting fire to a farm once owned by Mapuche Indians passed the 100-day mark of a prison hunger strike by urging colleagues to 'continue to fight' for the recovery of their lands. 'Let's keep advancing, more united than ever to defend our rights to land and freedom,' Patricia Troncoso said in a letter".

  • El Nuevo Herald - "Venezuela's controversial President Hugo Chvez has revealed that he regularly consumes coca -- the source of cocaine -- raising questions about the legality of his actions. Chvez's comments on coca initially went almost unnoticed, coming amid a four-hour speech to the National Assembly".

  • BBC News - "Hundreds of protesters from Brazil's landless movement have invaded a farm owned by an alleged Colombian drug lord hours before it was to be auctioned. Police say 300 families took over the property owned by Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia in Rio Grande do Sul state. The ranch, said to be worth nearly $1m (500,000), was confiscated when he was arrested last August."

  • Globe and Mail - A $2-million truth commission will begin travelling around Nunavut today in an attempt to shed light on a dark chapter in Inuit history and also solve a long-standing mystery: Who killed thousands of their sled dogs? ... The Iqaluit-based association established the independent truth commission, which plans to interview more than 200 Inuit and non-Inuit in 13 eastern Arctic communities over the coming year. The commission... is investigating controversial federal government policies that affected the Inuit between the 1950s and 1980s."

  • Guardian - "When Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was sued by Monsanto for growing the firm's GM crops, which he claimed blew on to his land, the company's eventual victory in the Canadian supreme court was overshadowed by accusations of aggressive tactics and corporate bullying. Now, Schmeiser, of Bruno, Saskatchewan, is back to launch another slingshot at Monsanto, and this time he is suing the billion dollar business for 300 in his local small claims court. At stake, he says, is millions of pounds of compensation for those who have seen their land contaminated with GM material, and the rights of organic farmers and others to produce GM-free crops. Monsanto calls the case 'specific and local'."

Antarctica
  • AFP - "A powerful volcano erupted under the icesheet of West Antarctica around 2,000 years ago and it might still be active today, a finding that prompts questions about ice loss from the white continent... The explosive event -- rated "severe" to "cataclysmic" on an international scale of volcanic force -- punched a massive breach in the icesheet and spat out a plume some 12,000 metres (eight miles) into the sky". While volcanic heat may be the cause of some Antarctic ice melt, the scientists state warming ocean water is the primary factor.

By the numbers
  • Bush has 363 days left. 3,929 U.S. and 4,237 total coalition confirmed deaths in Iraq. Over $487,734,000,000 has been spent on the Iraq invasion and occupation. The U.S. federal debt is now over $9,196,074,000,000.

by Magnifico on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:37:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Sen. Barack Obama took the pulpit of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church here Sunday and drew a clear link between King's vision of an America free of segregation and racism and the central tenet of his own presidential campaign, a call for unity after years of partisan rancor and division... The Illinois Democrat spoke to more than 2,000 people in the large, modern sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, across the street from the original structure where King and his father preached."

this was a braver speech than this suggests. He drew a specific parallel between the racist prejudice & discrimination that the black community experience and the discrimination and prejudice experienced by gay people, especially at the hands of black churches. He called the black community out on their homophobia from a black church pulpit.

All of the damage from the cosseting up to the ex-gay community at his rally last year is officially healed.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:38:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OpEd

Eugene Robinson - What's Gotten Into Bill? - washingtonpost.com

Obama's candidacy not only threatens to obliterate the dream of a Clinton Restoration. It also fundamentally calls into question Bill Clinton's legacy by making it seem . . . not really such a big deal.

That, I believe, is the unforgivable insult. The Clintons picked up on this slight well before Obama made it explicit with his observation that Ronald Reagan had "changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not."

Let's take a moment to consider that remark. Whether it was advisable for Obama to play the role of presidential historian in the midst of a no-holds-barred contest for the Democratic nomination, it's hard to argue with what he said. I think Bill Clinton was a good president, at times very good. And I wouldn't have voted for Reagan if you'd held a gun to my head. But even I have to recognize that Reagan -- like Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union -- was a transformational figure, for better or worse.

[...]

Both Clintons have trouble hiding their annoyance at Obama's impertinence. Bill, especially, gives the impression that Obama has gotten under his skin. His frequent allegations of media bias in Obama's favor recall the everybody-against-us feeling of the impeachment drama, when the meaning of the word "is" had to be carefully parsed and the Clinton White House was under siege.

Obama hit back in an interview that aired Monday on "Good Morning America," saying the former president "has taken his advocacy on behalf of his wife to a level that I think is pretty troubling" and promising to "directly confront Bill Clinton when he's making statements that are not factually accurate."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As Abortion Rate Drops, Use of RU-486 Is on Rise - washingtonpost.com

Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision, a pill that has largely faded from the rancorous public debate over abortion has slowly and quietly begun to transform the experience of ending a pregnancy in the United States.

The French abortion pill RU-486, on the market since 2000, has become an increasingly common alternative, making abortion less clinical and more private. At a time when the overall number of abortions has been steadily declining, RU-486-induced abortions have been rising by 22 percent a year and now account for 14 percent of the total -- and more than one in five early abortions performed by the ninth week of pregnancy.

The pill, often called "miffy" after its chemical name mifepristone and brand name Mifeprex, also has helped slow the decline in abortion providers, as more physicians who previously did not perform the procedure discreetly start to prescribe the pill.

"The impact and the promise is huge," said Beth Jordan, medical director of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. "It's going a long way towards normalizing abortion.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Feeling Misled on Home Price, Buyers Are Suing Their Agent - New York Times

CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Marty Ummel feels she paid too much for her house. So do millions of other people who bought at the peak of the housing boom.

What makes Ms. Ummel different is that she is suing her agent, saying it was all his fault.

Ms. Ummel claims that the agent hid the information that similar homes in the neighborhood were selling for less because he feared she would back out and he would lose his $30,000 commission.

Real estate lawyers and brokers say the case, which goes to trial in North County Superior Court on Monday, is likely to be the first of many in which regretful or resentful buyers seek redress from the agents who found them a home and arranged its purchase.

[...]

Agents representing buyers rarely had the opportunity to make mistakes during the last real estate boom, in the late 1980s, because the job hardly existed then. For decades, residential transactions almost always involved brokers who, whatever assistance they gave the buyer, legally represented only the seller.

The long boom that began in the late 1990s put an end to that one-sided world. As prices spiked, buyer's agents and brokers became popular as sounding boards, advisers and negotiators. The National Association of Realtors estimates they are now involved in two-thirds of all residential purchases.

That makes this the first housing collapse in which large numbers of buyers had a real estate professional explicitly looking after their interests. The Ummel case poses the question: In a relationship built on trust, where promises are rarely written down and where -- as in this case -- there is no signed contract, what are the exact obligations of these representatives in guiding their clients through a sizzling market?

"Agents have a lot of fiduciary duties, but they don't make money unless they close the sale," said Joel Ruben, a real estate lawyer in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "In an inflated market, there are built-in temptations to cut corners."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:31:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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