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Saturday, July 09, 2005

 

AP: Commando said killed in Afghanistan

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - A purported Taliban spokesman said Saturday that the group has beheaded a missing American commando, but he offered no proof and the U.S. military said it was still searching for the Navy SEAL.

The commando is the last of a four-member elite commando team missing since June 28 in Kunar, near the Pakistani border.

"This morning in Shagal district in Kunar province, the Taliban killed the American soldier and cut his head off," Mullah Latif Hakimi, the purported spokesman, told The Associated Press in a telephone call. "We left the body on a mountainside in this area so Afghan or U.S. soldiers there can find it."

Hakimi repeatedly has said the rebels were holding the commando. But information from him in the past has frequently proven exaggerated or untrue, and his exact tie to the Taliban leadership cannot be independently verified.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said "the search for the commando continued."  (AP breaking news)

searchersUS soldiers, left, patrol the streets of Jalalabad. US forces have recovered the bodies of two commandos who were part of a special forces team missing since last week, the New York Times reported, citing a top Pentagon source. The dead soldiers were part of a four-men Navy Seal reconnaissance team that was reported missing after coming under hostile fire in a mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan, citing an unnamed senior Defense Department official.  (AFP/Akhter Khan)


 

AP: N. Korea to resume 6-party talks

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SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea's official news agency says Pyongyang has agreed to resume six-party nuclear talks in July.
 
Korean ministersSource:  AP-Herald Sun.
 
South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-young (R) toasts North Korean delegation head Choe Yong-gon (L) during a welcome dinner for the North Korean delegates in Seoul, July 9, 2005. A North Korea delegation arrived in Seoul on Saturday for trade talks opening channels of communication between the two Koreas in anticipation of a resumption of six-party talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear plan.
 
Source:  REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool.

 

NYT: NYC subway money held back

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In December 2002, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it had completed a lengthy assessment of potential threats to the city's transportation infrastructure, from subway lines to major bridges. The authority, which had begun the study in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, said it was committing nearly $600 million to improve the security of the sprawling transportation network.

But to date, two and a half years after that announcement and nearly four years after Sept. 11, only a small fraction - about $30 million as of March - has been spent, and nearly all of that on consultants and additional study.

Pataki & Bloomberg

NY Gov. George E. Pataki, shown left at lectern, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg talked about transportation security yesterday at Grand Central Terminal.

Yesterday, a day after a series of deadly subway and bus bombings in London, authority officials would divulge little about their security efforts, saying they were fearful the information could be misused. They did say, however, that by the end of this year they would have a plan to spend more than $300 million of the state and federal money they have available on eight projects - including strengthening a half-dozen transit facilities. But those projects may take several more years to complete.

The authority's delay has meant it has yet to put into place the kinds of straightforward, if expensive, improvements that transit agencies in other cities have undertaken. Washington and Boston, for instance, have employed sensors to detect the presence of biochemical agents in their subway systems. Houston's buses have closed-circuit television cameras that can transmit live information to the authorities. Atlanta's transit agency has upgraded its radios to allow it to communicate with those used by police and rescue workers.

Well before the London attacks, a range of city and state officials had begun to complain that the authority has been too slow to guard itself against potential terrorist threats.

Full NY Times story, "MTA Slow to Spend Money on Transit Security."


 

Slate-Papers: London digging - July 9

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By Jay Dixit, Posted Saturday, at 5:12 AM CT

The New York Times and Los Angeles Times lead with new details in the investigation of the London bombings. The Washington Post fronts bombing details but leads with the results of the G-8 summit.

Kings Cross tube stationInitial estimates put the London death toll at 37, but police have since revised the estimate to 49. Emergency crews struggled to get to the explosion site at King's Cross (entrance shown at right, with flowers) to extract the dead, but were impeded by a partly collapsed tunnel, heat, fumes, asbestos, and rats. One police officer told the Evening Standard, "I don't know what heaven looks like, but I have just seen hell."

Everyone agrees that the bombs were evidently left on the floors of the trains, going off 100 to 150 yards down the tracks from the stations, triggered either by timers or cell phones. The NYT points out that the attacks were more amateurish than Madrid's train bombings, and the death toll might have been far higher had they been carried out by experts. The four bombs were "crude" devices, each containing less than 10 pounds of high explosive, an amount small enough to fit in a backpack. (By comparison, the Madrid bombs, which killed 191, were about 22 pounds each.) Previous speculation that the bus explosion was the work of a suicide bomber seems to have given way to the theory that the bomber was merely incompetent, detonating the device by accident en route to the intended target. Witnesses said they saw an agitated young man rifling through his bag just before the blast.

The NYT reports that the "most active theory" is that the bombings were planned and executed by a U.K.-based sleeper cell, rather than terrorists who came to Britain to carry out the bombings. Everyone reports that police hope to get images of the bombers from surveillance footage.

The NYT notes that British leaders, including the police commissioner and the queen, urged resolve, evoking "Britain's bulldog wartime spirit, when Londoners grew accustomed to German bombing and confronted it with gritty humor." People laid flowers near the bombing sites and placed missing posters outside subway stations. Hundreds of extra police officers patrolled the streets, flags flew at half-mast, and commuters hesitated to enter the subways.

British sentiment increasingly blames the attacks on Tony Blair's support for Bush, the Iraq war, and the war on terror. British Muslims pledged their help in identifying the terrorists, but there were sporadic hate-motivated attacks against Muslims, including the firebombing of a mosque in Leeds and—nobody ever said hate criminals were the sharpest tools in the shed—an attack on a Sikh temple. The LAT notes that police patrolled outside British mosques to prevent further incidents.

Blair with other G8 leaders

The WP leads with and the NYT fronts the conclusion of the G-8 summit in Scotland, left, where leaders struck notes of optimism and defiance in the "shadow of terrorism." The meeting addressed poverty in Africa, global warming, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. The eight countries agreed to double their aid to Africa by 2010, but America's commitment merely involved a lumping together of moneys previously pledged. Still, the consensus is that the money will send a positive message to Africa. Meanwhile, President Bush blocked Blair's efforts to establish specific targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

The WP fronts and others stuff the news that Hurricane Dennis buffeted Cuba with 150-mph winds, killing 10 in Cuba and 5 in Haiti. The storm is now headed for Florida, where thousands of people have evacuated.

Cardinal SchonbornIn a fun piece of meta-reporting, the NYT fronts news about an op-ed it ran itself two days prior in which a leading cardinal [Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, shown at right] suggested that modern evolutionary theory is incompatible with Catholicism. The op-ed is significant because the Catholic Church has long been thought to have accepted evolution. But this cardinal thinks the Church's position has been "misrepresented," and implied that Pope Benedict was sympathetic to that view.

The WP fronts news that pro-business advocates [such as the US Chamber of Commerce] are preparing for a lobbying offensive aimed at convincing the White House to select a business-friendly nominee for the Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor was seen as a supporter of business interests, even though she was often liberal on social issues. The effort could split the Republican base, with business groups on one side and the religious right on the other. [Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, below left, is seen here with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on a recent visit.]

Tom Donohue with SchroederThe LAT fronts and the others stuff news that Roy E. Disney agreed to drop a lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company in exchange for being given the title of director emeritus.

Family Guy -- The NYT reports on the upcoming Godfather video game, in which the player, controlling one of the minor characters from the movies, has to "join the family; earn respect; become the Godfather." The game revisits familiar scenes, such as the one in which a film mogul wakes up to discover an au jus horse's head as his bedfellow. The difference is that this time, it's from a henchman's perspective, and "maybe the player helps with the horse." Game developers emphasize that "killing opponents is only sometimes the path to maximizing respect," since, after all, "You can't extort a dead man."

Jay Dixit is a writer in New York. He has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone.

Source: Slate Magazine's Today's Papers Column, "Notes from the Underground."

Friday, July 08, 2005

 

AP: Bush mum on court prospects but seeks input from senators

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush, shown below right leaving a condolence wreath at the British embassy, reviewed potential candidates for the Supreme Court as he flew home Friday on Air Force One from the terrorism-interrupted summit of world leaders in Scotland, and as the day passed with no word on Chief Justice William Rehnquist's rumored retirement.

Bush with wreathOn the return flight from Scotland, Bush discussed possible court nominees with White House Chief of Staff Andy Card. The president had pored over court material on his flight to Europe on Tuesday. The White House did not reveal who was on the list to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

On Tuesday, Bush is to meet at the White House with Senate leaders, Democrats as well as Republicans, to discuss the court vacancy. The group is to include Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on that panel, seen below left.  Leahy was in a press conference on Justice O'Connor's retirement last week when he was interrupted by a call from the president.

LeahyMcClellan said Bush's staff also was making consultative calls with senators.

McClellan declined to say whether Bush had talked with any of the candidates, saying he would not disclose details of the selection process.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., below right, said he was contacted Friday by White House Counsel Harriet Miers, who sought his opinion on a replacement for O'Connor.

Senator Kent ConradConrad said he told Miers he would support Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for the post, if he is nominated. He also said he suggested the president nominate Kermit Bye, a North Dakota native who sits on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Bye's nomination would likely not have the support of conservatives. On Friday, the 8th Circuit, in an opinion he wrote, ruled that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is unconstitutional because it makes no exception for the health of the woman.

Card has contacted several other Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles Schumer of New York.

Full AP breaking news article, "Bush Discusses Court Candidates on Return Trip From Europe,"


 

AP: Italy withdrawing from Iraq

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) - Italy plans to begin withdrawing some of its troops from Iraq in September, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Friday.
 
BerlusconiSpeaking at the end of the G-8 summit, Berlusconi, right, said the withdrawal plans could change because they depend on security conditions on the ground and denied it was linked to any terrorist threats against Italy.

"We will begin withdrawing 300 of Italy's 3,000 men in the month of September," said Berlusconi, who has come under increasing pressure in Italy over his support for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Full breaking AP News story.


 

AP: Reid won't rule out filibuster

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By SANDRA CHEREB
ASSOCIATED PRESS

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Sen. Harry Reid, below left, said Thursday he hopes to avoid prolonged political battle over a Supreme Court nominee and is encouraged by President Bush's efforts to reach out to Democrats for advice.

ReidBut the Senate Democratic leader said the nature of the confirmation proceedings ultimately will depend on whether Bush taps a "mainstream conservative" or someone further to the right of the political spectrum to fill the high court vacancy.

"The president has started a consultive process," Reid said in an interview Thursday.  "Constitutionally that's the right thing to do. I appreciate his having done this," he told The Associated Press.

"As to whether or not there's a knockdown, drag-out fight on this is up to the president," Reid said before giving a keynote address at a Reno conference on aging.  "I think we're headed in the right direction," he said, stopping short of ruling out a filibuster.

Full AP story in the Las Vegas Sun.


 

CNN: Arabs & Muslims fear backlash

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story.indonesia.ap.jpg
A man reads a newspaper, left, with the headline "London bomb" in Jakarta, Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
 
(CNN) -- Arabs and Muslims in Britain and across the world expressed outrage at the terrorist attacks in London, with the dominant viewpoint summed up by one person who wrote on a Web site, "Enough ... enough."

Full CNN story.


 

AP: Iraq urges diplomats not to leave

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Kubba with parliament member
Emma Nicholson, a member of the European Parliament (right) sits with Laith Kubba, left, the spokesman for Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, yesterday.   REUTERS/Karim Kadim/Pool.
 
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq urged the world's nations Friday to stand up to "blackmail" and keep their diplomatic missions in the country despite a claim by an al-Qaida wing that it killed Egypt's top envoy.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in a Web posting that it had killed the Egyptian diplomat, Ihab al-Sherif, and warned it would go after "as many ambassadors as we can" to punish countries that support Iraq's U.S.-backed leadership.

Saad Mohammed Ridha, the head of Iraq's diplomatic mission in Cairo, told The Associated Press that Egypt's foreign ministry informed him late Thursday that the mission would close temporarily and the staff was recalled.

An Egyptian official in Cairo also said Egypt would temporarily close its mission in Iraq and has recalled its staff - although there was no sign Friday that any of the Egyptians were leaving.

Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kubba said he hadn't been informed that Egypt intended to recall its diplomats, but urged other countries not to be intimidated.

"If the rest of the diplomatic missions from Europe and the neighboring countries give in, this means that all the capitals of the world will be subjected to blackmail," Kubba said Friday.

Full AP story.


 

ChiTrib: High court fight threatens to derail Bush's agenda

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Court protestorProtestors of all stripes have appeared in front of the Supreme Court building, shown at left.
 
By Jill Zuckman, Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- President Bush finally has an opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court more to his liking after almost five years in office, given the departure of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the possible retirement of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

But Bush's reward may come at a big cost, as his second-term legislative agenda, already facing major obstacles, is likely to founder while the Senate focuses on one or two furious confirmation battles.

"Legislators have a limited attention span," said Darrell West, a Brown University political scientist. "They can deal with one big issue at a time, and the court battle is going to be so ferocious it's going to suck all the oxygen out of the system. There's not going to be room for discussion of anything else."

One of the first casualties may be Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security--his top domestic priority. Despite six months of coast-to-coast campaigning by the president, his proposal has been met with unease by Republicans and with low approval ratings from the public.

Similarly, immigration reform, another pet issue for the president, is unlikely to emerge out of the Supreme Court thicket, partly because Republicans are split over how to address the issue. One faction is eager to liberalize the system to bring in people willing to take low-wage jobs, a position Bush supports, while the other side wants to crack down on illegal immigrants in the name of national security.

O'Connor's retirement comes at a time of deep distrust between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, with each side accusing the other of acting in bad faith and for purely partisan purposes. Depending on whom Bush nominates, the rancor could get worse.

 

Novak: Rehnquist to quit today

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© 2005 WorldNetDaily.com
RehnquistU.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, right, will announce his retirement before the end of the week, according to court sources cited by columnist Robert Novak.

In his column, Novak said a Rehnquist retirement would enable President Bush to nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales despite fierce opposition from the president's own political base.

The thinking is that with two openings, Bush could "name one justice no less conservative than Rehnquist, and name Gonzales, whose past record suggests he would replicate retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on abortion and possibly other social issues. Thus, the present ideological orientation of the court would be unchanged, which would suit the left just fine."

Novak commented that "Gonzales would not exactly be another O'Connor, but he is still considered a disaster by Republican conservatives. He also is the best Democrats can hope for."

Full World Net Daily article.


 

WashPost: Bush's judges as governor

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Today's Washington Post has an interesting article on the types of judicial appointments George W. Bush made while Texas governor.  It says there was no focus on ideology other than that the candidates would be good judges in interpreting the law rather than pushing an ideological bent.  It claims that he brought more of a centrist balance to his appointments than had been the case previously.  It argues that Bush's commitment to appointing right-wing bound judges came only in 2000 as he was seeking the presidency.
 
Full Washington Post article, "Pragmatism Drove Bush In Texas Judicial Choices," By Lois Romano, Staff Writer, Friday, July 8, Page A04.

 

AFP: DC subway security

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Transportation securityOfficer B. Hanna of the Washington, DC, Metro Special Response Team patrols the cars of the Washington, DC, area subway.
 
Washington security increased following attacks in London.
 
(AFP/Paul J. Richards)
 

 

AFP: G8 security tight

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Police officers, below right, observe the area near the Gleneagles hotel during the G8 Summit in Scotland.
 
Gleneagles police
Group of Eight leaders will try to put the horror of the London terrorist attacks behind them as they wrap up a three-day summit with long-awaited statements on combatting poverty in Africa and global warming.
 
(AFP/DDP/Michael Kappeler)

 

Slate-Papers: Behind the Bombings - July 8

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By Eric Umansky
Posted Friday, 3:59 AM CT

Everybody leads with--indeed most banner--the bombings in London, which killed 38 and seriously wounded roughly 50. About another 600 people were treated for minor injuries such as cuts, bruises, and smoke inhalation (With the Los Angeles Times and New York Times leading the way, the papers clump all the casualties together, leaving readers open to the wrong impression.)

double-decker bus destroyedThe four bombs were spread out over about 50 minutes, with the last one hitting a double-decker bus (shown at left) at 9:47 am. Authorities first attributed reports of trouble on the Underground to a power surge. That changed within minutes as the casualties mounted. One of the bombs was strong enough to blow a hole through a wall, damaging subways on the other side. Camera and video phones caught the first images of the aftermath.

"The terrorists are intent on destroying human lives," said Prime Minister Blair. "We shall prevail, they shall not." Blair flew to London yesterday but planned to return to Scotland to continue with the G-8 business.

A never-heard-of-before jihadi group claimed responsibility for the attacks. The web posting also warned Denmark and Italy that they're next unless they get out of Iraq. The claim is obviously uncorroborated but as Britain's foreign secretary said, the timed strikes have a "hallmarks of an al-Qaida-related attack." As one former Spanish security official told the Washington Post, the similarities to last year's Madrid bombings "are striking." They were both tightly choreographed, hit public transportation, and were timed around a big political event (in the case of Spain, national elections).

The NYT highlights--and LAT mentions--what might be the first tidbit from the investigation: Police purportedly said the bombs were triggered by timers not suicide attackers and not by cellphones (as the ones in Madrid were). "I do have information that timing devices appear to have been used," one U.S. intel official told the LAT. Neither paper gives a sense of the potential import of the timer angle. The London Underground, which the NYT says is the world's busiest subway system, is also chock-full of surveillance cameras, which investigators are obviously now poring over.

The Wall Street Journal mentions that police are poking around for info about Mohamed Guerbouzi, a Moroccan militant thought to be connected to the Madrid and Casablanca bombings. The Journal then says this, "He has been living in Britain for about a decade, the police official said." The WSJ doesn't linger on that point but a report last year by a well-regarded counter-terrorism think tank said Britain's asylum laws are notoriously lax and have provided refuge to many jihadi types. A LAT piece about Muslim immigrants in London and a potential backlash also raises the issue.

British officials had long been concerned about the possibility of a strike, hence emergency workers' well-oiled response. But there had been no warning of the attacks. Indeed, as the NYT emphasizes, early last month Britain's domestic intel service lowered its terror threat index.

ChertoffEverybody notes homeland security chief Michael Chertoff, right, went to orange for mass transit networks. He said the U.S. has "no specific, credible information suggesting an imminent attack" but is simply "concerned about the possibility of a copycat attack." Spain, France, and Mexico, among others, also raised their alert levels. Slate's Fred Kaplan said that what the feds really should do is stop being so darn stingy when it comes to funding security for trains and subways. (Here's a rundown of Slate's coverage of the attacks.)

As a Page One Post piece emphasizes, to wonder whether "al-Qaida" is responsible is, basically, to misunderstand the threat. "I do not really believe there is such a thing as al-Qaida, the organization; there is al-Qaida, the mindset," one analyst told the Post. One likely upshot, as a former CIA officer put it a prescient PowerPoint presentation a few months ago: "No more 9/11, but lots of 3/11, especially in Europe."

The scene of one of the Madrid bombings.[3/11 refers to the fact that the Madrid bombings, shown at left, occurred on 3/11/04.]

The LAT says the debate among analysts isn't whether or not al-Qaida is responsible, it's whether the attackers were home-schooled or graduates of Zarqawi's courses in Iraq.

A WSJ science column looks at the limitations of bomb detection technology. It's not just that the technology isn't solid yet, it's that even if it were perfect it might not be that effective at lowering casualties. (TP is a bit skeptical of the column's take; but judge it yourself.)

Ihab al-SharifThe WP and NYT front the apparent execution of the top Egyptian diplomat in Iraq. (Ihab al-Sharif, right). Insurgents posted a video showing him in captivity. A voiceover said, "Oh enemy of God, Ihab al-Sharif, this is your punishment in this life, and you will be condemned to hell in the hereafter." His murder wasn't shown but Egypt confirmed it. The Post also notices up high that Iraq's defense minister announced that another country besides the U.S. will finally help train Iraq's army: Iran. The Financial Times has the most details on the nascent deal, which will reportedly also include $1 billion in Iranian aid.

In other Iraq news, 13 people were killed by two car bombs outside a car dealership south of Baghdad. The second one was timed to hit as rescue workers arrived. And for the third time in three weeks, insurgents blew up a main water pipeline to Baghdad, cutting off half the city's supply. Finally, Egypt seems to have gotten the message. It appears to be withdrawing its diplomatic staff.

Londonistan ... Writing an op-ed in the NYT, jihadism expert Peter Bergen notes that a number of recent suicide bombers across the world have been British. His explanation:

Many British Muslims are young and poorly integrated into society and therefore vulnerable to extremism. The unemployment rate among British Muslims runs almost 10 percentage points above the national average of about 5 percent. In the case of 16- to 24-year-old Muslim men, the unemployment rate is 22 percent.

Not surprisingly, polls of British Muslims show a considerable sense of anger. [A] poll conducted last year, under the auspices of the Guardian newspaper, found a surprising 13 percent who said that further attacks by Al Qaeda or a similar organization on the United States would be justified. Last year a British government report estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 British Muslims are supporters of Al Qaeda or related groups. For this reason, and because of Britain's relatively permissive asylum laws, Arab militants living in London sometimes jokingly refer to their hometown as Londonistan.

[...]

Here's the problem for the United States: Under our Visa Waiver Program, residents of Londonistan who hold a valid British passport can board a plane for the United States without an interview by an American consular official...

As declining populations in Europe are replaced in part by rising Muslim emigration from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, economic resentment and sectarian strife seem likely to grow. Tinkering with visa regulations might help, but it is unlikely to change the reality that Islamic militant groups in Britain, as in several other major European countries, represent a growing threat to the United States that will continue for many years to come.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine's "Today's Papers" column.


 

NYT: Timers, not suicide, set bombs; Qaeda cause unsure - July 8

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Londoners on busLondoners returned to work Friday morning as bus and subway service resumed, left.
 
Published: July 8, 2005

LONDON - Investigators searching for clues in the attacks here said Thursday that the three bombs used in the subway apparently were detonated by timers, not suicide bombers, and that a fourth device may have been intended for a target other than the city bus that it destroyed.

Senior police officials said they had not received a message claiming responsibility for the attacks from any group, and had made no arrests. But officials immediately drew parallels between the London bombings and the ones that struck commuter trains in Madrid 16 months ago, which were carried out by a Qaeda-inspired cell.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the explosions bore "the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda-related attack," but police officials stopped short of assigning any blame to a particular group.

A group calling itself the Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe announced on a Web site that it was responsible for the bombings. The announcement also threatened Italy and Denmark, which have provided troops to the American-led coalition fighting in Iraq.

The authenticity of the message could not be confirmed, and several experts said they strongly doubted that it was authentic.

Counterterrorism officials in London said they were still trying to determine the type of explosives that were used. One official speculated that the No. 30 bus whose roof was blown off at 9:47 a.m. in Bloomsbury was demolished accidentally by a suicide bomber. But another theory gaining momentum was that the bomb exploded prematurely as a bomber was carrying it to an intended target, several American and British counterterrorism officials said.

Full NY Times article.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

 

AP: World leaders back Blair on terrorism

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By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer - 34 minutes ago

GLENEAGLES, Scotland - British Prime Minister Tony Blair, surrounded by world leaders, below right, speaks about the explosions which rocked London on Thursday killing several people at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland July 7, 2005.

Blair & world leadersLeaders of the world's most powerful countries united on Thursday to condemn a wave of 'barbaric' attacks in London and vowed to defeat terrorism, Blair said on Thursday.  Photo by Pool/Reuters.
 
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said deadly explosions in London would not halt an annual summit and said the terrorists responsible would be defeated.

"We will not allow violence to change our societies or our values nor will we allow it to stop the work of this summit," Blair said in a statement on behalf of the Group of Eight leaders and the heads of five developing nations meeting here. "We will continue our deliberations in the interest of a better world."

Earlier, Blair termed the blasts terrorist attacks and said it was reasonably clear they were "designed and aimed to coincide" with the meeting.

"We are united in our resolve to confront and defeat this terrorism that is not an attack on one nation but on all nations and on civilized people everywhere," the world leaders said in their joint statement.

Blair read the statement as President Bush and the other G-8 leaders stood somberly behind him. They were joined by the leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, who met with the G-8 on Thursday to discuss ways to combat global warming.

Blair then rushed from the summit to return to London for briefings on the attacks.

Minutes later, Bush told reporters that Blair was carrying with him "a message of solidarity" from his fellow world leaders — all jointly resolved, he said, to defeat terrorism.

"The contrast couldn't be clearer between the intentions and the hearts of those of us who care deeply about human rights and human liberty, and those who kill, those who've got such evil in their heart that they will take the lives of innocent folks," Bush said. "The war on terror goes on. ... We will not yield to these people."

Blair planned to return to Gleneagles for the summit's final day of talks on Friday. And the other leaders — already protected by extraordinary security measures that local authorities said were sufficient for now — planned to proceed Thursday in Blair's absence with discussions on the issues of global warming and African poverty that the British leader has made the centerpiece of the gathering.

"All of our countries have suffered from the impact of terrorism," the leaders said. "We shall prevail and they shall not."

At least six blasts rocked the London subway and tore open at least one packed double-decker bus in nearly simultaneous explosions during Thursday's morning rush hour. Deaths and injuries mounted and officials shut down the entire underground transport network.

The explosions came as Bush and Blair were meeting over breakfast and answering questions from reporters.

"It's particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the long-term problems of climate change and the environment," Blair told reporters.

G-8 leaders took a long break in their morning opening session so they could get individual briefings on developments.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president received frequent updates from Chief of Staff Andrew Card and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Bush had no plans to return to Washington early, McClellan said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Blair leaves, summit continues

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By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer 7 minutes ago

GLENEAGLES, Scotland - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said deadly explosions in London were the work of terrorists "designed and aimed to coincide" with a summit of world leaders.

Blair said he was leaving the summit for the day to return to London, while the other leaders continued the meeting.

"Each of the countries around that table has some experience of the effects of terrorism and all the leaders, as they will indicate a little bit later, share our resolution to defeat this terrorism," a shaken Blair said in a brief statement to reporters.

This year's summit of the G-8 countries -- the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia -- was being held at an exclusive 850-acre golf resort under the kind of heavy security that has been the norm at these gatherings since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

There was no immediate word on who was responsible.

Blair with Bush

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said President Bush (seen here with Blair) had been briefed, but offered no other details. Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur said that Bush had agents monitoring the situation in London, but that the investigation was being left to British authorities.

Liz Kirkham, spokeswoman for Tayside Police Force, which covers the Gleneagles area, said no additional security precautions were being taken at the summit as a result of the blasts, as substantial measures had already been put in place.

"Whatever they do it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and other civilized nations throughout the world," Blair said.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP-Reuters: Blair chairs first meeting, leaves for London

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G8 leadersBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair, center rear, chairs the first round table meeting during the G8 summit at the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland, Thursday, July 7, 2005. Leaders are clockwise from center rear, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Canada's Prime Minister Paul Martin, Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, U.S President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Blair said he planned to leave the G8 summit shortly, following the London attacks. (Reuters)

 

Slate-Papers: Karl Marked - July 7

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By Eric Umansky
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005, at 5:29 AM CT

The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times lead with President Bush suggesting Christian conservatives quit their campaign against the possible nomination of Attorney General Gonzales to the Supreme Court. "All of a sudden this fellow, who is a good public servant and a fine person, is under fire," said the president. "Do I like it? No, I don't like it--at all." The New York Times leads with a judge sending the Times' Judith Miller to jail for refusing to talk about her source in the outing of a CIA agent. Time's Matthew Cooper got off the hook when, in a surprise, he said yesterday morning his source finally gave him the OK to talk. USA Today leads with a record number of apartments going condo.

"I have a person in front of me," said the judge in yesterday's hearing, "who is defying the law." At that, two federal marshals came in and took Miller to D.C.'s Alexandria Detention Center, a modern, relatively quiet jail that currently houses one Zacarias Moussaoui.

RoveThe NYT's lead buries its juiciest nugget: Citing, that's right, an unnamed source--"a person who has been officially briefed on the case"--the NYT's 24th paragraph says that when Cooper revealed yesterday that his source has now freed him to talk, he was "referring to Mr. Rove." (seen at left) The Times says the deal came as a result of a confab between Cooper's lawyers and Rove's.

The LAT and Post both quote Rove's lawyer saying his client didn't call Cooper yesterday. Except--pace the NYT's account--Rover doesn't have to have personally called. Presumably lawyers could have passed on the message. The LAT seems to pick up on that wiggle room, flagging the, shall we say, exactitude of the lawyer's quote; the Post doesn't.

Also, a note of caution: With so few details known about the case--since the grand jury is operating behind closed doors--even if Rove was Cooper's source, that doesn't necessarily mean Rove was the one who originally leaked the CIA agent's name.

The NYT opines on the case with a mammoth editorial, describing Miller's heading off to the slammer as a "proud but awful moment for The New York Times and its employees." Meanwhile, the LAT and WP both have helpful Q&As.

GonzalesA WP Page One "news analysis" notes that the possible nomination of Gonzales, right, has set the stage for a "fierce battle" between religious conservatives and the Latino community. The Post paints that as a quandary for the president. Except it isn't really much of one. As the WP itself notes, the president could nominate Judge Emilio Garza, a conservative and plenty Hispanic.

The NYT off-leads London winning the 2012 Olympic bid, in a squeaker. London beat out the other finalist, Paris, by just 54 to 50, the closest such vote in recent history. Apparently, one of the key reasons London won: Prime Minister Tony Blair, was something of an uber-lobbyist. Also when New York was knocked [out], the votes for it swung to the Brits.

Though it doesn't seem to get a headline, dual bombings in the Iraqi town of Hilla killed a dozen people. Militants also threatened to execute the top Egyptian diplomat who was kidnapped over the weekend. And the NYT mentions that GIs appear to have shot up an Iraqi police car, wounding one of the officers.

Following the LAT and others, the NYT reports on Page One that the southern town of Basra is becoming "a mini-theocracy under Shiite rule." The Times says the trend has picked up pace since the January elections.

The Post goes inside with top scientists warning that global warming is killing off polar bears. "They don't have time to evolve backwards," said one researcher.

Back to the jailing... The NYT offers up a Judy Miller (seen below left) profile-cum-hagiography:

MillerMs. Miller's polarizing personality ... may also have led some to make her a symbol of the press' faulty reporting on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Ms. Miller was not alone in writing about the intelligence community's belief that Iraq possessed an impressive and frightening arsenal of such weapons.

"Why is it that Judith Miller somehow became the embodiment of all those failures is something that is simply unfathomable to me," said David Barstow, a friend and colleague at The Times.

TP respects Miller's decision to stay mum. But it also respects honesty. So no, Miller was not alone in offering up credulous, thinly-sourced, pre-war coverage. But nor was the shellacking she got exactly unfathomable or even unfair. For one thing, of the 12 Times stories cited by the paper's WMD mea culpa, Miller wrote or co-wrote 10 of them.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate.

Source: Slate Magazine.

 

AP: Deaths in London blasts

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LONDON: Several fatalities were reported after multiple explosions rocked central London on Thursday, bringing the entire underground network to a standstill.

Tube passengersInjured tube passengers, right, are escorted away from Edgware Road Tube Station in London following an explosion. (AP Photo)


In central London, an explosion ripped through a bus just minutes after an earlier blast rocked the underground.

"We are at Tavistock place and we have had a bus explode just outside the building," said an official for the London Transport Police, adding that his offices were close to Russell Square.

A second explosion was later heard at Tavistock Square.

Citing unconfirmed reports, LBC News radio said seven people were killed in the blast at London's Aldgate underground station.

Full Channel News story.

 

AFP: Blasts shut London transport down - July 7

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London injured
Injured tube passengers are escorted away from Edgware Road Tube Station in London following an explosion, Thursday July 7, 2005.
 
An explosion destroyed a double-decker bus in central London during rush hour Thursday, police said. Two other blasts also went off in other buses, reports said. The explosion near Russell Square occurred not long after blasts on London subways earlier Thursday, police said. Dow Jones Newswires reported that police confirmed explosions on at least two others buses. One of the buses exploded near Russell Square, police said. A witness said the entire top deck of that bus was destroyed. (AP Photo/ Jane Mingay)
 
LONDON (AFP) - An explosion ripped through a bus in the centre of London just minutes after a blast rocked the underground, bringing the entire network to a standstill.  Full AFP-Yahoo story.

 

NYT: Miller acts in conscience - July 7

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Miller at courtBefore being taken into custody by three court officers yesterday, Times reporter Judith Miller, right, said she could not in good conscience violate promises to her sources. "If journalists cannot be trusted to guarantee confidentiality," she told U.S. Judge Thomas F. Hogan, "then journalists cannot function and there cannot be a free press."

The prosecutor's efforts produced the most serious confrontation between the government and the press since the Pentagon Papers case in 1971.

After listening to Ms. Miller, the judge ordered her sent to "a suitable jail within the metropolitan area of the District of Columbia" until she decided to talk or until the term of the grand jury expired in October.

"I have a person in front of me," Judge Hogan said, "who is defying the law."

Ms. Miller appeared shaken and scared as she left the courtroom. Miller, who conducted interviews but never wrote an article about the C.I.A. operative, joins a line of journalists who have accepted jail time rather than betray their sources' confidences. That tradition, according to Judge Hogan, does not deserve respect.

"That's the child saying: 'I'm still going to take that chocolate chip cookie and eat it. I don't care,' " the judge said.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, disagreed.

"The law presented Judy with the choice between betraying a trust to a confidential source or going to jail," Mr. Keller said after the hearing. "The choice she made is a brave and principled choice, and it reflects a valuing of individual conscience that has been part of this country's tradition since its founding."

Full NY Times story.


 

CNN: Brothers' lawyer blasts Holloway's mom

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Natalee & momORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- Natalee Holloway, left, appears with her mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, on graduation day in May.

Aruba prosecutors appeal judge's decision to release brothers

Wednesday, July 6, 2005; Posted: 10:56 p.m. EDT
 
A lawyer for one of the brothers released from an Aruban jail in the case of missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway threatened legal action Wednesday over slanderous comments by the missing student's mother.

Earlier Wednesday, Aruba's Public Prosecutor's Office issued a statement saying it has appealed a judge's decision to free the Kalpoe brothers. The office did not explain its reasons for the appeal.

Prosecutors said they also have appealed the judge's decision to allow jailed suspect Joran Van Der Sloot's lawyers to sit in on police interrogations.

Vinda Desousa, an attorney for the Van Der Sloot family, said Wednesday the teenager is appealing his continued detention.

A three-judge panel will hear the appeal and could either side with him, confirm the previous judgment or suspend the detention decision with conditions.

No date has been announced for the hearing.

On Wednesday, three Dutch F-16 jets equipped with lasers and special cameras joined the search for Holloway. Several military personnel accompanied the F-16s, including specialists who will analyze pictures taken from the planes.

The Kalpoe brothers have told police they dropped Holloway and Van Der Sloot off at a beach north of a Marriott hotel after they left the nightclub.

Full CNN story.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

E&P: Miller jailed with Moussaoui

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MillerNEW YORK When the judge sentenced New York Times' reporter Judith Miller, right, to jail Wednesday afternoon, he did not say where it would be, but E&P soon learned that it would be just outside Washington, D.C. Later, she was seen entering the Alexandria (Va.) Detention Center.

Judith Miller's new home in Alexandria is known as a "New Generation" Jail--but accused terrorist Moussaoui is a fellow inmate. 
 
According to the Web site of the city's sheriff's department, the Center's management is based upon "New Generation" jail philosophy, which it describes as "a more modern and humane approach over traditional linear-style institution. New Generation philosophy is a combination of management style and architectural design which facilitates increased staff and inmates contact and works to reduce tension and improve security within the correctional setting."  Full Editor & Publisher story.

 

Drudge: Schumer plans war over nominee

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SchumerSenate Judiciary Committee member Chuck Schumer, left, got busy plotting away on the cellphone aboard a Washington, DC-New York Amtrak -- plotting Democrat strategy for the upcoming Supreme Court battle.

Schumer promised a fight over whoever the President's nominee was: "It's not about an individual judge ... It's about how it affects the overall makeup of the court."

The chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was overheard on a long cellphone conversation with an unknown political ally, and the DRUDGE REPORT was there!

Schumer proudly declared: "We are contemplating how we are going to go to war over this."

Schumer went on to say how hard it was to predict how a Supreme Court justice would turn out: "Even William Rehnquist is more moderate than they expected. The only ones that resulted how they predicted were [Antonin] Scalia and [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg. So most of the time they've gotten their picks wrong, and that's what we want to do to them again."

Schumer later went on to mock the "Gang of 14" judicial filibuster deal and said it wasn't relevant in the Supreme Court debate.

"A Priscilla Owen or Janice Rogers Brown style appointment may not have been extraordinary to the appellate court but may be extraordinary to the Supreme Court."

By the time the train hit New Jersey, Schumer shifted gears and called his friend and "Gang of 14" member, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The two talked in a very friendly manner about doing an event sometime this week together.


Source: Drudge Report.

 

AFP: CWA union supports Miller

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CWA protestors
Communications Workers of America (CWA) protest outside Federal Court in Washington, DC.

A judge sent New York Times reporter Judith Miller to prison this afternoon for refusing to divulge the name of a source to a grand jury probing the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA agent.

(AFP/Paul J. Richards)

 

CNN: Cooper off hook, Miller on

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Cooper & Miller

A federal judge ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller, right, jailed for contempt of court Wednesday for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's name. Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, left, who also faced jail time, was spared confinement after agreeing to testify.  Source:  CNN/Law.

 


 

AP: Judge gives reasoning for jailing

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Washington, 4 minutes ago --

"There is still a realistic possibility that confinement might cause her to testify," U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said, in announcing his jailing of Judith Miller of the New York Times.

Miller stood up, hugged her lawyer and was escorted from the courtroom.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Miller jailed

.

1 minute ago

WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Wednesday ordered New York Times reporter Judith Miller jailed for refusing to divulge her source to a grand jury investigating the Bush administration's leak of an undercover CIA operative's name.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


 

AP: Miller faces judge

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Miller goes to court
New York Times journalist Judith Miller, left, arrives at Federal Court in Washington Wednesday July 6, 2005. Miller faces jail for contempt of court for refusing to divulge her sources who identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.
 
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
 

The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald responded to Miller's continued refusal to name her source by saying that "we can't have 50,000 journalists" each making their own decision about whether to reveal sources.

"We cannot tolerate that," he said. "We are trying to get to the bottom of whether a crime was committed and by whom."

Miller attorney Robert Bennett said that prosecutors traditionally have shown great respect for journalists and "have had the good judgment not to push these cases very often."

"The interests of justice are often served with a bit of humility and respect for people in the position Judy Miller is in and with a heavy dose of compassion and understanding," Bennett said.

Full AP story.


 

CBS: Cooper released from pledge

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Cooper & wife(AP) Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper (right, with his wife) agreed Wednesday to testify about his sources in a government leak of a CIA agent's identity, a dramatic about-face that came as he and another reporter faced a possible jail sentence.

"I am prepared to testify. I will comply" with the court's order, Cooper told U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. He said he'd just received a direct personal communication from his source, freeing him from his commitment to keep the person's identity a secret.
Full CBS News story.

 

Hartmann: Media Ignore Possible "Fascist" Play

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by Thom Hartmann
 
The Bush administration is spectacularly good at sleight-of-hand tricks, directing public attention in one direction while they're working diligently in another. The latest trial balloon of "probable" Supreme Court nominees is no exception.

While everybody is worried about abortion rights and corporate power, a far more insidious agenda may be at play.

Anti-abortion forces and women's rights groups alike are up in arms about the possibility that the next nominee may or may not have an opinion about the Court's interpretation of the Fourth Amendment (and others) in Roe v. Wade. This battle is being loudly played out in the mainstream corporate media, with every analysis and question ultimately turning back to Roe.  Because Alberto Gonzales isn't on the record with regard to abortion rights, both sides are wary of him.

At the same time, corporatist "conservatives" are salivating at the opportunity to pack the Court with judges who will further erode the rights of communities and increase the power of multinational corporations and the super-rich in America. On June 28, 2005 The Wall Street Journal ran a major story ("For a High Court Nomination, Business Has Its Own Agenda") on how corporate Republicans may be at odds with "social" Republicans, because the latter generally endorse states' rights. Corporatists prefer a strong federal government where all politicians can be bought centrally in Washington, DC, and federal rules and agencies can be used to back down states that may want clean air or water.

Because Alberto Gonzales has a very limited record in ruling or writing on corporate rights and powers, the corporatists are not as enthusiastic about him as they are about others.

What nobody seems to be noticing, though, is what may well be the real agenda of George W. Bush and those around him - neo-fascism.

For this agenda, Alberto Gonzales is the perfect man.

Full Hartmann article in Baltimore Chronicle.  Hartmann's article goes on to review Gonzales's disturbing record.


 

USAT: Gonzales faces flack from right & left

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Social conservatives who have said they would oppose or withhold support from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a Supreme Court nominee stuck to their positions Tuesday, despite President Bush's displeasure with the criticism of his "great friend."
 
Gonzales being sworn in as AG by O'ConnorAlberto Gonzales & his wife, left, are shown at his swearing in as Attorney General by Justice O'Connor in February.
 
A leading activist on the left, Ralph Neas of People for the American Way, said the misgivings about Gonzales among some conservatives prove "that the solid religious right ... believes George W. Bush promised them a Supreme Court to their liking. They believe certain people are not conservative enough and not right-wing enough."

Conservative Paul Weyrich, of the Free Market Foundation, describes his motivations differently. "I'm trying to be helpful" to Bush, he said. "I've said that if he nominates (Gonzales) he's going to have a problem with our side as well as the left."

Liberals would oppose Gonzales, Weyrich predicts, because as White House counsel he crafted a memo that some Senate Democrats have suggested helped lead to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gonzales was questioned about the memo extensively during Senate confirmation hearings before he became attorney general. He was approved for that post on a 60-36 vote in the Senate.

Full USA Today story.


 

AP-Bush: no litmus tests

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Bush & RasmussenU.S. President George W. Bush, left, and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen speak during a joint news conference at Marienborg, Rasmussen's summer home, in Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, Wednesday, July 6, 2005.
 
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
 
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - President Bush, during his stop in Denmark before heading to the G-8 summit, said Wednesday he will not select a Supreme Court nominee based on his or her views on abortion or other hot-button political issues.

Full AP story.


 

Uproar over abortion

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Roe protestors
Members of Planned Parenthood protest in front of the Supreme Court after Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court and a swing vote on abortion, announced her retirement.
 
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Joe Raedle)
 
President Bush said Monday that special-interest groups running TV ads and mobilizing supporters for a fight over his choice of a successor to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor should "tone down the heated rhetoric." He forcefully defended Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a prospect criticized by conservatives.
 
Full USA Today story.
 
It seems unlikely that replacing O'Connor with a stalwart anti-abortion justice would spell the end of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion. O'Connor voted with a 6-3 majority in the last clear test of that ruling, so shifting one vote is not likely to make a difference at the court.

Full Knight Ridder story.


 

Slate-Papers: Dangerous Diplomacy - July 6

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By Eric Umansky
Posted Wednesday, at 5:18 AM CT

The Los Angeles Times and New York Times lead with insurgents, in separate attacks, ambushing Pakistan's top envoy and Bahrain's chief diplomat in Iraq. The Bahraini envoy was wounded and the Pakistani diplomat was immediately shipped off to safety in Jordan. The attacks come a few days after the kidnapping of Egypt's top envoy, who had been set to become the first Arab ambassador to the post-Saddam government. The intimidation drive appears to be working. As the LAT notices, Jordan said it won't be sending any diplomats until Iraq offers the "right security environment." The Washington Post leads with a public but little-noticed Pentagon paper outlining the military's new stance on homeland defense. Though the strategy paper emphasizes that the military's role is only to help out civilian authorities, it also enumerates a few policies that spook civil libertarians, particularly the part about how military intel analysts will buddy up with civilian counterparts to ID suspected terrorists. USA Today leads with the increasingly decrepit state of the Coast Guard's fleet. The number of unscheduled maintenance calls last year was about three times what it was in 1999. The Coast Guard is "operating at the level, in many instances, of a Third World navy," said one analyst. Though USAT doesn't put in the headline, the paper says the White House wants to cut back a modernization plan, proposing to stretch it over an extra five years to 25 years in total. The average Coast Guard cutter is 37 years old.

The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox goes high with more Supreme speculation, guessing that conservatives' consternation about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales might make him more confirmable--since liberals will hear that criticism and figure Gonzales can't be all that bad--and thus make him a more appealing pick for President Bush.

The NYT off-leads Republican Senate aides and the White House telling conservative groups to stop beating on Gonzales and to avoid hot button topics such as abortion. Better, argued the aides, to stick to calls for a "fair" confirmation process. Apparently Focus on the Family didn't get the memo. The Times says the conservative org sent the following email last night to supporters: "Bush Defends Gonzales. Some conservatives wonder if attorney general is right for Supreme Court."

James Dobson, Ph D[D.H.: It wasn't that they didn't get the memo. They're on a long-term roll. Dr. James Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, is seen here, left. Dobson and his Focus group were featured in a Jan. 3 story in the Abi-Demian, "Dobson pressures red-state Democrat senators to support conservative judges," explaining their ambitious plan to replace 6 Democratic senators in red states unless they support Dobson's concept of "strict constructionist" judges. I explain the fallacy of "strict constructionism" on page 1 of that same issue of the Abi-Demian.]

A USAT reporter--admirably--actually headed on a patrol with the Coast Guard cutter Decisive, which isn't exactly in tip-top shape:

It's week three of a six-week patrol, and the Decisive has a fuel pump leak, a broken water heater, haphazard radar and global-positioning system, faulty air conditioning, a major hydraulic leak in a patrol boat, high-frequency radios that don't work and a broken anchor winch.

But it would have been useful to know how the reporter choose the Decisive. Was just a random pick? Is the Decisive known for its problems and chosen because of that? Or, worst of all, did Coast Guard flacks pick it figuring it's the best of the litter?

Miller & CooperReporters Judith Miller & Matt Cooper are shown at right.

Everybody mentions that the prosecutor in the case of the outing of a CIA agent now says that even though Time Inc. handed over reporter Matthew Cooper's notes, Cooper still has to talk as does the NYT's Judith Miller. Both journalists have said they're keeping mum. A judge could well rule this afternoon to send them to the slammer.

Mohammed FizaziThe LAT goes Page One with a 9/11 mini-scoop: A now-jailed Moroccan cleric [Mohammed Fizazi, left] who has been connected to last year's bombings in Madrid as well as the 2003 attacks in Casablanca also turns out to have been friendly with some of the 9/11 hijackers. He's the first person known to be connected the three attacks. The Times caught a clip of one of the cleric's sermons; he preached that all non-Muslims should be killed, "no matter if it's a man, a woman, or a child."

The NYT fronts--and LAT goes Metro with--the case of Cyrus Kar a Persian-American aspiring documentary filmmaker who's being held by U.S. forces in Iraq, though they haven't charged him and at least officially won't say a darn thing about it. Unofficially, an unnamed military official said Kar was found with "dozens" washing machine timers, often used to make roadside bombs. The LAT puts that detail up high; the NYT, whose take is more sympathetic to Kar, buries the timers' reference in the 11th paragraph.

The Post notices inside that although the U.S. signed an international tobacco treaty 13 months ago, the White House hasn't gotten around to sending it to the Senate for ratification. "The treaty is still under interagency review," a State Department spokesman explained. And when might that be completed? "No decision has been made," said the spokesman.

The NYT fronts a report on shamed lobbyist Jack Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures, where he comped congressional Republicans aplenty despite ethics rules making that, in most cases, a no-no. The Times got ahold of a purported customer list in which some lawmakers were designated as "FOO Comp," that is friend-of-owner.

Writing an op-ed in the NYT, Slate's Phil Carter notices one thing President Bush has not done to help shore up the military: "He has never made a recruiting speech."

The LAT details the case of Tank, a pit bull mix who arrived at a Humboldt California animal hospital acting spaced out and with a mouth full of baking soda. Turns out, Tank had enjoyed some very magical cookies. As the dog's owner explained to the vet, "the dog ate some pot--kind of a lot of pot." Apparently that's, ahem, a budding problem in marijuana-friendly Humboldt, where supposedly a few dosed dogs are treated every week. And what about that baking soda? Tank "had the munchies," explained the doc.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com . Source: Slate Magazine's "Today's Papers" column.


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