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Saturday, September 17, 2005
Abilene Democrats support Diez y Seis
Abilene, Sept. 17 - Taylor County Democrats were out in force last night to support Abilene's LULAC chapter in kicking off their Hispanic Heritage Month celebration of Diez y Seis Septiembre 2005 at the Ben E. Keith Hospitality Room on Ambler at Treadaway in Abilene.
Abilene Democrats in attendance included Dora Martinez, standing left, Curtis Smith, Alice Spier, Jean Smith & Becky Haigler.
Abilene Democrat Anna M. Vedro, below right at podium, a vice president of the LULAC chapter, was co-chair of the event and moderator of the program. Seated to the left of Anna is her cousin, Erasmo Martinez, the president of the LULAC chapter.
Co-chairing the event with Anna was Abilene businessman Bob Gomez, left, shown greeting NAACP President Petty Hunter's table at the dinner.
Entertainment for the evening included musicians from the Mariachi band of St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church, below right.
Not all attendees were Democrats, however. State Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) sent his Abilene Office Coordinator, Blake Woodall, left, who sat with Abilene Democrat Maria Velasquez, center, and her niece. Also at that table, not pictured, were Abilene Democrats Julian & Charlotte Bridges, Abilene Republican State Representative Bob Hunter, and Republican Congressman Randy Neugebauer's representative, Sylvia Leal.
The speaker for the evening was Roger Rocha, right, the state director of LULAC. Rocha is a graduate of Laredo State University and is an executive with AT&T Lucent Technologies. He was a charter member of LULAC Council 7, a director of the Sports Hall of Fame, and was a LULAC "Man of the Year." Rocha spoke on the importance of education and being faithful to one's heritage and country.
New Orleans, Sept. 17 - ATF Special Response team member David Millen, right, looking for weapons under a house in New Orleans Saturday. The team had reports of weapons at that house, but none were found. There is a heavy presence of police and military police in the area since Hurricane Kitrina hit the Crescent City. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
A weakened levee system and a lack of drinkable tap water will make it "extremely problematic" to follow the New Orleans mayor's timeline for allowing residents to return to the evacuated city, the head of the federal disaster relief effort said Saturday.
Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad Allen said federal officials have worked with Mayor Ray Nagin and support his vision for repopulating the city, but he called Nagin's idea to return up to 180,000 people to New Orleans in the next week both "extremely ambitious" and "extremely problematic."
"Our intention is to work with the mayor ... in a very frank, open and unvarnished manner," Allen told The Associated Press in an interview at Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Baton Rouge.
Allen called on the mayor to be "mindful of the risks" and said he would inform Nagin of his concerns at a meeting set for Monday.
Nearly everybody leads with President Bush's primetime speech in New Orleans, below left, pledging "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." He promised that the feds will pick up the "great majority" of infrastructure costs. USA Todayfolds the president's talk into a double-lead but gives top billing to New Orleans Mayor Nagin's announcement that dry areas in the city will begin opening to residents this weekend, zip code-by-zip code. "The health people are saying they are not seeing any significant risks," he told the Wall Street Journal. Half of the city is still flooded.
Bush did offer three more-or-less concrete proposals: 1) a "Gulf Opportunity Zone," or GOZ, which would feature "tax relief" and unspecified other "incentives" 2) a $5,000 credit for job training for displaced people 3) a lottery to give those with low-income federal land so long as they promise to build on it.
The papers don't have significant details on any of president's proposals, which is understandable, since the president didn't offer any details. But the Heritage Foundation did. The conservative think tank put out a policy paper last week calling for an "Opportunity Zone" for the Gulf; the proposal has some interesting ideas and calls for various tax cuts as well as suspending many labor and environmental regulations. (As the papers have mentioned in passing, the president has already suspended regulations that required construction workers on federal contracts to be paid the prevailing wage.)
Most of the papers make a nod to what the president left unsaid, mostly obviously, any kind of a price tag. Also, an early version of the NYT noted, there was "nothing about Mr. Lott's house in Pascagoula." (The line disappeared by the final edition.)
Bush also pledged to look into what went wrong with the overall Katrina response, though as Washington Postpoints out up high, the White House has opposed the creation of an independent panel to look into what went wrong with the overall Katrina response. Instead the administration has endorsed a GOP-led inquiry.
The government isn't in the best shape to make a well-considered decision about housing. The Post's building piecepoints out that HUD has been "hollowed out," with at least seven top spots open. It's also worth noting that there's long been a similar nation-wide voucher program in existence, though the administration has tried to cut it back.
Everybody mentions, but the Postgoes into the most detail on, the latest study concluding that hurricanes are becoming more severe. The number of Category 4 and 5 storms has doubled over the past 35 years. "There is increasing confidence, as the result of our study, that there's some level of greenhouse warming in what we're seeing," said one researcher. "Is it the whole story? We don't know."
The LAT's off-lead says U.S. intel thinks Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group is increasingly made up of Iraqis, not foreign fighters. They now account for "more than half his organization," one "U.S. official" no doubt guessed. (As this TPer noted, a jihadi Web site recently said it has enough foreign recruits and discouraged new ones from coming.) The LAT piece also has intel officials predicting that if, as it likely, the proposed constitution passes, it's going to mean nothing good in terms of the insurgency. "There's going to be some real ratcheting up of Sunni disaffection with the process," said one "U.S. official."
Sen. Edward Kennedy, left (D-MA), listens to the testimony of special interest groups and legal experts at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court chief justice nominee Judge John Roberts in Washington September 15, 2005. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.
Everybody notes the last oh-so-riveting day of Judge John Roberts' confirmation hearings. It consisted largely of witnesses speaking to nobody. "Only four of the committee's 18 senators were on hand for much of his testimony; Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) could be seen consulting his wristwatch," writes the Post's Dana Milbank. "Of the 120 seats in the press gallery, 104 were unoccupied."
AFP: Dems concede Roberts' qualifications, but question his values
WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (AFP) - John Roberts, below right, George W. Bush's nominee to become US Supreme Court chief justice, delivered what Democrats describe as a "tour de force" performance, as he wrapped up his testimony at a Senate confirmation hearing today.
A final brief session of questioning Thursday came at the request of opposition Democrats, who complained that despite hours of grilling over three days, it was impossible to get a fix on the views of the amiable appeals court judge.
Democrats long ago conceded that Roberts, whose conservative values are at odds with their own, is a highly qualified candidate. At Thursday's hearing they praised his intelligence, his exhaustive knowledge of law, and modesty and stability as powerful attributes arguing for his approval.
But Democrats complained that they still have very little sense of Roberts' values. Democrat Chuck Schumer suggested that his testimony revealed that some qualities the otherwise stellar nominee might be lacking include "compassion and humanity".
Reuters: Reid & Pelosi say Bush response slow - Sept. 15
Under a decorative ceiling in the Capitol Building, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, left (D-CA), and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, second left (D-NV), speak on the Hurricane Katrina disaster, in Washington, September 15 , 2005.
Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers criticised the slow government response to victims of Hurricane Katrina and rebuilding efforts.
In 1996 we had just adopted our BJ in China. Sylvia accepted a job in North Carolina teaching Criminal Justice and law enforcement university classes. I was Mr. Mom, and stayed at home in a house south of Goldsboro. We were told the house we leased would not flood because it was almost a half mile from the Neuse River. We were not told there were corporate pig farms up river from us. Nobody told us that there would be a hurricane just as the new sememster was begining because nobody knew it was coming.
Maybe, New Orleans has more polution, but the Neuse has to be right up there with the worst of poluted rivers. It did get all the way up to our doorstep and it caused rashes, fish kills, and sickness. We moved to Mt. Olive as soon as we could get out without wading to our car up on the raised highway shoulder. There were a bunch of promises made by local, state, and federal types.
Now Ophelia is on the way and the excerpt of an article is quoted below. As far as I know, the pig farms are still there and the levees and berms are no higher.
"Craven County expected a 6- to 8-foot storm surge in the Harlowe area near the Neuse River — an area that flooded during Isabel two years ago, said Stanley Kite, the county emergency management coordinator." Click here to see entire article
By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005, at 3:23 AM CT
The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox , and Los Angeles Timesall lead with Judge John Roberts' (right, with wife behind him) performance during which he affirmed a right to privacy but didn't happen to say whether he thought that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. The New York Timesleads with President Bush (below left), in response to a reporter's question, seeming to fall on his sword:"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government, and to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility." USA Todayleads with and others front officials charging the owners of a Louisiana nursing home with negligent homicide after 34 patients were found dead post-Katrina. The owners, who turned themselves in, reportedly spurned an offer to get patients out. Louisiana's death count jumped to 423 yesterday.
Roberts backed away from some of his saucier Reagan-era memos -- including one which cited the "so-called right to privacy" -- and he said that Roe v. Wade is "settled as precedent." But asked by Senator Arlen Specter whether he considered the case a "super-duper precedent" (seriously), Roberts demurred, something he did again and again yesterday. Slate'sDahlia Lithwick looks at the genius of Roberts' all-encompassing humility-play.
The WP's piece on Bush's responsibility talk actually spends a good deal of space detailing what it says is the president's coming suspension of a law that requires service workers under federal contract to be paid the prevailing wage. Bush made a similar change last week with construction workers, but this move relates to a different law and according to "labor experts" would be "unprecedented."
A piece inside the Post details evidence that much of the flooding in New Orleans came via a little-used shipping canal that locals long ago dubbed the "Hurricane Highway." There was talk of closing it down, but it never happened thanks to the Army Corps of Engineers, local congressmen, and apparently the Bush administration, which pushed the decision back.
Knight Ridder reports that it was homeland security chief Michael Chertoff, right, and not former FEMA man Michael Brown who initially had the authority to spur fed agencies into action -- by declaring an "Incident of National Significance" -- and didn't do so until 36 hours after Katrina. The piece, which comes complete with a leaked memo, also says that the White House didn't follow its own emergency response plan.
Mississippi's Hattiesburg-American also has a curious story that might be worth follow-up: Utility managers in the state said they were called by Vice President Cheney's office and told they needed to get power back to a gas pipeline stat "We were led to believe a national emergency was created when the pipelines were shut down," said one manager. Workers were diverted, and a few hospitals had to stay without power for an extra day. To be clear: TP doesn't know whether the administration or anybody else did anything untoward here, but it certainly seems worthy of trying to chase the facts down.
The NYT fronts and WP mentions a previously blacked-out annex to the 9/11 commission report showing that FAA officials had intel that al-Qaida could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark." The agency never did much in response. But sixteen paragraphs into the Times' piece, we learn that the FAA didn't exactly consider the "intel" a hot tip, labeling the threat "unlikely." The section had essentially been kept secret at the behest of the White House.
The NYT announces: "U.S. MAY START PULLING OUT OF AFGHANISTAN NEXT SPRING." Maybe. The piece itself says the U.S. is contemplating moving out only "as much as 20 percent" of the force, and even then only if European allies are willing to replace them, and they don't seem to be. Germany's defense minister said putting the European soldiers in a combat role -- which is what they would need to do -- "would make the situation for our soldiers doubly dangerous and worsen the current climate in Afghanistan." The WP, inside, offers a more considered headline. Given that any drawdown apparently hinges on getting Europeans buy-in,theJournal is best: "RUMSFELD URGES NATO TO EXPAND AFGHAN ROLE."
FYI: Yesterday's TP mentioned that a Times-Picayune reporter had complained that the EPA hadn't released test results on chemicals in the floodwaters. The EPA seems to have released just that data over the weekend.
The LAT has a long feature using former Justice Harry Blackmun's (left) recently released papers to show how a "a rookie justice, unsure of himself and his abilities" -- that's Blackmun -- "set out to write a narrow ruling that would reform abortion laws." That would be Roe v. Wade. Blackmun's notion was to give doctors the power to decide when abortions were appropriate. The decision, he wrote in a memo, would not give women "an absolute right to abortion."
U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts (right) listens to his wife Jane between proceedings at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 13, 2005.
Roberts declined to say on Tuesday if he would reverse the long-standing decision legalizing abortion but said he believed the U.S. Constitution accorded Americans the right to privacy, the key underpinning of the landmark ruling.
Barhorst: Attention: In response to the critical need for housing
I've already posted on the situation the evacuees are put into in Austin by being placed into apartments with no furniture and a couple months of free rent. Now, I've run into another situation that is just as silly for the majority of evacuees who have nothing and no resources. The federal office of Housing and Urban Development, has begun to put evacuees into homes abandoned by others. They also imply a point at which the houses will be on the market again.
Attention: In response to the critical need for housing for those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has removed all HUD-owned REO properties from the marketplace in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. These properties are unavailable for sale until HUD approves their re-listing in the market. Please refer to this web-site for additional information which will be posted as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience as we assist Americans displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
AP: Roberts respects precedent, won't comment on specific cases
WASHINGTON (AP) - Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, right, said Tuesday that the landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion was "settled as a precedent of the court" as he was immediately pressed to address the divisive issue on the second day of his confirmation hearings.
"It's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis," the concept that long-established rulings should be given extra weight, Roberts told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Roberts dismissed any suggestion that his Catholic faith would influence his decisions if he were confirmed to be the nation's 17th chief justice. The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes abortion.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., cited President Kennedy's statement in 1960 that he did not speak for his church on public matters and the church did not speak for him.
"I agree with that, Senator, yes," Roberts said.
"There's nothing in my personal views based on faith or other sources that would prevent me from applying the precedent of the court faithfully under the principles of stare decisis," Roberts said.
Stare decisis is Latin for "to stand by a decision" and legally translates into the doctrine that says courts are bound by previous decisions, or precedents, particularly when a case has been decided by a higher court.
Questioned about rights of privacy, the appellate judge cited various amendments of the Constitution that he said protect those rights, and said, "I do think the right to privacy is protected under the Constitution in various ways."
Specter, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, asked if the Roe v. Wade decision was a "super-duper precedent" in light of efforts to overturn it.
Roberts noted that the Supreme Court itself upheld the basics of Roe v. Wade in a 1992 case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
"That, I think, is the decision that any judge in this area would begin with," Roberts said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the committee, focused on the balance of power between the executive branch and Congress - and Roberts' suggestion, in past writings, that favor the presidency and speak dismissively of the legislature.
After considerable discussion about a memo dealing with military benefits, the White House and Congress, Leahy simply asked if Congress has the power to declare war.
"Of course, the Constitution specifically gives the power to Congress," Roberts said.
Leahy also questioned Roberts about recent Bush administration documents on torture and interrogation, prompting another definitive statement from Roberts.
"No one is above the law and that includes the president," he said.
Specter pressed Roberts on whether the abortion ruling was settled law for him, established only for an appellate judge such as he or "settled beyond that."
"Well, beyond that, it's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis. And those principles, applied in the Casey case, explain when cases should be revisited and when they should not," Roberts said.
In the most recent major test of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in 1992 to uphold the core holdings of that 1973 decision and ban states from outlawing most abortions. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wanted to use that case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, to overturn Roe, but he was stymied by moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring. The court said states could impose restrictions on the procedure that do not impose an "undue burden" on women.
Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a bitter dissent then, and is likely to push the court to revisit the issue.
An abortion case will be taken up by the court this fall, but it does not directly deal with the right to an abortion. The Supreme Court's next term begins Oct. 3.
Troy Newman, leader of Operation: Rescue, said anti-abortion activists weren't surprised by Roberts' comments but would watch him closely.
"We're concerned about these statements, but the proof will come when it's time for him to rule on these cases as a justice," Newman said.
Source: AP News. D.H.: Although this story does not mention it, I heard Roberts on CNN Radio News this morning saying he would not comment on specific cases, when pressed on Roe v. Wade at the hearing this morning.
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, center right, is embraced by his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, at the end of the opening day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Caucus Room of the Senate's Russell office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 12, 2005. They are flanked by former Sen. Fred Thompson, far left, and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., far right. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).
Judge Roberts pledged Monday to judge with humility and "without fear or favor" if approved as the nation's 17th chief justice and youngest in 200 years. "I have no agenda," he told the Senate Judiciary Committee at the opening of confirmation hearings.
"I have no platform. Judges are not politicians who can promise to do certain things in exchange for votes," said the 50-year-old appeals court judge and former Reagan administration lawyer, picked by President Bush to succeed the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
NEW YORK - Los Angeles's police chief dismissed as "just rhetoric" a taped threat by a purported al-Qaida member that was aired by ABC News on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Allah willing," the masked man says on the tape that ABC said it received Saturday. The man — believed to be an American — speaks in unaccented English.
AUSTIN - Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, shown right, with his family, said he expects the court to issue a ruling in the troublesome school funding case within two weeks.
"I can't say it will be definitive," Justice Jefferson said in Saturday's online edition of the Midland Reporter-Telegram. "There will be a decision from the court, and the Legislature will do what it does."
The state's high court took on the issue when the state appealed a lower court ruling that said the method Texas uses to pay for public education is unconstitutional.
State District Judge John Dietz ruled the system unconstitutional because of the way the taxes are collected and set an Oct. 1 deadline for the state to overhaul the system. Justice Jefferson said the Supreme Court would work to meet that deadline.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A federal judge has lifted a gag order that shielded the identity of librarians who received an FBI demand for records about library patrons under the Patriot Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall, left, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College & NYU, ruled in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that the gag order prevented their client from participating in a debate over whether Congress should reauthorize the Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act, passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, allowed expanded surveillance of terror suspects, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado and secret proceedings in immigration cases.
More than a dozen provisions of the act are set to expire at the end of this year. Liberals and libertarian-oriented conservatives have pressed for changes, citing privacy and civil liberties concerns.
Friday's ruling would allow the ACLU and its client to identify who received the request for records, but Hall stayed her decision until Sept. 20 to give the government a chance to appeal.
Prosecutors argue that the gag order blocked the release of the client's identity, not the client's ability to speak about the Patriot Act. They said revealing the client's identity could tip off suspects and jeopardize a federal investigation into terrorism or spying.
Hall rejected the argument that the gag order didn't silence the client.
"The government may intend the non-disclosure provision to serve some purpose other than the suppression of speech," Hall wrote. "Nevertheless, it has the practical effect of silencing individuals with a constitutionally protected interest in speech and whose voices are particularly important in an ongoing national debate about the intrusion of governmental authority into individual lives."
The ruling rejected the gag order in this case, but it did not strike down the provision of the law used by the FBI to demand the library records. A broader challenge to that provision is still pending before Hall.
What is known about the FBI request is that on an undisclosed date, the FBI delivered what is known as a National Security Letter to the ACLU's client, which maintains traditional library book records as well as records on Internet use by its patrons, demanding "any and all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person or entity related to" something or someone whose name is blacked out in the publicly released version of the letter.
The letter said the information is relevant to an investigation of terrorism or spying.
By Emily Biuso - Posted Monday, Sept. 12, 2005, at 5:55 AM CT
TheNew York Times and the Los Angeles Times lead with - and the Washington Post goes above the fold with - the president's visit to the Gulf Coast Sunday night, where he planned to spend the night on the Iwo Jima - the recovery command center - and tour New Orleans and surrounding parishes Monday in a military convoy. President Bush, below right, walks with Vice Admiral of Coast Guard and Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Thad Allen (L), New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin (2nd R) and Army Lt. Gen. Russ Honore after arriving on the USS Iwo Jima in New Orleans, September 11, 2005. Bush is visiting the area for the third time since the hurricane slammed into Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. (Larry Downing/Reuters). The papers note high up that federal efforts are still under fire; FEMA faces criticism for stalled plans to temporarily house some of the victims. USA Today leads with a hurricane aftermath roundup but hits a more optimistic note with its coverage. The Post leads with today's commencement of the Roberts hearings.
The papers try to emphasize the positive in New Orleans. "Hopes rise as water recedes in New Orleans," is the headline of USAT's lead. The LAT is more cautious: "New Orleans shows modest signs of life." The good news includes cargo flights being resumed at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and the imminent reopening of the city's wastewater-treatment plant.
But as some of the water ebbed over the weekend, a clearer picture of the wreckage in New Orleans emerged, says the NYT. Viewing the remains of the Lower Ninth Ward from a helicopter, the city's head of homeland security said, "There's nothing out there that can be saved at all." (Distressingly, much of the damage will not be covered by insurance.)
The official death toll has risen to 197, says the WP. But according to the NYT, identifying the dead may be a difficult task - the loss of dental records, decomposition of bodies, and missing personal possessions will make positive identifications difficult or impossible. Strides made in forensic science in the aftermath of 9/11 aren't useful in these circumstances, officials say.
The Post fronts a look at New Orleans police officers, who have been taking flak after many abandoned the force in the face of the chaos. Police Superintendent P. Edwin Compass III, shown center right before the flood, tells the paper he has asked the federal government for some sort of temporary housing - maybe a cruise ship - for the officers and their families (many of whom are homeless). The WP doesn't say how the feds have responded.
The papers' coverage of the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks overlaps a bit with Katrina-related news. The NYT says "it was all but impossible to isolate one event from the other" during remembrances Sunday. Speakers at memorial services in Washington and New York devoted moments of silence to Katrina's victims, and the WP tops its front page with a feature on 9/11 rescue workers marking the anniversary in New Orleans. A Port Authority official told the New Orleans' emergency response officials that he felt a "kinship" with the city's people.
The 9/11 anniversary inspires papers to make other comparisons between the two calamities. The NYT says Mississippi is the Pentagon of this crisis - the place struck by tragedy eclipsed by the other place struck by tragedy. (TP wonders: Where does that leave Shanksville?)
Fighting died down in the Baghdad neighborhood of Tal Afar Sunday when American and Iraqi troops found that many insurgents had fled the city. Also on Sunday, insurgents killed one U.S. soldier and wounded two more with a roadside bomb north of Baghdad.
Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi won a landslide re-election victory on Sunday, and some predict the mandate could bring a new era in Japanese politics.
The NYT fronts a shocking report that, months before the FDA released a safety alert in June about problems with heart devices made by Guidant Corporation, the company had given the agency paperwork showing that some of the mechanisms were malfunctioning. The Times made the discovery after the FDA complied with the paper's Freedom of Information Act request.
The last Israeli soldier left Gaza early Monday, and Palestinians celebrated by setting fire to empty synagogues and firing guns into the air. "Today is the beginning of the victory," one Palestinian told the Wall Street Journal.
The Post profiles the Christian Surfers, a ministry group that prays and teaches surfing. As the WP puts it, the group started out as "two surfer dudes just totally stoked about the trinity of beach, surf and fellowship."
WashPost: Senate To Start Roberts Hearings - Sept. 12
Nominee's Views Could Shape Court for Years
By Charles Babington and Jo Becker - Washington Post Staff Writers
The Senate convenes the first confirmation hearing for a chief justice nominee in nearly two decades today, starting a week of admonitions and questions for John G. Roberts Jr. certain to probe deeply into the conservative views of a man who could shape the court's direction for decades to come.
The Judiciary Committee's 10 Republicans and eight Democrats will focus on Roberts, 50, an appellate court judge and President Bush's choice to succeed the late William H. Rehnquist, starting at noon with opening statements in the historic Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building.
Nominee John G. Roberts Jr., left, speaks with Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter.
Analysts from both parties say the Judiciary Committee's toughest questions -- and Roberts's likeliest risk of a slip -- will center on a few issues that have dominated liberal-conservative judicial debates for years. Many will touch on the balance of power between Congress, the executive branch and the courts. Others will resonate more viscerally with ordinary people: abortion rights, voting rights and questions of balancing environmental protections against jobs and property development.
And in the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, concerns about the treatment of poor people and minorities could heavily influence the thrust of some of the questioning.
"Americans will have the opportunity for the first time to hear Judge Roberts's views on the major issues," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the committee's most senior member, said in an interview. Katrina's devastation underscores the hearing's importance, he said.
"What the American people have seen is this incredible disparity in which those people who had cars and money got out, and those people who were impoverished died," Kennedy said. The question for Roberts, he said, is whether he stands for "a fairer, more just nation" or will he use "narrow, stingy interpretations of the law to frustrate progress."
Doctors working in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans killed critically ill patients rather than leaving them to die in agony as they evacuated hospitals, shown at right.
With gangs of rapists and looters rampaging through wards in the flooded city, senior doctors took the harrowing decision to give massive overdoses of morphine to those they believed could not make it out alive.
In an extraordinary interview with The Mail on Sunday, one New Orleans doctor told how she 'prayed for God to have mercy on her soul' after she ignored every tenet of medical ethics and ended the lives of patients she had earlier fought to save.
Her heart-rending account has been corroborated by a hospital orderly and by local government officials. One emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen, said: "Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die."
Euthanasia is illegal in Louisiana, and The Mail on Sunday is protecting the identities of the medical staff concerned to prevent them being made scapegoats for the events of last week.
Their families believe their confessions are an indictment of the appalling failure of American authorities to help those in desperate need after Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, claiming thousands of lives and making 500,000 homeless.
'These people were going to die anyway'
The doctor said: "I didn't know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.
"I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul."
The doctor, who finally fled her hospital late last week in fear of being murdered by the armed looters, said: "This was not murder, this was compassion. They would have been dead within hours, if not days. We did not put people down. What we did was give comfort to the end.
The problem with this Sunday's Meet the Press starts with the guest selection. Given the magnitude of the administration's failure in the Katrina aftermath and the at least partial admission of that failure with the removal of Michael Brown, couldn't Tim Russert have rustled up a single administration official to respond to the mounting outrage at Washington's handling of Katrina?
The only government representative on the Katrina portion of the show was New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin!
So the White House was as absent from this Sunday's Meet the Press as they were from New Orleans when disaster struck. In typical Tim fashion, Russert got down to business right away. Third question: "Do you believe that New Orleans could have Mardi Gras in February of 2006?"
Once that was settled, it was on to Tim's Gotcha Game, in which he dutifully followed Karl Rove's script of completely shifting responsibility to the locals. Tim had done his homework, too -- and he was very proud of it: "But, Mr. Mayor, if you read the city of New Orleans' comprehensive emergency plan -- and I've read it and I'll show it to you and our viewers -- it says very clearly, 'Conduct of an actual evacuation will be the responsibility of the mayor of New Orleans.' ... It was your responsibility. Where was the planning? Where was the preparation? Where was the execution?" ...
But there was more. Tim wasn't going to rest until he got Mayor Nagin to admit to his mistakes.
RUSSERT: What's the biggest mistake you made?
But Nagin wouldn't play along, and kept bringing up the big elephant in the room that Tim had tried so hard to ignore:
NAGIN: My biggest mistake is having a fundamental assumption that in the state of Louisiana, with an $18 billion budget, in the country of the United States that can move whole fleets of aircraft carriers across the globe in 24 hours, that my fundamental assumption was get as many people to safety as possible, and that the cavalry would be coming within two to three days, and they didn't come.
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 16 minutes ago
NEW ORLEANS - President Bush, eager to show hands-on leadership in the Gulf Coast hurricane recovery effort, joined commanders working from a military ship docked in this flooded city on Sunday.
The president visited firefighters who have been battling the blazes that persistently erupt across the city, then was sleeping on the USS Iwo Jima. The amphibious assault ship is serving as a control center in the relief efforts.
Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, a US government official has told The Independent on Sunday. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.
In an exclusive interview, Hugh Kaufman, left, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health.
The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analysed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work.
His intervention came as President Bush's approval ratings fell below 40 per cent for the first time. Yesterday, Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, turned the screw by criticising the US President's opposition to the Kyoto protocol on global warming. He compared New Orleans to island nations such as the Maldives, which are threatened by rising sea levels. Other US sources spelt out the extent of the danger from one of America's most polluted industrial areas, known locally as "Cancer Alley". The 66 chemical plants, refineries and petroleum storage depots churn out 600m lb of toxic waste each year. Other dangerous substances are in site storage tanks or at the port of New Orleans. No one knows how much pollution has escaped through damaged plants and leaking pipes into the "toxic gumbo" now drowning the city. Mr Kaufman says no one is trying to find out.
Few people are better qualified to judge the extent of the problem. Mr Kaufman, who has been with the EPA since it was founded 35 years ago, helped to set up its hazardous waste programme. After serving as chief investigator to the EPA's ombudsman, he is now senior policy analyst in its Office of Solid Wastes and Emergency Response. He said the clean-up needed to be "the most massive public works exercise ever done", adding: "It will take 10 years to get everything up and running and safe."
Mr Kaufman claimed the Bush administration was playing down the need for a clean-up: the EPA has not been included in the core White House group tackling the crisis. "Its budget has been cut and inept political hacks have been put in key positions," Mr Kaufman said. "All the money for emergency response has gone to buy guns and cowboys - which don't do anything when a hurricane hits. We were less prepared for this than we would have been on 10 September 2001."
He said the water being pumped out of the city was not being tested for pollution and would damage Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi river, and endanger people using it downstream.
Source: UK Independent.D.H.: A quick Google search on this Kaufman shows he has a lot of moxie, having been fired for whistleblowing before, but apparently having won Labor Department reinstatement.
By Lea Rappaport Geller - Posted Sunday, at 6:07 AM CT
The New York Times and Washington Post lead, and the Los Angeles Times off-leads, with detailed post mortems of the mishandling of Katrina, with homes still surrounded by floodwaters, below right. All papers are commem-orating Sept. 11 by critiquing the government agency created in its wake. Even though the Department of Homeland Security was set up to address blunders in the federal government's response to the terrorist attacks, allowing it to "face domestic threats as a unified, seamless force," Katrina revealed a giant hole in the department's national response plan.
In January DHS unveiled the 426-page plan to coordinate federal, state, local, and tribal organizations. Even as Katrina's destruction was spreading, the department's spokesman said that because of the plan, there was "no confusion, no chaos, there's just immediate action and result." Despite the department's intention to improve coordination, the reaction to Katrina was plagued by a major misunderstanding: Local officials expected the federal government to provide swift and substantial aid, but federal officials assumed local officials would lead the relief efforts and ask for federal help only as needed. The WP points out that the plan itself underscored the need for the federal government to "take charge" and assist state and local authorities overwhelmed by disaster. Instead, as the NYT reports, the crisis in New Orleans was met by a standoff between "hesitant federal officials and besieged authorities in Louisiana."
The LAT offers a laundry list of missteps, many of which fall on the shoulders of FEMA. The agency was short of equipment, especially helicopters; failed to provide working telephones and radios, even though better communication was meant to be a focus of the DHS plan; and blocked private relief efforts including civilian aircraft responding to requests from hospitals to transport people. The NYT adds that FEMA's hurricane response plan for Louisiana was not complete when Katrina hit, and failed to address crime control or transportation. More absurd: FEMA held hundreds of firefighters in Atlanta for community relations and sexual harassment training before sending them to Louisiana.
The NYT also reports that questions about FEMA's staffing problems aren't new. An organization representing the agency's employees wrote to Congress in June of last year complaining that experienced staffers were being replaced by "inexperienced novices and contractors." Michael Brown wasn't the only FEMA official with scant emergency management experience - a chief of staff and a former deputy were both alums of President Bush's political campaigns.
The LAT fronts some good news. Officials now say that flooded parts of New Orleans will be pumped dry in 37 days, not the 80 days originally predicted. Power was restored to 98 percent of Mississippi residents. In Houston, the 7,327 people who'd been living in temporary housing (including the Astrodome), will be in permanent housing by the end of this week. The LAT also fronts some bad news - the confirmed death toll stands out 154 in Louisiana and 211 in Mississippi.
The NYT and WP both front stories on Katrina's far-flung evacuees. A reverend in New Mexico counseling the storm's victims likened the displacement to the "exodus of Moses" as some are vowing never to return to New Orleans. Officials say between 400,000 and 1 million people were uprooted by the storm and are now scattered nationwide, many in places far different from home. For example, some are now residing in states with minimal African-American populations, or as the WP recounts one family's reaction to its new surroundings in rural Texas, "Where were all the black people?" The NYT points out that some of the states absorbing the most people were those hardest hit by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s when almost 250,000 people fled the Southern Plains. Some of those same states are now absorbing thousands of evacuees - there will be an additional 6,000 school children in Texas this year.
The LAT fronts an interesting look at the rebuilding of New Orleans. Even with the power out and draining incomplete, the mayor offered a plan to repair the city, beginning with parts that didn't flood. It's a given that everything under the fetid water would have to be destroyed - including 150,000 homes, 163,000 vehicles and 93,000 boats, to date. The environmental challenge is staggering - cars must be drained of oil and have their tires removed before being burned and many appliances must be removed from homes. Once officials figure out how to burn all of this, they have to find a place for what will likely be 20 million tons of debris.
It's also possible that parts of the city will never return, and not everyone thinks this is a bad thing. If some of the poorest, hardest-hit neighborhoods are not rebuilt, a giant public works project could create some sort of "racial balance" by "integrating white neighborhoods, thinning out the concentrated poverty in black neighborhoods, creating jobs and opportunities for people who didn't have them before." The LAT takes an optimistic, if not starry-eyed, approach: "There is something about the prospect of scraping half a metropolis clean and starting fresh - especially a portion dominated by rundown neighborhoods - that unleashes creative juices of those who would devise a better city."
In northern Iraq, Iraqi and American troops launched an offensive in Tal Afar, a city known to be a haven for insurgents. The troops had been circling the city for days, battling with guerillas, but when they entered the city and began knocking on doors, they soon learned that the insurgents had all vanished. Insurgents use Tal Afar, which is 40 miles from the Syrian border, to smuggle weapons and foreign fighters. On Saturday Prime Minister Jafaari ordered Iraq's northern border crossing into Syria closed until further notice.
South of Baghdad, police found the bodies of 18 men who had been shot to death in a town known for vengeance killings by Shiite and Sunni death squads. The LAT fronts a story on the increased number of revenge killings in Iraq. The killings are purely sectarian and often the victims have no political connections. A young Sunni newlywed was shot 30 times, possibly because his father had worked for Iraqi intelligence under Saddam Hussein. An engineer was shot to death at a Sunni mosque while trying to repair the mosque's wiring.
In Kirkuk, Sunni Arab and Turkmen politicians announced their opposition to the new constitution that they claim would allow displaced Kurds to return and dominate the oil-rich city. The leader of one Sunni Arab tribe said: "What is written in the constitution is reassuring for the Kurds and marginalizing for Arabs and Turkmen, and it is the beginning of a bloody conflict." Even though militias are banned under Iraq's new laws, the Kurds were permitted to keep theirs. Some Turkmen groups now plan to form their own militias.
Also on Saturday, Mr. Jaafari received a visit from the Jordanian prime minister - the highest-ranking Arab leader to visit Baghdad since the American invasion in 2003.
Below the fold, the WP reports that the Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons. Commanders would be able to seek presidential approval to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively to deter an attack by a nation or terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. An earlier version of the doctrine, written during the Clinton administration, makes no mention of using nukes pre-emptively and no specific mention of using them to respond to a WMD threat. The new document also envisions using a pre-emptive strike to attack "adversary installations including WMD, deep, hardened bunkers containing chemical or biological weapons."
A rose by any other name: The NYT reports that despite Hurricane Katrina's damage, the name Katrina does not risk extinction. After Hurricane Hugo in 1989, the name Hugo actually moved up the list of popular baby names. Still, a Manhattan teenager interviewed for the article got so fed up with references to the storm that she now insists on being called "Kat." Another Katrina suggested eliminating naming storms altogether, thereby avoiding injury to all the Katrinas, Ivans, Charleys, and Camilles: "I think we should name hurricanes after vegetables we hate," she said.
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Typically, there will be 4-5 posts per day, so the list of the latest ones may take you back only a few days. You can peruse the prior articles in three ways:
(1) click on the bottom one, and then view the ones prior to it in the side column; or
(2) click on any week’s archives and get the latest posts for that time period; or
(3) use the index, but it does not work all that well. Sometimes the index will take you only to the week’s archives where an article is found, and you end up having to wade through that entire week finding the word you’re searching on.
Let’s say, for example, you want to read up on Cindy Sheehan’s peace vigil, and you remember she started in Crawford on Aug. 6, 2005. You could scroll down to the archive for the following week – 2005/08/07 – 2005/08/13 – and start reading the latest post during that week. Keep clicking on the bottom post in the side column, and it takes you to earlier posts, and so on.
The next to last line in any post will give the source, and if the story is only partially quoted, it will say “full story,” with a link to the source.
The last line in any post contains a lot of helpful information, e.g.:
Post link. Posted by Terry @ 8:44 AM 0 comments
The “post link” is the link to that particular post. Let’s say you’re scrolling through the blog, last post first, and you find one you want to send a link to someone on it. You could right-click on “post link” and then click on “copy shortcut,” and you have the link in your clipboard to paste in an email to your friend. Control-C copies the information into your clipboard, and Control-V pastes it somewhere else.
The “Posted by…” reference gives you the name of the contributor who posted this article. DemLog now has 18 contributors. Then you have the time that day when it was posted. Then the number of comments other readers have posted to this article. If you want to post a comment, you click on this link. Then, finally, a little envelope icon that allows you to email that entire article to a friend.
Anyone can post a comment. If you want to post an article, you need to email me, Marcus Comton, MComton@ DemProg. US, and I will send you an invitation to become a contributor, and your name or nickname will be added to the masthead under my picture as editor.