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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Grandmother held on looting charge freed - Hurricane Katrina -

Grandmother held on looting charge freed - Hurricane Katrina - MSNBC.comGrandmother held on looting charge freed
Church deaconess, 73, wrongly nabbed after deli ransacked, family says
The Associated Press
Updated: 7:47 p.m. ET Sept. 16, 2005

GRETNA, La. - A 73-year-old diabetic grandmother and church elder who ended up in prison for more than two weeks after authorities accused her of looting was released from jail Friday evening.

Merlene Maten said the first thing she wanted to do was visit her 80-year-old husband.

“I thank God this ordeal is over,” she said after being released from the parish jail. “I did nothing wrong.”

Police arrested Maten the day after the hurricane on charges she took $63.50 in goods from a looted deli. Though never before in trouble with the law, her bail was set at a stiff $50,000.

Family and eyewitnesses insist she only had gone to her car to get some sausage to eat when officers cuffed her in frustration, unable to catch younger looters at a nearby store.

Despite intervention from the nation’s largest senior lobby, volunteer lawyers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and even a private attorney, the family fought a futile battle for 16 days to get her freed.

Then, hours after her plight was featured in an Associated Press story, a local judge on Thursday ordered Maten freed on her own recognizance, setting up a sweet reunion with her family.

“I’m just gonna hug her and say ‘Mom, I’m so sorry this had to happen,”’ Maten’s tearful daughter, Elois Short, told AP shortly after getting the news.

Still faces looting charge
Maten must still face the looting charge at a court hearing in October. But the family, armed with several witnesses, intends to prove she was wrongly arrested outside the hotel.

“There were people looting, but she wasn’t one of them. Instead of chasing after people who were running, they (police) grabbed the old lady who was walking,” said Short, who works in traffic enforcement for neighboring New Orleans police.

Defense attorney Daniel Becnel, family members and witnesses said police snared Maten in the parking lot of a hotel after floodwaters swamped her New Orleans home. She had paid for her room with a credit card and followed authorities’ instructions to pack extra food, they said.

She was retrieving a piece of sausage from the cooler in her car and planned to grill it so she and her husband, Alfred, could eat, according to her defenders. The parking lot was almost a block from the looted store, they said.

“That woman was never, never in that store,” said Naisha Williams, 23, a New Orleans bank security guard who said she witnessed the episode and is distantly related to Maten. “If they want to take it to court, I’m willing to get on the stand and tell them the police is wrong. She is totally innocent.”

Police Capt. Steve Carraway said Wednesday that Maten was arrested in the checkout area of a small store next to police headquarters.

The arrest report is short and assigns the value of goods Maten is alleged to have taken at $63.50. The items are not identified.

‘Observed leaving the scene’
“When officers arrived, the arrestee was observed leaving the scene with items from the store. The store window doors were observed smashed out, where entry to the store was made,” police reported.

Maten’s husband was left at the hotel, until family members picked him up. He was too upset to be interviewed, the family said.

Christine Bishop, the owner of the Check In Check Out deli, said that she was angry that looters had damaged her store, but that she would not want anyone charged with a crime if the person had simply tried to get food to survive. “Especially not a 70-year-old woman,” Bishop said.

Short, Maten’s daughter, did not witness the incident. She said her mother has led a law-abiding life. She is a deaconess at the Resurrection Mission Baptist Church and won an award for her decades of service at a hospital, Short said.

“Why would someone loot when they had a car with a refrigerator and had paid with a credit card at the hotel?” asked Becnel, Maten’s lawyer. “The circumstances defy the theory of looting.”

Japan Today - News - Taliban threaten Afghans not to vote - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Taliban threaten Afghans not to vote - Japan's Leading International News NetworkTaliban threaten Afghans not to vote

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Saturday, September 17, 2005 at 07:18 JST
ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan's Taliban militia has reiterated its call on the Afghan people not to take part in the Sunday's parliamentary elections and vowed to carry out attacks to sabotage them, the Afghan Islamic Press reported Friday.

The Pakistan-based news agency quoted Taliban spokesman Latif ullah Hakeemi as warning in an interview, "We will carry out attacks to sabotage the elections."

As Ferrer Gains Support, Bloomberg Chooses to Withhold Some - New York Times

As Ferrer Gains Support, Bloomberg Chooses to Withhold Some - New York TimesSeptember 17, 2005
As Ferrer Gains Support, Bloomberg Chooses to Withhold Some

On the day that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed the mayoral candidacy of Fernando Ferrer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg broke with the Republican White House and said he opposed the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr.

In a statement handed out to reporters at City Hall yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg complimented Judge Roberts's legal knowledge and integrity but said that he was opposed to the nomination because he did not accept "the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling as settled law."

"What I was waiting for, as were many Americans, was a clear affirmation that the life-altering decision as to whether or not to have a child must be a woman's decision," Mr. Bloomberg said in his statement. "Unfortunately, Judge Roberts's response did not indicate a commitment to protect a woman's right to choose."

During his confirmation hearings, Judge Roberts has declined to state his position on Roe v. Wade explicitly, saying, "I should stay away from discussions of particular issues that are likely to come before the court again."

At the White House, a senior aide said that the news was not received warmly and that the administration's annoyance with Mr. Bloomberg was promptly shared with his campaign team.

Mr. Bloomberg's aides would not discuss the exchange, but did not seem displeased that the exchange had become public; it portrayed the mayor as battling the administration to which the Democrats are trying to tie him.

Mr. Bloomberg has no role in the Senate confirmation process, but he has been pilloried throughout the campaign season for his ties to the Republican governor and president. He has now staked out a position, however, that burnishes his appeal among Democrats in an area where Mr. Ferrer has made seemingly inconsistent statements.

For his part, Mr. Ferrer said in July that he opposed the nomination because of what he saw as a lack of commitment to protecting abortion rights and because of Mr. Roberts's role as Gov. Jeb Bush's adviser during the Florida vote recount in the 2000 presidential election.

The mayor's statement came on a day when Mr. Ferrer reveled in his new status as the presumptive Democratic nominee and tried to create a sense of excitement for his campaign with glowing endorsements from Mrs. Clinton and Senator Charles E. Schumer. But Mr. Bloomberg's campaign clearly intended to make a pre-emptive strike with a statement that could undercut the endorsements and curb the effect of early attacks by Mr. Ferrer on Mr. Bloomberg's Republican connections.

The Bloomberg campaign also worked to make further inroads into Mr. Ferrer's strongest base of support - Hispanics - by releasing a 30-second Spanish-language television advertisement featuring the salsa singer Willie Colón urging New Yorkers to re-elect Mr. Bloomberg. At a news briefing at Mr. Bloomberg's headquarters yesterday, Mr. Colón said he intended to campaign actively for the mayor in Puerto Rican neighborhoods.

Mr. Bloomberg's statement about Judge Roberts seemed to have had at least some of its intended benefit: It was picked up by national news agencies and also the Drudge Report Web site - closely read by the nation's political classes - which linked to a Reuters report calling Mr. Bloomberg "the first noted Republican to break with the Bush administration over who should lead America's top court."

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Schumer said that they were still weighing their decisions about how to vote on Judge Roberts. Mr. Schumer is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which is currently considering the nomination, but Mr. Bloomberg's move may raise even more interest in what Mrs. Clinton, who is considering a presidential race, may do.

The senators, however, would not be drawn into any discussion of Mr. Bloomberg, saying the day was all about Mr. Ferrer.

"We have a lot of positive things to say about Freddy," said Mrs. Clinton, who said that she and her husband, Bill, would campaign for him as their schedules permitted.

Both senators praised Mr. Ferrer for contributing to the renaissance of the Bronx and for what they said was his history in helping those less fortunate.

"He believes that if you're given an opportunity in life, you have an obligation to make sure the door stays open behind you," Mrs. Clinton said. "Now these are not only Freddy's values, these are Democratic values."

But for all of the invocation of Democratic identity, Mr. Ferrer at one point blew a kiss across party lines. In accepting the endorsement, made before students and faculty at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens, he alluded to Mr. Bloomberg in discussing the man for whom the school is named, painting the mayor as incapable of understanding the lives of ordinary New Yorkers.

Fiorello H. La Guardia, he said, "came from about the same place we did and knew what life was at the top because he started out at the bottom and it gives you a real sense of what New York is all about, right from its sidewalks."

Mr. La Guardia, the city's 99th mayor, was a Republican.

CBS 46 Atlanta - I-85, GA 316 to get $100 million makeover

CBS 46 Atlanta - I-85, GA 316 to get $100 million makeoverI-85, GA 316 to get $100 million makeover
Sept 16, 2005, 11:20 AM

ATLANTA (AP) -- The state Department of Transportation board has agreed to spend about $100 million to reconstruct the Interstate 85 and Ga. 316 interchange in what could be the single largest contract in the department's history.

The project, which the DOT agreed on Thursday, would include construction on 13 bridges at that interchange and car pool lanes along both roads.

The project, which will take more than three years to complete, will be put out for bid next month. Construction at the Gwinnett County interchange is expected to begin in the winter.

Board member Mike Evans, who represents part of Gwinnett County, said the project is good news for commuters.

"They've been waiting a long time," said Evans, the board's vice chairman. "There's a lot of traffic out there."

The Transportation Department's traffic counts show an average of 263,000 drivers pass through the intersection daily.

Commuters would see relief from traffic woes in the form of seven miles of new high-occupancy vehicle lanes on each side of Interstate 85 and extended HOV lanes.

The configuration of 11 miles of new frontage roads is expected to reduce the amount of weaving from lane to lane by motorists, DOT spokeswoman Vicki Gavalas said.

The plan calls for eleven existing bridges to be rebuilt and two new ones to be built. The new bridges will "fly over" northbound and southbound Interstate 85 -- crossing over 10 lanes -- so that motorists can exit directly onto a road or merge into Interstate 85 southbound.

The project will not affect a proposal to turn Ga. 316 into a toll road. That proposal, which is on hold indefinitely, did not include the interchange work, Gavalas said.

BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigerian governor arrested in UK

BBC NEWS | Africa | Nigerian governor arrested in UK Nigerian governor arrested in UK
The governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, has been arrested in the UK, the British Embassy in Lagos has confirmed.

London police say a 53-year-old man was picked by their special Economic Crimes Unit at Heathrow Airport on Thursday.

He was later released on bail for a period of two months.

Nigeria's anti-corruption body say Mr Alamieyeseigha was detained in connection with an investigation into allegations of money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) say they were informed of the governor's detention by London's Metropolitan Police.

"The arrest was in connection with an investigation of allegations of money laundering being carried out by the Metropolitan Police," EFCC spokesman Osita Nwajah said in a statement.


The BBC's Sola Odunfa says the EFCC has been investigating the governor for more than three years.

Under Nigerian law he enjoys immunity from prosecution while in office.

However, such immunity does not extend beyond Nigeria's shores, our correspondent says.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the man they detained was taken to a London police station.

"He was released on bail to return on 15 November pending further enquiries," he said.

Last year, another Nigerian state governor was arrested in London.

Joshua Dariye from Plateau state was quizzed by police on money laundering allegations involving more than £1m ($1.7m).

He was freed on bail and returned to Nigeria and is still wanted for questioning by British police.

Nigeria is considered one of the most corrupt countries, but President Olusugun Obasanjo has vowed to fight the problem.

As a result, he set up the EFCC after his election in 1999.

Although a number of senior officials have been put under investigation for alleged corruption in recent months, there has not been any significant conviction during his six years in power.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush pledges no Katrina tax rise

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush pledges no Katrina tax rise Bush pledges no Katrina tax rise
US President George W Bush has ruled out raising taxes to pay for the cost of the massive recovery effort on the hurricane-hit Gulf Coast.

He indicated the programme, which White House officials say could cost up to $200bn (£110bn), might be partially funded by spending cuts in other areas.

"You bet it will cost money, but I'm confident we can handle it," he said.

The president has said he accepts that his government did not deal adequately with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

At a memorial service at Washington's National Cathedral, he said the task of rebuilding the southern states affected by the hurricane was a chance to wipe out poverty and remnants of racial injustice.

He said those hit hardest by the hurricane were already impoverished because of years of discrimination.

"As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality," Mr Bush said.

"Americans of every race and religion were touched by this storm, yet some of the greatest hardship fell upon citizens already facing lives of struggle: the elderly, the vulnerable, and the poor."

Returning to New Orleans

The confirmed death toll from the hurricane has risen to 792.

About 40% of New Orleans, the area hardest-hit, is still flooded ands the sewage system is still not working properly. But, nearly three weeks after the disaster, some business people are preparing to return to the city.

Over the next 10 days, some 200,000 people will be allowed back, but as the BBC's Claire Marshall reports from the city, those returning will find a very changed place.

Gulf opportunity zone Immediate incentives for job-creating investment
Recovery accounts Up to $5,000 help for job-seekers, for training, childcare etc
Urban homesteading act Federal-owned land handed out in a lottery for new homebuilding

They will have to pass military checkpoints to enter the city limits. Once inside New Orleans, they will find it difficult to get clean drinking water and food supplies.

Congress has already approved $62bn for the recovery effort along the Gulf Coast, but that is expected to run out next month.

President Bush has refused to put a price tag on his hurricane recovery plans.

"It's going to cost whatever it costs," he said at a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

"I'm confident we can handle it, and I'm confident we can handle our other priorities. It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."

Correspondents say many from within his Republican party want specifics and want to know where the money will come from.

The president's approval ratings have slumped to the lowest point of his presidency, with only about 40% of voters expressing confidence in him.

Continuing conflict in Iraq and rising fuel prices were affecting his support even before Hurricane Katrina struck on 29 August, correspondents say.

Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China seeks N Korea breakthrough

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China seeks N Korea breakthrough China seeks N Korea breakthrough
Diplomats are discussing a Chinese attempt to break the deadlock in talks on North Korea's nuclear programme.

As six-nation talks enter a fifth day in Beijing, China has asked for a decision by 1500 (0700 GMT), the Russian news agency Interfax reports.

The draft document is understood to state that North Korea has a right to use nuclear energy technology.

The US had initially ruled out such a concession, saying North Korea could not be trusted.

"China has given us a text to react to so we're looking at it," said chief US envoy to the talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

N Korea is being pressed to give up nuclear weapons and close Yongbyon reactor
In return it will receive security guarantees, economic aid and free electricity
N Korea first said it wanted right to maintain civilian nuclear programme
Now says it wants to be given a light water reactor
N Korea was promised two reactors under 1994 deal, but deal broke down in 2002

"We'll see where we go... It's been a fairly fast pace in the last 24 hours."

The Chinese proposal contains "compromise wording which could satisfy both [the US and North Korea]," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, quoted by the Associated Press.

As well as China and the US, the talks also involve South Korea, Japan and Russia.

The attempt at a breakthrough came after Washington and Pyongyang appeared to have reached an impasse over the North's new demand that it be given a light water nuclear reactor.

'Major problem'

A spokesman for the North said on Thursday that it would make up for the graphite moderated reactors it was being pressed to give up under the proposed deal.

Light water reactors are much more difficult to use as a source of plutonium with which to build nuclear weapons. North Korea claims to be using one of its existing graphite reactors to this end.

Oct 2002: US says North Korea is enriching uranium in violation of agreements
Dec 2002: North Korea removes UN seals from Yongbyon nuclear reactor, expels inspectors
Feb 2003: IAEA refers North Korea to UN Security Council
Aug 2003: First round of six-nation talks begins in Beijing
Feb 2005: Pyongyang says it has built nuclear weapons for self-defence

Until now the communist regime has been offered security guarantees, aid and free power if it ends its nuclear programme.

Mr Hill has called the North Korean request a "major problem" for the talks.

Mr Hill said building a light water reactor would cost $2-3bn (£1.1-£1.6bn) and would take about 10 years. He insisted the North accept a South Korean offer to use its electricity through power cables across the border.

Mr Hill also said agreement needed to be reached on the removal of North Korea's "terrible weapons" before other demands could be looked at.

Pyongyang, for its part, wants aid and diplomatic incentives and be granted the right to keep a civilian nuclear programme first.
Story from BBC NEWS:

FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort - New York Times

FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort - New York TimesSeptember 17, 2005
FEMA, Slow to the Rescue, Now Stumbles in Aid Effort

BATON ROUGE, La., Sept 16 - Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

While the agency has redoubled its efforts to get food, money and temporary shelter to the storm victims, serious problems remain throughout the affected region. Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system.

The top two federal relief officials in charge of the effort both acknowledged in interviews late this week that they too have listened to the frustrated voices of local officials and citizens alike, and find their complaints valid.

"It is not happening fast enough, effective enough and it is not impacting the people at the bottom as quickly as it should," said Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, standing along the waterfront in New Orleans on Friday. "I have heard frustrations."

Admiral Allen, who was put in charge of the federal government's emergency operations along the Gulf Coast a week ago Friday, said entrenched bureaucracies hampered attempts to accelerate his top priorities: aid to residents, providing housing and clearing the vast swaths of wreckage from homes and trees damaged by the storm.

Working from Baton Rouge, William Lokey, FEMA's coordinating officer for the three-state region, echoed Admiral Allen's criticisms. "It is not going as fast as I would like, and yes, I do not have the resources I would like," he said on Thursday. "I am going as fast as I can to get them."

The problems clearly stem largely from the sheer enormousness of the disaster. But the lack of investment in emergency preparedness, poor coordination across a sprawling federal bureaucracy and a massive failure of local communication systems - all of which hurt the initial rescue efforts - are now also impeding the recovery.

FEMA, Mr. Lokey said, is an agency with limited federal money that must quickly expand its operational capacity only after a major disaster strikes. It has not won a large chunk of the new federal homeland security dollars, that have been dedicated to terrorism.

"If the billions of dollars that have been spent on chemical, nuclear and biological response, if some of that had come over here, we would have done better," he said. "But after 9/11, the public priority was terrorism."

The Katrina troubles underscore serious questions about the federal government's ability to handle similar disasters in the future.

"I don't think federal bureaucracy can handle the next disaster," said Toye Taylor, the president of Washington Parish, one of the hardest hit areas in Louisiana, who met with Mr. Bush this week.

"I expressed to the president that it would take a new partnership between the military and private sector," Mr. Taylor said. "Because there will be another one and I don't think the federal government is going to be able to help." Indeed, Mr. Bush said in his address to the nation from New Orleans on Thursday night that the military would play a new role in federal disaster relief.

The struggle to return parishes, towns and individual lives to some semblance of working order is visible throughout the region.

The president of St. Tammany Parish, Kevin Davis, is praying that it does not rain in his sweltering corner of Louisiana, because three weeks after the storm severely damaged his drainage system, FEMA has yet to give him approval to even start the repairs.

Up north in the poor parish of Washington, residents are sleeping in houses that were chopped in half by oak trees. The promised wave of government inspectors have not shown up to assist them.

James McGehee, the mayor of Bogalusa, a small Louisiana city near the Mississippi border, could barely contain his rage in an interview on Thursday.

"Today is 18 days past the storm, and FEMA has not even put a location for people who are displaced," he said. "They are walking around the damn streets. The system's broke."

Some critical aspects of the federal response to the storm are moving significantly faster than expected. The Army Corps of Engineers, which initially predicted that pumping out New Orleans would take up to three months, now predicts that the enormous task will be wrapped up by Oct. 2.

FEMA and its partners have delivered as of Friday morning more than 177 million tons of ice, 63 million liters of water and 26 million ready-to-eat meals throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

More than $1.25 billion of federal disaster aid has also been distributed directly to many of the just over one million victims in the three-state region that registered for aid. Just in Louisiana, another $100 million in disaster food stamp benefits have been distributed.

"The commitment is an aggressive one," said Ann Silverberg Williamson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services, which is working with federal officials on several of these efforts.

In many affected areas, Americans continue to live in conditions unthinkable in most of the industrialized world, like the rural unincorporated areas in Washington and surrounding parishes, where the uprooted trunks of 20-ton trees have left dinosaur foot-size crevices in roads, and homes are still surrounded by a maze of twisting branches.

In Tangipahoa Parish, the parish president, Gordon Burgess, said he called FEMA officials daily to ask when they would arrive to assist residents with housing. Mr. Burgess said the federal workers say, " 'I'll get to you next week,' and then the next week and then you'd never hear from them again."

Indeed, almost every local leader interviewed - even those sympathetic to FEMA's plight - complained that they could not get FEMA to approve their contracts with workers, tell them when they would be opening help centers or answer basic questions. Often, they say, the FEMA worker on the ground, eager to help, has to go up the chain of command before taking action, which can take days.

"People on the ground are wonderful but the problem is getting the 'yes,' " said Mr. Davis of St Tammany parish, who has a contractor ready to clean his drainage system of the same trees FEMA allowed him to take off his streets, and to repair parts of the sewage system.

"I'm saying, 'Wait a minute, you pick up debris on the road but not the drainage?' If it rains, I've got real problems. I just need someone to tell me make the public bids and I could rebuild our parish in no time."

Perhaps the greatest frustration expressed by state and local officials - as well as by some federal officials - is the pace of finding or setting up temporary housing to move people out of emergency shelters and the slow opening of specialized recovery centers.

The Bush administration had set Oct. 1 as the deadline for moving those 100,000 people in shelters out of these often overcrowded and uncomfortable facilities and into temporary homes. The goal is to install tens of thousands of mobile homes and trailers, so people are not only out of the shelters, but they can move back closer to their homes. But progress on the installation of these new homes is off to a slow start.

"That is not going to happen," Mr. Lokey said Thursday afternoon of the Oct. 1 goal. "It is just too big." By Thursday night, in his speech to the nation, Mr. Bush had revised the deadline to Oct. 15, which Mr. Lokey said would still be hard to meet.

Tempers are already flaring among many of the thousands of people displaced by the storm who have had a hard time getting through to FEMA on the telephone or finding centers where FEMA representatives can answer questions about various federal assistance programs. Only 8 of 40 promised sites have opened in Louisiana.

"I still do not have a firm date as to when they will put a site," said Mr. Taylor of Washington parish. Baton Rouge, which has received a huge influx of evacuees, did not get such a center until this Thursday. Evacuees and local officials also complain that FEMA's request for them to register on line or via phone is unrealistic, given that as of Wednesday 310,000 households in Louisiana were still without telephone service and 283,231 were still awaiting power, or nearly 30 percent of the state's households. And the phone lines are almost always jammed anyway. As such, those with cars drive miles to operating help centers in other counties, where the lines are sprawling. Confusion is rampant.

"FEMA don't communicate with you very well," said Tommy Nelson, as he cleaned out the home of his girlfriend's mother in Waveland, a Gulf Coast town now more of a memory than a place. "You got to learn things second-hand. We just happened to be in a post office line and we just happened to learn you got to register down here for a trailer. I was talking to a FEMA representative about trailers yesterday and she didn't have a clue." The best way to reach FEMA is about 2 a.m., various evacuees said.

Meanwhile, truck drivers carrying tens of thousands of tons of ice and driving water have been sent on a cross-country tour, from city to city, only then to be told to wait for up to a week in a parking lot in Memphis, with their engines, as well as their tabs as drivers running.

"It is a sad experience," said Frank Link,, who was sent from to Missouri, then to Mississippi, then to Alabama and then to Tennessee - all with the same load of 41,580 pounds of ice that he had loaded in Chicago. "I went down there to help. All I did was get the runaround from FEMA."

But the disaster has also exposed several serious flaws that hampered FEMA's response. Communication systems, especially in rural areas, were crippled and have still failed to return, making it impossible for residents as well as local officials to reach the federal government.

Further, many of the residents affected had few resources and limited power to begin with. Isolation proved to be a liability. Those who had leaders with access to television cameras and a little political influence have begun to make out better than those without.

Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, assailed the federal government on national television the first days after the storm. Today he boasts that FEMA has moved "at lightning speed" to get his parish housing, paychecks for workers, and carries in his tote bag a personal letter from the president.

Admiral Allen, whose jurisdiction spreads across the Gulf Coast region, said he recognized that he had a brief window in which to turn things around for the hundreds of thousands of affected residents. "There should be a low tolerance for a learning curve on my part," Admiral Allen said. "It is not weeks. It is days. And if it is not days, it is hours."

Bush to Meet With Senators Over Second Vacancy on Court - New York Times

Bush to Meet With Senators Over Second Vacancy on Court - New York TimesSeptember 17, 2005
Bush to Meet With Senators Over Second Vacancy on Court

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 - President Bush plans to meet Wednesday with Republican and Democratic Senate leaders about filling the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Senate aides from both parties said.

Mr. Bush has said he plans to move quickly to nominate a successor to Justice O'Connor, a pivotal swing vote on the court. But conservative allies of the White House say they do not expect him to select someone until the full Senate votes on the confirmation of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice later this month. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on the Roberts nomination on Thursday. Justice O'Connor has said she will continue to sit with the court until her replacement is confirmed.

Senate aides said Mr. Bush has invited Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the committee's ranking Democratic member, as well as Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader.

Senate Democrats have sent letters to the White House urging the president to consider their views more thoroughly than he did before picking Judge Roberts. Mr. Reid has said he will oppose as too conservative some of the candidates reported to be under consideration by the president. Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the longest-serving Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has offered his suggestions for prospective nominees.

Mr. Bush previously met with Democratic and Republican senators before he nominated Judge Roberts. Democratic aides say Mr. Bush listened to their suggestions but did not seek their views on specific names under consideration.

His choice of Judge Roberts, who was initially picked to succeed Justice O'Connor and then re-nominated to be chief justice after the death of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, came as a surprise to senators on both sides of the aisle.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bush Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast - New York Times

Bush Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast - New York TimesSeptember 15, 2005
Bush Pledges Federal Role in Rebuilding Gulf Coast

Filed at 9:24 p.m. ET

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- President Bush promised Thursday night the government will pay most of the costs of rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast in one of the largest reconstruction projects the world has ever seen. ''There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again,'' the president said.

Standing in Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, Bush acknowledged his administration had failed to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds of people across five states. The government's costs for rebuilding could reach $200 billion or beyond.

Bush described the hurricane's aftermath as ''days of sorrow and outrage,'' and he said the nation had ''witnessed the kind of desperation no citizen of this great and generous nation should ever have to know.'' He deplored scenes of victims calling out for food and water, criminals who had no mercy, and bodies of the dead lying uncovered in the street.

The president said he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review of emergency plans in every major city in America.

He also said a disaster on the scale of Katrina requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.

Bush said the suffering of victims was tempered by acts of courage and kindness by the Coast Guard and other rescue workers. To the hundreds of thousands of people forced from their homes, Bush said, ''You need to know that our whole nation cares about you -- and in the journey ahead you are not alone.''

Promising better days ahead, Bush said, ''The streets of Biloxi and Gulfport will again be filled with lovely homes and the sound of children playing. The churches of Alabama will have their broken steeples mended and their congregations whole.

''And here in New Orleans, the street cars will once again rumble down St. Charles, and the passionate soul of a great city will return.''

Bush faced the nation at a vulnerable point in his presidency. Most Americans disapprove of his handling of Katrina, and his job-approval rating has been dragged down to the lowest point of his presidency also because of dissatisfaction with the Iraq war and rising gas prices. He has struggled to demonstrate the same take-charge leadership he displayed after the Sept. 11 terror attacks four years ago.

Across five Gulf Coast states, the death toll from Katrina climbed Thursday to 794, led by 558 in Louisiana.

Faulting the government's response, Bush said that Katrina ''was not a normal hurricane -- and the normal disaster relief system was not equal to it.'' State officials have blamed the federal government for failing to respond more quickly, and federal officials have pointed fingers at state and local officials.

Responding to charges that help would have been sent more quickly if most victims had not been poor and black, Bush noted that the persistent poverty, rooted deep in the Gulf region, was broadcast for all Americans to see.

''That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America,'' Bush said. ''We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action.''

Hundreds of thousands of people were forced from their homes into temporary shelters. Bush said the goal was to get evacuees out of shelters by mid-October and into apartments and other homes, with assistance from the government. He said he would work with Congress to ensure that states were reimbursed for the cost of caring for evacuees.

Bush proposed establishment of worker recovery accounts providing up to $5,000 for job training, education and child care during the search for employment.

He also said he would ask Congress to approve an Urban Homesteading Act in which surplus federal property would be turned over to low-income citizens by means of a lottery to build homes, with mortgages or assistance from charitable organizations.

White House Backs NASA Plan for Vehicles - New York Times

White House Backs NASA Plan for Vehicles - New York TimesSeptember 16, 2005
White House Backs NASA Plan for Vehicles

The White House has approved NASA's plan to replace the nation's aging fleet of winged spaceships with a new generation of vehicles meant to carry human explorers back to the Moon and onward to Mars and beyond, aerospace experts said yesterday.

The new rockets and spaceships are a radical departure for the space program, rearranging the components of the space shuttle into a new design expected to be more powerful than the shuttle but also safer. The shuttle has had two fatal accidents in 114 missions.

"It's a thumbs-up for NASA to pursue the shuttle-derived vehicle," said John M. Logsdon, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University and an adviser to the NASA initiative. "The question is the schedule, not the basic approach."

Other experts, who refused to be identified because the space agency will not formally announce the proposal , also spoke about the plan yesterday.

The redesign proposal was first reported in August by agency officials and private experts. Unlike the shuttle, the new vehicles would separate the jobs of hauling people and cargo into orbit and would put the payloads atop the rockets - as far as possible from the dangers of firing engines and falling debris, which were responsible for the accidents that destroyed the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.

But by making the rockets from shuttle parts, the new plan would draw on the shuttle's existing network of thousands of contractors and technologies, in theory speeding its completion and lowering its cost.

The plan has been ready for unveiling for roughly six weeks but was held up because of delays in White House approval.

Yesterday, the aerospace experts said Michael D. Griffin, NASA's administrator, met with White House officials on Wednesday and won a preliminary approval for the project despite continuing questions about how to pay for it.

One problem is that the existing shuttle is still consuming a large share of the agency's budget. A complicating factor, they added, is growing fiscal pressure on Washington because of the government's unexpected need to help rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

The Bush administration has called for the shuttles to be retired by 2010. Dr. Griffin had wanted the first of the replacement vehicles to be ready to fly by 2011. But the experts said yesterday that the earliest conceivable date for the first flight of the replacement was now 2012.

The smaller rocket, for carrying people, would still dwarf the shuttle, which stands 184 feet high. The larger one, for lifting heavy cargoes and spaceships but not people, would rise to a height of some 350 feet, rivaling the Saturn 5 rockets that sent astronauts to the Moon.

In theory, the cargo hauler would have its first test flights in 2016 and 2017 and first hurl people toward the Moon in 2018, the experts said.

Taiwan Opposition Parties Shoot Down Controversial Mega-Arms Package

Taiwan Opposition Parties Shoot Down Controversial Mega-Arms PackageSINO DAILY
Taiwan Opposition Parties Shoot Down Controversial Mega-Arms Package

The latest version of the arms bill calls for the purchase of eight conventional submarines and 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft from the United States over a 15-year period for around 340 billion Taiwan dollars (10 billion US).
Taipei (AFP) Sep 13, 2005
Taiwan's two main opposition parties Tuesday blocked a controversial 10-billion-dollar arms purchase from the United States even though the ruling party has scaled back the cost of the package from 19 billion.

The bill, proposed by the defense ministry, failed to win approval by the procedure committee of the opposition-controlled parliament, a necessary step before it can be heard in the full house.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Chen Shui-bian was furious.

"What the Kuomintang and People First Party love to do is to boycott ... regardless of Taiwan's need to defend itself," the DPP's parliamentary whip Lai Ching-teh told reporters.

The opposition insisted the arms bill is illegal after Taiwanese voted against the proposed purchase in the island's first referendum held simultaneously with presidential polls in March 2004.

"According to the referendum, the DPP government must not file the bill within three years," Kuomintang lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao told AFP.

The defense ministry regretted the result but pledged "to continue communication with parliamentarians."

The latest version of the arms bill calls for the purchase of eight conventional submarines and 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft from the United States over a 15-year period for around 340 billion Taiwan dollars (10 billion US).

The six PAC-3 Patriot anti-missile systems included in the original bill would be financed by the government's yearly budgets.

Chen said last week that his government would strive to acquire sophisticated weaponry to defend itself against a Chinese invasion.

China has deployed up to 730 ballistic missiles opposite the island which it regards as part of its territory. It threatens to invade if Taiwan declares formal independence.

People First Party chairman James Soong has played down the threat.

"When I visited Beijing in May, China's President Hu Jintao told me that there would not be any military threat facing Taiwan as long as it does not declare independence," he said last week.

In December the procedure committee killed the original arms procurement bill, which was priced at more than 610 billion Taiwan dollars (19 billion US).

The committee again blocked an amended version of the bill, with spending reduced to 480 billion Taiwan dollars, earlier this year.

Some opposition lawmakers said Taiwan could not afford the arms deal while others said the equipment would be delivered too slowly to enable the island to catch up with China's military build-up.

Relations between China and Taiwan, which split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, have worsened since independence-leaning Chen was elected president in 2000. He was re-elected last year.

Will Chief Justice Nominee John Roberts Receive Unanimous Support?

Will Chief Justice Nominee John Roberts Receive Unanimous Support?
Race Relations
Will Chief Justice Nominee John Roberts Receive Unanimous Support?
Race Relations Blog

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September 15, 2005

Will Chief Justice Nominee John Roberts Receive Unanimous Support?
Today, a fourth day of hearings will bring Americans closer to the ultimate decision that will inevitably shape the face of power in the Supreme Court over the next generation.

Chief Justice nominee John Roberts is a conservative who has so far in hearings, avoided giving specifics regarding his perspectives on a number of hot-button issues including abortion, equality, and certain freedoms.

Although Roberts has been challenged on what appears to be a consistently ultra-conservative history--nearly 75,000 pages of archived records place his 80s perspectives squarely in the camp of a Reagan conservative--he provided slightly more elaboration on his views on voting rights and affirmative action on Wednesday. This elaboration sparked the smallest hope that he may no longer ascribe to the extreme far right conservative position on these two hot-button issues. (Read Roberts on Affirmative Action on the Race Relations site to learn more about his record on this topic.)

A few specific examples from this week's hearings follow:

* When asked by Senator Edward Kennedy (a Democrat from Massachusetts) if he supports the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which outlawed segregation in public schools, Roberts replied, "Yes."
* When asked about the 1964 Voting Rights Act he said, "It is preservative, I think, of all the other rights. Without access to the ballot box, people are not in the position to protect any other rights that are important to them. And so I think it's one of, as you said, the most precious rights we have as Americans." His position on the Voting Rights law — a portion of which is set to expire in 2007 — has been a central concern to Democrats concerned that he will, as Chief Justice, hold rigidly conservative views that will reverse progress made on civil rights.
* When asked about the rights of state universities to consider race in making admission decisions, Roberts said it had been appropriate for the court to examine the positive effect of racial and ethnic diversity in the military as a basis for upholding an admissions policy at the University of Michigan Law School. He also stated, ""You do need to look at the real-world impact in this area."

CNN reporters point out that some senators continue to caution that while his comments this week may hint at a more moderate position than those expressed in his earlier writings as a Justice Department lawyer in the Reagan administration, they were so few and so cautiously phrased that ongoing concern regarding his overall refusal to be more forthcoming throughout the hearings is warranted.

Roberts, however, describes himself as a "modest judge," promises to approach the law with "a certain humility" as well as "an open mind," and tries to assure members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he has "no agenda."

The committee will vote next week on whether to recommend Roberts' nomination to the full Senate.

Court Nominee Says His Record Shows He Is No Ideologue - New York Times

Court Nominee Says His Record Shows He Is No Ideologue - New York TimesSeptember 15, 2005
Court Nominee Says His Record Shows He Is No Ideologue

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 - Judge John G. Roberts Jr., the prospective chief justice of the United States, tried today to win over wary Senate Democrats who questioned the depth of his commitment to minority rights and to candor.

Judge Roberts told an apparently skeptical Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts that he did indeed believe in affirmative action, as demonstrated in part by his work as a private lawyer to guide minority students through the rigors of law school

"Senator, there's a great deal in my background that you could look to in that respect," Judge Roberts said. He said that, as a lawyer, he had argued for both sides in affirmative action issues. Nor should his work as a lawyer in the Reagan administration be interpreted as signaling a lukewarm attitude to affirmative action, he said.

"Yes," Judge Roberts said, "I was in an administration that was opposed to quotas." But that did not equate to opposition to affirmative action, the judge emphasized.

"Do you believe that we have the authority and the power to pass legislation to free ourselves from the stains of racial discrimination?" Mr. Kennedy asked at one point.

"Yes," the nominee replied.

But some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee complained that Judge Roberts, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and would succeed William H. Rehnquist if confirmed, had not been forthcoming enough.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said that, while many of his answers sounded good, further review showed that "there was less than met the ear."

"What kind of justice will John Roberts be?" Mr. Schumer asked, implying that the nominee's answers had not shone enough light on that question.

The answer, Judge Roberts said, can be found by looking at "what kind of judge I've been." Any objective study of his opinions will show that "these are not the opinions of an ideologue," the judge said.

Judge Roberts finished his testimony today. The committee next began to hear from about 30 witnesses representing the American Bar Association and both political parties.

The witnesses offered such differing perspectives that they could almost have been talking about two different men, or lawyers.

Stephen L. Tober of Portsmouth, N.H., the chairman of the American Bar Association's standing committee on the federal judiciary, said the candidate "meets the highest standards."

"He has the admiration and respect of his colleagues on and off the bench," Mr. Tober said. "And he is, we have found, the very definition of collegial."

But Reginald M. Turner Jr., the president of the National Bar Association, which represents some 20,000 black lawyers, said the nominee's record was not only "complex and troubling" but incomplete, because Judge Roberts's backers had withheld some paperwork that might have illuminated his views. For those reasons, Mr. Turner said, his organization could not support the nominee.

A Utah state court judge, Denise Lindberg, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, said Judge Roberts's "honesty, fairness and decency," as well as his formidable intellect, would make him a superb chief justice, able to bring some consensus to a divided court.

But Ann Marie Tallman, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the nominee had made "insensitive and dismissive remarks" about members of minority groups while working in the Reagan administration, and that some of his views, if enacted into law, would subtract from the rights of immigrants.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the committee, said he hopes to conclude the proceedings this evening. The committee is expected to vote on the nomination next Thursday and, since Republicans have a 10-to-8 majority on the panel and 55 of the 100 seats in the Senate, Judge Roberts's prospects look good when the full Senate votes, probably on Sept. 26.

But some Democrats have clearly not been won over.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Senator Dianne Feinstein of California told the nominee. Senator Feinstein voted for Judge Roberts two years ago, when he was confirmed to the appeals court. But given the nominee's youth (he is 50) and the likelihood that he could be chief justice for decades, "my vote means more now," the senator said.

Judge Roberts has voiced great admiration for William Rehnquist, for whom he was once a clerk. But in an exchange today with Senator Kennedy, he also expressed deep respect for Chief Justice Earl Warren, whose judicial philosophy was far to the left of Chief Justice Rehnquist's.

"He appreciated the impact the decision in Brown would have," Judge Roberts said, alluding to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling of 1954 that outlawed segregation in public schools.

Judge Roberts recalled that Chief Justice Warren so appreciated the Brown case's effect on "real people and real lives" that he thought it vital to obtain a unanimous ruling in the case and, through patience and collegial discussions, he did.

The nominee said, in a back-and-forth with Senator Feinstein, that he did not always side with corporations in cases involving workers' rights. A review of his Court of Appeals decisions would demonstrate that, he said.

While not saying how she will vote, Senator Feinstein did indicate a personal liking for the nominee. "You did let a little bit of a man come through," she said. "Thank you very much."

But the committee's ranking Democrat, Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, made it clear, albeit good-naturedly, that he wished the nominee had revealed more.

"Judge, you're really going to miss us, aren't you?" Mr. Leahy asked.

When Judge Roberts just chuckled, Mr. Leahy said, "You're not even going to answer that one, are you?"

"Well," the judge said finally, "it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Senator."

Support for Bush Continues to Drop, Poll Shows - New York Times

Support for Bush Continues to Drop, Poll Shows - New York TimesSeptember 15, 2005
Support for Bush Continues to Drop, Poll Shows

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 - A summer of bad news from Iraq, high gasoline prices, economic unease and now the devastation of Hurricane Katrina has left President Bush with overall approval ratings for his job performance and handling of Iraq, foreign policy and the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

For the first time, just half of Americans approve of Mr. Bush's handling of terrorism, which has been his most consistent strength since he scored 90 percent approval ratings in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 6 in 10 now say that he does not share their priorities for the country, 10 percentage points worse than on the eve of his re-election last fall, while barely half say he has strong qualities of leadership, about the same as said so at the early low-ebb of his presidency in the summer of 2001.

More Americans now distrust the federal government to do the right thing than at any time since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And the poll revealed a sharp racial divide. While half of all respondents disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled the aftermath of Katrina, nearly three quarters of blacks do. (Mr. Bush won only about 10 percent of the black vote last year.)

The hurricane, alone, does not appear to have taken any significant toll on Mr. Bush's overall job approval rating, which remains stuck virtually where it has been since early summer. But the findings do suggest that the slow federal response to the hurricane has increased public doubts about the Bush administration's effectiveness. Fifty-six percent of Americans said they were now less confident about the government's ability to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Taken together, the numbers suggest that a public that has long seen Mr. Bush as a determined leader, whether it agreed with him or not, has growing doubts about his capacity to deal with pressing problems. More than 6 in 10 said they were uneasy about his ability to make the right decisions about the war in Iraq, and half expressed similar unease about his ability to deal with the problems of the storm's victims.

Mr. Bush's support remained strong among Republicans, conservatives, evangelical Christians and those who said they voted for him last fall. Nearly twice as many people - 63 percent - said the country was "pretty seriously" on the wrong track as those who said it was headed in the right direction, equal to the worst level of Mr. Bush's presidency during a spate of bad news last year.

Over all, 41 percent of respondents approved of Mr. Bush's performance in office, while 53 percent disapproved. Those figures are in line with other national polls conducted in the last week, roughly equal to the worst ratings Mr. Bush has ever received, comparable to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton's worst ratings, but well above the worst ever posted by the president's father, Jimmy Carter and Richard M. Nixon.

The Times/CBS News Poll was conducted Friday through Tuesday with 1,167 adults, including 877 whites and 211 blacks. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points for all respondents and whites, and seven percentage points for blacks. The survey was mostly completed before Mr. Bush said on Tuesday that he accepted responsibility for flaws in the federal response to the hurricane.

Dan Bartlett, Mr. Bush's counselor and chief communications strategist, said the White House was not especially surprised by the poll's findings.

"Obviously, as we have said, with a sharp increase in the cost of gasoline and anxiety about the war, that is obviously reflected in the polls, and then we have a sustained amount of heavy coverage of what has been described as a major failure of government at all levels, it shouldn't surprise people that that would be reflected in the poll numbers on the president, and particularly on terrorism," Mr. Bartlett said.

"The president is going to continue to focus on his responsibilities as not only president but commander in chief, when it comes to making sure we do everything we can to help the people hit by Katrina, as well as continue to conduct the war on terrorism in an aggressive way," he added.

While the poll found that 70 percent said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was too slow in responding to the aftermath of the hurricane, 53 percent said the agency was now doing all it could reasonably be expected to do.

The same did not hold true for the Bush administration itself; 68 percent said it had not yet developed a clear plan for finding housing and jobs for people left homeless by the hurricane. Mr. Bush is to address the nation from New Orleans on Thursday night to elaborate on the government's planned response to the disaster.

Before the storm hit, polls had shown that rising gasoline prices were becoming increasingly worrisome to a majority of Americans, and the hurricane has only worsened that concern. Almost half the public said the economy was deteriorating, the worst that number has been in four years. Fifty-six percent expect the economy to decline as a result of the hurricane, and nearly three-quarters anticipate taxes will rise for the same reason.

The poll also pointed up starkly different attitudes toward Mr. Bush and the government among blacks and whites that were not so much caused by the storm as laid bare by it. While two-thirds of all Americans said Mr. Bush cares at least somewhat about the people left homeless by the hurricane, fewer than one-third of blacks agreed. Two-thirds of blacks said race was a major factor in the government's slow response to the flooding in New Orleans, while an almost identical number of whites said it was not.

Storm victims had to wait for a week for help to arrive, said Allison McKinney, 33, a housewife and former teacher in Fort Bragg, N.C. "I don't think that would happen to any other city, because New Orleans is a poor city." Ms. McKinney, who is black, grew up in New Orleans and was among those who agreed to be interviewed after participating in the poll. "It took Katrina for people to realize that the city had a major impact on the rest of the country. I think it's sad that you would wait for the total devastation of a city to come to that realization."

But Juanita Harrington, 78, a retired Verizon employee and Bush supporter in Larkspur, Colo., said critics of the president "focus everything as if he were a magician and could wave a magic wand and change things."

She added: "The people that were there locally didn't take care of matters there, either. I'm talking about the mayor of New Orleans, I'm talking about the governor, I'm talking about that crazy woman senator from Louisiana - she was an idiot. He may not have succeeded totally, but nobody else did, either."

The poll suggested the cumulative effects of months of bad news from the continuing insurgency in Iraq. Exactly 50 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Bush's handling of terrorism, for example, and while that figure is the single worst ranking since the question was first asked four years ago, it is only slightly worse than it was early this summer. But that is 11 points worse than it was in February, just after the first successful round of elections in Iraq.

The data also suggest that the residual support that has steadily buoyed Mr. Bush in the four years since the Sept. 11 attacks may have reached its limit, for now. Fifty-three percent of Americans still say he has strong qualities of leadership, down 9 percentage points since he was re-elected and essentially equal to his all-time previous low in the summer of 2001, when his presidency seemed becalmed before the attacks.

At the same time, 45 percent of Americans now say Mr. Bush does not have strong leadership qualities, six percentage points more than last fall, and the highest percentage since the Times/CBS poll first asked the question during Mr. Bush's initial campaign in 1999.

Those general impressions now extend across the board in reviews of Mr. Bush's handling of particular issues. Thirty-eight percent of Americans approve of his handling of foreign policy; 35 percent of his handling of the economy; and 36 percent of his handling of the situation in Iraq. All those are at or roughly equal to his all-time lows - and below his all-time highs by double digits.

Some of the pessimism seemed clearly fueled by higher gasoline prices. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said they had cut back on household spending as a result of higher prices, and 8 in 10 said the administration had no plan for keeping prices down, though more than 6 in 10 said the price of gas is something a president can do a lot about.

A majority of the public is willing to pay more in taxes to assist hurricane victims with job training and housing; about 4 in 10 said they would be willing to pay as much as $200 a year more to help out with the storm's aftermath.

Megan Thee and Fred Backus contributed reporting for this article.

Roberts Parries Queries on Roe and End of Life - New York Times

Roberts Parries Queries on Roe and End of Life - New York TimesSeptember 15, 2005
Roberts Parries Queries on Roe and End of Life

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 - Judge John G. Roberts Jr. faced increasingly contentious questions from Democrats on Wednesday as he outlined his views on an array of legal issues, but repeatedly declined to address some of the most ideologically charged matters, including whether the Constitution establishes a right to abortion and a right to die.

"I'm not standing for election," Judge Roberts said in one testy exchange on end-of-life issues on the third day of his confirmation hearings for chief justice of the United States.

His refusal to elaborate on his statement that there is a constitutionally protected right to privacy drew criticism from Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, one of several Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who challenged him with growing frustration on Wednesday.

"Without any knowledge of your understanding of the law, because you will not share it with us," Mr. Biden said, "we are rolling the dice with you, Judge."

But Judge Roberts, by the end of a second long day of careful, unflappable testimony, appeared in comfortable position for a confirmation vote next Thursday in the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee and, many Republicans predicted, a strong vote the following week in the full Senate, where Republicans have a 10-vote majority.

"If people can't vote for you," Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, told Judge Roberts, "then I doubt that they can vote for any Republican nominee."

Leading Democrats on the committee refused to discuss how they would vote, saying Judge Roberts's views were still largely unknown.

"The American people are entitled to answers," said Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Judge Roberts did respond to questions on capital punishment, affirmative action, the limits of Congressional power and other legal issues during 10 hours of testimony before the committee's 18 senators.

He said, for instance, that he agreed with an aspect of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's decision in a recent case that allowed public colleges and universities to take race into account in admissions decisions. The decision took note of the practical consequences for minority applicants.

"You do need to look at the real-world impact in this area," Judge Roberts said.

He also discussed a Supreme Court death penalty case in which he filed a brief as a government lawyer in 1992. The brief said that newly discovered evidence of a death row inmate's innocence should not be considered by the courts if it is raised too late.

"Does the Constitution permit the execution of an innocent person?" asked Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

"I would think not," Judge Roberts said, adding later that the 1992 case did not involve DNA evidence that could provide categorical proof of innocence.

Also, while acknowledging that as a young lawyer in the Reagan administration he opposed a provision that made it easier to prove voting rights violations, Judge Roberts defended his position on the Voting Rights Act.

"It wasn't a dispute about the goal," he said. "It wasn't a dispute about the objective." He said that he now believed that the broader approach ultimately adopted by Congress was constitutional.

While most of the questions ran along party lines - friendly from the Republicans, decidedly less so from the Democrats - senators from both parties expressed frustration with and even hostility toward the current court. That left Judge Roberts in the uncomfortable position of trying to protect the reputation and prerogatives of the institution he hopes to join while appearing attentive to the concerns of those who will decide whether he can.

Over and over, Judge Roberts was questioned by senators in both parties about Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision recognizing a constitutional right to abortion. As on Tuesday, he refused to discuss his views on whether the case should be overruled. Under questioning from Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, he did say that no one in the Bush administration had asked him for his views on the case.

Judge Roberts listened carefully to questions touching on any area related to abortion and hesitated to answer many of them. He was noticeably suspicious, for instance, when Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, asked him, "Would you agree that the opposite of being dead is being alive?"

Judge Roberts paused and said, hesitantly and to laughter, "Yes," adding, "I don't mean to be overly cautious in answering it."

The line of questioning did indeed end at abortion, and Judge Roberts declined to answer direct questions concerning it.

Judge Roberts also declined to answer questions about his personal views on issues like assisted suicide.

"I'm trying to see your feelings as a man," Ms. Feinstein said. "I'm not asking you for a legal view."

But Judge Roberts resisted, saying that a judge's personal views and values should play no role in his judicial decisions.

He also declined to comment on Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that resolved the presidential election that year.

He was less reluctant to talk about his judicial philosophy, so long as the discussion remained relatively abstract. He distanced himself, for instance, from the most conservative members of the current Supreme Court, Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who have said they view themselves as bound by the original meaning of the Constitution.

"I depart from some views of original intent," Judge Roberts said, without naming names. "I think you need to look at the words they use," referring to the framers of the Constitution, "and if the words adopt a broader principle, it applies more broadly."

He added, "I think the framers, when they used broad language like 'liberty,' like 'due process,' like 'unreasonable' with respect to searches and seizures, they were crafting a document that they intended to apply in a meaningful way down the ages."

He similarly distanced himself from members of the court, including Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer, who have endorsed the citation of decisions from foreign courts in some cases. But Judge Roberts drew the line when Mr. Coburn suggested that Supreme Court justices who cite foreign judicial precedents in their decisions should be subject to impeachment.

Judge Roberts said he agreed that the citation of foreign law was "not a good approach." But, he added, "I wouldn't accuse judges or justices who disagree with that, though, of violating their oath."

In a somewhat similar vein, Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, asked Judge Roberts whether the Constitution authorizes Congress to limit the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to hear certain sorts of cases. Judge Roberts discussed the legal arguments on both sides of the question but suggested that he viewed any such efforts as unwise. "The primary check on the courts," he said, "has always been judicial self-restraint."

But Judge Roberts also said he was reluctant to pick too many fights with Congress, at least for now.

Mr. Coburn asked him, for instance, whether there was room for improvement in the clarity of the legislation Congress passes.

"Sitting where I am," Judge Roberts said, "I'm not terribly inclined to be critical of the Congress and wouldn't be, in any event."

Supporters of abortion rights remained wary of Judge Roberts. Planned Parenthood Federation of America formally announced its opposition to his nomination on Wednesday, saying Judge Roberts's record and testimony "leave grave doubt about whether he will protect, not take away, a woman's right to choose."

Most Democrats of the Judiciary Committee seem inclined to oppose the Roberts nomination, but it is still unclear how Democrats as a whole will vote. Republicans are all but challenging them not to vote for a jurist who is unquestionably qualified.

Ed Gillespie, the former Republican Party chairman who is overseeing the nomination on behalf of the White House, said, "If you apply the historical standard - is he intellectually qualified, is he ethically qualified, is he fair and even-handed, the standard that allowed Justice Scalia to get close to 100 votes and Justice Ginsburg to get close to 100 votes, then clearly Judge Roberts deserves to get close to 100 votes."

But some Democrats argue that times have changed, that the nation and the courts are far more ideologically divided than they were during those earlier nominations and that they have a right to know where Judge Roberts stands on some of the most divisive issues.

"There's so much water under the dam since then," Mrs. Feinstein said.

"The nation is divided, it's polarized, we're at war," she said, adding, "Executive authority is very much on people's minds."

Moreover, the prospect of another nomination - and how conservative he or she might be - is an unpredictable variable in any political calculation, many strategists said.

Judge Roberts gave expansive answers, seeming most at ease when he was given the opportunity to explain the state of the law in complex areas like eminent domain and antitrust. He did not give much detail about his own views on these topics, but his discussion of the leading cases and governing principles was informal, confident and lucid.

After declining to answer any questions on Tuesday about charges that he had acted improperly in participating in a case earlier this year, he gave some basic information about it on Wednesday. The case concerned the military commissions the Bush administration intends to use to try several of those being held as enemy combatants at the naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Judge Roberts joined a decision ruling for the administration in July.

Experts on legal ethics have been divided about whether Judge Roberts should have recused himself given that he was then under consideration for the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, Judge Roberts said that the decision was drafted before there was a Supreme Court vacancy and completed before he was first interviewed by President Bush.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said that Judge Roberts's refusal to answer many questions had rendered the hearings absurd. Mr. Schumer suggested that Judge Roberts would not even name his favorite movies.

Judge Roberts named two: "Doctor Zhivago" and "North by Northwest."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

All Headline News - Poll Shows Racial Divide On Views Of Hurricane Response - September 14, 2005

All Headline News - Poll Shows Racial Divide On Views Of Hurricane Response - September 14, 2005Poll Shows Racial Divide On Views Of Hurricane Response

September 13, 2005 12:27 p.m. EST

Hector Duarte Jr. - All Headline News Staff Reporter

New Orleans, LA (AHN) - A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday says white and black Americans have strong opposing views of Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, with blacks viewing race as a factor in problems with the federal response.

The poll found six in 10 blacks say the federal government's response was slow in rescuing those stranded in New Orleans because of their race, while only one in eight white participants shared the same opinion.

Sixty-three percent of blacks blame poverty for the slow response, compared to 21 percent whites.

The poll is based on interviews with 848 whites and 262 blacks and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.

A separate survey on the hurricane response, which was not broken down by race, found a majority of those interviewed disapproved of Bush's handling of the emergency.

The first poll showed blacks were more likely to blame Bush for problems in New Orleans, with 37 percent blaming him for residents being trapped inside the city after it was immersed.

Twenty percent of blacks blamed Mayor Ray Nagin, 11 percent blamed residents themselves and 27 percent blamed no one. Among whites, 29 percent blamed Nagin, 27 percent blamed residents, 15 percent blamed Bush and 24 percent blamed no one.

More blacks than whites say they were angry about the government's response to Katrina, 76 percent versus 60 percent.

Only 15 percent of blacks say Bush did a good job in the initial days after Katrina and 36 percent thought he did a good job in recent days. For whites, it was 49 percent in the initial days and 63 percent more recently.

Questioned on whether Bush cares for blacks, 67 percent of whites say they believed so, while only 21 percent of blacks agree.

Eighty-eight percent of blacks say there should be an investigation by an independent panel into lax government response, while 67 percent of whites back up such an investigation

F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said - New York Times

F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said - New York TimesSeptember 14, 2005
F.A.A. Alerted on Qaeda in '98, 9/11 Panel Said

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 - American aviation officials were warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark," according to previously secret portions of a report prepared last year by the Sept. 11 commission. The officials also realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used in the hijackings had suffered repeated security lapses.

Federal Aviation Administration officials were also warned in 2001 in a report prepared for the agency that airport screeners' ability to detect possible weapons had "declined significantly" in recent years, but little was done to remedy the problem, the Sept. 11 commission found.

The White House and many members of the commission, which has completed its official work, have been battling for more than a year over the release of the commission's report on aviation failures, which was completed in August 2004.

A heavily redacted version was released by the Bush administration in January, but commission members complained that the deleted material contained information critical to the public's understanding of what went wrong on Sept. 11. In response, the administration prepared a new public version of the report, which was posted Tuesday on the National Archives Web site.

While the new version still blacks out numerous references to particular shortcomings in aviation security, it restores dozens of other portions of the report that the administration had been considered too sensitive for public release.

The newly disclosed material follows the basic outline of what was already known about aviation failings, namely that the F.A.A. had ample reason to suspect that Al Qaeda might try to hijack a plane yet did little to deter it. But it also adds significant details about the nature and specificity of aviation warnings over the years, security lapses by the government and the airlines, and turf battles between federal agencies.

Some of the details were in confidential bulletins circulated by the agency to airports and airlines, and some were in its internal reports.

"While we still believe that the entire document could be made available to the public without damaging national security, we welcome this step forward," the former leaders of the commission, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, said in a joint statement. "The additional detail provided in this version of the monograph will make a further contribution to the public record of the facts and circumstances of the 9/11 attacks established by the final report of the 9/11 commission."

Bush administration officials said they had worked at the commission's request to restore much of the material that had been blacked out in the original report. "Out of an abundance of caution, there are a variety of reasons why the U.S. government would not want to disclose certain security measures and not make them available in the public domain for terrorists to exploit," said Russ Knocke, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security.

Commission officials said they were perplexed by the administration's original attempts to black out material they said struck them as trivial or mundane.

One previously deleted section showed, for instance, that flights carrying the author Salman Rushdie were subjected to heightened security in the summer of 2001 because of a fatwa of violence against him, while a previously deleted footnote showed that "sewing scissors" would be allowed in the hands of a woman with sewing equipment, but prohibited "in the possession of a man who possessed no other sewing equipment."

Other deletions, however, highlighted more serious security concerns. A footnote that was originally deleted from the report showed that a quarter of the security screeners used in 2001 by Argenbright Security for United Airlines flights at Dulles Airport had not completed required criminal background checks, the commission report said. Another previously deleted footnote, related to the lack of security for cockpit doors, criticized American Airlines for security lapses.

Much of the material now restored in the public version of the commission's report centered on the warnings the F.A.A. received about the threat of hijackings, including 52 intelligence documents in the months before the Sept. 11 attacks that mentioned Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden.

A 1995 National Intelligence Estimate, a report prepared by intelligence officials, "highlighted the growing domestic threat of terrorist attack, including a risk to civil aviation," the commission found in a blacked-out portion of the report.

And in 1998 and 1999, the commission report said, the F.A.A.'s intelligence unit produced reports about the hijacking threat posed by Al Qaeda, "including the possibility that the terrorist group might try to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark."

The unit considered this prospect "unlikely" and a "last resort," with a greater threat of a hijacking overseas, the commission found.

Still, in 2000, the commission said, the F.A.A. warned carriers and airports that while political conditions in the 1990's had made a terrorist seizure of an airliner less likely, "we believe that the situation has changed."

"We assess that the prospect for terrorist hijacking has increased and that U.S. airliners could be targeted in an attempt to obtain the release of indicted or convicted terrorists imprisoned in the United States."

It concluded, however, that such a hijacking was more likely outside the United States.

By September 2001 the F.A.A. was receiving some 200 pieces a day of intelligence from other agencies about possible threats, and it had opened more than 1,200 files to track possible threats, the commission found.

The commission found that F.A.A. officials were repeatedly warned about security lapses before Sept. 11 and, despite their increased concerns about a hijacking, allowed screening performance to decline significantly.

While box cutters like those used by the hijackers were not necessarily a banned item before Sept. 11, some security experts have said that tougher screening and security could have detected the threat the hijackers posed. But screening measures at two of the three airports used by the hijackers - Logan in Boston and Dulles near Washington - were known to be inadequate, the commission found. Reviews at Newark airport also found some security violations, but it was the only one of the three airports used on Sept. 11 that met or exceeded national norms.

Richard Ben-Veniste, a former member of the Sept. 11 commission, said the release of the material more than a year after it was completed underscored the over-classification of federal material. "It's outrageous that it has taken the administration a year since this monograph was submitted for it to be released," he said. "There's no reason it could not have been released earlier."

Roberts Fields Questions on Privacy and Precedents - New York Times

Roberts Fields Questions on Privacy and Precedents - New York TimesSeptember 14, 2005
Roberts Fields Questions on Privacy and Precedents

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 - In a day punctuated by flashes of hostility and humor, Judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday acknowledged a constitutional right to privacy and said overturning precedent was a "jolt to the legal system."

But he artfully sidestepped the contentious question that has dogged him as a Supreme Court nominee, whether he opposes Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. [Excerpts, Page A26.]

Roe became an issue minutes after the start of the second day of the first Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 11 years and one in which Judge Roberts, President Bush's nominee to be the nation's 17th chief justice, was also questioned on his views on civil rights, gender discrimination, presidential authority and the proper role of judges.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked Judge Roberts a series of questions intended to draw him out on whether he believes the right to abortion is so embedded in the fabric of American life that it must not be overturned.

The nominee wasted little time in drawing the line against answering questions that, he said, could come before the court. Four minutes into the hearing, he told Mr. Specter, "I feel the need to stay away from a discussion of particular cases."

He reiterated that phrase in one form or another throughout the day on subjects as varied as the right to die and the treatment of foreign detainees.

Democrats kept a tally of the number of questions they said Judge Roberts refused to answer, putting the number at 60.

Judge Roberts told the senators that he did not have a specific legal philosophy, and he resisted comparisons to William H. Rehnquist, the late chief justice for whom he once clerked, telling senators that he would be "my own man."

He also flatly rejected the idea that his Roman Catholic religion played a role in his court decisions, saying: "I look to the law books and always have. I don't look to the Bible or any other religious source."

The session, which began at 9:30 a.m. and continued until nearly 8 p.m., was the panel's first unscripted public exchange with Judge Roberts.

It offered Senate Democrats, who have complained bitterly that they know too little about the nominee's personal views, their first chance to question Judge Roberts on his judicial philosophy and legal record.

Drawing on thousands of documents from the nominee's days as a young lawyer with the Reagan administration, the Democrats peppered Judge Roberts with questions on presidential authority, civil rights and gender discrimination.

Perhaps the sharpest clash involved memorandums that Judge Roberts wrote in the early 1980's that argued that the Reagan administration was correct in opposing new provisions in a law that extended the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The bill, which passed the House with an overwhelming majority, made it easier to prove voting rights violations.

"I'm deeply troubled by a narrow and cramped and, perhaps, even a mean-spirited view of the law that appears in some of your writings," Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who was a chief architect of the extension, said.

In a terse back and forth, Judge Roberts said he supported the Voting Rights Act, noting that the Supreme Court had previously agreed with the Reagan administration,

Later, when Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, pressed the issue again, the nominee could barely contain his exasperation. "Senator," Judge Roberts, 50 years old, said, "you keep referring to what I supported and what I wanted to do. I was a 26-year-old staff lawyer. It was my first job as a lawyer, after my clerkships. I was not shaping administration policy."

There were similar exchanges throughout the day. In one, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, pressed Judge Roberts about his writings on women's rights, saying, "You speak about modesty and humility, and yet none of these comments are modest or humble."

At another point, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, accused Judge Roberts of being misleading in answering a question about equal treatment for female prisoners, an accusation the judge firmly denied. Mr. Biden repeatedly cut off Judge Roberts, prompting Mr. Specter to interject and instruct his Democratic colleague to let the nominee speak.

"He's filibustering, Senator," Mr. Biden said. Then, to Judge Roberts, he said: "Go ahead. Go ahead and continue not to answer."

There were light moments, as well, as when Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, read Judge Roberts a lengthy quotation from Benjamin N. Cardozo, the Supreme Court justice in the 1930's, in which the justice said, "A judge, even when he is free, is still not wholly free."

Mr. Grassley asked what the passage meant and whether he agreed with it.

"I know I agree with it," Judge Roberts responded. "Now let me figure out what he meant by it."

Another humorous moment occurred when Judge Roberts was asked about a 1983 memorandum in which he advocated term limits for judges.

"You know," he said, "that would be one of those memos that I no longer agree with."

Despite his often-stated reluctance to discuss particular Supreme Court cases, Judge Roberts did not avoid them entirely. He said he agreed with the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.

He allowed himself an answer, albeit a careful one, when Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the panel, asked about the 1944 case, Korematsu v. United States, in which the Supreme Court upheld the right of the federal government to place people of Japanese ancestry in internment camps.

Mr. Leahy, saying he wanted to assure himself that Judge Roberts would not "be a Korematsu justice," asked the nominee whether he would consider such internment unconstitutional.

"I suppose a case like that could come before the court," Judge Roberts replied. "I would be surprised to see it. And I would be surprised if there were any arguments that could support it."

The day began with a bang, when Mr. Specter, whose support for abortion rights is well known, delved straight into that topic, pressing Judge Roberts on questions of precedent and the legal principle of stare decisis, a Latin term that means "to stand by things decided."

Mr. Specter quickly introduced the only prop of the day, a large chart that, he said, demonstrated that the Supreme Court had the opportunity to overrule Roe v. Wade on 38 occasions and had not done so.

He reminded the nominee of a remark that Judge Roberts made in 2003, when the Senate was considering him for the seat he has on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in which he said Roe was "settled law."

"Do you mean settled for you?" Mr. Specter asked. "Settled only for your capacity as a circuit judge? Or settled beyond that?"

"Well, beyond that," Judge Roberts replied. "It's settled as a precedent of the court, entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis."

Conservatives and liberals said the line of questioning was smart strategy on Mr. Specter's part.

"I think it takes some of the wind out of the Democrats' sails later," said Leonard Leo, who is on leave from a position at the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, to coordinate support for Judge Roberts.

Some of the most freewheeling exchanges involved Mr. Biden, a potential presidential candidate, who elicited from the nominee that there is a right to privacy to be found in the liberty clause of the 14th Amendment and that the right extends to women.

The comment was important, because the right to privacy provided a part of the philosophical underpinning for Roe v. Wade.

But Judge Roberts was careful as he made the remark, telling the senators that all the current Supreme Court justices would agree that there was a right to privacy "to some extent or another."

Judge Roberts parted company with some of the justices he will join, if he is confirmed, by expressing reservations about the Supreme Court's recent use of foreign judicial decisions in cases that involved constitutional questions.

In cases in the last few years involving the death penalty and gay rights, several justices have looked to decisions from courts abroad to help justify the rulings.

"The trend," Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, said, "if it is to become one, is greatly troubling to me and to many of my colleagues."

Judge Roberts seemed to agree, citing two concerns. "The first," he said, "has to do with democratic theory."

Because foreign judges are not chosen by the elected representatives of the American people, he said, those judges are not accountable to them.

Moreover, he added, foreign decisions do not confine or constrain American judges.

"Looking at foreign law for support," Judge Roberts said, "is like looking out over a crowd and picking out your friends. You can find them. They're there. And that actually expands the discretion of the judge."

Judge Roberts's position on that point aligns him with Justice Antonin Scalia, who has been harshly dismissive of taking account of international precedents, and against Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer.

In the afternoon, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, asked Judge Roberts how he hoped historians would remember him.

"I'd like them to start by saying," Judge Roberts said, " 'He was confirmed.' "