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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Japan Today - News - Up to 3,000 feared dead as quake hits Pakistan-India border - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Up to 3,000 feared dead as quake hits Pakistan-India border - Japan's Leading International News NetworkPentagon seeks power to gather secret intelligence in U.S.

Sunday, October 9, 2005 at 07:17 JST
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is seeking authority to secretly collect information about U.S. citizens and emigres, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

DIA General Counsel George Peirce told the paper that the agency was seeking to expand its powers to help recruit sources of intelligence information.

Japan Today - News - Pentagon seeks power to gather secret intelligence in U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Pentagon seeks power to gather secret intelligence in U.S. - Japan's Leading International News NetworkPentagon seeks power to gather secret intelligence in U.S.

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Sunday, October 9, 2005 at 07:17 JST
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is seeking authority to secretly collect information about U.S. citizens and emigres, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

DIA General Counsel George Peirce told the paper that the agency was seeking to expand its powers to help recruit sources of intelligence information.

NPR : Pending Vote on Constitution Divides Iraq

NPR : Pending Vote on Constitution Divides IraqPending Vote on Constitution Divides Iraq

by Scott Simon and Anne Garrels

Weekend Edition - Saturday, October 8, 2005 · An Oct. 15 referendum is scheduled on a constitution for Iraq. Many Sunni Muslims fear that the federalist charter will deprive them of benefits of the nation's oil reserves and a chance at public-sector jobs.

NPR : Good News, Bad News for U.S. Job Market

NPR : Good News, Bad News for U.S. Job MarketGood News, Bad News for U.S. Job Market

by Frank Langfitt

Morning Edition, October 7, 2005 · The U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time in more than two years, according to a government report out Friday. But the loss was far less than economists had predicted. Some analysts see the number as relatively good news, given the toll Hurricane Katrina took on the Gulf Coast.

Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee - New York Times

Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee - New York TimesOctober 9, 2005
Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - After a blistering week, the White House is scrambling to control a conservative uprising over the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, with President Bush pitching his choice directly to the public on Saturday as his Republican allies plotted strategy to shore up support.

"Harriet Miers will be the type of judge I said I would nominate: a good conservative judge," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. He added, "When she goes before the Senate, I am confident that all Americans will see what I see every day: Harriet Miers is a woman of intelligence, strength and conviction."

It was the third time since he picked Ms. Miers on Monday that the president has come to her defense. His remarks came as Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who presides over confirmation hearings, offered a blunt assessment that was yet another sign that the nominee faced an uphill battle on Capitol Hill. Though Mr. Specter called Ms. Miers "intellectually able," he said she had a "fair-sized job to do" to become fluent in the language of constitutional law, which will be essential for senators who want to examine her judicial philosophy in deciding whether to confirm her.

"She needs more than murder boards," Mr. Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview, referring to the mock question-and-answer sessions most nominees use to prepare for their confirmation hearings. "She needs a crash course in constitutional law."

The conservative uproar over Ms. Miers underscores how difficult it has been for Mr. Bush to pull his own party together as he faces a variety of problems on other fronts: his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina; a leak investigation involving his chief political adviser, Karl Rove; the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, who was the House majority leader; and, most recently, the decision by a top Justice Department nominee to withdraw amid questions over his ties to a Republican lobbyist accused of fraud.

Only a week ago, Republicans were saying they looked forward to a new Supreme Court nominee because it would give them something to rally around, providing a welcome distraction from the Bush administration's problems. But the nomination of Ms. Miers served only to roil a party that is already divided over domestic matters like Social Security and how to pay to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Now, having alienated his conservative backers, Mr. Bush must go forward on the Miers nomination alone, without the help of many of the advocates who led the charge for the last nominee, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Behind the scenes, Republican allies of the White House said they were trying to put together a public relations strategy to combat the mounting criticism over the Miers nomination. The effort, they said, would include administration officials, the Republican National Committee and conservative advocates who will carry onto television, talk radio and other forums the message that Ms. Miers, the White House counsel and a close confidante of the president, is a strong choice and that Mr. Bush will stand firmly behind her.

They said the White House was working to assemble a dossier that would back up its case about Ms. Miers's record of accomplishment, her legal qualifications and her conservative credentials. The administration was trying to assemble and review as much documentation as it could find about Ms. Miers's public record before she came to the White House, including details of her service on the Dallas City Council and her role as president of the State Bar of Texas.

Jim Dyke, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee who has joined the White House to help confirm Ms. Miers, said in an interview that she was being seriously underestimated.

"President of the Texas bar association, president of the Dallas Bar Association, head of a major law firm, those are impressive credentials and they are being summarily dismissed," Mr. Dyke said. Asked about Mr. Specter's remark, Mr. Dyke said that as White House counsel, Ms. Miers already had "a mastery of the Constitution and constitutional law," and said she needed to do nothing more than any other nominee to prepare. He added, "There seem to be some unfair assumptions being made."

After Mr. Bush campaigned on a promise that he would choose justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, two of the court's most reliable conservatives, the selection of Ms. Miers, the White House counsel, has infuriated conservatives, who have assailed her as a crony who lacks the proper credentials, as well as a clear record on some of the most important social issues of the day, including abortion, gay marriage and religion in public life.

One prominent conservative, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, ridiculed the nomination as "a joke." Mr. Krauthammer wrote: "The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence."

One conservative advocate, Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, said generating enthusiasm for Ms. Miers was proving difficult because "anytime we put out something positive about her it gets shot to pieces by all our allies and the blogs."

Already, the Senate's most ardent opponent of abortion, Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, has said he is prepared to vote against Ms. Miers, even if he receives a personal plea from Mr. Bush to support her. And while Ms. Miers does appear to be assuaging the concerns of some Republican senators as she meets with them, Republicans are hardly as effusive in their praise as they were early on for Chief Justice Roberts, whose résumé - he argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court as an appellate lawyer - and ability to discuss intricate matters of constitutional law impressed them greatly.

"She obviously faces a challenge following John Roberts," Mr. Specter said. "But nobody expects her to be a second John Roberts."

Yet before the Miers nomination, some of Mr. Bush's closest allies on Capitol Hill said they did want a second John Roberts. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said at one point that he would "be pleased if you could clone John Roberts." After seeing Ms. Miers this week, Mr. Sessions said he was "a little bit troubled" by the conservative criticism, but was taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"I think it's a valid concern of those who support President Bush that we get the kind of nominee that he promised and that he thinks she is," Mr. Sessions said. Of Ms. Miers, he said, "I don't really feel like I know her. I'd like to know more about her record."

With the Senate in recess until Oct. 17, Ms. Miers headed to Dallas, the White House said, to review files from the cases she had handled while in private practice so that she could respond to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. Mr. Specter said Republicans and Democrats were still negotiating the questions, but that he had given Ms. Miers the form used in the Roberts confirmation to get her started.

As Ms. Miers made the rounds on Capitol Hill, at least one Democrat, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, said the nominee had become a victim of sexism. "They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft," Ms. Mikulski said.

Others, like Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said the criticism was elitist.

"I think people have a view of a Supreme Court justice, it's a healthy view, that you should be the best and the brightest," Mr. Graham said. "But to be the best and the brightest, in my opinion, is bigger than your SAT score and where you got your degree."

Several Republicans, including Mr. Specter, said they steered clear of asking Ms. Miers questions about constitutional law. Mr. Specter, who said the timing of the confirmation hearings would depend in part on when Ms. Miers felt ready, said he initiated a discussion of the shifting standards the Supreme Court has applied in interpreting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but only to illustrate to Ms. Miers the kinds of questions she would face during her hearings.

"I did not ask her about it because I don't think she's ready to face it at the moment," he said. "Look, the lady was White House counsel dealing with totally other subjects until Sunday night when the president offered her the job. And Monday she's sitting with me. I'm not going to ask her questions which she hasn't had a chance to study or reflect on."

But Mr. Specter said that did not mean he would go easy on Ms. Miers at the hearings. "Absolutely not. It would be a disservice to the selection process and to her," he said. "She's got to win her wings."

Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting for this article.

Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee - New York Times

Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee - New York TimesOctober 9, 2005
Bush Addresses Unease Over Court Nominee
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 - After a blistering week, the White House is scrambling to control a conservative uprising over the nomination of Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court, with President Bush pitching his choice directly to the public on Saturday as his Republican allies plotted strategy to shore up support.

"Harriet Miers will be the type of judge I said I would nominate: a good conservative judge," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. He added, "When she goes before the Senate, I am confident that all Americans will see what I see every day: Harriet Miers is a woman of intelligence, strength and conviction."

It was the third time since he picked Ms. Miers on Monday that the president has come to her defense. His remarks came as Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who presides over confirmation hearings, offered a blunt assessment that was yet another sign that the nominee faced an uphill battle on Capitol Hill. Though Mr. Specter called Ms. Miers "intellectually able," he said she had a "fair-sized job to do" to become fluent in the language of constitutional law, which will be essential for senators who want to examine her judicial philosophy in deciding whether to confirm her.

"She needs more than murder boards," Mr. Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, said in an interview, referring to the mock question-and-answer sessions most nominees use to prepare for their confirmation hearings. "She needs a crash course in constitutional law."

The conservative uproar over Ms. Miers underscores how difficult it has been for Mr. Bush to pull his own party together as he faces a variety of problems on other fronts: his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina; a leak investigation involving his chief political adviser, Karl Rove; the indictment of Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, who was the House majority leader; and, most recently, the decision by a top Justice Department nominee to withdraw amid questions over his ties to a Republican lobbyist accused of fraud.

Only a week ago, Republicans were saying they looked forward to a new Supreme Court nominee because it would give them something to rally around, providing a welcome distraction from the Bush administration's problems. But the nomination of Ms. Miers served only to roil a party that is already divided over domestic matters like Social Security and how to pay to rebuild the Gulf Coast.

Now, having alienated his conservative backers, Mr. Bush must go forward on the Miers nomination alone, without the help of many of the advocates who led the charge for the last nominee, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Behind the scenes, Republican allies of the White House said they were trying to put together a public relations strategy to combat the mounting criticism over the Miers nomination. The effort, they said, would include administration officials, the Republican National Committee and conservative advocates who will carry onto television, talk radio and other forums the message that Ms. Miers, the White House counsel and a close confidante of the president, is a strong choice and that Mr. Bush will stand firmly behind her.

They said the White House was working to assemble a dossier that would back up its case about Ms. Miers's record of accomplishment, her legal qualifications and her conservative credentials. The administration was trying to assemble and review as much documentation as it could find about Ms. Miers's public record before she came to the White House, including details of her service on the Dallas City Council and her role as president of the State Bar of Texas.

Jim Dyke, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee who has joined the White House to help confirm Ms. Miers, said in an interview that she was being seriously underestimated.

"President of the Texas bar association, president of the Dallas Bar Association, head of a major law firm, those are impressive credentials and they are being summarily dismissed," Mr. Dyke said. Asked about Mr. Specter's remark, Mr. Dyke said that as White House counsel, Ms. Miers already had "a mastery of the Constitution and constitutional law," and said she needed to do nothing more than any other nominee to prepare. He added, "There seem to be some unfair assumptions being made."

After Mr. Bush campaigned on a promise that he would choose justices in the mold of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, two of the court's most reliable conservatives, the selection of Ms. Miers, the White House counsel, has infuriated conservatives, who have assailed her as a crony who lacks the proper credentials, as well as a clear record on some of the most important social issues of the day, including abortion, gay marriage and religion in public life.

One prominent conservative, the columnist Charles Krauthammer, ridiculed the nomination as "a joke." Mr. Krauthammer wrote: "The issue is not the venue of Miers's constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence."

One conservative advocate, Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, said generating enthusiasm for Ms. Miers was proving difficult because "anytime we put out something positive about her it gets shot to pieces by all our allies and the blogs."

Already, the Senate's most ardent opponent of abortion, Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, has said he is prepared to vote against Ms. Miers, even if he receives a personal plea from Mr. Bush to support her. And while Ms. Miers does appear to be assuaging the concerns of some Republican senators as she meets with them, Republicans are hardly as effusive in their praise as they were early on for Chief Justice Roberts, whose résumé - he argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court as an appellate lawyer - and ability to discuss intricate matters of constitutional law impressed them greatly.

"She obviously faces a challenge following John Roberts," Mr. Specter said. "But nobody expects her to be a second John Roberts."

Yet before the Miers nomination, some of Mr. Bush's closest allies on Capitol Hill said they did want a second John Roberts. Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, said at one point that he would "be pleased if you could clone John Roberts." After seeing Ms. Miers this week, Mr. Sessions said he was "a little bit troubled" by the conservative criticism, but was taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"I think it's a valid concern of those who support President Bush that we get the kind of nominee that he promised and that he thinks she is," Mr. Sessions said. Of Ms. Miers, he said, "I don't really feel like I know her. I'd like to know more about her record."

With the Senate in recess until Oct. 17, Ms. Miers headed to Dallas, the White House said, to review files from the cases she had handled while in private practice so that she could respond to the Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire. Mr. Specter said Republicans and Democrats were still negotiating the questions, but that he had given Ms. Miers the form used in the Roberts confirmation to get her started.

As Ms. Miers made the rounds on Capitol Hill, at least one Democrat, Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, said the nominee had become a victim of sexism. "They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft," Ms. Mikulski said.

Others, like Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said the criticism was elitist.

"I think people have a view of a Supreme Court justice, it's a healthy view, that you should be the best and the brightest," Mr. Graham said. "But to be the best and the brightest, in my opinion, is bigger than your SAT score and where you got your degree."

Several Republicans, including Mr. Specter, said they steered clear of asking Ms. Miers questions about constitutional law. Mr. Specter, who said the timing of the confirmation hearings would depend in part on when Ms. Miers felt ready, said he initiated a discussion of the shifting standards the Supreme Court has applied in interpreting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but only to illustrate to Ms. Miers the kinds of questions she would face during her hearings.

"I did not ask her about it because I don't think she's ready to face it at the moment," he said. "Look, the lady was White House counsel dealing with totally other subjects until Sunday night when the president offered her the job. And Monday she's sitting with me. I'm not going to ask her questions which she hasn't had a chance to study or reflect on."

But Mr. Specter said that did not mean he would go easy on Ms. Miers at the hearings. "Absolutely not. It would be a disservice to the selection process and to her," he said. "She's got to win her wings."

Richard W. Stevenson contributed reporting for this article.

Strong Earthquake Hits India and Pakistan - New York Times

Strong Earthquake Hits India and Pakistan - New York TimesOctober 8, 2005
Strong Earthquake Hits India and Pakistan
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 3:48 a.m. ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked South Asia on Saturday, killing at least 21 people and injuring hundreds in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Pakistan's army said initial reports indicate the damage was widespread in that country.

One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan. Both countries reported dozens of homes damaged, along with some schools, mosques and office buildings.

The Indian government said at least 16 people had been killed in its Jammu-Kashmir state. Pakistan's private TV news station, Geo, said it had received unconfirmed reports that at least 25 people had died in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

Four people also died in northwestern Pakistan, a relief official in the area said. Police in India-controlled Kashmir said an infant and another person died there. India reported more than 200 people were injured in its part of Kashmir.

An 11-year-old girl was killed in Afghanistan.

''We have received news of widespread damage in Pakistan's northern areas, Kashmir and other parts of the country,'' said Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the spokesman for Pakistan's army.

He said troops and helicopters were dispatched to earthquake-hit areas to conduct rescue operations. Landslides were blocking rescuers in some areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site the quake hit at 8:50 a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 7.6. It was centered 58 miles north-northeast of Islamabad at a depth of just six miles.

Dozens of people were feared trapped in the rubble of a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. Rescue workers pulled two injured people from a huge pile of debris.

Qaiser Abbas, a receptionist in the building, said he was sitting in his office when the building suddenly began to shake.

''After five seconds, I heard big sound, and then about 40 apartments collapsed,'' he said.

The quake badly damaged a village near Balakot, a scenic town about 180 miles northeast of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, regional police chief Ataullah Wazir said. Local media reports said many homes in Balakot had collapsed.

Four people were killed in the province's Shangla district, said Bahar Karam, a relief official in the area.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, residents fled their homes for fear they would collapse. Kabul is about 400 miles northwest of Islamabad.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said the quake was also felt at Bagram, the main American base in Afghanistan, but he had no reports of damage there or at other bases around the country.

But an 11-year-old girl in Afghanistan's eastern Nangahar province, which borders Pakistan, was crushed to death when a wall in her home collapsed, said Gafar Khan, a police official.

Police in the Pakistani city of Lahore said at least eight people were injured and four shops were damaged. The earthquake also damaged part of a school in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad, injuring at least two girls.

In Islamabad, buildings shook and walls swayed for about a minute. Panicked people ran out of their homes and offices in many cities. Slight tremors continued afterward. The quake also caused panic in Peshawar and Quetta near the Afghan border.

At least 100 houses were damaged in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, including a dozen houses in Srinagar, the summer capital, said B.B. Vyas, a senior administration official.

''The reports we have received indicate that 16 people have died in Jammu-Kashmir, of which four deaths were in Srinagar,'' the Indian home secretary, V.K. Duggal, said in New Delhi. Srinagar is one of the state's main cities.

Two people, including a nine-month-old baby, were killed when the walls of their homes collapsed, said a police officer in Srinagar. He said telephone lines were down across the state, and power had been switched off in the state as a precaution.

India deployed troops to help rescue people trapped under rubble in Jammu-Kashmir. Telephone lines were down across the state, and power had been switched off in the state as a precaution, he said. Bridges had developed cracks, but traffic was passing over them.

''It was one of the most intense earthquakes felt in the Srinagar region in at least two decades,'' said G.K. Mohanty, an official in the meteorological office in Srinagar.

The tremor was felt in northern India.

''It was so strong that I saw buildings swaying. It was terrifying,'' said Hari Singh, a guard in an apartment complex in the New Delhi suburb of Noida. Hundreds of residents there raced down from their apartments after their beds and couches started shaking.

Friday, October 07, 2005

NPR : GOP Control of Congress Under Threat

NPR : GOP Control of Congress Under ThreatGOP Control of Congress Under Threat

Listen to this story... by Mara Liasson

All Things Considered, October 6, 2005 · The uproar among many conservatives over President Bush's choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court only added to the long list of political troubles engulfing the Republican Party these days. An unpopular war, high gasoline prices, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and a series of ethics problems are making Republicans worried about next year's elections.

Ask any optimistic Democrat about the Republican troubles and they'll tell you it feels a lot like 1994 or 1974 -- two other election cycles when members of the majority party were swept out by a wave of anti-incumbent disgust.

"At this point what you'd have to say is that there are enough parallels to the 1993-94 cycle that Republicans ought to be very, very nervous," says former Republican congressman Vin Weber, now an informal adviser to the Bush administration.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich agrees that the Republican Party is at an important crossroads. "I think we're either going to be the party of very dramatic change, or we're going to be the party that tries to explain and defend failure," he says.

Political analyst David Gergen, who has worked for both Republican and Democratic presidents, has seen his share of political sea changes. "It strikes me that the more serious implications of what's been happening over the last few months is not whether the party control will change in 2006, but whether the conservative effort to build a long term, durable majority, which was one of the main enterprises of the Bush administration, whether... that's now hit a wall," he says.

NPR : Hamas Challenging Fateh in Palestinian Politics

NPR : Hamas Challenging Fateh in Palestinian PoliticsHamas Challenging Fateh in Palestinian Politics

Listen to this story...

by Linda Gradstein

All Things Considered, October 6, 2005 · The rivalry between the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and the ruling Fateh movement is intensifying. Hamas has made an impressive showing in ongoing municipal elections, but Palestinian analysts are predicting that Fateh will retain its dominance in January's parliamentary voting

NPR : Liberians Look to Presidential Election

NPR : Liberians Look to Presidential ElectionLiberians Look to Presidential Election

Listen to this story... by Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Morning Edition, October 7, 2005 · After 13 years of civil war, citizens of Liberia vote for a president next week. Many citizens are former militiamen and the new leader will be faced with providing jobs and reconstructing the economy.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE: The National Conservative Weekly Since 1944 > Struggles Across Taiwan Strait: U.S. Sends Mixed Signals

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE: The National Conservative Weekly Since 1944 Struggles Across Taiwan Strait: U.S. Sends Mixed Signals

by Ivy Sellers
Posted Oct 5, 2005

The unsettled status of America’s policy toward China confuses leaders in China and the United States, and it needs to be abandoned, said Rep. Steve Chabot (R.-Ohio), co-chairman of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

“One-China is a dangerous fiction that most of the international community has bought into in order to mollify China,” said Chabot at a recent conference hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

Chabot was among several experts who spoke about the relationship between People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the island of Taiwan.

Labeling the policy as “outdated and irrational,” as well as “counterproductive,” Chabot called upon the U.S. government to publicly denounce the One-China Policy, thus officially relinquishing any support America may be showing of China’s forceful efforts to control Taiwan.

By not speaking out, he said, America gives the wrong impression to Beijing, Taiwan and the world, because Chinese leaders assume U.S. silence indicates agreement.

By continually ignoring the issue, the U.S. government encourages Beijing’s demands on Taiwan to succumb to unification, according to Chabot.

Even though any step in that direction may invoke controversy, Chabot doesn’t see any reason for the U.S. to fear possible Chinese repercussions.

“China relies on the United States,” Chabot said, “not the other way around. As the world’s pre-eminent power, we must not tolerate China’s threats.”

Chabot’s not the only one to find major defects with the policy. Others noted its failure to define boundaries and expectations.

“I consider our China policy to be fatally flawed in the sense that the key terms used to describe it are precisely the opposite of what the words mean on their face,” said John Tkacik, senior research fellow of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation.

Tkacik explained that the term “One China” implicates the U.S. government recognize only one government in China at a time—and not necessarily that Taiwan is part of China.

Dating back to the days of President Richard Nixon, U.S. administrations have failed to clarify the implications of the policy as defined by the U.S. government.

The policy advocates the misconception that America doesn’t support independence for Taiwan—an idea that clashes with America’s proclaimed vision of widespread democracy.

Some leaders question China’s commitment to resolving differences with Taiwan through peaceful means, as the upgrading of China’s military continues in full force, according to Pentagon adviser Mike Pillsbury, who also spoke at the conference.

“As the PRC rapidly modernizes its military in order to provide its leadership with credible options for the use of force,” Pillsbury said at a conference in Taiwan in 2004, “Taiwan’s relative military strength will deteriorate, unless it makes significant investments into its defense.”

Both Chabot and Pillsbury agree that Taiwan needs to build up its military—to prove its desire for U.S. support and to show Beijing that it will not be walked over.

However, Juliet Chung, born and raised in Taiwan and now living in Baltimore, attended the conference and felt uncomfortable by some opinions raised.

Chung said more important than Taiwan’s independence is the ability Taiwan has to progress democratically by fostering a positive relationship with China.

“For us, the China-Taiwan relationship is a matter of life and death,” she explained, “because what we have is the right to vote and that single vote can hopefully … represent our weak voice against the mainstream politics.”

The opportunity for progress, prosperity and security are what matter most, Chung said, whether they take place under unification with China or co-independence.

She said she worries that building up Taiwan’s military will only aggravate Chinese political leaders, escalating military confrontations on both sides.

Because Taiwan is a great asset to China, according to Chung, the people of Taiwan do not fear there will be a Chinese attack. Not only has Taiwan invested the majority of its monetary funds in China, but it represents China on the cultural front as well. This is what subdues Taiwanese concerns of an irrational outbreak by Chinese military to unleash its power and wipe out Taiwan.

“Taiwan is more China than China,” she said, explaining that “Chinese culture” is best manifested on the island when it comes to food, education and other aspects of life the Chinese are famous for. “By destroying Taiwan they are destroying themselves.”

New Zealand's source for World News on Stuff.co.nz: Taiwan's president offers to brief MPs on arms deal

New Zealand's source for World News on Stuff.co.nz: Taiwan's president offers to brief MPs on arms dealTaiwan's president offers to brief MPs on arms deal

FRIDAY , 07 OCTOBER 2005


TAIPEI: Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian, under pressure from Washington to pass an arms package blocked by opposition lawmakers, offered yesterday to deliver a report in parliament to seek support for the $US11 billion ($NZ16 billion) special budget.

It is unprecedented for the president to present policy in parliament. Under Taiwan's complicated political system, the president is the head of the state who appoints a premier, who in turn delivers government policies to the parliament.

Even though the government slashed the arms budget from $US18 billion to $US15 billion and finally to $US11 billion, the opposition parties, with a slim majority in parliament, said the advanced weapons were still too expensive, unnecessary and against the people's wishes.

"I am willing to personally deliver a report on the arms deal that is related to national security and cross-Strait peace in parliament," Chen told a forum attended by parliament speaker Wang Jin-pyng and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as the chairman of the main opposition Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened to attack the democratic island if it pushes for formal statehood. Many security analysts see the Taiwan Strait as one of Asia's most dangerous flashpoints.

The arms deal had been the main focus of Chen's meetings with U.S. officials during his brief stopover in the United States last month.

WORRIES IN WASHINGTON

Chen had made a similar offer in the past but the opposition parties demanded that he should also answer questions as well, which Chen rejected.

Chen's office said they have yet to work out details of the president's proposal and it is not clear whether he will be willing to answer questions this time.

The special budget is earmarked for eight diesel-electric submarines and 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft.

The government dropped six anti-missile Patriot Advanced Capability-3 batteries from the deal, although it still plans to buy the systems using the defence ministry's regular budget.

The United States first offered the arms deal in 2001 in what would be the biggest arms deal in a decade.

The delay has fuelled worries in Washington that Taipei is not serious about its own defence. The United States recognises Beijing's "one China" policy but is also obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taipei defend itself.

U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency director Edward Ross has said the arms package has become a "political football" in Taiwan and warned that Washington may not come to Taiwan's aid if the island cannot defend itself.

In the past Chen has emphasised the threat from China, pointing to double-digit growth of its military budget and the positioning of up to 730 missiles aimed at Taiwan, as highlighted recently in the Pentagon's annual report on China's military.

Japan Today - News - White House denies Bush claimed God told him to invade Iraq, Afghanistan - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - White House denies Bush claimed God told him to invade Iraq, Afghanistan - Japan's Leading International News NetworkWhite House denies Bush claimed God told him to invade Iraq, Afghanistan

Send to a friendPrint

Friday, October 7, 2005 at 19:58 JST
WASHINGTON — The White House has denied that U.S. President George W Bush said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, as a new BBC documentary is expected to reveal.

"That's absurd. He's never made such comments," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Bali bombers 'a new generation'

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Bali bombers 'a new generation' Bali bombers 'a new generation'
Bali's police chief has described three suicide bombers who killed 19 people last weekend as coming from a "new generation" of militants.

He was speaking as police tried to confirm who the three men were, and if they had links to previous bombers.

The US has offered a $10m reward for Dulmatin, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali attack, when more than 200 died.

The US state department described Dulmatin as a senior figure in Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

Only al-Qaeda leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri, and Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have a higher US bounty - all with $25m price tags on their heads.

'New people'

Indonesian police admitted on Friday that their investigation into the latest Bali attacks was making slow progress.

Chief investigator Made Mangku Pastika told reporters that the three bombers - still unidentified despite the widespread release of photographs of their heads - were part of a "new generation" of militants, recruited only recently.

"Until now they have not been recognised by old groups. That means they are new people," Mr Pastika told reporters.

But he did not completely rule out a connection with those responsible for the attacks three years ago.

Asked if the suicide bombers may have been trained by older extremists, Mr Pastika said: "That's a possibility. That's where our investigation is starting from."

Police attention continues to focus on Jemaah Islamiah (JI), though experts say the group has changed markedly from its previous structure.

Two of its suspected leaders, Malaysians Azahari bin Husin and Noordin Mohamed Top, are still on the run, but much of the old network has been disbanded due to the arrest of key personnel and internal splits.

Azahari and Noordin are now thought by some analysts to be creating their own group.

$10m bounty

The US announced late on Thursday that it was offering a $10m reward for information leading to the capture or death of Dulmatin, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings.

Officials say the Indonesian national - an electronics specialist believed to be a senior JI figure - helped build and set off one of the 2002 bombs with a mobile phone.

A second reward of $1m is being offered for the arrest of Umar Patek, who is also suspected of being involved in the 2002 Bali attack.

"The United States is determined to bring these men to justice for their crimes," said state department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Dulmatin is believed to have fled to the southern Philippines in 2003, where he was deeply involved in training other militants at secret camps.

Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the main Islamic separatist group in the area, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, claims Dulmatin is still there - on Mindanao island, the main location of the Philippines' own separatist insurgency.

Mr Kabalu told the French news agency AFP that both Dulmatin and Umar Patek were in hiding with Khadaffy Janjalani, the senior leader of another separatist group in the area, Abu Sayyaf.

Like JI, Abu Sayyaf is on the US State Department's list of foreign "terrorist organisations".

According to the BBC correspondent in Jakarta, Rachel Harvey, the timing of the US reward for the capture of Dulmatin is intriguing, coming so soon after the latest Bali attack.

But officials have avoided making any direct connection between them.

Authorities in Bali are continuing to clean up after the attack. Australia has confirmed four of its nationals died in the explosion - from a total of 19 killed by the bombers.
Story from BBC NEWS:

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | David Frost joins al-Jazeera TV

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | David Frost joins al-Jazeera TV David Frost joins al-Jazeera TV
Veteran UK broadcaster Sir David Frost is to join Arab-language TV station al-Jazeera, the network has confirmed.

Sir David is to appear on al-Jazeera International, the pan-Arab news network's new English-language channel, due to be launched next spring.

The Qatar-based channel said Sir David, who broadcast his final Breakfast with Frost programme for the BBC in May, would be among the "key on-air talent".

Sir David was quoted as saying he felt "excitement" about his new role.

"Most of the television I have done over the years has been aimed at British and American audiences," he said.

Distinguished career

"This time, while our target is still Britain and America, the excitement is that it is also the six billion other inhabitants of the globe."

Sir David notched up 500 editions of Breakfast with Frost before bowing out.

An al-Jazeera statement called Sir David "the only person to have interviewed the last seven presidents of the United States and the last six prime ministers of the United Kingdom".

It said: "(He) has joined the line-up of key on-air talent at the new 24-hour English language news and current affairs channel."

Launched in 1996, al-Jazeera is best known outside of the Arab world for carrying exclusive al-Qaeda messages.

Sir David first came to prominence on television in the early 1960s, when he presented the satirical BBC show That Was the Week that Was.

Channel expansion

He presented a series of news and current affairs programmes in the UK and America.

Frost's interviews with Richard Nixon after Watergate were revealing, much acclaimed and achieved the largest audience for a news interview in history.

He worked for ITV breakfast station TV-am in the 1980s before rejoining the BBC in 1992.

Last month al-Jazeera launched a children's channel as part of its expansion plans.

It also has a sports channel and one dedicated to covering live events without a presenter.
Story from BBC NEWS:

The Korea Times : Can Federalism Be Model for Korea?

The Korea Times : Can Federalism Be Model for Korea?Can Federalism Be Model for Korea?

By Seo Dong-shin
Staff Reporter

Korea certainly sees a long and winding path to reunification. The way to federalism, if it ever started, would be just as complicated, not least because the nation has had no such experience in its history. Therefore, it might even seem to border on absurdity to start a discussion on those two subjects right now.


Panels from various countries, including Germany, Switzerland, the United States and South Korea, have a discussion in a seminar, themed “Federalism as an Agent for Decentralization and Regional Integration,” at a Seoul hotel, Friday. The seminar was co-organized by the Center for Local Autonomy at Hanyang University and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) and sponsored by The Korea Times. /Korea Times
But it is not, and in fact, the two can work out a synergy effect if they are planned appropriately, experts from home and abroad who yesterday gathered at the President Hotel in Seoul suggested.

The Center for Local Autonomy at Hanyang University and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) organized the seminar under the title ``Federalism as an Agent for Decentralization and Regional Integration,’’ sponsored by The Korea Times.

Ulrich Niemann, resident representative of FNF Korea, opened the seminar criticizing centralism for uprooting the thought of liberty, hindering competition in politics, and threatening minorities and civil rights, and adding he feels encouraged by the commitment of the Korean government to promote decentralization and local autonomy.

German Failure, Swiss Success

The German federal system has been significantly eroded since the establishment of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, Christian Kirchner, professor at the school of law and school of business and economics of Humboldt University, Berlin, said during the seminar.

He described the German reunification and the integration process into the European Union (EU) as further blows to the already weakening federal system.

The vertical separation of powers in the EU system, for example, is designed for member countries with unitary rather than federalist systems, distancing federal states from the central decision-making process of the EU, Kirchner said.

He thinks the German reunification process, designed so that the federal system should be extended to the eastern part of Germany, also aggravated the situation.

``The vertical fiscal transfers from the central level to the `new’ states has strengthened the central level,’’ he said. The central level has also been bribing the poor states to vote in favor of the central government in Germany’s second chamber of states (Bundesrat), which runs parallel with the federal chamber (Bundestag), according to Kirchner.

In order for a reunified Korea not to experience the same problem, the German professor suggested introducing a system with regional tax autonomy, taking the example of Switzerland, of which he said tax autonomy of the states (cantons) has produced a vigorous tax competition with many innovative elements.

``But it has yet to be decided whether a tax competition should be confined to one between the northern and southern parts of a reunified Korea or whether in both parts of the country new entities on the regional level should be established, maybe cantons like in Switzerland,’’ he said.

That would make possible a differentiated tax competition not only in the more developed parts of the country, namely the South, but in the less developed as well, he added.

Robert Nef, director of the Liberal Institute, Zurich, Switzerland, who presented Swiss experiences in federalism, said in response that while the Swiss model has been also showing signs of erosion mainly due to the ``popular rhetorics of welfarization and redistributionism,’’ he still believes in the merits of decentralization.

``A system with small, competing units can commit a lot of different smaller errors and mistakes,’’ the liberal scholar said. ``But in this system, there is a chance for learning by comparing. The smaller the units are, the better the changes are to be successful and to avoid the big central mistakes.’’

Federalism for Korea

Bernard Rowan, professor of political science at Chicago State University, suggested an overlapping consensus between Confucianism and social democracy be first cultivated for a reunified Korea, as it could be a meeting point for different political cultures of South and North Korea.

Outlining the American federalist model, the professor, who is well-versed in general Korean affairs, also recommended the new government of Korea have a bi-cameral legislature based on the restructuring of administrative districts.

``Plans for unification indicate that the South wants legislative representation based on population, while North Korea wants it to be based on land size and to include representatives of people’s organizations and political parties,’’ Rowan pointed out.

Noting that this kind of difference was also a major issue for the American federal system, Rowan said, ``The American model sides with the former, together with a geographic basis for representing individuals, as seen in states and Congressional districts.

``Using newly-developed Northern and Southern provinces can gather diverse regional interests into the national legislative process.’’

In response, Kim Sang-kyum, professor of the law department, Dongguk University, noted possible difficulties in introducing the federal system in Korea, despite the current administration’s stress on local autonomy.

``As the introduction of federalism would mean changing the nation’s identity, we would need a thorough review of the Constitution with public approval,’’ he said. ``We have no experience of this issue in our history. And the key problem, namely fiscal independence of federal states, can only be solved by the central government’s power transfer.’’

But in light of effective governance after the reunification, the issue deserves reviewing, Kim added.

Park Eung-kyuk, director of the Center for Local Autonomy, pointed to another merit of federalism, as a measure for curing rooted regional antagonism within South Korea, notably between the southeastern Kyongsang Provinces and southwestern Cholla Provinces.

``While federalism is not a catch-all solution for all problems, it has been historically effective against regional and ethnic disputes in many countries,’’ Park said.


saltwall@koreatimes.co.kr
10-07-2005 18:50

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US 'intercepts al-Qaeda letter'

BBC NEWS | Middle East | US 'intercepts al-Qaeda letter' US 'intercepts al-Qaeda letter'
An intercepted letter from al-Qaeda's number two to its leader in Iraq warns insurgents' tactics may alienate the wider Muslim population, the US says.

The letter appeared to be from Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

He did not show the letter or say how or where it was obtained, but said it was considered authentic and recent.

The missive warned that the network faced defeat in Afghanistan, he said.

"Zawahiri says that they've lost many of their key leaders... and that their lines of communication and funding have been severely disrupted," Mr Whitman told reporters on Thursday.

'Must include masses'

The letter, said to be written in Arabic, was made public after the government learned of leaks to the media, US media quote officials as saying.

In the missive, Zawahiri apparently warns tactics such as the killing of hostages and bombings of mosques may alienate the "Muslim masses," Mr Whitman said.

"In this letter, he talks about believing that the eventual governance of Iraq must include the Muslim masses, and that they are at risk of alienating those," he told reporters.

The letter was also said to detail the strategy of Muslim extremists to create an Islamic state centred on Iraq that could expand into neighbouring countries.

Zawahiri included a plea for financial support, Reuters news agency quoted Mr Whitman as saying.

The New York Times quoted a senior official as saying that the 6,000-word letter was dated early in July, and was obtained by US forces involved in counterterrorism operations in Iraq.

In January 2004, the US authorities said they had intercepted a letter which confirmed that Zarqawi was working with al-Qaeda to drive the US out of Iraq. The authenticity of the letter was never confirmed beyond doubt.

Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for a series of killings, hostage beheadings and major suicide bombings in Iraq.

Zawahiri was number two - behind only Bin Laden - in the 22 Most Wanted Terrorists List announced by the US government in 2001. He has a $25m bounty on his head.

He was reportedly last seen in the eastern Afghan town of Khost in October 2001, and went into hiding after the US-led attack overthrew the Taleban.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Taiwan wants Google to apologize

Taiwan wants Google to apologizeTaiwan wants Google to apologize
MAP CALLS ISLAND CHINESE PROVINCE, RAISING PROTESTS
By April Lynch
Mercury News

Google's ambitious global mapping effort may push the edges of geography, but the Internet giant is learning that new maps can't escape old politics.

Taiwan is demanding that the search engine change its recently launched Google Maps, which currently displays the name ``Taiwan, Province of China'' next to a map of the island. An apology wouldn't hurt either, Taiwan's vice president told reporters Thursday. The map name is quickly raising anger throughout Taiwan, a technology powerhouse with close ties to Silicon Valley.

A Google spokeswoman says the company is reviewing the issue. The controversial name appears only on Google Maps, not other Google features, and appears because of outside data chosen to help build the map service, said company spokeswoman Debbie Frost.

By listing Taiwan as it did on Google Maps, the company has found itself in the middle of one of Asia's trickiest political problems.

Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, separated from China in 1949 after a long civil war. The island has since been self-governed, and in the last two decades has evolved into a stable democracy with one of Asia's strongest economies.

China, however, regards Taiwan as a renegade province and says the island is part of China. It has threatened to reclaim the island by military force if it officially declares its independence. China has also pushed the international community to recognize its claims.

That stance has largely worked -- but also has its limits. Twenty-six countries still have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but the island has no seat at the United Nations. Most countries, including the United States, do not have formal relations with Taiwan but maintain close ties and urge both sides to find a peaceful solution to the stalemate.

The result is a sort of uneasy limbo for Taiwan, a balance delicate enough to be threatened by the name on an Internet map.

Google's ``information about Taiwan is totally wrong,'' said David Lu, spokesman for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco. ``We have our sovereignty, our own territory, and 23 million people.''

The dispute goes beyond names, potentially confusing Web users who need practical information, Lu said. Someone planning to travel to Taiwan, for example, might see the map and then head to the wrong diplomatic office to apply for a visa.

``Where will they think they should go?'' Lu said. ``They come to our offices in the United States, not any consul general office of China. This is all incorrect.''

Many other maps and Web sites reflect Taiwan's delicate balancing act. The U.S. State Department's online information on Taiwan gives the island its own separate country page, while stating the U.S. position vis-a-vis both Taiwan and China. Some other online maps simply list the island as ``Taiwan'' without wading into issues of political domain.

In building Google Maps, Google relied on data from ``internationally authoritative sources,'' Frost said. While it reviews Taiwan's complaints, the company will also take a closer look at its overall map naming.

``We will be taking this opportunity to more broadly review our user interfaces and policies when it comes to labeling maps,'' Frost said.

China often pressures companies doing business there to follow its political directives, and Google plans to open a research center in China. While some groups in Taiwan have accused Google of trying to curry favor with officials in Beijing, Lu said he considered the map naming to be an error, not a deliberate decision to take sides.

``I tend to believe this is an oversight by Google,'' he said, adding that Taiwan officials based in the Bay Area have asked Google for a meeting.

Frost said the company is working to address the issue quickly. ``We have just received their letter which we are reviewing, and look forward to understanding their concerns,'' she said.
Contact April Lynch at alynch@mercurynews.com or (408) 920-5539.

Foe of Abortion, Senator Is Cool to Court Choice - New York Times

Foe of Abortion, Senator Is Cool to Court Choice - New York TimesOctober 7, 2005
Foe of Abortion, Senator Is Cool to Court Choice
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 - Amid uproar among conservatives over the candidacy of Harriet E. Miers for the Supreme Court, one of the most ardent abortion opponents in the Senate said Thursday that Ms. Miers had not persuaded him to vote to confirm her.

The senator, Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, told reporters that in an hourlong meeting with him, Ms. Miers had steered clear of discussing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to abortion, and had done little to assure him that she would be open to revisiting or overturning that case.

"No promises were made either way," Mr. Brownback said. He said he would consider voting against the nomination, even if President Bush made a personal plea for his support.

Asked if he was impressed with Ms. Miers, Mr. Brownback paused, and then offered a careful reply: "She's a very decent lady."

The senator said he had tried to initiate a discussion of abortion law by raising the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 decision that established a married couple's right to use contraception and later served as a basis for Roe. Mr. Brownback said Ms. Miers did not use the term "settled law" to describe Roe - a phrase that, he said, would have been "a red flag" indicating she would not overturn the decision. But neither would she discuss it, saying related cases could come before the court.

"She has stated that she does not believe the circumstances of Griswold will come back in front of the court," Mr. Brownback said, recounting the conversation, "but that the legal issue of Roe, clearly, and the legal issue involved here is very much a live issue."

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, later said that Ms. Miers had simply acknowledged that "abortion and Roe-related issues are ones that are live before the court."

While other Republican senators have emerged from their meetings with Ms. Miers offering more effusive praise of her than before, Senator Brownback said his view was unchanged. He complained that he was left trying "to gather little pieces of shreds of evidence" about her views not only on abortion but on other matters of importance to social conservatives, including gay marriage and the role of religion in public life.

The Kansas senator is important for two reasons. First, he is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it would be an embarrassment to President Bush if a Republican on the panel voted against Ms. Miers. Second, Mr. Brownback, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, is considered a leading voice for conservatives in the Senate. Should he vote against Ms. Miers, other Republicans contemplating White House bids could feel compelled to follow.

Ms. Miers, the White House counsel and former president of the State Bar of Texas, has been assiduously courting senators since Monday, when President Bush announced that he had picked her to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a critical swing vote. But the selection has drawn intense criticism from both ends of the political spectrum, with the left labeling Ms. Miers a crony and the right complaining that Mr. Bush has squandered a chance to pick a candidate with demonstrable conservative credentials.

On Thursday, some conservative senators tried to push back. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, denounced what he called a smear campaign by conservatives and said Ms. Miers's critics should "just shut up for a few minutes" to let her make her case.

Mr. Graham said Ms. Miers did not seem troubled by the attacks. But in a speech earlier this year before the Republican National Lawyers Association, Ms. Miers said she was deeply troubled by the treatment received by another judicial nominee and fellow Texan, Priscilla Owen. Judge Owen, whose confirmation had been blocked by Democrats, was ultimately confirmed as an appeals court judge.

"I read with disbelief the horrific press and the efforts to diminish the character, the intelligence, the service of this very fine person," Ms. Miers said in the April 22 speech.

"It's a tragedy what's happened to this fine woman," Ms. Miers concluded. "It's a tragedy what has happened to this fine judge."

Aside from Mr. Brownback, Ms. Miers seems to be assuaging the concerns of some Republican senators. Mr. Graham said Thursday he was "very predisposed to support her," although he did say she would have to "create a comfort level" among conservatives and persuade the public "that she's qualified, that her life experiences, the sum total of them, make her capable of having this job."

As of Thursday, Ms. Miers had met with 15 senators, only three of them Democrats. One of the Democrats, Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, said that when he asked her about decisions of the Bush administration, Ms. Miers said she was not sure if she could comment on her role. And he said that, unlike the most recent nominee, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who spent his legal career arguing cases before the Supreme Court, Ms. Miers was not yet ready to discuss many substantive constitutional or policy issues.

Mr. Durbin said the heavy criticism from conservatives was putting Ms. Miers in an impossible position. "If she successfully satisfies the far right, where does that leave the rest of America?" Mr. Durbin said. "I can't see the endgame. I can't see how it ends."

Neither could Senator Brownback, who did not say whether he believed Ms. Miers would be confirmed. Although Chief Justice Roberts took essentially the same position as Ms. Miers in discussing Griswold and Roe, and Mr. Brownback voted for him, the senator has said consistently that he wanted the nominee for the O'Connor seat to have "a clear track record."

Asked to compare the two, Mr. Brownback described the chief justice as "a rock star of a lawyer." Of Ms. Miers, he said, "You're really following Elvis here."

Rove Ordered to Talk Again in Leak Inquiry - New York Times

Rove Ordered to Talk Again in Leak Inquiry - New York TimesOctober 7, 2005
Rove Ordered to Talk Again in Leak Inquiry
By DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 - The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has summoned Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to return next week to testify to a federal grand jury in a step that could mean charges will be filed in the case, lawyers in the case said Thursday.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has held discussions in recent days with lawyers for several administration officials suggesting that he is considering whether to charge them with a crime over the disclosure of an intelligence operative's identity in a 2003 newspaper column.

Mr. Fitzgerald is said by some of the lawyers to have indicated that he has not made up his mind about whether to accuse anyone of wrongdoing and will use the remaining days before the grand jury's term expires on Oct. 28 to decide.

Mr. Rove has appeared before the grand jury on three previous occasions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fitzgerald has indicated that he is not entirely finished with Judith Miller, the reporter for The New York Times who recently testified before the grand jury after serving 85 days in jail. According to a lawyer familiar with the case, Mr. Fitzgerald has asked Ms. Miller to meet him next Tuesday to further discuss her conversations with I. Lewis Libby, the vice president's chief of staff.

Ms. Miller went to jail rather than divulge the identity of her source, but agreed to testify after Mr. Libby released her from a pledge of confidentiality.

Mr. Fitzgerald has not indicated whether he plans to summon Ms. Miller for further testimony before the grand jury.

Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, said that Mr. Rove has not received a target letter, which are sometimes used by prosecutors to advise people that they are likely to be charged with a crime. Mr. Luskin said Thursday that "the special counsel has said that he has made no charging decision."

Mr. Fitzgerald's conversations with lawyers in recent days have cast a cloud over the inquiry, sweeping away the confidence once expressed by a number of officials and their lawyers who have said that he was unlikely to find any illegality.

In coming days, the lawyers said, Mr. Fitzgerald is likely to request that several other White House officials return to the grand jury to testify about their actions in the case - appearances that are believed to be pivotal as the prosecutor proceeds toward a charging decision.

Mr. Fitzgerald is also re-examining grand jury testimony by Mr. Libby, the lawyers said, but it is unknown whether he has been asked to appear again before the grand jury. Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph A. Tate, did not respond to telephone messages left on Thursday at his office.

Mr. Luskin said that he had offered to have Mr. Rove return to the grand jury if needed to clarify any questions that were raised by the testimony in July by Matthew Cooper, a reporter for Time magazine who was questioned about a conversation that he had with Mr. Rove in July 2003.

"Karl's consistent position is that he will cooperate any time, any place," Mr. Luskin said.

Mr. Rove has been caught up in the inquiry since the F.B.I. began investigating the matter in 2003. He has told investigators that he spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak a few days after the operative's husband wrote an Op-Ed article for The Times, a lawyer in the case has said. In that conversation, Mr. Rove said that he learned the operative's name from the columnist and the circumstances in which her husband traveled to Africa.

But at the end of that conversation, Mr. Rove told Mr. Novak that he had already heard the outlines of the columnist's account.

The conversation with Mr. Novak took place several days before Mr. Rove spoke with a second reporter, Mr. Cooper. Mr. Cooper said later in an e-mail message to his editors that Mr. Rove had talked about the operative, although not by name.

In recent days, Mr. Rove has been less visible than usual at the White House, fueling speculation that he is distancing himself from Mr. Bush or has been sidelined. But according to a senior administration official, Mr. Rove and his wife are on a long-planned trip visiting colleges with their teenage son. Several lawyers who have been involved in the case expressed surprise and concern over the recent turn of events and are increasingly convinced that Mr. Fitzgerald could be poised to charge someone with a crime for discussing with journalists the identity of a C.I.A. officer.

The C.I.A operative was Valerie Wilson, also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. Her identity was first publicly disclosed in a July 14, 2003, newspaper column by Mr. Novak, which suggested that she had a role in arranging a 2002 trip to Africa by her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador. The purpose of the trip was to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought nuclear fuel from Niger.

Mr. Novak's column was published a week after Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times on July 6, 2003, discussing his trip. Mr. Wilson wrote that he traveled to Africa at the request of the C.I.A. after the office of Vice President Dick Cheney had raised questions about the possible uranium sales. Mr. Wilson wrote that he concluded that it was "highly doubtful" that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material from Niger.

Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on whether there was a deliberate effort to retaliate against Mr. Wilson for his column and its criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Recently lawyers said that they believed the prosecutor may be applying new legal theories to bring charges in the case.

One new approach appears to involve the possible use of Chapter 37 of the federal espionage and censorship law, which makes it a crime for anyone who "willfully communicates, delivers, transfers or causes to be communicated" to someone "not entitled to receive it" classified information relating the national defense matters.

Under this broad statute, a government official or a private citizen who passed classified information to anyone else in or outside the government could potentially be charged with a felony, if they transferred the information to someone without a security clearance to receive it.

The lawyers who discussed the investigation declined to be identified by name citing the ongoing nature of the inquiry and Mr. Fitzgerald's requests not to talk about it.

Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, said Ms. Miller had been cautioned by her lawyers not to discuss the substance of her grand jury testimony until Mr. Fitzgerald finished questioning her.

"We have launched a vigorous reporting effort that I hope will answer outstanding questions about Judy's part in this drama," Mr. Keller said. "This development may slow things down a little, but we owe our readers as full a story as we can tell, as soon as we can tell it."

Anne E. Kornblut contributed reporting for this article.

New York Named in Terror Threat Against Subways - New York Times

New York Named in Terror Threat Against Subways - New York TimesOctober 7, 2005
New York Named in Terror Threat Against Subways
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM

Security in and around New York City's subways was sharply increased yesterday after city officials said they were notified by federal authorities in Washington of a terrorist threat that for the first time specifically named the city's transit system.

The measures were announced by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, along with Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and the head of the New York F.B.I. office, Mark J. Mershon, after an American military operation with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. in Iraq yesterday and Wednesday, according to law enforcement officials. The operation, the officials said, was aimed at disrupting the threat.

Some officials in Washington, in interviews last night, played down the nature of the threat. While not entirely dismissing it, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security described it as "specific yet noncredible," adding that the intelligence community had concluded that the information was of "doubtful credibility."

Several law enforcement officials said an investigation had yet to corroborate any of the details.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the operation in Iraq resulted in two people being taken into custody. They said a third was being sought.

Information about the threat, the officials said, came to light last weekend from an intelligence source who told federal authorities that the three men in Iraq had planned to meet with other operatives in New York.

One official said the group would number about a dozen. Another official said the total was closer to 20 people involved. The men planned to use strollers, briefcases and packages to hide a number of bombs that they planned to detonate on the subways.

"It was a conspiracy involving more than a dozen people aimed at delivering a number of devices into the subway," one of the officials said.

One official said the information suggested an attack could happen as early as today; another pointed to the middle of the month.

"This is a piece of information that came in as a result of operations that go on all the time, and to corroborate that information or not we had to go after certain people," one official said.

Mr. Mershon said: "F.B.I. agents and other U.S. government personnel continue to work around the clock to fully resolve this particular threat. Thus far, there is nothing that has surfaced in that investigation or those enforcement actions which has corroborated an actual threat to the city."

Mayor Bloomberg seemed to try to inform New Yorkers without alarming them. He said that while the threat was not corroborated, it was specific enough to warrant an immediate and overwhelming response.

"It was more specific as to target; it was more specific as to timing, and some of the sources had more information that would lead one to believe that it was not the kind of thing that appears in the intelligence community every day," Mr. Bloomberg said.

The mayor urged New Yorkers to continue riding the subways, as he said he would, but cautioned them to be watchful, saying several times, "If you see something, say something."

As he spoke, thousands of city police officers were swarming the transit system. An officer will be assigned to each subway station, and Commissioner Kelly said the Police Department is significantly stepping up uniformed and plainclothes patrols, increasing sweeps through subway cars and posting officers at each subway tunnel that passes beneath city waterways. The department's heavily armed "Hercules teams" and other specialized units will also focus on the transit system, he said.

Bag searches will also be significantly increased, the commissioner said, with a focus on briefcases, baby strollers, luggage and other packages and containers, and he asked subway riders to curtail their use. The searches will take place not only on the subways, but also on buses and ferries, and the Police Department has coordinated the increased scrutiny with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New Jersey Transit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Amtrak.

Mr. Kelly used narcotics detectives from Brooklyn and Queens and other investigators from the department's Warrant Division to increase security in the subways. Officers mobilized at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Mershon would not discuss the events in Iraq, or where they had occurred, saying that it was classified.

Counterterrorism officials in Washington said the information received this week was highly specific, including details about the possible use of suitcase bombs and explosives hidden in strollers. That information, along with the more general concern that terrorists might stage an attack modeled on the July bombings in London, prompted immediate concern, the officials said.

On an average weekday, an estimated 4.7 million rides are taken on New York's subway system, which has 468 stations.

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said the credibility of the threat was still to be determined.

He said Homeland Security "received intelligence information regarding a specific but noncredible threat to the New York City subway system."

Mr. Knocke said Homeland Security shared the information "early on with state and local authorities in New York," adding, "There are no plans to alter the national threat level or the threat level in New York City."

He would not say any more about the content of the threat or the origin of the information.

Paul J. Browne, the Police Department's deputy commissioner of public information, would not discuss whether the source information suggested that operatives were in New York. He would only say, "We're looking at all aspects of this case."

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, city and national law enforcement authorities have at times reacted differently to similar threat information. In part, this is because of the varying roles that different agencies play. The New York Police Department, for example, is responsible for protecting the city and its subways and therefore is more likely to act quickly. The F.B.I.'s prime antiterrorism mission, on the other hand, is thwarting plots and apprehending any suspected terrorists - a task that is almost always complicated by information becoming public. But yesterday, city and F.B.I. officials in New York stood side by side and seemed to present a similar message. Officials from Homeland Security did not take part in the briefing.

Of the information from Iraq, one official said: "Suffice it to say it was credible enough for us to be working it very hard and very diligently literally around the clock and around the world. Sometimes it looks incredibly detailed, and then it washes out into nothing, and sometimes pretty vague in nature and it turns into something real. You can't know until you go through the process, and we're going through the process."

William A. Morange, the transportation authority's security director, who is a member of a citywide counterterrorism task force, was informed several days ago about the threat, said Tom Kelly, a spokesman.

"We were kept well apprised of all the developments since earlier this week," Mr. Kelly said.

The Police Department also put into effect a broad range of measures aimed at stepping up security around the city that did not address the specific threat, but were aimed at tightening the city's security cordon. They included increased truck searches on East River crossings and banning trucks from the Brooklyn Bridge.

The department will also increase the use of radiation detectors, and detectives from the department's Intelligence Division will check parking lots and garages in Manhattan and in other areas of the city.

Reporting for this article was contributed by David Johnston, Eric Lipton and Eric Lichtblau, in Washington, and Sewell Chan and Kareem Fahim, in New York.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail
Wie's World is born as golf phenom goes professional

By LORNE RUBENSTEIN

Thursday, October 6, 2005, Page S3

When she turned pro yesterday, Michelle Wie didn't say "Hello world," as Tiger Woods did in August, 1996, when he announced his own transition.

But Wie, who will turn 16 on Oct. 11, did show some of the qualities that make her one of the most fascinating young athletes today, and surely one of the most marketable.

CBS 46 Atlanta - States Hope to Begin Taxing Online Sales

CBS 46 Atlanta - States Hope to Begin Taxing Online SalesStates Hope to Begin Taxing Online Sales
Oct 5, 2005, 09:46 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- A coalition of 18 states representing about 20 percent of the nation's population has forged an agreement to begin collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases.

The group hopes to convince retailers - but does not force them - to begin collecting taxes and turning it over to state governments.

The agreement puts in place a procedure for businesses to collect sales taxes from Internet and catalog purchases, and puts in place an amnesty that protects them from being pursued for taxes not paid in the past.

After negotiations, which lasted for three years, the states including Iowa had agreed to definitions of taxable items and procedures for paying the taxes.

The deal is designed to provide a uniform system for retailers who routinely sell across state lines. In exchange for collecting and sending tax revenue to the state, retailers would be compensated for the costs of collecting the taxes, and protected against liability for accounting mistakes.

"The implementation of the streamlined agreement will allow states to recoup valuable resources that can, in turn, be put toward education, public safety, tax relief, or other pressing state needs," said Illinois State Sen. Steve Rauschenberger, President of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The boom in electronic sales through the Internet and burgeoning catalog sales could generate billions of dollars a year in tax revenue for states. The NCSL estimates states lose as much as $8.9 billion a year from sales taxes that aren't collected on the electronic transactions.

Filling that gap has proven to be problematic, and it's far from certain how much will be collected from the agreement which went on the books over the weekend. The measure puts in place the procedures for businesses to remit sales taxes but doesn't require the payment, and many large retailers have said they have no intention of paying.

Fiscal conservatives in particular face conflicts on the issue, because they are generally opposed to any tax increases and many view broadening the sales tax as a tax hike.

They face conflicting pressure, however, from main street businesses, another core constituency. Those business owners argue that it isn't fair to force them to pay sales taxes when online retailers they compete with don't pay the taxes.

The agreement does not change state tax rates, and it leaves individual states the decision on what items are taxed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1967 and again in 1992 that states do not have the authority to require a retailer to collect sales taxes for a state where the retailer doesn't have a physical presence.

The court did leave the door open to Congress to grant the authority to the states to make those collections, but Congress hasn't done so.

The creation of uniform standards and rules is a way the states can send a signal to Congress they are ready to begin collecting the taxes if given the authority.

The 18 states signed on to the agreement are Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and West Virginia. Also Arkansas, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming. Nevada will become a member in January.

USATODAY.com - Thunderstorms likely in Southeast, mid-Atlantic

USATODAY.com - Thunderstorms likely in Southeast, mid-AtlanticThunderstorms likely in Southeast, mid-Atlantic
The Associated Press
Tropical Storm Tammy may produce scattered rain and embedded thunderstorms in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states Wednesday, with downpours forecast for some areas.

Heavy rain also is possible in northern Florida and the coastal Carolinas. Otherwise, highs are expected to reach the 70s and 80s across much of the East.

In the nation's midsection, a strong low-pressure area and draping cold front threatened to spark thunderstorms across much of the Plains and Mississippi Valley.

Snow showers are expected in North Dakota and Minnesota, with accumulations ranging from a trace to 3 inches. Rainy weather is likely in southern Texas.

Temperatures in the region could range from the upper 30s to 90s across parts of the Plains and Mississippi Valley.

Thunderstorms are predicted in the southern Rockies, and conditions could intensify later in the day. A mix of scattered rain and snow may hit some parts of Montana and northeastern Wyoming, while clear conditions are possible for the remainder of the region.

Temperatures could reach the 30s-60s in parts of the Rockies; 50s-60s in the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest; and 60s-90s in California and the Desert Southwest.

Temperatures in the Lower 48 states Tuesday ranged from 19° in Truckee, Calif., and Stanley, Idaho, to a high of 99° in Goodyear and Gila Bend, Ariz.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas and Sharon agree on talks

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Abbas and Sharon agree on talks Abbas and Sharon agree on talks
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will meet on 11 October, the office of Jordan's King Abdullah II has said.

The announcement followed mediation efforts by Jordan to organise a summit to boost the Middle East peace process amid a recent upsurge in violence.

A statement from Amman did not say where the talks, which were agreed by telephone, would take place.

The summit originally scheduled for 2 October had been put off."

Following the good offices of King Abdullah to push forward the peace process, the Palestinian president and the Israeli prime minister will meet to find a solution to pending problems," the statement by King Abdullah's office said.

It said that the agreement was reached after the Jordanian monarch held separate telephone calls with Mr Abbas and Mr Sharon.

Israel last month cancelled a preparatory meeting for the 2 October summit after rocket attacks by Palestinian militant groups.

Israel had also launched air strikes on Gaza despite Palestinian factions declaring they would observe a truce.
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BBC NEWS | Americas | Cheney warns of 'decades of war'

BBC NEWS | Americas | Cheney warns of 'decades of war' Cheney warns of 'decades of war'
By Jonathan Beale
BBC News, Washington

US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said that the US must be prepared to fight the war on terror for decades.

Addressing US military personnel, he said that the only way terrorists would win was if the US lost its nerve and abandoned Iraq and the Middle East.

Mr Cheney is the latest senior member of the US administration trying to bolster support for the war in Iraq.

On Thursday, President George W Bush will once again address the issue in a major speech in Washington.

Like other great duties in history, it will require decades of patient effort, and it will be resisted by those whose only hope for power is through the spread of violence
Dick Cheney
US Vice-President

The situation in Iraq remains the Bush administration's biggest challenge and all its senior figures have been brought out to defend the policy as public support for the war continues to slide.

Mr Cheney said that the threat of terrorism would be removed as people in Iraq and the wider Middle East took control of their own lives.

But he added, in a direct appeal to the American people, that like other great duties in history, it would require decades of patient effort.

'Civil war'

The vice president insisted that progress was being made in training up Iraq's own security forces, though he did not indicate how long US forces would remain.

President Bush has promised that America will stay on the offensive to prevent insurgents from disrupting next week's referendum on Iraq's new constitution.

But as the number of US military personnel killed rises towards 2,000, the grumblings are getting louder.

In a letter to President Bush, Democrat senators have warned that continuing on the same path in Iraq could lead to a full-blown civil war.

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Japan Today - News - Nigerian clashes leave three dead amid arson, looting - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Nigerian clashes leave three dead amid arson, looting - Japan's Leading International News NetworkNigerian clashes leave three dead amid arson, looting

Send to a friendPrint

Thursday, October 6, 2005 at 07:33 JST
LAGOS — Nigerian police and army officers on Wednesday blamed each other after a clash between their forces left three civilians dead and triggered an orgy of arson and looting.

At least three civilians were killed in crossfire and a Lagos police headquarters was burned down on Tuesday after a dispute between armed police and soldiers erupted in street fighting.

Japan Today - News - Taiwan's ex-president Lee to visit U.S. - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - Taiwan's ex-president Lee to visit U.S. - Japan's Leading International News NetworkTaiwan's ex-president Lee to visit U.S.

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Thursday, October 6, 2005 at 07:12 JST
TAIPEI — Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui made known Wednesday that he will visit the United States from next Tuesday, a move likely to spark sharp criticism from rival China.

Lee will be making his first visit to Washington during his scheduled Oct 11-23 visit.

BBC NEWS | Americas | US Senate backs detainee rights

BBC NEWS | Americas | US Senate backs detainee rights US Senate backs detainee rights
US senators have voted overwhelmingly to outlaw cruel or degrading treatment of detainees held in US custody abroad.

The Senate voted 90-9 in favour of the motion, which senators said would lay down rules for troops and officials carrying out interrogations.

Prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq and concern over the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay have dogged the US since 2001.

The motion was opposed by the White House, which views it as unnecessary.

Bush administration officials say the move would be restrictive, and limit its fight against terrorism.

Republican Senator John McCain tabled the motion as an amendment to a Pentagon funding bill.

Correspondents say the Senate vote showed a boldness from Republicans willing to challenge the White House.

Mr Bush could veto the entire $440bn (£248bn) bill to defeat the motion - but is unlikely to do so as he has not blocked one during his time in office, they say.

'Crisis'

The Pentagon has consistently blamed the Abu Ghraib abuse on a handful of rogue soldiers, most of whom have been tried and convicted by military courts.

Mr McCain said the amendment sent a clear message to the world that America would not condone any inhumane practice.

"Prisoner abuses exact on us a terrible toll in the war of ideas because inevitably these abuses become public," he said.


US ABUSE SCANDALS
April 2004: Allegations of abuse by US military at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison
US later convicted nine soldiers of offences relating to abuses
May 2005: Newsweek magazine report of Koran being flushed down toilet at Guantanamo Bay sparks protests across Muslim world
US inquiry later found five incidents of mishandling at Cuban facility
June 2005: Guantanamo chief says only 10 cases of misconduct by guards recorded since jail opened in 2002
July 2005: US military investigators find evidence of abuse by interrogators at Guantanamo

"When they do, the cruel actions of a few darken the reputation of our country in the eyes of millions."

The new measure would require all service members to follow procedures in the army field manual for treatment of anyone in US military custody.

Another amendment due for consideration by the Senate soon would clarify the legal status of enemy combatants.

Mr McCain said that while the administration might want ambiguity over the terms of reference for detainees, US soldiers were "crying out for clarity".

He also read a letter of support from former Secretary of State and retired general Colin Powell.

Mr Powell wrote that the new measure would "help deal with the terrible public diplomacy crisis created by Abu Ghraib".

Supporters of the amendment also hope a commitment to treat detainees fairly when in US custody will help to secure humane treatment of US nationals or servicemen captured abroad.

The Senate vote comes at a time when the president's approval ratings are at an all-time low, although they have been recovering from a dip in the wake of Katrina.

Widespread anger

Popular resentment to the US has grown in the Muslim world since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Abu Ghraib images, which showed hooded Iraqi detainees corralled into naked human pyramids, or cowering in front of guard dogs, were seen across the Middle East.

Stories of abuse and maltreatment of prisoners have fuelled reactions to stories such as the alleged desecration of the Koran by US troops at Guantanamo, which prompted widespread anti-American demonstrations in many countries.

But the White House views any codifying of rules for interrogation as potentially restrictive and a possible source of legal insecurity for US troops.

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Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About KoreaUN General Assembly Could Pass N.Korea Resolution
The UN General Assembly is likely to see a fresh resolution on human rights in North Korea during the 60th plenary session now under way in New York.

A South Korean official said Thursday EU countries were leading the way, with their resolution on human rights in North Korea adopted at the UN's Human Rights Commission. "At this time there is a 50:50 chance” the resolution will pass, “but after next week, the outlines of what will take shape should become more apparent,” the official said. The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea Vitit Muntarbhorn, who was appointed in 2004, has already submitted his report to the assembly.

Since 2003, the 53-member UNHRC has passed annual resolutions condemning the North's "severe, systematic and widespread violations of human rights," but this would be the first time the issue is debated on the floor of the 199-country General Assembly.
The South Korean government abstained on all three resolutions citing the “special character” of inter-Korean relations and is expected to abstain in the General Assembly as well. "It would be impossible for us to ignore” the fact that a fifth round of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program is slated to start in November, the official said.

For a resolution to pass in the General Assembly, a majority of member countries has to vote, and a majority of them has to vote in favor. The situation is different from the Security Council, where permanent members friendly to Pyongyang like China and Russia can veto a resolution. The UNHRC resolution in April passed with 30 in favor, nine against and 14 abstentions.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel bans use of human shields

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Israel bans use of human shields Israel bans use of human shields
Israel's supreme court has banned the use of Palestinian human shields in arrest raids, saying the practice violates international law.

The court issued a temporary injunction against the practice in 2002 after a teenager was killed when troops made him negotiate with a wanted militant.

Human rights groups who brought the case say the Israeli army has repeatedly violated the temporary ban.

The army cannot use civilians for its purposes, Israel's chief justice said.

"You cannot exploit the civilian population for the army's military needs, and you cannot force them to collaborate with the army," Aharon Barak said.

Early warning

The court ruled out both the placing of civilians in front of soldiers on operations and as well as an "early warning" procedure employed by the army.

In this practice the army forces local Palestinians to flush out wanted militants by making them approach their homes first and asking them to surrender.

No civilian would refuse a 'request' presented to him at 0300 by a group of soldiers aiming their cocked rifles at him
Soldier's affidavit
The state argued that its rules were necessary to arrest wanted militants and did not endanger Palestinian civilians who - it argued - gave their consent to take part in the operations.

But that was disputed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Israeli Arab human rights organisation Adallah, who brought the case.

Adallah submitted an affidavit by one Israeli reservist who said: "No civilian would refuse a 'request' presented to him at 0300 by a group of soldiers aiming their cocked rifles at him."

"It's an important decision, but we need to see if the military will abide by it," said Adallah lawyer Marwan Dallal.

'Pity for the cruel'

The judges decided that under the circumstances it was impossible to properly get the consent of Palestinians.

"In light of the inequality which exists between the apprehending force and the local resident, the civilian cannot be expected to resist the request to pass on an alert," Mr Barak wrote.

A hard-line member of the Israeli Knesset or parliament has criticised the ruling, saying it will hamper the military's anti-terrorism capabilities.

"Supreme court judges demonstrated today that their pity for the cruel will prove cruel to the merciful and will expose [Israeli] soldiers to more danger," said Effie Eitam of the National Religious Party.

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