Unlike some bloggers, who feel oppressed by the act of writing and need to dramatically quit every few months, the simple fact is that we're moving our blog to a new domain, http://www.thenewsblog.net .
Because the new blogger works better. The old site will be frozen in place as of 5:30 PM January 21, 2007. No more posts or comments will be responded to on this site, except for the previous one.
www.thenewsblog.net is now up and running and is the News Blog's new home.
By Ernesto Londoño Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, January 22, 2007; Page A01
BAGHDAD, Jan. 21 -- The armored sport-utility vehicles whisked into a government compound in the city of Karbala with speed and urgency, the way most Americans and foreign dignitaries travel along Iraq's treacherous roads these days.
Iraqi guards at checkpoints waved them through Saturday afternoon because the men wore what appeared to be legitimate U.S. military uniforms and badges, and drove cars commonly used by foreigners, the provincial governor said.
Once inside, however, the men unleashed one of the deadliest and most brazen attacks on U.S. forces in a secure area. Five American service members were killed in a hail of grenades and gunfire in a breach of security that Iraqi officials called unprecedented.
The attack, which lasted roughly 20 minutes, came on a day when the United States lost at least 20 other troops, including a dozen in a helicopter crash, making it the third most lethal day for American forces in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the military announced the arrival of 3,200 troops of the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the first unit to reach Baghdad as part of a 21,500-troop increase that the Bush administration hopes will restore order in the violent capital.
"Soldiers from the 82nd come to us ready to engage in a wide variety of operations in support of the Iraqi Baghdad Security Plan," Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said in a statement. "The brigade adds operational flexibility that will assist in securing the population."
U.S. military officials said Sunday that they could not discuss the attack in Karbala in detail because it remained under investigation. But they said the version of events provided by the governor's office was consistent with their preliminary findings.
After arriving at the Provincial Joint Coordination Center in Karbala, 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, the attackers detonated sound bombs, Iraqi officials said. "They wanted to create a panic situation," said an aide to Karbala Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali, who described the events with the governor's permission but on condition of anonymity because he fears reprisals.
The men then stormed into a room where Americans and Iraqis were making plans to ensure the safety of thousands of people expected to visit the holy city for an upcoming holiday.
"They didn't target anyone but the American soldiers," the governor's aide said.
After the attack, the assailants returned to their vehicles and drove away. It was unclear how many people participated, and the men's identities and motive remained unclear, but the attack was particularly striking because of the resources and sophistication involved, Iraqi officials said.
So who sent this message? AQ? The Mahdi Army? the Revolutionary Guards? Someone who needs to understand that the US is vunerable.
The uniforms and money spent indicates someone with time to spare. I would hope dunderhead Odierno would realize that all hell could follow at the choosing of some party.
Because if the Mahdi Army is this slick, God help our troops.
I am not in the habit of offering partisan linguistic advice to Democrats. But in the genuine spirit of bipartisanship - seriously - I thought this is the perfect time to convey a simple point to the still-euphoric faces of Democrat activists ...
Don't twist the knife.
Let's briefly sketch the political landscape in America today. Republicans are still reeling quite deservedly from the political thumping they took in the November election.
The polls, pretty bad then, have gotten even worse. One-by-one, key Republicans on the Hill are parting ways with the President over the 'surge' and his 'new strategy' in Iraq. And to top it all off, a Washington Post-ABC News poll taken immediately after the President's speech showed that a mere 40% of Americans believe the war is worth fighting, up just four points from before the speech.
An emerging new majority has spoken, and it is not happy with the old politics.
The Republicans are a party in peril, but all is not milk and cookies in Democrat land. The Democrats - flush with majority status - have a crucial choice right now. They can use their newly-won mandate to settle some old scores...or they can get responsibly and move ahead. They would be wise to opt for the latter.
Democracy is at its best when its practioners use language to unite and explain rather than divide and attack. The blogs from the Left and the Right be damned, the real center of America is upset but not bitter, anxious but not fearful, restless but not unforgiving.
For two years the Republican Party was adrift in meaningless messaging to support meaningless reform - and have communicated absolutely nothing for the past three months. By comparison, the Democrat majority that took Congress in November was remarkably disciplined and effective in promoting change, reform, and accountability in the weeks following their historic election.
But alas, power does strange things to Democrats: put a gavel in their hands and a camera in their face and they revert to the name-calling that kept them from the majority for a dozen long years. Sure, it's easy to land rhetorical jabs on a staggering opponent - but that doesn't make it effective. The message from the electorate in November was 'work together and compromise.' You need only look at the incumbent governor of California who won a lopsided landslide in an otherwise Democratic sweep. Cooperation works. Compromise wins. But over-heated rhetoric says to the world that you are no different - and no better - than what you replaced.
Ignore this stupid motherfucker
The GOP are the largest bunch of whining children I have ever seen.
George Bush says vote Republican or die and now, when the Dems have real power, he wants to hand out lectures on not twisitng knives?
Where was he when Tom Delay was around. Sucking his balls.
The GOP likes compromise when they are the minority. When they're the majority, they can bully and lie like it's free.
SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 21 — The XXX industry has gotten too graphic, even for its own tastes.
Stormy Daniels says she isn’t sure “why anyone would want to see their porn” in high definition because it makes the picture so crisp and clear.
Pornography has long helped drive the adoption of new technology, from the printing press to the videocassette. Now pornographic movie studios are staying ahead of the curve by releasing high-definition DVDs.
They have discovered that the technology is sometimes not so sexy. The high-definition format is accentuating imperfections in the actors — from a little extra cellulite on a leg to wrinkles around the eyes.
Hollywood is dealing with similar problems, but they are more pronounced for pornographers, who rely on close-ups and who, because of their quick adoption of the new format, are facing the issue more immediately than mainstream entertainment companies.
Producers are taking steps to hide the imperfections. Some shots are lit differently, while some actors simply are not shot at certain angles, or are getting cosmetic surgery, or seeking expert grooming.
“The biggest problem is razor burn,” said Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director.
Ms. Daniels is also a skeptic. “I’m not 100 percent sure why anyone would want to see their porn in HD,” she said.
The technology’s advocates counter that high definition, by making things clearer and crisper, lets viewers feel as close to the action as possible.
“It puts you in the room,” said the director known as Robby D., whose films include “Sexual Freak.”
The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers.
The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.
The movie makers assert that it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread.
“When you’re introducing a new format, it would seem like the adult guys can help,” said Steven Hirsch, co-chief executive officer of Vivid Entertainment Group, a big player in the industry. Mr. Hirsch added that high definition, regardless of format, “is the future.”
Despite the challenges, pornographers — who distributed some 7,000 new movies on DVD last year and sold discs worth $3.6 billion in the United States — are rapidly moving to high-definition.
One major company, Digital Playground, plans to release its first four HD-DVD titles this month, and plans four new ones each month. In March, Vivid plans to release “Debbie Does Dallas ... Again,” its first feature for both HD-DVD and Blu-ray.
In 2003, Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN after creating a controversy with his comments that Donovan McNabb got too much credit because, he said, "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.'' Limbaugh no longer works as an NFL commentator, but his latest comments about football are sure to get more scrutiny.
"There is a cultural problem in the NFL that has resulted in a total lack of class on the part of professional players. I love the game of football, but after every sack players are acting like they've won the Super Bowl; they're prancing around with these idiotic dances."
"Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it."
Limbaugh has a fair, legitimate point with his first statement. Limbaugh's "lack of class" comment is quite similar to LaDainian Tomlinson's comments after the Chargers lost to the Patriots, although we should add that Tomlinson's teammate Shawne Merriman is as guilty as anyone when it comes to prancing around with idiotic dances after sacks.
Limbaugh undermines that legitimate point with his second statement, though. To compare NFL players to gang members is to display willful ignorance about the men who play in the league. Which of the top players in tomorrow's game act like gang members on the field? Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison? Tom Brady and Richard Seymour? Drew Brees and Reggie Bush? Thomas Jones and Brian Urlacher? All of those players and nearly all of the 180 or so players on the four teams we'll watch tomorrow are class acts. If Limbaugh doesn't know that, he doesn't know much about football. Which leaves me still scratching my head, three years later, as to why ESPN hired him.
Not long before Christmas, Jeff Baker, the chief of police of Morrow, Ga., a small town just south of Atlanta, and one of his officers were walking through a local shopping mall when they happened to pass a kiosk hawking rap music CDs. One in particular caught their attention.
The CD was “Tha Streets Iz Watchin,” with songs performed by the rapper Young Jeezy and, as Chief Baker recalled, it did not carry the name or address of the owner of the music copyrights, as Georgia law requires. Rather than arrest the kiosk vendor immediately, Chief Baker said, “We’d rather go after the source of the material. And at that point we had no idea what the source was.”
Any rap music aficionado would; the creator of the album is DJ Drama, whose real name is Tyree Simmons, arguably the nation’s most prominent producer of mixtapes, the name given to popular but largely unlicensed CDs stocked with yet-to-be released rap hits and free-style rhymes.
And many more people now know: last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.
The raid sparked an outcry among many rap fans. But it also threatens to throw into public view the recording industry’s awkward relationship with mixtapes, long an integral element of rap culture and now commonly for sale on street corners, Web sites, many independent record shops and occasionally big chains.
Even as industry-financed antipiracy squads hunt for unauthorized recordings, senior executives at the major record labels privately say that they have courted — and often paid — top D.J.’s to create and distribute mixtapes featuring the labels’ rappers as part of efforts to generate buzz.
The record industry seems intent on alienating their audience
This morning on Fox News, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol said that opponents of escalation in Congress are “leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate.” Kristol said, “It’s just unbelievable. … It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months,” adding, “You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that.”
NPR’s Juan Williams told Kristol his analysis was “totally ahistorical,” and pointed out that yesterday was the deadliest day for U.S forces in Iraq in two years. “There’s something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the politics of, ‘If you don’t support this president, you don’t really want us to win.’”
KRISTOL: They’re playing — they’re leap-frogging each other in the degrees of irresponsibility they’re willing to advocate. And I really think people are being too sort of complacent and forgiving almost of the Democrats. ‘Oh, it’s politics, of course. One of them has a non-binding resolution. The other has a cap.’ It’s all totally irresponsible. It’s just unbelievable. The president is sending over a new commander, he’s sending over troops, and the Democratic Congress, in a pseudo-binding way or non-binding way, is saying, ‘It won’t work. Forget it. You troops, you’re going over there in a pointless mission. Iraqis who might side with us, forget it, we’re going to pull the plug.’ It’s so irresponsible that they can’t be quiet for six or nine months and say the president has made a decision, we’re not going to change that decision, we’re not going to cut off funds and insist on the troops coming back, so let’s give it a chance to work. You really wonder, do they want it to work or not? I really wonder that. I hate to say this about the Democrats. They’re people I know personally and I respect some of them. Do they want it to succeed or not?
WILLIAMS: I think everybody wants it to succeed who believes in the idea that we are over there and our people are at stake. I don’t think there’s any question. I think that’s sort of a rhetorical tool on your part. But your analysis seems to be totally ahistorical. It’s as if mistakes haven’t been made repeatedly, as if people don’t feel like they’ve been misled down this path, that there’s been tremendous support for this president and war effort and it’s come to naught. It’s come to a bad place. Yesterday was the deadliest, I think, in two years. Nineteen Americans killed. There’s something going on here you might pay attention to as opposed to just the politics of, if you don’t support this president, you don’t really want us to win.
KRISTOL: What are Democrats doing that would change the 19 Americans that were killed yesterday? Nothing. Zero. Except, except no reinforcements. You guys are on your own. That’s what they’re saying.
WILLIAMS: If you think — do you think reinforcements will make some radical change? No. I think what people are saying is, it’s time to redeploy, look at new strategies, look at political compromise. That’s what’s not being done by this administration.
If Bill Kristol was responsible, he'd listen to the critics and stop pretending the surge will work
When John Smith, a swaggering sixth grader at one of New York City’s growing collection of kindergarten- through eighth-grade schools, feels lost, he heads downstairs to the colorful classroom of his former third-grade teacher, Randi Silverman, for what she calls a “Silverman hug.”
“When I get mad I go to her,” John, 11, said amid the lunchtime buzz in the cafeteria of his school, Public School 105, on the Rockaway peninsula in Queens. “When I feel frustrated I’ll go to her. When I feel like I can’t do it no more I go to her, and she tells me I have to do it.”
Miles away at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, a 6th- through 12th-grade school, teachers keep the sixth graders looking forward, toward college. One recent morning, a class peppered a guidance counselor, Michael Lloyd, with queries, from “Where is Harvard?” to “What does Ph.D. stand for?”
The two schools, in disparate corners of the nation’s largest school system, are part of a national effort to rethink middle school, driven by increasingly well-documented slumps in learning among early adolescents as well as middle school crime rates and stubborn high school dropout rates.
The schools share the premise that the way to reverse years of abysmal middle school performance is to get rid of middle schools entirely. But they represent opposite poles in the sharp debate over whether 11- through 13-year-olds are better off pushed toward adulthood or coddled a little longer.
Should the nurturing cocoon of elementary school be extended for another three years, shielding 11-year-olds from the abrupt transition to a new school, with new students and teachers, at one of the most volatile times in their lives?
Paul Vallas, chief executive of the Philadelphia school system, thinks so, and he has closed 17 traditional middle schools since 2002, while converting some three dozen elementary schools into K-8s. “The fifth to sixth grade transition is just too traumatic,” he said. “At a time when children are undergoing emotional, physical, social changes, and when they need stability and consistency, suddenly they’re thrust into this alien environment.”
Others argue that 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds thrive in the presence of older role models and reminders of concrete goals, like playing varsity sports and getting into college.
“Kids are forward-looking — they don’t get nostalgic for second grade when they’re in third grade,” said Larry Woodbridge, principal of the Secondary School for Law in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the award-winning high school debate team will teach a middle school social studies unit this spring.
I think if you're going to have a middle school, you need to have it start at 5th, not 6th Grade. When I went to school, I started in 7th grade. But either way, I think the crucial age is 12. Whatever you do, you have to deal with 12 year olds as your focus
She is a devout Catholic and member of the Opus Dei sect. His leanings to Rome have been rewarded with audiences in front of successive Popes.
So, when Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly team up to deny gay couples equal access to church-run adoption agencies, as we reveal today, it is little wonder that their opponents believe it is the "Catholic tendency" at work.
"We are descending into a spiral of immorality," said Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic church in Scotland, when that country brought its laws into line with those of the rest of the UK to allow local authorities to place children with gay parents, just before Christmas.
Now, a further change in the law to remove from Catholic-run adoption agencies the right to ban gay people threatens to provoke a full-scale battle throughout the UK.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is set to become the leader of England's Catholics, recently warned the Government not to "impose on us conditions which contradict our moral values".
"It is simply unacceptable to suggest that the resources of... adoption agencies ... can work in co-operation with public authorities only if the faith communities accept not just the legal framework but also the moral standards being touted by the Government," he sermonised last November.
When it comes to Mr Blair, the archbishop is preaching to the converted, according to senior ministers. The Prime Minister first asked Alan Johnson, then responsible, to include a loophole in anti-discrimination legislation to allow the Catholic ban on gay parents early last year.
When he refused, the PM moved him and handed the equalities brief to Ms Kelly, whom he knew could be trusted to back him on the issue. But a cabinet row last October delayed the introduction of the Equality Act until this April.
Ms Kelly now has to produce the regulations that spell out exactly how the new law will work, and the pressure is building towards an explosive political battle.
Mr Johnson remains implacably opposed to any exemption and is being supported by Peter Hain, Jack Straw, David Miliband, Des Browne and even Mr Blair's close friend Lord Falconer.
For his part, the Prime Minister can count only on Ms Kelly and John Hutton if the issue is pressed to the point of a full meeting of the cabinet committee that settles disputes on domestic policy. Members of the Domestic Affairs Committee, chaired by John Prescott, have been expecting a letter from Ms Kelly on the new regulations for weeks. Her aides say she will send them her proposals this week after further "detailed policy discussions with colleagues".
But Mr Blair can't count on much support among backbenchers. Angela Eagle, who topped a recent election to become the vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, and Chris Bryant, MP for Rhondda, have been leading behind-the-scenes efforts to defeat the "Catholic tendency".
In a meeting last week Ms Kelly insisted that her wish to allow church-run adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples had nothing to do with her own religious sensibilities.
Instead, the Communities Secretary said, she was acting in the best interests of vulnerable children since the Catholic bishops were threatening to close the seven agencies run by the church rather than comply.
The bishops point across the Atlantic at the example provided by the closure of an adoption agency by the Catholic church in Boston after the passing of anti-discrimination laws. It could no longer reconcile its operation with the Vatican ruling that gay adoption was "gravely immoral", it said.
At least in the UK, this is deemed offensive and unacceptable.
By Howard Bryant Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, January 21, 2007; Page F01
ack in August, my needs were simple. As one of the reporters covering the Redskins for The Post, I needed a television and a way to record games so I could analyze what turned out to be a five-win season. A $119 combination 13-inch TV with a VCR would have solved the problem.
Instead, I ended up taking the high-definition plunge, spending $1,399 for a far-bigger and fancier television set than I originally had in mind. As I left the store with my new HDTV, my confidence was boosted by approving nods from people in the parking lot.
Most new HDTVs have inputs for both types of high-definition cables, but not all video sources - cable or satellite boxes, upconverting DVD players or high-def video game consoles - use the same connections. Both types of cables can sell from $10 to $100, with minimal difference in quality. (Ignore composite and S-Video connections, which can?t carry a high-def signal.)
"It's going to change your life," one man said.
If only someone had told me that buying the set was the easiest part.
Since then, I have been riding a high-definition roller coaster -- mesmerized by the new TV's crystal-clear images but disillusioned by the disappointingly low number of HD channels you get in exchange for the investment of the upgrade.
My purchase put me in a growing wave of people switching to high definition. Last year, more than 13 million HDTV sets were shipped to stores in the United States, and the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that even more -- closer to 16 million -- will hit shelves this year.
Moving into HDTV had been on my mind for a while. I'd been admiring a 50-inch plasma, and its dropping price tag, for about a year, but I was still fighting the psychological barrier of paying such big money for a TV. I'd spent less than $300 on a 27-inch Toshiba tube set only four years ago and wasn't mentally ready to shell out four figures for a replacement.
And so, faced with the onset of the season and needing a second set at home, I headed out with self-restraint and intentions of saving money by going low-tech -- until I started comparing prices and saw how much they had come down.
A 27-inch tube set is the same price today as the one I bought four years ago, around $275, but a Polaroid 20-inch flat-panel, HD television was less than $50 more, at $318. A 32-inch combination TV-VCR cost in the mid-$300s, but a Samsung 32-inch HD was in the low $600s, which didn't seem unreasonable considering the quality of the picture.
Bullets shattered the peace in the home of Ernest Lampkins, mayor of Greenwood, La. Who did it remains unknown. To Mr. Lampkins, the motive is clear.
Midnight in a handsome one-story house on Waterwood Drive. Hours after Ernest and Shirley Lampkins say goodnight to their teenage daughter, Brett, and to the first Sunday of the new year, a Sunday of churchgoing and turkey and chili and some of those sweet frozen grapes that Ernest likes so much. Two bullets pay a call.
They explode through the living room window. They tear through the soft-yellow curtains that Shirley ordered from a catalog. They rocket past the Easter basket containing family snapshots, past Brett’s bedroom door, past Ernest’s antique upright piano, past the framed portrait of father, mother and daughter in serene pose.
One bullet strikes a golden candelabrum and splits: half whistles into a wall near the kitchen; half crashes through a French door — turning smooth glass into a spider’s web of shards — and into the sunroom, four steps from the master bedroom.
The other bullet slams so hard into the living room wall that it has to be pried out. “It was a piece of lead about the size of my thumb,” Mr. Lampkins recalls. “They use that for killing deer.”
There are no deer in the Lampkins home. Only Brett, 17, a high school junior, who has just learned to drive and wears slippers that look like kittens. And Shirley, 62, a retired high school English teacher and administrator, who enjoys gardening and makes a delectable fig cake. And Ernest, 78, a retired educator who has a doctorate in ethnomusicology and is known throughout Louisiana for reaching children through music.
Oh. One more thing about Ernest. He is also the mayor here in Greenwood, a quiet town of 2,600 a few miles west of Shreveport. Greenwood has a Dollar General store, a Mexican restaurant and some antebellum homes, including one once used as a Confederate hospital. It is predominantly white.
Oh. And one more thing about the Lampkinses. They are black.
On that night, Mr. and Mrs. Lampkins hear no gunshots, but their home alarm sounds, and they leave their bedroom to investigate. They stare at the shattered glass, and then at the holes in the front window. It does not register. Then it does.
As the police arrive to interview and to collect the shell casings from the street, it is hard to forget that several days earlier, the black mayor in Westlake, about 230 miles south of here, was found shot to death, and that some people there dispute findings that he killed himself.
Running for office can still be deadly for black men.
Last Friday, in his Washington Post op-ed "A Plausible Plan B," neoconservative pundit Charles Krauthammer was more openly skeptical of the surge option.
If we were allied with an Iraqi government that, however weak, was truly national -- cross-confessional and dedicated to fighting a two-front war against Baathist insurgents and Shiite militias -- a surge of American troops, together with a change of counterinsurgency strategy, would have a good chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the Iraqi political process has given us Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite coalition.
Krauthammer is confident that the U.S. troops will acquit themselves admirably (as am I), but that the surge effort "will fail, however, because the Maliki government will undermine it."
Krauthammer proposes an alternative "Plan B" in which we tell Maliki:
Let us down, and we dismantle the Green Zone, leave Baghdad and let you jfend for yourself; we keep the airport and certain strategic bases in the area; we redeploy most of our forces to Kurdistan; we maintain a significant presence in Anbar province, where we are having success in our one-front war against al-Qaeda and the Baathists. Then we watch. You can have your Baghdad civil war without us. [Italics added.]
Krauthammer's Plan B sounds very much like Kissinger's "repositioning" plan, which sounds very much like someone else's Plan A that's been on the table for more than a year.
And the American Army will eat how? The highways go through Baghdad and Anbar, as well as the Shia South. The Turks won't help us resupply. Kurds want Kurdistan. Not a US occupation.
“I’m in,” she says in a statement on her new campaign Web site. “And I’m in to win.”
Mrs. Clinton, 59, called for “bold but practical changes” in foreign, domestic, and national security policy and said that she would focus on finding “a right end” to the Iraq war, expanding health insurance, pursuing greater energy independence and strengthening Social Security and Medicare.
In her statement, Mrs. Clinton also squarely confronted an issue that concerns many Democrats: Whether she can, in fact, win the presidency. Some voters still associate her most with the controversies of the Clinton administration, and Republicans have long attacked and caricatured her, and plan to brand her as indecisive on Iraq.
“I have never been afraid to stand up for what I believe in or to face down the Republican machine,” Mrs. Clinton said on the Web site. “After nearly $70 million spent against my campaigns in New York and two landslide wins, I can say I know how Washington Republicans think, how they operate, and how to beat them.”
If successful, Mrs. Clinton would be the first female nominee of a major American political party, and she would become the first spouse of a former president to seek a return to the White House. President Bill Clinton left office in 2000 after two terms marked by robust economic expansion and a series of investigation into his personal life and the Clintons’ business dealings.
The successes and shadows of those years will likely loom over Mrs. Clinton, who was both a hands-on adviser and a divisive presence in his administration.
Yet Mrs. Clinton has become a major political figure in her own right: She is broadly popular with women, African-Americans, and other core groups in the Democratic Party, and she is one of the party’s best fundraisers and most sought-after speakers. She is admired by many independents and Republicans in New York, winning re-election last year by 30 points. While she is not associated with any major piece of legislation, she is widely regarded as an effective, thoughtful lawmaker who has built bipartisan ties
Only 72 percent of Americans will vote for a woman.
Hilary Clinton is the most detested politician outside of the Bush Administration. So detested, her name is a punchline in most of America
She can't campaign for Dems outside the Far West and Northeast.
She has zero legislative accomplishments.
She supported the Iraq war
She has no national security experience
She has no defining political philosophy.
I think the Clinton campaign is a house of cards. When she is pressed hard and expected to actually take controversal stands, she is going to falter. She is a cautious politician, who despite all of her experiences, does not gauge the antipathy she faces on the left and the middle.
There isn't a chance in hell I would support Clinton, or to be honest, Obama, in a primary at this point. Neither has done more than talk and that will not cut it when we have to salvage our reputation and foreign policy.
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq - As the Iraqi government attempts to secure a capital city ravaged by conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, its decision to bring a third party into the mix may cause more problems than peace.
Kurdish soldiers from northern Iraq, who are mostly Sunnis but not Arabs, are deserting the army to avoid the civil war in Baghdad, a conflict they consider someone else's problem.
The Iraqi army brigades being sent to the capital are filled with former members of a Kurdish militia, the peshmerga, and most of the soldiers remain loyal to the militia.
Much as Shiite militias have infiltrated the Iraqi security forces across Arab Iraq, the peshmerga fill the ranks of the Iraqi army in the Kurdish region in the north, poised to secure a semi-independent Kurdistan and seize oil-rich Kirkuk and parts of Mosul if Iraq falls apart. One thing they didn't bank on, they said, was being sent into the "fire" of Baghdad.
"The soldiers don't know the Arabic language, the Arab tradition, and they don't have any experience fighting terror," said Anwar Dolani, a former peshmerga commander who leads the brigade that's being transferred to Baghdad from the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah.
Dolani called the desertions a "phenomenon" but refused to say how many soldiers have left the army.
"I can't deny that a number of soldiers have deserted the army, and it might increase due to the ferocious military operations in Baghdad," he said.
"This is the biggest performance through which we can test them," said Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, the commander of land forces for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The Kurdish soldiers will be using translators, and they'll start off doing less dangerous tasks, such as manning checkpoints with Arab soldiers, he said.
In interviews, however, soldiers in Sulaimaniyah expressed loyalty to their Kurdish brethren, not to Iraq. Many said they'd already deserted, and those who are going to Baghdad said they'd flee if the situation there became too difficult.
"I joined the army to be a soldier in my homeland, among my people. Not to fight for others who I have nothing to do with," said Ameen Kareem, 38, who took a week's leave with other soldiers from his brigade in Irbil and never returned. "I used to fight in the mountains and valleys, not in the streets."
Kareem said he knew that deserting was risky, but he said he'd rather be behind bars in Kurdistan than a "soldier in Baghdad's fire." Without the language and with his Kurdish features, he was sure he would stand out, he said. He's a Kurd, he said, and he has no reason to become a target in an Arab war.
Now he drives a taxi in Sulaimaniyah, eking out a living and praying that he doesn't get caught.
Other soldiers in Sulaimaniyah also said they didn't want to be involved in someone else's war.
Farman Mohammed, 42, celebrated the Muslim Eid holiday with his family last month and didn't go back when he heard that he might be deployed to Baghdad. Afraid for his life, he found a new job and settled in with his family.
"The fanatic Sunnis in Baghdad kill the Shiites, and vice versa. Both of them are outraged against the Kurds. They will not hesitate to kill us and accuse us of being collaborators with the occupiers," he said. "How can we face them alone?"
By MIKE BAKER The Associated Press Friday, January 19, 2007; 9:42 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Private security contractor Blackwater USA is seeking $10 million from the attorney representing the estates of four employees killed and mutilated in Iraq, arguing their families breached the security guards' contracts by suing the company for wrongful death.
Blackwater also has asked a federal court to move the dispute into arbitration, having failed so far in its ongoing efforts to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Arbitration is necessary "in order to safeguard both (Blackwater's) own confidential information as well as sensitive information implicating the interest of the United States at war," attorneys for Blackwater Security Consulting, a unit of Moyock-based Blackwater USA, wrote in a petition filed December 20.
Dan Callahan, a California-based attorney representing the families, called the claim "appalling."
"This is a shock-and-awe tactic," Callahan said Friday. Blackwater's attorneys declined to comment.
The four families, represented by estates administrator Richard Nordan, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackwater in January 2005 in state court. Family members argue Blackwater broke contractual obligations and used cost-saving measures that ultimately led to the deaths of the four men.
Blackwater's counterclaim for $10 million specifically names Nordan and not the estates or the men's families.
Or so their illegal activities can't be exposed in a court of law. The last place Erik Prince wants to be is under oath.