Articles of Interest, March 10th, 2008

Sniping by aides hurt Clinton’s image as manager

WASHINGTON : The morning after Senator Barack Obama shook the Clinton campaign by winning five states in one weekend, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new campaign manager — Maggie Williams, who had taken over in a shake-up the night before — assembled the curious if demoralized staff.

“You may not like the person next to you,” Williams told dozens of aides who ringed the conference room at the campaign’s Virginia headquarters last month, according to participants. “But you’re going to respect them. And we’re going to work together.”

Williams’s demand was dismissed as wishful thinking by some in her weary audience. But in the view of many Clinton supporters, it accurately reflected the urgent need to overhaul a campaign that at that point had set itself apart for its level of disorder and dysfunction.

Hillary Clinton sets her sights on three ways to win

FRESH from her victories in three out of four states last week and surging back in the national polls, Hillary Clinton has crafted a new strategy for winning the Democratic nomination which she believes will legitimise her claim to be president.

Clinton thinks she can win a majority of the popular vote in primaries and caucuses, even if she cannot overtake Barack Obama, her rival, in the number of “pledged” delegates who will vote to choose the candidate at the Democratic national convention in August.

The New York senator has unnerved Obama, who has been left reeling by a series of errors from senior policy advisers. The two opponents face an ugly six-week battle in the run-up to a potentially pivotal primary in Pennsylvania next month.

Democrats boosted Obama in Wyoming last night in state caucuses that gave the Illinois senator a comfortable victory. With almost all votes tallied he beat Clinton by 59% to 40%.

Former senator Bill Bradley, who is a leading supporter of Obama and ran for president in 2000, accused the Clintons of “lying” in pursuit of victory.

“The bigger the lie, the better the chance they think they’ve got. That’s been their whole approach,” he said. “She’s going to lose a whole generation of people who got involved in politics believing it could be something different.”

It’s over

The real message of Tuesday’s primaries is not that Hillary won. It’s that she didn’t win by enough.

The race is over.

The results are already clear. Obama will go to the Democratic Convention with a lead of between 100 and 200 elected delegates. The remaining question is: What will the superdelegates do then? But is that really a question? Will the leaders of the Democratic Party be complicit in its destruction? Will they really kindle a civil war by denying the nomination to the man who won the most elected delegates? No way. They well understand that to do so would be to throw away the party’s chances of victory and to stigmatize it among African-Americans and young people for the rest of their lives. The Democratic Party took 20 years to recover from the traumas of 1968 and it is not about to trigger a similar bloodletting this year.

John McCain’s nomination guarantees that the superdelegates wouldn’t dare. A perfectly acceptable alternative for most Democrats, McCain would harvest so large a proportion of Obama’s votes if Hillary steals the nomination that he would probably win. Even putting Obama on the ticket would not allay the anger of his supporters; it would just make him complicit in the robbery.

Will Hillary win Pennsylvania? Who cares? Even if she were to sweep the remaining primaries and caucuses by 10 points, she would move just 60 votes closer to Obama’s total of elected delegates. And she won’t sweep them all. Even if Hillary wins Pennsylvania, the largest prize up for grabs, Obama will probably win North Carolina, which is almost as large. He’s likely to win Mississippi and Wyoming and has a good shot in Oregon and Indiana. The most likely result of these coming contests is that Obama will be roughly where he is now, about 140 elected delegates ahead of Hillary.


March 9, 2008 — Clintons are trying to steal the nomination from Barack Obama – and he can’t let them.

The Clintons’ campaign attacks put Obama in a bind.

If he doesn’t answer in kind, he’s toast.

But if he does, they’ll have forced him off his winning message of hope and change from the bitter politics of the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush eras.

If they pull him off his game and onto theirs, they can wrest away the Democratic convention victory that he’s earned.

The solution for Obama is clear: Reply in kind, but do it through surrogates.

Obama must answer Hillary’s negative attacks and make counterpunches of his own to rock her back on her heels.

Hillary and Bill push idea of Clinton, Obama ticket for third time in a week

Talk about chutzpah! For the third time in a week, the Clintons are pushing the idea of a presidential ticket of Hillary and Barack Obama.

After Hillary twice gave a thumbs up to the idea, Bubba chimed in, saying the duo would be “unstoppable” in the general election. It’s the dream team that makes Democratic hearts flutter and brains turn to mush.

It’s a dream team all right, as in dream on.

It’s a fantasy because, in the Clintons’ pitch, naturally, she is on top of the ticket and Obama is her No. 2. That’s rich of her, considering that Obama leads in both the delegate race and the popular vote. Forget those pesky voters – Hillary has declared herself the winner!

Shades of the subprime mortgage mess there. She’s like a con artist trying to sell a house she doesn’t own. Based on the votes so far, she should have suggested herself as the vice presidential running mate.

Ah, but because these are the Clintons talking, we must parse their words to find out what they’re up to. No problem. This scam is fairly clever, but too obvious.

The offer of a joint ticket looks like an olive branch, but it’s really a knife aimed at cutting Obama down to size. In the words of one Clintonista, “It’s a way of belittling him” by suggesting he’s not ready to be President and would lose the general election as nominee to John McCain.

It’s the same attack she has been using all along, though now it’s presented as a compliment. And a generous one, too, because the offer implies she will take him under her wing for eight years.

How sweet.

In truth, it’s a sign of her desperation. Hil and Bill suddenly are hot for a joint ticket because they know the cold delegate math. Obama picked up seven delegates to her five by winning the Wyoming caucuses Saturday, and now leads by about 120 total delegates.

The Clintons, a horror film that never ends

It’s alive! We thought it might be over but some of us never dared fully believe it. Last week was like one of those moments in a horror movie when the worst terror recedes, the screen goes blank and then reopens on green fields or a lover’s tender embrace. Drained but still naive audiences breathe a collective sigh of relief. The plot twists have all been resolved; the threat is gone; the quiet spreads. And then . . .

Put your own movie analogy in here. Glenn Close in the bathtub in Fatal Attraction – whoosh! she’s back at your throat! – has often occurred to me when covering the Clintons these many years. The Oscars host Jon Stewart compares them to a Terminator: the kind that is splattered into a million tiny droplets of vaporised metal . . . only to pool together spontaneously and charge back at you unfazed.

The Clintons have always had a touch of the zombies about them: unkillable, they move relentlessly forward, propelled by a bloodlust for Republicans or uppity Democrats who dare to question their supremacy. You can’t escape; you can’t hide; and you can’t win. And these days, in the kinetic pace of the YouTube campaign, they are like the new 28 Days Later zombies. They come at you really quickly, like bats out of hell. Or Ohio, anyway.

Now all this may seem a little melodramatic. Perhaps it is. Objectively, an accomplished senator won a couple of races – one by a mere 3% – against another senator in a presidential campaign. One senator is still mathematically unbeatable. But that will never capture the emotional toll that the Clintons continue to take on some of us. I’m not kidding. I woke up in a cold sweat early last Wednesday. There have been moments this past week when I have felt physically ill at the thought of that pair returning to power.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton

Democrats fear that civil war may draw crowds but end in bloodshed

Surging optimism among Democrats about regaining the White House this year has been tempered by fresh warnings that the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama risks turning into a bloodbath before the Denver convention in August.

The Democratic race has already smashed all records for turnout and fundraising, with millions of new voters and hundreds of donors galvanised by the historic choice of picking either the first black or the first female presidential nominee.

Caucuses in Wyoming on Saturday had a sevenfold increase in the numbers taking part compared with 2004, while Democrats also celebrated winning the Congressional seat vacated by Dennis Hastert, the former House speaker — a victory some compared to toppling Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad.

Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, yesterday said that such results showed why his party was on course to defeat John McCain, the Republican nominee-elect, in November’s general election. He added, though, that elder statesmen might yet have to talk to Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton “about how to make peace and the convention work”.

Obama Looks to Miss. for Momentum

WASHINGTON (AP) – Barack Obama focused on Mississippi’s primary for new momentum in his tight race with Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a consensus began to emerge about two states stripped of their delegates where do-over contests could weigh heavily in the fierce Democratic White House battle.

Obama was favored to win in Tuesday’s nominating race in Mississippi, a southern state where blacks – who have carried him to wins previously – make up a majority of the Democratic voters. The first senator trounced Clinton in Saturday’s Wyoming caucuses, rebounding from earlier setbacks in a win that allowed him to retain his all-important delegate lead in his quest to becoming the U.S.’s first black president.

After a weekend break from public campaign events, both Democratic contenders were traveling in different directions on Monday.

Obama had rallies planned in Columbus and Jackson, Mississippi, as he tried to pick up the lion’s share of the 33 nominating convention delegates at stake there.

Lawsuit Eyed by Sharpton Over Florida

Laying the groundwork for a court battle that could divide the Democratic Party, the Reverend Al Sharpton is threatening to sue the Democratic National Committee if it counts Florida‘s primary results in the official presidential delegates tally.

Rev. Sharpton is traveling to Florida today to compile lists of residents who skipped the January contest because they thought their votes would not count. He plans to have those residents sign affidavits saying they would be disenfranchised by the seating of the Florida delegation, in the event the Democratic Party allowed that to happen.

The party had promised to exclude Florida and Michigan from the nomination process after the states scheduled their primaries in January, earlier than party rules had allowed, but the close contest between senators Clinton and Obama has turned attention toward those primaries, prompting debate between the campaigns and party leaders over how to handle the lockout.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has said it wants the Florida and Michigan primaries to count, while Mr. Obama’s campaign has said it will support the Democratic National Committee’s rules.

Mrs. Clinton won the Michigan and Florida primaries. Mr. Obama removed his name from the ballot in Michigan prior to the primary.

Rev. Sharpton has not endorsed a presidential candidate, but his efforts in Florida are widely viewed as benefiting Mr. Obama, who has won more delegates overall than Mrs. Clinton.


Vatican lists “new sins,” including pollution

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of “new” sins such as causing environmental blight.

The guidance came at the weekend when Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican’s number two man in the sometimes murky area of sins and penance, spoke of modern evils.

Asked what he believed were today’s “new sins,” he told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that the greatest danger zone for the modern soul was the largely uncharted world of bioethics.

cat prison

Olympics clean-up Chinese style: Inside Beijing’s shocking death camp for cats

Thousands of pet cats in Beijing are being abandoned by their owners and sent to die in secretive government pounds as China mounts an aggressive drive to clean up the capital in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of cats a day are being rounded and crammed into cages so small they cannot even turn around.

Then they are trucked to what animal welfare groups describe as death camps on the edges of the city.

The cull comes in the wake of a government campaign warning of the diseases cats carry and ordering residents to help clear the streets of them.

KKK store, civil rights activist landlord may go to court

Story Highlights

  • “Redneck Shop” in South Carolina town sells Klan robes, racist T-shirts
  • Building owned by Baptist church, whose pastor is longtime civil rights activist
  • Church wants to close store and use building for services, now held in trailer
  • But legal documents say store can operate on site until store owner dies

LAURENS, South Carolina (AP) — A black civil rights activist is fighting to close a store that sells KKK robes and T-shirts emblazoned with racial slurs. David Kennedy is confident he can make it happen. After all, he says he owns the building.

The Rev. David Kennedy stands outside the Redneck Shop in Laurens, South Carolina, last month.

Since 1996, the Redneck Shop has operated in an old movie theater that, according to court records, was transferred in 1997 to Kennedy and the Baptist church he leads.

“Our ownership puts an end to that history as far as violence and hatred, racism being practiced in that place and also the recruiting of the Klan,” Kennedy said. “This is the same place that we had to go up into the balcony to go to the movies before the Klan took it. So there’s a lot of history there.”

But legal documents also indicate that the man who runs the store, 62-year-old John Howard, is entitled to operate his business in the building until he dies. Now the dispute may go to court.

Kennedy, 54, has led protests outside the store since it opened but said he’s never been able to close it because of the agreement that Howard can run the shop for life.

Islamophobia High on OIC Summit & News Agencies


“We have to resolve the issue of Islamophobia through a committed political dialogue and a historical reconciliation between Islam and the West,” said Ihsanoglu

DUBAI — With drawings satirizing Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and a documentary insulting the Qur’an, alarming Islamophobia in the West will be high on the agenda of the Muslim leaders’ upcoming summit.“We have to resolve the issue of Islamophobia through a committed political dialogue and a historical reconciliation between Islam and the West,” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Monday, March 10.

He said when the leaders of the 57 member states meet in Senegal on Thursday, March 13, they will discuss the first report of an Islamophobia monitoring committee.

“[They] will be expected to take appropriate decisions against such acts of Islamophobia.”

Denmark’s main dailies reprinted on Wednesday, February 13, a drawing of a man described as Prophet Muhammad with a ticking bomb in his turban after three people were arrested for allegedly plotting to kill the cartoonist.

In the Netherlands, far-right MP Geert Wilders is preparing to broadcast a documentary describing the Qur’an as a “fascist” book that inspires awful acts.

Ihsanoglu insisted that the cartoon and the documentary are “specifically designed to insult the most sacred symbols of Islam.”

Israel defies freeze on illegal settlements


Arab builders working on new housing in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Givat Ze’ev

By Eric Silver in Jerusalem

Monday, 10 March 2008

Israel approved plans yesterday to build 330 new homes in a suburban West Bank settlement north of Jerusalem. The move was denounced by the Palestinian Authority as “a slap in the face of the peace process” and called on the Quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia to “act to get Israel to revoke the decision”.

Saeb Erakat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, said: “This is a provocative action by Israel that demonstrates its intention of further strengthening illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory.”

He branded the timing of the decision as “outrageous” because it came on the eve of American-Israeli-Palestinian talks to assess the two sides’ performance under the international road map for peace. Expansion of settlements is supposed to be frozen under the terms of the peace process. The settlements, illegal under international law, already account for nearly 40 per cent of West Bank territory. The UN warned recently that they are making the achie-vement of an eventual two state solution elusive.

Young Palestinian stone-throwers, whose images were synonymous with past intifadas, resurfaced near Ramallah, the West Bank, Friday to protest the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

Protest: Young Palestinian stone-throwers, whose images were synonymous with past intifadas, resurfaced near Ramallah, the West Bank, Friday to protest the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

Is a third intifada brewing?

Many Palestinians say they do not want to return to the regimen of daily violence.

Fadi al-Amour and his friends – high school seniors – spent more time last week on the street than in class. Every day, they marched on Rachel’s Tomb, guarded by Israeli soldiers, and, along with hundreds of other young Palestinians, pelted the nearest symbol of Israeli power with rocks and Molotov cocktails.

“We were implementing what our leaders in the prisons tell us we should be doing. Even Marwan Barghouthi has warned that this is where we’re going: the third intifada,” says Mr. Amour, mentioning the Fatah figure jailed by Israel in 2002 for his role in the last intifada, which lasted from 2000 to 2004.

From Gaza rocket strikes and West Bank riots to a deadly shooting inside Jerusalem late last week, many Palestinians are saying – or perhaps hoping – that these incidents of violence will spark a new, much broader conflict with Israel.

Stop threats then we’ll talk, Iran tells West

TEHERAN – Iran on Sunday told the West it would only hold talks over its disputed nuclear programme if world powers stopped threatening further punitive measures against Teheran.

‘The time of using the policy of the carrot and the stick has ended,’ Javad Vaeedi, a top national security official, said on the sidelines of a security conference in Teheran.

‘If they (the West) want to have serious negotiations, in fair conditions and taking into account the interests of the two parties, they must first stop threatening.’

His comments came a week after the UN Security Council tightened sanctions against Teheran over its refusal to heed the world body’s calls to freeze uranium enrichment, a potential weapons-making process.

Following the sanctions resolution, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected any new talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana-who has represented world powers in past discussions on the nuclear crisis.

Ahmadinejad said Teheran would in future negotiate only with the UN atomic agency and would not sit down with anyone from outside the body, such as Solana, who has held two years of nuclear talks with Iran.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, speaking at a conference in Teheran, meanwhile refused to directly answer a question about whether Iran would continue talking to Solana.

‘We are still supporters of negotiations that have a precise objective, a defined programme and are assured of providing us with results,’ he said.


3/8/2008 – Education Social Interfaith – Article Ref: IC0803-3534
By: Titus Burckhardt
IslamiCity* –

A GEODE of amethyst, brimful of thousands of tightly packed crystals and surrounded by a silver-green rim: this was Fez, the Old City of Fez, in the twilight. As we came downhill towards it, the hollow in which it lies grew visibly larger; the countless crystals, uniform in themselves, but irregularly grown into one another, now came more clearly into view; one side of them was light, while the other side, the one facing the prevailing wind, had become darkened and weather-beaten. Between them and the silver green girdle of olive trees, the wall of the Old City with its towers could be seen. Towards the city gate now facing us-Bab al-Gissa-the small donkey caravans made their way as of old, and from out of the gate into the evening wind and towards the expanse of green, came men and children in Moroccan dress; for it was spring, and the hills round about were covered with yellow and blue flowers.

In the heart of the city, in the lowest point of the hollow, one could make out the tent-shaped roof of green glazed files that covers the dome of the tomb -of the holy Idris, the founder of Fez; nearby was a minaret. Not far away were the equally green roofs of the old Quranic college of al-Qarawiyyin. The nearer We came to the city, the more minarets rose to Heaven, clear-cut, square, ‘at-topped towers, similar to the Romanesque city towers of Italy. There must have been hundreds of them. These reveal the position of the larger mosques; even more smaller mosques are hidden from sight in the confusion of the high, grey-white and, at this moment, reddish cubes of houses. A city full of sanctuaries: the European travelers who first visited it at the beginning of the century spoke either of a ‘citadel of fanaticism’, or marveled at it as a place of perpetual prayer.

Israel: The time for worldwide boycott is now!

3/7/2008 – Education Political Social – Article Ref: IV0803-3533
By: Omar Barghouti
Iviews* –

On Friday, 29 February 2008, Israel’s deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a “holocaust, “telling Israeli Army Radio: “The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves.”

This date will go down in history as the beginning of a new phase in the colonial conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, whereby a senior Israeli leader, a “leftist” for that matter, has publicly revealed the genocidal plans Israel is considering to implement against Palestinians under its military occupation, if they do not cease to resist its dictates. It will also mark the first time since World War II that any state has relentlessly –and on live TV –terrorized a civilian population with acts of slow, or low-intensity, genocide, with one of its senior government officials overtly inciting to a full-blown “holocaust,” while the world stood by, watching in utter apathy, or in glee, as in the case of leading western leaders.

For an Israeli leader who is Jewish, in particular, to threaten anyone with holocaust is a sad irony of history. Are victims of unspeakable crimes invariably doomed to turn into appalling criminals? Can anything be possibly done to break this vicious cycle, before the state that claims to represent the main victims of the Nazi holocaust commits a fresh holocaust itself?


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