BAMIAN, Afghanistan — Far away from the Taliban insurgency, in this most peaceful corner of Afghanistan, a quiet revolution is gaining pace. Women are driving cars — a rarity in Afghanistan — working in public offices and police stations, and sitting on local councils. There is even a female governor, the first and only one in Afghanistan. In many ways this province, Bamian, is unique. A half-dozen years of relative peace in this part of the country since the fall of the Taliban and a lessening of lawlessness and disorder have allowed women to push the boundaries here. Most of the people in Bamian are ethnic Hazaras, Shiite Muslims who are in any case more open than most Afghans to the idea of women working outside the home. But the changes in women’s lives here are also an enormous step for Afghanistan as a whole. And they may point the way to broader possibilities for women, eventually, if peace can be secured in this very conservative Muslim society, which has been dominated by militia commanders and warlords during the last 30 years of war. In a country with low rankings on many indicators of social progress, women and girls are the most disadvantaged. More than 80 percent of Afghan women are illiterate. Women’s life expectancy is only 45 years, lower than that of men, mostly because of the very high rates of death during pregnancy. Forced marriage and under-age marriage are common for girls, and only 13 percent of girls complete primary school, compared with 32 percent of boys. The cult of war left women particularly vulnerable. For years now they have been the victims of abduction and rape. Hundreds of thousands were left war widows, mired in desperate poverty. Particularly in the last years of Taliban rule, even widows, who had no one to provide for them, were not allowed to work or leave the home unaccompanied by a male relative. Fear of armed militiamen left women afraid even to walk in front of the police station in the town of Bamian, recalled Nahida Rezai, 25, the first woman to join the police force here. “And I came right into the police station,” she said, admitting to some fears. At the beginning, she had some problems. “I received some threats by telephone,” she said. “But now I am working as a police officer, I think nothing can deter me.” Nekbakht, 20, joined the police force, too, and now helps her father, a casual laborer, support the family. They live in a single room tucked into the cliff face of Bamian valley, where homeless refugees have found shelter in caves inhabited centuries ago by Buddhist pilgrims. “It was very difficult to find a job,” she said. “We had economic problems, and with the high prices life was difficult. Finally, I decided if I could not find another job, I should go into the police.” After joining nine months ago, she likes the job so much she says she is encouraging other women to join, too. Indeed, growing economic hardship has helped drive some women to join the work force or to take other bold steps as they try to help their families cope with a severe drought, rising food prices and unemployment. That was the case for Zeinab Husseini, 19. Her father, with seven daughters and no sons, says he had little choice when he needed a second driver to help at home. “I like driving,” she said, seated at the wheel of her family’s minibus. “I was interested from childhood to learn to drive and to buy a car. I was the first woman in Bamian to drive.” But over all, it is the return to relative peace here that has allowed for women’s progress, said the governor, Habiba Sarabi, a doctor and educator who ran underground literacy classes during the Taliban regime. “If the general situation improves, it can improve the situation for women,” she said. She pushed to have policewomen so they could handle women’s cases, and there are now 14 women on the force, she said. Some of the changes in Bamian have been echoed in more conservative parts of Afghanistan. But even the success stories sometimes end up showing the continuing dangers for women who take jobs to improve their lot. In Kandahar Province, one of the most noted female police officials in the country, Capt. Malalai Kakar, was gunned down on her way to work on Sept. 28. In Bamian Province, Mrs. Sarabi, 52, has been the driving force behind women’s progress in public life. Her appointment by President Hamid Karzai three years ago as governor of Bamian was a bold move when jihadi leaders were still so powerful in the towns and countryside. Some opponents are still agitating for her removal, Mrs. Sarabi said. “It is not only because they are against women,” she said, “but they do not want to lose power, so they make trouble for the governor.”
The people of Bamian say they accepted a woman as governor in the hope that an English-speaking, development-oriented technocrat like Mrs. Sarabi would deliver jobs and prosperity. In fact, the success of women’s Community Development Councils here has caught the attention of the World Bank, which has been a major donor to the programs and is looking to develop them further. Around the country there are 17,000 such councils, which choose local development projects and could be expanded to work on district and regional levels, said the bank’s president, Robert B. Zoellick, who visited Bamian this year. “They are very effective,” he said of the councils in a recent interview. “People feel they have an influence in the future.” The quiet work being done by women on the councils and in other jobs has helped turn things around for many in Bamian. Najiba, 48, is a woman in Yakowlang District who lost her husband in the notorious massacre by Taliban forces there in the winter of 2000-1.
The Taliban fighters came on horseback, forcing the villagers and townspeople to flee in the night, leaving everything behind. Their shops and homes were set on fire while they sought refuge in the mountains. After the American intervention in Afghanistan and the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, they returned home to nothing, not even a roof over their heads. “I just had one skirt, and I was always patching it,” Najiba said. As the government began development programs in the provinces, Najiba was elected head of a newly formed women’s development council, representing her village and the neighboring village. Its job was to plan how to spend a government development grant. The men’s council decided the area needed a road, and flood barriers to save the farming land near the river. The women’s council wanted instead to buy livestock for each family, traditionally the women’s domain in Afghan households, to improve the food supply for families. The men won that debate. “We did not get the farming project,” Najiba said. “We are still suggesting it was valuable; we are trying to work on our projects so we don’t have to depend on the men.” The women got their way with the next project: solar panels to provide light to groups of four houses. That project has opened up all sorts of ideas, for computers, televisions and educational and election programs, she said. Women have participated in literacy and tailoring training programs, too. Najiba laughed as she explained: “We have changed our way of life. Now I have lots of skirts.” She added, “It all comes down to the council.” Now, women are taking courses run by nongovernmental organizations, getting educated and learning ways to improve their family incomes. Most important, the women have won over the men, she said. “Their minds have changed,” Najiba said. “They want to share decisions, not too far, but they want to give us some share.”
No doubt many of us have all experienced a situation where, after long hours of trying to solve a certain problem, we give up, and go get a break, only to come back and solve the problem within moments. This appears to be a somewhat commonplace situation. However, the science behind it is much more complex.
According to the authors of the study – Professor Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management, Chen-Bo Zhong from the University of Toronto and Ap Dijkstererhuis of Radboud University Nijmegen – unconscious thought results in creative problem-solving in a two step process.
But this is not as simple as having an “Aha!” moment and moving on. The trio note that while the distraction might be helpful in coming up with the solution, a period of steady thought must follow so as to understand the solution and how those solutions can be applied. Similarly, while such moments might be useful in dealing with particularly tricky problems, easier problems should be confronted the old fashion way.
The researchers conducted two experiments to test their idea. In the first experiment, 94 subjects participated in a Remote-Association Test (RAT), which tests for creativity. In this test, participants were presented with three words (a triad) and were asked to come up with a fourth word that is linked with all three words. For example, if presented with the words cheese, sky and ocean, the correct answer would be blue (blue cheese, blue sky, blue ocean).
Subjects were shown nine very difficult triads (but were instructed not to solve them yet) and were then divided into groups. For five minutes following the RAT, participants were either concentrating on the triads they had just seen (the conscious thought group) or engaging in a test completely unrelated to the RAT (the unconscious thought group).
Following the five-minute interval, all of the subjects participated in a lexical decision test. During this test, subjects were shown sequences of letters and had to indicate as quickly as possible if the sequences were English words or not. The sequences presented included answers to the RAT triads, random words and non-words. Finally, subjects were again shown the RAT items and had to write down their answers.
The second experiment involved 36 subjects and had a similar set up to the previous experiment, although the RAT triads presented were much easier to solve compared to those in the first experiment.
The results pointed to members of the unconscious thought group in the lexical decision test as having much faster responses to the letter sequences. The RAT problems however saw both groups poll equally well.
"Conscious thought is better at making linear, analytic decisions, but unconscious thought is especially effective at solving complex problems," said Galinsky and his co-authors. "Unconscious activation may provide inspirational sparks underlying the 'Aha!' moment that eventually leads to important discoveries."
Posted by Josh Hill.
Adapted from Association for Psychological Science Press Release
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:55 am
this idea will continue to pick up speed and will prove that geothermal energy is going to be one of the main energy sources of the future. you read it here first right? well, say ya did even if you already hearda this shit. cam on.
It has been estimated that within the continental United States there is a sizable resource of accessible geothermal energy, which could supply about 3,000 times the current annual U.S. consumption. With fossil fuel sources depleting and global warming on the rise, exploring alternative means of powering human civilization is becoming of dire importance.
But now researchers are saying that it’s not just the sky via wind harnessing, or various forms of water power that offer hope. There is another clean, renewable energy source that is being largely overlooked: deep within Earth is an untapped source of abundant geothermal energy.
One major reason this storehouse of energy has not been tapped is that locating these energy hot spots is difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
“Since many geothermal resources are hidden, that is, they do not show any clear indications of their presence at the surface, locating them by just using observations made at the surface is difficult,” explains researcher Matthijs van Soest of Arizona State University. “Often when people thought there might be a geothermal resource below the surface the only way to determine if their assumption was correct was drilling and drilling is extremely expensive,” he says.
Now a new breakthrough is poised to radically alter the prospects of geothermal energy exploration. Van Soest and B. Mack Kennedy of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that an effective new method of geothermal exploration may not require any drilling at all.
Helium-3, whose nucleus has just one neutron, is made only in stars, and Earth's mantle retains a high proportion of primordial helium-three (compared to the minuscule amount found in air) left over from the formation of the solar system. Earth's crust, on the other hand, is rich in radioactive elements like uranium and thorium that decay by emitting alpha particles, which are helium-four nuclei. Thus a high ratio of helium-3 to helium-4 in a fluid sample indicates that much of the fluid came from the mantle.
“We wanted to show that certain surface indicators, specifically the ratio of helium isotopes, can be used to identify areas with high resource potential for geothermal energy,” says van Soest, co-author of a research report that appeared in the journal Science.
This incredible discovery that leftover stardust can provide a relatively cheap and fast method of locating geothermal energy without drilling makes this form of energy a much more viable option. With exciting new discoveries, such as this one, surfacing daily—soon there won’t be many good excuses left for not powering the planet through means that aren’t simultaneously destroying it.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:02 am
McCain's YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare
Posts : 323 Join date : 2008-03-27
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:05 am
Obama accuses McCain of smear campaign
Sun Oct 5, 2008 5:15pm EDT
By Mark Egan
ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama counterattacked on Sunday against a new Republican tactic by saying rival John McCain was more interested in a smear campaign than fixing the U.S. economy.
With McCain losing ground in opinion polls, a campaign strategist was quoted as saying the Republican presidential candidate needed to "turn the page" on the economic issue and make the election about Obama's experience and character.
That effort started on Saturday when Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists" in reference to his acquaintance with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Vietnam War-era militant Weather Underground.
Obama responded at the Republicans at a rally attended by more than 20,000 people in Asheville, North Carolina, a swing state where the Democratic presidential candidate was preparing for his second debate with McCain on Tuesday.
"Senator McCain and his operatives are gambling that he can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance," Obama said. "They'd rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up."
"It's what you do when you're out of touch, out of ideas and running out of time," he said a month before the November 4 election.
Obama's improvement in the polls was fueled by the public's perception that he can best handle the ailing economy. The Illinois senator tried to keep the focus on the economy and used the "turn the page" quote as a way of keeping the issue alive.
"We're facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and John McCain wants us to 'turn the page?'" he said in the Asheville remarks.
"Well, I know the policies he's supported these past eight years and wants to continue are pretty hard to defend. I can understand why Senator McCain would want to 'turn the page' and ignore this economy."
Then he poked fun at Palin's folksy way of speaking by saying: "We're not going to let John McCain distract us. We're not going to let him hoodwink ya, and bamboozle ya, we're not going to let him run the okie doke on ya."
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:15 am
my enthusiasm for obama has dimmed quite a bit since i drank the kool-aid, and his apparent followerly going along with that bailout, but i still feel he may be their last best hope. and as a consequence our last best hope.
Posts : 323 Join date : 2008-03-27
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:18 am
Posts : 323 Join date : 2008-03-27
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 9:25 am
see, there is reason to be confident in the future:
Children aware of voter prejudice in US
Children are aware white males have monopolized the US presidency, and most attribute the trend to racial prejudice, according to a study published Sunday.
Calling into question the idea children live in a color- and gender-blind world, researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, reveal "most elementary-school-aged children are aware there has been no female, African-American, or Hispanic President."
In addition, "many of the children attribute the lack of representation to discrimination," said Rebecca Bigler, professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, and lead author of the study, published in the journal Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy.
The research team interviewed 205 children aged five to ten in 2006, a year before Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama began their historic bids for the White House. Clinton lost to Obama in the primary fight for the Democratic nomination.
The study asked the children, from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, about their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about the US presidency, and specifically about similarities between presidents and the absence of female, African-American and Hispanic presidents.
A third of the children said the white male monopoly was due to "racial and gender bias," and another third believed members of the excluded groups "lacked the skills to hold the position," according to the study.
One in four participants told researchers they thought it was "illegal for women and minorities to hold the office of president."
The study found children were generally optimistic about the possibility that they could be president.
Girls who attributed the lack of female presidents to discrimination, however, were more likely to believe they could not become president.
"The US presidency is a high profile case of racial and gender exclusion," Bigler said in a statement.
"And because this topic is not typically explained to children, they appear to create their own explanations for the exclusion," she said.
The 2008 presidential election between Republican candidate John Mcain and Obama, who is black, has the potential to significantly alter children's view, said Bigler.
"If Obama loses his bid for the presidency, there may be little change in children's attitudes, but it could fuel their perception that American voters are racially prejudiced," she said.
"In contrast, if Obama wins children may believe that exclusionary laws and racial prejudice no longer shape the outcomes of the presidential elections."
SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain. To understand the meaning of Palin’s “victory,” it must be seen in the context of two ominous developments that directly preceded it. Just hours before the debate began, the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. That state is ground zero for the collapsed Main Street economy and for so-called Reagan Democrats, those white working-class voters who keep being told by the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim who hung with bomb-throwing radicals during his childhood in the late 1960s. McCain surrendered Michigan despite having outspent his opponent on television advertising and despite Obama’s twin local handicaps, an unpopular Democratic governor and a felonious, now former, black Democratic Detroit mayor. If McCain can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere in the Rust Belt? Not without an economic message. McCain’s most persistent attempt, his self-righteous crusade against earmarks, collapsed with his poll numbers. Next to a $700 billion bailout package, his incessant promise to eliminate all Washington pork — by comparison, a puny grand total of $16.5 billion in the 2008 federal budget — doesn’t bring home the bacon. Nor can McCain reconcile his I-will-veto-government-waste mantra with his support, however tardy, of the bailout bill. That bill’s $150 billion in fresh pork includes a boondoggle inserted by the Congressman Don Young, an Alaskan Republican no less. The second bit of predebate news, percolating under the radar, involved the still-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. Back in May, you will recall, the McCain campaign allowed a select group of 20 reporters to spend a mere three hours examining (but not photocopying) 1,173 pages of the candidate’s health records on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Conspicuously uninvited was Lawrence Altman, a doctor who covers medicine for The New York Times. Altman instead canvassed melanoma experts to evaluate the sketchy data that did emerge. They found the information too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis. There was, however, at least one doctor-journalist among those 20 reporters in May, the CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta. At the time, Gupta told Katie Couric on CBS that the medical records were “pretty comprehensive” and wrote on his CNN blog that he was “pretty convinced there was no ‘smoking gun’ about the senator’s health.” (Physical health, that is; Gupta wrote there was hardly any information on McCain’s mental health.) That was then. Now McCain is looking increasingly shaky, whether he’s repeating his “Miss Congeniality” joke twice in the same debate or speaking from notecards even when reciting a line for (literally) the 17th time (“The fundamentals of our economy are strong”) or repeatedly confusing proper nouns that begin with S (Sunni, Shia, Sudan, Somalia, Spain). McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance — a replay of Al Gore’s sarcastic sighing in 2000 — didn’t make the deferential Obama look weak (as many Democrats feared) but elevated him into looking like the sole presidential grown-up. Though CNN and MSNBC wouldn’t run a political ad with doctors questioning McCain’s medical status, Gupta revisited the issue in an interview published last Tuesday by The Huffington Post. While maintaining a pretty upbeat take on the candidate’s health, the doctor-journalist told the reporter Sam Stein that he couldn’t vouch “by any means” for the completeness of the records the campaign showed him four months ago. “The pages weren’t numbered,” Gupta said, “so I had no way of knowing what was missing.” At least in Watergate we knew that the gap on Rose Mary Woods’s tape ran 18 and a half minutes. It’s against this backdrop that Palin’s public pronouncements, culminating with her debate performance, have been so striking. The standard take has it that she’s either speaking utter ignorant gibberish (as to Couric) or reciting highly polished, campaign-written sound bites that she’s memorized (as at the convention and the debate). But there’s a steady unnerving undertone to Palin’s utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder. This was first apparent when Palin extolled a “small town” vice president as a hero in her convention speech — and cited not one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill but, bizarrely, Harry Truman, a Democrat who succeeded a president who died in office. A few weeks later came Charlie Gibson’s question about whether she thought she was “experienced enough” and “ready” when McCain invited her to join his ticket. Palin replied that she didn’t “hesitate” and didn’t “even blink” — a response that seemed jarring for its lack of any human modesty, even false modesty. In the last of her Couric interview installments on Thursday, Palin was asked which vice president had most impressed her, and after paying tribute to Geraldine Ferraro, she chose “George Bush Sr.” Her criterion: she most admires vice presidents “who have gone on to the presidency.” Hours later, at the debate, she offered a discordant contrast to Biden when asked by Gwen Ifill how they would each govern “if the worst happened” and the president died in office. After Biden spoke of somber continuity, Palin was weirdly flip and chipper, eager to say that as a “maverick” she’d go her own way. But the debate’s most telling passage arrived when Biden welled up in recounting his days as a single father after his first wife and one of his children were killed in a car crash. Palin’s perky response — she immediately started selling McCain as a “consummate maverick” again — was as emotionally disconnected as Michael Dukakis’s notoriously cerebral answer to the hypothetical 1988 debate question about his wife being “raped and murdered.” If, as some feel, Obama is cool, Palin is ice cold. She didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s devastating personal history. After the debate, Republicans who had been bailing on Palin rushed back to the fold. They know her relentless ambition is the only hope for saving a ticket headed by a warrior who is out of juice and out of ideas. So what if she is preposterously unprepared to run the country in the midst of its greatest economic crisis in 70 years? She looks and sounds like a winner. You can understand why they believe that. She has more testosterone than anyone else at the top of her party. McCain and his surrogates are forever blaming their travails on others, wailing about supposed sexist and journalistic biases around the clock. McCain even canceled an interview with Larry King, for heaven’s sake, in a fit of pique at a CNN anchor, Campbell Brown. We are not a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm would have it, but the G.O.P. is now the party of whiners. That rebranding became official when Republican House leaders moaned that a routine partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi had turned their members against the bailout bill. As the stock market fell nearly 778 points, Barney Frank taunted his G.O.P. peers with pitch-perfect mockery: “Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country!” Talk about the world coming full circle. This is the same Democrat who had been slurred as “Barney Fag” in the mid-1990s by Dick Armey, a House leader of the government-bashing Gingrich revolution that helped lower us into this debacle. Now Frank was ridiculing the House G.O.P. as a bunch of sulking teenage girls. His wisecrack stung — and stuck. Palin is an antidote to the whiny Republican image that Frank nailed. Alaska’s self-styled embodiment of Joe Sixpack is not a sulker, but a pistol-packing fighter. That’s why she draws the crowds and (as she puts it) “energy” that otherwise elude the angry McCain. But she is still the candidate for vice president, not president. Americans do not vote for vice president. So how can a desperate G.O.P. save itself? As McCain continues to fade into incoherence and irrelevance, the last hope is that he’ll come up with some new game-changing stunt to match his initial pick of Palin or his ill-fated campaign “suspension.” Until Thursday night, more than a few Republicans were fantasizing that his final Hail Mary pass would be to ditch Palin so she can “spend more time” with her ever-growing family. But the debate reminded Republicans once again that it’s Palin, not McCain, who is their last hope for victory. You have to wonder how long it will be before they plead with him to think of his health, get out of the way and pull the ultimate stunt of flipping the ticket. Palin, we can be certain, wouldn’t even blink.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:28 am
don't concern yourself with piddling details like the fact that obama was like, 5 years old when he was a terrorist. lol.
AP: Palin's Ayers Attack "Racially Tinged"
DOUGLASS K. DANIEL | October 5, 2008 11:03 PM EST | AP
Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during a rally in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
WASHINGTON — By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
First, Palin's attack shows that her energetic debate with rival Joe Biden may be just the beginning, not the end, of a sharpened role in the battle to win the presidency.
"Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain's ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.
"This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America," she said. "We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism."
Obama isn't above attacking McCain's character with loaded words, releasing an ad on Sunday that calls the Arizona Republican "erratic" _ a hard-to miss suggestion that McCain's age, 72, might be an issue.
"Our financial system in turmoil," an announcer says in Obama's new ad. "And John McCain? Erratic in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy."
A harsh and plainly partisan judgment, certainly, but not on the level of suggesting that a fellow senator is un-American and even a friend of terrorists. Story continues below
In her character attack, Palin questions Obama's association with William Ayers, a member of the Vietnam-era Weather Underground. Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.
Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
With her criticism, Palin is taking on the running mate's traditional role of attacker, said Rich Galen, a Republican strategist.
"There appears to be a newfound sense of confidence in Sarah Palin as a candidate, given her performance the other night," Galen said. "I think that they are comfortable enough with her now that she's got the standing with the electorate to take off after Obama."
Second, Palin's incendiary charge draws media and voter attention away from the worsening economy. It also comes after McCain supported a pork-laden Wall Street bailout plan in spite of conservative anger and his own misgivings.
"It's a giant changing of the subject," said Jenny Backus, a Democratic strategist. "The problem is the messenger. If you want to start throwing fire bombs, you don't send out the fluffy bunny to do it. I think people don't take Sarah Palin seriously."
The larger purpose behind Palin's broadside is to reintroduce the question of Obama's associations. Millions of voters, many of them open to being swayed to one side or the other, are starting to pay attention to an election a month away.
For the McCain campaign, that makes Obama's ties to Ayers as well as convicted felon Antoin "Tony" Rezko and the controversial minister Jeremiah Wright ripe for renewed criticism. And Palin brings a fresh voice to the argument.
Effective character attacks have come earlier in campaigns. In June 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush criticized Democrat Michael Dukakis over the furlough granted to Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who then raped a woman and stabbed her companion. Related TV ads followed in September and October.
The Vietnam-era Swift Boat veterans who attacked Democrat John Kerry's war record started in the spring of 2004 and gained traction in late summer.
"The four weeks that are left are an eternity. There's plenty of time in the campaign," said Republican strategist Joe Gaylord. "I think it is a legitimate strategy to talk about Obama and to talk about his background and who he pals around with."
Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
The fact is that when racism creeps into the discussion, it serves a purpose for McCain. As the fallout from Wright's sermons showed earlier this year, forcing Obama to abandon issues to talk about race leads to unresolved arguments about America's promise to treat all people equally.
John McCain occasionally says he looks back on decisions with regret. He has apologized for opposing a holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr. He has apologized for refusing to call for the removal of a Confederate flag from South Carolina's Capitol.
When the 2008 campaign is over will McCain say he regrets appeals such as Palin's? ___
EDITOR'S NOTE _ Douglass K. Daniel is a writer and editor with the Washington bureau of The Associated Press.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:07 pm
Persecuted in Africa, Finding Refuge in New York
Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times
“There’s security, there’s independence, there’s peace,” Pape Mbaye said of his new country.
By KIRK SEMPLE and LYDIA POLGREEN Published: October 5, 2008
Pape Mbaye gets a lot of attention. Even in jaded New York, people watch the way he walks (his style defines the word sashay) and scrutinize his outfits, which on a recent afternoon featured white, low-slung capris, a black purse, eyeliner and diamond-studded jewelry.
The United States gave refugee status to Pape Mbaye, a rare example of such protection being granted because of persecution for sexual orientation.
And he likes it.
“I’m fabulous,” he said. “I feel good.”
Mr. Mbaye, 24, is an entertainer from Dakar, Senegal, known there for his dancing, singing and storytelling. But while his flamboyance may be celebrated in New York, he attracted the wrong kind of attention in West Africa this year, and it nearly cost him his life.
In February, a Senegalese magazine published photographs of what was reported to be an underground gay marriage and said that Mr. Mbaye, who appeared in the photos and is gay himself, had organized the event. In the ensuing six months, Mr. Mbaye said, he was harassed by the police, attacked by armed mobs, driven from his home, maligned in the national media and forced to live on the run across West Africa.
In July, the United States government gave him refugee status, one of the rare instances when such protection has been granted to a foreigner facing persecution based on sexual orientation. A month later, Mr. Mbaye arrived in New York, eventually moving into a small furnished room in the Bronx that rents for $150 per week. It has a bed, air-conditioner, television, cat and pink walls.
“There’s security, there’s independence, there’s peace,” he said of his new country.
But even as he has begun looking for work, with the help of a few Senegalese immigrants he knows from Dakar, Mr. Mbaye is largely avoiding the mainstream Senegalese community, fearing that the same prejudices that drove him out of Africa may dog him here.
One recent evening, while visiting close family friends from Dakar who live in Harlem, he recalled a shopping trip to 116th Street, where many Senegalese work and live. There, he said, he was harassed by a Senegalese man who ridiculed Mr. Mbaye’s outfit and threatened him.
“He said, ‘If you were in Senegal, I would kill you,’ ” Mr. Mbaye said, gesturing with his arms, his voice rising. “I have my freedom now, and that man wanted to take it.”
The United States does not track how often it grants refuge to people fleeing anti-gay persecution. But Christopher Nugent, an immigration lawyer with Holland & Knight, a Washington law firm where he is a senior pro bono counsel specializing in refugee and asylum cases, said that in the past decade he has heard of only a handful.
The government also does not track the number of persecuted gay men and lesbians who are granted asylum, but experts in the field say the number is higher than those granted refugee status. (Asylum is granted to people already in the United States, while people outside the country must seek refugee status.)
Mr. Mbaye’s case was exceptional because his fame made his situation particularly perilous, said Mr. Nugent, who represented Mr. Mbaye in his petition. “He was vilified in the Senegalese media as being the face of the sinful homosexual, and he had scars to show,” he said.
For the past few years, anti-gay hysteria has been sweeping across swaths of Africa, fueled by sensationalist media reports of open homosexuality among public figures and sustained by deep and abiding taboos that have made even the most hateful speech about gays not just acceptable but almost required. Gay men and women have recently been arrested in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, among other countries.
“In most countries there is poverty and instability, and usually homosexuality is used as a way of shifting the attention from the actual problem to this thing that is not really the problem but can distract the public,” said Joel Nana, who is from Cameroon and who works for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Pape Mbaye (pronounced POP mm-BYE) had been living the Senegalese version of the high life for some time. He worked principally as a griot — a singer and storyteller invited to weddings, birthday parties and other events to perform traditional songs, dance and tell stories.
Last edited by spock on Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 323 Join date : 2008-03-27
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:09 pm
By West African standards, it earned him a good living. He had performed at parties for wealthy and famous Senegalese, had two cars and a driver, an overflowing wardrobe and an apartment in a fashionable neighborhood decked out with rococo gold-leaf-encrusted furniture.
Pape Mbaye, a popular entertainer in Senegal, hopes to restart his career in New York. Multimedia
Mr. Mbaye, who said he had known he was gay from a young age, seldom tried to hide his sexuality, often wearing makeup and jewelry in public.
Though Senegal passed an antisodomy law in 1965 that forbids “an improper or unnatural act with a person of the same sex,” homosexuality has traditionally been quietly tolerated in Senegal, particularly among the creative class of musicians and artists that is so central to Senegalese culture.
But the publication of the gay wedding photos on Feb. 1 dovetailed with a recent surge in anti-gay sentiment, a trend partly fueled by some conservative Islamic leaders, sending Mr. Mbaye on his harrowing odyssey.
On the morning after the article’s publication, Mr. Mbaye and several gay friends were arrested by the police, who held them for four days. During his detention, Mr. Mbaye said, he was questioned about his participation in the marriage ceremony, which he asserted was a party, not a wedding. Under diplomatic pressure from the Netherlands and Denmark, the Senegalese authorities released Mr. Mbaye and his friends.
The singer said the police told him and his friends that they should go into hiding. “The police cannot guarantee your security because the entire society will be out to get you,” a police official said, according to testimony that Mr. Mbaye would later give to Human Rights Watch.
While he was in detention, his apartment was looted and anti-gay graffiti was scrawled on the wall of the building, he said. He and several gay friends fled to Ziguinchor in south Senegal, but in mid-February, a mob wielding broken bottles, forks and other weapons stormed the house and beat them, Mr. Mbaye said.
Mr. Mbaye spent the next several weeks moving from one safe house to another before fleeing to Gambia on May 11. Several days later, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia vowed to behead all homosexuals in his country. Mr. Mbaye immediately returned to Dakar.
But he was discovered and chased by a crowd, as local news media reported his return. He sought sanctuary at the offices of Raddho, a human rights organization based in Dakar, which put him in the care of Human Rights Watch.
“I am like a hunted animal,” Mr. Mbaye said during an interview while he hid out in a Dakar hotel.
Human Rights Watch helped Mr. Mbaye assemble his refugee application and get to Ghana, where he sought help from the American Embassy in Accra, the country’s capital.
While in Ghana, Mr. Mbaye said, he was attacked again, this time by knife-wielding Senegalese expatriates who had discovered he was there. The assault, which left him with wounds, probably accelerated the review process for his application, Mr. Nugent said. (Confidentiality regulations forbid United States immigration officials from discussing the case.)
Mr. Mbaye received his refugee status on July 31, and he arrived at Kennedy Airport on Aug. 18 carrying several suitcases and a Chanel handbag. A few weeks later, he received his Social Security card and work authorization permit. He hopes to resume his career, though he acknowledges that until he improves his English, he will have to perform in French and Wolof, an African language. He also dreams of getting a modeling contract.
In the meantime, he said, he will do just about anything.
“I would like a job in a restaurant or a hotel or a club or in perfume or in makeup,” he said. “But no bricklaying.”
Mr. Nugent has been posting notices on Internet mailing lists serving the gay community in search of sponsors to help Mr. Mbaye find work, including in gay nightclubs.
Mr. Mbaye seems undaunted. At his friends’ home in Harlem, he celebrated his newfound freedom.
“I want to live with the gays!” he said as his hosts laughed. “Pape Mbaye is American!”
Kirk Semple reported from New York and Lydia Polgreen from Dakar, Senegal.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Mon Oct 06, 2008 10:20 pm
France urges Israel not to attack Iran Sun Oct 5, 2008 1:48pm EDT
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has urged Israel not to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday
Kouchner, in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, urged the Jewish state to continue to support Western-backed sanctions and dialogue to press Iran to halt its atomic project, the Haaretz daily said.
"I know that in Israel, and the Israeli army, there are those who are preparing for a military solution or an attack" aimed at halting the Iranian program, Kouchner told the paper in an interview.
"In my opinion that's not the solution," he said, adding that the possibility of Iran achieving a nuclear weapon was also "absolutely unacceptable."
Kouchner called the risk of an Israeli strike on Iran a "danger." He said Tehran was aware Israel had said it would not wait until Iran could produce a nuclear bomb.
He said the West should pursue "talk, talk and more talk," including further sanctions to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear program. Tehran denies seeking to build an atomic bomb, saying it only wants to generate electricity.
"I don't think the alternative is to bomb first," Kouchner said.
Kouchner said France believed Iran may be able to produce one atomic weapon within two to four years.
Tehran last month rejected a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding it halt its nuclear enrichment work.
Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, sees Iran's nuclear program as a security threat, citing remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the Jewish state's demise.
Subject: Re: NEWS OF THE DAY, MONDAY 6 OCTOBER Tue Oct 07, 2008 12:15 am
The Flack By Howard Wolfson
05.10.2008 It's Over: Why Bill Ayers Won't Save John McCain
Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over.
John McCain's candidacy is as much a casualty of Wall Street as Lehman or Merrill. Like those once vibrant institutions, McCain's collapse was stunning and quick. One minute you are a well-respected brand. The next you are yelling at the messengers of your demise as all around you the numbers start blinking red and stop adding up.
McCain's road was difficult to begin with: the President of his party has had record-low approval ratings for two years and the number of Americans who say the country is heading in the wrong direction is stratospheric. He also had the misfortune to be pitted against an exceptional candidate running an extremely well-executed campaign.
Still, before Wall Street's collapse Senator McCain was ahead. His approval ratings remained high, his VP pick had generated excitement and interest, and his campaign operatives were capable, on any given day, of winning news cycles and giving their opponents fits. And then the underpinnings of American capitalism begin to sink -- and with them sunk McCain.
An election dominated at its inception by the war in Iraq is now overwhelmingly focused on the economy. More than half of voters in polls say that the economy is their top concern and Senator Obama enjoys double digit leads among voters asked who can better fix our economic mess. Put simply, there is no way Senator McCain can win if he continues to trail Senator Obama by double digits on the top concern of more than half of voters.
State polls are beginning to reflect this. If the election were tomorrow, Obama would win all of the states John Kerry carried and add Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada, Ohio and Florida. Barack Obama is campaigning in Indiana, which last went for a Democrat in 1964 and North Carolina, which has gone for a Democrat only once in thirty-four years. At the same time John McCain has pulled out of Michigan and Sarah Palin has been forced to visit Nebraska.
This dynamic is very unlikely to change. John McCain's goal in the first debate was to discredit Senator Obama as a credible Commander in Chief and elevate the issue of foreign policy and national security. He didn't come close. Absent a domestic terror attack the economy will remain the number one issue in the race, and there is little Senator McCain can do to make up his gap with Senator Obama on it. Oh, Senator McCain will try to make issues of Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko and Rev. Wright, and that might hurt Senator Obama around the margins -- but it will not prevent him from winning. The economy is simply bigger than the rogues gallery that John McCain is conjuring up.
Why is this? Why won't the swiftboat tactics work this year?
Its easy to lose sight of it in the day to day coverage, but the collapse of Wall Street in the last weeks was a seminal event in the history of our nation and our politics. To put the crisis in perspective, Americans have lost a combined 1 trillion dollars in net worth in just the last four weeks alone. Just as President Bush's failures in Iraq undermined his party's historic advantage on national security issues, the financial calamity has shown the ruinous implications of the Republican mania for deregulation and slavish devotion to totally unfettered markets.
Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over the proper role of government for a century. In 1980 voters sided with Ronald Reagan and Republicans that government had become too big and intrusive. Then the economy worked in the Republicans' favor. Today the pendulum has swung in our direction. Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.