Today's New York Times has a number of stories worth highlighting.
We're going to start with Jodi Wilgoren's "Haunted by Threats, U.S. Judge Finds New Horror:"
For Joan Humphrey Lefkow, the nightmare began shortly after her appointment as a federal judge in 2000, when an Oregon group's lawsuit to block white supremacists from using a name it had trademarked, World Church of the Creator, landed in her lap.
Soon, Judge Lefkow found her home address and family photographs posted along with violent threats on hate-filled Web sites. Last April, one of the Aryan movement's most notorious leaders was convicted of plotting her murder.
On Tuesday, Judge Lefkow was under armed federal guard in an undisclosed place, mourning the deaths of Michael F. Lefkow, her husband of 30 years, and Donna Humphrey, her 89-year-old mother, whom she found dead of gunshots to the head in their basement the evening before.
This is the topic the Times carried the AP story on yesterday. Last week, when I noted Wilgoren's serious work (overreach in Kansas) e-mail came in and I expect it will today. [Address is email@example.com for anyone wanting to weigh in.] When she acts like a serious journalist we'll note it and even praise it. She deserves it today.
Pam Belluck's covering Vermont's townhalls on the war/occupation. (Laura Flanders highlighted this Sunday on her Air America show. NPR has also covered this story at length.)
The article is entitled "Vermonters Vote on Study of National Guard's Role" and, especially if you're new to the topic, it's worth reading:
The people of Dummerston - or at least the 120 or so who braved a blistering snowstorm - voted Tuesday to give $300 to a meals program for elderly shut-ins, to spend $93,500 on a dump truck and plow, and to grant tax-exempt status to the Green Mountain Camp for girls.
But then they turned their attention halfway around the world.
In a debate that echoed in at least 50 other Vermont towns holding their annual meetings this week, Dummerston passed a resolution asking the State Legislature to investigate the impact of National Guard deployments on Vermont's readiness for a natural disaster or other emergency. The measure, which also asks Congress and the president to "take steps to withdraw American troops from Iraq," was part of a new effort by antiwar activists to take the debate over the war down to a distinctly local level.
"There are people from Vermont who have been sent to Iraq who have been called upon to do things which they wouldn't choose to do," Ed Anthes, a mental health educator who supported the resolution, told the crowd in the cafeteria of Dummerston's elementary school. "They have been put in a vulnerable position. And then when they come home, we're the ones that are going to take care of them."
The resolution was spearheaded by antiwar activists who hope the campaign will spread. So far, at least one community in Massachusetts, Arlington, is planning a similar resolution, and some Pennsylvania communities may follow suit.
"Times Appoints Op-Ed Columnist" is more or less a community board announcement on the appointment of John Tierney as Safire's replacement. We'll note two things here. 1) Media Matters outlines what's wrong with the choice of Tierney. 2) Questions regarding whether the "floating op-ed" references to Elisabeth Bumiller's "White House Letter" (no, it's not a slam, that is an op-ed even though it's not on the op-ed pages proper) made me wonder whether Bumiller was even considered for the role.
Douglas Jehl's "Senate Intelligence Chairman Opposes C.I.A. Abuse Inquiry" should be noted. Senator John D. Rockefeller wants an investigation into the CIA tactics used in the "war on terror." Senator Pat Robers doesn't want it. Congress rarely utilizes their oversight of the CIA and if Roberts has the last word (he's committee chair), it won't be utilizing it now.
From Jehl's article:
Among other things, Mr. Rockefeller is asking the committee to conduct an inquiry into "all presidential and other authorities for detention, interrogation and rendition for intelligence purposes" since the Sept. 11 attacks. The word rendition refers to the transfer of suspects to another country's custody, an extrajudicial practice that the C.I.A. has used widely since the attacks.
Mr. Rockefeller also wants the panel to review "the full facts" concerning the detention, interrogation and rendition practices by American government agencies, said his spokeswoman, Wendy Morigi. In addition, a one-page draft proposal that Mr. Rockefeller gave to Mr. Roberts last month calls for a review of "the full facts" of what American agencies know about the detention and interrogation practices of the governments to which detainees are sent. Mr. Roberts said in an interview last month that he and his staff were reviewing a proposal by Mr. Rockefeller. The Republican senator said at the time that he was not sure that a formal investigation was warranted, but he suggested that the two sides could agree on a review, saying, "'I don't anticipate any difference of opinion regarding the subject."
Kara e-mails to highlight Richard W. Stevenson's "For President's Social Security Proposal, Many Hurdles." From the article:
After a week at home listening to constituents on the issue, Congressional leaders of Mr. Bush's own party have returned to Washington and immediately begun playing for time, suggesting that they may not meet his goal of passing legislation this year.
Democrats, apparently feeling little political pressure to come up with a plan of their own or work across the aisle, remain remarkably united against the main element of Mr. Bush's plan: his call for private investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security payroll taxes.
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll published Tuesday showed Mr. Bush receiving his lowest marks on the handling of Social Security since becoming president.
Perhaps most difficult of all for the White House, members of Congress have little sense that voters are demanding that they confront the issue now and make difficult choices that are bound to have political repercussions.
Also Gina e-mails to let everyone know that Ellen Goodman will be a guest on Al Franken's radio show today. Kyle e-mails in to note that Joe Biden will be a guest on The Diane Rehm Show today.