Friday, March 25, 2005

News stories in this morning's Times that go beyond the national obsession with you know what

Moving quickly through this morning's New York Times, we'll note a few news stories that may or may not find traction in our national discussion as one story continues to domination.

We can start by noting Greg Myre's "Palestinian Urges U.S. to Oppose an Israeli Plan:"

The Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qurei, welcomed two American envoys on Thursday and called on the United States to take a clear stand against Israel's planned expansion of the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank.
Israel said this week that 3,500 new housing units had been approved for the settlement, Maale Adumim, which is just east of Jerusalem and already has some 30,000 residents. The Palestinians, who are seeking all of the West Bank as part of a future state, say the move will violate the United States-sponsored peace plan, known as the road map, and will further complicate any future negotiations over Jerusalem's fate.
[. . .]
The State Department has said the envoys would seek clarification from Israel on the issue, and the two men held talks Wednesday with Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Neither envoy has spoken publicly during the visit, but in Washington, the State Department said Israeli officials had assured Mr. Abrams and Mr. Welch that no decisions on the construction were final. Officials at the United States Consulate in east Jerusalem declined to comment on the meeting with Mr. Qurei.

Also note Warren Hoge's "10,000 Peacekeepers to Be Sent to Sudan, U.N. Council Decides:"

The Security Council passed a resolution on Thursday establishing a 10,000-member peacekeeping force for Sudan to reinforce a peace agreement in the south of the country and to lend assistance in the conflicted Darfur region in the west.
The measure, introduced by the United States, drew the support of all 15 Council members.
Passage occurred after France postponed consideration of a resolution that would refer war crime cases from Sudan to the International Criminal Court, a move seen as a challenge to the United States and likely to provoke an American veto. That vote was rescheduled for March 30.

The vote on Thursday followed two months of delay in which the Council and member countries were subject to rising complaints that world powers had failed to respond to what the United Nations has called the world's worst human crisis.

Don't miss Eric Lichtblau's "A New Antiterror Agency Is Considered:"

The Bush administration is considering a major restructuring of the Justice Department that would create a powerful new national security division in an effort to consolidate and coordinate terrorism and espionage investigations better, officials say.
The concept, still at a preliminary stage, reflects concerns among some administration officials that national security cases handled by Justice Department lawyers and investigators remain fragmented at times because of bureaucratic divisions, despite structural changes made since the Sept. 11 attacks.
[. . .]
But the idea of creating what amounts to a superdivision at the Justice Department, with even broader power to combat terrorism, is also likely to stir concerns from civil rights advocates and conservative libertarians, who assert that the national antiterrorism law, the USA Patriot Act, has already given the Justice Department too much power to track terrorism suspects without reasonable cause. Some officials acknowledged that a single national security division could have the potential to curtail checks and balances that are now in place.

Glen Justice's "Election Commission Urges Finance Rules for Online Politics" is of interest:

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday proposed new ways to apply campaign finance rules to online political activity, inviting members of the public to comment on how the agency should regulate things like online advertising and e-mailed political messages.
The proposal, which would primarily address paid political advertising on the Internet, was the first step toward new rules that were mandated by a federal court last year after the commission lost a legal challenge.
Accordingly, the six-member commission, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, is treading lightly as it begins what will be a months-long process that includes a public hearing in June.
[. . .]
Other provisions seem to indicate that the panel might be leaning away from heavy regulations on most "bloggers," whose online commentary played a major role in last year's election.

"Judge Tells City to Release Much of 9/11 Oral History" by Michael Cooper is another story that may get lost but deserves attention:

The state's highest court ruled on Thursday that the Bloomberg administration must release the New York City Fire Department's oral history of the Sept. 11 attack, but said the city could withhold portions that would cause "serious pain or embarrassment" to the fire officials interviewed.
The ruling, by the Court of Appeals, came in response to a lawsuit brought by The New York Times seeking the release of the Fire Department's thousands of pages of oral history of the attack and the unedited tapes and transcripts of emergency calls made to 911 and radio dispatches that day, under the state's Freedom of Information Law.
While the court ordered the release of the oral history - interviews with more than 500 employees about the city's response to the attack - it allowed the city to sharply edit the tapes and transcripts of 911 calls.

"Agency's Web Site Out of Sync With Bush Plan" by David E. Rosenbaum points out the problems with a nonreading administration -- they don't check the web sites to make sure they're echoing the talking points. Rosenbaum discovers that the following points re: social security are still online at the Social Security web site:

*Your Social Security taxes pay for potential disability and survivors benefits as well as for retirement benefits.
*Social Security incorporates social goals - such as giving more protection to families and to low-income workers - that are not part of private pension plans; and
*Social Security benefits are adjusted yearly for increases in the cost of living - a feature not present in many private plans."

Ralph Blumenthal reports on "A Town Used to Danger Shifted Into Crisis Mode:"

Earnest Olvey was cleaning up a job at the BP refinery here Wednesday when, he said, "all of a sudden I heard two little pops." He turned to see flames some 100 feet away and started to run. That, he said Thursday from his hospital bed in Galveston, was when his world exploded, sending him flying.
One of the hundred or so contractors injured in the nation's worst refinery accident in 10 years, he was one of the lucky ones, said Mr. Olvey, 39, a heavy equipment operator. Fifteen other workers died in the blast and fire, the last victim found in the rubble a day a day later.
The medical examiner said the force of the blast was so great that everyone who perished either died instantly or was knocked unconscious. Only a handful of victims could be easily identified.

And Kirk Johnson covers another tragedy that's gone unnoticed as one topic has dominated,
"Survivors of High School Rampage Left With Injuries and Questions:"

Many students at Red Lake High School ignored Jeff Weise, with his weird hairstyles and his talk about guns. Cody Thunder, who is 15, was one of the few who reached out and tried to make a connection. Just ordinary conversation, he said, nothing too deep.
But on Monday afternoon, as Cody sat in biology class - the usual spot at the front row, he said, near the door for a quick exit when the bell rang - there was Jeff outside in the hallway, visible through a glass partition, armed with a pistol.
"He was aiming at me," Cody said. An instant later, a bullet crashed through the glass into Cody's hip.
The violence that ripped through Red Lake High, on the reservation of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, will probably always be on some level inexplicable.
Eight people died at the school, including Mr. Weise, 16, who killed himself. He also killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion a few minutes earlier.

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