Archive for May 15th, 2008

The Washington Post

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Republican John McCain declared for the first time Thursday he believes the Iraq war can be won by 2013, although he rejected suggestions that his talk of a timetable put him on the same side as Democrats clamoring for full-scale troop withdrawals.

The Republican presidential contender, in a mystical speech that also envisioned Osama bin Laden dead or captured, and Americans with the choice of paying a simple flat tax or following their standard 1040 form, said only a small number of troops would remain in Iraq by the end of a prospective first term because al-Qaida will have been defeated and Iraq’s government will be functioning on its own.

“By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom. The Iraq War has been won,” McCain told an audience of several hundred here in the capital city of a general election battleground state.

Later, as the Arizona senator drove to the airport on his “Straight Talk Express” campaign bus, McCain was peppered by reporters with questions about the timetable. He and his aides insisted there was a difference between ending the war and bringing troops home and, as they criticize the Democrats, announcing a withdrawal upfront without regard for the military endgame.

“It’s not a timetable; it’s victory. It’s victory, which I have always predicted. I didn’t know when we were going to win World War II; I just knew we were going to win,” McCain said.

The Vietnam veteran added: “I know from experience, you set a day for surrender _ which is basically what you do when you say you are withdrawing _ and you will pay a much a heavier price later on.”

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The Italians refer to illegal immigrants as illegal immigrants. Refreshing. Maybe the Italians could teach us a thing or two.

The Washington Post

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police announced on Thursday the arrest of hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants in a sign of the new right-wing government’s determination to clamp down.

Police arrested 383 people including 268 foreigners, with 53 immediately taken to the border for expulsion, in a week-long operation stretching from northern Italy to the Naples area.

Silvio Berlusconi swept back to power for a third term as prime minister last week promising to get tough on illegal immigrants, blamed by many for crime. He is readying new laws to screen immigrants and jail or expel those breaking the law.

Those arrested came from Eastern Europe, Albania, Greece, North Africa and China and face charges ranging from illegal entry into Italy to prostitution, drug trafficking and robbery.

In Libya, police have arrested 240 would-be illegal migrants from several African countries over the past four days as they prepared to sail to Italy, the Interior Ministry said.

Libya is a springboard for hundreds of thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe via Italy on board unseaworthy boats.

The policeman in charge of the Italian operation, Francesco Gratteri, told a news conference the sweep “wasn’t aimed at any specific category or ethnic group. The sole objective were criminals who have caused a sensation of rising alarm in society.”

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The Washington Post

NEW YORK — Michael Garcia’s predecessors as U.S. attorney in Manhattan took on all five mob families, the titans of Wall Street, Osama bin Laden and even Martha Stewart. So it was largely unnoticed when Garcia wanted to attack public corruption.

Then his public corruption unit investigated a prostitution ring that took down former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

In an interview last week, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on the investigation. That’s not surprising since his office must decide whether to bring criminal charges against Spitzer, identified in court papers only as Client No. 9.

A woman accused of booking clients for the high-priced call girl ring, Temeka Rachelle Lewis, pleaded guilty Wednesday to promoting prostitution and money laundering. She could face around 16 months in prison, or less, depending on how much she cooperates with prosecutors, when she is sentenced in August, her lawyer said.

Three others accused of being part of the ring still face charges, and their lawyers are negotiating with the U.S. attorney’s office.

The escort service prosecution that ensnared Spitzer is the highest profile in a string of successes this year for one of the nation’s busiest and largest federal prosecutors offices, which has more than 220 assistant U.S. attorneys.

The day after the charges were announced, former Democratic Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin pleaded guilty to a decade of crimes, admitting he took thousands of dollars in kickbacks and forced members of a labor union he led to hang his Christmas lights.

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The Washington Post

NEW ORLEANS — Josue Vega was one of thousands of immigrant workers who flocked to New Orleans in 2005 in hopes of finding a rebuilding job in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

He worked seven days a week and earned more than twice his normal earnings. But with work now down to three days a week, the 20-year-old is planning to go home to Honduras.

“My goal is to be here until November, and then never come back,” he said. “I’ve had enough.”

The stops and starts of the post-Katrina rebuilding effort, often due to bureaucratic delays in funding, still provided plenty of work to rebuild homes and businesses. But reconstruction work has slowed as projects are completed or transition to phases requiring highly specialized skills.

“In the immediate aftermath, labor demand was huge and few workers were willing to accept the labor and residential conditions that prevailed in the city,” said Elizabeth Fussell, a Washington State University professor who studied immigration after Katrina.

“Now there is less demand, and it is for workers with more skills and perhaps certification by the state. This translates to less demand for low-skill, undocumented workers.”

There are various signs of a city in flux. New Orleans building permits for the second quarter of 2007 numbered 338, for example, but fell to 169 by the fourth quarter.

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North American Union