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Tags: Obama | Story | Draws | Heat

'Muslim' Obama Story Draws Heat

By    |   Sunday, 09 December 2007 09:14 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Washington Post Draws Heat for 'Muslim' Obama Story
2. Did Syrian Nuclear Devices Come from Pakistan?
3. Bloomberg Getting Foreign Policy 'Lessons'
4. Huckabee Won't Be Baited on Religion
5. Newt Gingrich Seen as V.P. Candidate
6. Romney Vows Same-Sex Marriage Amendment
7. We Heard: Karl Rove, Carl Bernstein, More

1. Washington Post Draws Heat for 'Muslim' Obama Story

The Washington Post has been criticized for a story examining reports of Barack Obama's "Muslim ties" — but the article's editor says he is "a little puzzled" that readers didn't recognize that the intent was to discredit those reports.

"I'm sorry it was misunderstood," said Assistant Managing Editor Bill Hamilton. "It obviously makes me think about how I edited it."

The Nov. 29 Post story — headlined "Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him" — said the Democratic presidential candidate "has had to address assertions that he is a Muslim and that he had received training in Islam in Indonesia, where he lived from ages 6 to 10…

"Despite his denials, rumors and e-mails circulating on the Internet continue to allege that Obama is a Muslim, a 'Muslim plant' in a conspiracy against America, and that, if elected, he would take the oath of office using a Koran, rather than a Bible."

Obama is a member of a congregation of the United Church of Christ in Chicago.

The Post story does note that Obama aides "sharply disputed" stories that he was a Muslim, and cites an "early rumor" springing from an article in the online magazine Insight that Obama had spent at least four years in a madrassa, or Muslim seminary, in Indonesia. The magazine attributed this assertion to background information collected by Hillary Clinton's campaign, according to the Post.

In the wake of the Post story, "there have been angry e-mails… and allegations that the Post is swift-boating the Illinois senator by discussing rumors at length, without mentioning whether they've been thoroughly discredited by other media," The Politico reports.

Columbia Journalism Review's Paul McLeary complained in an online piece that the Post mentioned the Insight article without adding that a CNN reporter flew to Indonesia almost 11 months ago and debunked it.

McLeary said the Post story "may be the single worst campaign '08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle."

Hamilton countered that "saying something is a rumor is not saying it's true. We didn't say it was a false rumor. To me, a rumor is not true."

But he conceded to The Politico: "Obviously we did something that we should have been careful about."

A volunteer coordinator for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign recently resigned after forwarding a chain e-mail that suggested Obama is a Muslim who wants to destroy the U.S. by being elected to its highest office.

A poll in August by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 45 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote for a Muslim candidate for any office.

Editor's Note:

2. Did Syrian Nuclear Devices Come from Pakistan?

The U.S. suspects that centrifuges sold to North Korea by Pakistan in the 1990s may have been passed along to Syria, according to American officials.

Pakistan has admitted that renegade scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan sold centrifuges to North Korea. Centrifuges can be used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapons program.

But North Korea claims that it does not have the centrifuges, the Washington Times reports.

Speaking in Seoul, South Korea, before 6-nation talks regarding North Korea's nuclear program reconvened, chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said those centrifuges might have been transferred to another country.

"Officials in Washington said that in examining where the centrifuges might have gone, they are considering exports to a third country, particularly Syria," according to the Times.

Hill said before the talks resumed that he intended to question the North Koreans about the centrifuges.

The Bush administration has not addressed reports that in September Israel bombed a nuclear-related facility in Syria said to have been assembled with North Korean aid.

The Syrian site was probably a plant for assembling a nuclear bomb rather than a nuclear reactor, Tel Aviv University chemistry professor Uzi Even, who worked in the past at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor, said in late November.

He asserted that satellite pictures of the site taken before the Israeli strike showed no sign of the cooling towers and chimneys characteristic of reactors.

Editor's Note::

3. Bloomberg Getting Foreign Policy 'Lessons'

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's briefings by a former Clinton administration foreign policy adviser is being seen by some as a further indication he is eyeing a White House run.

The adviser is Nancy Soderberg, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.

"Her lessons with Mr. Bloomberg hark back to President Bush's first campaign for president, when [Condoleezza] Rice famously tutored Mr. Bush in foreign policy," the New York Sun observed.

"Despite starting an international corporation, Bloomberg LP, Mr. Bloomberg has little experience with the diplomatic set at the State Department or defense officials at the Pentagon."

Bloomberg is also seeking to enhance his foreign policy credentials by traveling to a United Nations meeting on climate change in Indonesia, "further fueling speculation that he will run for president as a third party candidate," according to the Sun.

Soderberg was a foreign policy adviser for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, and before that was a foreign policy adviser to Sen. Ted Kennedy.

She left the White House at the end of Clinton's first term, and several years later Bloomberg appointed her to run New York's sister cities program. She has been teaching at the University of North Florida since 2006.

In her book "The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might," published in 2005, Soderberg touted Clinton's foreign policy approach and disparaged President Bush's.

When asked about his foreign policy meetings with Soderberg, Bloomberg reiterated that he is not running for president and said: "Who I meet with in my private time is up to me. Nobody should be surprised that I'm interested in international affairs."

Editor's Note::

4. Huckabee Won't Be Baited on Religion

When Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee was asked why he and other GOP candidates keep expounding their views on religion, his answer was simple: Because journalists keep asking about them.

During a Huckabee appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews asked the ordained Baptist minister: "Why are you Republican candidates submitting to religious vetting about your belief in the literal nature of the Bible? Why put up with those … questions?"

Huckabee responded: "Well, Chris, when guys like you quit asking it, we'll quit answering it. But the fact is, we get asked these questions in the debates, and if we evade them, if we act like we're not going to answer them, then we're going to get hammered for being unwilling to address the questions that are put to us."

Matthews pressed on: "But these are religious test questions. They're not about public policy."

Referring to the most recent GOP debate, Huckabee shot back: "I would love for us to be asked questions about education and healthcare and energy independence. Unfortunately, those were the questions that nobody did ask us…

"I didn't get to pick the questions. If I did, I promise I'd have picked some different questions for me and for the other candidates as well."

Huckabee also told Matthews there should be no "religious test" for public office or even a requirement that a person has to be religious at all.

"I'd rather have a person serving in Congress who's an avowed atheist, who's honest about it," he said, "than a person who tries to pretend he's a Christian when he doesn't live like it and he's filled with hate and venom and anger toward people."

Editor's Note::

5. Newt Gingrich Seen as V.P. Candidate

While presidential candidates are on the campaign trail in Iowa, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also been campaigning for his Platform for America in the state — leading some observers to suspect he might really be running for vice president.

Gingrich, who weighed a run for the White House earlier this year, told C-SPAN he might accept being the GOP presidential nominee's running mate.

"Depending on the circumstances, I'd be honored to be considered and under some circumstances, I'd probably feel compelled to say 'yes,'" he said.

In an interview with The Washington Times, Gingrich asserted that his swing through Iowa "is not about being a candidate. It's about the issues in the proposed platform, including English as the official language of government."

The Platform for America also calls for a moment of silent prayer in schools, a single-page flat tax, and the death penalty for anyone carrying out a terrorist act in the U.S.

But the primary author of the 1994 "Republican Contract With America" would be an asset to the GOP ticket, according to Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway: "Newt rescued the GOP from the political wilderness once before, and the smart money is that he can help do it again."

As for Gingrich's take on the current state of affairs in the U.S., he told The Times: "This is a center-right country caught between an incompetent right-wing party and a ruthlessly organized, energized, militant, minority left-wing party."

Editor's Note::

6. Romney Vows Same-Sex Marriage Amendment

In an e-mail to voters in Florida, White House hopeful Mitt Romney promises that as president, he will promote an amendment that would effectively bar same-sex marriages.

Noting that "preserving traditional marriage between a man and a woman is imperative for America's future," the Republican candidate states:

"Unfortunately, traditional marriage is under assault by liberal, activist judges in many states. I experienced this first-hand when I was governor of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Court, on a 4-3 vote, created a right to same-sex marriage by judicial mandate. We must prevent the same thing from happening in Florida.

"As President, I will champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."

Romney's e-mail cites a proposed ballot initiative in Florida that would give constitutional protection to the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman, and says: "I strongly support this initiative."

Editor's Note::

7. We Heard . . .

THAT former top George Bush adviser Karl Rove is shopping a memoir that's expected to garner a multimillion-dollar advance.

"It will sell for millions, but how many millions is the question," one publisher who will take part in the auction for Rove's work told the New York Post.

"He's smart, and he's capable of moving beyond the clichés," added the publisher, who predicts a $3 million sale.

Rove — considered the architect of Bush's electoral victories — is being represented by lawyer Robert Barnett, who previously won multimillion-dollar advances for books by Hillary and Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, and Tony Blair.

THAT another item being offered at an auction will almost certainly fetch a good deal more — a 13th-century copy of the Magna Carta, the English document granting individuals rights against the state.

The single parchment sheet, filled with handwritten Medieval Latin, will be auctioned by Sotheby's on Dec. 18 and will sell for an estimated $20 million to $30 million.

It is the only privately owned copy — the other 16 copies in existence are in public collections in Britain and Australia, according to the New York Sun.

The private owner: former U.S. presidential candidate Ross Perot.

The document has been on display at the National Archives in Washington since 1985, courtesy of the Perot Foundation, which is selling the copy to fund medical research and education for the families of wounded soldiers.

King John signed the original Magna Carta in 1215.

THAT King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is spending $12.5 billion to establish a graduate research center in the oil-rich nation.

The king's up-front endowment is equivalent to the endowments MIT has collected in 142 years, according to Fortune magazine.

The aim of the Saudi project is to attract the world's best researchers in science and technology.

THAT a 48-year-old car once owned by Padre Pio — the Italian monk canonized as St. Pio of Pietrelcina — went on sale at an auction and received a miraculously high bid of some $350,000.

The monk had received the 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190 D as a gift from a wealthy family, reportedly in gratitude for a miracle attributed to him, and he eventually gave it as a gift to a worker near his monastery, according to The New Yorker magazine.

The car was estimated to be worth about 20,000 euros. But at the auction in Padua, Italy, an anonymous bidder offered more than 10 times that amount.

Padre Pio, who died in 1968, was canonized in 2002.

THAT CNN's announcement that Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein would contribute to its 2008 election coverage has at least one observer scratching his head over the hiring.

Writing for Dow Jones' MarketWatch, Jon Friedman wonders if "we can conclude that Bernstein is qualified to offer his learned opinions about the 2008 election based on his groundbreaking work of 30-plus years ago.

"Yes, Bernstein recently wrote a well-received biography of Hillary Clinton, titled 'A Woman in Charge.' But the pinnacle of his career occurred in the era of disco and Archie Bunker…

"Yes, he understands power and is no stranger to the intrigue of the White House — but it was the NIXON White House."

Editor's Notes: :

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Washington Post Draws Heat for 'Muslim' Obama Story2. Did Syrian Nuclear Devices Come from Pakistan?3. Bloomberg Getting Foreign Policy 'Lessons'4. Huckabee Won't Be Baited on Religion5. Newt Gingrich Seen as V.P. Candidate6....
Sunday, 09 December 2007 09:14 PM
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