On Hamas, Catholics, Sgt. McNaughton, Putin the plagiarist, etc.

Ross Mackenzie
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Posted: Apr 13, 2006 12:05 AM

Lately the news has told of Iran enriching uranium, of rallies agitating for illegal immigrants, and of the Moussaoui conviction followed by in-court airings of desperate telephone calls on 9/11. The left has gone bonkers convicting President Bush of - what? - in the wake of Scooter Libby's deposition. Oh, and will-she/won't-she cute Katie Couric - doyenne of the newsbunnies - has summoned the courage to switch from NBC to CBS.

But the news columns have contained other compelling items, presented here with comment direct or implied. Let's see. . .

A major survey has determined that parental notification laws actually work; they reduce abortions among the young. Texas is the biggest of the 35 states requiring minor girls to notify their parents or get their consent before obtaining an abortion. Researchers at City University of New York's Baruch College comparing the two years before the Texas law took effect and the three years thereafter found post-enactment abortion declines among every age group 15-18. Said the lead researcher: "The law has definite behavioral effects." No kidding.

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The U.S. and the European Union have suspended aid and initiatives that might benefit the terrorist Hamas regime in the Palestinian territories. Good. Hamas leaders blasted the aid suspensions as "blackmail." The Hamas regime having practically no resources of its own, this could prove one way to get its attention.

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Vladimir Putin is not only Russia's president, but a plagiarist. While a KGB operative, he evidently gained considerable proficiency at copying. Brookings Institution senior fellow Clifford Gaddy reports that large portions and many charts in Putin's mid-1990s dissertation on natural resources planning appeared 20 years earlier in a management text published by two University of Pittsburgh professors. For instance, of Putin's first 20 dissertation pages, 16 are taken verbatim from the Pittsburgh study. Says Gaddy: "It all boils down to plagiarism."

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And speaking of presidents, does President Bush care - as so many contend he does not? Ask Mike McNaughton. An Army National Guard sergeant, he stepped on a landmine while serving in Afghanistan - losing his leg. President Bush met him during a hospital visit and promised that when Sgt. McNaughton could run a mile they would run one together; Bush called every month to inquire about his progress. Two years ago Bush and Sgt. McNaughton made the run in Washington. The picture has been widely circulated on the Internet.

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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released new numbers about the priestly pederasty that has so devastated countless lives and the Catholic Church. In 2005 U.S. Catholic dioceses spent $399 million on settlements with victims, 81 percent of them boys, plus $68 million for psychological counseling and lawyers' fees. Add these staggering statistics: Since 1950 the church now has spent nearly $1.3 billion in reparations to more than 12,537 victims with credible claims against 4,827 priests.

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Detroit, host to this year's Super Bowl, may epitomize the plight of American cities past their prime. Consider this, from the San Diego Union-Tribune: "The economy stinks. The auto industry is hemorrhaging workers. The housing market is in broad retreat. Crime and poverty are ever-present." Detroit's population has plunged to about half its 1.8 million level in 1950 (in the same period Detroit's suburban population has tripled, to 3.1 million).

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These days the Republicans and the Bush administration are taking a lot of legitimate hits - and some of them not-so-legitimate. Yet as with most things in D.C., the Republicans are not alone. For example:

(1) In the House, Republicans voted for limits on the donations of independent political groups called 527s (named for the tax code section under which they fall); Democrats voted heavily against the 527 limits.

(2) In the Senate, Democrats killed the carefully crafted compromise on immigration. Here's The Washington Post, in an April 8 editorial: "The Senate could have left town yesterday with a workable, if imperfect, immigration bill that would have let millions of people living here illegally come out of the shadows. It had before it a deal that could have attracted 70 votes; it had the backing of the White House and the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. . . . Democrats - whether their motive was partisan advantage or legitimate fear of a bad bill emerging from conference with the House - are the ones who refused, in the end, to proceed with debate. . . . Democrats putting political self-interest over solving a serious policy problem ought to worry that their actions will backfire with the very people whose interests they are purporting to protect."

And (3) the Democrats have had a field day ripping President Bush for warrantless wiretapping in the Long War against jihadist terror. Among those hardest on Bush: former President Jimmy Carter, who has blasted Bush for "a disgraceful and illegal decision" on terrorist surveillance under which "no one knows how many innocent Americans have had their privacy violated." Interesting, but Bush was not the first. In 1977, Carter himself authorized warrantless electronic surveillance of Truong Dinh Hung and Ronald Louis Humphrey - sealing their convictions as spies for Vietnam.