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The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers. Think about the things that have improved our lives the most over the past century – medical advances, the transportation revolution, huge increases in consumer goods, dramatic improvements in housing, the computer revolution. The people who created these things – the doers – are not popular heroes. Our heroes are the talkers who complain about the doers.

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Society's sexual culture has changed

The closing scene of this season's finale of "Gilmore Girls" – the WB's hit show about the crazy antics and unusually warm relationship of a hip single mom and her studious daughter – telegraphed a message about sex rarely hinted at in popular culture these days: Regret. Back home after her first year at Yale, the daughter impetuously lost her virginity with her former boyfriend. Which might not be so bad, since he was handsome and kind and they obviously cared for each other. Except that he happened to be married to someone else.

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Graduate's verdict: Students well served by Gonzaga Law School

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg said law school should be a place where students can grow and mature as people. She said students should have the sense they are participating in a shared adventure with their peers and professors. In the midst of law school it is difficult to evaluate how well your school does this job. Most students are just trying to stay above the mountains of reading, research and writing. Now, having passed the bar and experienced a year as an attorney, I can confidently say Gonzaga Law School does an excellent job of taking care of its students professionally and personally.

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FRIDAY, JUNE 11, 2004

Feds were too hasty in al-Hussayen case

The U.S. justice system fared better than the U.S. Justice Department Thursday. The acquittal of University of Idaho student Sami Omar al-Hussayen on three terrorism charges came in spite of the advantages federal prosecutors enjoyed. They had kept the defendant in jail for 16 months and withheld thousands of pieces of evidence from defense attorneys until shortly before the trial, clearly hampering the ability to prepare a case.

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How are Mariner stories selected?

Question: It appears that you have at least four sources for reporting Mariner games: Associated Press, Tacoma News Tribune, Everett Herald and the Seattle Times. What/who dictates which source you will choose to report this evening's game in tomorrow's paper? — Reg Morgan, Coulee Dam Answer: Several factors play into the decision. Timeliness is important. Sometimes, because of deadlines, the choices are limited. We may have only an Associated Press story on a late game. If we do have more than one choice, we decide simply by choosing the article we like the best. We prefer stories that focus on the Mariners' situation and the Mariners' reaction. If space is an issue, we sometimes pick the story that best fits the available space. — Joe Palmquist, sports editor

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Imperial presidency now reality

AUSTIN, Texas — When, in the future, you find yourself wondering, "Whatever happened to the Constitution?" you will want to go back and look at June 8, 2004. That was the day the attorney general of the United States — a.k.a. "the nation's top law enforcement officer" — refused to provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with his department's memos concerning torture. In order to justify torture, these memos declare that the president is bound by neither U.S. law nor international treaties. We have put ourselves on the same moral level as Saddam Hussein, the only difference being quantity. Quite literally, the president may as well wear a crown — forget that "no man is above the law" jazz. We used to talk about "the imperial presidency" under Nixon, but this is the real thing.

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Reagan offered optimism, faith

The death of President Reagan has triggered a national outpouring of affection for a man who changed the course of politics in the United States. That is entirely appropriate. Funerals are a time to pay respects and honor the dead. Decades from now, historians will decide where Reagan stands in the pantheon of presidents. Was he the chief protagonist in bringing an end to the Cold War? Or was he just one of many supporting actors? Were tax cuts and deregulation a net benefit? Or, did they inflict greater harm by laying the groundwork for Wall Street ripoffs, S&L meltdowns and large budget deficits?

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Record demands clear-eyed scrutiny

Because we were going to school in the area, my friends and I went to Ronald Reagan's first presidential inauguration. We'd never seen one up close, so we blew off classes and boarded the Metro to crowd onto the Mall with the rest of America, for whom, we were told, it was then morning. Except we went to protest. We four — Southerners all — were upset that our man Jimmy Carter had been booted out of office (shellacked, really), and in the arrogance of our youth, we felt it right that we let people know of our displeasure. Attending the inauguration was the equivalent of a collective foot stamp.

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Just the facts, Mr. President

It shouldn't take the death of a popular "pro-life" president to put the issue of stem cell research back on the current president's agenda. Facts and logic should compel a new policy that would allow for more publicly funded research using embryonic stem cells. President Bush is being lobbied to reconsider his 2001 decision to limit public research on embryonic stem cells. This time, some anti-abortion opponents are joining the call for reconsideration.

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As always, Reagan had timing

If one of the social graces is knowing when to leave, Ronald Reagan was a gentleman with providential timing. His death came at just the right moment. Not for his family, though they must feel relief that his suffering is ended, but for the nation he loved. I mean this: Americans are in the throes of an identity crisis, trying at this difficult historical juncture to figure out what kind of people they are.

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Pop culture pressed into service again

To understand the way popular culture approaches this war, you must study three absolutely essential phenomena: Donald Duck, Madonna and "Star Trek." First, the excitable waterfowl. Disney just released "On the Front Lines," a DVD set of World War II-era propaganda cartoons, training films and educational materials. Donald Duck appeared to be best suited to the lighter offering of the wartime years; no one wanted to see Mickey get shot at, Goofy was too dim to trust with an important job, and Daisy was apparently busy at the munitions plant.

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And another thing ...

At war with the rule of law. The media are reporting on a disturbing memo drawn up by attorneys from the Bush administration that essentially grants the president carte blanche to ignore international accords on prisoner torture. On its face, it would appear this draft memo is an attempt to avoid restrictions and prosecutions stemming from the Geneva Conventions, the 1994 Convention Against Torture, the federal Torture Statute and the U.S. Constitution. Reportedly, this legal exercise was prompted by frustrated officials who said conventional methods were not yielding information from prisoners held at Guantanamo. Attorney General John Ashcroft assured angry senators this week that the United States does not practice torture, nor has the president approved of it. But he refused to release supporting documents that would put minds at ease.

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We must learn from child's death

It's been nearly 18 years since Darren Creekmore kicked his 3-year-old son Eli to death for crying too much. The Snohomish County case enraged all of Washington and prompted revisions in the way the state Department of Social and Health Services reached custody decisions in child-abuse cases. It would be nice if those revisions had succeeded. They seemed to, for a while. Child-abuse deaths were on the decline in 1990 when Darrell Williams beat his 2-week-old son, Andrew, to death in Spokane.

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Spokane River has a lot to say, so let's listen

How fortunate we are to have a river like the Spokane running right through our city. Can you imagine Phoenix or Chicago or any other city in the world with a river as big as this that creates three waterfalls within earshot of City Hall? But our river is in crisis. So my message is: Go listen to the river.

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Research a fitting tribute to Reagan

BOSTON – The words in the announcement made it sound as if it were a fair fight. Television anchors and reporters said the same thing: Ronald Reagan died after a long "battle" with Alzheimer's disease. But Reagan and Alzheimer's were never equal adversaries. If this was a battle, there was no defense against an illness that attacks the brain's hard drive like a computer virus, erasing the ability to remember and think, byte by byte. Nor was there any arsenal to protect even a former president of the United States from the devastation that leaves family and friends bereaved for the living.

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