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SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2004

Politics won't stop unwanted pregnancies

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently considered whether to make Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, available without a doctor's prescription — as it is to women in 34 countries, including England, Canada and France. Seventy medical and public health organizations — including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Public Health Association — urged the FDA to make the change.

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Genders not equal in all things

The American women of Abu Ghraib have put to eternal rest any notion that girls are made of sugar 'n' spice and prompted a flurry of possible answers to the question: How could women have done such things? Theories have run the gamut: They were just trying to fit in; they were exploited by higher-ups to humiliate male Iraqi prisoners; they were an inevitable extension of the male-bashing culture back home, expressions of feminist orthodoxy in extremis.

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House budget is a smokescreen

WASHINGTON – If you want to know how serious the Bush White House is about something, it is often useful to watch the House of Representatives. The president's spokesmen frequently pay lip service to goals that sound great. Only by checking the actions of the loyalist leadership of the House can you discern what President Bush really means. The president has said many times that he has offered a budget that will cut the record deficit of this year in half in the next five years. So one would think that in the House, where his word is law, those marching orders would be carried forward.

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Rumsfeld should make a decision

As the Pentagon replaces its KC-135 refueling tankers, maybe it should consider a newer airframe than the 20-year-old design of the Boeing 767 airliner. So said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday. No kidding. The 767 has aged more than two and a half years just during the time the government has been trying to make up its mind on a deal to buy and/or lease 100 of them from Boeing. And this week the process was prolonged at least another six months when Rumsfeld ordered two more studies to see if the KC-135s really pose an upkeep problem.

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Vote for library faces uphill battle

Coeur d'Alene will have a difficult time passing a bond election for a $7 million library on the lip of its waterfront. With the region emerging from recession, enough property owners may be reluctant to add to their property tax bill to place the two-thirds requirement to pass general obligation bonds out of reach. And that's not the only factor that could render a bond election dead on arrival. Many residents believe the library is being proposed for the wrong location. And, most important, they remember the promise by library supporters in 2000 that they wouldn't use public funds to construct a new building, next to City Hall.

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SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2004

Accommodation is winning Western wars

It is usually a bad idea to ban someone's livelihood. Consider the uses and abuses of the terms "Old" and "New" Western economy. People who log, mine and farm belong to the "Old Economy." People who write novels, program computers and serve tourists belong to the "New Economy." Or at least that is how some would have them classified. Sorted that way, far fewer Westerners work in the "Old Economy" than during pioneer days, or even immediately after World War II. Declines in extractive and manufacturing industries were replaced by newly created industries (computer software and the like) and by industries based on the West's appeal to recreationists and retirees.

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Fanaticism confronts us once again

Back home, Bing Crosby had a new movie out, "Going My Way." A singer named Nat Cole had released his first hit, "Straighten Up And Fly Right." And 176,000 allied soldiers stepped into the surf off the French province of Normandy into a hail of bullets. Hell, never too tightly tethered in those years, broke loose. This was 1944.

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We must keep perspective in Iraq war

The panic gripping Washington over the state of Iraq makes it clear we have been spoiled by the seemingly easy, apparently bloodless victories of the past decade. From the Persian Gulf War of 1991 to the Afghanistan war of 2001, we got used to winning largely through air power. There were casualties, of course, but few of them were on our side. In Kosovo, we managed to prevail without losing a single person. We forgot what real war looks like. Iraq is providing an unwelcome reminder of how messy and costly it can be. By comparison with the wars of the past decade, what's happening in Iraq appears to be a terrible failure. Things look a little different if you compare it with earlier conflicts.

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FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2004

Who will pay for the sins of a few priests?

T here is a complexity to the sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Spokane that the media and others do not recognize. They prefer to view the matter in simplistic terms: "insensitive church hierarchy versus irreparably damaged victims." But there is another perspective that says thousands of good Catholics in this diocese today will pay substantially for the sins of a few priests who violated their vows and perpetrated these crimes many years ago.

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Testing time-gap demands scrutiny

The much discussed achievement gap in school is not the only gap to worry about. At this time in the school year, the testing time-gap is the one to look out for, and it's almost never discussed. Children take tests almost at the very end of the school year — mid- to late May. Results come back, if they come back in time, just as school gets out for the summer. So, the question is this: When do teachers have the time to teach what children need to know and what they didn't know on those tests they just took.

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Zinni shows how war went bad

AUSTIN, Texas – Too bad for anyone who tuned in to President Bush's speech Monday night hoping to hear something that would cheer us up – like a plan. That was as depressing as divorce. There he was, still peddling the phony idea that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9-11 – I guess that one will never get too old or too disproved. In case you think no one in public life is capable of intelligent thought about Iraq, I recommend a speech made by Gen. Anthony Zinni (well, OK, so he's slightly retired) May 12 to the Center for Defense Information. In it, Zinni lists the 10 mistakes he believes were responsible for getting us into this fine mess.

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Air views on spending

If you have longed to voice your opinions about state spending, you will have a chance to do so at the State Budget Town Hall Meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Barbieri Courtroom at Gonzaga Law School, 721 N. Cincinnati St. The Washington Office of Financial Management wants to hear from citizens about the services and activities that should be included in the state's priority-based budget for the 2005-07 biennium. • The state Higher Education Coordinating Board will receive public comments on several proposals under consideration for the HECB's 2004 Strategic Master Plan for Higher Education. The meeting will take place Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Phase 1 Building Auditorium, 668 N. Riverpoint Blvd. One goal is to increase by 20 percent the number of students who earn college degrees and training credentials each year. Several preliminary proposals are under consideration for the 2004 plan, to be published late this summer. An overview is available at the HECB Web site:

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THURSDAY, MAY 27, 2004

Our crush on cars has begun to backfire

Few things have contributed as greatly to economic growth and mobility (or, if you will, to costly sprawl and environmental degradation) as our love affair with the car and our reliance on cheap gasoline. Even at today's costs, inflation-deflated gas prices are still a relative bargain. But as scientific evidence mounts about global warming, and we observe the ongoing geopolitical miasma in the Middle East, only the most ardent cynic will fail to recognize that the cost of a wasteful reliance on oil is far greater than two or three dollars a gallon.

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Agency lists terms to run INEEL

BOISE – The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday issued its final requirements for companies that want to run the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. The installation, which is being renamed the Idaho National Laboratory, is operated by Bechtel BWXT Idaho until Jan. 30, 2005. After Bechtel's contract expires, the contract will be split into two — one for nuclear research and the other overseeing a cleanup of radioactive and toxic waste.

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Moore's movie a deft anti-Bush attack

Michael Moore's latest movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" is an anti-Bush broadside. It accuses President Bush of letting Saudis leave the United States after Sept. 11 without being interviewed by the FBI. A shocking charge! And utterly false, as well – the FBI got its crack – but who cares? Millionaire Moore is a deft provocateur, and if he's wrong about the facts, well, the facts should be right. They feel right. Isn't that what counts? Of course his latest film won the Palme D'Or at Cannes. Jittery film-geek Quentin Tarantino, who led the panel, assured reporters that the choice was not a political statement. Lands sakes, no. Just because the movie flays Bush, sets his skin on fire and waves it over its head doesn't mean it's political. "I made a statement early on," QT added, "that I didn't want politics to be involved."

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