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SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2004

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: http://www.hecb.wa.gov/Research/masterplans/masterplansindex.asp.

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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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Shared presence is crucial in Iraq

A year's worth of ambitious but unmet predictions have not robbed President Bush of his self-assuredness about bringing stability and democracy to Iraq – then walking away. The five-step plan he laid out on Monday glows with confidence about the U.S.-led coalition's ability to restore order and turn the nation over to a sovereign government. It is reminiscent of the rosy expectations U.S. officials had in March 2003 when troops first rolled into Baghdad. The business was to be quick and efficient, marked by limited casualties and an open-armed welcome by Iraqi citizens.

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WWII Memorial reflects sacrifice

WASHINGTON – With this weekend's dedication ceremonies for the new World War II Memorial, visitors to Washington, D.C., will have their first chance to judge an overdue commemoration of "the good war" – a fitting tribute even if vexingly flawed. Those I met there earlier this week welcomed the reminder that our nation was forged in battle and that our freedom has been secured by sacrifice.

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And another thing . . .

A pricey placebo. A study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons could lead to a spike in the sales of anti-depressants. Over the past four years, the price of the most widely used prescription drugs by seniors has risen by an average of 27.6 percent, while inflation has risen by 10.4 percent. Just as consumer advocates feared, the savings promised under the new Medicare discount cards will be wiped out by the skyrocketing price increases on existing drugs. And barring a miraculous drop in prices, that isn't likely to change when Medicare prescription drug coverage starts up in 2006.

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WEDNESDAY, MAY 26, 2004

Black men still imprisoned by inequality

I n the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson penned the words, later repeated in part by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Within days of each other recently, two young Spokane-area men were arrested in similar but unrelated circumstances.

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Incompetent Rumsfeld should resign

By the normal standards of business or government, Donald Rumsfeld should long since have resigned or been fired as secretary of defense. The reason is not ideology, nor is it his role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, horrifying though that may be. The reason is incompetence. His record in Iraq over the last 13 months is the most dramatically incompetent performance by a public official in recent American history.

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Kerry wants to have it both ways

Sen. John Kerry is giving opportunism a bad name. First, there was his call for President Bush to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve in response to high gasoline prices. With a war raging in the Middle East, the last thing we need to do is reduce our own petroleum reserves for the sake of an election-year quick fix. Kerry knows better. But he has to come up with something that at least gives the appearance of proposing his own policies and agendas instead of just bashing Bush.

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