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7 Cards in this Set

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Published Wednesday
December 1, 2004

Bush, Canadian leader find common ground
OTTAWA - President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin proclaimed a new era of good will between the two neighbors Tuesday, agreeing to set aside differences over Iraq and pledging to resolve lingering trade and security issues.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and President Bush meet Tuesday on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The bonhomie between the two leaders was not matched on the streets outside, however, where several thousand demonstrators rallied against the president, culminating in a scuffle with riot police in the late afternoon.

"I made some decisions, obviously, that some in Canada didn't agree with, like, for example, when we removed Saddam Hussein and (enforced) demands of the United Nations Security Council," Bush said during a press conference with Martin. "But the agenda that the prime minister and I talked about is one where most people should agree."

Among those issues, the president said, are rebuilding Afghanistan, democracy in Iraq, promoting free trade in the Western Hemisphere and fighting disease and poverty in Africa.

Despite Canadian support for the United States in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, tensions between the two countries flared over the war in Iraq.

The president tried to make light of past disagreements, dismissing a question from a Canadian reporter about whether Canadians feel increasingly alienated from their neighbors to the south.

"I, frankly, felt like the reception we received on the way in from the airport was very warm and hospitable, and I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave - with all five fingers - for their hospitality," Bush said as the audience chuckled.

"I know what you mean, Mr. President," Martin responded, recalling an incident last week during an Asian-Pacific summit in Chile. "I found that Spanish and English and French are three different languages, but that sign language is universal."

Bush promised to help push for a repeal of a ban on live cattle imports to the United States that was imposed after an imported cow tested positive last year for mad cow disease.

"The prime minister has expressed a great deal of frustration that the issue hasn't been resolved yet," Bush said. "I don't know if you've got bureaucracy here in Canada or not, but we've got one in America, and there are a series of rules that have to be met in order for us to be able to allow the trafficking of cows back and forth, particularly those 30 months and younger."

A senior administration official said that a resolution on the cattle imports should come in no less than five months, and perhaps sooner. A proposed change in regulation that would permit the Canadian imports is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. That review should be completed within 90 days, and after that, Congress has 60 days to review it before it takes effect.

But Bush and Martin made no progress on a long-running fight over a U.S. tariff on imports of softwood lumber from Canada. Martin said that he expressed his country's "frustration" over that issue as well.

Instead, Bush plans to make a speech today in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to thank the people of the Maritime Provinces who took in nearly 33,000 Americans when planes were diverted there after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Published Wednesday
December 1, 2004

Iran says it won dispute on uranium
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran claimed victory in its nuclear dispute Tuesday, saying it had diplomatically isolated the United States while preserving its own right to enrich uranium.

Iran stressed that it had not abandoned its right to enrich uranium, noting the agreement it struck this week with European countries and the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency calls for only a temporary suspension of enrichment work.

In return, the IAEA's board Monday adopted a resolution on Iran that was milder than the United States had urged.

Iran's top nuclear official, Hasan Rowhani, hailed the resolution as "a turning point in Iran's nuclear case because, for the first time, the (IAEA) board of governors acknowledged Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities."

Iran has insisted its nuclear work is only to produce electricity, not bombs, as the United States alleges. Iran also has clung to its right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even though the IAEA and the United States have urged it to forgo enrichment as a demonstration of good faith.

After Monday's action, the United States said it reserved the right to take Iran's case unilaterally to the U.N. Security Council.

Rowhani dismissed the U.S. arguments.

"We have proved that our enemies are liars, and the path of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been legal and peaceful," he said.

The suspension calls for enrichment work to halt only while Iran and the Europeans negotiate a nuclear-technology deal.

"The suspension will be limited to the negotiation period," Rowhani said - "several months" at most
Published Wednesday
December 1, 2004

Pension plans need deeper pockets, state told

LINCOLN - Keeping pension plans healthy for Nebraska judges, school employees and State Patrol troopers will require $17 million more per year, a consultant reported Tuesday.

But exactly who should pay - and how much - will be up to the governor and the Legislature to decide, said Anna Sullivan, director of the Public Employees Retirement Systems.

Dave Slishinsky of Mellon Financial Corp. said all three plans are feeling the effects of recent investment losses and growing benefit obligations.

He told members of the Public Employees Retirement Board that more money is needed to ensure the plans' ability to pay future benefits.

Policy-makers could get the additional money from state coffers, which would nearly double state spending on retirement benefits for the three groups, Sullivan said.

In light of the state's lingering budget woes, however, policy-makers likely will look at increasing the amounts employees and employers have to pay, she said.

How that prospect will sit with state troopers, teachers and other school employees remains to be seen.

Glenn Elwell, the legislative representative for the State Troopers Association of Nebraska, said the troopers' union will be asking lots of questions.

Troopers already saw their paychecks shrink this year because retirement contributions increased from 11 percent of pay to 12 percent. The Nebraska State Patrol matches the 12 percent contribution.

"Our biggest goal is to try to minimize as best we can the increases to the members," he said.

Herb Schimek, lobbyist for the Nebraska State Education Association, said school employees want to make certain the plan is sound. But he predicted they would be doing a lot of talking to find the best way to keep it so.

School employees now pay 7.25 percent of their salaries for retirement, matched by a 7.32 percent contribution from school districts and 0.7 percent from the state.

"There are many options we can probably work with," Schimek said. "Everybody's reasonable."

Raising employer and employee contributions only would affect the school employee and state trooper plans.

Judges cannot be required to pay more without receiving a matching increase in their salaries. Lawmakers raised court fees the last time additional funds were needed for the judges' pension plan.

The judges' and troopers' plans both are 97 percent funded, according to Slishinsky's report. That means the projected value of assets is 97 percent of the amount needed to pay future expected benefits.

It would require another $645,000 per year to close the gap for the judges' plan. It would take $945,000 per year for the troopers' plan.

The school employees' plan is 87 percent funded, Slishinsky reported. It would take $15 million per year to make that plan whole.
Two Iowa soldiers killed - one in Texas, one in Iraq
DES MOINES (AP) - Two Iowa soldiers were killed this week, one serving in Iraq and another who was among seven soldiers who died when an Army helicopter crashed in the fog near Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed Monday in a motor vehicle accident in Iraq was Spc. Daryl Davis, 20, of Spencer. A truck driver, Davis was acting as a gunner as he traveled from Camp Taji to a logistical support area in Adder, said Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, a spokesman for the Iowa National Guard.

Davis was a former member of the Guard's 2168th Transportation Company. Hapgood said Davis transferred to the Florida National Guard's 144th Transportation Company in the last year and was mobilized.

He was a 2002 graduate of Spencer High School.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner Jr., 32, and six others were killed Monday morning when their helicopter flew into a television tower's support wires.

Gardner, a 1991 graduate of Mason City High School, had listed Iowa as his home state, according to the Defense Department.

He had served with the Iowa National Guard, with the 1133rd Transportation Company out of Mason City, before going on active duty in the 1990s, Hapgood said.

Hapgood did not know Gardner's hometown.

Gardner, born in Germany, served as a helicopter pilot assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment.

He entered the Army in October 1992 and served in Iraq from October 2003 to April 2004
No more firings, Osborne says

KEARNEY, Neb. - The streaks of consecutive bowl games and non-losing seasons that Tom Osborne helped build over a quarter-century are now history.

Tom Osborne

But you certainly won't find the former Husker football coach joining fans who are on the fire Steve Pederson bandwagon.

"We've had enough people being fired for a while," Osborne said Tuesday. "We need to try to make things work. We'll see how it goes."

In his first public statement about the Huskers' recently complete 5-6 season, the former Husker head coach said he shares fans' disappointment to see the streaks end.

"I feel bad, I really feel bad, for a lot of people," he said.

He said he particularly feels for the players who probably felt most profoundly that the end of the streaks "is on their shoulders."

"No one wants to be part of that. You play your heart out and can only control so much. I hope they don't feel like personal failures."

Rather than the players, it's Bill Callahan and his staff who are taking much of the heat from frustrated fans on sports talk shows. Many callers have contended that they did not get as much as they could have from this year's team.

Osborne did not want to comment on those feelings. But he said he does hope things will improve in the future.

"Hopefully the new staff will do a good job and things will even out," he said. "Hopefully it will get better and get better soon."

Osborne said it probably was inevitable that the streak would end sometime. He said he remembers feeling a little relief during his coaching days when the Huskers would win their sixth or seventh game.

"It's not automatic."
Illicit drugs' prices fall to 20-year low
WASHINGTON - Prices for cocaine and heroin have reached 20-year lows, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Washington Office on Latin America, which usually is critical of U.S. policies in Latin America, said the low prices called into question the effectiveness of the two-decade U.S. war on drugs. A White House official said the numbers were old and didn't reflect recent efforts in Colombia to curb drug cultivation.

The Washington Office on Latin America, citing the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the street price of 2 grams of cocaine averaged $106 in the first half of 2003, down 14 percent from the previous year's average and the lowest price in 20 years.

The organization said that heroin was much cheaper, too. It said a gram of heroin, which cost $329 in 1981, sold for $60 in the first half of 2003.

An official with the Office of National Drug Control Policy confirmed the figures, which haven't been publicly released.

The drug policy adviser said Bush administration officials thought the numbers no longer reflected reality
Public Pulse
For those of you who are too young to remember Vietnam and the way it polarized this country, this war in Iraq inevitably will do the same.

It already has brought back many of those feelings to those of us who lived through those horrific times that Vietnam fostered.

We elected officials in the past who created these monsters that we now pursue. This president and his cronies are no different. They will create monsters for our children and grandchildren to worry about.

Until we stop trying to impose our ways of life on other nations in this world, we will never be free of their hatred. There will be no healing in this country as long as George W. Bush stays the course that he is on.
Douglas Ives, Council Bluffs

Democracy will fail

U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel wisely warned before the Iraq War started that a good, sound exit plan was very necessary. We didn't have one.

Critical to same was a better understanding of the Iraqi nation and the four major groups: the Shiites (the largest by far), the Sunnis (who hate the Shiites), the Kurds and the Baathists. None of them really like or trust each other. The Sunnis comprise the majority of the insurgents we are fighting today.

I very much doubt that, whenever we do leave Iraq, these four groups will ever get along under any semblance of the democracy that we hope to establish. A civil war someday would be a good possibility.

I am the proud grandfather of a helicopter pilot in Iraq. I pray daily for his safety and that of all our soldiers.

I am fearful of any satisfactory and peaceful resolution to our presence in Iraq.
Carlyle E. Wilson, Omaha

Debate was refreshing

As it does in each presidential campaign, C-SPAN provided television coverage of the third-party presidential candidates' debate, hosted this year by Cornell University. On stage were the presidential candidates of the Green, Socialist, Constitution and Libertarian Parties.

The contrast between these candidates' responses and the George W. Bush-John Kerry and Dick Cheney-John Edwards exchanges was refreshing. The third-party candidates did not attempt to spin their responses to questions. Neither did they attack each other's credibility.

While it is unlikely that one would agree with all their positions, many would agree that the candidates' responses were well-thought-out and presented in a straightforward, forthright manner.

I would venture that sometime in the future, issues that were avoided or glossed over by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates but were addressed by third-party candidates will become so pronounced as to push their way onto the front burner of American politics.

One or more third-party candidates then may find themselves in the eye of the mainstream news media. And these candidates will be prepared.
Robert Ranney, Omaha

Free speech's decline

Regarding the recent selective imprisonment of journalists, the pending forced departure of Dan Rather and the thuggish harassment to which I myself have been subjected since Election Day, I cannot help but smell the filth of certain Old World traditions.

Were these United States not founded in defiance of a leader who felt himself divinely entitled to persecute whoever dared offend him? Are we now content to become merely one nation under a bush?

God help Americans to rise above slavish mob mentality and live once more as free citizens should.
Merlin L. Taylor Jr., Omaha

We're secure in faith

In response to Richard J. Gier (Nov. 23 Pulse), I find it interesting that his God can be recast in different images.

My God, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever. Frankly, I don't think I could believe in or worship a God that could be recast in different images.

The bottom line is that most evangelical Christians are not insecure, homophobic Republicans, as Gier implies. But we are secure in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and we make it our aim to find the truth rather than common ground. We do this because we want to honor the One who has done so much for us.

By the way, morality has already been defined. It is summed up in the Ten Commandments, but Mr. Gier and I are unlikely to learn about them in public schools or see them in a public place.

I guess he'll have to read the Bible. I have found that most people criticize the Bible without ever having read it. I welcome him to discover its truths with us.
Mark Riggle, Ralston

Covering art was wise

I for one commend McCook, Neb., elementary school Principal Kathy Latta (Nov. 23 news story) for asking that a painting including a semi-nude figure be covered while first- and second-graders walked the museum.

It showed great judgment for young children who cannot make the decision for themselves. She made the right decision.

I would rather have a few misguided parents mad at me for not showing the semi-nude art to their children than a school's worth of parents mad at me for showing a partially naked lady on a field trip.

Good call, Ms. Latta. Most would have done the same.
Devon Leesley, Omaha

It's not pornography

The article in Tuesday's World-Herald about the teacher who draped the James Cantrell painting in order to hide the lady wearing the brassiere kind of reminds me of John Ashcroft covering the statue of Justice during his tenure as attorney general.

This painting is art, folks, not pornography, and any kid in the first grade or kindergarten surely has seen women in bathing suits that reveal much more than the lady in the painting (a very good painting, incidentally).

Just what did that teacher think she was protecting the children from? I assume the children all have mothers or sisters.

These are the good folks who want to ban "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "The Catcher In the Rye" from school libraries and cover up nudes in statues and paintings in museums and galleries.

We don't need protection from the art, but we do need protection from such self-righteous fanaticism.
Don Howard, Tabor, Iowa

Voting down freedom

Most disturbing from the election results is the ungodly, un-American rejection of individual freedom by voters.

In Lincoln, voters banned smoking. In Nebraska, voters continued the ban on gambling, although the voters may have been divided on which initiative to favor. Also, 11 states voted to ban same-sex marriages.

I firmly believe using the ballot box to vote away individual freedom is absolutely wrong and intrinsically evil. I am horrified the clergy have not affirmed individual freedom as stated in the Bible.

God placed Adam and Eve in a garden and told them not to eat the apples of the tree of knowledge, and yet He put a snake in the tree to tempt them. Why would God be so negligent unless He firmly favored individual freedom for each and every soul?

My family history spans the entire history of our republic. My ancestors stood fast and firm in defending individual freedom from government intervention.

On election night, voters tossed away individual freedom. In that same election, something my ancestors and I believe in was thrown away as well.
Andrew L. Sullivan, Omaha

Political ad withdrawal

Now that the elections are over and regular commercials are back on the air, what are we supposed to do?

Sure, there's always going to be an Iraq or Afghanistan, rapes and murders, traffic accidents and fatalities, hurricanes and tornado alerts and the ever-present threat of terrorism.

But for the past year and a half, we've been force-fed political flimflam advertisements so much that I'm experiencing withdrawal tremors.

Is there some term like post-traumatic political infomercial syndrome? Will I barely work through this one before the next onslaught?
Jim Stalker, Creston, Iowa

Union's view puzzled

A Nov. 12 news story by Jonathan Wegner about the layoffs at Connectivity Solutions Manufacturing Inc. confused me. Union President Bernie Stopak said the union also negotiated retirements for about 22 employees who otherwise would have lost their jobs.

I certainly would hope that the union president did not make such an inane statement. I would think that the 22 people who took the retirement package had to be 58 years of age or older.

Seems to me that their jobs were pretty safe because most employees 58 years or older have close to 30 years of service, if not more. The layoffs mostly affected employees with less than 10 years of service, not 30.

One can understand being laid off due to "downsizing and cost reductions." But when you find out that the same jobs you and your co-workers were discharged from are being done on overtime by higher-paid employees, it makes you wonder who is doing this math.
Teri Sempek, Omaha

Leaders let me down

I am a little disappointed with our leadership's mentality here in Bellevue. Something about this whole Brook Park development has smelled fishy from the beginning.

This development is not the best plan for the area, regardless of what spin Celebrity Homes attorney Bob Doyle puts on the potential storm-water issue.

A chemical plant will be within 100 feet of any new homes, and Mike Hogan Development is going to rip out all the trees, leaving a barren wasteland like some of the newer subdivisions already approved through a similar lack of foresight by the Bellevue mayor and the City Council.

The mayor and council should wake up and start being concerned for the best interests of the residents.

In two years, I will be running for council or maybe even mayor if our leadership does not start having an open mind on issues and showing concern for what our residents feel.