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News Briefs

Recall Supporters Confident After Appeals Court Hearing

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- SAN FRANCISCO

Encouraged by hard-hitting questions posed by a federal appeals court here Monday, California officials predicted the recall election for Gov. Gray Davis would occur as scheduled in 15 days.

“I am convinced by this very vigorous argument that the election will be held Oct. 7,” Attorney General Bill Lockyer said outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “Based on the legal arguments I heard raised, I think the plaintiffs have failed to make a sufficient finding.”

The state’s top election official, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, was so confident of victory that he issued a public reminder to voters that Monday was the last day to register to vote for the election and that Sept. 30 was the last day to request an absentee ballot.

Shelley said he expected a decision from the court soon, and a court spokeswoman said that it might come as early as Tuesday morning.

“Voters deserve finality so we can prepare this election,” Shelley said.

The optimism on the part of state officials was based in part on the tone of a 70-minute hearing Monday, which was held before 11 of the 26 active 9th Circuit judges. Nine of the judges raised blunt and often skeptical questions about the request to delay the election made in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Panel Finds Air Force Ignored Frequent Warnings on Rapes

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- WASHINGTON

Top leaders of the U.S. Air Force disregarded persistent warnings over the last decade that frequent and unpunished sexual assaults were undermining its academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., a civilian commission investigating the matter reported Monday.

The commission also said that the Air Force’s general counsel largely ignored this history of official neglect when he reported on rape at the academy this year, in an effort “to shield Air Force Headquarters from public criticism.”

The blistering report released here by the commission, led by Tillie Fowler, a former congresswoman from Florida, said that sexual assault had been a problem at the academy throughout the last decade, and possibly since women were first admitted in 1976.

“The sexual assault problems at the academy are real and continue to this day,” Fowler, a Republican, said at a news conference. She added, “We found a deep chasm in leadership during the most critical time in the academy’s history -- one that extended far beyond its campus in Colorado Springs.”

The findings came as something of a surprise to victims’ advocates. Many of them had initially criticized the panel’s makeup as biased against women in the military, prompting the resignation of one member and the former director even before the panel began its work. Its members were appointed by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Clark’s Plan Includes New Patriotism, Respects Dissent

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- CHARLESTON, S.C.

Gen. Wesley K. Clark on Monday called for “a new American patriotism” that would encourage broader public service, respect domestic dissent even in times of war, and embrace international organizations like the United Nations.

Clark, a former NATO military commander and retired Army officer who last week announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused the Bush administration of neglecting the nation’s economic problems and of pursuing a dangerous go-it-alone foreign policy.

But he also used the setting of the Citadel, a military college here, to appeal to the 150 cadets and civilians assembled on the parade grounds to help restore something loftier: a sense of national spirit that he suggested the administration’s campaign against terror had corroded.

“We’ve got to have a new kind of patriotism that recognizes that in times of war or peace, democracy requires dialogue, disagreement and the courage to speak out,” Clark said. “And those who do it should not be condemned but be praised.”

Clark made it clear that he believed the administration had unfairly singled out whole classes of immigrants for fear of a minority within them. “Three million Muslims have come to this country from Asia and the Middle East,” he said. “They didn’t come because they were afraid of our values. They came because they wanted to live under them.”

As 3 Billion Birds Fly South, Scientists Head North to Study

THE NEW YORK TIMES

It’s autumn, and the vast boreal forest of Canada is spilling birds. Ducks and geese are pouring out of it, and songbirds in the billions.

Some will winter in New York state, some in Costa Rica. Some will stop at bird feeders, some will fly directly over hidden hunters. In all, 3 billion to 5 billion birds leave the Canadian boreal forest each fall, headed for warmer weather.

As the birds fly south, many of the people most involved with the Canadian boreal, which makes up 10 percent of all the earth’s forests and 25 percent of the intact, original forests, are heading for Quebec City.

The 12th World Forestry Congress is convening there this week, and preservation of the boreal forest is a major subject of discussion. Conservationists hope to reach agreement with industry now on how to set aside some parts of the forest and agree on management policies for other areas.

Three environmental groups -- Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Forest Ethics -- joined together last week to release a brief report on threats to the forest and to demand a moratorium on logging and development in the most endangered parts of the boreal forest until a conservation plan is developed. It is not that the forest is in immediate danger of disappearing. Just the opposite is true.