The scriptures refer to reaping the whirlwind. That certainly describes Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson after the first state-wide poll since the controversial deal he cut in exchange for his deciding vote on the Senate health care bill.
A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that if he were running for re-election today, Mr. Nelson would lose to Nebraska's GOP Governor David Heineman by a stunning 61% to 30%. Only three years ago, Mr. Nelson won his current term with a solid 64% of the vote.
Clearly, the senator's fall in public esteem is a direct reaction to his having voted for the health care bill as part of a deal in which Nebraska was exempted from the costs of new federal Medicaid mandates. The ObamaCare bill was already unpopular enough in Nebraska but became even more so when state residents discovered they would be saddled with it anyway, plus exposed to national ridicule over Mr. Nelson's sweetheart deal. Now 53% strongly oppose the bill, while another 11% somewhat oppose it. Only 17% favor the deal that Mr. Nelson struck in order to vote for the bill.
But the poll also shows a path to redemption. Asked how they would vote in the 2012 election if Senator Nelson changed his vote and prevented the health care bill from becoming law, Nebraska voters give Governor Heineman a lead of only 47% to 37%.
"The revote results are nothing short of amazing," says Democratic pollster Pat Caddell, who notes that simply reversing his health-care vote immediately reduces Mr. Nelson's deficit by two-thirds. "The poll suggests the anger of Nebraska voters is deep and unusually intense, and not likely to dissipate quickly."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is holding an untold number of people in secretively maintained detention facilities all over the United States, according to a report set to be published next year in The Nation.
Many of the sites are unmarked and unlisted, going unnoticed in office parks and commercial zones, according to reporter Jacqueline Stevens. The so-called ICE "subfield offices" are mainly used to house prisoners in transfer and are not subject to the basic standards applied to ICE and even military prisoners.
At a subfield office known as B-18, located near a Los Angeles federal building, ICE keeps immigrant prisoners in "a barely converted storage facility."
"You actually walk down the sidewalk and into an underground parking lot. Then you turn right, open a big door and voil�, you're in a detention center," explained Ahilan Arulanantham, an ACLU immigration attorney interviewed by The Nation. "Without knowing where you were going, he said, "it's not clear to me how anyone would find it. What this breeds, not surprisingly, is a whole host of problems concerning access to phones, relatives and counsel."
On Monday, dozens of nations will meet in Geneva to consider adopting the WIPO Treaty for Sharing Accessible Formats of Copyrighted Works for Persons Who are Blind or Have other Reading Disabilities. The proposal (.pdf) before a subcommittee of the roughly 180 World Intellectual Property Organization members would sanction the cross-border sharing of DRM-protected digitized books that tens of thousands of blind and visually disabled people read with devices and tools like the Pac Mate, Book Port and Victor Reader.
“This treaty would be the first one that is not done for the copyright owner, but for the user of the works — for the blind to make a copyrighted work accessible,” says Manon Ress, a policy analyst at Knowledge Ecology International, a Washington, D.C.-based human rights lobby that helped spearhead the proposal.
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The treaty also creates a bad precedent by loosening copyright restrictions, instead of tightening them as every previous copyright treaty has done, said Brad Huther, a chamber director. Huther concluded in a Dec. 2 letter to the U.S. Copyright office that the international community “should not engage in pursuing a copyright-exemption based paradigm.”
Echoing that concern, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry of America told the Copyright Office last month that such a treaty would “begin to dismantle the existing global treaty structure of copyright law, through the adoption of an international instrument at odds with existing, longstanding and well-settled norms.”