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Green Bay Press-Gazette from Green Bay, Wisconsin • 7

Location:
Green Bay, Wisconsin
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7
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Opinion Contact Opinion page editor Warren Bluhm at (920) 431-8341 or wbluhmgreenbaypressgazette.com Green Bay Press-Gazette Monday, December 1, 2008 MORNING BRIEFING OUR VIEW ISSUE: Campaign ads Justice deseirves fl WW Gm public Mehar, 70, an Afghan refugee weeps as she says that she does not have enough food for her family. Winter of hunger looms in Afghanistan repnmani AS A-H -J Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman recently defended the campaign advertisement for which he faces possible discipline and he filed a counterclaim that the charge against him violates his right to free speech. Gableman was elected in April after a race that besieged voters with distortions and misrepresentations from both sides. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission filed the charge after reviewing one especially egregious ad in which Gableman attacked his opponent, then-incumbent Justice Louis Butler Jr. The ad focused on the case of Reuben Lee Mitchell, who went to prison in 1985 for raping an 11-year-old girl.

Butler, the public defender who was assigned to represent Mitchell, convinced an appeals court to overturn the conviction because some evidence should i i i i i mill j-, -i I 1 nave exciuueu. aim, the state Supreme Court An Afghan refugee couple has lunch outside their makeshift home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Drought has cut Afghanistan's wheat production to 2.6 million metric tons this year from 4.3 million metric tons in 2007, according to the Agriculture Ministry. That leaves the country with a shortfall of about 2 million metric tons. Photos by Rafiq MaqboolAP upheld the jury's original decision, and Mitchell was not released until he Gableman i it The government has spent "many hundred millions of dollars" on wheat for winter emergencies.

"This does not mean that there will not be shortages." Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai 'i BY HEIDI VOGT The Associated Press NILI, Afghanistan The farmer squats barefoot on packed earth in front of his two-room mud house. He has looked at his bags of wheat, he says, and counted the days. Ghulam Sakhi, 50, says his family will run out of food in mid-January only a third of the way through Afghanistan's frigid winter. As the days shorten and the nights grow colder, this winter threatens to be Afghanistan's most desperate in nearly two decades. Life has always been hard in this poor, war-ravaged land, but this year a combination of drought, high food prices and Taliban attacks on supply routes could leave a bigger shortage than emergency food aid can cover.

In a country already struggling to combat a strengthening Taliban insurgency, it's a crisis that is testing an overstretched government's limits. Day Kundi, the central province where Sakhi lives, is usually one of the hardest hit by snows and food shortages, but is also relatively peaceful. So Sakhi's family worries less about war and more about simply being forgotten. The couple and their nine children depend on flat-bread made from wheat to survive the winter in a barren mountain valley dotted with dusty almond trees and the occasional sheep. They drink water, or tea if they have a little extra money Once snow blocks the roads in mid-December, the entire town of Nili lives off stored food until spring.

Sakhi's gray beard and leathery face make him look older than he is. He works on a farm and gets part of the wheat he harvests, but the yield was smaller this year. And he has just used some of his last money to travel 200 miles to Kabul for tuberculosis treatment. The family usually starts the winter burning wood, then dried leaves and dung patties when the wood runs out. This year, they have no wood at all.

But food will be the hardest: Wheat is scarcer and more expensive. What prices soar Drought cut Afghanistan's wheat production to 2.6 million metric tons this year from 4.3 million metric tons in 2007, An Afghan woman looks on as her daughter drinks water in the remote town of Nili, the capital of central Day Kundi province, Afghanistan. served his full sentence. After being released from parole, Mitchell then sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl and this time was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Gableman's campaign ad summarized those facts as follows: "Louis Butler worked to put criminals on the street.

Like Reuben Lee Mitchell, who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities. Butler found a loophole. Mitchell went on to molest another child." The judicial commission charges that the ad violated a rule that prohibits judicial candidates from knowingly misrepresenting facts about their opponents. Astonishingly, Gableman's defense is: "The advertisement is true and does not contain any statements that are objectively false." Taken separately the four sentences quoted above can, in fact, be described as true statements. But they are arranged in a manner that suggests cause and effect.

Butler's finding a "loophole" had nothing to do with Mitchell going on to molest another child the loophole was overruled, Mitchell served his full sentence and he committed another crime after his release. In the same way, we could say everyone who drives a car will die the statement is true and contains nothing that is objectively false. But the statement also contains a false implication of cause and effect, and so did Gableman's ad. And one thing that should be mentioned is that it was, indeed, Gableman's ad. This wasn't some shadowy independent group throwing out misrepresentations in an attack ad; this was funded directly by the campaign of a man who wanted to serve on the state's highest court.

Instead of prolonging this shameful chapter in Wisconsin campaign history and actually trying to defend the ad, Gableman should acknowledge he crossed the line and accept the consequences. The commission could remove him from the bench, but a more likely outcome is the public reprimand he richly deserves. price of a cow. "Nobody is buying the cattle. The butchers refuse because they say no one has money to buy meat," he said.

Road attacks have disrupted deliveries of food aid, which often pass through Taliban strongholds or bandit country. There have been at least 26 attacks on food convoys so far this year, according to WFP. The agency has lost 870 metric tons of food in the attacks, enough to feed 100,000 people for a month. The crisis is nationwide. The international charity Oxfam says local aid groups it works with report the food shortage is the worst they have seen since the 10-year Soviet occupation ended in 1989.

In some of the more volatile areas, local lawmakers say they're worried that desperation will make people easy recruits for the Taliban. They already see the Taliban as food suppliers because the insurgents take wheat from convoys and sell it cheap at markets, said Abdul Qadir Daqeq, the head of the governing council of the southwestern province of Farah. Farah's winters are milder, but food is scarce there as well, and soon people "won't have any choice but to start turning into looters, or to turn into Taliban," Daqeq said. As for Sakhi, he says he just hopes he can borrow wheat from someone else, and somehow repay him in the spring. But even in a normal year, about 8.4 million Afghans, a fourth of the population, are undernourished, according to government statistics.

"It's evident that WFP cannot cover the entire needs of the country," said Stefano Porretti, the agency's Afghanistan director. President Hamid Karzai said this month that the government has spent "many hundred millions of dollars" on wheat for winter emergencies and that aid is getting to remote areas as planned. But he also warned: "This does not mean that there will not be shortages." In western Ghor province, Police Chief Gen. Shah Jahan Noori said the province needs 27,000 metric tons of wheat but will get only 13,000 metric tons of food aid. Family measures Nasrullah Sadeqizada Nili, a lawmaker representing Day Kundi province, said many families are trying to sell their cattle trading in their last bit of.

security for the grain it will buy But the resulting beef glut has halved the according to the Agriculture Ministry. Neighboring Pakistan, the main source of Afghan food imports, is suffering its own wheat shortages and has imposed stiff export controls. So the average price of wheat has nearly doubled from last year, to about 14 Afghanis (28 cents) a pound, according to the U.N.'s World Food Program. Sakhi, who wears a dingy prayer cap and a sweater over a baggy tunic and pants, has 4 bags of wheat piled against a wall in a dark corner of his house. When that runs out, he'll borrow from local shopkeepers.

However, "This year even the shopkeepers don't have enough," he said. Aid agencies and the Afghan government are increasing road convoys to deliver wheat and beans to remote regions before the snows. They are considering helicopter drops for the least accessible areas. The World Food Program says it expects to have 36,000 metric tons of food in place for distribution by Dec. 1.

That's enough to feed 950,000 people across more than 20 provinces until the roads reopen in the spring. 4 Get more online We post our editorial topics daily. Go to our Opinion page online to tell us what you think before it appears in print at www.greenbaypressgazette.com EDITORIAL BOARD LETTERS FOR COMMUNITY VIEWS OUR MISSION The Press-Gazette strives, as it has since 1915, to be the primary provider of information in Northeastern Wisconsin, keeping the welfare and development of the Greater Green Bay area at heart. It is our responsibility to provide a forum for free and open expression of diverse opinions while maintaining the public trust necessary to serve our readers, advertisers, employees and stockholders. Kevin Corrado President Publisher John Dye Executive editor Barbara Janesh Managing editor Karen Lincoln Michel Assistant managing editor Warren Bluhm Opinion editor Terry Anderson Assistant opinion editor Joe Heller Editorial cartoonist The "Our View" editorials reflect the opinion of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

All other items cartoons, columns by syndicated and local writers and Community Views letters reflect the author's opinion. tion, but only your name and the community in which you live will appear in Community Views. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: www.greenbaypressgazette.com MAIL TO: Community Views Green Bay Press-Gazette P.O. Box 23430 Green Bay, Wl 54305-3430 FAX: (920) 431 -8379 E-MAIL: forurTreenbaypressgazette.com Northeastern Wisconsin. Writers are limited to one letter every 30 days.

We do not publish poetry; letters that are libelous or attack other writers; third-party, consumer-complaint and thank-you letters; and letters generated by political campaigns or special-interest groups and signed by local people. We do not publish anonymous letters and confirm all letters before publication. We require an address and phone number to call for verifica We appreciate the time that it takes to compose a letter to the Community Views and your willingness to share your thoughts with other Press-Gazette readers. We decide whether to publish a letter based on the number we receive, the interest a letter has for local readers and the contribution it makes to the public dialogue. We have a 200-word limit on all letters and a strong preference for those that are about issues and events in THE FIRST AMENDMENT Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances..

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