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24 June 2008

What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer

What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer

Judges and jurors who must decide whether sexually explicit material is obscene are asked to use a local yardstick: does the material violate community standards?

That is often a tricky question because there is no simple, concrete way to gauge a community’s tastes and values.

The Internet may be changing that. In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.

In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.

It is not clear that the approach will succeed. The Florida state prosecutor in the case, which is scheduled for trial July 1, said the search data may not be relevant because the volume of Internet searches is not necessarily an indication of, or proxy for, a community’s values.

But the tactic is another example of the value of data collected by Internet companies like Google, both from a commercial standpoint and as a window into the thoughts, interests and desires of their users.

“Time and time again you’ll have jurors sitting on a jury panel who will condemn material that they routinely consume in private,” said Mr. Walters, the defense lawyer. Using the Internet data, “we can show how people really think and feel and act in their own homes, which, parenthetically, is where this material was intended to be viewed,” he added.

Mr. Walters last week also served Google with a subpoena seeking more specific search data, including the number of searches for certain sexual topics done by local residents. A Google spokesman said the company was reviewing the subpoena.

Mr. Walters is defending Clinton Raymond McCowen, who is facing charges that he created and distributed obscene material through a Web site based in Florida. The charges include racketeering and prostitution, but Mr. Walters said the prosecution’s case fundamentally relies on proving that the material on the site is obscene.

Such cases are a relative rarity this decade. In the last eight years, the Justice Department has brought roughly 15 obscenity cases that have not involved child pornography, compared with 75 during the Reagan and first Bush administrations, according to Jeffrey J. Douglas, chairman emeritus of the First Amendment Lawyers Association. (There have been hundreds involving child pornography.) Prosecutions at the state level have followed a similar arc.

The question of what constitutes obscenity relies on a three-part test established in a 1973 decision by the Supreme Court. Essential to the test has been whether the material in question is patently offensive or appeals to a prurient interest in sex — definitions that are based on “contemporary community standards.”

Lawyers in obscenity cases have tried to demonstrate community standards by, for example, showing the range of sexually explicit magazines and movies available locally. A better barometer, Mr. Douglas said, would be mail-order statistics, because they show what people consume in private. But that information is hard to obtain.

“All you had to go on is what was available for public consumption, and that was a very crude tool,” Mr. Douglas said. “The prospect of having measurement of Internet traffic brings a more objective component than we’ve ever seen before.”

In a federal obscenity case heard this month, Mr. Douglas defended another Florida pornographer. In the trial, Mr. Douglas set up a computer in the courtroom and did Internet searches for sexually explicit terms to show the jury that there were millions of Web pages discussing such material. He then searched for other topics, like the University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, to demonstrate that there were not nearly as many related Web sites.

The jury was evidently not swayed, as his client was convicted on all counts.

The case Mr. Walters is defending takes the tactic to another level. Rather than showing broad availability of sex-related Web sites, he is trying to show both accessibility and interest in the material within the jurisdiction of the First Circuit Court for Santa Rosa County, where the trial is taking place.

The search data he is using is available through a service called Google Trends (trends.google.com). It allows users to compare search trends in a given area, showing, for instance, that residents of Pensacola are more likely to search for sexual terms than some more wholesome ones.

Mr. Walters chose Pensacola because it is the only city in the court’s jurisdiction that is large enough to be singled out in the service’s data.

“We tried to come up with comparison search terms that would embody typical American values,” Mr. Walters said. “What is more American than apple pie?” But according to the search service, he said, “people are at least as interested in group sex and orgies as they are in apple pie.”

The Google service does, however, show the relative strength of many mainstream queries in Pensacola: “Nascar,” “surfing” and “Nintendo” all beat “orgy.”

Chris Hansen, a staff lawyer for the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the tactic clever and novel, but said it underscored the power of the Internet to reveal personal preferences — something that raises concerns about the collection of personal information.

“That’s why a lot of people are nervous about Google or Yahoo having all this data,” he said.

One question is whether the judge in the case will admit the data as evidence; it was given only in a deposition this month. Mr. Walters said he was confident the information would be allowable given that there has been a growing reliance on such data.

Russ Edgar, the Florida state prosecutor, said he was still assessing whether he would try to block the search data’s use in court. He declined to discuss the case’s specifics, but said that the popularity of sex-related Web sites had no bearing on whether Mr. Edgar was in violation of community standards.

“How many times you do something doesn’t necessarily speak to standards and values,” he said.

American Envoy Is Linked to Arms Deal Cover-Up

An American ambassador helped cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition that a Pentagon contractor bought to supply Afghan security forces, according to testimony gathered by Congressional investigators.

A military attaché has told the investigators that the United States ambassador to Albania endorsed a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide several boxes of Chinese ammunition from a visiting reporter. The ammunition was being repackaged to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by a Miami Beach arms-dealing company.

The ambassador, John L. Withers II, met with the defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, hours before a reporter for The New York Times was to visit the American contractor’s operations in Tirana, the Albanian capital, according to the testimony. The company, under an Army contract, bought the ammunition to supply Afghan security forces although American law prohibits trading in Chinese arms.

The attach√©, Maj. Larry D. Harrison II of the Army, was one of the aides attending the late-night meeting, on Nov. 19, 2007. He told House investigators that Mr. Mediu asked Ambassador Withers for help, saying he was concerned that the reporter would reveal that he had been accused of profiting from selling arms. The minister said that because he had gone out of his way to help the United States, a close ally, “the U.S. owed him something,” according to Major Harrison.

Mr. Mediu ordered the commanding general of Albania’s armed forces to remove all boxes of Chinese ammunition from a site the reporter was to visit, and “the ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing,” Major Harrison said, according to his testimony.

Investigators interviewed Major Harrison by telephone on June 9, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee made excerpts of the transcript public on Monday.

At the time of the meeting, the company, AEY Inc., was under investigation for illegal arms trafficking involving Chinese ammunition.

On Friday, the president of the company, Efraim E. Diveroli, 22, and three others were charged with selling prohibited Chinese ammunition to the Pentagon that they said was made in Albania.

On March 27, The New York Times published an article that said Albanian documents showed that the Miami company had bought more than 100 million Chinese cartridges that were stored for decades in former cold war stockpiles.

Mr. Diveroli arranged to have them repacked in cardboard boxes, many of which split or decomposed after shipment to the war zones, according to the article. Different lots or types of ammunition were mixed. In some cases the ammunition was dirty, corroded or covered with a film.

The repackaging operation, carried out by an AEY subcontractor at the Rinas Airport in Tirana, has become the focus of the Congressional investigation.

According to the transcript excerpts released by the committee, Major Harrison told investigators that he did not agree with the decision to hide the boxes from the reporter, and said that he felt “very uncomfortable” during the meeting.

Major Harrison, who as the chief of the embassy’s office of defense cooperation was responsible for helping American efforts to train, equip and modernize Albania’s military, said that his suggestion to bar the reporter from visiting the Albania base was rejected.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the committee’s chairman, Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, said Monday that there were signs that embassy officials in Tirana tried to cover up the November meeting once Mr. Waxman’s staff began an investigation into the arms company. The letter said the committee would seek to interview Mr. Withers and other embassy personnel.

Attempts to reach Mr. Withers through the United States Embassy in Tirana were met with a request to refer all questions to Washington.

But a senior State Department offic

22 June 2008

India’s Growth Outstrips Crops

JALANDHAR, India — With the right technology and policies, India could help feed the world. Instead, it can barely feed itself.

India’s supply of arable land is second only to that of the United States, its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, and its industrial innovation is legendary. But when it comes to agriculture, its output lags far behind potential. For some staples, India must turn to already stretched international markets, exacerbating a global food crisis.

It was not supposed to be this way.

Forty years ago, a giant development effort known as the Green Revolution drove hunger from an India synonymous with famine and want. Now, after a decade of neglect, this country is growing faster than its ability to produce more rice and wheat.

The problem has grown so dire that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a Second Green Revolution “so that the specter of food shortages is banished from the horizon once again.”

And while Mr. Singh worries about feeding the poor, India’s growing affluent population demands not only more food but also a greater variety.

Today Indian agriculture is a double tragedy. “Both in rice and wheat, India has a large untapped reservoir. It can make a major contribution to the world food crisis,” said M. S. Swaminathan, a plant geneticist who helped bring the Green Revolution to India.

India’s own people are paying as well. Farmers, most subsisting on small, rain-fed plots, are disproportionately poor, and inflation has soared past 11 percent, the highest in 13 years.

Experts blame the agriculture slowdown on a variety of factors.

The Green Revolution introduced high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat, expanded the use of irrigation, pesticides and fertilizers, and transformed the northwestern plains into India’s breadbasket. Between 1968 and 1998, the production of cereals in India more than doubled.

But since the 1980s, the government has not expanded irrigation and access to loans for farmers, or to advance agricultural research. Groundwater has been depleted at alarming rates.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington says changes in temperature and rain patterns could diminish India’s agricultural output by 30 percent by the 2080s.

Family farms have shrunk in size and quantity, and a few years ago mounting debt began to drive some farmers to suicide. Now many find it more profitable to sell their land to developers of industrial buildings.

Among farmers who stay on their land, many are experimenting with growing high-value fruits and vegetables that prosperous Indians are craving, but there are few refrigerated trucks to transport their produce to modern supermarkets.

A long and inefficient supply chain means that the average farmer receives less than a fifth of the price the consumer pays, a World Bank study found, far less than farmers in, say, Thailand or the United States.

Surinder Singh Chawla knows the system is broken. Mr. Chawla, 62, bore witness to the Green Revolution — and its demise.

Once, his family grew wheat and potatoes on 20 acres. They looked to the sky for rains. They used cow manure for fertilizer. Then came the Mexican semi-dwarf wheat seedlings that the revolution helped introduce to India. Mr. Chawla’s wheat yields soared. A few years later, the same happened with new high-yield rice seeds.

Increasingly prosperous, Mr. Chawla finally bought his first tractor in 1980.

But he has since witnessed with horror the ills the revolution wrought: in a common occurrence here, the water table under his land has sunk by 100 feet over three decades as he and other farmers irrigated their fields.

By the 1980s, government investment in canals fed by rivers had tapered off, and wells became the principal source of irrigation, helped by a shortsighted government policy of free electricity to pump water.

Here in Punjab, more than three-fourths of the districts extract more groundwater than is replenished by nature.

Between 1980 and 2002, the government continued to heavily subsidize fertilizers and food grains for the poor, but reduced its total investment in agriculture. Public spending on farming shrank by roughly a third, according to an analysis of government data by the Center for Policy Alternatives in New Delhi.

Today only 40 percent of Indian farms are irrigated. “When there is no water, there is nothing,” Mr. Chawla said.

And he sees more trouble on the way. The summers are hotter than he remembers. The rains are more fickle. Last summer, he wanted to ease out of growing rice, a water-intensive crop.

The gains of the Green Revolution have begun to ebb in other countries, too, like Indonesia and the Philippines, agriculture experts say. But the implications in India are greater because of its sheer size.

India raised a red flag two years ago about how heavily the appetites of its 1.1 billion people would weigh on world food prices. For the first time in many years, India had to import wheat for its grain stockpile. In two years it bought about 7 million tons.

Today, two staples of the Indian diet are imported in ever-increasing quantities because farmers cannot keep up with growing demand — pulses, like lentils and peas, and vegetable oils, the main sources of protein and calories, respectively, for most Indians.

“India could be a big actor in supplying food to the rest of the world if the existing agricultural productivity gap could be closed,” said Adolfo Brizzi, manager of the South Asia agriculture program at the World Bank in Washington. “When it goes to the market to import, it typically puts pressure on international market prices, and every time India goes for export, it increases the supply and therefore mitigates the price levels.”

In April, in a village called Udhopur, not far from here, Harmail Singh, 60, wondered aloud how farmers could possibly be expected to grow more grain.

“The cultivable land is shrinking and government policies are not farmer friendly,” he said as he supervised his wheat harvest. “Our next generation is not willing to work in agriculture. They say it is a losing proposition.”

The luckiest farmers make more money selling out to land-hungry mall developers.

Gurmeet Singh Bassi, 33, blessed with a farm on the edges of a booming Punjabi city called Ludhiana, sold off most of his ancestral land. Its value had grown more than fivefold in two years. He made enough to buy land in a more remote part of the state and hire laborers to till it.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chawla’s neighbors migrated to North America. They were happy to lease their land to him, if he was foolish enough to stay and work it, he said. Today, he cultivates more than 100 acres.

Last year, on a small patch of that land, he planted what no one in his village could imagine putting on their plate: baby corn, which he learned was being lapped up by upscale urban Indian restaurants and even sold abroad.

At the time, baby corn brought a better profit than the government’s price for his wheat crop.

This had been the Green Revolution’s other pillar — a fixed government price for grain. A farmer could sell his crop to a private trader, but for many small tillers, it was far easier to approach the nearest government granary, and accept their rate.

For years, those prices remained miserably low, farmers and their advocates complained, and there was little incentive for farmers to invest in their crop. “For farmers,” said Mr. Swaminathan, the plant geneticist, “a remunerative price is the best fertilizer.”

Mr. Swaminathan’s adage proved true this year. After two years of having to import wheat, the government offered farmers a substantially higher price for their grain: farmers not only planted slightly more wheat but also sold much more of their harvest to the state. As a result, by May, the country’s buffer stocks were at record levels.

Nanda Kumar, India’s most senior bureaucrat for food, said the country would not need to buy wheat on the world market this year. That is good news, for India and the world, but how long it will remain the case is unclear.

Will greater demand for food and higher market prices enrich farmers, eventually, encouraging them to stay on their land? There is potential, but other conditions, like India’s inefficient transportation and supply chains, would have to improve too.

How to address these challenges is a matter of debate.

From one quarter comes pressure to introduce genetically modified crops with greater yields; from another come lawsuits to stop it. And from yet another come pleas to mount a greener Green Revolution.

Alexander Evans, author of a recent paper on food prices published by Chatham House, a British research institution, said: “This time around, it needs to be more efficient in its use of water, in its use of energy, in its use of fertilizer and land.”

Mr. Swaminathan wants to dedicate villages to sowing lentils and oilseeds, to meet demand. The World Bank, meanwhile, favors high-value crops, like Mr. Chawla’s baby corn, because they allow farmers to maximize their income from small holdings.

The market may yet help India. Mr. Chawla, for instance, has replaced baby corn with sunflowers, prompted by the high price of sunflower oil. For the same reason, he is also considering planting more wheat.

20 June 2008

US should avoid making Osama a martyr: Obama

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama says if Osama bin Laden is captured alive, the United States should bring him to justice but in a way that avoids turning the al Qaeda leader into a martyr.

After meeting with a team of top foreign policy advisers including some seasoned diplomats he has newly recruited, Obama hit back at efforts by his Republican rival John McCain to paint him as weak on fighting terrorism.

McCain allies, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have accused Obama of having a "pre-9/11 mindset" that focuses on law enforcement in fighting the war on terror.

But Obama linked McCain's national security approach to that of President George W Bush, calling it "disastrous" and citing the failure to capture bin Laden as evidence of the failure.

"The record shows that George Bush and John McCain have been weak on terrorism," Obama told reporters. "Their approach has failed. Because of their policies, we are less safe, less respected, and less able to lead the world."

Asked by a reporter how he would proceed if bin Laden were caught during his presidency, Obama said "we may not be able to capture him alive."

"It does not make sense for me to speculate in terms of what the best approach would be in trying him and bringing him to justice," Obama said.

"I think what would be important would be for us to deal with him in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he's engaged in and not to make him into a martyr," he added. "And to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism."

Obama, who has sharply criticized the use of the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to hold suspected terrorists, talked of the Nuremberg trials set up after World War II to prosecute Nazi war criminals as an example of how justice could be administered in keeping with a "universal set of principles."

In a series of exchanges reminiscent of the 2004 campaign, McCain's advisers have pounced on Obama for saying terrorism suspects could be treated as criminals "within the constraints of the Constitution."

ATTACKS AS 'POLITICAL BLUDGEON'

In an ABC News interview on Monday night, the Illinois senator contrasted the indefinite detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees with the criminal prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.

Giuliani and other McCain allies countered that the fight against terrorism was mishandled prior to September 11.

"The approach that was taken before September 11 of 2001, which I have said many, many times, I believe was a critical mistake -- much more easily recognized in retrospect than at the time, was to not deal with terrorism realistically," Guiliani told reporters in a conference call.

He said that approach amounted to dealing with terrorism "as a defensive matter."

"When the 1993 attack took place at the World Trade Center the response to it was a criminal prosecution but nothing beyond that," he said.

Obama, in response, has accused the McCain campaign of using the September 11 attacks as a "political bludgeon" and said it was an effort to distract from the failed policy of pursuing the Iraq war, which the Democratic candidate said had made America less safe by shifting resources away from the effort to stabilize Afghanistan, fight the Taliban and pursue al Qaeda militants. He noted bin Laden still has not been caught.

"I refuse to be lectured on national security by people who are responsible for the most disastrous set of foreign policy decisions in the recent history of the United States," Obama said.

"The people who were responsible for murdering 3,000 Americans on 9/11 have not been brought to justice," he said. "They are Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and their sponsors -- the Taliban."

Obama spoke about security after meeting with a newly configured panel on national security that includes several seasoned hands from the administration of former President Bill Clinton, including former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher.

The panel also includes members of Obama's existing inner circle, such as Susan Rice, one of his top foreign policy advisers, and former national security adviser Anthony Lake. Some of these advisers could fill Cabinet posts or other senior jobs if Obama becomes president.

18 June 2008

Biometric passports from next year: Pranab

Biometric passports from next year: Pranab

Express news serviceWed, Jun 18 02:48 AM

The Government will launch electronic passports and simplify their issuance procedure from next year, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday. He was inaugurating the first passport office of Uttarakhand here along with Chief Minister B C Khanduri.

E-passports will carry the prescribed biological features and facial imprints of a holder and will be at par with international standards. Mukherjee said the Government plans to make use of service providers for the issuing of passports, adding that 68 centres have already been set up across India. "The process of selection of the service providers is in its final stage. The police verification will also be expedited through electronic devices," he added.

The Passport Seva Project is expected to be completed in 19 months. Under this project, passports will be issued within three days and those applying for a Tatkal passport will get it within a day of submission of forms.

17 June 2008

'Super-Earths' spotted in distant solar systems


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European researchers said on Monday they discovered a batch of three "super-Earths" orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.


They said their findings, presented at a conference in France, suggest that Earth-like planets may be very common.

"Does every single star harbor planets and, if yes, how many?" asked Michel Mayor of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory. "We may not yet know the answer but we are making huge progress towards it," Mayor said in a statement.

The trio of planets orbit a star slightly less massive than our Sun, 42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations. A light-year is the distance light can travel in one year at a speed of 186,000 miles a second, or about 6 trillion miles.

The planets are bigger than Earth -- one is 4.2 times the mass, one is 6.7 times and the third is 9.4 times.

They orbit their star at extremely rapid speeds -- one whizzing around in just four days, compared with Earth's 365 days, one taking 10 days and the slowest taking 20 days.

Mayor and colleagues used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher or HARPS, a telescope at La Silla observatory in Chile, to find the planets.

More than 270 so-called exoplanets have been found. Most are giants, resembling Jupiter or Saturn. Smaller planets closer to the size of Earth are far more difficult to spot.

None can be imaged directly at such distances but can be spotted indirectly using radio waves or, in the case of HARPS, spectrographic measurements. As a planet orbits, it makes the star wobble very slightly and this can be measured.

"With the advent of much more precise instruments such as the HARPS spectrograph ... we can now discover smaller planets, with masses between 2 and 10 times the Earth's mass," said Stephane Udry, who also worked on the study.

The team also said they found a planet 7.5 times the mass of Earth orbiting the star HD 181433 in 9.5 days. This star also has a Jupiter-like planet that orbits every three years.

Another solar system has a planet 22 times the mass of Earth, orbiting every four days, and a Saturn-like planet with a 3-year period.

"Clearly these planets are only the tip of the iceberg," said Mayor.

"The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS shows that about one third of all solar-like stars have either super-Earth or Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

02 June 2008

Winning Again, Clinton Weighs Her Options

Winning Again, Clinton Weighs Her Options

WASHINGTON — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won another overwhelming victory over Senator Barack Obama on Sunday — this time in Puerto Rico — even as many Democrats, including some of her supporters, suggested it would be best if she dropped her threat to battle on past the end of the primary voting on Tuesday.

“There’s nobody taking Hillary’s side but Hillary people,” said Donald Fowler of South Carolina, a former national party chairman and one of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent supporters, referring to her campaign’s suggestions that she might seek to challenge the way the party resolved the fight this weekend over seating the Michigan and Florida delegations. “It’s too bad. She deserves better than this.”

In a telephone interview Sunday from San Juan, P.R., Mrs. Clinton still raised the possibility that she would challenge the party’s decision on seating those delegates. “Well, we are going to look at that and make a determination at some point,” she said. “But I haven’t made any decision at this time.”

Heading toward what is shaping up as something less than a triumphant moment of victory as the voting draws to a close, Mr. Obama spent Sunday in South Dakota for a last-minute schedule of campaigning. He was in the state, which will vote along with Montana on Tuesday to complete the primary season, trying to thwart a last-minute effort by Mrs. Clinton to pull out a victory there and build her case that she would be the stronger candidate in the general election.

Still, Mr. Obama showed little doubt that he considered the primary phase of his march to the White House over. His stop in Mitchell, a town of 15,500 where he drew more than 2,200, was to be his last campaign stop in a primary state. From there, he headed to Michigan and Minnesota.

Mr. Obama himself remarked on the moment, calling the rally in Mitchell “a good way to end my campaign in the primary phase,” and dusting off an old campaign story that had been part of his repertory in New Hampshire and Iowa and was the genesis of his “Fired Up: Ready to Go” campaign call-and-response. And Mr. Obama told voters that he had called Mrs. Clinton to congratulate her on her victory in Puerto Rico and said that she would be a “great asset” in the fall. The dimensions of Mrs. Clinton’s challenge were underlined as two more superdelegates signed on to Mr. Obama.

Mrs. Clinton won by 2 to 1 in Puerto Rico, where she seemed to revel in a weekend of campaigning even as her surrogates fought in Washington to keep her campaign alive.

The victory — coming among Hispanic voters, who are a key constituency in the fall election — underscored a constant source of frustration among Mrs. Clinton and her supporters: that her strong finish over the past months, with big victories among blue-collar voters, have shown no signs of pushing uncommitted superdelegates into her camp.

“Most Clinton supporters are filled with bewilderment that this is happening,” said Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania. “We are willing to go on, and we understand the inevitability of this, but we are filled with disappointment and amazement: Why haven’t these results caused the superdelegates to come around?”

Mrs. Clinton, in the interview, in a new television advertisement and in her victory speech in San Juan, laid out why superdelegates should rally around her. She argued that by the time the final vote is counted, she will have more popular votes than Mr. Obama, an assertion that has been disputed.

“I think it will be most likely the case in a few days,” Mrs. Clinton said from San Juan. “I will have won the most votes — more than anyone in the history of the primary process.”

She added: “Senator Obama has a narrow lead in delegates. And we’re going to have to make our case to the automatic so-called superdelegates. And I think my case is clear — more than 17 million people voted for me.

“In recent primary history, we have never nominated someone who has not won the popular vote.”

Mrs. Clinton’s count includes Michigan, where Mr. Obama’s name was not on the ballot, and it does not include some caucus states won by Mr. Obama and where the popular vote was not reported. Mr. Obama’s campaign gently pushed back at her assertions that she had won the popular vote.

“Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have gotten more votes than any presidential campaign in primary history,” said Bill Burton, Mr. Obama’s spokesman. “We are, however, ahead in the popular vote now and suspect will be ahead when all of the votes are counted Tuesday. That’s not taking anything away from what she’s accomplished. It’s just a fact.”

In the interview, Mrs. Clinton resisted the push of some Democratic leaders — among them, Howard Dean, the party chairman, and Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker — for superdelegates to quickly chose sides as soon as the voting is over Tuesday. “I know that people are hopeful that we get a nominee, and we will,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s as important to do it fast as it is to do it well.”

Mrs. Clinton stopped short of going as far as one of her chief lieutenants, Harold Ickes, did on Saturday night when he threatened to appeal the party’s decision over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates to the party’s credentials committee, which will meet before the convention in August. The two states held their primaries early, in defiance of party rules; after initially unseating the delegations, the party on Saturday agreed to seat the delegates but cut their voting power in half.

In the process, it awarded Mr. Obama a share of the Michigan vote, based on the number of uncommitted votes counted, even though his name did not appear on the ballot, and it took four Michigan delegates away from Mrs. Clinton.

Yet in a sign of the difficulties she would face if she chooses to appeal, some of her strongest supporters said in interviews that they thought it would be a mistake to keep the fight going, noting, for example, that the battle was really over the four delegates her campaign argued were improperly taken from her in Michigan.

“Unless something happens that I don’t expect to happen in the next, say, by the end of June, my answer to that is not only no but, hell no,” Mr. Fowler, the former party chairman, said. “What good does it do? What good does it do anybody?” Mr. Rendell said that if the nominating contest were closer, it might make sense to take the fight to the convention. “I think it’s outrageous they took four delegates away from her,” he said. “But I think with 170 delegates separating them, it’s not worth making the case.”

And there were signs that continuing the fight, should Mr. Obama collect enough superdelegates to declare victory this week, could alienate many Democratic leaders who have stepped back as the fight went on.

Art Torres, the California Democratic chairman who has not endorsed a candidate in the race, said it was urgent for the party to avoid divisive battles. “Everyone is paying respects to her — as we would for Obama if he were in a similar situation,” Mr. Torres said. “But it now becomes a matter of commitment to the nation and the party. We cannot allow this election to slip through our fingers.”

A practical effect of the rules committee decision was that Mr. Obama had to win over about 30 new superdelegates to meet the revised political calculation. With the tally of uncommitted superdelegates dwindling to fewer than 150, Mr. Obama and his supporters reached out Sunday to those party officials.

“Now is a natural time for them to make decisions,” David Plouffe, the manager of the Obama campaign, said. “We’d like them to come out publicly as soon as we can get them.”

It remained unclear, Mr. Plouffe said, if Mr. Obama could secure enough of the endorsements before Tuesday evening. If not, Mr. Obama’s advisers — as well as Mrs. Clinton’s — still think it is likely that he will pass the threshold and be able to claim the nomination this week.

Mrs. Clinton demurred when asked what she would do if that happened. “I just don’t think about it,” she said. “I’m just committed to making my case.”

“I’ve been closing very strongly since Feb. 20,” she said, referring to the day after Mr. Obama won Hawaii and Wisconsin. “I have won more votes and won more states than Senator Obama. All the independent analyses break in my direction. A lot of the key states that we have to win, I win those states.”

Mark Leibovich contributed reporting from San Juan, P.R., and Jeff Zeleny from Washington.