Monday, December 22, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 22, 2008

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Washington Post
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-Now the Real Test for Obama
By Fareed Zakari
The great sociologist Max Weber described the power of charisma as "a certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities." Some of Barack Obama's supporters have at times sounded as if they saw "the one" in these terms. There's no doubt that Obama is intensely charismatic and that it provides him with unusual political capital. But very soon -- say on Jan. 20, 2009 -- his powers will start to mutate, and they will derive less from his persona and more from his office. He will shift, in Weber's terminology, from wielding charismatic authority to legal authority.

-In Afghanistan, Education Under Attack
By Helene Gayle
Few things symbolize progress in the fight against poverty better than the face of an educated girl. And I was fortunate enough to see hundreds of them during a trip to Afghanistan in 2006. Those faces, eager and alert, lit up the courtyard of a new school built to educate 1,000 girls in central Afghanistan's Bamian province.

Fort Report
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-Cheney and Biden trade shots
Vice President Dick Cheney took some of the toughest political shots yet in the post-election period, using an interview to belittle Vice President-elect Joe Biden's constitutional law acumen and pointedly declined to offer his successor any advice. Biden, separately, said Cheney had been bad for the country and had not stayed within the confines of the Constitution.

-AP IMPACT: Wall Street still flying corporate jets
Crisscrossing the country in corporate jets may no longer fly in Detroit after car executives got a dressing down from Congress. But on Wall Street, the coveted executive perk has hardly been grounded. Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips, according to an Associated Press review.

-Exclusive: Obama's Blago Report: Only One Rahm Call to Governor
Sources tell me that the Obama team's review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich. The contact, described as a "pro-forma" courtesy call, came as Emanuel was named Chief of Staff for Obama. Most of the discussion concerned Emanuel's Congressional seat (which had previously been held by Blagojevich), with only a "passing reference" to the Senate vacancy, according to these sources. No deal for the Senate vacancy was discussed.

-Where'd The Bailout Money Go? Shhhh, It's A Secret
$350 Billion Later, Banks Won't Say How They're Spending It
It's something any bank would demand to know before handing out a loan:
Where's the money going? But after receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending the money or they simply refuse to discuss it.

-AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs
Banks that have their hands out in Washington this year were handing out multimillion-dollar rewards to their executives last year. The 116 banks that so far have received taxpayer dollars to boost them through the economic crisis gave their top tier of executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses and other benefits in 2007, an Associated Press analysis found.

-Opinion: Rick Warren is an insulting choice
Preacher Rick Warren's views are simply too extreme for Obama's supporters.
By Katha Pollitt
To understand how angry and disappointed many Democrats are that Barack Obama has invited evangelical preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural, imagine if a President-elect John McCain had offered this unique honor to the Rev. Al Sharpton -- or the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. I know, it's hard to picture: John McCain would never do that in a million years. Republicans respect their base even when, as in McCain's case, it doesn't really return the favor.,0,6935483.story?track=rss


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