Saturday, December 27, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 27, 2008

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New York Times
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-Mortgage Rates Are Still Too High
Mortgage rates have dropped in recent weeks, which is a good thing. But there's still a huge spread between mortgage rates and rates on federal debt.

-Scores Killed in Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza
A Gazan medical official said that at least 140 people had been killed in Israel's massive attack on Hamas targets in Gaza, launched in retaliation for recent rocket fire.

-The Gas Tax
If the Obama administration is to meet its twin objectives of reducing the consumption of foreign oil and cutting emissions, it needs to curb the nation's demand for energy.

-No Furnaces but Heat Aplenty in 'Passive Houses'
Innovative homes pioneered in Germany are encased in such an airtight shell that barely any heat escapes.

-Alert the Media: Obama Has Made a Break for It
In the news-free zone that is Barack Obama's preinauguration Hawaiian vacation, this passes for a bulletin: The president-elect ditched his "press pool" of media minders to take his daughters to a water park on Friday morning.

Washington Post
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-The GOP Goes South
David S. Broder
Its ranks are increasingly dominated by right-wing Southerners who don't care about national image.

-Call the Vote
The new president and the new Congress should set a date for considering D.C. voting rights.
IN PUSHING congressional leaders for early action on voting rights for the District, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) says she's mindful of the "unprecedented issues" facing the new Congress. Nonetheless, she wonders: Wouldn't it be appropriate to enact the measure close to the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth on Feb. 12? Ms. Norton is right about the symbolism. But an even better argument is that D.C. residents -- shut out of their government for 200 years -- should have a voice in deciding these important issues.

-Protections in Peril
A midnight attack on the Endangered Species Act, courtesy of the Interior Department
THE BUSH administration had the good sense to stop trying to push through last-minute regulations that would have made it easier to build coal-fired plants and other polluting facilities near national parks. It was wise to hold off on changing "new source review" rules that govern when power plants must add pollution-reduction equipment. But it couldn't leave well enough alone when it issued regulations that essentially gut the Endangered Species Act. Because the rule will take effect before Barack Obama assumes the presidency, he's stuck with it. But relief could come by way of the courts.

-The Audacity of Crime in Mexico
Kidnapping of U.S. security expert embarrasses Mexican officials, raises new fear among expats.

-Kennedy Says She Kept Quiet Out of Respect
By Larry Neumeister
Caroline Kennedy said Friday that if she is appointed to a seat in the U.S. Senate, she knows she will have to prove herself because of her famous background and her lack of political experience. "I came into this thinking I have to work twice as hard as anybody else," the 51-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy said. "I am an unconventional choice."

-Kwanzaa Has New Relevance For Our Times

Wall Street Journal

-Mexico Suspends U.S. Meat Imports
The move, which took effect Wednesday, came about a week after the Mexican government filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization about a new U.S. law that requires labeling the origin of fresh beef and pork imported to the U.S. U.S. trade partners are concerned the country-of-origin labeling policy will encourage American consumers to favor U.S.-raised meat. The law, which was included in the 2008 Farm Bill and took effect Sept. 30, requires supermarkets or other food retailers to label or otherwise display the country of origin for meat, produce and certain kinds of nuts.

Miami Herald
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-Why we need newspapers
In Los Angeles, where I live, there was plenty of snickering about the Tribune Company's decision to file for bankruptcy protection. Tribune owns The Los Angeles Times, which in recent years has seen its staff cut even more than its circulation and advertising.

Fort Report
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-Poll: 75% glad Bush is done
By Paul Steinhauser
A new national poll suggests that three out of four Americans feel President Bush's departure from office is coming not a moment too soon. Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday said they're glad Bush is going; 23 percent indicated they'll miss him.


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