Sunday, December 28, 2008

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST December 28, 2008

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New York Times
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-Op-Ed Columnist: Win, Win, Win, Win, Win ...
How many times do we have to see this play before we admit that it always ends the same way? Which play? The one where gasoline prices go up, pressure rises for more fuel-efficient cars, then gasoline prices fall and the pressure for low-mileage vehicles vanishes, consumers stop buying those cars, the oil producers celebrate, we remain addicted to oil and prices gradually go up again, petro-dictators get rich, we lose. I've already seen this play three times in my life. Trust me: It always ends the same way - badly.

-Op-Ed Columnist: A New Chance for Darfur
If Barack Obama wants to help end the genocide in Darfur, he doesn't have to look far for ideas of how to accomplish that. President Bush and his top aides have been given, and ignored, a menu of options for tough steps to squeeze Sudan - even destroy its air force - and those will soon be on the new president's desk.

-Op-Ed Guest Columnist: The Pre-Blame Game
In the icy last days of a year that can't pass fast enough, the departing president is looking for shelter from the storm of his hubris, while the incoming one is trying to keep that same load from burying him. Soon enough, the mess will be all Barack Obama's. But in the holiday interregnum, the winter air is thick with excuses at the White House no-regret fest. The president has given 10 exit interviews, spinning an unnecessary war, the shredding of the Bill of Rights and an epic run of economic negligence as bold action taken with Churchillian fortitude.

-White Farmers Confront Mugabe in a Legal Battle
CHEGUTU, Zimbabwe - Edna Madzongwe, president of the Senate and a powerful member of Zimbabwe's ruling party, began showing up uninvited at the Etheredges' farm here last year, at times still dressed up after a day in Parliament.

Washington Post
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-The 10 Worst Predictions for 2008
Prognostication is by far the riskiest form of punditry. The 10 commentators and leaders on this list learned that the hard way when their confident predictions about politics, war, the economy, and even the end of humanity itself completely missed the mark.

-Israel Strikes
Hamas suffers a serious blow -- but the real winner may be Iran. ISRAEL'S AIR offensive against the Gaza Strip yesterday should not have been a surprise for anyone who has been following the mounting hostilities in the region -- least of all the Hamas movement, which invited the conflict by ending a six-month-old ceasefire and launching scores of rockets and mortar shells at Israel during the past 10 days. The initial Israeli strikes appeared to deal a punishing blow to the Islamic movement, reportedly killing several of its leaders and dozens of other militants and security force members. Inevitably, however, civilians were among the more than 200 reported Palestinian dead, and renewed Palestinian rocket fire against Israeli cities killed at least one person. While Israel could justifiably describe its action as one of self-defense, it's far from clear that it will end up improving the country's security -- even as it risks a wider conflict.

-MISSED CONNECTIONS: Why Can't I Get Off This List?
By Juan Fernando Gómez
I call it the little room. In most cases it's actually not that small, but my claustrophobia seems to kick in as soon as the immigration officer separates me from the other passengers on my flight and escorts me through a door into my own private travel hell.

Wall Street Journal
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-Foreign Relations
Cuban Myths Will Test Obama
To navigate a sensible Cuba policy, Washington needs to separate truths from long-held fictions
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, he will become the 11th U.S. president since Fidel Castro came to power on Jan. 1, 1959. Indeed, Fidel was already in charge when Mr. Obama was born. That the Cuban regime has lasted half a century just 90 miles from U.S. shores -- and nearly two decades after the end of the Cold War -- is remarkable. It is a testament to the comandante's political genius, to the cruel effectiveness of totalitarian repression and to Washington's ham-handed approach to the island.

-Russia Again Warns of Gas Supply Disruption
Russia's state natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom warned Saturday that a pricing dispute with Ukraine could disrupt gas supplies to Europe.

Miami Herald
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-COMMENTARY: Coming year will be one of change, crises
The coming year will be a narrative of tension -- a series of difficult choices between the imperatives of the present and those of tomorrow. How we resolve this tension will be the measure of our vision and our leadership.

-EUROPE: Riots a warning of more chaos
PARIS -- The riots that have rampaged across Greece may have many causes, but one that is rarely mentioned is the fracturing of the Greek left into George Papandreou's traditional socialist party, PASOK, and an increasingly radicalized faction that refuses all accommodation with either the European Union or modern economics. To varying degrees, this divide is paralyzing Socialist parties across Europe.

Fort Report
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-GOP chairman 'shocked' that Obama parody sent out
The chairman of the Republican National Committee said Saturday he was "shocked and appalled" that one of his potential successors had sent committee members a CD this Christmas featuring a 2007 parody song called "Barack the Magic Negro."

-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.

-States are selling off roads, parks, airports and lotteries to raise funds
Ballooning budget deficits have prompted more U.S. states to sell off roads, parks, airports and lotteries to raise money. Minnesota is deep in the hole financially, but the state still owns a premier golf resort, a sprawling amateur sports complex, a big airport, a major zoo and land holdings the size of the Central American country of Belize.

-Business takes a liking to Barack Obama
Old antipathies fading, but how long will it last?
In these scary economic times, the politics of the business world suddenly seem topsy-turvy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Manufacturers are openly praising President-elect Barack Obama for being smart and practical, for making business-friendly appointments and for a strong economic stimulus package.,0,6404506.story

-At Capitol, slavery's story turns full circle
Historians hope significance comes to light as Obama takes office
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at the US Capitol, the first African-American to become president will be standing amid stonework laid by slaves more than two centuries ago. He will appear before a crowd massed on the Mall, where slaves were once held in pens, ready for auction. He will end his inauguration route at the White House, where the foundations were laid by slaves, and where eight presidents held blacks as their human property.

-Ideology steers RNC chairman race
A battle for the soul of the Republican Party has spilled over into the contest for national committee chairman, as conservative members are prodding candidates to shift their way. Now that the presidential campaign is over and the congressional leadership elections are settled, conservative activists are turning to the race for chairman as their next chance to shape the party.

-Illinois House Won't Subpoena Obama Staff
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Says Doing So Would Imperil His Investigation
The Illinois House committee investigating a possible impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich won't subpoena two incoming White House advisers, the committee chairwoman said Saturday, shutting down a request from the governor's attorney.

-Obama bristles as the bubble closes in on him
The media glare, the constant security appendage and the sheer production that has become a morning jog or a hankering for an ice cream cone - it's been closing in on Barack Obama for some time.


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