Sunday, January 04, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - January 04, 2009

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New York Times
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-Israeli Troops Launch Attack on Gaza
Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground war against the militant group Hamas after a week of intense airstrikes. Israel's stated goal was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza's government, and the military warned that the campaign could take "many long days."

-Editorial: Recession, Taxes and Mr. Obama
A year into the recession, millions of Americans have already lost their jobs, their incomes and their homes. Millions more are having their peace of mind tested daily by the certainty of harder times to come. Yet as the recession deepens, one small group could actually catch a break: the richest Americans, who are likely to see a proposed tax increase postponed.

-Editorial: Exit, Stonewalling
True to its mania for secrecy, the Bush administration is leaving behind vast gaps in the most sensitive White House e-mail records, and with lawyers and public interest groups in hot pursuit of information that deserves to be part of the permanent historical record.

-Op-Ed Columnist: A President Forgotten but Not Gone
WE like our failed presidents to be Shakespearean, or at least large enough to inspire Oscar-worthy performances from magnificent tragedians like Frank Langella. So here, too, George W. Bush has let us down. Even the banality of evil is too grandiose a concept for 43. He is not a memorable villain so much as a sometimes affable second banana whom Josh Brolin and Will Ferrell can nail without breaking a sweat. He's the reckless Yalie Tom Buchanan, not Gatsby. He is smaller than life.

-Franken Leads at Close of Minnesota Recount
Victory in Minnesota's drawn-out Senate race moved within Democrat Al Franken's grasp Saturday when he increased his lead over Republican Norm Coleman as the statewide recount drew to a close. The state Canvassing Board will reconvene Monday to declare which candidate received the most overall votes in the election. Barring court intervention, it will be Franken.

-Russian Furor Over U.S. Adoptions Follows American's Acquittal in Boy's Death
MOSCOW - The grim case of a Washington-area toddler who died of heatstroke after his father left him in a parked vehicle for nine hours is national news in Russia, fodder for angry political commentary and kitchen-table discussion. The boy, born Dmitri Yakovlev, was adopted from Russia, and his death in July revived memories of a string of earlier abuse cases involving Russian children adopted by American parents. But the real outcry came in December, when his adoptive father, Miles Harrison, was acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.

Washington Post
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-Global Warming Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg
By James R. Lee
The Cold War shaped world politics for half a century. But global warming may shape the patterns of global conflict for much longer than that -- and help spark clashes that will be, in every sense of the word, hot wars.

-One Gender's Crash
By Debora Spar
Let me begin with the caveats: I like men. My husband is one, as are my two sons. I have spent most of my career surrounded by men, and I have no major complaints. But as the financial debacle unfolds, I can't help noticing that all the perpetrators of the greatest economic mess in eight decades are, well, men. Specifically, they are rich, white, middle-aged guys, same as the ones who brought us Watergate in the 1970s, the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s and, presumably, the fall of Rome.

-Escalation in Gaza
With no diplomatic solution on the horizon, Israel launches a risky ground attack. ISRAEL SAYS that the aim of its offensive in Gaza, which yesterday expanded to a ground invasion, is simple: to end rocket fire aimed at its citizens. That barrage began seven years ago and sporadically continued even during the six-month cease-fire that Hamas refused to extend in December; though the mostly primitive missiles have caused few casualties, they are a threat that no country could be expected to tolerate. The problem is that Israel probably cannot end the rocket fire by military means alone. Nor, without toppling the Hamas government and reoccupying part or all of Gaza, can it unilaterally ensure that Hamas does not rebuild its arsenal once the current fighting ends. To win this mini-war, Israel will have to rely on the United States, Egypt, Turkey or possibly European governments to broker a settlement. By that measure, a victory for Israel still appears uncertain -- and the ground attack may not help its cause.

-U.S. Forest Policy Is Set to Change,
Aiding Developer Shift Would Let Firm Pave Logging Roads
By Karl Vick
The Bush administration appears poised to push through a change in U.S. Forest Service agreements that would make it far easier for mountain forests to be converted to housing subdivisions. Mark E. Rey, the former timber lobbyist who heads the Forest Service, last week signaled his intent to formalize the controversial change before the Jan. 20 inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. As a candidate, Obama campaigned against the measure in Montana, where local governments have complained of being blindsided by Rey's negotiating the policy shift behind closed doors with the nation's largest private landowner.

-Attacks Further Split Arab Rulers, People
Leaders Assailed Over Censure of Hamas
By Anthony Shadid
BAGHDAD, Jan. 3 -- "War on Gaza" was the description the satellite channel al-Jazeera gave for the Israeli ground invasion that began Saturday, a culmination of eight days of bombing that have killed hundreds of Palestinians in the crowded seaside strip. But across the Arab world, the struggle was as noteworthy for what was becoming a war at home.

Wall Street Journal

-Pakistan Arrests Taliban Leader
Associated Press
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Pakistan has arrested a former Taliban spokesman who was released by Afghanistan in 2007 in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist, intelligence officials said Saturday -- a high-profile catch at a time when many in the West are concerned tension with India could distract Pakistan from fighting militants on the Afghan border.

-Chinese Manufacturing Shrinks in December
The manufacturing sector in China continued to shrink in December, bolstering expectations that the economy will weaken further before any pickup, but the contraction wasn't as sharp as before. The Purchasing Managers Index issued Sunday by the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing rose to 41.2 last month from 38.8 in November, while another PMI, issued Friday by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, rose to 41.2 from 40.9. A PMI reading above 50.0 indicates manufacturing growth, and a reading below 50 indicates decline. Both gauges stayed below 50 in ...

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-Big Labor seeks bailout bill disguised as 'employee choice'
By Richard Ebeling
Much has been written about the so-called Employee Free Choice Act that Congress is expected to approve in the new term. But few people have identified the controversial legislation for what it is: a bailout for big labor. For decades, union membership has been declining in the United States, with the exception of public-employee unions. In 1945, over a third of workers were union members. By 2007, union membership had declined to just 12 percent of workers.,0,315469.story

Fort Report
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-What to Expect from an Intelligent President
Kathleen Reardon
Brace yourself. It's going get rocky soon. We are about to have a very bright man as our president. And we've been away from that territory for a very long time. Barack Obama is what social scientists describe as "cognitively complex." He can accommodate within his views and values what others see as contradictions. He inhabits an abstract rather than concrete world. For the cognitively complex among us, the gray area is broad.

-Crafting Policy Agenda, Obama Team Brings in Faith Groups
The president-elect and his staff have held about 15 meetings so far with religious groups
By Dan Gilgoff
In the eight weeks since Barack Obama was elected president, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Director David Saperstein or members of his Washington, D.C.-based staff have attended roughly a dozen meetings with Obama's transition team, on topics ranging from domestic poverty and the plight of White House faith-based initiatives to foreign policy challenges like bringing peace to the Middle East.

-Ex DNC Chair to Run for Va. Governor
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said on Saturday he intends to run for governor of Virginia. After months of speculation over his plans, McAuliffe announced his intentions in a video posted on his Web site. In the video, McAuliffe said he will make his intention to run official on Wednesday as part of a week-long campaign kickoff.,8599,1869440,00.html

-The State of America's Health as Obama Takes Office
Health reform efforts that focus on prevention can save lives but are often costly
By Michelle Andrews
President-elect Barack Obama's political opponents used to suggest that he's different from the average American. Indeed he is, though in ways that have nothing to do with his unusual name or upbringing. Just look at the man. He's lean. He goes to the gym every morning. When he hits the bottle, it's got water in it. Sure, he has admitted to lighting up the occasional cigarette. But compared with the typical pudgy, sedentary, fast-food-craving American's lifestyle, the president's healthful habits make him anything but average.

-Opinion: George W. Bush's legacy
A soldier, a teacher, a detainee, an AIDS worker and others reflect on how the president affected them.,0,380568.story?track=rss


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