Thursday, January 22, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - January 22, 2009

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New York Times
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-Kennedy Drops Bid for Clinton's Senate Seat, Citing Personal Reasons
Caroline Kennedy announced early Thursday that she was withdrawing from consideration for the vacant Senate seat in New York, startling the state's political world after weeks in which she was considered a top contender for the post.

-The Guantanamo Docket: The Detainees
Of the 779 people who have been detained at the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, 527 have been transferred and 247 remain remain, according to analysis by The New York Times of documents from the Department of Defense. In addition, five detainees died while in custody. This interactive database includes information about the detainees, thousands of pages of government documents and links to court records and news media reports.

-On Day One, Obama Sets a New Tone
President Obama moved swiftly on Wednesday to impose new rules on government transparency and ethics, using his first full day in office to freeze the salaries of his senior aides, mandate new limits on lobbyists and demand that the government disclose more information.

-On Palestinian Question, Tough Choices for Obama
JERUSALEM - With the rule of Hamas in Gaza apparently unchallenged and its popularity growing in the West Bank, the new Obama administration faces an immediate policy choice: support a Palestinian unity government, as Egypt and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, want, or continue to isolate Hamas and concentrate on building up the West Bank as a political alternative to radical Islam.

-News Analysis: Scientists Welcome Obama's Words
When he vowed in his Inaugural Address to "restore science to its rightful place," President Obama signaled an end to eight years of stark tension between science and government. But many of the Bush administration's restrictions on science, like those governing stem cell research, will take time to be removed. And whether the Obama administration entirely reverses its predecessor's strict controls over the government's main scientific agencies remains to be seen.

-Taliban Fill NATO's Big Gaps in Afghan South
TSAPOWZAI, Afghanistan - The Taliban are everywhere the soldiers are not, the saying goes in the southern part of the country. And that is a lot of places.

-Death Sentences in Chinese Milk Case
BEIJING - A Chinese court sentenced two men to death and a top dairy company executive to life in prison on Thursday for endangering public safety in a tainted milk scandal that killed at least six children, according to state-run news media. Another man was given a suspended death sentence and eight other defendants received lengthy jail terms.

-Pakistan Seizes Terror Suspect
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistani forces arrested a Saudi Arabian man believed to have been involved in the July 7, 2005, bombing attacks in London, two Pakistani officials said Thursday. The Saudi, Zabi al-Taifi, was arrested with six other men in Khyber Agency, one of the lawless tribal districts along the border with Afghanistan. It was not immediately known what Mr. Taifi's alleged role in the London bombings involved.

-In Texas, a Line in the Curriculum Revives Evolution Debate
AUSTIN, Tex. - The latest round in a long-running battle over how evolution should be taught in Texas schools began in earnest Wednesday as the State Board of Education heard impassioned testimony from scientists and social conservatives on revising the science curriculum.

-Study Finds New Evidence of Warming in Antarctica
Antarctica is warming. That is the conclusion of scientists analyzing half a century of temperatures on the continent, and the findings may help resolve a climate enigma at the bottom of the planet. Some regions of Antarctica, particularly the peninsula that stretches toward South America, have warmed rapidly in recent years, contributing to the disintegration of ice shelves and accelerating the sliding of glaciers. But weather stations in other locations, including the one at the South Pole, have recorded a cooling trend. That ran counter to the forecasts of computer climate models, and global warming skeptics have pointed to Antarctica in questioning the reliability of the models.

-Judge Voids Illinois Law on Silent Time in Schools
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the state law requiring a moment of silence in public schools across Illinois is unconstitutional, saying it crosses the line separating church and state. "The statute is a subtle effort to force students at impressionable ages to contemplate religion," the judge, Robert W. Gettleman, said in his ruling.

-Op-Ed Contributor: Oaf of Office
IN 1969, Neil Armstrong appeared to have omitted an indefinite article as he stepped onto the moon and left earthlings puzzled over the difference between "man" and "mankind." In 1980, Jimmy Carter, accepting his party's nomination, paid homage to a former vice president he called Hubert Horatio Hornblower. A year later, Diana Spencer reversed the first two names of her betrothed in her wedding vows, and thus, as Prince Charles Philip supposedly later joked, actually married his father.

Washington Post
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-Calling a Time Out
By George McGovern
As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.

-By Switching Their Charters, Banks Skirt Supervision
By Binyamin Appelbaum
At least 30 banks since 2000 have escaped federal regulatory action by walking away from their federal regulators and moving under state supervision, taking advantage of a long-standing system that allows banks to choose between federal and state oversight, according to a Washington Post review of government records. The moves, known as charter conversions, highlight the tremendous leverage that banks hold in their relationships with government supervisors.

-Born to Build Bridges
By David S. Broder
When Barack Obama declared in his inaugural address that a new era has begun and that "the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply," it sounded like empty rhetoric. Politicians always tend to inflate the historical importance of their own victories and forget that the large forces that shape our destiny are not subject to the whims of one election.

-With Ethiopian Pullout, Islamists Rise Again in Somalia
Moderates Seeking Power Face Challenges From Radical Militia, Others
By Stephanie McCrummen
NAIROBI -- The departure of the last Ethiopian tanks from Somalia's capital is ushering in a new phase of conflict in a nation known for clan warfare: a battle for power among militias flying Islamist banners.

-Russian Tycoon Lebedev Buys London's Evening Standard
By Karla Adam
LONDON, Jan. 21 -- The Russian oligarch and former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev signed a deal Wednesday to acquire a majority stake in the Evening Standard newspaper, London's largest regional newspaper. The paper's parent company, the Daily Mail and General Trust, said in a statement that the sale price was "a nominal sum" -- reported widely in the British media as 1 pound.

Wall Street Journal
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-Obama and Guantanamo
Fighting terrorism is simpler when you're a candidate. Campaign promises are so much easier to adhere to when they're strictly hypothetical, as Barack Obama is discovering. The then-President-elect said 10 days ago on ABC that while he still plans to close Guantanamo, "it is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize" and that "many" of the enemy combatants are "very dangerous."

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-Religious group challenges school district policy
By The Associated Press
A Christian group has asked a judge to block a suburban Atlanta school district from charging religious organizations for the after-hours use of classrooms made available for free to other groups. Child Evangelism Fellowship has accused the Cobb County school system of violating the First Amendment because it is charging the group to hold after-school meetings in classrooms.,0,5763014.story

Fort Report
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-3 news agencies refuse to distribute Obama photo
Three news agencies refused to distribute White House-provided photos of President Barack Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, arguing that access should have been provided to news photographers.

-Poll: Inaugural boosts American hopes
By Susan Page
President Obama's inauguration has given a recession-battered nation a boost. By nearly 6-1, those surveyed Tuesday in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say Obama's inauguration has made them feel more hopeful about the next four years, a far more positive response than the one President George W. Bush's swearing-in received in 2005.

-Dean Resigns; Kaine Is Now DNC Chair
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, five years ago a laughingstock after his infamous scream following his loss in the Iowa presidential primary, stepped down as chairman of the Democratic National Committee yesterday to thunderous applause as party members credited him with helping Democrats capture both houses of Congress and the White House during the past two election cycles.

-Holder confirmation hearing delayed a week
By Terry Frieden
The initial confirmation vote for Eric Holder, President Barack Obama's pick for attorney general, was postponed for a week Wednesday after a rancorous meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

-Senate confirms Clinton 94-2
By Klaus Marre
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State. The former first lady becomes the highest-profile member of President Obama's Cabinet. The two had battled for the Democratic nomination throughout the first half of the year but have since maintained that there is no bad blood remaining from the protracted primary.

-Clinton takes charges at State Department
Hillary Rodham Clinton assumed her role as secretary of State on Thursday with a pledge to State Department employees that they would be at the leading edge of improving U.S. foreign relations.

-IRAN: Wary Tehran press welcomes, warns Obama
The Iranian press voiced skepticism today about President Obama and his vow to change the way the U.S. does business in the Middle East. Typical were the sentiments of the conservative Jam-e-Jam daily, which praised the American people for their vote, but expressed doubt that anything would come of it. "The American people showed their true feelings by voting for Obama and have clearly announced that they want change," the paper said. "However, because of the nature of the political structures of America, it seems that Obama cannot do a lot."

-Sources: Mitchell tapped for Mideast envoy
The Obama administration has asked former Sen. George Mitchell to be a special envoy to the Middle East, sources close to the administration and diplomats told CNN. In the final days of the transition, officials talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, the sources said. Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration, authoring a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror. He also was a peace broker on Northern Ireland for President Bill Clinton. If named to the post, Mitchell would be one of several envoys who would work in the new administration. Sources say that Dennis Ross, a former Mideast peace envoy for several previous administrations, will be an envoy in charge of engaging Iran on a wide range of issues, including its nuclear program and its support for terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Former .N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated peace in the Balkans, is expected to become an envoy dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.


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