Sunday, January 25, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - January 25, 2009

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New York Times
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-This Is Not a Test
If you believe in the necessity of a Palestinian state or you love Israel, you'd better start paying attention. We're getting perilously close to closing the window on a two-state solution, because the two chief window-closers - Hamas in Gaza and the fanatical Jewish settlers in the West Bank - have been in the driver's seats. Hamas is busy making a two-state solution inconceivable, while the settlers have steadily worked to make it impossible. [...] So, just to recap: It's five to midnight and before the clock strikes 12 all we need to do is rebuild Fatah, merge it with Hamas, elect an Israeli government that can freeze settlements, court Syria and engage Iran - while preventing it from going nuclear - just so we can get the parties to start talking. Whoever lines up all the pieces of this diplomatic Rubik's Cube deserves two Nobel Prizes.

-Firms That Got Bailout Money Keep Lobbying

Washington Post
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-Even Ordinary Iranians Took Up This Banner
By Azadeh Moaveni
During a recent trip to Tehran, I noticed that the Benetton shop in my old neighborhood of Darrous was closed, its windows papered over. In the past, fundamentalists offended by the shop's immodest displays had decried its immorality and spread rumors of "Zionist ownership." This time, however, they set the place on fire -- not to protest the mannequins, dressed in the latest fashions, sans veils, but rather to protest the carnage in the Gaza Strip. Though my visit happened to coincide with the Israeli offensive that killed an estimated 1,300 Palestinians over three weeks, I hadn't expected the conflict to reverberate in my old neighborhood. If anything, I've always found that my former neighbors -- many deeply pious, but not known for any special antipathy toward Israel -- are, like the majority of Iranians, resentful of Iran's support for militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

-Energy Costs Generating Light-Bulb Solutions
By Lisa Rein
They don't have the sex appeal of windmills or the cool factor of solar panels but cost a fraction of the price. In fact, their methods can be as low-tech as plugging a leaky air duct. Governments and utility companies across the Washington region are starting to roll out new "energy-efficiency" campaigns with the potential to lower bills, carbon emissions and the area's dependence on foreign oil without building a single coal or nuclear plant. Energy experts say that they can reap large benefits by encouraging people to retrofit homes with changes as simple as new shower heads, light bulbs and refrigerators.

-Civil Wrongs
'Libs,' 'pinkos' and 'right-thinking Americans' in the Bush Justice Department
BEFORE THE BUSH era passes too far into history, take a moment to peruse yet another devastating report about politics run amok at the Bush Justice Department. The subject is personnel decisions in the department's Civil Rights Division. The report, which was released publicly on Jan. 13, was prepared by the Office of Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility. The findings are, in a word, disgusting. Supervisors in the division routinely weighed political affiliation or ideology in hiring for career positions, which is a violation of federal civil service laws. Managers referred to some employees hired during Democratic administrations as "libs" or "pinkos." When making hiring decisions, one supervisor, Bradley Schlozman, in conversations and e-mails, stated a preference for hiring conservatives -- or, in his parlance, "right-thinking Americans" (whom he also referred to as "RTAs"). According to the report, roughly 64 percent of those Mr. Schlozman hired were considered Republican or conservative; 2 percent had more liberal or Democratic credentials, and the political views of 34 percent were unknown.

-Obama Presents New Challenge for Al-Qaeda
Terrorist group struggles to mount propaganda war against the U.S. president who, in marked contrast to Bush, is well-liked in the Muslim world.

-Flurry of Tunnel Repairs Underway in Gaza's South

Secretary of the Arts
Quincy Jones has started a petition to ask President Obama to appoint a Secretary of the Arts. While many other countries have had Ministers of Art or Culture for centuries, The United States has never created such a position. We in the arts need this and the country needs the arts--now more than ever. Please take a moment to sign this important petition and then pass it on to your friends and colleagues.

Fort Report
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-A Most Promising Start For Obama
Obama and his advisers seem more focused on fixing what's broken than on grinding ideological axes.
by Stuart Taylor Jr.

-Americans welcome Gitmo closure, fret on detainees
By Tim Gaynor
President Barack Obama's order to shut Guantanamo prison was welcomed by many Americans as a boost to the country's tarnished prestige abroad, but some were worried about moving the prisoners to the United States. "Closing Guantanamo may give a better perception of the United States. There's a lot to be done, but it is a step," said salesman Jason Resto as he stopped to fill his car at a Phoenix Valley gas station.

-Dems on stimulus: Spend it faster
Senate Democrats want to spend the stimulus money faster in order to head off mounting criticism that the massive package won't create jobs quickly enough to help the sagging economy.

-Govs cast in unflattering light with Senate picks
The departure of four Democratic senators this year has cast a new - and at times, unflattering - light on governors and their power to fill Senate vacancies.

-US Approves First Stem Cell Study for Spinal Injury
Spinal cord injury study approved; will be first human trial of embryonic stem cell therapy

Pew Research center
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-Obama's Inbox
Economy, Jobs Trump All Other Policy Priorities
While it is not unusual for Americans to prioritize domestic over foreign policy, a new survey finds strengthening the economy and improving the job situation are higher priorities today than at any point over the past decade, and the recent upward trend has been steep. Read more

-Who Expects To Gain -- And Lose -- Under the New President
More Americans say that people like themselves will gain influence under the Obama administration than was the case for the last two incoming presidents. Many who did not vote for Obama say this as well -- including pluralities of all whites and white evangelical Christians. Read more

-Global Reaction
As Obama Takes Office, International Press Turns to Regional Concerns
The celebratory tone that characterized international coverage of Barack Obama's historic victory was again pervasive in stories about his inauguration. However, many noted the more somber tone of Obama's speech, and were themselves relatively somber about the enormous challenges and inflated expectations he faces. Read more

-Stimulus Check
Broadband: If Obama Builds It Will They Log on?
Investment in broadband has become part of the broader discussion about the president's economic stimulus package; Pew Internet Project surveys suggest that expanding access may take longer than some advocates anticipate. Read more

-Economy Is a Tough Subject for the Nation's Public Schools
States traditionally have been reluctant to cut school funding during hard times, but in the current severe downturn schools are not immune. Read more

-Daily Number
19 points - Young Democrats
A significant generational shift is occurring in the political allegiance of young voters, with a 19-point gap in party identification favoring the Democrats among those under age 30. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more


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