Monday, February 02, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 02, 2009

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New York Times
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-Welfare Aid Isn't Growing as Economy Drops Off
Despite soaring unemployment and the worst economic crisis in decades, 18 states cut their welfare rolls last year, and nationally the number of people receiving cash assistance remained at or near the lowest in more than 40 years.

-Ads That Pushed Our Usual (Well-Worn) Buttons
In recent months, Americans have been disappointed and appalled by Wall Street, banks, the big-budget film "Australia," investment counselors, Detroit, the governors of at least two states, hedge fund managers and even the geese at La Guardia, which used to know better than to interfere with those metal birds they fly among.

-Interactive: The Super Ad Bowl: Two Decades of Players

-Sins of Omission: Help for the Beleaguered Homeowner
The Senate will debate its version of the mammoth stimulus and recoverypackage this week. As with last week's version, passed by the House, therewill be considerable argument between Democrats and Republicans over whatbelongs in the bill.

-Op-Ed Columnist: Bailouts for Bunglers
Published: February 1, 2009
Question: what happens if you lose vast amounts of other people's money? Answer: you get a big gift from the federal government - but the president says some very harsh things about you before forking over the cash.

-Sins of Omission: The Forgotten Poor
Also lost in the wrangling over the huge House economic measure were two programs for the poor that are in urgent need of Congressional attention: legal services and access to family planning.

-The Other Iran
TEHRAN: At one of the embassies offering islands of peace from the gridlocked, grinding Iranian capital, a Western diplomat said this of United States and allied policy toward Iran: "You could argue that our policy has not yet failed."

-A New Subpoena for Karl Rove
Last year, Karl Rove defied a Congressional subpoena ordering him to testify about the politically driven hiring and firing of United States attorneys. The House Judiciary Committee has now issued another subpoena. Congress and the Obama administration should do everything they can to compel him to testify.

-Secular Parties and Premier Lead in Iraq
BAGHDAD - Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and several secular parties appeared to score significant gains in Iraq's provincial elections on Saturday, preliminary reports showed Sunday.

-And Now Let the Jockeying Begin
In her first days as America's top diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found the Middle East portfolio handed off to a special envoy. Afghanistan and Pakistan were assigned to a special representative. And administration officials expect another special envoy to be tapped soon to deal with Iran.

-Bringing the Internet to Remote African Villages
ENTASOPIA, Kenya - The road from Nairobi winds 100 miles to this town deep in Masai country. The asphalt gives way to sand and dust, until finally it is just a dirt track climbing over broken hills and plunging back to desert flats. The going is slow.

Washington Post
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-What Obama Owes Africa
Njoroge Wachai - Kenya Njoroge is a journalist who formerly worked for the Kenya-based People Daily.
Dear President Obama: There's nowhere your presidency matters more than in Africa. I know some will differ with me on this; they will, rightly, say that your top priority should be to serve America. Well, I agree, but I must remind you of the folly of forgetting your roots. Expectations are as high for your presidency in Africa as they are here in the U.S. You would deny your African roots at your own peril. Your deceased father hailed from Kenya, and that White House, where you'll be residing for the next four years, or eight years if you win in 2013, was built by African slaves. Don'tyou think you owe us something? [...] For all of his failings, Africans will judge your predecessor, George W. Bush, on what he built, what he contributed to the continent. He looks like a messiah to Africa for the massive aid he channeled there to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other neglected diseases. Imagine what you could contribute in Africa if you helped tamp down the corruption and waste that daily plague our people there. President Obama, how do you plan to deal with leaders who you said "...cling to power through corruption and deceit?" Will you come down hardon them? We hope so.

-Daschle Apologizes for Income Tax Errors
By Ceci Connolly and Paul Kane
Thomas A. Daschle, fighting to defend his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, released a letter early today apologizing to the top lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee for mistakes on his personal income tax returns that resulted in $146,000 in back payments.

-Gunmen in Pakistan Kidnap American Official
By Candace Rondeaux
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 2 -- Gunmen in southern Pakistan kidnapped an American United Nations official and fatally shot his driver Monday, the latest in a recent series of high-profile kidnappings and targeted hits on foreigners.

-Phelps Will Not Face Any Sanctions
Photo Appears To Show Drug Use
By Amy Shipley
Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps acknowledged using "bad judgment" and engaging in "regrettable" behavior a day after a British tabloid published a photo in which he appeared to be using marijuana.

-Turkey's Turn From the West
By Soner Cagaptay
Turkey is a special Muslim country. Of the more than 50 majority-Muslim nations, it is the only one that is a NATO ally, is in accession talks with the European Union, is a liberal democracy and has normal relations with Israel. Under its current government by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), however, Turkey is losing these special qualities. Liberal political trends are disappearing, E.U. accession talks have stalled, ties with anti-Western states such as Iran are improving and relations with Israel are deteriorating. On Thursday, for example, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of a panel at Davos, Switzerland, after chiding Israeli President Shimon Peres for "killing people." If Turkey fails in these areas or wavers in its commitment to transatlantic structures such as NATO, it cannot expect to be President Obama's favorite Muslim country.

-Bipartisanship at What Price?
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
The coming week will test the strength of President Obama and the Democrats: Will they lose their nerve, or will they face down a rapidly forming conventional wisdom that would allow them to claim victory only if their economic stimulus package passes with substantial Republican support?

-Four Keys to Success in Afghanistan
by Fareed Zakaria
The war in Afghanistan is not going well; almost all trends are moving in the wrong direction. But we still have time to focus, improve our strategy, calibrate our means. It will help immeasurably if we keep in mind the basic objective of U.S. policy: "Our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and its allies," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week. That is an admirably clear statement.

-The Rise of Soft Censorship
By Don Podesta
Among the accusations swirling around ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is one that touches on his relationship with the most important newspaper in his state, the Chicago Tribune. Blagojevich reportedly threatened to withhold state assistance from a deal involving the sale of Wrigley Field, owned by the Tribune Co., if the paper didn't fire members of the editorial board whom he viewed as highly critical of him.

Wall Street Journal
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-Daschle Faces Questions on Trips
On Top of Tax Issues, Senators Also Weigh Propriety of Travel with Charity
Former Sen. Tom Daschle, already facing questions over his failure to pay some taxes in a timely fashion, will likely face another question when the Senate Finance Committee meets Monday to consider his nomination as health and human services secretary: whether he improperly took gifts of value from charities with which he was involved.

-Summers Carves Out a Powerful Role
National Economic Council Has New Prominence, but Also Risks Clashes
With a slew of high-profile hires, President Barack Obama's chief economic adviser is raising the clout of the White House National Economic Council -- as well as the prospects of internal conflict in the Obama administration.

Miami Herald
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-Huge error to welcome back anti-Semitic prelates
The recent announcement by the Vatican that Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunication order his predecessor imposed on four so-called traditionalist bishops has provoked understandable hurt and outrage among Jews.

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-15 Most Loathsome People of 2008
By Allan Uthman and Ian Murphy, Buffalo Beast.
Limbaugh, Palin, Warren, and more. They're the worst people in America, and unfortunately they dominated last year's headlines.

Fort Report
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-Just how bad off is the Republican Party?
Republicans know what they're against: Barack Obama. They're still figuring out what they're for.
By Thomas Schaller

-GOP Leaders Doubt Stimulus Bill Will Pass Senate
Senate Republican leaders cite lack of support for stimulus bill, call for major changes
By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL Associated Press Writer
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday the massive stimulus bill backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats could go down to defeat if it's not stripped of unnecessary spending and focused more on housing issues and tax cut.

-Congress Eyes New Lifeline For Homeowners
CBS Evening News: Proposed Legislation Would Allow Bankruptcy Judges To Reduce Mortgage Payments For Those Facing Foreclosure;topStoryHeadline

-'The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama'
by Gwen Ifill
PBS' Ifill takes fresh look at Obama effect. Douglas C. Lyons It's too bad Republicans backing their candidate in the recent presidential election chose to demean Gwen Ifill's The Breakthrough in hopes of disqualifying the venerable black journalist as the moderator of the vice-presidential debate.,0,4834637.story


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