Thursday, February 05, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 05, 2009

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New York Times
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-Senate Adds Homebuyer Tax Credit to Stimulus Bill
The Senate on Wednesday voted to expand the economic stimulus package with a tax credit for homebuyers of up to $15,000, a provision championed by Republicans as addressing a root cause of the recession.

-Editorial: Unraveling Injustice
The Bush administration's attacks on the rule of law in the name of fighting terrorism have saddled President Obama and his legal team, starting with Attorney General Eric Holder, with some urgent cleanup work.

-The Unthinkable Option
TEHRAN: When it comes to Iran, the choice of metaphor is limited. "I would never take a military option off the table," Barack Obama declared during the campaign, a position unchanged since he became president.

-Still Nice Work if You Can Get It
President Obama's decision to cap senior executives' pay at bailed-out banks and other companies addresses one of the most outrageous weaknesses of the Bush administration's financial-rescue package. If anyone is feeling bad for the bankers, don't. The banks can pay more than the figure Mr. Obama chose - $500,000 a year - but only in restricted stock that cannot be cashed in until the government has been repaid. That sounds more than fair to us.

-Somali Pirates Said to Be Leaving Ship
NAIROBI, Kenya - After four months and seemingly endless negotiations, the wily band of Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian ship packed with tanks and other weapons seemed on Thursday finally ready to let go.

-U.S. Searches for Alternative to Kyrgyz Base
The Obama administration scrambled Wednesday to come up with an alternative to a crucial United States air base in Central Asia, used to supply the growing military operation in Afghanistan, after the president of Kyrgyzstan ordered the American base in his country closed.

-Vatican Move on Bishop Exposes Fissures of Church
ROME - Responding to an extraordinary burst of global outrage, especially in Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, the Vatican for the first time on Wednesday called on a recently rehabilitated bishop to take back his statements denying the Holocaust.

-Obama Signs Children's Health Insurance Bill
The House gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill extending health insurance to millions of low-income children, and President Obama signed it this afternoon, in the first of what he hopes will be many steps to guarantee coverage for all Americans.

-Back Story: Don't We Already Have a Health Plan for the Poor?
Most people think of Medicaid as the federal government's health plan for low-income Americans: Medicare covers seniors, goes the conventional wisdom, while Medicaid covers the poor. But that isn't really how it works.

Washington Post
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-The Action Americans Need
By Barack Obama
Thursday, February 5, 2009; Page A17
By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring. [...] In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive. I reject these theories, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. They know that we have tried it those ways for too long.

-Time to Play Hardball
By E. J. Dionne Jr.
The irony of President Obama's Blue Tuesday is that the wall-to-wall television interviews he granted were designed not to apologize for Tom Daschle's fall from grace but to fight back against the Republicans' success in tarnishing his stimulus package.

-The New Landonists
By Harold Meyerson
The leader of the Republican Party was fulminating against the Democratic president's programs. All that government spending, and yet, he said, "the nation has not made the durable progress, either in reform or recovery, that we had the right to expect." The problem was that the president didn't trust the market to right the economy: "The energies of the American economic system will remedy the ravages of depression," he argued.

-A Cabinet Loss and Gain
By David S. Broder
In a striking repetition of the up-and-down pattern of the Democratic primaries a year ago, President Obama filled one Cabinet vacancy on Tuesday but saw another one embarrassingly come open.

-Zimbabwe's False Hope
South Africa demands that the West aid a 'unity' government under Robert Mugabe. How to answer?
SOUTH AFRICA has won a round in its relentless campaign to preserve Robert Mugabe's hold over a dying Zimbabwe. With the help of its allies in the Southern Africa Development Community, South Africa succeeded last week in coercing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- the winner of last year's presidential election -- into accepting a subordinate role in a "unity" government led by the 84-year-old strongman. The deal, which Mr. Tsvangirai bravely resisted for months, will leave Mr. Mugabe in charge of the country's last functioning institutions -- army and police forces that have been waging a campaign of murder, rape and torture against the opposition and human rights activists.

-An Obama A-Team for Iran
By David Ignatius
Whom should President Obama appoint as his emissary to Iran, to take on what may be the most important diplomatic mission in decades? The right person (or persons) would have the stature and experience to engage Iran at the highest level -- and to explore what Obama in his inaugural address called "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

-The Senate Balks: Why President Obama should heed calls for a more focused stimulus package
Today in The Post, President Obama challenges critics of the $900 billion stimulus plan that was taking shape on Capitol Hill yesterday, accusing them of peddling "the same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis" and warning that, without immediate action, "Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse." A thinly veiled reference to Senate Republicans, this is a departure from his previous emphasis on bipartisanship. Still, as a matter of policy, Mr. Obama is justified in signaling that the plan should not be tilted in favor of tax cuts -- and that the GOP should not waste valuable time trying to achieve this.

-ANALYSIS: Amid Anger Over Economy, Obama Looks For Right Tone
By Alec MacGillis
President Obama, who swept to the White House on a message of hope and inspiration, is struggling to contend with a different emotion among Americans -- anger.

Wall Street Journal

-Faith-Based Program Gets Wider Focus
When President Barack Obama launches his version of the faith-based initiative Thursday, he will expand the mission to include abortion reduction and outreach to the Muslim world. He will also try to avoid the thorniest constitutional issues that beset the program for years under his predecessor.

-Mixed Reactions From Republicans Demonstrate the Dilemma Faced by the Party
President Barack Obama's plan to cap salaries for certain bank executives poses this dilemma for Republicans: the party that touts free-market principles also finds itself appalled by high salaries and seemingly extravagant perks for executives at financial institutions that received federal bailout money.

-Congress's Phony War on Torture Why not ban waterboarding once and for all?
When Leon Panetta comes before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday about his nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency, he ought to be asked tough questions about the things he's said about torture. And he will.

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-Closing Guantánamo a bolder proposal
By Max J. Castro
To fulfill his campaign promise to rebuild the global reputation of this nation, President Barack Obama placed closing down the infamous Guantánamo detention camp as one of the first items on his agenda.,0,1101875.story

Miami Herald
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-DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Prepare for the 51st star on the flag
One answer is: Six rows of stars -- the top, third and fifth rows with nine, the second, fourth and sixth rows with eight. The question is: How might the nation reconfigure its flag to acknowledge a 51st state. Or ``state.''

-CRIME WITNESSES: I was blind, and now I see
In Los Angeles, there is a park named in honor of Griffith J. Griffith, whose claim to fame is that he made a fortune speculating in gold mining and gave the city a large tract of land. In Chicago, there is a park named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, whose claim to fame is that he commanded Union forces in the Civil War and was 18th president of the United States.

Inside Higher Education

-Evidence of the Tuition Bubble
Doug Lederman
Commentators have increasingly been wondering if the end might finally be in sight for the many years' worth of steady and often not-so-slow increases in college tuitions. How much longer, the thinking goes, will American students and parents be able to afford - and/or put up with - rapidly rising prices and expenditures on higher education?

-Unintentional Whitening of U. of California?
Scott Jaschik
For several years now, the University of California has been debating plans to drop the SAT Subject Tests (formerly called the SAT II or achievement tests) and to find ways to consider more minority applicants. The debate has focused on the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the SAT and how to promote diversity while not violating the state's ban on affirmative action.

Fort Report
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-With Daschle out, could Donna Shalala be coming back?
By Luisa Yanez
With former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrawing himself as secretary of Health and Human Services, University of Miami President Donna Shalala emerged Wednesday as a possible nominee.

-Madoff Whistle Blower Is Finally Heard
CBS Evening News: Investigator Who First Discovered Massive Ponzi Scheme Tells Lawmakers SEC Just Wouldn't Listen;topStory

-The new Great Communicator ... isn't
By Joan Walsh
Obama is stumbling in the stimulus debate -- and public support is dropping -- because for 30 years Republicans have lied about the role of government. Now he's got to tell the truth.

-The One To See If You Want In
By DeNeen L. Brown
For every one stride Desirée Rogers takes, you take two, trying to keep up as she hurries through the White House. She is the new social secretary, the doyenne of state dinners, the honcho of hospitality, with society and civilization resting on her shoulders as she briskly descends from her East Wing office, blows past Marine guards in the White House hush that seems all the more noticeable when punctuated by the percussion of her designer black heels, with red soles flashing.

-Insiders are the problem, not solution
By Joan Vennochi
WHETHER or not he paid his taxes, Tom Daschle was never the best person to lead the charge on healthcare reform. Reform means shaking up the establishment. Daschle is the establishment, just like other Cabinet picks made by President Obama

-Attendees of Voters Coalition dinner speculate on McCollum, Sink
Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum and Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink batted down speculation about next year's governor's race as both attended the annual Voters Coalition dinner here tonight.


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