Saturday, February 21, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 21, 2009

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New York Times
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-Obama Widens Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan
With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government.

-In China, Clinton Focuses on Climate
BEIJING - Declaring "we hope you won't make the same mistakes we made," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the United States in an ambitious effort to curb greenhouse gases, as she toured an energy-efficient power plant in Beijing on Saturday.

-Illinois Governor Urges Senator to Quit and Calls for a Law on Special Elections
Gov. Patrick J. Quinn of Illinois on Friday called on Senator Roland W. Burris to resign and urged state lawmakers to set up a mechanism for a special election. It was the clearest sign yet that even those within Mr. Burris's own Democratic Party believe he cannot survive the growing questions surrounding his appointment and are, once again, pondering the possibility of a new junior senator for the state.

-Congo: The Invisible War
Perhaps we've heard so little about them because the crimes are so unspeakable, the evil so profound. For years now, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, marauding bands of soldiers and militias have been waging a war of rape and destruction against women. This sustained campaign of mind-bending atrocities, mostly in the eastern part of the country, has been one of the strategic tools in a wider war that has continued, with varying degrees of intensity, since the 1990s. Millions have been killed.

-A Nation of Cowards?
This began as a relatively quiet Black History Month. The biggest highlight was a 72-year-old former Klansman scratching "apologize to John Lewis for beating him up" off his bucket list.

-Changing Climate Numbers
In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth assessment report, summarizing evidence collected and weighed by scientists around the world. At the time, it was the best estimate of where the planet was, climatically speaking, and where it was likely to be going, and the news the report offered was daunting.

-Clinton Rewrites Script for Her Position in Asia
BEIJING - On Friday morning, Hillary Rodham Clinton was the picture of a stern superpower diplomat, warning North Korea not to test a long-range ballistic missile. A few hours later, she was asked by a giggly Korean student how she knew she had fallen in love with her husband.

-Netanyahu, Once Hawkish, Touts Pragmatism
JERUSALEM - Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud Party leader chosen Friday to form Israel's next government, likes to tell a story about his meeting last summer in Jerusalem with President Obama, who was then still the Democratic candidate.

Washington Post
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-In Mexico, Faltering, Not Failed
By Edward Schumacher-Matos
Mexico is not a failing state, as it has become fashionable to say. What has failed is our "war on drugs." That failure and the drug-related violence wracking Mexico suggest it is time to open a national discussion on legalizing drugs.

-Wasting a Crisis
California misses an opportunity for a more rational energy policy. AT LAST, California has a budget. The legislature of the largest state, home to more than 11 percent of this country's population, has approved a $143 billion plan that closes a projected $42 billion gap through 2010. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has signed it. The package raises taxes and slashes spending -- but it also relies heavily on new borrowing (including $5 billion secured by future state lottery revenue) and an expected influx of federal stimulus dollars. And it may not take effect completely if voters reject a referendum proposal this year. With California's economy in a recession even deeper than that of the rest of the United States, this can only be considered a respite from, not a conclusion to, the state's chronic fiscal crisis.

-'A Nation of Cowards'?: The attorney general's speech on race
ATTORNEY GENERAL Eric H. Holder Jr. took his fair share of lumps this week for calling the United States "a nation of cowards" because "we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race." His provocative choice of words sparked a debate that has distracted from his main point, which is important despite its familiarity: Americans need to engage in an ongoing and honest conversation about race.

-Bear Market's Bite Could Go Deeper
Dow at 6-Year Low, but Analysts Say More Pain Lies Ahead
By Tomoeh Murakami Tse and Alejandro Lazo
With the Dow Jones industrial average plunging past its lowest point since the financial crisis began, panicked investors are asking: How much uglier can it get?

-Pakistan official: 'Permanent cease-fire' in Swat
MINGORA, Pakistan -- A Pakistani official said Saturday that the Taliban and the Pakistani government had agreed to a "permanent cease-fire" in the restive northwest Swat Valley. A Taliban spokesman would not directly confirm the arrangement.

-Abramoff Scandal Yields More Charges
By James V. Grimaldi
A former legislative aide to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) was accused yesterday of accepting more than $25,000 worth of meals and event tickets from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for helping his clients.

-Cartoonists treading lightly when drawing Obama
-- Cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz was in front of a classroom full of black and Latino kids, drawing presidents. He sketched Bush, then Clinton. Next came his favorite, the man he voted for: Obama.

-Few Texas high school athletes fail steroid test
The second round of steroid testing for high school athletes in Texas found only seven positive results in nearly 19,000 tests, about the same minuscule outcome as the first round last year.

Wall Street Journal

-Coping When a Close Co-Worker Is Laid Off
Losing a friend at work to a layoff can be stressful, but you'll need to deal with the situation.
You probably have a co-worker or two you're close with, who you grab to rehash the latest episodes of a favorite television show, or for company on a coffee run. But as workplaces everywhere thin their ranks, those you're friendliest with might be laid off. It can be tough to figure out how to respond when a work friend is suddenly no longer working alongside you. But there are ways to cope.

-Campaign Pledges Collide With New Fiscal Reality
As President Barack Obama finalizes his long-range budget road map for release next week, he is finding it increasingly difficult to translate some campaign promises into policy in the face of a complex economic crisis.

-The Perilous State of Mexico
With drug-fueled violence and corruption escalating sharply, many fear drug cartels have grown too powerful for Mexico to control. Why things are getting worse, and what it means for the United States.

-Jobs Still Elude Some Bush Ex-Officials
The jobless rate is hanging high -- for many of the roughly 3,000 political appointees who served President George W. Bush. Finding work has proved a far tougher task than those appointees expected.

-How California Became France
Sacramento, Calif.
Unable to afford a welfare state and unable to reform it. As California goes, says an old cliché, so goes the nation. Oh my.

-Learning to Speak Better English: Yes, We Can!
In Japan, Students Practice Reciting Obama's Speeches; 'Convey Your Message'
TOKYO -- English teacher Makoto Ishiwata stood in front of a classroom one recent morning and watched a gray-haired Japanese student struggle with a line.

-'Good Banks' Are the Cost Effective Way Out of the Financial Crisis
We don't have the resources to subsidize all the troubled institutions. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's bank rescue -- the Financial Stability Plan (FSP) -- has been poorly received by the markets. My proposal last month to create brand new "good banks" with the limited taxpayer resources available is the best solution to the crisis.

-'Nationalize' the Banks: Dr. Doom says a takeover and resale is the market-friendly solution.
Nouriel Roubini
Nouriel Roubini is always dressed in black-and-white. I have known him for nearly two years, and have seen him in a variety of situations -- en route to class at New York University's Stern Business School, where he's a professor; over a glass of wine in his boyish loft in Manhattan's Tribeca; at an academic conference, seated sagely on the dais; at a bohemian party in Greenwich Village, at . . . oh . . . 3 a.m. -- and he always, always wears a black suit with a white linen shirt.

Miami Herald
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-Obama: tax cuts will be felt by April 1
The notoriously slow Congress passed the $787 billion economic stimulus package in a matter of weeks. President Barack Obama signed it into law less than one month into his presidency. So, just how soon will Americans start reaping the benefits of tax cuts in it? By April 1, according to the president.

-FLAG-DRAPED COFFINS: Americans should see the 'high cost' of war
Maybe now we'll see what we have not been allowed. Meaning coffins draped in our national colors, filled with the remains of our honored dead. The military has banned media from photographing coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware since 1991. This, after a 1989 incident in which some TV news outlets used a split screen to juxtapose images of deceased Americans being returned home with images of President George H.W. Bush joking with reporters at a live press conference. It was a cheap shot that made the president seem insensitive to the somber ceremony and the sacrifice it commemorated. Hence, the ban.

Pew Research center
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-Housing Crisis
No Place Like Home -- Even if the Value Is in the Tank
Not even a housing-led recession can shake Americans' faith in the blessings of homeownership. Read more

-One-In-Five Homeowners Feel "Underwater" On Mortgages
The young, the less affluent and members of minority groups are more likely to say their homes are worth less than what they owe on their mortgages. Read more

-The Terror Divide
Obama Supported but Faces Partisan Divisions Over Anti-Terror Policies
Americans approve of Obama's handling of terrorist threats by more than two-to-one but views about Guantanamo, torture and surveillance remain divided along familiar lines. Read more

-Crime Report
Immigration Enforcement Boosts Hispanic Share of Federal Convictions
In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders -- more than triple their share of the total U.S. adult population. Read more

-Money Media
Bad Economic News Better Than None
Americans feel better knowing what's going on but more now see some good sides to news about the economy. Read more

-Press Pivot: Vote and Polls on Stimulus Change Tone
Obama may not control the message, but he still controls the agenda. Read more

-Daily Number
43%-35% -- Big Macs or Lattes?
When asked whether they would rather live in a neighborhood with more McDonald's or more Starbucks, Americans manage to typecast themselves by just about every demographic and ideological characteristic under the sun; overall, more Americans choose McDonalds (43%) over Starbucks (35%), but the split is more pronounced -- and rather predictable -- when analyzed demographically. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more

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Fort Report
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-Rescuing America's Homeowners
It's a mixed bag, but Obama's plan to help homeowners is still a move in the right direction.
Eileen Appelbaum
Of the 52 million U.S. homeowners with a mortgage, more than a quarter --
nearly 14 million -- are underwater. They owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan, announced by President Barack Obama on Feb. 18, is intended to help some of these families stay in their home.

-What is nationalization?
The administration says it doesn't want to run banks, but investors still fear a replay of the Fannie-Freddie takeover.
Colin Barr, senior writer
What does it mean to nationalize a bank, anyway? That question has weighed on the minds of investors in the two weeks since the Obama administration's comprehensive financial industry stability plan fell flat.

-Amid budget woes, governors wonder whether stimulus spending is right
approach in bad economy
Congress and President Barack Obama developed the stimulus plan as a lifeline. Not all governors set it that way and are debating whether the billions available can help their states ride out the economic tidal wave. Amid budget woes, the deepening recession and conflicting views on the aid plan, state leaders descended on the capital Saturday to discuss the foreclosure crisis and public works projects.,0,198269.story

-South Carolina's governor may turn down stimulus money
By Richard Fausset
Reporting from Columbia, S.C. -- Would a governor in a state with the third-highest unemployment rate in the nation really say no to President Obama's stimulus money? That is the question reverberating through South Carolina, where Republican Mark Sanford -- a popular second-term governor and noted fiscal conservative -- says he may reject some of the $2.8 billion in federal funds headed to his state.,0,2767511.story

-U.S. repeats interest in two-state solution in Israel
The United States will continue to press for a two-state solution in Israel's conflict with Palestinians, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Friday, after right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu was asked to form Israel's next government.

-U.S. tells North Korea to end insults, return to talks
By Jack Kim and Arshad Mohammed
SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday told North Korea to stop being provocative and return to nuclear talks, warning ties could not improve with Washington if it continued insulting South Korea.

-Obama wants to overhaul health care; can he do it?
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Now for the hard part. Even if the national credit card is maxed out and partisanship remains the rule for Washington's political tribes, President Barack Obama and Congress are plunging ahead with a health care overhaul.

-UN official thinks Hamas authored letter to Obama
The Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A U.N. relief official in the Gaza Strip said Friday he believes Hamas was the author of a letter his agency received with a request that it be delivered to President Barack Obama by a visiting U.S. senator.

-Quinn gets it right
Stung by demands that he resign from the Senate seat he lied his way into, Roland Burris dug in his heels this week, zipped his lips and made a big show of acting senatorial, embarking on a "listening tour" of the state and refusing to answer any more questions. He seemed to think he could outlast the controversy if only he could lose the reporters. God knows his fellow Democrats weren't making much noise. Now they are.,0,2359230.story

-For Obama's Political Knots, He's the 'Fixer'
Low-Profile Aide Jim Messina Has Tackled Tough Problems
By Anne E. Kornblut
Holed up in a windowless West Wing office, Jim Messina is working on his usual assignment: fixing President Obama's problems. The exact nature of that task changes from day to day. In January, when tax troubles surfaced, first threatening Timothy F. Geithner's nomination, Obama asked Messina, his deputy chief of staff, to smooth over the situation on Capitol Hill. (He did.)

-Kerry Meets With Syrian President
Posted by George Baghdadi
Senator John Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations committee, went into immediate talks on Saturday with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to encourage him to curb support for Islamist militant groups in return for a new policy of dialogue with the Obama Administration.


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