Sunday, February 22, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 22, 2009

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New York Times
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-Hold the Eulogies, Kennedy Says
After the president of Harvard hailed him as a "national leader but a local servant," after the pastor read the "Let us now praise famous men" passage from the Bible and after the cellist Yo-Yo Ma honored him by performing a Gershwin prelude, Senator Edward M. Kennedy lumbered across the antique stage.

-After Losses, a Move to Reclaim Executives' Pay
SHOULD executives get to keep lavish pay packages when the profits that generated their compensation go up in smoke?

-The Government and the Banks
Bank stocks plunged last week on fears that the government will have to take over battered institutions like Citigroup and Bank of America. That would wipe out the banks' shareholders - hence, investors' rush for the exits - and put the government in control of a swath of the financial system.

-Start Up the Risk-Takers
Reading the news that General Motors and Chrysler are now lining up for another $20 billion or so in government aid - on top of the billions they've already received or requested - leaves me with the sick feeling that we are subsidizing the losers and for only one reason: because they claim that their funerals would cost more than keeping them on life support. Sorry, friends, but this is not the American way. Bailing out the losers is not how we got rich as a country, and it is not how we'll get out of this crisis.

-What We Don't Know Will Hurt Us
AND so on the 29th day of his presidency, Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill. But the earth did not move. The Dow Jones fell almost 300 points. G.M. and Chrysler together asked taxpayers for another $21.6 billion and announced another 50,000 layoffs. The latest alleged mini-Madoff, R. Allen Stanford, was accused of an $8 billion fraud with 50,000 victims.

-Sisters, Victims, Heroes
GOZ BEIDA, Chad: So I'm bunking with George Clooney in a little room in a guest house here in eastern Chad, near Darfur in Sudan. We each have a mattress on the floor, the "shower" is a rubber hose that doesn't actually produce any water, and George's side of the room has a big splotch of something that sure looks like blood.

-Video - Darfur: Sisters. Victims. Heroes.
by Nicholas Kristof

-Taliban Truce Seems in Flux in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A provincial government official in the disputed area of Swat announced details of what he called a "permanent cease-fire" with the Taliban on Saturday.

-Running a Business After Doing Time
THIS year, nearly 700,000 people will be released from state or federal prisons. They will join the worst economy in decades, many of them with limited education and little or no legitimate employment experience. And a criminal record will make it that much harder to find a job.

-Obama Upholds Detainee Policy in Afghanistan
The Obama administration has told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush's legal team.

-U.S. Concedes Afghan Attack Mainly Killed Civilians
KABUL, Afghanistan - An airstrike by the United States-led military coalition killed 13 civilians and 3 militants last Tuesday in western Afghanistan, not "up to 15 militants" as was initially claimed by American forces, military officials here said Saturday.

-Former Chief of eBay Tries a New Bid. It's Political.
Meg Whitman, a former chief executive of eBay, once said that running the Internet auction site was like being the mayor of a large city, with the mix of politics, competing constituencies and widespread resistance to change.

-First Chores? You Bet
WASHINGTON: CONSIDER the perils of parenting in the White House. There is a movie theater, a bowling alley, a horseshoe pit, a swimming pool, five full-time chefs and dozens of household staff members ready to dish up ice cream at all hours. There are trips to foreign lands, dinners with kings and celebrities, swarming paparazzi and blaring motorcades, all with the potential to transform sweet little children into bossy, self-important ones. (Or lonely, dysfunctional ones.)

Washington Post
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-Death and Texas
By Bryan Burrough
In 1845, the second-largest independent country in North America, the Republic of Texas, held its nose, took a deep breath and merged with its upstart eastern neighbor, the United States. (As a Texan myself, I understand the occasional regret that we took y'all's name instead of the other way around.) For the next century, Texas didn't give America much trouble. By and large, it was known for cattle with large horns, men with large hats and its citizenry's penchant for orneriness, braggadocio and shooting one another.

-Yes, We're Out of Power. But I'm Still Starstruck.
By S.E. Cupp
I admit, I was a little hurt after overhearing a recent discussion about the lack of "star power" at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Not only have I really been looking forward to CPAC, but this year I am actually on the agenda: "Book Signing: Exhibit Hall. Saturday.
12:30 pm." Tell me that doesn't ooze glitz and glamour.

-State Secrets? Let the Courts Weigh In.
By Ronald Goldfarb
When most people think of "state secrets," they no doubt envision military plans for troop movements in wartime or back-channel diplomatic maneuvering. But in fact, most claims of state secrets pertain not to the dramatic undercover actions of spy novels, but to civil matters. And thanks to a little-known, half-century-old case, the U.S. government has been able to use the state secrets defense with increasing frequency and marked success to prevent embarrassing information from coming to light.

-5 Myths About Education Reform
To borrow from the old quip on giving up smoking: Fixing public schools is easy -- we've done it hundreds of times. Even with the billions of dollars in economic stimulus aid, public schools stand no chance of getting better until we dispel some empty theories about how to help them. 1. We know how to fix public schools; we just lack the political will to finish the job. Wrong. For the past 25 years, K-12 education has been at or near the top of most politicians' domestic agendas. Candidates vie to become the "education" president, governor or mayor. The public cries out for better schools and is even willing to pay higher taxes to get them.

-Obama's First Budget Seeks To Trim Deficit
Plan Would Cut War Spending, Increase Taxes on the Wealthy
By Lori Montgomery and Ceci Connolly
President Obama is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious first budget that seeks to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, primarily by raising taxes on businesses and the wealthy and by slashing spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials said.

-19 political prisoners released from Myanmar jails
The Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar -- Several monks and three members of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's political party were among the more than 6,300 prisoners released by Myanmar's junta as part of a government amnesty, a party spokesman and a rights group said Sunday.

Wall Street Journal
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-Governors Defend Stimulus Plan
Democratic governors stepped up their defense of the federal stimulus package Saturday in the face of steady criticism of the $787 billion plan from a small group of their Republican peers. At a press conference held during the winter meeting of the National Governors Association in Washington D.C., the Democrats said the stimulus plan is already protecting teachers from cutbacks and putting construction workers back on the job. And they criticized objecting Republicans as a "fringe group."

-More Bank Misery Sinks Stocks
Efforts to Snuff Out Nationalization Talk Ease Selling, but Fears Remain
The stock market flirted with its dotcom-era low but trimmed its losses to miss that mark on Friday, capping an otherwise dismal week in which fears of nationalization of major U.S. banks gripped trading floors around the world.

-Winning a Cyber War
The 'soft underbelly' of U.S. security. The Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan experienced a cyber attack last month that took down its two largest Web sites. But that's small beer compared to what happened to the Pentagon and several other U.S. agencies in 2007, when cyber attackers successfully hacked into their computer systems, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates's email.

-Low Mortgage Rates Will Cost You
Mortgage rates are low, but getting a home loan is going to cost you. New rules by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are upping the fees for borrowers with less than perfect credit, those in the mortgage industry say. Other increased costs reflect the uncertainty in the mortgage market as lenders try to reduce their risk and anticipate rates.

Fort Report
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-Obama's biggest challenges in Afghanistan
By Julian E. Barnes
Reporting from Krakow, Poland -- President Obama's war strategy began to take shape with his announcement last week that 17,000 additional U.S. troops are headed to Afghanistan. But the thorniest problems still await him: persuading militants to lay down their arms, coaxing help from allies and eliminating extremist havens on the Afghan-Pakistan border.,0,3663250.story


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