Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 24, 2009

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New York Times
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-What Part of 'Stimulus' Don't They Get?
Imagine yourself jobless and struggling to feed your family while the governor of your state threatens to reject tens of millions of dollars in federal aid earmarked for the unemployed. That is precisely what is happening in poverty-ridden states like Louisiana and Mississippi where Republican governors are threatening to turn away federal aid rather than expand access to unemployment insurance programs in ways that many other states did a long time ago.

-That Can't-Do Spirit
In his first Inaugural Address, with the U.S. all but paralyzed by the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt declared that the nation's greatest task was "to put people to work."

-The Big Test
BY David Brooks
President Obama has concentrated enormous power on a few aides in the West Wing of the White House. These aides are unrolling a rapid string of plans: to create three million jobs, to redesign the health care system, to save the auto industry, to revive the housing industry, to reinvent the energy sector, to revitalize the banks, to reform the schools - and to do it all while cutting the deficit in half. If ever this kind of domestic revolution were possible, this is the time and these are the people to do it. The crisis demands a large response. The people around Obama are smart and sober. Their plans are bold but seem supple and chastened by a realistic sensibility. Yet they set off my Burkean alarm bells. I fear that in trying to do everything at once, they will do nothing well.

-When Nuclear Subs Collide
Two nuclear missile submarines - one British, one French - armed with a likely total of well more than 100 thermonuclear warheads collided under the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month. It's a terrifying reminder of how many of these hugely destructive weapons are still routinely deployed and how little thought is given to keeping them as safe and secure as possible.

-Survey Reveals Broad Support for President
President Obama is benefiting from remarkably high levels of optimism and confidence among Americans about his leadership, providing him with substantial political clout as he confronts the nation's economic challenges and opposition from nearly all Republicans in Congress, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

-3rd Rescue Would Give U.S. 40% of Citigroup
Nationalization, at least a partial one, seems inevitable for Citigroup. As Washington prepares to tighten its grip on the struggling company, the implications - for the troubled financial giant and the rest of the industry - are starting to sink in.

-On Return to Court, Ginsburg Is Quick to Question
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer less than three weeks ago, was back on the Supreme Court bench on Monday, asking crisp and vigorous questions in the two arguments heard by the court.

-Administration Draws Fire for Report on Guantánamo
The Pentagon official who inspected the Guantánamo Bay prison at the behest of President Obama and declared its conditions humane described himself Monday as a "fresh set of eyes" who had been given free rein to go about his work.

-With Spending Set, at Least for Now, the Knives Come Out
The White House echoed on Monday with familiar expressions of determination to make tough decisions, as President Obama used a "fiscal responsibility summit" to promise to do his part to move the nation's balance sheet back toward balance.

-Video: Class Dismissed in Swat Valley, Pakistan
Taliban closes schools for girls

Washington Post
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-D.C.'s Day in the Senate
A disenfranchised city on the verge of a long-overdue debate
IT WAS TO THE discredit of the Senate in 2007 that it would not allow even consideration of a bill to give D.C. residents voting rights. Indeed, the last time the second-class status of D.C. residents was debated on the Senate floor was 30 years ago. So today's vote on Senate Bill 160 -- the D.C. House Voting Rights Act -- is more than overdue. It is time for the Senate to rectify its past mistakes and agree to hold an up-or-down vote on legislation giving District residents their rights as American citizens.

-How to Speak Human Rights
By Anne Applebaum
"We pretty much know what they're going to say." -- Hillary Clinton, on the Chinese reaction to discussions of human rights, religious freedom and Tibet Amnesty International is "extremely disappointed," and rightly so; Human Rights Watch's Asia advocacy director fears that America's human rights discussions in China will become "a dead-end 'dialogue of the deaf,' " and she has a point. As for the founders of the new Chinese "Charter 08" dissident ovement -- the biggest political protest group in years -- we don't know what they thought, because they were all under house arrest during Clinton's visit to Beijing. I'm sure, though, that they, too, were disappointed by our new secretary of state's failure to discuss human rights with her hosts during her stay in China.

-Not So Obvious
The secretary of state underestimates the power of her words. HILLARY RODHAM Clinton says she was only "stating the obvious" when she played down the importance of U.S. pressure on China about human rights issues during a visit there over the weekend. In fact, her comments understated the significance of what a secretary of state says about such matters, and how those statements might affect the lives of people fighting for freedom of expression, religious rights and other basic liberties in countries such as China.

-End of the Magic Show
By Eugene Robinson
It's reaching the point where desperate measures -- brutal honesty and complete transparency -- may be the only way to bring the economy out of its kamikaze dive. If so, this won't be pretty.

-Whose Israel Shall It Be?
By Richard Cohen
The day after the United Nations created the state of Israel, the country's first president, Chaim Weizmann, found time to work on his memoir, "Trial and Error." In it, he issued a warning to the Israeli leaders of today: "I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish state by what it will do with the Arabs." It was Nov. 30, 1947.

-Gov. Palin's office defends per diem payments
Gov. Sarah Palin's office on Monday defended the governor's practice of collecting per diem from the state while living at her home in Wasilla, saying she was costing the state a lot less than her predecessor. Spokesman Bill McAllister held a press conference comparing Palin's expenses with those of fellow Republican, former Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Wall Street Journal

-Taliban Extend Cease Fire in Northwestern Pakistan
ISLAMABAD -- Taliban militants indefinitely extended a cease-fire Tuesday in a northwestern Pakistani valley, granting more time for peace talks that the U.S. worries could create an insurgent haven in the nuclear-armed country. Troops and insurgents have been observing a truce in the Swat valley since Feb. 15, when Pakistani authorities offered to introduce Islamic law in the region if militants lay down their arms. A hard-line cleric is negotiating a possible deal with the militants on behalf of the government.

-Stocks Drop to 50% of Peak
Government Vows Anew to Back Banks, but Lack of Clear Plan Worries Investors Financial markets shuddered Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 3.4% to 7114.78 -- or nearly half the peak it hit just 16 months ago -- even as the Obama administration tried to quell fears about the viability of major U.S. banks. The decline in the stock market was unusually broad and went well beyond the jittery financial sector, with technology and other economically sensitive categories driving major indexes to their lowest closing levels in more than 11 years.

Fort Report
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-Obama talks helos with McCain
President Barack Obama opened Monday's economic summit by taking aim at the "casual dishonesty" of Bush administration budgets Monday, saying he'll abandon accounting "tricks" used to hide the ballooning deficit and pledging to cut a $1.3 trillion federal shortfall in half during his first term.

-Poll: Politicians trusted more than business leaders on economy
By Paul Steinhauser
Call it a sign of the times. A new national poll indicates that when it omes to dealing with the economy, Americans have more confidence in the White House and Congress than Wall Street, the banks or auto executives.


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