Saturday, February 28, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - February 28, 2009

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New York Times
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-Democrats Open Arms to Obama's Budget, With Some Caveats
For years, Congressional Democrats tried to avoid anything that would let Republicans slap the tax-and-spend label on them. But on Friday, they cautiously embraced President Obama's budget, with its ambitious blend of new spending and tax increases, calculating that they could turn the old attack line to their benefit.

-'Great Society' Plan for the Middle Class
Opponents of President Obama's proposal for a sweeping new government activism in the economy call it a return to a traditional tax-and-spend philosophy, a step back to the era of Lyndon B. Johnson.

-Braced for a Higher Tax Bill, Some May Dodge the Bullet
The wealthiest stand to lose the most under President Obama's proposed budget, while individuals with lower incomes could gain in many different ways.

-Even Worse for Young Workers
The employment situation in the U.S. is, if anything, worse than most people realize. And huge numbers of young people, ages 16 to 30, are being beaten down in ways that could leave scars for a lifetime.

-Gun Sense and Nonsense
The Supreme Court brushed past flimsy arguments by the gun lobby this week to uphold an important restriction on gun ownership that protects public safety.

-Evidence and Health Care Reform
Medicare has proposed not to pay for so-called virtual colonoscopies becausethere is not enough evidence that they would benefit people aged 65 and older. That may be disappointing for older Americans who would prefer a virtual exam to a real one. But those sort of judgments will be fundamental to any successful health care reform effort. Eliminating unproven procedures and reducing needless costs is necessary if the nation is to improve the quality and lower the cost of care over all.

-The Ape in American Bigotry, From Thomas Jefferson to 2009
Hitler found quite a bit to admire about this country during its apartheid period. Writing in the early 1930s, he attributed white domination of North America to the fact that the "Germanic" peoples here had resisted intermarriage with - and held themselves apart from - "inferior" peoples, including the Negroes, whom he described as "half-apes."

-Playing With Fire in Pakistan
Almost no one wants to say it out loud. But between the threats from extremists, an unraveling economy, battling civilian leaders and tensions with its nuclear rival India, Pakistan is edging ever closer to the abyss.

-Saudi Prince Is Humbled by Citigroup
LONDON - the bad news arrived by telephone early this week at the Saudi headquarters of Prince Walid bin Talal. Citigroup, the investment that had transformed Prince Walid from an obscure Arabian royal into the Warren E. Buffett of the Middle East, was spiraling down around him.

Washington Post
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-U.S. Economy Contracts At a Staggering Rate
By Annys Shin and Neil Irwin
Gross domestic product shrank at faster rate than expected in last quarter of 2008, dimming prospects for an economic recovery by year's end.

-As Task Force Debuts, Some Ask: Who Is Middle Class?
Definition Will Help Determine Who Benefits From Changes
By Alec MacGillis
Commentators left and right have reacted with awe to the ambition and transformative potential of President Obama's economic blueprint. But the debut of Vice President Biden's Middle Class Task Force here Friday suggested that the administration will be selling its plans in more conventional and reassuring tones -- as a bevy of benefits for the American middle class.

-Latham & Watkins Cuts 190 Lawyers
Huge Global Firm Lays Off 250 Others
By V. Dion Haynes
In a vivid illustration of how the global recession is battering the legal profession, Latham & Watkins, one of the largest law firms in the nation, announced yesterday that it will let go 190 lawyers and 250 paralegal and support staff.

-Top Officials Expand The Dialogue on Race
Month's Celebrations Evoke a Mix of Views
By Krissah Thompson
When the country's racial chasms seemed to threaten President Obama's election, his team had to tread carefully. A month into his administration, the tone has changed. Top officials are engaging the subject of race more freely, with a boldness and confidence they once shunned.

-U.S. May Boycott U.N. Racism Conference Over Document
By Colum Lynch
The Obama administration has said it will boycott a major U.N. conference on racism scheduled for April unless significant changes are made to the draft outcome document, which U.S. officials say unfairly singles out Israel for censure and could restrict freedom of speech.

-Netanyahu's Middle East Outlook
Interview by Lally Weymouth
Israeli Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu sat down last week with Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth -- his first interview with foreign media since he was asked by President Shimon Peres to form Israel's next government. Excerpts:
Q. President Peres reportedly believes that you have matured since you served as prime minister in 1996.
A. One would hope. I think time has its uses. One of them is to reflect on your experiences and those of others. I have watched carefully the successes of governments and . . . [seek] to draw from those the elements of policy and leadership that will enable me to move Israel to a better future -- one of peace, security and prosperity.

-Obama's Intelligence Blunder
By Jon Chait
Most of President Obama's "missteps" to date have been Washington peccadilloes of the "let's find something to complain about" sort. But Obamahas made one major mistake that has attracted little public attention: his appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman's view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he's an ideological fanatic.

-Preemptive Strike
Domestic violence suspects should be forced to relinquish their weapons.
"FIREARMS AND domestic strife are a potentially deadly combination nationwide." So wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week in an opinion upholding a federal law that bars convicted domestic violence abusers from possessing firearms. Seven justices, including conservatives Clarence Thomasand Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined the opinion. This is the same Supreme Court that held last year that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. If the justices can bless such a law, one wonders why Maryland lawmakers cannot follow suit and embrace an equally sensible measure.

Wall Street Journal

-Obama's Bush Vindication
The President's good turn on Iraq. It was never very likely that President Obama would come out and praise George W. Bush for the latter's handling of the Iraq war, and in his speech yesterday to the Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., he didn't. Then again, we didn't quite expect to find ourselves praising President Obama for his handling of Iraq.

Miami Herald
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-Welfare workers warn not reporting child abuse can be deadly
Welfare workers warn that child sexual abuse flourishes because, far too often, adults fail to act when children cry for help. For half her life, Priscila Amador may have kept a deadly secret. Since she was a small girl, her father had been molesting her, she told classmates, who in turn told their parents. On Wednesday, days after she told friends to ''pray for her,'' Priscila, 14, was shot and killed by her father. Pablo Josue Amador also killed his wife, another daughter and then himself.

Fort Report
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-GOP policies to blame for country's massive deficit
How big should government be? The answer is: As big as it has to be - and for small-government types, no bigger than it has to be. The whole debate about the proper size of government is a blind alley leading into a deadend. Government must grow at times of war or collapsing economy. It grows when there are lots of schoolchildren, elderly people or natural disasters. Government provides necessities that the private sector can't. We can argue over what constitutes a necessity.

-Time for Iraq
President Obama's strategy aims at success. Is that a goal congressional Democrats can support?

-Public support
by Libby Spencer
The media has spent the last five weeks amplifying the Republicans' complaints that the Democrats aren't being bipartisan because they're not caving into their demands. Even Obama seems to think there's some great public hunger for unanimous bipartisan votes in Congress. But if you ask the people what they want, it's leadership. A recent poll shows 56% want Obama to stick to his own policies, while only 39% care at all about bipartisanship. Furthermore, 79% think the GOPers should be more accomodating to the President's agenda and only 17% say the Republicans should be obstructing the process with all these united no votes. In otherwords, the people don't care about bipartisanship, what they want is non-partisanship. Solutions, not politics.

-Stem cell research supporters offer Senate bill
By Maggie Fox
Two prominent supporters of stem cell research said on Thursday they had reintroduced a Senate bill that would allow federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research, in anticipation of President Barack Obama's support for the work. Senators Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, and Arlen Specter, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said their bipartisan measure would allow federal funding for research using stem cells taken from human embryos left over from fertility treatments.

-Prevent the pregnancies
Publicly financed family planning services prevent nearly 2 million unintended pregnancies and more than 800,000 abortions each year, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report. And for every $1 spent on those services, taxpayers save $4 - $24 in Florida - that would have been spent onthose unintended births.

Pew Research center
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-The 4th Estate Formula Newspapers Face a Challenging Calculus
The growth in readership online has not offset the decline in print for newspapers. Read more Economies of Scale

-Harsh Words for Wall Street
An increasing number of Americans say the government's action on the economy is on the right track while Americans remain angry about the financial problems that contributed to the current crisis. Read more

-Supply & Demand: Crisis Eclipses All Other News
With the stimulus passed, the media moved on to other economic horror stories such as the mortgage bailout. Read more

-Budget Busting With Crisis as Catalyst, State Governors Push Big Changes
State executives are using the economic crisis to sell big changes in how jurisdictions operate, promising overhauls that could alter governments around the country. Read more

-Daily Number 86% - Social Segregation
The voluntary social segregation in America, recently commented on by Attorney General Eric Holder, can be seen in Pew Research data showing that while most have a friend of a different race (86%), pluralities of whites, blacks and Hispanics have just a few. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more


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