Thursday, March 12, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - March 12, 2009

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New York Times
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-As Cities Go From Two Papers to One, Talk of Zero
The history of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer stretches back more than two decades before Washington became a state, but after 146 years of publishing, the paper is expected to print its last issue next week, perhaps surviving only in a much smaller online version.

-Financial Fraud Is Focus of Attack by Prosecutors
Spurred by rising public anger, federal and state investigators are preparing for a surge of prosecutions of financial fraud.

-Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post
When Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, announced that he would install Charles W. Freeman Jr. in a top intelligence post, the decision surprised some in the White House who worried that the selection could be controversial and an unnecessary distraction, according to administration officials.

-Investigation Into Madoff Fraud Turns to a Small Circle of Accountants
As Bernard L. Madoff faces another big day in court Thursday, some details are emerging about how he operated his vast Ponzi scheme.

-At Stake for Madoff in Hearing: His Freedom
When Bernard L. Madoff arrives in federal court on Thursday to plead guilty to operating a vast 20-year Ponzi scheme, there is a strong chance that he will not return home.

-Gordon to the Rescue
If, as a British prime minister, you get a five-minute segment on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," you know you've made it, especially when the much-loved Stewart describes your country as a place that "gets about two hours of sunshine a year" and resembles a "coffee-less Seattle."

-Iraqi Shoe Thrower Gets Three Years
BAGHDAD - An Iraqi journalist who gained widespread acclaim throughout the Arab world for hurling his shoes at President Bush during a visit here in December was sentenced to three years in jail by a court on Thursday.

Washington Post
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-Choice of Drug Czar Indicates Focus on Treatment, Not Jail
By Carrie Johnson and Amy Goldstein
The White House said yesterday that it will push for treatment, rather than incarceration, of people arrested for drug-related crimes as it announced the nomination of Seattle Police Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske to oversee the nation's effort to control illegal drugs.

-Obama Signs Spending Bill, Vowing to Battle Earmarks
By Paul Kane and Scott Wilson
President Obama's call to rein in the use of earmarks was met with derision yesterday even from some of his past reformer allies, dealing an early blow to his attempt to change how business is done in Washington.

-The Country's Loss
By David S. Broder
The Obama administration has just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the lobbyists the president vowed to keep in their place, and their friends on Capitol Hill. The country has lost an able public servant in an area where President Obama has few personal credentials of his own -- the handling of national intelligence.

-Robert Parham
Limbaugh's Unrighteous Hold on Christian Right
Rush Limbaugh told what he thought was a joke to a cheering crowd at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists and politicians. In his rambling remarks televised on FOX News, Limbaugh said that when Larry King died, he went to heaven and was met at the gates by Saint Peter. King's one question was: "Is Rush Limbaugh here?"

-Alaska Gov. Palin's Daughter, Fiance Break Up
Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of Gov. Sarah Palin, have broken off their engagement, he said Wednesday, about 2 1/2 months after the couple had a baby.

-Tax-Prep Software Doesn't Add Up
By Rob Pegoraro
I knew I was doomed about five minutes into this year's tax-prep ordeal. Two different programs -- having been fed nothing more than basic personal info and the contents of a pair of W-2s -- did not agree on the total tax bill for my wife and me.

-Paved With Magnificent Intentions
By George F. Will
Charles Dickens, who visited in 1842, described Washington as a "city of magnificent intentions" because of the incongruity between the city's grand aspirations and muddy, swampy actuality. Today Washington's discrepancy is not architectural but political. It is between the extraordinary powers and competences the administration claims it has and the administration's inability to be clear or plausible about what it is doing.

-A 'Phony War' On the Crisis
By David Ignatius
For all the legislative commotion surrounding the economic crisis, we are still living in the equivalent of "the phony war" of 1939 and 1940. War has been declared on the Great Recession, but it's basically politics as usual. The bickering and mismanagement that helped create the crisis are continuing, even though we elected a president who promised a new start.

-Building a Better Capitalism
By Harold Meyerson
So what kind of capitalism shall we craft? Now that the market fundamentalism to which we've adhered for the past 30 years has -- by its own criterion of increasing shareholder value -- totally failed? Now that Alan Greenspan has proclaimed himself "shocked" that "the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders' equity" proved to be an illusion?

Wall Street Journal
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-For More Mayors, School Takeovers Are a No-Brainer
Oversight by City Hall Can Help Push Through Reforms, but Some Parents and Teachers See Too Much Bullying
More U.S. cities are considering scrapping a longstanding tradition in American education, the elected school board, and opting to let mayors rule over the classroom.

-Obama Outlines Plan to Curb Earmarks
President Barack Obama signed a $410 billion spending bill Wednesday that includes thousands of pet projects inserted by lawmakers, even as he unveiled new rules to restrict such so-called earmarks.

-High School Shooting in Germany Leaves 16 Dead
BERLIN -- A shooting rampage that began in a southern German school on Wednesday and left 16 dead is likely to stoke fresh debate in Europe about gun control and public security. The shooting began about 9:30 a.m., when 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer, a former student, entered Albertville high school in Winnenden, a suburb of Stuttgart. He killed nine students and three teachers with a Beretta 9mm pistol before fleeing, police say. In Winnenden, he killed a passerby and then hijacked a car, setting off a massive police manhunt.

-Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists
U.S. President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner received failing grades for their efforts to revive the economy from participants in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey.

-Tariq Aziz Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison
Saddam Hussein's former foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, was convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for the 1992 execution of 42 merchants accused of price gouging while Iraq was under U.N. sanctions. The conviction was the first against Mr. Aziz, who for years was the former regime's public face to West.

-Bill Gates Reclaims Title as Richest Man in World
The global economic crisis has reduced the number of billionaires and made the richest people in the world poorer, according to Forbes magazine. Forbes found 793 billionaires in 2009, down 30% from a year earlier. This is the first decline since 2003.

Fort Report
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-Dumbest Proposal Ever?
By Joe Conason
If President Barack Obama's response to the economic crisis is imperfect, as he acknowledges, and if the Congressional Democrats leave much to be desired as well, then Americans can at least be thankful that the nation's fate has not been consigned to the frozen minds on the other side of the aisle. Things are bad, and seem very likely to get worse-but the Republicans seem determined to plunge us into a real depression, gambling that catastrophe would return them to power.

-Steele Under Fire
By The New York Times
Michael Steele, whose rocky start as chairman of the Republican National Committee had already led to chatter about his job security, has more trouble on his hands. In an interview with Lisa DePaulo of GQ, Mr. Steele was asked about his views on abortion and homosexuality, and in both cases gave answers that could give heartburn to conservatives.

Pew Research center
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-States of Movement
Magnet or Sticky? A State-by-State Typology
Alaska has trouble keeping 'em down on the tundra: just 28% of the adults born in that state still live there now, placing it 50th on this measure of state population "stickiness." New York, meantime, has trouble attracting newcomers: just 19% of its current residents were born in another state, making it the nation's least "magnetic" state. Find out where your state lands on these novel measures of state migration patterns. Read more

Few in Pakistan Support Extremists -- But Few Favor Military Confrontation
Extremist groups are increasingly demonstrating their ability to strike throughout a country in which support for al Qaeda or the Taliban has declined sharply in recent years and where few agree with their widely noted tactic of preventing education for girls. Read more

-Stop the Presses
Many Americans Wouldn't Care a Lot if Local Papers Folded
Fewer than half of Americans say losing their local paper would hurt civic life a great deal; even fewer say they would miss reading it a lot. Read more

-Seeing Red?
Socialism, American-Style
We love the free market, but fear corporations and global competition, and depend on Uncle Sam to keep us safe. Read more

-Poll Paradox
Why Surveys of Muslim Americans Differ
Because Muslim Americans make up a very small percentage of the U.S. public, it is difficult to provide a reliable picture of their views and differences in survey design can crucially affect findings. Read more

-Buy, Sell, Yell
Media Get on Dow Rollercoaster
For the fourth time in four weeks a different component of the economic crisis was the top storyline. Also, Limbaugh was the No. 2 newsmaker of the week. Read more

-Daily Number
33 - Candidate to President
America's impression of Barack Obama has changed substantially from his time on the campaign trail last fall to his current position in the Oval Office. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more


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