Sunday, March 15, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - March 15, 2009

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New York Times
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-A.I.G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout
WASHINGTON - The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. Word of the bonuses last week stirred such deep consternation inside the Obama administration that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told the firm they were unacceptable and demanded they be renegotiated, a senior administration official said. But the bonuses will go forward because lawyers said the firm was contractually obligated to pay them. The payments to A.I.G.'s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company's senior executives and 6,400 employees across the sprawling corporation. Mr. Geithner last week pressured A.I.G. to cut the $9.6 million going to the top 50 executives in half and tie the rest to performance. The payment of so much money at a company at the heart of the financial collapse that sent the broader economy into a tailspin almost certainly will fuel a popular backlash against the government's efforts to prop up Wall Street. Past bonuses already have prompted President Obama and Congress to impose tough rules on corporate executive compensation at firms bailed out with taxpayer money.

-Issue of Gun Rights Still Holds Sway
Democrats have been exorcising some of their most stubborn political demons of late.

-Harnessing the Sun, With Help From Cities
Rick Clark's garage is loaded with fast toys for playing in the sun. He has a buggy for racing on sand dunes, two sleek power boats for pulling water skiers, and a new favorite: 48 solar panels that send his energy meter whirring backward.

Miami Herald
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-Wake-up call for organized religion
We are losing our religion. That, with apologies to R.E.M., is the startling conclusion of a new study, the American Religious Identification Survey, conducted by researchers at Trinity College of Hartford, Conn. The poll of over 54,000 American adults found a sharp erosion in the number of people claiming religious affiliation.

Fort Report
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-Steele's Focus Turns to Nuts and Bolts
Basic Tasks Loom Large After GOP Chairman Appears to Survive Early Gaffes
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Michael S. Steele, the man tapped six weeks ago to run the Republican National Committee, had never been known as a successful manager. He struggled to make money in a private legal consulting firm he founded before entering politics, led few winning races as the head of the Republican parties of Prince George's County and later the state of Maryland, and lost in his attempts to win statewide office on his own.

-D.C. to Wall Street: Drop Dead
Investors' anger at Obama is misplaced. Stock indexes don't 'think.' They don't like one president and dislike the next.

-In His First 50 Days, President Obama Rapidly Reverses Bush Policies
From Gitmo to Stem Cell Research, Obama Veers Away From Bush's Policies
President Obama may not have changed the decor of the Oval Office, but he's quickly taking steps to overturn policies that marked the legacy of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

-Ron Paul argues for earmarks
'It's like a tax credit,' the Texas libertarian tells Fox News. 'If I can give my district any money back, I encourage that.'
By Johanna Neuman
Reporting from Washington -- Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who is the darling of the libertarian right, has more earmarks in the pork-laden $410-billion spending bill than any other Republican. That's not according to the MSM, or the liberal blogosphere. That's what Fox News is reporting.,0,2758431.story

-Administration Is Open to Taxing Health Benefits
The Obama administration is signaling to Congress that the president could support taxing some employee health benefits, as several influential lawmakers and many economists favor, to help pay for overhauling the health care system.

-Draw a line on stem cells
By Charles Krauthammer
Last week, the White House invited me to a signing ceremony overturning the Bush (43) executive order on stem cell research. I assume this was because I have long argued in these columns and during my five years on the President's Council on Bioethics that, contrary to the Bush policy, federal funding should be extended to research on embryonic stem cell lines derived from discarded embryos in fertility clinics.

-Democrats, GOP draw battle lines on healthcare plan
By Lisa Wangsness
Democrats and Republicans are battling over what is shaping up to be one of the most contentious issues in the healthcare debate: whether the government should establish a Medicare-style public insurance option for people under 65.

-Ginsburg: Possible Supreme Court Opening "Soon"
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told law students Friday there could be an opening on the Supreme Court soon but didn't hint at who might be leaving.

-Obama's Plan
Fixing the schools
President Obama may have the right lesson plan to finally fix the country's failing schools. In his first major speech on education, Obama fulfilled a campaign pledge to initiate a long-overdue overhaul of the public education system.


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