Friday, March 20, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - March 20, 2009

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New York Times
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-Obama and Israeli Leader Make Video Appeals to Iran
Invoking art, history and "the common humanity that binds us," President Obama offered a "new day" in America's relationship with Iran, using a videotaped message to make an unusual appeal directly to Iranians for a shift away from decades of confrontation.

-A Leader Beyond Reproach Limits the Possibilities for Political Change
TRIPOLI, Libya - Step one block off almost any main road and the streets here are badly damaged or completely unpaved. There are problems with the schools, the health care system and the government bureaucracy, which is plagued by corruption and inefficiency. Untreated sewage is dumped right into the Mediterranean.

-Scorn Trails A.I.G. Executives, Even in Their Driveways
The A.I.G. executive who was nicknamed "Jackpot Jimmy" by a New York tabloid walked up the driveway toward his bay-windowed house in Fairfield, Conn., on Thursday afternoon. "How do I feel?" said the executive, James Haas, repeating the question he had just been asked. "I feel horrible. This has been a complete invasion of privacy."

-Giving and Taxes
Evidently, the rich still carry influence in Washington. President Obama's plan to cap itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers at a 28 percent rate flew like a lead balloon in Congress, reportedly sending the White House in search for other sources of revenue.

-Perverse Cosmic Myopia
You'd think if some tiger were lunging at your neck, your attention would be riveted on the tiger. But that's apparently not how it works in the age of global A.D.D. As a tiger sinks its teeth into the world's neck, we focus on the dust bunnies under the bed and the floorboards that need replacing on the deck. We live in the world of Perverse Cosmic Myopia, an inability to focus attention on the most perilous matter at hand.

-Fragile Signs of Hope Emerging in the Gloom of Mugabe's Rule
HARARE, Zimbabwe - On his first day as education minister in a government so broke that most schools were closed and millions of children idle, David Coltart said he got a startling invitation.

-Soldiers' Accounts of Gaza Killings Raise Furor in Israel
JERUSALEM - In the two months since Israel ended its military assault on Gaza, Palestinians and international rights groups have accused it of excessive force and wanton killing in that operation, but the Israeli military has said it followed high ethical standards and took great care to avoid civilian casualties.

-Israel Arrests 10 Hamas Leaders
JERUSALEM - Israel arrested 10 Hamas leaders in the West Bank late Wednesday and early Thursday, including four legislators, in what Hamas said was an attempt to put pressure on the organization after the collapse of negotiations for the release of a captive Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

-House Approves 90% Tax on Bonuses After Bailouts
The House overwhelmingly approved on Thursday a near total tax on bonuses paid this year to employees of the American International Group and other firms that have accepted large amounts of federal bailout funds, rattling Wall Street as lawmakers rushed to respond to populist anger.

Washington Post
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-Main Street Is Speaking Out. But Will Obama Listen?
By William Greider
The president is getting what he asked for, but perhaps not what he had in mind. During the campaign, Barack Obama beckoned Americans to put aside their cynicism about politics and re-engage as active citizens. They are now doing so with red-hot anger. They are outraged by events and forcing their way into congressional affairs and behind closed doors where policy wonks discuss issues with cerebral civility. The president is now trapped between these two realms -- the governing elites who decide things and the people who are governed. Which side is he on? If he does not choose wisely, the popular anger could devour his presidency.

-Does Geithner Get It?
By Eugene Robinson
President Obama's claim that Timothy Geithner faces a more daunting set of challenges than any Treasury secretary since Alexander Hamilton may be an exaggeration, but not by much. Geithner may indeed be the hardest-working man in Washington. But to survive, let alone succeed, he's going to have to make a more convincing case that he's part of the solution and not part of the problem.

-Bonfire of the Trivialities
By Charles Krauthammer
A $14 trillion economy hangs by a thread composed of (a) a comically cynical, pitchfork-wielding Congress, (b) a hopelessly understaffed, stumbling Obama administration, and (c) $165 million.

-Health Reform's Moment
By Thomas A. Daschle
When I withdrew from consideration to be secretary of health and human services, some pundits said health reform had received a devastating blow. While it would be flattering for me to believe that, it would also be completely wrong.

-Church faces challenges in Africa amid pope visit
LUANDA, Angola -- In Africa, some Roman Catholic priests have children and nuns counsel patients to use condoms against the scourge of AIDS. Faithful consult medicine men even though the church condemns that as witchcraft. As Pope Benedict XVI makes his first pilgrimage this week to the continent that has the world's fastest-growing congregation of Catholics, the church faces enormous challenges despite its growing presence here.

-Israeli Coalition Appears Fated to Clash With U.S.
By Howard Schneider
JERUSALEM, March 19 -- The foreign minister of Israel's incoming government lives in a West Bank settlement and will begin life as a diplomat battling the perception that he is anti-Arab.

Pew Research center
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-From the Polling Archive
Reluctant Suffragettes: When Women Questioned Their Right to Vote
An 86-year-old polling analysis sheds light on why female Americans were slow to appreciate the fruits of the suffragettes' hard-fought 70-year battle for access to the ballot box. Read more

-Community Climate
Most Like It Hot
Given a choice, most Americans would opt for a sun-kissed climate -- but not necessarily for a warm-weather city. Read more

-Moral Majorities
Public Has Split Verdict on Increased Level of Unmarried Motherhood
A new report shows out-of-wedlock births rose to record levels in 2007. A Pew Research survey that year found wide concern about the social costs, but only a minority saw such births as morally wrong. Read more

-More Medicine
Most Support Health Care Overhaul -- But it's Not 1993
While the public still favors government-guaranteed health insurance for all citizens, there is currently less support for rebuilding the system than there was at the beginning of the Clinton administration. Opinion about stem-cell research remains stable after lifting of the ban on federal funding. Read more

-Financial Fight Covered but not Watched
Media Match: Cramer v. Stewart
Including heavy coverage of the Daily Show-CNBC face-off, media focus turned to the hunt for villains embodying the excess that contributed to the financial system's unraveling. Read more

-Stewart-Cramer Registers Less than Rihanna-Chris Brown
As the economy remains story No. 1 for Americans, an increasing number are hearing a mix of good and bad news, not just bad news. Still, even with their attention focused on economic news, fewer Americans heard about the Cramer-Stewart interview than about Rihanna and Chris Brown. Read more

-Religion and Homosexuals
Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality
Among mainline Protestants overall, 56% say homosexuality should be accepted, compared with only about one-in-four evangelical Protestants. Read more

-Daily Number
51% - The Dark Side
A small majority says torture is rarely (20%) or never (31%) justified, but more than four-in-ten say torture is often (16%) or sometimes (28%) justified. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more

Fort Report
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-Palin Rejects Some Stimulus Funds
It's up to the Alaska Legislature to request hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds from the federal government. Gov. Sarah Palin said Thursday that she would accept only 69 percent of the estimated $930 million dollars that could flow to the state, including $514 million for capital projects and $128 million for a hike in Medicaid reimbursement.

-Dodd's political stock tumbles in Connecticut
By Andrew Miga
Democrats may want to start thinking about a bailout for Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, whose political stock has slipped amid the financial meltdown. As a five-term Democrat who blew out his last two opponents by 2-1 margins in a blue state that President Barack Obama won handily, Dodd, D-Conn., should be cruising to re-election in 2010. Instead, he's feeling heat from a Republican challenger eager to make him a poster boy for the tumult in the housing and financial markets.


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