Saturday, March 21, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - March 21, 2009

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New York Times
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-Rage Redux: Changing Channels
Let's discuss the George W. Bush presidential library. I am doing this as a public service. Our howling about government bailouts has sent Congress into a panic attack that's getting out of hand. The White House economic team may not be all we hoped for, but let them work in peace for a few days without having to worry that some legislator in search of outrage creds is going to crash through the window and bite Tim Geithner on the ankle.

-While Mr. Perry and Mr. Jindal Fiddle
Bobby Jindal | Rick Perry
Republican governors who have been threatening to refuse federal aid rather than sensibly expand state unemployment insurance programs are putting ideology ahead of the needs of their constituents.

-Iran's Supreme Leader Dismisses Obama Overtures
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's supreme leader rebuffed President Barack Obama's latest outreach on Saturday, saying Tehran was still waiting to see concrete changes in U.S. policy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was responding to a video message Obama released Friday in which he reached out to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian new year, and expressed hopes for an improvement in nearly 30 years of strained relations.

Washington Post
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-Bankers Press Case Against Punitive Tax
Executives Cite Health of Industry, Economy
By Binyamin Appelbaum
An alarmed banking industry looked for friends in Washington yesterday as it tried to head off severe congressional restrictions on compensation, fearful that a wave of popular anger about vast paydays will result in permanent damage to the industry.

-AIG Suing To Recover Taxes in IRS Dispute
Firm Says It Has Duty To Press On
By David S. Hilzenrath
As AIG takes billions of dollars from the federal government to stay afloat, it is suing the government for millions more. The big insurer is trying to recover $306.1 million of taxes, interest and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service. Among other things, AIG is contesting an IRS determination last year that the company improperly claimed $61.9 million of tax credits associated with complex international transactions.

-Locked Out of Refinancing
As Rates Dip, Some Find They Don't Qualify
By Dina ElBoghdady and Renae Merle
The Federal Reserve's huge gesture this week to keep already-low mortgage rates down seems to be working.

-Hungary's PM to quit amid tumbling popularity
BUDAPEST -- Hungary's Prime Minister announced Saturday that he is stepping down because of his government's low popularity amid a worsening financial crisis.

-Vatican Official Defends Child's Abortion
By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
The Vatican's top bioethics official said the two Brazilian doctors who performed an abortion on a 9-year-old rape victim do not merit excommunication, because they acted to save her life.

-Crunch Time for Fixing Health Care
By Ruth Marcus
You wouldn't know it from the headlines, but it's crunch time on health-care reform. In a series of high-level meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill, critical decisions are being made that will help decide whether the comprehensive health reform that has eluded policymakers for decades finally comes to fruition -- and what the system will look like for decades.

Wall Street Journal

-U.S. Sets Plan for Toxic Assets
The federal government will announce as soon as Monday a three-pronged plan to rid the financial system of toxic assets, betting that investors will be attracted to the combination of discount prices and government assistance.

-Why Foreign Aid Is Hurting Africa
Money from rich countries has trapped many African nations in a cycle of corruption, slower economic growth and poverty. Cutting off the flow would be far more beneficial, says Dambisa Moyo.
A month ago I visited Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. This suburb of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is home to more than one million people, who eke out a living in an area of about one square mile -- roughly 75% the size of New York's Central Park. It is a sea of aluminum and cardboard shacks that forgotten families call home. The idea of a slum conjures up an image of children playing amidst piles of garbage, with no running water and the rank, rife stench of sewage. Kibera does not disappoint.

-Russia's Rule of Lawlessness
Muckraking Attorney Is Murdered Despite Reform Pledge
MOSCOW -- Just minutes before his murder, Stanislav Markelov was at his most defiant. Protesting the release of a war criminal he had helped convict, he declared: "The person who decided to free him ... should be held criminally responsible."

Miami Herald
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-Computer attacks prompt call for national cyber-security czar
After computers were tapped, U.S. senators decided to recommend creating the post of a cyber-security czar.
Cyber-hackers believed to be based in China have tapped three times into the computer network in U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's office, the Florida Democrat said Friday.

Fort Report
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-The 100 People Who Are Changing America
It would be a luxury if the function of the list we present here were simply to shake ourselves out of complacency. But, unfortunately, we are far beyond that. With the election of Barack Obama and the deep hole that his predecessor left for him to dig his way out of, change is no longer a dreamy notion but a reality - and a responsibility. We've ranked 100 artists and leaders, policymakers, writers, thinkers, scientists and provocateurs who are fighting every day to show us what is possible - whether it's engineering a new electrical grid, reinventing the way movies are made or challenging us to let go of our illusions and face the brave new world that stands before us. This list is not necessarily about power in the old-fashioned sense but about the power of ideas, the power of innovation, the power of making people think and making them move.

-Which Side Are You On? 100 Days
By Christopher Hayes
Legislative fights in Washington rarely break down neatly along class lines. Often, the coalitions on either side of an issue are unwieldy and eclectic, with one sector or industry battling another. The notable exception is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which would reform a broken labor elections system, making it easier (one might say possible) for workers to unionize.

-Welcome to double-standard America
The AIG scandal has made it apparent that we are ruled by a government of men, not laws.
By David Sirota
United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard likes to say that Washington policymakers "treat the people who take a shower after work much differently than they treat the people who shower before they go to work." In the 21st century Gilded Age, the blue-collar shower-after-work crowd is given the tough, while the white-collar shower-before-work gang gets the love, and never before this week was that doctrine made so clear.

-End water giveaway
Bottled water companies have quite the deal. They pump about 5.4 million gallons of water a day from state springs and aquifers, bottle it and sell it - and Florida does not collect a dime on those sales. Gov. Charlie Crist would not end the giveaway outright. But his proposal for a 6-cents-per-gallon tax is a reasonable starting point the Legislature should embrace.

-Was Eliot Spitzer Taken Out Because He Was Going to Bust AIG?
Posted by Melina Ripcoco
Eliot Spitzer is back and he's talking. The thought of this, no doubt, brings a small shiver to the boardrooms of some of the perps walking around trying to figure out how to hide the money this week. Today Edward Liddy testified that there have been death threats made to or about executives who received bonuses, so no names will be put on the record, but these anonymous players must know that the jig is up in the land of easy-money. Isn't what to do a no-brainer for these great Americans?


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