Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - March 25, 2009

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New York Times
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-In a Volatile Time, Obama Strikes a New Tone
For just under an hour on Tuesday night, Americans saw not the fiery and inspirational speaker who riveted the nation in his address to Congress last month, or the conversational president who warmly engaged Americans in talks across the country, or even the jaunty and jokey president who turned up on Jay Leno. Instead, in his second prime-time news conference from the White House, it was Barack Obama the lecturer, a familiar character from early in the campaign. Placid and unsmiling, he was the professor in chief, offering familiar arguments in long paragraphs - often introduced with the phrase, "as I said before" - sounding like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell.

-As Clinton Visits Mexico, Strains Show in Relations
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's economy is being dragged down by the recession to the north. American addicts have turned Mexico into a drug superhighway, and its police and soldiers are under assault from American guns. Nafta promised 15 years ago that Mexican trucks would be allowed on American roads, but Congress said they were unsafe. United States-Mexican relations are in the midst of what can be described as a neighborly feud, one that stretches along a lengthy shared fence. That border fence, which has become a wall in some places, is another irritant.

-Justices Seem Skeptical of Scope of Campaign Law
A quirky case about a slashing documentary attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton would not seem to be the most obvious vehicle for a fundamental re-examination of the interplay between the First Amendment and campaign finance laws. But by the end of an exceptionally lively argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it seemed at least possible that five justices were prepared to overturn or significantly limit parts of the court's 2003 decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which regulates the role of money in politics.

-Secrets of a Pollster
Stan Greenberg, one of America's most experienced pollsters, sums up the key lesson he learned polling for Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Ehud Barak and Tony Blair: "Bold leaders in tumultuous times always have at least one crash."

-Watershed Moment on Nuclear Arms
During the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised to deal with one of the world's great scourges - thousands of nuclear weapons still in the American and Russian arsenals. He said he would resume arms-control negotiations -
the sort that former President George W. Bush disdained - and seek deep cuts in pursuit of an eventual nuclear-free world. There is no time to waste.

-Broader Access to Morning-After Pills
A federal judge in New York has added his weight to contentions that the Bush administration delayed easy, nonprescription access to the morning-after pill for political and ideological reasons, not from a desire to protect the public's health. Judge Edward R. Korman wisely ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make the pill available without prescription to women as young as 17 and to consider approving it for girls of any age, as major medical groups have long advocated.

-Dear A.I.G., I Quit!
The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group's financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.
DEAR Mr. Liddy,
It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G.
Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter.
Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context:
I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in - or responsible for - the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

-Netanyahu Promises Peace Effort
JERUSALEM - Israel's prime minister-designate, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Wednesday that the coalition he is forming would be a "partner for peace," offering a pledge that seemed designed to reshape his reputation as a foe of the peace process with the Palestinians.

-Vandals Hit Home of Ex-Chief of Bank
LONDON - The house of Fred Goodwin, the former chief executive of ailing Royal Bank of Scotland, was vandalized early Wednesday and windows of his car were smashed. Mr. Goodwin attracted criticism for keeping his £703,000, or $1 million, pension despite a string of ill-timed acquisitions under his reign that brought the bank under government control and calls from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to surrender the payment.

-U.S. Weighs Sharif as Partner in Pakistan
LAHORE, Pakistan - The opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, sealed his place as the most popular politician in Pakistan this month when he defied his house detention and led a triumphant protest that forced the government to restore the country's chief justice.

-To Cut Costs, States Relax Prison Policies
For nearly three decades, most states have dealt with lawbreakers in two ways: lock more of them up for longer periods, and build more prisons to hold them. Now many governments, out of money and buried under mounting prison costs, are reversing those policies and practices.

Washington Post
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-'Strengths and Weaknesses'
Will the Texas board of education evolve backward?
IF YOU THOUGHT the fight over teaching evolution in public schools had been settled, you haven't heard about what's taking place in Texas this week. Starting today, the state's board of education will consider whether the phrase "strengths and weaknesses" should remain deleted from the state's science standards. Debating strengths and weaknesses of various scientific theories might sound reasonable until you learn that those are supportive buzzwords for people who doubt evolution and want creationism taught in the classroom. A final vote is expected Friday.

-Hope in the Mountains
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Yesterday was a great day for the people of Appalachia and for all of America. In a bold departure from Bush-era energy policy, the Obama administration suspended a coal company's permit to dump debris from its proposed mountaintop mining operation into a West Virginia valley and stream. In addition, the administration promised to carefully review upward of 200 such permits awaiting approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

-Another McCain Throws Down a Challenge
By Kathleen Parker
The GOP's identity crisis just got more interesting with the media splash of Meghan McCain, daughter of the senator who did not become president. Young McCain, who began blogging during her father's presidential campaign, recently made waves at the Daily Beast when she picked a fight with conservative media mavens Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham.

-Building Bridges on The Hill
By Evan Bayh, Tom Carper and Blanche Lincoln
Last week, the three of us announced the formation of a moderate Democratic working group in the U.S. Senate. Even though the White House and Senate leadership praised the group's formation, some commentators reacted by reporting signs of a rift and a power struggle within the Democratic Party. Others accused the 16 members of our group of trying to obstruct the president's agenda.

-A Killer Forces A Choice in Darfur
By Michael Gerson
For years, the Sudanese regime, headed by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has acted the part of a terrorist gang, holding millions of refugees in Darfur camps hostage and warning the world not to make any sudden or aggressive moves. Now the world faces a question: What do we do when the captors begin killing their captives?

-President Points To Progress on Economic Efforts
He Says Budget Is Key to Recovery
By Michael D. Shear and Scott Wilson
President Obama sought to reassure Americans last night that his administration has made progress in reviving the economy and said his $3.6 trillion budget is "inseparable from this recovery."

-Handling Of 'State Secrets' At Issue
Like Predecessor, New Justice Dept. Claiming Privilege
By Carrie Johnson
Civil liberties advocates are accusing the Obama administration of forsaking campaign rhetoric and adopting the same expansive arguments that his predecessor used to cloak some of the most sensitive intelligence-gathering programs of the Bush White House.

-Despite Warrant, Egypt Welcomes Sudanese President
CAIRO -- Egypt, one of the strongest U.S. allies in the Middle East, welcomed Sudan's president on Wednesday despite an international warrant seeking his arrest on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

-US takes steps to deport alleged Nazi to Germany
The U.S. government said Tuesday it is asking German officials for travel documents needed to deport accused World War II Nazi guard John Demjanjuk, who is charged in Europe with 29,000 counts of accessory to murder. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provided an e-mail to The Associated Press showing that it has contacted the German government in its effort to deport Demjanjuk, once accused but ultimately cleared of being a notorious guard at the Treblinka concentration camp in occupied Poland.

-Bishop to skip Notre Dame commencement over Obama
The Roman Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame says he will boycott President Barack Obama's commencement speech at the Catholic school because Obama's policies on stem cell research and abortion run counter to church teaching.

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-FACT CHECK: Obama's plea for patience not a perfect fit with his bullish budget
President Barack Obama's plea Tuesday for patience in the economic turmoil fits with the view of most economists that a turnaround will take some time. It doesn't fit quite so neatly with his bullish budget. The president's spending plans and deficit projections rest on the assumption that the economy will post solid growth next year after a mild, further decline this year. Many economists think that's too rosy.,0,248728.story

Fort Report
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-Ten Radical Remedies America Needs
Obama must use his leadership to make necessary radical ideas mainstream. These changes are essential if we are to build an economy of broad prosperity.
Robert Kuttner
This is one of those eras of national crisis when the effective solutions to national problems are still far outside mainstream debate. Only a president can bring radical ideas into the mainstream. Under Abraham Lincoln, abolition of slavery went from unthinkable to inevitable. Thanks to Lyndon B. Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the White House embraced a radical social movement for civil rights. What will Barack Obama do to shift the political center of gravity?

-The Big Takeover
The global economic crisis isn't about money - it's about power. How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution
It's over - we're officially, royally fucked. no empire can survive being rendered a permanent laughingstock, which is what happened as of a few weeks ago, when the buffoons who have been running things in this country finally went one step too far. It happened when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was forced to admit that he was once again going to have to stuff billions of taxpayer dollars into a dying insurance giant called AIG, itself a profound symbol of our national decline - a corporation that got rich insuring the concrete and steel of American industry in the country's heyday, only to destroy itself chasing phantom fortunes at the Wall Street card tables, like a dissolute nobleman gambling away the family estate in the waning days of the British Empire.

-Five Lessons from the AIG Bonus Blowup
By Jay Newton-Small
Last week, outlets reported that "the clock was ticking" for "embattled" Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, with a few members of Congress openly calling for his ousting. His boss, President Barack Obama, was criticized for not engaging in the congressional furor over the $165 million in bonuses paid out to top executives at AIG - the insurance giant that has received more than $180 billion in federal money. This week Obama remains relatively untouched in the polls, and Geithner is basking in his best week of media coverage yet. How did their fortunes shift so suddenly? To some degree, they were helped by the fact that New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Monday night that he has already managed to get AIG employees to give back $50 million of the bonuses. But much of the credit still has to go to the Obama Administration for its handling of the AIG fracas. With that in mind, here are five lessons of the latest Beltway blowup. (Read "The AIG Bonuses: Getting Mad and Getting Even."),8599,1887466,00.html

-GOP's rising star runs into a rough patch
By Molly K. Hooper
A rising star in the Republican Party has dimmed over the past week. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), a politically shrewd up-and-comer in the GOP, has broken with his party on two high-profile issues. And the defections on last week's AIG bonus tax bill and the Obama administration's troubled assets plan have exasperated some members in the GOP conference.

-President expects backing on broader authority
By Sam Youngman
Timothy Geithner's request for more authority over non-bank entities like AIG will likely receive broad support from Congress and the public, President Obama said. In his second primetime press conference, Obama said that because of the lack of that broader authority, "the AIG situation has gotten worse."

-President Cool faces the nation
Andrew Leonard
Early on in his press conference, President Obama proved that he could take a bad question and turn it into a good answer. A question from the AP's Jennifer Loven asking why the American people should grant the administration new powers to regulate was flipped into an explanation of why the lack of regulatory authority had contributed to the government's inability to properly manage the AIG debacle. Next, NBC's Chuck Todd asked why Obama wasn't asking the American people to sacrifice more in the "war" on the economy. Obama looked mildly surprised,

-Key Senator Won't Support Union Bill
Republican Sen. Arlen Specter dealt a blow to organized labor's top legislative priority by announcing that he wouldn't support a bill to make it easier to unionize workplaces. The AFL-CIO and the bill's Democratic sponsors had been counting on Sen. Specter's vote to reach the 60 needed in the Senate to avoid a Republican-led filibuster. In 2007, Sen. Specter voted for cloture on the bill, or to cut off debate, but he said he could not do so now, especially given the recession and the weak economy.

-At news conference, Obama is salesman-in-chief
By Steve Holland - Analysis
Ronald Reagan was known as the "great communicator." George W. Bush was the self-styled "decider." President Barack Obama could easily be called the "salesman-in-chief." Obama used a nationally televised news conference on Tuesday night to try to sell Americans on his $3.55 trillion budget proposal and a bank bailout plan, and convince U.S. allies of the need to stimulate the global economy.

-Human rights advocate named State Department's top lawyer
Donald Stampfli
Harold Hongju Koh's selection continues Obama's pattern of filling legal posts with liberals. Harold Hongju Koh, dean at the Yale Law School, has been one of the most vocal critics of the Bush administration's approach to the detention and trial of terrorism suspects.
By Paul Richter,0,33354.story?track=rss


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