Thursday, March 26, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD NEWS - March 26, 2009

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New York Times
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-The Fierce Urgency of Peace
Pressure on President Obama to recast the failed American approach to Israel-Palestine is building from former senior officials whose counsel he respects. Following up on a letter dated Nov. 6, 2008, that was handed to Obama late last year by Paul Volcker, now a senior economic adviser to the president, these foreign policy mandarins have concluded a "Bipartisan Statement on U.S. Middle East Peacemaking" that should become an essential template.

-Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns
As the operations manager of an outreach center for the homeless here, Paul Stack is used to seeing people down on their luck. What he had never seen before was people living in tents and lean-tos on the railroad lot across from the center.

-Could It Really Be Him? Yeah, Probably
WASHINGTON: IT has been only two months since the Obamas moved into the White House, but here in the nation's capital, some people are already asking: Have you bumped into your president and first lady yet? This is no idle question. During the Bush years, Washington got used to a homebody president who preferred bringing friends into the Executive Mansion to venturing outside it. But these days, President Obama and his wife, Michelle, are popping up all over this city.

-Geithner to Outline Major Overhaul of Finance Rules
The Obama administration will detail on Thursday a wide-ranging plan to overhaul financial regulation by subjecting hedge funds and traders of exotic financial instruments, now among the biggest and most freewheeling players on Wall Street, to potentially strict new government supervision, officials said.

-Afghan Strikes by Taliban Get Pakistan Help, U.S. Aides Say
The Taliban's widening campaign in southern Afghanistan is made possible in part by direct support from operatives in Pakistan's military intelligence agency, despite Pakistani government promises to sever ties to militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, according to American government officials.

-Clinton Says U.S. Feeds Mexico Drug Trade
MEXICO CITY - Seeking to ease a cross-border relationship strained by drug trafficking, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here Wednesday and offered the clearest acknowledgment yet from an Obama administration official of the role the United States plays in the violent narcotics trade in Mexico.

-Paid Handsomely to Stay
Before the furor over pay at A.I.G., most Americans probably had never heard of a retention bonus. But like C.D.O. and credit-default swap, the term, a bit of sugar-coated corporate-speak, is quickly entering the popular lexicon.

-Optimism Grows in Congress for Retooled Budget's Prospects
Congressional Democrats began advancing retooled versions of President Obama's budget on Wednesday as the president visited the Capitol to urge senators to preserve his initiatives on health care, energy and education.

-Extravagant Results of Nature's Arms Race
Nature is reputed to be red in tooth and claw, but many arms races across the animal kingdom are characterized by restraint rather than carnage. Competition among males is often expressed in the form of elaborate weapons made of bone, horn or chitin. The weapons often start off small and then, under the pressure of competition, may evolve to attain gigantic proportions. The Irish elk, now extinct, had antlers with a span of 12 feet. The drawback of this magnificent adornment, though, was that the poor beast had to carry more than 80 pounds of bone on its head.

-Head Injuries: Looking for Signs and Acting Quickly
THE 18-year-old runner was rounding third base for home so fast that his batting helmet flew off. The infielder rifled the ball to the catcher, but it caught the runner instead, hitting his suddenly bare head. He scored, walked to the dugout, and five minutes later began to experience a violent headache.

Washington Post
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-China criticizes new US report on its military
BEIJING -- China slammed a newly released U.S. report on Beijing's growing military power as a "gross distortion," saying Thursday that it could damage military relations between the two countries.

-Obama Defends Push to Cut Tax Deductions for Charitable Gifts
By Philip Rucker
President Obama defends his proposal to cut the tax deductions that wealthy Americans can claim for their charitable donations by arguing that the shift would not have an adverse effect on giving, but two independent analyses concluded that the proposal could result in a drop of as much as $3.87 billion for the already reeling nonprofit sector.

-In Afghan War, U.S. Dominance Increasing
With More American Troops and Civilians On the Way, NATO Is Likely to Lose Clout
By Karen DeYoung and Rajiv Chandrasekaran
After years of often testy cooperation with NATO and resentment over unequal burden-sharing, the United States is taking unabashed ownership of the Afghan war.

-Re-emerging As an Emerging Market
By Desmond Lachman
Back in the spring of 1998, when Boris Yeltsin was still at Russia's helm, I led a group of global investors to Moscow to find out firsthand where the Russian economy was headed. My long career with the International Monetary Fund and on Wall Street had taken me to "emerging markets" throughout Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, and I thought I'd seen it all. Yet I still recall the shock I felt at a meeting in Russia's dingy Ministry of Finance, where I finally realized how a handful of young oligarchs were bringing Russia's economy to ruin in the pursuit of their own selfish interests, despite the supposed brilliance of Anatoly Chubais, Russia's economic czar at the time.

-Deficit Dodge Ball
Will Anyone Admit That Taxes Have to Rise?
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
The debate on the budget is phony, the howling on deficits a charade. Few politicians want to acknowledge that if you really are concerned about long-term deficits, you have to support tax increases.

-A Tax Break Fuels Middle East Friction
By David Ignatius
For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes.

-Bite the Bullet?
Congress and the District don't have to accept a dire choice between voting rights and city gun laws. THE DEBATE about whether the District should accept the loosening of its gun laws as a condition for voting rights has centered on politics and strategy. Absent has been any real discussion of what it would mean for the nation's capital to go from having the country's most restrictive gun laws to perhaps the least restrictive. If Congress is so intent on taking over local governance, it should -- at the very least -- have the sense to hear from experts about the impact of this radical rewriting of gun laws on public safety and homeland security.

-Pakistan hopes for U.S. re-think on missiles
By Alamgir Bitani
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan wants the United States to reconsider its use of pilotless drones to attack militants, a government spokesman said on Thursday, hours after 11 people were killed in two missile attacks.

Wall Street Journal

-Gasoline Prices Creep Upward Along With Demand
Gasoline prices have been relatively steady in the past month, but a jump in oil prices and tightening gas supplies could lead to higher prices at the pump heading into the summer driving season. U.S. efforts to stimulate the economy fueled expectations that a recovery might materialize sooner than anticipated, lifting oil-future prices earlier this week above $53 a barrel -- a level not seen since November.

-IBM to Cut U.S. Jobs, Expand in India
International Business Machines Corp. plans to lay off about 5,000 U.S. employees, with many of the jobs being transferred to India, according to people familiar with the situation. The technology giant has been steadily building its work force in India and other locations while reducing the number of workers based in the U.S. Foreign workers accounted for 71% of Big Blue's nearly 400,000 employees at the start of the year, up from about 65% in 2006. The latest round of cuts target the company's global business-services unit, which does everything from running corporate data centers to managing human resources for ...

-China and the Dollar
Markets don't like Treasury talking down the dollar's status. As if the dollar didn't have enough problems, Timothy Geithner took China's bait yesterday and said he was "quite open" to its suggestion this week to displace the greenback with an "international reserve currency." The dollar promptly fell and stocks followed, before the Treasury Secretary re-emerged to say "the dollar remains the world's dominant reserve currency. I think that's likely to continue for a long time."

-Democrats Bid Business Adieu
Barack Obama meets with a flock of nervous bankers at the White House tomorrow to reassure them he understands their interests. Good luck. There has always been tension between the Democratic Party and the private sector. That tension is over. With its vote in the House of Representatives to punish corporate bonus payments, the national Democratic Party has disconnected itself entirely from the private sector.

Fort Report
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-Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason?
Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes
By Naomi Wolf
In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal
counsel John Yoo's memos outlining the destruction of the republic. The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.

-With friends like these, who needs Republicans?
After a successful press conference, the president works a tougher crowd -- congressional Democrats.
By Mike Madden
Apparently the easy part was bumping "American Idol" off the air and battling CNN's Ed Henry on live TV. For President Barack Obama, the hard part of selling his budget might turn out to be persuading conservative Democrats not to get in the way.

-What Constitutional Rights Should Schoolchildren Have? Two Recent Cases Underscore the Ways in Which Children Are Not Simply Miniature Adults
Two 2008 federal appeals court rulings-one that may be on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and another that is already there-raise thorny questions of the extent to which schoolchildren enjoy the protections afforded by the Constitution to adults.


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