Thursday, April 02, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - April 02, 2009

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New York Times
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-Global Leaders Meet in Bid to Resolve Rift on Economic Plan
LONDON - Britain predicted on Thursday that world leaders would bridge their differences on steps to recover from the deepest global economic downturn since World War II, as President Obama and his counterparts from more than 20 industrial and developing countries began a day of talks here.

-China Vies to Be World's Leader in Electric Cars
TIANJIN, China - Chinese leaders have adopted a plan aimed at turning the country into one of the leading producers of hybrid and all-electric vehicles within three years, and making it the world leader in electric cars and buses after that.

-Toll Discounts for In-State Residents Draw Constitutional Challenge
Is E-ZPass helping states violate the Constitution? Massachusetts and Rhode Island use electronic toll systems to charge their residents less than out-of-staters at some bridges and tunnels. Now two new lawsuits filed in federal courts say the practice is unconstitutional.

-Jury Gets Case of Fired Professor
After a four-week trial, a jury in Denver is deliberating the case of Ward L. Churchill, a former University of Colorado professor who says he was fired because of an essay he wrote in which he called victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks "little Eichmanns."

-The Forgotten Rich
The Senate budget debate began this week against a backdrop of war and recession, rising unemployment and surging foreclosures, runaway health care costs and diminishing insurance coverage - to name just a few of the nation's big problems. But for Senator Blanche Lincoln, Democrat of Arkansas, and Senator Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, the most pressing issue is clear: America's wealthiest families need help. Now.

-The People Have Mumbled
We were so excited about that special Congressional election in upstate New York. Finally, a chance to find out whether the nation really approves of what Barack Obama has been doing!

-With the Downturn, It's Time to Rethink the Legal Profession
The economic downturn is hitting the legal world hard. American Lawyer is calling it "the fire this time" and warning that big firms may be hurtling toward "a paradigm-shifting, blood-in-the-suites" future. The Law Shucks blog has a "layoff tracker," and it is grim reading. Top firms are rapidly thinning their ranks, and several - including Heller Ehrman, a venerable 500-plus-lawyer firm founded in 1890 - have closed.

-At Stake Are More Than Banks
As world leaders gather in London for the Group of 20 summit meeting, the most wrenching statistic is this: According to World Bank estimates, the global economic crisis will cause an additional 22 children to die per hour, throughout all of 2009.

-America Agonistes
LONDON - Pax Americana, unlovely but effective, has endured for more than 60 years, the consequence of the post-war development of the United States as a European and Asian power. It has averted the worst, but it is safe to say that it is closer to the end than the beginning of its life.

Washington Post
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-Obama, Medvedev Pledge Cooperation
Leaders Open Talks on Arms-Control Treaty
By Michael D. Shear and Scott Wilson
LONDON, April 1 -- President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the start of negotiations Wednesday on a new strategic arms-control treaty that would cut each nation's long-range nuclear arsenal further than previous agreements, inaugurating what both men indicated would be a more pragmatic relationship than the one their predecessors pursued.

-Recession Taking Emotional Toll, New Poll Finds
People Spending Less, Stressing More
By Jennifer Agiesta
Consumers are keeping their wallets in their pockets and feeling increasingly anxious because of the recession, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Many report putting off big-ticket spending that could benefit the hard-hit automotive and travel industries, while also cutting out everyday indulgences such as dining out.

-Todd Palin: $150K on clothes 'out of our control'
The Associated Press
The husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says the Republican Party's lavish spending on her wardrobe during the presidential campaign was "out of our control." In the May issue of Men's Journal, Todd Palin was asked about the more than $150,000 that the Republican National Committee spent on clothes, accessories and beauty services for the GOP vice presidential nominee. He defended his wife, saying she was focused on preparation for her debate with Joe Biden.

-1 in 5 Medicare patients readmitted within month
One in five Medicare patients end up back in the hospital within a month of discharge, a large study found, and that practice costs billions of dollars a year. The findings suggest patients aren't told enough about how to take care of themselves and stay healthy before they go home, the researchers said. A few simple things _ like making a doctor's appointment for departing patients _ can help, they said.

-The Stevens Case
Its shocking reversal says more about the Justice Department than about the former senator. TED STEVENS should be jumping for joy. The Justice Department Wednesday announced that it would ask a judge to dismiss the conviction of the former Alaska Republican senator, who was tried last year on charges of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts from an Alaska oil services firm and its former chief executive, among others. The government also announced that it would not seek to retry Mr. Stevens, 85, who lost a reelection bid last November.

-Obama's Muscle Moment
By David S. Broder
Last week's edition of the Economist, the shrewd British journal, had a lead editorial expressing serious misgivings about Barack Obama. "His performance has been weaker than those who endorsed his candidacy, including this newspaper, had hoped," it said.

-Rolling Out Obamanomics
By David Ignatius
As President Obama takes his seat at the Group of 20 summit in London today, the world's leaders will be curious what economic philosophy he represents. Is this the same America that celebrated go-go capitalism and resisted regulation of global financial markets, or is it a chastened nation? Is America still from Mars, to use the shorthand of the Bush years, or has it moved to Venus?

-Disturber of the Peace
'Yes, We Can' Meets Conservative Europe
By Robert Kagan
French President Nicolas Sarkozy posed the essential question a few weeks ago when he asked, "Does Europe want peace, or does it want to be left in peace?" Well, as Groucho Marx said, when asked if he was a man or mouse: "Put a piece of cheese on the floor, and you'll find out."

-How a 'G-2' Would Hurt
By Dennis C. Wilder
At this week's Group of 20 summit, President Obama must reaffirm to the world that Washington has no intention of forming or even moving toward an exclusive "G-2" relationship with China. It is, of course, important that the United States deepen the constructive and candid ties established between Chinese President Hu Jintao and former president George W. Bush. The Obama administration's willingness to build on that record is heartening, and it is in the interest of all nations that we broaden the U.S.-China relationship. We will, however, pay a heavy price with our long-term friends and allies in Asia by referring to increased economic cooperation with China as a new G-2.

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-Bernie Madoff Scandal
By Arlene Satchell
Feds seize Madoff's Palm Beach home, Fort Lauderdale yacht
"It's not an April Fools' joke,'' U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Barry Golden said of the Madoff property seizure that was ordered on March 23 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.,0,7775930.story

-Florida Senate debates sweeping property insurance measure
Julie Patel and Josh Hafenbrack
A sweeping measure that would increase property insurance rates for most Florida home and condominium owners got its first public debate today. Sen. Garrett Richter, the bill's sponsor, postponed its first vote amid biting questions from fellow Republican senators.,0,1186684.story

Miami Herald
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-Begin discussion on legalizing drugs
Maybe we should legalize drugs. I come neither eagerly nor easily to that maybe. Rather, I come by way of spiraling drug violence in Mexico that recently forced Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the role America's insatiable appetite for narcotics plays in the carnage. I come by way of watching Olympian Michael Phelps do the usual public relations song and dance after being outed smoking weed, and knowing the whole thing was a ritualized farce. Most of all, I come by way of personal antipathy: I don't like and have never used illegal drugs. But yeah, I'm thinking maybe we should legalize them.

Palm Beach Post
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-New sugar deal: Crist announces 72,500 acres for $533 million
Gov. Charlie Crist still proposes buying a huge swath of U.S. Sugar Corp.'s farmland to save the Everglades.

Fort Report
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-House takes second crack at bonuses
By Silla Brush
The House approved a bill on Wednesday evening that seeks to limit bonuses at firms receiving bailout money, but delegates the Treasury secretary to determine unreasonable pay standards.

-The Man Who Ate the G.O.P.
by Michael Wolff
In an ailing radio industry, with a graying audience and a pro-government landscape, Rush Limbaugh should be shuffling off into irrelevancy. Instead, his ever more outrageous attacks have everyone debating whether he's the G.O.P.'s de facto leader, while the party shapes its ideology to fit his needs.

-"No" Worries
Republicans let Obama goad them into releasing a budget. Maybe they shouldn't have.
By Christopher Beam
Watching congressional Republicans elaborately introduce their second alternative budget-this time with numbers-it was hard not to see them as victims of a cruel prank.

-A Food-Safety Savior?
By Caroline Smith DeWaal
An expert has five key questions for HHS nominee Kathleen Sebelius. With yet another food recall in the news (this time it's pistachios), Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, now poised to take the helm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will undoubtedly face tough questions at her confirmation hearings about the failed safety record of products like peanut butter, pet food, spinach and tomatoes. The Food and Drug Administration, which is a part of HHS, has responsibility for oversight of the lion's share of the food supply and as such, touches every American three times each day like clockwork, at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

-Dems Investigating Bush Administration Role In AIG Collapse
A House oversight panel is investigating the role Bush administration officials and regulators played in the collapse of American International Group. The first step of the investigation begins Thursday, House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) tells the Huffington Post, when the committee hears testimony from former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg.

-Obama's humble America
By Sam Youngman
President Obama used his first full day in the arena of heavyweight international diplomacy to reveal an ambitious agenda and a new American humility. Even as the events in London were marred by violent riots and protocol hiccups, Obama enjoyed a day of meetings with traditional rivals and longtime enemies, the productivity of which surprised even some White House officials.

-Here, There, Everywhere
by E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Why Obama challenges not only his entrenched adversaries, but also his natural allies. The great mystery of the Obama administration's economic agenda is whether its signature marriage of boldness and caution will prove to be a Goldilocks recipe that gets things just right, or a Rube Goldberg approach of unimaginable complexity and uncertain purpose.

-Momentum grows among Dems for using rules to avoid filibuster
By Walter Alarkon and Jared Allen
Momentum among Democrats is growing to use special budget rules to push major healthcare reform this year through the Senate with a simple majority. Two possible members of a House-Senate conference committee, which is likely to have the final say on the rules' use, on Tuesday refused to rule out the use of reconciliation instructions that would include an overhaul of the nation's healthcare system in a final budget resolution.

-Is Merit Pay a Distraction in the Fight for Meaningful Education Reform?
Dana Goldstein
Merit pay is the hot topic in education policy. But the history of American education reform suggests we should be skeptical of single-faceted solutions to multifaceted problems. Merit pay is hot. Every few years something like this happens in education policy. Support for one or another reform method -- small schools, or uniforms, or reducing class size -- turns into a litmus test for whether or not an educator, advocate, or writer really supports education "reform"; whether, in the perennial question of education reformers and policy makers everywhere, a person truly "puts children first."


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