Sunday, April 26, 2009

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST - April 26, 2009

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New York Times
Go to the links for the following articles:

-After an Off Year, Wall Street Pay Is Bouncing Back
The rest of the nation may be getting back to basics, but on Wall Street, paychecks still come with a golden promise. Workers at the largest financial institutions are on track to earn as much money this year as they did before the financial crisis began, because of the strong start of the year for bank profits.

-House Heavyweight Feels Threat to Power
So powerful was Representative John P. Murtha at one time that he used to put up billboards in his Western Pennsylvania district declaring that "the P is for Power." Few in Congress dared disagree: he doled out or withheld billions in federal money each year for lawmakers' pet projects, better known as earmarks.

-At the Polls, Icelanders Punish Conservatives
REYKJAVIK, Iceland - It is a tale of light and dark - of a small but rugged country far from anywhere that has suffered as severely as any in the developed world at the hands of buccaneering free-marketeers, but which is now slowly digging itself out from the financial wreckage.

-Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate
For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

-Pakistani Official Warns Taliban Must Disarm
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Pakistan's top civilian security official says the Taliban in the northwest's Swat Valley must disarm or ''face action.''

-In Pakistan, Guile Helps Taliban Gain
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Initially, Buner was a hard place for the Taliban to crack. When they attacked a police station in the valley district last year, the resistance was fearless. Local people picked up rifles, pistols and daggers, hunted down the militants and killed six of them.

-To Save Money, M.I.T. Drops 8 Sports Teams
High school students with dreams of competing in alpine skiing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, beware: when this academic year ends, the institute will no longer have a varsity team.

-The Banality of Bush White House Evil
Torture was a tool in the campaign to exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would support a war that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda.

-Time to Come Clean
President Obama worries that a commission to investigate torture and tally its costs would distract from focusing on the economy, but the truth is the opposite.

-The Stress Test Results
The nation's largest banks received the results of their government stress tests on Friday. The rest of us should get the news next week. For the Obama administration, the tests could be a major success, if they provide clear data on which to base a bank-rescue strategy. Or the tests could be one of its worst failures, especially if they are not seen as credible. That would feed already profound financial anxieties and make it even harder for President Obama to manage the economic crisis.

-Moore's Law and the Law of More
It is not an exaggeration to say that the team that President Obama appointed to promote his green agenda is nothing short of outstanding - a great combination of scientists and policy makers committed to building an energy economy that is efficient, clean and secure. Now there is only one vacancy left for him to fill. And it's one that only he can fill: Green President. Is he ready to do that job with the passion and fight that will be required to transform America's energy future? Hope so. Not sure yet.

-Health Care Reform, Step One
The Senate has a not-to-be-missed opportunity in the next few weeks to pass legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products. It should move quickly - during the brief period of calm before the senators must grapple with health care reform and other difficult issues.

Washington Post
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-Wrong on Gays in the Military
Alright, I've had it! Had it with the antiquated arguments against gays serving openly in the military espoused today on The Post's Op Ed page by James J. Lindsay, Jerome Johnson, E.G. "Buck" Shuler Jr., and Joseph Went. Gay men and lesbians should be allowed to serve. They should be allowed to serve openly. And they should be allowed to serve with the honor and dignity such service entails.

-Sochi's Olympic Troubles
By Boris Nemtsov
SOCHI, Russia -- My country has produced some of the best Olympic athletes in history, but some things about the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, are very disturbing.

-Sound the Alarm
What does the Obama administration hope to accomplish by publicly warning of a Pakistani collapse? THE TALIBAN raised fears in Pakistan last week by briefly seizing new territories near the capital, Islamabad. But in its own way, the Obama administration offered as much reason for panic about the deteriorating situation in that nuclear-armed Muslim country. In the course of just three days, the U.S. secretaries of State and Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the commanding general of American forces in the Middle East all publicly warned, in blunt and dire language, that Pakistan was facing an existential threat -- and that its government and Army were not facing it. "I think that the Pakistani government is basically abdicating to the Taliban and to the extremists," said Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

-Expiring Tax Cuts
What to do before the 2010 drop-dead date
THE LOOMING expiration of the Bush tax cuts offers an opportunity that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress seem determined to squander. No one is proposing allowing all the tax cuts to expire as scheduled, on Dec. 31, 2010, nor should they. But a rational discussion of tax policy would include thoughtfully weighing which tax cuts to keep in place, which ones to pay for and perhaps even which taxes to increase. It may not surprise you to learn that this not happening. Instead, Congress is busy figuring out how to best break its own rules -- the ones that supposedly require tax cuts to be paid for rather than simply tacked on to the already bulging bill for the next generation. Meanwhile, President Obama has appointed a tax reform panel -- a good idea -- but counterproductively constrained its mission.

Pew Research center
Go to this link for the following articles:

-Nation of Newcomers
A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States
Unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. -- now estimated to number 11.9 million -- are more geographically dispersed, but their recent rapid growth in the labor force has halted. A new demographic analysis includes population and labor force estimates by state. Read more

-Mexican Immigrants in the United States, 2008
No other country in the world has as many total immigrants from all countries as the United States has immigrants from Mexico alone. About 11% of everyone born in Mexico is currently living in the U.S. Read more

-Posting Politics
The Internet's Role in Campaign 2008
Three-quarters (74%) of internet users went online during the 2008 election to take part in, or get news and information about the 2008 campaign. This represents 55% of the entire U.S. adult population. Read more

-Is God Green?
Faith in Global Warming
The unaffiliated (58%) are the most likely to say there is solid evidence the earth is warming because of human activity while white evangelical Protestants (34%) are the least likely to believe in man-made global warming. Read more

-Buried Treasure - Pirates Capture Media
Press coverage of the economic meltdown hit a record low for the year as pirate drama seized the No. 1 spot online, in network TV, radio news and cable news. Read more

-A More Mixed Economic Picture
More Americans -- including far more Republicans than before -- are hearing at least some good economic news. Many follow Somali pirate story. Read more

-When Will Jesus Return?
Christians' Views of the Second Coming
Fully 79% of U.S. Christians believe in the Second Coming of Christ. Only 17% don't -- fewer than the 20% who believe the Second Coming will occur in their lifetime. Read more

-Daily Number
66% - Most Say Single Motherhood is a Bad Thing
The same year (2007) that out-of-wedlock births rose to record levels, a Pew Research survey found that two-thirds of Americans believe unmarried motherhood is harmful to society. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more

-Recession-Era Reevaluations
Luxury or Necessity? Consumers Make a U-Turn
From the kitchen to the laundry room to the home entertainment center, Americans are paring down the list of familiar household appliances they say they can't live without. Read more

-Obama at 100 Days
Strong Job Approval, Even Higher Personal Ratings...
The 44th president scores more highly with the public at the 100-day mark than his recent predecessors. But what sets him apart is how he is viewed personally. Also, Obama receives better ratings on foreign policy and terrorism than on domestic issues. Read more

-But Will Obama Ride Reagan's Ratings Roller Coaster?
A close look at reactions to Reagan's first few months in office provides striking parallels with what polls now find about opinions of Obama. And the Reagan experience may well provide clues as to what lies ahead. Read more

-Torture in America
Public Remains Divided About Torture
Amid intense debate over the use of torture against suspected terrorists, public opinion remains about equally divided overall, although Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to say it is at least sometimes justified. Read more

-Fair and Balanced
Fox News Stands Out as "Too Critical" of Obama
No one network was singled out as "too easy" on the president by the general public, but the impression that there is a pro-Obama bias to media coverage is widespread among Republicans. Read more

-Tea Parties: Fox News vs. MSNBC
Protests proved to be something of a journalistic Rorschach test. Read more

-Blogs, Not Press, Feature Gay Marriage Story
Same-sex marriage was the No. 1 story in social media but No. 15 in the traditional media. Read more

-Religion and Revolution
Faith in South Africa 15 Years After the End of Apartheid
Data from a 10-country survey of Pentecostals in 2006 provide estimates of the religious affiliation of South Africa's urban population. Read more

-Daily Number
57% - Most Like it Hot
Fully 57% of the public prefer a hotter climate while 29% would rather live in a colder one. Check back every weekday for another number in the news. Read more

Fort Report
Go to the links for the following articles:

-Obama And The Swells
Polls show President Obama gaining support from both affluent and blue-collar voters.
by Ronald Brownstein
As President Obama approaches the 100-day mark, one of his principal political assets is the breadth of his public approval. One of his principal challenges may be extending that personal support to his agenda. Both ends of that equation are illuminated in a national survey released this week. The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll explores how Americans manage the financial risks of everyday life -- and where they look for help. The survey, which polled 1,200 adults from April 8 through 14, found that Obama enjoys broad support. His job-approval rating stood at 61 percent, with just 28 percent disapproving. At least 57 percent of voters in every age group gave him positive marks. So did at least 55 percent of voters in every income category, including six-figure earners. Republicans have cooled toward Obama (just 26 percent approve), but they make up only about one-fourth of the electorate; and Obama remains dominant among Democrats (89 percent approval) and solid among independents (61 percent approval).

-Govt. Releases Stress Test Details
New Federal Reserve Report Warns That Some Banks Lost Substantial Capital, but Doesn't Name Names
Would U.S. banks survive if the economy took an even deeper downturn? The Federal Reserve shed new light on how it's trying to answer that question in a report issued today on the government's bank "stress tests."

-Fundamentally Different
by John B. Judis
That's what American capitalism will be once Obama's done with it. My colleagues Frank Foer and Noam Scheiber have written a compelling account of the Obama administration's approach to economic policy. And although I don't pretend to know the president's mind, I might agree with their summary statement that "Obama has no intention of changing the nature of capitalism." Still, I want to make what may seem to be a paradoxical argument: that regardless of the president's intentions, he will change American capitalism in fundamental ways--in particular, he will alter the relationship between the government and the economy. My argument rests on what he has actually proposed to do and how his proposals, if enacted, would situate his administration in the history of American economic reform.

-Pelosi: I didn't know about use of waterboarding
By Glenn Thrush
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing back on GOP charges that she knew about waterboarding for years and did nothing. Pelosi says she was briefed by Bush administration officials on the legal justification for using waterboarding - but that they never followed through on promises to inform her when they actually began using "enhanced" interrogation techniques.

-Nancy Pelosi fires back at Jon Stewart
The House speaker blasts a 'Daily Show' bit.
By Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is used to the limelight, even the barbs. The California Democrat, a 12-term representative from San Francisco, learned politics from her father, Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., congressman and mayor of Baltimore. Pelosi is the first woman to serve as minority leader and speaker of the House of Representatives.,0,7479304.story

-Voting rights fight on in Texas
State challenging federal oversight part of legislation
By Paul Weber and Mark Sherman
The community of Canyon Creek was ranchland rich with limestone and cedar trees when Jim Crow held sway in the South. The first house wasn't built until the late 1980s and not even a hint of discrimination attaches to this little slice in suburbia.

-If Everyone Knew, Who's to Blame?
By Mark Danner
Here's a question: When was the last time American officials waterboarded a detainee? Well, that would be 2003 -- six years ago. Here's another: When did Americans first find out about it? That would be 2004 -- five years ago. May 13, 2004, to be precise, in an article in the New York Times that informed readers that "C.I.A. interrogators used graduated levels of force, including a technique known as 'water boarding,' in which a prisoner is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water and made to believe he might drown."

-Obama urges overhaul of system for making college loans, urges more availability for the young
President Barack Obama on Friday renewed his call for the government to stop backing private loans to college students and replace them with direct government loans to young people, a challenge to a decades-old program with strong congressional support. Obama's plan to eliminate the Federal Family Education Loan program could save $48 billion for taxpayers over the next decade, but critics warn it could turn the Education Department into a national bank. Lenders and some college officials oppose the proposal, which Obama backed as a U.S. senator and pushed during the presidential campaign.

-Democrats plan to avoid filibuster on healthcare bill
A legislative maneuver would allow the senators to pass a bill to overhaul healthcare without a single GOP vote. Republicans warn against the move.
By Noam N. Levey
Reporting from Washington -- Senior Democrats have reached broad agreement on a plan to prevent Republicans from blocking President Obama's sweeping healthcare proposals, congressional officials said Friday. The plan, which would use special provisions of the budget process to prevent a Senate filibuster, threatens to sow outrage among Republican lawmakers and could complicate Democrats' efforts to push through the rest of their agenda. But Obama and his allies believe their decision to use the "budget reconciliation" process will allow passage of the kind of health system overhaul that has eluded Washington.,0,2883760.story


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