Monday, December 13, 2010

The Liberal Perspective 12-13-10

From Sojourners:…


Tax package approaches Senate vote. Senators expect to take their first vote Monday on tax deal brokered between Obama and GOP “Senators get their first chance Monday to vote on the tax-cut deal struck by President Barack Obama and Republicans, but whatever the outcome of the test vote, the White House expects the bill to pass by year’s end.” Tax package approaches Senate vote “The Senate will hold a key test vote Monday on the tax package that President Obama negotiated with Republicans to prevent rate increases from hitting most American workers starting Jan. 1.” Tax cuts will pass despite Democratic uprising, Obama advisor says “The $858-billion package of tax cuts and jobless benefits that President Obama and Republican leaders crafted will pass Congress without major changes despite a revolt among House Democrats, a top administration advisor said Sunday.”
Economic recovery leaving some behind this Christmas. Economic recovery leaving some behind this Christmas “A new division is emerging in America between those who have moved on from the recession and those still caught in its grip.” A chill in the season for region’s needy “Agencies that dole out federal heating assistance checks have limited funds available, despite forecasts of a colder winter in the Northeast, rising energy prices, and more people in need.” Los Angeles Seeks to Shed Homelessness Reputation “At a time when cities across the country have made significant progress over the past decade in reducing the number of homeless, in no small part by building permanent housing, the problem seems intractable in the County of Los Angeles.”
Immigration reform.  DREAM Act’s evolving outline creates confusion “Congressional Democrats are rewriting immigration policy on the fly, in a legalization effort whose long-term consequences remain unclear.” Kentucky Republicans want Arizona-style immigration law “Kentucky state Senate Republicans will file legislation similar to a controversial Arizona law that would allow police to carry out federal immigration law.”
START.  Missile defense looms over START ratification “With only days left in the lame-duck Congress, President Obama is pushing hard to accomplish something never before done by a Democratic president: successfully get a nuclear-arms-reduction treaty through the ratification process.”
A secretive banking elite rules trading in derivatives. A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives “On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan. The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance.”
Financial arms race underway in Washington. Financial arms race underway in Washington “Posh fundraisers already are in full swing after record spending on midterms. Nobody wants to get ambushed again.” 7 incoming GOP leaders rode wave of PAC gifts into power “Incoming House Republican chairmen raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars from special-interest groups shortly before the November election, as it became apparent their party would take over.”
Black farmers see USDA settlement as righting a wrong. Black farmers see USDA settlement as righting a wrong “President Barack Obama’s signature last week on a landmark discrimination settlement will do more than send money to black farming families across the country. Activists say it also sends a message: The U.S. government has acknowledged years of discrimination against tens of thousands of Americans, and it wants to make things right.”


Middle East peace talks. Elders seek new Mid-East process “A group of elder statesmen says a new approach is needed for the Middle East peace talks, after failed US efforts to get an extended Israeli settlement ban.”
Afghanistan. 6 Americans Killed by Bomb at a New U.S.-Afghan Outpost “Six American soldiers were killed and more than a dozen American and Afghan troops were wounded on Sunday morning when a van packed with explosives was detonated at a new jointly operated outpost in southern Afghanistan.” Nawa turns into proving ground for U.S. strategy in Afghan war  “When Gen. David H. Petraeus makes his case that the military’s strategy in Afghanistan is succeeding, he cites the evolution of this community of mud-walled homes and wheat fields.”
North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs. North Korea and Iran: How the two states test US diplomacy “North Korea is seen as an unpredictable ’spoiled child.’ Iran is seen as a rational but aggressive nation. Each have nuclear programs, but pose unique problems for US security.”  Australia: Iran nuclear ‘deterrent’  “Leaked US cables show that Australia sees the Iranian nuclear programme as a ‘deterrent,’ a sharply contrary view  to that of most Western countries. The leaks also reveal that Australia doesn’t share the assessment that Iran is a ‘rogue state.’”
Sudan. Darfur leader ‘ready to do battle’ “Minni Minnawi, the only Darfur faction leader to have signed the Darfur Peace Agreement [DPA] with the Sudanese government, has declared the failure of the 2006 deal. The announcement deals another blow to Khartoum, which faces the possibility of the southern portion of the country seceding in an upcoming poll.”
Cancún climate challenge. Cancún agreement rescues UN credibility but falls short of saving planet “The modest deal wrangled out by the 200 countries meeting at the Mexican resort of Cancún may have done more to save a dysfunctional UN negotiating process from collapse than protect the planet against climate change, analysts said today.” The post-Cancun climate challenge: putting words into actions “After summoning the political will to reach a climate deal at the Cancun summit, global leaders now face a far more daunting task – translating its exhortations into actions, and its vague, somewhat contradictory language into a binding treaty.” 
Nobel peace prize winner absent from ceremony. Winner’s Chair Remains Empty at Nobel Event “Imprisoned and incommunicado in China, the Chinese writer and dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, his absence marked at the prize ceremony here by an empty chair.” Nobel Peace Prize awarded in absentia to Chinese dissident “The Nobel Peace Prize was placed Friday on an empty chair in Oslo’s city hall, creating a potent new symbol of the struggle for human rights and political reform in China.”


Justice Stevens and the Death Penalty (Editorial, New York Times) “In the current "New York Review of Books," the retired Justice John Paul Stevens makes a compelling argument for abolishing the death penalty. He explains how it fails to meet the Supreme Court’s own standards for execution and persists only because of misguided political and cultural reasons.”
Haunted by decline (E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post) “American decline is the specter haunting our politics. This could be President Obama’s undoing – or it could provide him with the opportunity to revive his presidency.”

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