WASHINGTON (CNN) - The campaign arm for Republican senators is soliciting donations in a new national Web ad that accuses President Barack Obama of bowing to Saudi Arabia King Abdullah during the recent G-20 Summit.
The ad, which appeared on the Drudge Report Friday and scheduled to run for several days, shows a picture of Obama greeting Abdullah at the summit with the headline: Should America Bow to a King?
Readers are asked to click on the “Yes” or “No” button on the ad and it directs them to a Web page where they are then asked to contribute or provide a name and e-mail address to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
(CNN) - The commencement season controversies are continuing for the White House with Arizona State University's decision not to award President Obama an honorary degree when he addresses graduates next month.
The university says that the president's achievements have yet to rate the honor, and is directing reporters to use a statement given to the Associated Press. "His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency," Media Relations Director Sharon Keller told the AP Thursday.
The university's guidelines say the degree is merited by "significant contributions to education and society over the course of a person's career," though Sandra Day O'Connor and Barry Goldwater - both Arizonans - received the honor after the latter had served just over one term in the Senate, and the former was roughly three years into her Supreme Court tenure. Also honored: activist Cesar Chavez, legendary Arizona senator and former presidential candidate Mo Udall, and broadcaster Walter Cronkite.
The White House has not commented on ASU's decision.
Last month, the National Right to Life Committee called on the University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Obama to speak at that school's May commencement, and the bishop for the Ft. Wayne/South Bend diocese said he planned to boycott the university's graduation ceremony. Bishop John D'Arcy said his decision "is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life."
Notre Dame has said it has no plans to rescind the president's invite.
This year, President Obama will also address the graduating class at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.
(CNN) - Word that President Obama might pile comprehensive immigration reform onto his already-full plate reignited calls from some for an urgent overhaul and brought cries from others that the timing couldn't be worse.
"It's more important than ever to address immigration reform right now," said Ian Haney Lopez, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley.
The financial and cultural dynamics of the economy make reform so urgent, he said.
"I worry that in the context of an economic downturn, the cultural response of that economic downturn will be to search for someone to blame, and that someone usually turns out to be a foreigner or someone perceived as foreigner," he said.
As a financial dynamic, he said, the economy also calls for immigration reform: "It's a mistake to understand immigrants as a drain on the economy. Immigrants in fact are the engine of development in this country and always have been," he said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The government said Friday the federal budget deficit for the first half of fiscal 2009 jumped to $956.8 billion, more than $500 billion above the gap for all of the prior fiscal year.
The Treasury Department said the federal budget deficit grew by $192.3 billion in March, according to the report released Friday.
Economists were expecting the budget deficit to grow by $160 billion in March, according to a consensus estimate compiled by Briefing.com.
In February, the government added $192.8 billion to the deficit. Last March, the government added $48.2 billion to the deficit.
The deficit for the year that began in October is 110% above the $454.8 billion gap in all of fiscal 2008.
The government has been spending at a record pace recently in an effort to pull the economy out of recession, jumpstart lending, and recapitalize the nation's financial system.
(CNN) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pushing a 2010 Pentagon budget that reflects major changes in Defense Department priorities.
One of the high-profile programs on the chopping block is the Air Force's most expensive fighter, the F-22 Raptor.
The proposed budget, unveiled Monday, cuts several traditional big-ticket items while investing in programs designed to bolster the military's ability to wage an ongoing conflict against terrorists and other extremist elements in multiple regions at the same time.
Gates acknowledged that parts of the budget are likely to run into significant opposition on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are concerned in part about preserving valuable defense contracts for their districts and states.
"This is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said. "There's no question that a lot of these decisions will be controversial."
He called on Congress to "rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interests of the nation as a whole."
Fareed Zakaria spoke to CNN about the Pentagon plan:
(CNN) - Meghan McCain may be topping off her recent publicity blitz with a big payday: the daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain has scored a six-figure book deal, according to the New York Observer.
Hyperion, which reportedly inked the deal with McCain, has not responded to a CNN request for comment or details on what would be the 24-year-old's second book. (Her first, released last fall, was a Simon & Schuster children's book about her father's life.)
McCain's attention-grabbing blog posts and television appearances over the past few months have kept her in the post-campaign spotlight, and made her one of the year's hottest young Republican pundits.
She's blamed her languishing love life on her father's presidential run; feuded with conservative commentators Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham; and raved about the GOP's congressional "hottie," 27-year-old Aaron Schock of Illinois.
Most of her recent blog posts have focused on her feelings on the future direction of the Republican Party. "As someone who has been personally attacked when I invited political discourse, I firmly believe that talking about our differences – instead of mudslinging – can only bring people closer to the Republican Party and force them to take a second look at their candidates," she wrote for the Daily Beast last month.
There is no word yet on a possible release date.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The struggling U.S. economy may be starting to turn the corner, President Obama said Friday, citing several key indicators during a meeting with top economic advisers.
The administration is detecting "glimmers of hope across the economy," Obama said at the White House.
Obama specifically mentioned a significant increase in mortgage refinancing as home owners seek to take advantage of low interest rates. He also mentioned, among other things, progress in spurring lending to small businesses and the mailing of stimulus tax cut checks in April.
The president warned, however, that the economy is "still under severe stress" and that further job losses are expected.
He promised that the administration would be unveiling additional initiatives to spark economic growth over the next several weeks.
Obama made his remarks during a meeting with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairwoman Sheila Bair, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Shapiro, and Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, among others.
It's not like he doesn’t already have a lot on his plate. Now President Obama says he wants to tackle immigration reform; and do it this year. In fact, he says he plans to begin as soon as next month.
The president says he will rely on a bipartisan and diverse group of experts to frame the legislation. But officials say that immigration won't be "on the same track" as other key initiatives like health care and energy, and "nobody’s promising legislation or a vote this year."
Nonetheless, it looks like the president will try to make good on yet another campaign promise by working to fix the nation’s broken immigration system during his first year in office. There are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in this country. The White House apparently wants to look for a path for illegal aliens to become legal — that's called amnesty and a lot of folks in this country are rabidly opposed,including immigrants who took the time and trouble to come here legally.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The Census Bureau on Friday sent Congress its plan to create jobs with the $1 billion it received under the Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus measure.
The agency said its plan is intended to promote participation in the census, which will improve accuracy in the 2010 results.
The census is linked to employment because more than $300 billion in federal funds are distributed every year based on the results of the survey.
The money is used to support local services including schools, law enforcement and transportation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - As the FBI and U.S. Navy continue to negotiate with Somali pirates for the release of the kidnapped American captain, a senior administration official says President Obama is "receiving continuous updates" on the situation. The official added that these briefings are being conducted by the president's national security team.
When asked if the president had spoken to the family members of the kidnapped captain, the official replied, "no, he hasn't."