WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pushing back at a request from President Obama, congressional Democrats are dropping the administration's request for $80 million to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, who is drafting an emergency war funding bill, told reporters he supported the president's plan to close the prison, but said more details were needed. "So far as we can tell there is yet no concrete program for that," said the Wisconsin Democrat. "And while I don't mind defending a concrete program, I'm not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program. So when they have the plan they're welcome to come back and talk to us about it."
According to Democratic aides, the Obama administration requested $50 million for the Defense Department and $30 million for the Justice Department to close down Guantanamo prison.
WASHINGTON – This just in: More bad news for the newspaper industry, as President Obama's top aides signal it will not be getting a government bailout. With the Boston Globe just the latest big-city newspaper teetering on the edge of shutdown, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed aside a question about whether the federal government will consider stepping in to help save newspapers, as it has with so many other industries.
"I don't know what, in all honesty, government can do about it," Gibbs told reporters. Gibbs signaled one difference from bailouts for the auto industry and financial firms is that it's a "bit of a tricky area" for the White House to be helping media companies that cover the President, given the potential for conflicts of interest.
It's not like the President, who is routinely spotted with a newspaper tucked under his arm when he's getting into a motorcade, is completely unsympathetic to the industry. Gibbs said Obama feels "concern and sadness" over the plight of the print media, though the spokesman couldn't resist a poke at some of the reporters in the briefing room who had recently posed skeptical questions about the President's push to trim a small amount of federal spending.
"You guys didn't think $100 million meant a lot a few weeks ago," Gibbs said. "But looking at some of the balance sheets, $100 million seems to mean a lot." Ouch.
HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) - If Americans wonder what it's like to travel to Cuba, just ask a Canadian.
"Let's be honest, there's a mystique about Cuba," said Graham Cook, a Canadian golf course designer.
Or ask South African pro golfer Ernie Els, the star attraction at a Cuban golf tournament aimed at turning the island into the sport's next destination.
"It would be great to see the Americans and the Cubans get together," Els said. "There's lots of potential here."
Every year, foreign travelers escape to Cuba's exotic shores and Spanish colonial streets, pumping an estimated $2 billion into the island's economy.
There are stunning examples in Cuba of how America's biggest competitors are investing heavily in the island nation, from European hotels to Chinese oil drilling operations. But the 47-year-old trade embargo with Cuba has Americans only watching from the sidelines, 90 miles away.
(CNN) – The son of former Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul said Monday that he is primed to mount a bid for the Kentucky Senate seat currently occupied by GOP Sen. Jim Bunning.
"I am very serious about running for Sen. Bunning's seat if he decides not to run," 46-year-old Rand Paul told CNN.
"Until he makes a final pronouncement, I'm trying not to do anything formally but I'm very close to making a decision."
The younger Paul's views closely resemble those of his conservative father.
"I think the bank bailout was a huge mistake," Rand Paul said Monday. "We should not have the U.S. government buying stock in American industries – the financial industry or any other industry. Most of that money could have probably been burned in a furnace for all the good it's done." The Bowling Green, Kentucky ophthalmologist pointed to the federal government's support of embattled global insurance giant AIG, calling the company's "worthless" despite the billions in aid given to it since last fall.
Like his father, the son also favors notions of limited government. "Libertarian would be a good description," Rand Paul told CNN, "because libertarians believe in freedom in all aspects of your life – your economic life as well as your social life as well as your personal life."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The case of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" on national television - and subsequent fines against CBS - will be re-examined at the order of the Supreme Court.
The justices' Monday sent the case back to a federal appeals court in Philadelphia that had thrown out a $550,000 government fine against the broadcast network and its affiliates for airing the incident during halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl. The pop singer's breast was briefly exposed during a performance with singer Justin Timberlake.
After viewer complaints and national media attention, the Federal Communications Commission said the Jackson incident was obscene. In addition to CBS Inc., 20 of its affiliates also were fined.
Congress quickly reacted at the time to the visual shocker by increasing the limit on indecency fines tenfold, up to $325,000 per violation per network. And it said each local affiliate that aired such incidents also could be punished by the same amount.
But the federal appeals court concluded the communications commission had acted "arbitrarily and capriciously."
(CNN) – A new national poll suggests that a majority of Americans oppose legalizing same sex marriages - but there's a vast generational divide on the issue.
Fifty-four percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Monday say that marriages between gay or lesbian couples should not be recognized as valid, with 44 percent suggests they should be considered legal.
Among those 18 to 34 years old, 58 percent said same-sex marriages should be legal. That number drops to 42 percent among respondents 35 to 49 years old, and to 41 percent for those 50 to 64 years of age. The poll indicates that only 24 percent of Americans 65 and older support recognizing same-sex marriages as valid.
While a majority of those polled oppose legalizing gay marriage, 6 out of 10 feel that states that do not recognize gay marriages allow civil unions. When it comes to supporting civil unions, the poll indicates a similar generational shift.
Three states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa, currently allow same-sex marriages. A law passed by Vermont law makers that makes gay and lesbian marriages legal takes effect in the state later this year. Lawmakers in Maine and New Hampshire are close to passing a similar bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal judge Monday granted the government's request to dismiss all charges against two former pro-Israel lobbyists who had been accused of providing U.S. military secrets to Israel.
U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis dismissed the charges against Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman after Justice Department prosecutors Friday announced their case had fallen apart, and asked the court to drop the charges.
Prosecutors said the decision was forced by adverse appeals court rulings that would have required disclosing military secrets in court and would have required a higher burden of proof to win a conviction.
Defense attorneys said the defendants were innocent of the charges and insisted the case should never have been brought in the first place.
(CNN) - OK - this one's really got to hurt.
A new poll suggests that a majority of New Yorkers would prefer to have disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer in office right now instead of the current governor, David Paterson.
And the Marist College poll, released Monday, indicates that less than 1 in 5 New Yorkers approve of the job Paterson's doing as governor. Paterson's a Democrat, but even among his own party, only 22 percent think he's doing a good or excellent job in office.
This new Marist poll continues a trend seen in other recent surveys of New York voters that indicate Paterson's numbers are plummeting.
Two-thirds of those polled say Paterson doesn't have what it takes to lead the state.
(CNN) - Joe Biden didn't heed his own advice.
On Friday, just one day after he warned his family to avoid "confined places" like subways and aircrafts, the vice president took the train from Washington, DC to Wilmington, Delaware. Now he plans to ride the train back to the District Monday evening.
Biden, a long-time Amtrak supporter and veteran rider, attended the kickoff of a $32 million renovation and restoration of Wilmington train station in Delaware Monday morning, telling onlookers, "The people who work at the Wilmington train station, the conductors, the ticket collectors - they are a part of my family. And, for our family, this station is home."
"I am so proud to see Recovery Act funds taking care of critical needs here at the station and putting people to work," the vice president told the crowd.
During his long tenure in the US Senate, Biden was a daily train commuter, traveling to and from his home in Delaware to Washington.
Jeb Bush says it's time for Republicans to leave the Reagan era behind them and look forward. The former Florida Governor insists the party's ideas need to be "forward-looking and relevant" instead of dwelling on the nostalgia of the good old days. He's also acknowledging how well President Obama's message of hope and change resonated with the voters during the election.
Jeb Bush - who's part of the Republicans' new effort to reconnect with voters - is right about all this stuff, but here's the problem: He's the brother of the man who could very well be more responsible than anyone else for the downfall of the Republican Party.
Jeb Bush's name has been mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2012; but it seems hard to imagine that the American people would go for that… again.
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