May 6th, 2009
05:18 AM ET
6 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: May 6, 2009

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The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.

WASHINGTON/POLITICAL
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com.

CNN: Analysis: Obama faces test on Afghanistan, Pakistan
President Obama's ambitious strategy for Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, dubbed "Afpak" by administration officials, will face its first test Wednesday when he meets with the leaders of both countries - neither of which is seen as able to maintain stability and fight strengthening Islamic insurgencies.

CNN: Obama official to appear on 'The Daily Show'
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is either about to score a major public relations coup for the Obama White House or wind up with some egg on his face.

CNN: Deep-pocketed donors want campaign finance reform
After giving more than $16 million in political contributions, a group of Democratic donors is saying enough is enough – it's time for Congress to scrap the current campaign funding system and encourage a new hybrid model of small dollar donations and public financing.

CNN: Elizabeth Edwards breaks silence on affair
Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of two-time presidential hopeful John Edwards, does not know whether he fathered a child during his affair with a campaign staffer, she says in an interview that is to air this week.

CNN: Borger: Partisan juices flowing over Supreme Court opening
In a Washington that pays homage to bipartisanship but never quite gets there, the prospect of a new Supreme Court battle only gets the partisan juices flowing.

CNN: DNA test could shed light on Lincoln's last days, doctor says
Was President Abraham Lincoln dying of a rare genetic disease when an assassin killed him in 1865?

Washington Post: Bush Officials Try to Alter Ethics Report
Former Bush administration officials have launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften an ethics report criticizing lawyers who blessed harsh detainee interrogation tactics, according to two sources familiar with the efforts.

WSJ: Changes Coming for the 401(k) Plan
Policy makers and some industry representatives say major changes to retirement investing and 401(k) plans are becoming increasingly likely under the Democratic Party's control of Congress.

WSJ Op-Ed: McCain, Graham: How to Handle the Guantanamo Detainees
When President Barack Obama declassified and released legal memoranda from the Department of Justice, he opened the door to a drawn-out battle over the Bush administration's use of coercive interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists. We believe that any subsequent attempts to subject those who provided such legal advice to prosecutions are a mistake. They will have a chilling effect on the candor with which future government officials provide their best counsel.

USA Today: Chemical weapons disposal on fast track
The Pentagon plans to speed the destruction of its aging chemical weapons by more than three years with a $1.2 billion acceleration of construction at two new disposal plants, budget documents show.

Washington Times Exclusive: Steele yields powers to foes in RNC
Capitulating to critics on the Republican National Committee, embattled Republican Party Chairman Michael S. Steele has signed a secret pact agreeing to controls and restraints on how he spends hundreds of millions of dollars in party funds and contracts, The Washington Times has learned.

Financial Times: Washington sets out Tarp payback rules
US regulators are moving to impose tough conditions on banks that want to repay federal bail-out funds, requiring them to prove that they can issue debt without government insurance.

The Daily Beast: Hooray for Obama's 'Socialist' Budget
Later this week, the Obama administration is expected to release the details of its budget proposal, the broad outlines of which passed Congress yesterday with no Republican votes. A lack of bipartisan support is becoming customary, but the specific terms of the debate are interesting. As The Hill reported: "Republicans blasted the budget as a turn toward a bigger-government philosophy prevalent in Europe." Obama's proposals, in other words, aren't just bad. They're downright un-American! But political attacks can sometimes have surprising results.

Business Week: President Obama, Cut Corporate Taxes Instead
As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For decades various Washington politicians have tinkered with corporate income tax rules with the laudable goal of getting U.S.-based multinationals such as General Electric (GM) and IBM (IBM) to pay their "fair" share of taxes on growing overseas operations. The result has been a disaster—a system no one understands that requires vast resources to administer while raising very little revenue. The current corporate tax rules even seem to encourage U.S.-based multinationals to move jobs overseas, although no one really knows for sure.

Washington Post: Party Switch Costs Specter His Seniority on Senate Committees
The Senate last night stripped Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) of his seniority on committees, a week after the 29-year veteran of the chamber quit the Republican Party to join the Democrats.

Slate.com: An Unnatural Woman
Over time, America grew used to thinking of Justice David Souter as an only child turned unmarried man who liked history books and hiking alone in the mountains. People stopped speculating about his singleton status, and he was left alone as America's last respectable bachelor. Now the talk of his successor has opened a whole new round of status speculation. The list of potential replacements is overpopulated by women who are single, childless, or divorced. So America asks—or worries without overtly asking—what is this suspicious creature called the bachelorette, and what is she really up to?

Washington Post: EPA Proposes Changes To Biofuel Regulations
The Obama administration waded deeper into climate regulation yesterday, proposing new standards for alternative motor fuels and setting off a debate among ethanol producers and environmentalists about scientific assumptions that could be worth billions of dollars to industry.

NATIONAL
For the latest national news: www.CNN.com.

CNN: Second U.S. death linked to swine flu, officials say
A Texas woman who had swine flu has died, officials said Tuesday, marking the second death in the United States linked to the virus and the first of a U.S. resident.

CNN: Authorities suspect man threw baby from car
A Florida man threw a 4-month-old boy out the window of a moving car Tuesday after a fight with the infant's mother, investigators said.

CNN: First U.S. face transplant recipient offers thanks
In 2004, a bullet ripped away Connie Culp's nose, cheeks and upper jaw. Metal fragments sprayed into her skull and stripped her face away, leaving nothing except for her eyes, her chin and forehead.

NYT: Health Insurers Agree to End Higher Premiums for Women
Insurance companies offered Tuesday to end the practice of charging higher premiums to women than to men for the same coverage.

USA Today: Stressed troops take cues from ancient plays
After nine grinding years of war, the once-mighty soldier abruptly comes unglued. Denied an honor he thinks he's due, he goes to kill the officers he holds responsible, but after his night of rage finds he has slaughtered barnyard animals, not generals.

Washington Post: Uproar in D.C. as Same-Sex Marriage Gains
The D.C. Council overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, in a vote that followed a sharp exchange between an openly gay member and a civil rights champion and set off shouts of reproach from local ministers.

Miami Herald: Dim future for Bright Futures' scholarships
Florida can't afford its popular Bright Futures Scholarship Program.

WSJ: The Fine Print: What's Really in a Lot of 'Healthy' Foods
A lot of Americans think they're eating a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled by our assumptions and the ways that food manufacturers play on them.

LA Times: Santa Barbara brush fire forces evacuations
A wind-driven brush fire Tuesday in the Santa Barbara foothills charred at least 420 acres, forced the evacuation of about 1,000 homes and renewed grim memories of the devastating fires that swept through the area last fall.

Boston Globe: Police prying into stars' data
Police from communities across the state have repeatedly tapped into the state's criminal records system to improperly access information on celebrities and "high-profile citizens," according to a scathing audit released yesterday that also branded the system as obsolete and flawed.

BBC: Scientists pinpoint fats danger
Scientists have identified a genetic mechanism which appears to determine which fatty deposits in the arteries have the potential to kill us.

Chicago Tribune: Man gives 10,000 dictionaries to area kids
He's been Theodore, Ted and Teddy, depending on the time and circumstances in his life.

NYT: Cooking Up Millions of Viruses for a New Vaccine
As soon as Doris Bucher learned that a new strain of swine flu had turned up in the United States, she e-mailed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offering to send materials that might be useful in making a vaccine.

Denver Post: Study: Education yields health
Good health depends on education, according to a new study that shows wide health disparity between college-educated Coloradans and those who didn't finish high school.

LA Times: Post-Katrina trailer residents fearful as eviction day looms
Belinda Jenkins was picking up her diabetes medication Tuesday afternoon, and worrying about being away from the trailer she has lived in since Hurricane Katrina trashed her house.

USA Today: More homes get multiple offers; downturn may be nearing end
More homes for sale are attracting multiple offers as buyers pursue lower-price homes and banks low-ball asking prices to attract competing bids on foreclosures.

INTERNATIONAL
For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com/

CNN: Brit wins 'best job in the world' competition
A British man beat 34,000 other applicants Wednesday to win, what has been dubbed, "the best job in the world" - to stroll the white sands of a tropical island in Queensland, Australia, file weekly reports online to a global audience and earn a cool $100,000.

CNN: Biden prods Israel on settlements
Vice President Joe Biden prodded Israel on Tuesday to halt the expansion of its settlements on the West Bank, a move he called a necessary step toward ending the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

LA Times: Pakistani civilians flee area of Taliban-army fighting
Laborer Amir Zada kicked the flies off his sandals, looked around at the rows of tents and relived the nightmare he had just endured. How the Taliban came and said there would be peace. How the army arrived with helicopter gunships to attack the Taliban. And how the two sides started firing at each other, with civilians like him caught in the middle.

WSJ: In Mexico City, Flu Brings Varied Lessons
This city of around 20 million will begin to come back to life on Wednesday after enduring nearly two weeks of virtual quarantine due to the new and deadly flu bug. Mexico City's restaurants and shops are set to open their doors again, while schools will gradually reopen.

LA Times: Sinaloa cartel may resort to deadly force in U.S.
The reputed head of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel is threatening a more aggressive stance against competitors and law enforcement north of the border, instructing associates to use deadly force, if needed, to protect increasingly contested trafficking operations, authorities said.

Al Jazeera:US to investigate Afghan deaths
The US is to hold an inquiry into the deaths of up to 50 Afghan civilians allegedly killed in an air raid on Taliban elements by their forces.

Washington Times Exclusive: Secret U.S.-Israel nuclear accord in jeopardy
President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say

BUSINESS
For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com.

CNN: Chrysler won't repay bailout money
Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.

CNN: Why stimulus money goes unspent
The federal government has made available more than $74 billion in stimulus funds, but the majority of that money has yet to hit the streets.

NYT: U.S. Says Bank of America Needs $33.9 Billion Cushion
The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank.

WSJ: Condition Is Set for Banks' TARP Exit
Banks that want to return Troubled Asset Relief Program funds will have to demonstrate their ability to wean themselves off another major federal program, according to senior government officials, making it less attractive for some banks to return the money.

LA Times: Bernanke's cautiously optimistic forecast does little for markets
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke didn't sway the markets much Tuesday with his cautious optimism about an economic recovery later this year, and he downright chilled U.S. workers with his prediction of "further sizable job losses" to come.

Bloomberg: BMW Posts Second Consecutive Loss on Drop in Car Deliveries
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles, posted its second consecutive quarterly loss as the global recession trampled demand for upscale sedans and sport-utility vehicles.

Boston Globe: Globe, guild talk into the night
Boston Globe management and the Boston Newspaper Guild were locked in negotiations into the early hours this morning, raising a glimmer of hope that the two sides might be moving closer to a deal on a package of concessions sufficient to keep The New York Times Co., the newspaper's owner, from shutting the paper down.

NYT: U.S. May Set a Debt Test for Banks
The Treasury Department is planning to require banks seeking to free themselves from the government’s grip to show that they can survive without the taxpayer aid that has helped them through the financial crisis, senior government officials said Tuesday.

Seattle Times: Latest round of Microsoft layoffs may not be last
With Tuesday's second round of layoffs, which included 1,200 locally, Microsoft has made almost all of the planned 5,000 job cuts announced in January.

In Case You Missed It
To watch the latest interviews and reporting: http://www.cnn.com/video.

CNN: Gates visits Mideast allies
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says talks with Iran won't undermine U.S. ties. CNN's Chris Lawrence reports.

CNN: Limbaugh takes on GOP council
CNN's Bill Schneider reports Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives are pushing back at the GOP's new strategy.

CNN: Obama, Biden go for burgers
The president and vice president make an unscheduled stop for burgers in Washington.


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