(CNN) – A new national poll suggests that by a margin of greater than two to one, Americans approve of President Barack Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fifty-five percent of those questioned in a Quinnipiac University survey released Thursday say they support the Sotomayor nomination, with one in four opposed and one in five not sure. The poll was conducted over a seven-day period starting on May 26, the day Obama announced his high court nomination, and appears to be the largest survey conducted so far on the subject.
The poll indicates that Democrats overwhelmingly approve the nomination, independents favor it 53 percent to 26 percent, and Republicans oppose it 47 percent to 30 percent.
"Since her nomination nine days ago, her level of support with the American people has been constant," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. "This is an indication that criticism from some conservatives and Republicans has not struck a chord with voters - at least not yet."
"There will be many issues to discuss between our two countries (Iran and the United States), and we are willing to move forward without preconditions on the basis of mutual respect. But it is clear to all concerned that when it comes to nuclear weapons, we have reached a decisive point.
"No single nation should pick and choose which nation holds nuclear weapons. And that's why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – States are poised to pass as much as $24 billion in tax and fee hikes in coming weeks, as they struggle to balance their budgets amid the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a report released Thursday found.
The spike blows away the $726 million in recommended increases for fiscal 2009.
At the same time, state budgets are set to shrink for a record second year in a row. The recession has caused tax collections to plummetandthe need for social services to soar. State officials are scrambling to close last-minute budget gaps that opened after April tax revenues came in below already-lowered estimates. States may be forced to tap rainy day funds or impose even more stringent spending cuts to balance their budgets before their fiscal years end on June 30.
Governors' proposed budgets for fiscal year 2010 show a 2.5% decrease in general fund spending, which comes after an estimated 2.2% decline in the current fiscal year,
This is the largest pullback in the survey's 30-year history and the first time state spending would decline for two years in a row, according to
the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. General fund spending, which is not earmarked for specific uses, covers mainly education, Medicaid, corrections, public assistance and transportation.
Some 29 states are recommending tax and fee increases for the coming fiscal year.
California, which is struggling to close a $21.3 billion budget gap, accounts for $11.3 billion of the hike. Illinois makes up another $4.4 billion, while New York is proposing $4 billion in additional levies.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. military hardware that can be used in nuclear devices and ground fighting can be easily purchased at home and shipped overseas, an undercover government investigation revealed Thursday.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) watchdog agency set up fake companies to obtain so-called dual use items – which have both military and commercial use – in the United States and ship them overseas, according to testimony at a House subcommittee hearing.
Items purchased in the bogus transactions included parts for making nuclear devices and guiding missiles that could carry nuclear warheads, as well as night-vision goggles, body armor and other hardware for ground combat, Rep. John Dingell, D-Michigan, said in opening the hearing of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
"There appears to be a gigantic loophole within our laws that makes it easy for our enemies to get hold of our superior military technology and use it against us," Dingell said.
Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing included GAO investigators and representatives of companies that sold the items to them.
The hearing focused on both the easy procurement of military technology in the United States, and the equal ease in shipping the items out of the country. Committee members stressed that no laws were broken by any companies, which they said made the situation more troubling.
"The scandal here may be what is legal, not what is illegal," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon.
"America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
"On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people - Muslims and Christians - have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. ... They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own.
"Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding.
(CNN) - Minutes after President Barack Obama finished his historic speech in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday, CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman's phone rang.
It was Walid Batouti, the owner of an Egyptian tour company, and normally a skeptic of U.S. policy in the Middle East. "Yes, we can!" he shouted, echoing the campaign slogan that brought Obama to power last year. "I've had my problems with the U.S. in the past, but it was a great speech, and we really appreciated it," he said.
Batouti said he was going to put an Obama bumper sticker on his car and drive around town. Reza Aslan, the best-selling Iranian-American author of "No God But God," was also a doubter before the speech.
But his first response was a single word: "Wow!"
"If the purpose of the speech was to forge a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world, he did that," he told CNN by phone from London.
"He spoke in terms no American president has done before," Aslan said, citing Obama's description of the invasion of Iraq as a war of choice, and the word "occupation" in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"Over seven years ago, the United States pursued al Qaeda and the Taliban with broad international support. We did not go by choice; we went because of necessity. I'm aware that there's still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack, and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale.
"Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible."
CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) - President Obama described the overarching theme of his speech as of mutual understanding, respect and obligation between the United States and the Muslim world, and cited his personal life experience to make the point:
"I've come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles –principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
In his speech, Obama focused on seven issues of importance between the
United States and the Middle East.
(CNN) - President Obama spoke Thursday of the tensions between the United States and Muslims, saying "the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam."
"Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile," said Obama, delivering what the White House billed as a major speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt.
The president reiterated a point he made in an April speech in Turkey: "In Ankara, I made clear that America is not - and never will be - at war with Islam. We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security.
"Because we reject the same thing that people of all faiths reject: the killing of innocent men, women and children."