February 17th, 2010
05:04 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: February 17, 2010

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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

CNNMoney: Stimulus spending: $32 billion per month
The pace of stimulus spending should pick up in coming months, according to administration officials. The federal government expects to distribute $32 billion in Recovery Act funds per month, up from an average $27 billion a month over the past year, according to Vice President Joe Biden, who will release his annual stimulus progress report on Wednesday.

USA Today: Stimulus funds going to slashed programs
More than $3.5 billion in economic stimulus funds are going to programs that President Obama wants to eliminate or trim in his new budget.

CNN: Obama to create debt commission Thursday
President Obama will sign an executive order Thursday setting up a bipartisan fiscal commission to weigh proposals aimed at reining in the soaring federal debt, according to a White House official.

Investors Business Daily: Conoco, Caterpillar, BP Quit Alliance For Cap-And-Trade
The nation's capital is still scooping up last week's snow, but at least one thing appears to be melting fast: the business and environmental coalition pushing for cap-and-trade climate legislation.

CNN: Obama's nuclear power push faces obstacle: Waste
President Obama's announcement Tuesday of loan guarantees for nuclear power plants may encourage new construction, but a problem still remains that has plagued atomic energy for decades: what to do with nuclear waste?

CNN: Steele appeases Tea Party activists in lengthy meeting
An uneasy truce may have been reached between the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party after Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele spent nearly four hours Tuesday trying to calm the fears of Tea Party leaders who worry that the GOP is out to co-opt their grassroots energy ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

New York Times: Paterson Aide’s Quick Rise Draws Scrutiny
David W. Johnson has worked for Gov. David A. Paterson for much of his adult life. He began as a young, ambitious intern from Harlem when Mr. Paterson was a state legislator. He rose to be Mr. Paterson’s driver, serving as a kind of protector and scheduler. A review of Mr. Johnson’s rise and his history, undertaken after he emerged as perhaps the man closest to the state’s chief executive, shows that he was twice arrested on felony drug charges as a teenager, including a charge of selling cocaine to an undercover officer in Harlem.

CNN Poll: Anti-incumbent fever at record high
Only a third of U.S. voters think that most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected this year, according to a new national poll. According to the poll, 44 percent of registered voters say Obama deserves re-election, with 52 percent saying the president does not deserve a second term in office.

The Hill: Republicans furious about timing of Bayh’s retirement announcement
Republicans are livid about the timing of Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) retirement announcement. They have at least four candidates in the upcoming primary while the Indiana Democratic Party will get to decide its nominee. Indiana required nominating petitions to be filed by noon Tuesday. Bayh announced Monday he would not seek reelection, giving would-be candidates less than 24 hours to get on the ballot.

CNN: Upstart Democrat fails to get on ballot in Indiana
It looks like Democrats have avoided a big headache in Indiana. Tamyra d'Ippolito, the Bloomington restaurant owner who claimed to be nearing the required amount of signatures to make her the de facto Democratic nominee for Senate in Indiana, appears to have fallen short in her bid to get on the primary ballot. Now, state Democratic Party officials have until June 30 to confer and select a nominee. Indiana Reps. Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill are mentioned as possible nominees, along with Evansville mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Politico: McCain race catnip to talk show titans
Early polls suggest Arizona Sen. John McCain leads former Rep. J.D. Hayworth by a healthy margin in the GOP primary. Among conservative radio talk show hosts, however, McCain is losing by a landslide. As McCain gears up for a vigorous challenge from the former six-term House Republican, national conservative talkers are picking up where they left off in the 2008 presidential campaign, blasting McCain as insufficiently conservative and unloading on him with all the bombast they can muster.

San Francisco Chronicle: GOP women similar in background, not approach
They're two high-profile, highly competitive female CEOs of national stature who share the same party – and worked for the same 2008 presidential candidate, Republican John McCain. But former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a California gubernatorial candidate, and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, who is running for U.S. Senate, have shared surprisingly little else in their current quests for public office. In style – and substance – the two women present a strikingly different approach to a complex world in which they are learning their way: California politics.

Austin American-Statesman: Crowded Democratic field in State Board of Education race
In 2006, Central Texas Democrats gave a free pass to Ken Mercer, the victor in a local State Board of Education Republican primary, when they ran no one in November. Not this year. The State Board of Education, which adopts curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas public schools, has been getting flak for using the standards to promote a conservative ideology. The 15-member board is sharply divided between a conservative faction and a more moderate bloc.

New York Daily News: Yes, they ARE missing Dubya! Shopping web site reports spike in sales of Bush items
Apparently someone really DOES miss Dubya. Items featuring a smiling former President George Bush and the question, "Miss Me Yet?" are doing a brisk business as sales of pro-President Obama items lag, reports the Web shopping site CafePress.

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

CNN: No civil rights charges in NYC police shooting of groom in 2006
Citing insufficient evidence, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday it will not pursue federal civil rights charges against police officers involved in the 2006 shooting death of a man hours before he was to be married.

Houston Chronicle: Texas challenges EPA's global warming findings
Texas on Tuesday became the first state to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that gases blamed for global warming threaten public health.
Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials said the federal finding is based on flawed science and would harm the state's economy.

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

Wall Street Journal: Speed and Commerce Skewed Track's Design
Years before a young luge racer from the Republic of Georgia flew to his death at the Olympics last week, officials made a series of decisions designed to make the icy track a commercial success after the Games but that left it faster, and ultimately more dangerous, than any competitive track before.

CNN: Marines seize key police headquarters in Afghan offensive
U.S. Marines fighting the Taliban in southern Afghanistan achieved a main objective Tuesday - taking over the police headquarters in the center of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah.

CNN: Capture may be turning point in Taliban fight
The seizure of the Afghan Taliban's top military leader in Pakistan represents a turning point in the U.S.-led war against the militants, U.S. officials and analysts said. The arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar represents the most significant Taliban capture since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, a senior Obama administration official said Tuesday.

Washington Post: Killings in Iraq spark new sectarian violence fears
Many say Sunni-Shiite strife is reigniting with imminent departure of U.S. forces and fierce competition for power ahead of March elections.

CNN: Dubai police identify 11 suspects in Hamas official's death
Dubai police Monday identified 11 people suspected in the killing of a top Hamas official last month and vowed "to hunt them down."

Bloomberg: Birthday Flower May Be Part of Kim Jong Il Succession
North Korea celebrated Kim Jong Il’s birthday today with tens of thousands of flowers. The most intriguing blossom is a new variety of begonia sent on his son’s birthday that may signify preparations for a succession….The inclusion of a new breed of begonia delivered on the Jan. 8 birthday of youngest son Kim Jong Un follows a pattern of using flowers to help legitimize the ruling family’s power, according to Paik Hak Soon, a director of inter-Korean relations at the Seongnam, South Korea-based Sejong Institute.

BBC News: Nimitz docks in Hong Kong despite China tensions
The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz, has arrived in Hong Kong at a time of strained relations between the US and China. Less than two weeks ago Beijing said it would suspend military contacts with the US in protest over Washington's sale of arms to Taiwan. The naval visit also comes just before President Obama is to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Der Spiegel: Ex-NATO Head Robertson Skeptical of Removing Nukes from Germany
The German government would like to see the withdrawal of all remaining American nuclear weapons stationed in Germany. But former NATO head George Robertson told SPIEGEL that it's not quite so easy. He says the demand 'is dangerous.'

Bloomberg: Falkland Battle Lines Form Over Jurassic Oil Search
Argentina is driving up exploration costs for U.K. oil companies seeking to drill near the disputed Falkland Islands, escalating tensions over the remote South Atlantic archipelago that led the two countries to war in 1982.

Foreign Policy: Haiti causing steep funding cuts, aid groups warn
The Cable reported last week that the need to push emergency relief to Haiti was taking funding away from other vital U.S. government programs around the world. Now, aid groups are reporting that they are scaling back plans amid fears that budget cuts will send them scrambling for resources, leaving needy victims in the lurch.

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

CNNMoney: U.S. demands Toyota recall documents
Government regulators said Tuesday they have demanded documents from Toyota to determine if the automaker conducted its recent recalls in a timely manner.

Financial Times: Chinese in big purge of US Treasuries
Foreign demand for US Treasury bonds fell by a record amount in December as China purged some of its holdings of government debt. China sold $34.2bn in Treasury securities during the month, the US Treasury said yesterday, making Japan the biggest holder of US government debt, with $768.8bn (€559bn, £487bn). China had overtaken Japan in September 2008.

Bloomberg: Greek Tax-Dodgers Threaten Papandreou’s Plan to Cut Budget Gap
Prime Minister George Papandreou’s drive to tackle the European Union’s biggest budget deficit and pacify investors who have dumped Greek assets may hinge on convincing more people…to abandon this tax-dodging tradition. Papandreou says that Greek workers and companies have skirted tax worth 31 billion euros, more than 10 percent of gross domestic product.

New York Times: Slow Trip Across Sea Aids Profit and Environment
In a global culture dominated by speed, from overnight package delivery to bullet trains to fast-cash withdrawals, the company has seized on a sales pitch that may startle some hard-driving corporate customers: Slow is better. By halving its top cruising speed over the last two years, Maersk cut fuel consumption on major routes by as much as 30 percent, greatly reducing costs. But the company also achieved an equal cut in the ships’ emissions of greenhouse gases.

London Times: Google Buzz reported to federal investigators over claims it violates privacy law
Google Buzz, the new social networking site, has been reported to federal investigators in the US over allegations it violated consumer protection laws.

In Case You Missed It

Security experts launch a cyber attack "war game" to test the nation's cyber security defenses.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2010/02/16/am.interview.cyber.attacks.cnn

Is there hope for Obama's "change agenda" abroad? CNN's Jill Dougherty reports.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/02/15/dougherty.obama.policy.cnn

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