September 29th, 2010
04:16 AM ET
4 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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

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

CNN: Obama focuses his message on the choice facing voters
On issue after issue Tuesday, President Barack Obama kept returning to a campaign theme he repeated like a mantra – voters have a choice of supporting Democrats in November to continue moving the nation forward, or backing Republicans to return to failed policies of the past. The president faced a range of questions at a town hall-style meeting in the yard of a home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but no matter the topic – education, small businesses, military veterans, clean energy – he repeatedly reminded listeners that the upcoming congressional elections would be their time to decide.

CNN: Obama questioned on abortion, why he is a Christian
An event billed as a discussion on the economy turned personal Tuesday when a woman asked President Barack Obama about his Christian faith and views on abortion. The question came at a town hall-style meeting in the yard of an Albuquerque home as part of Obama's public outreach to explain his policies and campaign for Democrats in the November congressional elections.

CNN: Christie to speak to House Republicans
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to speak to House Republicans Wednesday at their morning conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club, according to two GOP sources. Christie has been campaigning for House and Senate GOP candidates across the country and has become a popular figure among conservatives since he upset New Jersey's Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in the reliably blue-leaning state in 2009.

Boston Globe: Dukakis shared his strategy for midterm elections at the White House
Former Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis, the failed 1988 presidential nominee, recently visited the White House and delivered his strategy for the midterm elections: pound key precincts across the country with the message that Republicans want to implement the same policies that led to the Great Recession. Dukakis, who said in a telephone interview that he "popped in" to the White House while on a trip here several weeks ago, said he told aides to President Obama that Republicans "want to go back and do exactly what got us in this mess in the first place."

CNN: Plouffe: Republicans are getting 'the Mike Castle treatment'
David Plouffe, one of President Obama's top political advisers, said Tuesday that the Republican Party has been overwhelmed by a "Beck-Palin-Limbaugh wing" that will make it impossible for the GOP to nominate a viable general election candidate in 2012. "If you are a moderate Republican thinking about running in a primary for any office in 2011 and 2012, you are going to have to think twice, because you are going to get the Mike Castle treatment," Plouffe said in an interview in Ohio, where he is campaigning for Gov. Ted Strickland.

New York Times: Likely Losses of House Seats in Midwest Stir Partisan Feuds
Whatever the outcome of the fall elections, one political loser this year seems certain: the Midwest. State population tallies, to be revealed at the end of December, are expected to show that in the coming reapportionment of Congress, seats will be lost across this region — in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and perhaps, experts say, Minnesota or Missouri.

CNN: GOP blocks Democrats' jobs outsourcing bill
Senate Republicans successfully blocked a bill from coming to the Senate floor Tuesday that Democrats claim would help keep American jobs from going overseas. Republicans call it nothing more than a pre-election political ploy. The Democratic bill would have ended certain tax breaks for companies expanding overseas while giving new tax incentives to businesses bringing jobs home.

CNN: DeMint warns against slipping last minute bills through before Senate recess
Conservative Republican senators, led by Jim DeMint of South Carolina, are warning all other senators they will block any attempts to slip controversial legislation through the Senate in the final hours before the upcoming recess, unless they sign off on it first. "What happens is at the end of a session, crap gets out of here that nobody knows what's in it and we're not going to do it anymore," Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn told CNN.

CNN: Republicans accuse Democratic ethics chairwoman of stalling Rangel and Waters trials
In a highly unusual move, every Republican member of the House ethics committee issued a statement Tuesday blasting the Democratic chairwoman for "stalling" on making a decision on whether to hold trials for New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters before November's election.

CNN: U.S. senators to hear about release of convicted Pan Am bomber
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the circumstances surrounding the release of convicted Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbasset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison last year. The Scottish government released al-Megrahi just over a year ago on the grounds that he had cancer and was not likely to live more than three more months.

CNN: House Democrats battle White House over child nutrition
One of first lady Michelle Obama's top priorities – promoting child nutrition and combating obesity – is running into a major roadblock in the House of Representatives. But, in an unusual twist, the opposition is not coming from Republicans. It's coming from liberal Democrats. A key bloc of House Democrats is threatening to vote against a Senate-passed child nutrition bill because it pays for the new initiatives in part by taking $2.2 billion slated for food stamps.

NATIONAL
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CNN: Jimmy Carter to resume book tour after hospitalization
Former President Jimmy Carter is expected to resume his book tour Wednesday after spending the night in a hospital with an upset stomach. Carter was taken Tuesday morning to MetroHealth Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was under observation and resting comfortably, the Carter Center said in a statement. His doctor recommended he spend the night at the hospital to rest, officials said.

CNN: Obama team touts development policy
President Barack Obama's top cabinet members stressed Tuesday that devoting money and resources to overseas diplomacy and development is essential to U.S. national security. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner agreed that in addition to a military approach, a strong focus on development would reap many benefits for the U.S.

Houston Chronicle: ICE overhaul falls short, critics claim
Immigration officials plan to require detention centers holding the majority of the nation's immigration detainees to provide access to 24-hour, emergency medical and mental health care and expand access to legal resources and visitation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's long-awaited, revised national detention standards aim to address vexing, long-term problems within the hodgepodge of detention centers, prisons and jails that house about 400,000 immigration detainees annually.

Detroit News: Michigan sees sharpest income plunge in nation
For most families in Michigan, the long-running recession has meant a simple, unrelenting truth: living with less. And census data released on Tuesday shows how much less - the state's median household income fell by more than $12,000 over the last decade - the equivalent of trimming $1,000 from a family's monthly budget. The drop was stunning in both its size and its singularity: No other state came close to losing the estimated 21.3 percent of its median income between 2000 and 2009, and no state endured the 6.5 percent drop seen from 2008 to 2009.

Baltimore Sun: City schools, teachers union to end linking pay to years of employment
The Baltimore school district and its teachers union have struck a landmark agreement that would end the longtime practice of linking pay to years of employment and place the city at the forefront of a national reform effort, according to sources familiar with the pact. The two sides have discussed a pay system that would reward skills and effectiveness and are expected to announce the details of the agreement Wednesday.

McClatchy DC: Wind energy can power much of East Coast, study says
The strong winds off the Atlantic Ocean could become a cost-effective way to power much of the East Coast — especially North and South Carolina, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, a new study released Tuesday says.
The report by the conservation advocacy group Oceana argues that offshore wind could generate 30 percent more electricity on the East Coast than could be generated by the region's untapped oil and gas.

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

CNN: Army may have known in February about Afghan murder
The Army may have known months ago about serious misconduct - including the apparently unprovoked murder of a civilian - by members of a platoon in Afghanistan but failed to act on it before at least one other murder occurred. In an interrogation tape obtained by CNN, Spc. Adam Winfield, 21, tells an Army investigator in May that he told his father in February that he feared for his life after hearing that others within his platoon had murdered an Afghan civilian. He feared that his comrades - members of the 5th Stryker Brigade - were hunting for other victims, he said.

CNN: U.S. envoy meeting with Netanyahu to keep peace talks on track
The U.S. special Mideast envoy is scheduled to meet with Israel's prime minister Wednesday as part of a diplomatic push to help keep face-to-face peace talks with Palestinians on track. The end of Israel's 10-month settlement construction moratorium in the West Bank - and what happens next - will be key topics of conversation, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Tuesday.

CNN: Intelligence, potential plot are factors in drone-attack increase
A potential plot against Europe was one factor contributing to the uptick this month in missile strikes by unmanned drones against terrorist targets in Pakistan, according to a U.S. official. "We would be remiss not to try to take action to thwart what might be underway in Europe," said the official.

New York Times: Generals in Pakistan Push for Shake-Up of Government
The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants. The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before, military officials and politicians said.

CNN: Thousands in Pakistan protest scientist's prison sentence
Hundreds of thousands protested in Karachi and Hyderabad Tuesday against the 86-year prison sentence for a Pakistani scientist convicted of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. The rallies were organized by the Muttahida Quami Movement, a Pakistani political party, in response to last week's sentencing of Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted by a jury in February in the United States on seven charges, including attempted murder and armed assault on U.S. officers.

CNN: No confirmed deaths from Mexican landslide, governor says
As of Tueday night there were no confirmed fatalities and 11 possible missing persons as the result of a landslide in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, Gov. Ulises Ruiz told CNN. The figure was a stark - and fortunate - difference from the governor's original estimate of as many as 1,000 people trapped underneath the earth.

CNN: Report: South, North Korea to hold military talks
South Korea and North Korea on Thursday will hold military talks for the first time in nearly two years, according to the South's defense ministry, the Yonhap news agency reported. The working-level military talks are to begin Thursday morning at the truce village of Panmunjom on the Korean border.

Der Spiegel: Germany Closes Book on World War I With Final Reparations Payment
Oct. 3, the 20th anniversary of German unification, will also mark the completion of the final chapter of World War I with the end of reparations payments 92 years after the country's defeat. The German government will pay the last instalment of interest on foreign bonds it issued in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to fulfil the enormous reparations demands the victorious Allies made after World War I.

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

CNN Money: D.C. workers have America's highest salaries
Washington, D.C.'s workers enjoy the highest salaries of any major U.S. city., with a median household income of $85,198. The nation's capital fared better than most of the rest of the country in 2009, according to the Census Bureau's annual survey of income and poverty in the United States, which was released on Tuesday.

Forbes: The ugly reality of lowering debt by default
There have been at least a few seemingly positive signs of progress during this anemic economic recovery: U.S. households are spending less. They're saving more. Debt is steadily falling. But don't be fooled by the cheery headlines. The trend toward fiscal discipline might sound uplifting, especially at a time when many have learned all too painfully that they spent too much in the years leading up to the financial crisis. But dig a little deeper and you'll find that even the best economic news is masking something ugly.

In Case You Missed It

A panel joins CNN's Larry King to discuss the underachievement of America's schools and what may be causing it.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2010/09/29/lkl.wrong.americas.schools.cnn

Joe Johns tries to track down Congressman Sanford Bishop for some answers about the scholarship scandal surrounding him.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/politics/2010/09/29/ac.where.is.congressman.bishop.cnn

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