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Legacy Content / EARLYBIRD

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Credit markets seizing as world warned of global recession. Plus: GOP calls Obama's stem cell order a distraction.

March 9, 2009

Economy: World Bank Warns Of Global Recession

• The World Bank warned Sunday that as "the crisis that started in the United States engulfs once-booming developing nations," they face "massive financial shortfalls that could turn back the clock on poverty reduction by years," the Washington Post reports. "The World Bank also cautioned that the cost of helping poorer nations in crisis would exceed the current financial resources of multilateral lenders."

• "The credit markets are seizing up again amid new anxieties about the global financial system," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Short-term credit markets are still performing better than they did last year thanks to government programs to buy commercial paper and guarantee short-term debt. But Libor, the London interbank offered rate, a common benchmark interest rate, has crept up over the past weeks."

• "American investors are ditching foreign ventures and bringing their dollars home, entrusting them to the supposed bedrock safety of United States government bonds. And China continues to buy staggering quantities of American debt," the New York Times reports. "These actions are lifting the value of the dollar and providing the Obama administration with a crucial infusion of financing."

 

Congress: Stimulus Debate Spreads To State Lawmakers

• "As tens of billions of dollars in stimulus funds begin to flow across the country, states and federal agencies are gripped by disputes over whether the money is being used in ways that violate the letter or spirit of the legislation, battles that raise new questions about precisely what the intent of the legislation was and that threaten to delay the infusion of funds into the staggering economy," the Washington Post reports.

• "Congress will hold off on passing large emergency economic aid packages despite the staggering loss of 651,000 jobs in February, lawmakers and a senior White House official indicated Sunday," The Hill reports. "Despite the accelerating downturn, there appears little political appetite to take significant additional emergency steps, an acknowledgment of what has become known as 'bailout fatigue' on Capitol Hill."

• "Republican congressional leaders Sunday said that the continuous Wall Street bailouts are prolonging the lives of megabanks and large lenders which should have died along with smaller financial companies," the Washington Times reports.

White House: Obama To Sidestep Some Stem Cell Decisions

• "While lifting the Bush administration's restrictions on federally financed human embryonic stem cell research, President Obama intends to avoid the thorniest question in the debate: whether taxpayer dollars should be used to experiment on embryos themselves, two senior administration officials said Sunday," the New York Times reports.

• "Obama's impending reversal of the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research is meant to distract from the economy, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suggested Sunday," The Hill reports. "Let's take care of business first -- people are out of jobs," he told CNN's John King.

• "The U.S. will press world leaders to boost emergency government spending to lift the global economy, risking a rift with European nations more concerned with revamping financial regulation," the Wall Street Journal reports. In Obama's "first foray into economic diplomacy, Washington will urge the shift at a summit next month in London, U.S. officials say."

Politics: Gingrich Leads GOP Counterattack Over Limbaugh

• "The leader of the 1994 Republican Revolution was among several top Republicans who said Sunday that Rush Limbaugh is not the Republican Party's leader, and blamed the characterization on the Obama White House," the Washington Times reports. Newt Gingrich "called the week of Limbaugh furor 'a deliberate strategy by the White House,' specifically citing the 'intense partisanship' of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel."

• "Tens of thousands of jobs created by the economic stimulus law could end up filled by illegal immigrants, particularly in big states such as California where undocumented workers are heavily represented in construction, experts on both sides of the issue say," USA Today reports. "Studies by two conservative think tanks estimate immigrants in the United States illegally could take 300,000 construction jobs, or 15% of the 2 million jobs that new taxpayer-financed projects are predicted to create."

• "The percentage of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation," USA Today reports. "The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers -- or falling off the faith map completely."

National Security: As Drawdown Announced, Suicide Bomber Kills 28

• In Baghdad, "a suicide bomber driving a motorcycle laden with explosives blew himself up in the busy early morning hours on Sunday near the police academy, killing 28 people, including 5 police officers, and wounding 57, some of them seriously, according to Iraq's interior minister," the New York Times reports. "The attack came on the day the American military announced it would withdraw 12,000 troops from the country by September, an expected part of President Obama's plan to end the 'combat mission' in Iraq by August 2010."

• "It's official -- the U.S. and Russia want to revive arms control talks to cut their nuclear stockpiles," the Washington Times reports. "Disarmament goals pronounced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the issue had not been heard from the one-time enemies in years."

John Yoo's "swift exit from the war crimes board was only the beginning of his troubles," the New York Times reports. "The notoriety that follows Mr. Yoo... raises difficult questions: What is a government lawyer's responsibility if legal advice he gives turns out to be, in the view of many authorities, grievously flawed? Can he be blamed for damaging, and arguably illegal, acts carried out with his imprimatur? Should he suffer any punishment?"

• Since the 2001 anthrax mailings, "U.S. agencies have spent more than $50 billion to beef up biological defenses," the Los Angeles Times reports. "No other anthrax attacks have occurred. But a flood of anthrax hoaxes and false alarms have raised the cost considerably through lost work, emergency evacuations, decontamination efforts, first-responders' time and the emotional distress of the victims."

World: Pakistan Claims Victory Over Militants In Bajaur

• "After a six-month campaign, the Pakistani military is claiming victory over the Taliban in Bajaur, a northern sliver of the tribal areas, saying the militants have suffered heavy losses and have been pushed over the border into Afghanistan," the New York Times reports. "Already, Pakistani officials are hailing Bajaur as a landmark turn in the battle against Islamic militants and are trying to persuade the 300,000 people displaced by the fighting here to return, aided by a $19 million program financed by the United States."

• "British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited troops in Northern Ireland on Monday after a republican splinter group killed two British soldiers in the worst attack in the province in a decade," Reuters reports.

• "North Korea on Monday said it had put its armed forces on full combat readiness in response to the start of annual military exercises by U.S. and South Korean troops, raising tension on the divided peninsula," Reuters reports. "In a statement read on state television, a fierce-voiced military official also warned that any attempt to shoot down the long-range missile the reclusive state plans to launch soon would be seen as an act of war."

Technology: Government's Cybersecurity Guru Quits

• "The government's coordinator for cybersecurity programs has quit, criticizing what he described as the National Security Agency's grip on cybersecurity," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Rod Beckstrom, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said in his resignation letter that the NSA's central role in cybersecurity is 'a bad strategy' because it is important to have a civilian agency taking a key role in the issue."

• Obama "rode into office with a high-tech, open source campaign that digitized the book on campaigning," Wired reports. "Now, with his selection of a celebrated open data advocate as his Chief Information Officer, Obama appears serious about bringing those same principles to the executive branch's treasure trove of data."

Macon Phillips "is the tech nerd who provided part of the link between the 2004 campaign of Howard Dean, who invented high-octane Internet organizing, and Obama, who took it to a whole new level in the 2008 race," Politico reports. "Now he's trying to apply the same methods to governing, using the Web as a venue to speak directly to the people."

Transportation: Obama Team Huddles Over Detroit

• Obama's "auto team will spend Monday at the Detroit home of the Big Three as the administration begins to narrow its options for helping the reeling auto sector," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "House Republican leader John Boehner said Sunday he doesn't support handing over more federal money to keep General Motors Corp. afloat unless the automaker develops a viable and long-term business model and can pay back government loans," AP reports.

• "The number of people riding buses and trains hit a 52-year high in 2008 as skyrocketing gas prices and a faltering economy pushed riders toward less expensive travel," USA Today reports. "Public transit ridership last year increased 4% to 10.7 billion rides, according to a report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association."

Energy: Ethanol Industry Wants Approval For Higher Levels

• "The ethanol industry is putting pressure on the Obama administration to allow higher levels of ethanol in gasoline, a step that auto makers and some public-health advocates have resisted amid concerns it could harm engines and air quality," the Wall Street Journal reports.

• "The race is on to see which names will brand a landmark climate-change measure. But at this rate, 'Waxman' is a leading contender for naming rights," Politico reports. "House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman, a longtime champion of more stringent environmental standards, is quietly dominating the climate debate even though there are other chairmen with skin in the game."

Lobbying: Big Labor Struggles To Reunify

• "As baby boomers across the country re-evaluate their retirements in the face of dwindling 401(k)s, the organization that represents 40 million of them in Washington, D.C., is planning for its own future as well," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "AARP is near the end of an 11-month search to replace Chief Executive Officer Bill Novelli, whose contract expires at the end of 2009."

• "The push to reunify the nation's fractured labor movement has run into serious obstacles, labor leaders said, with several saying the effort has only a 50-50 chance of success," the New York Times reports. "The presidents of 12 large unions have held talks since January, when they announced an effort to reunify organized labor, which split in 2005 when seven unions quit the A.F.L.-C.I.O."

• Obama "banned lobbyists from raising or giving money to his presidential campaign, but his Democratic colleagues in Congress aren't following suit," the Washington Times reports. "House leaders are set to dine Monday night inside the home of two lobbyists with donors who are paying $5,000 or more apiece to attend."

Commentary: Tax Talk

• In Earlybird's Pundits & Editorials section, Paul Krugman asserts that Obama's economic policies are "falling behind the curve," while a member of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board aims to refute talk that the administration's tax plans stunt growth.

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