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  • Quote of the Day: Robert Gibbs

    "A lot of Republicans get to church; very few of them have made it to the altar." —Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, describing Senate Democrats' efforts to reach a deal with several successive Republican counterparts on financial regulatory reform.
  • Get Ready for a Replay of Health Care

    After months of awkward bipartisan feelers over financial reform, it’s bench-clearing time at last. That’s pretty much what’s happened over the last few days, especially since Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launched the GOP’s strategic assault on Democratic reform bills by calling them bailouts of Wall Street—eagerly parroting the line put out by GOP pollster Frank Luntz—and Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd responded by saying his patience is at an end. On another front, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, appeared to end her own efforts at compromise with Republican Saxby Chambliss over the regulation of derivatives; she wrote a letter (read it here) assuring progressive Democratic colleagues, Maria Cantwell, Byron Dorgan, and Dianne Feinstein (along with moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe) that she was fully behind a tough bill, one that excludes most exemptions for derivatives “end users.”...
  • Sarah Palin: No Hockey Mom

    Although she lost the election, Sarah Palin has certainly come out ahead. ABC News reported Tuesday that the governor turned media star had raked in more than $12 million since July from various speaking engagements, television contracts, and her book, Going Rogue. Several hours later, California state Sen. Leland Yee revealed pages believed to be from Palin’s speech contract with the California State University’s Stanislaus Foundation (where Palin will speak at a gala this summer) that were found in a Dumpster by several students. Palin’s high cost, and her high demands, have concerned lawmakers in a state struggling with sweeping budget cuts. ...
  • In Western China Earthquake, Ghosts of Sichuan Loom

    At least 400 people are dead after six earthquakes struck this morning in western China's Yushu County, a barren and mountainous area of Qinghai province mostly populated by ethnic Tibetans. In Jiegu, the county seat, about 90 percent of houses were destroyed. The Chinese government is rushing coats, blankets, and temporary housing to the region, where nighttime temperatures reach below freezing, but transport of equipment and materials is proving difficult. Under normal circumstances in Yushu, goat tracks are more common than major highways. Now, with the road to the nearest airport badly damaged, rescuers have taken to digging through the rubble with their hands.
  • Introducing 'Race for the Robe'

    To mark this, the season of shortlisting, we at NEWSWEEK are proud to introduce a new feature on the Gaggle capturing the daily horse race to fill an emptying Supreme Court seat—based on news, and not just Beltway buzz. Can Elena Kagan, who leads the pack, withstand the vetting? Is the White House floating a dark horse to appease an interest group? We break down the names—and how they rank—each morning, here.
  • Newly Passed 'Fetal Pain' Bill in Nebraska Is a Big Deal

    The Nebraska Legislature has passed a law barring abortions after 20 weeks because of the possibility that the fetus could feel pain. The law, approved by the state legislature earlier today and expected to be signed by Gov. Dave Heineman, is a landmark in that it directly challenges one of the key tenets of Roe v. Wade: the viability standard. In Roe, the Supreme Court recognized viability—the point at which the fetus can live outside the womb—as the point at which states have the right to ban abortion (with exceptions made for the woman's life and health). That was the "compelling" point at which to allow abortion bans, Justice Harry Blackmun opined, "because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb." Therefore, he continued, "If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the...
  • Quote of the Day: Nuclear-Security Summit

    “Just the smallest amount of plutonium—about the size of an apple—could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it.” —President Obama at the full plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit on Tuesday, to leaders from 47 countries.
  • Michelle Obama Makes First Solo Trip—and First Surprise Visit—on the Same Day

    En route to her first solo diplomatic mission in Mexico this week, Michelle Obama made a surprise visit today to Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, to survey the recovery efforts in the island country hit with a massive 7.0 earthquake in January. Along with Jill Biden, Obama took a helicopter tour of the city and met with top government officials in the capital city, where more than a million people remain homeless. ...
  • Quote of the Day: John Boehner

    "They got everything else in the entire bureaucracy that they need to control our health-care system ... with the signing of this bill. That's why repealing this bill has to be our No. 1 priority." —Rep. John Boehner during a radio interview today
  • Nuclear Summit: What Success Will Look Like

    For two days, the Washington press corps has been inundated with news of all the big names in town and the staged photo ops that are customary between visiting leaders and their host. Usually, the conversation is a cursory exchange of issues important in the relationship of both leaders. Rarely do bilateral handshakes get terribly deep.But the reason for everyone in town this week is a fairly deep topic: keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. In what is the biggest collection of world leaders since the 1945 conference that founded the United Nations, top officials from 47 countries—all with nuclear arsenals or some sort of access to fissile material—will sit around tables late Monday and Tuesday to discuss securing their stocks. On that point, there’s general agreement. Most world leaders understand the imperative of preventing terrorist groups like Al Qaeda from obtaining weapons. But there are still some rifts, like who will monitor the international effort, and...
  • The New Health-Care Fight: Abortion Coverage in State Exchanges

    While the congressional fight over health-care reform has wrapped up and legislators moved on, a new, state-level battle over abortion coverage has just begun. The fight comes courtesy of Section 1303 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (page 779 here), which reiterates states’ rights to regulate abortion coverage among their insurers. The key sentence: “A state may elect to prohibit abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an Exchange in such State if such State enacts a law to provide for such a prohibition.”This provision actually does not give states any rights they didn’t have before. As Nick Baumann over at Mother Jones recently, and astutely, pointed out, “states have had the right to pass laws regulating insurance, including banning abortion” for over six decades now. Five states (Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma) already do so, only allowing insurers to cover abortion if the life of the mother is endangered (the Oklahoma...
  • Congress Plays Politics With Unemployment Insurance

    Congress is back from vacation and scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on extending unemployment insurance benefits for an extra four weeks, primarily for people who have been out of work for several months. ...
  • Britain's New Kingmaker

    When Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed last year to take part in Britain's first-ever televised election debates, which begin next week, the result seemed certain. The fluent and youthful Conservative leader David Cameron, then enjoying a commanding lead in the polls, would easily outperform the dogged prime minister, usually a lackluster speaker....
  • At the Masters, Phil Mickelson's Win Takes Tiger off the Table

    When Tiger Woods scored a hole in one on the seventh hole at the Masters this Sunday, he threw his hands up in a small celebration. For an instant, the strained look he’d been wearing for most of the tournament passed, but even though that shot put him back in the running for the green jacket, he didn’t seem jubilant. His demonstration seemed, like most of Woods’s play this weekend, forced and rote.Compare that with the sheer joy on Phil Mickelson’s face when he took home the top prize later that day, and the long embrace he shared with his wife, Amy. Mickelson’s game had been off for about 11 months—about the same amount of time Amy has been treated for breast cancer. She was on the course today, watching her husband play brilliant, enthusiastic golf. A few other comparisons: Mickelson created a heartwarming photo op earlier in the week when he invited his wife’s doctor to caddie a few holes during the Houston Open; Woods had security in place at the Masters to prevent any...
  • A Coup and a Close Call In Kyrgyzstan

    The violence that gripped Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, last week quickly turned into a dictator's worst nightmare when the snowballing riots forced President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to flee for his life. But by week's end most pundits agreed that the biggest loser was the United States. Kyrgyzstan is home to the Manas air base, a logistical hub for U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan. Ever since Bakiyev came to power in his own 2005 coup, the U.S. has plied him with money and access to keep the runways at Manas open. That support, which came despite allegations of the regime's endemic corruption and human-rights abuses, did not endear Washington to the opposition leaders who have now seized power....
  • The Death of Poland's President: A Danger to the Region?

    The crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and the senior command of the Polish Army is without doubt a national tragedy for Poland. But the disaster is unlikely to have many regional or strategic ramifications. Poland is a parliamentary republic whose president is largely ceremonial—much as in Germany and Italy. Kaczynski’s political role was limited to representing Poland abroad, with policymaking in the hands of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The two men had clashed several times over the last few months over a growing rapprochement between Poland and Russia favored by Tusk. The most recent public rift came last week, when Tusk and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Stalin’s secret police side by side. Putin, like his predecessor Boris Yeltsin, called the massacre a “terrible tragedy” but emphasized that it should become a “focus of reconciliation” between the Russian and Polish peoples....
  • Quote of the Day: John Roberts

    "I suspect it's like people look at their families.... It's a tremendous sense of loss." —Chief Justice John Roberts on what it's like when a justice leaves the Supreme Court.
  • New Poll Finds Tea Partiers Have More Racist Attitudes

    Are tea partiers racist? That question has triggered a flood of impassioned commentary in recent months. Opponents depict the movement as a band of cranky old white people brimming with racial resentment, as evidenced by the inflammatory signs that pop up at their rallies and coded language about "taking our country back." Supporters say the movement is motivated quite simply by resistance to big government and that the occasional flashes of racism are overhyped by the media and representative of only a small fringe. As Gallup's Frank Newport recently wrote, "Each side of the political spectrum appears to have a vested interest in portraying the Tea Party movement in the specific way that best fits their ideological positioning." Yet neither side has had much empirical data to draw on.  ...