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  • Obama's Good Day

    President Obama had good reason to tread lightly in his Oval Office address Tuesday night: he was in the midst of coaxing a $20 billion-plus commitment out of a London-based company that already has lost half of its market value.
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    New Chief Lawyer for Ultrasecret NSA

    Declassified has learned that the Obama administration has now asked a career Justice Department lawyer, Matthew Olsen, to become the NSA’s new general counsel, filling a position open since October.
  • tease-oil-spill-top-kill

    Top Kill Fails

    After three days of pumping a viscous mud mixture into the oil well in the gulf, on-scene engineers have admitted that the Top Kill measure designed to stop the leak of oil has failed. What are the next steps?
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    Newsverse: Of Oil Spills and Kim Jong-il

    In this week's installment of Newsverse, NEWSWEEK's current-events-themed poetry series, Jerry Adler takes on the gulf oil spill. "Mud can do a tip-Top Kill. Dump some on the nearest spill. And the rest on Kim Jong-il."
  • Palin-Backed Candidate Falls in Idaho Primary

    Last night, almost no one in Idaho was happier than the supporters of a state representative named Raul Labrador. That's because Labrador managed to come from behind to defeat Vaughn Ward 48 percent to 39 percent in the First District's Republican House primary, even though Ward, a former Nevada state director for John McCain '08, had outraised Labrador nine-to-one ($1.5 million to $173,000) as a top-tier member of the GOP's "Young Guns" program—and had received Sarah Palin's coveted endorsement as a result.
  • 'English-Only' Measures More and More Popular

    Immigration reform has receded—at least temporarily—in Washington. But a historically fraught question is primed to return when legislators again pick up the matter: should English be America’s official language? About 30 states already have English-only laws requiring them to conduct official business in the mother tongue, with some exceptions. Most of these laws passed during prior bouts of border anxiety: in the mid-’80s (when 3 million illegal immigrants got amnesty) and the mid-’90s (when the GOP gained control of the House).
  • Obama Picks Kagan, Sets Up for Smooth Confirmation

    As the White House prepares to introduce its Supreme Court nominee tomorrow, NBC News reports that Obama has chosen Elena Kagan, the current solicitor general. Speculation had centered on Kagan since John Paul Stevens announced in April that he’d be leaving the Court next month, primarily because of Kagan’s clean legal record and personal ties to Obama as both a professor at the University of Chicago Law School and as dean of Harvard Law. She was also appointed by Obama last year to be the country’s top advocate in court, suggesting a clear vote of confidence in her experience....
  • Absurdly Premature Watch, Vol. 15: Sarah Palin, Still a Politician

    News flash! Sarah Palin has endorsed Carly Fiorina in Carlyfornia's California's Republican Senate primary race, and her Tea Party supporters, who tend to side with Fiorina's more conservative rival, Chuck DeVore, are not at all pleased with the decision. As Politico's Andy Barr reports: Palin’s Facebook page is littered with comments opposing her endorsement of Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard. “The only REAL CONSERVATIVE is Chuck DeVore. Fiorina is a RINO [Republican in name only] and wedon't need any more of those in [California],” one irate commenterwrote. “Why wouldn't you back Chuck DeVore???” “Sorry Sarah but I think Chuck DeVore is the conservative candidate youshould be supporting,” added another, who was followed up by a DeVoresupporter who wrote: “I don't agree with this endorsement AT ALL! Whatare you thinking Sarah?” Hate to say I told you so guys, but, well, I told you so. For anyone who's been paying attention to...
  • New Conservative Groups Focus on Messaging, but What Message?

    Politico has a fascinating, informative piece about "Bush's Brain," Karl Rove, and former RNC chair Ed Gillespie, who are putting together a series of activist organizations to rival the galvanizing effect that they believe the Democracy Alliance has had on Democrats. But although the piece thoroughly describes the groups' fundraising and political strategies, it does not explain—and this is not a criticism of the piece, which simply was not about this—what the actual policy goals are. ...
  • Gulf Oil Spill: Containment Dome Drops; New Orleanians Stock Up on Seafood

    At last, it's here: after more than two weeks of waiting, the eerie pinkish-orange foam mixture of seawater and crude oil that has been creeping ominously closer to has now begun to wash ashore the barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana. It lapped up Thursday onto the Chandeleur Islands and New Harbor Island, both national wildlife refuges, and has now also been spotted at Freemason Island. The gooey substance apparently looks like soggy cornflakes, probably due to the dispersant chemicals intended to break up the oil before it hit land, which is itself highly toxic. Wired says a better product could have been used. Big rusty streaks and hundreds of dead jellyfish are floating west of the mouth of the Mississippi River, where Louisiana officials have now barred shrimping.Further out to sea, a massive dome began its descent into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday night to cap the gushing oil leak. The giant 100-ton concrete and steel box has to be lowered about 5,000 feet below...
  • Thank you, Goldman Sachs

    Call it the Goldman effect. For whatever reason, it looks as if the Senate is holding firm, for the moment, on tough new regulations on Wall Street. The Street's lobbyists are no longer getting the traction they once did in congressional corridors paved with millions of lobbying dollars. While Senate banking committee chairman Chris Dodd had to throw out a provision mandating a $50 billion corporate-funded rainy-day fund that the ranking Republican, Richard Shelby, described as a "honey pot," other new restrictions remain as the overall financial-reform bill heads to a floor vote. Among them: a new rule inspired by the SEC charge that Goldman Sachs created a "synthetic CDO" designed to fail with secret advice from the short-selling maestro, John Paulson. The new rule gives the SEC and Commodity Futures Trade Commission discretion to ban swap transactions that look like mere gaming bets on whether deals—or countries—will fail, preserving the swap function for...
  • Newsverse: Rules to Live By

    By Jerry AdlerBeware of brokers bearing bonds Who only seek to game us. Don't get caught with sexy blondes If married, rich, and famous.   If you hear ticking, move your a-- Get far away and stay low. Don't hang around if you smell gas On an oil rig or volcano.   If you're a bird, I hope you've heard About your beach vacation. The gulf is like a giant turd Cancel that migration!   Hew the straight and narrow path And you'll stay out of trouble. Except for gum, or in a bath Don't get caught in a bubble.   Build your house up high beyond Where rivers flood when storming. Don't swim naked in a pond In case of global warming.  Don't eat too many sour quinces They're awful for your liver. And don't put all your faith in princes They'll sell you down the river.  
  • Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood

    As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history....
  • Economic Troubles May Have Driven Shahzad to Terror

    Five days after the attempted car bombing in New York City's Times Square, new details have emerged about the alleged attacker's troubled financial life, as well as the government's slow response in tracking him. According to The New York Times, Faisal Shahzad hit a rough patch during the recession. JPMorgan Chase foreclosed last summer on the Shelton, Conn., house he shared with his Colorado-born wife and their two children, while the Los Angeles Times reports that the couple tried to sell broken furniture and used clothes for extra cash. Several media outlets from ABC News to the Times make the intellectual leap that these economic troubles fueled Shahzad's radicalization and his anger toward the U.S. His financial problems prompted him to spend several months in Pakistan, including Peshawar and Waziristan, two areas known for their strong Taliban presence. ...
  • Letters: May 3, 2010

    ‘Cross Of Gold’ When bankers become bookies, it’s past time to crucify them—whatever the cross may be. Charles R. Smith Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • Why the Phoenix Suns Oppose Arizona's Immigration Law

    The Phoenix Suns announced that they will be wearing jerseys saying "Los Suns" in Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference Semifinals game. (Should it be "Los Soles"? Maybe this is a regional Spanglishism.) Nominally in honor of Cinco de Mayo, it is openly a slap at their home state's draconian new immigration law. The NBA and their opponents (the San Antonio Spurs) are also on board. As Matthew Yglesias notes, Steve Nash, the Suns' best player, and several Spurs stars are immigrants, so that shouldn't be a total surprise. But the pro-immigration stance of otherwise apolitical businesses reflects a key divide in the immigration debate. Among native-born non-Latinos, the divide is not so much Democrat versus Republican as elite versus the masses, much like free trade. Elite, global corporations, such as the NBA, appreciate the importance of open markets and open borders. They see the economic benefits of being able to bring a Steve Nash to the U.S. As...
  • Quote of the Day: John Thune

    "Because he immerses himself in that and understands it so well—the positions he adopts may not always be the ones that everyone else in our conference comes to." —Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who probably didn't intend this comment about Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to come out quite this way. (h/t Ben Smith)
  • Right Wing: NEWSWEEK's Guide to Conservative Talking Points on the Oil Spill

     The headline of a recent National Review Online editorial tells it simply: “Yes, Keep Drilling.” Why? Here is a rundown of some conservative talking points on why Americans might want to drop the "drill, baby, drill" motto—it doesn't sound so good now—but should drill on anyway.Oil remains our most cost-effective source of transportation fuel. "Others already have observed, correctly, that the risks involved in drilling off the coast of the United States are small in proportion to those involved in shipping oil across the ocean or drilling off the coasts of countries that do not treat safety and environmental standards with our own degree of care," write the National Review editors.Alternatives proposed by environmentalists may be just as costly, if not more, than the BP cleanup. "Consider the cost of cap-and-trade legislation, for instance. It's hard to know what the economic damages of this spill will be, but even if they exceed the estimated $7...
  • The Tea Party Is Now Irrelevant in Indiana

     Even though most nonpoliticos probably blinked and missed it—and by "blinked" I mean "watched the American Idol contestants butcher the music of Frank Sinatra"—last night just so happened to be the first Super Tuesday of the 2010 election season. The primary battles in North Carolina and Ohio ended rather predictably, with Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher winning the Democratic Senate nod in the Buckeye State and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall topping rival Cal Cunningham in North Carolina's complimentary contest. But that was OK, because no one was really interested in those races anyway. The marquee show was in Indiana, where a three-way Senate battle between the establishment pick, former GOP senator Dan Coats, and a pair of Tea Party-flavored rivals, former representative John Hoestetler and State Sen. Marlin Stutzman, promised to reveal where the Republican Party was now, and where it was going (or something like that). So what happened?A cursory search of...
  • Dopey Terrorists?

    The coverage of the Times Square terrorist attempt can't state the obvious because the public would misinterpret it—namely that there's good news in this story and it goes beyond the vigilance and competence of the American authorities....
  • Why Dems Need to Have More Trust in Government

    At their best, charts and graphs are more than just the Y axes and X axes and data points that make them up. They're narratives in number form. In that sense, the most interesting statistical story I've read lately is the Pew Center's interactive map of Public Trust in Government: 1958-2010—both for explaining how we got here, politically speaking, and for predicting why President Obama's first year in office may prove to be the last gasp of activist Democratic governing in a long time.   The overarching narrative here is pretty simple. Back in 1958, more than 70 percent of Americans said they trusted government to do the right thing "most of the time" or "just about always"; six years later, in the wake of President Kennedy's assassination, that number was approaching 80 percent. What happened next is familiar: Vietnam, "the '60s," Watergate, Jimmy Carter, and the rise of movement conservatism. By the time Ronald Reagan...
  • Today in Questionable Sourcing: New York Times Misfires on Oil-Spill Assessment

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is bad, but hey, relax, people, it’s not that bad. That’s according to a story in The New York Times this morning trying to assess the damage. The piece quotes a fellow named Quenton R. Dokken, identified as a “marine biologist” and head of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, described as a conservation group. Except that describing the Gulf of Mexico Foundation as a conservation group would be like describing Focus on the Family as a pro-choice organization.Dokken may be a marine biologist, but the foundation he leads is clearly and directly an arm of the oil industry. Its Web site lists 10 oil companies—including Shell, ConocoPhillips, and, yep, BP—as its funders. In fact, the site notes that in 2005, BP donated $30,000 to fund the foundation's efforts. And a year later the company chipped in $25,000 more.But it gets even murkier. On the foundation’s board of directors is a man named Ian Hudson, who happens to be the head of corporate responsibility...
  • How Will Gulf Spill Affect Energy Debate? A Chat With Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter

    Politics is nothing but the art of timing and opportunity. Opponents of drilling are hoping that now, in the wake of a worsening environmental catastrophe, might be their best opening to make a credible and convincing case that the time to shift to renewable energy is now, and there are 200,000 barrels' worth of reasons currently spewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House said late last week that it would be reevaluating its drilling policy articulated last month with a potential pivot to be announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In the meantime, the Blue Green Alliance, a top Washington environmental advocacy group, hopes to make the case at a conference on green energy (coincidentally timed) that the spill underscores the imperative of moving quickly.Kicking off the conference was Bill Ritter, Colorado's cowboy-boot-clad governor, who says his state's recent investments in clean natural gas and renewables could be—and should be—the model for the country. And that while...
  • Why the U.N. Nukes Conference Is Already Bad for Iran

    After a week of oil spillage and Times Square terrorism, Barack Obama could probably use a breakthrough. He might have gotten a glimpse of one yesterday at the United Nations.More than 180 countries are convening this month for the eighth review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Cold War agreement that determines the world's nuclear haves and have-nots. Predictably enough, such gatherings are usually rife with friction. Nonnuclear states argue that major powers have used the treaty to develop a "nuclear caste system," as Colum Lynch has dubbed it; they see it maintaining the nuclear prowess of existing powers and their allies (India, Israel, and Pakistan), while leaving vulnerable the overwhelming majority of NPT signatories. On the other side, nuclear states have shown little eagerness to voluntarily curtail their own power. At the last NPT review conference in 2005, the Bush team, lead by John ...
  • Sestak Torpedo Aimed at Specter: The Word on Grant Street

    Grant Street is where politics is practiced in my hometown of Pittsburgh, so when I need to get my bearings on Pennsylvania politics—or politics in general—I call the people I know who work (or used to work) in the City-County Building or the Allegheny County Courthouse. With the Democratic primary fast approaching on May 18, the buzz is rising on Grant Street, a thoroughfare ruled by Democrats since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.County Executive Dan Onorato is miles ahead of his competitors for the gubernatorial nomination, so the focus is shifting to the increasingly vicious U.S. Senate primary. It's between two Philly-area Democrats: Sen. Arlen Specter (until last year a Republican) and Rep. Joe Sestak, who, before he won a House seat four years ago, was a Navy admiral.The consensus: Sestak seems to be gaining ground, both in the polls and in the for-background-only opinion along Grant Street. No one seems to much like Sestak—they don't know him—but even though the...
  • Dick Cheney's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    Poor Dick Cheney. Ever since George W. Bush's presidential term ended, all the former veep has wanted to do is spend some time at home, kick back with his grandchildren, and publicly criticize and undermine the authority of our current commander in chief as often as possible. And yet, it seems that no matter what he does, he can't stay out of the headlines. Specifically, the terrifying and tragic headlines dominating today's news. First, Alex Pareene at Salon's War Room notes that the giant, toxic, seemingly unstoppable oil spill headed toward the fragile and vulnerable Gulf Coast could be construed as kind of Cheney's fault. The Wall Street Journal reports...
  • Quote of the Day: Joe Arpaio

    "I don't want to be egotistical, but I could be the governor if I ran. My polls are very high. I got the money. I got the polls. I got the support." —Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa Country, Ariz., during his announcement today that he will not run for the Republican nomiation for governor
  • The Meaning of This Weekend's Immigration Marches

    On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 70 cities across the country to call on Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. But let's be clear on what triggered these marches. They weren't as much a call for immigration reform as they were an angry cry against Arizona's new immigration law. The distinction is important. In the absence of the controversial new measure, the rallies—which had been planned long before the Arizona bill became law—would have drawn far fewer participants. Why? Because what really galvanizes Hispanics in big numbers (and it's mostly Hispanics we're talking about) isn't a desire to legalize the undocumented, but a feeling that the undocumented are being demonized....
  • Arizona’s Immigration Law May Become Model for Other States

    By McKay Coppins Critics throughout the country are decrying Arizona’s tough new immigration law as “misguided,” “racist” and just plain “stupid”—but not everyone hates it. A voter poll in Utah published Thursday shows that a whopping 65 percent of Utahans would support their state modeling its immigration laws after Arizona’s. With such strong support, it’s not surprising that a local politician has already pledged to craft a bill and bring it to Utah’s 2011 legislative session.The Beehive State isn't alone: activists in California are calling on lawmakers to adopt an Arizona-inspired immigration policy, and a state representative in Texas said she will introduce a similar measure to the legislature come January. Utah is unique, however, in that it’s not a border state, and substantial immigration reform was just implemented there less than a year ago. So why so much support for the law?For one thing, Utah is about as red a state as they come, and the national immigration...
  • Gulf Oil Spill: Prognosis Looks Grim; Obama Speaks in Louisiana

    An already bad situation seems to be turning worse in the Gulf of Mexico. News over the weekend suggested the effects of the growing oil spill will be worse than expected, and the leak may not be stopped any time soon. BP officials said Monday they were preparing to install a shutoff valve on one of three leaks, while work to stop the others continues. ...
  • Video: Surveillance Shows Suspect; Taliban Vid Shows Mehsud Alive

    A potential suspect in the May 1 attempted Times Square car bombing is tall, thin, white, and in his 40s, police say, after analyzing tape captured from NYPD surveillance cameras. The man removes a dark shirt about half a block from the Nissan, which was left running, and stuffs the shirt into his bag while glancing over his shoulder multiple times. In response, two videos from the Taliban's sect in Pakistan were posted online: the first claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, and the second featured the country's Taliban leader, long thought to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike.  Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appears healthy in the video footage, which looks to have been filmed in early April. Per The Washington Post's Foreign Service, "That development was hailed as a huge blow to a militant organization that has carried out a steady campaign of attacks inside Pakistan over two years, and whose previous leader was killed by a U.S. drone last summe...