The latest news on Budget, Budget Analysis, D.C. Voting Rights, Victory in Chicago, Abortion, Iraq Withdrawal, Photos of War Coffins, Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Opinion.

By Duane Shank 2-27-2009

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Budget. In $3.6 Trillion Budget, Obama Signals Broad Shift in Priorities "President Obama delivered to Congress yesterday a $3.6 trillion spending plan that would finance vast new investments in health care, energy independence and education by raising taxes on the oil and gas industry, hedge fund managers, multinational corporations and nearly 3 million of the nation's top earners." Obama's budget trades steep deficits for broad goals "President Obama on Thursday unveiled a $3.55-trillion budget outline that he described as an "honest accounting" of federal spending and of the efforts needed to turn the economy around -- but one that also revealed the political battles ahead." Obama Plans Major Shifts in Spending" Proclaiming a "once in a generation" opportunity, President Obama proposed a 10-year budget on Thursday that reflects his determination in the face of recession to invest trillions of dollars and his own political capital in reshaping the nation's priorities." Obama's budget offers middle and working class 'good news' "President Obama's sweeping budget outline, released Thursday, would raise taxes on the wealthy as it offers a range of cash-saving initiatives for the middle and lower classes. It touches broadly on the typical household budget - from retirement savings and health care costs to college tuition."

Budget Analysis. Ambitious Blueprint a Big Risk The President Is Willing to Take "President Obama's first budget -- with its eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit, a health-care fund of more than $600 billion, a $150 billion energy package and proposals to tax wealthy Americans even beyond what he talked about during his campaign -- underscores the breadth of his aspiration to reverse three decades of conservative governance and use his presidency to rapidly transform the country." Obama's budget is the end of an era "Not since Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt has a president moved to expand the role of government so much on so many fronts -- and with such a demanding sense of urgency." Obama's Budget Plan Sweeps Away Reagan Ideas "The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters."

D.C. voting rights. D.C. Voting Measure Clears The Senate "The Senate passed a bill yesterday that would give the District a voting seat in the House of Representatives, but lawmakers attached language strongly opposed by city leaders that strips most local gun-control laws." Taxation with representation? DC moves closer to gaining vote "Thursday's historic vote will be followed by a vote next week in the House, where a similar bill is expected to pass easily. President Barack Obama has expressed support for Washington voting rights and is expected to sign the bill once it reaches his desk."

Victory in Chicago. New Owners to Reopen Window Plant, Site of a Sit-In in Chicago "The 250 workers who staged a December sit-in at a Chicago window factory to protest losing their jobs were celebrating Thursday, after another window manufacturer announced plans to reopen the plant and start hiring back the displaced workers within months."

Abortion. 'Conscience' rule on abortions may be overturned "Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials."

Iraq withdrawal. Obama: U.S. Forces Will Be Out of Iraq by 2011"President Obama announced plans Friday to withdraw the bulk of U.S. forces from Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, and to pull out all remaining troops by the end of 2011, ending the war in Iraq and launching "a new era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East." Transcript of Obama's Remarks at Camp Lejeune Obama outlines Iraq pullout plan "President Barack Obama has announced the withdrawal of most US troops in Iraq by the end of August 2010. In a speech at a Marine Corps base, he said the US "combat mission" in Iraq would officially end by that time." Obama to set August 2010 as pullout date for most of Iraq troops "President Barack Obama is set to announce today that he will pull the majority of U.S. military forces from Iraq by August 2010, fulfilling his campaign pledge to wind down the Iraq war."

Photos of war coffins. Gates says Pentagon to allow media photos of the homecomings of war dead if families give OK "The Obama administration is reversing an 18-year ban on news coverage of the return of war dead, allowing photographs of flag-covered caskets when families of the fallen troops agree," Defense Chief Lifts Ban on Pictures of Coffins "In a reversal of an 18-year-old military policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news media will now be allowed to photograph the coffins of America's war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States, but only if the families of the dead agree."

Afghanistan. Afghanistan's defense minister warns against U.S. pullback "Afghanistan's defense minister warned Thursday that the Obama administration's proposed changes in U.S. war strategy risk undermining Kabul's civilian government because they appear to scale back U.S. goals in the country." U.S. commander in Afghanistan: Influx of 17,000 more troops will help 'stalemate' "Just days after President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Tribune correspondent Kim Barker sat down in Kabul with Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in the country."

Iran. US statement says it will seek to end Iran's nuclear ambition; Iran says it has none "President Barack Obama's administration will seek to end Iran's nuclear ambition and its support for terrorism, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday - drawing an immediate rebuke from Iran's U.N. envoy."

Israel. No deal in Israel coalition talks "Israel's prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu says talks to include the centrist Kadima party in a coalition have ended without agreement." 40 days after war, Hamas rule of Gaza gaining legitimacy "Three rockets fell Thursday in the area around the Gaza Strip, one in the yard of a Sderot home - just a few reminders that Israel is still far from its declared goal in Operation Cast Lead. Discussion about the military operation's outcome revolves around the term "deterrence."

Palestine. Palestinian factions agree on unity "Palestinian factions have agreed to establish five committees to address key issues for unity. The Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo between 12 Palestinian factions began on Thursday and follow 18 months of disharmony between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank." U.S. Helps Palestinians Build Force for Security "They rappel down a 65-foot tower, navigate obstacle courses, shoot in the firing range and sleep in pristine barracks. They eat in an air-conditioned mess where brushed aluminum glints from every kitchen surface. Rows of Land Rovers stand by. The entrance reads "The Presidential Guard, Always in Front: Strength, Sacrifice, Redemption."

Opinion. Op-Ed Columnist: Climate of Change (Paul Krugman, New York TImes) "Elections have consequences. President Obama's new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course."

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