“This case sharpens our focus on Judge Sotomayor’s troubling speeches
and writings, which indicate the opposite belief:
that personal experiences
and political views should influence
a judge’s decision.”
Brought To You
By A Known Moron
Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee
Despite Majority, Obama to Be Tested
Diverse Ideology Cuts Democrats’ Edge
By Shailagh Murray and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
After a series of early and relatively easy victories on Capitol Hill, the White House appears certain to face a more difficult road when Congress returns to work next week.
Not content to task lawmakers with passing an ambitious agenda of record new spending, sweeping health-care reform and other major initiatives, President Obama yesterday nudged the Senate to move ahead with its version of a landmark energy bill the House passed on Friday. In recent weeks, he has also revived the idea of pursuing broad changes in immigration law.
Obama and his aides have proved adept at navigating the politics and eccentricities of the legislative branch.
In a Coup in Honduras, Ghosts of Past U.S. Policies
By HELENE COOPER and MARC LACEY
Published: June 29, 2009
WASHINGTON – President Obama on Monday strongly condemned the ouster of Honduras’s president as an illegal coup that set a “terrible precedent” for the region, as the country’s new government defied international calls to return the toppled president to power and clashed with thousands of protesters.
“We do not want to go back to a dark past,” Mr. Obama said, in which military coups override elections. “We always want to stand with democracy,” he added.
The crisis in Honduras, where members of the country’s military abruptly awakened President Manuel Zelaya on Sunday and forced him out of the country in his bedclothes, is pitting Mr. Obama against the ghosts of past American foreign policy in Latin America.
GM to pull out of joint venture with Toyota at California plant
General Motors says it and Toyota can’t agree on what vehicle to build at the NUMMI plant in Fremont. The move jeopardizes the future of the last vehicle assembly plant in California.
By Ken Bensinger and Julie Strack
June 30, 2009
Reporting from Los Angeles and Fremont, Calif. — America’s auto crisis has stretched beyond the Midwest all the way to California.
The state’s last automobile plant is facing potential closure after General Motors Corp. said Monday that it would drop out of the joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. that operates the factory and builds three vehicles there.
The troubled automaker will produce its final Pontiac Vibe at New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., or NUMMI, by the end of August. Whether Toyota plans to keep building its Corolla sedans and Tacoma small pickups at the Fremont, Calif., plant is still being decided.
The Japanese automaker has long resisted layoffs and closures. But given the high costs of manufacturing in California, the dearth of surrounding parts suppliers and the fact that the Northern California factory is Toyota’s only unionized facility in the U.S., many experts worry that the company may follow GM’s lead and exit the Golden State.
Flow of stimulus funds still only a trickle
About $53 billion of $479 billion has been disbursed by federal agencies
By John W. Schoen
When the government enacted a $787 billion package of tax cuts and new spending this spring, there was much talk about how all that money would help pull the economy out of a deep recession. But readers are asking: Just how much of this money has been actually spent? Turns out the answer is not much.
The idea behind the government’s economic stimulus package was to get money flowing through the system, boost economic activity and create jobs. But an msnbc.com review of the latest federal spending data shows that the money is flowing at a trickle.
Israel expected to propose partial freeze on West Bank settlements
• Plan falls short of Obama’s demands
• Ehud Barak admits to authorising new construction
• Israeli defence minister to meet Obama’s special envoy
Chris McGreal in Washington
Israel has despatched its defence minister, Ehud Barak, to the US as relations with the White House deteriorate over Israel’s refusal to end settlement building in occupied territories.
Barak is expected to propose a temporary and partial freeze on the construction of homes for Jews in the West Bank. That falls far short of Barack Obama’s demand made to the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, at a difficult meeting in Washington last month for a complete halt to building as evidence of a commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu has recognised Obama’s stance by, for the first time, acknowledging there should be an independent Palestine, albeit with conditions, and agreeing to lift some military checkpoints that restrict movement on the West Bank.
Iraq: mission accomplished?
Five years after George Bush’s premature declaration of victory, US troops are ready to leave Iraq. Patrick Cockburn reports
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
More than six years after US forces captured Baghdad, American combat troops will withdraw from all Iraqi cities and towns by tonight, handing over full control to the 600,000-strong Iraqi army and police and marking a crucial step in Iraq’s return to independence.
Iraqi state television has been showing a clock with an Iraqi flag marking the time that remains until the US pull-out with the words: “June 30: National Sovereignty Day”. The Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who, although closely allied to the US, nevertheless calls its departure a “great victory”, has declared today a national holiday.
Japan: Unemployment hits 6-year high
Unemployment rate rises to 5.2% as vacancies fall to record low
Martin Foster in Tokyo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 30 June 2009 09.25 BST
Japanese unemployment rose to its highest in almost six years in May, raising concerns over the recovery of the world’s second-largest economy.
The unemployment rate rose to 5.2%, up 0.2% from April and the highest since September 2003, the ministry of internal affairs and communications said. Almost 3.5 million people are now unemployed in Japan, up 770,000 on a year ago.
Japanese companies are still not hiring – other data released showed there were 44 jobs for every 100 people looking for work. That number is down from 46 in April, and is the lowest rate on record.
Lack of job creation bodes poorly for the future of the world’s second largest economy, economists warned. “Domestic demand, and a real recovery in the economy will be reined in by the poor job outlook,” said Satoru Ogasawara, an economist with Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
Winds of Islamism make Pakistani artists shiver
The art scene in the cosmopolitan city of Lahore is being changed by Taliban threats.
By Ayesha Nasir | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
LAHORE, PAKISTAN – Farhan Khan, a drummer in a band, is taking a break from performing. This move was prompted by his mother, who worries that her son might become a target for the Islamic extremists gradually asserting their power in this city.
In recent months, as theaters have been bombed, art festivals interrupted, and musicians targeted, Mr. Khan has learned firsthand about the rising level of hostility toward his profession.
“Once, I was walking down a street: I wear my hair long and was wearing tattered jeans,” he says. “As I neared a corner, I came across a bearded man who gave me a dirty look and then scowled at me.”
The stranger approached Khan and told him, “You should cut off your hair and grow your beard if you know what’s good for you.”
Those who’ve been living in Lahore – a city of 10 million – for many years find the idea of extremism arriving on these streets baffling. But its presence is growing, and musicians, artists, and performers are among those most affected.
Event manager Aamir Mazhar laments the rising threat to Punjab Province’s cultural capital, a hub of the latest styles, films, and comedy performances.
13 killed as gas train explodes in town inferno
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
At least 13 people were killed when a freight train derailed and set off an explosion and fire in a small Italian town, officials said today.
More than 50 people were injured, many seriously, in the crash in the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio shortly before midnight.
The rear of the train crashed into homes beside the railway station and a car filled with liquefied natural gas exploded, causing at least two buildings to collapse and setting fire to a vast area.
Some 300 firefighters were digging through the rubble of collapsed or burned homes looking for casualties, amid fears that there could be more victims.
As crews worked to contain the blaze, teams specialising in dealing with nuclear, biological and chemical threats were being brought in to prevent the other gas tanks from exploding.
Officials said the fire was contained after several hours, but a smell of burning hung in the air.
“We saw a ball of fire rising up to the sky,” said witness Gianfranco Bini, who lives in a building overlooking the station. “We heard three big rumbles, like bombs. It looked like war had broken out.”
Rival parties unite in France against resurgent National Front
From The Times
June 30, 2009
Charles Bremner in Paris
France’s main political parties joined forces yesterday in an attempt to stop Jean Marie Le Pen’s far-right National Front conquering its first town for more than a decade after it swept the field in a first-round vote in the Pas-de-Calais area.
President Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP and the Socialist Opposition called for unity against the Front in Hénin-Beaumont, a depressed town of 25,000 in the region where Marine Le Pen, the leader’s daughter, has her base. Ms Le Pen, 40, her party’s No 2, savoured the prospect of a victory that would give the party a respite in its decline since her father, 81, contested the run-off against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 presidential election.
Electoral loss for Kirchners in Argentina marks end of era
By Sara Miller Llana | The Christian Science Monitor
BUENOS AIRES – Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner suffered a blow to her political project Sunday night, with her Peronist Party losing power in both houses of Congress.
Even more devastating, her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, conceded defeat in his bid for a congressional seat, a move that was intended to buoy support for the first couple but backfired.
Argentina’s new Congress doesn’t take office until December, which gives Fernandez time to push through her socialist policies, but the election might force her into a more conciliatory position. It also changes the balance of power for Kirchner, who’s dominated the Argentine political scene for six years and had been expected to run for president again in 2011.
“It closes the chapter of the Kirchners,” said Riordan Roett, the director of the Latin American Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies in Washington.