Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From Castro quits to Costly Clemmons' autograph in DC

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Due to "ailing" health, Cuban President Fidel Castro is stepping down, "ending one of the longest tenures as one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world." "The United States will help the people of Cuba realize the blessings of liberty," President Bush said in response.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has scheduled pro forma sessions for Tuesday and Thursday "so that Bush cannot call Congress back into special session to take up the now-expired Protect America Act." The Senate will take similar action.

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano penned an op-ed in yesterday's Los Angeles Times arguing that the Protect America Act is unconstitutional. "The government should be required, as it was until FISA, to obtain a 4th Amendment warrant to conduct surveillance of anyone, American or not, in the U.S. or not," he wrote.

A McClatchy analysis finds that "jobless Americans are spending more time looking for work and that those who can't find work now make up a greater share of the unemployed." As of January, "almost one in five unemployed workers" had been jobless for six months or more.

Next week, the Senate is planning to vote on a cloture motion on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) bill "to set a timeline for withdrawing combat troops." They are also planning to take up a second Feingold bill, "which would require the Bush administration to develop strategies to limit repeated deployments of troops and defeat al-Qaida."

Nine of 10 current and former military officers say the war had stretched the military "dangerously thin," according to a survey conducted by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for a New American Security. Sixty percent of the 3,400 officers said the military is weaker today than five years ago.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr "is expected to announce his decision in the next few days about whether to maintain the ceasefire he ordered six months ago. There has been pressure from the rank-and-file members of his militia to call off the truce."

And finally: Last week, "scores of Hill staffers" -- and a couple of senators -- snagged "all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens' coveted John Hancock last week." Yet none of these staffers or lawmakers is now confessing to receiving an autograph after reports that it may "be a violation of the Senate and House rules that ban gifts worth more than $50." A Clemens signature reportedly goes for about $75, and "a signed baseball can garner upwards of $450."


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