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This week the administration begins a serious behind-the-scenes charm offensive on its regulatory reform plans. The argument seems to be: we are where we are on banks' solvency/recapitalization, so let's not argue about that; it's time to strengthen financial regulation in line with our G20 commitments.  But there is a serious dilemma lurking behind the foreshadowing, the rhetoric, and the talking points. (Aside to Treasury: please find somone other than big financial players to endorse your next 100 days report; many taxpayers will find p.5 of your first report particularly annoying--if you d

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This is interesting. Last November, the New York Times revealed a secret Bush administration order that authorized commando incursions into Pakistani territory. President Obama's new Afghanistan commander shows up in the piece: Former military and intelligence officials said that Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who recently completed his tour as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, had pressed for years to win approval for commando missions into Pakistan.

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Several recent op-eds advocate aligning U.S. interrogation policy with those of Israel and the United Kingdom. Both countries have unequivocally outlawed the torture of detainees, despite their long experience combating terrorism. Exactly how does each country deal with the issue?   Israel has not had an easy time of it. Following two public scandals that raised questions about the accountability of Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, the Israeli government established an independent commission to set clear guidelines about coercive interrogation.

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So it looks like either this week or next, the EPA will finally issue its long-awaited finding that greenhouse-gas emissions endanger public health. Not to keep parroting the same line, but this is a huge deal. The finding will clear the way for the agency to start regulating carbon under the Clean Air Act, although it's still unclear what rules will emerge.

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The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.

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Stayin' Alive

In early January, most of Barack Obama's senior staff assembled with the president-elect for a meeting inside a windowless, eighth-floor office at the transition headquarters in Washington. It was a pivotal moment in Obama's transformation from candidate to commander-in-chief. Obama's advisers had taken all of his campaign pledges, factored in his promise to reduce the deficit, and put together a provisional blueprint for governing.

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Last fall, during Asif Ali Zardari's first foreign trip as head of state, the Pakistani president met with Sarah Palin in New York City. The meeting occurred amid Palin's other campaign cameos with U.S.-friendly world leaders, most of whom could manage little more than an awkward grimace amid the onslaught of flashbulbs. (Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo reportedly flat-out refused to meet her.) But Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and oft-described playboy, looked delighted as he greeted--and then charmed--the vice-presidential candidate.

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When Senator Dianne Feinstein heard that Leon Panetta was nominated to be the next CIA director, she wasn't just caught off guard in her capacity as head of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She also found herself confronting an old political colleague--even, at times, a rival--who had suddenly re-emerged on her turf. The two northern California politicians have long overlapped in the context of both state and national politics. In 1995, Feinstein led a fight against the closure of several large military bases in the state, contending that it would have a devastating economic impact.

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Going Under

In December 2003, Brent Cambron gave himself his first injection of morphine. Save for the fact that he was sticking the needle into his own skin, the motion was familiar--almost rote. Over the course of the previous 17 months, as an anesthesia resident at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cambron had given hundreds of injections. He would stick a syringe into a glass ampule of fentanyl or morphine or Dilaudid, pulling up the plunger to draw his dose. Then he'd inject the dose into his patient.

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Ben Joravsky is the author of Hoop Dreams and a staff writer for the Reader newspaper in Chicago. It's only appropriate that Governor Rod Blagojevich appoint Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's vacant senate seat. After all, Blago owes his governorship to Burris. To understand, you have to return to 2002, when no one in the country was paying attention to politics in our goofy little fiefdom, and Blagojevich was running for governor in the Democratic primary.

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