president

From Dexter Filkins' New York Times Week in Review piece on Hamid Karzai and voter fraud: “Mr. Karzai got 48 percent of the vote and Abdullah got 27,” said Azizullah Ludin, the chairman of the Independent Election Commission. Despite its title, the commission is widely seen here as a tool of the president. “We will have another election, and we’ll have the same result.” Mr. Ludin smiled broadly. “Karzai is going to win.” Italics Mine.

Recessional

It's some 400 miles from Harvard Square to Capitol Hill, but when Rory Stewart made the trip last month, he chose an unlikely mode of transport: He took a plane. Stewart is an inveterate, epic walker. He spent part of this past summer strolling the 150 miles from Crieff to Penrith in his native Scotland. More impressively, in 2002, not long after he quit his job with the British Foreign Office, he walked across Afghanistan, a 600-mile jaunt that served as the basis for his best-selling book The Places In Between.

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Worth Reading

Levitt's defense of Superfreakonomics and global warming. Historically, trade has led to improved labor rights. U.K. economy still in recession in third quarter. Bernanke says smaller banks are not necessarily the answer. Could Roger Ailes run for president?

And In the Other War...

When Obama was running for president last year, he chided Republicans for taking their eye off the ball in Afghanistan. Now that we’re all appropriately obsessed with each new installment in the AfPak saga, it seems Americans (and the media) are paying less attention to Iraq. So here’s a quick primer of the most recent developments in the United States' other ongoing conflict, for those who are having trouble following more than one war at a time: Oil--Although Iraq has vast reserves, its shoddy infrastructure has ensured that it’s still pumping oil at far below capacity.

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“Are they going to try to storm the building?” a man in a dark business suit asked a colleague inside the Capitol Hilton ballroom, during a break in the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference this afternoon. “Or are we not going to let that happen?” Directly outside the Hilton's well-guarded doors, about a hundred protesters had gathered to denounce the rapacious insurance executives they believed to be inside the Hilton.

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Speaking beneath the twinkling crystal chandeliers of the Capitol Hilton ballroom this morning, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni declared that the insurance industry is still on board with the Democratic health care reform effort, pushing back against the presumption that the two sides have declared war. “Our community was one of the first to position ourselves very actively to a massive overhaul of the insurance market,” Ignagni told the audience members, who were attending the organization’s conference on state insurance issues.

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Dick Cheney says the Bush administration left the Obama administration with a plan (and a good one) for Afghanistan: The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

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Pervez Dispenser

Some simple rules of thumb for the foreign ex-dictator out to make a mint on the U.S. lecture circuit: Get yourself included in a speakers’ series that features non-controversial names like Laura Bush and Jean-Michel Cousteau. Promise your “august audience” a “frank exchange.” Maybe drop the names of one or two revered American leaders who are your close friends.

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Who is Us?

WASHINGTON--Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all. That's why the brawl in a single congressional district in far upstate New York is drawing the eyes of the nation. Conservatives are determined to use the race to prove that there is no place in the party for heretics, dissidents or independents. President Obama set up the fight by nominating the district's former representative, John McHugh, as his Army secretary.

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President Obama faces an enormous political challenge in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents.

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