Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

International Week in Review

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Washington Post poll finds split on health-care law remains deep

Americans overwhelmingly see the new health-care law as a major shift in the direction of the country, but they remain as deeply divided today over the changes as they were throughout the long congressional debate, according to a Washington Post poll. In the days since President Obama signed the farthest-reaching piece of social welfare legislation in four decades, overall public opinion has changed little, with continuing broad public skepticism about the effects of the new law and more than a quarter of Americans seeing neither side as making a good-faith effort to cooperate on the issue.

Overall, 46 percent of those polled said they support the changes in the new law; 50 percent oppose them. That is virtually identical to the pre-vote split on the proposals and similar to the divide that has existed since last summer, when the country became sharply polarized over the president’s most ambitious domestic initiative. Read more here.

Obama Bypasses Senate Process, Filling 15 Posts

President Barack Obama on Saturday announced he would make 15 recess appointments held up by Republicans, including two top Treasury Department positions and two on the National Labor Relations Board that have been vacant for more than a year. The move intensifies an already bitter partisan atmosphere in Washington and Republicans swiftly condemned the action for sidestepping Congress, which goes into recess for its spring vacation on Monday.

Recess appointments, which have been used by both parties, evade potentially difficult Senate confirmations required for senior federal posts by making the appointments on an interim basis when lawmakers are out of town. Obama’s Democrats lost their 60-seat super majority in the Senate in January, denying them the votes needed to overcome procedural delays by Republicans. Obama accused Republicans of playing politics by obstructing his nominations, and calculated the appointments had already been held up for an average of 214 days. Read more here.

At the Vatican, Up Against the world

Of the many heartbreaking details in the latest round of outrage over child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, one stands out as particularly emblematic: a tidy window into Church leaders’ mindsets; a bracing glimpse of what went wrong. It traces back to 1975, when the Rev. Sean Brady, now a cardinal at the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, was tending to two boys who had been molested by a priest. By Cardinal Brady’s own admission, he did not report what had happened to the authorities. It was his understanding, he said, that the church would not want that. Instead, the boys — one 14, one just 10, both surely reeling — were forced to sign an oath that such notification would never be made.  It is doubtful that pledge helped them heal, or that he or anyone else in the church thought it might. It certainly did not safeguard other children, many of whom the priest went on to molest. Read more here

Axelrod: Obama did not snub Netanyahu

White House top advisor says US president did not give Israeli PM cold shoulder during visit: ‘It was a working meeting among friends; there was no snub intended’. Of decision to keep talks closed to media, lack of photo-op, says, ‘This was not about formalities. This was not about a ceremonial meeting’

Obama met the Israeli leader in the White House on Tuesday but did not dine with his visitor and, by keeping the talks closed to the media, also denied Netanyahu the courtesy of a photo-opportunity with the president.  This raised questions in blogs and at White House news briefings that it was a deliberately calibrated gesture by the administration to communicate its displeasure with Netanyahu over Jewish housing construction in east Jerusalem, which have stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians in the form of US-mediated indirect talks. Read more here

Rating cut over Portugal debt fears

Portugal’s sovereign credit rating has been downgraded by Fitch Ratings amid growing concerns about the Lisbon government’s ability to service its debts. The cut in the rating from AA to AA- was the latest blow to nations using the euro after concerns over a debt crisis in Greece and pushed the value of the currency under $1.34 for the first time in 10 months. Lisbon’s main PSI-20 stock market index tumbled more than two per cent on the news.

Portugal’s minority Socialist government responded by urging parliament to back a series of austerity measures aimed reducing the public deficit from 9.3 per cent of output to under the eurozone limit of 3.0  percent by 2013.

The programme, which forecasts slight economic growth of 0.7 per cent this  year, includes a four-year freeze of government salaries, a reduction of social benefits and a delay in public investment.

The conservatives, who hold 102 of 230 seats, have yet to  indicate how they will vote while 31 MPs from left-leaning parties will vote no. The Socialists hold 93 seats.

Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, the finance minister, warned that were the vote to fail “economic players would not believe in our ability to correct the deficit and control the debt, which would undermine confidence and would compromise the prospects for our economy.”  Read more here.

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Written by Theophyle

March 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm

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