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Archive for January 5th, 2009

Obama’s Intel Picks Short On Direct Experience

PAMELA HESS | January 5, 2009 09:44 PM EST | AP

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to fill the nation’s top intelligence jobs with two men short on direct experience in intelligence gathering surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat’s intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.

Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, an eight-term congressional veteran and administrative expert, is being tapped to head the CIA. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is Obama’s choice to be director of national intelligence, a selection expected for weeks, according to two Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not officially announced the choices.

The Obama transition team’s long delay in selecting CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama’s own policies and priorities.

Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions _ the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture _ and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

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As Vacant Office Space Grows, So Does Lenders’ Crisis

By CHARLES V. BAGLI

Vacancy rates in office buildings exceed 10 percent in virtually every major city in the country and are rising rapidly, a sign of economic distress that could lead to yet another wave of problems for troubled lenders.

With job cuts rampant and businesses retrenching, more empty space is expected from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles in the coming year. Rental income would then decline and property values would slide further. The Urban Land Institute predicts 2009 will be the worst year for the commercial real estate market “since the wrenching 1991-1992 industry depression.”

Banks and other financial companies have not had the problems with commercial properties in this recession that they have had with residential properties. But many building owners, while struggling with more vacancies and less rental income, will need to refinance commercial mortgages this year.

The persistent chill in lending from banks to the credit markets will make that difficult — even for borrowers who are current on their payments — setting the stage for loan defaults.

The prospect bodes ill for banks, along with pension funds, insurance companies, hedge funds and others holding the loans or pieces of them that were packaged and sold as securities.

Jeffrey DeBoer, chief executive of the Real Estate Roundtable, a lobbying group in Washington, is asking for government assistance for his industry and warns of the potential impact of defaults. “Each one by itself is not significant,” he said, “but the cumulative effect will put tremendous stress on the financial sector.”

Stock analysts say commercial real estate is the next ticking time bomb for banks, which have already received hundreds of billions of dollars in capital and other assistance from the federal government. Big banks — like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley — each hold tens of billions of dollars in commercial real estate securities. The banks also invested directly in properties.

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JEB BUSH WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Another President Bush?

Perhaps so, says former President George H.W. Bush, who has already seen one son, George W., serve in the Oval Office. The nation’s 41st president said Sunday that he would like to see a second son, Jeb, be president one day.

Jeb Bush is the current president’s younger brother and a former popular governor of Florida. He is mulling a run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Florida Republican Sen. Mel Martinez.

Asked in a broadcast interview about Jeb Bush’s consideration of the Senate seat, the former president said: “I’d like to see him run. I’d like to see him be president someday.”

When asked if he was serious, he said: “Or maybe senator. Whatever. Yes, I would. I mean, right now is probably a bad time, because we’ve had enough Bushes in there. But no, I would. And I think he’s as qualified and able as anyone I know on the political scene. Now, you’ve got to discount that. He’s my son.”

The former president spoke on Fox News Sunday in an interview that was taped Friday in Houston.

He will be at the White House on Wednesday for a lunch with President George W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

The senior Bush said he does not plan to offer advice to Obama and mainly wants to wish him well. “I talked to him right after the election and did that then, assured him that he was my president,” Bush said.

The former president also plans to go skydiving once again, in June, to mark his 85th birthday. He will do so in tandem with an expert. “Just because you’re an old guy, you don’t need to sit around sucking your thumb drooling in the corner,” he said. “Old guys can still do stuff, and that’s the main reason.”

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Top Democrat: Bush the worst president we ever had

RAW STORY
Published: Monday January 5, 2009

With President Bush all but departed, the Senate’s top Democrat has leveled the strongest criticism of President George W. Bush to date.

“I really do believe President Bush is the worst president we’ve ever had,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.

Asked why he felt Bush was the worst commander-in-chief the US has ever had, Reid pointed to Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security and asserted that Bush “has done his very best to destroy Medicare.”

Asked by David Gregory if he had any regrets about his persistent criticism of Bush, Reid responded, “I am who I am.”

“I think you just have to call things the way you see them,” he added.

This video is from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Jan. 4, 2008.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Bush first ex-prez to face limit on Secret Service protection

WASHINGTON — President George W. Bush’s “after-life,” as Laura Bush calls the post-presidency, is shaping up to be pretty comfortable, with a Dallas office, staffers, Secret Service protection, a travel budget, medical coverage and a $196,700 annual pension, all at taxpayers’ expense.

However, Bush will be the first president not to benefit from one former lifetime benefit: Secret Service protection.

“He’ll be the first one to receive it for 10 years,” said Malcolm Wiley, Secret Service spokesman. Congress changed the law in the 1990s so that any president elected after Jan. 1, 1997, and his or her spouse will receive the federal protection for only 10 years.

The Bushes will move to their new $2 million, 8,500-square-foot Dallas home — not paid for by taxpayers — on Jan. 20, and there Bush will be close to his future presidential library at Southern Methodist University.

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Monday…A normal day and a song to play

Israeli ground war bisects Gaza, deepens humanitarian crisis

Obama Plan Includes $300 Billion in Tax Cuts

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Bush first ex-prez to face limit on Secret Service protection

Obama’s Plan for The Draft- MANDATORY SERVICE everyone 18-25

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