Sunday, March 17, 2013

News Nuggets 1203

DAYLEE PICTURE:  A Black Trevally amid a school of sardines. From National Geographic.

The GOP Keeps Getting Whiter (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"While the country is becoming more racially diverse, Republican congressional districts are becoming less. ... could the Republicans’ arguably rigged House majority actually be a curse disguised as a
blessing? It’s an interesting question. They clearly did everything they could to purge Democratic voters from their districts ahead of 2012, no matter whether those voters were white, black, Hispanic, left-handed, or right-minded—just as Democrats would have done had the roles been reversed. But in the process of quarantining Democrats, Republicans effectively purged millions of minority voters from their own districts, and that should raise a warning flag."

Profile: New Pope, Jesuit Bergoglio, was Runner-Up in 2005 Conclave from the National Catholic Reporter
"Though it's hard to say how seriously one should take the specifics, the general consensus is that Bergoglio was indeed the "runner-up" last time around. He appealed to conservatives in the College of Cardinals as a man who had held the line against liberalizing currents among the Jesuits, and to moderates as a symbol of the church's commitment to the developing world."

Entrenched Troubles at Vatican Await New Pope from the New York Times 
"It remained to be seen whether Cardinal Bergoglio will display the mettle to tackle the dysfunction and corruption that plagued the papacy of his predecessor."

Pope Francis, Need Some Public-Relations Help? Here's Advice from America’s Political Consultants from the National Journal
"Despite the notable differences between the pope and a politician (infallibility, lifetime appointment, etc.), the new pontiff could take a few cues from the world of politics on how to shore up his base, reach out to new constituents, and develop an effective communications strategy. Below, some top political and communications strategists dish out advice on how the church should position itself for the future."

Watch Out, Vatican City: Francis Is Here (Christopher Dickey) from the Daily Beast
"Pope Francis is warm, humble, and ready to shake things up. Christopher Dickey on the cardinal who managed to escape the taint of the church’s worst scandals."

Domestic Politics, Pyongyang-Style (Sheila Miyoshi-Jager) from the New York Times
"The fiery rhetoric seemed to foreign observers a desperate attempt to force the United States and South Korea to restart stalled talks on denuclearization, in the hope of extracting aid and concessions. But recent history suggests that it was motivated less by international politics than by domestic concerns: North Korea’s new hereditary leader, Kim Jong-un, may have been stoking fears of a foreign threat primarily to dampen political unrest at home."

Stealing Books for the Poor (Yu Hua) from the New York Times
"In the West, piracy is a matter of intellectual property — copyright, patents and trademarks — but in China, the issue is not just legal, but social. Why are fake goods everywhere? ... the most basic reason, in my view, is the huge demand for pirated and knockoff products. After more than 30 years of rapid economic development that made China the world’s second largest economy, there are still more than 100 million Chinese, mostly peasants, who make less than $1 a day."

The Delinquent Generation: Why Students Aren’t Repaying Their Loans (Benjamin Landy) from the National Memo
"Consumers are getting better at paying their bills on time, too: the number of delinquent borrowers behind on their payments by 90 or more days has fallen substantially in almost every credit category. Student loans remain the glaring exception, soaring to $966 billion last quarter as college costs—and applications—continued to rise unabated. That’s nearly triple the debt that students held in 2004, thanks to a 70 percent increase in the number of borrowers and an average loan balance among indebted graduates that passed $26,600 in 2011. Student debt would not be such a problem if borrowers were finding jobs and paying their bills."

Obama's Plunge in Popularity is No Big Deal (Yet) (Nate Cohn) from the New Republic
"Too much weight is given to the 50-percent threshold. Falling below that mark might give the impression that the president is “weaker” politically, but it hardly warrants notice."

The GOP's Real Agenda (Tim Dickinson) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"Since last fall, Republicans have pretended to be more moderate - but their politics are harsher and more destructive than ever."

CPAC: March Madness on the Potomac (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast 
"The annual conservative gathering is always bad, says Michael Tomasky, but this year’s choices of main speakers seem designed to alienate as many Americans as possible."

At CPAC, Calls for Fresh Ideas Are Followed By The Same Stale Shtick (Michael Moynihan) from the Daily Beast
"The annual freak show goes a way towards validating the “lamestream media’s” view of a Republican Party at war with itself, writes Michael Moynihan."

More Sarah Palin Than Ronald Reagan: CPAC’s Paranoid Style (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"At CPAC, the old politics of paranoia are always in vogue, writes John Avlon."

Republican Rock Stars of 2009 Won’t be Onstage at CPAC from Politico 
"Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie are two of the Republican Party’s big success stories: popular East Coast governors who have enacted conservative policies in states that President Barack Obama won twice. Elected together in 2009, the pair formed an advance guard for the 2010 Republican revolution. And during the Conservative Political Action Conference this week, both governors find themselves on the political ash heap."

Senate Democrats Discuss How To Counter GOP Nominee Obstruction (UPDATE) from the Huffington Post
"A senior Democratic aide confirmed the discussions to The Huffington Post. Two Senate Democratic sources also told HuffPost that in a meeting with Democratic senators Tuesday, Obama complained about the slow pace of nominations and suggested that the rules be changed."

The Lyndon Johnson Tapes: Richard Nixon's 'Treason' (David Taylor) from the BBC
"Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations - he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks... but said nothing."

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