The Sage News Roundup 4/04/09

GM Chief to Resign at White House’s Behest
The Obama administration has forced the longtime head of General Motors to resign and said yesterday that it would withhold additional federal aid to the auto industry unless the ailing companies undertake changes they so far have been unwilling or unable to make.

Winds of Change Evident in U.S. Environmental Policy
Daniel Reifsnyder, a 25-year State Department veteran, knew even before President Obama was elected that U.S. environmental policy was going to change. So in early November, he called a couple of his Environmental Protection Agency counterparts about drafting documents to lay the groundwork for…

Momentum Grows for Relaxing Cuba Policy
Roughly a year after Fidel Castro stepped aside and handed much of the responsibility for leading Cuba to his brother Raúl, there is new momentum in Washington for eliminating the ban on most U.S. travel to the island nation and for reexamining the severe limitations on U.S.-Cuban economic…

Hard Line on Auto Aid Puts Bailed-Out Firms on Notice
NEW YORK, March 30 — After ousting General Motors’ chief executive, President Obama warned Monday that bankruptcy may be unavoidable for two American automotive giants.

Blame for Downturn Not Fixed on Obama
The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama’s election, and the public overwhelmingly blames the excesses of the financial industry, rather than the new president, for turmoil in the economy, according to a new Washin…

U.S. to Join U.N. Human Rights Council
The Obama administration has reversed a decision by the Bush administration to shun the United Nations’ premier rights body to protest the influence of repressive states, according to U.N. diplomats and rights activists.

Minnesota Senate Election Ruling Issued
Three-judge panel convened to review election contest brought by Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in his race against Al Franken (D) has dealt the Republican a serious setback.
Both campaigns have organized conference calls to discuss the ruling; Franken’s is set for 5:30 p.m., Coleman’s for 6 p.m.

Holder Asks Judge to Drop Case Against Ex-Senator
During the corruption trial of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens, federal prosecutors were chastised by a judge for letting a witness leave town. They got in trouble for submitting erroneous evidence and were reprimanded for failing to turn over key witness statements. An FBI agent has since…

Obama, Medvedev Pledge Cooperation
LONDON, April 1 — President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced the start of negotiations Wednesday on a new strategic arms-control treaty that would cut each nation’s long-range nuclear arsenal further than previous agreements, inaugurating what both men indicated would be a more…

Lugar Urges Obama to Open Talks With Cuba, Ease Restrictions
With momentum building in Congress for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba, Sen. Richard G. Lugar called on President Obama to appoint a special envoy to initiate direct talks with the island’s communist government and to end U.S. opposition to Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American…

House Republicans Unveil Revised Budget Proposal
After getting blasted last week for presenting a budget plan light on details, House Republicans yesterday unveiled a more complete proposal that would cut taxes for businesses and the wealthy, freeze most government spending for five years, halt spending approved in the economic stimulus package…

Former Illinois Governor Indicted
CHICAGO, April 2 — A federal grand jury charged former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on Thursday with racketeering, extortion and fraud, opening a new chapter in the prosecution of the voluble Democrat, who could spend years behind bars if convicted.

D.C. Vote Memo Called Informal
After receiving a legal memo that declared the pending D.C. voting rights bill unconstitutional, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. reached out to another lawyer on whose judgment he had relied for years.

FDA Hasn’t Intensified Inspections At Peanut Facilities, Despite Illness
Despite four outbreaks of salmonella illness from peanut products in the past three years, the federal government has not changed the safety measures required of peanut companies or instructed its inspectors to test for the bacteria.
Gates Planning Major Changes In Programs, Defense Budget
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to announce on Monday the restructuring of several dozen major defense programs as part of the Obama administration’s bid to shift military spending from preparations for large-scale war against traditional rivals to the counterinsurgency programs that…

Iowa Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage
Iowa became the third state in the country and the first from the rural heartland to legalize same-sex marriage when its Supreme Court yesterday unanimously struck down the state’s decade-long ban.

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