Washington Extra – Northern Exposure

November 15, 2010

Strange characters, quirky storylines and weird happenings out in Alaska.

Anyone hoping for a remake of Northern Exposure would have been disappointed by Sarah Palin’s Alaska, her new television series that aired last night and delivered a much straighter diet of “family adventure” and “flippin’ fun.”sarah3

The reality show, which drew a record five million viewers to TLC, showed the human side of a politician who is among the most polarizing in American politics today. It is the kind of positive media exposure money can’t buy, and got everyone talking again this morning about whether the former vice presidential nominee will run for the top job in 2012.

Washington Extra is not taking a position on that question. But after watching some of the shots of Alaska, I know where we are planning our next family vacation in 2011.

Finally, since this is Palin’s day, more congratulations are in order. Her very own word, refudiate, was awarded 2010 word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary today and came in fourth in a similar list compiled by the Global Language Monitor.

But a shout-out for the DC area too. Snowpocalypse (together with Snowmaggedon), our very own winter blizzard, was listed in a respectable seventh place in the Global Language Monitor list.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

Europe is next test for weakened Obama

If President Obama is not yet convinced that his international star power has faded, his next round of transatlantic summitry should clear up any lingering doubts. His challenge is to reassure European partners that, despite political weakness at home and embarrassing setbacks abroad, he remains committed to better cooperation on issues ranging from the war in Afghanistan to the fight against trade protectionism.

For more of this analysis story by Matt Spetalnick, read here.

Veteran US congressman walks out of ethics trial

Charles Rangel, a former chief tax writer for Congress, abruptly walked out of his own ethics trial, saying he needed more time to get a new lawyer. The House Ethics Committee has charged Rangel with 13 violations, including omitting information on financial disclosure forms, using a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign committee, and failure to report income from renting out his villa in the Dominican Republic.

For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro, read here.

Obama sees prospect of deals on tax cuts, START

President Obama is hopeful of working out a deal with Republicans over tax cuts and of winning ratification of a new nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. On his way back from Asia, Obama looked ahead to a dinner he will host on Thursday with leaders of both parties and said he believed opposition Republicans would “engage constructively

For more of this story by Alister Bull, read here.

Liberals in U.S. Congress press on tax cuts

Liberals in the House of Representatives pressed their case against extending Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, seeking a meeting with Nancy Pelosi on the issue.

For more of this story by Kim Dixon and Richard Cowan, read here.

Will Palin TV show translate into presidential run?

Sarah Palin’s new television series showing her fishing for Alaskan salmon and scaling a glacier is the kind of free media exposure most politicians can only dream about. Will her reality TV show translate into a Republican presidential campaign? Or will it expose her as a publicity hound lacking presidential gravitas?

For more of this story by Steve Holland, read here.

Retail sales jump, signal pick-up in growth

Retail sales posted their strongest gain in seven months during October, adding to signs the economy was regaining strength after hitting a soft patch in the summer. The generally upbeat report from the Commerce Department was tempered somewhat by news that a manufacturing gauge in New York state fell this month to its lowest level since April 2009.

For more of this story by Lucia Mutikani, read here.

US eyes government spectrum for wireless devices

The Commerce Department recommended that some airwaves used by federal agencies be freed up to address the burgeoning use of wireless devices. The Obama administration in June endorsed making 500 megahertz of spectrum available over the next 10 years to meet the growing demand for wireless services on laptops and smartphones, such as Apple Inc’s iPhone.

For more of this story by Jasmin Melvin, click here.

In switch, top Senate Republican backs earmark ban
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would join his fellow Republicans in opposing earmarks, bowing to pressure from Tea Party activists who see the special project funding as a prime example of out-of-control government spending.

For more of this story by Donna Smith, click here.

Senate urged to quickly ratify New START treaty

Top officials pressed the Senate to ratify the New START nuclear treaty by year’s end, saying failure to act would leave Washington with dangerously little information about the state of Russia’s atomic weapons. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, writing in the Washington Post, ramped up pressure on the Senate to act, even as administration officials negotiated with a top Republican lawmaker to try to find a way to move the treaty forward.

For more of this story by David Alexander, click here.

What we are blogging…

Jindal’s not running for president, but…

First, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says he isn’t running for president. Then out comes his prescription for righting the national economy. “What I’m saying is, if we actually focus on the real challenges facing our country, not get diverted into taking over car companies and healthcare (but) cut taxes, create jobs, our country can get back on the right path, right direction,” the rising conservative star of the South told NBC. Political oracle Karl Rove has anointed Jindal as one of 10 potential GOP presidential candidates for 2012.

For David Morgan’s full post, click here.

From elsewhere…

Oil-wrestling, scissor dancing vie for UNESCO status

The perilous blade-twirling of Peru’s scissors dance, Turkey‘s slippery art of oil-wrestling and Luxembourg’s more prosaic annual hopping procession are some of the more obscure cultural traditions vying for a place on UNESCO’s intangible world heritage list. The agency is meeting in Nairobi this week to consider 51 new candidates for its list, started in 2003 to preserve the world’s art forms and traditions from the onslaught of globalization.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

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