Tales from the Trail

from Reuters Investigates:

In case you missed them

Just because it was summer, doesn't mean we weren't busy here at Reuters. Here are a few of our recent special reports that you might have missed.

IRAN-OBAMA/ECOMOMYTracking Iran's nuclear money trail to Turkey. U.N. correspondent Lou Charbonneau -- who used to cover the IAEA for Reuters --  followed the money to Turkey where an Iranian bank under U.S. and EU sanctions is operating freely. Nice to see the New York Times follow up on this today, and the Washington Post also quizzed Turkey's president about it.

 

 

USA-ELECTION/JOBSBlue-collar, unemployed and seeing red -- Chicago correspondent James Kelleher went on the road for this story about the long-term unemployed and what that means for Obama and the Democrats at November's midterm elections.

Even though he's been forced to move back in with his parents and has virtually no income, Stevenson opposes Obama's proposal to let some tax cuts for the wealthy, dating back to George W. Bush's presidency, expire at year's end in order to raise revenue and reduce the deficit. 

"How is more people, keeping more of the money they earn, bad for the economy?" he said. "The answer is -- it's not."   

Obama promises to work overtime to ease economic impact of oil spill

There’s not much to offer by way of comfort to coastal states threatened by the oil spill that’s spreading over the Gulf of Mexico like The Blob from horror movies past.

OIL-RIG/LEAK-BPAnd then there’s also the threat from the “Loop Current” that could carry the oil around Florida’s peninsula and north…

So there’s not much by way of  lemonade likely to come out of the lemons of this disaster, but President Barack Obama promised to work overtime to limit the economic damage to affected communities and to try and make sure that  jobs created to clean up the mess would go to local residents.

Younger Americans lean toward liberalism but Obama support lags

USA/

Today’s young Americans are the most likely of any generation to identify themselves as liberals. But their political enthusiasm for President Barack Obama and the Democrats appears to be waning.

That’s one finding in a wide-ranging Pew Research Center poll of so-called “Millennials,” the 18 to 29 year olds now making the passage into adulthood.

Young voters overwhemlingly supported Obama in 2008 in hopes that he would change the way Washington works. But more than a year into the Obama presidency, their political enthusiasm has cooled with the realization that Washington is still the same. Three in 10 blame Obama for the failure, while more than half say the president’s opponents and special interests are responsible.

Obama swipes at ribbon-cutting Republicans — again

President Barack Obama apparently believes he’s found the right formula for chiding Republicans who opposed the $787 billion economic stimulus — because he used it again. OBAMA/

On the one-year anniversary of signing the Recovery Act, Obama acknowledged the controversy that the measure continues to generate.

“And part of that is because there are those, let’s face it, across the aisle who have tried to score political points by attacking what we did, even as many of them show up at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their districts,” Obama said.

Obama sounds the alarm for clean energy

OBAMA/President Barack Obama sounded the alarm on Tuesday as he made his push for more nuclear power in the U.S. energy mix — literally.

He toured an electrical workers union training center in Maryland before announcing the multibillion-dollar plan. During the tour, he talked to workers being trained in computer-assisted design, examined power management technology and fire alarm systems.

“You can pull one if you want,” Rhett Roe, a union member who has been teaching since 1985, told the smiling president as they stood before a wall filled with bright red alarm boxes.

With jobs the priority, Obama invites culture war?

AFGHANISTAN/Has President Obama opened a Pandora’s Box marked “Culture War” by moving — however slowly – to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military?
    
Conservative punditry hasn’t weighed in yet. But  there’s no reason to doubt  the issue will be red meat for those who want to sink the Obama agenda and send congressional Democrats to the unemployment office in November.
    
“Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal-social-policy guinea pigs,” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, tells Time magazine.
    
Sen. John McCain, a top Republican on military affairs, accused the administration of acting by fiat to circumvent Congress and the military’s chain of command after the Pentagon announced a year-long review of the policy.
    
“You’re embarking on saying it’s not whether the military prepares to make the change but how we best prepare for it, without ever hearing from members of Congress, without hearing from the members of the Joint Chiefs, and of course, without taking into consideration all the ramifications,” he told Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen at a Senate Armed Services hearing yesterday.
 
Polling data show most Americans favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military. But the risk for Obama is that Republicans and their talk-show allies will cry up the issue and steer the now palpable frustrations of voters against him and his fellow Democrats.
    
Democrats, who got a taste of that voter frustration in Massachusetts last month, now hope to win favor by making the economy their USA-HEALTHCARE/PELOSItop priority.
    
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer favors repeal but seems happy to let the Pentagon take the lead until after this year’s election.
    
“What I want members to do in their districts? I want them to focus on jobs and fiscal responsibility. Those are our messages,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters. “The American public clearly wants us focused on growing the economy, adding jobs. That is a principle responsibility.”

 Photo credits: Reuters/Andrees Latif (U.S. Marines in Helmand Province); Reuters/Jim Young (U.S. Capitol)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters

“Heroism fatigue”: another hurdle for U.S. climate change action?

GERMANY/Could “heroism fatigue” be yet another bump in the road for any U.S. law to curb climate change? And what is “heroism fatigue” anyway?

To Paul Bledsoe of the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy, heroism fatigue is what happens when the Congress has spent most of the year doing something heroic, like trying to hammer out an agreement on healthcare reform, when what lawmakers might rather be doing is naming a new post office. Following one big, gnarly piece of legislation with another — like a bill to limit climate-warming carbon dioxide — can seem daunting.

“Especially Democrats want to get  back to some meat-and-potatoes job-creation stuff,” Bledsoe says. “They’re going to need a little time after healthcare.”

What trumps a car bomb, a blizzard and a trip to Kabul?

GOLF-PGA/If you watched U.S. morning television or went online early today, you already know the answer to this media riddle. Top stories — a deadly car-bombing in Baghdad, a massive winter storm rolling across the United States and an unannounced flight to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Robert Gates – took a back seat to a new development in the tabloid tale of Tiger Woods.

The latest turn in the super-golfer’s travails occurred overnight, when a Florida television station reported an unidentified woman was taken by ambulance from Woods’ home to a nearby hospital.

WESH-TV showed footage of a blond woman on a stretcher.

UPDATE: The woman wheeled out of  Woods’ home was identified as his mother-in-law, who was suffering from stomach pains.

Good day for jobs, sad for panda lovers

For all those who woke up to the sad news that Washington’s loveable giant panda cub would be heading back to China, here’s a bright spot for your Friday:

USA/Job cuts in November were much lower than had been expected and the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 10 percent from 10.2 percent.

The stronger-than-expected numbers helped boost the U.S. dollar and global stock prices on hopes for a strong economic recovery.

The First Draft: White House takes a lonely road to openness on Crasher-gate

President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, feels the White House doesn’t need Congress to help it maintain openness on the Crasher-gate scandal. That’s why it’s chosen to eschew the limelight of a Capitol Hill hearing today. USA/

“We think we’ve really answered the questions fully,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America, while making the TV rounds to defend a White House decision not to send its social secretary to explain how a Virginia couple got into last week’s state dinner without an invitation.

“Having a full review up on the (White House) Web site, where everyone in the country — anyone who goes on our Web site — can read it, is the definition of transparency.”