Hot Docs: Washington's Power Hot Spots, Sharing the Burden of Middle East Peace

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Go Where the Movers and Shakers Go: Want to hang where the Washington power brokers hang but don't know where the hot spots are? A good government group has now made it easy. The Sunlight Foundation's Party Time project has identified the most popular places for congressional fundraisers in 2008. While a couple of the top spots—the GOP's Capitol Hill Club and the National Democratic Club Townhouse—are sort of members only, many of the others will let regular folks in—if they can afford it. Those include top-rated D.C. restaurants like Johnny's Half Shell, Charlie Palmer Steak, and Bistro Bis. Overall, the group found more than 2,000 fundraisers in 2008, nearly six a day. The group notes that even that figure is probably "an underestimate of the number of fundraising parties" as the invitations are not required to be reported to the public. And, yes, the group provides a map to the top spots.

"Sharing the Burden" of the Peace Process: President-elect Barack Obama's resolution to bring "diplomatic normality" back to the Middle East is a positive development, but not enough on its own to bring real change to the region, a new paper argues. Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the notion that the United States is at the center of the Mideast peace process is incorrect and that Washington should instead work to back indigenous programs in a more "multilateral" manner. Ottaway names three initiatives in particular that she says the United States should support: negotiations to resolve conflicts between Syria and Israel, between Hamas and Fatah, and the overall Arab-Israeli conflict. "Sharing the burden" of the peace process with the region's inhabitants, Ottaway writes, will protect U.S. interests, and encourage the countries involved to "take more responsibility" for the outcome.