News Desk


March 2007


Ex-Harvard Prez Sets Sights on K-12 Reform

Reporter Elizabeth Green brings us this item:

After shaking up Harvard, Lawrence Summers has his sights on another target: public schools. The former university president and treasury secretary said today he plans to dedicate some of his newfound free time to the project, adding to a chorus of ...

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Judith Miller Faults Media Reponse in Libby Affair

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who in 2005 spent 85 days in jail for refusing to identify former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby as a confidential source, said Friday she believes the media failed a major test when reporters and news organizations acquiesced to subpoenas ...

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Note to Prez Hopefuls: Quit Your Day Job

Here's a political truism: When it comes to running for president, it's best to be unemployed. Or at least work a day job with a lot of free time, like governor or vice president.

Truth is, it's hard out there for a senator running for president. Washington trivia nerds like to point out that John ...

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Gonzales a No Go at Press Club

While attending an event at the National Press Club here in Washington, U.S. News & World Report media correspondent Liz Halloran tells The News Desk that a planned April 16 luncheon with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the National Press Club has been postponed.

"There had been chatter about ...

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Dobson Disputes U.S. News Story

James Dobson takes it back: Maybe Fred Thompson is a Christian after all.

Two days after the Focus on the Family founder called U.S. News & World Report correspondent Dan Gilgoff out of the blue to share his thoughts on the field of 2008 Republican presidential hopefuls, Focus on the Family has

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Interactive Primary Map

Mark your calendars, politicos: Feb. 5, 2008 could be a long night.

U.S. News & World Report's Dan Gilgoff takes a look at the bevy of states that are considering moving--or have already moved--their state's primary to the first Tuesday in February of 2008. If every state currently pondering the ...

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Who's Where on the Campaign Trail

Democrats:

  • Joe Biden attends a rally at the University of South Carolina-Sumter tomorrow morning, and then heads to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton raises money in Boston today and then heads to Concord, N.H. Tomorrow she'll be in Florida to campaign in Orlando and West ...
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    Separate White House E-mail Accounts Draw New Criticism

    News that administration officials are buying separate private E-mail accounts to avoid using the internal system, coupled with reports that aides have often used GOP E-mail accounts, is drawing heat from public interest groups. One, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or ...

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    Dems Hopeful of Keeping Gulf Coast Money in War Spending Bill

    From reporter Silla Brush:

    Advocates for additional funds for recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast are optimistic that they'll get the money they've included in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, despite President Bush's threatened veto. The roughly $120 billion supplemental bill that ...

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    Doc: The White House Immigration PowerPoint

    White House officials have been visiting quietly on Capitol Hill in recent weeks to try to hammer out a compromise on immigration reform that can earn the support of the majority of Republican senators. The White House stepped into the debate earlier this month when negotiations between Sens. John ...

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    McCain Taking More Heat Than Rivals Over Support For Iraq War

    Sen. John McCain, much more so than presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, is taking heat for his support of the troop "surge" in Iraq, reports U.S. News Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh. McCain, for example, received widespread coverage when he blasted congressional ...

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    Who's Where on the Trail

    No activity by Democratic hopefuls on the campaign trail today.

    Republicans:

    • Sam Brownback is in Charleston, S.C.
    • Rudy Giuliani is in Oklahoma City, OK.
    • John McCain attends two private fundraising events in Richmond, Va. and McLean, Va.
    • Mitt Romney attends a luncheon in Greenville, S.C.
    • From the U.S.

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      Doc: Kyle Sampson's Statement

      As we mentioned this morning, Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, is about to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a probe into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Chief legal affairs correspondent Chitra Ragavan obtained a copy of Sampson's ...

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      Time Between Iraq Tours May Shrink, General Says

      This comes to us from defense reporter Anna Mulrine:

      Air Force General Lance Smith, the head of Joint Forces Command, which coordinates the provision of forces to Iraq, told defense writers this morning that if the troop surge continues through the summer, "in a worse case planning scenario....there ...

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      Dobson Story Came Out of the Blue

      Political correspondent Dan Gilgoff's story on USNews.com today about evangelist James Dobson's take on the 2008 elections had a strange genesis. Gilgoff had sought an interview with Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, for over a year and a half for a book Gilgoff was writing on the ...

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      Military Advisor Issues Blistering Iraq Report

      Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a widely respected advisor to the U.S. military, has released a blistering report on the current situation in Iraq. McCaffrey's findings are based on interviews with dozens of officials during a March, 2007, trip to the war-torn region and Kuwait.

      "We are at the 'knee ...

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      Who's Where on the Trail

      Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson are all in Washington today for a candidate forum hosted by the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO.

      Bill Richardson then heads to Boston for a private fundraiser.

      Meanwhile, John McCain is ...

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      Morning Buzz: March 28, 2007

      British officials continue to insist that 15 members of the Royal Navy who were detained for trespassing in Iran's waters were actually in Iraqi territory.

      After a series of truck bombings went off in the northwestern town of Tal Afar today, members of the Iraqi police force, along with Shiite ...

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      E-mail Controversy Prompts Many Aides To Stop Usage

      This comes from Whispers editor Paul Bedard:

      The growing controversy over the firing of federal prosecutors and what administration officials knew about it is renewing concerns among Bush aides over the less-than-secret aspect of E-mails. Those concerns were elevated this week when a House chairman ...

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      McCain Aides Fire Back at 'News Desk' Item

      After the News Desk published this item on Tuesday, which quoted critics of Sen. John McCain as saying that the Arizona Republican was waging his 2000 bid for president all over again when the landscape has changed, strategists for his campaign contacted chief White House correspondent Kenneth T.

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      Four Days and Counting Until Money Must be Reported

      You can bet that March 31, 2007, is circled on the calendars of many politicos. This Saturday is the last day of the first fundraising quarter, which means that by mid-April, once all the numbers are crunched, the public will have hard numbers on what kind of cash the candidates have pulled in over ...

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      Who's Where on the Trail (9:51 a.m. ET)

      Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama are all in D.C. today to speak at the Communications Workers of America Conference.

      Meanwhile, Mitt Romney attends a private fundraiser in Los Angeles co-hosted by Brad Freeman, who has previously raised large amounts for George W. Bush.

      From the U.S.

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      Morning Buzz: March 27, 2007

      This morning's top stories:

      • Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's former top aide, Kyle Sampson, is expected to say that the attorney general was aware of what was going on with the firing of eight U.S. attorneys when Sampson testifies before Congress on Thursday, U.S. News has learned. Gonzales has ...
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        The Good/Bad on Giuliani: He's a Rock Star, but the Dogs are Coming

        Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh has unearthed some good news and some bad news for presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani in the past few days:

        First, the good: The former New York City mayor has become so popular during his travels that the staff builds in scheduled time to allow for ...

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        On the Scene: Rice Trying to Jumpstart Mideast Peace Talks

        Diplomatic correspondent Thomas Omestad is traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her Mideast trip, and has this to report from Jerusalem:

        Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met again with top Palestinian and Israeli leaders on Monday in an effort to help negotiate a two-state peace ...

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        Critics Say McCain Is Waging the Previous Campaign

        From Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh

        It's a common refrain among Republican insiders, even admirers of Senator John McCain: They say he is waging the last campaign when times have changed, and that's why he has cratered in the polls.

        "John has been trying to bill himself as the ...

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        Who's Where on the Trail

        Democrats:

        • Hillary Clinton participated in a town hall meeting about healthcare in Des Moines this morning, where she announced support for universal healthcare. (Read the ABC News transcript here.)
        • John Edwards gives a series of policy speeches in Los Angeles and San Francisco today, focusing on ...
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          Morning Buzz: March 26, 2007

          The 15 British soldiers detained by Iran for allegedly entering Iranian waters last Friday may face charges, the Iranian foreign minister said on Sunday while attending a U.N. meeting in New York. Meanwhile, Tehran remains defiant of new sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council this weekend.

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          Iranian President Cancels U.N. Visit

          Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled his planned appearance before the United Nations Security Council prior to Saturday's vote on possible sanctions, the State Department has confirmed.

          U.S. News senior writer Kevin Whitelaw says Ahmadinejad's camp is blaming the cancellation on ...

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          Sampson Will Testify Next Week

          We've learned this afternoon that Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, will testify voluntarily before the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Thursday, March 29, at 10 a.m.

          "I think it could be very important for the DOJ part of the puzzle, as his ...

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          U.S. News Editor Brian Duffy Stepping Down

          U.S. News editor-in-chief Mortimer Zuckerman announced today that editor Brian Duffy is stepping down as our editor to pursue other projects. Below is the press release announcing the move:

          New York, NY - March 23, 2007 - Mortimer Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S.News & World Report, announced ...

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          U.S. Attorneys Story Not Exactly a Barn Burner

          Whoops.

          Here in Washington, it's been all U.S. attorneys all day every day this week, particularly since the House Judiciary Committee dropped a little beach reading--3,000 pages of internal Justice Department documents--on Monday night.

          Along comes a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People ...

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          Cancer Announcement Could Woo Women Voters

          This from Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh:

          Asked about the reaction of some bloggers that John Edwards cynically used his wife's illness to attract sympathy, most political pros say the couple handled the situation well.

          "The vast majority of voters will conclude that Senator Edwards ...

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          A Case of Sore Winners for North Korea

          Thursday's unexpected breakdown of North Korean nuclear talks in Beijing--though galling to the United States and other negotiators--is likely to be a temporary hiatus in a negotiating process that will face much tougher tests later this spring, says U.S. News diplomatic correspondent Thomas ...

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          Who's Where on the Trail

          A busy weekend for the candidates is coming up:

          Democrats

          • On Saturday, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich will participate in a forum on healthcare at the University of Nevada--Las Vegas.
          • Clinton campaigns in Las Vegas today, then heads to ...
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            Morning Buzz: March 23, 2007

            This morning's top stories:

            • In the House, Democratic leaders believe they have the votes to end the war in Iraq by September 2008 as part of a military spending bill, and are expected to vote today.
            • In Texas, immigrants entering the country illegally had to be caught at least six times before they ...
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              Memo to U.N. Chief: Watch for Falling Rockets

              During a press conference in the Green Zone in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, a mortar attack struck within 50 yards of them, shaking the room violently. While al-Maliki remained unfazed, Ban Ki Moon appeared uneasy for the remainder of the ...

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              Defying Reports, Edwards Stays In

              The announcement this afternoon from presidential candidate John Edwards that he would stay in the race despite learning of his wife's recurring cancer put to rest rumors that he would suspend or leave the race, which could have transformed the Democratic primary into a two-way battle between Sens.

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              Congress Summons Sampson to Testify

              From chief legal affairs correspondent Chitra Ragavan:

              The Senate Judiciary Committee has asked Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to "voluntarily appear" at a hearing next Thursday to discuss his role in the U.S. attorney firings, according to a letter ...

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              The South is Rising -- And the West, Too

              This comes from reporter Will Sullivan:

              The South is rising again. And so is the West.

              That's the word from the U.S. Census Bureau, which minutes ago released its list of the counties experiencing the largest population increases between 2000 and 2006. The list points to the soaring population in ...

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              Who's Where on the Trail

              At noon, John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, will hold a press conference in Chapel Hill, N.C., to discuss her health and how it will affect the campaign. The day after the end of the 2004 campaign, the couple announced that Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

              Rudy Giuliani addresses ...

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              Morning Buzz: March 22, 2007

              This morning's top stories:

              • The prime minister of Iraq has indirectly been discussing a cease-fire deal with Sunni insurgent groups over the past three months, the AP reports.
              • The creator of the much-watched anti-Hillary Clinton ad for Barack Obama on YouTube that was a spoof on an old Macintosh ad,
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                Possible Fred Thompson Candidacy Animates Conservatives.

                From chief White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh:

                The possibility that former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee might run for president has animated many conservative leaders who are unhappy with the GOP choices that exist now. They consider Thompson a strong conservative with stellar ...

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                Daily Doc: FBI Will Be More Careful with NSLs

                The Department of Justice has released a "Fact Sheet" about its response to the recent report that the FBI had abused the National Security Letter program. As part of the government's counterterrorism program, NSLs allow the government to compel companies to disclose phone, E-mail, and bank records ...

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                Feds Focus on Terrorism At Home

                In the past four years, the federal government has prosecuted 417 cases of domestic terrorism compared with 246 international terrorism cases, according to an investigation by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) issued this morning.

                "The finding that there currently are many more ...

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                As Goes Rumsfeld, So Goes...Gonzales?

                Chief White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh reports:

                Rummy redux? Some Republicans think so. They see parallels to the political demise of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the current situation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. President Bush publicly insisted that he had no intention ...

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                Who's Where on the Trail

                Candidates hitting the stump today:

                • Joe Biden is in Carson City, Nev.
                • Mitt Romney attends fundraisers in New York City and Philadelphia.
                • John McCain is in Florida this morning and then returns to D.C. for a fundraiser.
                • Rudy Giuliani rings the bell at the New York Mercantile Exchange at 2 p.m. today.
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                  Morning Buzz: March 21, 2007

                  • Both the White House and Democrats in Congress are mobilizing their troops for a constitutional fight over whether Bush's top aides will testify under oath about their role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. A House committee will vote today on whether to issue the subpoenas, the AP reports.
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                    Dispatch From the Document Pile

                    Here are excerpts from an exchange released in yesterday's documents with some interesting exchanges regarding Margaret M. Chiara, the former U.S. attorney in Michigan.


                    From: Margaret M. Chiara

                    Sent: February 1, 2007

                    To: Paul McNulty [deputy attorney general]

                    Cc: Michael Elston [McNulty's chief ...

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