The WonkLine: December 4, 2009

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National Security

The European Union accused Israel on Thursday of actively pursuing the annexation of Arab east Jerusalem and undermining hopes for peace with Palestinians, a confidential report obtained by AFP revealed.

BBC reports “At least 40 people have been killed and more than 80 injured in a co-ordinated attack at a mosque in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. Officials said at least four attackers started shooting at worshippers during Friday prayers attended by many staff from a nearby military headquarters.”

Nathan Hodge looks at the role that think-tankers who advised Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the new Afghanistan strategy have played in selling the new strategy to the public.

Climate Change

Record temperatures in Moscow “ward off any sign of snow,” as the “city’s weather has been melting records, with a maximum temperature on Wednesday afternoon of 8.5 degrees Celsius [47°F],” 1.4C higher than the previous record set in 1898.

The land is going away,” said Shelton Kokeok, an Inupiat Eskimo, whose home is on the tip of a bluff in northern Alaska that’s been melting in part because of rapid climate change. “I think it’s going to vanish one of these days.”

This is really a problem,” a Bolivian scientist said of global warming making Andean glaciers disappear, threatening the water supply for millions in his high-altitude nation.

Health Care

“The Senate voted Thursday to require health insurance companies to provide free mammograms and other preventive services to women, and it turned back a Republican challenge to Medicare savings that constitute the single largest source of financing for the bill.”

“Centrists continued their small, private negotiations over the public option, but a consensus has yet to emerge even among the range of moderates involved in the talks.” A group of 11 senators gathered Thursday night for another strategy session where Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) “laid out a series of compromise options.”

“Leading makers of antiwrinkle drugs, breast implants and other appearance-related products are trying to derail a proposed tax on elective cosmetic surgery in the Senate’s health-overhaul bill,” the Wall Street Journal reports.


The unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent in November, and employers shed 11,000 jobs last month, which is the fewest since the recession began in December 2007.

With Bank of America repaying its TARP funds, Citigroup is “left in the uncomfortable position of being the last of the Wall Street giants to remain tethered to the state.” Citigroup can reportedly not pay back its TARP funds until Treasury decides what to do with its 34 percent stake in the company.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) said yesterday that “House tax writers would pay for a year-end package of tax cut extensions with provisions targeting venture capitalists and private equity managers, as well as a measure to crack down on international tax evasion.”


Despite the fact that New York state enacted tough penalties for sex or labor trafficking, very few people have been prosecuted compared to other cities that have adopted similar laws against human trafficking.

Houston pastor, Rev. Harvey Clemons Jr., published a column pointing out that Martin Luther King Jr.’s “vision and struggles are important to remember as serious conversations about immigration reform are again beginning to brew.”

Juan Sepulveda, director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, is concerned that Latinos “aren’t being aggressive enough about closing the academic achievement gap.”