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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

G-8 Summit
Obama To Call for U.S. - Russia Nuclear Arms Reduction In Berlin Speech - President Obama will call Wednesday for reducing the number of deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads by one-third if the Russian government agrees to similar cuts, reviving a goal outlined early in his presidency to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Obama will deliver the proposal as part of a much-anticipated speech that will echo with Cold War history and seek to shake Western nations from complacency at a time of economic hardship at home.

He will speak at the Brandenburg Gate, along the route where the Berlin Wall once divided this city into the Soviet-aligned east and U.S.-allied west. Then-President Ronald Reagan used the backdrop in 1987 to call on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Obama’s speech, expected to attract tens of thousands of Germans despite predictions of sweltering heat, will mark the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s message of solidarity to Berliners delivered just two years after the wall’s construction.  The Washington Post has more here.


Karzai Upset Over U.S. Talks with Taliban - Afghan President Hamid Karzai distanced himself from U.S. peace talks with Taliban insurgents that are likely to begin on Thursday, and, as a mark of displeasure, said the government was suspending negotiations with Washington over a troop agreement.

A senior Afghan official told Reuters on Wednesday that the government was unhappy over the official status being given to the Taliban, who opened an office in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Tuesday.

U.S. officials have said talks with the Taliban would begin in Doha on Thursday, raising hopes for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan after 12 years of bloody and costly war between American-led forces and the insurgents.

Fighting, however, continues in the war-ravaged nation. Four U.S. soldiers were killed in a rocket attack on the heavily fortified Bagram base near Kabul late on Tuesday, international military officials said. has more here.


Only 39% of Americans View Republican Party Favorably - The American public has typically seen the Democratic Party more favorably than the GOP since Gallup first asked this question in 1992. The Democrats have an average favorability rating of 52%, while the GOP's average is 46%. Clearly, both parties are currently underperforming relative to their historical averages -- a trend that has been apparent for several years now.

Americans' ratings of the Democratic Party are now more on par with readings earlier in 2012, while their ratings of the GOP are the lowest since May 2010.

Meanwhile, a majority of Americans (53%) see the Republican Party unfavorably, up slightly from 50% in November. Forty-eight percent see the Democratic Party unfavorably, an increase from 43% in November. has more here.


Senate Immigration Bill Would Reduce Deficits By $197 Billion - The so-called Senate Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, which includes a path to citizenship for millions of the nation's undocumented immigrants, would increase U.S. population by 10.4 million and would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the next ten years, according to a new report published Tuesday by the independent Congressional Budget Office.

CBO projects that about 8 million undocumented immigrants would seek to obtain legal status if the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.

The legislation is also projected to decrease federal budget deficits by about $700 billion over the 2024-2033 period, as well as spur a net increase of 16 million to the U.S. population. has more here.


Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.)
House Approves 20 Week Abortion Ban - The House Tuesday passed a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 20 weeks. The most far-reaching abortion legislation in the House in a decade, it was passed 228-196, mostly along party lines.
The vote is largely symbolic: The bill will be dead on arrival in the Senate. And the White House has already threatened to veto the “fetal pain” legislation, which is based on the controversial assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of development. has more here.


NSA Testimony Cites 50 Twarted Plots - Bomb plots targeting the New York Stock Exchange and the city's subway were among more than 50 terrorist acts worldwide thwarted by top-secret surveillance programs since the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States, security officials said Tuesday.

The startling details disclosed at a House intelligence committee hearing reflected a unified effort by the Obama administration and legislators to defend the telephone and e-mail surveillance made public this month by classified leaks to newspapers.
Testimony by Gen. Keith Alexander, the National Security Agency director, as well as officials from the FBI, Department of Justice and the Director of National Intelligence office called the programs created under the Patriot Act in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks a vital tool against terrorist plots. has more here.
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