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Francis Kicks Off Vatican Reform, Disses 'Narcissists'

Meetings with 8 cardinals seek to reform institution

(Newser) - Pope Francis isn't mincing words today as he kicks off the first of three days of meetings aimed squarely at reforming the Vatican. The pontiff is meeting with eight cardinals from across the globe, even as he addressed his concerns in an interview with leftist newspaper La Repubblica. Many... More »

Whine All You Want: Obama Gets It Done

He's no Michael Moore—he's a pragmatist, and he keeps scoring

(Newser) - Frank Rich and Paul Krugman can rail all they want, fueled by their disappointment that President Obama is no “Michael Moore in chief.” These “brilliant men" are “profoundly resistant to the core rationale of the Obama presidency"—a strategy that’s working well as Obama... More »

Et tu, Barack? Teachers Lose Another Ally

Embattled unions don't want evaluation based on test scores

(Newser) - Teachers union members are fuming over President Obama's desire to stay the course and evaluate educators based on student test scores, McClatchy reports. Obama is even threatening to withhold California stimulus money unless the state enshrines the student-teacher performance link into law. "It takes more than the ability to... More »

LA Mayor Wants Outsiders to Run 'Failing' Schools

Teachers union says plan will lead to 'chaos in education system'

(Newser) - The mayor of Los Angeles wants to allow outside groups to place bids for control of hundreds of the city’s schools, the LA Times reports. Antonia Villaraigosa’s education reforms would allow bidding by charter-school organizations and other education nonprofits to run 50 schools scheduled to open over the... More »

On Financial Reforms, Obama Is No FDR

Proposed regulatory fixes don't actually fix much: Nocera

(Newser) - President Obama is hardly living up to the hype on fiscal regulatory reform, and he's not matching Franklin Roosevelt, either. When FDR reformed financial regulation, he transformed the industry, cheerfully making enemies in the process. Obama has been timid by comparison, writes Joe Nocera of the New York Times: “... More »

French Mock Sarkozy by Reading Book He Hates

La Princesse de Cleves gets a boost of unexpected popularity as a protest symbol

(Newser) - France is in the grip of a nationwide strike, but dissatisfaction with Nicolas Sarkozy’s reforms is also taking a more cultured form: the reading of a classic 17th-century book the president has said he hates. The book has become an odd symbol of dissent. Sales are climbing as Sarko’... More »

Judge's Restoration Is Cause for Joy, Hope in Pakistan

(Newser) - Pakistan’s chief justice has been reinstated, inspiring not only celebration but renewed hope among that country’s citizens, the New York Times reports. Happy lawyers—central to the popular effort—and others camped out on the lawn of Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s home today, but his victory is seen... More »

Jeb Sees GOP as Reform Party

(Newser) - Jeb Bush cringes at the idea of running for office again, but that doesn’t mean he lacks bold vision for the Republican Party, writes Fred Barnes in the Wall Street Journal. Bush thinks the GOP should morph into a reform party, starting with the states. “A real effort... More »

Iran's Former Prez Mulls Run Against Ahmadinejad

Moderate Khatami, battered by conservatives, still has large following

(Newser) - Mohammad Khatami is considering a run to reclaim the Iranian presidency, the Economist reports. Frustrated with successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s financial mismanagement and controversial rhetoric, moderate Iranians have swamped Khatami with entreaties to run. Although Khatami ultimately failed to deliver reform, his 1997-2005 tenure is remembered fondly for relaxed restrictions... More »

Obama Must Forget Agenda, Fix Economy

Now isn't the time for divisive legislative battles: Samuelson

(Newser) - When Barack Obama takes office, he’ll have to decide whether he wants to revive the economy, or pursue his policy agenda. “The two approaches are at odds,” writes Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post. Yes, Obama could say energy and health reform will improve the economy, but... More »

Camps Vie for 'Reformer' Label

McCain, Obama fight for 'nebulous' image of change

(Newser) - John McCain and Barack Obama are both laying claim to an agenda of “reform”—but neither has offered a clear idea of what that means, writes Jonathan Weisman in the Washington Post. In opening speeches last night, the words “reform” or “reformer” were spoken 11 times.... More »

To See GOP's Future, Look to the House

In long term, Obama victory could make minority party reform

(Newser) - The Republican Party brand is tainted, its leaders recognize, and regardless of John McCain's fate, the institution is in soul-searching mode as the scaled-down convention kicks off today. Many House Republicans have come to believe an Obama victory might be better for the GOP in the long term, reports Politico,... More »

Turkey Rounds Up Experts to Revise Islam

Reformers hope work will wrench religion from extremists

(Newser) - Ankara has gathered a team of experts to parse through Muhammad's words and deeds and decode them for modern-day Muslims, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Their planned 5-volume set will point out anachronisms—no, Muslims need not brush their teeth with a twig—and will likely remove lines about women being bad... More »

Congress Tiptoes Back to Immigrant Issues

Lawmakers veer toward modest initiatives with less baggage

(Newser) - Congress is stealing back into the immigration debate. After failing to pass broad reforms three months ago, lawmakers are focusing on less ambitious initiatives. Democrat proposals would give legal status to young immigrants and visas to farmhands, while Republicans favor guest worker programs and blocking illegals from federal aid. But... More »

Hillary Wants Feds, Employers to Share Tab

Follows failed '93 bid with compromise health plan tomorrow

(Newser) - Details of Hillary’s health plan are leaking out before she formally announces them Monday in Iowa. Rather than re-making the system – or imitating her 1993 proposal – she wants the Feds to subsidize some care and employers to pay for the rest. The Wall Street Journal reports that... More »

'Hillarycare' Wasn’t Her Bad

Key player blames Bill for 1993’s failed health plan

(Newser) - As Hillary Clinton gets set to roll out her new health care proposal, Paul Starr in the American Prospect wans to correct the record on her last, disastrous effort. Hillary gets all the flak for the 1993 flameout, but the mistakes are grossly misdiagnosed—and they belong to Bill, says... More »

EU Aims to Court Legal Immigrants

Population declining, Europe needs bigger share of skilled workers

(Newser) - A European Union executive is proposing both a "new vision" and new policies for immigration in Europe, the BBC reports. With Europe already suffering from shortages in many job sectors, Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said the EU should view immigration as "enrichment," and not a threat. While... More »

Bush Vows to Hunt Down Illegals

Upped enforcement promises crisis for some

(Newser) - Bush is vowing to enforce old immigration laws after all, now that comprehensive reform has croaked on the Senate floor. He promises to crack down on workers who don't have valid Social Security numbers in particular, but bosses parry that there can be good reasons for numerical snafus with the... More »

Ethics Reform Bill Sails Through Senate

Some Republicans unsatisfied with scope; Bush may not sign

(Newser) - The ethics reform bill, which tightens restrictions on congressional pet projects and lobbyist dealings, easily cleared the Senate today. The final vote was 83-14, with all of those opposed Republicans. Critics say the bill won't go far enough to curb earmark spending, the AP reports, but Dianne Feinstein praised the... More »

Sarko Backs Down on Public Sector Cuts

Retreats from promise to trim French civil servant rolls by 50%

(Newser) - Nicolas Sarkozy has backed down from a campaign pledge to reform the sclerotic French civil service, says the Telegraph. The government has scuppered the president's vow to halve the number of civil servants, which Sarkozy had made a central feature of his policy of "rupture." More »

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