Recently in National News Category

President Obama eulogized the 29 victims of the mine explosion near Upper Big Branch Mine Sunday, the Wall Street Journal said.

The President spoke to the families of the victims, along with Vice President Joe Biden, and West Virginia's two senators, the New York Times said.

The president spoke in front of a black-draped curtain full of photos of the 29 lost miners. Obama spoke to the grieving families, assuring them that the cause of the explosion would be investigated, the Times reported.

It was called a "Healing Convention," the Times said. Though the wounds of the deaths were deep and still fresh.

"These miners lived, as they died, in pursuit of the American dream," Obama said, describing the men's daily five-mile journey into the mine where they died on April 5, the Journal reported.

Obama spoke in a state that is not very supportive of his policies. Though Devon Toney, a coal-hauling train engineer, told the Journal that he was impressed with the presidents comments.

"We don't know what happened yet," Toney said. "But hopefully it won't happen again."

Toyota agrees to pay $16.4 million fine.

Toyota is expected to pay millions in as punishment for concealing documents referring to the pedal recall, the New York Times reported.

This is the largest government penalty to be given to automaker, because of a four month delay in telling the government about the sticking brake problem, Kare 11 News said.

A Transportation Department official said Sunday that legal documents were being drafted, and Toyota executives were expected to sign them first thing Monday, the Times said.

The Transportation official was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity, Kare 11 said.

The official said Toyota did not intend to accept liability explicitly initially. But from the federal viewpoint the agreement to pay the fine was like accepting responsibility for hiding the defect from the law, Kare 11 said.

Ron Paul told Republican tea party activists that President Obama was not a socialist at the Republican National Committee in New Orleans, NOLA reported.

Ron Paul, who was well received at the weekend convention, told Republicans that it was a mistake to call the president a socialist. The term used was corporatist, Paul said, someone who lets corporations control the country, the Wall Street Journal said.

"In the technical sense, in the economic definition, he is not a socialist," Paul said to a smattering crowd.

Paul also caused some tension in the crowd when he placed equal responsibility on the Republicans as the Democrats for the current economic crisis, NOLA said.

Though Paul often deviates from traditional party views, Texans voted for him to win the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll in February with a hefty 31% of the vote, NOLA said.

Southern California struck by 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

An earthquake struck Baja California and western Mexico Sunday afternoon shaking buildings and causing minor damage to others, the BBC said.

The L.A. firemen responded to multiple people stuck in lifts. There have been no reports of missing or dead people, the BBC reported.

The US Geographical Survey said the quake was the largest to hit the area since 1992, according to the BBC.

The quake, that hit around 3:30 p.m., lasted over a minute in parts of southern California. It was centered 16 miles south of Guadalupe Victoria in Baja California, Mexico, the New YorkTimes said.

Carlton Hargrave, 64, was in his restaurant in a California border town when the quake hit. It was "almost completely destroyed." Hargrave said in a telephone interview in the Times.

U.S and Russia agree to nuclear arms treaty.

After months of delay President Obama and Russian President Medvedev have agreed to cut the amount of their nuclear weapons by almost a quarter, the New York Times said.

The treaty states that each country can have up to 1,550 warheads deployed, the BBC said. That is 30% less then what is currently allowed.

The treaty still needs to pass the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma but it is meant to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty a white House Official said in the BBC.

The treaty, which will be Obama's most concrete political policy since taking office, is one step closer to fulfilling Obama's vision to rid the world of nuclear weapons, the Times said.

The treaty is set to be signed in Prague on April 8, one year after Obama's speech to eradicate nuclear weapons, the Times said.

Obama tackles new education reform.

President Obama called for an overhaul of former President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" law, the New York Times reported.

The proposals included eliminating divisive provisions,like encouraging instructors to teach based on tests, crowding out non-math and reading subjects, the Times said.

If the proposals pass through Congress, schools would eliminate the current pass-fail grading system, and would be held accountable not only for the students grades but also for their attendance and the learning climate of the school in general, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The proposals call for steep changes in the currently failing schools and rewards for top schools. The proposal also includes less federal interference in the tens of thousands of schools that are operating to standard, the Times said.

Obama aides describe the plan as "tight on goals, loose on means."
If passed the law would be set to achieve its goal by 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The shift in focus from health care to education shows that Obama is hoping to broaden the Administration's agenda before midterm elections, the Times said.

Though the proposal was configured by a bipartisan committee, it was created heated debate in Congress and with teachers and school administrators, the Wall Street Journal said.

"This appears to place 100% responsibility on teachers and administrators while giving them 0% authority to act," Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, said in the Journal.

Administration officials have laid out their proposals for the "No Child Left Behind" revisions in briefings this weekend, but did not release their proposals with fine print. Officials said they intended to leave the legislative language up to Congress, the Times said.

Obama asks for an "up or down" vote on new health care plan.

Obama is asking the Senate for an "up or down" vote on the health care bill that he is trying to move through Congras, USA Today reported.

Obama's $950 billion health care bill unveiled last week would extend coverage to 31 million Americans. It would require everyone to obtain health insurance, and would provide financial aid for those who could not afford the expense right away, USA Today said.

Republicans are united in their resistance of the new bill, but there are Democrats who are drafting different bills based on the one President Obama just unveiled, said The New York Times.

Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, tried to rally Democrats around the final bill, said USA Today.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office on Health Reform said that Obama would be willing to use a legislative tactic in the Senate requiring only 51 votes to pass the bill, USA Today reported.

At a time when Democrats are worried about re-election, some Democrats don't think the bill does enough, Dennis Cardoza, Democrat of California said in The New York Times.

Toyota documents call into question the company's integrity.

Toyota boasts of $100 million dollar savings as a result of recall negations, The New York Times said. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/business/22toyota.html?ref=business)

According to a document released to the AP from a 2009 internal Toyota meeting in Washington, Toyota boasted of their savings as a result of a negotiation that limited a recall to equipment, reported the Pioneer Press. (http://www.twincities.com/national/ci_14445151)

The document, titled "Wins for Toyota--Saftey Group" was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee citing millions of dollars in savings resulting in delays in safety regulation's and slowing down industry requirements, said the Pioneer Press.

There is a question in Congress over whether or not Toyota values customers safety over profits, said the Pioneer Press.

Toyota, who has had a recent history with minor recalls, recently issued its biggest recall yet due to issues of sudden acceleration and sticking pedals, the New York Times said.

Government investigators are searching to make sure that Toyota is doing everything necessary to ensure customer safety, said the New York Times.

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