Morning Political Note: Jan. 28

At his event today with the first lady, perhaps U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could be prevailed upon to repeat his "unprecedented conversation" with some reporters Friday in which he said that "no moral justification for flying hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center," as reported by the Washington Times. ( http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020128-871948.htm

From the ABCNEWS London bureau: Dozens of U.S. special forces and hundreds of Afghan forces stormed a Kandahar hospital where a group of al Qaeda fighters had been holed up for seven weeks … A Pakistani group seeking better conditions for the detainees in Cuba says it has kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. A message sent to U.S. news organizations said Mr. Pearl was being held in inhumane conditions — similar, it said, to those experienced by al Qaeda suspects being held at Guantanamo Bay … The identity of the a Palestinian woman believed to be the first female suicide bomber in Israel remains unknown. The Guardian reports that in recent months, radicalized young Muslim women have said they want to be more involved with the armed struggle … At least 200 people are known to have drowned in a canal in the Nigerian city of Lagos while fleeing a series of huge explosions at an army munitions dump. A number of others died when fire ripped through the dump, setting off many bombs at the barracks. The fire finally was extinguished early this morning … The family of one of three Britons being held by the U.S. military as a Taliban or al Qaeda suspect has demanded to be returned to Britain … Saudi Arabia's interior minister, Prince Nayef, tells the state controlled Al-Watan newspaper that Saudi Arabia wants to conduct its own investigation of Saudi terror suspects now in U.S. custody.

State of the Union Preview

The Washington Post's Allen and Goldstein lead a detail-packed SOTU preview (18 drafts as of last Friday, they note) with the news that Bush plans to encourage "more neighborhood and international volunteerism," but the domestic stuff is where the political hay will be made. Bush "will advocate longer unemployment benefits for the newly jobless, prescription drug coverage for Medicare patients, and tax cuts for all Americans. He will call on Congress to promote job growth by passing an industry-friendly energy policy, new limits on lawsuit damages and another round of improvements to education." ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46930-2002Jan27.html )

"Bush plans to call on Congress to bring the same spirit of cooperation to problems at home that has prevailed for the war, according to senior aides."

"Bush hopes to burnish his image as a different kind of Republican … , when some of the newest news in his speech will be the least controversial. A senior administration official, pointing to the neighborliness engendered by the terrorist attacks, said Bush will … announce a program to 'preserve and extend the great good that we've seen come out of the evil of September 11th, and extend values like this throughout America and throughout the world.'"

"Officials said that among other elements, the program will expand the Corporation for National and Community Service, created under President Bill Clinton to administer AmeriCorps, which provides tuition and student loan repayment in return for community service."

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