Ron in bronze Former First Lady Nancy Reagan embraces former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, right, during a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday. An overjoyed and teary-eyed Nancy Reagan watched with delight as a bronze statue of her beloved late husband Ronald Reagan was unveiled.AP PHOTO
San Quentin State Prison. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The California State Fairgrounds.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to put some of his state’s biggest landmarks up for sale to help erase a $24 billion budget deficit is fraught with questions, chief among them: How can California taxpayers get a good deal in this slumping real estate market?
Schwarzenegger, who has also proposed deep cuts in education, health care, welfare and parks, wants to sell off some property outright, sell office buildings and then rent them back from the new landlords, and lease some state land to developers.
In most cases, however, it would take a few years to complete the sales, doing nothing for California’s immediate budget crisis.
President Barack Obama’s administration, which is trying to avoid mass evictions of hurricane victims still living in federally supplied trailers along the Gulf Coast, will offer $50 million in new housing vouchers and sell trailers for as little as $1, an administration official said.
More than 3,300 households affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 remain in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers and mobile homes, almost all in Louisiana and Mississippi, with a handful in Alabama.
FEMA spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement that no one would face eviction while the new measures are implemented.
The U.S. and Iraqi militaries have tentatively agreed to keep a joint base on the edge of Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City, maintaining an American presence in a strategic area even after the June 30 deadline for U.S. combat troops to pull out of the capital.
The base — Joint Security Station Commanche — is one of about 14 joint facilities that U.S. officials say privately that they would like to keep in flashpoint neighborhoods after the deadline.
Commanche is the most significant because it controls the area where Shiite militants poured rocket fire onto the Green Zone during the last major fighting in the city in 2008. Militants are believed to be trying to regroup in the area.
But keeping the base after the end of the month would require the approval of the Iraqi government, which is under pressure to show its supporters the U.S. is sticking to the withdrawal schedule laid down in the U.S.-Iraq security agreement.
Cuba’s 47-year suspension from the Organization of American States will be lifted, thanks to an agreement reached Wednesday by foreign ministers assembled in Honduras, Ecuador’s foreign minister, Fander Falconi, told reporters.
The United States had been pressuring the OAS for weeks to condition Cuba’s readmission to the hemispheric group on democratic principles and commitment to human rights.
Falcone said there will be no such conditions.
More and more Latin American nations had pushed for Cuba to be readmitted to the organization.