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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:20 PM ET, 05/19/2009

Spencer S. Hsu writes for The Washington Post: "The Obama administration is expanding a program initiated by President George W. Bush aimed at checking the immigration status of virtually every person booked into local jails. In four years, the measure could result in a tenfold increase in illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes and identified for deportation, current and former U.S. officials said."

William Glaberson writes in the New York Times that as details of Obama's military commission system emerged Monday, "it was clear that military commission trials would be subject to new legal challenges raising many of the same issues that plagued the Bush administration's effort to prosecute detainees for the last seven years....But senior administration officials said they planned to ask Congress for additional reforms of the military commission system, calling the proposed changes the president announced a starting point."

Annie Gearan writes for the Associated Press: "The nation's top military officer warned Monday that the deaths of Afghan civilians caught up in U.S. combat operations could cripple President Barack Obama's revamped strategy for the seven-year-old war. 'I believe that each time we do that, we put our strategy in jeopardy,' Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. 'We cannot succeed...in Afghanistan by killing Afghan civilians.' Mullen said additional forces and new tactics can help the United States turn a discouraging tide in Afghanistan. He said he was hopeful that 'in the next 12- to 24 months, that we can stem the trends which have been going very badly in Afghanistan the last three years.'"

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes for the New York Times: "President Obama told a huge crowd in Prague last month that he is committed to 'a world without nuclear weapons.' On Tuesday, he is expected to deliver that message from the Oval Office, with a little help from four elder statesmen of the nuclear non-proliferation movement – including two former Republican secretaries of state."

Charles Clover writes in the Financial Times: "Russia and the US on Tuesday began talks in Moscow aimed at limiting their respective nuclear arsenals, which may provide the first breakthrough in an effort by both sides to 'reset' a badly frayed relationship beset by mistrust."

Ceci Connolly writes for The Washington Post: "One week after the nation's health insurance lobby pledged to President Obama to do what it can to constrain rising health costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is putting the finishing touches on a public message campaign aimed at killing a key plank in Obama's reform platform. As part of what it calls an 'informational website,' the company has hired an outside PR company to make a series of videos sounding the alarm about a government-sponsored health insurance option, known as the public plan."

Robert Reich writes on his blog: "It's still possible that the House could come up with a real Medicare-like public option and that Senate Dems could pass it under a reconciliation bill needing just 51 votes. But it won't happen without a great deal of pressure from the White House and the public. Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the rest of Big Med are pushing hard in the opposite direction. And Democrats are now giving away the store. As things are now going, we'll end up with a universal health-care bill this year that politicians, including our President, will claim as a big step forward when it's really a step sideways."

Jack Cafferty writes for CNN: "The Bush presidency is thankfully over...but the damage he and Dick Cheney did continues to press on the nerve of the American people like an impacted wisdom tooth. And until the questions surrounding arguably the most arrogant and perhaps most corrupt administration in our history are addressed, the pain won't go away."

Mary Ann Akers writes for The Washington Post that at last night's Bruce Springsteen concert "the Boss held up a sign from someone in the audience at the Verizon Center that said: 'Obama called, he wants Rosie.' That sign now belongs to President Obama. Backstage after the concert, Bruce Springsteen personally autographed the Rosie poster and gave it to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to deliver to Obama at the White House, an eyewitness tells the Sleuth....Springsteen belted out Rosalita as a rousing final encore that had the entire Verizon Center throbbing and screaming."

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