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Transition Today – Monday, Dec. 29, 2008

A roundup of news, schedules, and key stories from CBS News, written by Maria Gavrilovic:

President-elect OBAMA continues his vacation in Hawaii. There are no public events scheduled.


MIDEAST

(AP/M.Muheisen, S. Scheiner)
New York Times, "Middle East Interlude": President-elect Barack Obama interrupted his Hawaiian vacation to huddle with advisers and receive briefings on the air strikes launched by Israel at Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. The president-elect also spoke by telephone for eight minutes with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and while Mr. Obama is said to be "closely monitoring global events," a spokeswoman for the transition team emphasized "there is one president at a time."

New York Times, "Gaza Crisis Is Another Challenge for Obama, Who Defers to Bush for Now": Since his election, Mr. Obama has said little specific about his foreign policy — in contrast to more expansive remarks about the economy. He and his advisers have deferred questions — critics could say, ducked them — by saying that until Jan. 20, only President Bush would speak for the nation as president and commander in chief. "The fact is that there is only one president at a time," David Axelrod , Mr. Obama's senior adviser, told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, reiterating a phrase that has become a mantra of the transition. "And that president now is George Bush."

LA Times, "Obama's Mideast peace plans face tougher road, experts say": Obama has committed himself to immediately restarting peace efforts and has made known that one of his first foreign policy moves will be a speech in the Muslim world aimed at creating a new beginning for U.S. relations with the religion's 1.5 billion adherents. But the violence in the Gaza Strip, which continued Sunday with Israeli air attacks and Hamas rocket fire, will probably make the conditions for negotiation even worse, experts said. And the fighting -- especially the civilian casualties -- is likely to reinforce the view of many Muslims that the U.S. has too often given unconditional support for Israeli attacks, they said.

AP, "Gaza complicates Obama's policy in Mideast": It's unclear whether Obama will be as supportive of Israel as President George W. Bush has been. David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, chose his words carefully Sunday, saying the president-elect would honor the "important bond" between the United States and Israel. "He wants to be a constructive force in helping to bring about the peace and security that both the Israelis and the Palestinians want and deserve," Axelrod said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

ECONOMY

Washington Post, "Obama Tax Cuts Likely Soon": President-elect Barack Obama 's economic stimulus plan will include an immediate tax cut for middle-class families, and the incoming administration hopes to enact permanent tax cuts soon thereafter, a senior adviser to Obama said Sunday. David Axelrod said the stimulus package will be implemented soon, given the worsening economy, and could cost $675 billion to $775 billion. The massive recovery plan will seek to create or save 3 million jobs, he said in appearances Sunday on NBC 's "Meet the Press 's "Face the Nation."

BLAGOJEVICH

AP, "Blagojevich lawyer to submit Obama report to panel": The lead attorney for Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he plans to submit President-elect Barack Obama's internal report on contacts with the scandal-plagued governor to the Illinois House committee weighing impeachment. Attorney Ed Genson told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday the report would support Blagojevich's claims that he hasn't done anything wrong in his handling of Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Washington Post, "Blagojevich on the Way Out, Says Illinois' No. 2": The lieutenant governor of Illinois said he is certain that scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) will be out of office in less than two months. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) said Sunday on CBS 's "Face the Nation" that he thinks Blagojevich will be impeached and convicted by the state legislature by Abraham Lincoln 's bicentennial birthday celebration Feb. 12.

CAROLINE KENNEDY

New York Times, "As a Candidate, Kennedy Is Forceful but Elusive": After weeks of criticism that she had not opened up to the public or the press, Ms. Kennedy has embarked on a series of interviews. But in an extensive sit-down discussion Saturday morning with The New York Times, she still seemed less like a candidate than an idea of one: forceful but vague, largely undefined and seemingly determined to remain that way.

NY Post, "Caroline: It's a Clan-do Effort": In the 40-minute interview, Kennedy also said President-elect Barack Obama had been "encouraging" when she spoke to him about the seat. She also said Mayor Bloomberg 's maneuver to repeal term limits would have been better handled through a voter referendum, and all but acknowledged that she used drugs decades ago.

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