NEWS & VIEWS ROUNDUP: April 30

A progressive antidote to AIPAC

Nothing is more urgently needed in our political discourse than for the taboo against speaking forthrightly about Israel to be overthrown. After all, notwithstanding its profound connection to some American Jews and its (partly justified) status as a beloved icon with whom we have a “special relationship,” Israel is not the 51st state — it is a foreign country, and one smack-dab in the center of the Middle East, a region in which we have some considerable national interest. The enforced silence about Israel has prevented us from thinking clearly about the Middle East, and helped enable both the disastrous war we are now fighting in Iraq and a possible future one against Iran.

God bless Richard Nixon

Turns out the presidential prayer is quite a youngster and only just turned 35. “Tonight, I ask for your prayers to help me in everything that I do throughout the days of my presidency. God bless America and God bless each and every one of you.” Richard Nixon, April 30, 1973

National Watermelon Month

Americans are pumping their paychecks into their gas tanks, and the economy is in a stall. Food scarcities threaten governments overseas and spur hoarding at home. Foreclosures are up, home sales are down. Progress in Iraq and Afghanistan is halting.

Despite this confluence of crises on the nation’s doorstep, official Washington is beset by election-year inertia. After a fleeting bipartisan moment in January produced the rebate checks that began going out this week, the House and Senate floors have been given over to partisan sniping and small-bore bills. The House voted Tuesday to designate National Watermelon Month and National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day.

Driving hunger

Some top international food scientists Tuesday recommended halting the use of food-based biofuels, such as ethanol, saying it would cut corn prices by 20 percent during a world food crisis.

But even as the scientists were calling for a moratorium, President Bush urged the opposite. He declared the United States should increase ethanol use because of national energy security and high gas prices.

“A fantastic time to be farming”

Across the country, ethanol plants are swallowing more and more of the nation’s corn crop. This year, about a quarter of U.S. corn will go to feeding ethanol plants instead of poultry or livestock.

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