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May 27th, 2012
04:48 AM ET

Early Bird morning research for Sunday, May 27

Good Sunday morning. The staff is working its way in and we're preparing for today's program. Prepare along with us – check out what we're reading this morning.

On our radar: Memorial Day and veterans issues - why aren't our country's bravest men and women getting the treatment they need and deserve? Also, politics, 2012 and the looming recall election in Wisconsin.

Check out what we're reading, and be sure to watch our exclusive interviews with Rudy Giuliani and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We'll also be joined by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairwoman Patty Murray; Former Vice Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, Gen. Peter Chiarelli (Ret.); the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff; and the legislative director for the American Legion, Tim Tetz.

State of the Union airs today at 9am/12pm ET.

BREAKING OVERNIGHT...

KABUL, May 27, 2012 (AFP) – A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, in their home in Afghanistan's eastern province of Paktia, Afghan officials said Sunday.
"Eight people, a man, his wife and six of their children, are dead. It was an air strike conducted by NATO. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group," local government spokesman Rohullah Samoon told AFP.
A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the incident, while NATO's military said it was investigating the claim.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ

Temple Israel cancels DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz speech after GOP member cries foul, quits

Miami's Temple Israel on Thursday canceled a program featuring Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz after a high-profile Republican donor quit the congregation to protest the top Democratic congresswoman's speech.

Stanley Tate, a well-known philanthropist and prominent Republican who started Florida's prepaid college tuition program, resigned from the temple after he learned Wasserman Schultz would be talking about Israel after services on Friday night, and that he wouldn't get an opportunity for rebuttal.

The temple's president, Ben Kuehne, a Miami attorney, said the event was canceled because of security concerns. He said they "certainly embrace the congresswoman's willingness to participate in one of our programs," but decided it was "unwise to proceed with the program tomorrow."

Wasserman Schultz…called it an unusual situation, due in part to the temple's "internal politics."...

"I believe strongly that in a democracy people should be able to hear from and interact with their elected officials, which is why I gladly accepted Temple Israel's invitation to speak as I have previously to many organizations and religious institutions throughout South Florida," she said. "It is unfortunate that some would allow politics to stand in the way of citizens' ability to interact with their representative."

Wisconsin recall: DNC’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz sees no national impact if Democrats lose

“I think, honestly, there aren’t going to be any repercussions,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said in a broad-ranging interview on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.”

“It’s an election that’s based in Wisconsin. It’s an election that I think is important nationally because Scott Walker is an example of how extreme the tea party has been when it comes to the policies that they have pushed the Republicans to adopt,” Wasserman Schultz said. “But I think it’ll be, at the end of the day, a Wisconsin-based election, and like I said, across the rest of the country and including in Wisconsin, President Obama is ahead.”

The interview, taped Friday morning, is scheduled to air 10 a.m. Sunday. ...

She also made the case that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a potential Romney running mate, would have little impact on the GOP ticket’s prospects in her home state of Florida.

“Marco Rubio, in the polling that I’ve seen recently, doesn’t really make much difference and, in fact, in some cases actually hurts Mitt Romney or does very little,” she said. “Marco Rubio is a nice guy, but not someone who I think belongs on a national ticket for a lot of reasons.”

POLITICS / 2012

Does military service still matter for the presidency?

In every presidential election since 1992, the candidate with the less distinguished military résumé has triumphed.

Bill Clinton defeated war heroes George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole; National Guard pilot George W. Bush beat Vietnam veterans Al Gore and John Kerry; and Barack Obama was decisively elected over John McCain, who had displayed extraordinary valor during years of captivity as a Navy pilot in North Vietnam.

In 2012, we won’t have the chance to test this trend: For the first time in modern American history, neither major candidate for the presidency has any military experience.

Wisconsin recall election: Scott Walker’s fate will have November implications

Whether Wisconsin is competitive in November could make a major difference in the presidential campaign. If Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee, can win one or more of the industrial states — Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania — that have consistently voted Democratic in presidential races, he would have a much easier path to the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.

At first blush, Wisconsin may look daunting for Romney. The state has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan three decades ago. But that is a deceptive indicator of the state’s politics overall. Four years ago, Barack Obama coasted to victory here by a margin of 14 points, but George W. Bush nearly won the state in 2000 and 2004. ...

Karl Rove, Bush’s top political adviser in both those campaigns, argues that the results of Walker’s recall election and the margin of the vote will offer the first genuine clues as to whether Wisconsin’s political environment is similar to four years ago or has reverted to the nail-biter status of 2000 and 2004. “This will give a very clear indication of whether Wisconsin and the industrial Midwest will be up for grabs this year,” Rove said.

In Rarefied Sport, a View of the Romneys’ World

A taskmaster, [horse scout Jan] Ebeling pushed Mrs. Romney to excel in high-level amateur shows. He escorted her on horse-buying expeditions to Europe. She shares ownership of the Oldenburg mare he dreams of riding in the Olympic Games this summer. Mrs. Romney and her husband, Mitt, even floated a loan — $250,000 to $500,000, according to financial records — to Mr. Ebeling and his wife for the horse farm they run in California, where the Romneys use a Mediterranean-style guesthouse as a getaway.
“He came over here with two empty hands,” Anne Gribbons, technical adviser of the United States dressage team, said of Mr. Ebeling. “He had a lucky break to get to know the Romneys.”

The relationship has given the Romneys “the ability to enjoy the horses in a very safe and private haven, along with enjoying the people who provide them the service,” said Robert Dover, who knows the Romneys and Mr. Ebeling and his wife, Amy. “That friendship has stood the test of time.” It also offers a glimpse into the Romneys’ way of life, which they have generally shielded from view.

AFGHANISTAN / MIDEAST

With Annan's peace plan 'dead,' rebel Syrian army calls for retaliatory attacks

Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army say the U.N.-backed peace plan for the country is "dead," with some rebels vowing to retaliate against government forces after a gruesome massacre left more than 85 people dead in one town.

"After such a long wait, a test of patience and steadfastness, the joint command of the FSA inside Syria announces that it is no longer possible to abide by the peace plan brokered by Kofi Annan, (which) the regime is taking advantage of in order to commit more massacres against our unarmed civilians," Free Syrian Army spokesman Col. Qasim Saad Eddine said in a video posted Saturday.

A key point of the peace plan brokered by Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, involves a cease-fire. But since the Syrian regime and opposition members accepted the plan in March, at least 1,635 people have been killed, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said Saturday.

International outrage grew amid new details on the attack in Houla, where at least 32 children were killed on Friday, said Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria. He said observers counted a total of at least 85 bodies.

'Egypt's Brotherhood would keep Israel treaty'

The Muslim Brotherhood may seek to modify, but will not destroy, Egypt's 33-year-old peace treaty with Israel, former US president Jimmy Carter said on Saturday.

Carter, 87, was speaking after initial vote tallies put the Brotherhood's candidate ahead in the first round of Egypt's presidential election, which his Carter Center helped monitor.

The US statesman, who brought together Israeli leader Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat in 1978 to agree the Camp David accords which led to a 1979 treaty, said he had held long discussions with senior Brotherhood figures in Egypt this week.

"My opinion is that the treaty will not be modified in any unilateral way," Carter said at a news conference in Cairo to present the preliminary findings of his election monitors.

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid

In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.

The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged by Yemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.

The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.
In the past year, Russia has blocked any tough United Nations Security Council action against Mr. Assad, arguing that it could lead to his forced ouster and the kind of fates suffered by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, who was killed, or Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who was imprisoned and put on trial.

IN OTHER NEWS...

Postal Service Offers Buyouts to 45,000 Mail Handlers

The United States Postal Service said late Friday that it was offering buyouts to about 45,000 mail handlers, part of the financially troubled agency’s efforts to cut its staff and reduce its operating costs.

The mail handlers, who work in processing centers, will be offered $15,000 each. The Postal Service has said it will close 48 of the centers starting this summer, reducing the need for staff.

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