Friday, February 19, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 2/19

  • For the frustrated folks who troop into the unemployment office in the fading industrial city of Pawtucket, R.I., every day to peruse the same paltry job offerings or tweak their resumes for the hundredth time, the trickle of positive economic data coming out of Washington is cold comfort.
  • U.S. consumers will get long-awaited relief from some of the most costly and deceptive credit card tactics when the sweeping provisions of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 finally kick in on Monday.
  • The crowd at the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington embraced Rubio as a rock star, at one point threatening to interrupt his speech by chanting his name. He delivered a speech rich with conservative hot buttons and saluted the Tea Party movement.
  • Pakistan's latest arrests of senior Afghan Taliban figures and al Qaida operatives have raised the prospect that Islamabad has begun a major strategic shift away from backing its favorite Afghan militants. Analysts cautioned, however that Pakistan's aim may be to apply just enough pressure to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table on terms acceptable to Islamabad.
  • During a series of appearances in North Carolina's Research Triangle on Thursday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner defended the Obama administration's economic recovery efforts and said the public's lack of confidence in Washington has obscured their effectiveness.
  • Pregnant women are crowding Haiti's hospitals, putting a strain on unprepared international relief organizations. Others are giving birth in squalid conditions. Many are giving birth in the tent cities that have come to dominate the Port-au-Prince landscape. The women have almost no privacy, and doctors and midwives are scarce. Garbage and human waste are everywhere.
  • When Georgia U.S. House Rep. John Lewis spoke to students at Charlotte's Central Piedmont Community College on Thursday, he offered a simple prod. His generation of students, he told them, "got in the way and got in trouble — but good trouble." Against their parents' wishes, they sat at "whites-only" lunch counters in Southern dime stores asking for service and refusing to leave until they got it. Much good came from their "trouble-making" — segregated restrooms, hotels, theaters and restaurants were banned after the 1964 Civil Rights Act; literacy tests and poll taxes were outlawed by the Voting Rights Act a year later. "When people are not treated right, you have an obligation to do something about it," said Lewis.
  • A slider from Venezuela said he sent warning letters to luge officials, warning of the dangers, after he crashed in training last November and failed to qualify for his third Olympics. Meanwhile, the head of Georgia's Olympic committee blamed last week's fatal accident on the organizations that built the world's fastest track.
  • Kansas lawmakers have a plan to put the deadbolt back in wedlock: optional "covenant marriages" that could be ended for only specific reasons or after a trial separation. To break these bonds of matrimony, couples would have to undergo marriage counseling and live apart for at least a year. Already married couples could upgrade to the covenant marriage. Same-sex couples would be ineligible.
  • The wife of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, jailed in Havana since Dec. 3, has urged U.S. and Cuban officials to resolve his case when they meet for migration talks on Friday. Raul Castro and the president of Cuba's legislature, Ricardo Alarcon, have suggested that the 60-year-old Gross was linked to U.S. intelligence agencies, though he has not been charged with any crime.
  • Florida's citrus growers, cattle ranchers, sugar farmers and utility operators told federal environmental regulators Thursday that they are all for keeping rivers and lakes clean, but they don't want to go broke doing it. They warned that could be the ripple effect from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's unprecedented decision to step in and tighten Florida's pollution laws.
  • California State Sen. Mark Leno said he's one of an estimated 4 billion cellular phone users worldwide — and loves it. But because of emerging international health studies, Leno said Thursday, he has introduced a bill that would require all cell phones sold in California to include information about their radiation emissions on sales boxes, instructional materials and model displays in stores.

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