Thursday, February 25, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 2/25

  • Abu Mahdi al Mohandas is one of more than 6,000 candidates who are running in the Iraqi parliamentary elections next month, but he's probably the only contender who won't set foot on the campaign trail for fear of a U.S. assassination attempt.
  • President Barack Obama's job approval may be eroding nationwide, but in South Carolina, a state he lost in 2008, a new poll gives him higher numbers than the state's two Republican senators.
  • U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, repairs to the family minivan and purchases from a wine store less than a mile from his West Miami home to the Republican Party of Florida while he was speaker of the Florida House, according to records obtained by The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times.
  • A year ago, North Carolina's U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick was appointed to the House Intelligence Committee, a prestigious post she had long sought. Myrick, a Republican, contends that extremists are working their way into U.S. Muslim communities, infiltrating government institutions and influencing American citizens to attack their own country. Her activism earns plaudits from some conservatives — but criticism from Muslim constituents who fear that her tone endangers a community 3 million strong and deeply embedded in the nation's fabric.
  • Cuban leader Raul Castro said Wednesday the death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo was "lamentable," while his security forces clamped down on dissidents to avert protests and foreigners condemned the hunger striker's death.
  • More frustrated homeowners turned to federal court this week for help with their mortgages, saying Bank of America and Wells Fargo failed to provide promised payment modifications. The two cases, filed Tuesday in Massachusetts, seek class action status.
  • There were conflicting reports of the circumstances that led to the death Wednesday of a whale trainer before horrified spectators at Florida's SeaWorld, but the accident seemed certain to rekindle debate over turning marine mammals, considered deeply intelligent and highly social by many scientists, into captive circus performers.
  • California Sen. Barbara Boxer and poultry producers on Wednesday called for stricter labeling so that consumers know when their chicken is stuffed with salt water. About 30 percent of the poultry sold nationwide is injected with saline solution, in a process called "plumping." Currently, the Agriculture Department allows this plumped-up poultry to be labeled as "all natural."
  • South Carolinians are far more familiar with Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and state Attorney General Henry McMaster than the other Republicans running for governor. But nearly as many Republicans dislike Bauer as like him, a factor that could hinder his ability to make it to a runoff. Those are a few of the findings of a Winthrop University poll of 837 voting-age South Carolinians conducted earlier this month.
  • With every failed attempt to blow an airplane out of the sky, along comes tighter security. First, we had to take our shoes off. Then we had to pack our liquids in bottles no bigger than 3 ounces. Now, we may have our hands swabbed for explosives.
  • Many Alaskans think a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 would give the state new riches in the form of taxes and royalties. Don't bank on it, some state senators say. In fact, under some scenarios presented to the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday, if the big gas pipeline is built, and gas starts to flow, the state could make nothing off the gas and might even see a drop in oil revenue.

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