Friday, February 26, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 2/26

  • President Barack Obama and Republican lawmakers sparred in sometimes-heated terms Thursday over how to improve the nation's health care, ultimately failing to bridge their deep fundamental differences over how much the federal government can or should do.
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner remains the go-to-guy for politicians who want to hold the Obama administration responsible for high unemployment and job losses. A year into the job, though, Geithner can cite some accomplishments: a stabilizing housing sector and a recovering economy.
  • President Barack Obama has burnished his Christian credentials, courted Jewish support and preached outreach toward Muslims. On Friday, his administration will host a group that fits none of the above: America's nonbelievers.
  • The shootout drew hundreds of armor-clad officers from Fresno, Clovis and other central California police agencies into the tiny community of Minkler. Authorities set up roadblocks on Highway 180, cleared the local airspace, locked down a nearby school and evacuated residents. Three officers were shot. One died and another was on "non-recoverable life support." The suspect was found dead inside his mobile home.
  • Taliban militants hit the center of Kabul early Friday morning, using a powerful car bomb and attackers with suicide vests to target a prominent hotel and guest houses favored by Indians. The attack on Afghanistan's capital came in the midst of American-led efforts to rout Taliban forces from a key southern stronghold.
  • More details have come out on how Marco Rubio, the former Florida speaker and conservative darling vying to defeat Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for the Republican Party's U.S. Senate nomination, used a state party American Express card. Crist and Democrats denounced the spending, the latest in an ongoing controversy over how state party funds have been used.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Thursday said that the central bank is examining investment titan Goldman Sachs' use of exotic financial instruments to profit from the deepening debt problems of Greece and other European nations.
  • Israel hasn't launched a major military strike on Gaza in more than a year, and it's been more than two years since a Palestinian suicide bombing anywhere in Israel. There are no plans for serious peace talks, however, and like guests at the Hotel California, Palestinians with permission to leave Gaza often wait for days at the border before being told they can't leave.
  • The bearded Taliban prisoners at Bagram broke off from a spirited game of soccer in the yard to greet a McClatchy reporter, the first journalist allowed into the notorious U.S. jail in Afghanistan since detainees there were moved into a shiny new multimillion-dollar facility.
  • Billy Demong's victory, along with a second-place finish by teammate Johnny Spillane, capped a historic two weeks for the U.S. in this obscure sport that combines ski jumping with cross-country skiing. The Americans come away from Vancouver with a startling four medals in three events.
  • Ken Hunter has a right to be upset. The man who killed his father by crashing a plane intentionally into a Texas IRS building is being portrayed as hero on Web sites and even has a fan page on Facebook.
  • Count me among those mystified by January's Supreme Court decision to sweep away decades of established law limiting the amount of money corporations can inject into political campaigns.
    If I accepted money from Toyota, my employer would forbid me to write about it or, at the very least, require me to disclose the connection. If a judge accepted money from Toyota, she would be expected to recuse herself from any lawsuit to which the automaker was a party. If a police detective accepted money from Toyota, her lieutenant would remove her from any investigation in which the company was involved. But the people who make the laws are financially entangled with this and other companies, and we act as if that has no bearing on their ability to be fair and impartial where those companies are concerned. It makes zero sense.

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