Tuesday, March 16, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 3/16

  • Eighteen months after Wall Street's brush with apocalypse, the Senate on Monday began to rewrite the nation's financial regulatory rules with the introduction of a sweeping bill designed to fix the causes of the deep economic crisis.
  • Unemployed workers 50 and older will get some much-needed help in their job searches beginning Tuesday, when the AARP kicks off a national series of free career fairs for mature job seekers.
  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Monday it opposes the Democratic health care plan heading for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives because of its language on abortion. The group noted that it liked the House health care bill because it would continue the strict ban on federal financing of abortion. But it said the Senate version would open the door to federal financing, and it is the Senate version heading to the House for a vote.
  • In the first gubernatorial debate of the Republican primary, underdog candidate Steve Poizner sought Monday to establish himself as the true conservative of the race while rival Meg Whitman offered more moderate proposals on core GOP issues such as illegal immigration and the state's climate change law.
  • With dozens of disability advocates watching from the gallery, the S.C. House voted to add $173.6 million of federal money to the state budget to restore proposed cuts to health care services. The money means that state agencies can: Continue in-home services for the disabled; scrap a proposed cap of three prescriptions per month for Medicaid patients; continue funding for preventive health care programs such as community clinics and Welvista, which works with pharmaceutical companies to provide free drugs to those in need; set aside $27 million for next year, when the state will face a more than $1 billion budget hole when federal stimulus money ends.
  • Dissident Guillermo Farinas remained in a Cuban hospital Monday in what one human rights activist called a "milimetric" government concession to his hunger strike. Farinas was stable but weak and suffering from severe headaches at the intensive care unit of the Arnaldo Milan Castro hospital in his hometown of Santa Clara, said his mother, Alicia Hernandez.
  • More than 3,000 men, women and children of Hmong descent engaged in a spirited but orderly demonstration in front of Sacramento's federal courthouse on Monday to show their support for 12 men accused of plotting an overthrow of the government in communist Laos. Eleven of the defendants are of Hmong heritage. The federal indictment accuses the group of conspiring to mobilize an insurgent force with the aim of transforming Laos into an American-style democracy. The prosecution contends that the men were planning to arm Hmong people in Laos for a revolt against the country's communist rulers.
  • Alaska state officials on Monday found and killed two wolves thought to be responsible for killing a teacher in Chignik Lake last week, according to the Department of Fish and Game. The wolves were found in the Chignik drainage a week after the March 8 death of 32-year-old Candice Berner, a special education teacher killed in an apparent wolf attack while jogging along a remote road, according to Alaska State Troopers. Troopers say they think at least two or three wolves were involved in the attack.
  • Wachovia, now part of Wells Fargo & Co., is in discussions with the U.S. Justice Department to resolve an investigation into the bank's ties to Mexican money exchange houses and its compliance with money-laundering laws. San Francisco-based Wells, which bought Charlotte's Wachovia in 2008, disclosed the negotiations last month in its annual report.
  • At least one corner of the Florida economy is showing some pizazz: the battered cruise industry. After the worst-ever downturn for the South Florida-based industry in 2009, cruise bookings are going up. Cruise lines are starting to raise prices from the deep-recession bargain basement. And a few companies are even feeling bullish enough to start ordering new ships after a dry spell of nearly two years.
  • Evil is not a color. It has no particular religion nor creed, nor style of dress, nor gender nor geographic home. Evil is an equal opportunity employer.
    One hopes we learn at least that much from the adventures of Jihad Jane.

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