Thursday, March 18, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 3/18

  • Democrats picked up support Wednesday for their health care overhaul from some important quarters — a congressman who'd opposed the bill, an influential anti-abortion lawmaker and a coalition of Catholic nuns — but they still appeared to be short of the number needed to pass the legislation.
  • Nearly half a million people voted for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad, making him by far the leading candidate in the province where the most seats are at stake. But Maliki's chances of retaining his post appear slender, especially now that he's locked in a neck-and-neck race with rival Ayad Allawi, the man who was Iraq's first post-war prime minister.
  • Former Rep. Tom Campbell has a six-point lead over his closest challenger in the three-way Republican primary to face Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, whose popularity has significantly eroded in the past two months, according to a Field Poll released Thursday. The survey found Campbell leading former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina 28 percent to 22 percent among likely Republican voters in the June 8 primary, while Assemblyman Chuck DeVore had support from 9 percent. Boxer is in a statistical tie in trial matchups with both Campbell and Fiorina.
  • The current version of South Carolina's state budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, which starts July 1, eliminates all money for the Drug Assistance Program, which provides life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs to the state's low-income, uninsured and underinsured residents. The budget also eliminates all money for the state's HIV/AIDS prevention programs. The cut would mean the 2,055 people enrolled in the Drug Assistance Program would no longer get help in paying for their medication and could face dire health consequences.
  • Most of the attention paid to the auto industry recently has revolved around Toyota's problems with its vehicles. However, excluding last August's frantic run on vehicles fueled by the Cash for Clunkers subsidy, sales at dealers nationwide have taken off at a pace not seen in a long time., a popular car-buying Web site, found that in the first eight days of March, U.S. vehicle sales rose to a seasonally adjusted, annual rate of 12.5 million.
  • When GlaxoSmithKline bought Todd Stiefel's family business for $2.9 billion last April, he began to think about what to do with the rest of his life. A Duke University graduate, Stiefel wanted his windfall to better society. Like many modern philanthropists, such as Bill and Melinda Gates or Warren Buffett, Stiefel is not motivated by religious zeal. In fact, Stiefel has become one of the country's biggest benefactors of atheist causes.
  • An al Qaida militant suspected of playing a key role in a suicide bombing at a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan died last week in Pakistan, apparently in a retaliatory missile strike by a CIA drone, a U.S. counterterrorism official said Wednesday. The death of Hussein al Yemeni was the latest blow to al Qaida's leadership from stepped up U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan's tribal area following the Dec. 30 suicide bombing.
  • For the second straight day, but in a much harsher manner, Cuban security agents broke up a protest march by female relatives of jailed dissidents.
  • The Schwarzenegger administration is considering buying $5,000 high-tech devices to photograph and fingerprint Californians who get subsidized in-home care for the elderly and disabled. The MorphoTrak "mobile biometric identification" device can fingerprint, snap a photo and transfer data to government systems, according to state social service officials.
  • How many Eric Massas and Roy Ashburns, how many James Wests, Ted Haggards, Mark Foleys and Larry Craigs do we have to see, how many shocked spouses and embarrassed children do we have to endure, how many lies, alibis and justifications do we need to hear, before we accept the obvious: Gay is not a choice, gay is not a sin, gay is not a shame.
    Gay simply is.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry has some bad news for the Vatican. Archbishop Oscar Romero, the influential cleric infamously assassinated by a right-wing death squad, a man who made a valiant stand for human rights during El Salvador's U.S.-backed civil war, just wasn't a big enough deal to be included in Texas' social studies curriculum.
    It's a lesson in just how treacherous the waters will become as the nation seeks to standardize what is taught in America's public schools. The Texas board's deliberations about social studies have been unabashedly political.
  • At least this time Jane Austen doesn't get a Zombie wedgie. In "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls" author Steve Hockensmith doesn't have to contend with adding zombie mayhem to an existing revered text.

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