Monday, March 22, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 3/22

  • The House of Representatives late Sunday passed by a 219 to 212 vote the biggest overhaul of the nation's health care system in more than four decades, sweeping changes expected to make coverage easier and cheaper to obtain. The largely party-line vote meant President Barack Obama's biggest domestic initiative neared the end of its year-long political and legislative odyssey.
  • For President Barack Obama, success came ugly, months late and without bipartisanship, but it's still a big win of historic proportion. Historians and political experts said that Sunday's passage of the Democrats' health care overhaul rescues Obama from being branded a political loser and probably will help limit the Democrats' expected losses in November's congressional elections.
  • Iraq's electoral commission quickly rejected the demand, however, saying there was no justification for further delaying results of the March 7 parliamentary polls. Maliki's coalition leads in the number of seats it'll control in the new parliament, but is trailing former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in the popular vote.
  • Surprising no one, Alaska Rep. Don Young joined his Republican colleagues Sunday in voting against the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system to pass in two generations. The bill passed 219-212, with 34 Democrats voting with an all-Republican bloc.
  • On the day before Thanksgiving 2008, Jean Ann Simmons came home after picking up her children at school to find an express mail package on her front porch in this small Texas town. A unit of LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. — the company the Simmonses had entrusted with more than a quarter of a million dollars — informed the family in a one-page letter that it was going out of business. Nine months earlier, officials at LandAmerica had learned that the supposedly safe investments they'd made for clients such as the Simmonses had tanked.
  • One day after demonstrators outside the Capitol shouted the words "nigger" and "faggot" at congressmen who favor the proposed health care overhaul, GOP leaders and organizers of the Tea Party protests denounced the incidents. But they called the incidents isolated and said they should not reflect on the validity of the movement.
  • After Florida's Legislature decided to cut state-worker pay last year, state senators did the opposite, passing out $183,000 in annual pay raises and promotions to some staffers. In all, 61 Senate employees who now earn $45,000 or more received pay increases. A few earned raises in May just as the Legislature prepared to vote on a 2 percent pay cut for all state workers earning more than $45,000 yearly.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already made the history books, and now she's written a new chapter in wielding power. Whatever its merits or long-term consequences, the $940 billion health care bill the House of Representatives passed Sunday night, the San Francisco Democrat, who turns 70 on Friday, has flexed all her muscles, and developed some new ones.
  • Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown unveiled a new, populist line of attack Saturday by portraying himself as the defender of working Californians against Wall Street business titans profiting off the woes of ordinary people. Brown trumpeted giving state employees collective bargaining rights when he first served as governor, from 1975 to 1983.
  • It's a newspaper few would want to be in. It's called Mugly!, and if you've been arrested in Fort Worth or Dallas in recent weeks, there's a chance you have graced the pages.
  • The economic costs of Haiti's Jan. 12 earthquake have shown it to be the most destructive natural disaster for any one country in modern times. Estimates from the InterAmerican Development Bank put the cost of rebuilding Haiti at anywhere from $8 billion to $14 billion — at the high end, that's twice the size of Haiti's total economy last year.
  • The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is getting ready to spend $100,000 on a video meant to counter what it calls misunderstandings about the state's controversial wolf-killing program. The video project comes as the arguments over predator control flared up even hotter last week after Fish and Game shot wolves from helicopters in the Interior.

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