Monday, March 29, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 3/29

  • It wasn't long ago that Rachel Cales volunteered at her church's food pantry, bagging canned goods and emergency provisions for families that had fallen on hard times. Last May, however, Cales lost her job managing a yogurt shop. Suddenly, she couldn't afford the groceries her family needed, and she had to turn to the pantry for help.
  • Police in Argentina are looking for Angie Jeaneth Sanclemente Valencia, a dethroned Colombian beauty queen and lingerie model who, according to authorities, led a band of beautiful women who transported cocaine from Buenos Aires into several European countries.
  • President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan Sunday as he sought to steel American forces for a tough summer fight and deliver a political jolt to Afghan President Hamid Karzai as he weighs potential peace talks with the Taliban.
  • Gov. Charlie Crist tried to chip away at his U.S. Senate rival's conservative boy-wonder image during their first televised debate Sunday but failed to deliver a broadside powerful enough to level the surging Marco Rubio.
  • The bitter legislative battle over health care reform is finally over, but the political war has just begun, and the fallout is being felt across the country and in Missouri.
  • The program director of KMBZ radio in Kansas City says the station has no choice but to air commercials with racially biased and anti-Semitic claims from a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri. Under Federal Communications Commission rules and federal law, a "legally qualified candidate" must be given reasonable, uncensored access to broadcast airtime if he or she can pay the cost.
  • Several hundred Vodou practitioners gathered at a public plaza in downtown Port-au-Prince Sunday to bid farewell to the souls of victims of the Jan. 12th quake that claimed more than 200,000 lives. The ceremony — led by Haiti's supreme leader of Vodou, Max Beauvoir — came several weeks after an angry crowd of Evangelicals crashed a similar service when they started throwing rocks at Vodou practitioners in Cite Soleil, a sprawling seaside slum in Port-au-Prince.
  • With her husband deployed in Iraq with a Stryker brigade from Washington state's Joint Base Lewis-McChord, 20-year-old Lauren Silva isn't your typical college student. But when it comes to finding money for tuition, books and other expenses, she's not so different.
  • The recent crackdown on the Ladies in White protest marchers, the latest in a string of abuses in Cuba, might delay or derail congressional efforts to ease sanctions on the Castro government, even supporters of a thaw acknowledge.
  • The man in charge of upgrading the quality of health care in California's overcrowded prisons has an idea for taxpayers: medical parole. J. Clark Kelso, the federal court-appointed prison health receiver, suggests that California could stop spending millions of dollars a year if officials could grant parole to a handful of inmates who are comatose or otherwise severely incapacitated.
  • Miami-Dade Corrections says it can do little about jail inmates who are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in collect calls billed to the fax lines of unwitting victims. Alabama-based Global Tel*Link, which operates jail collect- and prepaid-call systems nationwide, has reimbursed customers nearly $200,000 for bogus calls over the past two years, almost all in Miami-Dade.
  • After the murder of two U.S. consulate workers in Mexico's border city of Ciudad Juarez, many of you have written to me wondering whether it is safe to travel to Mexico. The answer is: If you are courageous enough to travel to Washington, D.C., you can safely visit most parts of Mexico.

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