Wednesday, March 3, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 3/3

  • By a vote of 78 to 19, the Senate Tuesday night passed funding to revive government programs that aid jobless people, highway projects and other initiatives that had shut down for nearly 48 hours because of Sen. Jim Bunning's increasingly unpopular one-man stand against the measure.
  • The candidates include sitting judges and journalists who are covering the elections, but in Iraq, no one's complaining about conflicts of interest. Handing out guns, cash and appliances to woo voters? No big deal. The names on the ballot include officials accused of large-scale corruption, fielding death squads and spying for Iran.
  • An overwhelming majority of Americans think that their federal government is gridlocked by partisan infighting and turf battles and can't accomplish anything, according to a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll.
  • America is about to embark on the longest campaign in its longest war, Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, told a Charlotte audience Tuesday. Petraeus took questions for about an hour at a luncheon hosted by the World Affairs Council of Charlotte. Most of the conversation centered on the war in Afghanistan, which began in 2001 and will pass the Vietnam War this month as the longest war abroad in American history, many historians say.
  • Texas' Republican members of Congress were all comfortably ahead in their re-election bids Tuesday night, appearing to buck the anti-incumbent sentiments being pushed by Tea Party groups nationwide, according to early and incomplete election results.
  • It may never be known how many people actually died in the Haitian earthquake as government figures fluctuate. Haitian government estimates ranged from 100,000 to 270,000 in the days following the earthquake that crumbled thousands of buildings, including the presidential palace, government ministries, schools, churches, businesses and homes.
  • It's a tried-and-true practice in the auto sales business: When a competitor is hurting, pump up incentives to lure its customers. While Toyota struggled to regain market share and consumer confidence amid multiple recalls, America's Big Three of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler combined for incentives averaging $3,374 on every new vehicle sold in the United States.
  • The earthquake caused substantial damage in Chile's wine region: Stainless steel fermentation tanks tipped over, wine bottles busted and wineries without power. While it's still too early to tell the full extent of the damage, early reports indicate that the damage to one of the nation's major industries will be far-reaching. Chile in 2009 exported more than 670 million liters of wine, valued at $1.36 billion.
  • Although people 50 and older are traditionally a small part of the homeless population, their numbers have grown as the economy has stagnated. A snapshot of the Sacramento area's graying homeless population shows a group that came to the streets as a result of midlife job loss and health problems, not chronic addiction and mental health issues.
  • The U.S. interior secretary is investigating allegations of mismanagement at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas spoke by telephone last week with Secretary Ken Salazar about concerns involving personnel, money matters and ethics violations at the school. George Tiger, president of Haskell's Board of Regents, responded that he felt "like we are just being used as a political football, for political gain. Nothing in terms of mismanagement is going on here.
  • Conservative politicians love to rail against government regulation of business, and voters lap it up. After all, nobody likes being told what to do. This is a free country, isn't it? Almost any small business owner can point to examples of what he or she considers to be excessive government regulation, and many of those complaints are valid. But to say that they show government regulation is bad is like saying the earth is flat because it looks that way from your window.
  • Americans, who are obsessed with the thought of foreign (and more specifically Muslim) terrorist acts against this country, must realize that throughout the years we have been in much more danger of home-grown terrorists, most of whom had no concept of Islam.

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