Wednesday, March 31, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 3/31

  • For about $10, Ravi Arora will sell you a pound of the Indian military's latest biological weapon. "No, no, no. We recommend not to try them," Mr. Arora says. "Before exporting these chilies we have also informed my clients not to taste them.... It is killing." That potency is just why the Indian military said last week that it would use the bhut jolokia, or "ghost chili," to make tear gas hand grenades.
  • Former President Bill Clinton, who has spent the past year championing Haiti, has a new job: co-czar of Haiti's post-earthquake reconstruction. Clinton said Tuesday that he accepted the Haitian government offer to help lead the country's reconstruction over the next 18 months.
  • After a smoother-than-expected military operation to take the southern Afghan town of Marjah from the Taliban, the U.S. military is aiming to quash Taliban resistance in the Islamist group's spiritual home of Kandahar by the fall, two senior NATO officials said Tuesday.
  • With national health care reform finally checked off President Barack Obama's domestic "to do" list, many Americans wonder where the administration goes next. No question Obama has regained momentum in the wake of last week's historic passage of health care reform. Still, the political path that lies ahead will be rocky, no matter which way Obama goes.
  • Houston has health insurance. The news, announced on a Web site set up for the Texas baby, ended his family's week-long fight after the newborn was denied health insurance because he needed surgery to repair a heart defect — what the insurance company called a pre-existing condition.
  • With the nation facing unprecedented deficits, spending on pet projects is dividing members of Congress and the constituents they represent. Earmarks have a long history in Congress, but they've come under increased attack in recent years as their use has exploded. California's congressional delegation is an example of the split between earmark supports and those opposing their use as a way to reduce government spending.
  • About 1.3 million Haitians are living outdoors in sprawling camps or in front of their houses since a 7.0-magnitude earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and toppled thousands of buildings in January. Experts say 300,000 to 400,000 of Haiti's homeless quake survivors have undamaged houses — and show no signs of going back indoors. They are simply too afraid to go back inside.
  • A San Francisco appellate court applied the brakes Tuesday to a judge's order to end "Furlough Fridays" for tens of thousands of state workers, keeping furloughs in place. The 1st District Court of Appeal's decision temporarily maintains Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough policy for employees in about 70 state departments who were supposed to resume a regular work schedule this week.
  • Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski were on opposite sides during the debate leading up to health care reform in Congress and it's the same now that Alaska's two U.S. senators are back in Alaska talking about the result.
  • The son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was unable to make a federal case against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. A federal judge in Greensboro on Tuesday dismissed the 20-month-old case that Andrew Giuliani filed against his alma mater.
  • I've seen those faces before. More than I'd like to recall, I've heard the vile words coming from their lips. I have witnessed the hatred proclaimed on their crude signs and demonstrated in their violent actions.
    And I long ago grew weary of their political leaders wrapped in the rhetoric of states' rights, interposition and the almighty 10th Amendment. Oh, I know them, no matter what name or disguise they now wear. I know them well.

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