Tuesday, March 9, 2010

McClatchy Washington Report 3/9

  • Putting political pressure on the nation's banks, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairwoman Sheila Bair called Monday for borrowers to identify and report banks that aren't lending to consumers and small businesses.
  • Despite numerous news reports that Pakistan has arrested an American al Qaida operative in the port city of Karachi, the U.S. government is unaware that anyone affiliated with the terrorist network, American or otherwise, has been captured in Pakistan recently, U.S. officials said Monday.
  • Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl said he plans to go after U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's national aspirations, claiming the first-term senator is not serving South Carolina's interests. "My biggest problem with Senator DeMint is he does not appear to be interested in the issues of South Carolina," said Rawl. "If you've got time to write a book," Rawl said referring to DeMint's 2009 book "Saving Freedom," "you're not representing your constituents."
  • In the end, Sen. Roy Ashburn said he decided he owed his constituents an explanation. He went on a radio show first thing Monday morning to talk about his sexual orientation. Ashburn, who has voted consistently against gay-rights measures, last week refused to address reports that he was at a gay bar in Sacramento before his 2 a.m. arrest Wednesday for driving under the influence. On the radio, Ashburn, the divorced father of four, defended being secretly gay while voting against gay-rights proposals.
  • Cuba's Granma newspaper Monday indicated that dissident Guillermo Farinas will be allowed to die if he continues on his hunger strike, saying it would be unethical to force-feed him and that the government "will not accept pressures or blackmails." Farinas, who launched his protest one day after political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo died following an 83-day hunger strike, and passed out for about 2 1/2 hours last week, said he would continue his fast "until the final consequence."
  • The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case involving Fred Phelps and his Topeka congregation, whose protests at military funerals have angered families across the country. The court said it would consider an appeal from the father of a slain Marine who hopes to reinstate a $5 million verdict against the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church. Church members believe the deaths of military personnel — as well as tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 Amish school shooting — are God's punishment for the tolerance of homosexuality.
  • Chile's massive Feb. 27 earthquake has shut down trade and commerce in a swath of coastal villages and medium-size cities that includes Hualpen, which is some 350 miles south of Santiago, the capital. But the picture is far from gloomy. Economists expect Chile's economy to take a short-term hit but will recover beginning mid-year as the government, private companies and individuals dramatically boost spending to replace the billions of dollars in losses.
  • My son, NYPD cadet Mohammad Salman Hamdani, was one of the brave souls who died on Sept. 11 trying to rescue people in the World Trade Center. My life, like countless others, will never be the same. One thing that has kept me going is the hope that justice will be served. Unfortunately, after more than eight years of repeated delay, it looks like that process could get derailed before it even begins.
  • A new study tracking 20,000 American women through middle age found those who had two or more drinks a day gained less weight than their non-drinking counterparts. The study is published in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
  • Alaska's prisons are overcrowded but generally provide better living conditions than those found in Lower 48 facilities, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska said in a report released Monday.
  • It must be like a bad dream for Marco Rubio. He goes to bed as the golden boy of the New Right, and wakes up as just another phony with a $134 haircut. And all because he didn't keep track of whose American Express card he was waving around while he was Florida's speaker of the House.

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