Monday, April 12, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 4/12

  • The Delta, which stretches like a sun-ripened skin across the flatlands of northwest Mississippi, has been slowing down for decades. The birthplace of the blues, and home to some of the richest agricultural land in the United States, the predominantly African-American region is bleeding dry as farm jobs disappear, the tax base shrivels and people leave in search of work.
  • Eighteen years after the start of the devastating war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, widely viewed as responsible for provoking the break-up of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia, has asked Britain to extradite a Bosnian leader who was briefly in charge of the country and its military forces. The case comes to a head Tuesday when British authorities decide whether to free Ejup Ganic, Bosnia's war-time vice president, or send him to face trial in Serbia.
  • No one has to tell Reps. John Spratt and Joe Wilson that South Carolina will be a battleground state in an intense election campaign that's shaping up to be a referendum on health care. Nearly seven months before Election Day, Spratt and Wilson already have targets on their backs.
  • The five Americans from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, who are on trial in Pakistan on terror charges, are the victims of evidence fabricated by the police, their defense lawyers will argue in detail in court this week. Contacts the men allegedly had over email with a Pakistani militant linked to al Qaida could not have happened in the way the police claim, the lawyers claim.
  • Every zoo and aquarium in the U.S. has been specifically and intentionally blocked from applying for any federal stimulus funding, an apparent political move that zoo leaders have yet to reverse despite months of Capitol Hill lobbying.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Americans are expected to gather this week for another round of flag-waving, fist-shaking, sign-carrying "tea party" protests, demanding less government, lower taxes and more freedom.
  • Last week's launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery means there are only three more shuttle missions scheduled before the program is shut down. And that has produced something of an existential crisis along Florida's Space Coast, which has seen its economy evolve with the space race. Space Florida, the state's aerospace economic development agency, estimates the shuttle shutdown will cost the state 9,160 direct and some 23,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  • At the lush, fenced-in entrance, the sign says "private club-members only." But the Petionville Club, Haiti's only golf course, has lost any air of exclusivity it once enjoyed. An estimated 50,000 earthquake survivors call it home, making it one of Haiti's largest tent cities.
  • They know how to say no to President Barack Obama. Now, can Republicans get the rest of the country to say yes to them? That's the question facing the Grand Old Party as activists and candidates emerge from a three-day strategy session in New Orleans and head toward the fall elections for control of Congress.
  • A new Centers for Disease Control study shows a strong link between a lack of indoor plumbing and high rates of potentially life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia and meningitis among children in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
  • Here's a job posting worthy of only the most stellar applicants. In fact, only those rare individuals with near-superhuman powers to untangle the crossed circuitry in the American mindset need apply. The Muslim Public Affairs Council is seeking "high-energy candidates" for a communications coordinator. I'd love to eavesdrop on those interviews.
  • Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas is making headlines around the world with his 6-week-old hunger strike to denounce Cuba's dictatorship. But what struck me the most in an interview from his hospital bed was the modesty of his demands, and the pragmatism of his expectations.

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