Thursday, April 15, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 4/15

  • After a visit to Florida's Space Coast to talk about the future of NASA, President Barack Obama heads to Miami Thursday evening for two Democratic fundraisers — including a cocktail reception at the home of Gloria and Emilio Estefan that has irked some in the Cuban-American community.
  • One year after hundreds of thousands of frustrated Americans turned out for tax day tea parties — waving signs and showing their displeasure with federal spending and the direction the government was headed — they are ready to make their voices heard again. This time, though, the issues they've opposed for more than a year have already passed, mainly the health care overhaul legislation.
  • Missouri Sen. Kit Bond is no lame duck heading south. The Republican — equal parts national security watchdog, partisan brawler and master of political pork — has some unfinished business and knows the clock is ticking. Retirement comes at the end of the year after nearly a quarter-century running around Capitol Hill.
  • South Carolina's Senate gave final passage to a 50-cent cigarette tax increase Wednesday, closing debate, at least temporarily, on an issue lawmakers have wrestled with for years. The vote to hike the cigarette tax, which has been stuck at 7 cents a pack since the 1970s, was 32-12.
  • The state of California avoided spending about $63 million last year by reducing purchases of new state vehicles and ordering most agencies to reduce fleets by 15 percent, the Schwarzenegger administration said Wednesday.
  • The Medishare Project from the University of Miami is fitting Haitian earthquake amputees with prosthetic limbs at its camp near the Port-au-Prince international airport.
  • Friday is the deadline to return 2010 Census forms by mail and avoid a house call from federal head-counters, and officials in Alaska are using the final days to make a last-minute push to keep the state from claiming a dubious honor. As of Wednesday, Alaska had the worst participation rate in the country, with only 57 percent of households returning their forms.
  • Many older baby boomers are not yet ready for full-fledged retirement. A wide range of workplace-related research shows two main themes behind their reasons for continued employment: Many like the sense of being engaged in the productive world, but most quite simply need the money and benefits. Out of necessity, the baby boom generation has started to redefine what retirement means.
  • Ten years ago, I received an e-mail from a reader who signed him or herself "J.D." "I am a white racist," wrote J.D., "a white supremacist, and I do not deny it."
    From that, you'd suspect J.D. had nothing of value to say. You'd be mistaken. J.D. wrote in response to a column documenting the fact that preservation of slavery was the prime directive of the Southern Confederacy. "I was most pleased to see you write what we both know to be the truth," the e-mail said. "I never cease to be amazed at the Sons of Confederate Veterans and similar 'heritage not hate' groups who are constantly whining that the Confederacy was not a white, racist government . . ."
  • If President Obama ever got his wish of a world free of nuclear weapons, the United States would be the greatest beneficiary. Obama's goal is solidly in the national interest.
    That's also why it will never happen.

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