Monday, April 19, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 4/19

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission's civil fraud suit against Goldman Sachs that shook Wall Street stands in sharp contrast to the agency's many blunders in failing to stop the $50 billion Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff -- and its mistakes in other, more recent cases.
  • No one can say that Jim DeMint's first term in the U.S. Senate has been uneventful. The South Carolina Republican helped defeat a major immigration bill he branded "amnesty" but failed to stop a major health care measure he warned would be President Barack Obama's "Waterloo." DeMint criticized GOP President George W. Bush for spending too much and accused Democrat Obama of leading the nation toward socialism.
  • For 30 years, thousands of Marines and their family members at Camp Lejeune, N.C., drank, cooked with and bathed in water that was laced with dangerous chemicals, but when outside contractors began raising questions about the toxic water, documents show, base officials rebuffed them and ignored the warnings or ordered more tests.
  • Behind every public uproar are some hidden facts. Here's one about rising health insurance rates in California: Sharp jumps in hospital costs are a big part of the story. Hospitals are charging insurance companies, and by extension their customers, billions of dollars for expenses not directly related to care. These include new hospital wings, new technology and services for the uninsured.
  • For the second time in as many weeks, Cuban security agents denied the Ladies in White — female relatives of jailed dissidents — permission to hold their protest Sunday.
  • Millions of Americans need long-term health care. But few can afford it. That's where a little-discussed part of the massive Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health care reform package, comes into the picture.
  • Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman wants to eliminate California's tax on capital gains. GOP primary rival Steve Poizner wants to cut it in half. Both believe such tax cuts would spur investment in California and lead to more tax revenues in other forms, relying on supply-side economic principles.
  • It's springtime in the coastal villages of the Alaska Arctic. As it has for generations, that means whaling season. Crews have begun preparing for the hunt or have already hit the water along the North Slope and St. Lawrence Island, less than 40 miles from Siberia in the Bering Sea.
  • It seemed like a really good idea at the time. President Obama had a clever strategy to cool down and stabilize the smoldering Middle East. This was not about friendly gestures to old foes and tough talk to old friends. The plan was something else entirely. I, too, thought it was worth a try. The idea was to quietly put the focus on Syria, the common denominator in so many areas of American interest in the region.
  • President Barack Obama's official proclamation declaring April 11-17 "Pan American Week" was a nice gesture, but it's time for him to turn from words to action and take specific steps to improve U.S.-Latin American ties.

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