Thursday, April 29, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 4/29

  • Maintaining that no Wall Street executive is "too big for jail," 62 members of the House of Representatives asked the Justice Department Wednesday to investigate whether Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms committed criminal fraud in the lead-up to the subprime mortgage meltdown.
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday approved the nation's first offshore wind farm, the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, Mass., and said that the power of strong winds over the Atlantic Ocean would be an important part of the U.S. drive to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The project has been hung up for nearly a decade as opponents objected to its cost and its impact on views.
  • Texas state Rep. Leo Berman this week said he's planning to file several immigration-related bills once Texas lawmakers get back to work in January, including one that requires presidential and vice presidential candidates to prove their citizenship to the Texas secretary of state before their names are added to the ballot.
  • The Pentagon Wednesday issued a downbeat assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, saying that only one in four Afghans in strategically important areas currently back President Hamid Karzai's government even as the Taliban expand their insurgency and install shadow local governments.
  • If Gov. Charlie Crist actually wins his independent bid for the U.S. Senate, would his new allies be Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont? Is there an upside for Florida to have a senator in the tiny caucus of independents in the clubby U.S. Senate?
  • "Flightmares." That's what some people call those rare but horrific tarmac waits. Starting today, the government is effectively banning them, but the trade-off could be more canceled flights.
  • A growing number of Americans are becoming members of faith-based "health sharing ministries" where members directly pay for each others' medical bills. Members also pray for each other, and a "get well" card from a stranger isn't uncommon. National health care reform will force millions of Americans to buy insurance or face fines, but a little-noticed provision excludes people who belong to such groups.
  • Alaska's state ethics board still hasn't taken action on its investigator's finding nine months ago that Sarah Palin's legal defense fund likely violated the law. Palin's supporters created the Alaska Fund Trust in April 2009 to help her pay legal bills compiled defending herself in the "Troopergate" investigation and other ethics complaints. Chatman filed her ethics complaint not long after that, alleging the defense fund itself was against the law.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska says Anchorage city police have wrongly seized and destroyed the property of homeless people who make their camps in Anchorage woods, parks and greenbelts, a new lawsuit contends. The suit calls the city's approach a violation of homeless individuals' constitutional rights.
  • Nine years after the last rolling blackout, California consumers are going to get $410 million worth of refunds from a San Diego energy conglomerate Sempra Energy, which is accused of using Enron-style tactics to gouge customers during the energy crisis.
  • If you listened to all of President Obama's speech in New York last Thursday, you undoubtedly found it very informative. Even I gleaned some interesting facts from the parts I listened to while reading the nutritional information on a bag of Cheetos.
  • President Barack Obama laid down an important marker on the Middle East recently: He declared that settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a "vital national security interest of the United States."

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