Friday, April 30, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 4/30

  • With crude oil expected to wash up Thursday night along the Gulf Coast, President Barack Obama put the Department of Defense at the ready and dispatched three Cabinet officers to the scene. Booms intended to stop the oil were erected along the Gulf Coast and wildlife conservation groups prepared to rescue and clean oil-coated birds.
  • One reason President Barack Obama and other party leaders are rolling out campaigns this week to energize young and minority voters for November's elections is that they've seen the polling data on senior citizens, and it's ugly.
  • The Justice Department is reviewing whether Goldman Sachs employees may have violated criminal fraud statutes in selling off mortgage securities in the months before the U.S. housing bubble burst, a person familiar with the matter said Thursday.
  • The massive oil spill threatening Louisiana's environmentally fragile coast hasn't changed many minds among North Carolina politicians about offshore drilling, but several say the disaster was a warning. N.C. state Senate leader Marc Basnight, whose district includes a swath of northern coast heavily reliant on tourism and fishing — and clean water — said the spill was a reminder of the need to shift to greener sources of energy.
  • Anthem Blue Cross used deeply flawed math and assumptions when it announced plans to hike premiums by as much as 39 percent for thousands of California subscribers, the Department of Insurance announced Thursday. Acknowledging that it had made "inadvertent miscalculations," the state's largest for-profit health insurer said it would withdraw its controversial rate filing.
  • Alleged teen terrorist Omar Khadr appeared in a grainy video making bombs and reeled off a Who's Who of the al Qaida inner circle for interrogators soon after his capture in Afghanistan, an FBI agent testified in a dramatic day at the war court Thursday. At issue this week is whether the Toronto-born teen voluntarily spoke to interrogators after his capture. Tortured confessions plus those obtained through coercion, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment are forbidden under Barack Obama era reforms of military commissions.

  • In another black eye for Wall Street, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission late Thursday announced a $14 million fine against Morgan Stanley Capital Group Inc. for allegedly hiding its complex oil trades.

  • Even the Pakistan army conducts military operations against Taliban guerrillas in northwest tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, banned al Qaida-linked groups are operating openly in the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, which itself has been the target of dozens of terror attacks.
  • Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's plan to attend an international conference on curbing the spread of nuclear weapons next week in New York threatens to turn the meeting into a diplomatic confrontation between the United States and Iran over Iran's nuclear program.

  • Churches in South Carolina better think twice before they hold their next raffle or cake walk. Unbeknownst to many churches and charities, raffles are illegal in the state. The education lottery is South Carolina's only legal form of gambling.

  • Despite much-quoted claims to the contrary, evidence abounds that the sword frequently defeats the pen. If you don't believe me, come to Amsterdam, to the bustling street where, in plain daylight four years ago, a man called Mohammed Bouyeri cut the throat of Theo Van Gogh, almost severing his head.

  • A few days ago, the oil gushing out of the ruins of the Deepwater Horizon was termed "manageable."
    By Monday, "manageable" had evolved into 42,000 gallons of oil a day gushing unabated from the wellhead beneath the sunken rig off the coast of Louisiana.

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