Tuesday, May 11, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/11

  • While the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose almost 4 percent Monday, share prices for Moody's Corp. tumbled 6.807 percent as investors digested confirmation of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the credit-rating agency.
  • The oil industry, not the federal agency that regulates it, plays a crucial role in writing the safety and environmental rules for offshore drilling, a role that critics say reflects cozy ties between an industry and its regulators that need to be snapped.
  • President Barack Obama receives middling reviews in a new Mason-Dixon poll of Florida voters, six months before they cast ballots in a high-stakes election widely viewed as a referendum on the Democratic administration. The nation's largest swing state is facing a massive changing of the guard in 2010, with the governor's office, all three Cabinet seats and a U.S. Senate seat up for grabs.
  • In testimony at Senate hearings today into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, top executives from BP America, which owns the leaking well, Tansocean Ltd., which owned the sunken rig, and Halliburton, whose employees poured the cement around the well, will blame one another for the as-yet-undetermined cause of the explosion, according to their prepared testimony.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham gave a guardedly positive reaction Monday to President Barack Obama's choice of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve on the Supreme Court while stopping short of a full endorsement.
  • California's state prison officials said Monday that they had dramatically broadened their investigation of alleged racism and cruelty by guards at the High Desert State Prison in Susanville. The move came in response, officials said, to a Sacramento Bee investigation about claims of abuse of prisoners in a special behavior modification program. The Bee's report found support for the abuse claims in interviews with inmates, prison documents and a long-hidden report written by Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation research experts.
  • With a broken well spewing thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico — and with no immediate relief in sight, state officials say it now seems almost inevitable that residue will begin reaching Texas waters, probably in the form of tar balls or a frothy substance resembling chocolate mousse.
  • Gov. Mark Sanford will reveal today whether he will veto a bill to raise the state's lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax to 57 cents from 7 cents per pack. While his office was not giving any clues Monday as to what the governor will do, it's widely assumed that he will veto again, as he did two years ago. Sanford will talk about his decision at a 12:15 p.m. news conference.
  • Bill Lindley, an island business owner for 22 years, said he's not seeing any tourists or sport fishermen as the island sits on the brink of its tourist season. People just aren't showing up. Over the weekend, the first confirmed tar balls came ashore.
  • Pam Grier made her debut in blaxploitation films of the 1970. Then she had a series of unfortunate romances before Quentin Tarantino resurrected her career in 1997. Now she has a new memoir out, a role in Queen Latifah's new romantic comedy "Just Wright" and is shooting another movie with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Not bad for a shy girl from Colorado who didn't set out to be an actress.
  • No matter how you tweak the system, we will always be vulnerable. Indeed, more so because we are free. And no system consistent with that freedom could have stopped a fanatic from driving a bomb into Times Square. Note that even the questions being raised now concern what happened after Shahzad allegedly placed his bomb.
  • Baseball — or, rather, the linguistically more appropriate "beisbol" — is the new grape.
    Back in the day, the national grape boycott led by the United Farm Workers became one of the most effective consumer pressure campaigns in U.S. history. Dragging on for five years, the boycott hit growers where it hurt, and eventually led to a collective bargaining agreement and improved conditions for field workers.

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