Thursday, May 13, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/13

  • Environmental law experts say it's just a matter of time until the Justice Department steps in, if it hasn't already, to initiate a criminal inquiry and take punitive action in the oil spill that has dumped more than 4 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. Such a likelihood has broad legal implications for BP and the two other companies involved — not the least of which is the amount of money any responsible party could be required to pay.
  • Nearly a decade after the United States began to focus its military training and equipment purchases almost exclusively on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military strategists are quietly shifting gears, saying that large-scale counterinsurgency efforts cost too much and last too long.
  • A strong majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found. Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats surveyed say they like the law.
  • Arguing that a Pentagon order banning four journalists from covering military commissions at Guantanamo Bay was illegal and unconstitutional, The Miami Herald and two Canadian news outlets appealed on Wednesday.
  • Lt. Cmdr. Michael Odom told a board looking into the April 20 blast that left 11 dead and a runaway oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that regulations governing offshore drilling are out of date on everything from the serious to the mundane. For example, he said lifeboat regulations for offshore wells assume passengers will include children.
  • The effort to raise South Carolina's cigarette tax by 50 cents a pack cleared its most stubborn hurdle Wednesday when House lawmakers overrode Gov. Mark Sanford's veto of the bill. The Senate is expected to make the tax increase law today, ending a decade-long march toward increasing the lowest-in-the-nation 7-cent-a-pack cigarette tax.
  • Nations such as Jamaica and the Bahamas initially announced compassionate gestures toward Haiti after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the nation, killing an estimated 300,000 and displacing some 1.3 million people. Now, the welcome mat has been yanked. Fearing a deluge of Haitian migrants, Jamaica and the Bahamas — like the United States — have renewed repatriation policies for migrants captured at sea that were in place before the quake.
  • David Kaczynski and Bill Babbitt did something few siblings would want to do — turn in his own brother to law enforcement officers, knowing their crimes could ultimately bring the death penalty. Kaczynski and Babbitt, whose similar stories have very different endings, were in Raleigh on Wednesday hoping to help write a new chapter in North Carolina's death penalty law.
  • California can boost its economy while improving the environment if the state sticks by its law to reduce carbon emissions, said a panel of business and government leaders assembled at UC Davis on Wednesday to discuss the notion that the Sacramento region could become a hub for green jobs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the forum as an opportunity to stump for his signature environmental law, known as AB 32, which is being challenged on the November ballot.
  • A much-anticipated bill to address climate change and future U.S. energy policy made its debut Wednesday and was met with interest from Alaska's senators but no outright expression of support.
  • Even after the federal health care overhaul is in place, 2 million Californians could still be left uninsured, and the budget-strapped state may find it difficult to absorb millions of others who will suddenly have coverage, experts told lawmakers Wednesday. California has the nation's largest population of the uninsured — 7 million people.
  • There is another battle brewing over immigration. This time we ought to get it right. Because, it's easy to sit in our comfy recliners and pontificate that "illegals ought to be sent packing." They are, after all, "breaking the law." It's easy to say illegals are soaking up welfare benefits, medical services and classroom seats, without recognizing that illegals and their employers are paying taxes of which they will never see the benefit.

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