Monday, May 17, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/17

  • As law enforcement agencies and regulators investigate the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley and lawmakers debate legislation to revamp financial regulations, it's become conventional wisdom that big investment and commercial banks caused the crisis and small community banks are paying for the sins of others.
  • Across the globe, people such as Celina Harpe in oil-producing regions are watching the catastrophe in the Gulf with a mixture of horror, hope and resignation. To some, the black tide is a global event that finally may awaken the world to the real cost of oil.
  • When voters go to the polls Tuesday for U.S. Senate primary elections in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, they'll write a new act in the ongoing shake-up of the Republican political establishment that's being led by conservative freshman Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
  • Donna Milo — a Cuban-American, conservative Republican, transgender woman running for Congress — says she doesn't like labels. "I'm an American. I make my way on the basis of ability. My triumphs are based on my abilities, not on a label or a crutch," said Milo, a Miami Planning Advisory Board member running to replace U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, one of the House's most liberal Democrats.
  • Oil giant BP succeeded Sunday in connecting a mile-long pipe to a 4-inch "insertion tube" inside a 21-inch pipe that is the source of most of the crude oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. But BP officials said they do not know how much of the oil is being captured by the 4-inch pipe, though the called the "insertion tube" an "an important step" toward capping the massive spill.
  • Trinidad's political landscape has shifted dramatically in the 2 1/2 years since Prime Minister Patrick Manning won a second five-year term. The often-fractured opposition, consisting of about a half-dozen disparate parties, has united under a "People's Coalition." Its charismatic leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, shocked the political establishment earlier this year by defeating her one-time mentor Basdeo Panday to become head of the main opposition United National Congress.
  • Salons around the country are contributing hair clippings to the nonprofit Matter of Trust of San Francisco, which collects hair to stuff into nylon stockings to be tied together end-to-end to create absorbent, floating booms. The booms are being used to help clean up the oil spill along the Gulf Coast. It's unclear exactly how effective the idea is, but it's been proven to work in many cases and has been fairly widely used around the globe in recent years.
  • Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell last week signed a pair of bills crafted by Anchorage and Kenai legislators to try to boost Cook Inlet gas exploration and create natural gas storage options for reducing the winter supply crunch. The state tax concessions in the bills are huge: for their drilling, companies can shave tens of millions of dollars off their income and production tax liabilities.
  • Here's a nugget of hope, pulled out of a grim economy: Sacramento is carving out a niche in the promising field of medical technology. There are at least 54 medical device firms headquartered in a nine-county area centered on the California capital. An additional 19 companies have a substantial presence, according to MedStart, a nascent effort by the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance to turn the region into a medical technology hub.
  • I'm tired of apologizing. I apologized for being a Muslim after 9/11. Now I'm apologizing for my Pakistani origins, and apparently for being a Southerner, too.
    When environmental catastrophe erupted in my backyard, courtesy of British Petroleum and others, I looked to the media to tell our stories; instead, I found quotes from experts ruminating on energy policy. When I recently rubbed elbows with fellow liberals from the East and West coasts, their disdain for the South was palpable.
  • As humans, one of our most-repeated mistakes is to personalize every unfairness we experience. This tendency limits our effectiveness at fighting injustice. We eliminate potential allies. That's why last week I wrote that we need to come up with a better solution to our illegal immigration problem than placing more of a burden on local police officers.

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