Tuesday, May 18, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/18

  • The players on Iraq's premier national baseball team saw a baseball stadium for the first time on a recent 10-day visit to the United States, courtesy of the State Department. It was also the first time they had an appreciation of why the game is considered America's pastime.
  • A suicide bomber driving a vehicle with more than a half ton of explosives hit a NATO convoy on a busy Kabul road early Tuesday morning, killing six NATO soldiers and a dozen Afghan civilians, according to American and Afghan officials. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.
  • As BP engineers continue to work on Tuesday to contain and eventually plug the deep sea oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists tracking the spread of oil disagreed on whether it had entered a powerful ocean current that could carry the crude as far east as Florida and potentially damage sensitive reefs in the Keys. On Monday night, the Coast Guard reported that 20 tar balls were found along the shore at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry has widened his lead over former Houston Mayor Bill White and has support from more than 50 percent of likely voters for the first time in the general election race for governor, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports poll.
  • Its red and blue colors have long symbolized strength, the coming together of two separate groups of freedom fighters, joining forces in their quest to become the first independent black nation. Now as Haiti prepares to honor its beginning, the 207th anniversary of the flag that has long symbolized its strength — L'Union Fait La Force — the nation finds its people struggling to reclaim their identity in the midst of handouts, foreign troops and an uncertain future.
  • Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged Monday that the federal government doesn't have the resources or expertise to deal with an oil spill 5,000 feet below the sea, and must largely depend on oil companies to deal with an incident of such magnitude.
  • For registered members of California's minor parties, Proposition 14 isn't just about winning or losing elections. It's a matter of survival. Proposition 14 would create a "top two" primary in which candidates of all party affiliations run on one primary ballot. The two candidates who win the most votes, regardless of party, would face off in the general election. The system would not apply to presidential primaries. California's qualified minor parties say they would be locked out of the new political process.
  • Alaska's pro-offshore drilling congressional delegation is optimistic that federal regulators will give Shell Oil a green light to explore in waters off the North Slope this summer. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young did speak at some length about Shell's project, which they all favor. They emphasized that offshore and onshore drilling in the United States is necessary, despite the anxiety created by the big Gulf oil leak.
  • The yawning crater of Mount St. Helens is obscured by clouds on an early May day as monument scientist Peter Frenzen leads a group along the Hummocks Trail through the jumbled landscape of the North Fork Toutle River's upper watershed.
    When visible, the crater is a vivid reminder of May 18, 1980 — the day the top of the volcano slid and blew apart. Thirty years later, the pieces are in place for ecological recovery. The plants, animals and trees that have re-established in the most barren place in the 230-square-mile blast zone are a testament to the resiliency of Mother Nature.
  • America is everyone else, a nation composed of other nations, a culture made of other cultures, a history built of other histories. And yes, sometimes, those histories will be hard to hear. But silence does not make a hard story go away. Silence only makes it fester, grow and, sometimes, explode.
  • British Petroleum announced today that it has fired its top engineer for safety design and replaced him with Jody McNamara, age 12, a sixth-grade honors student at the Dwight Eisenhower Middle School in Tulsa, Okla.
    McNamara, who will earn about $350,000 a year in salary and stock options, was offered the BP job after a panel of industry experts selected his 250-word essay, "How To Stop Undersea Oil Leaks Really Quick," over thousands of other entries.

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