Thursday, May 20, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/20

  • The latest glimpse of video footage of the oil spill deep under the Gulf of Mexico indicates that around 95,000 barrels, or 4 million gallons, a day of crude oil may be spewing from the leaking wellhead, 19 times the previous estimate, an engineering professor told Congress Wednesday.
  • For a nation battered by layoffs, plant closings and double-digit unemployment, Uncle Sam's hiring spree should be a source of hope and inspiration. However, 98 percent of working Americans aren't federal employees, and many are wondering aloud why federal civil servants haven't faced the wage freezes, layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts and hiring freezes that many in the general work force have endured.
  • A South Carolina state Senate subcommittee meets this morning to discuss a bill that would empower local police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or detain. However, it's too late in the legislative session for the bill, which mimics Arizona's controversial law, to become state law this year. That leads critics and political watchers to believe today's meeting is more about political theater than creating a new law.
  • Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan was on the guest list for Wednesday's state dinner, along with a smorgasbord of other financial heavy-hitters. American Express CEO Ken Chenault, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Senate banking committee, were also on the guest list.
  • Aftershocks from the nation's financial crisis continue rumbling through the housing sector as fixed-rate mortgages held by the safest borrowers accounted for nearly 37 percent of new foreclosures during the first three months of this year, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai is weighing approval of an expansive new business deal that could give his controversial half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, increased influence over the lucrative security business that protects supply convoys for U.S.-led forces in southern Afghanistan.
  • Hair salons in the Triangle and nationwide are sweeping up clippings, stuffing them in boxes and sending them to the Gulf Coast to help sop up oil. But the officials overseeing the massive crude cleanup say they aren't using any hair. It is all apparently just being stored in warehouses in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.
  • The past month has not been kind to California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. The first hit came when her GOP rival Steve Poizner and labor unions went after her ties to the investment firm Goldman Sachs just as federal investigators launched a criminal probe into the company. A newly released poll showed the toll the attacks have taken on Whitman's once-unbeatable candidacy. Her 50-point lead over Poizner among likely Republican primary voters had collapsed to just nine percentage points.
  • Positioning himself as the outsider against three career politicians for the U.S. Senate, Democratic real estate investor Jeff Greene took a shot at an elder statesman in his own party during a visit Wednesday to a politically active Broward retirement community. Greene criticized U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for traveling last month to Cape Canaveral with President Barack Obama.He also took shots at U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.
  • President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon railed Wednesday against Arizona's new immigration law and pressed Congress to pass a national immigration overhaul, but a second-grade girl at a school in the Maryland suburbs unwittingly made a more passionate case.
  • Last week was a bad week for those of us opposing Arizona's anti-immigration law: New polls show that a huge majority of Americans support the legislation, and key candidates for November's mid-term elections are now saying they want similar laws for their own states.
  • Sometimes you have to speak up at the risk of getting shouted down. You should say the words, "I don't agree," if you oppose conventional wisdom. Last week, my company released a poll showing that a majority of Americans strongly support Arizona's immigration law.
    The Arizona law doesn't deal with key fixes. It only feeds our biases. It burdens street cops with enforcing federal immigration laws, which is why Arizona police chiefs oppose it. The law opens the door for legal immigrants to be suspected for how they look.

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