Friday, May 21, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/21

  • BP's estimate that only 5,000 barrels of oil are leaking daily from a well in the Gulf of Mexico, which the Obama administration hasn't disputed, could save the company millions of dollars in damages when the financial impact of the spill is resolved in court, legal experts say.
  • The bill would be the most sweeping changes in government regulation of the nation's financial institutions since the Great Depression, including strong new consumer and investor protections and provisions that seek to shine a bright light on the dark corners of Wall Street. The bill must still be reconciled with a House version passed six months ago.
  • The nation's top intelligence officer, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, announced his resignation Friday after months of friction and repeated duels with White House officials. The retired Navy admiral gave no reason for his departure in his public statement, which he circulated to the 16 intelligence agencies that he oversees, nor did he express thanks to President Barack Obama for the opportunity to serve under him.
  • The Texas State Board of Education voted to include President Obama in a revised social studies curriculum on Thursday after a Republican board member temporarily offered —but then withdrew — an amendment that would have listed the president's full name — Barack Hussein Obama. The board worked through more than 120 amendments Thursday on the eve of a final vote on the new social studies curriculum standards.
  • The two Republicans running for California governor, Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, have spent millions trying to persuade voters that they share similar conservative principles. But many voters aren't buying their message. Such public skepticism hasn't stopped the two candidates from making an all-out sprint to the right, each claiming to be the true conservative in the race while criticizing the opponent as the closet liberal.
  • Though she has long wanted to be an Army doctor, Sara Isaacson says she also wants to live an honest life. So on Jan. 25, the UNC-Chapel Hill ROTC cadet handed her commander a written statement revealing that she is a lesbian. Doing so ended her military career and will likely cost her more than $79,000. Since outing herself, the 21-year-old has become a fresh face in the national movement that opposes the "don't ask, don't tell" law, which mandates the dismissal of openly gay, lesbian or bisexual members of the military.
  • Onetime South Carolina Republican gubernatorial long shot Nikki Haley has taken a double-digit lead just three weeks before the primary, according to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports. Haley has the backing of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who's been promoting conservative GOP women candidates nationwide who oppose abortion.
  • More than four months after Haiti's lethal earthquake, the international commission overseeing the recovery is still mulling how to spend the $9.9 billion pledged to the nation. But U.S. contractors are diving in, making high-stakes bets that reconstruction deals will eventually bring a windfall. Companies have spent millions moving personnel and machinery to the shattered island since the Jan. 12 earthquake. Others have started on projects despite having no formal agreements to be compensated for the work. And all are lining up political allies as they elbow for a spot at the front of the line.
  • The company that runs the largest mine in Alaska, confronted with a pit mine nearly depleted of ore, began prepping a next-door deposit on Thursday despite some uncertainty over its federal water pollution discharge permit.
  • Leave Susan B. Anthony alone. In his latest effort to rid Texas schoolrooms of any lessons that don't promote religious conservatism, the former chairman of the State Board of Education has picked on the wrong woman.
    Ninety years after women finally won the right to vote in America — and 104 years after Anthony's death — exiting board member Don McLeroy is arguing that Anthony's progressive-era-reformer "tone" needs to be "balanced" against other more optimistic and less critical voices of her time. I guess nobody back then should have been complaining about America.
  • It is hard to see the incident in Morgan Hill, Calif., where several boys who wore American flag T-shirts to Live Oak High School on Cinco de Mayo were to either take the shirts off or turn them inside out, as anything but an abridgement of those students' First Amendment rights — not to mention an act of glaring hypocrisy. By what reasoning does Rodriguez ban red, white and blue while permitting red, white and green? All that said, though, neither of those complaints addresses what seems to me the most regrettable aspect of this affair. Namely, the fact that this educator missed a teachable moment.

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