Tuesday, May 25, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/25

  • Gen. Stanley McChrystal sat gazing at maps of Marjah as a Marine battalion commander asked him for more time to oust Taliban fighters from a longtime stronghold. "How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?" McChrystal replied.
  • The unprecedented scope of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and widening criticism of BP's response to it is forcing federal officials to rethink the government's role, the commandant of the Coast Guard said Monday. BP chief executive Tony Hayward Monday defended his company's use of a chemical agent to disperse the oil, despite an Environmental Protection Agency order for BP to stop using it.
  • A Texas Death Row inmate who came within minutes of being executed for a triple murder in the Panhandle is now at the center of a potentially far-reaching Supreme Court case on DNA testing. Hank Skinner says a Texas prosecutor is violating his civil rights by not turning over DNA evidence that Skinner says will prove his innocence. In hearing Skinner's case, the nine justices could decide whether prisoners are empowered to file federal civil-right lawsuits to force DNA testing after their convictions.
  • Congress is braced for a new, unpredictable battle this week over whether to fund more aid for jobless workers as an estimated 1.2 million people face having their benefits cut off next month unless lawmakers act.
  • The S.C. Senate must deal this week or next with a new round of House cuts aimed primarily at health care, which would eliminate breast cancer screenings for 16,000 poor S.C. women and limit poor patients to three prescription drugs a month. But $50 million in health care cuts, which some critics say has become the favorite target of Republican lawmakers, isn't a silver bullet, either, health care advocates say. Costs ignored on the front end typically have greater costs down the line. If people are not getting HIV drugs or cancer screenings, then people could die, the advocates say.
  • Make no bones about it: Leaders in the fast-growing U.S. wind power industry believe that their prospects for success are tightly intertwined with policy decisions made in Washington, especially by Congress. The American Wind Energy Association is holding its annual national conference at the Dallas Convention Center, where former President George W. Bush is expected to speak at a general session at 8:30 this morning.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. government could be preparing an arrest warrant against him and some of his collaborators in a money-laundering case being processed at a federal court in Miami.
  • As the North Carolina legislature struggles to close an $800 million budget deficit, Sen. R.C. Soles has filed a bill to sweeten the pension of a longtime friend and political ally. The bill would almost certainly benefit just one person: District Attorney Rex Gore, who lost to an opponent in the Democratic primary earlier this month.
  • Raul Castro's talks with the Catholic church on political prisoners have sparked hopes, skepticism and assertions he's taking a risk by recognizing the church as a mediator in Cuban affairs. The meetings with Cardinal Jaime Ortega are the first time in memory the communist government has negotiated with a national and independent organization like the Cuban church, in an island where authorities at least try to control virtually all activity.
  • Haiti's elderly have had to make do with aid efforts primarily geared toward children and adults as the country struggles to rebound from the Jan. 12 earthquake. Even outside the crumbled remains of the Asile Communale — Port au Prince's main senior nursing home — personal attention is hard to come by for many elderly trying to survive in a post-earthquake society. Nearly 200,000 people over age 60 are now homeless, according to figures collected by HelpAge, an international group that provides aid to seniors throughout the world.
  • It's fashionable to be mad at the government these days, but many folks are unclear about how to join the movement. The first step is to master the idiom of outrage. It's not just government, it's Big Government. Or even better: Big Guv'ment.
    Huge, clunky, intrusive, exorbitant — that's Uncle Sam. Get off our backs, get out of our lives and let go of our wallets!
  • If summer vacation plans don't have you excited this year, here's a cheery prospect for Missourians: We get to liven up those dog days of August with a statewide vote on health care reform. How we vote isn't likely to have much effect beyond setting off a prolonged legal ruckus at taxpayers' expense. But think of the grandstanding possibilities!

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