Friday, May 7, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 5/7

  • After nearly two years without a job, about the only thing that Xernna Nieves, a former accounting worker, can count on is her unemployment insurance check. Barring any further action from Congress, however, Nieves' "lifeline" will be cut at the end of June.
  • Despite several Thursday news reports suggesting otherwise, no credible evidence has been found so far that the Pakistani-American man accused in the Times Square bombing plot received any serious terrorist training from the Pakistani Taliban or another radical Islamic group, six U.S. officials said Thursday.
  • The 125-ton steel containment dome that crews lowered over the Deepwater Horizon site on Thursday night represents the best immediate chance to slow the oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the blown-out well. But even if it works — a big "if" that may not play out for days — it's still a temporary measure subject to weather and other conditions.
  • The Pentagon Thursday banned four reporters, including one from McClatchy Newspapers, from covering future military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, charging that they'd violated ground rules by publishing the name of a former Army interrogator who was a witness at a hearing there this week.
  • Californians' civil right to be homeless would be given new legal protection under legislation approved Thursday by the Assembly. Basically, the measure would deem violence against homeless people or their property as a hate crime for civil litigation.
  • The Senate, with a strong push from the White House, rejected 61-38 on Thursday a Republican-led effort to dilute strong new protections for consumers who face problems with mortgages and other forms of credit. The bill to overhaul U.S. financial regulation, written largely by Democrats, would create a new consumer finance protection agency.
  • Congress is now closer to commemorating the Buffalo Soldiers who rode long ago through the San Joaquin Valley on their way to protect Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.
  • Shell Oil, hoping to put a vast distance between the oil gushing from a British Petroleum rig into the Gulf of Mexico and its own pending Arctic project, sent a top executive and engineer to Capitol Hill this week to persuade decision makers that the company still be allowed to drill exploratory wells off Alaska's northern coast.
  • In a sweeping portrait of fraud at the nation's largest public pension fund, state officials have accused CalPERS' former chief executive of taking kickbacks from a former board member who was trying to steer investment dollars to his clients. The state said former Cal- PERS board member Alfred Villalobos paid for former CEO Fred Buenrostro's wedding, flew him around the world and promised him a job and a Lake Tahoe condo when he left the pension fund. Both promises were kept.
  • Before Arizona's efforts stole the media spotlight, Oklahoma tried to tackle immigration with input from FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR's longtime President Dan Stein called Oklahoma FAIR's "gold standard." A bit tarnished, I'd say.
  • Offshore drilling is now extremely dead, with the big lie juxtaposed against an actual, nasty disaster. Massive economic damage to tourism and commercial fishing can now be quantified.

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