Thursday, June 10, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/10

  • The federal government didn't exhaust all its options before it committed tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars to bail out the American International Group during the height of the 2008 financial collapse, according to a new report from a congressional watchdog panel.
  • U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett said he will not concede South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial nomination before the June 22nd runoff, though he faces an uphill battle to defeat front-runner Nikki Haley. Though South Carolina has a history of come-from-behind runoff victories — U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint in 2004 and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in 2006, both Republicans — observers said the odds are against Barrett.
  • As Israel ordered a slight easing of its blockade of the Gaza Strip Wednesday, McClatchy obtained an Israeli government document that describes the blockade not as a security measure but as "economic warfare" against the Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Palestinian territory.
  • His approval rating may have plunged as low as the former governor he ousted in a historic recall, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is flying high over Tuesday's passage of Proposition 14 and California's new "top two" primary system. With the state in chronic fiscal crisis — and a trail of failed tries at changing state government behind him — Schwarzenegger is staking much of his legacy on reshaping elections in California.
  • Haitian President Rene Preval is being urged to move faster to schedule presidential and parliamentary elections in quake-battered Haiti or risk losing the confidence of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., ranking member of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, sent the warning to "issue the appropriate decree establishing an official date for presidential and parliamentary elections, without delay" to Preval in an eight-page report.
  • Ideas to cap the worst oil spill in U.S. history are pouring forth almost as fast as the gush into the Gulf. At BP and government offices, on YouTube, Facebook, radio talk shows and in newspapers, Americans are brimming with plots and plans, sketches and schemes to stop the leak. For anguished Gulf residents scooping tar balls from beaches, and for the rest of the country heartsick at photos of pelicans struggling in oil, the urge to find a solution — to do something — is strong.
  • The jihadist recruiter, seated in an office attached to a lavish mosque in an affluent residential area of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, said volunteers who came to join the fight in Afghanistan these days were modern, educated Pakistanis.
  • Nearly 18 months ago, Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of the ecologist Jacques Cousteau and himself a renowned student of the seas, warned a congressional committee that the U.S. wasn't prepared to respond to potentially devastating oil spills. On Wednesday, he returned to Capitol Hill for a post-BP spill briefing with his worst nightmares realized.
  • How is it that President Barack Obama is personally pilloried for an unprecedented technical blunder committed by mighty corporations that had generally been presumed to know their trade, and that arose out of decades of snuggly regulation that he was, until recently, being castigated for seeking to toughen?
  • Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster visited several cities around the state last week, waving the latest study on racial disparities in traffic stops. The headline: African-American drivers are 70 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites. Ten years ago, the disparity was 30 percent.
    That sure looks bad, but what does this report really tell us? Not much.

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