Wednesday, June 2, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/2

  • Responding to criticism that it hasn't been forceful enough in its response to the largest oil spill in U.S. history, the Obama administration on Tuesday announced a criminal investigation into the deadly explosion and installed a no-nonsense Coast Guard admiral as the public face of the response, instead of BP.
  • With mystery swirling over how much oil may be lurking beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel leaves Wednesday on a nine-day mission: To find and study a potentially toxic stew that oceanographers fear could be catastrophic for marine life.
  • Would-be Taliban suicide bombers staged a jarring attack Wednesday morning on a closely watched national peace conference as President Hamid Karzai opened the gathering with an appeal to the nation's leaders to embrace new steps in seeking peace with Afghan insurgents.
  • California lawmakers are taking aim at a protest movement that encourages participants to show up at public places en masse with handguns strapped to their side. The "Open Carry" movement sparked shock waves last year when about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, stood outside an Arizona convention center where President Barack Obama was speaking.
  • The U.S., hoping to avert an armed clash between two close allies, Israel and Turkey, and the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Tuesday urged caution on the international community as it endorsed a U.N. condemnation of 'acts'; that led to the deaths of nine international activists on an aid flotilla that was attempting to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.
  • The total cost of the F-35 joint strike fighter program will be far higher than estimated just a few months ago, the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday, but a report sent to Congress says the next-generation warplane must be continued because it is vital to national security. Pentagon analysts now estimate that the cost to the U.S. of developing the F-35 and buying 2,443 combat-ready jets could total $382 billion through 2036.
  • Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster hit Mississippi shores for the first time Tuesday, covering about two miles of Petit Bois Island's beach. A larger glob crept close to Dauphin Island in Alabama, and the edge of the main slick has moved to within about 35 miles of Mississippi, about half the distance it was last week.
  • Tuesday's deadline in Alaska to file for public office in this year's elections saw Sitka's Mayor Scott McAdams challenging Lisa Murkowski for U.S. Senate. McAdams, a Democrat, suggested Murkowski, a Republican, has allowed partisan political ambitions to get the better of her.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court handed North Carolina a victory Tuesday in an epic, decades-long legal battle with other states over plans for a low-level nuclear disposal site that would have been in Wake County, which included the state capitol of Raleigh. Seven Southeastern states joined in 1986 to share the burden of disposing of irradiated material produced by nuclear reactors, factories, hospitals and laboratories.
  • Goldman Sachs Group, already facing a big Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit, may be in hot water with CalPERS. The pension fund said Tuesday it will ask Goldman why it didn't disclose the existence of the SEC's investigation while the big Wall Street investment bank was seeking business from the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
  • Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, off whose coast the BP oil tragedy is centered, is singing a new song, starkly at odds with what he said last year in a speech before the Republican faithful. Now he's begging for federal "interference." He wants federal money, federal supplies, wants the feds to help create barrier islands to protect Louisiana wetlands from oil.
    Not to pick on Jindal. He is but one prominent voice in a chorus of Gulf state officials who once preached the virtues of tiny government but have discovered, in the wake of this spreading disaster, the virtues of government that is robust enough, at a minimum, to help them out of a jam.
  • What do Michael Jackson, Harry Potter and the Iranian election last year have in common? They were among the top Twitter trends in 2009.

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