Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/22

  • A few days earlier, the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-il had said it would unleash "a merciless strike" that could turn Seoul into a "sea of flames" if South Korea turned on propaganda speakers not far from where the sightseers were pointing and giggling. It made for a strange contrast — an afternoon jaunt to the Demilitarized Zone, where souvenir stands sell DMZ T-shirts and pen sets, with the prospect of annihilation in the air.
  • Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., is calling on Haitian President Rene Preval to show greater leadership in Haiti's post-quake reconstruction and for international donors, including the United States, to improve coordination and speak with one voice. An estimated 1.5 million people remain underneath tents and tarps in a country where a few days of rain could lead to deaths.
  • A government civil war continued in a Sacramento appellate court, setting the stage for a dramatic decision that will dictate whether the state can withhold pay to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour for more than 200,000 workers. The case's uncertain outcome has put pressure on state employee unions to revive long-dormant negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • A California lawmaker wants to give officials something new to think about when awarding massive contracts for the state's high speed rail system — whether the bidder transported Nazi victims to death camps during World War II. Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield said he hopes the bill will persuade a French company to disclose its involvement and to pay reparations or make other amends.
  • For weeks, President Obama had seemed powerless in the face of the blowout. He'd been reduced to telling people all the things he couldn't do. But Americans didn't expect him to plug the leak — or, even sillier, to show more emotion when he talked about it. What they wanted was to see him use the federal government's powers effectively.
  • Private security contractors protecting the convoys that supply U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars a week in "passage bribes" to the Taliban and other insurgent groups to travel along Afghan roads, a congressional investigation released Monday has found.
  • voters in the Afghan capital elect a new parliament later this year, they'll face a bewildering choice of more than 700 candidates that threatens to turn the election into a lottery.
  • The Supreme Court on Monday bolstered law enforcement in national security cases, permitting prosecution of U.S. organizations that provide non-violent legal training or advice to designated terrorist groups.
  • People who buy their own health insurance are being asked to pay 20 percent more for the same coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, but the study provided little data on what's behind spiking premiums.
  • Ibrahim al Qosi has been a prisoner at Guantanamo since 2002. Now negotiations are under way that would allow him to plead guilty and be sent home to Sudan rather than face a possible life sentence for allegedly serving on a Taliban mortar crew.
  • Final terms of the sweeping financial overhaul legislation being crafted in Congress would create new Offices of Women and Minority Inclusion at all federal financial regulators with the goal of promoting racial, ethnic and gender diversity throughout those agencies.

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