Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/23

  • President Barack Obama will confront Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Wednesday in a high-stakes showdown that could be a pivotal moment in America's longest war and a defining point of Obama's presidency.
  • As the leader of one of Mexico's most ruthless criminal gangs, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez is the mastermind of hair-raising brutality in his native Michoacan state. He also would like the world to know that he has a pious, loving and huggy-kissy side, and so he's penned a booklet entitled "Thoughts."
  • The U.S. Army awarded the Silver Star, its third-highest award, to Spc. Ryan. S. Chester and Spc. Robert E. Parson for combat in Afghanistan. Chester fought to protect his platoon after being wounded in an ambush. In a different action, Parson fought to protect the evacuation of his wounded squad leader.
  • Jamaican security forces are bracing for more violence after arresting Christopher "Dudus" Coke, a politically connected gang leader and drug kingpin who had been at the center of a manhunt. The State Department considers him one of the world's most dangerous criminals. More than 70 people died when police swarmed his stronghold last month.
  • American Airlines has reinspected 56 planes in its Boeing 767 fleet after cracks were found in at least two pylons, critical components that attach the engines to the wings. The pylons had been damaged during a maintenance procedure. American was fined $500,000 for improper practices.
  • Hey, remember Elena Kagan? President Obama's latest pick for the U.S. Supreme Court? Her Senate confirmation hearing begins June 28, and normally the advance buzz for such an event would be deafening. High court nomination fights are typically billed as popcorn entertainment, the grown-ups' equivalent of "Shrek Forever After." But I doubt the Kagan show will measure up. Kagan is the quintessential high court candidate for our hyperpolarized era.
  • Voters favored newcomers over veterans Tuesday in a trio of closely watched runoff elections in South Carolina, where Republicans elevated an Indian-American woman as their nominee for governor, ousted a six-term congressman and chose an African-American over a son of onetime segregationist Strom Thurmond.
  • Californians heading to the polls in November will vote whether to derail the state's landmark greenhouse gas emission law. The measure, called the California Jobs Initiative, calls for delaying implementation of the regulations until the state unemployment rate — which currently hovers at about 12 percent — drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
  • Although the suicide rate has climbed measurably across all sectors of the military over the past few years, top Army and Marine Corps officials on Tuesday proposed several solutions to erase the social stigma associated with mental health illnesses and to combat the less visible wounds of war.
  • Lawmakers on a special negotiating committee narrowing differences in the broader rewrite of financial regulation in generations agreed in principle Tuesday to create a new government agency to oversee credit products offered to consumers.
  • The ruling by a federal judge in New Orleans overturning an offshore drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico does not affect the Interior Department's decision not to consider applications to drill in the Arctic until 2011.
  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tiptoed into dangerous political territory Tuesday, suggesting that to cut the government's record budget deficits dramatically, popular middle-class tax reductions set to expire at year's end could be extended only temporarily.

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