Thursday, June 24, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/24

  • President Barack Obama's decision to accept Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation and draft his superior, Gen. David Petraeus, to lead the war in Afghanistan eliminates a source of friction, but it doesn't address the problems plaguing U.S. policy there.
  • In Iraq's date-production heyday, official estimates put the number of palm trees at 30 million, but decades of war and water salinity have cut that figure so dramatically that the United Nations agriculture mission considers date-palm rehabilitation an urgent national priority.
  • The Tea Party Express, fresh off an election victory in Utah, promised Wednesday that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski would be its next victim. The group's promise of big spending to defeat her is intensifying interest in Murkowski challenger Joe Miller, a strict Constitutionalist whose views are unknown to most voters in Alaska.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union contends that North Carolina's efforts to collect sales taxes from online retailers could lead to government snooping on consumers' online shopping habits. The nonprofit advocacy group argued that the state's audit of seeks private customer information the government doesn't need and should not have.
  • Joan Dickinson says she was about to sell her home on Anna Maria Island overlooking Tampa Bay when the buyers walked, citing the BP oil spill. Her case appears to be a rare instance of the spill threatening property sales.
  • Texas Rep. Joe Barton didn't even care enough to pretend who he works for. Instead, he stood tall against the people and environment of the Gulf Coast, and WITH the industry that gave him $1.4 million. There is a certain raw truth in that image that blasts all pretense away. As he genuflects before his corporate masters, Barton also reflects the ugly underside of American politics. And validates an ancient axiom that suddenly sounds like a warning: You get what you pay for.
  • BP provided only a scant explanation for the sudden decision Wednesday morning to remove the 'top hat' containment device from the Deepwater Horizon well. After 10 hours during which crude oil gushed unhindered into the Gulf of Mexico, the device was back in place, BP said.
  • Who would have thought that South Carolina Republicans, with their deep love of Strom Thurmond, would turn their back on his youngest son, Paul Thurmond, a GOP establishment figure, in favor of nominating Tim Scott to become the nation's only black Republican congressman?
  • Aided by an influx of newly active voters more concerned with fiscal issues than race, creed or gender, South Carolina Republicans took a large step Tuesday toward ditching the caricature as the party of Old White Men and the divisive campaign tactics of Lee Atwater, choosing Indian-American and African-American nominees for governor and U.S. House.
  • Ask Republican Bill Stouffer to name his opponent as he battles for the right to represent the big 4th District in Congress, and he whips out his answer: "Ike Skelton." Never mind that 17-term incumbent Ike Skelton is a Democrat and that Stouffer must first survive a 10-candidate GOP primary field for the right to take him on.
  • When Barack Obama first dashed as president onto the world stage at a London economic summit a little more than a year ago, he was greeted like a rock star. Leaders clambered to get a picture with him. Now, when he arrives Friday in Canada for another round of summits, he'll find a more skeptical audience.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal left President Barack Obama no choice but to accept his resignation, but Graham criticized Obama for sticking to his plans to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan next year

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