Monday, June 7, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 6/7

  • Even with a gusher of raw crude from a busted rig in the Gulf of Mexico marring Louisiana's coastline, killing marine life and idling fishermen, there remains unrelenting support for the region's oil industry — and sharp opposition to President Barack Obama's decision to halt deepwater drilling for six months while a presidential commission investigates.
  • Much has changed in South Africa. Apartheid was abolished in 1990. Civil rights leader Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, won the country's first multi-racial democratic election in 1994. And this week, the eyes of nearly a billion television viewers will turn to South Africa as it stages the 2010 World Cup, the biggest sports show on Earth and first ever held on African soil.
  • The bursting river of crude that is tainting the Gulf of Mexico — and has now begun to sully Florida's coastline — should be significantly slowed by British Petroleum's new containment cap, BP CEO Tony Hayward said Sunday. However, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the ongoing environmental catastrophe will last into the fall since a true stop to the oil flow can only be achieved after the deep-water gusher is fully cemented shut.
  • California's Republican U.S. Senate race focused Sunday on relations with Israel, with both Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina defending the actions of Israeli troops who killed nine people after boarding a Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • As debate rages over the amount of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico from a deepwater well leak BP can't stop, plenty of oil spill watchdogs in Alaska think that the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in 1989 was nearly three times its official size of 11 million gallons.
  • Pakistan's heartland Punjab province is unlikely to undertake a sweeping operation against extremist groups, despite horrific attacks that many have blamed on the "Punjabi Taliban," analysts and officials said. Some analysts say the Punjabi groups pose the real existentialist threat to Pakistan.
  • For the first time, activists with conservative grassroots movements such as the Tea Party and the 912 Project will join the state GOP at its every-other-year convention and will have a role in hammering out a party platform, electing a leader to head the party and finding ways to work together to elect more Republicans in November.
  • Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell last week vetoed a bill to offer Denali KidCare coverage to more Alaskans because he said he'd just become aware money in the program funds abortions. Parnell said the health care program for low-income children and pregnant women paid for "hundreds" of abortions, a statement disputed by the state senator who pushed the money through the Legislature.
  • Afghanistan's top intelligence chief and interior minister abruptly resigned on Sunday after President Hamid Karzai criticized the pair for failing to stop last week's attack on a nationwide peace conference as the president was addressing the gathering.
  • Working in a shabby public cemetery in Guatemala, anthropologists are pulling skeletons from an enormous well, hoping the bones will provide clues to what happened to thousands of "disappeared" people during the longest and bloodiest Central American civil war. An estimated 200,000 people were killed in the 36-year-old civil war, a truth commission found. Among the dead were 45,000 people said to be "disappeared" — abducted, then killed, their bodies never again seen.
  • If budget problems get bad enough and last long enough, maybe politicians will do something revolutionary: Stop giving taxpayer money to private companies. Ending corporate welfare wouldn't close the funding gap for most cities, but it would represent progress — for both public finances and tax policy.
  • Until last Tuesday, we were in a holding pattern. Then Havana finally began the transfer of six men out of 53 still imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003 to jails closer to their homes.

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