Tuesday, July 27, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/27

  • President Barack Obama implored the Senate Monday to pass a campaign finance law that Republicans and business groups are attacking as political censorship and an effort to limit the number of ads aimed at Democratic incumbents in November's elections.

  • Guantanamo is a place the Pentagon likes to call the most transparent detention center on Earth. Hundreds of reporters have visited there, they say, since the first al Qaida suspects arrived eight years ago. They skip the part about how few go back more than once - stymied by the sheer frustration at the rules, the hoops, the time, and the costs of doing basic journalism.

  • The publication of some 92,000 classified U.S. military reports on the Afghanistan war could complicate the Obama administration's strategy for ending the Taliban-led insurgency by hurting cooperation with Pakistan and throttling the flow of vital ground intelligence, current and former U.S. officials said Monday.

  • Thousands of deceased military veterans may rest in improperly marked graves at Arlington National Cemetery, Sen. Claire McCaskill warned Monday. An inspector general's report released in June detailed numerous problems at the cemetery, one of two national cemeteries run by the Department of the Army. In three sections of the cemetery, the report found, more than 200 graves appear to have been improperly marked.

  • Texas' gubernatorial candidates agreed Monday that the Texas-Mexico border isn't secure — and took swipes at each other over a land deal and gun rights — as they spoke to about 500 Texas law enforcers. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White and Republican Gov. Rick Perry told the Sheriffs Association of Texas of the need for more border security, even though President Barack Obama is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to border states beginning Sunday.

  • Thomas Steyer, a San Francisco hedge fund manager and a big backer of Democratic candidates, will donate $5 million to a group opposing the ballot measure to roll back California's landmark climate change law. California's greenhouse gas reduction law, or AB 32, aims to cut emissions to 1990 levels statewide by 2020. Backed by Valero Energy Corp. and Tesoro Corp. of Texas, Proposition 23 seeks to suspend AB 32 until the statewide unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.

  • The cranes that once soared atop South Florida's skyline and the heavy machinery that hummed along below are mostly gone. But for at least one builder, the hammers have kept pounding through the depths of the recession. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, one of the few builders that hasn't cut back production, now ranks among the top five home builders in Miami-Dade, a statistic that reflects just how drastic the drop in private-sector home construction has been since the recession hit.

  • Gov. Sean Parnell's hire of state Sen. Gene Therriault last year is drawing scrutiny, with a rival candidate for governor saying Therriault should be fired and now activist Andree McLeod producing a document she says proves the hire illegal. The Parnell administration says the document does not prove that at all.

  • If enthusiasm alone could add up to a successful World Cup, then Brazil — host of the 2014 soccer extravaganza — is already a winner. But holding a World Cup spread out over 12 cities in a continent-sized country will be anything but easy with challenges that include renovating and building stadiums, adhering to World Cup standards and making sure airports around the country are ready to handle the volume of fans, athletes and officials expected for the Copa Mundial.

  • It's not enough for lawmakers to bicker over war, taxes, immigration, global warming and the federal deficit. Now they're fighting over measures that congratulate college sports teams for winning national titles or hail professional athletes for their achievements.

  • Alaska state officials, anglers and conservationists are crediting tighter rules on boat engines for a major decrease in pollution in the Kenai, the state's most popular sport-fishing river. On Monday, it was removed from the list of Alaska's polluted waterways. The Kenai — a massive producer of salmon and a magnet for Southcentral fishermen and tourists — joined the list of polluted waterways four years ago after tests showed high levels of petroleum compounds in the river.

  • Last week, the conservative outrage machine tried to chew up Shirley Sherrod.
    You are familiar with that machine if you have access to the Internet or Fox News. As the name implies, it exists to stoke and maintain a state of perpetual apoplexy on the political right by feeding it a never-ending stream of perceived sins against conservative orthodoxy.

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