Friday, July 16, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/16

  • If you're thinking about taking a yoga class at Kabul's Fig Health Centre, you'll be relieved to know that the yoga studio windows are packed with tilting stacks of green sandbags. That way, if a car bomb goes off during yoga class, the sandbags and anti-blast glass will offer a little extra protection from flying shrapnel.
  • BP has had few friends on Capitol Hill in recent months, so it was something of a surprise Thursday when Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, took up the company's case as an Alaska business. Young called the employees of BP "honorable people," and defended the safety record of the 800-mile pipeline system operated by Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. during a House hearing to examine pipeline safety issues across the country.
  • Goldman Sachs agreed Thursday to pay $550 million — the largest penalty ever imposed on an investment bank — to settle civil fraud charges over its "incomplete" disclosures to investors who lost $1 billion in an exotic offshore mortgage securities deal.
  • Accusations about racism within the tea party have rumbled for a year, but they suddenly exploded this week with a resolution at the NAACP convention in Kansas City saying the party is attracting people and groups hostile to minorities. The allegations prompted irate denials from tea party supporters, and even critics make it clear that they're not accusing all tea parties or party members of racism. Still, it's clear that some with racist agendas are trying to make inroads into the party.
  • The attack this week on a major Afghan police base in Kandahar that killed nine — including three American soldiers — was the best planned and most advanced that U.S. soldiers who fought it off have seen in the past year, U.S. military officials said Thursday.
  • U.S. Rep. Mel Watt is among eight Republican and Democratic lawmakers under scrutiny by a congressional ethics office for fundraising that took place near the time of a key House vote last year on a financial regulatory overhaul.
  • Bank of America this morning posted second-quarter earnings of $2.7 billion, counting preferred dividend payments, up from $2.4 billion a year earlier. Like the rest of the industry, the Charlotte-based bank is facing massive uncertainty over how it will deal with sweeping new financial rules from Congress, which passed the Senate on Thursday.
  • Fear and uncertainty are thick in Newberry, South Carolina, as local residents prepare for Saturday's New Black Panther Party rally. No one knows how many people to expect or what the mood will be. The event is in response to the June 2 killing of Anthony Hill. Hill, a black man, was shot to death and his corpse was dragged nearly 11 miles along country roads behind a truck. Gregory Collins, 19, who is white, is in jail without bail on murder charges in the case.
  • Carly Fiorina has $620,000 in the bank. Barbara Boxer has more than 18 times as much, or $11.3 million. That's the financial state of California's Senate race, according to fundraising reports released today.
  • Nearly three months after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, there are signs that BP may contain the largest oil spill in U.S. history, and a UC Davis laboratory is preparing for the work to come. One of eight state and federal labs tapped by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assess the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, the Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at UC Davis has received $140,000 worth of equipment from the FDA in preparation for the testing.
  • Just after the health reform bill passed in March, Republicans rushed to every microphone they could find to lament how the legislation would bring an end to our health care system as we know it.
    The only thing the legislation cuts is waste and fraud — the latter of which, between Medicare and Medicaid, costs taxpayers an estimated $60 billion each year. It also greatly reforms something called Medicare Advantage, a program that has been exploited by private insurance companies.

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