Tuesday, July 20, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/20

  • On any given day in Egypt, a U.S. ally with a much-criticized human rights record, citizens who cross the nation's security forces may be subject to brutal violence, according to a leading human rights organization here.
  • The South Carolina agency charged with responding to a disaster increasingly is reliant on the federal government for funding. The U.S. government, a favorite target in this and other conservative states, has quadrupled its funding for the S.C. Emergency Management since the 2005-06 fiscal year, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, raising fears in coastal states about disaster preparedness. State money accounted for almost 18 percent of Emergency Management's funding in 2005-06. This fiscal year, state money is 6.8 percent.
  • Former Sacramento radio personality Mark Williams is used to getting his run of publicity — and more than his share of controversy — for his inflammatory remarks. He also knows how to get press while advertising that he is no longer talking to the press.
  • The government and BP continue to monitor leaks that appeared this weekend to be an ominous threat to their effort to contain the gush of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. But they've also renewed their focus on permanently capping the well that killed 11 people, fouled the Gulf of Mexico and wreaked economic havoc on the region.
  • Despite the narrow passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, a slim majority of California registered voters favors allowing same-sex marriage, according to a Field Poll released today. The poll's results — 51 percent in favor, 42 percent opposed, 7 percent undecided — show big differences among age groups, geography and party affiliation.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended the state's handling of natural gas drilling regulations at an appearance Monday in Fort Worth, and he made it clear that he wants the federal government to butt out of the state's handling of environmental issues related to drilling.
  • Hugh McColl Jr., the retired Bank of America Corp. chief, says a new financial reform bill will likely produce unintended consequences, but it's too early to know the final outcome.
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday unveiled $500 million worth of civilian aid projects for key ally Pakistan, in an attempt to counter rampant anti-Americanism in the country by reaching out to the population with tangible help.
  • As Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones Monday seeking legislative support for his proposed constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling, polls showed public favor for it may be rising. The four-day special session called by the governor begins at noon Tuesday and is expected to end a few brief hours later. But while the Republican-led Legislature prepared to squash the governor's plan and rob him of a victory he can use in his bid to win the U.S. Senate seat, they may take a political hit in the process.
  • Their numbers are dwindling, and there's even a call for Cuba's Ladies in White to disband now that the government has promised to release the jailed dissidents whose freedom they demanded. Yet the group's leaders are vowing that they will continue marching through Havana's streets on Sundays until all Cuban political prisoners are freed. And they are urging relatives of other prisoners to join them.
  • We have spent untold billions of dollars, ruined untold millions of lives and racked up the highest incarceration rate in the world to fight drug use. Yet, we saw casual drug use rise by 2,300 percent between 1970 and 2003, according to an advocacy group called LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). And as drug use skyrocketed, we find that we have moved the needle on addiction not even an inch, up or down. All we have managed, and at a ruinous cost, is to re-learn the lesson of 1933 when alcohol Prohibition collapsed: you cannot jail or punish people out of wanting what they want.

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