Monday, July 5, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/5

  • The political party that ruled Mexico for seven decades before voters threw it out a decade ago gained some momentum in state elections Sunday where the dominant issue was the country's skyrocketing drug violence. Exit polls gave the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, victory in at least nine of the 12 states where voting took place. The outcome was uncertain in two others. The party did suffer a surprising loss in the southern state of Oaxaca.
  • Images of oiled beaches have sent tourism plunging across the Gulf during a crucial tourist season that included the Fourth of July. But for those that have come to the beach, the water is still tempting, and local governments haven't decided how tough to be about advisories to stay out of the water.
  • A sobering new report warns that the oceans face a "fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation" not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather. The report, in Science magazine, brings together dozens of studies that collectively paint a dismal picture of deteriorating ocean health.
  • Though he acknowledged the top general in Afghanistan had to go after making controversial remarks, Rep. Adam Smith said that Gen. Stanley McChrystal received only tepid support from the White House for his strategy and civilian and military leaders apparently aren't on the same wavelength.
  • In the months since the Haiti earthquake claimed an estimated 300,000 lives, women have been on the front lines of Haiti's reconstruction. They buried the dead, tunneled through the rubble for foreign rescue teams and cleared debris from hundreds of blocked roads. In the process, they're challenging women's traditional role in Haiti's macho society.
  • Last year, with Kentucky's Republican primary election still months away, Paul pledged not to accept contributions from any senator who voted for a federal bailout of the banking industry. Then he won the primary, and on June 24 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hosted a $1,000 a plate fundraiser in D.C. Paul's supporters are livid.
  • There's nothing new about campaign tracking, sending people to record rivals' events, then using the resulting video or audio to blast whatever gaffes might have happened to the world. But Meg Whitman has taken it to new heights in the California governor's race, using tools as as Ustream and iPhones to transmit live video and blast e-mail comments even as the event is still unfolding.
  • As an unprecedented amount of oil fouls the Gulf of Mexico, research scientists and ocean experts say the Obama administration's efforts to discover the magnitude of the damage are surprisingly uncoordinated.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP publicly touted its expert oil clean-up response, but its preparations for the legal fight to come was what really impressed. In a matter of days, BP signed up experts who otherwise would work for plaintiffs, shopped for top-notch legal teams and drew up waivers for volunteers, fishermen and workers that would take away some of their right to sue.
  • A coalition of major news organizations is challenging as unconstitutional Pentagon rules that were used in May to ban four reporters from covering military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
  • Three administrative judges within the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled last week that Congress designated Yucca Mountain in 1987 to receive highly toxic waste and that only an act of Congress can close it. President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu cannot withdraw the government's application to dump waste there.
  • The relatively unknown program rewards a U visa to foreigners who help in the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes. Police and immigration advocates say they worry that Arizona's highly publicized new immigration law will work against the effort to bring victims and potential witnesses out of hiding.

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