Thursday, July 8, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/8

  • The battle to contain BP's massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is approaching two critical junctures in coming days that could affect how the months-long catastrophe ends.
  • While World Cup fever is surging across the Atlantic with an all-European final, a new poll indicates that not even the last-minute heroics of U.S. soccer star Landon Donovan could captivate U.S. audiences the way that Spanish star David Villa and Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder electrified their nations with bending strikes and acrobatic headers into the net.
  • Rielle Hunter, a campaign videographer with whom Edwards had an extramarital affair and a child, claims the tape is hers and wants it back from Andrew Young, the former Edwards aide who wrote a tell-all book about the politician's quest for the White House. At a court hearing, lawyers for Young argued that Hunter had no claim to it.
  • Cuba will free 52 political prisoners and allow them to leave the island, Roman Catholic church officials announced in a surprising concession that would be the largest release of jailed dissidents in more than a decade. Cuba has been under withering criticisms for human rights abuses since the Feb. 23 death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata after a lengthy hunger strike.
  • Wells Fargo & Co. said it's closing its 638 Wells Fargo Financial stores and slashing 3,800 jobs in the consumer finance unit that made higher-rate mortgage, auto and credit card loans. The San Francisco-based bank also said it will stop originating subprime mortgage loans that it keeps in its own portfolio.
  • A new study says the price of a marijuana cigarette could drop to as little as $1.50 in California that consumption would increase. Tax revenues could swing upward if legalization leads to a surge of Amsterdam-style pot tourism or even lures out-of-state drug traffickers wanting to buy cheap California weed to resell elsewhere.
  • Radar Online reported on July 1 that Mel Gibson's estranged girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, had taped him in the throes of a profanely and profoundly hateful rant. He reportedly called Grigorieva, with whom he has an infant daughter, a "whore," a "bitch" and a particularly vulgar term for the female pudendum that begins with "c." Then there is this pungent quote: "You look like a f------ pig in heat and if you get raped by a pack of n------ it will be your fault." You may think the most damning word in that quote is the N-word. Actually, it's just before that. After all, only animals hunt in packs.
  • Only hours after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lambasted a lobbying firm he accused of working against efforts to limit drivers' use of cell phones behind the wheel, the firm announced it was scrapping its plans.
  • U.S. troops deaths in Afghanistan, which reached record highs in the last two months, will continue climbing, a top U.S. military commander warned Wednesday because the military is trying to oust the Taliban from places they've never been challenged before.
  • Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, 50, of Sudan, pleaded guilty today to charge of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism. He's the first Guantanamo detainee to be convicted of war crimes during the Obama administration and the fourth since the camp was opened in 2002.
  • The economic effects of the Gulf oil spill are seeping into businesses across South Mississippi and will be felt for years, professionals told BP on Wednesday. One bank vice president said he expects many businesses to default on their loans, leaving the bank with assets worth less than the money owed on them.
  • Shiite pilgrims streaming for days toward a Baghdad shrine on Wednesday found themselves talking as much about politics - and the failure of Iraq's leaders to yet form a government, four months after a national election - as their devotions.

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