Thursday, July 8, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 7/9

  • Frustrated with limited data on the BP oil gusher, a group of independent scientists has proposed a large experiment that would give a clearer understanding of where the oil and gas are going and where they'll do the most damage. Thye say their mission must be undertaken immediately, before BP kills the runaway well.
  • For a 17-day period that ended last month, Guatemala seemed to be falling under the direct control of suspected mobsters. A lawyer leading a posse of unsavory characters became the attorney general and started dismantling the state's legal apparatus.
  • Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday abruptly called for a special session of the Legislature in less than two weeks to ask lawmakers to let voters consider putting a ban on offshore oil drilling in the state Constitution.
  • The 2012 presidential race is under way in South Carolina. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich visits Columbia and Charleston today for a pair of fundraisers — his second visit to the state since the spring. South Carolina represents some of the most fertile GOP ground in the nation because of its Republican-leaning voters and its early presidential primary, critical to selecting the Republican candidate who will take on Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.
  • The Pentagon Thursday nominated Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to head up the U.S. Central Command, the final personnel change in a shake-up brought about by the dismissal of former Afghanistan commander Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
  • A federal judge has ordered the release of another Yemeni captive, Hussein Almerfedi, at Guantanamo, the 37th time a war on terror captive in southeast Cuba has won his unlawful detention suit against the U.S. government.
  • Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday that a new policy requiring military commanders to get advance clearance from the Pentagon before talking to reporters, is aimed at stopping leaks, not preventing soldiers from talking to the news media.
  • California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown ripped Republican rival Meg Whitman on Thursday for what he called cynical and misleading Spanish-language advertising, one day after a poll showed Whitman doing well with Latino voters. Brown said "fancy, cynical 30-second" commercials would not solve the state's problems.
  • A pared-down immigration bill that would give as many as 2.1 million undocumented immigrants under 35 a shot at higher education and legal status is receiving renewed interest because of the short time frame before the November midterm elections.
  • Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas Thursday suspended a 135-day hunger strike that had put him on the edge of death, and the Catholic Church identified the first political prisoners who will be freed as a result of unparalleled talks with the government of Cuba. Farinas, 48, a psychiatrist and independent journalist, became a rallying point for human rights activists in Cuba and abroad after he stopped eating and drinking on Feb. 24 to highlight a demand for the release of 26 political prisoners reported to be in ill health.
  • Several Democratic legislators on Thursday called on the federal government to require Conoco Phillips to take care of the gas needs of Southcentral Alaska before it is authorized to ship more Cook Inlet gas to Japan.
  • President Barack Obama has called for comprehensive immigration reform that lawmakers don't have the will to tackle, much less pass, in this bitter election year. But there is no reason not to take an intermediate step and make it possible for children brought to this country as minors to remain here while pursuing an education. In our zeal to crack down on illegal immigration, to "protect our borders" and supposedly shore up our economy, some of our best and brightest young people are being targeted for deportation.

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