Tuesday, August 10, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 8/10

  • Hungry, bewildered and bedraggled villagers are arriving by the thousands in Sukkur, a town in Pakistan's southern Sindh province that so far has escaped the country's devastating flooding, only to find that little or no help is available, victims of the disaster said.
  • The House of Representatives plans Tuesday to approve funding that would save an estimated 161,000 teachers' jobs nationwide and pump billions of dollars into depleted state treasuries to help pay health benefits for the poor.
  • Defying harsh criticism from Texas Republicans, President Barack Obama said Monday that his 19-month-old presidency has put America "on the right track" and warned against returning to GOP policies that he blamed for the country's economic "mess." Texas Gov. Rick Perry, one of the president's biggest critics in the Lone Star State, met Obama on his arrival at Austin-Bergstrom Airport and presented the president with a four-page letter calling for tougher federal enforcement along the state's violence-ridden border with Mexico.
  • In an effort to deter potential budget cuts by Congress and streamline a burgeoning Defense Department, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Monday proposed to cut spending on contracting, to close a command stationed in Norfolk, Va., and to reduce the number of flag officers and civilian leaders.
  • All of Canadian captive Omar Khadr's confessions to U.S. military interrogators can be used at the accused teen terrorist's trial, including one that followed a tawdry tale of rape, a war court judge ruled Monday to set the stage for the first full war crimes tribunal of the Obama administration.
  • Oil has stopped flowing, but the BP catastrophe is now ingrained in Gulf life. Evidence and experience indicate environmental, psychological and economic impacts will linger. Nobody can say how bad they will be or how long oil will continue to come ashore.
  • Religious missionaries and political activists will have more freedom to speak out in Yosemite, Great Smoky Mountains and other national parks under an important appellate court ruling.
  • Prominent Republican lawmakers say the 10,000 jobs created by federal economic-stimulus money at South Carolina's Savannah River Site and other nuclear complexes are wasteful, costing taxpayers more than $194,000 a job.
  • The opponents of Pebble, the giant copper and gold prospect in Southwest Alaska, have asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to invoke its potent and rarely used power to block the potential mine. But U.S. Rep. Don Young late last month filed legislation seeking to strip the EPA of that authority.
  • There's only one party with steady growth this year in the Florida electorate: No Party. Newly released voter registration statistics show another year of gains for independent voters, while Democrats struggled to maintain their hefty registration edge over the GOP.
  • A new breathing device is helping to return the senses of taste and smell back to some paralysis victims. The "diaphragm pacing system" uses tiny steel electrodes implanted in the chest to electronically stimulates the patients diaphragm to contract This pulls air into the lungs through the nose and mouth and lets the patient breathe the way everybody else does. And it returned their senses of taste and smell.
  • From Alaska to Patagonia, supporters of same-sex weddings won important legal victories in recent days. And I would bet that — despite strong Roman Catholic Church opposition — gay marriages will be legal in most countries of the hemisphere sooner than you think.

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