Friday, August 27, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 8/27

  • The U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially comes to an end Tuesday, 2,722 days after American-led troops stormed across the border from Kuwait. The remaining 49,000 U.S. troops are supposed to depart by the end of next year.
  • More than a quarter of the $20 billion in Housing and Urban Development relief funds that were earmarked for Gulf Coast states after Hurricane Katrina remains unspent five years after the storm, a fact noticed by at least one congressional leader who's eager to spend it elsewhere.
  • The FAA's proposed $24.2 million civil penalty is related to the April 2008 grounding of about 300 American planes, a move that led to 3,000 canceled flights in one week. The FAA said it determined that 286 of American's MD-80s flew a combined 14,278 passenger flights while not in compliance with an airworthiness directive.
  • In a new and more lenient policy, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has instructed the agency's legal office to stop the deportation proceedings of foreign nationals who may now be eligible for a green card. The decision primarily affects immigrants ordered deported who have a relative or spouse who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Two days after he lost the Republican nomination for governor, Florida Attorney General McCollum still refuses to support winner Rick Scott, and continues to raise questions about his former rival's character. A Scott spokeswoman called McCollum a "sore loser."
  • The Division of Elections isn't saying how many of the ballots left to count are for the closely contested Republican Senate primary, where insurgent Joe Miller is leading incumbent U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski by 1,668 votes. But three times more Republican than Democratic ballots were cast on Election Day in the Senate race.
  • The University of North Carolina's investigation into possible improprieties in its football program took another serious turn Thursday night with the announcement of possible academic misconduct. The allegations involve a tutor who formerly was employed by Tar Heel football coach Butch Davis.
  • Crystal Gail Mangum, the discredited accuser in the Duke lacross case, is in police custody under $150,000 bond after court officials accused her of violating a condition of a previous pre-trial release agreement.
  • Hours after it told a court that it was not in possession of the contract for a controversial speech Sarah Palin gave in June, California State University-Stanislaus released the contract. There were no surprises — Palin's $75,000 fee was already known — but the quick reversal underscored the controversy over the speech.
  • Yu Jie has picked a fight with the Communist Party of China, and if state security forces haul him away in the dark of night, there will be no one to stop them. It's a risk Yu took knowingly when he wrote a book published this month that slammed the country's prime minister as an "actor" shilling for an authoritarian government.
  • Carol Rosenberg, The Miami Herald reporter banned by the Pentagon earlier this year from covering military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been awarded the Society of Professional Journalists' First Amendment Award for her efforts to cover the detention center there, despite "consistent hostility in covering her beat."
  • Make no mistake, the infamous rolling "California stop" on right turns is still illegal, and arguably more dangerous than ever. But a bill on the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk would cut the cost of turning right on red without coming to a complete stop.

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