Wednesday, August 4, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 8/4

  • In this little-known corner of southwest China, a mega-city is rising from the banks of the mud-brown Yangtze River. The government hopes to mold Chongqing, some 900 miles from Beijing, as a gateway to the nation's interior.

  • Missouri law now contains a direct challenge to the federal health care law passed earlier this year. Primary voters approved Proposition C by a wide margin Tuesday, giving Missourians the power under state law to ignore government requirements to buy health insurance and nullifying penalties for failing to do so.

  • The U.S. Army inspector general is investigating whether aides to former Afghanistan commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal were insubordinate when they made a series of derogatory comments about top civilian leaders to a Rolling Stone reporter, McClatchy has learned.

  • The mayor of Timmonsville, South Carolina, is taking Gov. Mark Sanford to court over a decision to fund the State Budget and Control Board with money budgeted for rural water, sewer and other infrastructure projects. Sanford violated limits on his line-item veto power in striking all funding for the State Budget and Control Board, Timmonsville Mayor Derrick Jackson argues in court filings.

  • The Missouri and Kansas insurance departments said Tuesday that they were checking for complaints over a practice in which life insurance companies were reportedly profiting from the deaths of U.S. soldiers. The practice involves life insurers that reportedly earn millions in additional profits by holding a portion of the benefits from such policies and paying them out over time.

  • U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker will issue a decision today on the constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage, according to a court announcement Tuesday.

  • Tightening its grip on the Iranian economy, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new actions Tuesday against individuals and companies tied to the feared Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and identified many Iran-connected companies in Germany and elsewhere.

  • Speculation mounted Tuesday that Haitian singer Wyclef Jean will officially announce his candidacy Thursday for president of the Western Hemisphere's most embattled country. CNN announced that Jean, who was born in Haiti but has lived much of his life in the United States, will appear Thursday night on Larry King Live to discuss his plans.

  • A militant Islamist group linked to the 2008 terrorist assault on Mumbai, India, is openly distributing aid to victims of the floods in northwest Pakistan, according to members of the group.

  • Like most civil rights supporters, I celebrated last week's news that a judge suspended the harshest portions of Arizona's xenophobic immigration law. But the more I think about it, the more I fear it will backfire in the near future.
    The ruling suspends the Arizona law's provision that ask local police officers enforcing other laws to demand immigration papers from people they suspect are in the country illegally. That could have led to racially-motivated interrogations of both legal and undocumented Hispanics.

  • BP announced early Wednesday that a so-called "static kill" had succeeded in forcing the Deepwater Horizon well's oil back into rock formations 18,000 feet below the sea's surface. "The MC252 well appears to have reached a static condition," BP said in a news release, calling the well by the Mississippi Canyon lease number it was assigned when BP bought the rights to drill from the federal government in 2008.

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