Friday, September 3, 2010

McClatchy Washington report 9/3

  • Times are good for the dope growers of the western Sierra Madre mountains. The army eradication squads that once hacked at the illicit marijuana fields have been diverted by the drug war that's raging elsewhere in Mexico.
  • An annual survey released Thursday finds that workers are paying, on average, about $482 more for job-based family health insurance this year as companies force employees to shoulder more of the burden of health care costs.
  • With the Labor Day weekend approaching, union leaders and U.S. business interests expressed concerns Thursday about the fragility of the nation's economic recovery. They offered drastically different remedies for fixing the country's woes, however.
  • Conservative blogger and activist Andrew Breitbart told a North Texas Tea Party crowd Thursday night that the biggest enemies of conservatives are not President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In his view, a major power source of the left is the mainstream media.
  • The U.S. State Department Thursday flatly denied reports that the Obama administration is considering swapping the "Cuban Five" spies in U.S. prisons for U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, held without charges since his arrest in Havana on Dec. 3.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO disagreed Thursday over whether an airstrike in northern Afghanistan killed the top member of re-emerging insurgent group or 10 election workers.
  • Millions of 20-somethings who became uninsured after falling off their parents' health plans can regain coverage soon as a key provision of the federal health care overhaul law takes effect. As the open enrollment season begins, parents will be able to include grown children up to age 26 on their coverage.
  • The first Middle East peace talks in nearly two years got off to a quick start Thursday, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreeing to meet again in two weeks and to commence work on the blueprint for a peace treaty.
  • In response to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, California lawmakers are looking to strengthen the state's oil spill prevention requirements. An Assembly measure now before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would allow the state to increase fees on oil shipped into California by as much as $5.6 million.
  • Even before being deemed qualified to run, presidential hopefuls in impoverished Haiti faced a hefty bill: a $12,500 nonrefundable filing fee. With 19 candidates vying for one of the toughest and least compensated top jobs in the hemisphere — it pays just $6,000 per month — the presidential race is likely to be one of the most expensive in Haitian history for candidates.
  • The escalation of drug-related violence in Mexico — including the mass execution of 72 migrants last week — is moving a small but growing number of U.S. foreign policy hawks to call for a radical solution: send in the U.S. Army.

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