TOPIC: Yesterday’s News?

Federal News Digest — July 22, 2010

Washington Post

Obama signs financial overhaul into law – Brady Dennis reports that the president signed the historic financial regulatory reform bill into law yesterday saying bill would protect consumers and “rein in the abuse and excess” on Wall Street, emphasized importance of regulators’ work going forward to make law work as intended

As financial reform becomes law, SEC emerges with new powers and duties – Zachary A. Goldfarb reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has vast new authority under law signed yesterday: issuing 95 new regulations, including first time rules governing derivatives, creating new offices, conducting studies and issuing reports and serving on Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify risks to financial system

Three of every four oil and gas lobbyists worked for federal government – Dan Eggen and Kimberly Kindy report that even by Washington standards, the number of former government employees going thru the revolving door to lobby for the oil and gas industries is extremely high; industries employ 600 registered lobbyists

Federal Reserve ready to step in if economy falters again, Bernanke says – Neil Irwin reports that Fed Chairman Bernanke told Congress he was optimistic that economy would recover despite slow pace of recovery, continued joblessness, but said Fed would take action if recovery “seems to be faltering”

SEC proposes to tighten rules on 12b-1 mutual fund fees – Zachary A. Goldfarb reports that agency proposed new rules to limit annual fees paid by investors in mutual funds

Fired USDA official receives apologies from the White House, Vilsack – Karen Tumulty and Ed O’Keefe report on the remarkably swift reaction and equally swift turnaround by the Agriculture Secretary and the White House after first firing an Agriculture employee for apparently racist remarks in video clip and then apologizing after reviewing entire recording vindicating her

Justice Dept. won’t file charges in Bush-era firings of U.S. attorneys – AP reports that after a two-year investigation the Justice Dept. decided not to bring charges against Bush administration officials for politically-motivated firing of U.S. attorneys

Retired CIA veteran will return to head clandestine service – Peter Finn reports that former CIA station chief in Pakistan, John D. Bennett, was named Director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service

U.S. to strengthen sanctions against N. Korea after sinking of S. Korean ship – Craig Whitlock and Karen DeYoung report that the Obama administration will “impose new restrictions on weapons trade and trafficking in counterfeit currency and luxury goods” to punish N. Korea for attacking S. Korean vessel

New York Times

Program to help prevent foreclosures falls short – Sewell Chan reports on criticism by Neil M. Barofsky, special inspector general for Troubled Asset Relief Program of Treasury Dept. for not setting clear goals for mortgage relief program, which only helped a fraction of those facing home foreclosure

In Hanoi, Clinton criticizes Vietnam on rights – Mark Landler reports on Secretary of State Clinton’s comments while in Vietnam on government’s “intolerance of dissent” pointing to attacks on religious groups, limiting Internet access

Wall Street Journal

Fight over consumer agency looms as overhaul is signed – Damian Paletta reports that in wake of signing of most sweeping financial reform bill in generations, consumer protection agency that will have “the most direct bearing on millions of people’s lives” draws most fire, with banking industry strongly opposing appointment of front-runner, consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren

Petraeus sharpens Afghan strategy – Julian E. Barnes reports that Gen. Petraeus, who re-took helm of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is expected to shift implementation of counter-insurgency strategy, focus more on increasing Afghan security, “putting a wedge” between Afghan people and Taliban, rather than targeting individual Taliban leaders

Federal News Digest — July 19, 2010

Washington Post

MMS investigations of oil-rig accidents have history of inconsistency – Marc Kaufman, Carol O. Leonnig and David Hilzenrath report that the agency, now reorganized as the Bureau of Ocean Energy, was stretched so thin it only investigated a fraction of the 12,000 oil-rig problems reported in the gulf in the last five years, relied on company information and interviews in many cases, levied minimal fines for violations

Top Secret America: A hidden world growing beyond control – Dana Priest and William M. Arkin provide the first of a series of reports based on a two year investigation of the build-up of secret government programs after 911 — 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies working on counterterrorism, national security and intelligence, a national security network so “large, unwieldy and secretive” that no one has a handle on the actual spending, coordination, or whether effort is making the country safer — first article focus on government’s vast web of operations

Allen’s letter to BP notes seep, ‘undetermined anomalies’ at wellhead – David A. Fahrenthold reports on government’s point man in gulf oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, ordering BP to beef up monitoring based on concerns about pressure from capped well creating additional leaks, orders resources be ready to handle seepage

TARP auditor criticizes Obama administration’s push to close auto dealerships – John Hughes and Catherine Larkin cover report by special inspector general criticizing administration’s injection of $80.7 billion from Troubled Asset Relief Program to GM and Chrysler to stay afloat, says Treasury Dept.’s rejection of car makers’ reorganization plans, demands for dealership closings that resulted in job losses, “may not have been necessary”

Calls for his resignation ‘just part of the territory’ says ICE director Morton – Jerry Markon profile head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in advance of July 29th when Arizona immigration law takes effect; agency expects to be flooded with calls about suspected illegal immigrants

New York Times

After training, still scrambling for employment – Peter S. Goodman reports that federally financed training programs for hundreds of thousands have not led to work

Biden responds to McChrystal’s words – Joseph Berger reports on Vice President’s support for firing General McChrytsal, decision not personal, says other generals agreed with firing

Wall Street Journal

FDA weighs rules for consumer genetic tests – Jennifer Corbett Dooren previews Food and Drug Administration’s public hearing on regulation of diagnostic tests sold directly to consumers

Rig’s final hours probed – Russell Gold updates joint investigation of Gulf oil spill by U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly Mineral Management Service), which is  focusing on decisions in hours prior to explosion, coordination by oil rig owner Transocean and BP, operator of Deepwater Horizon rig

California tries to lead on health care

Democratic members of California’s state legislature will spend much of the week trying to put legs on  health insurance reform as debate begins on a score of bills that would create a health insurance exchange, eliminate exclusions for pre-existing conditions and establish a state commission to regulate premium hikes.  Meanwhile, members of the legislature’s Republican caucus may look to cut off reform at the knees. (more…)

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Race to the Nutritional Top

As states have re-ordered their education policy to compete for Dept. of Education Race to the Top funds, school districts may alter their nutritional standards to meet the “gold standard” for the Dept. of Agriculture’s “Healthier US  School Challenge.” The Chicago Tribune’s Monica Eng reports that the Chicago Public Schools have unveiled new nutritional standards in their meals — fewer nachos, more vegetables, no Pop-Tarts — in order to meet new USDA guidelines. The guidelines also include daily recess, nutritional classes, and more gym. Chicago’s efforts indicate that the much-discussed issues of childhood health and obesity are becoming part of mainstream education policy.

Federal News Digest – March 30, 2010

Washington Post

FDA pressured to combat rising ‘food fraud’ – Lyndsey Layton reports that the FDA has been criticized for focusing on preventing food contamination, while neglecting ‘food fraud’

NASA to investigate cause of Toyota problems – Peter Whoriskey reports that auto-safety regulators probing Toyota’s problems have run into enough scientific mystery that they’re asking scientists from NASA to assist with investigation

EPA will list Bisphenol ‘chemical of concern‘ – David A. Fahrenthold reports the EPA is adding widely used bisphenol-A to its list of chemicals of concern, will increase testing of the chemical’s effects on animals and the environment

Pay stubs for some federal workers going electronic – Ed O’Keefe reports that in a money saving effort, employees of the executive branch will begin transmitting pay information electronically, though they’ll still be able to opt for paper receipts

NASA chef Vickie Kloeris shoots for the moon – Vickie Kloeris, NASA’s ‘top’ chef, answers some questions about her job

Mortgage-banking veteran Bott leads FHA foreclosure-prevention effort – Dina ElBoghdady profiles Vicki Bott, head of the FHA’s single-family housing programs

New York Times

SEC Looks at Wall Street Accounting – Lousie Story reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission has begun an inquiry into approximately two dozen financial companies, to see if they engaged in accounting practices similar to those of Lehman Brothers

EPA Delays Plants’ Pollution Permits - John M. Broder analyzes the EPA’s statement that it will not require power plants to obtain federal pollution permits for emitting greenhouse gases until next January

FDA to Examine Menthol Cigarettes – Duff Wilson reports that a new federal advisory board for tobacco plans to meet and discuss the issue of menthol flavoring in cigarettes

U.S. Names Education Grant Winners – Sam Dillon covers the announcement of Race to the Top awards, giving $100 million to Delaware and $500 million to Tennessee

New EPA Scrutiny is Set for a Chemical in Plastics – John M. Broder discusses the addition of bisphenol-A, or BPA, to the EPA’s list of chemicals of concern

Disabled Immigration Detainees Face Deportation – Nina Bernstein investigates the problem of mentally ill and mentally disabled immigration detainees in Texas detention centers who are deported without medication or medical records

Wall Street Journal

EPA Confirms Delay in Permit Requirement – Ian Talley reports on the EPA’s decision to delay mandatory emissions permits for power plants until January 2011

Consumer Spending Rises a Bit, but Incomes Stagnant – Jeff Bater lays out Commerce Department data proving high consumer spending despite stagnation of incomes

EPA to Scrutinize Impact of BPA – Jared A. Favole reports on the EPA’s investigation of widely used chemical bisphenol-A

FDA Panel to Look at Menthol Cigarettes – Jared A. Favole covers the intentions of a new tobacco panel to investigate the health effects of menthol cigarettes, then advise the government on regulating the product

–compiled by Alison Baitz

The FCC, Verizon, and AT&T

The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Schatz has a report on a Federal Communications Commission proposal to expand broadband: the FCC wants to spend $25 billion, including $16 billion for a wireless network for police and firefighters and $9 billion to bring broadband to rural areas. The plan sounds pretty good if you’re a cop, firefighter or one of the four percent of American households that can’t access high-speed internet.

But the plan sounds really good if you’re Verizon or AT&T — the FCC proposal makes no assertions that the telecommunications giants have to share their broadband lines. FCC says they’re reviewing the “state of competition” in broadband. But it might be easier to have Verizon and AT&T make concessions now when billions of federal money is on the line.

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Federal News Digest 09.30.09

NYT
Banks to Prepay Assessments to Rescue FDIC – Stephen Labaton
Immigration Crackdown With Firings, Not Raids – Julia Preston
General Says Iraq Troop Reductions May Quicken – Thom Shanker
From McChrystal’s Mouth to Obama’s Ear – Peter Baker
Nano-materials Under Study by the EPA – Cornelia Dean
Cash Squeeze Said to Deny Legal Aid to Poor – John Schwartz
In Harsh Reports on SEC’s Fraud Failures, a Watchdogs Urges Sweeping Changes – Zachery Kouwe

Washington Post
Employees Face Big Hike in Health-Care Costs – Steve Vogel
Success Against al-Qaeda Cited – Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus
Retired Officers Push to Close Guantanamo Prison – Peter Finn
US, Cuba Held Extended Talks – Mary Beth Sheridan
FDIC Seeks Fees to Shore Up Reserve – Zachary Goldfarb
Pentagon Set To Vaccinate Troops, Assist In Flu Crisis – AP
Foreclosure Rate Rises 17 Percent – Renae Merle
Internet Speeds Are Often Slower Than What Consumers Pay For, FCC Finds – Cecilia Kang

WSJ
Firms Warn of Delays From FDA Scrutiny – Alicia Mundy
US General Says Iraq Exit Is on Track – Yochi Dreazen
Schools Push Hits the Road – Neil King Jr.
House Panel Set to Start Work on Consumer-Finance Agency – WSJ
Clinton Site Gets a Taste of the Stimulus Pie – Louise Radnofsky (GIMBY)
EPA to Delay 79 Mountaintop-Coal-Mining Permits – AP
SEC Faults GOP Fund-Raiser – Craig Karmin and John Emshwiller
Full Web Access Is Pegged at $20 Billion – Amy Schatz

Washington Times
US Holds Hush-Hush Talks With Cuba – AP
FEMA Rushes To Help Tsunami Victims in South Pacific – AP
‘Myth’ of Gitmo Closure Dismissed – Ben Conery

Bloomberg News
Fed Proposes Rules to Implement Credit Card Law – Jeff Plungis
‘Clunkers’ Hangover May Trim US September Car Sales – Katie Merx and Keith Naughton
Odierno Accelerates US Troop Withdrawal as Iraqis Take Charge – Viola Gienger
Federal Reserve Appeals Order to Disclose Emergency Bank Loans – Mark Pittman