America

McChrystal Summoned Home

NPR has confirmed the top US commander in Afghanistan has been ordered to return to Washington.  He's expected to explain recent comments he made on the US military strategy. Rolling Stone's next issue, which hits the stands on Friday, profiles the apparently frank General Stanley McChrystal.  Although not yet published, McChrystal has already apologized for the comments, which he called a mistake reflecting poor judgement on his part.   Some snippets apparently show McChrystal deriding Vice President Biden, the US Special Adviser to Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, and US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry.

IF IT'S TUESDAY, SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE IS VOTING

It's Run-Off Election Day in a handful of states: Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Utah.  Some of the candidates have discussed issues, while others have faced more questions concerning their character, race and religion.  Political Junkie Ken Rudin is tracking the races.

In Utah, voters are determining who the Real Democrat and Republicans Really Are, while in South Carolina, residents are being asked their opinion of the political strength of a young brown woman, born a Sikh, who still attends Sikh services and has been doubly accused of adultery in the waning days of her primary campaign.  Don't tell me that race, gender and questions regarding sexuality don't count.  They do.  Ken speaks to this point:

Whenever I write a "first woman" or "first black" type of post, I often get criticized by readers who complain I focus less on what the candidates stand for and more on their race or gender.  I concede there is some truth to that.  I often do present politics on this blog in a horse-race, winner/loser, "remember when," political junkie kind of way, sort of like the way one covers sports.  But as a political junkie, I think it's important when history is about to be made.  Perhaps, when the number of women and minorities in office are commensurate with their numbers in the population, I'll stop focusing on that stuff.  But until then ..."

In this post, Ken discusses the interesting match race for the GOP nomination for the First CD, among South Carolina state senator Tim Scott, an African-American, who faces Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell III, the son of former Governor, Carroll Campbell, Jr.

OBAMA MEETS STATE HEALTH INSURANCE COMMISSIONERS

The President welcomes the commissioners and heads of large health insurance companies to the White House.  The AP reports the conversation will focus on a Patient's Bill of Rights, while the New York Times notes Mr. Obama will warn the insurers against increasing fees as the health care overhaul regulations take effect.

WH BUDGET DIRECTOR TO DEPART

Peter Orzag, the economist and former head of the Congressional Budget Office who's led President Obama's efforts to craft health care spending, is reportedly to depart the job.  On Morning Edition, NPR's Scott Horsley is taking a look at Orzag's accomplishments.  Favorite description via Rahm Emmanuel: "(Orzag) has made nerdy sexy".

DC SUBWAY ACCIDENT: ONE YEAR LATER

Nine people died a year ago today in Washington, D.C. when their Metro train derailed, injuring dozens of people and wrecking the tracks near a local station.  The dreadful accident spurred Congressional investigations, a big shakeup in the management of the subway system, which also serves Maryland and Virginia and close scrutiny by the National Transportation Safety Board.  The result?  The Washington Post says officials remain worried about one of the busiest public transport entities in the country.

"There are significant deficiencies in their safety culture," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. "We do not see the frequency of accidents on other properties that we are seeing on Metro."

The Post reports 9 NTSB recommendations issued to Metro in July and September (2009), in the aftermath of the accident, remain open, according to NTSB records.  Follow the Post investigation here.

BROTHER, SPARE A CIG? OR $9.20?

Because you may need it in New York if the State Legislature gets its way.  New York is in deep, deep financial trouble, and the lawmakers voted to increase taxes on cigarettes by another $1.60 to increase revenue.   That means a pack could cost smokers as much as $9.20.  Want a puff in New York City?  There's additional city taxes there, so a single pack could cost nearly $11.  Whew.

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