Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Bad behavior

November 22, 2010

“We will not be drawn into rewarding North Korea for bad behavior,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said today, after revelations that the world’s most reclusive state showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment. “They frequently anticipate doing something outrageous or provocative and forcing us to jump through hoops as a result. We’re not going to buy into this cycle.”

Those are sound intentions, although analysts are already predicting the United States will find a way to restart six-party talks in the next six months or so if only as a containment strategy,  despite the fact that North Korea appears completely unwilling to talk seriously about denuclearization.

kimJack Pritchard, a former State Department official responsible for dealings with North Korea who visited the country earlier this month, said Kim Jong-il’s effort to build the credibility of his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, meant “they can’t negotiate away what little leverage they have.”

In a very different arena, it was not a good day for the financial industry. If nearly causing another Great Depression, and then throwing tens or even hundreds of thousands of Americans out of their homes without properly verified paperwork wasn’t bad enough, the financial industry now finds itself enmeshed in a far-reaching insider trading scandal.  None of this helps the industry’s lobbyists as they continue their fight to soften the provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill.

And the final rap on the knuckles today was delivered by Human Rights Watch, blaming the governments of Russia, China and the United States for working against a pact signed by 108 countries to ban cluster bombs that kill civilians long after conflicts. The United States, which reported last year that it had a stockpile of 800 million cluster sub-munitions, says it still needs them in some combat situations but has promised to ban them by 2018.

Here are our top stories from Washington today…

U.S. open to North Korea talks despite nuclear advances

The United States and its allies have accused North Korea of being a danger to the region after it showed off its latest advances in uranium enrichment, but Washington said it was still open to talks.

For more of this story, read here.

For a Q&A on North Korea’s uranium enrichment, click here.

Obama’s uphill drive on START treaty

President Obama’s uphill drive to gain Senate ratification this year of a U.S.-Russia nuclear arms treaty is running afoul of Republican opposition that may be a dress rehearsal of gridlock to come.

For more of this analysis by Steve Holland, read here.

Gates says START a centerpiece of ties with Russia

Defense Secretary Robert Gates thinks the New START nuclear treaty was a centerpiece of improved U.S. ties with Russia and failure to ratify the accord could pose “real problems for the relationship.” “I think that there are potentially serious consequences for failure to ratify the New START agreement,” Gates told reporters in Bolivia at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas.

For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.

U.S. health insurers get final spending rules

New U.S. health insurance spending rules aimed at ensuring more customer dollars go toward medical care were finalized on Monday, ending a source of uncertainty for investors in the sector and boosting industry shares.

For more of this story by Susan Heavey and Lewis Krauskopf, read here.

FBI raids 3 hedge funds in insider case

The FBI has raided three hedge funds, part of a widening investigation of suspicions of pervasive insider trading in the $1.7 trillion hedge fund industry. The funds include Diamondback Capital Management LLC and Level Global Investors LP, two Connecticut funds run by former managers of Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors.

For more of this story, read here.

Pentagon to issue report on gays in military November 30

A long-awaited Pentagon report on the impact of lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the military will be sent to Congress and released publicly on Nov. 30, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. The release would be a day earlier than previously expected as the Pentagon pushes to get the report to the Senate Armed Services Committee before hearings on the issue.

For more of this story by David Alexander, read here.

Obama’s 2012 re-election prospects uncertain: poll

President Obama faces uncertain prospects for re-election as voters question whether he deserves a second term, a new poll said. The poll said 49 percent of voters do not think Obama has earned a second four-year term, and they put him in a statistical dead heat with potential Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.

For more of this story, read here.

Stem cell trial offers hope for vision patients

Christopher Goodrich of Portland, Oregon, can’t wait to stick a needle in his eye. He hopes to be one of the first patients enrolled in clinical trial that just got a go-ahead from the FDA, only the second trial approved anywhere in the world to test human embryonic stem cells in people.

For more of this story by Maggie Fox, read here.

What we are blogging…

Liberal millionaires to US: Please hike my taxes

Some liberal millionaires are putting their money where their mouths are, calling on Democrats to allow the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest to expire next year. Joining the likes of Warren Buffett and George Soros, a new crop of rich folks calling themselves “patriotic millionaires” want Congress to raise their taxes to levels before former President Bush cut them in 2001.

For Kim Dixon’s full post, click here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Photo Credits: REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (The Grand People’s Study House on Kim Il-sung Square  in North Korean capital,  Pyongyang); REUTERS/Kyodo   (Kim Jong-il (L) walks in front of his youngest son Kim Jong-un (R) watching at a military  parade  in Pyongyang, Oct. 10, 2010)

Comments
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So now they say we won’t reward bad behavior? What do they think we have been doing for the last 40 years? Of cvourse we have been rewarding bad behavior. That is how we got into the mess we are in today.

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