Share of Cost, Federal News Digest for March 19, 2012

Sunday, Oct. 7th 2012 9:17 AM

Washington Post

U.S. accelerating cyberweapon research [Pentagon, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, U.S. Cyber Command, cyber warfare] – Ellen Nakashima reports that the Defense Department is increasing its efforts to develop cybertechnology capable of disabling military systems of countries such as Iran and Syria, including systems not connected to the Internet; the primary cybersecurity focus up to now has been on defending against cyberattacks

Broadcasters fight plan to post names of political ad buyers on Web [Federal Communications Commission, political advertising] – Todd Shields reviews the written comments by broadcasters opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to require broadcast stations to post political ad buyers and ad rates on the web, not just make them available at broadcast station offices; groups advocating for greater transparency in campaign financing support the FCC’s proposal

This cost-cutting reform deserves a chance [Medicare] – As the Supreme Court gets set to hear the challenge to the 2010 healthcare law, The Post endorses a provision of the law that House Republicans want to repeal as early as this week – the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of healthcare professionals that would recommend changes to Medicare if healthcare costs increase beyond a targeted amount; the paper says this body would make the necessary, hard choices that politicians consistently avoid

Teach for America’s new partnership with largest for-profit charter network [Teach for America] – Valerie Strauss questions the wisdom of  Teach for America partnering with the for-profit charter school network, Imagine, which operates 75 charter schools in 12 states and whose practices have been the subject of state investigations

New York Times

Mortgages for drilling properties may face hurdle [Agriculture Dept., Rural Housing Service and Rural Business and Cooperative programs, oil and gas drilling] – Ian Urbina reports that the Agriculture Dept. is considering requiring an environmental review of mortgage applications by property owners who lease their land for oil and gas drilling, in keeping with the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent; the agency’s Rural Housing Service program granted $18 billion in loans or loan guarantees to 140,000 families last year; the decision would also affect the agency’s Rural Business and Cooperative program, which issued $1 billion in loans to 15,000 businesses last year, and it could also subject loans by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to environmental reviews as well

House panel to cite new flaw in energy loans [Energy Dept., green energy, Solyndra] – Matthew L. Wald reports that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been building a case against the administration for politicizing the Energy Department’s loan programs and will issue a report to that effect tomorrow when Energy Secretary Chu testifies before the committee

Justice after Senator Stevens [Justice Dept.] – The Times argues that in the wake of prosecutorial misconduct in the Justice Department’s case against the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) which was detailed in a 500-plus page special prosecutor’s report, the agency should follow the lead of state and local governments and train its prosecutors to be “far more forthcoming about evidence favoring the defense”

Wall Street Journal

Regulators seek to cool hospital-deal fever [Federal Trade Commission] – Brent Kendall reports that the Federal Trade Commission is concerned that hospital mergers may be anticompetitive and result in higher costs for patients and insurance companies, and will challenge them despite the government’s poor track record in past challenges of hospital mergers

U.S. made profit on mortgage debt [Treasury Dept., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac] – Jeffrey Sparshott previews the Treasury Department’s announcement later today that the government made a $25 billion profit on mortgage bonds it purchased from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the financial crisis

With gas prices rising, smog rules may stall [Environmental Protection Agency] – Tennille Tracy reports that the spike in gas prices may result in the Environmental Protection Agency delaying its roll out of “Tier 3 vehicle and fuel standards” – stricter standards for oil refineries and auto manufactures aimed at reducing pollution and increasing efficiency

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