Friday Afternoon Federal Newscast – May 7

The Afternoon Federal Newscast is a daily compilation of the stories you hear Daily Debrief hosts Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris discuss throughout their show each day. The Newscast is designed to give users more information about the stories you hear on the air.

  • Not nearly enough trained Afghans are available to take control of key Taliban strongholds like Marjah after the military has pushed out the enemy, U.S. officials told a Senate panel on Thursday. The lack of competent local officials in southern Afghanistan could frustrate Washington’s aims in the region, and keep the U.S. on the hook _ financially and militarily _ for several years to come. President Barack Obama has pledged that American forces will begin their exit next year.
  • The Obama administration is preparing to revive a civilian nuclear cooperation deal with Moscow that then-President George W. Bush angrily canceled two years ago after Russia invaded Georgia, administration officials said Thursday. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. One of the officials said the deal would be submitted to Congress for approval soon. The State Department declined to comment.
  • Americans agree on a need to overhaul immigration laws but lack consensus on what should be done, the head of the Customs and Border Protection agency said Thursday. Alan Bersin, the agency’s commissioner, said it will require “an act of political leadership” to find common ground. Bersin, who oversees the nation’s ports of entry and the Border Patrol, said everyone surveyed in a hypothetical room would agree the immigration system is broken but each one would have a different answer on what to do about it. “I aspire to immigration reform,” he told an audience of business and civic leaders at Point Loma Nazarene University. “The difficulty is: ‘What are the constituent elements of it?'”
  • The number of people who died trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border last year rose to 417 — the first increase in four years — despite declines in apprehensions, according to an advocacy group. The number of deaths hit a peak of 492 in 2005, but had fallen every year since then to a low of 390 in 2008, the National Foundation for American Policy said Thursday, citing U.S. Border Patrol statistics. Last October, the Border Patrol had reported 378 deaths for 11 months of fiscal year 2009 and warned the final number for the full year was likely to be higher.
  • The federal government said Thursday that it has won 30 felony convictions and seized $143 million worth of counterfeit network computer equipment manufactured in China. The law enforcement initiative is called Operation Network Raider. The announcement by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security came as a Saudi citizen living in Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced to 51 months in prison. He was ordered to pay $119,400 in restitution to Cisco Systems Inc., whose network hardware is a prime target of counterfeiters.
  • More confident employers stepped up job creation in April, expanding payrolls by 290,000, the most in four years. The jobless rate rose to 9.9 percent as people streamed back into the market looking for work. The hiring of 66,000 temporary government workers to conduct the census helped overall payroll growth last month. However, private employers _ the backbone of the economy _ boosted jobs, too. They added a surprisingly strong 231,000 positions last month, also the most since March 2006, the Labor Department reported Friday.
  • It’s the Friday before Mother’s Day, which means it’s Military Spouse Appreciation Day. In 1894, President Ronald Reagan designated this day to recognize the important role military spouses play in defense of the U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation recognizing the day.


Coming up on the Federal Drive

** Randy Larsen joins us for Science and National Security, our weekly look at how the government is using science to safeguard the nation.