News in Brief: IMF Cancels Haiti’s Debt, Then Gives New Loan, and More

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to cancel Haiti’s $268 million debt, reported Democracy Now!, while signing it up for fresh loans. Groups including Jubilee USA, a network of faith-based human rights groups, criticized the IMF for pushing the ailing Haiti into a cycle of debt by not offering outright grants instead. The new IMF loans to Haiti are worth $60 million and will be used to help fund post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.

Tropical Storm in Gulf Halts Further Sealing of Well, Federal Probe of BP, Use of Prison Labor in Cleanup

Tropical storm Bonnie has hit the Gulf of Mexico, forcing BP to evacuate its response vessels and further stall efforts to permanently seal its leaking oil well. With winds of 40 miles an hour, if the storm continues on its course, it is expected to slam into the area of the BP oil spill this weekend, reported The New York Times.

Meanwhile, two managers from BP have been named as potential targets of a federal investigation into the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, reported Democracy Now!.

The Nation has scrutinized BP’s use of prison labor to assist with the clean up of the oil spill along the Gulf Coast, finding that the company is receiving $2,400 in tax credits for each prisoner it employs. BP has been criticized for relying on prison labor since the spill left many residents in the Gulf unemployed.

House Pressured to Pass Stripped-Down War Measure, US Plan in Afghanistan Backfires

Following the Senate rejection of the measure, House Democrats have been forced into dropping more than $20 billion in domestic spending from a bill to fund President Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan. Instead, the Senate returned to the House a $60 billion measure, which The AP reported is limited chiefly to foreign aid, war funding, medical care for Vietnam veterans and disaster aid accounts.

The covert US plan to encourage Afghan President Hamid Karzai to begin negotiations with the Taliban has led minority leaders to leave Karzai’s side. Amarullah Saleh, who served as Karzai’s top intelligence official for six years, has since launched an urgent campaign to warn Afghans that their leader is pursuing a reckless deal with insurgents, reported The Washington Post.

The Great Recession Paradox: More of the Rich Run as Populists

A report by The New York Times has noted the trend of über-rich candidates running on populist ballots has grown in the last few election cycles. At least 42 House and Senate candidates – seven Democrats and 35 Republicans – have donated at least $500,000, often more, of their own money through just the second quarter of the year.

Sherrod Ousting “Jumped the Gun,” Says Obama

The forced resignation of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod this week over racial remarks she made to an NAACP audience, portions of which were then posted by a conservative blogger, shows the continued tightrope walking of the Obama administration over the issue of race. President Obama called for a more patient, deliberative style of decision making after the video posted on by Andrew Breitbart, showing Sherrod speaking of a time she gave short shrift to a poor white farmer asking for financial aid, led her to resign. Breitbart said he posted the video to show racism in the NAACP, which had earlier accused the Tea Party of racist overtures. Sherrod, who has been offered a return to the White House, but has yet to make an official decision, said that her speech was actually about racial reconciliation and her remarks were taken out of context, reported The AP.