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Earthquakes

June 23, 2010 1:46:58 PM PDT
The native Californians in the newsroom - and I'm one of them - all felt the same today, when word spread of the Ottawa-centered 5.0 magnitude earthquake.

So how powerful is that to live through? That was the question we were asked. The truth is that any earthquake can do damage, but a 5.0 isn't that powerful.

Which makes the temblor today surprising, because its reach was so far-flung. It was felt in our area - New York and New Jersey - and in Ohio and Michigan and Vermont and in upstate New York. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg tells us that a 5.0 quake can be felt 300 miles away, and so our area is right on the outer limits of that.

No reports of damage at this writing - but we've got reporters on it, and we'll have the latest at 11.

Also at 11, as falls from grace go, this was fairly unceremonial and rather stunning in its speed.

General Stanley McChrystal had his own nice little P.R. machine churning this past year. The guy who slept only four hours a night, and ate only one meal and ran 7 miles everyday.

We all watched as the spin machine focused on the man at the top to try to convince the American people that escalating the war in Afghanistan was the best way to end it.

When that strategy didn't succeed, at least it hasn't so far, then the internal sniping began.

And you can blame the volcano ash from Iceland for putting McChrystal and his top aides in the presence of a reporter from Rolling Stone for an extended period. They were all stuck in France, unable to fly back to Afghanistan, and that's when they let their closely cropped hair down. That's when they let their feelings be known about the Barack Obama and all the President's men - dissing them in a way not appropriate for the lead commander in a war.

And so today, McChrystal, after 30 years as a self-described warrior, handed his resignation to Pres. Obama. And the Commander in Chief accepted it.

"I welcome debate among my team," Mr. Obama said, "but I won't tolerate division."

For a President who has come under fire for not taking decisive action, the McChrystal implosion provided the perfect opportunity. And he seized it.

And so now the McChrystal's mentor, General David Petreus, who led the surge in Iraq, takes something of a demotion - leaving his post temporarily as head of Central Command, to head operations in Afghanistan.

Lost in all this is that the sniping by McChrystal and his men was only partly about Mr. Obama personally; it was also about the U.S. policy in Afghanistan. And that criticism hasn't been addressed, other than for the President - and everyone else in the Administration, including McChrystal in his resignation statement - to stand by their policy in Afghanistan.

We'll see.

We'll have the latest on the change of command, tonight at 11. By the way, McChrystal remains a four-star general, and remains in the military. He just doesn't have a job.

We're also following the embarrassing developments in the Gulf of Mexico, where the cap that was containing some of the crude oil gushing from BP's deepwater drilling, was removed. BP took it off after an undersea robot bumped a venting system.

It's always something with these guys. And it would seem, on the surface, to call into question the wisdom of a federal judge's ruling yesterday to lift the Obama Administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling. Clearly the judge, who has oil company holdings, has more faith in these corporations than other people do.

We watch the oil gushing from one of the dozens of television sets in the newsroom. And it's heartbreaking to see the BP operation flowing full throttle at an estimated 60,000 barrels a day. We'll have the latest at 11.

And finally, one tidbit that will leave you shaking your head. The Inspector General for Tax Administration at the Treasury Dept. has found that $9.1 million in first-time homebuyer tax credits in 2008 went to 1,295 prisoners, who were behind bars at the time they claim to have purchased their home.

Man oh man - there's always someone, or in this case, nearly 1,300 someone's - ready to scam.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports, including the U.S. soccer victory in the World Cup, and the longest tennis match in history.

I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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