- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2008

AIR FORCE

Missile crew falls asleep with codes

Three ballistic missile crew members in North Dakota fell asleep while holding classified launch code devices this month, triggering an investigation by military and National Security Agency experts, the Air Force said Thursday.

The probe found that the missile launch codes were not compromised, but the incident comes on the heels of a series of missteps by the Air Force that had already put the service under intense scrutiny.

“This was just a procedural violation that we investigated,” said Air Force Col. Dewey Ford, a spokesman at Patterson Air Force Base in Colorado. “We determined that there was no compromise.”

EPA

Rule would ban pesticide from crops

The Environmental Protection Agency moved Thursday to stop the use of the pesticide carbofuran on all food crops, including those that are imported.

Carbofuran is used to control beetles and other pests in corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice, bananas and other crops. Its granular form was banned in the mid-1990s after it was found to have killed more than 2 million birds.

Marketed under the brand name Furadan, carbofuran is manufactured by Philadelphia-based chemical maker FMC Corp.

EPA spokesman Dale Kemery said the agency will publish proposed regulations next week addressing the dietary risks of carbofuran. “This prohibits all residue of any kind on food products, and that includes imported foods,” Mr. Kemery said.

SENATE

GOP set to block oil-speculation bill

Senate Republicans said they had the votes to block on Friday a Democratic bill that seeks to curb speculation in the energy markets.

Democrats, who control the Senate 51-49, need 60 votes in the 100-member chamber to clear the procedural hurdle erected by Republicans demanding consideration of amendments to the bill that would add language opening offshore areas to oil drilling and allow the development of oil shale fields in the West.

But Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said on Thursday that Republicans had enough support to stop the bill from going forward.

Mr. Stewart dismissed talk Republicans were trying to kill energy legislation. He said they simply want to add amendments, such as ones to increase drilling.

“We are not ready to throw up our hands and say no way [to an energy bill],” Mr. Stewart said. “We want a serious bill that actually addresses the rising cost of gasoline.”

Mr. Stewart said Republicans plan to keep the Senate focused on energy by opposing any motion by Democrats to move to other legislation.

POLITICS

McCain to meet with Dalai Lama

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, on Friday in Colorado.

The two will meet in Aspen, where the Dalai Lama plans to address a symposium on Tibetan culture and its impact on global issues, the McCain campaign said Thursday.

Campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, the Arizona senator said he had arranged Friday’s meeting.

“I have been a great admirer of the Dalai Lama,” Mr. McCain said. He called him a “transcendent national role model.”

POSTAL SERVICE

Mail getting there faster

More letters, cards, bill payments and other first-class mail items are getting to their destinations on time than ever before, the Postal Service said Thursday.

National on-time performance scores for the delivery of first-class mail hit all-time highs during the months of April, May and June this year. The rates are based on the time it takes from depositing the mail into a collection box or lobby mail chute to its delivery at a home or business.

On-time rates for overnight mail climbed one percentage point from the same period last year to 97 percent, the highest performance score ever recorded at the Postal Service. It also reported higher on-time rates for its two-day and three-day delivery services.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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