- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

POLITICS

Obama too liberal, Democrat declares

OKLAHOMA CITY | Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is “the most liberal senator” in Congress and that he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House.

However, Mr. Boren will vote for Mr. Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August and will vote Democratic on Nov. 4.

“I think this is an important time for our country,” Mr. Boren told

said in a telephone interview withg a terrible economic downturn. We have high gasoline prices. We have problems in our foreign policy. That’s why I think it’s important.”

Mr. Boren, the lone Democrat in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, said that while Mr. Obama has talked about working with Republicans, “unfortunately, his record does not reflect working in a bipartisan fashion.”

Mr. Boren, a self-described centrist, is seeking a third term this year in a mostly rural district that stretches across eastern Oklahoma.

“We’re much more conservative,” Mr. Boren said of his district. “I’ve got to reflect my district. No one means more to me than the people who elected me. I have to listen to them.”

HOUSE

Anti-drug bill eyes $1 billion for Mexico

The House Tuesday authorized spending $1.6 billion over the next three years to help Mexico and other countries counter growing drug violence and the cartels behind it. But the money isn’t assured.

The bill, approved 311-106, will not provide any money to Mexico. That can come separately in pending bills funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and future appropriations bills.

The House and Senate are negotiating with the administration on the war-spending bills to avoid a threatened veto by President Bush.

In addition, the Mexican government is opposing the anti-drug trafficking aid in the war bills because of requirements in it that Mexico says interfere with its sovereignty. A delegation of congressional members met with Mexico officials over the weekend to discuss Mexico’s concerns.

In the bill passed Tuesday, the House authorized about $1.1 billion for Mexico between 2008 and 2010; $405 million for Central America and Caribbean countries and $74 million for the Justice Department to stem the flow of U.S. guns into Mexico.

COURTS

Ex-officer admits to Baghdad bribery

A retired Army lieutenant colonel pleaded guilty Tuesday to steering a Pentagon contract for warehouses in Iraq to a contractor in return for $4,000 cash and a $5,000 trip to Thailand.

Levonda J. Selph pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in U.S. District Court as part of a plea bargain with the government in which she agreed to cooperate with the investigation. The Virginia resident also agreed to pay the government $9,000 in restitution and serve a prison term.

She agreed to sentencing guidelines that could result in a prison term of up to two years and nine months. The length will be set by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton Oct. 14.

The government said that in 2005, Col. Selph of the Army National Guard served in Baghdad as head of a selection board that awarded an annual $12 million contract to build and operate Defense Department warehouses in Iraq. The winning contractor was not identified by name in the court documents.

The former officer admitted she leaked confidential government information about the contract to the head of the winning contracting company and helped him submit phony bid packages on behalf of six separate companies he controlled “to create the appearance of competition, when, in fact, no competition existed.” In return, she was paid $4,000 by the contractor and took a trip with his wife to Thailand during which he paid $5,000 for the officer’s airfare and accommodations.

CLIMATE

Scientists: Beware Arctic ice melt

If Arctic sea ice starts melting fast, polar bears and ring seals won’t be the only creatures to feel it: A study released Tuesday suggests it could spur warmer temperatures hundreds of miles inland.

That means a possible thaw in the long-frozen soil known as permafrost, which in turn could have severe effects on ecosystems, human infrastructure like oil rigs and pipelines and the release of more global-warming greenhouse gases in Russia, Alaska and Canada, the scientists said.

The study is particularly pertinent because of the record melt of Arctic sea ice in 2007, when ice cover in the Arctic Sea shrank to 30 percent below average. Another record melt is forecast for this year, but it is unknown whether this is the beginning of a trend.

“Our climate model suggests that rapid ice loss is not necessarily a surprise,” said David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, an author of the study.

“When you get certain conditions in the Arctic - thin ice, a lot of first-year ice (as opposed to older, sturdier ice) - that you can get a situation where … you get a rapid and steady loss over a period of five to 10 years,” Mr. Lawrence said by telephone from Colorado.

In such a period of rapid ice loss, autumn temperatures along the Arctic coasts of Russia, Alaska and Canada could rise by as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit, the study’s climate model found. Autumn is often the warmest season in this area.

POLITICS

Ex-military leaders in running for veep

Sen. Barack Obama is considering former top military leaders among his possible running mates, according to a senator who met Tuesday with the Democratic presidential candidate’s vice presidential vetting team.

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad said the team asked him about potential candidates from three broad categories - current top elected officials, former top elected officials and former top military leaders.

Mr. Conrad would not disclose which names they discussed, and the Obama campaign has been keeping the process a closely guarded secret.

“We talked about many names,” Mr. Conrad said, including “some that are out of the box, but I think would be very well-received by the American people, including former top military leaders.”

Mr. Obama has a three-person team managing the vetting process that includes former first daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, former Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Jim Johnson, the former CEO of mortgage lender Fannie Mae.

NBC News reported that one name being discussed is retired Gen. James Jones, the former NATO supreme allied commander.

ches and staff reportsremoved italics

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