- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 7, 2008

STATE

U.S. limits role in U.N. rights body

The U.S. is fed up with the United Nations Human Rights Council and will only participate in its debates when absolutely necessary.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has decided there are minimal benefits to participating in a forum that does little other than attack Israel, her spokesman said.

The U.S. only has observer status on the council anyway - meaning it can engage in debate but not vote - because of U.S. skepticism that the body could be an effective watchdog for human rights. The U.S. isn’t giving up its chosen status, but State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the U.S. will only participate when, as he said, “there are matters of deep national interest before the council, and we feel compelled.”

SUPREME COURT

High court justices sell stocks in 2007

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose investments forced them to sit out cases before the Supreme Court, have significantly reduced their stock holdings, their latest financial disclosures show.

The chief justice sold all his shares in four companies last year - Becton Dickinson & Co., Cisco Systems Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Merck & Co. Inc. - worth $117,000 to $265,000.

Justice Alito sold all his stock in Intel Corp., worth $15,000 to $50,000, and reduced his holdings in three other companies: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and McDonald’s Corp. The information was contained in the justices’ annual report on their finances, released Friday.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who also has had to step aside from cases at the court because of his investments, sold some stock as well, but retains shares in dozens of companies and did not appear to alter his investment pattern.

The issue of investments arose most recently in May when the court could not muster enough justices to consider whether to hear a case. All three men have investments in companies cited in a lawsuit accusing them of aiding South Africa’s apartheid government. Federal law calls for at least six justices to hear any case, but only five were eligible for this one. Justice Anthony Kennedy also did not participate because his son works for one of the companies being sued.

POLITICS

Edwards won’t run as Obama’s veep

MADRID | Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said he has no desire to make a second run for the vice presidency, this time as Barack Obama’s running mate, according to an interview published Friday in Spain.

“I have already been a candidate for vice president in 2004. I want to work hard for the campaign, but the vice presidency is not a position that I desire,” he told the newspaper Vanguardia in comments published in Spanish.

Mr. Edwards, who is on a European tour, was Democrat John Kerry’s running mate in the 2004 elections won by President Bush. In May , he endorsed Mr. Obama four months after dropping out of the race himself.

MEMORIALS

King statue plan has few changes

Organizers of the national memorial for Martin Luther King have submitted a revised plan for a 28-foot granite statue of King that appears almost identical to one that has spurred controversy across the country.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, which must give final approval to all memorials built on the Mall, has said the statue of King resembled the stiff political art of totalitarian regimes and called it too “confrontational.”

In materials filed late Thursday afternoon, the privately run Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Project Foundation included images of the figure that appeared only slightly different than the original design. The photos were available for viewing, but copies were not released.

The pictures showed the upper part of the statue unchanged but indicated slightly more rough stone at the bottom half, where the figure rises out of the “stone of hope” - the central theme of the memorial.

Rica Orszag, spokeswoman for the memorial foundation, declined to discuss the submission and whether additional changes were contemplated. “Because this is an ongoing dialogue, we will wait to hear from the commission,” she said.

The panel is scheduled to take up the proposed changes at a public meeting June 19.

POLITICS

Clinton accused of race-baiting

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. | A Democratic congressman accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign of trying to exploit tensions between Jews and blacks.

Rep. Rob Andrews, who endorsed Mrs. Clinton, said Friday he brought up the issue this week because he believed talking about it would help reunite the nation’s divided Democrats.

Mr. Andrews said he made some positive comments about Mr. Obama just before Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, and received a call from a high-ranking person in the Clinton campaign shortly afterward. The caller told him about a campaign strategy to win Jewish voters by exploiting tensions between Jews and blacks, according to Mr. Andrews, who declined to name the caller.

“Frankly, I had a private conversation with a high-ranking person in the campaign … that used a racial line of argument that I found very disconcerting. It was extremely disconcerting given the rank of this person. It was very disturbing,” he said.

Clinton spokesman Phil Singer denied the accusation. “Comments like these, coming so soon after Congressman Andrews’ crushing defeat, are sad and divisive,” Mr. Singer said, referring to Mr. Andrews’ unsuccessful Democratic primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

STATE

U.S. envoy to go to N. Korea

The State Department said Friday its senior Korea specialist will travel to Pyongyang next week for talks with North Korean officials on disabling their nuclear complex at Yongbyon.

The U.S. diplomat, Sung Kim, will leave Washington on Sunday for Seoul, where he will meet both South Korean and Chinese officials. He travels to Pyongyang on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.

One topic of discussion would be the possibility of North Korea destroying the cooling tower of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, said a U.S. official, speaking on the condition that he not be identified.

Under a 2005 multilateral agreement, North Korea promised to abandon all its nuclear programs in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits. Under a subsequent accord, it agreed to produce a “complete and correct” declaration of all its nuclear programs and to disable its nuclear facilities as a prelude to their eventually being dismantled.

Out of 11 disablement tasks, the State Department has said three remain unfinished: the discharge of spent fuel from the Yongbyon reactor, the dismantling of its control rod mechanism, and the disabling of the fresh fuel rods.

“He is going to talk to them about those remaining areas and how to finish out the tasks,” Mr. McCormack said.

From staff reports and wire service dispatches.

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