- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FUNDRAISING

Inaugural donors gave $53 million

President Obama’s inaugural committee raised at least $53 million from donors for his swearing-in festivities.

That’s about $11 million more than President George W. Bush raised for each of his two inauguration days.

Mr. Obama’s inaugural committee filed a report Monday with the Federal Election Commission listing donors who gave $200 or more. The FEC requires inaugural committees to identify those contributors, but doesn’t make them detail other fundraising or their spending.

Mr. Obama already voluntarily had disclosed his biggest donors on the inaugural committee’s Web site. The committee accepted donations of up to $50,000 from individuals.

The top givers included several Hollywood celebrities. Among them: actors Halle Berry, Jamie Foxx, Sharon Stone and Samuel L. Jackson and directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ron Howard and Robert Zemeckis.

Some top names in the high-tech industry also gave big. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, donated $50,000 apiece. Google chief Eric Schmidt contributed $25,000.

TRADE

2 senators push S. Korea trade pact

Two senior U.S. senators urged President Obama on Monday to begin “the hard work” of passing a free-trade agreement with South Korea that he opposed during last year’s campaign.

North Korea’s recent missile launch and “statements that it will resume its nuclear program demonstrate yet again the threat that North Korea poses in the northeast Asian region,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said in a letter to Mr. Obama.

“In the face of this threat, it is vital that the United States maintain and expand its strong and proven partnership with the Republic of Korea,” Mr. Baucus, a Democrat, and Mr. Grassley, the top Republican on the finance panel, said.

COURTS

Accused pirate going to New York City

The sole surviving Somali man accused of piracy from the hostage-taking of Capt. Richard Phillips was en route to New York for a court appearance set for Tuesday, U.S. officials said Monday.

The officials said the suspect, identified as Abduhl Wal-i-Musi, is due to appear in federal court in New York and could arrive in the city by late Monday night. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Investigators have determined that the suspect is at least 18 years old, one of the officials said. That means prosecutors will not have to take extra legal steps to put him on trial in U.S. court.

Though no charges have been publicly filed yet, the suspect could face charges that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Mr. Wal-i-Musi was taken aboard a U.S. Navy ship shortly before Navy SEAL snipers killed the three remaining suspects holding Mr. Phillips hostage on a lifeboat launched from his cargo vessel, the Maersk Alabama.

LABOR

Union seeks curbs on Chinese tires

The United Steelworkers union filed a petition Monday asking President Obama to restrict tire imports from China that they said were destroying the U.S. tire industry.

“American workers are struggling to make it through the worst economic crisis in 80 years. Our tire industry is collapsing under the weight of 46 million Chinese tires entering our shrinking market annually,” Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers said in a statement.

The union represents 15,000 tire workers employed at 13 plants in nine U.S. states that together account for nearly half of U.S. tire production.

The section 421 petition asks for an quota that would restrict imports of passenger car, light truck, minivan and sport utility vehicle tires from China to 21 million during its first year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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