- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

DEMOCRATS

Specter ready for primary fight

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter said Sunday that he did not seek and was not given any assurance that he would not face a primary challenge when he made the decision to leave the Republican Party to join the Democratic Party.

“I didn’t ask that the field be cleared. There was no discussion of that,” Mr. Specter said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about a possible Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Joe Sestak.

“Everybody ought to run if he or she wants to run,” Mr. Specter said. “And I’m ready to take on all comers.”

Mr. Sestak, a 57-year-old former Navy vice admiral from the Philadelphia suburbs, has said he is seriously considering taking on the 79-year-old Mr. Specter, who is seeking a sixth term. Asked whether he could beat Mr. Sestak in a primary battle, Mr. Specter said, “In a political campaign, there’s no such thing as certainty.”

TREASURY

Geithner seeks closer China ties

BEIJING | Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who arrived Sunday in Beijing for two days of talks with Chinese leaders, said he wants to foster the same kind of working relationship with China that the United States has enjoyed for decades with European economic powers.

On his first visit to China as Treasury secretary, Mr. Geithner said the Obama administration was committed to forging a new relationship with China after trade disputes with the U.S. over the past decade.

Those fights have been reflected in record U.S. trade deficits with China. U.S. critics of China’s economic policies say they have contributed to the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs.

But China is America’s biggest creditor, holding $768 billion in Treasury securities. The United States also hopes China will play a positive role in resolving a tense dispute with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

Ahead of his meetings, Mr. Geithner played down long-standing areas of disagreement, such as China’s undervalued currency.

OBITUARY

‘Voice of NASA’ dead of cancer

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. | Paul Haney, who was known as the “voice of NASA’s Mission Control” for his live televised reports during the early years of the space program, has died of cancer. He was 80.

Mr. Haney died Thursday at a nursing home. Kent House, owner of the Alamogordo Funeral Home, confirmed that Mr. Haney died of complications from melanoma cancer, which spread to his brain and was untreatable.

Mr. Haney became NASA’s information officer in 1958, three months after the space agency was formed, and went on to manage information from the Gemini and Apollo flight programs. He pioneered a real-time system of reporting events as they happened in the first manned flight program, Project Mercury.

SECURITY

Agency focuses on airport exits

The Transportation Security Administration intends to plug yet another apparent security hole at America’s airports: the ability of a would-be evildoer to enter a secure area via an exit door.

The agency is asking for bids for “Exit Lane Breach Control” technologies to prevent unscreened people from using an exit door to slip into a restricted area or to pass an unmonitored object inside, according to Government Security News, an industry publication.

The TSA intends to award up to four contracts by Sept. 25 and test the technologies at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and at the Dallas-Fort Worth and Seattle-Tacoma airports.

INTELLIGENCE

North Korean forces ‘unbalanced’

Military intelligence officers have told the publication Aviation Week that North Korea’s million-man army is too “unbalanced” to repeat the 1950 offensive that backed U.S. and South Korean forces into a perimeter around Pusan.

Instead, the South’s 655,000 forces and the fewer than 30,000 U.S. troops are likely to find themselves and the capital Seoul under artillery and missile bombardment. One Aviation Week source said the North could fire up to 250,000 rounds of heavy artillery in the first 48 hours of war.

The North’s nuclear weapon capability poses little immediate concern, but the country is thought to have stockpiles of surface-to-air missiles of varied ranges that could. Aviation Week quotes a U.S. Air Force general as saying U.S. and South Korean forces would fly as many as 3,000 sorties a day to, among other things, hit the North’s long-range-artillery tunnel system.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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