- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

SUPREME COURT

Sotomayer trips, breaks ankle

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor broke her ankle Monday morning in an airport stumble on her way to the District to meet with senators before her confirmation hearing.

The federal judge, who has been keeping up with a busy schedule of appointments on Capitol Hill, tripped at New York’s LaGuardia Airport before boarding a flight to Washington and sustained a small fracture to her right ankle, the White House said.

She is keeping her six appointments with senators despite the injury, which has her walking with crutches. Judge Sotomayor has set a relentless pace since her Capitol Hill debut last week. By day’s end Monday, she was to have met with one-third of the Senate in just four days of visits.

The White House is pressing for her quick confirmation, and Judge Sotomayor wasn’t pausing much for distractions, even her own trip-up. She even stopped at the White House on Monday before heading to the hospital for an X-ray.

George Washington University’s Medical Faculty Associates treated and released her, according to a White House statement.

HEALTH

Sen. Byrd to miss another week

Hospitalized in mid-May with a high temperature, Sen. Robert C. Byrd is not expected back at work this week, his office said Monday, adding that he is still recovering from a staph infection.

The announcement did not say whether Mr. Byrd remains in a hospital.

At 91, the West Virginia Democrat is the longest-serving senator in history.

His office has released scant details about his illness, declining to say where he was receiving treatment.

The latest update said he is in daily contact with his staff and appreciates the get-well wishes he has received, including one from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, who was diagnosed a year ago with brain cancer.

EDUCATION

Duncan links teachers, testing

Teachers should be judged on student performance, though not solely on test scores, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday.

Mr. Duncan supports merit pay for teachers, an often controversial practice linking raises or bonuses to student achievement. It is opposed by many teachers’ union members, who make up a powerful segment of the Democratic Party.

He said test scores alone should not decide a teacher’s salary.

“But to somehow suggest we should not link student achievement to teacher effectiveness is like suggesting we judge sports teams without looking at the box score,” said Mr. Duncan, a former professional basketball player.

Mr. Duncan is using federal stimulus dollars to press the issue.

States and school districts will compete later this year for a piece of a $5 billion fund to reward those that adopt innovations the Obama administration supports. Applications will be available in July, and money should be awarded early next year.

Whether officials tie student data to teacher evaluation will be a consideration, Mr. Duncan said.

NORTH CAROLINA

Man sentenced for Obama threat

CHARLOTTE, N.C. | A North Carolina man has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for threatening to shoot and kill Barack Obama when he was a Democratic candidate for president.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday that 48-year-old Jerry Michael Blanchard of Indian Trail also was fined $3,000 and ordered to be under supervised release for three years after his prison term.

He was arrested Aug. 1.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Blanchard threatened to assassinate Mr. Obama two times in July. One witness told federal authorities that Blanchard said he planned to purchase a pistol.

According to a federal affidavit, there was no proof Blanchard tried to carry out the threats.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Governor ends anti-stimulus fight

COLUMBIA, S.C. | South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has followed through on a promise to drop legal challenges in his fight over millions in federal stimulus dollars.

On Monday, Mr. Sanford’s lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss his lawsuit that tried to keep Attorney General Henry McMaster from enforcing a law that required Mr. Sanford to request $700 million for the state’s schools.

Monday’s filing came as Mr. Sanford prepared to sign a request for the money under an order issued Thursday by the state Supreme Court. Mr. Sanford said he is not appealing that decision.

The state Education Department said federal officials are expected to send the state money about 10 days after getting Mr. Sanford’s request. The money won’t be spent before the new budget year begins July 1.

MAINE

Barbara Bush celebrates birthday

PORTLAND, Maine | Former first lady Barbara Bush celebrated her 84th birthday by reading to children at the inpatient unit of the Portland hospital, which bears her name.

Volunteers at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center presented her Monday with a book-shaped cake trimmed with 84 smiling faces.

Mrs. Bush is a longtime promoter of family literacy. She and former President George H.W. Bush live in Houston but spend summers at their seaside home in Kennebunkport, 35 miles south of Portland.

SMITHSONIAN

Migratory birds brought down jet

Migratory Canada geese, and not local birds, were responsible for bringing down a US Airways passenger jet that landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in January, researchers reported Monday.

The team at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History said its research could lead to better ways to prevent aircraft bird strikes.

They studied genetic samples and feathers from the remains of the birds that were killed when the plane hit a flock of geese.

Samples showed the birds were most similar to migratory Canada geese from the Labrador region and significantly different from birds living in New York City, the researchers said at a news conference.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

SMITHSONIAN

Migratory birds brought down jet

Migratory Canada geese, and not local birds, were responsible for bringing down a US Airways passenger jet that landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in January, researchers reported Monday.

The team at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History said its research could lead to better ways to prevent aircraft bird strikes.

They studied genetic samples and feathers from the remains of the birds that were killed when the plane hit a flock of geese.

Samples showed the birds were most similar to migratory Canada geese from the Labrador region and significantly different from birds living in New York City, the researchers said at a news conference.

“Determining whether these birds were migratory or not was critical to our research and will help inform future methods of reducing bird strikes,” said Peter Marra, who led the study.

“Resident birds near airports may be managed by population reduction, habitat modification, harassment or removal, but migratory populations require more elaborate techniques in order to monitor bird movements.”

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