- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2010

SENATE

Senator: U.S. should mull Yemen strikes

A Senate chairman said Wednesday that the U.S. should consider air strikes, armed drones and clandestine operations in Yemen to defeat an emboldened al Qaeda force there.

The remark by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, is a rare public admission by a senior U.S. official that direct U.S. military action in Yemen is possible in coming months.

The U.S. was involved in at least one air strike in December that missed a key al Qaeda leader but killed others. Such operations are highly classified and closely guarded by Yemeni authorities, who fear that a visible American role in the country will prompt an internal conflict.

Short of a ground invasion, “we ought to consider a broad range of options in Yemen because the broad-ranging threat of al Qaeda,” Mr. Levin told reporters after a three-day trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

SOUTH CAROLINA

House vote rebukes Sanford

COLUMBIA, S.C. | South Carolina state representatives formally reprimanded Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday for secret trips to see his Argentine mistress and improper use of state aircraft.

The lawmakers voted 102-11 to censure Mr. Sanford for bringing “ridicule, dishonor, disgrace and shame” to himself and the state. The rebuke says the two-term Republican was derelict in his duty and abused his power.

It has no practical effect on the final year of Mr. Sanford’s tenure. State law prevents him from running again.

Before the vote, Mr. Sanford said he wouldn’t attend the session or watch and would have no comment. “It is what it is,” Mr. Sanford said.

Mr. Sanford has been under scrutiny since his June revelation of an affair that included a trip to see a woman after telling staff he was going to hike on the Appalachian Trail. He still faces civil ethics charges over travel on state planes.

The censure requires state Senate approval for passage.

SEC

Broker rules to curb disruption proposed

Federal regulators Wednesday proposed new requirements for brokerage firms aimed at reining in risk from their trading customers who get split-second access to markets to buy or sell stocks.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 5-0 to open the proposal for public comment for 60 days.

At issue is so-called “unfiltered” or “naked” sponsored access, in which brokerages that are approved to trade on exchanges rent out their access to unregulated clients such as high-frequency traders. They use mathematical models to exploit market imbalances and minute price differences.

SEC officials said an estimated 38 percent of the daily trading volume in stocks and bonds on U.S. markets involves “naked” sponsored access.

HOUSE

Congress OKs access to FDR

Researchers and the public could soon have access to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s handwritten notes, gifts and correspondence contained in the last great archive of his presidency still in private hands.

The House passed a bill Wednesday to clear the way for the memorabilia to be donated to Roosevelt’s presidential library and museum in Hyde Park, N.Y.

The Senate passed the measure in October. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.

Fourteen boxes of artifacts, amassed by Roosevelt’s secretary, Grace Tully, have been sealed at Roosevelt’s presidential library since July 2005, tied up in an ownership dispute between the government and a private collector.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama says hasn’t united nation

President Obama says he has not succeeded in bringing the country together, acknowledging an atmosphere of divisiveness that has washed away the lofty national feeling surrounding his inauguration a year ago.

“That’s what’s been lost this year … that whole sense of changing how Washington works,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with People magazine.

The president said his second-year agenda will be refocused on uniting the country around common values, “whether we’re Democrats or Republicans.”

“We all want work that’s satisfying, pays the bills and gives children a better future and security,” Mr. Obama said in the interview, which the magazine conducted with the president and his wife, Michelle Obama, at the White House on Friday.

TRANSPORTATION

Bush’s spending limits rescinded

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he is rescinding Bush administration restrictions on federal transit spending so that a wider range of projects will be eligible for funds.

Mr. LaHood said at a conference of transportation officials and researchers Wednesday that the Obama administration wants greater flexibility to pay for bus, rail and other transit projects that could provide an economic boost or benefit the environment.

Former President George W. Bush, who thought transit systems should rely less on federal funds, restricted federal grants to transit projects that could be shown to reduce traffic congestion and commute times.

The new policy comes about a month ahead of when the Transportation Department is expected to announce the recipients of $1.5 billion in grants for innovative transportation projects.

NEW YORK

Paterson: Son wasn’t gambling

ALBANY, N.Y. | Gov. David Paterson said the debit card his son had when stopped by police was found in a subway garbage can and never used.

In his first comments since his 15-year-old son, Alex, was stopped by police Tuesday, Mr. Paterson emphasized there was no arrest.

He told Fox News that his son was playing dice, not for money, with some friends when he was stopped near his high school in Manhattan.

Mr. Paterson’s son and another boy were issued juvenile reports for loitering with the purpose of gambling. A juvenile report is kept on file at the police precinct and with the police department’s youth services division until the person turns 17. Then it’s purged.

The teens don’t have to appear in court and weren’t charged criminally. They were released to relatives after a few hours.

HEALTH

Obesity in U.S. high, not rising

CHICAGO | The nation’s obesity rate seems to have leveled off. But more than two-thirds of adults and almost a third of children are overweight, and there are no signs of improvement.

According to government data from the years 2007-08 published Wednesday, the obesity rate has held steady for about five years, reflecting earlier signs that it had stalled after steadily climbing.

Dr. William Dietz, an obesity expert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cautiously called the results promising. “We’re at the corner; we haven’t turned the corner,” he said.

Not only are the vast majority of adults overweight, 34 percent are obese; and 17 percent of children are obese. Even the youngest Americans are affected - 10 percent of babies and toddlers are precariously heavy.

The CDC data were contained in two reports published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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