- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 28, 2010

TRANSPORTATION

Obama plans grants for high-speed rail

President Obama is expected to award $8 billion in economic stimulus funds Thursday to develop high-speed rail corridors and sell the program as a jobs creator.

Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. plan to announce grants for 13 major corridors during a town hall meeting in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, the president’s first public appearance following his State of the Union speech.

The president’s visit to the region means Florida’s proposal for a high-speed line connecting Orlando and Tampa is likely to receive funding. California’s proposal for an 800-mile-long rail line from Sacramento to San Diego and a nine-state proposal in the Midwest are also considered strong contenders.

The $8 billion in funding for high-speed trains and other passenger-rail projects is part of the $787 billion stimulus act.

SCANDAL

Edwards and wife separate over affair

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, have separated after he acknowledged that he fathered a child with a woman who was a one-time campaign aide.

A source familiar with the situation confirmed Wednesday that the Edwardses had split up.

Mr. Edwards, a 56-year-old former senator from North Carolina, unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 and was the party’s vice presidential nominee in 2004 in Sen. John Kerry’s failed bid for the White House.

SEC

Money-market funds face tougher rules

Federal regulators Wednesday tightened rules for money-market mutual funds to require them to hold some assets that could be easily converted to cash and to disclose new information on fund values.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 4-1 at a public meeting to adopt the new rules designed to bolster protection for investors in money-market funds, which hold about $3.2 trillion in assets.

The move came in response to an episode in September 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, in which a $60 billion money fund “broke the buck” and exposed investors to losses. The value of the Reserve Primary Fund’s assets fell to 97 cents per investor dollar - below the dollar-for-dollar level needed for full repayment.

ILLINOIS

Blagojevich could face fresh charges

Federal prosecutors say they expect to have a fresh indictment against former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich by the end of next week.

But the specific allegations of misconduct are expected to be the same as those in the corruption indictment Mr. Blagojevich is currently facing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said at a hearing Wednesday in Chicago that the government expects what boils down to a revised indictment by the end of next week.

The revision may be necessary because the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing one of the laws that the original indictment alleges Mr. Blagojevich violated - deprivation of honest services. If the high court throws out that law, prosecutors want to be ready.

The former governor has denied any wrongdoing in his appointment of a successor to the Senate seat once held by President Obama.

MASSACHUSETTS

Brown plans 6 stops to thank voters

BOSTON | Sen.-elect Scott Brown is planning a three-day tour to thank and speak with Massachusetts voters.

The surprise winner of last week’s race to replace the late Edward M. Kennedy will visit Chicopee and Falmouth on Friday; Saugus, Dracut and Worcester on Saturday; and Foxborough on Sunday.

He says he beat Democrat Martha Coakley and independent candidate Joseph L. Kennedy because of grass-roots support.

Now, he says, he wants to pledge that he “will always strive to be an independent voice in Washington.”

And he says he’ll be looking for both supporters and newcomers because he wants to be “the senator for all of the people of Massachusetts.”

TOYOTA

Congress may review automaker’s recalls

A House Democrat expressed concern Wednesday about a massive Toyota recall that has led the automaker to stop manufacturing and selling vehicles linked to problems with gas pedals, signaling that Congress could soon review the massive recall.

Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, who leads an investigative subcommittee, said his staff met with Toyota officials on Wednesday following the automaker’s decision to suspend U.S. sales of eight of its vehicle models, including the Camry, the best-selling car in the United States. The company is also halting production at assembly lines at six North American car plants, beginning the week of Feb. 1.

“We want to find out what Toyota knows about the sudden acceleration problem with several of their vehicles, and we want to know what will be done to protect consumers who are currently driving those vehicles,” Mr. Stupak said.

Mr. Stupak is a senior member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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