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Political Scene

- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2010

DEA

Ecuadoreans, DEA seize submarine

The Drug Enforcement Administration said it has helped seize a submarine capable of transporting tons of cocaine.

DEA officials said that the diesel electric-powered submarine was constructed in a remote jungle and captured near a tributary close to the Ecuador-Colombia border. Ecuadorean authorities seized the sub before it could make its maiden voyage.

The sophisticated camouflaged vessel has a conning tower, periscope and air-conditioning system. It measured about nine-feet-high from the deck plates to the ceiling and stretched nearly a 100 feet long. The DEA says it was built for trans-oceanic drug trafficking.

One person has been taken into custody. DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman said the sub's nautical and payload capacity is a serious development.

Colombia's drug cartels have been known to use home-built submarines to smuggle large amounts of cocaine past U.S. and Colombian patrol boats to Central America en route to the United States.

Colombian authorities have discovered these vessels from time to time in recent years.

CALIFORNIA

Governor sorry flag mural painted over

SACRAMENTO | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is apologizing for a decision by state transportation officials to paint over a giant American flag mural on the side of a Northern California freeway.

The 35-foot-long flag was painted on a concrete slab near Interstate 680 in Sunol by three men about two weeks after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Even though the mural had been in clear view of commuters for nearly nine years, a Caltrans spokesman says it wasn't until last month that someone in the agency asked if the flag was on state property.

Spokesman Allyn Amsk says it was covered up with grey paint Wednesday morning.

In a statement Friday, Mr. Schwarzenegger extended his "apologies to the artists whose mural inspired drivers along 680 for over 8 1/2 years."

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Jefferson made slip in Declaration

Library of Congress officials say Thomas Jefferson made a slip while penning a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence.

In an early draft of the document, Jefferson referred to the American population as "subjects," replacing that term with the word "citizens," which he then used frequently throughout the final draft.

The document is normally kept under lock and key in one of the library's vaults. On Friday morning, the first time officials revealed the wording glitch, it traveled under police escort for a demonstration of the high-tech imaging. It was the first time in 15 years that the document was unveiled outside of its oxygen-free safe.

A copy of the rough draft of the Declaration can be viewed online at www.myLOC.gov.

CALIFORNIA

Moynihan, as aide, warned of warming

YORBA LINDA | Newly released documents show members of President Nixon's inner circle discussing the possibilities of global warming more than 30 years ago.

Nixon adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public's attention.

His September 1969 memo was among 100,000 documents released Friday by the Nixon Presidential Library in California.

Moynihan, later a Democratic U.S. senator from New York, received a response several months later from the deputy director of the administration's Office of Science and Technology, who acknowledged that atmospheric temperature rise was an issue that should be looked at.

HIGHWAY SAFETY

Mazda, BMW eyed for steering loss

The government is opening investigations into possible power-steering problems in Mazda3 passenger cars and BMW Z4 sports cars.

The investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involve more than 290,000 Mazda3s from the 2007-2009 model years and nearly 50,000 Z4s from the 2003-2005 model years.

NHTSA say it has received 33 complaints of steering problems in the Mazda3s and reports of three crashes thought to be tied to the problem.

The government has received 107 complaints in the BMWs and one crash has been reported.

The complaints involve the loss of power steering, making it difficult to maintain control.

Government investigations sometimes lead to recalls.

DEFENSE

Gates wants military interviews cleared

Military officials will need Pentagon clearance for interviews and other dealings with reporters, according to an order from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates not long after the top general in Afghanistan was sacked for his comments in a magazine article.

The order, issued by Mr. Gates on Friday in a brief memo to military and civilian personnel worldwide and effective immediately, tells officials to make sure they are not going out of bounds or unintentionally releasing information that the Pentagon wants to hold back.

The order, first reported by the New York Times on its website Friday night, has been in the works since long before Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal stunned his bosses with criticism and complaints in a Rolling Stone article that his superiors did not know was coming.

"We were not happy with the content, and we were not happy that we didn't know about it," Assistant Defense Secretary Douglas Wilson said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Wilson promised that no "Iron Curtain" would fall between the Pentagon and the news media.

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