- The Washington Times - Friday, March 26, 2010

FAA

Agency warns of homemade planes

Federal officials say high-performance homemade planes like the one that killed a beach jogger last week in South Carolina are likely to stall at higher speeds and have been involved in a disproportionately large number of fatal accidents.

The Federal Aviation Administration warned pilots on Thursday that the Lancair, which is built from kits, and others like it are apt to stall at speeds higher that 61 mph. The agency also cautioned that since the planes are built by amateurs, there can be differences in performance, including at what speed they might stall.

Lancair kits are made by Lancair International Inc. of Redmond, Wash.

Pharmaceutical salesman Robert Gary Jones was killed on a Hilton Head Island beach as the pilot of a Lancair tried to land the plane.

LABOR BOARD

GOP warns Obama against Becker

Republican senators and business groups urged President Obama against using the Easter recess to name a union lawyer to the National Labor Relations Board.

Opponents portray the lawyer, Craig Becker, as a radical who would push an aggressively pro-union agenda. Democrats say Mr. Becker is eminently qualified to serve on the board, which certifies union elections. He has been a top lawyer for the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO.

All 41 GOP senators wrote Mr. Obama Thursday urging him not to appoint Mr. Becker when Congress takes a break next week.

“His writings clearly indicate that he would use his position on the NLRB to institute far-reaching changes in labor law far exceeding the board’s authority and bypassing the role of Congress,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter.

The GOP, led by Arizona Sen. John McCain, has blocked Mr. Becker’s confirmation for months. Democrats could not muster 60 votes last month to move it forward.

Senate approval is needed to place Mr. Becker on the board, but appointing him during the recess would allow Mr. Becker to serve through next year without the Senate’s OK.

SENATE

Corker disavows fundraising pitch

A Republican senator is disowning fundraising solicitations from his campaign offering business leaders in New York and Chicago a meal with him for $10,000 as he takes a lead role in new Wall Street regulations.

While such fundraisers are a routine part of congressional life, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said the one sent from a consultant for his re-election campaign was unusually direct and inappropriate.

He said he was canceling any events set up through the solicitation.

The letter, which also offered smaller meetings for $5,000, was originally reported by Politico.

Mr. Corker is a key negotiator on the financial overhaul being debated in Congress following the spectacular failures on Wall Street.

NASA

Seminar goers’ snacks $66 daily

The nation’s space agency paid the out-of-this-world price of $66 a person a day for bagels, cookies and juice at a conference, a new report says.

The subject of the NASA conference? It was a training session for its procurement officials - the people who do the buying with taxpayer funds.

During the three-day conference, the 317 attendees snacked on “light refreshments” of soda, coffee, fruit, bagels and cookies at a cost of $62,611, according to a NASA Inspector General report. That’s $66 a day per person.

And that wasn’t the only problem. The NASA financial watchdog criticized the financially strapped space agency’s spending on conferences in general. The inspector general said NASA didn’t price-shop to get cheaper locations for conferences and that NASA’s spending on food and drinks was “excessive.”

The agency needs to come up with firm rules and conference costs, like the Justice Department, the inspector general recommended in the report released late Wednesday

TREASURY

Geithner eyes GOP support for reforms

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner says the Obama administration is hopeful of attracting Republican support for a financial-overhaul measure pending in the Senate. He predicts the legislation can be approved quickly.

Mr. Geithner, speaking to reporters at Treasury, said Thursday that he thinks the administration was on the verge of gaining approval for an overhaul bill that would have strong protections for consumers.

The Senate banking committee approved a measure on Monday on a party-line vote with no Republican support. To be able to overcome the threat of a filibuster, Democrats will need to attract Republican votes when the measure comes up for debate in the full Senate.

WHITE HOUSE

Ex-Clinton official named to panel

Former Clinton administration official Bruce Reed will serve as executive director of President Obama’s bipartisan debt panel.

As chief domestic policy adviser under President Clinton, Mr. Reed helped write the 1996 welfare-reform law and worked on Mr. Clinton’s education agenda. He currently serves as chief executive officer of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Mr. Obama established the debt commission in February to find a way to get the country’s massive budget deficit under control. The 18-member commission is charged with finding a plan by Dec. 1 to reduce the annual deficits to 3 percent of the national economy by 2015.

MEMORIAL

Eisenhower project’s design unveiled

Plans for a national memorial in Washington for President Dwight D. Eisenhower have been unveiled.

The proposal by renowned architect Frank Gehry features a series of 80-foot-tall columns and metal “tapestries.”

A commission overseeing the memorial still has to raise millions, and the design must be approved by a series of government agencies.

The $100 million memorial would be on 4 acres behind the U.S. Air and Space Museum and in sight of the Capitol. The commission is aiming to finish it by 2015.

The two-term Republican served from 1953 to 1961 and was the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe in World War II.

EMPLOYMENT

States shed jobs as revenue drops

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington shed government jobs last month, a result of shrinking state tax revenue that economists fear could weaken the recovery.

State and local government jobs have traditionally provided a haven during economic downturns. But as states have struggled to close widening budget gaps, job cuts have spread.

That trend emerges from data on a dozen states that have released their employment figures in advance of a federal report Friday on state joblessness for February.

In Michigan, where the unemployment rate is 14.1 percent, the nation’s highest, government jobs at all levels fell by 5,000. They accounted for one-third of the state’s job losses.

Pennsylvania lost 2,200 government jobs. Minnesota lost 1,900 and Massachusetts 1,500.

Washington state shed 900 government jobs in February. And Wisconsin lost 2,100 government jobs, including 1,600 at the local level.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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