- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2010

SUPREME COURT

Court denies Burris’ request to stop election

The Supreme Court says it won’t stop a special election for President Obama’s old Senate seat that leaves out current Illinois Sen. Roland Burris.

Mr. Burris earlier this month asked the high court to block plans for a special Senate election that would exclude him.

The election will decide who serves the final two months of the term that began when Mr. Obama entered the Senate in 2005.

Mr. Burris argued that the federal courts overstepped their authority by declaring that the candidates would be the same people running for the new Senate term. It meant that Mr. Burris, who is not seeking another term, couldn’t run. He would leave office soon after Nov. 2 instead of serving until January.

The Supreme Court refused to intervene.

GOP

Groups allied to boost funds

New freedom-from-fundraising restrictions established by the Supreme Court are paying off for at least some Republican-allied groups.

Two affiliated groups led by a blue-chip cast of Washington Republican strategists have raised a combined $32 million, creating a parallel and unofficial Republican campaign to defeat Democrats in November.

American Crossroads and its political sibling, Crossroads GPS, raised about $14.5 million in the 30-day period that ended yesterday. It’s seen as a signal that their aggressive advertising and voter outreach in key Senate battleground states have struck a chord with Republican donors.

The two groups were launched under the direction of two of President George W. Bush’s top political advisers, Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, who still serve as informal advisers.

ILLINOIS

Kirk calls halt to big bailout

SPRINGFIELD | U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk wants to bring an early end to the government bailout of banks and automakers, a program he originally supported.

The Republican from Illinois says the Troubled Asset Relief Program is no longer needed. He says the government would save $16 billion by halting TARP immediately.

Even if no action is taken, the TARP program is supposed to stop accepting new projects next month.

Mr. Kirk, a five-term congressman, supported the program when the U.S. House voted on it two years ago. He said Monday it was needed then but is not needed now.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias accuses Mr. Kirk of flip-flopping on the bailout.

The two are running for the seat previously held by President Obama.

JUSTICE

IG: FBI gave inaccurate info

The Justice Department’s inspector general says the FBI gave inaccurate and misleading statements to Congress and the public about why an agent engaged in surveillance of an antiwar rally in 2002 in Pittsburgh.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine says the FBI had no basis to expect that anyone of interest in a terrorism investigation would be present at the event ,sponsored by the Thomas Merton Center.

The FBI said otherwise in statements to Congress and in a press release.

WEST VIRGINIA

Chamber snubs GOP nominee in race

CHARLESTON | The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its West Virginia counterpart have endorsed Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin’s bid for U.S. Senate, passing over his GOP opponent.

The national group has largely backed Republicans this election cycle in races around the country.

The two groups praised Mr. Manchin for tax and other policies they said have helped West Virginia weather the recession. The U.S. Chamber also praised his stance on energy issues.

The two chambers chose Mr. Manchin over John Raese. The holdings of Mr. Raese’s Greer Industries Inc. include limestone, steel, a newspaper and an in-state radio network.

Mr. Raese’s campaign responded to the dual endorsements by continuing its efforts to link Mr. Manchin to policies sought by the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress.

Mr. Manchin, Mr. Raese and two minor-party candidates are running for the seat held by the late Robert C. Byrd.

FDA

Agency weighs altered salmon

Critics call it a “frankenfish.”

But officials with the Food and Drug Administration generally agree with the head of a Massachusetts company that wants to market a genetically engineered version of Atlantic salmon. Ron Stotish says the fish product is safe and environmentally sustainable.

An FDA advisory committee is holding two days of hearings on whether to approve, for the first time, a genetically modified animal to join the foods that go onto the nation’s dinner tables.

Agency officials have said the salmon is as safe to eat as the traditional variety. It grows twice as fast as conventional salmon.

Part of the hearing is focusing on whether consumers would even be told they are eating genetically modified salmon.

Critics worry that the salmon could include dangerous allergens - particularly because seafood in general is highly allergenic.

They also worry that the fish will escape and intermingle with the wild salmon population, which is already endangered. The fear is that they would grow fast and consume more of the available food.

TRANSPORTATION

Distracted driving deaths fall

The government says the number of people killed in crashes connected to driver distraction fell last year but such crashes remain an epidemic.

The Transportation Department said Monday that 5,474 people were killed in 2009 in crashes reported to have involved distracted driving, a 6 percent decline from the more than 5,800 people killed in 2008.

Distraction-related deaths accounted for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2009, the same percentage as in 2008.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the problem is still an epidemic and the data could be the “tip of the iceberg.” He says many police reports don’t document whether distraction was a factor in vehicle crashes.

Mr. LaHood is kicking off a second summit on distracted driving Tuesday.