- - Thursday, August 18, 2011

WHITE HOUSE

Obama orders new plan to diversify fed workers

President Obama has signed an executive order directing the federal government to design a new strategy for hiring, promoting and keeping workers of diverse backgrounds.

The three-page order released Thursday directs the head of the Office of Personnel Management, a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and two other agencies to develop the strategy within 90 days. Agencies then have 120 days to implement it.

An Office of Personnel Management report says that in fiscal 2010, the federal workforce was 66.2 percent white, 17.7 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic, 5.6 percent Asian/Pacific Islander and 1.8 percent American Indian. It was 56.1 percent male.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Bachmann criticizes Obama’s action on Syria

COLUMBIA — White House hopeful Michele Bachmann says President Obama has moved too late and with too little force in response to Syria’s crackdown on dissent.

The Republican presidential candidate told South Carolina residents that “better late than never” is no way to conduct foreign policy.

Mr. Obama on Thursday said Syrian President Bashar Assad should resign and that his suppression of his people had made him unfit to lead. Mr. Obama is also giving his administration authority to impose new sanctions on Syria.

Mrs. Bachmann said the U.S. should expel the Syrian ambassador to the United States and recall the American ambassador. She told a rally in Columbia they need a “tough hombre-ette” in Washington.

Mrs. Bachmann is in the middle of a three-day campaign swing through South Carolina, a key primary state.

STATE

U.S. gives emergency flood aid to North Korea

The United States says it is providing emergency assistance to North Korea after recent floods in the impoverished country.

The State Department said Thursday that it will contribute up to $900,000 in relief supplies to North Korea’s Kangwon and North and South Hwanghae provinces through U.S. nongovernment groups.

The State Department said the relief demonstrates America’s continuing concern for the well-being of the North Korean people and notes that humanitarian assistance is separate from political and security concerns.

The aid follows exploratory talks in late July between U.S. and North Korean officials in New York on how to resume stalled multinational talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

PENNSYLVANIA

Palin stalking case suspects arrested

ALLENTOWN — A Pennsylvania man and his son have been arrested on charges of harassing Sarah Palin’s family and lawyers.

The FBI said that Craig Christy and son Shawn Christy were placed under arrest at the FBI office in Allentown late Thursday morning.

The pair were indicted by a federal grand jury in Alaska on Wednesday. They are accused of harassing members of the former Alaska governor’s family as well as her attorneys and employees of the law firm.

A magistrate in Alaska had previously issued restraining orders against Craig Christy and Shawn Christy.

POSTAL SERVICE

Postal union deplores ‘bad faith’ in talks

The National Association of Letter Carriers says the plan is “an outrageous show of bad faith.” The comments came at the start of negotiations for a new labor contract for employees at the agency’s second-largest union.

The Postal Service announced the job-cutting plan last week, saying drastic action was needed. The agency faces a second year of losses totaling $8 billion or more.

It also wants to pull its workers out of retirement and health benefits plans covering federal employees and set up its own benefit systems. It is asking Congress to override contracts with no-layoff provisions. The agency also wants to shed 100,000 jobs through attrition.

From wire dispatches and staff reports