- - Monday, February 21, 2011

IOWA

Barbour sees no race problem

DES MOINES | Though he has faced some criticism on such matters, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said he carries no political baggage because of his positions on racial issues.

The issue flared as recently as last week, when Mr. Barbour declined to denounce an effort by a group pushing for a license plate in honor of confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Barbour said the proposal was never going anywhere.

“I said accurately this is not going to happen,” Mr. Barbour said in an interview with the Associated Press. “The bureaucracy denied it, the Legislature won’t pass it and if the Legislature passes it, it won’t become law because I won’t sign it.”

Mr. Barbour said he denounces the Klan, but was asked to denounce a specific person.

“I don’t denounce individual people whether they’ve been dead 100 years or not,” he said.

He noted that he was a child during much of the Civil Rights movement and that people should focus on the progress that’s been made throughout the South.

Mr. Barbour was meeting GOP activists to test the waters for seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

ARIZONA

University to start national civility institute

TUCSON | Two former presidents — one Republican, the other a Democrat — will chair a new national institute to promote civility in political discourse in the city where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded in a shooting rampage that left six dead, officials announced Monday.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse will be run by the University of Arizona. Former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton will serve as its honorary co-chairmen.

Mr. Clinton said the institute “can elevate the tone of dialogue in our country, and in so doing, help us to keep moving toward a more perfect union.”

Mrs. Giffords was shot in the head during a meet-and-greet session Jan. 8 outside a local grocery store. A federal judge and five others were killed. Mrs. Giffords was among 13 people injured.

CLIMATE

Climate change creates longer ragweed season

A changing climate means allergy-causing ragweed pollen has a longer season that extends further north than it did just 16 years ago, U.S. scientists reported Monday.

In research that gibes with projections by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, plant and allergy experts found that ragweed pollen season lasted as much as 27 days longer in 2009 than it did in 1995. The further north in the Western Hemisphere, the more dramatic the change in the length of pollen season.

Ragweed pollen can cause asthma flare-ups and hay fever, and costs about $21 billion a year in the U.S., according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

TSA

Lawmaker objects to airport search

SEATTLE | An Alaska state lawmaker is returning home by sea after refusing a pat-down search at a Seattle airport, a spokeswoman said.

Rep. Sharon Cissna underwent a body scan as she was preparing to leave Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Sunday and was then required to undergo the pat-down by Transportation Safety Administration officials, said Michelle Scannell, her chief of staff.

Miss Scannell said that TSA called for the pat-down because the scan showed Miss Cissna had had a mastectomy. But it wasn’t clear from statements by the lawmaker’s office and TSA why that would necessitate the further search.

Miss Scannell described the pat-down search as “intrusive” but did not elaborate on the Anchorage Democrat’s decision.

TSA spokesman Kwika Riley was asked to respond to Miss Cissna’s comments when contacted by the Associated Press. But a general statement issued later did not mention her or her claims, saying the agency is “sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA.”

Both full body scanners and pat-down searches have come under increasing criticism as the TSA has stepped up its airport security measures.

Miss Cissna, who had undergone medical treatment in Seattle, is traveling by ferry from Bellingham, Wash., to Juneau, Miss Scannell said.

ALASKA

Author accused in Palin book leak

JUNEAU | The writers of an unpublished Sarah Palin tell-all allege the author of a rival book helped leak copies of their manuscript, destroying its marketability.

In a letter to author Joe McGinniss, attorney Dean Steinbeck says the matter “appears to be no more than that of a jealous author sabotaging a competitor via unlawful and unscrupulous means.”

The letter, on behalf of Ken Morris, Jeanne Devon and Frank Bailey, states the writers are reviewing their legal options. Mr. Bailey was an aide to Mrs. Palin when she was governor of Alaska.

A draft of the unpublished manuscript leaked late last week, with stories about it and its contents making national news.

For about three months last year, Mr. McGinniss lived next door to the Palins in Alaska while researching a book on the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

NASA

New satellite goes up Wednesday

LOS ANGELES | NASA is set to launch its latest Earth-orbiting satellite on a $424 million mission to analyze airborne grit spewed by volcanoes, forest fires, smokestacks and tailpipes.

The Glory satellite is slated to blast off before dawn Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base aboard a Taurus XL rocket. Once boosted to an altitude of 440 miles, it will join a fleet of satellites collecting climate data for years.

Its main job will be to study fine airborne particles known as aerosols. Smaller than the diameter of a human hair, these ubiquitous specks can span great distances of the globe and are largely responsible for producing hazy skies.

Scientists know very little about aerosols and their effect on climate. A better understanding is critical to improving climate models.

Over the past century, average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit worldwide. Scientists blame carbon dioxide, mostly from the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels, as the chief cause of global warming.

From wire dispatches and staff reports