- - Thursday, January 6, 2011

CYBERSECURITY

Work starts on Utah security center

SALT LAKE CITY | Officials are marking the start of construction on a $1.2 billion National Security Agency cybersecurity center at a Utah National Guard camp near Salt Lake City.

A Thursday groundbreaking on 200 acres at Camp Williams might be the last glimpse the public gets of the first-of-its-kind project.

The data center is about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City on the sprawling National Guard base.

It’s designed to help the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies protect national security networks and identify cyberthreats, though the NSA has refused to disclose its full purpose or function.

Many think the center is meant for analysis of domestic and international telecommunications. A high percentage of Utah’s population, predominantly Mormon, speaks a foreign language.

TRUCKING

DOT seeks to resolve dispute with Mexico

The Obama administration Thursday released a proposal for reopening U.S. roads to Mexican trucking companies, describing it as a starting point for negotiations aimed at resolving a long-standing dispute between the two nations.

The Department of Transportation proposal lays out in general terms conditions that Mexican long-haul truck carriers would have to meet, including a safety audit, U.S. emissions standards and driver background checks.

The proposal leaves a timetable and specifics on how many trucks would be allowed to enter the U.S. from Mexico to be resolved by negotiations, which are expected to begin very soon, transportation officials said.

U.S. truck drivers oppose giving Mexican carriers access to the U.S. They say Mexican trucks don’t have to meet as stringent safety and environmental standards as their U.S. counterparts, which gives them an economic advantage.

NEW JERSEY

Governor signs tough anti-bullying bill

SOMERSET, N.J. | New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed an anti-bullying bill that advocates say is the toughest of its kind in the nation, giving a sense of progress to the people attending a conference dedicated to preventing suicide by gay young people.

The “anti-bullying bill of rights” had been in the works for several months, but it picked up steam in the state Legislature after Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student, committed suicide in September. Clementi’s roommate and a third Rutgers student were charged with using a webcam to spy on Clementi during his dorm-room liaison with a man days before the suicide.

Mr. Christie signed the law Wednesday, but did not announce it. Spokesman Michael Drewniak confirmed the signing Thursday.

The Clementi incident, along with a spate of high-profile suicides of other gay youth in September and October, turned an issue that had long been a concern for some in the gay community into a national concern that attracted the public attention of President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and entertainers such as Ellen DeGeneres and Margaret Cho.

VERMONT

New governor elected before inaugural

MONTPELIER | Vermont lawmakers have done what voters couldn’t - elect Democrat Peter Shumlin as governor, just hours before he was to take office.

Mr. Shumlin got the most votes for governor in the November election, but he didn’t get more than 50 percent, as required by the Vermont Constitution.

Under state law, candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and treasurer must get at least 50 percent of the votes cast, plus one vote, or else the election goes to the General Assembly. That last happened in 2002.

So the first order of business for the new legislature on Thursday was to elect Mr. Shumlin as a formality. He was to take the oath of office in the afternoon.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to grant Fox News interview

President Obama has agreed to an interview with Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly on Super Bowl Sunday.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says it’s in keeping with the president’s custom of granting a pre-game interview to the network that is broadcasting the Super Bowl. Last year, it was with Katie Couric on CBS.

The White House clashed openly with Fox in the first year of Mr. Obama’s administration, deriding it as aligned with the Republican Party. More recently, tensions have subsided, and Mr. Obama had a sit-down with Fox anchor Bret Baier last March.

The Super Bowl will be played in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 6. The interview will be taped at the White House.

VIRGINIA

Sen. Webb’s mother dies of illness

RICHMOND, Va. | The mother of U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia has died in Jacksonville, N.C.

Mr. Webb’s office said Thursday that Vera Hodges Webb died on Monday after a long illness. She was 85.

Vera L. Hodges was born in Kensett, Ark., and was one of eight children who worked fields picking cotton. Her husband, James Henry Webb Jr., was a career Air Force officer.

Mr. Webb wrote about his family’s hardscrabble history in the 2004 book “Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America.”

Mrs. Webb is survived by four children, 18 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

She will be interred alongside her husband, who died in 1997, in Arlington National Cemetery after a graveside ceremony Jan. 19.

NORTH CAROLINA

John Edwards left out of wife’s will

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. | The will Elizabeth Edwards signed days before her death last month made no mention of her estranged husband and two-time presidential candidate John Edwards.

The document Elizabeth Edwards signed Dec. 1, six days before her death, also named her eldest child, lawyer Cate Edwards, as the executor of her estate.

In the will, filed in Orange County Superior Court in North Carolina, Mrs. Edwards left personal effects, furniture, automobiles and other property to be divided among her children - Cate, 28; Emma Claire, 12; and Jack, 10.

“Those are items that have sentimental attachment, like a grandmother’s engagement ring or antiques she’d want to go only to her children and no one else,” said Andrea Chomakos, an estate-planning lawyer who was not involved with the Edwards family. “I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that John was disinherited. No one will know whether he was or not.”

Other documents accompanying her will valued Mrs. Edwards’ estate at $496,000 in cash, securities, household furnishings, vehicles and ownership in businesses. She also owned real estate worth an additional $1 million, and she controlled a trust that may hold more assets.

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