- - Sunday, July 10, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Former first lady Betty Ford to be buried in Michigan

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. | Before she is laid to rest, Betty Ford will be memorialized in the Southern California desert region that she and her rehab center made famous.

Rancho Mirage was already a billionaires’ playground, but Mrs. Ford’s center made it a household name as it provided help to celebrities ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to Lindsay Lohan.

Tributes poured in Saturday from A-listers and average residents alike in the desert golf community where Mrs. Ford settled with her husband, former President Gerald Ford, after he left office more than three decades ago.

Mrs. Ford, who died of natural causes in Rancho Mirage on Friday at age 93, will be memorialized Tuesday in California before her casket travels by motorcade and military transport for a private burial Thursday alongside her husband in Grand Rapids, Mich., at the Gerald R. Ford Museum.

CAMPAIGN

Pawlenty: Bachmann record in Congress is ‘nonexistent’

Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, trailing in public opinion polls, criticized Republican rival Michele Bachmann on Sunday for a “nonexistent” record in the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, is competing for the same conservative voters as Mrs. Bachmann in the early voting state of Iowa.

Mrs. Bachmann, also from Minnesota and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is running neck and neck in Iowa with front-runner Mitt Romney while Mr. Pawlenty had only 6 percent support among Republican voters in a recent poll by the Des Moines Register.

“Well, I like Congresswoman Bachmann. I’ve campaigned for her. I respect her, but her record of accomplishment in Congress is nonexistent. It’s nonexistent,” Mr. Pawlenty told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

COURTS

Rep. Hastings asks court to toss harassment case

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings asked a court Saturday to throw out claims that he subjected a former employee to sexual harassment and retaliation when he was co-chairman of an independent U.S. agency.

The Florida Democrat said the case should be handled according to congressionally approved administrative and judicial remedies - and not the U.S. District Court in Washington, where the plaintiff, Winsome Packer, lodged her complaint.

Ms. Packer says Mr. Hastings asked several times to stay at her apartment or to get her to visit his hotel room in Vienna, Austria, when she worked as staff representative and he was co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission. She also said Mr. Hastings asked her what kind of underwear she was wearing and alleged that much of the harassment occurred when he was in Europe on business for the commission, which advises on U.S. policy about security, human rights and other issues in Europe.

DIPLOMACY

U.S. recognizes new nation, South Sudan

The United States on Saturday recognized the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, as a sovereign and independent state.

South Sudan became independent after civil wars that spanned more than 50 years. Millions of people died in the conflicts as the black African tribes from the south battled the mainly Arab north for independence. The warring sides reached a peace deal in 2005.

FLORIDA

Tougher penalties proposed for not reporting missing child

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Lawmakers outraged by Casey Anthony’s acquittal have responded by proposing so-called Caylee’s laws that would allow prosecutors to bring felony charges against parents who do not quickly report missing children.

The new measures were triggered, at least in part, by an online petition that had more than 700,000 signatures Friday. Some questioned whether a new law would do any good because the circumstances of the Anthony case were so rare, but lawmakers in at least a dozen or so states already have floated proposals reacting to the verdict.

In June 2008, Miss Anthony’s 2-year-old daughter Caylee was last seen at the Orlando home she shared with her mother and her maternal grandparents. For the next month, Miss Anthony, then 22, left her parents’ house and spent most of her time with friends, shopping and partying, telling her family and others that Caylee was with an imaginary nanny.

Miss Anthony’s mother called detectives when Miss Anthony could not produce her child. Miss Anthony told investigators she hadn’t called them because the nanny had kidnapped the child and she had been conducting her own search, two of the numerous lies she told investigators.

Miss Anthony was acquitted of murder in Caylee’s death, but convicted of four misdemeanor counts of lying to investigators.

CONGRESS

Showdown looming on Korea trade deal stalled in Congress

President Obama appears headed toward a fight with Republicans over a long-delayed trade deal with U.S. ally South Korea, even though both sides say they want it to pass Congress.

Obama administration officials say no deal has emerged to ease passage of an agreement that supporters contend would create tens of thousands of jobs and help the White House aim of doubling U.S. exports in five years.

“We’ve yet to hear any workable ideas” from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, said one of the officials who spoke on the condition they not be identified.

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