- - Tuesday, June 28, 2011

HOUSE

Watchdog wants FBI to investigate lawmaker

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked the FBI to launch a criminal investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson regarding possible misuse of her staff.

CREW, an independent government watchdog group, says it has obtained internal office emails that show Ms. Richardson, California Democrat, routinely forced congressional staffers to work on her re-election campaign or risk losing their jobs. She also required her staff to perform personal errands, the group says.

Internal emails regarding a fundraising event dubbed “Democratic Idol” show that Richardson Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks told employees they were required to attend the event, wearing staff shirts that said “37th Congressional District,” CREW says. In an email from her official House account, Ms. Cooks said spouses and interns were expected to attend as well.

CLIMATE

Global warming continues as greenhouse gas increases

A study released Tuesday says the world’s climate is not only continuing to warm, it’s also adding greenhouse gases faster than in the past.

In fact it’s been more than 300 months since the average global average temperature was below average.

The annual State of the Climate report said 2010 was tied with 2005 as the hottest year on record, worldwide and added that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increased faster than it has in recent decades.

Peter Thorne of North Carolina’s Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites called the finding “a clear and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”

NEW YORK

Pawlenty criticizes Obama, GOP on foreign policy

NEW YORK — Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty says President Obama has lacked a clear vision in dealing with the citizen uprisings across the Middle East.

Mr. Pawlenty is set to make a major foreign policy address Tuesday morning in New York. His campaign released excerpts of the speech.

The former Minnesota governor criticized Mr. Obama for his silence in 2009 when the Iranian government cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. And tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are worse now than when Mr. Obama took office, Mr. Pawlenty said.

But Mr. Pawlenty also had tough words for some Republicans, such as rival GOP hopeful Mitt Romney, who advocate reducing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

Mr. Pawlenty said isolationism will cost far more in the long run than what it would save in the U.S. budget.

FLORIDA

Lawmaker to renew bill over military suits

TAMPA — A congressman says he’ll renew efforts to remove malpractice liability shields for military hospitals after the U. S. Supreme Court declined to hear the latest case that could have done away with the protections.

Without comment, the Supreme Court refused Monday to hear a California case that activists had considered their best chance in a generation to strip military hospitals of protections against lawsuits when they make mistakes while treating service members.

U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey said Tuesday he will reintroduce legislation to abolish the law, known as the Feres Doctrine. The New York Democrat pushed the legislation unsuccessfully in 2009.

Supporters of the law say opening up the military to lawsuits would be expensive and benefit trial lawyers more than service families.

HOUSE

State redistricting could imperil GOP House seats

Democrats hoping to regain the majority in the House in 2012 might get a strong head start in California, where voters handed the authority for drawing political boundaries to a citizen commission.

Analysts studying the panel’s work are predicting that three to five seats now in Republican hands could move into the Democratic camp in next year’s general election. Such a swing could have national implications.

California voters decided to create the commission in 2008, taking the authority away from the Legislature after heavy gerrymandering created a lack of competition.

Significant changes could occur before the commission adopts the final maps Aug. 15. But for now, the political future looks most grim for Republican Reps. David Dreier and Gary G. Miller.

JUSTICE

Justice argues against warrantless GPS suit

The Justice Department is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and FBI Director Robert Mueller over a GPS tracking device put on a student’s car without a warrant.

A 20-year-old Egyptian-American, Yasir Afifi of San Jose, Calif., sued the officials in March, saying he’s never done anything to attract law enforcement attention. A mechanic found the device under his car.

FBI officials acknowledge they secretly installed the device, but court documents filed Tuesday blacked out the reason. The FBI also argues it shouldn’t have to destroy its records of the surveillance, as Mr. Afifi’s lawsuit demands.

The Justice Department says Mr. Afifi doesn’t have grounds to sue because he isn’t facing any harm and that Mr. Holder and Mr. Mueller are immune from such lawsuits.

From wire dispatches and staff reports