Paul proving to be force in GOP race
McALLEN, Texas — This isn't 2008 when it comes to Ron Paul and the current Republican presidential race.
This time around, the Texas congressman is having such a big impact on the campaign that some Republican operatives are convinced that he will play spoiler in some important states. They say he can grab attention from his rivals for months to come and help determine the nominee.
His libertarian leanings are energizing a small but growing group of passionate conservatives.
Mr. Paul is relying on unconventional but successful fundraising techniques and a more sophisticated campaign than his two previous attempts at the presidency. There's also the fiery message he's been preaching for decades — one that's finally resonating with Americans concerned about the nation's debt.
Panetta says Israel becoming more isolated
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Sunday that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East, and said Israeli leaders must restart negotiations with the Palestinians and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey.
In a blunt assessment made as he was traveling to Israel, Mr. Panetta said the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East makes it critical for the Israelis to find ways to communicate with other nations in the region. The Pentagon chief said Israel risks eroding its own security if it does not reach out to its neighbors.
"It's pretty clear that at this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that's what's happening," he said.
Mr. Panetta is scheduled to meet this week with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and then travel to a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. His visit comes as Mideast negotiators push for a peace deal by the end of next year, increasing pressure for the resumption of long-stalled talks.
Obama's energy chief defends solar-power loans
The Obama administration's energy chief, facing increased pressure over the failure of solar-panel maker Solyndra, defended on Saturday a loan-guarantee program that has provided billions of dollars for solar energy and other renewable energy projects.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said an economic-stimulus program that expired Friday will help develop the world's largest wind farm in Oregon, several large solar-power farms in California and Nevada, and the installation of solar panels on 750 rooftops in 28 states, among other projects.
The loan program has become a rallying cry for critics of the Obama administration's green-energy program after a California solar-panel maker declared bankruptcy despite receiving a $528 million federal loan. The company, Solyndra LLC, has laid off its 1,100 workers.
Mr. Chu did not mention Solyndra in a speech at a Solar Decathlon sponsored by the Energy Department. Students competed to build model solar homes in the event, which was won by the University of Maryland.
Obama attacks GOP on gay-soldier videotape
In a sharp rebuke of his Republican rivals, President Obama said anyone who wants to be commander in chief must support the entire U.S. military, including gay service members.
A combative Mr. Obama criticized the Republican presidential candidates for, he said, staying silent when the crowd at a recent debate booed a gay soldier who asked a question of the contenders via videotape.
"You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it's not politically convenient," Mr. Obama said during remarks at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization.
Mr. Obama touted his administration's efforts to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members, as well as his orders to the Justice Department to stop enforcing the law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
But, as expected, Mr. Obama stopped short of endorsing gay marriage, saying only that "every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law." Mr. Obama has said his views on gay marriage are "evolving," but for now he only supports civil unions.
St. Elizabeth's asks for Hinckley to be freed
A U.S. government mental hospital is seeking to eventually set free John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, CNN reported on its website.
Hinckley, now 56, was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington in 1982 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of Reagan and three others.
Prosecutors asked a closed court Friday not to release him, CNN said. In their filing, they called Hinckley "a man capable of great violence" and said his mental condition left some concerns "that this violence may be repeated," the report said.
The hospital wants Hinckley to be able to live near his 85-year-old mother in Virginia. Hospital lawyers and doctors filed a motion under seal at the end of July asking that Hinckley eventually be placed on "convalescent leave," but prosecutors quoted it in their own filing, making it part of the public record.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman had scheduled up to a week of court hearings on the issue to start Nov. 28.
From wire dispatches and staff reports