- - Monday, October 3, 2011

DEFENSE

Pentagon: Budget pinch to exclude some priorities

The Pentagon’s No. 2 official says that spending on cyberdefense programs and counterterrorism operations is likely to remain stable or possibly rise, even as the Defense Department looks for more than $450 billion in cuts over the next 10 years.

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said that there are strong indications that spending on cyberdefense programs will increase as the administration looks to better protect critical networks. And he says officials want to protect the military’s elite counterterrorism forces.

ENVIRONMENT

Report: Green jobs fall far short of goals

The Labor Department’s inspector general says a $500 million program designed to train workers for green jobs has come up far short of its goals.

A report finds that only about 8,000 people participating in the program have actually found work so far. That’s just 10 percent of the target goal of placing 80,000 workers in careers in energy efficiency or renewable energy by 2013.

The report says agencies receiving grant money have expressed concerns that jobs have not materialized.

The head of the department’s Employment and Training Administration, Jane Oates, disagrees with the report and says she expects the number of job placements to increase.

CAMPAIGN 2012

Nevada takes center stage in GOP presidential battle

LAS VEGAS — Nevada is preparing for its Cinderella moment.

While Iowa and New Hampshire get the bulk of their attention, Republican presidential candidates are starting to step up their activity in the state that votes next in the string of nominating contests and whose caucuses could scramble the GOP race.

The Nevada caucuses had been tentatively set for Feb. 18, but state Republicans voted Saturday to move them up to January.

That would put them ahead of Florida’s newly scheduled Jan. 31 primary but will cost Nevada half of its delegates to the GOP’s national convention.

GAYS

Obama ‘still working’ on views of gay marriage

President Obama says he is “still working” on his views of gay marriage.

Mr. Obama’s comments come one year after he told liberal bloggers that his views on gay marriage were “evolving.” He supports civil unions, but has thus far not backed same-sex marriage.

During an interview with ABC News on Monday, Mr. Obama said gay couples should, at a minimum, have strong civil unions. But he stopped short of backing gay marriage.

Mr. Obama says his evolving views are influenced by friends, family and children of gay couples he knows who he said are thriving.

EEOC

Feds file age bias suit against Texas Roadhouse

The lawsuit claims the Kentucky-based Texas Roadhouse chain instructed its managers to hire younger job applicants for positions such as servers, hosts and bartenders. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says some rejected applicants over 40 were told the restaurant was “looking for people on the younger side.”

The lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court in Boston, where some of the actions are said to have taken place.

Spokesman Travis Doster says the restaurant denies the charges. The chain has more than 350 restaurants in 46 states.

HOUSE

Cantor criticizes Obama’s reference to U.S. as ‘soft’

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday took President Obama to task for calling the United States “soft,” saying the administration is to blame for any malaise afflicting the country.

“Last week, the president said that America has grown a little ‘soft,’ and I just respond to that and say to the president, with all due respect, I disagree,” said the Virginia Republican during his weekly briefing with reporters at the Capitol.

“America is the greatest nation in the world. We are really the birthplace of game-changing innovations that have really changed the world.”

Mr. Obama said last week that while the U.S. still was “great,” the nation has lost some of its competitiveness in the global economic race.

WASHINGTON

GOP state senator plans to run against Cantwell

SPOKANE — A Republican state senator from Spokane, Wash., says he’ll seek the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner is in his first term after winning the most expensive state Senate campaign in Washington history last year.

The 35-year-old Mr. Baumgartner graduated from Washington State and holds a master’s degree from Harvard. He served as a State Department diplomat in Iraq and as a civilian contractor in counternarcotics in Afghanistan.

He says the nation needs to restore a dynamic economy at home and end a haphazard foreign policy overseas.

From wire dispatches and staff reports