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Inside Politics

- - Sunday, October 30, 2011

COURTS

Settlement reached in Fla. in editor's anthrax suit

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) The widow of a Florida tabloid photo editor who died in the 2001 anthrax mailings has reached a settlement in her $50 million lawsuit against the U.S. government.

Court documents filed late last week say Maureen Stevens and the government reached a tentative agreement that must be approved by the Justice Department. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Mrs. Stevens had claimed in her lawsuit that the government was negligent in failing to stop someone from working at an Army infectious disease lab from creating weapons-grade anthrax used in letters that killed five people. Her husband, Robert, was among the victims.

A federal judge in West Palm Beach had been set Wednesday to hear arguments to dismiss the lawsuit. A trial had been set for early 2012.

CONGRESS

Jackson Jr. expects ethics vindication

KANKAKEE | U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is predicting he will be "vindicated" by an ethics investigation into whether he or someone on his behalf offered to raise funds for former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich in return for an appointment to President Obama's vacated Senate seat.

"Let me be clear. I believe in the American system of justice," Mr. Jackson, a Democrat, said Saturday at a Kankakee County NAACP dinner. "The process is continuing, but in the end I believe I will be vindicated."

The House ethics committee announced earlier this month that it would resume a probe that began before Blagojevich's trial. Mr. Jackson, who has not been charged, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Mr. Jackson is seeking re-election in the newly drawn 2nd Congressional District.

SENATE

Two Vermont senators call for fake maple syrup law

MONTPELIER, Vt. | To protect the purity of Vermont's signature crop and to dissuade others from passing off fake maple syrup for the real thing - which sells for about $50 a gallon - Vermont's two U.S. senators have co-sponsored a bill that would make it a felony to sell fake maple syrup as the real thing.

It would also increase the penalties in existing law from one year to five years in prison.

"Vermonters take pride in the natural products our state produces," said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat. He says the growing number of individuals and businesses selling fake maple syrup alarms him.

"This is fraud, plain and simple, and it undermines a key part of Vermont's economy," he added.

Co-sponsoring the Maple Agriculture Protection and Law Enforcement (MAPLE) Act with Mr. Leahy are several senators of both parties from Vermont and its neighbors - independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Republicans Olympia J. Snowe and Susan M. Collins of Maine, and Democrats Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York.

TAXES

Colorado voters to decide tax initiative

DENVER | The nation's only statewide tax vote on the November ballot asks Colorado voters whether they want to temporarily raise taxes to generate $3 billion for classrooms and colleges a proposal that has stirred fierce opposition because of the stagnant economy.

The vote could serve as a test of voters' mood on tax increases and their frustration after endless rounds of education cuts in Colorado.

"If it should pass, it think it will get a fair amount of attention because no one is expecting anything with the words `tax increase' to pass," said Norman Provizer, a political science professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Opponents, including the entire Republican delegation in Colorado's Legislature, insist tax hikes will cost jobs and won't by themselves help schools. Some Democratic leaders, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, have declined to publicly endorse the proposal, saying they see little appetite for a tax hike.

CALIFORNIA

San Francisco could pick first Asian-American mayor

SAN FRANCISCO | Jeff Adachi says he grew up hearing the stories of his Japanese-American family's internment during World War II.

"They lost everything. But they taught me not to be bitter, to get an education and to stand up for what's right," Mr. Adachi, San Francisco's public defender, has written.

He's one of six Asian-American candidates who are drawing on their life stories of immigration, discrimination and empowerment as they try to become the first Asian-American elected mayor in the city's history.

San Francisco already has an Asian-American mayor in Ed Lee, who was appointed in January. But the Nov. 8 election is being seen as an historic moment in a city that has the largest percentage of Asian-Americans in the continental United States and boasts the nation's oldest Chinatown.

If an Asian-American candidate wins, San Francisco will be the largest U.S. city with an elected Asian-American mayor. There are 35 Asian-American mayors nationwide, including Mr. Lee, according to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies in Washington, D.C.

CLIMATE

Skeptic is persuaded by global-warming data

A prominent physicist and skeptic of global warming spent two years trying to find out whether mainstream climate scientists were wrong. In the end, he determined they were right: Temperatures really are rising rapidly.

The study of the world's surface temperatures by Richard Muller was partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global-warming deniers. He pursued long-held skeptic theories in analyzing the data. He was spurred to action because of "Climategate," a British scandal involving hacked emails of scientists.

Yet he found that the land is 1.6 degrees warmer than in the 1950s. Those numbers from Mr. Muller, who works at the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, match those by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.