- - Thursday, September 15, 2011

CONNECTICUT

Aides say they saw blog posts as threats

HARTFORD — Aides to Connecticut’s governor say they perceived the words of a New Jersey blogger as a real threat.

Gov. Dan Malloy’s general counsel, Andrew McDonald, was a state senator at the time Harold Turner posted an entry that authorities say incited violence against legislators. Testifying at Mr. Turner’s trial, Mr. McDonald said Thursday that he considered it “an extraordinary document” and a “very real threat.”

Mr. Turner, representing himself, asked Mr. McDonald on cross-examination whether the language wasn’t just “political hardball.”

Mr. Turner says his comments were free speech. He’s charged with felony inciting injury to persons and misdemeanor threatening.

Mr. Turner was arrested two years ago after urging readers to “take up arms” against state lawmakers following the withdrawal of legislation to give Catholic lay members more control over parish finances.

Mr. Malloy’s deputy press secretary also testified Thursday.

WHITE HOUSE

Belize, El Salvador placed on drug list

The Obama administration has added Belize and El Salvador to the U.S. list of “major” drug producing and transit countries.

The annual list identifies countries playing a role in the drug trade that “significantly affect the United States.”

Twenty-two nations were included, including mainstays such as Colombia and Mexico.

But only three countries were found to have “failed demonstrably” on their counterdrug obligations last year: Bolivia, Burma and Venezuela.

These countries can face U.S. sanctions as a result. President Obama has waived possible sanctions for Bolivia and Venezuela so the U.S. can support programs helping their people.

The president is required to notify Congress each year of the major drug-producing and transit nations. The inclusion of Belize and El Salvador reflects increasing drug trafficking through Central America.

CAMPAIGN

Palin camp denounces bio of former governor

Sarah Palin’s husband on Thursday called a book critical of his family “disgusting lies, innuendo and smears” as the former Alaska governor’s camp sought to discredit a racy biography that includes allegations of infidelity and drug use.

As Mrs. Palin weighs a White House bid, Todd Palin released a statement seeking to blunt the fallout from Joe McGinniss’ “The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.” Palin allies also released another denial from the man alleged to have carried on an affair with Mrs. Palin.

“This is a man who has been relentlessly stalking my family to the point of moving in right next door to us to harass us and spy on us to satisfy his creepy obsession with my wife,” Mr. Palin wrote of Mr. McGinniss. “His book is full of disgusting lies, innuendo and smears. Even The New York Times called this book ‘dated, petty,’ and that it ‘chases caustic, unsubstantiated gossip.’ “

The Republicans’ 2008 vice presidential nominee and former governor of Alaska made no new reference on her Facebook account to Mr. McGinniss’ book, although Mrs. Palin previously mocked Mr. McGinniss for moving into a rented house next door to the Palin home.

WHITE HOUSE

First lady applauds healthier menu items

HYATTSVILLE — Michelle Obama said Thursday that a pledge by the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants and their sister chains to serve healthier meals is a “breakthrough moment” for the industry.

Darden Restaurants Inc. is pledging to cut calories and sodium in its meals by 20 percent over a decade. Among other changes for children, a fruit or vegetable side and low-fat milk will become standard with kids’ meals unless a substitution is requested. No more french fries for the little ones unless an adult asks for them.

“With this new commitment, Darden is doing what no restaurant company has done before,” said the first lady, who joined executives of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden for the announcement at an Olive Garden restaurant in suburban Maryland, just outside Washington.

“This is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry. I believe the changes that Darden will make could impact the health and well-being of an entire generation of young people,” added Mrs. Obama, who is leading an effort to reduce U.S. childhood obesity rates.

The kids’ menu changes are scheduled to take effect next July.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Lynch won’t seek 5th term in 2012

MANCHESTER — Democratic Gov. John Lynch says he will not seek a fifth consecutive two-year term as New Hampshire’s chief executive.

Mr. Lynch made the announcement Thursday, months ahead of the state’s June filing period, putting at rest speculation about his intentions and opening up the field.

The popular 58-year-old governor survived a GOP sweep of the state’s top offices in 2010. Many believe he’s the most formidable Democratic candidate the party could offer.

Republicans have been attempting to portray him as anti-job and out of step with New Hampshire voters.

They point to his veto of legislation that barred unions from collecting a share of administrative and negotiating costs from nonunion members. The GOP-controlled Legislature also overrode his veto of abortion limits on minors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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