- - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

PENTAGON

Framework to manage major spending cuts

The Pentagon is unveiling a strategy designed to manage hundreds of billions in budget cuts without sapping the military’s strength.

The strategy is expected to serve as a framework for shifting the military’s focus from fighting post-9/11 wars in the greater Middle East to preserving America’s dominant position in Asia amid a Chinese military buildup.

In a presidential election year, the strategy also provides the White House a rhetorical tool to defend its Pentagon budget-cutting choices.

The strategy is to be outlined at a news conference Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.

It is not expected to mark a radical change in defense priorities. It may set the stage, however, for cutbacks in Europe and big weapons programs.

TREASURY

Geithner planning China, Japan trips

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will travel to Beijing and Tokyo next week for discussions about the global economy and Iran sanctions.

The trip follows the Obama administration decision not to name China a currency manipulator. That upset U.S. manufacturing groups, which contend China is undervaluing its currency for trade advantages.

The Treasury Department said Mr. Geithner will meet on Jan. 10-11 with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

On Jan. 12, Mr. Geithner will meet in Tokyo with Japan Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Finance Minister Jun Azumi.

Treasury said Mr. Geithner will discuss sanctions on Iran with both nations’ leaders. Last week, President Obama enacted new penalties on Iran’s central bank aimed at hampering Tehran’s ability to fund nuclear enrichment.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Santorum on defense after strong caucus finish

MANCHESTER — Facing fresh scrutiny after he nearly defeated Mitt Romney in Iowa’s lead-off caucuses, Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum on Wednesday defended votes and statements that are earning him a second look for the wrong reasons.

Mr. Santorum, a former senator and House member, finished eight votes behind Mr. Romney in Iowa’s contest and arrived here to questions about his support for home-state spending projects known as earmarks and for a recent comment about black people that has been criticized as being racially insensitive. He also sought to explain previous statements that likened same-sex relationships to bestiality.

“My Catholic faith teaches that it’s actions that are the problems, not necessarily someone’s feelings,” Mr. Santorum. “One can have desires to do things that we believe are wrong, but it’s when you act out on things, that’s the problem.”

PUBLIC BROADCASTING

PBS chief asks viewers to support TV funds

PASADENA, Calif. — The head of PBS wants viewers to oppose Mitt Romney’s call to end funding of public broadcasting.

PBS chief Paula Kerger said Wednesday that she recognizes the United States has to make tough budget decisions, but defended PBS as an effective public-private partnership.

Ms. Kerger says that while she can make the argument, elected officials listen to their constituents.

Mr. Romney has criticized public funding for PBS while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. The former Massachusetts governor has said he doesn’t intend to “kill Big Bird” of “Sesame Street,” but that public-television shows will have to become ad-supported.

Mr. Kerger says that federal rules governing public broadcasting prohibit commercials. She adds that commercial TV channels are notably different than PBS and contrasts History channel’s “American Pickers” with a Ken Burns’ documentary.

SEC

More social-media fraud detected, officials say

Regulators are warning the public to be wary of social-media sites that could be offering bogus investment schemes.

The warning follows civil charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against an Illinois-based investment adviser who is said to have tried to sell fraudulent securities through Linkedin.

The SEC accuses Anthony Fields of offering more than $500 billion in bogus securities to investors through the popular social-media site. No one bought the investments, the SEC says.

Mr. Fields couldn’t be reached for a response.

SEC officials say they have detected more fraud cases involving the use of social media.

GEORGIA

Carter’s latest book offers lessons in faith

ATLANTA — Jimmy Carter may never have been president if he didn’t go square dancing.

The Georgia Democrat credits a rural square dance club he joined in 1953 with helping him win a state Senate seat by a scant 66 votes.

“If I hadn’t received support from our square-dancing friends, I would have lost and never become a state senator,” he wrote in his latest book, “Through the Years with Jimmy Carter.” “And if that had occurred, I never would have run for office again.”

Mr. Carter has penned 26 different books, including childhood memoirs, treatises on the Middle East and accounts of his presidency. But none are like his latest, which offers 366 devotionals, each with a biblical passage, a personal story and an original prayer.

The one-page items are sprinkled with lessons Mr. Carter gleaned from more than 30 years of teaching Sunday school classes and anecdotes from his country upbringing to his ascent to the White House and beyond.

In the book, Mr. Carter is open about struggles over his own faith. He writes that he felt “despondent and alienated from God” after losing his first bid for Georgia’s governor in 1966, and said his wife, Rosalynn, went through a rough patch when he lost his presidential re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980. But he said he retrenched during those dark times and worked to remind himself of the role religion has played in his life.

CALIFORNIA

Lawmaker cited after TSA finds loaded gun

SACRAMENTO — A California Republican lawmaker and outspoken gun rights advocate has been cited for trying to bring a loaded handgun onto a Sacramento-bound flight.

Transportation Security Administration spokesman Nico Melendez said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks had a Colt .45 with four rounds in it inside his carry-on luggage at Ontario International Airport. He says a magazine with five additional rounds also was in Mr. Donnelly’s carry-on bag.

The lawmaker was passing through a security checkpoint at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday when he was detained.

In a statement released by his office, Mr. Donnelly said he forgot to remove the gun from his bag. Ontario airport police did not return phone messages seeking to clarify Mr. Donnelly’s citation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports