- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

GAYS

Warren defends stand on marriage

Pastor Rick Warren, chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to pray at his inauguration, said in a video message to his church that he doesn’t equate gay relationships with incest or pedophilia, but opposes redefining marriage just as any conservative Christian would.

Mr. Warren said that disagreeing with gay-rights activists on same-sex marriage does not qualify as hate speech and doesn’t mean he is anti-gay. He said Mr. Obama chose him to give the invocation at the swearing-in to show that people with different views don’t have to demonize each other.

“We’re both willing to be criticized in order to try to bring America into a new day of civil discourse and to create a new model that says you don’t have to agree only with your side on everything,” Mr. Warren said in the video posted Monday night by Saddleback Community Church in California.

In his video, he insisted he wasn’t equating gay marriage with incest or child molestation.

“I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings,” Mr. Warren said. “I was trying to point out I’m not opposed to gays having their partnership. I’m opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship.”

INAUGURATION

Obama to use Lincoln Bible

President-elect Barack Obama will use the same Bible at his inauguration that Abraham Lincoln used for his swearing-in.

Mr. Obama will be the first president since Lincoln to use that Bible, part of the collection of the Library of Congress.

“President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau said in a statement Tuesday.

Mr. Obama is also tracing the train route that Lincoln took and holding a welcome event at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The burgundy velvet Bible with gilded edges was purchased and inscribed by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court.

It will be on display at the Library of Congress Feb. 12 to May 9 as part of an exhibition titled “With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition.” The exhibit will then travel to five other American cities in commemoration of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth on Feb. 12, 1809.

FISHING

Agency delays angler registry

Recreational saltwater anglers who were supposed to register with the federal government by January are off the hook for a year.

After reviewing nearly 500 comments on its proposed registry, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday that the registration requirement will be delayed until Jan. 1, 2010.

An estimated 15 million people fish for fun in the oceans and tidal areas around the country and the government is setting up the registry to better understand how this sport affects fish stocks and to gauge its value to local economies.

The federal registrations will include an angler’s name, date of birth, address, telephone number and the regions where they intend to fish. NOAA will use the information to conduct surveys on fishing effort and amounts of fish caught.

The agency said that once a person has registered, they may fish anywhere in U.S. federal waters regardless of the region or regions the person specified on the registration form.

The registration is good for one year. No fee is planned the first year, but the agency said there will be a charge estimated at $15 to $25 annually starting in 2011.

WHITE HOUSE

Bush signs law to ease pensions

President Bush signed legislation Tuesday that frees businesses from having to pump billions into pension plans in the coming year, another sign of the nation’s deepening economic crisis.

The legislation has been a priority of business groups, which contend that some companies will have to freeze pension plans, lay off workers or even go bankrupt without the relief.

Congress approved the bill this month in one of its final acts of the year.

Many businesses with defined-benefit plans have absorbed a double blow: abiding by a 2006 law that they fully fund the plans, and seeing the value of the plans eroded by declines in markets where the pension funds are invested. The new law does not erase the companies’ funding obligations but, given the current economic downturn, does adjust some payment schedules set up under 2006 law.

The measure enacted Tuesday also suspends for 2009 a requirement that people 70 and a half and older must withdraw a minimum amount from their retirement plans or IRAs.

STATE DEPARTMENT

2 ex-aides to Bill will work for Hillary

Two people who served as top aides in the Clinton administration are expected to join the State Department when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state.

James Steinberg, a deputy national security adviser under President Clinton, will be nominated for deputy secretary of state. Jacob J. Lew, the budget director under Mr. Clinton, will oversee management and budget issues. People familiar with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team confirmed the appointments on the condition of anonymity because the decisions were not yet public.

In a unique division of authority, Mr. Steinberg is expected to focus on foreign policy issues while Mr. Lew will handle day-to-day operations. Mrs. Clinton is also known to be exploring the appointment of special mediators for trouble spots such as the Middle East.

EPA

Court reinstates clean-air rules

In a ruling hailed by environmentalists, a federal appeals court on Tuesday reinstated clean-air regulations while the Environmental Protection Agency makes court-mandated changes.

In July, the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), which required 28 mostly Eastern states to reduce smog-forming and soot-producing emissions that can travel long distances in the wind.

The court said the EPA overstepped its authority by instituting the rule, citing “more than several fatal flaws” in the regulation. However, a three-judge panel decided to reinstate the rule while the EPA develops a new clean-air program.

Judge Judith W. Rogers said allowing the country to go without the protection of CAIR while the EPA fixes it “would sacrifice clear benefits to public health and the environment.”

The judges did not give EPA a deadline to come up with new regulations, but warned the agency that this decision is not an “indefinite stay” of its July ruling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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