- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2008

POLITICS

Palin ‘scares’ me, Koch declares

NEW YORK | Saying that Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin “scares the hell out of me,” former New York Mayor Ed Koch endorsed fellow Democrat Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday.

In 2004, Mr. Koch backed President Bush for re-election saying the Republican incumbent was better equipped to combat “Islamic terrorists” than Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry.

Mr. Koch, who was mayor of New York from 1977 to 1989, said he has concluded that the country would be safer in the hands of Mr. Obama and running mate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. than Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain and Mrs. Palin.

“Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks,” said Mr. Koch, citing such concerns as civil liberties, abortion rights, gay rights and access to health insurance.

Mr. Koch said he is particularly troubled by Mrs. Palin’s record in those areas.

“It’s Palin primarily,” he said. “She scares the hell out of me.”

COURTS

Stevens’ lawyers seek information

Federal prosecutors aren’t turning over materials Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens needs to defend himself at his quickly approaching corruption trial, including possible criminal investigations and the medical records of the prosecution’s star witness, the senator’s lawyers complained Tuesday.

Mr. Stevens, the Senate’s longest-serving Republican, is scheduled to stand trial in Washington later this month on charges of lying on Senate records about hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations he received from VECO Corp.

Mr. Stevens’ lawyers want the Justice Department to find for them any information about an Alaska state investigation of its star witness, VECO founder Bill Allen.

State authorities are looking into whether Mr. Allen had sex with an underage girl in the mid-1990s, the Anchorage Daily News reported in February.

Federal prosecutors have provided no information about this to Mr. Stevens other than to say they know it’s going on, defense lawyers said. “His cooperation with the government, and the nature of his testimony, may well be driven by the belief, whether justified or not, that his assistance to the government would guarantee him immunity or leniency in the state investigation,” Mr. Stevens’ lawyers said.

CONSTITUTION

Thomas decries racial preferences

Justice Clarence Thomas said Tuesday that blacks are better served by colorblind programs than affirmative action.

Justice Thomas, addressing leaders of historically black colleges, said affirmative action “has become this mantra and there almost has become this secular religiosity about it. I think it almost trumps thinking.”

A longtime opponent of race-based preferences in hiring and school admissions, Justice Thomas said, “Just from a constitutional standpoint, I think we’re going to run into problems if we say the Constitution says we can consider race sometimes.”

Justice Thomas, 60, has voted on the court to outlaw the use of race in college admissions and in determining which public schools students will attend.

CONGRESS

FDA unlikely to get tobacco oversight

Landmark legislation that would give federal health authorities the power to regulate the tobacco industry is unlikely to pass this year.

The House overwhelmingly approved the bill this summer, and a majority of senators, including presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, support the legislation. But President Bush has threatened a veto, and the prospect of a drawn-out debate will probably keep the Senate from taking up the measure as it races through a tight schedule this month, senior congressional officials of both parties said.

Melissa Wagoner, a spokeswoman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, the bill’s leading sponsor, said supporters have not given up, but acknowledged the legislation faces an “uphill” battle. Mr. Kennedy is being treated for a brain tumor and isn’t expected back at the Senate this year.

The legislation would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco, from cigarettes to new kinds of smokeless products. The agency could not outlaw tobacco or nicotine, but it could require the reduction or elimination of cancer-causing chemicals in cigarette smoke.

INVESTMENT

Groups tout plan for ‘green’ jobs

A $100 billion U.S. government investment over two years could create 2 million “green” jobs in such industrial sectors as steel and construction, environmental and labor groups said Tuesday.

“From the point of view of the steelworkers union, the view is quite simple, that a energy efficient green economy creates jobs and it can create jobs in America,” said Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers.

He said the U.S. move toward wind power has already prompted the reopening of two struggling steel mills, now making steel plate for use in new windmills.

Beyond that, the retrofitting of old, energy-inefficient buildings would create jobs for steelworkers, glassmakers and those who manufacture heating and cooling systems, Mr. Gerard said in a telephone briefing.

Mr. Gerard and others cited a report commissioned by the Center for American Progress think tank, assessing the benefits of the $100 billion investment plan.

K STREET

Molinari joins Giuliani lobby firm

Former New York congresswoman Susan Molinari is joining the Washington office of lobbying firm Bracewell & Giuliani, beginning Oct. 6.

Mrs. Molinari worked on the presidential campaign of firm partner Rudolph W. Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, before he quit the race earlier this year.

She is leaving her job as chief executive officer of lobbying firm the Washington Group to take the new post as senior principal at Bracewell & Giuliani.

At the Washington Group, her clients included the Association of American Railroads, the Real Estate Roundtable and the California Association of Winegrape Growers.

Before becoming a lobbyist, Mrs. Molinari served four terms in Congress from 1990 to 1997 as the Republican representative of New York’s 13th and 14th Congressional districts. She served four years on the New York City Council before running for Congress.

She left Congress to co-anchor a morning news program at CBS.

POLITICS

Gore to address Iowa Democrats

DES MOINES, Iowa | Former Vice President Al Gore will headline the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner next month in Des Moines.

Mr. Gore will be the keynote speaker at the Oct. 4 dinner, which is the party’s biggest fundraiser and traditionally launches the final sprint to the general election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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