- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2008

ALASKA

Palin attorneys to fight subpoenas

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration is threatening legal action to block subpoenas by the Alaska Legislature as part of its investigation into whether she abused her authority by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.

In a seven-page letter to Alaskan lawmakers, an assistant attorney general said the administration is prepared to go to court to quash subpoenas of Palin staffers if any were issued as expected on Friday. The investigation took on new significance after Mrs. Palin was selected as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

MARKETS

Oil speculation confounds officials

Federal regulators said Thursday that they could not determine after a lengthy review how much speculators have influenced commodity prices, especially the run-up earlier this year in oil prices.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission released a much-anticipated report examining the activities of large index investors and so-called “swap” traders - those who trade on behalf of banks or wealthy individuals - in the commodity futures markets including crude oil.

“This preliminary survey is not able to accurately answer and quantify the amount of speculative trading occurring in the futures markets,” the report said. The problem is that the available data does not differentiate between speculative and legitimate hedge trading activities, it said.

The commission staff report recommended better classification of trading activities and improved market reporting requirements for large traders. The trading commission said it may also reclassify swap dealers, who carry out trades on behalf of banks or wealthy individuals, under a separate category in its weekly reports to keep better track of potentially speculative trading activities.

ABORTION

Judge turns down anti-Obama group

RICHMOND | A judge in Virginia has blocked a conservative group’s bid to bypass federal regulators and run ads criticizing Barack Obama’s support for abortion rights.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer denied a preliminary injunction sought by a group, the Real Truth About Obama Inc. The group, formed by anti-abortion activists, sought the injunction against the Federal Election Commission.

The group claimed its Web site and radio ads would amount to “issue advocacy” that is protected by the Constitution’s free-speech guarantee. Judge Spencer said Thursday that the group probably couldn’t win on that argument, so a preliminary injunction is inappropriate.

POW

Video shows McCain’s release

STOCKHOLM | Previously unseen footage emerged Thursday showing Republican presidential candidate John McCain as a proud, stoic prisoner of war in Hanoi on the day his Vietnamese captors released him to the U.S. military.

A former reporter from Swedish broadcaster SVT, Erik Eriksson, 71, told the Associated Press that he found the video in the network’s archives while researching a book he was writing about his experiences as a Vietnam War correspondent.

The footage was filmed by a North Vietnamese photographer with whom Mr. Eriksson had contracted to film the release of U.S. prisoners of war.

AP Television News acquired exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the SVT footage from March 14, 1973, and edited it into a 2-minute, 14-second video of a remarkable day in the life of the Republican candidate. SVT posted a 39-second clip on its Web site.

The AP footage begins with prisoners being led out of a Hanoi compound one by one, then climbing onto buses taking them to the handover area. Each prisoner is dressed in identical blue-gray, long-sleeved shirts and dark pants, and carries a beige jacket. Up to 16 U.S. POWs are seen.

Mr. McCain grimaces as he steps off a bus with other prisoners. He has a pronounced limp and needs to put both feet on the same step before continuing but is not using crutches.

The prisoners stand in rows until a Vietnamese official calls their name. Mr. McCain, like other prisoners, briskly walks up to salute and shake hands with U.S. military officers. Although only 37, he has prematurely white hair. Then the prisoners are seen walking to a U.S. plane.

LEGISLATION

Congress bails out highway trust fund

Congress on Thursday sent President Bush an $8 billion rescue package for the federal highway trust fund. The infusion comes as the trust fund, which relies on declining revenues from the federal gas tax, verges on going broke, threatening road and bridge projects in every state.

The House passed the measure on a 376-29 vote Thursday, a day after the Senate overcame objections from conservative senators and passed it on a voice vote. The legislation transfers $8 billion from the Treasury’s general fund to the highway fund, ensuring that ongoing construction projects won’t be interrupted.

The White House had threatened to veto the measure, calling it “both a gimmick and a dangerous precedent that shifts costs from users to taxpayers at large.”

But the administration shifted positions after Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters last week revealed that the trust fund would run out of money this month.

SENATE

Disabilities bill passes easily

The Senate on Thursday approved major legislation that would expand protection against workplace discrimination for people with disabilities and overturn several Supreme Court rulings.

The measure, passed on a voice vote and without dissent, is similar to a legislation that sailed through the House of Representatives in June, 402-17.

Minor differences between the two bills are expected to be quickly resolved so that a final version can be sent to President Bush to sign into law. It would expand the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed by Mr. Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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