Monday, September 22, 2008


Feds search home of Palin-hack suspect

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | The FBI is stepping up its investigation into the possibility that the son of a Democratic state lawmaker hacked into the personal e-mail of Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, according to Knoxville TV station WBIR.

A law enforcement source told WBIR that a search warrant was served on the Fort Sanders residence of David Kernell early Sunday morning. A second source, whom the station identified as “a witness” to the search, gave the same account.

Mr. Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a Democratic state representative from Memphis.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman confirmed to the TV station that there has been “investigatory activity” in Knoxville regarding the Palin case, but said there are no publicly available search warrants, and no charges have been filed.

According to the witness, several agents arrived at the Commons of Knoxville around midnight, presented their badges upon entering his apartment, where several students were having a party, and took down their names. The witness said Mr. Kernell’s three roommates also were subpoenaed, and must testify this week in Chattanooga.

The FBI and the Secret Service started a formal investigation on Wednesday into the hacking.


Palin to meet with Afghan leader

Republican vice-presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai this coming week in New York, campaign officials for Republican nominee Sen. John McCain confirmed Saturday.

Mr. Karzai and other world leaders will convene in New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Both Mr. McCain and Mrs. Palin planned to be in New York during that time, in part so Mr. McCain can introduce the Alaska governor to the foreign dignitaries assembled there.

McCain campaign officials said Mrs. Palin may have meetings with other world leaders, but declined to say which ones.


Bush prods Hill on Colombia pact

President Bush and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe on Saturday renewed their push for Congress to approve a free-trade deal before lawmakers leave town to campaign for re-election.

“It’s in our economic interest that we continue to open up markets in our neighborhood, particularly with a nation that is growing like yours,” Mr. Bush told Mr. Uribe in the Rose Garden. “And yet we can’t get a vote out of Congress. I’ve been asking the Democrat leadership in Congress for a vote, and they’ve consistently blocked the vote.”

Congressional Democrats said they are delaying votes on trade deals involving Colombia, Panama and South Korea until the Bush administration resolves questions about the impact on U.S. jobs and other issues. But time is running out on the legislative calendar. The Colombian pact was negotiated in late 2006.


Joblessness rises in 12 key states

Unemployment rose last month in the 12 most hotly contested battleground states in the presidential election, including Michigan, Florida and Ohio.

Michigan’s jobless rate rose to 8.9 percent, the highest in the nation, with the loss of more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs in August, the Labor Department reported Friday. Unemployment in Florida has surged 2.3 percentage points to 6.5 percent over the past 12 months.

Nationwide, the jobless rate in August hit a five-year high of 6.1 percent. Unemployment rose last month in 44 states. Five rates registered a drop, and Maine was unchanged.

Among a dozen states considered to be highly competitive in the presidential contest, 11 had “significant” unemployment-rate changes over the past 12 months, the Labor Department said.

Jobless rates in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada were more than 40 percent higher than their August 2007 levels. Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania also had significant increases in the past year. Wisconsin’s rate rose only 0.2 percentage points.


VA backs down, allows voter drives

After weeks of being pummeled, the Department of Veterans Affairs has backed down from its refusal to let nonpartisan groups hold voter-registration drives in VA facilities, including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and homeless shelters.

The VA had insisted that opening its doors to such drives would mean too much disruption, and balked at vetting groups to determine which were truly nonpartisan.

But the force of the League of Women Voters, Veterans of Foreign Wars and a phalanx of Capitol Hill lawmakers prevailed, and the VA announced recently that it would welcome local and state elections officials, along with nonpartisan organizations, to host drives in hospitals and outpatient clinics as long as the groups coordinated with the VA facilities.

The VA’s lawyers will help with vetting the groups.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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