- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009



Steele launches attack on Obama

Republican National Chairman Michael S. Steele has launched a direct attack on the Obama administration in a new party mailing, accusing the president of being part of the “blame America first” crowd, The Washington Times has learned.

Accused by some Republican critics for not taking on the Democratic president hard enough or often enough, Mr. Steele took the gloves off in a fundraising letter sent out Monday to 12 million party supporters. Recipients included RNC donors, as well as the mailing lists of two conservative organizations, Human Events and GOPUSA, according to RNC communications director Trevor Francis.

Mr. Steele wrote that Mr. Obama's comments criticizing the United States on his recent European tour showed “an absence of wisdom.”

Mr. Steele's letter also slammed the president for saying he was open to possible talks with Iran. “Apparently, he believes he can make peace with crackpot tyrants and heartless terrorists simply by sitting down and talking,” it said.

It was only after a string of critical remarks on the president that Mr. Steele made a pitch for contributions to the party.


Abortion doctor donations inaccurate

President Obama's nominee for health and human services secretary got nearly three times as much political money from an abortion doctor as she told senators.

The Health and Human Services Department said Monday that the omission was an oversight that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius would correct.

In a response to questions from the Senate Finance Committee made public last week, Mrs. Sebelius wrote that she received $12,450 between 1994 and 2001 from Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers.

But in addition to those campaign donations, records reviewed by the Associated Press show that Mr. Tiller gave at least $23,000 more from 2000 to 2002 to a political action committee that Mrs. Sebelius established while insurance commissioner to raise money for fellow Democrats.

Mrs. Sebelius did not tell senators about that additional money, although Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, asked specifically about any Tiller donations to her PAC.

“There was an oversight in the initial answer provided to the committee,” HHS spokesman Nick Papas said Monday. “Obviously, donations to the PAC are a matter of public record. The governor is updating the answer to this question and will resubmit it to the committee.”


Commerce nixes floating terminal

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. | The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday announced its opposition to a proposed massive floating liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound.

Environmentalists hailed the decision as a victory over “the corporate Goliaths of our time.” Politicians in New York and Connecticut have campaigned for several years to stop what would have been the world's first floating liquefied natural gas terminal.

About the size of the Queen Mary 2, the terminal would be the length of four football fields, about eight stories high and located nine miles off Long Island and 11 miles from the Connecticut coast. After New York Gov. David A. Paterson ruled against the project last year, Broadwater - a consortium of Shell Oil and TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. - appealed to the Commerce Department.

The department said Monday the project's “adverse coastal impacts outweighed its national interest” and noted its location in an undeveloped area 70 miles east of Manhattan would undermine decades of federal, state and local efforts to protect the region.


NRC: Can't bar foreign imports

SALT LAKE CITY | The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it doesn't have the authority to prevent foreign radioactive waste from being imported into the United States.

The NRC wrote in an April 9 letter to Reps. Jim Matheson, Utah Democrat, and Bart Gordon, Tennessee Democrat, that the Atomic Energy Act doesn't distinguish between domestic and foreign waste. The NRC says that as long as the material can be imported safely and someone is willing to accept it, the commission can't keep the waste out.

Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions is seeking a license to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy's shuttered nuclear power program. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed of in the western Utah desert.

Mr. Matheson and Mr. Gordon are sponsoring a bill - which has yet to get a hearing - that would ban the importation of low-level radioactive waste unless the nuclear material originated here or the waste was imported for a strategic national purpose.


Clinton to visit Haiti on Thursday

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visits Haiti on Thursday to talk about how to promote stability in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation despite its long history of violence and political unrest.

Mrs. Clinton will visit two days after donor nations gather in Washington on Tuesday for a pledging conference to aid Haiti and just ahead of this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

The State Department said Mrs. Clinton would meet Haitian President Rene Preval to discuss “stability, security and assistance.”

She then visits the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, where she will meet President Leonel Fernandez before flying to Trinidad and Tobago to join President Obama at the regional summit.


President hails stimulus projects

President Obama said Monday the $787 billion economic stimulus plan is beginning to take hold and that work is coming in “ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Standing alongside Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at the agency, Mr. Obama highlighted the administration's 2,000th project funded through the $48.1 billion part of the program allocated specifically to transportation infrastructure projects.

Transportation department officials say that because so many contractors want a share of stimulus money, competition is driving down costs by about 15 percent to 20 percent.


$57 million wanted for highway studies

COLUMBUS, Ohio | Ohio wants to spend $57 million in federal stimulus money on highway projects that won't begin for years, an unusual strategy for money that President Obama said should be used to give the economy an immediate job-creating jolt.

Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and the state's transportation officials passed over some ready-to-go construction projects and steered about 7 percent of their $774 million share for planning and preliminary studies.

That infuriated some local leaders, who hoped the money would build even more new bridges or resurface roads in the cash-strapped state, where unemployment recently hit a 25-year high of 9.4 percent.

The Federal Highway Administration has to review the projects to ensure that they are eligible.


1.5 million GM vehicles recalled

General Motors Corp. is recalling 1.5 million vehicles because of the potential for engine fires.

GM said there have been no reports of any fires or injuries.

Some of the recalled vehicles are no longer in production. The recall includes the 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue, the 1997-2003 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1997-2003 Buick Regal, and the 1998-2003 Chevrolet Lumina, Monte Carlo and Impala.

It involves vehicles with a 3.8-liter V6 engine. The government said drops of oil could fall into the exhaust system and cause a fire in the engine.

GM spokesman Kerry Christopher said it was a precautionary measure for consumers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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