- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 9, 2009


Obama 'flexible' on sale of permits

President Obama is “flexible” on the percentage of greenhouse-gas emissions permits that are sold to industry as part of a cap-and-trade system, the White House said Wednesday.

“The president has asked Congress to send him comprehensive energy legislation that would spur a transition to a clean-energy economy, create thousands of green jobs, and wean us of our dependence on foreign oil,” spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

He said Mr. Obama saw wiggle room from the approach he articulated as a presidential candidate, which called for 100 percent of the permits to be auctioned, rather than given free of charge, to participants in an emissions-trading system.

The system is meant to help reduce emissions blamed for warming the Earth.

“Members of Congress are looking at a variety of policy options to help us make that transition, and the administration will be flexible during the policymaking process as long as those larger goals are met,” Mr. LaBolt said.


Shooting down plane not considered

ST. LOUIS | The agency charged with defending North American air space never seriously considered shooting down a rogue pilot who flew into U.S. airspace because it quickly determined that he had no hostile intent, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Adam Dylan Leon is accused of stealing a single-engine Cessna 172 from his Ontario flight school Monday and flying erratically over three states before landing more than seven hours later on a desolate stretch of highway in southern Missouri. Authorities said Mr. Leon didn't communicate with anyone and had no map or flight plan.

The FBI and Missouri State Highway Patrol have said Mr. Leon told them he was trying to commit suicide, hoping U.S. fighter jets would shoot him down.

North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Mike Kucharek said lethal force was an option, but one that was ruled out soon after a pair of F-16 fighter jets began tailing the plane.

“In this instance, I don't think it was considered,” Mr. Kucharek said. “We knew very early on it was a stolen aircraft, learned pretty early on he didn't have hostile intent.”

Defense officials quickly learned that the pilot was Mr. Leon, who was born Yavuz Berke in Turkey before moving to Canada and becoming a naturalized citizen, Mr. Kucharek said.


Priests object to Obama invite

SOUTH BEND, Ind. | Ten priests in the Roman Catholic order that helps run the University of Notre Dame want the school to reconsider having President Obama deliver this year's commencement address.

Notre Dame's invitation to Mr. Obama has drawn outrage from some Catholics because his stances on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research are at odds with church teaching.

Ten members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross signed an open letter published Wednesday in the campus newspaper.

They ask Notre Dame's president - the Rev. John Jenkins, also a Holy Cross priest - and the university's board of fellows to reconsider having Mr. Obama speak at the May commencement and receive an honorary degree.


Biden welcomes troops home

FORT BRAGG, N.C. | Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. greeted soldiers after their 15-month deployment to Iraq, telling U.S. troops Wednesday that the war-torn nation is “a country where violence is replaced by progress.”

“You did more than I suspect you even know,” Mr. Biden told several thousand soldiers during a welcome-home ceremony for the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.

Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, corps commander, said his soldiers made a difference during their months in Iraq that helped peaceful elections occur.

“Today, Iraq is experiencing the lowest levels of violence since the beginning of the war,” Gen. Austin said. “Iraq has a tremendous opportunity to achieve its potential because of the efforts of the 18th Airborne Corps.”

Mr. Biden also presented awards to several of the unit's soldiers, including six Bronze Stars - the Army's fourth-highest combat medal - and a meritorious service award for a chaplain.

About 900 soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters have recently returned to North Carolina, including about 200 over the weekend. The unit spent more than a year in charge of the Multinational Force in Iraq. It completed that work on Saturday and passed along the command to I Corps of Fort Lewis, Wash.

Mr. Biden's son is serving in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard. Sen. Kay Hagan and Reps. Mike McIntyre and Bob Etheridge, all North Carolina Democrats, also attended the ceremony.

The vice president visited North Carolina last week, touring a rural health care center in Faison and a volunteer fire department in Pikeville. He touted the $787 billion federal stimulus package and how it would help residents and homebuyers in rural areas nationwide.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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