- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Obama rushes home in scare

KAILUA, Hawaii | President Obama dramatically broke off a round of golf on Monday and rushed back to his rented vacation home followed by an ambulance with lights flashing.

Fears something may have happened to first lady Michelle Obama or daughters Malia and Sasha were laid to rest less than an hour later as it emerged that all the fuss was about a friend of the president’s with minor injuries.

“The first family is fine,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said, without providing the identity of the friend whose injury had forced Mr. Obama to suddenly abandon his golf game and race back in the presidential motorcade.

An administration official said the child of one of Mr. Obama’s golfing partners had been hurt in a “run-of-the-mill beach injury” but did not require stitches.

The incident was apparently not too serious as the president soon climbed back into his motorcade and returned to the course to finish his round of golf.


Dayton confirms mild depression

MINNEAPOLIS | Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton says he has struggled with mild depression for years and relapsed in his recovery from alcoholism while serving in the U.S. Senate.

The Star Tribune first reported the information in a column Sunday.

The column said Mr. Dayton started drinking late in his lone Senate term and checked himself into a treatment center for a week. It also quoted Mr. Dayton as saying his depression has not influenced his decisions as an elected official.

Mr. Dayton e-mailed supporters to point out the column.

He said people have a right to know about the “deeply personal matters” as he campaigns for governor.

Mr. Dayton is one of 11 Democrats in a race that also features seven Republican candidates.


McCain piles up cash for primary

PHOENIX | Friends say Sen. John McCain is well-financed and ready to do battle against potential Republican primary challengers in 2010.

Those challengers may include former Rep. J.D. Hayworth and Minuteman Civil Defense Corps co-founder Chris Simcox.

Mr. McCain has already stashed away $5 million for the race, according to the group Friends of John McCain Inc. in a report to the Federal Election Commission. Mr. McCain may also be able to tap $22 million from his failed presidential race.

Cook Political Report analyst Jennifer Duffy said Mr. Hayworth would need to raise a minimum of $2 million to run a decent primary against McCain.

Mr. Hayworth, a Phoenix radio talk-show host, acknowledged over the airwaves that a Senate campaign against Mr. McCain would cost millions.

“Obviously, the costs of waging a campaign are high,” Mr. Hayworth said. “But I think with the new technologies, and with the levels of interest and activism we’re seeing here, it could be done - obviously, it would have to be done - for a lot cheaper than $27 million.”


Officer deaths hit 50-year low

Law-enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers - despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001.

The drop in deaths, cited in a police group’s report Monday, was tempered by an increase in firearm deaths. In one horrific November shooting, four officers were executed as they discussed their upcoming shift in a Lakewood, Wash., coffee shop.

Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found:

• Twenty-four officers were killed this year, compared with 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago.

• Traffic fatalities fell to 56, compared with 71 a year ago. The report said the decline was partly attributed to “move over” state laws, which require motorists to change lanes to give officers clearance on the side of a road.

• Firearms deaths rose to 48, nine more than in 2008. However, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades.


Senate approves first gay marshal

MINNEAPOLIS | Minneapolis assistant police Chief Sharon Lubinski has become the first openly gay U.S. marshal.

The U.S. Senate confirmed the Green Bay, Wis., native to be the U.S. marshal for the Minnesota district. Last week’s confirmation also makes her the first female marshal in the state.

Miss Lubinski has served a number of roles with the Minneapolis Police. She was also a sheriff’s deputy in Wisconsin.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recommended Miss Lubinski to President Obama, who formally nominated her to the marshal post in October.

U.S. marshals oversee federal courthouse security, witness protection and the apprehension of federal fugitives.

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