- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Conyers subpoenas Rove once more

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove to testify about the Bush administration’s firing of U.S. attorneys.

The subpoena Monday by Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, continues a long-running legal battle. Mr. Rove previously refused to appear before the panel, contending that former presidential advisers cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.

Mr. Rove was asked to appear for a deposition Feb. 2. Mr. Conyers also wants him to testify on whether politics played a role in the prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat.

Mr. Rove’s former boss, ex-President George W. Bush, upheld his legal position, but it has been rejected by a federal judge.


Army puts focus on sexual abuse

The Army said Monday that it is expanding its attention to sexual abuse cases by adding prosecutors, rearranging its criminal investigative unit and stepping up training to change behavior.

The moves, which will include sexual assault prevention training from commanders on down through the ranks, are aimed at stemming crimes that Army Secretary Pete Geren called “repugnant to the core values” of the military service.

“We see the crime of sexual assault as a crime that goes beyond just the criminal act,” Mr. Geren told reporters at the Pentagon. “We see it as a crime that destroys unit cohesion.”

Last year, an estimated 15 percent of about 9,000 Army investigations involved sexual assault allegations, Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson said. However, only 137 cases went to trial, with many cases involving inappropriate comments or other offenses that were punished by internal disciplinary action instead of criminal charges.


Republicans warn of insurance switch

Republican lawmakers opposed to expanding the children’s health insurance program argued that broadening the plan would force 2.4 million children into government-sponsored insurance.

“We’re going to replace a lot of private insurance with government insurance,” Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl said Monday as the Senate prepared to consider a bill to extend health insurance to about 4 million uninsured children.

Mr. Kyl and other Republicans also expressed reservations about covering the children of legal immigrants under the State Children Health Insurance Program.

Overall, the Senate legislation would increase spending on the program by $31.5 billion over the next 4 1/2 years. The expansion would be paid for by increasing the federal excise tax on tobacco products.


Fannie Mae needs up to $16 billion

Mortgage finance company Fannie Mae said Monday that it likely needs up to $16 billion from the government as conditions in the U.S. housing market continue to deteriorate.

Fannie Mae’s disclosure that it expects an injection of $11 billion to $16 billion in taxpayer aid comes after sibling company Freddie Mac disclosed last week that it’s likely to require as much as $35 billion in federal support on top of the $13.8 billion it received last year.

Fannie, which has yet to receive any government aid, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the actual amount needed “may differ materially from this estimate” because its fourth-quarter financial statements are still being prepared.


Duke Ellington graces D.C. quarter

The nation’s capital now has its own quarter.

The U.S. Mint on Monday released the coin featuring Washington native and jazz great Duke Ellington at his piano. It also has an inscription of the city’s motto, “Justice for All.”

Collectors can go online or to banks to buy two-roll sets and bags of up to 1,000 quarters.

D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton says officials are planning an event to celebrate the coin later this month.

Last year, the U.S. Mint rejected designs that included the slogan “Taxation Without Representation.” That refers to the long-running gripe that D.C. residents pay federal taxes without full representation in Congress.

The Mint’s state quarter program finished in November with Hawaii and is moving on to U.S. territories.


Senate OKs delay to digital switch

The Senate on Monday voted unanimously to postpone the upcoming transition from analog to digital television broadcasting by four months to June 12.

The vote is a big victory for the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress, who have been pushing for a delay amid growing concerns that too many Americans won’t be ready for the scheduled Feb. 17 changeover.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals could see their TV sets go dark next month if the transition is not postponed.

The issue now goes to the House. House Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, has scheduled a committee vote Tuesday on his own proposal to delay the digital transition.


Markings on ballot copies upset case

ST. PAUL | The trial on Minnesota’s U.S. Senate recount stalled on its first day Monday when the judges said photocopies of 5,000 excluded absentee ballots couldn’t be used as evidence because Republican Norm Coleman’s campaign workers had put marks on them.

Mr. Coleman’s lawsuit argues in part that local election officials wrongly rejected many absentee ballots. Democrat Al Franken has a 225-vote lead and says any flaws are not substantial enough that they resulted in the wrong man winning.

The marks the campaign workers made included, in some cases, numbering or redaction of private information. After a Coleman witness admitted to the markings, Mr. Franken’s attorneys objected to using them as evidence because they had been altered.

The three-judge panel hearing the case agreed and told Mr. Coleman’s attorneys they would have to subpoena the original ballot envelopes instead. That could add days or more to a trial already expected to last weeks at a minimum.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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