- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

President tries to reassure labor

President Obama is telling labor leaders he remains committed to passage of a bill that would make it easier to form unions, but he’s not offering any timeline.

Mr. Obama made the comments at a White House meeting Monday with top union officials who reassured the president they are united on health care and labor reforms.

The Employee Free Choice Act has been stalled for months as lawmakers work out a compromise that can satisfy several wavering Democrats.

Mr. Obama met with a group that includes the two big labor federations, AFL-CIO and Change to Win, along with leaders from 11 major unions representing 16 million workers.

Union leaders also told Mr. Obama they want a health care plan that requires employer participation.

SENATE

1 million follow McCain on Twitter

Republican Sen. John McCain, who once called himself computer “illiterate,” cheered Monday about having more than 1 million followers on the Twitter micro-blogging site.

“I’m both honored and humbled that over one million people follow me on Twitter. It has been one of the most enjoyable experiences in my long political career - not too bad for an old guy,” he said.

As of 7:11 p.m. Monday, the Arizona senator had 1,000,998 followers of his Twitter feed, which can be found at www.twitter.com/senjohnmccain.

TRANSPORTATION

Senate confirms highway chief

PHOENIX | The U.S. Senate has confirmed Victor Mendez as the next administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

The confirmation was announced Monday by the highway administration. Executive director Jeff Paniati praised Mr. Mendez’s leadership and experience. He has been acting administrator since January.

Mr. Mendez started at the Arizona Department of Transportation in 1985 as a transportation engineer. He was promoted to deputy director in 1999 and acting director in 2001.

His responsibilities will include overseeing federal stimulus spending for transportation.

REPUBLICANS

Palin’s PAC raises $733,000

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | A report says Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s political action committee raised nearly $733,000 in its first five months.

A report filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission shows receipts totaled $732,867.70 in the period between Jan. 1 and June 30.

The former Republican vice-presidential candidate launched the committee, SarahPAC, in late January, saying the goal was to help support candidates for federal and state office.

The report says SarahPAC made total disbursements of more than $276,000 and reported nearly $457,000 cash on hand.

Earlier this month, Mrs. Palin announced she will resign as governor effective July 26, fueling speculation she will seek the presidency in 2012.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Scholar’s arrest in Iran upsets U.S.

The United States said Monday it was “deeply concerned” about the reported arrest in Iran last week of Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh and called for his immediate release.

“We’re deeply concerned of reports that an Iranian-American scholar has [been] unjustly detained in Iran,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

“We have urged the Iranian authorities to immediately release Kian Tajbakhsh, as well as return the passports of all Americans being kept in Iran on groundless charges,” he added.

Mr. Kelly specifically mentioned Iranian-American student Esha Momeni, who was detained for a month at the end of 2008 as a threat to national security, and who has since been barred from leaving Iran.

HIGHWAYS

Drunken driving declines sharply

A government study says the number of drivers found with blood-alcohol levels above the legal limit has declined sharply during the past 30 years.

A roadside survey released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 2.2 percent of drivers had blood-alcohol levels of 0.08 or higher in 2007. That’s a steep decline compared with 1973, when 7.5 percent of the drivers surveyed were legally intoxicated.

A separate government survey found that about 16 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs - about half of them for marijuana.

Researchers said the presence of drugs can remain in a driver’s system for weeks, making it difficult to know whether those drivers were impaired.

SENATE

Camp David visit preceded job offer

Former President George W. Bush has released final lists of his White House and Camp David overnight guests, and there is an interesting detail in the rundown.

Republican Sen. Judd Gregg and his wife spent the night at Camp David in January, just weeks before President Obama asked Mr. Gregg to be his commerce secretary.

The New Hampshire senator initially accepted Mr. Obama’s nomination, but then he withdrew a few weeks later.

The Greggs visited the Maryland presidential retreat at least twice during Mr. Bush’s tenure.

The lists released Monday cover Mr. Bush’s second term. They were provided at the request of the Associated Press. As in Mr. Bush’s first term, the roster is dominated by family, friends and Cabinet members.

COURTS

Poker firm wants U.S. to return cash

A payment processor that handles the accounts of online poker players wants a judge to order the return of about $14 million that the company says was seized by the federal government.

Account Services Corp. of San Diego asked a federal judge there to order the government to return the money, which the company says was seized from two California banks. The company argues in a filing last Friday that the money was seized illegally.

An advocacy group for online poker, the Poker Players Alliance, says the money is part of the $30 million recently frozen by the federal government from payment processors.

The Justice Department has long maintained that Internet gambling is illegal. Officials there had no immediate comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide