- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

SUPREME COURT

Gun rulings put Sotomayor on spot

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor told Sen. Mark Udall on Thursday that she viewed the issue of the right to bear arms as “settled law.”

Judge Sotomayor said she followed Supreme Court precedent in a Second Amendment case that has alarmed gun rights advocates, in which she said a New York state law barring the carrying of a martial arts weapons should be upheld.

“Clearly, she spoke to the fact that settled law is just that, and the [D.C. gun-ban case in which the Supreme Court ruled last summer] has been considered by the court, and she sees that as the law, and she will work off of what the court decided as other cases may come to the court’s attention,” Mr. Udall, Colorado Democrat, told the Associated Press.

The remarks come two days after Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, said Judge Sotomayor “was unwilling to say the Second Amendment protects a fundamental right that applies to all Americans.”

Questions remain over whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms, which the Supreme Court affirmed in striking down the D.C. gun ban, also applies to state and local governments via the Fourteenth Amendment.

TRADE

‘Buy American’ questioned by group

The “Buy American” provisions in the federal stimulus package threaten U.S. jobs, a major business group said Thursday, urging the Obama administration to clarify how the rules will apply.

“These are American jobs that we are very concerned about,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce official Myron Brilliant told a news conference. He said he did not have a forecast of how many jobs could be lost.

The chamber said there was confusion about how state and local governments should interpret the provisions for the $200 billion worth of public works projects they will oversee as part of the $787 billion economic recovery package.

U.S. steel companies and smaller manufacturers lobbied for the measure, which requires stimulus projects to use iron, steel and other goods made in the United States, as long as that does not contravene trade commitments.

American companies that use foreign parts or materials in their goods are finding they may be excluded from bidding on projects and are also worried they could face retaliation when they bid on projects in other countries, said Mr. Brilliant, the chamber’s senior vice president for international affairs.

DIPLOMACY

U.S. seeks way to punish N. Korea

President Obama’s special envoy to North Korea said Thursday that the United States is determined to make sure the North faces serious consequences if it does not reverse its missile and nuclear work.

Stephen Bosworth told lawmakers that one punishment under consideration would target North Korean money deposited in banks outside the country. Similar action by the George W. Bush administration infuriated the North, effectively severing it from the international financial system and leading to a breakdown in nuclear talks.

But Mr. Bosworth also tempered his tough words by signaling the Obama administration’s continued desire to engage the North at any time, either bilaterally or through six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. He told senators at a hearing focused on dealing with North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests that the reclusive communist regime has so far spurned the administration’s attempts at engagement.

HOUSE

Ethics panel reviews campaign money

Lawmakers who steer money and contracts to favored companies, and receive campaign contributions in return for funding for so-called earmarks, might face a House ethics committee investigation.

The committee’s Democratic chairman and its ranking Republican said Thursday that the committee has been reviewing the practice.

The committee has not turned the review into a full investigation, a move that would involve much more intensive scrutiny with the possibility of disciplinary action.

Two key Democrats on the Appropriations Committee, John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania and Peter J. Visclosky of Indiana, are among those who could be under scrutiny.

STATE

Clinton to attend Canada treaty event

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will visit both the U.S. and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Thursday that Mrs. Clinton, during her first trip to Canada as secretary of state, will meet Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon after the centennial celebration for what is touted as the world’s first environmental agreement.

The official commemoration will take place Saturday, even though the treaty was signed Jan. 11, 1909.

NATIONAL SERVICE

Obama to fire inspector general

President Obama plans to fire the inspector general who investigates AmeriCorps and other national service programs amid a controversy between the inspector general and Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star.

Inspector General Gerald Walpin was criticized by the U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled an investigation of Mr. Johnson and his nonprofit group, which received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants from the Corporation for National Community Service. The corporation runs the AmeriCorps program.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama said in a letter to Congress that he had lost confidence in Mr. Walpin. The president must give Congress 30 days’ notice before removing Mr. Walpin, who is being suspended with pay for the 30 days.

The inspector general found that Mr. Johnson, a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, had used AmeriCorps grants to pay volunteers to engage in school-board political activities, run personal errands for Mr. Johnson and even wash his car.

Mr. Walpin, a New York attorney, was appointed by President George W. Bush and sworn into office in January 2007.

WHITE HOUSE

Bon Jovi eats with Obama aide

You never know who might pop up at the Obama White House. Thursday’s guest? Jon Bon Jovi.

The rock star came to have lunch and share ideas with David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama. Mr. Bon Jovi and Mr. Axelrod discussed the president’s efforts to encourage community service, an area of interest that the musician shares and promotes as well, the White House said.

Mr. Bon Jovi helped out Mr. Obama during the presidential campaign. In September, Mr. Bon Jovi and his wife hosted more than 100 people for dinner on their mansion lawn in New Jersey to raise money for Mr. Obama and the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Obama was at the event and spoke briefly.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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