- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Obama wants auto industry council

President Obama is creating a White House council to handle issues that affect American communities and workers tied to the automotive industry.

The White House says Obama will sign an executive order to establish the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers. The council will be chaired by the president’s economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, and his labor secretary, Hilda L. Solis.

The executive director will be Mr. Obama’s director of recovery for auto communities and workers, Ed Montgomery.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is traveling to Perrysburg, Ohio, to announce the committee’s creation.

The recession has been particularly hard on the auto industry, which has lost more than 400,000 jobs in the last decade.


Salazar optimistic about memorial

SOMERSET | Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he is optimistic deals will be made for land in southwestern Pennsylvania needed for the Flight 93 Memorial without invoking eminent domain.

Mr. Salazar says agreements have been reached with most of the landowners. He says negotiations with the rest are continuing and deals could be done within the next few weeks.

The government had set a deadline for deals to be in place before the government uses eminent domain to acquire the land. That deadline passed, but negotiations continued.

Flight 93 was hijacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, and crashed in rural Somerset County, about 65 miles outside of Pittsburgh. The government and victims’ families want the memorial in place by the 10th anniversary of the incident.


Cheney signs deal for memoir

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has signed a book deal with Simon & Schuster and said he hopes readers of all ideologies will be interested in his story.

The memoir by Mr. Cheney, widely considered the most powerful vice president in history, is expected to be published in the spring of 2011, a few months after former President George W. Bush’s book comes out. Mr. Cheney’s work is currently untitled and will cover his long career in government, from chief of staff under President Ford to vice president under Mr. Bush, from Vietnam and Watergate to the first Gulf War and the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a telephone interview Tuesday with the Associated Press, the 68-year-old Mr. Cheney noted that he had never written a book about his years in government, which date back to the 1960s.

“I’m persuaded there are a lot of interesting stories that ought to be told,” Mr. Cheney said. “I want my grandkids, 20 or 30 years from now, to be able to read it and understand what I did, and why I did it.”

Financial terms were not disclosed. A publishing official with knowledge of the negotiations but not authorized to publicly discuss them said the deal was likely worth at least $2 million. Mr. Cheney’s literary representative, Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, declined comment.


Gates OKs creation of cybercommand

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has formally ordered the creation of a new military cybercommand that will coordinate the Pentagon’s efforts to defend its networks and conduct cyberwarfare.

A memo signed by Mr. Gates on Tuesday asks the U.S. Strategic Command to begin plans to set up a subcommand and be prepared to provide a proposal by the fall.

Officials have said the new command would be located at Fort Meade in Maryland and would be ready to go by the end of next year.

The low-key launch of the new military unit reflects the Pentagon’s worry that the military might be seen as taking control over the nation’s computer networks.


Cable pioneer to pay penalty

Cable television pioneer John Malone will pay a $1.4 million penalty, after authorities said on Tuesday that he did not follow government rules on reporting major stock purchases over a three-year period.

The Justice Department announced the settlement with Mr. Malone, chairman of Liberty Media Corp., for his acquisition of shares of Discovery Holding Co.

Authorities said Mr. Malone failed to abide by antitrust pre-merger notification rules before acquiring shares of Discovery in 2005, and continued to acquire Discovery voting securities through April 2008. Last year, he made a corrective filing.

On Tuesday, the government filed a lawsuit and proposed settlement in the case in federal court.

The government said that even after Mr. Malone’s corrective filing, he acquired additional Discovery securities by exercising options. The court papers charge that Mr. Malone was in violation of the government reporting requirements from 2005 to 2008.

The law requires notification and a waiting period on individuals and companies over a certain size before they complete acquisitions resulting in holding stock or assets above a certain value. In 2005, that value was $53.1 million.

A spokeswoman for Liberty said the company has no comment on the settlement. Mr. Malone is a pioneer in the cable-television industry and the founder of Liberty.


Senator drafting law to stop fish fraud

A key member of a U.S. Senate panel is drafting legislation to plug a hole in government oversight that allows seafood merchants to routinely rip off customers by substituting cheap fish for more expensive fillets.

The effort by Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, to reel in such fish fraud comes after a Scripps Television Station Group’s investigation found the practice to be pervasive in restaurants in four cities: Kansas City, Mo.; Phoenix; Baltimore; and Tampa, Fla.

Mrs. Snowe said she wants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which currently inspects only 2 percent of imported seafood, to ratchet up its checks.

“Frankly, this is unacceptable,” said Mrs. Snowe, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce subcommittee on oceans and fisheries. “This issue highlights the serious gaps that currently exist within our nation’s system for ensuring seafood quality and safety.”

Mrs. Snowe is working with other members of the Senate Commerce Committee to develop legislation that will improve seafood labeling, quality assurance and safety. Earlier, at her request, the U.S. Government Accountability Office examined the issue and also found rampant fraud and little oversight.


Officials say Osprey may be insufficient

After more than 20 years of development and $27 billion in taxpayer money, a military plane that can take off and land like a helicopter may not meet the challenges of high-threat missions such as Afghanistan, government auditors said Tuesday.

The medium-size, tilt-rotor Osprey - jointly built by Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter - already has been plagued by two deadly test crashes and a history of mechanical failures. Now, auditors say the aircraft’s design limits its maneuverability, ability to operate in extreme temperatures, and overall performance in threatening environments.

The aircraft had difficulties operating from Navy ships and carrying the required number of troops and cargo during tests and training exercises, according to a Government Accountability Office review of the Osprey’s operations in Iraq.

“It’s incapable of performing the original way it was intended,” Michael Sullivan, director of acquisition and sourcing management for the GAO, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The Marine Corps disputed the GAO’s conclusions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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