- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 27, 2009


Ethics committee investigates travel

The House ethics committee is investigating whether five Democratic lawmakers, including two committee chairmen, received improper gifts in travel to Caribbean conferences in 2007 and 2008.

The committee said it was investigating Charles B. Rangel of New York, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan; Donald M. Payne of New Jersey; Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee; and Donna M.C. Christensen, the delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The annual Multinational Business Conference on Caribbean affairs is held in a different Caribbean country each year and is officially sponsored by the Carib News Foundation. The Carib News is a small Caribbean newspaper based in New York.

The lawmakers under scrutiny said the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct approved the travel in advance as required by House rules.

Despite the permission to attend, there are indications that the committee is questioning whether corporations with lobbyists actually financed the lawmakers’ transportation, hotels, meals and other expenses.


Domestic violence adviser appointed

A longtime advocate for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault was named to a new post Friday as a White House adviser on violence against women.

In announcing the appointment of Lynn Rosenthal, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said that creating the job allows the White House to revive a focus on domestic-violence issues - which Mr. Biden said were not at the forefront during the Bush administration.

“What I’m about to say is not a knock or a criticism on the last administration or anybody else,” Mr. Biden said, but “one of the sins of omission is this has not been a front-and-center issue for the last eight years on the national agenda. It used to be.”

The White House said Miss Rosenthal will advise President Obama and Mr. Biden and work with government agencies to ensure that violence against women is not ignored and that the perpetrators are held accountable.

A former director of a women’s shelter, Miss Rosenthal was the executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence from 2000 to 2006. She also worked as the director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


Counterintelligence chief to be replaced

The U.S. official in charge of catching foreign spies and foiling their plots is leaving his post on July 4.

National Intelligence Director Dennis C. Blair announced the departure of Joel Brenner, the national counterintelligence executive for the last three years, in a message to employees sent Friday. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the message.

No reason was given for Mr. Brenner’s departure, and his replacement has not yet been announced. Mr. Brenner could not be reached for comment.


Solar probe to go dark

NASA and the European Space Agency are about to pull the plug on a robotic solar probe that just wouldn’t quit.

The Ulysses probe was launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990. It was supposed to last five years, but it’s now nearing 19 years, 5.8 billion miles and is still going.

Sixteen months ago, the two space agencies announced that Ulysses was freezing up and about to die in a matter of weeks. Somehow it kept operating, sending important science information about an extraordinarily quiet year for the sunspots and solar wind.

That will end on Tuesday when the space agencies turn off Ulysses’ transmitter. Officials say issues with power, location and antennas make it no longer useful.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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