- The Washington Times - Monday, March 30, 2009

SENATE

Kerry pursues nuclear test ban

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he has begun laying the groundwork for Senate ratification of a global pact banning nuclear tests.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was rejected by the Senate a decade ago. President Obama said during his campaign that he would seek to get the treaty ratified.

“We are very close. … We don’t have that many votes to win over to win,” Mr. Kerry told a conference on U.S. policy toward Russia on Friday. “But they are serious folks and we are going to have to persuade them.”



Mr. Kerry said his committee would hold hearings on the treaty. A vote by the full Senate is unlikely before next year, he said.

The United States has had a moratorium on nuclear testing since 1992. Washington signed the pact in 1996, but President Clinton, a Democrat, was unable to get it through the Senate, which had a Republican majority. Now the Democrats control the Senate, but even should they keep perfect party discipline, their 58-member caucus is still nine short of the 67 votes needed to reached the constitutionally required two-thirds approval.

PENTAGON

‘Don’t ask’ policy on back burner

Don’t expect any change soon to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about gays in the military.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, appearing of “Fox News Sunday,” said both he and President Obama have “a lot on our plates right now.” As Mr. Gates puts it, “Let’s push that one down the road a little bit.”

The White House has said Mr. Obama has begun consulting with Mr. Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. Mr. Gates said that dialogue has not progressed very far.

The Pentagon policy was put into place after President Clinton tried to lift the ban on gay service members in 1993.

The policy refers to the military practice of not asking recruits their sexual orientation. In turn, service members are banned from disclosing that they are gay.

HISTORY

Women’s museum gains momentum

For more than a decade, House and Senate proponents of a National Women’s History Museum have introduced legislation that would give backers permission to buy a federally owned building in Washington to serve as the site.

The bills have fallen short each time, but this year may be different.

The combination of a female House speaker, a friendly White House and the identification of a piece of property not far from the Mall have supporters more confident then ever before.

Introduced Wednesday, the House measure would authorize the General Services Administration to sell the museum organizers a vacant parcel on Independence Avenue that once was slated for a national health museum. A companion Senate version is expected soon.

The museum would be built and run entirely with private-sector contributions from individuals and corporations. Estimated money to be raised: $250 million to $300 million.

STUDY

Few patrons read fast-food facts

For all the fuss and expense about making calorie and nutritional information available in fast-food restaurants, a study finds that almost no one seems to use the information.

Researchers at Yale camped in McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks and Au Bon Pain outlets in both urban and suburban settings and tracked the behavior of more than 4,300 patrons, watching to see who read the posters, pamphlets or computer screens containing the nutritional tidbits.

Six people did. The researchers said more people might pay attention if the information was included on menus rather than listed separately.

DIPLOMACY

Holbrooke urges caution on Iran

A top American diplomat is not raising his hopes for a breakthrough with Iran during an upcoming international conference.

Richard C. Holbrooke is the U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” he said that 30 years of bitter disagreements between the U.S. and Iran won’t be erased in one meeting.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Iranian diplomats will be together at The Hague, in the Netherlands, for a U.N.-sponsored meeting Tuesday on Afghanistan.

The official U.S. position is that Iran is a neighbor of Afghanistan and shares U.S. concerns for its future. Yet the U.S. and Iran are divided by stark differences over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and many other issues.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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