- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TRANSPORTATION

Businesses urge electric-car effort

A group of businessmen Monday launched a new coalition to urge the federal government to make a major investment in electric transportation, pointing to electric cars as the best way to confront the nation’s dependence on imported oil.

Top executives with more than a dozen companies, including Nissan Motor Co., FedEx Corp., electric utility PG&E; Corp. and battery developers A123 Systems Inc. and Johnson Controls-Saft, announced the formation of the Electrification Coalition to lay the groundwork for millions of electric cars to reach U.S. highways.

Issuing a lengthy plan to electrify the nation’s fleet, the coalition urged Congress to pass a series of tax credits and loan guarantees to bring 14 million electric cars to the road by 2020 and more than 100 million by 2030. The group envisions a network of electric vehicles in six to eight cities in the short term and an expansion across the country, making 75 percent of all vehicle miles traveled powered by electricity by 2040.

“There’s no pie-in-the-sky here,” said Frederick W. Smith, FedEx’s chairman, president and CEO. “It’s simply a matter of organization, a matter of will and a matter of execution.”

Participants, however, acknowledged that the proposals would be expensive and would require a major commitment from Congress.

SAFETY

Seat belts sought on motorcoaches

The Obama administration says it will propose long-sought safety requirements for motorcoaches, including seat belts and stronger roof standards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a plan Monday to improve motorcoach safety. It calls for issuing a rule before the end of this year on roof standards and a rule early next year on installation of seat belts.

Safety advocates have urged seat belts and stronger roofs to prevent passengers from being ejected in rollovers.

The plan also calls for the installation of devices that record when a bus is turned on or off, which is an effort to prevent drivers from operating a bus for more hours than is allowed. Driver fatigue has been cited as a factor in several fatal accidents.

FLORIDA

Rubio raps rival with ‘Obama ad’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who criticizes Gov. Charlie Crist for being a fan of President Obama’s stimulus package, is himself a fan of one of Mr. Obama’s campaign ads.

Mr. Rubio’s U.S. Senate campaign posted a Web ad criticizing Mr. Crist, a fellow Republican also running for the Senate seat. The ad uses the same music, lettering and style of an ad Obama ran against Republican Sen. John McCain.

The Obama ad pointed out Mr. McCain’s comment that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. The Rubio ad points out that Mr. Crist appeared with the president to support the $787 billion stimulus package.

A Web site noted the similarities and questioned whether Mr. Rubio plagiarized Mr. Obama. The Rubio campaign said the similarities are deliberate but the ad is a homage.

REPORT

Postal Service loses $3.8 billion

The U.S. Postal Service reported a loss of $3.8 billion last year, despite a reduction of 40,000 full-time positions and other cost-cutting measures.

The loss was $1 billion more than the year before despite job cuts and other efforts designed to save billions of dollars, postal officials said Monday.

“Our 2009 fiscal year proved to be one of the most challenging in the history of the Postal Service,” Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett said.

“The deep economic recession, and to a lesser extent the ongoing migration of mail to electronic alternatives, significantly affected all mail products, creating a large imbalance between revenues and costs,” he said.

COURTS

Judge rules out ‘warming’ defense

SALT LAKE CITY | A federal judge says he won’t allow global warming to be put on trial in the case of a college student charged with disrupting an auction of oil and gas drilling leases near Utah national parks.

U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on Monday denied a motion by Tim DeChristopher’s lawyers. They wanted to mount a defense claiming he acted in the interest of the greater good by bidding up parcels at the auction in December.

The University of Utah student has said he did it to call attention to global warming.

He was indicted in April on felony charges of interfering with a government auction and making false representations.

In his ruling, Judge Benson says Mr. DeChristopher didn’t show his actions would have prevented imminent harm and he had other ways to challenge the leases.

IRAQ

Schwarzenegger praises troops

BAGHDAD | California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped in on U.S. troops in Iraq on Monday, thanking them for the sacrifices they and their families are making.

Mr. Schwarzenegger entered a crowded dining hall at Camp Victory on Baghdad’s outskirts to a loud roar from the soldiers gathered.

He congratulated them on the job they were doing before shaking hands and posing for photographs.

The former Mr. Universe also discussed with soldiers the need to work out, reminding them: “You have to pump up every day.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger planned to work out with some of the troops Tuesday after serving them breakfast, said his spokesman, Aaron McLear.

Mr. McLear said the governor also hopes to meet with Iraqi officials. On Monday, Mr. Schwarzenegger had dinner with a group of generals - including Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq - after handing out cigars to troops.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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