- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NEW JERSEY

Candidate bent rules on spending

TRENTON, N.J. | Travel records show the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor frequently exceeded federal spending guidelines on business travel while he was a U.S. attorney.

The records were obtained by the campaign of Chris Christie’s opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine, under the Freedom of Information Act. The campaign gave them to the Associated Press.

Mr. Christie exceeded the hotel allowance on 14 of 16 business trips last year. Vouchers show taxpayers occasionally paid for five-star hotels topping $400 a night.

Mr. Christie has campaigned on a platform of ethical integrity and cutting government waste. He said he stayed in more expensive hotels when government rates weren’t available and completed paperwork justifying the expenses.

SENATE

Kerry ‘wary’ of troop buildup

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, who will travel to Afghanistan and Pakistan this week, said Tuesday he was “very wary” of sending more American troops to the region.

Minutes after getting off the phone to President Obama about the issue, the Massachusetts Democrat said neither of the two extremes - a nationwide counterinsurgency and nation-building effort in Afghanistan, nor “walking away from the place” - were doable.

“The key in Afghanistan is, we have got to figure out what is achievable, measured against the legitimate interests of the United States, primary among which is al Qaeda,” he told Reuters news agency.

“In Afghanistan itself, we have to resolve the question of whether the Taliban are per se a threat to us.”

WHITE HOUSE

Obama taps gay to be marshal

President Obama has nominated a Minnesota policewoman to become the first openly gay person to serve as a U.S. marshal.

Sharon Lubinski is an assistant chief in the Minneapolis Police Department, where she has worked for 20 years.

Mr. Obama has had a rocky relationship with gay activists, who want him to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He publicly pledged last weekend to do so.

He has picked openly gay people to serve in other positions in his administration, including the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.

CALIFORNIA

Poll: Only 27% favor Schwarzenegger

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is having trouble selling his latest act to California voters.

A Field Poll released Tuesday finds the Republican with his lowest approval rating ever. Just 27 percent of voters approve of his performance, while 65 percent disapprove.

The governor’s esteem has been slipping since December 2007, when he enjoyed an approval rating of 60 percent. His highest ratings came in 2004, his first full year in office.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s latest mark is the second-lowest, when matched against the six governors who preceded him. Only Democrat Gray Davis scored lower, registering a 22 percent approval rating in 2003, shortly before voters recalled him.

The results were based on a telephone survey of 1,005 voters conducted Sept. 18 to Oct. 5. The survey has a margin of sampling error of 3.2 percentage points.

WHITE HOUSE

Hispanic music at ‘La Casa Blanca’

The White House became “La Casa Blanca” on Tuesday, celebrating Hispanic musical heritage with a South Lawn concert and such guests as Gloria Estefan, George Lopez, the bachata music group Aventura, Jose Feliciano and more.

“In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina” continues a music series launched by first lady Michelle Obama to highlight various genres of music. Jazz and country music events, with workshops for music students, have been held. A classical music show is on tap for Nov. 4.

Tuesday’s musical extravaganza comes during the month dedicated to celebrating the culture and traditions of Hispanics, the nation’s largest minority group at 15 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau figures.

COLORADO

Wilderness plan worries military

DENVER | Military officials say proposed wilderness designations for parts of the Colorado mountains could threaten the Army’s only high-altitude training site for helicopter pilots.

Col. Joel Best, senior aviation officer for the Colorado Army National Guard, said Tuesday the proposed “Hidden Gems” wilderness designations would put all of the training site’s high-altitude landing zones off-limits.

The White River Wilderness Coalition is advocating for wilderness protection for about 450,000 acres, or about 700 square miles, in several areas. Col. Best said the Colorado guard’s High Altitude Aviation Training Site west of Vail uses some of those areas to train pilots for the kinds of conditions they encounter in Afghanistan and other regions.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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