Monday, October 5, 2009


Greenspan doubts 2nd stimulus needed

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan predicted Sunday that the jobless rate will pass 10 percent and stay there for a while, and he said a second stimulus plan is not needed now.

Mr. Greenspan spoke favorably of extending unemployment benefits and tax credits for health insurance, options the Obama administration is considering for helping people laid off during the recession. With more than 15 million people out of work, unemployment reached 9.8 percent in September, the highest rate in 26 years.

“This is an extraordinary period and temporary actions must be taken, especially to assuage the angst of a very substantial part of our population,” Mr. Greenspan said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t actually consider those types of actions stimulus programs. I think that they are essentially programs which support people - essentially their living standards in part. I grant you it has a stimulus effect, but that would be my primary focus,” he said.


U.S. clarifies remarks on rapes

The United States, responding to protests from Sri Lanka over remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said it had no recent evidence of women being raped while in Sri Lankan government custody.

In a letter addressed to Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama, the State Department noted that the U.S. government and international human rights groups over the years had detailed “numerous cases of rape and sexual violence in Sri Lanka, particularly acts committed against women held in detention by the government.”

However, the letter signed by Melanne Verveer, ambassador at large for global women’s issues at the State Department, said that “in the most recent phase of the conflict, from 2006 to 2009 … we have not received reports that rape and sexual abuse were used as tools of war, as they clearly have in other conflict area around the world.”

“We hope that this clarification puts the issue in its proper context,” the letter said, adding that Washington remains concerned about extrajudicial killings, disappearances and detainee abuse in Sri Lanka.


Fliers’ bill of rights gaining ground

It looks like an airline-passenger “bill of rights” will finally make it off the congressional runway.

Years of outrage from passengers effectively held captive in planes on the tarmac overnight or for endless hours - often without sustenance or functioning lavatories - appear to have moved lawmakers to do something. The Department of Transportation also is working on a regulation to impose a time limit.

But don’t expect a wait-free future.

Because of objections from the airline industry, which warned of a spike in flight cancellations and more pressure to fly in bad weather, it seems likely waits of three or four hours would still be allowed in whatever measures Capitol Hill passes or Transportation adopts.

Through the first six months of this year, more than 610 domestic flights were parked on the tarmac for three hours or more.


Navy offers cash for tips on spies

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is offering rewards as high as six figures for tips that lead to espionage arrests and convictions.

The NCIS’s Far East field office says foreign intelligence services are targeting Navy personnel stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, site of the largest U.S. naval base in the Pacific theater.

Warning sailors that spies are often well trained, NCIS said even seemingly innocent conversations in bars or restaurants could aid saboteurs by providing details valuable to America’s enemies. NCIS also provides tips to identify fellow U.S. service members, relatives, contractors or other civilians who may be engaged in espionage.

The agency says spy-busting information can result in rewards as high as $500,000.


‘Cash for clunkers’ payments OK’d

About 98 percent of promised payments have been approved for car dealers enrolled in the now-expired “cash for clunkers” program, according to the Department of Transportation.

Dealerships have complained about delays and bureaucratic hurdles standing between them and their portion of the $2.8 billion rebates promised by the government. California dealers are due more than $323 million; Texas dealers, $181 million; and New York dealers, nearly $155 million.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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