- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2009

HOUSE

News release offends Pelosi

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cast House Republicans as behind the times, or worse, after they suggested that the top American commander in Afghanistan should “put her in her place.”

“They really don’t understand how inappropriate that is,” the California Democrat said of the phrasing, contained in a news release this week from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“I’m in my place. I’m the speaker of the House, the first woman speaker of the House. And I’m in my place because the House of Representatives voted me there,” she added. “But that language is something I haven’t even heard in decades.”

The news release accused Mrs. Pelosi of backing down to liberals in her caucus who oppose Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s recommendation for an escalation of troops in Afghanistan.

Mrs. Pelosi had been quoted as saying that voting for an escalation was a difficult choice for members of her caucus whose constituents oppose such action.

“If Nancy Pelosi’s failed economic policies are any indicator of the effect she may have on Afghanistan, taxpayers can only hope McChrystal is able to put her in her place,” the release said.

WHITE HOUSE

Dalai Lama lets Obama off hook

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said Thursday that he accepted President Obama’s decision to avoid him on a visit to Washington, insisting he did not want to cause problems by upsetting China.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Chinese rule in Tibet more than 50 years ago, is spending a week in Washington, his first visit in 18 years that will not include a meeting with the president.

“I do not want to create any inconvenience to anybody,” the Dalai Lama told CNN.

He said he accepted that Mr. Obama would not meet him “this time in order to avoid embarrassment to the Chinese president.”

“So I have no disappointment,” the Dalai Lama said.

The White House said Mr. Obama would meet with the exiled spiritual leader later this year but only after he pays his first presidential visit next month to China.

NEW YORK

Officer killed in 1909 honored

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and the Fraternal Order of Police were among organizations Thursday marking the 100th anniversary of the murder of New York City police Lt. Joseph Petrosino, the only New York City officer to die in the line of duty outside the United States.

A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington.

In 1909, Petrosino traveled to Palermo, Sicily, as part of a joint criminal investigation between police and immigration officials in the United States and Italy. On March 12 of that year, believing he was to meet an informant, Petrosino was fatally shot in the town’s piazza.

STATISTICS

Military ousts more lesbians

SAN FRANCISCO | Women are far more likely than men to be ousted from the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays in uniform, according to government figures released Thursday that critics said reflect deep-seated sexism in the armed forces.

Women accounted for 15 percent of all active-duty and Reserve members of the military but more than one-third of the 619 people discharged last year because of their sexual orientation.

The disparity was particularly striking in the Air Force, where women represented 20 percent of all personnel but 61 percent of those expelled. That is a significant jump from the previous year and marks the first time women in any branch of the military constituted a majority of those dismissed under “don’t ask, don’t tell,” researchers said.

Nathaniel Frank, a researcher at the Palm Center, a University of California at Santa Barbara center specializing in gays and the military, said one partial explanation is that homosexuality is more common among women in the service than among their male comrades.

But Mr. Frank and some women who served in the military said the gap could also be a result of “lesbian-baiting” rumors and investigations that arise when women rebuff sexual overtures from male colleagues or do not meet traditional notions of feminine beauty.

HOUSE

$680 billion goes for defense

The House on Thursday passed a $680 billion defense authorization bill that includes funds to train Afghan security forces and more mine-resistant troop carriers.

The bill, which passed 281-146, satisfied most of the funding requests made in the Pentagon’s budget submission for fiscal 2010 that began Oct. 1. It reflected a compromise hammered out between the two houses of Congress.

But lawmakers defied President Obama’s veto threat and approved $560 million to continue work on an alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet built by General Electric Co. and British manufacturer Rolls-Royce.

The compromise legislation would also raise military pay by 3.4 percent - half a percentage point higher than Pentagon recommendations - and assign $6.7 billion for mine-resistant armored vehicles known as MRAPs, which is $1.2 billion more than the administration had proposed.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama makes ‘real nice move’

President Obama invited members of Congress and four Cabinet secretaries to play basketball Thursday night at the White House.

“We ran into a president with some serious game,” said Rep. Jay Inslee, Washington Democrat. The president had “a sweet crossover move” and appeared to be in great shape, Mr. Inslee said. “He put a real nice move on me and beat me along the base line.”

On the president’s team were Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. Also playing with Mr. Obama was his personal assistant, Reggie Love, once a forward for the Duke Blue Devils.

Other Democrats invited were Michael Arcuri of New York, John Boccieri of Ohio, Brad Ellsworth and Baron P. Hill of Indiana and Rick Larsen of Washington state, Frank Kratovil Jr. of Maryland, Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania and Heath Shuler of North Carolina. Republicans were Jeff Flake of Arizona and John Shimkus of Illinois.

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