- The Washington Times - Monday, August 16, 2010

DISTRICT

Columnist, editor Kilpatrick dies at 89

James J. Kilpatrick, who rose from cub reporter to become one of the South’s most prominent newspaper editors and the nation’s most widely syndicated political columnist, has died. He was 89.

Mr. Kilpatrick’s wife, Marianne Means, said he died Sunday night at George Washington University Hospital. Mrs. Means said he was being treated for congestive heart failure.

TV watchers in the 1970s knew Mr. Kilpatrick as the conservative half of the “Point-Counterpoint” segment on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” His sparring with liberal commentator Shana Alexander was famously parodied on “Saturday Night Live.”

Mrs. Means, also a former journalist, described him as “a great family man” and a cultural icon of his era.

“He was a wonderful human being,” said Mrs. Means, 76. “He cultivated a public image on TV of being a cranky conservative … but he wasn’t a cranky conservative at home.”

Before retiring a couple of years ago, he worked for years for Universal Press Syndicate.

He also was the author of a dozen books and numerous magazine articles. He wrote columns on the U.S. Supreme Court and “The Writer’s Art,” on the use and abuse of the English language, which appeared in hundreds of daily newspapers.

DEFENSE

Defense secretary to retire next year

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates plans to leave his job next year.

A Republican and holdover from the Bush administration, Mr. Gates had agreed to stay on at the request of President Obama. The move was intended to maintain stability at a time of two wars, although Mr. Gates has been open about his desire to return to civilian life in his home state of Washington.

In an interview published Monday, Mr. Gates told Foreign Policy magazine that leaving in 2011 makes sense. It would give him time to oversee the major offensive under way in Afghanistan but bow out before the 2012 presidential election.

Mr. Gates has been defense secretary since December 2006.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed Monday that Mr. Gates has set his sights on leaving next year.

White House spokesman Bill Burton, traveling with Mr. Obama, said that Mr. Gates had served with distinction, and he declined to comment on Mr. Gates’ future or who might succeed him.

ILLINOIS

Blagojevich jurors will get transcript

CHICAGO | Jurors in the trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich asked the judge Monday for a transcript of the entire testimony of a former deputy governor who criticized Mr. Blagojevich’s attempt to raise campaign money through the brother of Rahm Emanuel.

Former Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk testified that Mr. Blagojevich had planned to hold up a $2 million grant to a school in the district represented by Mr. Emanuel — then a U.S. congressman and now White House chief of staff — until Mr. Emanuel’s Hollywood-agent brother held a fundraiser.

Mr. Tusk had said that he ignored a Blagojevich directive to deliver the message to Mr. Emanuel because, he said, he thought the plan was “both illegal and unethical.”

After hearing objections from defense attorneys, Judge James B. Zagel granted the jurors’ request but also said they should make their own assessment of Mr. Tusk’s credibility. It wasn’t immediately clear how soon jurors would receive the transcripts.

Jurors had returned to court Monday for their 13th day of deliberations. They created a stir last week with a note to Judge Zagel signaling they’re stuck on several of the 24 counts against Mr. Blagojevich. They say they’ve agreed to only two. Judge Zagel told them to deliberate further on wire-fraud counts that they had not considered.

MICHIGAN

Sen. Levin gets pie in the face

BIG RAPIDS | A woman identified as an anti-war protester hit Sen. Carl Levin in the face with an apple pie during the Armed Services Committee chairman’s meeting with constituents in northern Michigan, authorities said Monday.

The senator took a question near the end of the Monday morning meeting in Big Rapids from a man who said he was a student, Mr. Levin’s office said in a news release. The man read a long statement, then a woman came up and hit Mr. Levin with a pie.

Big Rapids police arrested Ahlam M. Mohsen, 22, of Coldwater, on assault and disorderly conduct charges.

Ms. Mohsen told the Big Rapids Pioneer that she hoped “to send a message that liberals and Democrats are just as implicated in the violence [of war] as the Republicans.”

Mr. Levin appeared to take the pie toss in stride: “They didn’t hurt me, but they hurt their cause even more than their own extreme words had already done.”

HHS

Feds beef up state oversight

Health insurance premium hikes will get a harder look in most parts of the country, thanks to an infusion of federal cash for state regulators.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday announced $46 million in federal grants to help states strengthen their oversight of health insurance rate hikes. It’s the first installment of $250 million for state regulators under the new health care law.

Forty-five states and the District will get money for a range of projects, including drafting stronger laws, putting proposed rate hikes through close scrutiny, and upgrading their data systems.

Five states did not apply for money, but Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wyoming may do so later.

FED

Survey finds easier lending standards

The Federal Reserve says banks have eased their lending standards for small businesses for the first time in nearly four years.

In its new survey of bank lending practices, the Fed found that the easing in loan standards was occurring primarily at the country’s largest domestic banks.

The Fed says it’s the first time it had found easier lending standards being imposed on small businesses since late 2006. The Fed defines small firms as those with annual sales of less than $50 million.

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