- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Jobless rate said likely to stay up in 2010

The Obama administration is predicting little improvement in the nation’s unemployment rate by the end of the year.

Although President Obama said the multitrillion-dollar spending plan released Monday is designed to get Americans back to work, the administration forecasts 9.8 percent unemployment at the end of this year. That would be down only slightly from the current rate of 10 percent.

Those predictions are in line with forecasts from independent economists. The administration is predicting 8.9 percent unemployment at the end of 2011, and 7.9 unemployment percent by the end of 2012.


Fewer troops fired as openly gay

The Defense Department last year dismissed the fewest number of service members for violating its “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” in at least a decade.

The 2009 figure, a sharp decline from the previous year, comes from President Obama’s first year in office. He opposes the policy but has done little to reverse it.

The lower number continues a trend since 2001, in which fewer troops have been dismissed as the services struggle to fight two wars.

According to figures released by the Pentagon on Monday, 428 service members in 2009 were fired for being openly gay compared with 619 in 2008. In 1997, a total of 997 service members were dismissed.

Overall, at least 10,900 troops have been fired under the policy.


Ind. secretary of state to run for Congress

INDIANAPOLIS | Republican Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita is running for the House seat being vacated by longtime congressman Steve Buyer.

Mr. Buyer announced Friday that he will not seek re-election this fall and will leave Congress after 18 years because his wife has an incurable autoimmune disease.

Adviser Kevin Kellems said Monday that Mr. Rokita wants to work on economic and security issues that directly affect the 4th District. He said Mr. Rokita planned to post an announcement on his Facebook page later in the day.

Purdue University biology professor David Sanders, who lost to Mr. Buyer in the 2004 and 2006 elections, is the only Democrat to announce a campaign.


Report: Blackwater payments probed

A federal investigation is under way to determine whether officials with the company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide tried to bribe Iraqi officials to protect the firm’s security work after fatal shootings involving Blackwater guards, according to a published report.

Citing unidentified current and former government officials, the New York Times said in Monday’s editions this new probe is related to the 2007 killing of 17 Iraqis during a shooting involving Blackwater guards operating in Baghdad.

These officials told the Times that the Justice Department’s fraud section opened the inquiry late last year to find out whether employees of Blackwater, now known as Xe Services, broke a U.S. law that prohibits American corporations from paying bribes to officials of other nations.

There was no immediate comment from the company or the Justice Department.


Toomey fundraising picks up, but still lags

HARRISBURG, Pa. | Republican Senate hopeful Pat Toomey raised more money than incumbent Arlen Specter in the last quarter of 2009, but Mr. Specter still appears to have the financial edge.

Campaign finance reports on file Monday showed Mr. Toomey raised $1.7 million from October through December and ended the year with $2.8 million on hand.

Mr. Specter raised $1.1 million and sent out $602,000 in refunds - mostly to contributors unhappy with his switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party last April.

Still, the fifth-term senator reported having $8.7 million on hand.

Before he can compete in the general election, Mr. Specter must overcome a May primary challenge by Rep. Joe Sestak. Mr. Sestak has not yet filed his year-end campaign finance report, but he had nearly $5 million at the end of September.


Chicago alderman pleads to bribery

CHICAGO | A Chicago alderman has pleaded guilty to bribery and tax fraud charges.

Isaac Carothers admitted Monday that he accepted $40,000 worth of home improvements from a developer in exchange for pushing a zoning change through the City Council.

Prosecutors have agreed to a 28-month prison sentence for Carothers as long as he continues to cooperate with their investigation. That’s well below federal sentencing guidelines.

The 55-year-old Carothers said through his attorneys that he would resign immediately from the City Council, where he was the longtime chairman of the police and fire committee.

Authorities have accused developer Calvin Boender of paying the bribes. Mr. Boender has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges.


Paul gets Palin’s nod for Senate

LEXINGTON, Ky. | Rand Paul, son of former Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, has snagged the endorsement of popular former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the heated GOP Senate primary in Kentucky.

The younger Mr. Paul said in a statement that Mrs. Palin’s political action committee had also contributed to his campaign. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a favorite of the state’s GOP leadership, is his main challenger in the primary.

The race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Jim Bunning is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country in November. On the Democratic side, the leading contenders are Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway.

“Sarah Palin is a giant in American politics. I am proud to receive her support,” Mr. Paul said.


Ex-Democrat starts bid against Rahall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. | A former West Virginia Democratic officeholder who recently switched to the GOP has now set his sights on the congressional seat held by Rep. Nick J. Rahall II.

Elliott “Spike” Maynard said he mailed in his filing for a chance to take on the 3rd District Democrat in November. He joins three other Republicans in that race. Mr. Rahall faces a Democratic primary challenger as well.

Mr. Maynard is a former Mingo County prosecutor, circuit judge and state Supreme Court justice. He ran for re-election as justice, but lost to two other candidates in the 2008 Democratic primary.

His defeat came amid a conflict-of-interest scandal involving a coal company executive. His campaign said support for that industry and its jobs is a big part of his congressional bid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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