- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Governor ends support for drilling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is withdrawing his support of a plan to expand oil drilling off the California coast, citing the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking during a news conference Monday, Mr. Schwarzenegger said television images of the oil spill in the Gulf have changed his mind about the safety of ocean-based oil platforms.

The Republican governor had proposed expanding oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara to help close the state’s $20 billion budget deficit, so withdrawing his support essentially kills the idea since he would have to include it in his May budget revision.

VETERANS AFFAIRS

Report: Philadelphia hospital lacked review

A government investigation has found that the now-halted prostate cancer program at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, where 97 patients were given incorrect radiation doses, went four years without a peer review or quality assessment.

The inspector general for the Veterans Affairs Department also says computer problems kept several patients from receiving checks to make sure they received the correct doses.

The inspector general recommends that standardized procedures be implemented throughout the VA.

In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced a $227,500 fine against the hospital stemming from the errors.

JUSTICE

Former HUD chief won’t be charged

Attorneys for former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso R. Jackson said Monday that the Justice Department won’t prosecute the former Bush administration official and has closed its criminal investigation.

Mr. Jackson left government in 2008 with unanswered questions about whether he had tilted the agency toward Republican contractors and cronies.

On Monday, the Justice Department declined to comment on whether it had closed the investigation.

SOUTH CAROLINA

No criminal charges for Gov. Sanford

COLUMBIA | South Carolina’s attorney general said he will not criminally prosecute Gov. Mark Sanford for travel and campaign reimbursements that drew civil charges and the largest ethics fine in state history.

Henry McMaster on Monday said the governor’s use of pricey airline tickets, travel to personal and political events on state aircraft, and questionable campaign reimbursements had not risen to a criminal level.

Mr. McMaster for months had been reviewing the ethics probe that led to 37 charges and $74,000 in civil fines that Mr. Sanford paid in March.

The scrutiny started when Mr. Sanford disappeared in June and returned after five days to admit to an extramarital affair. His second and final term ends in January.

Mr. McMaster is one of four Republicans seeking to replace him.

MINNESOTA

Pawlenty urges education flexibility

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Monday cautioned business executives that the United States cannot succeed if its education policy leaves children unprepared for the work force and urged Washington to give states more flexibility.

Mr. Pawlenty, a likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate, said the United States is lagging in the world because of the quality of job applicants. He said students who make it to high school graduation aren’t always prepared, and far too many don’t reach graduation day at all.

“We cannot be a successful country of just 300 million people, leaving a third of our team on the bench,” Mr. Pawlenty said.

COMMERCE

Government boosts construction spending

Construction spending rose in March for the first time in five months, but all the strength came in government activity as private-sector building fell to the lowest level in a decade. Weakness in construction remains a major drag on the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department said Monday that construction activity increased by 0.2 percent in March, the first advance since October. The small gain took economists by surprise. They had been forecasting a 0.3 percent drop.

The strength came from a 2.3 percent rise in public building projects, the biggest increase in 13 months. That helped offset declines in the private sector, where activity fell to the lowest point since January 1999.


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