- - Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Ortiz concedes defeat in race

SAN ANTONIO | Democratic Texas Rep. P. Solomon Ortiz has conceded defeat to Republican newcomer Blake Farenthold.

Mr. Ortiz’s concession came late Monday, after a South Texas recount confirmed he had lost a House seat he held for nearly three decades.

The 73-year-old congressman said that, although he hadn’t seen official results, he believed he picked up about 150 votes in the recount but still lost to Mr. Farenthold by about 650.

Mr. Farenthold is the former owner of a computer consulting business and a self-described “sidekick” on local talk radio. He received strong support from “tea party” activists in a district that stretches from Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast to Brownsville on the border with Mexico.


Some officials to skip security

Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-sanctioned security details.

New heightened security procedures by the Transportation Security Administration, which require either a scan by a full-body detector or an intimate personal pat-down, have spurred passenger outrage in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday airport crush.

The senior government officials can opt out of such measures if they fly accompanied by government security guards approved by TSA. The agency would not explain why it makes these exceptions, but many of the exempted government officials have gone through several levels of security clearances, including FBI background checks.


Salazar vows to speed projects

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says he wants to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power.

At a speech in Baltimore, Mr. Salazar said he will institute a “smart permitting process” that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of approvals that take as long as seven years.

Mr. Salazar said he and other federal officials will work with governors in 11 Atlantic Coast states to identify promising areas for wind development. If no serious problems are identified, leases could be issued late next year or in early 2012.

Mr. Salazar said he hopes to pursue offshore wind power along the Atlantic Coast in the same way officials are pushing solar power in the Southwest.


Angle: Shocked, has ‘options’

LAS VEGAS | Republican Sharron Angle says she was shocked by her Nov. 2 loss to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but in looking forward has “lots of options” to weigh as she decides her next political step.

“I will always be involved in politics. I have a lot of options next cycle,” Mrs. Angle told the Lahontan Valley News. “Lots of options.”

Nevada’s other U.S. Senate seat is up in 2012 and as many as four congressional seats could be in play by then. Mrs. Angle, a former state representative, said she also could seek a term in the Nevada Senate.

A favorite of the “tea party” movement, Mrs. Angle has stayed mostly out of the public arena since her loss to Mr. Reid, and the interview Saturday with the newspaper was her first since then with northern Nevada media.

Mrs. Angle told the newspaper she was shocked to have lost to Mr. Reid after some polls showed her leading in the weeks leading up to the race. Mrs. Angle fared much better in rural areas than urban ones and had harsh words for voters in the bigger cities of Las Vegas and Reno.

“I find the people in the rural counties more educated on the issues and seem to be more tied into their communities,” she said. “The urban areas seem to have more of a disconnect from the issues that affect their communities.”

Mrs. Angle also blamed Mr. Reid for the negative tone that both sides took as the campaign wore on, saying he forced her to fight back after he released a flood of negative TV spots.


Workers extend contract talks

Negotiators for the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to extend contract talks until Dec. 1.

It was the second extension for talks since the union’s four-year contract expired on Saturday.

Union spokesman Cliff Guffey said Tuesday he remains hopeful the two sides can reach a settlement.

Talks with a second union, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, remain at an impasse and the matter is likely to be heard by a third-party arbitrator.

Employees of both unions will continue to work under the terms of their expired contracts.

The Postal Service lost $8.5 billion last year and wants more concessions on wages and benefits from the unions.


Justices hear vote-count case

ST. PAUL Minnesota Supreme Court justices are deliberating over a Republican lawsuit casting doubt about whether the number of governor’s race votes squares with rosters of voters.

The skirmish comes ahead of a presumed recount in a race in which Democrat Mark Dayton leads Republican Tom Emmer by 8,770 votes. Depending on what the court does, some votes could be disqualified.

At issue is whether election administrators neglected to follow the law and match signed polling-place rosters with final vote tallies. Some say they resorted to using generic receipts that they argue is allowed under state rules.

During Monday’s hearing, justices questioned Mr. Emmer’s lawyers about whether either approach is foolproof.


Document mix-up prompts firings

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz says two people have been fired from the service’s aerial refueling tanker program after confidential information was mistakenly sent to competing contractors.

The document mix-up was the latest flub in the troubled program. The Air Force has tried since 2003 to replace it’s Eisenhower-era fleet of refueling tankers.

Gen. Schwartz told reporters Tuesday that competing contractors Boeing Co. and EADS had received a one-page efficiency analysis of the other’s proposal, but that the information did not include proprietary or pricing data.

Gen. Schwartz called the mistake a “profound disappointment” but that it didn’t give either company an advantage.

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