- - Sunday, June 5, 2011


Adviser minimizes pessimistic jobs report

A top White House economic adviser said the upward tilt over the past six months in jobs is a better indicator of the nation’s employment picture than a gloomy report Friday that warned of slow growth ahead.

Austan Goolsbee, who heads the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the addition of 1 million jobs over the past six months shows “we have improved a long way from when the economy was in rescue mode.”

Employers added 54,000 jobs in May, the fewest in eight months, and Friday’s report showed that the unemployment rate had inched up to 9.1 percent.

Mr. Goolsbee told ABC’s “This Week” that the jobs report indicates the economy was “somewhat slowed,” but he insisted that the numbers are “highly variable.”


Senators seek crackdown on narcotics-peddling site

ALBANY, N.Y. — Two U.S. senators said Sunday that they will ask federal authorities to crack down on a secretive narcotics market operated on the Internet with anonymous sales and untraceable currency.

Heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine are among the drugs being sold through the well-protected website, which apparently has been operating for a few months.

Sens. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, both Democrats, said they asked the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration to shut down and investigate the website, often referred to as the Silk Road after an ancient Asian trade route.

“This audacious website should be shut down immediately,” Mr. Manchin said.

“Never before has a website so brazenly peddled illegal drugs online,” Mr. Schumer said. “By cracking down on the website immediately, we can help stop these drugs from flooding our streets.”

The senators planned to release their letters to the agencies on Sunday.

A key to the illicit trade is the use of a network by buyers and sellers that conceals their identities.

Websites including Gawker have reported on the site.

Mr. Schumer said the website began operating in February and uses “layers” of secrecy to thwart authorities. Sellers are told to make shipments in vacuum-sealed bags to avoid drug-detecting dogs.


Agency allows restart of Canadian oil pipeline

U.S. regulators have allowed a Canadian company to restart its Keystone oil pipeline after completing repairs and safety tests.

Oil from the 1,300-mile pipeline that extends from Canada to Oklahoma and Illinois could begin flowing as soon as Sunday under a revised order from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The agency approved the revision Saturday.

The pipeline has been closed since May 29, when workers reported a 10-barrel leak in Kansas. That followed a leak of 400 barrels of oil in North Dakota on May 7.

The pipeline is owned by Calgary-based TransCanada Corp.


Governor, educators argue over accountability

AUSTIN — A tempest has erupted on college campuses in Texas over a conservative foundation’s proposal questioning the value taxpayers get from academic critiques of Shakespeare and calling for more accountability.

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has thrown his support behind the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which promotes higher education reforms known as the “Seven Breakthrough Solutions.” The proposals include providing bonuses for professors who score well on student evaluations and splitting teaching and research budgets.

Texas professors say the ideas undermine academic research. The backlash peaked last week at Texas A&M University, Mr. Perry’s alma matter, when more than 800 faculty members signed a petition asking university regents to explain where they stand on the proposals.

Mr. Perry is calling on universities to contain tuition increases, improve graduation rates and become more financially accountable.


Corruption investigations still dog Richardson

SANTA FE — The whiff of scandal cost Bill Richardson a job in President Obama’s administration.

Now, the former New Mexico governor’s political legacy is threatened again because of investigations into separate pay-to-play schemes, including allegations that campaign contributions influenced his appointments of judges.

Mr. Richardson denies wrongdoing, as he did two years ago when he withdrew his commerce secretary nomination because of a federal grand jury investigation.

That investigation ended with no charges against Mr. Richardson or his top aides, but the cloud from the allegations didn’t go away during the rest of Mr. Richardson’s term.

In New Mexico, a steady stream of news has been reported during the past two years about another federal investigation - this one focusing on state investments - and suspected corruption in the Richardson administration.

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