- - Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Lawmakers stop apps for traps

After four Democratic senators complained, the company that makes BlackBerry smartphones said it will remove programs that notify motorists of upcoming police speed traps and red-light cameras.

The senators said they were worried about drunk drivers using such applications to avoid police checks.

The programs usually depend on drivers sharing information in real time about where police are enforcing traffic laws, including DUI checkpoints. The apps, as they are called, are available for download to the phones.

Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles E. Schumer of New York, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Tom Udall of New Mexico wrote a letter Tuesday to Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry, asking all of them to remove the apps, saying that some police officials have complained.

“Drunk drivers will soon have one less tool to evade law enforcement and endanger our friends and families,” said the senators in joint statement announcing the BlackBerry decision. “We appreciate RIMs immediate reply and urge the other smartphone makers to quickly follow suit.”


Biden: Governor wrong on money

Vice President Joseph R. Biden used a Wednesday visit to Florida to rebuke Gov. Rick Scott for turning down federal money for a high-speed-rail project, saying the move will stifle business in the Sunshine State.

“No business is going to build its own ports, its own runways, its own broadband networks. None are able to do that,” said Mr. Biden, according to a pool report. “The government provides seed money. That’s how we built the transcontinental railroad. That’s how we got the Internet.”

Mr. Scott, a Republican, announced in February he would return $2.4 billion in federal funds for a high-speed-rail link between Tampa and Orlando - a decision that kills the project and has spurred a barrage of bipartisan complaints and a legal challenge.

Mr. Scott said he rejected the money because he feared Florida taxpayers could be stuck with cost overruns.

Mr. Biden made his comments during a fundraiser for Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. About 150 people donated a minimum of $500 each to attend the mixer at the Winter Park home of developer and philanthropist Alan Ginsburg.

The vice president said he came to raise money for the two-term senator not just because they are friends and longtime political allies but also because, “as goes Bill Nelson in Florida, so go Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Florida.”


Heating group seeks money

Home heating aid advocates urged President Obama on Wednesday to release at least $100 million in emergency money to help poor families struggling to pay higher heating bills and keep enough oil in their tanks after a harsh winter.

The Northeast has been particularly hard hit by cold weather and rising oil prices, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. In a letter to Mr. Obama, the group said many families are feeling the pinch because the price of home-heating oil increased from $3.12 per gallon at the beginning of the winter to $3.89 last week.

“It’s been an extraordinarily hard winter, and with prices so high, these families are having a very hard time,” said Mark Wolfe of NEADA, the association of state officials who administer the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides heating and cooling subsidies for the poor.

Even so, the request comes as record federal deficits have intensified pressure on both parties to find budget cuts, making it harder than usual for the White House and lawmakers to back additional spending.


State GOP: Trump to address dinner

DES MOINES | Republican officials say Donald Trump will address the party’s Lincoln Day dinner as part of his first foray into Iowa as a possible presidential contender.

The New York billionaire and reality TV figure has already announced plans to visit New Hampshire in June.

Iowa Republican Party Chairman Matt Strawn said Mr. Trump will speak June 10 in Des Moines.

Mr. Strawn said the Iowa party invited Mr. Trump so he could introduce himself to Iowa Republicans. He noted Mr. Trump’s success as an “entrepreneur and job creator.”

Mr. Trump has said he will decide by June whether to seek the Republican presidential nomination.


Angle to self-publish life, values book

LAS VEGAS | Tea party favorite Sharron Angle is spending thousands of dollars to self-publish an autobiography about her life and values.

An AuthorHouse spokesman told the Associated Press that Mrs. Angle contracted for the book with the leading self-publishing company this month, just days before she announced her campaign for the U.S. House.

Spokesman Kevin Gray said publishing packages can cost up to $15,000. Copies of the book would be printed based on demand.

As a self-publisher, Mrs. Angle has control over the design and editing of her book, titled “Right Angle.” The Nevada Republican is hoping for an April release.

Mrs. Angle lost a heated campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November. She is seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for a northern Nevada congressional seat.



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