- - Tuesday, September 6, 2011


U.S.: No sign N. Korea meeting terms for nuke talks

The United States says it has seen no signs yet that North Korea is prepared to meet conditions for resuming multinational talks on nuclear disarmament.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made the comments Tuesday ahead of consultations between U.S. officials and South Korea’s nuclear envoy.

Wi Sung-lac is due to arrive in Washington on Wednesday. He will meet with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and the U.S. envoy on North Korea, Stephen Bosworth.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly has suggested a moratorium on its nuclear testing and production if talks resume. The U.S. wants such steps before negotiations can begin.

The U.S. and South Korea have held exploratory talks and offered limited flood aid to the North in recent weeks.


Disaster aid boosted by Democrats

Senate Democrats unveiled legislation Tuesday providing $6 billion in new disaster aid to help both victims of Hurricane Irene and past disasters dating to Hurricane Katrina.

A Senate Appropriations panel responsible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s budget approved the measure by voice vote.

At the same time, the measure’s author said that with FEMA’s disaster aid coffers running dangerously low, it may be necessary to add additional, more immediate disaster aid to a stopgap funding bill that’s expected to be enacted before the FEMA funding measure.

The moves in the Democrat-led body could spark a battle with tea party-backed House Republicans, who say that Congress should cut federal spending elsewhere to pay for disaster aid.

The $6 billion in disaster relief is for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 and is $4.2 billion above President Obama’s February request of $1.8 billion.


Airline-ticket tax hike proposed by panel

A Democrat-led Senate panel has approved an increase in airline ticket taxes of up to $6 for a round trip in order to cover increased security costs at airports.

The move by the Appropriations homeland security subcommittee would mean that air travelers could pay up to $16 per round trip instead of the present maximum of $10, which is paid by travelers who change planes. For travelers flying nonstop, the fee would be $8 a round trip instead of $5.

Republicans denounced the idea and it could be killed as early as Wednesday when the full Appropriations Committee meets to discuss the underlying spending measure.

The fee increase would raise $280 million next year to cover costs such as new bomb-detection machines.


Panetta: Threat of another 9/11 is real

NEW YORK — After a decade of war with al Qaeda, the potential for another devastating terrorist assault “remains very real,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Tuesday after a somber visit to ground zero of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Mr. Panetta walked through the National September 11 Memorial park and museum with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and afterward told reporters that Americans must remain vigilant against the threat of another successful al Qaeda attack.

“The potential for that kind of attack remains very real,” he said from the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center, the first completed office tower at the site where hijacked commercial airliners were flown into the twin towers, killing more than 2,700 people.


Bush to visit Flight 93 memorial

SHANKSVILLE — Former President George W. Bush will speak at this week’s dedication of the Flight 93 National Memorial in western Pennsylvania.

The National Park Service and National Park Foundation announced Tuesday that Mr. Bush will join Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Flight 93 family members. Also attending Saturday’s event will be dignitaries including former first lady Laura Bush, Secretary of the Interior Kenneth L. Salazar, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan will perform at the ceremony.

The memorial honors those killed on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, a rural area southeast of Pittsburgh. Forty passengers and crew members died on Sept. 11, 2001, after fighting with hijackers aboard the plane.


Romney goes sans teleprompter

In a pointed aside in his jobs speech in Nevada on Tuesday, Mitt Romney told his audience he was speaking from notes, but that was it — and that meant no teleprompter.

“This is going to be a conversation today. I don’t have a text. You can actually see what I’ve got. I’ve got notes. I’ve got some notes of some things I want to tell you. I’m not going to be reading. I don’t have a teleprompter here,” he said, drawing a strong cheer from his audience in a truck dealership warehouse in North Las Vegas.

President Obama has gained a reputation for speaking from a teleprompter, and that has spawned joke websites and several Twitter accounts mocking purporting to be the president’s favorite speech aid.

Leaving the teleprompter aside fit with the tone Mr. Romney tried to strike in his speech of a businessman who is knowledgeable about the economy based on his real-world experience.


Treasurer accused of campaign fund theft

LOS ANGELES — A longtime Democratic campaign accountant whose clients included Sen. Dianne Feinstein siphoned off nearly $700,000 from a California candidate’s campaign to pay her credit cards, a mortgage and business bills, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Kinde Durkee, who heads Durkee & Associates in Burbank, Calif., and served as a bookkeeper on scores of political campaigns, was arrested Friday on suspicion of mail fraud by the FBI.

A federal complaint released Tuesday outlines an elaborate shell game in which Miss Durkee furtively shifted money out of state Assemblyman Jose Solorio’s 2010 campaign to pay for an array of debts, from a Disneyland restaurant to shopping at Costco to her mother’s care at an assisted-living facility.

Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento, Calif., said the investigation is expected to result in additional charges. Miss Durkee had authority over more than 400 bank accounts, including political campaigns.


Poll: Republican ahead in race for Weiner’s seat

A new Republican poll shows the GOP candidate vying for the seat vacated by disgraced New York Rep. Anthony D. Weiner with a 4 percentage-point lead.

Results of a survey released Monday by Magellan Strategies BR, a GOP polling firm, shows Bob Turner with 44.6 percent of the vote, compared with Democrat David Weprin’s 40.4 percent. A large number of potential voters — 11.8 percent — said they are undecided about next Tuesday’s special election.

The survey shows that 35.8 percent of the respondents in the district, which includes part of Brooklyn and Queens, say they definitely will vote for Mr. Turner, while 28.3 percent say Mr. Weprin definitely has their support.

New Yorks 9th Congressional District, which has three times as many Democratic voters as Republicans, hasn’t elected a Republican representative since the 1920s.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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