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Suicide Attack in Iraq Leaves 65 Dead

A suicide attack in northern Iraq has killed 65 people, officials say.

A suicide bomber detonated a vest full of explosives Tuesday in a crowd outside a police station in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

Hospital director Dr. Raied al-Ani raised the death toll from 50 to 65 Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. He said 150 people were wounded in the bombing.

The crowd of police recruits was gathered to submit applications for 2,000 newly created jobs.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, but authorities suspect it may have been the work of a Sunni group with ties to al-Qaida.

On Wednesday, the violence was followed by a pair of additional suicide blasts in Diyala province, north of Baghdad.

A suicide bomber crashed an explosives-laden ambulance into an Iraqi security headquarters in the provincial capital of Baquba, killing 13.

Two more were killed in a nearby town when a person wearing an explosives-packed vest blew himself up near a convoy that included local authority Sadiq al-Husseini, AFP reports. Al-Husseini and 15 others were wounded.

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Ben Bernanke Says It Could Be 5 Years Before Unemployment Goes Back to Normal

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the country won’t see “sustained declines in the unemployment rate” with the current rate of job creation, AP reports.

Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee that a “self-sustaining” economic recovery seems to be taking hold, but that it could take four to five years for joblessness to return to the historically normal rate of 6 percent.

U.S. employers created 103,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent partly because people gave up searching for jobs.

Bernanke said the Fed’s $600 billion Treasury bond-buying program is still necessary to get the economy back on track by lowering interest rates and bolstering stock prices.

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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Senate Vote Set for Sunday

The fate of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” will be determined on Sunday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Thursday called for a vote on ending debate on a repeal of the ban on open military service by gays and lesbians.

At least 60 members of the Senate have said they will support repeal of the policy — including Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

The House voted Wednesday in favor of a measure to repeal the ban.

A Democratic supporter of repeal, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, will not be available for the vote Saturday because he is scheduled to undergo surgery Monday to treat early-stage prostate cancer, The Hill reported Thursday. Wyden will miss Friday’s Senate session as well as parts of the Senate schedule next week, the Capitol Hill publication said.

“I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington,” Wyden said in a statement.

Wyden was diagnosed with cancer in November.

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Obama Prepares to Sign Healthcare Bill

WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama will sign the sweeping healthcare reform bill into law Tuesday in the East Room, the White House said.

The signing ceremony will include remarks by Obama, who will be introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, the White House daily schedule indicated.

After the signing, Obama will go to the Interior Department, where he will discuss the healthcare reform bill passed Sunday by the House. The Senate passed the bill in December.

In the afternoon, Obama is scheduled to meet with Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as part of continuing consultations with Congress on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the White House said.

In the evening, the president will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

EPA Budget Request $10B Higher Than FY2010

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) — The Environmental Protection Agency would receive $10 billion more during fiscal year 2011 under budget proposals announced Monday by the White House.

Officials said the EPA budget request is a substantially higher annual amount than requested under any previous administration and is intended to strengthen the EPA’s program implementation, research, regulation and comprehensive enforcement activities.

Included in the proposed EPA budget is $3.3 billion to assist states in providing low-interest loans to communities to finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and $1.3 billion to help states and tribes protect their air, water and land. That represents a 14 percent increase from fiscal 2010 and is the highest level ever requested.

An additional $300 million would be allocated for restoration efforts in the Great Lakes basin, the largest freshwater system in the world, with a focus on contaminated sediments and toxics, non-point source pollution, habitat degradation and loss, and invasive species.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Drinking Water, Infrastructure, Liability, Law, & Government, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies0 Comments

Canada Seeks National Polar Policy as Arctic Scientists Lack Funding

EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan. 13 (UPI) — Canada needs a national polar policy to fund studies in the Arctic — one of fastest changing landscapes on Earth, a University of Alberta researcher said.

Canadian scientists find it increasing difficult to find money to monitor glaciers, sea ice and animals affected by the melting environment in the Arctic, John England said Wednesday in an online edition of the journal Nature.

“The capacity to support researchers in remote field sites has plummeted,” England said, adding, “There simply isn’t enough money for the air support that Canadian scientists need to get people and supplies into the wilderness.”

The underfunded and important Polar Continental Shelf Program needs to be linked with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, which is the main funding body for science in Canada, he said.

“Now is an opportune time to apply pressure to change this,” England said, noting Canada has a responsibility to lead in stewardship of the Arctic.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Engineering, International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government, Snowpack & Ice0 Comments

Canadians Deem Climate Change Top Threat

OTTAWA, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Canadians think climate change is a bigger threat to their well-being than terrorism, a poll released Monday indicates.

A survey commissioned by the Canadian Defense and Foreign Affairs Institute and conducted by the Innovative Research Group Inc., found that nearly half of the respondents called climate change a “critical threat,” while only 28 percent deemed terrorism to be such a threat, Canwest News Service reported.

The findings showed a marked decrease on the critical assessment of terrorism compared with a similar poll conducted a year ago. In the earlier survey, climate change and terrorism were rated about equally as a threat at 52 percent and 49 percent respectively.

Senior research fellow Lt. Gen. Michael Jeffery told Canwest the shift has happened because terrorism is not on the front burner for many Canadians, adding that that is a “dangerous perception. We are not aware that the world around us has changed and is continuing to change, and emerging from that very, very different world are increasing threats to Canada, Canadians and our way of life.”

Canwest said the online survey was conducted among members of Innovative’s Canada 20/20 panel, included 1,229 responses, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in International Relations & Treaties, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

States Ask EPA to Go Slow on Climate Rules

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) — Some U.S. states say they want the Obama administration to go slow in implementing proposed federal rules cutting industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

Officials from Kansas, Pennsylvania, Florida and California, while saying they support the goals of the efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are calling on the agency to go slowly, warning they lack the funding necessary to regulate some of the new emissions sources that would be covered, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The California Energy Commission, for instance, in a Dec. 24 letter to the EPA, reportedly said the proposal “will likely retard, rather than facilitate” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from its electricity sector.

The Obama administration wants Congress to pass legislation that would use a so-called cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gas emissions. But, due in part to vociferous opposition from business, the Journal said prospects for such legislation passing the Senate are dim.

The White House is instead asking the EPA to independently set limits for carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act that would require polluters to obtain permits from state or local regulators demonstrating they are using the best practices and technologies to minimize the emissions, the newspaper reported.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Policy, Law, & Government0 Comments

Clean Technology Projects Get $2 Billion in Tax Credits

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Tax credits of $2.3 billion will be awarded for new, clean-technology manufacturing jobs, U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday.

The tax credits, available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, will enable creation of more than $7 billion in new manufacturing projects and create tens of thousands of jobs, Obama said in remarks at the White House.

“Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future,” Obama said. “The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security.”

Obama said 183 projects in 43 states are eligible for the credits, worth up to 30 percent of each project.

This effort, along with other Recovery Act investments, will drive growth in the renewable energy and clean technology manufacturing sectors, Obama said, giving the United States the ability to take global leadership in these markets.

While welcoming a global competition to develop clean energy jobs, Obama said, “I don’t want America to lose that competition.”

The tax credit awards also will give a “much needed boost to the manufacturing sector” buy building new plants or rehabilitating old ones, he said.

“This is good for middle class families, good for our security and good for our planet,” Obama said.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Policies & Solutions, Policy, Law, & Government, Politics, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Department of Energy Must Upgrade Computer Security, Says Inspector

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (UPI) — An Inspector General’s report finds the U.S. Department of Energy has been dragging its feet on computer security, ABC News reported Tuesday.

Delays in upgrading security on computer systems at the department’s Office of Science could be both dangerous and costly, the report said. The office is responsible for research in a number of areas and manages nuclear facilities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., and facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

“Any system that is not as secure as it should be could be subject to compromise,” said Rickey Hass, deputy inspector general for audit services. “There are literally thousands of people who scan systems to try to gain access.”

The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Energy reviewed the office’s spending on computer security in 2008, $287 million for the year. The report said the seven field offices have not upgraded security to a high enough level.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Nuclear, Office, People, Policy, Law, & Government, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

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