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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

June 3, 2011 at 10:04 PM   |   Comments

House resolution chides Obama on Libya

WASHINGTON, June 3 (UPI) -- The Republican-led U.S. House Friday passed a resolution chiding the Obama administration for not seeking congressional authority for military action in Libya.

However, members rejected a Democratic resolution that would require the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Libya within 15 days, The Hill reported.

Among other things, the resolution, approved on a 268-145 vote, demands more information about the scope, cost and duration of the intervention. Forty-five Democrats joined all but 10 Republicans in favor of the measure offered by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The House rejected the Democratic resolution from Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. In the 148-265 vote, 144 Republicans and 121 Democrats voted against it, while it picked up support from 87 Republicans and 61 Democrats.

Boehner's resolution, offered as a foil to Kucinich's measure that leaders feared may pass, forced Republicans to acknowledge a general approval of the military action in Libya, despite complaining about Obama's failure to get congressional approval as required by the War Powers Act.

"We must not let our frustration with the president's contempt for Congress cloud our judgment and result in our taking action that would harm our standing, our credibility and our interests in the region," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

During debate on his bill, Kucinich said Congress must address Obama's violation of the Constitution or risk future violations, The Hill reported.

"If Congress does not challenge a president's dismissal of the clear meaning of Article I section 8, then we will have tacitly endorsed a president's violation of the Constitution, and guaranteed the perpetuation of future constitutional transgressions," he said.


Judge allows Republican Wis. recalls

MADISON, Wis., June 3 (UPI) -- A judge in Wisconsin ruled Friday that a state board should immediately certify recall elections for six Republican state senators.

Dane County Circuit Judge John Markson extended the deadline for certification of recalls for three Democrats, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. He gave the Government Accountability Board until next Friday.

The state Democratic Party began what has been dubbed the "Recall Convention" Friday, WTMJ-AM, Milwaukee, said. The Republicans control both houses of the state legislature and the governor's office, but Democrats hope to change that -- and plan to try to recall Gov. Scott Walker when he becomes eligible for recall next year.

Opposition groups have announced plans to resume large-scale protests this weekend in the state capital. Thousands of demonstrators came to Madison when the legislature was considering Walker's plan to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions.

We Are Wisconsin and other pro-union groups have filed a permit with the city to camp out on parts of Capitol Square from Saturday through June 20 during the Legislature's budget session. A meeting was set Friday to work out details, the Journal Sentinel reports.

The activists say their "Walkerville" will host speakers, musical performances and "educational events" about the budget and pending recalls of state senators. They promise to provide their own security and medical services.

Organizer Peter Rickman, a leader of the Teaching Assistants Association at the University of Wisconsin, said the campout is a response to higher security at the Capitol.

"The people's house has been closed, so we're going to set up a tent city," he said.


Obama touts auto industry recovery

TOLEDO, Ohio, June 3 (UPI) -- The recovery of the Big Three U.S. automakers wouldn't have happened if the government didn't bail them out, President Obama said Friday in Toledo, Ohio.

Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. "stood on the brink of liquidation" when the 2009 bailouts were authorized, Obama said at a Chrysler plant in Toledo.

Doing nothing, as advocated by many in Washington, "would have triggered a cascade of damage across the country," Obama said at a plant that makes Jeep Wranglers.

"I didn't run for president to get into the auto business," he said. "I ran for president because too many Americans felt their dreams slipping away from them.

"I put my bet on you," Obama said, something he said he'd do "every day of the week."

All three automakers are turning a profit -- something not done since 2004 -- and all are gaining market share, something that hasn't happened since 1995, Obama said. Workers are being rehired and shifts are being added, he said.

To rousing applause, whoops and hollers, Obama told the crowd the federal government "has been completely repaid for investments made on my watch. … Chrysler has repaid every dime and more of what it owes every taxpayer. And you repaid it six years ahead of schedule."

He also announced U.S. officials reached agreement to sell the government's remaining interest in Chrysler "so you'll be 100 percent in private hands."

Italian automaker Fiat SpA agreed to buy the U.S. Treasury's remaining 6 percent stake in Chrysler, ending U.S. involvement in the automaker, officials said. The government lent $80 billion to Chrysler, GM, auto lenders and suppliers in 2009. The Obama administration said Wednesday taxpayers would probably get back all but $14 billion of the money.

"This industry is back on its feet, repaying its debt, and is gaining ground," Obama said.

Expressing pride in Chrysler's workers, Obama said they "showed this was a good investment -- betting on American workers."

He also repeated his views about the federal government working its way out of debt through smarter spending and cutting while planning for the future through investments in education, innovation and infrastructure.

"Don't want to pretend like everything is solved; we've got a long way to go," Obama said, even though more than 2 million jobs have been created during the last 15 months.

The country "still faces tough times," Obama said. "It's taking a while for it to mend."

Fiat will pay $500 million to the Treasury Department for its 98,461 shares of Chrysler and another $75 million for the right to purchase the 45.7 percent of Chrysler owned by the United Auto Workers union's healthcare trust fund, Treasury Department officials said in a statement Thursday.

The Treasury will give 20 percent of the $75 million purchase right, or $15 million, to Canada and keep the remaining 80 percent, the department said.

In all, the Treasury will get $560 million in the deal, which is expected to close by August following antitrust reviews.

Chrysler last week repaid $7.5 billion it owed to the United States and Canada.


John Edwards: 'I am not guilty'

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., June 3 (UPI) -- Two-time presidential hopeful John Edwards told a federal judge and the curious in North Carolina Friday he did not use campaign funds to hide an affair.

Edwards' attorney, Greg Craig, entered a not guilty plea on Edwards' behalf in the federal courthouse at Winston-Salem, CNN reported.

"There's no question that I've done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong," Edwards told a crowd of onlookers and reporters in a statement after the hearing. "But I did not break the law, and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law."

He was released on his own recognizance, with conditions that included surrendering his passport, remain in the lower 48 states and staying away from political backer Bunny Mellon, 100, one of the donors connected to the case.

Several hours before appearing in court, Craig said the prosecution was "unprecedented" in either criminal or civil court.

"He did not break the law," Craig told reporters, "and will mount a vigorous defense."

No one, especially Edwards, knew or should have known that the payments should have been treated as campaign contributions, Craig said.

The six-count federal indictment, released earlier Friday, alleges Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, used contributions from political backers to hide his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, then lied about it.

The indictment charged Edwards with one count of conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of making false statements.

Sources say the affair began in early 2006. Records indicate Hunter was hired later that year by Edwards' campaign as a videographer as he prepared for his 2008 presidential bid.

"A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," the indictment read. "The communication strategy developed by Edwards' campaign stressed the importance of publicizing, among other things, 'that [Edwards'] family comes first.'"

In interviews with WTDV-TV, Raleigh, former Edwards aide Andrew Young said when Hunter became pregnant in 2007, he and his wife helped hide her from media by using campaign contributions.

Young has said he took care of Hunter during and after the campaign. He said he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from Edwards backer Bunny Mellon, widow of banking heir Paul Mellon, and from Edwards campaign finance head Fred Baron, who died in 2008.

Hunter's child was born in February 2008, a month after Edwards dropped out of the race.

At first, Edwards denied involvement with Hunter but then admitted to it in the summer of 2008. He also denied being the father of her child before acknowledging paternity that same year.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in December. The couple had separated before her death.

Among other things, the indictment said Edwards accepted campaign contributions that exceeded federal election law limits and concealed the contributions by filing "false and misleading" campaign reports with the Federal Election Commission.

The purpose of the conspiracy was to "protect and advance" Edwards' presidential candidacy by "secretly obtaining and using hundreds of thousands of dollars" to conceal the affair and the pregnancy, the indictment read.

"Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man," the indictment said.

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