Thursday Morning News Roundup

December 23, 2004

Hours after the Washington State Supreme Court ordered election officials to count 723 ballots that were discovered after the results in Washington's governor's race had been certified, officials announced that count resulted in 10 vote lead for Christine O. Gregoire, the democratic candidate. Republican contender, Dino Rossi, had won the original election by 261 votes and a machine recount by 42 votes, but a hand count put Gregoire up by 42 votes. Washington State GOP Chairman Chris Vance told reporters, "The battle is not over. This election is not over."
John Rowland, former governor of Connecticut, plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to steal honest service. According to the New York Times, "In the plea agreement, Mr. Rowland admitted to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by failing to report gratuities, and to defrauding the people of Connecticut by failing to live up to his legal obligation to provide honest service." Outside the courthouse, Rowland told reporters, "Obviously, there have been mistakes throughout the last few years, and I take responsibility for that." The conspiracy charge, which is a felony, carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Succumbing to concerns and complaints from hundreds of individuals that airport security pat-downs have been too intrusive, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would be modifying its procedures beginning today. The new procedures can be found here. Click here for helpful holiday travel tips from the TSA.
The Bush administration announced new rules for the U.S. Forest Service. The overhaul of the federal guidelines will make it easier for regional managers of the park service to allow drilling, logging and off-road vehicles in U.S. forests. The managers will no longer be required to issue an environmental impact statement for their planning decsions. The new rules also scaled back some of the provisions that require public participation in forest planning. Earthjustice's Martin Hayden said the new regulations water down protections, "that are about fish and wildlife, that are about public participation, or about forcing the agency to do anything other than what the agency wants to do. What you are left with is things that are geared toward getting the sticks out."
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer had tough questions for opponents of same-sex marriages on the opening day of hearings to determine the constitutionality of California's marriage laws, "Will [opposite-sex married couples] be deterred from procreating, if the couple in the condo next door are a same-sex married couple?" The California Supreme Court put a halt to gay marriages earlier in the year, but did not rule on the constitutionality of California's marriage laws. Waukeen McCoy, the attorney representing the six same-sex couples who brought the suit said, "The state should not be able to reach into our homes and choose our life partners. It is bad enough when our parents do that."
Federal Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced that she would consider sealing documents in George Ryan's, former governor of Illinois, racketeering case. Ryan's attorneys ask the judge to seal the documents because they felt that some information might prejudice a jury. Pallmeyer said that she would most likely unseal the documents, but would review them before deciding.
The Commerce Department issued bad news for the economy. Consumer spending grew by .2 percent in November, which was below expectations. The dollar also hit an all-time low against the euro. The department did report that incomes grew by .3 percent in November, which was better than expected.
A nativity scene placed on public property in Polk county Florida has drawn an unusual protest. Festivus for the rest of us.