The Sage News Roundup 2/7/09

Hill Tapped as Ambassador to Iraq
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, a career diplomat who since 2005 was chief negotiator in the often difficult effort to try to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear programs, will be nominated as ambassador to Iraq, administration officials said.

Holder Confirmed As the First Black Attorney General
The Senate confirmed Eric H. Holder Jr. as the nation’s first African American attorney general by a vote of 75 to 21 yesterday, opening a new chapter for a Justice Department that had suffered under allegations of improper political influence and policy disputes over wiretapping and harsh interrogation practices.

Obama Faults FDA on Food Safety
President Obama had critical words for the Food and Drug Administration yesterday in the midst of a massive recall of peanut products linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness that has killed eight people and sickened another 550.

Obama Says He Erred in Nominations
President Obama acknowledged yesterday that he had “made a mistake” in trying to exempt some candidates for positions in his administration from strict ethics standards and accepted the withdrawal of two top nominees, including former Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle, in the first major setback of his young presidency.

Sen. Gregg Nominated to Head Commerce
During a long political career that includes 16 years in the Senate, Judd Gregg has been known as a tough negotiator, a deficit hawk and an independent-minded conservative.

Salazar Voids Drilling Leases On Public Lands in Utah
In a clear signal that the Obama administration is shifting the government’s approach to energy exploration on public lands, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar yesterday canceled oil and gas leases on 77 parcels of federal land after opponents said the drilling would blight Utah’s scenic southeastern

Congress Delays Troubled Switch To Digital TV
Congress yesterday approved a four-month delay in plans to halt analog television, the latest chapter in a troubled effort by the government to clear airwave space for emergency responders and wireless services by moving millions of households to digital television.

Agencies Await New Leaders And Direction
Since President Obama took office, the Food and Drug Administration has been criticized for lax food safety inspections, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been berated for missing Bernard L. Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, and just this week the Drug Enforcement Administration raided Southern California medical marijuana facilities, despite Obama’s stated opposition to such practices.

Treasury Overpaid for Bank Assets in Bailout, Oversight Panel Says
The Bush administration received assets that were worth $78 billion less than the amount it invested as part of the massive infusion of capital into the country’s banks, congressional investigators have found.

Steele’s Campaign Spending Questioned
Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.

Palin’s Husband, 9 Others in Contempt
JUNEAU, Alaska, Feb. 6 — The Alaska Senate on Friday found Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband and nine state employees, including some of her top aides, in contempt for ignoring subpoenas to testify in a legislative investigation.

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