National briefs: Chesapeake Bay plan established
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WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency established an aggressive "pollution diet" for the Chesapeake Bay on Wednesday, dictating what steps Pennsylvania and five other states and the District of Columbia must take by 2025 to put the troubled estuary on the path to recovery.
Shawn Garvin, the agency's regional administrator for the mid-Atlantic, described the plan as "the largest water pollution strategy plan in the nation" and possibly "number one or number two" in the world. He noted that it will affect "basically every drop of water that gets to the bay" from as far north as upstate New York.
The legally enforceable road map, which runs roughly 200 pages along with 800 pages of appendices, will help determine everything from how pig farms in West Virginia dispose of waste to the way Pennsylvania copes with storm-water runoff.
HONOLULU -- President Barack Obama used his executive power to overcome what the White House called obstruction by Senate Republicans, announcing six recess appointments on Wednesday, including the first American ambassador to Syria in five years.
The appointments came amid deep White House frustration over the slow pace of Senate confirmations. A memo put out by the White House on Wednesday said that 79 of Mr. Obama's nominations were pending in the Senate when the lame-duck session ended.
The six nominees appointed have been waiting a total of 888 days to start their respective jobs, the White House said.
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is investigating whether former U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell violated federal law by diverting campaign funds for personal use, sources said Wednesday.
The probe of the Delaware Republican arose in response to a complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The watchdog group alleged in September that Ms. O'Donnell had used campaign funds for rent, meals and other personal expenses.
Ms. O'Donnell stunned the political world that month by riding a wave of tea party support to defeat veteran Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., in the Republican primary. But her campaign was dogged by questions about her personal and campaign finances, and a trail of controversial statements arose, including her 1999 acknowledgment that she had dabbled in witchcraft. She lost the election to Democrat Chris Coons.
CHICAGO -- A Chicago area man who killed a neighbor whose dog urinated on his lawn was sentenced today to four years probation.
Charles Clements, 69, a great-grandfather, former Marine and retired truck driver who took great pride in his lawn's appearance, could have been sentenced to as much as 20 years.
Will County Judge Daniel Rozak noted the episode was Mr. Clements' first contact with the legal system in his 69 years. The judge also said the slaying wasn't about a dog urinating on a lawn, but "about your reaction ... to being yelled at, pushed and punched in the face by a 23-year-old man."
A search continued Wednesday for two employees in the rubble of a Wayne, Mich., furniture store that was leveled in an explosion that critically injured the owner. ... Maine ski area employees working in blustery conditions failed to realign a lift cable that was out of place and had restarted the lift at a slower speed to off-load riders when the cable derailed Tuesday, sending skiers plummeting 25 to 30 feet, the Sugarloaf resort said Wednesday.
-- Compiled from news services
First Published December 30, 2010 12:00 am