Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Nation Briefs

June 20, 2001

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Virginia: GOP wins special election

Republicans expanded their narrow majority in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday as Randy Forbes defeated Democrat Louise Lucas in a special election to fill an open seat from Virginia. With all 239 precincts reporting unofficial returns, Forbes had 70,926 votes, or 52 percent to 65,194 votes or 48 percent for Lucas. Voter turnout was about 38 percent.

The closely watched special election was marked by negative advertising, racial tension and heavy spending by the national parties. Forbes' victory gives Republicans a 12-seat advantage over Democrats in the House. The Democrats hold 210 seats. Republicans now have 222. Independents have two seats and one is vacant.

Outer space: Mars brighter than usual

If you look up at the sky on Thursday night, the first day of summer, you will see a golden-colored Mars looming larger and brighter than it has in over a decade. The Red Planet is at its closest point to Earth since 1988 and will be visible to the naked eye anywhere in the world for the next two weeks, with Thursday being its brightest night.

The planet, which is 42 million miles away, will appear 80 times brighter and six times bigger than last July, when it was 244 million miles from Earth on the other side of the Sun, said Jack Horkheimer, director of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium. "Go outside after it gets dark, between 10 p.m. and midnight and look southeast," Horkheimer said. "It will be very bright and spectacular."

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Court vote protocol pending

Senators will decide whether President Bush's Supreme Court nominees get automatic confirmation votes from the full Senate without risking rejection by the Judiciary Committee, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Tuesday.

Republicans asked for such treatment during negotiations over how to reorganize the newly Democrat-controlled Senate. The GOP is afraid that Democrats would block Bush's judicial nominations and has been looking for a way to ensure Bush's top nominees will at least make it to the floor.

The GOP originally asked for guaranteed Senate votes on all Supreme Court and federal appellate court nominees and elimination of the secret veto process for some judicial nominations, but Daschle refused. The Republicans then modified their request to guaranteed Supreme Court votes only.

New York City: AGs sue over AC rules

State attorneys general from New York, California and Connecticut sued the Energy Department to force adoption of energy-efficiency standards for home central air conditioners and heat pumps developed by the Clinton administration. The department proposed regulations in April to require that central air conditioners and heat pumps beginning with the 2006 model year use 20 percent less energy than most current models.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumer Federation of America, Association for Energy Affordability and the Public Utility Law Project jointly filed a companion suit with the goal of having the two combined.

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