Nation Digest

NATION DIGEST

April 11, 2006

Ohio office wants governor punished

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A state office that monitors lawyer behavior recommended yesterday that Gov. Bob Taft be disciplined for failing to report golf outings and other gifts while in office. Taft pleaded no contest in August to the ethics violations and was fined $4,000. He is the first Ohio governor to be charged with a crime while in office. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an arm of the state Supreme Court, said Monday that Taft also violated Ohio's code of professional conduct for lawyers.

Testimony heard on post-Katrina waste

NEW ORLEANS --Government agencies paid inflated prices for goods and services in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in a system riddled with waste, three government inspectors general testified at a congressional hearing yesterday. It was the first time the three government auditors publicly disclosed figures on government waste in the Katrina recovery effort. The inflated prices were a result of poor planning as well as a lack of proper oversight, the three said. In the case of debris-removal contracts, awarded to four firms, the auditor general of the Army found that the four subcontracted their work to multiple tiers of subcontractors, resulting in markups of 17 percent to 47 percent.

GAO finds millions misspent on airfares

WASHINGTON --The State Department wastes tens of millions of dollars a year on premium airline tickets, congressional auditors said yesterday. About two-thirds of premium tickets - mostly business class - were not properly authorized or justified, the Government Accountability Office said. Also, although federal agencies are authorized to recover payments to airlines for unused tickets, the department paid for about $6 million in tickets that were not used.

Gulf pollution linked to Illinois counties

WASHINGTON --A new study yesterday found that a relatively small percentage of rural counties - many of them in Illinois - are contributing most of the fertilizer pollution that is creating a summertime "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, where massive algae blooms snuff out most aquatic life. Counties that represent 15 percent of the Mississippi River basin, which stretches from Montana to western Pennsylvania, account for 80 percent of the fertilizer pollution that washes into the river, according to the report by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

Lens solution might be tied to infections

ATLANTA --A popular Bausch & Lomb contact lens solution may be linked to an increase in serious fungal eye infections across the country, investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said yesterday. The announcement prompted the company to temporarily suspend U.S. shipments of ReNu with MoistureLoc produced at its Greenville, S.C., plant, pending further investigation. More than 100 patients in several states have been treated for fusarium keratitis, a severe infection of the cornea that can lead to loss of vision.

Phone jammer called White House

WASHINGTON --Key figures in a phone-jamming scheme designed to keep New Hampshire Democrats from voting in 2002 had regular contact with the White House and Republican Party as the plan was unfolding, phone records introduced in criminal court show. The records show that Bush campaign operative James Tobin, who recently was convicted in the case, made two dozen calls to the White House within a three-day period around Election Day 2002 - as the phone jamming operation was finalized, carried out and then abruptly shut down.

From wire reports

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