December 17, 2008 in Nation/World

Republicans press for special election


Illinois Republicans have launched a political ad campaign demanding a special election to fill the Senate vacancy that Gov. Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to sell, hoping to pick up a seat they had no shot at before the scandal.

Democrats, after initially supporting such an election, this week canceled a vote on the matter and backed away in the name of good government. They say an election would cost up to $50 million and leave the state with a Senate vacancy until at least April – giving the new senator an even shorter window before the 2010 campaign cycle heats up.

Republicans say Democrats are simply afraid of losing the election, particularly if a potential backlash arises from the criminal charges against Blagojevich. They claim Democrats want to hold onto the power to appoint a senator.

The president-elect was pulled into the dispute Tuesday when Obama refused to say whether he supports a special election. The RNC said Obama “punted” rather than take a position on a vital issue.


D.C. passes gun ownership rules

The District of Columbia Council passed more regulations for gun owners Tuesday, months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city’s 32-year-old handgun ban.

Among other things, the bill requires gun owners to register their weapons every three years and receive training by a certified firearms instructor.

The National Rifle Association accused the city of forcing residents to jump through unnecessary hurdles, thereby undermining the intent of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that affirmed the right of Americans to keep guns in the home for self defense.

Beaumont, Texas

Boy caught playing with toys

Texas police responding to a store’s burglar alarm found a less-than-hardened criminal inside: He was 4, and playing with the toys.

Detective Randy Stevens says the child apparently unlocked a door at his nearby home, got out, then crossed a street to reach the discount store.

Store surveillance video shows the unidentified boy trying one of the front doors to a Family Dollar store about 3 a.m. Monday, only to find it locked. But the second door was unlocked and the child went inside.

That triggered the silent alarm.

“When the officers got there, he was showing them his toys,” said Officer Crystal Holmes.

Child Protective Services says the boy will be allowed to stay with extended relatives while they review the incident.

New Haven, Conn.

Yale’s endowment drops 25 percent

Yale University said Tuesday its nearly $23 billion endowment has dropped 25 percent to about $17 billion in recent months due to the recession, prompting the college to delay construction projects and take other cost-cutting measures.

Yale normally provides an annual update on its endowment, but Yale President Richard Levin provided the update Tuesday amid concerns over the effect of the financial turmoil rocking Wall Street.

Yale said in September that its endowment earned a 4.5 percent return in the fiscal year ending June 30, bringing total assets to $22.9 billion. Yale’s “best estimate” of the endowment’s value now is $17 billion, a decline of 25 percent since June 30, Levin said.

Harvard University said on Dec. 3 that its endowment has tumbled $8 billion in the four months since the end of the last fiscal year. The estimated 22 percent decline is the school’s sharpest endowment drop in modern history.

From wire reports

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