The Baltimore Sun

Politics drove hiring at Justice, report says

WASHINGTON: Ideological considerations permeated the hiring process at the Justice Department's civil rights division, where a politically appointed official sought to hire "real Americans" and Republicans for career posts and prominent case assignments, according to a long-awaited report released yesterday by the department's inspector general. The extensive study of hiring practices between 2001 and 2007 concluded that a former department official improperly weeded out candidates based on their perceived ties to liberal organizations. Two other senior managers failed to oversee the process, authorities said. The key official, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman, favored employees who shared his political views and derided others as "libs" and "pinkos," the report said. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility chief H. Marshall Jarrett said they would refer their findings to legal disciplinary authorities.

Russia, Ukraine gas conflict continues

MOSCOW: Hopes that Russia would get natural gas flowing again to shivering Europeans vanished like a winter's breath yesterday when Moscow turned on the taps, then alleged hours later that Ukraine was blocking the shipments. Ukraine in turn blamed Russia in the weeklong dispute, saying the Kremlin had demanded that the Europe-bound gas go by a laborious route that would require Ukraine to cut off supplies to its own people. European Union monitors brought in to keep tabs on gas flows in both countries weren't saying who was at fault, but the EU was clearly angry at the crisis that has deprived millions of heat, light and even work. Europe gets about 20 percent of its gas from Russia through pipelines that cross Ukraine.

Study finds 3.4 million a year stalked in U.S.

WASHINGTON: By the tens of thousands, victims of stalking lose their jobs, flee their homes and fear for their safety, according to a new federal survey providing the most comprehensive data ever on a crime affecting an estimated 3.4 million Americans a year. About 11 percent of the victims said they had been stalked for five or more years, and one in seven said the stalking compelled them to move out of their home, according to the report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. It covered a 12-month period in 2005-2006. The study was described as a groundbreaking effort to analyze the scope and varying forms of stalking, which had not been featured in previous versions of the National Crime Victimization Survey. The number of victims was up sharply from a more limited 1995-1996 study commissioned by the Justice Department that estimated that 1.4 million Americans a year were targeted by stalkers. Both surveys concluded that women were more than twice as likely to be victimized as men.

Australia offers to pay island vacation blogger

SYDNEY, Australia: Billing it as the "best job in the world," Australian tourism officials say they are seeking one lucky person to spend six months relaxing on Hamilton Island, part of the country's Whitsunday Islands, while promoting the destination on a blog and earning 150,000 Australian dollars ($100,000). Within 24 hours, more than 200,000 prospective applicants had clicked onto the Web site advertising the sweet gig.

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