Court: double jeopardy shield doesn't apply
Arkansas may retry a man for murder even though jurors in his first trial were unanimous that he was not guilty, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Alex Blueford, who is accused of killing his girlfriend's 1-year-old son, is not protected by the Constitution's double jeopardy clause, the court ruled in a 6-3 decision. Because the judge dismissed the jury when it was unable to reach agreement on lesser charges, Blueford was not officially cleared of any of the charges, the majority said, and thus may be retried.
GSA host of Vegas conference is out
The General Services Administration executive who was responsible for a lavish, $823,000 conference in Las Vegas is no longer with the GSA, the agency confirmed Thursday. GSA spokesman Adam Elkington would not say whether Jeffrey Neely resigned or was fired from the agency that is in charge of federal buildings and supplies. Neely had been placed on administrative leave in April as buildings commissioner for the Pacific Rim region.
Expert tapped to lead NRC
Moving quickly to stem a controversy, President Barack Obama nominated an expert on nuclear waste Thursday to lead the federal agency that regulates the nation's nuclear power plants. If confirmed, George Mason University professor Allison Macfarlane would replace Gregory Jaczko as head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Jaczko announced his resignation Monday after a tumultuous three-year tenure in which he pushed for sweeping safety reforms but came under fire for a management style described as bullying.
Senate rejects student loan plans
The Senate rejected dueling Democratic and Republican plans Thursday for averting a July 1 doubling of interest rates on federal college loans for 7.4 million students, pushing back efforts to resolve the election-season showdown until next month. In mostly party-line roll calls, senators voted 62-34 against the GOP package and 51-43 for the Democratic version, with each falling short of the 60 votes needed for approval. If action isn't taken, loan rates will rise from 3.4 to 6.8 percent on July 1.
Flood insurance extension in works
The Senate voted Thursday to extend the life of the National Flood Insurance Program for 60 days, giving lawmakers time to work on a long-term extension that would seek to restore fiscal solvency to the debt-ridden plan. The House last week approved a one-month extension of the program. The two chambers will have to decide on a common approach before the insurance provider's charter runs out at the end of the month.
Move afoot to curb food stamp fraud
Food stamp recipients are ripping off the government for millions of dollars by illegally selling their benefit cards for cash — sometimes even in the open, on eBay or Craigslist — and then asking the government for replacement cards. The Agriculture Department wants to curb the practice by giving states more power to investigate people who repeatedly claim to lose their benefit cards. It proposed new rules Thursday that would allow states to demand formal explanations from people who seek replacement cards more than three times a year. Those who don't comply can be denied further cards.