NYT Politics

Joe Biden Says He Regrets Role in Anita Hill Hearing
Mr. Biden acknowledged the part he played in the 1991 Supreme Court hearings, reckoning with a part of his past that could be a vulnerability for his 2020 candidacy.
News Analysis: Mueller’s Investigation Erases a Line Drawn After Watergate
The special counsel’s decision not to take a position on whether President Trump’s norm-shattering actions constituted obstruction means future presidents will feel entitled to make similar moves.
White House Memo: For Trump’s Aides, Celebratory Dinners and a Hunger for Revenge
With the Mueller inquiry over, a less playful theme emerged alongside the wisecracks at the White House: Once the party ends, the president’s perceived enemies should pay.
Andrew Marshall, Pentagon’s Threat Expert, Dies at 97
Mr. Marshall led a little-known office that has helped shape American military thinking, and kept his focus on China even when that was out of fashion.
U.S. Expands Anti-Abortion Policies With New Overseas Funding Rules
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would end funding to foreign groups that give money to other organizations that perform abortions.

Columbian Newspaper

Pass interference in NFL now reviewable by officials
Author: BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer

PHOENIX — Pass interference, whether flagged or not, can be challenged by coaches and reviewed by officials next season.

NFL team owners voted Tuesday on a one-year trial basis to include those often-controversial penalties in the officiating replay review system. Coaches still will have two challenges per game, and in the final two minutes of a half or fourth quarter or for all of overtime, the replay official can order a review of offensive or defensive pass interference.

The major change — owners traditionally have been highly reluctant to include any penalties in the replay process — stems from an egregious missed call in the NFC championship game that likely led to the Rams making the Super Bowl and the Saints falling short.

Earlier in the day, the NFL owners voted down a proposal to replace the onside kick with one play from scrimmage, and tabled a suggestion to require each team to have one possession in overtime regardless of what happened on the first series of the extra period.

While the owners mulled enhancing the use of video replay in officiating, they vetoed the idea of a one-year trial of a fourth-and-15 play from the offense’s 35-yard line to replace the onside kick, considered one of the game’s more dangerous plays. The powerful competition committee recommended the play by a vote of 7-1, but the owners were not swayed.

The overtime change is championed by several clubs after the AFC championship game in January — and the 2017 Super Bowl — ended with a Patriots touchdown without the opponent getting the ball. New England won the coin toss both times.

Currently, the format is a touchdown on the opening possession of OT ends the game, but a field goal allows the other team a series with the ball. If that team also kicks a field goal, the game continues.

Owners will next take up the overtime topic at their May meeting.

Approved on Tuesday, with the owners still meeting:

• Making permanent all kickoff rules implemented only for the 2018 season. Studies showed this player safety initiative worked.

• Eliminating the blindside block in an effort to expand protection of a defenseless player. It is now a 15-yard penalty if a player initiates a block in which he is moving.

• Allowing teams to elect to enforce on an extra point kick or play an opponent’s personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul committed during a touchdown.

Clark County employment rebounds from January decline
Author: Anthony Macuk

Clark County’s employment rate jumped in February, rebounding from a January decline caused in part by the federal government shutdown. That’s the latest news from the Washington Employment Security Department and Southwest Washington regional economist Scott Bailey.

“The biggest change was the bounce back in federal employment,” Bailey said. “Everything else was pretty normal — and normal is pretty decent in this neck of the woods.”

Total unadjusted nonfarm employment rose by 1,300 jobs to end the month at 167,000. The biggest gain was an increase of 500 government jobs, most of which were federal jobs that had been temporarily lost in the previous month.

The shutdown began Dec. 22 and continued until Jan. 25. An estimated 800,000 federal workers were furloughed or otherwise impacted by the shutdown, including 400 in Clark County, according to Bailey.

Nongovernmental sectors saw February growth as well. Education and health services gained 300 jobs, and the construction industry and leisure and hospitality sector both gained 200 jobs.

The construction industry gains could signal the start of a normal seasonal increase in construction jobs, Bailey said, although the biggest gains usually come in April. It could also just be gains due to a busy industry — the city of Vancouver has enough projects lined up to potentially fuel gains in construction throughout the year, he said.

“It should kind of start up in especially April,” he said. “It’ll wake up from its winter doldrums.”

The only sector that posted a loss was retail trade, which declined by 100 jobs — a change that Bailey attributed to usual seasonal trends at the tail end of the holiday season.

When reporting the state-level jobs numbers, the Employment Security Department posts the actual change in jobs and a seasonally adjusted figure, which is recalculated to exclude large changes in the workforce that reliably occur at the same point in each year, such as thousands of students seeking summer jobs in June.

County-level unemployment numbers are not seasonally adjusted, but Bailey said his monthly report includes a seasonally adjusted estimate for Clark County that showed a net gain of 800 jobs for February.

The county’s unemployment rate was estimated to be 5.1 percent at the end of the month, a three-tenths of a percentage point decrease from January and a decrease of four-tenths of a percentage point from February 2018. For comparison, the Portland metro area’s unemployment rate was estimated at 3.8 percent.

Clark County’s job growth over the previous 12 months was revised substantially downward in the January labor market report, due to the addition of new tax data from the third quarter for 2018. The county’s job growth rate for the 12 months ending in February matches the rate from the January report: 2.2 percent.

Still, Clark County’s growth rate continues to outpace the averages for the state and country. The U.S. job growth rate during the same period was 1.7 percent, the state of Washington’s was 1.9 percent, the state of Oregon’s was 1.5 percent and the Portland metro area’s was 1.6 percent.

Washington’s 12-month job growth rate fell substantially from January, when it was reported at 2.5 percent. The U.S. rate also fell from January, but Bailey said that in both cases the declines were likely due not to tax adjustments, but to poor February results due to inclement weather in much of the country. The Seattle area in particular had to deal with a major winter storm.

“The U.S. got bumped down because they had such a weak month — weather probably played a part in that,” Bailey said. “We (in Clark County) mostly managed to duck that.”

NASCAR shuffles 2020 schedule to freshen stagnant schedule
Author: JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR made the first significant changes to its schedule in years by shuffling the 2020 season into a freshened new sequence that tries to meet the wants of fans to the best of NASCAR’s current ability.

“The fans and the industry as a whole have been vocal about the desire for sweeping changes to the schedule, and the 2020 slate is a reflection of our efforts to execute against that feedback,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

The 2020 schedule was released Tuesday at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix, which got the season finale following a $175 million renovation to ISM Raceway.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway got July 5th to give the iconic track back-to-back summer holiday weekends; the event will follow the Indianapolis 500, a mere 42 days after that Memorial Day staple. IMS President Doug Boles said the Brickyard was the correct “venue to throw a massive party for our nation’s birthday.”

The July 4th holiday had belonged to Daytona International Speedway, but it gave up the traditional and often rain-wrecked event to claim the final race of the regular season, Aug. 29 when the championship field is finalized.

Daytona track President Chip Wile said the July race now created a chance at a “potential walk-off home run moment for a driver to solidify a playoff berth.”

Pocono Raceway will run both its 400-mile races on back-to-back June afternoons, Martinsville Speedway got a Mother’s Day race under the lights and also a slot in the playoffs — one of three short tracks featured in NASCAR’s 10-race playoffs. Even better for Martinsville, it got the penultimate race for the championship finale.

Bristol and Richmond short tracks both joined the playoffs, as did Darlington Raceway.

Martinsville in 2017 became the first major motorsports facility in the U.S. with a state-of-the-art LED Lighting system and will finally get to use them for a big-league event on the Saturday night before Mother’s Day. Speedway President Clay Campbell noted fans have asked “literally every single day since we installed the lights” when Martinsville would have a Cup race at night.

The season ends one week shorter than usual, but still includes 38 events that run from a Feb. 9 exhibition race at Daytona through the finale on Nov. 8 at renovated ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix. That includes consecutive weekends off for the first time in the modern era so that NBC Sports can focus on the Tokyo Olympics.

Charlotte Motor Speedway retained the All-Star race, but Speedway Motorsports chairman Marcus Smith told The Associated Press he was amenable to moving the event to Nashville in 2021.

Smith said IndyCar was also welcome to negotiate doubleheader weekends with a handful of SMI-owned tracks, among them Las Vegas during its new playoff date in late September that offers cooler temperatures than last year’s sun-roasted playoff opener. IndyCar has not raced at Las Vegas since Dan Wheldon’s fatal 2011 accident.

Smith also welcomed talks with IndyCar on the “Roval” at Charlotte Motor Speedway and as a NASCAR companion to Texas during its fall event. IndyCar aims each year to end its season earlier than any of Smith’s ideas for SMI-owned tracks.

Although he is open to doubleheaders with IndyCar as soon as next season, Smith was a firm ‘No’ on midweek races. Fans have asked more short tracks, road courses, and even dirt track Eldora Speedway to be added to the stagnant annual schedule, and industry stakeholders have asked for midweek racing during the summer in an attempt to shorten the length of the season.

NASCAR seemed open to the idea but was handcuffed by five-year sanction agreements with its existing track partners. The sanctioning body won’t have the flexibility to add new venues to the schedule until the contracts expire in time for the 2021 schedule.

It meant NASCAR could only swap its existing partners to the interests that suited all the parties involved. As for the midweek races, Smith was firm in that it was not a financial risk he was willing to make with one of the eight SMI venues with Cup races. He would have done a doubleheader, but said he believes it should be a unique event and special to Pocono.

“We did enough vetting of midweek events that it became clear what a difficult reality it would have been for not only the tracks, but the teams we spoke to said there would be a strain for them, too,” Smith said. “If someone else wants to do a midweek race, we wish them luck, but it is not for us.”

SMI scored victories in moving Atlanta into a weather-friendlier date in March, as well as the first visit to Texas moving a week after hunting season opens. Bristol is now the first elimination race of the playoffs, while the roval at Charlotte is the eliminating race of the second round of the playoffs. Las Vegas also follows the Feb. 16 Daytona 500 as the first race of NASCAR annual trip West.

International Speedway Corp., the company controlled by the NASCAR-owning France Family, moved the season finale to ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix. The company last year received a massive facelift and there simply hasn’t been enough of a buzz worth keeping the championship finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway anymore. The track has hosted the final race since 2002 and the Cup series champion has been the race winner since the current format was introduced in 2014.

ISC shoved a race there in March, a month few track operators want because of weather concerns that shouldn’t be as big an issue in the Miami area.

Martinsville is perhaps the big winner with not only a race under its new lights system, but a race that will decide the championship field of four.

The playoffs now begin at Darlington on Sept. 6, go to Richmond, Bristol, Las Vegas, Talladega, Charlotte, Kansas, Texas, Martinsville then finally ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix.

Many 55-plus have zero savings for retirement
Author: Ben Steverman, Bloomberg

The bad news is that almost half of Americans approaching retirement have nothing saved in a 401(k) or other individual account. The good news is that the new estimate, from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, is slightly better than a few years earlier.

Of those 55 and older, 48 percent had nothing put away in a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan or an individual retirement account, according to a GAO estimate for 2016 that was released Tuesday. That’s an improvement from the 52 percent without retirement money in 2013.

Two in five of such households did have access to a traditional pension, also known as a defined benefit plan. However, 29 percent of older Americans had neither a pension nor any assets in a 401(k) or IRA account.

The estimate from the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, is a brief update to a more comprehensive 2015 report on retirement savings in the U.S. Both are based on the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

The previous report found the median household, age 65 to 74, had about $148,000 saved, the equivalent of an inflation-protected annuity of $649 a month.

“Social Security provides most of the income for about half of households age 65 and older,” the GAO said.

Portland Business News

Democrats, greens see momentum on climate bill
Author: Pete Danko
Industry groups unswayed by revisions to cap and trade bill