Obama trims his salary
President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his salary each month to the Treasury in a show of solidarity with federal workers smarting from government-wide spending cuts, the White House said Wednesday.
Obama’s decision grew out of a desire to share in the sacrifice that government employees are making, said a White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the decision publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Hundreds of thousands of workers could be forced to take unpaid leave — known as furloughs — if Congress does not reach an agreement to undo the cuts.
The president is demonstrating that he will be paying a price, too, as the White House warns of dire economic consequences from the $85 billion in cuts that started to hit federal programs last month after Congress failed to stop them.
A 5 percent cut from the president’s salary of $400,000 per year amounts to $1,667 per month. The move will be retroactive to the March 1 — the day the cuts started to kick in — and will remain in effect for the rest of 2013, the White House official said.
Sheriff slain near courthouse
A sheriff known for cracking down on the drug trade in southern West Virginia’s coalfields was fatally shot Wednesday in the spot where he usually parked his car for lunch, a state official said, and a suspect was in custody.
State police told Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum died of his wounds, said Tomblin’s chief of staff, Rob Alsop. The suspect, who was also shot, was taken to a hospital in Logan, Alsop said.
The shooting occurred within a block of the county courthouse, said Office of Emergency Services head dispatcher Willis Spence.
Security heightened for DAs
After two Texas prosecutors were slain in two months, law enforcement agencies across the state are trying to better protect attorneys who go after violent criminals.
Some top prosecutors have already received round-the-clock security details. Others are withholding some personal information from public records.
But current and former prosecutors acknowledge that nothing will ever entirely eliminate the inherent risk of confronting society’s most dangerous offenders in the courtroom.
Former Houston prosecutor Clay Rawlings received a death threat in 1984 from a tattoo-covered 19-year-old year charged with murder. The experience, he said, made him “very motivated to make damn sure that guy is never getting out.”
Kerry to revisit Middle East
Evoking the U.S. shuttle diplomacy of decades past, Secretary of State John Kerry is making his third trip to the Middle East in a span of only two weeks in a fresh bid to restart long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Though expectations are low for any breakthrough on Kerry’s trip, which begins Saturday, his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders represent some of the Obama administration’s most sustained efforts at engagement, a renewed determination in a part of the world that has frustrated American administrations for the past six decades.
Kerry is going at a precarious time. Overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday, Israel and Gaza militants engaged in the heaviest fighting since a cease-fire was declared in November. The militants fired several rockets into southern Israel, and Israel responded with its first airstrike in Gaza since the fighting subsided. No injuries were reported on either side.