Senate confirms VA secretary

WASHINGTON - The Senate confirmed James Peake, a former Army surgeon general, as Veterans Affairs secretary yesterday.

Retired Lt. Gen. Peake, 63, the son of a medical services officer and Army nurse, has spent 40 years in military medicine. He retired from the Army in 2004 after being lead commander in several medical posts, including four years as Army surgeon general.

President Bush said one of Peake's first tasks would be to continue to implement recommendations of the presidential commission on veterans care. The recommendations include aggressively treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, streamlining VA processes, and strengthening support for families.

- AP

Top law enforcer in Kan. resigns

TOPEKA, Kan. - Attorney General Paul Morrison announced his resignation yesterday, less than a week after he acknowledged having an extramarital affair with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment, and of professional misconduct aimed at his predecessor.

"I have held others accountable for their actions, and now I must be held accountable for my mistakes," Morrison said. His resignation is effective Jan. 31. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a fellow Democrat, will appoint his replacement.

The former employee, Linda Carter, said she and Morrison had a two-year affair starting in September 2005, meaning it continued while Morrison ran for attorney general last year and after he took office. Both are married.

- AP

Voter-rights chief is transferred

The Justice Department's voting-rights chief, who said voter ID laws aren't a problem for blacks because they often die before old age, has been transferred to a new job, officials said yesterday.

John Tanner, a longtime attorney in the department's civil rights division, requested the move from the division's voting-rights office, Justice spokesman Peter Carr said. Tanner now works in the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, Carr said.

In an Oct. 4 speech to the NAACP in Georgia, Tanner said minorities were "slightly more likely" than nonminorities to have a photo ID. He suggested that was due to vestiges of racism still at work in the United States.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A Marine reservist

who killed an Iraqi soldier was sentenced yesterday at Camp Pendleton, Calif., to a bad-conduct discharge, but would serve no more time behind bars, a spokeswoman said.

Italia Federici,

an environmental advocate who arranged lobbyist Jack Abramoff's entree into the Interior Department, was sentenced yesterday in Washington to two months in a halfway house and four years' probation.