Count on this: Nothing will budge embattled Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld from his post, at least until December ends.

If he can stick it out that long _ and those who know him say he’s not even contemplating leaving before President Bush exits in January 2007 _ Rumsfeld will reach the historic milestone of being the longest-serving defense secretary ever.

If you count the 14 months he served as Pentagon secretary during the Ford administration and add his current tenure since Bush appointed him in 2001, Rumsfeld will eclipse Robert McNamara, who served from January 1961 through February 1968.

Rumsfeld, 74, already holds the record as being both the youngest and the oldest man ever to run the Pentagon.

While this won’t be a record-breaking election year for women in Congress, it still is shaping up as one that will send more female lawmakers to Capitol Hill.

This year, 139 women are running for the House, where 67 women currently serve, and 12 for the Senate, which is home now to 14. In all, women account for about 15 percent of the 535 seats in Congress.

In the upcoming elections, experts predict a gain of one or two more women in the Senate and perhaps six to 10 in the House.

Some good news from American cities: More than two in three municipal finance directors surveyed by the National League of Cities said their cities’ are in good fiscal health. They worry, though, that a slower housing market _ and thus less property tax revenue _ could have serious consequences on future budgets.

Medicare boss Mark McClellan spent his last day in the office at the helm of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday. But “because there are some superstitious people in the department” he made his last official day in government Oct. 14 to avoid any suggestion of bad luck.

The House ethics committee is so determined to wrap in secrecy its investigation into the X-rated online chats former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., engaged in with congressional pages that its staff wouldn’t even confirm that it would meet Friday or reveal the time it would convene. (It met at noon.)

Evangelical liberals are banding together to try to pry those who share their religious beliefs out of the grip of the so-called Religious Right. Founded by left-leaning social activists, they call themselves “Red Letter Christians,” referring to the words spoken by Jesus Christ, which appear in red in some Bibles. This group says its concerns _ poverty, health care, education, social justice, the environment _ are those Jesus would share. The group, which is aiming to develop a network of 7,000 moderate and progressive clergy nationwide, is setting up get-out-the-vote offices in battleground states.

The Marine Corps has begun to require its troops in combat to wear padded helmets, which offer better protection from concussion blasts from exploding bombs that are causing brain injuries to many U.S. forces in Iraq and, now, Afghanistan. The Army, in contrast, has issued them for years. The Marines signed on after recent tests confirmed the pads reduced trauma from blunt-force impacts.


  1. Why doesn’t someone ask our government about those test results from the tests conducted on the helmet pads. Why did they lower the specifications on the test? They are providing these soldiers with inferior product. all pads are NOT created equal.

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