Jury Rules Treasury Owns Rare Gold Coins

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia jury has ruled 10 rare “Double Eagle” $20 gold coins locked in a safe deposit box for nearly 80 years belong to the U.S. Treasury.

The coins were among 445,000 “Double Eagles” minted in 1933 but never issued by the Treasury. They have a face value of $20 and bear a goddess of liberty on one side and an eagle on the other side, designed by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

One surviving “Double Eagle” coin sold at auction in 2002 for $7.5 million, Robert Hoge, curator of North American coins and currency at the American Numismatic Society, told ABC News. These 10 could be worth $4 million each.

During the depths of the Great Depression in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6260 ordering U.S. gold coins be turned in for cash and that the newly minted “Double Eagles” be melted into bullion. However, in 2003 these coins were discovered in a safe deposit box belonging to the 81-year-old daughter of jeweler Israel Switt.

“Those coins were all in a vault and were supposed to be melted,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline Romero told ABC. “They were never issued. They didn’t go out the front door. This was clearly a crime. The people of the United States were robbed.”

The jury agreed with the government’s case after five hours of deliberation. The $20 gold pieces eventually may end up on display at the Federal Reserve Bank.

Man Sues Over ‘GOPALIN’ License Plate

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A lawsuit filed against the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is seeking compensation for the rejection of a man’s requested “GOPALIN” license plate.

James Linlor of Douglas County said the DMV denied his application for the “GOPALIN” plate, as well as subsequent requests for plates reading “PALIN,” “PALIN12″ and “PALIN16″ due to rules banning plates “expressing superiority of political affiliation,” the Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday.

Linlor said an administrative law judge told the DMV it could not deny his requests for the latter three plates simply on the grounds of being “political,” but the department continued to deny his requests for a “GOPALIN” plate.

The lawsuit states Linlor filed to obtain a “GO OBAMA” plate and was approved.

“The actions of the DMV in selectively granting some ‘political’ license plate requests while denying others are unconstitutional on grounds of content and viewpoint discrimination, and should be enjoined as a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states.

Bruce Breslow, director of the Nevada DMV, said Monday Linlor was issued a “GOPALIN” plate Dec. 30, 2010. He said the department is reviewing its policies.

The lawsuit is seeking attorney’s fees and injunctive relief from the DMV.

Senate Kills House GOP Deficit Plan

WASHINGTON — The Senate Friday killed the House Republican “cut, cap and balance” bill, and Majority Leader Harry Reid called off a weekend session.

The party-line Senate vote was 51-46, The Hill reported.

The Republican-led House passed the measure, which would have cut spending by $111 billion in 2012, capped spending over the next decade and barred more borrowing until Congress passes a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, by 234-190 Tuesday.

Senate rejection was expected, and President Barack Obama had promised a veto, but the vote was seen as necessary before reaching a larger deal to raise the $14.3 trillion national debt ceiling by Aug. 2.

Reid, D-Nev., then told senators to take the weekend off.

“It looked earlier this week like the Senate would have to originate legislation perhaps as soon as today to avoid default,” he said. “Circumstances have changed. The Speaker of the House and the President have been working to reach agreement.”

Obama’s proposed deal with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, envisions $1.5 trillion to $3 trillion in U.S. spending cuts but few tax changes for two years, officials said.

News of the proposed deal angered Reid, who confronted White House budget director Jack Lew during a meeting about secret talks with Boehner, The Hill reported earlier Friday.

“I’m the Senate majority leader — why don’t I know about this deal?” Reid demanded Thursday as Lew walked into the Mansfield Room for a meeting with Senate Democrats, a lawmaker who witnessed the exchange said.

Lew replied, “If there’s a deal, then the president doesn’t know about it, the vice president doesn’t know about it and I don’t know about it.”

Boehner, at a news conference Friday before the Senate vote, also said there was no agreement.

“So the House has done its job and I hope that the Senate will do theirs. And if they don’t like our version of cut, cap and balance, guess what? That’s what the legislative process is for,” he said.

“They can amend it. They can change it. They can send it back over to the House. And, frankly, they ought to take action on that bill.”

Democrats were angry Obama was apparently willing to accept big spending cuts in exchange for reforming the tax code at some time in the future as part of a proposal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

The Democratic President and Republican House Speaker are coming together on a plan to make sharp cuts in Federal agency spending, including at the Pentagon — perhaps around $1.5 trillion in 10 years. But it would postpone tax-overhaul legislation and cuts to so-called entitlement programs until next year, an election year, pushing back the end to most special tax exemptions, tax deductions and tax credits until at least 2013, the officials told The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

The tax-code overhaul would lower personal and corporate income-tax rates while eliminating or reducing an array of popular tax breaks, such as the deduction for home mortgage interest, the officials said.

One thing Obama said he would not do is use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own, as former President Bill Clinton and others have urged him to do, using the section saying Congress must honor the Federal debt.

The president told a crowd at a “town hall” in Maryland Friday, “I have talked to my lawyers” about the section. “They’re not persuaded that that is a winning argument.”

TSA Upgrade To End Naked Scanner Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Transportation Security Administration Wednesday said it is updating scanner software to end the use of images that show a passenger’s naked body.

The new software allows the full-body scanners in use at 78 U.S. airports to show images of objects under a person’s clothes without creating an intrusive image.

“By eliminating the image of an actual passenger and replacing it with a generic outline of a person, passengers are able to view the same outline that the TSA officer sees,” TSA Administrator John S. Pistole said in a statement. “Further, a separate TSA officer will no longer be required to view the image in a remotely located viewing room.”

The new software is intended to end complaints by privacy advocates that the full-body scans amount to an invasion of privacy, even though screeners viewing the images do not directly see the person being scanned.

The updated system has been tested at airports in Las Vegas, Atlanta and Washington since February. If the scanner detects an object under clothing, the passenger will still be patted down.

“In the coming months, TSA will install the software upgrade on all currently deployed (on Advanced Imaging Technology) millimeter wave imaging technology units at U.S. airports nationwide,” Pistole said.

Fox News said the upgraded software could be in operation on 200 scanners at 41 airports by year’s end.

‘Fast Lane’ Will Get Supplies To Troops

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon says a new “fast-lane” system will get life-saving military gear to troops in Afghanistan more quickly.

“Precious time is eaten in unnecessary deliberation…,” said Ashton Carter, undersecretary of acquisition at the Defense Department, one of the officials participating in the fast-lane system.

Among the items to be fast-tracked are gunshot locaters to help soldiers find snipers, increased vehicle armor to help protect troops from roadside bombs and protective underwear designed to provide troops additional security from buried mine explosions, USA Today reported Monday.

Under the new system, Carter and a Senior Integration Group that includes Marine Lt. Gen. Robert Neller are charged with finding the money to pay for the expedited materials.

Some delays are to be expected in wartime and can’t be helped, said Dakota Wood, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a non-partisan think tank.

“During a time of war, demand will always outstrip available supplies,” Wood said. “You have good people trying to do the right things, but requests flow in continually and they’re all urgent.”