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New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) will serve as US Commerce secretary in the new administration, according to media reports Wednesday about a pending announcement by President-elect Obama. One of the country's most prominent Hispanic politicians, Richardson was an Energy secretary and UN ambassador under President Clinton.

A three-story, underground Capitol Visitor Center opened in Washington Tuesday, three years late and at a cost of $621 million, more than double the original estimate. The center can accommodate thousands of people in its marble corridors, where historical artifacts are on display in a security-enhanced environment.

The Treasury Department's monitoring of the federal bailout has been lax, the Government Accountability Office reported to Congress Tuesday in the first comprehensive review of the $700 billion rescue package. The report said no mechanisms exist to force compliance with congressionally imposed restrictions.

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All but one state, California, is failing when it comes to offering affordable higher education, according to a biennial study by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. California received a grade of "C" because of its relatively inexpensive community colleges. Grades are based on how much of the average family's income is needed to pay for college. Costs have soared in many states. In Pennsylvania, for example, the cost of attending a four-year state college has jumped from 19 percent of a family's income to 35 percent since 2000.

Sen. Mel Martinez (R) of Florida will not seek a second term in 2010. He said Tuesday his decision was not based on "reelection prospects," but on a desire to spend more time with his family. A Cuban who came to the US at age 15, Martinez was called "the embodiment of the American dream" in 2001 when President Bush named him secretary for Housing and Urban Development.

A dozen retired generals and admirals were to meet with President-elect Obama Wednesday to urge his administration to make an "abrupt change" with the current interrogation, detention, and rendition policies. The group believes that allowing the CIA and military to have two different treatment standards weakens the US government's moral authority internationally.

A proposal to lease Chicago's 36,000 parking meters to a private operator for 75 years goes before the City Council Thursday. The deal is designed to raise $1.1 billion for the city, while hiking downtown parking fees from $3 per hour to $6.50 by 2013.

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