- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 2, 2007

Paper says Arnold smoked Cuban cigar

LOS ANGELES — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired up a stogie during his trip to Canada last week, but did he break U.S. law to do it?

The celebrity governor, known for his love of premium cigars, was headed to the Ottawa airport Wednesday when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Mr. Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $14.83 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.

Canada allows the import of Cuban cigars, but U.S. trade restrictions bar American citizens from buying Cuban cigars anywhere in the world. Mr. Schwarzenegger’s office wouldn’t confirm or deny the Citizen report.

“There’s no way of telling now because he smoked it,” spokesman Aaron McLear said.

A message left at the shop wasn’t returned Friday.

Newman donates to alma mater

GAMBIER, Ohio — Actor Paul Newman is giving $10 million to Kenyon College, the Ohio school from which he graduated, to help establish its single largest scholarship fund.

The school said in a statement Friday that the gift by Mr. Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundation was part of the college’s $230 million fundraising campaign, along with $35 million from two other donors.

“This fund … is meant to be more than just a gift to a college,” Mr. Newman, 82, said. “I believe strongly that we should be doing whatever we can to make all higher education opportunities available to deserving students.”

Mr. Newman, a 1949 graduate of Kenyon, and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, were the honorary chairmen of Kenyon’s most recent fundraising campaign from 1998 to 2001, the college said.

Four accused of brain-surgery scam

NEW YORK — Four persons billed a health insurance company for 20 brain operations that were never performed on them, sometimes for the same person on multiple occasions, authorities said.

One 36-year-old man from New York claimed nine brain surgeries for himself, along with his wife and two sons, receiving reimbursements from New York-based Group Health Incorporated totaling $142,268, federal investigators said Friday.

GHI paid out more than $300,000 in reimbursements to all four defendants, based on the claims.

Besides the 36-year-old man, an indictment filed in federal court charges that a 39-year-old man from Mount Vernon, N.Y., a 42-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, both from New York City, defrauded the insurance company.

The indictment says that the Mount Vernon man, an employee at a medical billing company, altered claims to the insurance company by swapping the names of people who actually underwent brain surgery with two others charged in the scheme.

Crash airport had plan to meet staff rules

LEXINGTON, Ky. — An airport where a plane took off from the wrong runway and crashed last year had put together a plan to help it comply with federal guidelines on staffing in air control towers but never enacted it, a staffing study showed.

The tower at Blue Grass Airport reached a deal in early 2006 in which a regional radar center in Indianapolis would assume some of the overnight radar duties between March and November, according to documents obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader. The deal was an effort by the airport to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines designed to prevent one person alone from handling both ground control and approach control.

Only one controller was on duty to operate both systems Aug. 27 when Comair Flight 5191 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 49 of 50 persons aboard. The staffing study concluded that it would cost Blue Grass Airport $135,000 in overtime to fully staff the tower overnight, the Herald-Leader reported yesterday. The airport’s overtime budget was only $17,000.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the plan wasn’t enacted because it also would require the lengthy process of reclassifying Lexington’s airspace from midnight to 6:30 a.m.

The study “was only one piece of a discussion, it wasn’t a final word,” she said.

McCain challenges critics of alien bill

LE MARS, Iowa — Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has a message for critics of the immigration compromise he helped devise.

“I respect your disagreement, but what’s your proposal?” the senator, an Arizona Republican, said yesterday.

“If people who are running for president of the United States don’t agree with this proposal, what’s your proposal? … The status quo is not acceptable,” he told reporters.

Mr. McCain made his comments after a town hall event at a golf course in Le Mars, in northwest Iowa. Speaking to about 150 people, Mr. McCain dealt with questions about Iraq, government spending, health care and immigration.

He went back and forth with one man who said he did not think the immigration proposal was tough enough and that the government was not enforcing current laws.

“The old rules are not workable and enforceable,” the senator said. “We’ve certainly proved that over the last 20 years.”

Congress “failed you,” Mr. McCain said. “We passed a law in 1986 that said we’d give amnesty to some people, and now we have 12 million more” illegal aliens.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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