- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

HOUSE

Officials jockey to replace Emanuel

CHICAGO | Clout-heavy Chicago politicians are lining up to replace Rep. Rahm Emanuel, prompting some experts to wonder if the local Democratic Party will split on whom to anoint as his successor.

The strength of the contenders may make it tough for Democrats to unite behind one candidate for the congressional seat. Also in question is whether Mayor Richard M. Daley will name a personal favorite.

Mr. Emanuel, 48, has accepted the job as chief of staff to President-elect Barack Obama and must step down, which means a special election will be held to replace him. He has not said exactly when he will step down.

The contenders include many with strong claims to the district — which may result in a divided vote that gives no one a majority or an endorsement, said Dick Simpson, University of Illinois-Chicago political science professor and former city alderman.

Candidates include 38th Ward Alderman Thomas Allen, 47th Ward Alderman Gene Schulter, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley and state Reps. John Fritchey and Nancy Kaszak.

Mr. Daley may not endorse a candidate for fear of alienating others who want the spot, attorney and columnist Russ Stewart said.

EX-FIRST LADY

Mrs. Bush doing well after ulcer surgery

HOUSTON | Former first lady Barbara Bush was moved out of the intensive care unit of a Houston hospital into a regular room Thursday after laparoscopic surgery to repair and seal a perforated ulcer, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ami Felke said Mrs. Bush was in good condition and in high spirits.

The former first lady was hospitalized Tuesday after experiencing abdominal pain. The 83-year-old is expected to remain in the hospital until next week.

Dr. Pat Reardon says surgeons closed a nearly 1.5-centimeter hole caused by an ulcer. Mrs. Bush will not be given food orally for about a week to avoid stretching her abdominal area.

Dr. Reardon says the first thing Mrs. Bush did after she woke up from the surgery was tell him a joke.

Former President George H.W. Bush was with her Thursday morning but left to attend Thanksgiving dinner with his son Neil, the Methodist Hospital spokeswoman told CNN.

FDA

‘Safe’ melamine levels set over formula

Federal regulators set a safety threshold Friday for the industrial chemical melamine that is far higher than the amount of contamination found recently in U.S.-made infant formula.

Food and Drug Administration officials set a threshold of 1 part per million of melamine in formula so long as a related chemical isn’t also present. They said they are continuing to analyze the results of tests on 87 samples of infant formula, but of the 74 samples analyzed so far, one had traces of melamine below the new threshold and another had traces of cyanuric acid, a related contaminant. None had both contaminants.

That’s key because studies so far show dangerous health effects only when both chemicals are present, said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, FDA’s director of food safety.

Both the safety level and the amount of the chemical found in U.S.-made infant formula are far below the amounts of melamine added to infant formula in China that have been blamed for killing at least three babies and making thousands ill.

The agency has not set a safety level for melamine if cyanuric acid is also present.

PRESIDENT-ELECT

Cookies cash in on Obama love

DES MOINES, Iowa | Want an example of the change Barack Obama is bringing to the country? Check out cookie sales at Baby Boomers Cafe in Des Moines.

Ever since word spread about the president-elect and his family’s fondness for Baby Boomers’ chocolate chunk cookies, the small downtown restaurant can’t bake them fast enough.

“Two months ago I was giving these cookies away,” said co-owner Rodney Maxfield. “Now, it’s like ‘I need two dozen cookies. I need four-dozen cookies.’ ”

The Obamas became frequent visitors to the cafe in the summer of 2007 when the Illinois senator devoted much of his time to Iowa, where the state’s precinct caucuses kick off the presidential nominating process. Mr. Obama’s main office was next door to Boomers. Daughters Malia and Sasha would stop by with their mother, Michelle, and Mr. Maxfield said they loved the cookies.

During a stop in Iowa last month, Mr. Obama’s staff ordered about a dozen cookies for the family. That’s when word got out about their affection for the confection. Suddenly, sales of 400 cookies in a good week soared to more than 1,000 a week, with requests coming from as far away as Mexico.

Alas, the price is going up — from 50 cents to 75 cents a cookie.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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