- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

HEALTH CARE

Senators disagree on town-hall protests

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Democrat, says critics of his party’s health care proposals are not representative of the public’s views on the issue.

Mr. Specter said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that angry people at town-hall meetings don’t reflect the broader public opinion of the proposed overhaul. Mr. Specter has faced tough town-hall audiences in his home state.

On the same program, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, said the crowds are representative of people “up in arms” over the plan. He said the outrage is genuine.

Mr. Hatch said the Democratic National Committee and organized labor are sending supporters to town halls to challenge Republicans.

DISTRICT

‘Taxpayer March’ set for Sept. 12

A conservative group is planning a “Taxpayer March on D.C.” for Sept. 12, four days after Congress returns from its recess.

The protest will be sponsored by Freedom Works, a conservative group dedicated to cutting government spending and debt. Also on board is the “Tea Party” anti-tax movement.

Organizers say more than 2,000 people registered for the event in seven days, but otherwise have no estimate yet of expected attendance.

HEALTH CARE

Rangel links waste to taxes

The chairman of the House tax-writing committee says he thinks President Obama can keep his promise not to raise taxes on most people and still overhaul health care.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that dealing with waste, medical errors and other problems that “hemorrhage” money would provide some immediate relief.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama promised not to raise taxes on people earning less than $250,000 a year. Critics of the health care overhaul say it will result in huge tax increases.

Mr. Rangel said he doesn’t know whether a House proposal to charge a surtax on wealthy Americans can survive in the Senate.

CENSUS

No counting of missionaries

The U.S. Census Bureau has told Utah’s elected leaders it won’t count Mormon missionaries serving overseas in the nation’s next head count.

Census Bureau officials, rejecting Utah’s lobbying efforts for the better part of a decade, say there’s no way to reliably count the overseas missionaries.

Utah leaders say the omission cost the state an extra congressional seat in 2000, when the state fell just 857 people short of receiving the last available slot in the House of Representatives.

The Census Bureau does count military and federal employees serving overseas, and Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, says it should include Mormons on proselytizing missions.

HEALTH CARE

Senator cites loss of confidence

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, says the angry tone of the health care debate is the result of people losing confidence in government.

Mr. Coburn said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that the government has earned that loss of confidence.

He called health care a symptom of the debate over an uncontrolled federal government. He said unchecked spending by Congress has raised the question of whether lawmakers are legitimately thinking about the American people and their long-term best interests.

PARENTS

Sebelius: Plan ahead for flu

The government is urging parents to have a backup plan for caring for their children in case they come down with swine flu after the new school year begins.

Swine flu is expected to hit hard this fall, and a vaccine won’t be ready until October.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that parents need to consider alternative strategies for caring for children who are sick with the disease.

School officials are already taking preparations to minimize the spread of the flu at schools. One strategy is frequent hand washing. Mrs. Sebelius endorsed the idea that children should wash their hands for as long as it takes them to sing “Happy Birthday to You” to themselves.

MILITARY

Air Force tests new type of boots

About 200 airmen at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona this month will test new boots that are designed to withstand exposure to chemicals in industrial areas - such as flight lines - and require little more than a wipe with a damp cloth to clean them.

The Air Force said last week that the current light-colored, suede leather boots now in use turn black when exposed to oils, fuels and harsh chemicals. That makes them look sloppy, which is unacceptable for upholding “a professional military image no matter the environment,” 1st Lt. Ashley Hawkes of the Air Force Uniform Office told Air Force Print News.

LABOR

Foreign workers turned into slaves

From a nondescript brick building a few blocks from the bright lights of Westport, the oldest entertainment district in Kansas City, Mo., Giant Labor Solutions lured hundreds of foreigners to the city with promises of good jobs and a chance to live the American dream.

From 2001 until this spring, Giant Labor and two other metro-area companies turned the workers into slaves, fanning them out to housekeeping jobs in hotels and other businesses in 14 states while forcing them to live in small apartments for which they were charged exorbitant rent, federal authorities allege. Most of the workers were in the country illegally and were threatened with deportation.

In a 45-count indictment handed down in May, the U.S. attorney’s office accused 12 people in the largest human trafficking case ever prosecuted in the city. Authorities say it is the first time a human trafficking ring has been charged under RICO - the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the federal statute most often associated with mafia cases.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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