- The Washington Times - Monday, July 6, 2009

HEALTH CARE

Senators stress key compromise

It will take a compromise on a government option for insurance if the Senate is to agree on a health care overall before next month’s break, two senators said Sunday.

President Obama is pushing for an Aug. 8 deadline for the Senate and House to vote on proposals that would reduce medical costs and provide coverage for the nearly 50 million of Americans who are uninsured. Mr. Obama says he wants to sign a bill by October.

“We’ll get this done because we’re doing it in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee. “If we can reach a compromise, we can get this done by Aug. 8 or at least get it out of committee by Aug. 8.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, also a committee member, said that compromise is possible but that senators can’t “take things off the table altogether,” a reference to the Democrats’ desire to include a government insurance option.

PENTAGON

Admiral wary of striking Iran

A U.S. military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be “very destabilizing,” top U.S. military commander Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday, warning that any attack could have serious “unintended consequences.”

“I’ve been one who has been concerned about a strike on Iran for some time, because it could be very destabilizing, and it is the unintended consequences of that which aren’t predictable,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“That said, I think it’s very important as we deal with Iran that we don’t take any options, including military options, off the table,” Adm. Mullen said.

But the top commander declined to say whether the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran would be sufficient to outweigh the negative consequences of a U.S. military strike on Tehran’s weapons program.

“I think both outcomes are really, really bad outcomes. And that speaks to the very narrow space that we have to try to resolve this so that neither one of those things occur,” he said.

FCC

Little people seek to ban ‘midget’

NEW YORK | Little people are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to ban the use of the word “midget” on broadcast TV.

The group Little People of America said Sunday the word is just as offensive as racial slurs.

The request was prompted by an April episode of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” that the group said was demeaning.

In the episode, contestants created a detergent ad called “Jesse James and the Midgets.” The contestants, including Joan Rivers, suggested bathing little people in the detergent and hanging them to dry.

Calls to the FCC and “Celebrity Apprentice” host Donald Trump were not immediately answered Sunday. NBC Universal representatives didn’t immediately respond to e-mail messages, and the telephone rang unanswered at their Los Angeles office.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama frustrated with his golf

President Obama says that he doesn’t like his golf swing and that the ball never goes where he wants.

Mr. Obama told Russian state-run Rossiya TV and ITAR-TASS news agency that he’s been working on his golf game lately. However, he disclosed in the interview that he hasn’t had much success.

The president, who has been playing golf most weekends with aides, says he thinks he should be good at the game. Yet his shots never seem to go straight.

Mr. Obama played a quick nine holes on Saturday before a Fourth of July picnic at the White House.

The White House released a transcript of his interview Sunday, hours before Mr. Obama headed to Russia.

MILITARY

Powell wants gay policy review

American attitudes have changed and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays serving in the U.S. military should be reviewed, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin L. Powell said Sunday.

President Obama favors overturning the policy, which bars gay troops from serving openly in the military. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has asked military lawyers to look at ways to make the law more flexible, hailed by gay rights groups as a “seismic political shift”.

“The policy and the law that came about in 1993, I think, was correct for the time,” Mr. Powell said on CNN’s State of the Union.

“Sixteen years have now gone by, and I think a lot has changed with respect to attitudes within our country, and therefore I think this is a policy and a law that should be reviewed.” he added.

Current Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, the United States’ highest-ranking officer, said the military will continue to carry out the policy until it is changed.

“It is very clear what President Obama’s intent here is, he intends to see this law changed and my advice … is that I think we need to move in a measured way,” Adm. Mullen said.

“At a time when we’re fighting two conflicts, there is a great deal of pressure on our forces and their families,” he added.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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