- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

NEW YORK

Laura Bush book suggests poisoning

NEW YORK | Former first lady Laura Bush writes in her forthcoming autobiography that she and her husband, George W. Bush, may have been poisoned when they became ill at a summit in Germany in 2007, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Writing in her book “Spoken From the Heart,” due to be released next month, Mrs. Bush says the U.S. Secret Service investigated whether the presidential delegation might have been poisoned at the Group of Eight summit.

Mr. Bush spent part of the summit bedridden.

Doctors concluded that they had contracted a virus, Mrs. Bush says, according to the Times report.

However “we never learned if any other delegations became ill or if ours, mysteriously, was the only one,” Mrs. Bush writes.

She also writes about a fatal November 1963 car accident when she was 17 in Texas and at the wheel of a car that hit another, killing the driver, a fellow student.

“I lost my faith that November, lost it for many, many years,” she writes.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama: Immigration may have to wait

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE | President Obama said Wednesday that there “may not be an appetite” in Congress to deal with immigration immediately after going through a tough legislative year.

With energy legislation on the table and midterm elections approaching, Mr. Obama said he didn’t want to force an immigration bill through Congress “just for the sake of politics.” Still, he said discussions on the issue must move forward in a way that can garner the support of the American people.

“We’ve gone though a very tough year, and I’ve been working Congress very hard, so I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force One returning with him to Washington from a Midwest trip.

The issue of immigration bubbled to the surface in recent days after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill into law requiring local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there’s reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

CENSUS

Census mail results troubling for 5 states

Five states - New York, California, Texas, Arizona and Florida - are close to losing out on congressional seats because of lackluster participation in the U.S. census.

Statistics released Wednesday show those states are average or below average in mailing back the 10-question census forms when compared to other states.

Of the five states on the cusp, the biggest potential losers are California, which could end up losing a House seat, and New York, which could have a net loss of two seats.

Texas may end up gaining just three House seats instead of four. Arizona and Florida may lose out on adding one or two House seats.

On Saturday, census workers begin knocking on the doors of those who did not respond to the mail-in form.

VALUE-ADDED TAX

Clinton: Measure would be ‘big leap’

The idea of a European-style value-added tax got qualified backing Wednesday from two prominent figures: former President Bill Clinton and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Volcker, who is an outside adviser to President Obama, told a private forum on fiscal issues that they saw benefits for the United States from a VAT, a tax on goods at each stage of production.

However, they also acknowledged that a VAT would be a tough sell politically.

“It’s a big leap,” Mr. Clinton told the Peter G. Peterson Foundation 2010 Fiscal Summit. “A lot of things that are good in theory require so much change that people just can’t make the mental leap.”

The U.S. budget deficit hit $1.4 trillion in 2009, or nearly 10 percent of the economy. Some experts warn a crisis could erupt if the shortfall is not brought under control.

Mr. Clinton said a well-designed VAT could help spur U.S. export growth by leveling the playing field between goods produced abroad and those manufactured in the United States. He noted that many U.S. trading partners have a VAT tax.

NHTSA

Toyota to recall about 50,000 SUVs

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled about 50,000 Sequoia sport utility vehicles from the 2003 model year to fix an unexpected slowing of the vehicle in the latest recall issued by the Japanese automaker.

Toyota said Wednesday that the recall would address the vehicle’s electronic stability control system, which helps maintain traction during turning. In some cases, the stability control could activate at low speed and prevent the SUV from accelerating as quickly as a driver expects, the company said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had been investigating the issue, and Toyota said it decided to recall the vehicles to address the government’s concerns. The automaker said it had no reports of accidents or injuries connected to the issue and about half of the vehicles had already been repaired under warranty.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since October because of acceleration problems in multiple models and braking issues in the Prius hybrid. The company recently agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine to the government for a slow response to problems with sticking gas pedals.

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