- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 29, 2010

ALASKA

Stevens burial set at Arlington

ANCHORAGE | Former Sen. Ted Stevens will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony with relatives and friends.

In a statement, the family said the decorated World War II pilot and president pro tempore of the Senate will be buried Tuesday afternoon with honors.

The 86-year-old Stevens was one of five people killed Aug. 9 in a plane crash while on a fishing trip near Dillingham in southwestern Alaska.

HUD

Housing touted in New Orleans

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said solid progress has been made in the past 18 months to return families to their homes in New Orleans.

Mr. Donovan said there is still “much ahead of us” to expand housing assistance in the city, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina five years ago.

But Mr. Donovan said in an interview aired Sunday that 40,000 families were in trailers or on emergency housing vouchers when President Obama took office, and thousands were at risk of losing their homes within weeks.

He said that “98 percent of those families are in permanent housing” today. He said four public housing projects are being rebuilt and “hundreds of families have moved back in.” Mr. Donovan spoke from New Orleans on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

SENATE

NRA declines to endorse Reid

Sen. Harry’s Reid’s support for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees has cost him the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his re-election bid.

The NRA is a force in rural states such as Nevada, where many voters own guns and hunt. The absence of the NRA’s blessing represents a setback that Mr. Reid’s campaign was quick to address Friday by noting that NRA executive Wayne LaPierre once called him a “true champion of the Second Amendment.”

Christopher W. Cox, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund, said Friday that the organization strongly opposed the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and it had warned lawmakers that the NRA would weigh that vote when it came to its endorsements.

“The vote on Elena Kagan’s confirmation to the court, along with the previous year’s confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor, are critical for the future of the Second Amendment,” Mr. Cox said.

Mr. Cox then indicated that the NRA would not endorse Mr. Reid. However, he stopped short of saying whether the group would support Mr. Reid’s opponent, Republican Sharron Angle, or stay neutral in the race.

An NRA spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the group would stay out of the race entirely. The organization did not respond to numerous requests from the Associated Press for comment.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama board OKs tax report

President Obama’s economic advisory board says any attempts to simplify the complicated federal tax code will produce lower taxes for some people and higher payments for others.

The board, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, says some of those affected could be middle-class families that Mr. Obama has promised to shield from tax increases.

Mr. Obama tasked the panel to review the pros and cons of three tax issues: simplifying the tax code, getting people to pay up and overhauling the corporate tax structure.

The report does not recommend any options over others.

Mr. Volcker says the goal is to set out as clearly as possible all the competing considerations and hope that the administration and Congress will draft legislation or put into place practices that can make it easier to navigate the tax system.

EPA

Bid to ban lead in ammo denied

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday denied a petition by five environmental groups to ban lead in hunting ammunition, saying the issue is not within the agency’s jurisdiction.

The EPA said it did not have the authority to enact the ban, aimed at protecting wildlife, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, as the groups had requested.

But the agency said it’s still reviewing another part of the petition, to ban lead fishing sinkers.

The EPA informed one of the groups, American Bird Conservancy, of the decision in a letter.

The groups had argued in their petition that millions of animals are dying from eating lead-shot pellets or carcasses contaminated by lead. They said an estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the U.S.

MEDICARE

Counseling funded to quit smoking

Medicare is catching up to most private insurers by providing counseling for any beneficiary who is trying to quit smoking. More than 4 million seniors are hooked on cigarettes.

Dr. Barry Straube, Medicare’s chief medical officer, said it’s never too late to quit, even for lifelong smokers.

Seniors can benefit from smoking-cessation counseling even if they’ve been smoking for 30 years or more, he said. Quitting can add years to their lives.

Medicare already covers drugs to help smokers quit, as well as counseling for those who have developed smoking-related illnesses. But starting immediately, the program will expand the benefit to cover up to eight counseling sessions a year for any beneficiary who wants to quit.

CALIFORNIA

Fiorina to make 4-day trip to Israel

SACRAMENTO | Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina intends to travel to Israel over Labor Day weekend to brush up on her foreign policy credentials.

Campaign manager Marty Wilson said Ms. Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, wants to be informed and updated on what’s happening in the Middle East.

The Republican Jewish Coalition is paying for the four-day trip, which begins after Ms. Fiorina’s first debate with Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Mrs. Boxer, who is Jewish, has strong support among pro-Israel groups.

Before the primary, Ms. Fiorina criticized GOP rival Tom Campbell for opposing increased economic aid to Israel while he served in Congress.

From wire dispatches and staff reports