- - Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HOUSE

Rogers to take helm of intelligence panel

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, will be chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the next Congress, the House Republican leadership said.

Mr. Rogers, a former Army officer and FBI special agent, played a key role in the enactment of the USA Patriot Act. That legislation created the agency that fights biological and chemical threats. He also had a major role in forming the counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the White House Afghanistan review, Mr. Rogers said Wednesday that the war strategy should evolve into a smaller U.S. troop footprint, focused more on fighting terrorists and less on nation-building. He said the U.S. must help Pakistan improve its capacity to fight militants within its borders.

MASSACHUSETTS

Health care cases shine light on Romney

BOSTON | A brewing court battle over the insurance mandate in President Obama’s health care law will focus attention on a subject that potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would like to forget.

The federal mandate taking effect in 2014 is modeled after the universal health care legislation that Mr. Romney signed as Massachusetts governor in 2006.

A federal judge struck down the Obama mandate on Monday. Legal analysts say the debate likely will end up in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Romney said the federal and Massachusetts mandates are different. He calls the federal mandate an “unconstitutional power grab by Washington.”

But the Internal Revenue Service seems to see parallels. It just hired the state official charged with enforcing the Massachusetts mandate to help enact the federal law.

MARYLAND

Army doctor found guilty by jury

FORT MEADE | A military jury has convicted an Army doctor who disobeyed orders to deploy to Afghanistan because he questions President Obama’s eligibility for office.

The jury on Wednesday found Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin of Greeley, Colo., guilty of missing a flight that would have transported him to Fort Campbell, Ky., for his eventual deployment. He was convicted of a charge of missing movement by design.

His attorney had argued that he should be convicted of a lesser charge.

Lakin had pleaded guilty to another charge. He now faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison.

FDA

Supplement makers warned on ingredients

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on manufacturers of certain weight loss, body building and sexual enhancement supplements that contain potentially dangerous ingredients.

The FDA said Wednesday that some manufacturers are deceptively labeling products to hide that they contain ingredients known to cause adverse health effects. Other supplements contain ingredients that should be available only by prescription.

“These tainted products can cause serious adverse effects, including strokes, organ failure, and death,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “The manufacturers selling these tainted products are operating outside the law.”

Dietary supplements can slip through the regulatory cracks because, unlike drugs, they do not have to be approved by the FDA before they are marketed. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure their products are safe.

The FDA has pressured companies to recall nearly 200 inappropriately formulated products since 2007, including 80 that were marketed as body building supplements, according to the agency. The recalled products were linked to reports of stroke, kidney failure, liver injury and death.

FAA

Safety of tots on flights questioned

A federal advisory panel recommended steps Wednesday that could end the practice of having very young children in their parents’ laps when flying.

The Federal Aviation Administration has the final say on regulations governing the airline industry, but a 19-member advisory panel said the federal agency should look at whether it would be safer to have children belted into their own seats instead of being in their parents’ laps. Putting children into their own seats or using child seats requires the purchase of an extra ticket at most airlines.

The recommendation was among 23 items identified by the panel, appointed a year ago by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to find ways to bolster the chronically ailing airline industry and fix some of its more pressing problems.

TREASURY

GM repays feds $2.1 billion more

The government has received another $2.1 billion in repayments from General Motors Co.

The Treasury Department said it received that amount when GM repurchased preferred stock it had given to the government as part of the bailout agreement.

The transaction follows GM’s initial public stock offering last month that brought the government $13.5 billion. The government put $49.5 billion into GM as part of its bailout of the giant automaker.

HOUSE

Bill would end pay to dead lawmakers

Rep. Bill Posey, Florida Republican, introduced a bill Wednesday that would end the payment of a year’s salary to the families of members of Congress who die in office.

Mr. Posey has been collecting additional backers for the bill as the Republican Study Committee’s Sunset Caucus - Posey is a member of the committee - has been seeking means to cut government spending.

“Times are tough for Americans and we shouldn’t be paying this type of gratuity benefit for relatives of a member who has passed when they already have paid into a life insurance program,” said George Cecala, a spokesman for Mr. Posey. “It’s just not right. Americans are struggling and we’re paying out extra benefits and it just doesn’t send the right message.”

No timeline for the bill to go before Congress has been proposed.

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