- The Washington Times - Monday, January 4, 2010

HEALTH CARE

Governor questions validity of reform

CARSON CITY, Nev. | Gov. Jim Gibbons is asking Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto for a ruling on the constitutionality of the U.S. Senate’s health care bill.

Mr. Gibbons reaffirmed his opposition to the legislation crafted by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, claiming it will cost Nevadans more than $613 million and raise state and federal taxes.

The Republican governor said Miss Masto has previously refused to offer any assistance or opinions unless the legislation gains final passage.

The Democratic-controlled Senate passed health care legislation on Dec. 24, clearing the way for compromise talks with the House on a bill to reduce the ranks of the uninsured and rein in the insurance industry.

Miss Masto has an unlisted home phone number, and a message left at her office was not immediately returned Saturday.

ALOHA

Obama ends vacation to return to capital

HONOLULU | President Obama spent part of his last day in Hawaii reading intelligence assessments and asking advisers about threats to the United States.

Mr. Obama and his family were set to leave for the mainland Sunday evening.

The 11-day trip to the state where he was born and grew up was not a complete break from work for the chief executive.

The president’s holiday vacation was delayed by a Senate vote on health care legislation, then interrupted — and, by all accounts, derailed — by the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight as it prepared to land in Detroit.

Still, Mr. Obama played tennis and golf and attended a luau on the North Shore. He also took his daughters to the movies.

MINORITY LEADER

GOP leader says U.S. will overcome ills

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says the United States will overcome war, recession and double-digit unemployment.

Challenges will be met, better days are ahead and the nation’s leaders will unite for the common good despite sometimes sharp political disagreements, which are the hallmark of a vibrant democracy, Mr. McConnell said in a weekly Republican radio and Internet address Saturday.

“The new year always brings with it renewed hope and a spirit of optimism - qualities that have exemplified our nation and its people from the very start,” said Mr. McConnell of Kentucky.

He drew a historical parallel, citing the colonial army winning a great military victory amid the exhaustion of a war in which the colonists were facing impossible odds against the British.

“Powerful forces may be aligned against us … but when the challenges are greatest, Americans always join ranks,” the senator said.

DONORS

Clinton charity has clectic donor list

Former President Bill Clinton’s charity drew an international roster of donors last year, ranging from Norway and Oman to foreign lotteries, businessmen and celebrities, a contributor list released under an ethics promise by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton showed.

A donor rundown disclosed on New Year’s Day by the William J. Clinton Foundation shows that in all, Norway has given $10 million to $25 million to the charity since its founding roughly a decade ago. Oman donated $1 million to $5 million over the years. The list gave cumulative donation totals and didn’t say how much each contributor gave last year.

The foundation provided the Associated Press with a donor list Friday morning under the heading “William J. Clinton Foundation Publishes Names of 2009 Contributors on Foundation Web site” but later said the disclosure, which included many more foreign governments, covered donors dating back to the charity’s inception, and that it wouldn’t say who gave in 2009. The foundation changed course Friday afternoon and updated the list to specify 2009 donors.

The Clintons agreed to annually disclose the names of donors to the foundation to address concerns about potential conflicts of interest between the former president’s fundraising abroad and his wife’s role in helping direct Obama administration foreign policy.

The William J. Clinton Foundation works in the United States and around the world on such issues as health care, particularly HIV/AIDS; climate change, and economic development. It also runs the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., which includes Mr. Clinton’s presidential library.

SECRET SERVICE

Agents looking into Obama effigy

PLAINS, Ga. | A spokesman for the Secret Service says the agency is investigating an effigy of President Obama found hanging from a building in the hometown of former President Jimmy Carter.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told the Associated Press that the large black doll was found Saturday morning on Main Street in the small town of Plains.

According to footage from WALB-TV, the doll was hanging by a noose in front of a red, white and blue sign that says “Plains, Georgia. Home of Jimmy Carter, our 39th President.” A witness told the television station that the doll wore a sign with Mr. Obama’s name on it.

Mr. Donovan said the doll was removed Saturday. He declined further comment.

Sumter County Sheriff’s Department officials declined comment, referring all calls to the Secret Service.

GAMBLING

Table games to fund pet projects

HARRISBURG, Pa. | A heavily negotiated bill that would deliver poker, craps and other table games to Pennsylvania’s casinos is also now the latest method for state lawmakers to deliver on their pet projects.

Under the bill’s latest version, the casinos will send 14 percent of their table games take to the state treasury and another 2 percent to fund civic and infrastructure projects in the communities surrounding the casinos.

Some of the local money would fatten municipal and county budgets.

Some is earmarked for a handful of specific institutions: Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Monroeville and Lower Bucks Hospital in suburban Philadelphia.

Such earmarking in the table games bill is reminiscent to critics of the secretive process in which lawmakers have been able to direct grants - known colloquially as “WAMs,” for walking-around money — toward their favored causes.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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