- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 18, 2010

VICE PRESIDENT

Biden: ‘Tea party’ isn’t racist

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. says the “tea party” movement is conservative and has very different ideas about government, but it’s not a racist organization.

Mr. Biden told ABC’s “This Week” that some people who’ve participated in tea party events or who’ve been on the periphery of these events have made “really unfortunate comments.”

But he says that he and President Obama don’t think the tea party is racist.

SENATE

McConnell: GOP opposes broad energy bill

Republicans “are happy” to consider legislation tied to the BP oil spill, but will not support a U.S. energy bill that includes climate regulations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday.

Congress is considering several dozen bills to prevent another disaster like the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but broad legislation that would regulate greenhouse-gas emissions has stalled in the Senate.

“We are happy to look at oil-spill legislation … . There are some things we can do [on an energy bill],” Mr. McConnell told CNN’s “State of the Union” program, when asked whether the Kentucky Republican’s party could support some of President Obama’s agenda.

A climate-change and alternative-energy bill passed the House last year, with minimal Republican support. It mandated a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020, from 2005 levels.

But Mr. McConnell said Republicans in the Senate would oppose climate regulations in an energy bill, which he described as an energy tax on the nation.

A scaled-back climate-change bill that Senate Democrats are considering would achieve far less than Obama promised at a U.N. global-warming conference last year - but even this may be too much for Congress.

The White House has said an energy bill is a top legislative priority this summer.

Without legislation, the Environmental Protection Agency could go ahead early next year with new regulations on carbon pollution that are already facing legal challenges.

WHITE HOUSE

First family wraps up Maine holiday

BAR HARBOR, Maine | President Obama and the first family are headed home to Washington after their weekend vacation on the coast of Maine.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha boarded a small military jet serving as Air Force One and took off from the Bar Harbor airport on Sunday morning.

Their visit to Maine began on Friday. The Obamas spent much of their time hiking and biking in Acadia National Park. They also played tennis, went boating and enjoyed the food in the coastal resort town of Bar Harbor.

FDA

Scientists say drug didn’t extend lives

Federal health scientists said that follow-up studies of a Roche breast cancer drug showed that it failed extend patient lives, opening the door for it to be potentially withdrawal for use in treating that disease.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Roche’s blockbuster Avastin in 2008 based on a trial showing it slowed growth of tumors caused by breast cancer. The decision was controversial because drugs for cancer patients who have never been treated before must usually show evidence they extend lives.

Avastin’s so-called “accelerated approval” was based on the condition that later studies would show a survival benefit.

But in briefing documents posted online, FDA reviewers said two follow-up studies recently submitted by Roche failed to show that Avastin significantly extended lives compared with chemotherapy alone.

Additionally, the FDA said that in follow-up studies the drug did not slow tumor growth to the same degree as in earlier studies.

Patients taking Avastin showed significantly more side effects, including high blood pressure, fatigue and abnormal white blood-cell levels.

On Tuesday, the FDA will ask a panel of outside cancer experts to review the evidence on Avastin. The panel’s recommendations are not binding, but the FDA usually follows their guidance.

SUPREME COURT

2nd Gitmo prisoner cleared for repatriation

The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the U.S. to send two Guantanamo Bay prisoners back to Algeria, even though they want to remain at the prison camp at the U.S. naval base in Cuba because of fear they might be tortured at home.

Justices on Saturday declined to hear the appeal of Aziz Abdul Naji, held at Guantanamo since 2002 after being captured in Pakistan. That ruling follows the high court’s decision late Friday that allowed the U.S. government to proceed in transferring another Algerian detainee back home.

Both detainees had argued they would be harmed by the Algerian government or unaffiliated armed Islamic militants if they were to be released.

They are among six Algerian detainees at Guantanamo who say they would rather remain at the prison camp in Cuba than return to their home country, where political turmoil has claimed thousands of lives in recent years.

A federal judge this year initially barred the U.S. government from repatriating one of the detainees to Algeria until there were more assurances that he would be treated humanely. An appeals court later overturned that order.

On Friday, the Supreme Court — with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting — backed the decision of the appeals court in saying the detainee should be sent back.

The U.S. government says it has assurances that the Algerian detainees will not be abused.

NEW YORK

Governor signs stop-frisk data law

NEW YORK | Gov. David A. Paterson signed legislation Friday that would stop New York City police from storing the names of hundreds of thousands of people who were stopped and frisked without facing charges, calling the practice “not a policy for a democracy.”

Mr. Paterson signed the law over vehement objections of New York City’s mayor and police commissioner, who said the city was losing a key crime-fighting tool.

“This law does not in any way tamper with our stop-and-frisk policies,” Mr. Paterson said. “What it does is, it disallows the use of personal data of innocent people who have not done anything wrong. … That is not a policy for a democracy.”

Last year alone, the New York Police Department stopped 575,304 people, mostly black and Hispanic men, and recorded their names, addresses and descriptions into an electronic database. The stops are based on a standard of reasonable suspicion, lower than the standard of probable cause needed to justify an arrest. Only about 6 percent of those stopped are arrested.

Critics have said information from such stops are an invasion of privacy and can lead to future police suspicion and surveillance.

Police say the database was instrumental in solving crimes when there is only partial information about possible suspects. New York City police investigators made an arrest in an anti-gay attack in March after learning the first names of the attackers and using the database to find a match for two men who had previously been stopped in the area.