- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2010

CALIFORNIA

Poll: Whitman, Brown tied in matchup

SACRAMENTO | A new poll found former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, a billionaire Republican, is now in a dead heat with presumed Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in the race for California governor.

The Field Poll out Wednesday also showed that she has opened an even wider lead against her challenger in the Republican primary, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Mrs. Whitman now leads Mr. Poizner by 48 percentage points.

In a hypothetical matchup with Mr. Brown, Mrs. Whitman is up 46 percent to 43 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error.

Pollster Mark DiCamillo said Mrs. Whitman’s decision to spend millions on advertising early in the campaign is paying off.

He said many voters didn’t know her when contacted by the Field Poll in January. About two-thirds have an opinion of her now, and it’s mostly favorable.

FOREIGN DEBT

Afghanistan debt deal announced

The Obama administration says that the United States has reached an agreement with other countries to cancel $1.6 billion in foreign debt owed by Afghanistan to creditor nations and international lending organizations.

Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin said that the decision to cancel the debt was a recognition of the progress Afghanistan had made in strengthening its economy.

The debt cancellation agreement was negotiated by the Paris Club, an informal group of creditor countries. The agreement covers not only debt owed by Afghanistan to individual countries but also loans extended to the country by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

CAMPAIGN

Ex-NFL lineman runs for U.S. House

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. | Former NFL lineman Jon Runyan says he’s willing to spend his own money to win his campaign for Congress.

The ex-Philadelphia Eagle retired from football earlier this year to run as a Republican in a historically Republican district in New Jersey. His campaign formally begins Thursday.

Mr. Runyan said Wednesday the main reason he wants to run is to try to control federal government spending. He says he’s a conservative on most issues and still learning about the district, which stretches from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore.

The newcomer is taking on Rep. John Adler. The Democrat worked his way up through state politics before winning the congressional seat two years ago.

The race is shaping up to be among the most-watched in the country.

ENVIRONMENT

Scrutiny sought for pet products

The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to improve the safety of flea and tick treatments after seeing a significant increase in pets harmed by the products.

The EPA says it will develop stricter testing and evaluation requirements for topical flea and tick treatments. The agency also will begin reviewing product labels to determine which ones need to say more clearly how to use the products.

The EPA’s actions follow an increase in bad reactions to “spot-on” flea and tick products, which are applied directly to an animal’s skin. Pet owners say the products have triggered bad reactions in dogs and cats, ranging from skin irritation to neurological problems and even deaths.

FIRST LADY

Mrs. Obama: Diet is key to productivity

First lady Michelle Obama says her fight against childhood obesity isn’t about appearance but about whether children have enough energy to be productive at school.

Speaking Wednesday at a forum sponsored by Newsweek magazine, Mrs. Obama said that every parent is familiar with the difference in a child’s behavior when a child has had a healthy meal and when he or she has eaten a lot of sugar.

Mrs. Obama calls “extreme” the idea of requiring warning labels on unhealthy foods. She says that it is more important to give parents information on the ingredients in sugary snacks and how many of them can safely be included in a child’s diet.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama sings praises of Irish

President Obama celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by welcoming Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to the Oval Office and joking it’s the one day in America when everyone’s Irish.

Mr. Obama also thanked Mr. Cowen for Ireland’s military cooperation and noted its efforts to help the global economy recover from financial turmoil.

Later Wednesday, Mr. Obama planned to host a St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.

Mr. Cowen said Mr. Obama was welcome to visit Ireland anytime.

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