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Political Scene

- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 30, 2010

OHIO

Carter exits hospital after 2-day stay

CLEVELAND | Former President Jimmy Carter on Thursday afternoon left an Ohio hospital, where he spent two days recovering from a viral infection doctors say likely gave him stomach problems.

The 85-year-old ex-president left the hospital at 1:15 p.m. and will resume his schedule with a meeting this week in Washington, D.C., said Eileen Korey, spokeswoman for MetroHealth Medical Center. He was headed to Washington, Carter spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said.

Mr. Carter waved to the cameras as he walked out of the emergency room and again from a vehicle as the motorcade passed the media.

"He thanked his medical team at MetroHealth for the attentive and comprehensive care and treatment he received during his stay," Miss Korey said. "He also again expressed his appreciation to all the members of the public who sent greetings to him."

Mr. Carter became ill during a Delta Air Lines flight Tuesday from Atlanta to Cleveland, causing rescue crews to rush him to the hospital after the plane landed. His medical team recommended that he stay for two nights for monitoring.

TELEVISION

Senate votes to lower volume on TV ads

Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it'll soon become law.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to limit the volume of commercials and keep them at the level of the programs they interrupt.

The House has passed similar legislation. Before it can become law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 2 election.

Ever since television caught on in the 1950s, the Federal Communication Commission has been getting complaints about blaring commercials. But the FCC concluded in 1984 there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the "apparent loudness" of commercials. So it hasn't been regulating them.

POSTAL RATES

Rate board denies price-rise plea

The independent panel that oversees the U.S. Postal Service voted Thursday to deny the agency's request to increase the cost of mailing a letter by 2 cents - and keeping the price of a first-class stamp at 44 cents.

Ruth Goldway, chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, suggested at a news conference that the problem with the proposal was more in the packaging than the plea.

In July, the Postal Service proposed raising first-class postage from 44 cents to 46 cents as part of a strategy for dealing with a worsening financial crisis. The request required the commission's approval, because the margin of increase was higher than the existing rate of inflation. But the five-member panel unanimously said no.

In light of the decision, the Postal Service has a number of options, including a legal appeal, filing a new special rate-increase request to the commission, or requesting a smaller rate increase that would be automatically approved for rising within the rate of inflation.

Postal Service officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the denial.

CONSUMER SAFETY

Fisher-Price recalls 11 million products

Fisher-Price is recalling more than 11 million tricycles, toys and highchairs over safety concerns.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday that the tricycles and highchairs were blamed for children's injuries.

In the recall of about 7 million Fisher-Price Trikes and Tough Trikes toddler tricycles, the agency is aware of 10 reports of children being hurt. Six of them required medical attention.

The trikes - some of which feature popular characters like Dora the Explorer and Barbie - have a protruding plastic ignition key near the seat that children can strike, sit on or fall on, leading to injuries that the commission said can include genital bleeding.

Fisher-Price is also recalling more than 1 million Healthy Care, Easy Clean and Close to Me Highchairs, after 14 reports of problems. The pegs on the back of the highchairs can be used to store the tray, but children can fall on them, resulting in cuts and other injuries. Seven children required stitches, the commission said.

FLORIDA

Poll: Rubio pulling away from Crist

Republican Marco Rubio commands a double-digit lead among likely voters in Florida's U.S. Senate race, harnessing a split among Democrats over their nominee, Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, and independent Gov. Charlie Crist, a poll issued Thursday shows.

Mr. Rubio, a "tea party" favorite, was favored in the three-way contest by 46 percent of 1,151 voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University between Sept. 23 and 28. The poll was Quinnipiac's first limited to likely voters for the Nov. 2 general election and claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Mr. Crist, who left the GOP in April to run for the Senate without party affiliation, was favored by 33 percent and Mr. Meek was preferred by 18 percent in the three-way race.

A former state House speaker, Mr. Rubio built his lead with backing from 83 percent of likely Republican voters while nearly splitting the independent vote with Mr. Crist. Meanwhile, the survey shows Mr. Crist and Mr. Meek splitting among the Democrats.

SANCTIONS

U.S. hits energy firm with sanctions

The Obama administration on Thursday slapped sanctions on a Swiss-based Iranian company involved in Iran's oil and gas sector and claimed success in persuading several European energy firms to divest from the country.

The move comes as Washington steps up pressure on Iran to prove its nuclear program is peaceful and comes a day after it broadened its efforts to push reform in the Islamic republic by imposing financial and travel sanctions on eight senior Iranian officials accused of serious human rights abuses after last year's disputed presidential elections.

In the latest step, the State Department placed the Naftiran Intertrade Co., a subsidiary of Iran's national oil company, on a financial blacklist. At the same time, it spared four large European multinationals - Total of France, Statoil of Norway, ENI of Italy and Royal Dutch Shell of Britain and the Netherlands - from the penalties because of their pledges to stop investing in Iran's energy sector.

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