- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2010

LOUISIANA

U.S. won’t discuss BP blowout device

NEW ORLEANS | The Justice Department won’t say whether the blowout preventer that failed to stop oil from gushing from BP’s undersea well into the Gulf of Mexico is on its way to shore.

Spokeswoman Hannah August declined comment Monday.

The 50-foot, 300-ton device, which was lifted to the surface Saturday, is expected to be analyzed at a NASA facility in Louisiana.

It is not clear, meanwhile, exactly when the final plugging of the well will take place.

Relief well drilling was supposed to resume after Labor Day. The government’s point man on the spill response said Saturday he wanted to wait before giving a firm, updated timeline. BP said recently it didn’t expect to finish the relief well until mid-September.

ALASKA

Senate candidate cited in 3-car crash

ANCHORAGE | The Republican candidate who defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s primary election has been cited with failing to exercise due care to avoid a recent three-car collision.

Joe Miller was involved in the crash in his hometown of Fairbanks three days after the Aug. 24 election and before his surprise victory was confirmed in the counting of thousands of absentee votes and questioned ballots.

Alaska state troopers said Mr. Miller’s vehicle rear-ended a vehicle driven by Denali Park resident James Raisis, who then rear-ended a car driven by Mark Lewis of Fairbanks.

Mr. Lewis was cited with stopping on a highway. He plans to contest the citation and said he was making a left turn and had his signal on when his sedan was struck.

Troopers said no one was hurt.

MASSACHUSETTS

Hearings on Cape Wind deal to begin

BOSTON | The fight over whether the country’s first offshore wind farm should be built off Cape Cod moves this week to a Boston hearing room, where the project’s future turns on one question: Is the price of the electricity produced by the spinning turbines a good deal?

On Tuesday, hearings begin at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, which will decide whether utility National Grid’s 15-year contract to buy half the turbines’ power is good for ratepayers.

Teams of lawyers will present and cross-examine witnesses over 12 days of hearings that have been previewed in hundreds of pages of written testimony.

The hearings, the latest battlefield in a decade-long fight over Cape Wind, is unprecedented for the DPU. It’s the first long-term power deal the agency has considered since passage of a 2008 law that requires utilities to find more renewable sources of energy.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to award posthumous medal

President Obama is awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to an Air Force chief master sergeant who braved enemy fire to help three wounded comrades before suffering his own fatal wounds during combat in Laos in 1968.

The White House said Mr. Obama will present the medal to survivors of Richard Etchberger on Sept. 21.

According to the White House, the Hamburg, Pa., native showed “conspicuous gallantry” on March 11, 1968, when he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire to help his wounded comrades into rescue slings so they could be airlifted to safety.

Etchberger was fatally wounded by enemy fire as he was being rescued. His three sons are expected to join Mr. Obama at the White House to commemorate their father’s sacrifice.

MARYLAND

Candidate’s political signs vandalized

TOWSON | Someone vandalized 10 political signs belonging to a candidate for Baltimore County Council, police said Monday.

Sherrie Becker, one of six candidates running for an open seat in District 2, said the damage to her signs happened Monday between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. She said someone cut out the middle of 10 of her signs in the Pikesville area, each of them 4 feet by 10 feet.

Baltimore County Police Lt. Robert McCullough confirmed that Mrs. Becker filed a police report about the incident, but the report had not been completed.

Mrs. Becker, the executive director of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, said each of her signs cost about $150. She said some signs belonging to one of her opponents and another candidate were also damaged.

FLORIDA

Land sought for cemetery sites

TALLAHASSEE | The Florida Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking land to develop two national cemeteries, one in Tallahassee and the other in central Florida.

A news release stated Sunday the department was looking for interested landowners to sell or donate at least 200 acres of “contiguous and developable” land.

The statement added that this would honor Florida’s more than 1.6 million veterans, and could provide a closer location for loved ones to visit.

The existing national cemeteries are in Pensacola and Jacksonville.

HEALTH

FDA relents on pulling midodrine

NEW YORK | Federal regulators have backed off a plan to remove a Shire PLC low-blood-pressure treatment from the market after warning in August that the drug has not been proven effective.

Food and Drug Administration representative Sandy Walsh said in an e-mailed statement that the agency will continue to allow access to ProAmatine, also known as midodrine, “while the necessary data is collected and the legal issues get sorted out.”

Roughly 100,000 U.S. patients received prescriptions for ProAmatine or generic versions last year, according to the FDA. The drug is approved to treat orthostatic hypotension, a type of low blood pressure that causes patients to become dizzy or faint when standing upright.

Last month, the FDA proposed withdrawing the drug from the market and giving Shire, which is based in Ireland, an opportunity to schedule a hearing to discuss the matter. It had approved ProAmatine in 1996 based on promising early results in treating low blood pressure. But a mandatory follow-up study to actually prove the long-term benefits of the drug was never conducted.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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