- - Monday, December 19, 2011

SENATE

McCain: N. Korea’s Kim in ‘warm corner of hell’

Sen. John McCain says the world is better off now that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has died, and predicted the dictator would join the likes of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin “in a warm corner in hell.”

Mr. McCain’s political colleagues, including GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, have joined the prominent and outspoken senator in saying bluntly that Kim will not be missed after decades of oppression and threatening the world with his nuclear program.

But Mr. McCain, the top-ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, who was tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, didn’t pull any punches. He said, “I can only express satisfaction that the ‘Dear Leader’ is joining the likes of Gadhafi, Bin Laden, Hitler and Stalin in a warm corner of hell.”

SOUTH CAROLINA

Romney’s firm profited as jobs disappeared

GAFFNEY — A venture-capital firm run by Mitt Romney created nearly 150 jobs in Gaffney, S.C., in the late 1980s only to eliminate them four years later and earn millions of dollars in profits.

The Associated Press reviewed Bain Capital’s little-known investments at the Holson Burnes Group. Bain doubled its $10 million investment into the clock and photo-supply company. But workers in South Carolina and New Hampshire lost their jobs as the company consolidated and expanded its operations overseas.

By sheer coincidence, the economic fallout from Bain’s decisions struck hardest in South Carolina and New Hampshire. They are among the first states with early primary elections, which could affect Mr. Romney’s run for the White House.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Bain Capital ultimately created tens of thousands of jobs.

ALASKA

Palin: Not too late to enter GOP race

JUNEAU — Sarah Palin says it’s not too late for someone to jump into the Republican presidential race.

Asked by Fox Business Network about the likelihood that she’d become a candidate, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee said it’s not too late for “folks” to jump in. Said Mrs. Palin: “Who knows what will happen in the future.”

Mrs. Palin told Fox News Channel over the weekend that she felt no enthusiasm for anyone in the current GOP field and that she needed to feel something before she would offer an endorsement.

Mrs. Palin said in October that she wouldn’t seek the GOP nomination. She said she could be more effective helping others get elected.

IOWA

Perry: Wall Street bailout a big ‘theft’

MANCHESTER — Seeking a late surge, Texas Gov. Rick Perry sought Monday to tar GOP presidential rivals Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney for supporting the $700 billion Wall Street bailout and said the billions loaned to banks and other financial institutions at the height of the 2008 financial crisis amounted to “the single biggest act of theft in American history.”

Most of the money has been paid back.

In the final weeks before the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, Mr. Perry stressed his credentials as a Washington outsider someone who he says understands Main Street and is not beholden to the wealthy Wall Street set.

Mr. Perry said the values he learned growing up in rural Texas shaped his views.

“No one was going to bail out a dry-land cotton farmer” and no one should have bailed out Wall Street, Mr. Perry said in northeastern Iowa.

“This Wall Street bailout is the single biggest act of theft in American history,” he told voters at a pizza buffet. “And, you know, Newt and Mitt, they both were for it. That’s one of the reasons I say that if you really want an individual who is an outsider, someone who has not been engaged in part of that process, I hope you’ll take a look at me.”

Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich supported the Wall Street rescue that was shepherded into law in fall 2008 by Republican President George W. Bush. They have since become critics of the program, which conservative voters tend to loathe.

Mr. Perry joined the presidential contest in August to great fanfare, but lost his luster following what was widely viewed as erratic behavior and lackluster performances in debates. He is hoping to achieve a comeback by pitching himself as “an outsider who truly believes that we’ve got more taxes and more regulation and more government than most Americans want.”

“We need to make the decision that we’re not going to support bailouts and these wasteful earmarks,” he said.

MEDICARE

Experiment touted as saving taxpayers

Medicare says it’s launching a national experiment to improve care for seniors, and, it is hoped, save taxpayers money as well.

Officials announced Monday that 32 networks of doctors and hospitals around the country are becoming Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

Behind the acronym is a coordinated approach to medicine so that risks like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugars are managed better and patients get help in leading a healthier lifestyle.

The networks will be eligible for financial rewards if they improve care and lower costs.

About 860,000 of Medicare’s 47 million beneficiaries will be involved in the test. They’ll still be free to go to any doctor.

Officials hope the test will lead to a new model for all of Medicare.

IOWA

GOP worried by hacker threat to caucus vote

IOWA CITY — Taking seriously an apparent threat from a notorious collective of computer hackers, the Iowa Republican Party is boosting the security of the electronic systems it will use in two weeks to count the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Investigators don’t know if the threat is authentic, but it has nonetheless led the state party to confront a worst-case scenario. Their fear: an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House.

“With the eyes of the media on the state, the last thing we want to do is have a situation where there is trouble with the reporting system,” said Wes Enos, a member of the Iowa GOP’s central committee and the political director for the campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, in the state. “We don’t want that to be the story.”

Confident in the existing safeguards protecting the vote count itself, Mr. Enos and other members of the party central committee told the Associated Press they recently authorized additional security measures aimed at ensuring hackers are unable to delay the release of caucus results.

The state GOP fears such a delay could disrupt the traditional influence of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation vote. Candidates who do well tend to gain momentum in the presidential race, while those finishing at the back of the pack may drop out. Experts in computer security said such concerns are valid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports