- - Monday, January 17, 2011

ILLINOIS

Clinton to stump for Emanuel

CHICAGO | Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel is getting a high-profile boost from one of his old bosses, former President Bill Clinton.

Mr. Clinton is scheduled to appear Tuesday at a rally for Mr. Emanuel in Chicago. A former top Clinton aide, Mr. Emanuel is one of six candidates vying to replace the retiring Mayor Richard Daley.

Mr. Clinton’s upcoming visit stirred controversy last month when Rep. Danny Davis, who was then running for mayor, said Mr. Clinton could jeopardize his relationship with the black community if he campaigned for Mr. Emanuel instead of a black candidate.

Shortly after that, Mr. Davis dropped out of the mayor’s race and only one major black candidate remains, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

Mr. Clinton is a popular draw on the campaign trail and was in Chicago before the November election.

WHITE HOUSE

Obamas spend holiday in school

President Obama honored the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday by participating in a painting project at a school on Capitol Hill.

On the federal holiday named for the slain civil rights leader, Mr. Obama brought his family to Stuart Hobson Middle School, where he and first lady Michelle Obama helped paint apple characters on pillars in the lunchroom to encourage healthier eating.

Mr. Obama said King’s legacy is also about service and urged Americans to get out into their communities on Monday a step he suggested would have special meaning after the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.

“After a painful week where so many of us were focused on the tragedy, it’s good for us to remind ourselves of what this country is all about,” he told reporters.

Monday also happened to be Michelle Obama’s 47th birthday. To mark it, the crowd at the school sang the Stevie Wonder version of “Happy Birthday,” which the musician wrote to honor King.

SENATE

McConnell leads Afghanistan trip

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has traveled with six other GOP senators to Afghanistan and Pakistan to meet with American military leaders and with officials of those countries.

The Kentucky Republican said in a statement that he traveled with four newly elected freshmen: Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Marco Rubio of Florida and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Also on the trip were Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Richard Burr of North Carolina.

Those the lawmakers met included Gen. David H. Petraeus, who oversees U.S. forces in Afghanistan; Afghan President Hamid Karzai; and Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. They also met with U.S. troops.

The trip focused on political, economic and security matters, Mr. McConnell said.

MAINE

Governor changes MLK Day plans

WATERVILLE | Gov. Paul LePage changed his Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend plans and showed up at a breakfast honoring the slain civil rights leader Monday, days after he said critics of his decision to skip other events could “kiss my butt.” He even joined some of the participants in an African dance.

The Republican governor’s appearance was organized in the days after he made the remark Friday, responding to a reporter’s question about criticism he had received over his decision not to attend the state NAACP’s annual King Day celebrations. He said at the time that he didn’t attend events for special interests, and his spokesman cited scheduling conflicts.

“Tell them to kiss my butt,” Mr. LePage said.

The comment drew harsh criticism from state and national leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Maine NAACP Director Rachel Talbot Ross said her organization is no special interest, and the group’s national president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said Mr. LePage’s comments “inflame racial tension.”

While Monday’s appearance was hastily added to his schedule, Mr. LePage had previously attended several Martin Luther King breakfasts in Waterville while serving as mayor before he was elected governor, a spokesman said. Monday’s event was sponsored by the local Rotary Club and a senior citizens’ group.

MARYLAND

Shriver hospitalized; in critical condition

BETHESDA | Former Peace Corps director and vice-presidential nominee R. Sargent Shriver was in critical condition Monday morning at a hospital in Maryland, a spokeswoman for the family said.

The 95-year-old was admitted at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda on Sunday, the family said in an e-mail statement attributed to spokeswoman Kirsten Seckler.

No other details about his ailment were released. Mr. Shriver announced in 2003 that he had Alzheimer’s disease.

He served as the first Peace Corps director in the administration of his brother-in-law, President Kennedy. He also was Democrat George McGovern’s running mate in 1972.

Mr. Shriver’s wife and Special Olympics Founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver died in 2009 at age 88.

He is also the father of former NBC reporter Maria Shriver, who is married to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

CDC

Drugs tackle hepatitis C

There’s new hope for an overlooked epidemic: Two powerful drugs are nearing the market that promise to help cure many more people of liver-attacking hepatitis C even though most who have the simmering infection don’t know it yet.

Surprisingly, two-thirds of hepatitis C sufferers are thought to be baby boomers who’ve harbored since their younger, perhaps wilder, years a virus that can take two or three decades to do its damage.

What could be a treatment revolution is spurring the government to consider if it’s time to start screening aging baby boomers for hepatitis C, just like they get various cancer checks.

“We’re entering a whole new era of therapy,” says Dr. John Ward, hepatitis chief at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We really want to begin that clarion call for action for this population who’s at risk.”

ARIZONA

Lawmakers eye more gun rights

PHOENIX | The shooting rampage in Tucson that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is not slowing down Arizona legislators who want more rights for gun owners.

Arizona has become a champion in the gun rights movement, with state lawmakers passing bill after bill to protect the people’s right to bear arms nearly anywhere, at anytime.

The Legislature’s session began two days after the Jan. 8 shooting, and gun rights legislation has already been proposed. One bill would allow college and university faculty members to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Mrs. Giffords is a former state legislator. The Democrat was critically wounded when she was shot in the head.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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