- - Thursday, May 12, 2011

HOUSE

Panel refuses money for airport scanners

In the wake of passenger anger over intrusive security searches, House Republicans on Thursday spurned an Obama administration request for funds to buy 275 additional airport full-body scanners and to hire personnel to run them.

The scanners generate a revealing image of a person so security personnel can determine if someone is trying to hide a bomb or other weapon underneath his clothing. But they have also provoked criticism from privacy and civil liberties advocates.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, releasing their proposed fiscal 2012 budget for the Department of Homeland Security, said they opposed funding President Obama’s requested $76 million for the scanners and personnel.

The Republican legislation still must be approved by the committee and by the GOP-majority House. It must also clear the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, before it would go to Mr. Obama to sign.

CAMPAIGN

Ron Paul to run for president again

Campaign aides say Texas Rep. Ron Paul will run for president for a third time.

Aides said Mr. Paul will announce those plans on Friday while in New Hampshire. He formed a campaign exploratory committee last month.

The aides would speak only on background because the announcement is not yet official.

Mr. Paul ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian and sought the Republican nomination in 2008. He amassed a large following with his libertarian views, but it didn’t translate into a significant number of delegates.

He calls for dramatically reducing government spending and scaling back management of the economy.

POLL

Survey: Americans more upbeat about economy

Americans are growing more optimistic about the U.S. economy, a sentiment that is benefiting President Obama despite public disenchantment with his handling of rising gasoline prices and swollen government budget deficits.

An Associated Press-GfK poll shows that more than two out of five people think the U.S. economy will get better, while a third think it will stay the same and nearly a fourth think it will get worse, a rebound from last month’s more pessimistic attitude. And, for the first time since the 100-day mark of his presidency, slightly more than half approve of Mr. Obama’s stewardship of the economy.

Both findings represent a boost for Mr. Obama, though he still must overcome ill will over government red ink and the price of gas at the pump, now hovering around $4 a gallon.

But the public’s brighter economic outlook also could signal a boost to the current recovery, which relies to a great degree on consumer behavior. A public that is confident about economic performance is more likely to spend more and accelerate the economy’s resurgence.

NEW YORK

Tea party candidate scuffles with cameraman

BUFFALO | A 15-second video shows a tea party congressional candidate in New York scuffling with a Republican Party volunteer who questioned his absence from a debate.

The video posted on YouTube shows candidate Jack Davis asking the volunteer Wednesday whether he wants to “punch it out” after a campaign event in Greece, N.Y., outside Rochester.

Mr. Davis was responding to the volunteer’s calls for him to explain why he backed out of a debate held Thursday in Buffalo.

Davis spokesman Curtis Ellis said the man was pushing a camera in the candidate’s face and preventing him from getting in his car.

Mr. Davis, Democrat Kathleen Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin are running for the House seat vacated by Republican Christopher Lee. The special election is May 24.

CAMPAIGN

McCaskill denounces mileage-tax plan

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, taking a stance that could inoculate her from Republican attacks as she approaches re-election, is telling the Obama administration she opposes efforts to track drivers’ mileage.

In a letter addressed to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and provided to the Associated Press on Thursday, Mrs. McCaskill says any proposal to tax drivers based on miles they drive will place a burden on already cash-strapped motorists.

Her letter comes after Republicans pressed Democrats to disavow the mileage proposal.

A pilot program to track mileage was included in a multiyear transportation-funding plan floated earlier this month. The White House has also distanced itself from that plan.

HIV/AIDS

Earlier therapy protects against virus spread

A major study finds that treating HIV patients early, before they’re too sick, dramatically lowers their chances of spreading the AIDS virus to a sexual partner.

The nine-country study confirms what scientists have long thought, that HIV medicines don’t just benefit patients’ own health but act as prevention by making those people less infectious. Earlier treatment meant patients were 96 percent less likely to spread HIV to their uninfected partner.

The findings were striking enough that the National Institutes of Health announced Thursday it was stopping the study four years ahead of schedule to get the word out.

Condoms still are crucial for protection. All 1,763 couples in the study, where one partner had HIV and the other didn’t, were urged to use them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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