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Inside Politics: Lawmaker wants Obama to prove climate change

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rep. Thomas Massie challenged President Obama to roll out the proof that humans have played a hand in climate change.

Mr. Massie, Kentucky Republican, said he was "disappointed" that the president in his second inaugural address blamed droughts on "human activity" and accused some of "denying the evidence of scientists."

"As somebody with a science-type background, I took offense at that," Mr. Massie said during a panel meeting billed as "Conversations With Conservatives." "I would challenge him to show us the linkage -- the undeniable linkage -- between droughts and the change of weather, and some kind of human activity."

At that point, Rep. Raul R. Labrador, Idaho Republican, chimed in: "It is not like you are an MIT graduate."

"Oh, wait, you are, sorry," Mr. Labrador quipped.

Mr. Massie, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, responded with a shrug of the shoulders and a smile.

PENTAGON

Hagel lobbies senators as confirmation hearings loom

Top Senate Republicans said Tuesday they would reserve judgment on Chuck Hagel's nomination until after his confirmation hearing next week, a positive sign for President Obama's choice to head the Defense Department.

Mr. Hagel, who already has drawn strong opposition from six Senate Republicans, continued his outreach to lawmakers on Tuesday, meeting with Sen. John McCain, whose support could smooth the way for the former GOP senator and provide political cover for other Republicans to back the nominee.

Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was too soon to count the votes.

Asked if there were any Republican votes, Mr. Levin said, "I haven't seen any, but there may be that I haven't seen. That doesn't mean that there won't be."

WHITE HOUSE

Obamas welcome surprised tourists to White House

President Obama and his wife are personally welcoming surprised tourists to the White House.

First dog Bo joined the welcoming committee Tuesday as Mr. Obama decided to spend part of the first full workday of his second term chatting up people taking the White House tour.

Mrs. Obama put out word about their surprise receiving line in the Blue Room by tweeting: "Shhhh! Barack, Bo and I are about to surprise folks on @WhiteHouse tours! I love doing this."

Visitors congratulated Mr. Obama on the inauguration, chatted about the weather and admired Bo. Most got hearty handshakes; a few got hugs.

Discussing Monday's fairly mild weather for the inaugural, Mr. Obama told one guest, "We dodged a bullet."

NEW JERSEY

U.S. to join suit over state's betting law

NEWARK — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed notice that it is joining sports leagues' effort to stop New Jersey from instituting sports gambling.

In a filing Tuesday, federal attorneys asked a judge to give them until the end of next week to respond to constitutional challenges made by the state. Attorneys representing New Jersey have argued in court papers that an early 1990s federal law prohibiting sports gambling in all but four states is unconstitutional.

Oral arguments are scheduled for next month.

The four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA filed suit last year after Gov. Chris Christie signed a law that would allow sports wagering at Atlantic City casinos and the state's horse racing tracks.

Last month, a federal judge denied the state's motion to throw out the lawsuit.

GUN DEBATE

Schwarzenegger calls for leaders to think beyond laws

LONDON — Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for American leaders to think beyond gun laws in seeking ways to stop shooting tragedies.

The 65-year-old action star was in London on Tuesday for the U.K. premiere of the film "The Last Stand," his first leading role since serving as California's governor for seven years.

He says that U.S. leaders need to address issues such as parenting and mental illness as well as laws on firearms when discussing ways to reduce gun violence.

Mr. Schwarzenegger's comments come as American politicians are under pressure to respond to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman last month killed 20 students and six adults.

ILLINOIS

King of Clout reports to prison for extortion

CHICAGO — A man once known as the King of Clout for the enormous behind-the-scene influence he yielded in Illinois politics reported to prison Tuesday to start a yearlong sentence for trying to extort a Hollywood movie producer.

William Cellini reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Ind., around 1 p.m. local time, said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said. It's the same prison where former Illinois Gov. George Ryan is completing a 61/2-year corruption sentence.

Mr. Cellini, 78, will stay in the minimum-security section of the facility.

Jurors convicted the multimillionaire Springfield businessman in 2011 of trying to shake down Thomas Rosenberg for a $1.5 million political contribution that was intended for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's campaign. Mr. Rosenberg is the Oscar-winning producer of "Million Dollar Baby."

Cellini, a longtime Republican, joins an ignominious list of prominent Illinois residents imprisoned for corruption.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, is serving a 14-year sentence for multiple corruption counts in a Colorado prison. Ryan, Blagojevich's Republican predecessor, is wrapping up his sentence.

Cellini had asked to go to a prison in Montgomery, Ala., in part because it was thought to have good medical facilities to deal with his illnesses, including heart ailments. It wasn't immediately clear why Cellini was assigned to the prison in Indiana.

NEW YORK

Hospitalized ex-Mayor Koch is cracking jokes

NEW YORK — A spokesman says former New York City Mayor Ed Koch is feeling "much better" and cracking jokes.

George Artz said Tuesday it's still not clear when Mr. Koch will go home. The former mayor was hospitalized Saturday night with fluid in his lungs and swollen ankles.

Mr. Artz says Mr. Koch has praised the chocolate milkshakes at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital as delicious, but not worth the hospital stay.

The outspoken Democrat has also been known to serve up his opinions as a movie reviewer and a judge on "The People's Court."

Mr. Artz says the 88-year-old Mr. Koch has been told he'll have to limit his salt intake.

*#8226; From wire dispatches and staff reports

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