- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Finance reform backers start petition drive

Supporters of campaign finance legislation began an effort to force the issue onto the House floor yesterday, starting a petition drive designed to overcome resistance by the Republican leadership.

Rep. Jim Turner, Texas Democrat, filed the necessary paperwork, although lawmakers said it was likely to be today before fellow Democrats trooped to the well of the House to sign their names. It would take 218 signatures to force the issue to the floor.

The legislation, backed by Reps. Christopher Shays, Connecticut Republican, and Martin T. Meehan, Massachusetts Democrat, would implement the most sweeping overhaul of campaign finance laws since the Watergate reforms of more than a quarter-century ago.

AWACS pilot says Iraq fired missile

The pilot of a U.S. Air Force radar warning aircraft reported seeing an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile fired into the airspace of Saudi Arabia, two U.S. defense officials said yesterday.

Both officials said, however, that no electronic or other sensors in the area confirmed the visual sighting, and that the pilot may have been mistaken.

The pilot of an AWACS aircraft said his plane was flying over Saudi Arabia last week when he spotted an Iraqi surface-to-air missile about 200 miles away, according to the defense officials. The officials discussed the matter on the condition of anonymity.

The incident was first reported yesterday by CBS News.

Hillary’s mother has tumor removed

NEW YORK — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s mother, Dorothy Rodham, had surgery yesterday to remove a cancerous tumor from her colon.

George Washington University Hospital in Washington, where the surgery was done, said in a statement that Mrs. Rodham was in good health and expected to make a full recovery. Mrs. Rodham, 82, was expected to remain in the hospital for several days.

Steam buildup caused fatal blast

MEDINA, Ohio — Police said yesterday a buildup of steam inside a vintage tractor caused it to explode at a county fair, killing four men and injuring dozens of people with flying shrapnel, hot oil and steam.

Medina County Sheriff Neil Hassinger said there was apparently no warning that the enormous, 18-ton coal-fired tractor was about to blow up as the driver, believed to be Cliff Kovacic, 48, drove the machine onto the Medina County fairgrounds Sunday.

Judge grants delay in Poundstone hearing

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A judge yesterday set an Aug. 27 hearing for comedian Paula Poundstone, granting a request from her lawyer for more time to investigate the child sexual abuse and endangerment charges against her.

Miss Poundstone, 41, sat quietly in court, answering questions from Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins, who asked her at one point if she had read the reports of the sealed accusations against her.

The 30-minute hearing was the first court appearance for the popular comic since she pleaded not guilty July 3 to charges of sexually molesting a girl and endangering four other children.

Report cites abuses at nursing homes

A congressional report released yesterday documented “widespread” physical, sexual and verbal abuse of nursing home residents in the United States and warned that the problem appeared to be getting worse.

“What we have found is shocking,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, who requested the investigation and introduced legislation that would create new safeguards for the 1.5 million people who live in the nation’s 17,000 nursing homes.

According to the report, which was prepared by Government Reform Committee investigators, over 30 percent of these homes — 5,283 in all — were cited for abuse violations between January 1999 and January 2001. These homes were cited for almost 9,000 violations during the two-year period.

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